Saturday, November 5, 2011

Why I cooked a turkey burger on the stove instead of eating out in one of the culinary capitals of the world

I'm blogging for my apartment in NY today! I guess it isn't really mine, but it is for the next week because that's what my badge says. My friend was nice enough to sublet me his apartment while he is touring with Tokyo Disney, but the management will only let him sublet for two weeks at a time- which is the perfect amount of time for me, because if I miss work for longer than that I'll have to be scouring the Kroger for organic ramen. He was nice enough to do this for dirt cheap, so I am attempting to see how much money I can save.

One of the best things about this trip is that I have a kitchen, so I can cook. So shortly after arriving I walked up to Columbus Circle (I'd never been before- I don't think I've been that far uptown since I first visited NY when I was in junior high- I'm a lower-Midtown girl) to go to Whole Foods. In my last post I talked about how freaked out I am about non-organic stuff, so I thought this would be the best way to stick to that eating plan. I knew I'd still want to eat out sometimes (hello, it's New York, I need bagels and pizza and Crumbs cupcakes) so I mostly picked up stuff for breakfast and dinner. I get some Peace cereal, almond milk, Applewood farms turkey burgers (organic, no hormones- nom nom!), Willshire bacon (no antibiotics!), ground lamb (didn't say anything on the pack about how it was raised, but this was Whole Foods so I'm hoping it was humane), tons of organic produce, salad dressing, etc. (Side note- I couldn't believe that I was the only one I saw leaving the store who had brought her own bags- but this is NY, not San Francisco.) This is NY so stuff is more expensive, but it only set me back $81- that would last me maybe 2 days if I were eating out. So it's win-win! I'm saving money, I know where my food is coming from, and I know the nutritional info so I don't have to guess. I know having a kitchen isn't always possible, so I'd suggest researching chain restaurants (or local places, because those are best, but I know they aren't always around) that use organic or local ingredients- Chipotle is a big one, and tasty, too.

Patrick is coming to visit next week so all of this will be blown out the window (Shake Shack, here we come), but I at least feel like I've done damage control on my environmental impact.

It wouldn't be me without an obsession with working out, so rest assured that I brought Jillian Michaels Yoga Meltdown with me because it requires no weights and very little space (which is exactly how much space I have- this place is about 180 sq feet.) I've also been dancing my ass of at the Broadway Dance Center (5 and a half hours of classes yesterday!) Thus, I feel not a single pang of remorse for eating whatever the hell I want when I allow myself to eat out.

I'm off the the Village to hang out at The Strand (18 miles of books- holla!) Enjoy your weekend.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Freaked out about food

It's almost Halloween! Hands down, my favorite holiday. I like scary stuff and fall stuff and short skirts- all of which abound. Last night we carved punkins and had a weenie roast at my parents' house (those are the punkins Patrick and I did- his is the kitty, mine is the ghetto Jack the Pumpkin King.) This is a family tradition, but this year I had to bring my own hot dogs and buns because I have become a certifiable food crazy.

It started with this book: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingslover (get it here: ). Kingslover is usually a fiction writer but this book chronicles her year living off nothing but locally grown, organic food in her small Appalachian community in Virginia. It is absolutely fascinating- the way she talks about the delicious food inspires food envy the likes of which I have not experienced since I read Julia Child's My Life in France.

It's also an amazingly compelling argument for eating locally and organically. The stats that scared me most were just how much of what we eat starts as mass-produced corn or soybeans. If they aren't directly putting it into our food in the form of syrups and additives, they're pumping our livestock full of it. I love animals but I'm not a vegetarian- but this book has definitely convinced me to do my best to purchase organic, free-range, or grass fed whenever possible. The other scary thing is the sheer amount of fossil fuels used to transport our food so that we can have strawberries in January. According to the book. for every 1 calorie of food in our grocery stores, 87 energy calories were burned to bring it there! That is really scary to me. I won't quote the book or give you every argument in there because you should just get it for yourself and read it (it's pretty popular so it should be at the library.)

