Wednesday, 20 September 2023

The Bev Diet (part 5): Long time, no see!

My goodness, four months with narry a word from me or my diet! How have you survived?

Well, I hope.

I’m doing well, too. Over 60 lbs down! And I even survived a 10-day trip to Italy! Came back three pounds heavier but that was overcome, slowly but surely.

Me with Darling Daughter, (who knows all the good camera angles)

And slowly seems to be the operative adverb, these days. A lot of yo-yoing over the summer, which is too bad but it is what it is.

One big change, I’ve noticed, is that when I my weight DOES go up, I’m no longer terrified that this is THE END. So I guess I’m developing confidence in my ability to find my way back to the groove.

Venice was beautiful. I didn’t really eat all that much. No pizza, for example. We stayed in places where we cooked many of our own meals, so I managed to eat a bit of oatmeal. A couple of times, I ate scallop appetizers as my main course (three scallops). We discovered cicchetti, the Italian equivalent of tapas. One thing I have noticed, I’m now satisfied with a small taste of someone else’s yummy main course, I don’t have to eat a whole whack of (e.g.,) pasta myself. So that’s something.

Breakfast is a cream-filled sweet croissant
(pistachio or Nutella were faves)


End of May was one year on the diet; I’m now in my 16th month of dieting. In addition to the 60 lbs lost, I now no longer shop in the plus sizes/stores. Which is amazing! I’m not quite ready to order clothes online, but am getting there.

Another welcome change: my energy level is WAY up! I’m now doing my 1hr15min walk in under an hour, and my 45min walk in under 30mins (thank you Sirius Chill channel 53!). So I’m walking much faster and have even recently added a second 30min lap; same amount of time spent exercising (about 2hr walking, 1hr exercycling) but I’m covering more ground (11km instead of 8). One weird thing about this: my diet/exercise app is not really noting the increased activity in the form of higher calories: I think it relies more on time walking than distance (but don’t quote me on that, I’m not 100% certain). If so, it’s a bit disappointing…but nothing I can’t live with. The scale is the ultimate authority, and the news from there is good.

I’m also, as a result of the exercise, sleeping quite well. Knock wood. Ten years after menopause, what a relief!

I’m thinking about joining the gym and trying to build some muscle, which will burn more calories all the time. Or so I’ve heard.

Stay tuned, and best of luck on your weight loss journeys!

Thursday, 18 May 2023

The Bev Diet (part 4): Variety? Not as spicy as you might think (or, the virtues of monotony…)


I have now been "weight loss journeying" for nearly a year and have lost 

                        over 53 lbs

I don’t think I would have believed it, back when I started. Maybe you feel the same way (“It’s impossible!”), so I’m posting these pointers because they’re things I’ve learned and I hope they help you, too! Remember, IF I CAN DO IT, YOU CAN, TOO!

1. Repeat after me: repetition, repetition, repe…you get the point

They say variety is the spice of life, but what do they REALLY know about dieting anyway? Let me put this another way: do you think you eat more than usual, the same as usual, or less than usual when confronted with a buffet? Listen, for a congenital fat ass like me, the answer is obvious.

I think a routine helps me keep to a relatively restricted diet, and I’d advise you to try it, too. For one thing, it’s faster to account for on the health app (I just click on what I had yesterday). It also saves time thinking up what I should eat, and researching how many calories it has. It makes for less temptation, too.

So breakfast is usually

                A toasted whole grain/whole wheat English muffin (110-130 cals)

                2T Philadelphia cream cheese with smoked salmon (70 cals) with 1T wheat bran

                A caffe latte

(This week, I’ve been eating actual lox because we had leftovers at our Mother’s Day brunch).


Lunch used to be largely Lean Cuisine Chicken Carbonara

                With 1T wheat bran

                1c chopped cooked broccoli

More recently, I found that I was losing weight too slowly, so I ditched the regular carbonara and substituted a large salad with roasted (skinless) chicken (usually breast, but I’ve just done some reading and discovered the calorie difference isn’t substantial, and besides, there is a lot more iron in the leg and thigh!). I also usually fortify this with a cup of Brussel sprouts or broccoli. Sometimes I skip the chicken completely and add some avocado (this meatless salad is also a favourite of mine for supper, too).

