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Archive for October, 2010

  • Day 255: Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear… of Candy

    Date: 2010.10.30 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 0

    What can you say about a journey to Washington D.C. to the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear (view from our perch at left this morning) that began a week ago with a fall off the entire wagon?

    The rally, at least, was no joke.

    Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert may not have kept me on the wagon but they did restore me to sanity. After more than five years living abroad and coming perilously close to joining other expats in denigrating America, I felt my own shaky patriotism snap back in business today.

    Some memorable moments among many:  Ozzy Osbourne and Yusuf Islam aka Cat Stevens doing, of all things, a bit, the Roots’ Cap’n Kirk’s blistering guitar,  Stephen Colbert’s Chilean-style emergence from the “fear bunker,” Father Guido Sarducci listing world religions and asking God for a sign as to which was the valid one,  the abrupt arrival of Kareem Abdul Jabbar, all of us doing the Wave on the Mall, jumping up and down and laughing “like a mad scientist” on cue from the Mythbusters.

    My favorite bit? R2D2′s dignified appearance and brazen roll over Stewart’s foot.

    I emailed a friend:  It surpassed all my expectations.  I thought it would just be fun but whatever you saw on TV or read online, you’ve got to know how amazing it was from the ground. Three hours of great music and laughing out loud, executed guerrilla-style by scary-smart people.  Blue skies, perfect weather and an Independence Day-style view of the U.S. Capitol in the distance.  I don’t want to write about it, read about it – or watch a thousand pundits talk about it.  I’m just glad I was there. It was a highlight of my life.  It was not something to watch from afar on a screen and cynically deconstruct from the safety of an iMac. I feel weary about even being a reporter today, knowing the thousands of other writers weighing in at the same time, grinding down the experience to a fine nothingness. I bet I’ll be embarrassed for expressing my enthusiasm and how moved I was at times and how clever it seemed to me — if I start reading all the reviews.

    For some reason, I focused on Tony Bennett’s suit and crisp orange tie  and pocket handkerchief when he came out at the end to sing “America the Beautiful.”  The lyrics were on the giant TelePrompter, like every last second of the three-hour event.  It had all gone so unbelievably smoothly.   Try doing deft political satire in a superhero cape and in front of a giant hand puppet (Colbert) and singing off-key (Stewart) in a Stars and Stripes fleece jacket in front of an estimated 215,00 people and see how well you pull it off.

    So when it came to 84-year-old Bennett, I worried that being old, he might blow it.  I was worried more for him than us.  His aura of utter professionalism, beautiful suit and 20th-century class made him seem more vulnerable to me.

    I know he is the ultimate in old pros. I still wondered what this meant to him, what it’s like to be one of many performers on the roster at a show like this, waiting backstage for your small moment. Tony delivered.  Of course he did, he’s Tony Bennett. This was probably just another gig for him.  He’s possibly the last person to get rattled.

    It’s why I love show people so much – they give me so much hope.  To me they’re as vital as neurosurgeons.   I admire them so much more than reporters or critics.  There is just no comparison.  I could never pull off what they did today, I can only praise, criticize or analyze it.  Those talents always come up so short to me when you contrast it to the O’Jays in their white suits stepping out onto the “Love Train.”  It was a gift not to be a reporter, critic or pundit today.

    I’d rather not report, then, my fall off the wagon that coincided with my trip back to the U.S.  I want the rally glow to stick…

    I landed at JFK last week and lasted one day… I discovered some old leftover Kudos granola chocolate chip bars in the refrigerator in my apartment and ate them. I also ate a few M&Ms I found in the vegetable drawer.  Hard fall off a Year Without Candy.  I’m not proud.  I was so disciplined for so long.

    Why did I do it? I don’t know.  A couple days later at a reunion party thrown by an old friend for a lot of us ex-MSNBC people, I freely ate potato chips and cheese.   Total fall off the Dukan diet.

    I was going to get right back on the no-candy, full Dukan diet horse, but it was time to hop the train to D.C. to the rally.  I forgot to pack warm clothes, forgot we were going to get up at the crack of dawn (below in the pitch dark) to get to the National Mall, forgot to buy some good food.

    I had to layer up, feeling like a Slavic peasant woman, while others wore attractive hats fit to go caribou hunting with Sarah Palin.  But we got a great place to stand, just a few feet away from the stage.

