Sunday, February 17, 2013


you may know that i don't like the word diet.  as one of my heros (and i'm not fucking kidding) richard simmons says, the first three letters of the word 'diet' are 'DIE'.  i prefer lifestyle change.  because a fad 'diet' is not sustainable; it's about making lifelong, sustainable changes to your life that will make you healthier.  the word 'diet' describes what foods you consider suitable to eat daily (fruit is part of a healthy diet).  it may refer to what a group of people eat (new yorkers eat a diet rich in pizza) or a recommended type of food (my diabetes means i should be on a low sugar diet).  diet is a noun; it describes WHAT you eat. people 'diet' as a verb; it describes HOW you limit yourself things because you don't think you're worthy to eat them, or you're too fat, or whatever.  think about a religious jew who doesn't eat pork - he's not ON a diet, that's just something that's not IN his diet.

it surprises some people that i love richard simmons.  i remember as a teen doing his 'sweatin' to the oldies' routines and honestly working up a sweat (and i wasn't even fat).  a lot of people my age just think he's a funny, gay, short-short wearing exercise freak.  but he's more than that.  richard simmons was a very in demand actor in italy in the 1960s.  he was in italy studying art and being fat, and was still very much in demand.  one day someone left him a note saying something like fat people die, and i don't want you to die.  that really struck richard and he 'went on a diet' - the wrong way.  he lost a fuckton of weight in a couple of months - over 100 pounds.  in A COUPLE OF MONTHS.  he did it by starving himself, overexercising, and using diet pills - and landed in the hospital.  it inspired richard to research nutrition and a proper diet (noun) and he returned to america, taking a job in a restaurant - witnessing firsthand how out of control portion sizes and poor diet (noun) choices were.

so what did he do?  he helped millions of people lose MILLIONS of pounds...  on the dr oz show in 2010, richard said that over his 35 year career in fitness/health, he estimated that he had helped people lose over 12 million pounds.  i bet it's more.  richard still does his fitness thang at his fitness center in beverly hills (where else?).  he leads motivational classes.  and i think richard simmons is ridiculously motivating.  he's so excited and cuddly.  all he wants to do is make you healthy.  i read a quote from richard once saying he didn't have many friends.  he felt he didn't have a lot to offer one person - he had a lot to offer a lot of people.  he has spread his love and motivation and support around the globe, just trying to make us all a little healthier.

i don't like when people talk bad about richard simmons.

it's his philosophy about diets that i really love.  i might tell people 'i'm on a diet' but only because it's easier for people to understand.  it's hard to say 'i'm in the midst of a lifestyle change'.  it sounds like i'm about to undergo gender reassignment surgery.  (i'm not.)  i'm not ON a diet.  i'm CHANGING my diet.  i'm redesigning a healthier DIET for me and my family (aka awesome husband @_antgas).  and what started that dietary change?  well, aside from the fact that i'm fat, my husband is in the best shape of his life, and that every january i try again?

'fat, sick, and nearly dead'.  that's what started this.  it's a documentary (available on netflix) about this guy who was... well, fat, sick, and nearly dead.  he had a rare autoimmune disorder and was on so many pills.  he decided that he was going to give his body what it needed to heal itself (short story) and he went on a 60 day juice fast - and lost so much weight.  AND was able to stop taking all of his medications.  he basically cured himself.

now a 60 day juice fast sounds ridiculous to me.  i like to chew things.  plus all that produce would just be ridiculously expensive, especially during winter in new york.  but @_antgas and i decided it was an excellent way to get our daily fruit and veg.  on a regular day, if i ate one serving of fruit and two servings of veggies, i was happy.  i don't have time/money/energy/stomach space to eat that much fruit and veg.  so we started juicing about 5 nights a week.  i learned i don't like kale.  i was reminded about how much i love fresh carrot juice.  and we started experimenting with ginger and different types of apples and what we could find in the reduced produce section at stop & shop.

