Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Five Little Things I Do to Maintain my Weight

Americans are an impatient people, and we don’t like to wait when it comes to losing weight.   We want that quick fix – the crash diet, the miracle elixir, the magic pill – that will melt away those pounds lickety banana split. 



At some point in our lives, many of us find ourselves locked in mortal hand-to-mouth combat with our weight and the older we get the harder it is for us to win that battle.  Our metabolisms just slow down, so no matter how many miles we run, we still need to cut back on the calories. 

Here are five tips you might find helpful that have worked well for me over the years. 





In the interest of full disclosure, I have never been on a “diet,” because I have three things going for me for which I can take no credit.  First, I come from a long line of thin people; second, I do not have a sweet tooth; and third, I never believed that finishing everything on my plate was going to save a starving child in Armenia.  When I’m full, I stop eating, no matter what’s left on my plate.  Within a few pounds either way, my weight has remained the same since the day I got married.  

 





I hate to exercise; I find it boring and pointless.  I do love walking, especially in Paris and New York, but, unlike most French, I am not a good flâneuse (someone who strolls)I walk quickly and I’m usually headed somewhere, so the walk has a purpose. 

Over the years I have made little adjustments here and there to my daily diet that have helped me maintain my weight as I age.  I offer them up as food for thought. 


Drink and Mix Water



I do believe in drinking water.  There is a bottle of water on every table in France and chez moi as well; however, I am not a devotee of constantly drinking water all day long.  I never cease to marvel at the number of grown men and women walking around sucking on bottles of water every five minutes.  Frankly, if I drink too much water during the day, I feel positively waterlogged.  And, no, ladies, no matter how much you drink, you cannot pee off the pounds. 

Because fruit juices in this country tend to be overly sweet, I mix my cranberry juice in the morning with old fashioned seltzer water.  Mixed half and half, it cuts the sweetness and the calories. 


My Special Cocktail



The thought of NOT having my favorite apéritif before dinner every night just does not compute.  The traditional Kir Royale is a mixture of crème de cassis and champagne – delicious, but high in calories.  I save that for the weekends. 

During the week, I make a special Kir à la M-T.  Instead of the traditional flute, I use a large red wine glass, add some ice, a bit of peach liqueur, a lot of seltzer water and white wine (proportions can be varied to taste) – very refreshing in the summer, but delicious all year round and much easier on the calories.  In fact, I’ve been known to have two. 


V-8 Does the Trick



If I’m feeling a bit peckish between lunch and dinner, a glass of V-8 Juice cut with a little still water always does the trick.  I once tried the low-sodium version and hated it.  Like eggs, salt has now been moved from the Naughty to the Nice List.  In fact, the latest studies tell us that, unless there is a medical reason to avoid it, seniors need their salt. 


Nothing from a Bag



I never eat anything directly out of a bag.  I always have a little something with my Kir.  Sometimes it will be a handful of chips that go onto a small plate and the bag is closed and put away.  If you keep the bag with you, the temptation is there to keep dipping into that bag.  Also, I prefer the less oily taste of baked chips, which are lower in fat. 





Most of the time, I will have some pistachios with my Kir.  One of the great things about pistachios, other than their yummy, satisfying taste, is the fact that you have to shell them before you can eat them.  Americans are very lazy about working to get to their food, but the truth is instant gratification often leads to overeating before you’ve even realized it.  Just looking at a mound of empty shells on your plate makes it hard to lie to yourself about how much you’ve actually eaten.  

And, don’t forget that just because it says “LOW FAT” on the label, doesn’t mean it’s “LOW CALORIE.”  In fact, low fat snacks are often higher in calories to make them taste better.   You’re better off going for the taste (moderate fat/low cal) in small quantities.  You’ll feel more satisfied and will have consumed less calories in the end. 


Stick to the Apps



If I go out to dinner during the week, I usually order two appetizers instead of an appetizer and an entrée.  American portions have gotten increasingly enormous and, believe it or not, I often find that I’m still taking food home in a doggy bag. 

The bottom line is that I’ve found ways to make small, painless adjustments to my eating habits, which over time make a big difference.  So can you.    



22 comments:

  1. I have enjoyed this to-the-point blog very much. I am an older woman and I walk outside each day about four miles over and above my usual activities in the day. Nothing happens to my weight. As you describe, I find I must go from 1400 c. a day to 12-1300c. That is hard to sustain. I rarely eat meat, I don't eat candy and baked goods. But I do exceed the 1300 a day that would allow me to lose a pound every week or so. I will take heart from your blog. :-)

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    1. You are clearly on the right track. The secret is to find what works for you to maintain and/or lose a few pounds. It really comes down to trial and error and paying attention to little clues and signals that our bodies send us. Skin care is the same. My minimalist approach to skin care and the products I choose may not work for someone else.