    All there was to eat were Zone and Clif bars, basically candy bars.  I ate them.  But if there’s any bright side to falling off the wagon, it’s that the bars seemed too sweet to me.  And I didn’t succumb to the big glazed doughnuts being sold just a few feet away from our perch.

    Like so many people on the Mall, we stuck around afterwards, sitting on the steps of the Smithsonian Air and Space museum – then took a pedicab to a restaurant on the water.

    It was a great day.  My plan is to return to my Year Without Candy tomorrow and write these six past days off as field research.   So far, my inner scientist says it’s much easier to fall off the wagon than I thought.  But no lashes for me.  I won’t stone myself.  I think I will get right back on track of No Candy tomorrow.  In fact I threw out every bit candy back in my New York apartment.

    Tomorrow’s another day.  But to get back to today for a moment.

    I wasn’t sure I was going to like Stewart’s big (12 minutes) speech at the end because the rally had walked such a high wire between comedy and message, and I was afraid he would come off as preachy.

    “I can’t control what people think this was. I can only tell you my intentions. This was not a rally to ridicule people of faith or people of activism, or to look down our noses at the heartland or passionate argument, or to suggest that times are not difficult and that we have nothing to fear. They are, and we do. But we live now in hard times, not end times.”


  • Day 243: Does Discipline Beget Discipline?

    Date: 2010.10.22 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 2

    If you’ve been reading A Year Without Candy for the past two weeks, you know that on Oct. 5th I began the Dukan Diet, a strict new diet sweeping France and which has become very popular in the U.K.    People report miracles of weight loss on it.

    I’ve eaten nothing but protein (meat and fish) and vegetables in the past two and half weeks.  Most people (just check out the voluminous Dukan diet forums online) report losing 10-12 pounds easily in the first three weeks. In contrast, I’ve only lost two pounds and my pants are still tight.

    Bitter?  I was a few days ago.  Especially that I’ve gone public not only with this blog but with friends and acquaintances. Therefore I am on the receiving end of helpful advice from all and sundry about my inexplicable lack of weight loss.

    What’s worse than suddenly developing a freakish metabolism impervious to the kind of diet that Gandhi might find challenging?

    Helpful advice from friends!

    Of course they mean well.

    A few days ago, pissed off, I decide to inform the truculent Universe that I was going to continue with the Dukan diet, despite Its mean league of gods clearly and deliberately trying to thwart me.

    Incredibly, I even thought, in cloying Pollyanna style, well at least I’ve lost two pounds!  That’s better than nothing!

    A funny thing happened.  The diet has become much easier.  The first week was a real struggle.  I had no energy, I had bad dreams when I wasn’t dreaming of french fries, and I never thought I’d make it two weeks.  And that was when I still thought I’d be losing weight!

    Almost three weeks in, I feel wonderful.  I do occasionally miss carbohydrates.  But I feel energized, happy, light, fired up.

    I always figured that giving up the sweets I love would be next to impossible.  Now I’m barely eating anything that I love, but I feel so much better.

    All I really eat is yogurt, eggs, chicken, fish, vegetables, steak and hamburger.

    Does discipline beget more discipline?

    Do you really need to eat as much as you think you do?

    Is this what happens when you push past disappointment and no results and keep going?

    Don’t get me wrong.  Feeling my pants still so tight after all this time is very discouraging.

    But at the same time, becoming more disciplined is cutting some of the extraneous fat from my brain, my character, my personality.

    I have liftoff.

    One person wrote to this blog a few days ago that maybe this diet just isn’t working for me and since I don’t look heavy, I should just quit and try something else.  I totally understand her perspective.  And while I’m not heavy and have never had eating issues, I have gained at least 20 pounds in the last six years without changing any eating or exercise habits.

    Why embrace those 20 pounds?  I don’t want them.  I don’t know now if I’ll ever get rid of them but I’m not ready to just accept them.

    I also remembered something that may be further proof that I am an alien life form which explains my current metabolism issue.

    I have fair skin, being of Irish descent.

    One of my closest friends since college also has fair Irish skin.  Years ago, during our college years, we used to go to her grandmother’s spread in Palm Springs for Easter break.

