You diligently count macros all week long, prepare meals and snacks the day before and know exactly when and what you will be eating. You go to the gym and follow your training schedule. You do this every week, Monday to Friday.
And then comes it - The WEEKEND. The long awaited two or, god forbid, three days off. And just like that, the fridge and the pantry become an all-you-can-eat buffet, a friend's house turns into an all-inclusive experience and the gym remains a vague memory of the days long gone.
Sounds familiar? If it does - you are, what I call - The Weekend Hulk, or weekend overeater.
Why doest it happen? Why do we sabotage our efforts that we worked so hard at all week in order to take two steps back? There are several reasons for this phenomenon. Some are physical and some are psychological. Let's look at the physical ones first:
1. You are under-eating throughout the week.
While keeping a moderate caloric deficit will aid with weight loss, a wrongly calculated calorie allowance will keep you hungry all week long until you feel like you have been 'good' and finally allow yourself to eat over the weekend. After severely under-eating for five days, you will inevitably overeat once given the chance.
2. You miscalculated your macros or they don't make a good fit.
If you are following your macros (protein, fat, carbohydrates) ratio and keep your calories on track, you could have miscalculated the proportions that fit you. For example, some people thrive and lose weight on a low carb diet, while others feel sad and depressed. If you are constantly unhappy with your diet - you will overeat the moment you feel you can. This is why macros need to be carefully tailored to fit you personally.
This brings us to the psychological issues:
1. You treat the weekend as a cheat time.
Although I believe that everyone should have a cheat meal once a week, the weekend overeaters tend to think of the weekend as one very long cheat meal, which, of course, causes a significant calorie intake. In order to avoid this, it is important to have one planned (!) cheat meal during the weekend and eat as normally as possible during the rest of the time.
2. You only eat 'good' foods.
If you divide foods into 'good' and 'bad' and only allow yourself the good ones throughout the week, come the weekend, you will binge on the bad ones. Why? Because while most people can micromanage their food during the work week, when the weekend comes and they are surrounded by what they consider 'bad' foods, they let themselves cheat a little, which usually turns into a lot. It is important not to think of food as good or bad, rather, than to look at it as highly nutritious or not so nutritious.
3. You feel like you have lost enough.
This is a variation of the famous yo-yoer. You don't have much to lose in the first place and over the course of the week you follow a strict diet and feel like you have reached your elusive goal. As such, during the weekend you allow yourself to fall into old unhealthy eating habits, gaining all of the lost over the week back. And this circle continues, almost always causing more weight gain than was lost in the first place.
If you saw yourself in any of the above, think about why you sabotage your efforts during the weekend and try to make small changes in your lifestyle. After all, we all deserve a cheat meal and we all deserve to succeed on our journeys, and by knowing our weaknesses we can make an effort to change for the better.
If you are anything like me, you are always trying to eat something that will make you:
c) not gain weight
Unfortunately, white pasta (in large quantities), only satisfies two out of three requirements. That is the biggest reason why I am a big fan of spiralized vegetables, or 'wannabe' pasta. This amazing modern-day creation, makes it possible to make green vegetables look and act like they are carb-loaded spaghetti. Unfortunately, no matter how much you want to, you will not be fooled that you are eating elbows while eating zucchini. BUT, you can either mix your real pasta with the spiralized 'wannabe' pasta, or just get all health-conscious and proud about making better choices. Totally up to you.
Say hello to the Spiralizer. This nifty thing will make any fruit or vegetable (firm enough) into gorgeous spirals that can be cooked, mixed, baked, dressed or eaten as is. A spiralizer can be bought at any major home/hardware store (Walmart, Canadian Tire, Bed Bath & Beyond etc) or ordered online (Ebay, Amazon etc) for as little at $19.99.
In an attempt to make a vegetable traffic light I spiralized zucchini, carrots and radishes. It only took me an hour to realize that I mixed up the colours. But you get the point.
