The Mediocre Housekeeper - Diet:You, Your Habits and Your Kitchen


By Heidi Taskmaster



This is a difficult subject for me to discuss.Since most of you have never seen me, I guess I can explain my feelings as follows:ďDo as I say, not as I look.Ē


Itís a fact that the majority of American adults are overweight.Some studies use over 50 percent as the measure, and one I recently read said as much as two-thirds of all adults need to lose weight.People usually associate the loss or gain of weight with ďgoing on a diet.ĒMost diets are associated with losing weight.And, after being bombarded with diets, diet books, programs and pills, I am fed up.


One of the most visible diet TV campaigns today is that of Kirstie Alley, spokesperson for the Jenny Craig food regimen.All kidding aside?Ainít she a pistol?She appears to be one of those women, like me, who have a great tendency to gain weight overnight and, because of professional and often health reasons, need to lose that weight as fast.I give her credit, though, because sheís turned a negative into a positive; sheís making money telling you how much weight sheís lost and being a spokesperson.Not a bad thing if you can get the job. And, sheís funny.


Hopefully, most of you recognize that a ďdietĒ is not the answer.As Bernie Levy, my past main squeeze for short periods of time in my life, has repeatedly told meólife is just a series of asking questions, hopefully the right questions.Using his darn method, the questions are:Who am I and what do I want to look and feel like?What eating habits do I have, and can I really change them?And, how does my kitchen fit into all of this? Letís not go to the question, how can I fit into my kitchen.


Many years ago I had a friendship with a man in San Diego, Frankie, and he had a terrible weight problem.He was endowed with a lot of fat cells, and not being tall, his weight gains were exaggerated.Then, when his weight became unbearable to his sight and his health, he starved himself to lose weight, although he never achieved thinness.Frankie was a runner and once ran and finished the Boston Marathon.He was Italian and, golly, did he love his pasta and canolli.He fought his weight all his life, and died at an earlier age from some of his weightís detriments.


But, letís get back to you.How do you want to look, and how important is it to you, professionally and personally?If your answers are that it is very important in both respects, then diets are not the answer; changing your lifestyle is.(I still recommend that you accept those lobster/steak dinners from squeezes and admirers.) No, you donít have to run three miles a day; no, you donít have to go out and buy a treadmill and pump some iron; no, you donít have to join a gym, although it may not be a bad idea.


First you have to change your mind-set on how you live your life.Most of us work from 9 Ďtil 5 and longer, and itís difficult to eat healthfully during the day.Usually, we come home late, and weíre often too tired to do much in the kitchen.Hence, Dominoís Pizza gets a call, or you pick up some takeout on the way home. You fall prey to food that doesnít help you, particularly at night when your metabolism is lower.


Diet is not the answer; you and your mind-set are.As Kathy, a good friend of mine, says, ďChange your attitude, change your life.Ē That works, and itís true.Once you mentally establish that youíre going to do something about your personal appearance, the next step is to observe and critique your living habits. Yeah, right, like we donít every time we look in a mirror.


Do you eat breakfast and, if so, what do you eat?Is it a sticky bun at home or at the office?Is it a glass of orange juice and a cup of coffee on the run?Is it an Egg McMuffin?Identify habits that are not good for either your figure, and resolve to do something about them.No, weíre not talking diet; weíre talking about getting control of your eating habits to promote good health and appearance.Orange juice and coffee may be good in the morning, with perhaps a small bowl of natural grain cereal with nonfat milk.Iím not going to sit here and tell you what to eat; youíre a big girl or boy now; you can figure it out for yourself.It is difficult to eat properly when youíre on the go all the time, especially when business meetings are scheduled at lunchtime in great restaurants or highcarb, saturated fat stuff is brought into the office for lunch or special occasions.


Packing a lunch is a good way to start, and this brings us to your kitchen.Whether youíre single or married, with or without children, your kitchen is an important place in which to have a friendship with your healthy self.†† You donít have to go crazy with all healthy foods, but you certainly can eat moderate portions and balance your food intake.Since youíre probably gone most of the day, the evening meal and preparation for the next dayís breakfast and lunch are most important.Yes, you can buy those Lean Cuisine-type frozen dinners; yes, you can stock your shelves with all kinds of diet, healthy food products.But remember, the best foods are natural.Fruits and vegetables are a good place to start; cutting up a cucumber or two and storing it in a Tupperware-type container for snacks is smart, lots better than opening that bag of wonderful potato chips.Cook in more healthy oils rather than in butter or other heavy-laden, saturated fats.Take time on Sunday or even Saturday to plan your food intake for the next week.Take the blender out of the cabinet and put it on the counter for use each day.Buy in bulk, blender-friendly ingredients, perhaps even whey or similar items. Donít stay away from meat or fish products, although fish products on the whole are better for you. And, for goodness sake, hit the sauce now and then Ė red wine is great for your digestive tract and not bad for a minimum buzz.


I recognize that youíre very hungry when you get home at night, but you must fight the temptation to gorge yourself.Most of us get home from work after 6:00, but Iím aware of an effective regimen that advocates eating very lightly after 6 PM.How do you do this?A can of chicken broth with perhaps an egg and some crackers is a good meal, as well as heating up that cooked cauliflower, broccoli or asparagus that was left over from dinner yesterday.Okay, you can have a cookie or two with a cup of tea, or that drink.However, eat in moderation in the evening. Wine can even make you look thinner if you take off your glasses or remove your contacts.


Lastly, letís talk about exercise.Exercising is not only physical, itís a head trip, too. Thatís okay, but itís not usually fun for the average Sue and Bill.Joining a gym allows you to meet other people and perhaps establish friendships.


Iíve talked to several of my friends, and they, like me, are ďmatureĒ women with a body that has seen better days. Wearing spandex tights is not complimentary anymore. Whatís worse, theyíre worn in grace by those younger women who draw attention from guys that I would like to talk to on occasion but never get a chance to Ė if you get my drift. Keep focused on your workout goals; itís fun to watch those men with tight bodies working out, but my eyes donít need fitness, my figure does.


Iíve decided, after several attempts at joining, not to become a gym member for the above reasons plus, because of my schedule, I canít go much anyway.


Walking a pet (cats are not good candidates) several blocks for a fifteen-to-thirty minute duration is excellent.Just that exerciseóyou can jog a bit while on your walk if you desireóand controlling your caloric intake after 6:00 should allow you to lose weight.


I havenít said it all, but you get my point.Youíve probably heard it all before.You probably know everything Iíve said, but it doesnít hurt to repeat the message.Your kitchen is a very important room to consider when you think of your food attitude and program.You may even use the image of your kitchen when youíre sitting in that restaurant during the day to control the quantity and quality of your food intake.


Well, itís now 7:00.Iím going to take my fifteen minute constitutional around the block and have that glass of Merlot before I hit the sack.Good luck, and God bless.