    Cam and I would bake in the sun poolside for hours without an iota of sunscreen. Cam would always wind up lobster red.

    I remained white as snow, impervious to  searing, 100+ degree desert sun.  A few days later I might develop a slight tan.

    Cam could never believe it.  There was no explanation for it.

    Helpful advice, anyone?


  • Day 241: Bad News! Dukan Diet Two-Week Update

    Date: 2010.10.20 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 7

    So after one week on the Dukan diet, I lost four pounds.  Yay!

    Now, I did have the feeling just before I hopped on the scale for the two week weigh-in yesterday that I hadn’t lost much, maybe even nothing.

    However, I was not prepared for the devastating read-out:  I had gained almost two pounds.  Yes, you read that right.  GAINED.

    So let’s review:  two weeks of nothing but protein, some vegetables, fat-free/sugar-free yogurt and I lose a TOTAL of two pounds?

    As I wrote in all upper-case in a furious email to a friend:


    Yes, I’ve cheated.  I must admit this as I have witnesses, who’d rather not be identified on this blog…

    Do you want to know how I’ve cheated?

    I’ve had butter with my hard-boiled eggs and ketchup with my steak and hamburger. I use some olive oil in the pan when cooking the meat. (Butter and oil are banned on Dukan.)  I’ve had at the most two glasses of red wine with dinner on maybe two occasions.  Wow.  Call the Dukan police.  Bring the leg irons!

    Does the above cheating make you then lose one pound a week rather than the 5 to 6 pounds per week everyone else loses?

    I felt very discouraged.  To make myself feel worse, I called a friend who had effortlessly lost 22 pounds in three months on Dukan.

    “Poor you,” she cooed, with that awful tone as if she realized I was somehow not part of the Dukan winners inner circle  - and clearly have the unfortunate metabolism of an alien life form.

    She was just trying to be nice but just FYI, “Poor you” might be my least two favorite words in the English language.

    So what do I do?  Normally this is when I would quit.  But like the no-candy year, having this blog helps me stay straight.

    Because I went public with going on the Dukan diet, I’d rather not  bail on it.

    But even if I didn’t have this blog, I thought, what if I just continued – even though this diet doesn’t seem to be working for me.

    It’s a metaphor for many things in life.  You know, you try something and you work at it – and nothing happens. And you have to out yourself as not being successful (so far) at the venture.

    I have a friend on Long Island who loves men and loves being married.  But she had the worst luck with guys.  She was married three times and each marriage ended badly, with the guy often being a jerk and dumping her in a devastating way.

    I marveled at how she would talk about it openly, since it seemed to me the experiences were so humiliating.  She’d be upset, then get over it and literally get right back on the horse.  She’s now married for the fourth time, happily.

    So what if you acknowledge a certain type of failure with what you’re trying to do – and then continue it anyway?  What lies down the road?  More failure or eventual success?

    The second week of Dukan was easier psychologically and physically for me. I’ve had less bad dreams and more energy.

    So I’m now starting my third week on the Dukan diet.

    That’s the good news!

    Stay tuned,

  • Day 239: Male Eye Candy

    Date: 2010.10.18 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 3

    When I met John Palmer in 1999 and found out he was a male model, I could not stop giving him shit.  Despite the fact he had a B.A. in art from UC-Berkeley and began his career as a carpenter.  A model?  Come on.  Plus I figured of course he was gay.

    He quickly disabused me of what little I knew about male models which includes this fact: The majority of them are 100 percent straight.  And if you were a star in the 1980s like John, your life was a blur of catwalking in Milan, Paris and New York, being a muse for Kenzo – and having sex practically 24-7 with every beautiful woman you wanted.

    The catwalk?  What’s it like to do such a ridiculous thing?  What do you think when you’re swaggering along the runway?

    “How everyone wants to fuck me,” John said, matter-of-factly.


    I was living in New York and working as an anchor at the Fox News Channel at the time.  Most of my friends were caught up in the workaholic media/finance/arts boom of the ’90s.  I didn’t know anyone who worked for a few hours a week while gallivanting around Europe, making in the high six figures – and having constant sex.  I was intimidated.

    “Well, I’m from New England,” I said, a little defensively, as if that might explain our differences and give me a little breathing room.

