Tuesday, 24 August 2010

The difference between Oprah Winfrey and me

Oprah Winfrey is the richest woman in America.  She is strong, powerful, driven, capable, intelligent and resourceful.  She’s truly helped thousands of people around the world.
I am a pleasure-seeker with no willpower what so ever. I can’t organise. I can’t prioritize. I am seriously useless with numbers, details and focus.  I can’t really figure out how to help anyone.
I will never be rich and famous.
Yet I can do something Oprah cannot.  I can stay in-shape.
This is why (I think):
I’m not as rich as Oprah so mostly I don’t let other people cook for me.  Most days, I don’t let chefs in restaurants cook for me, or men in deli’s prepare my sandwiches, or the food scientists in factories make my dinner.  I seldom get take-out.  It’s too expensive.
I am not nearly as clever as Oprah. I have a type of dyslexia that makes me number-blind. So I can’t weigh things or count points or calories. I need things very, very simple.
So I do portion control for idiots - for breakfast I have one of those tiny sachets of whole grain porridge oats. For lunch, I grab a little tin of tuna and a slice of bread and usually borrow someone’s mayo at work.
I don’t have Oprah’s willpower. I don’t even try.  So I make life easy for myself by not having dried mango or Ben and Jerry’s Fish Food or homemade fudge in the house.  (If it finds its way into my house, I do not rest until it is all eaten up.)
Because I am not building schools for girls in South Africa or TV networks in the US, I have more time on my hands. So I can go to the gym often or run or dance or cycle more or less, whenever I want (and not just at five in the morning because waking up that early doesn’t feel pleasant to me)
Sadly, I don’t have Oprah’s social life.  I am not invited to parties catered by celebrity chefs and I am not tempted by mojitos, red wine, sushi and tiny cakes.   I would go and go crazy day and night.
Lastly, I know when it comes to my weight, there is nothing I can delegate, nothing I can buy in and nothing I am entitled too.
My ambitions are small. I am content to tend my family, spend time with my friends and work a bit.
I know how lucky I am to have a roof that doesn’t leak, running water, flushing toilets, and all the vaccinations and medications available in the 21st century.  I am grateful to live in the Digital Age and in a country not at war. I am grateful that the sky is blue today and for my time on our planet right now.  
I realize not everyone gets to be Oprah Winfrey. But no-one else gets to be me either.  
I made this for supper last night:
I baked cod fillets, with lots of butter, lemon juice and salt. I wrapped it in tinfoil smeared with butter and put it in the oven at 200 degrees for half an hour.
I chopped up and fried a carrot, an eggplant, three celery sticks and one zucchini in sunflower oil. Then I threw in loads of chopped parsley, sunflower seeds, Aromat and soy sauce.
I also served noodles. It was delicious.  It was enough.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

The secret to being the shape you want to be

Some of the cleverest, strongest, most capable women I meet are not at ease with their bodies.
It makes me sad because it’s not rocket-science that allows people to be in-shape.  
There’s no magic out there.  There's no special metabolism.  Any one can be the shape they need to be.
It clicked for me when I realized this:
Only I decide what I put in my mouth.  No-one else has a say in the matter.  
I don’t listen to smug, over-weight, over-accessorized instructors from Weight-Watchers, or to any diet ever invented, or expensive private dieticians armed with scales, or beautifully designed weekly eating-plans, or Dr. Phil, or Jenny Craig, or the makers of Special K, or a hypnotist, or any of the hundreds of books written on the subject.
 Only I decide what’s going in. (and believe me, I put lots of yum yum delicious things in my mouth on many different occasions)
On the other hand, I know that because I need to be in-shape, I can’t feast every meal.
That’s the bottom–line.  
I hope you throw your scales away, that you never consult another expert or put your hopes in another diet.  I hope you trust yourself to act in your own best interests. I hope it clicks for you. I hope that you eat well and live well.  I hope you realize we are the lucky ones.
Artichokes and Hollandaise Sauce
Cut the top off the artichokes so that they will fit in the pot. Wash under tap. Put artichokes in pot of boiling water for 40 minutes.
3 egg yolks
1 table spoon fresh lemon juice
Pinch salt
1 cup melted unsalted butter
Whisk egg yolks and lemon juice and salt till thick and creamy then place on very, very low heat until tracks form on the bottom of the pan.  Remove from heat and slowly oh so slowly whisk in the melted butter.
Sit around the table with loved ones and enjoy.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Willpower is bullshit

I was bothered about something my running partner said to me recently about her lack of willpower when faced with cakes. She blamed herself unkindly and unfairly, I thought.
Trying to stop over-eating with willpower is like trying to get a French waiter to understand you by speaking English louder.

It's never going to work because that's not where change comes from.
Being the shape you need to be is not about willpower.  It’s not about deprivation. It’s not about pain. It’s not about dieting.

It's about being kind to yourself and still and mindful and waiting for the seasons to change and knowing that when the time is right, you can make the changes you need to make.

I saw a lovely quote recently in Elisha Goldstein’s blog on Mindfulness
He quotes Victor Frankl who says:
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom”
Right now, my response is to make Ottolenghi’s aubergine cheesecake which is unbelievably delicious.

This is how you do it:
2 small aubergines, sliced in 2cm discs
150 gm feta
150 g cream cheese
60 ml double cream
3 eggs
150 gm baby plum tomatoes cut in half
2 tablespoons oregano leaves, torn
Lots of olive oil
Grill aubergine slices with lots of olive oil on greaseproof paper in 190 C oven for 40 minutes.
Whizz together feta, cream cheese, eggs and cream.
Put aubergines, tomatoes, the creamy mix and the oregano in an oiled baking dish. Add salt and pepper.
Bake at 150 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes.