Super Bowl Chilis That Won’t Sack Your Weight Loss Plan

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Tomorrow is Super Bowl Sunday:  Bring out your chips, your dips, your party mixes, your Buffalo wings, your cheeseburgers and your Dominoes pizzas.  And your beer.  Lots of beer.

Is it a celebration of football, or junk food? 

Could be both.  But because we’re parked in front of the TV for three-plus solid hours, often with our nearest and dearest football-loving friends,  there is a tendency to overconsume — especially if it’s not a real exciting game.   (Just what is there to do at half-time besides wait for the ads and … eat?) 

We don’t have to limit ourselves to artery-clogging junk foods tomorrow; we can at least create for ourselves the opportunity to eat healthily while rooting for … whoever.  (I think Green Bay for me, although it’s kind of immaterial without the Giants.)

Here are two hearty, healthy and tastey chili recipes that will you help you get through the Super Bowl without busting your gut.  Although they are both vegetarian, you could, if you like, incorporate some ground beef or turkey.  Seasonings, as always with chili, are to taste.  These are filling dishes, which, with a light beer or two, should leaving you feeling satisfied and content (and consoled, should you require consolation) without eating huge quantities.

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Contemplate This: Eating Just One Potato Chip

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You really can eat just one.

My friend Nancy just gave me The Complete Tassajara Cookbook a lovely book of “recipes, techniques and reflections” from the kitchen of Tassajara, a Zen monastery in the Santa Lucia mountains of California, which I visited some years ago for a yoga and meditation retreat.  A beautiful, serene and remote place, Tassarjara serves up absolutely delicious vegetarian fare in a huge family-style dining room for guests who come for retreats and classes — or just to get away from the world for a while. 

The author of The Complete Tassajara Cookbook, Edward Espe Brown, is an American Zen priest and teacher, and a founder of the famous Greens Restaurant in San Francisco.  I’m looking forward to immersing myself in this delightful and wise book — and not just for the recipes.  In fact, one of Brown’s essays so enchanted me that I felt I had to share it right away.

It’s called “Eating Just One Potato Chip,” and it’s about, well, eating just one potato chip.  But with complete mindfulness — that is, with complete attention to the experience of eating  a single potato chip, like it’s “the only chip in the universe.”

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Week 3: Progress Happens!

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My scale continues to surprise me in ways both pleasant and mysterious.  I lost 3 pounds this week, dropping from 181.5 to 178.5 — first I’ve been below 180 since August.

And, since making my declaration three weeks ago, I’ve lost a total of 6.5 pounds.  Only 23.5 to go by June 20!

I admit that I am surprised by the pace of my own progress.  Obviously I’m doing something right here, but I am by no means the perfect dieter.  I still drink more wine than is recommended (that would be virtually none) for optimal weight loss.  I continue to have my setbacks with compulsive eating — like the night I ate half of a large bag of peanuts.  I’m sure I could have eaten a whole bag, but I only had the half to begin with.  At least they weren’t salted.

And although I work out regularly, there’s nothing maniacal or over-the-top about my workouts.  I made it to the gym four times this week.  I only did the eliptical once or twice.  Other than that, I just did my four miles of fast-walking on the track.  Not all that impressive.

So, what exactly am I doing right?

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Feeding the Blues: Depression & Weight Gain

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Billie Holiday: This lady both lived and sang the blues.

Have you been in this place?  Slumped on the couch  at the end of the day, watching cable repeats of “NCIS” or “Criminal Minds,” and craving — I mean craving — a bunch of saltines.  Like, a whole box.

But, somehow, the box of saltines isn’t enough.  So you root around in your fridge and come up with some leftover black beans and a not-too-ancient-looking container of hummus.  And in the cupboard you find a whole bag of pita chips that you forgot you had.  Ooh, and there’s a jar of peanut butter.

Might as well have another glass of wine while we’re at it.

Perfect!

Not.  Definitely not, not, not.

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In Appreciation: Jack LaLanne, 96, ‘The Godfather of Fitness’

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Jack LaLanne was still going strong into his 90s.

 If only I had listened to Jack LaLanne when I was younger.  I would not be blogging about my weight loss struggles today.

When it comes to health and fitness, Jack LaLanne essentially told us everything we needed to know, more than 70 years ago.   Eat a healthy diet.  Eat in moderation.  Exercise every day.  And, perhaps most importantly, think positive.

LaLanne died Jan. 23 at the reverential age of 96, following a bout of pneumonia.  Reportedly he was still going strong — working out two hours a day — until he took sick.

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Week 2: The Song Remains The Same

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I dreaded stepping onto the scale this morning.  You can probably guess why:  I got cocky after losing 3.5 pounds my first week on the new plan.  As a result, I got sloppy.

I knew, for certain, that I would weigh in higher today than a week ago.  The question was:  How much higher?  Just how bad was I the last seven days?

So I was relieved — and surprised — when the read-out told me I was 181.5 pounds, exactly what I weighed a week ago. 

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Fighting the Evil Joneses: What To Do When You Crave a Stuffed Potato

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Re-imagined stuffed potato with red pepper sauce and sea scallops on the side

Winter tends to bring out the evil joneses. You know, those terrible comfort food cravings that are so hard to deny. 

Out of the blue the other day, I wanted a stuffed potato.  Really, really badly.  And not just any kind of stuffed potato, but one stuffed with bacon and every evil thing imaginable, and — very important — smothered in melted cheese, preferably cheddar. 

I don’t know where my head was that day, because I got hit by yet another cheese-related jones.  I wanted broccoli, the way my mother used to make it:  smothered in melted Cheez Wiz and topped with seasoned bread crumbs. (This was the ’70s — that’s what we did with broccoli in those days.)

So here I am, a mature, responsible adult trying to lose a bunch of weight and eat healthily, struggling with these very evil twin joneses.  What to do?

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