I've always been nervous about the hormones and chemicals pumped into our food, but never enough to really read labels. I thought I was doing a good job of eating healthily because I pay attention to sugars, dietary fiber and protein, and I buy probably 60-75% organic produce. But boy oh boy, when you read the labels, you see all sorts of icky stuff they put in there- there is high fructose corn syrup in everything! The way I see it, there are 2 main reasons to go organic/read your labels/eat locally:

1. You are nervous about the additives, chemicals, hormones in food.

2. You are morally opposed to 6 big agrabusinesses getting all the money by running small farmers out of business and growing mass amounts of corn and soybeans that are inedible to humans and only used for feedlots.

I am both of these things. So today I went grocery shopping and only bought stuff that didn't have high fructose corn syrup, didn't have additives, and was organic and all-natural (except the laundry detergent and mascara. I don't know what the hell is in that stuff. Also, there may or may not be high fructose corn syrup in the toilet paper I bought.) I also bought some meat and animal-product substitutes because sometimes that's cheaper than free range, but I'll discuss that in another post. It was a little more expensive, sure. But not by that much. And in my opinion, if you're only buying stuff that's good for you, you're actually saving money on all the stuff you aren't buying, like chips and donuts. So in the end, it evens out. Also, if you watch your coupons or visit sites like, you can find a lot of good deals on healthy, organic stuff. Trader Joe's is great too, and Marsh usually offers organic produce for the same price as regular. Kroger, my chain of choice, has almost everything organic that they have regular and it's generally less than a dollar more.

I also really believe that the hormones in our food are making us fat. I think I've said this before, but when I look at pictures of my mom from when she was my age, she is so skinny. Like, her bone structure is so much smaller, and I really believe it's because she was developing in an era when our food wasn't so pumped full of crap. So I'm going to see if, by eating the same things but using organic instead of regular, I will lose any weight.

I'll leave you with an image of me and my adorable cat, Petunia. She is very friendly and takes after me- the other day she bitch-slapped the other cat for getting too close to her food.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Dumb Diets

I am so fascinated by the diets people try. Some have a pretty high success rate, like South Beach (boyfriend lost 30 lbs earlier this year on it- and, a quote from my friend Craig: "Diets don't work. They're all bullshit. Except South Beach, I lost a ton of weight on that.") Others sound awesome yet are not- like the Hollywood Cookie Diet. If eating cookies were a diet, I'd be in the starvation ward right now getting fed through a tube because I'd weigh 80 lbs. No matter the diet, I'll at least peruse the book even if I have no intention of ever following it, mostly because I'm always intrigued by the science and philosophy behind these diets. One I picked up recently is - Dr. Gundry's Diet Evolution. My good friend Kimberly told me about this when I visited her in San Francisco. The philosophy is that, with the modern diet and methods of exercise, we are activating "killer genes" which make us gain weight and cause a whole host of other health problems. Our current diet, heavily based on grains, sends a message that "winter is coming" and causes our bodies to hold onto fat. The diet advocates eating essentially like you eat when you do South Beach phase 1 or 2 (little to no grains products, protein, tons and tons of green veggies and no sugars other than those found in some fruits.) This supposedly tells your body "winter is now" and forces it to burn fat for energy. The longer you do the diet, the less meat you eat until you are mostly getting protein from tofu, tempeh, and seafood.

I have some really mixed feelings on this after reading some of the book. Kimberly lost lots of weight doing it, and in theory it should work- protein is actually the least efficient way for your body to get energy, because it has to work hard to metabolize it (you burn something like 16% of the calories from protein you consume just by metabolizing it.) And if you are already a vegetarian and really like veggies, than this could really work for you. However, I do not want to live my life eating rabbit food. What is the point of living forever if you can't have cupcakes sometimes (meaning twice a week)? I also have a hard time believing that our "genes are killing us" when we feed them sugar or dairy or grains or fruit- haven't people been eating bread and honey and apples and cheese since Cleopatra was riding around in her litter? Haven't Japanese people been eating white rice since the days of the samurais, and they're outliving us all?