but what really happened is we started watching other diet (noun and verb) documentaries on netflix.  ones like 'killer at large: why obesity is america's greatest threat', 'hungry for change', 'food matters', 'forks over knives', and 'vegucated'.  they're all great docs, but the two that really seemed to resonate with @_antgas and me were 'forks over knives' and 'vegucated'.  'forks over knives' talks about two doctors and a plant based diet.  and how it fixes EVERYTHING.  overgeneralization, i know.  but really, google it and 'the china study' and learn about how the instances of chronic illnesses and cancers skyrockets when meat and dairy are heavy in one's diet.  'vegucated' is about three new yorkers who accept a challenge to live a vegan lifestyle for six weeks with guidance from another vegan.  this movie may use a bit more visual scare tactics (how pigs are slaughtered, for instance) to promote veganism, but it still has some good animal rights information and health info from the three volunteers.

i have seen the PETA videos.  the ones where they hold rabbit's eyes open to test cosmetics in them and you hear the rabbits scream.  i've seen most of the 'meet your meat' video, but while i was in high school.  i remember being terribly saddened by them.... enough to ensure that my cosmetics were not tested on animals (that began my boycott of revlon and gillette) but not enough to stop enjoying the everliving fuck out of a steak.  for some reason, seeing this kind of stuff again at 32 years old and 271 pounds (already lost 14 since the new year), i was devastated.

and watching 'forks over knives' really affected @_antgas.  we're all taught how meat and dairy are good for us - hell, the government includes them in the myplate dietary guidelines (which replaced the pyramid).  our parents used to admonish us to 'drink your milk'.  but you know what?  we're the only mammal that continues drinking milk after infancy.  it's really like breastmilk - mammalian milk is meant to feed the young.  and we drink ANOTHER ANIMAL'S milk.  that's.... i mean, that's kind of strange, right?  a little strange.  like when that creepy uncle picks you up and it's awkward and a little inappropriate.  but the china study (discussed in 'forks over knives') followed the health of chinese people in 65 counties of china that ate a plant-based diet.  as meat and dairy were increased in their diets, the instances of cancers - particularly prostate and colon cancers - SKYROCKETED.  and through all of these movies and some other research, we learned about the carbon footprint of a meat-based diet versus a plant-based diet (you can google meatless mondays and check the UN - yes, united nations - website for basic info on that).

so the last week has seen the gas family undergoing probably the biggest lifestyle change we've ever seen.  there is no longer cow's milk in this house - we are using almond milk for cooking, cereal, and protein shakes.  i used soy milk in my coffee and was unimpressed... i'm going to try coconut milk next.    @_antgas found a soy based protein shake - no animal derived proteins.  i served meat-free meals almost all week.  we had fish (sushi) on wednesday.  @_antgas had chicken on friday and i had chicken sausage yesterday.  we're continuing to juice.

it was funny, my first thought was 'we don't eat THAT much meat'.  out of seven nights a week, i only cooked meat maybe four or five.... and i realized, that's kind of more than i thought.  but then we realized that we were eating meat every single day for lunch - cold cuts.  now i'm making beans and rice for lunch.  and @_antgas is on a bit of a cleaner food kick as well.  he's reading labels and cutting down processed foods.  i looked at the back of my favorite low fat ranch salad dressing (i use it for my carrot snack time) - HOLY FUCK.  i now use hummus for my carrots.  and that special k cereal?  the cookies i like?  ergh.  you can be vegetarian and eat SO SHITTILY - did you know oreos (and teddy grahams) are technically vegan.  i do not support PETA, and i will not link to them in my blog.  but they have an interesting page called 'accidentally vegan' where you can see a bunch of crap that you wouldn't think is vegan.  but if all you eat is morningstar farms veggie burgers, oreos, and soy ice cream - you're not healthy.  you might be vegetarian/vegan, but you're not healthy.

we're striving to be healthy.  we're looking at lower-processed, meat-free and dairy-free food item.  @_antgas is gung ho on cutting out dairy.  i think he's fucking crazy.  i love cheese.  LOVE. IT.  and i finally started eating yogurt like three years ago and i like to mix my chia seeds in it.  and since i started eating it every day, well, let's say my intestines are a lot happier and more regular.

have you TRIED vegan cheese?  don't.  please.  just don't.

so instead of cutting out all dairy FOREVER, we're going to visit some local long island farms this spring and see if we can't find some locally produced, organic egg and cheese options.  until then, we're buying 'cage free' organic eggs and keeping our fingers crossed.  and i'm still buying cheese.  and i'm still going to eat the fuck out of it.

