Grain of Truth

Memo to Nestlé. You ain't fooling me with your Whole Grain shit.

We are being bombarded with adverts at the moment about how Nestle cereals now contain whole grain. Old family favourites like Cheerios, Shreddies and Fitnesse have been rejigged to add this wholesome goodness, involving "massive R&D resources and major changes… all while maintaining taste appeal". Well thank you for your hard work, Nestle! Cynical folks might think you're just capitalising on the current Whole Grain hype and desperate to make consumers think your cereals are healthy enough to keep buying, but I know it's because you care about us so much that you would put in all that effort to give us the grain.

Yeah right. Cheerios do contain whole grains, but they also contain a whole lot of other shite that maintains that precious "taste appeal":

Whole Grain Corn, Whole Grain Oats, Sugar, Whole Grain Barley, Whole Grain Wheat, Whole Grain Rice, Corn Starch, Refiner’s Syrup, Corn Bran, Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Natural Colour, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Trisodium Phosphate, Monoglycerides, Tocopherols, Vitamins & Minerals: Niacinamide, Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (vitamin B6) Folacin, Iron.

Whilever wholegrain is the new nutritrional wave the media choses to ride upon, companies are going to keep slapping it on their labels. It's all the rage in the States too, with Renee reporting on the new (baked with) 100% Whole Grain Chips Ahoy! Still loaded with fat and sugar with only marginally less calories than the original, these cookies were launched AT AN OBESITY CONFERENCE.

Meanwhile, the Wonder Bread folks have come out with a Wonder Bread Whole Grain White loaf, designed to appeal to Mums who want to give their kidlets whole grains but know their little bastards would refuse to eat grains. Now how the hell do you get a whole grain white loaf? From the article linked above:

Marion Nestle, a nutritionist at New York University, says the long list of dough conditioners necessary to give the new Wonder Bread its distinctive soft, mushy texture means it's hardly bread at all. "Bread is flour, water, yeast, salt. Period. This has something like 20 other ingredients. … Why not buy your kids real bread?"

It shits me no end that food companies are allowed to put such misleading claims on their products. Did you know a can of Heinz Baked Beans counts as one of your 5-A-Day vegetable portions? Never mind all the sugar and salt and whatnots they're swimming in. By this logic I may as well say ice cream is good for me because it contains calcium. These food labels may be technically true, but they can be grossly misleading. It makes things even more confusing for the average consumer who is already overwhelmed by choice and the latest health trends. Joe Bloggs of Lancashire might see Gillian Crackpot McKeith singing the praises of wholegains on the telly, so he goes to the supermarket and spies those Whole Grain Cheerios and think, "Rightio! That's the ticket!", and ends up sitting down to a bowl of wholegrain sugar and chemicals.

As usual, food manufacturers (and some media) are distorting what is actually sound nutritional advice. Whole grains ARE extremely good for you. But whole grains are pure, cheap and unprocessed – a bag of quinoa or barley is just some grainy stuff in a bag. That's not very exciting to the food manufacturers; where's the money in that? So they have to fiddle with their existing processed shite products to make them fit into the latest trend. Just as they did for the Low Fat trend of the 80s, and the Low Carb shebang of recent years. Low Fat and Low Carb were also good dietary concepts – a healthy diet should be low in saturated fat and low in refined carbs. But this translated into Fat Free Ice Cream and Carb Free Pasta which totally distorted the original ideas and simply ended up feeding us whole lot of shitty food full of chemicals and sugar.

I guess all we can do is learn how to read nutritional info panels on the back of the box, and ignore the brightly-coloured starburst exclamation marked!!! propaganda on the front. There is some good info here if you want to know more about what the hell wholegrains are, even though Nestlé are behind the site.

Okay, time to climb down from my hydrogenated high horse.

. . .

Are you sick of coming to this page and never seeing an update? Are you tired of my endless journey and find yourself wondering if I'll ever get there? Or are you just looking for a way to waste more hours on the internet? Well help is here, because I am going to tell you about a few of my favourite reads. I know I have a bazillion links on the sidebar but thought I'd highlight a couple that have been particularly inspiring for me lately. Not say the others aren't inspiring, but these are simply the blogs du jour. So don't get pouty.