    Like he cared.  You can’t look like John and have his wit and charm and not have a girl in every port.  When I met John, his biggest problem was making sure he got his hair professionally thinned enough.  Now in his 50s, he still has to get it thinned.

    You’d think he’d be the kind of guy you’d know for two weeks and never hear from again.  Or, he’d never hear from you again.

    Surprisingly, not true.   All these years later, John is one of those rare people you can call anytime you want and say anything you want – in any state of mind, good, bad or seriously unhinged.  I like that he gives me the space to be exactly who I am – and he usually just finds it funny.

    John is different from a New York guy, and not just because he’s a California boy. He has all the sexual self-confidence that many otherwise super-successful New York guys lack.  But he’s missing the arrogant chip and the conformist chip that drives so many of the New York guys I used to know to such heights.

    Like me, he looks normal but he’s eccentric.  It’s always a relief to have a few people in your life like him.  That way you don’t always have to dial down your eccentricity to fit into a world where hardly anyone understands it.

    John’s sort of an outlaw.  He just doesn’t care.  He still models (!) when he feels like it but went into real estate when his modeling career started to fade.

    Cue yesterday.  I was reading Guy Trebay’s piece in the Sunday New York Times titled “From Boys to Men,” which is about how magazine editors are seeking older male models in reaction to tough economic times:

    “You lose the T-shirt and the skateboard. You buy an interview suit and a package of Gillette Mach 3 blades. You grow up, in other words. Suddenly evidence of a new phase in the cycle of evolving masculine imagery was all over the catwalks in the runway season that recently ended. Just as suddenly it can be seen splashed across the covers of magazines, where the boys of recent memory have been transformed overnight into men.”

    The article mentioned that a “80s star” male model named Matt Norklun was on the cover of the new issue of Vogue Hommes International, embodying the new “rugged and mature” look sought after by editors and bookers.

    “Jon Hamm’s square-jawed Don Draper,” wrote Trebay, is the new ideal.

    It was barely 6 a.m. in Santa Monica when I dialed John’s number, but he’s usually up early.  He picked up.

    “Who is Matt Norklun and why is he on the cover of  Vogue Hommes International and not you?” I demanded.  ”And who has a squarer jawline than you?”

    OK, said John, I’ve still got a modeling website.  Maybe I’ll give it another go.

    Check it out if you want some man chocolate and get your week off to a sweet start.

    And please note John’s suave, Sears Roebuck catalog casual arm move with glasses in hand in the below shot of us from 2003.   Model perfect!

  • Day 237: ANOTHER Sugar-Free Weekend…(:

    Date: 2010.10.16 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 0

  • Day 233: Dukan Diet 1-Week Weight Loss!

    Date: 2010.10.12 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 3

    Is this me after seven days on the Dukan Diet?

    Well, in my mind it is!

    I ended the seven-day “Attack Phase” yesterday.

    This morning’s weigh-in showed a loss of exactly two kilos – about four and a half pounds in those seven days.

    I’m happy!  It’s not the 6-8 pound weight loss that some people (especially guys) brag about after their first week but it’s okay by me, especially since my metabolism moved into first gear a few years ago and it takes a sledgehammer to chisel away an ounce of fat these days.

    Today I went to the market and loaded up on vegetables, since they are allowed on the so-called “Cruise” phase of the Dukan diet.  I bought cucumbers, celery, green peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, radishes and butter lettuce. Yum!

    The up side of this hard-core diet is suddenly a tomato becomes as alluring as Black Forest cake!

    Now the bad news…

    It’s been hard.  Not impossible, but a bit of a struggle.

    If you trawl the Dukan diet forums – which are almost exclusively French or U.K forums because the diet hasn’t made it to North America yet – you’d think this diet was an absolute breeze.   So “tasty,” the “easiest diet I’ve ever been on!”   “I’m never hungry!”   It’s like all the Dukan diet testimonials were written by hack movie critics from the U.S.   “The Dukan diet – Laugh out Loud Funny!”

    Here’s the thing:  it’s anything but funny.

    I tried reading the French Dukan forums but, big surprise, the commentary was too rigid and formal for me. Bonne continuation! they crow to each other.