but meat?  not so much.  i think it's amazing that i've only eaten meat twice in the past week - and one time was fish, not even meat-meat.  and i feel pretty damn good.  i just never thought that this would happen.  my brother has been a vegetarian for seven years (i think it's about seven years...) and i remember asking him, don't you think you'll ever want a steak again?  my family LOVES some steak.  and he said he didn't think so.  he can go out to eat with us and watch EVERYONE around him eat a steak, and he's perfectly happy with his pasta primavera.  to be honest, i used to think he was crazy.  no chicken stir fry?  no chinese food boneless pork spare ribs?  NO FUCKING STEAK???!?!?!!


now?  not so much.  i remember my brother telling me what finally drove him to be vegetarian.  i never thought he was crazy for making the choice; i even told him i understood it.  i did - i am empathetic enough to understand why he chose it.  but now i REALLY understand it.  and while my brother's main reasons for eating a vegetarian diet are animal-rights based, i understand the health benefits as well.

and so we embark on a plant based lifestyle.


  1. I LOVE Richard Simmons! Because no matter what he faces or what someone he encounters is facing, he is so positive and supportive! He has been one of my heroes for years. :) As for the weight thing. My husband told me to say I'm setting my weight free because losing weight implies that I'm looking for it. I like it. It has helped me lose a ton of weight (though I have like 60 lbs to go). Congratulations on your weight leaving! Also, you have given me much to think about. Thanks. :)

  2. Great Read. I used to do my mother's VHS Tapes of Richard Simmons when I was a teen, they were a lot of fun, and he is so positive, how can you not love him.
    As for Vegan cheese, LOL, it is really hit or miss, I like the Daiya shreds, they really melt and taste very similar. But that's only if you are really needing it in a recipe. Some of those others, like Galaxy, are just icky. I do use a really nice Rice Parmesan product on pasta, that gives you the salty tang and texture of grated parm, no dairy or gluten.
    Thanks for sharing! <3

  3. I am big into healthy eating. Have you tried organic virgin coconut oil? Very healthy and rich in lauric acid.
    Nutiva is a good brand. No hexane.

  4. I'm so with you. Can't give up cheese. CAN'T.

    But...I do agree I need to eat a lot less dairy and a lot more plants. Let me tell you, (for me, anyway) the easiest way to switch over to plant-based is get some good fucking vegetables. Holy GOD did my life change once I realized what vegetables were supposed to taste like. Now I actually prefer veg to meat because they're so easy and quick to cook, they taste amazing, they make me feel good, and oh yeah, I don't have to wait days for them to thaw.

    Lunches are still my biggest challenges -- I'm big into batch cooking lunches on the weekend and veg lunches are still a little hard to wrap my head around. Salads don't keep me going for 10 hours, and a girl probably shouldn't eat pasta 20 days out of the month (though lord knows I want to). I don't know if it's helpful, but things like grain salads (lentil salads, barley salads with butternut squash, couscous salads with spinach and feta, etc.) have really been helpful in the winter months. They're a lot more filling but still super-healthy. Soups are also awesome, but I find I get sick of the puree-style soups (butternut squash soup, cauliflower soup, etc.) a lot quicker than I do the chunk-style soups.

    Hooooo boy, hope I'm not getting preachy up in here. Anyway, hooray for plant-based diets! Let me know how juicing goes (or continues to go, rather) because I'm super-curious about that.

    1. OMFG CHEEEEESE. i made a huge crock pot of black beans and a pot of brown rice and @_antgas and i doled out a portion each day to bring to work. he's sick of black beans already (i am not, i LOOVE THEM) and we're thinking of doing a couscous salad this week. we haven't delved too far into soups yet (although i have a delicious and ridiculously easy potato soup recipe).

      we like juicing. we feel healthier and it's filling but not TOO filling. and without meat and all that other crap at dinner, our dinners are way more appropriately sized. so we usually juice five nights a week after the gym (6:30ish) and then i make dinner around 8. it's a bit annoying now because i hate paying full price for things. there's a store we go to that has carrots at 75¢ a pound, and the local stop and shop keeps putting bruised things on sale (i got 5 cucumbers for 50¢ and only one was unusable, six apples for $2 and they just looked a little 'eh', but when juicing that shit don't matter!). we're excited for spring when we can start checking out all the farmers markets. long island has a ton of farms, and most of them have websites and link to where they'll be each week.