Betty Draper Goes to Weight Watchers

My husband and I are streaming and watching Season 5 of Mad Men (spoiler alert).Last night we watched the episodes in which Betty Draper (now Francis) begins to struggle with her weight, initially because of a growth on her thyroid gland and then because of her overwhelming cravings.

Betty Draper Francis Gains Weight

Betty Draper Gains Weight in Season 5 of Mad Men

It was eerie to see how well the writers and actress capture her food rituals and emotions as this “always thin and beautiful” woman shifts in her identity. Some examples:

  • When she fakes sick to get out going to a party because her dress won't zip.
  • Her daughter leaves a half-finished ice cream sunday on the table, and after a couple of beats, Betty finishes it.
  • After joining one of the first Weight Watchers groups, she accepts a bite of steak her husband offers her after midnight because she can “count it toward the next day's food.”
  • Starving, she runs to her fridge and squirts Redi whip into her mouth, savors it for a moment, and then spits it out, so the calories won't “stick.”
  • Nervously discussing the impending Thanksgiving Holiday with her WW group and how they will prepare emotionally. Smash cut to Betty with the most pathetic Thanksgiving plate in front of her–four small bites of each entree and a single brussels sprout lording in the center of the plate.
  • Betty catches a glimpse of her ex-husband's very thin wife putting on her shirt. The look on her face is a perfect mix of envy and sadness.

These episodes evoked a variety of emotions in me–sadness, dread, fear. Mostly, I recognized myself and my struggle with weight in every scene. In one episode, Betty is waiting in line to get weighed in front of everyone at her WW meeting, as the “weigher” proclaims “you had a good week!” to one of the women. I was right back in all of the WW meetings I had ever attended. I could almost feel the heat rising in my face as I remembered getting the “good week” message, and the devastation I felt when I got the silent treatment or “next week will be better!” message.

This story arc also showed me how my mother's generation became lifelong dieters, and then passed all that they knew down to my generation (and on and on). This generation forgot how their mothers ate to stay slim, and started blaming themselves for being weak willed and lacking in self-control. They also started trusting experts with products to sell, relying on diet pills, eating processed foods, and going on diets like Weight Watchers that reinforced the idea that their overeating was all emotions based.

We have spent a long time in the wilderness of low fat, low calorie eating. It's been a long time coming for advice like that from Julia Ross (her book: The Diet Cure) and Gary Taubes (his book: Why We Get Fat) to take hold, so women like Betty Draper don't have to suffer. They can finally understand the biochemical connections to their weight gain, and stop punishing themselves for their lack of will power.

 

 


Book Review: The Diet Cure by Julia Ross

Julia Ross's revised and updated edition of “The Diet Cure” came up today during my nutrition educator training. My fellow nutrition educators were raving about it. My initial thought was, “Ugh, not another diet book.” I have spent so much money on diet books in my life lived with fat, only for them to present such a narrow and incomplete picture of what it takes to lose weight for the long term.

Despite my reservations, I bought a copy, opened to the first page and read this:

“This is not going to be like any diet book you have ever read. I won't mention calories except to forbid you to eat too few! I won't tell you to tune in to your “real” appetite because I know that if you could have you would have long ago. I won't tell you to discipline yourself because I know that your weight and eating habits are not the result of laziness, gluttony, or weak willpower.

Julia Ross's, The Diet Cure

You are trapped inside a body that is malfunctioning, and that body needs help. Years of dieting, psychotherapy, and the best pep talks about fitness can't help much when what you really need is a biochemical overhaul.” –Julia Ross, The Diet Cure

I almost cried. “What if I had read this statement when the book came out in 1999?” I asked myself. I couldn't help but think that I could have started to get good information about the real, biochemical reasons for my obesity (I topped out at 270 lbs) a full decade earlier than I did. Would my weight have gotten so out of control had I known about this book? All the time I spent beating myself up over my weak will, would I have felt differently about why I was obese?

I highly recommend this book to you as you start or continue on your weight loss journey. It answers so many of the “whys” of compulsive eating and weight gain. It also includes an awesome section called, “Depleted Brain Chemistry: The Real Cause of 'Emotional' Eating.” I have always thought that the concept of “emotional eating” is code for “you're fat because you can't control yourself and you are weak willed.” Ross clearly outlines why will and emotion have nothing to do with compulsive eating.

Have you read the book? Let me know what you found helpful!

 


Great website for healthy-living resources

I felt the need this week to highlight Nutritional Weight and Wellness's new website. It is such an unbelievably helpful resource if you are seeking weight loss and good health. You can access articles, podcasts, and videos on a wide range of health topics with a simple search. You get all content related to that topic in one place. I have a friend struggling with Fibromyalgia, and this will be a great resource for him.

The recipes have all been re-organized and have lovely photos with them. I have a pot of the Chicken Wild Rice Soup simmering on the stove right now! It is a complete and balanced meal that will help me lose weight.

Wild rice soup

Chicken wild rice soup made from recipe on NWW site

If you haven't already, check out this fabulous resource for health. Well done!

 

 


On Dishing Up Nutrition: Hidden habits that sabotage weight loss

I was on Dishing Up Nutrition this past Saturday talking about habits that hold back weight loss. You can listen here or download the show from iTunes. We talked about a lot habits that keep us from reaching our weight loss goals, including “closet eating” episodes like wolfing down a bag of M&Ms in the Menard's parking lost. It was a great show, and I hope you enjoy it!