    The British forums are even worse.  I’m a little irritable without a single carb in me.  So the Britishisms on the forums are a bit much.  First, they congratulate each other:  “Well done, mate!  “Good on you!”   Some of them, of course, are a bit “knackered” by the diet but others love to go on about the oat bran they put in their “porridge” for “brekkie.”  A few have hit upon the tactic of popping a few “sugar-free lollies” in their mouth to get past the cravings.

    Frankly, I find the babyish “ie” they tack on to perfectly normal words a bit intolerable – at least without the help of some garlic mashed potatoes and Hershey bars.   Oooh, does that make me a bit naughty? Get me a lollie, someone, or I might go daft with this dodgy diet!  That wouldn’t be naff of me, or would it?

    Anyway, the Brits act as if this diet were as easy as sucking down cheeseburgers, fries and chocolate doughnuts three times a day.

    For me, not so much.  I’m looking forward to adding in vegetables or veg, as my Anglo-Saxon cousins put it, but I haven’t felt great this past week.  Maybe I haven’t eaten enough or drunk enough water.

    Yes, I did cheat a bit.  I have to confess, seeing as how I have witnesses (who do not want to be identified or included on this blog.)

    My cheating has been minimal, in my opinion.  Several nights I have added a dollop of ketchup to my steak.  Two nights I have had a glass of red wine.   So naughty! But I fancied it!

    At least twice I have placed olive oil in the pan when frying up chicken.  Goodness me!

    That’s it.

    I don’t feel hungry so much but I don’t feel good.  It’s as if there is a total absence of comfort in my life.  Eating nothing but protein is like being an orphan.  There are no mother or father foods.   My normal high-energy is lacking.

    I go to bed fairly early and have weird anxiety dreams.  Just short of nightmares.  I lose my purse.  I slip and fall on my lower back.  A very good friend is revealed in my dream to be a professional flamenco dancer.  Etc.   Dodgy stuff.

    I also sleep way more than usual – I’m almost late to brekkie!

    But it’s working for me so far, because I work well when I have to be very disciplined.

    I’m hoping the veg will help me sort out the kinks.

    Cheers, mates!

  • Day 231: Dukat Diet Sunday

    Date: 2010.10.10 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 7

    It occurred to me while feeding the cat his wet food today – aren’t cats always on a form of the Dukan diet?  Yes there is the occasional dry food – but the wet food is all protein, like I’m eating.   And eating.  And eating.  Ad nauseam.

    Cats never eat sour cream and onion chips or have a chocolate fondue or some fries with both ketchup and French mayonnaise sauce.  I could offer him some buttered sourdough toast, which I’d kill for right about now.  I’d pay full price to fly to San Francisco tonight so I could have some sourdough toast with butter for brunch tomorrow at Stinson Beach.

    I am finishing up Day 6 of the Dukan diet.  I’m in the flow, but it’s not easy.

    So far I’ve persuaded one friend to join me. She’s one day behind me.  I told her I think it’s now or never.  I’m very aware that with these kinds of diets, if you stop them after a week or two, you risk gaining back what you lost and more — because sometimes you lose muscle and fat and then gain back only fat.

    The die is cast.  I’m in this for the long haul.  If I falter this week and can’t continue, I’ll doubt I’ll ever lose all the weight I put on.  As I told my friend, then you never go back and regain a bit of who you were.  Which may be OK – but not for me.

    It’s helped so much that I already gave up candy.

    Right now my favorite cream of tomato soup sounds like a half-pound Hershey bar. That’s how good it would taste.

    One day at a time.

    I’d write more but it’s time to eat some more cat food…


  • Day 229: Panic in Dukan Park

    Date: 2010.10.08 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 0

    Day 4 of the Dukan diet is coming to a close and while I feel good right now, it’s been a day on the edge.   There was no sign of the energy and euphoria I felt on the second day of this diet.

    Today I got up and then spent 45 minutes on the sofa contemplating how I needed to buy groceries so I’d have some more food (read:  protein and only protein) to continue this diet.

    But getting up off the couch – never mind washing, dressing and walking out the door – seemed an overwhelming proposition.

    At the same time, as I found out when a friend called, I talked so fast he could barely understand me.

    Life without carbs, it turns out, makes one as jittery and hyped-up as a tweaker from Fresno.

    I ate my morning yogurt with oat bran, and then made the pilgrimage to Monoprix to buy supplies.  Never a great idea to stroll the supermarket aisles while, basically starving.