      Keep me up-to-day, dear Katie Isabella, on your progress.

      Cheers, M-T

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  2. Sounds like you have done really well. All my friends are into a diet program and I just can't get excited about it. Been there done that. Yours sounds so much more sensible. Reminds me of the book French Women Don't Get Fat. xo Deborah

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    1. I remember that book, too, Deborah, and the controversy it caused. The truth is that Frenchwomen come in all shapes and sizes, too. The difference is that by and large they have healthier eating habits and have found ways to maintain their weights without depriving themselves of the things they love.

      The French are comfortable with moderation, while Americans are not, which, I might add, is part of their charm. We are a "go for it" culture, which is wonderful, except for that second (or third) slice of cake.

      Don't forget that if you go "on" a rigorous diet you eventually have to go "off" of it, which we know only makes things worse. People are more likely to gain excess weight during that "post" diet phase.

      Eating well-balanced meals every day is the key to long-term success in maintaining a healthy weight.

      xoxo, M-T

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  3. Dear M-T,
    Amazing that my only Apertif is also a Kir Royale. It's worth the calories since it's a special treat. You have given some excellent tips. I'm sure many will respond with their own.
    What works for me is drinking a full glass of water, sometimes even 2, before a meal. And like you my weight has been within a 3-7 pound range of what it was 30 years ago. I also weigh myself often (2 x a week) and when I see the scales bearing to the right, I cut back. I also am not fond of sweets, and a big massive donut, cookie, muffin or slice of cake that others swoon over, holds no appeal. However, a tart or claufouti that I occasionally bake, are fabulous, but I don't feel the need to eat it all in 1 sitting!
    American restaurants serve enormous portions and a large platter of food it a turn-off, but I know it will be lunch the next day.
    And as we know fashion and oversize has never been a good mix. My mother always said. 'when you're thin you can wear anything, and look good.' And we all heed Mother's voice with time.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Clearly, Linda, the wisdom of mothers (yours and mine) should be bottled and sold. Yet another thing we have in common -- the delicious Kir (definitely worth the calories). Although I do not have a sweet tooth, as I said, I do eat desserts when in Europe. They are so much more delicious, because they are not as sweet as American desserts which tend to be cloyingly sweet. I do occasionally indulge in a scoop of sorbet, but normally my "dessert" is a square of dark chocolate (72%) after dinner.

      Cheers, M-T

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  4. Comment sent to me by my friend Anna:

    "Great blog and thanks for the advice. Have to learn not to finish my plate at restaurants. Was brought up to finish the meals but was not tortured over it. And I rather give up sweets than wine and champagne."

    ReplyDelete
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    1. If the day comes when I have to give up wine and champagne, I will know that life has lost its sparkle. What a sad day that would be.

      Cheers, M-T

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  5. Comment sent to me by my friend Kirsten:

    "Love love love this! And that a ‘Kir’ is your favorite drink. ❤️"

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    1. We do love our Kirs, don't we, Kirsten? Speaking of which, we are due for a dinner date and some "girl" chat over a lovely Kir.

      Cheers, M-T

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  6. Comment sent to me by my friend Marianne:

    "Hey, M-T, good points about maintaining your weight. However, I can also add that you eat slowly, which means that you fill up more quickly and therefore eat less. Americans typically eat too fast, so they consume more. I’ve been lucky that, like you, I’m a slow eater. I’ve also noticed that luckily my appetite has decreased as I’ve gotten older. It’s nice to be able to take leftovers home to eat for lunch another day. That way I get two meals for the price of one, and I feel less guilty about eating out, which we do way too much!"

    ReplyDelete
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    1. You know me so well, Marianne. I'm always the last one to finish my plate (even in France), and you are definitely a close second. I don't think I've ever seen you gain a pound either.