What really disturbed me about the book, though, was the chapter where he advocated fasting on alternate days and skipping meals to further put stress on your body and keep your metabolism on its toes. He even admits that it's against conventional wisdom to skip meals or not eat when you're hungry. My opinion is this- unless you have absolutely iron willpower, there is no way in hell you will succeed on a diet that leaves you starving half the time. The best advice I've heard on this topic is: "the best diet is the one you can actually do." There is no better way to set yourself up for an epic binge than to wait until you're ravenous to eat. I have no doubt that this diet works, provided you can actually do it. And who the hell can do it? Not me. I went to bed hungry Monday night and two hours ago I polished off two bowls of death by chocolate ice cream with Butterfingers crumbled on top out of residual hunger.

Furthermore, I am really disturbed by the idea that, if you just push through it, you'll like the feeling of being hungry and it will make you feel "clean" and "pure." That's the same thinking that they advocate in Skinny Bitch. Let me say that there is nothing morally superior about your ability to not eat. It just makes you hungry and me annoyed with you. There are far better diets, or ways of eating, than to eat nothing but romaine. I'll discuss them later.

That's all for now, but I'll leave you with a picture of me and my new favorite cup. I love cups. And I love Hello Kitty. Where can one go wrong?

Monday, September 26, 2011

On whole foods and nakedness

In less than a month, I have to be naked in front of 400 people.

Not completely naked. I get pasties. And I think my stomach will be covered. But still.

PBS gave my work some nice funding to put together a history of burlesque show in conjunction with the Ken Burns documentaries about Prohibition. I have wanted to do burlesque since I first heard of Dita von Teese and learned what the neo-burlesque movement is about, so I jumped at the chance.

Actually, I'm not that scared about being naked in front of people. The cool thing about burlesque these days is how body positive it is. And really, I don't hate my body. Not the way I did, say, this time two years ago (that was truly awful and I wouldn't wish it on anyone.) I'd say the feeling I have is closer to resentment. I resent my body for not being able to run faster. I resent my body for having cellulite. I resent my body for being hungry again an hour after I eat. But really, it is a perfectly good body. It has served me well. It lets me dance and walk and wrestle and skate and all manner of cool things.

But I realized I have this dumb fantasy of getting onstage in my skimpy clothes and everyone gasping in awe at my Greek God-like body. I know that isn't going to happen, and I definitely know it isn't going to happen in less than a month. But I can attempt to feel good about my body when I get up there. The way I traditionally do this is to diet. Can't help it- dieting is kind of fun to me. It gives my obsessive brain something to do- planning meals, shopping for the best deal, etc. I love that shit.

Recently I picked up a cookbook about whole foods. I always hear famous people talking about "well, my diet is mostly whole foods." Yeah, asshole, mine too- a whole pizza, a whole donut, a whole hamburg. But by reading this cookbook, I think I have a better grasp of it- it essentially means using less processed, pre-packaged stuff, using more veggies. I think why this sounds hard is that, as I have learned, lots of people can't cook. Not just, they aren't very good or don't know how to make many things- they just plain can't cook. They must have never been hungry enough to learn (my dad once asked me, "How did you learn to cook?" to which I replied, "One day I was hungry and all we had were ingredients." It really is that easy.)

I already cook dinner every night so I thought I'd give it a shot. For the first time in years, I'm going to cook tofu for a main dish. I'm looking forward to it. But eating whole foods isn't really my diet- counting calories is. Counting calories is really the only thing that works for me, because I can't do South Beach or any of that stuff because if I don't have ice cream and tacos I'll go crazy and murder my family. But I find that eating this way makes it a little easier to keep my calories in check- in part because I include lots of vegetables and they're low calorie, but also because I think I know I'll feel better.

At present, I'm doing the unhealthy thing and telling myself this healthy eating and calorie counting nonsense is only until I'm done being naked in front of people. But I'm doing more burlesque in January (where I will be far less naked, but still) and regardless, I'm sick of being uncomfortable with my body. My goal is to lose weight, sure. But maybe it will make me happier. Happier than ice cream, though? Maybe not.

Friday, April 1, 2011

CUPCAKES! And running. And sobriety. Which is more fun?