  • Beverly lost over 180lb (can't remember exact number) a few years back and has kept it off. Her blog is now mostly focused on her day-to-day life now, but she has written some real gems about what it's like to lose a megaload of weight. This entry in particular got me all hiccuppy and sad yet so happy that someone understands.
  • I love love love the Born Again Gym Bunny. It's great when you find a blog you can really relate to – YP has lost a lot of weight, is around my weight now, exercises like a mofo, and lives in the UK! Best of all she is a runner extraordinaire and just did her first 10k. Stalking my way through her archives these past few days has been like a kick up the pants for me, remembering how simple hard work and CONSISTENCY bring fantastic results. I feel completely inspired and fired up now, which I really need before I leave for Australia. I am determined not to gain an assload of weight over there so I can come home and blitz off the rest. So thank you, Ms Bunny.

There are bazillions more but I will shut up for today. I am just glad that after all these years it is still so easy to find inspiration. It keeps me away from the vending machine, I tells ya.

I will probably squeeze in one more entry before we leave on Friday, and will sneak some in while we're away, so if you want to be informed of the dribbles of new content round here, don't forget you can join the Notify List or subscribe to my site feed. The links are there on the right. Woohoo!

Meat Week

It’s Meat Week at Chez Dietgirl. The vegetarian Scottish Companion has been at a conference in Finland this week, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to partake in the pleasures of the flesh.

But it didn’t really turned out that way. Monday I had Quorn sausages (so low in fat and very tasty) and salad. Tuesday night I had a bowl of salad with some feta, and then a pile of potato wedges with chili sauce (oops). Meantime, SC calls last night to say he ate REINDEER at the conference dinner! Such a dedicated vegie.

I ended up making some Chili Con Carne, except with chicken instead of carne. What’s Spanish for chicken? Pollo? Or is that Italian? All I know is that it made me do some really lethal farts during the Squat track at Body Pump last night. Luckily I’d had the foresight to set up my weights in a remote corner of the room.

. . .

I’m becoming a cranky old bastard in my old age. Every time I check my List Of Stuff To Blog About, it always seems to be full of trivial rage. Even when I’m not hormonal. I know there’s a lot of horrible shite going on in the world, but it is easier to rant about the little things because you know they don’t really matter, therefore you don’t get all depressed like you do with huge, global problems that seem unresolvable.

ANYWAY. Here are the Rages du Jour.

Fashion. What the bloody hell is up with all this boho shite? I thought it would die after summer, but all the autumn clothes are full of jingle-jangle flouncy beaded faux-ethnic shite. I just wanted a FEW new things to take to Australia that actually fitted me, but where are the simple, clean lines? So I looked on the websites of a few Aussie stores and looks like the bohemian bastards have invaded the Antipodes too. What is the point of losing heaps of weight finally being able to shop in normal stores if all the clothes are going to be rubbish?

Smug losers. It really gets on my goat when you get someone who’s lost a hefty stack of weight, then suddenly adopts this tone of haughty all-knowingness. Suddenly they’re saying to all the remaining fatties of the world, "You  people don’t get it man! You just eat too much and don’t exercise! It’s all so simple! Get some self control! Do what I did, it’s easy!". They’re perched on their high horses, gazing out the window and clucking their tongues at all the lardy unenlightened ones waddling down the street, ignoring the fact they were in the same position not long ago. It’s smugger and more irritating than a reformed smoker or a recently reborn Christian.

And quite often it happens when they’ve still got weight to lose. I may have lost 160-odd pounds but I will never, ever take that tone with anyone. I get emails from people of all shapes and sizes, some heavier than when I started, and I always listen to their words and be empathic. And never, ever forget what it felt like back then. Never, ever forget how hard it can be to make changes. Thanks to hard work This Time has been The Time when I finally have been successful in making lasting changes, and while I share my experiences with people, I am not about to start sprouting the Gospel of Skinny like I’m some evangelist with all the answers. Plus until I have got to a healthy weight, and maintained it for a considered amount of time, I hardly feel qualified to do that anyway.

So I am back in the swing of things after being unwell. I’d not done any cardio for almost two weeks and just a couple Pump classes, so it’s good to be back into my regular routine. I had a moment in my Body Pump class last Sunday morning, as I was doing tricep extensions. I was just watching my arms bend back, my form was good and I felt strong. I could feel the burn starting in the muscles and it just felt so damn good and peaceful somehow. I’d wanted to skip the class and stay on my arse watching the cricket, but I was so glad I’d come out. It’s such a high to feel your body doing what it’s meant to doing… moving! Stretching! Being challenged. Kick ass.