The chicken is usually home-made:

                Truss a small bird (just use some string to tie the legs together). Sprinkle with commercial bbq spice (I like to use A LOT!). Bake at 450 F for 45-60 mins (I check it at 45 mins & often turn it over on its tummy if it needs another 10-15 mins).

Yum! And very fast. And I think the recipe comes from the NYT back in the day. 

Supper: usually oatmeal (1/3 cup with ¾ c water, ½ c fat free Greek yogurt., 1T wheat bran. Cooking directions found in earlier post). I now usually consume it with 1/3 c berries.


I’ve found I really like eating light at night. I’m convinced it’s really helpful with the weigh-in next morning. This is probably a big change for most people, but I think our ways of eating are pretty messed up. I know mine were. I was often eating meat twice a day. Not necessary and one of the reasons my weight had ballooned to over 225 lbs…I can’t believe I just told you that!


2. Exercise: this week, I actually went to my first Zumba class in over 3 years (thank you Joyce!!)! It was really fun, and it actually burns twice as many calories per unit time as walking (according to Samsung).

Usually, though, I’m walking 2 hours a day (about 13k-15k steps). And I’m still doing 1hr on the bike every night. So that’s a lot of time put into exercising, though, to be fair, I’m biking through Netflix (or Amazon Prime, or Crave), so does that even count??


3. My Struggle: Chapman’s frozen vanilla yogurt. I sometimes eat way too much. And by way too much, I ate 350 calories of it yesterday, and sometimes as much as 400 calories of it daily! And that’s on a 1200 calorie diet. Yikes! So my tendency to overeat have definitely not been totally defeated. Which is kind of sad to realize after a whole freaking year…

However: I am still losing. I am working on controlling it. I am a work in progress. And you are, too.

So to reiterate:

                If I can do it, you can, too.

                I (and you) have really been eating WAY WAY too much (that’s the definition of being 75lbs overweight).

                The corollary is: you MUST eat much much less to lose weight. If you want to do it slower, you can definitely eat more, but frankly, faster seems better than slower to me.

                Eating the same things over and over has a relaxing zen quality.

                Exercise can be low impact and as easy as walking out the front door. No commute, no cost.

Wednesday, 12 April 2023

The Bev Diet (part 3): The Necessary Elements


1. Weigh yourself daily: Knowledge is power so weigh yourself EVERY DAY!

As someone who went to Weight Watchers numerous times, the idea of weighing myself daily while dieting seemed counter-intuitive. Group leaders there basically warned you against using a scale yourself because your weight is bound to fluctuate and you would just drive yourself crazy with variations due to water retention, bowel habits, etc. But now I look back on that advice and see what it really meant: if you don’t have a scale (and they definitely advised against it), their having one gives them the power of knowledge over you. You (or maybe that should read “I”) had to go to their weekly meetings in order to find out how your weight loss journey was going…maybe all that has changed with the advent of online programming, but whatever: I WEIGH MYSELF EVERY MORNING.


I truly believe it’s the best way to keep myself totally accountable. And I know I’ve spent a lot of my life lying to myself as far as body issues go, so I certainly want to keep as honest in this diet endeavour as possible. And I’d advise you to do the same.


2. Measure what you eat: This means also that you’ll need a small food scale (they’re about $15-$30) and measuring cups and spoons. Because I measure everything (e.g., 2T of smoked salmon Philly cream cheese just about every morning) that isn’t prepackaged/portioned (e.g., Lean Cuisine chicken carbonara). I’d say that after 10 months of this, I know what a tablespoon of cream cheese looks like. But why tempt fate by estimating, when measuring is so easy?


One thing I don’t measure is salad foods (lettuce, cukes, tomatoes, shallots, peppers) because greens are about 9 calories per cup. So I estimate 2.5 to 3 cups in my salads. And I estimate about half a cup of milk (1%) in my lattes (two or three daily).


The great thing about a food scale is that you can eat anything (in moderation!), like challah or even an apple (because the bigger it is, the more calories it has).