It's been some time and I've sure you've all missed this blog as much as I've missed writing it, which is probably a 3 on a scale of 1 to 10. The truth is, I kinda stopped caring about eating healthy. Seriously. I woke up one day and was like, "Eh, screw it." I was born with a big ass, I'll always have a big ass, so who gives a damn? It's true what they say- the older you get, the less you care about your body. I was in a show in the fall and shared a dressing room with a lovely, tiny girl who once said she was going to do something annoying and complain about her weight, to which I said, "No, you aren't, this is a body hate free zone." And it felt good. When I say I have a big ass, I'm not saying that I hate my big ass, and I'm not trying to get you to tell me that I don't have a big ass. I'm simply stating a fact. I still work out, though. Religiously, some might say. I love working out. It makes me feel like I'm doing something. And with all the crap I've been eating, if I didn't work out, they'd probably have to extract me from my house with a crane and wrecking ball, which would be embarrassing and also not good because I rent my house and my landlords would be pissed. I was feeling kinda frustrated, though, because though I was working out for at least an hour every day, I didn't see my body getting any firmer. Now, I can still have a big ass, and that doesn't bother me, but I'd at least like it to be a kind of muscle-y big ass. Enter my darling KC. Hi, KC! He's my roommate's best friend and he is the tits. Like, drive to Chicago in the middle of the night with no iPod or cigarettes in order to pick me up from the airport when my plane stranded me kinda tits. KC ran a half marathon last year and is doing it again in about a month. Now, KC, my roomie Nick, and I all gave up drinking for Lent this year. Yeah, I know. We've had to confront some things about ourselves that we really, really did not want to confront. KC and I also gave up smoking cigarettes (hopefully this one will last forever, and not just for Lent), and because I am a masochist and like to punish myself, I told KC I'd train with him. What could make your butt more muscle-y than running? So KC and I have been running. Running everywhere, to and fro. I'm running more than I thought possible, which means all that cardio work must have been good for something. And because I'm running, I've felt kind of motivated to eat better. And whaddya know? I've lost about five pounds. My abs look great. My ass, however, is still as fat as the day is long. And why? CUPCAKES. Oh, sweet Jesus in the sky. I love cupcakes. There is a place called Flying Cupcake where dreams go to be made into sweet baked goods to enter my face hole. They have so many cupcake varieties it's ridiculous. And I have sampled them all. Last weekend KC and I ran and did power yoga (oh, the hilarity of watching KC do power yoga) and afterwards went to his workplace, Mesh, for lunch. After that I fairly skipped down the street to Flying Cupcake.... only to find it closed because it was Sunday. I woulda thrown a brick through the window if I could have found one. Burn, baby, burn! The next day I drove past on my way to TOTS and literally whispered aloud, "I think about you all the time." I made it back there today and introduced KC to the glory of Flying Cupcake. He nearly cried. So again, it's sweet crap that keeps me from being skinny. Or whatever. Who really cares? I guess I kind of do- bikini season is coming, and I have all kinds of boys to impress! Oh, wait. Not really. But regardless, if I'm going to be running (and KC gave me a month membership to his gym so you best believe I'm gonna be all up in that place using the fancy equipment I can't afford to buy for my exercise room at home) I might as well attempt to not eat as terribly as I have been lately. So I'm semi-on the wagon again. One great thing is that now that I'm both at IHS and Beef & Boards, I have some extra money, so I can go to the healthy places to eat or buy better groceries. I also found a great app for the iPhone called MyFitnessPal. I'm tracking my calories (which I loathe and find leads to unhealthy food obsession, but what the hell, I'll try it for now) in order to make sure that when I'm eating 3.5 cupcakes a day, I'm attempting to make up for it by eating something green for dinner. I guess it's working. And the sobriety? It's going swimmingly. I survived St. Patty's AND a vacation to LA/San Francisco without even a drop of alcohol. I kind of like it because it's keeping me from going to the bars and staying out too late. I have to say, though, I do miss the bars because they are the main social place for my friends. But I'll be back before long! Until then, I'll try to stay relatively healthy for the next few weeks. Let's see!