Ideas about what you can make with spiralized vegetables are endless. 'Pasta' dishes, salads, casseroles, snacks and stir-fries. One of my favourite ways of eating spiralized zucchini is:
"Fake Shrimp Scampi"
-Spiralize firm green or yellow zucchini
-Clean and de-vein a portion of large shrimp
-Sautee some garlic in a non-stick pan without oil or butter
-Add shrimp and cook until done
-Warm through and serve
Let me guess, you have tried every diet out there: the cabbage soup diet; the apple vinegar and cayenne pepper (holy crap) diet; the liquid diet; the cucumber and apple diet: the Japanese diet... And even if you had the determination to actually follow through with the crazy requirements and lost some weight, did you gain it back quicker than I can type 'told you so'?
Here comes a reality check - you cannot lose a lot of weight fast and keep it off. Unless you are willing to gain it all (and then some) back.
Yes, Im sure.
Unless, of course, you are willing to cut off a leg.
The issue with any diet is the fact that it is a DIET. Plain and simple. You can follow it to the T, but you cannot live your life on a diet. You cannot drink the suicidal concoction of vinegar and pepper until the day you die. Unless you want that day to happen in the nearest future. If your plan is to be healthy, live a long and happy life and be the best you can be - you need to realize that there is no quick fix. Moreover, imagine for a second how incredibly boring a life without cupcakes and wine would be? I don't know about you, but that is not a life I find worth living.
As such, let us forget about fast and simple and choose healthy and worthwhile. Let's start with understanding that food is as much fuel as it is enjoyment. It plays an integral part in our lives: from social gatherings and family meals to romantic evenings and kids parties. Instead of dreading every meal, let us start with understanding what our bodies need and how we can provide it.
By treating ourselves with respect, by understanding nutritional and physical needs and by taking care of our psychological wellbeing, we can establish a healthy lifestyle where food is not something dreadful and pounds are not only something to be lost.
I will write more about calorie and macronutrient counting, about energy in / out and about tips and tricks on how to lose weight and not your mind. But I wanted to start with the simple truth that in order to lose - you need to first gain:
Gain self respect not to starve or binge.
Gain knowledge to know what to do and when to seek help.
Gain Courage to challenge yourself and take the road to a better You.
If you were to ask a Torontonian, which restaurant they would suggest as their number one in taste and experience, the most seasoned ones would most definitely mention Kaiseki Yu-zen Hashimoto. This somewhat hidden gem is one of the most authentic kaiseki experiences available on this side of the world. With only three tables available, chef Masaki Hashimoto meticulously crafts each and every course with precision and extraordinary elegance, which allows the diner to appreciate the beauty that is kaiseki without buying a plane ticket.
The experience begins upon arrival when guests are greeted and shown to their one-per-room table by a kimono-draped young man. As we were celebrating my birthday during our visit, a card, hand-written in Japanese by the chef himself, was a unique and special touch which beautifully set the mood for the evening.
The meal itself is a price-fixed seasonal dinner consisting of eight courses: Amuse Bouche, sashimi, soup, grilled, steamed and stewed, fire and grilled, main course and dessert. All the ingredients are carefully selected and many are flown in from Japan in order to create the authentic taste and guide the guests into an exclusive world of Japanese cuisine.
To start, we enjoyed Onjyaku-zen (Amuse Bouche) of Sesame tofu, rice and fresh white miso soup. The freshness and sweetness of the soup was a welcome change from the watery and salty miso we are accustomed to in our neighbourhood sushi restaurants, while the sesame tofu with the fried noodles delivered a unique texture experience.
For the Sashimi course, we were offered Tennen Madai (Wild Porgy/snapper) with white radish, myoga vegetable, stem vegetable, and freshly grated wasabi. The fish, line caught and flown in from Japan, melts in your mouth and leaves a slightly sweet aftertaste that distinguishes a fresh catch.
The soup consisted of Amadai (tile fish) wrapped with a carrot, sweet rice, yuzu citrus, and spring water seaweed accompanied by fried tile fish scale. Unexpectedly, the texture and saltiness of the fish scales were a wonderful accompaniment to the broth and brought the whole dish together.
The grilled course included grilled belt fish, grilled shrimp from Okinawa, fried shrimp head, gooseberry with a mountain potato and a kumquat with vinegar egg yolk as a palate cleanser. For me personally, the fried shrimp head provided one of the most memorable taste experiences. The crunchiness of the shell along with the concentrated fresh shrimp taste left me longing for seconds and thirds.