And speaking of calories…

3. 1200 daily: I try to keep mine down to 1200 per day. I don't always succeed, and it's important to note that I can get off track one day and come back the next. 

Most people, on hearing 1200 calories, say what a woman friend of mine did over Facebook messenger when I finally told her (after a bit of skating around, because I knew how it would be perceived): “WoW (sic), that’s nothing!!!???”



Actually, it’s NOT nothing, and it’s probably a lot more than I used to eat in the bad old dieting days of low carb. Which, as discussed in a previous post, I’ve found unsustainable. I settled on 1200 empirically–which is a fancy way of saying by experimenting. This is what works for me. But I’m happy to find that the Mayo Clinic endorses such a number, even if it sounds awfully low to some of you. See here, for instance, where they mention 1500 to 1200 for women:

Listen, you might have a different biology, different age, activity level, amount of muscle, sex, etc. You may have to find a number that’s right for you. But I don’t want to have to diet forever (hopefully 18 months will be enough), though I will NEVER be able to go back to the way I was eating before.

4. Monitoring is vital: I use the Samsung Health app to monitor my food consumption, weight, and exercise. It takes seconds to record meals (I will post below images of my daily consumption) and it breaks things down into nutrients, so I can see how I’m doing. And by this measure, I’m doing okay, though I did start adding wheat bran a few months back to increase my fibre intake (recently switched to wheat germ because I can’t find wheat bran!). I occasionally take a vitamin C pill and have been thinking about adding a multivitamin with iron because I hardly ever eat red meat (though since I no longer menstruate, maybe this isn’t as much of a problem as it might be with younger women).

I’m sure there are other apps available for non-Samsung phones.

5. Exercise: I’m now spending about 2.5 hrs daily in low impact exercise. It’s definitely a lot, but it’s mostly walking. I do a morning (1hr) and evening (0.75hr) walks. And I bought a $200 folding bike from Amazon which I use while Netflixing at night…I spend about an hour on it. I’m not trying out for a Peloton commercial, either. I only really break a sweat after about 45 mins. The point is, you are expending a lot more energy than by just sitting on the couch.


I started this diet in June 2022, when I was still covid-sensitive enough to not want to go back to the gym (where I used to love Zumba and aerobics). Actually, I have covid right now (for the first time). I am starting to hanker to do higher intensity exercise so I can spend less time doing it. Maybe when I’m lighter, I’ll try jogging. But right now, since I have the time, I walk (I listen to a lot of podcasts, so if you have any suggestions, I’m all ears).


That’s it for today.

Monday, 27 March 2023

The Bev Diet (part 2): Psychological Preparation (or I heart oatmeal!)


(Got another phone call today from a friend I haven’t spoken to in awhile. She heard I’d lost 45 lbs and asked what I thought of Noom. I explained I’ve never used Noom, and started trying to explain the Bev diet…so thanks, Monnie, for pushing me into making this next post!)

One of the most important aspects to this weight loss journey I’m on involves changing the way I think about food and me. To be successful, you will likely have to do the same.

First of all, if food is one of your major sources of pleasure in life, you really are going to have to dial that back. Figure out why that is, if there’s any other way to inject pleasure back into your life (sans food!), and go for it! I’ve tried my best to maintain some of my eating pleasures, like creamy pasta and ice cream! But more on these later.

Another distorted idea I needed to confront was this notion that “I didn’t really eat all that much”. Which, on some level, is actually true. I never sat down with a whole rotisserie chicken for dinner, for example. Or ate a dozen eggs and half a loaf of bread for breakfast. But if, like me, you are basically 75 lbs overweight, after a lifetime of on-again off-again dieting, you have to acknowledge the lies you routinely tell yourself. Obviously, as reflected in the gallons of fat stuck to my stomach, hips, thighs, breasts, etc., I CLEARLY AM EATING MUCH TOO MUCH!

The clearest evidence is in those curves and folds I’m always trying to camouflage.