    Then it began.  I could only find smoked salmon so asked a cashier if there was any fresh salmon.

    She looked annoyed and waved over to the smoked salmon.

    Tous qu’on a est la-bas.” Whatever salmon we have is over there.  And like, don’t bother me with more dumb questions.

    I really didn’t like her Frenchitude.  Normally, it’s something that rolls off me.  Not today.

    I got home and began working on a story about the horrible toxic sludge spill in Hungary.  The head of the environmental committee in Hungary’s Parliament told me that the fast-moving red sludge, which has killed 7 people and injured 150 people so far, looks like something out of a “movie about Martians.”

    I also spoke to a scientist with Hungary’s most powerful environmental group.  He was so bright that he spoke English faster than I do but our connection was not good and it was difficult to understand him.  I felt like snapping at him – this guy dealing with Hungary’s worst ecological disaster in history.

    Fortunately, I managed to remain pleasant, but it was an effort.

    It was even more difficult when I was writing the piece – and was trying to figure out the area involved in the spill based on different accounts from different sources.  Mathematics is not my strong suit on the best days, but please don’t expect me to elegantly translate square kilometers and hectares into American English when under the influence of the Dukan diet.

    On Day 1, I just wanted to make it to Day 2.  Now that I am finishing Day 4,  I just want to get a week in the bank.

    I have a lot in front of me.  As I’ve said to one friend and one cousin who I want to do this diet with me, I believe it’s now or never.

    Do you know the point at which you realize you probably have one chance to reverse something and get back to who you were – or you’ll never have that chance again?

    This is it.

    Then again, if if I fell off the wagon tonight and stuffed myself with a piping hot pizza reine and a dessert of puff pastry with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce (better known as profiteroles), I should only be grateful I didn’t lose my home and my village to a frightening wave of toxic sludge that has ruined some lives forever.


  • Day 228: Dukan Diet Update

    Date: 2010.10.07 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 0

    So I’m starting Day 3 of the Dukan diet.  My main concern was just getting through Day 1. I did – and Day 2 was amazing.

    Day 2 didn’t start out too well, however.  I woke up and felt a little dizzy and nauseous and had a headache.  My heart sank and I thought, this isn’t going to work.   But I got up, drank a lot of water, took a Tylenol and then felt this incredible energy and euphoria.

    The again, as I wrote to a friend, I can be very enthusiastic when I start something.  The key for me is follow-through and I have no idea how long I am going to be able to stick to this diet. I hope I make it to my goal.

    If you look online, there are tons of articles and blog posts about people doing the Dukan diet and it’s helpful to read about the upsides and downsides.

    Many people get very creative with the diet and make all sorts of delicious-sounding meals out of meat or fish.  Here is a link to a page with 25 different recipes.   But to get myself started, I need to follow something totally no-fuss. Both days, this is what I’ve eaten, hewing to Dr. Pierre Dukan’s main diet tenets. I know it sounds bleak but it hasn’t been that bad!

    This is the so-called “attack phase” of the diet, which can last anywhere from 1 to 10 days, depending on how much weight you want to lose.  You can eat as much protein as you want, but who wants that much of it?  Not me.

    Breakfast:  Cup of plain yogurt, sprinkled with oat bran and sweetened with stevia. Black tea.

    Lunch:  Two big pieces of chicken and (sadly) Diet Coke.   I’d like to lose the evil drink and just virtuously drink gallons of water but…

    Snack:  Cup of plain yogurt, sprinkled with oat bran and sweetened with stevia.

    Dinner:  Steak.

    I’ve always heard that some sugar addicts have some type of protein deficiency and by upping your protein intake you can cut sugar cravings.  That’s certainly true here. In fact, so far, the protein overload acts as a kind of appetite suppressant.

    I’m mindful that drastic diets can screw with your metabolism and cause the weight to pile back on once you reach your goal weight and start eating normally again.  But I’ve been cheered by my friend Ceriann saying she hasn’t put any of the 22 pounds she lost back on.

    Stay tuned!


  • Day 226: In Which I Up the Self-Denial Game

    Date: 2010.10.05 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 2

    Not being able to eat candy, cookies, ice cream and cake is too easy, I’ve decided.  I need to start sleeping on a bed of nails and wearing hair shirts.

    Let me explain…

    I haven’t been on an official diet since 1981 when my mother and I went on the Scarsdale Diet for fun and both lost five pounds in two weeks.   Just for a lark!  Good times!  I weighed 130 pounds at the time and I’m 5’8″.

    Fast forward a few years and, er, a few pounds.  The dirty little secret of my Year Without Candy is that I have not lost weight.  People are shocked, nay disillusioned, when I tell them.  I was talking to my beloved friend Lauren on the phone today in New York and I heard the dismay in her voice when I reiterated that I hadn’t lost weight.

    Part of it is that I never ate huge amounts of sweets, like some charter member of Overeaters Anonymous, which means my sugar addiction never translated into body fat.   I didn’t hide out in my bedroom, sucking down tubs of Ben & Jerry’s or bags of giant M&Ms and asking my Higher Power to save me.

    What, there isn’t a place in this world for someone who just eats candy every day?

    My theory – and I’m never at a loss for theories – is that my candy addiction functioned a bit like other people’s smoking, crack or crystal meth habits.

    It cut my appetite for the big fat stuff like bread and cream sauce and it jacked up my metabolism.

    A few years ago, way before I went off candy, my solid-gold metabolism ground to a halt.  Years after everyone else’s.

    For my whole life, it was like the evil body gods said, we’re gonna let you eat whatever you want for so long you’re gonna think you’re golden and immune to time.  Then WHAM! I gained 15 pounds in one year – 2005 – without eating one calorie more per day.

    Paging Queen Latifah!   Big girls don’t cry!

    Reader,  I tried so hard to get doctors to see my thyroid problem.  More than one blood test ensued.  There was no thyroid problem.  “Perfectly normal,” the doctors all crowed, despite cousins, mothers and close friends and Oprah getting the diagnosis and turning into whippet-like sylphs thanks to Synthroid.  Not me.  (OK, maybe not Oprah either.)

    What to do?

    Well, French magazines are chockablock full of stories about France’s Scarsdale Diet du jour:  the Dukan diet.

    The “revolutionary” Dukan diet is the brainchild of a French doctor, Pierre Dukan, and is said to be sweeping France.   Which may be true as my friends Terri and Ceriann here in France have been talking about it for months.  Ceriann (fabulous Welsh name) lost 22 pounds in about three months and now looks just as gorgeous as her college-age daughter.

    It’s not easy, though.  You start with an “attack phase” of anywhere from one to ten days in which all you eat is protein. No vegetables even – and that includes potatoes and ketchup.

    It’s like the Atkins Diet, said Lauren who lost 60 pounds on that, except you can’t even eat things like butter and cheese.

    Ceriann sounded very cheerful about it.  The Dukan website brags about how fantastic it is that you get to eat as much chicken and fish, say, as you want.   Oh yeah, that’s the ticket.  How many times has 10 p.m. rolled around and I download this week’s Two and a Half Men and think, I’m dying for a chunk of smoked salmon?

    Anyway, I started today.  It’s 11:30 p.m. in France as I write this.  I’ve stayed the course one day so far.  I wasn’t even going to write about it until I realized how little faith I had that I could continue.  And I remembered, oh yeah, the blog.  I’ll put it out there and my competitiveness and aversion to perceived shame  may keep me on track.

    I don’t know.  I’ve made it one day.  My plan is for the “attack phase” to last five days.

    So you see, I’m just using you.

    I’ll report back if I continue – and if I don’t.  I’m allegedly supposed to be at my target weight by Dec. 29, according to the esteemed Dr. Dukan.

    If that incredible event occurs – and I have no faith at this point – I will disclose actual figures.

    For now, I have one question:

    Does this water make me look fat?

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This American candy addict/journalist in France writes about quitting candy – and all desserts – for at least one year beginning Feb. 28, 2010. Follow my progress – or relapses – as I delete candy corn, moelleux au chocolat, peppermint patties, Carambars, tarte tatin, After Eights, crème brûlée, Nutella, tapioca pudding, mint chocolate chip ice cream, Haribo Polkas, M & Ms and more from my life. Learn about the evils of white sugar and its effects on mood and health from my interviews with experts and friends! Let the sugar fog lift!

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