For those of you who were wondering, that loud, shrill noise Thursday at 6:19 a.m. wasn't the city's emergency warning siren -- it was me screaming after I ventured onto the bathroom scale, something I normally avoid.
So why the sudden courage Thursday morning? An impending trip to the Caribbean and the need to look a little bit better in a bathing suit. I'm not asking to look good, just a little better -- maybe one roll of fat instead of two ...
I have been fighting the battle of the bulge since I was a child. I can remember going to JC Penney on Main Street and dying of embarrassment while shopping in the "Chubette" department. (Who dreamt that term up?)
In junior high school, we had to write and perform a skit during our study of Greek mythology. I was given the role of Hera, the wife of Zeus. In the skit, one of the other gods noted, "Hera is about as slinky as a school bus." And that, dear readers, says it all about me.
I lost weight the first semester of freshman year in college -- the freshman 15 in reverse to be exact. The college I attended was nowhere near a store and freshmen weren't allowed to have cars on campus. Trips to the supermarket for junk food were non-existent and the cafeteria food was awful. There also was nothing much to do on campus activity-wise, so my dorm mates and I played volleyball almost every night.
When I moved to Boston for graduate school, I lost another 10 or so pounds. Boston is a walking city, and that's what I did.
After grad school, I took a job at the Transcript and moved back home with my parents, where, after awhile, Mom's cooking caught up with me.
A group of my Transcript co-workers and I were bemoaning our excess tonnage one day, when someone suggested we form our own Weight Watchers group. We did and the weight began to come off ... 2 pounds, 5 pounds, 10 pounds, 20 pounds ... I lost 35 pounds. I was -- dare I say it? -- skinny and shopping in the juniors department!
I met my husband-to-be shortly after that. Unfortunately, Guy and I together food-wise was a bad partnership. I loved to bake and he loved baked goods. And if there were baked goods in the house, I had no resistance.
We had a baby and my excuse for my weight was it was all "baby fat." (I can't use that line anymore since the baby is now 22.)
I plan to look for a bathing suit this weekend. There is nothing scarier or more depressing than the sight of seeing myself in a bathing suit, reflected in the three mirrors in the dressing room. I need all the inspiration to diet I can get!
One of my former co-workers, Betty Marony, swore by this recipe for Zero Calorie Filler Soup. She claimed eating a bowl before dinner would fill you up so you would eat less at dinner. Too bad about the loaf of crusty bread that went perfectly with it ...
I have made this soup using all kinds of vegetables, in addition to the ones mentioned, and have used no-fat beef broth and various herbs in place of the water and onion soup mix. If not using the soup mix, I also add salt and pepper.
Zero Calorie Filler Soup
1 head cabbage
1 bunch celery
2 to 3 green peppers
3 to 6 onions
1 28-ounce can of tomatoes
1 packet dried onion soup mix
Chop and slice all the vegetables and place in a large pot with the can of tomatoes and the onion soup mix. Add enough water so all the vegetables are covered. Simmer for 2 hours or until vegetables are tender.
A Weight Watcher recipes I swore by is for Mexican Stir Fry. I'm not sure how it would work into the program today. When I was using it, Weight Watchers counted food exchanges, much like a diabetic diet does.
Mexican Stir Fry
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup each red and green bell peppers
2 tablespoons chopped, drained chili peppers
1/2 cup each pureed tomatoes and water
1 packet instant chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon red pepper
4 ounces canned pinto or kidney beans, drained
4 ounces cooked chicken, diced
1 cup cooked long-grain rice
4 teaspoons shredded cheddar cheese
In a 10-inch non-stick skillet, heat oil over medium heat; add onion and garlic. Sauté for 3 minutes. Add bell and chili peppers and sauté until vegetables are tender crisp, about 2 minutes longer. Stir in puree, water, broth mix, chili powder and ground red pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 5 minutes to blend flavors. Add beans, chicken and rice and cook until thoroughly heated. Serve sprinkled with cheese.
Each serving: 3 protein exchanges, 1 bread exchange, 2 2/3 vegetable exchanges, 1 1/2 fat exchange, 25 additional calories.
Margaret Button is the city editor of the North Adams Transcript. Send recipes for inclusion in future columns to the North Adams Transcript, 85 Main St., Suite 2, North Adams, Mass. 01247 or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.