I think I can recall talk about this kind of thing in Weight Watchers back in the day*, how people tell themselves they are “big boned”, etc. Listen, I’m 5ft 5inches (and a half, let’s not forget that half-inch, which may be gone anyway, now that I’m in my sixties, but whatever).

What I had to do was analyze my weak points regarding food and over-eating. And the biggest problem, for me, was dinner. Cooking dinner. Cooking anything, really, but dinner especially. Because I would make dinner from about 5 or 6 pm, and I was making dinner while I was hungry! So what happened was—especially when my kids were young and I was fixing dinner after working a day in the molecular genetics lab—was that I ate dinner twice: once while I was preparing the food, and again when I sat down to the meal with my family (or, as we are empty nesters now, with hubby). So I decided to do something daring:

                I GAVE UP COOKING DINNER!

Yup. I told hubby I was trying something new diet-wise and that it would help me immeasurably if I no longer had to cook his meals. I started buying him frozen meals, too. And then I found a great place nearby that makes tasty and reasonably priced fresh meals (Le Maitre Boucher, if you’re a Westend Montreal local). If you’ve ever used a meal service like Hello Fresh (and we did try it, for about 3 weeks: good food, expensive compared to home cooking, high in calories, tremendous amount of shipping waste, not to mention the necessity of being around to get the package of food or having to worry about it being stolen! And then you still have to cook the darn meal!), you already know what you’re willing to spend on dinner. It came to about $25 for the two of us, or $12.50 per meal. And that was using their introductory specials, which seemed to rely on a lot of ground meat…but I digress.

Of course, hubby could have taken up doing the cooking. But he’s really not into that, which is fine (he does a lot of things around the house that I wouldn’t do myself). Hubby seems to enjoy being a sous-chef (occasionally) but not being in charge of the meal. Except for breakfast. But I digress again.

The thing is, I’m sure this would have been a non-starter if my family was still young. Which is why I stress that you must really think about your issues around food/cooking and approach them accordingly. Like, if I still HAD to cook, I’d have figured out some other strategy to confront my snacking during meal prep, such as sucking on Hall’s throat lozenges (or something equally odious) while cooking dinner (something that makes everything taste bad, so you’re not tempted to eat while cooking). Chewing gum might work. Cooking on weekends (never managed to do that when my kids were young, alas). Or eating a meal BEFORE you start cooking, if you have to.

What kind of meal can you prepare in no time to eat before the real meal is cooked, you ask? Let me tell you about my secret weapon, a food I eat several times a week, preferably at dinner-time: 


One-third cup of oatmeal (in ¾ cups of water, add a bit of salt, about 2 mins in the microwave but you have to watch it & stir it down several times when it threatens to overflow the bowl! Then let it cool covered for a minute, add ½ cup zero fat Greek yogurt and a splash of milk. I mostly use artificial sweetener and cinnamon or 1/3 cup of raspberries). This is a full bowl of tummy warming nostalgic goodness. Healthy and filling. And the yellow no-name brand is the best!

So: you have to confront the truth about eating too much. WAAY too much. For years and years.

And then the corollary: you really are going to have to eat much, MUCH less. How much less?

I try to keep my calories below 1200** daily. I also eat three filling meals, and manage to indulge my cravings for creamy pasta and ice cream, too. Well, frozen vanilla yogurt, to be accurate.

I have never felt deprived or starving eating this way. And I’ve been doing it for 10 months now. But I do still struggle with eating too much frozen yogurt, or eating out once in a while. There are weeks when my weight fluctuates, before I finally get my act together and make it work again. I'm still human and fallible, but at least I’m relatively confident now that I can handle these ups and downs. 

Psychological preparation and checking in on how I’m doing helps a lot.

Finally, you have to be prepared to change what you think about eating: every meal does not have to be a three course extravaganza. Every lunch or supper does not have to include meat!

You need to eat much less than you think.


*And I’ve been on WW about four times, including once when I was pregnant, as I thought it would help me keep my weight gain down as my pregnancy advanced. Instead, it was the most depressing thing ever, as my weight continued to climb…

**Of course, this should vary with sex, height, and age. People who are male, taller, and/or younger need more calories. Again, please consult a medical/nutritional specialist, especially if you have health issues.

