Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Let’s Stop Being Zaftig Together

So I’ve gained an alarming amount of weight recently. I’m not going to call myself fat, because my husband hates it when I call myself fat. For the purposes of this blog, I’ll replace the term “fat” with the slightly-less-loaded term zaftig.

Anyway, recently, when I’ve looked in the mirror I find myself going who the fuck is that zaftig bitch? I’ve never been a pixie, but I didn’t used to be so…jiggly. So stretch-mark-y.

Part of it is my inactivity. As a writer, I basically never have to get up off the sofa. But one of the pitfalls of the whole work-at-home thing is that you start putting on weight like a Thanksgiving turkey, which I discovered at summer’s end when I discarded loose-fitting shorts for my old jeans.

Uh oh.

I now have a new pair of jeans, but that’s beside the point. I refuse to resign myself to this fate of inevitably growing larger and larger until they have to knock down a wall to get me to the emergency room and surgically remove several bags of Cheez-Its from my folds. I’m being hyperbolic, of course. In reality, the walls of our apartment building could never be knocked down. Those fuckers are made of concrete.

In the quest to learn a little bit more about nutrition and improving my diet, I’ve learned a lot. And I’d like to share some of my diet principles with the world via this blog, because hey, there are a lot of zaftig people out there who feel scared and overwhelmed by the idea of giving up the foods they love so dearly. Believe me, I’ve been there. It’s really hard. But it’s going to be worth it.

Principle the First: Make It Yourself, You Lazy Sack of Shit

Given that I spend most of my time at home, and that my husband works at a grocery store, you wouldn’t think I’d have a lot of excuses for failing to make home-cooked food. The biggest obstacle, I think, is that I end up falling into one of those computer-induced trances that we’re all familiar with, and it doesn’t matter if I’m five feet away from the kitchen, in Sibera, or on the moon. Actually preparing food is the furthest thing from my mind. If there is a sack of candy nearby, you’d better believe I am going to stuff it in my zaftig face.

Making dinner is one thing. It’s my only scheduled meal, due to my nocturnal schedule. Believe it or not, this is actually a positive thing – not having three constructed mealtimes in a day makes it easy for me to practice the important diet principle of eating small, healthful snacks 5-6x every day instead of huge meals. Not only does it boost your metabolism, but if you eat every 2 hours you’re a lot less likely to get too hungry and end up making a McDonald’s run.

Anyway, I do make dinner, and lately I’ve been making an effort to make them healthier. But what, exactly, does that mean? 99% of the time, it means making everything yourself.

I am somewhat ashamed to admit this, but here goes: on more than one occasion, I have personally purchased (or allowed my husband to purchase) Pillsbury pizza crusts. I have an excuse: I am a lazy sack of shit. Also, I once tried to make pizza crust like three years ago and they came out terrible – like how an alien might make pizza crust if it had been vaguely described to them and they’d never actually eaten human food. The options for pre-made crusts are surprisingly limited: you have Boboli, which is expensive and weirdly sweet, or Pillsbury. So we tried Pillsbury.

It’s…not that good. And it has saturated fat in it. I didn’t realize how weird this was until I started applying the principles in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day to make bran-enriched dough that turns into the most delicious pizza I have ever tasted, and it has five ingredients:


None of which, you may notice, contains any kind of fat. What the fuck is Pillsbury making their pizza dough with? Crisco?

Anyway, this is just an example of how you can be consuming totally unnecessary shit by not making things for yourself. I’ll take a small detour to make sure that my readers are aware that I’m aware that FAT DOES NOT MAKE YOU FAT. FAT IS PERFECTLY OKAY TO EAT IN MODERATION. However, fat has a shitload of calories in it. Check out the nutritional facts on some butter sometime. Those little bastards have like 120 calories for just one small pat, which would take you about ten minutes of busting your ass on an elliptical trainer to burn off. So fat isn’t something you want to be chowing down on, because you could be eating 120 calories of apples or broccoli instead and it would actually fill your stomach.

And there are all sorts of healthy substitutions you can make if you stop being a lazy sack of shit and start making your own food. Unsweetened applesauce can be swapped out for oil in most baked goods, although it can impart a slightly off taste for certain things. Also, be careful with things that need to be able to detach from the vessels they were baked in: without the greasiness the oil usually gives them, they will stick like a motherfucker. Trust me on this. Even if your wafflemaker’s never had a waffle stick in it before, GREASE YOUR WAFFLEMAKER.

You can’t really sub out butter for anything that has fewer calories in it, so it’s time to say good-bye to gorging on cookies for a while. But you can still have cake! Sometimes! If you’ve never tried making “soda cake,” the kind where you just make cake mix with soda and nothing else, it’s something worth trying. A can of soda will typically have many fewer calories than all the oily (and eggy) goodness you’re supposed to add to a cake mix, so for the occasional treat, it’s a smart way to go.

The recipe is pretty foolproof: just mix a can of soda (not sugar-free, which could possibly give you Gulf War Syndrome or something) with a cake mix and bake it as you would normally. It turns out different than usual, but tasty. For light cakes, use a citrus soda; for dark cakes, use a cola. But don’t drink that shit. Liquid calories are the stupidest thing EVER if you’re trying to get in shape.

I’d like to close this out with a list of foods that are surprisingly diet-friendly, just to prove that you don’t have to deprive yourself to get in shape.


Pepperoni (only 150 calories for 15 slices! This will cover a medium-sized pizza, or serve as a nice little snack.)

Eggs (no they won’t make your heart explode, and the protein is a boon to dieters everywhere)

Noodles (Ronzoni SmartTaste: looks and tastes like the real thing, but is lower in calories and higher in all the good stuff, especially fiber! Plus, pasta can be pretty filling when it’s paired with protein.)

Sugar (you might think it has more calories than it does, just because most prepared foods are laden with huge amounts. A tablespoon is only 20 calories, you don’t have to feel bad about sweetening your tea or coffee.)

Almost Everything Else (while some types of food should be avoided as a rule, once you have grown accustomed to a lower-calorie diet, you can “cheat” without actually cheating. If you fall 100-200 calories short of your limit on a consistent basis, then guess what? A pat of butter is perfectly okay.)

That’s all for this installment. Tune in next time for my thoughts on exercise! (It sucks.)