Excuses, Excuses

Thank you to the kind folks who enquired about my whereabouts! Which excuse for not writing would you like first?

ONE – The cricket!
It’s the final Ashes test, people. I used to say I hated cricket, just like I used to say I hated olives. Then I actually tried an olive and discovered it was salty, sharp and delicious. Likewise, I actually started watching cricket this year and now I love it. I think it’s only because I am away from home and seeing Aussies on the telly makes me feel all fuzzy inside.

TWO – The illness!
I’ve been off work with the flu. I’ve been weak as a dishrag, coughing up green stuff, and moping about with such a bad fever that I didn’t want to eat. That’s right, I DIDN’T WANT ANY FOOD. I can’t believe it either. Sure, it was only about 12 hours before my appetite came back, but this must be some sort of record.

THREE – The writing!
I got a few story offers after the Sunday Mail and Grazia appearences. Mostly women’s magazines wanting to feature me in their Whoa Dudes, I Lost Some Crazy Weight! amazing transformation type of stories, where they fly you down to London and bouff your hair up and give you some funky clothes and do a photoshoot. I was tempted at first because the total amounted to a very nice new digital camera or maybe even some savings. But once I took away the dollar signs I realised the magazines were a little bit… well how do I say this politely? A bit shit. I mean there’s nothing wrong with them, per se; I am no snob and I am not rubbishing their readerships. But I didn’t want to be in a magazine I wouldn’t buy myself. Nor did I want to dilute the story by whoring it out all over town in publications with actual headlines like these:

"LIVING IN TERROR – The little girl who escaped from this baby faced MONSTER"

"The £2 bag that saved my life"

"My daughter helped heal my broken heart THEN BROKE IT IN TWO"

But in the end I was contacted by the lovely editor of an Australian women’s mag, and they actually wanted me to write a story instead of being a tubby little clotheshorse. So I snapped that up. At first I was over the moon but the day before the deadline I freaked out. An actual deadline for some Writing of Consequence! Help! You must understand I have had brain-dead jobs for the past 2.5 years so I am accustomed to having no real responsibility or pressure. It drudged up all the nightmare that was my journalism degree, the memory of bile and rot in your gut as the clock ticks away and your brain refuses to produce any words. I was a completely rubbish journalist, every moment of my internships filled me with terror. I don’t know how people do it for a living, the constant deadlines and doorknocking. I just couldn’t hack the pace, and years later I am still rubbish. I had to write just 1000 teeny weeny words on the simple topic of ME, and still I couldn’t bloody do it without jumping up and down on the bed yelling, "I caaan’t doooo thiiiiiis!" for a few hours until finally churning it out at the very very very last minute. Once I’d finally turned it in I felt so burned out I could barely write my own name, let alone an entry, so…

FOUR – The burnout!
To be honest, I have been bloody sick of talking about my fat. I needed to step back for awhile and remember that I have other interests aside from lard busting. I wanted to go to the gym and eat healthy because it’s just what I do, not because I was going to sift through it later for the bloggable bits.

FIVE – The unbearable excitement about going to Australia!
It’s two weeks today til we fly out home. Huzzah! To be honest, I really can’t think about anything else right now, I’m so excited I could spew. I can’t concentrate on work or writing or sleep. All I can do is pour over my intinerary, my budget spreadsheet, my folder of printouts of our hotels and flights and blah blah blah. I have lists too! Lists of Gifts To Purchase! Tours To Organise! Vows To Write! People To See After 2.5 Year Absence! Things To Pack! Things To Wax And Pluck!

And I still need to find a new stapless bra for my wedding dress. I have lost more weight since the Wedding II but it only seems to have come from the boobal area. My breasts are, as I described to my husband’s horror, "sloshing around like tea in a mug" in the all-in-one strapless bodysuit thingy I bought for Wedding I. Why do they have to keep shrinking? What about my goddamn thighs?

Anyway, so that’s what I’ve been up to. And I am behind on email too. I promise to write more soon and actually say something of substance. Hope you’re all well. Bon weekend!