Wednesday, 22 March 2023

The Bev Diet (part 1): if I can do it, anybody can!


I’ve lost 45 lbs over the past 10 months (still going strong!) and am pleased--not to mention surprised--with these results. This is NOT a story involving Ozempic, by the way, but partly an old-fashioned one, involving calorie counting and low impact exercise, leavened with more modern touches: digital scales, the Samsung Health app.

Friends and acquaintances have asked me how I’m doing it, and I thought I would get back into blogging a bit by describing it in full.

The biggest thing, to my mind, is that if I can do it, anybody can. I repeat:


To explain why I say the above, a bit about me:

I’ve struggled with my weight much of my life: I went on Weight Watchers for the first time at 10 years old. I weighed 130 lbs then, which rose to just over 165 lbs by the next time I hit WW, at the ripe old age of 14 and a half…I managed to keep my weight mostly under control through younger adulthood, lost 30+lbs after my second kid (of three) using UltraSlimFast. And so on.

So I’ve dieted, off and on, much of my life. Which I’d come to believe is really not great for my metabolic rate, which ranges somewhere between slug and sloth…

The past 10-15 years, whenever I’d dieted, I’d used a combination of low carb and lots of aerobic exercise (and, latterly, Zumba). Let me just say here that I think keto is nuts and low carb unsustainable…but maybe that's just me.

But COVID was kind of the end of my dietary self-control, such as it was: “if the world is coming to an end, what does it matter how much Ben & Jerry’s I consume?” was more or less my mindset through much of 2020, 2021, and 2022. COVID was the end of a lot of things...I had NEVER binged ice cream like that before in MY ENTIRE LIFE!!


My weight ballooned to heights I’d never thought possible, significantly BEYOND what I weighed when I was nine months pregnant…unhappy days.

I’m in my early 60s, work freelance and part-time (very!), am short, not very athletic, have three adult kids and one grand-child. My life is relatively secure and low stress (“privileged” is the term du jour, although I think I've paid my dues). So I felt this was as good a time as I’d ever get to do something I’d always wanted to do: lose the weight for good.

So that’s what I’m doing, and in the next several posts, I will describe how. I hope this narrative will help someone who wants to do the same. Remember, if I can do it, anyone can!

Please note: this blog is meant for informational not medical purposes; please consult your healthcare provider as necessary before embarking on any weight loss project.

Friday, 14 June 2019

Ellie Chartier's DIS MON NOM, at Montreal Fringe this weekend

I went to see my friend Ellie Chartier’s wonderful bilingual Fringe show Dis Mon Nom last week. It’s about Paul Bernardo, Karla Homolka, and their crimes. But in this era of #MeToo and MMIW, it’s really about so much more. I thought I would catch up with Ellie and ask her about the origins of her piece. 

Where did the idea for this Bernardo-Homolka piece come from?
From a role that Lucas [Chartier’s son, also featured in this play] got a few years ago, playing Paul Bernardo. I started thinking about what it means to be this terrible person. A psychopath. I wrote a first version, Paper Thin Walls, that really centred on the actor-character relationship, two actors preparing to play Bernardo and Homolka. After getting some feedback, I thought of all the other people affected by the aftermath. Which led me to the Scarborough rapist’s victims, these women who did not get their day in court. All I could find out about them was general descriptions of what he had done to them. Some of these women prepared for months to testify. But because of the nature of the case, he was never confronted by them in court. I was really upset by that.

Does #MeToo come into this?
It’s addressing the choice. The choice to speak openly if YOU choose to.

So you feel the justice system let these women down?
Yes, the system failed those victims in general.

What could be done differently? You understand they charged him with the worst crimes, hoping to put him away for life, and sparing the costs associated with adding and proving "lesser" crimes?
Yeah sparing the cost, as you say. But these women needed that day in court.

Along the lines of those 150 victims of Larry Nasser speaking in court? Confronting their molester?
Something should have been done for them. I don't think plea bargains should be used in this kind of crime.

Would you say you were angry on their behalf?
Yes, I am. And also that she's out.

How important is anger to the creative process? That she and her lawyer played the system? Do you believe she was the real murderer, as he claimed?
It's a mix of anger--and I'll say astonishment, for lack of a better word. I was really amazed when I learned about these other victims. And about her. I was 20 once and had a younger sister and what she did to her sister, I'm sorry but as much you are in love with a guy, this was unforgivable.

The 13 victims he admitted to having raped as the Scarborough rapist? Do you think the police didn't care enough? Or were inept?
I think the police did a really crappy job [on the Scarborough rapes] and also when they searched their house.

Do you buy that she was a victim too?
Her best friend was working in a center for battered wives. She knew exactly how to portray one.

Do you think she hurt herself to pose like a battered wife (like in Gone Girl)? That she is the real murderer, as he alleged?
She knew how to push his buttons. If you read the transcripts of how the murder happened she played an active part in the torturing and murders.

So what is the kernel, here? Why is it important to see your play?
For the victims. To question our justice system. To question our rehabilitation system. To question our reactions when confronted with crime and the mythologizing of criminals like Bundy. Or Charles Mason. To let people know that she played the system. And won.

So what’s next? You mentioned continuing with this piece, taking it further.
In the next version, I want to explore more how she got out.

You’ve to mention the criminals’ names as few times as possible. The title of your piece: to whose name are you referring?
The title is for the victims.

The ones who survived or the ones who were murdered?
The rape survivors. The ones who were murdered, we all know their names.


Dis Mon Nom plays Fri June 14 to Sun June 16. Tickets here.
Mise en scène/Directed by: Ellie Chartier
Paysage sonore et lumineux/Set and light design: Alex Gravenstein

Avec (en ordre alphabétique)/ With (in alphabetical order):

Émmanuelle Caron
Lucas Chartier-Dessert
Lizzie Chuprun
Miguel Doucet
Karine Kerr
Boris Kirimidtchiev
Dominique Noël

Théâtre MainLine (3997 boul St-Laurent)

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Destroying SNC-Lavalin because of corruption is like bombing the village to save it

Millions of pixels have already been spilled on the Jody Wilson-Raybould SNC-Lavalin deferred prosecution brouhaha. Lines are being drawn, flamethrowers are being taken to the place, talking points are being honed to rapier edge, petards are being hoisted…you get the drift.

The essential question, though, is whether SNC-Lavalin deserves to be forced out of business (or out of Canada) for the actions of a corrupt few related to contracts in Libya between 2001 & 2011? 

That's 54,000 jobs, 9,000 of them in Canada. The vast, overwhelming majority of these employees (not to mention shareholders) are totally innocent. Given the above, Jody Wilson-Raybould is wrong and Justin Trudeau is right.

Ministers either toe the party line or quit. That's not what she did. She didn't quit when she was being subjected to "pressure," and she still hasn't quit after trying to incinerate her government. 

Loyalty is everything in politics. The PMO was only asking her to do what was in her rights to do, by virtue of her position. For the good of the country, she should have.

Spirited conversations are taking place on my Facebook page, and other places. I understand those holding the opposite position. The thing is, this is politics, “the art of the possible,” not abstract morality class. 

Don't get me wrong, I agree that the individuals who committed wrongs should be punished, just not the entire economy. The PM would be derelict in his duty to let it go under. It's a jewel in Canada's economic life, one of the largest engineering and construction companies in the world.

I'm actually more concerned that the penalties being handed down to the guilty are too lax.

But what did JWR think she was getting into, in becoming a politician? She should stick to the PTA if she can't handle the big leagues. Why didn't she quit when she was being pressured, if she thought it was so wrong?

Basically, this scorched earth/woman scorned campaign of hers proves (to me, at least) she is not cut out for government.

JRW herself has said “that while she believes she was inappropriately pressured, she doesn’t think any law was broken,” according to Chantal Hebert in the Feb. 28th Toronto Star ("Trudeau’s waist deep in the big muddy," p.4). 

Politics is serious business and no doubt has a steep learning curve. Of course having a deferred prosecution law on the books means the government would want to use it. That is what laws are: tools to goose the art of the possible.