For the Steamed and stewed portion of the dinner we tasted stewed pork, along with taro potato, mashed tofu and topped with Uguisuna (petite turnip). The stewed meat was fall-off-the-bone tender and paired well with the rich broth and the creaminess of the taro, while the petite turnip served as a cute treat for the eye.
The second Fried and Grilled course included A5 Wagyu Beef with savoury red miso paste, matcha salt, a miso fried bamboo shoot and fried edamame beans. Having had Wagyu beef on a few occasions, this was by far the most flavourful presentation with the matcha salt superbly complimenting the melt-in-your-mouth meat.
Chef's main course consisted of bamboo shoot rice with seaweed and fried ginger; Chawan mushi (steamed egg custard) with okra, lily bulb, and yomogi; and the signature daikon crane served with a carrot dressing. The intricate detail and artistic craftsmanship of this dish commemorates the experience as a unique and authentic opportunity to be enjoyed by the diner.
The dinner was complete with the dessert, which included a Japanese pudding, ice wine agar agar, unfiltered sake agar agar and house made ice cream. A sprinkle of edible gold served as a gentle reminder that we can all feel a little richer inside.
Once all eight courses have been enjoyed, the Kaisaki is completed with a traditional tea ceremony, albeit shortened for convenience. The ritual is performed with the same exquisite attention to detail as the rest of the experience with every move explained to the uneducated guest with grace and humility, bringing the dining experience to a logical conclusion.
Kaiseki Yu-zen Hashimoto is currently considered to be the most expensive restaurant in Toronto with price fixed dinner of $300 per person before drinks, tax and gratuity. However, unlike many modern haute dining restaurants, Kaiseki Yu-zen Hashimoto delivers an absolutely unique experience. Chef Masaki Hashimoto not only brings the Kaiseki tradition to the Western world, but also reminds us to slow down, enjoy the moment in it's uniqueness and appreciate the beauty in detail, quality and dedication. http://www.kaiseki.ca
1. Carefully prepare the area where you are planning to preform the feeding of the toddler. It is strongly suggested to clear the area of any fragile or expensive items; such as plates, glassware, rugs, lamps, tables, and chairs. A best case scenario is to preform the feeding in a soundproof room with plastic walls, floor and ceiling. Preferably coloured black.
2. Start the preparation of the dinner. Keep in mind the dietary preferences of the toddler. It may take a few tries to create a nutritious meal with the given restrictions which tend to change on a daily basis. Based on comprehensive research and statistical data, toddlers prefer meals that are “not red or green”; “not mushy”; “little crunchy”; “not fishy, or oily, or green” and “definitely not red… Or orange… And yellow needs to be separate from white… And No sauce!”….
3. After spending a number of hours in the kitchen and believing that a nutritious meal is finished, set it aside and start another one. Most likely the first one will not pass the strict toddler meal regulations and will end up on the plastic floor or ceiling (see step #1).
4. When you are finished carefully crafting a second toddler-worthy meal, you may start preparing the toddler for dinner time. This involves removal of any and all dirty objects from hands, mouth and hair; full change of clothes and thorough washing of all extremities. X-ray is highly recommended but not compulsory.
5. This step is crucial. You may need to prepare yourself with anxiety reducing medication, aka wine, or bring in additional help, aka grandmother. Food loving pets are a definite plus.
6. Once the feeding area is prepped, meal one and meal two tastefully plated on colourful unbreakable (!) plates, cartoons turned on and grandma is in position – you may carefully seat the toddler in his high chair. This may prove difficult if the said toddler takes on the well-known “starfish” position, however, with practice and due preparation (see #5) it is doable. Or so I’ve heard.
7. Once the toddler is secured into place, you may start by offering him meal number one. Should the meal pass the visual judgement, the toddler will take the initial taste test. This is when you will be glad you followed the instructions in step one. I also strongly suggest to take cover. You will thank me later.
8. As soon as meal number one completes its free fall from the plastic ceiling onto the plastic floor, you may proceed with offering meal number two. This time, try to distract the toddler from the meal with flying noises, loud cartoons, dancing grandma or news about the Large Hadron Collider.
9. Repeat step number five.
10. During the final step of “How to feed you toddler dinner”, you should witness a happy, content, well-fed toddler that praises your cooking extensively.