 


Reader Q and A: Post cruise weight loss slump

I have wonderful readers. This week, I wanted to feature a question I got from Jane, and my response. I thought many of you could relate to her question and my response.

Feet on a scale

Question from Jane

Back in April I attended your “Get Inspired” session at Nutrional Weight and Wellness in St. Paul; I was so inspired by your story.  I follow your blog and have been following the NWW plan since December 2011.  In the last couple of months I’ve been having a much harder time staying on plan and staying focused.  I was doing really well until July when my husband and I went on a cruise since then I’ve had a terrible time getting back on track and I’ve put on weight and feel so yucky!
I’ve been meaning to email you for months to ask how you do it?  How do you stay on plan and focused?  And when you were losing your weight did you have to be perfect all the time, or could you have the occasional slip but get back on plan and continue to lose weight?  At times I still worry that I’m eating too much fat, but then remember what I’ve learned and resolve not to cut back, but when I don’t lose I worry that that may be the culprit!  Before our trip I noticed that my body felt so good and looked good, but hadn’t really lost weight or inches.
Since we’ve come home and I’m not following like I was I’ve gained both inches and weight!  I’m so frustrated and thought maybe you’d have some quick advice for me.
Thank you so much for any help you could offer.

My answer

I am so glad you wrote. It’s such a struggle sometimes, isn’t it? Believe me, over the last four years I’ve gone through it all. And I am still going through it. I am working on losing the 10 pounds I gained in 10 days in Paris! My body is getting more and more fussy when I go off plan.
I absolutely was not perfect when I was losing the 90 pounds. I think I was on plan about 90% of the time. It was when I tried to be perfect that I slipped up most often. When I gave myself permission to be flexible and try my best, I did much better than aiming and missing for perfection. I found that over time, I was able to minimize the damage from those slip ups, and they didn’t matter as much.
It sounds like you are where I was at the end of my first year. The year that I didn’t lose one pound. I also wasn’t following the plan but for 40% of the time. I was still sliding into fast food drive ups and getting M&Ms at the checkout of Menard’s. I needed that year to get used to this way of eating. I know some people change overnight. I took a year to get ready for the change–I see this now in hindsight.
My body also needed that year to heal my metabolism. After all, I had been on a one woman mission to destroy it for the previous 25 years, with diets and bad food.
The fat (butter, coconut oil, olive oil) is key to getting your cravings under control. If you don’t have the fat, you are going to crave the bad stuff (donuts, bread, grains, etc.–the stuff that makes you fat).
Lately, my cravings have been SO calm. I really do have a “take it or leave it” attitude toward carbs and sweets. Why? I think it is my pre-meal cocktail (3 times a day that is):

I also am getting all my meals and snacks in so I am not hungry. I have been doing this ever since I got back from Paris–when I went on a bread and beer binge–and my cravings have never been quieter. Now that my cravings are quiet, I can focus on getting good food, and I am SLOWLY losing those 10 pounds. I asked my nutritionist  about this and she told be that glutamine works so well for cravings because it is the only amino acid that the brain can use to make glucose. So, with your brain getting the glucose it needs from the amino acid, you don’t crave bread. It also heals your gut, which is key to metabolism and weight loss.

I hope this helps you re-ignite your efforts. I was totally hopeless after trying to do this for a year in 2008. In 2009, I really decided to eat this way most of the time. I started doing yoga and walking more, and things started happening. And they can happen for you too!
I will answer your questions, too. Just leave a comment!

Two hours of cooking made fun with recipe, music apps

I get many questions from people about how I maintain my 90-pound weight loss, and even better, lose weight. It's pretty simple and a bit boring–I plan, plan, plan, then cook, cook, cook. The key to my having healthy carbs, fats, and proteins at the ready is my weekly two-hour cooking session. Here's what I made today.

Wild rice meatballs, salmon patties, and healthy sloppy joes

Wild rice meatballs, salmon patties, healthy sloppy joes, cranberry wild rice salad, and zucchini supreme

I will use the food from these recipes to make: meals for my family, my son's lunches, my husband's snacks, and my ample snacks and meals (remember, I eat 5-6 times a day to keep my blood sugar balanced–the best way to lose weight for the long term).

How I make it fun and easy: apps, podcasts, music

Seems like a tall order–making food prep and cooking a fun activity and not a chore–since I have a long list of things I'd rather do. I use Paprika, an iPad/iPhone recipe manager app, to help me keep my recipes organized and easy to follow. I enter recipes into the app or load them from the browser, and then when I'm ready to shop I simply add the recipe to my grocery list. The app is also on my iPhone, which I use to shop and track what I buy.

I like to listen to nutrition podcasts while I cook (yes, I'm that much of a nutrition nerd). I use Downcast to download them and keep them all organized. If I'm in more of a music mood, I turn on the 70's station on Spotify.

Food planning is self care

This is what it all comes down to. When you make food that nourishes your body, you are caring for yourself and your family. I've found that unless it's fun, or at least enjoyable, I won't do it.

I hope you can use these tips and apps to inspire your self-care cooking session!

Have a favorite app that helps you plan? Share a comment now.

 


What I eat to feel good and lose weight

I thought I would repost this blog from 2010. Some things have changed since then, but this post captured a day in the life of my eating. It was helpful to so many people. This type of post takes a lot of planning, but I am going to make every effort to do more of these. The more people I meet along this weight loss journey, the more I know they just want to know what to do!

So, here’s an oldie but a goodie. Enjoy!

What I eat to feel good and lose weight

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