      Cheers, M-T

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  7. Dearest Marie-Thërèse,
    Always makes me happy to discover yet another thing we have in common... Talking about exercise, I always mention my grandméres; none of them ever did exercise and yet nowadays people buy a fitbit and use social media to let the world know how hard they exercise!
    Oh, how much V-8 I have drunk in the past but I stopped using it since 2007 when i got diagnosed with diabetes type 2. There is way too much sugar in it and also WAY to much sodium for keeping me alive with my stage of CKD.
    Now Pieter too has to watch very careful as his heart suddenly went from functioning 40% after his quadruple bypass + stent in the neck, to only 27%. It scared me and we both have had a rough week learning about this. The catheterization this morning showed that there is nothing they can do for him; no more stent and no surgery. Only more meds and i know that is only delaying the verdict... Not easy and right now I'm for no reason feeling very bloated (stress I guess) and far from my usual flat belly. Pieter needs to weigh himself daily now and keep his fluid intake to only 1-1.5 l per day. He loved to drink several mugs of coffee in the morning... that is passé.
    Hope to feel well again in a couple of days and facing this challenge ahead.
    Hugs,
    Mariette

    PS Since age 15 my weight has been steady, also within a few pounds up or down. No obese people in my family either. We both enjoy our bike rides but finding flat areas is tricky. But I will venture out more as now is our chance and let other things wait...

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    1. Dearest Mariette,

      Despite all your health problems over the years, you look wonderful and have kept your figure beautifully. Good genes are always helpful, but taking care to listen to what our bodies tell us is so important. Ignore those clues and signals at your peril. You are obviously paying very close attention. Keep up the good work and stay healthy.

      Gros bisous,
      M-T

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  8. Hi M-T

    Since retirement, when we have dinner with friends or even family, it is almost always at restaurants. It definitely wasn't that way even 10 years ago - there was a lot more at-home dinners with friends. It's more common now to get together for wine & cheese (sometimes appetizers) at one of our homes for about an hour before dining out.. This can really pack on the pounds.

    Obviously, you can avoid the obvious culprits like fried food or dessert; however, it can also be tricky figuring out the calorie content that's really in restaurant entrees or appetizers.

    My husband and I cook & eat at home a lot more than many of our friends & that keeps adding the pounds on at bay. For me its more of a struggle & I am working on it diligently.

    Exercise is a must for maintaining good health; but, not better than counting points (or calories) for loosing weight, according to Weight Watchers.


    Now, most of the large dinners prepare & host are for family get-togethers on the Holidays.



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    1. That is so true, Rosie. Dinner parties at home are definitely not as ubiquitous as they once were. I can remember entertaining once or twice a week, often clients of my husband. It's harder to cook for company these days as you never know if you someone has suddenly gone "gluten free" or "vegetarian" since the last time you had them over for dinner. I do much less of it, although I still cook about five nights a week for the two of us.

      I do love to eat out, but as you say, it's really impossible to know how many calories you are actually consuming at a restaurant.

      One thing you never see in France before dinner is a plate of cheese. Cheese is served after the salad course, which follows the main course, then fresh fruit is served before dessert. Coffee is served after dessert (never with) and then after-dinner drinks, if one is so inclined.

      Thanksgiving will be here in a few weeks. I always think of what the late, great Art Buchwald said about Thanksgiving, that it's the one day of the year Americans eat as well as the French do every Sunday. He lived and worked in Paris and knew the importance of Sunday lunch "en famille."

      Cheers, M-T

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  9. Great tips and tricks! They work, you're proof!

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    1. So glad you like my little tips, Cynthia, and thank you for the compliment. I'm sure you have some tips and tricks to add to my collection that keep you looking lovely.

      Cheers, M-T

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  10. I read this topic with great interest. I'm been thin all my life. Although still considered thin, do weigh more than I used to and can't lose it just by eating 3 balanced, non-sugar, no alcohol meals anymore. I actually would have to diet. I won't mind getting rid of a pouch!

    I'm not a big sweets or alcohol eater/drinker either. I usually have about 2 glasses of wine with dinner about twice a month or less. I pretty much stick to 3 meals a day and this year started drinking 16 ounces of kombucha tea (in-between lunch and dinner) after I began making it. The most sweets I eat is small lump of chocolate, a caramel cube, 2 Oreo cookies, or some other single piece of candy, not much at all. Still, extra pounds do not easily come off, whenever I feel I need to lose them. That is a slower metabolism, which alas, was not always the case.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. It can really be a challenge to maintain a healthy weight as we get older. A few extra pounds is quite permissible as we age and can even be more flattering, but the trick is to nip it in the bud before those extra pounds get away from you.

      Keeping your weight down as you age is the best beauty tip I can offer, and it doesn't cost a thing, except a little self-discipline.

      It sounds as if you know exactly what works for you. That is the key.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Cheers, M-T

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  11. Fabulous, what a blog it is! This weblog gives helpful information to us, keep it up.

    ReplyDelete

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