Thursday, January 3, 2008

On Weight Loss, and Nutella Chocoloate Chip Cookies

2005 was an amazing year. It was the culmination of my "fun times" in Auburn, of which I could tell you many a fun story, but will today suffice to disclose that in addition to the many great memories, friendships and pictures that should probably be destroyed, I was also carrying around an 15 extra pounds that came from out of nowhere. Who knew that gorging on tailgate junk food and beer every single weekend would make one gain weight even if said person "walked" for exercise every day?

So, my 2006 new year's resolution was to keep up with every single morsel of food that entered my mouth in an effort to lose the weight. The written version of the food journal lasted for a breakfast and lunch one day; I quickly searched the web for an easier way to make my healthy resolution happen. I stumbled upon My Food Diary, a fantastic online resource with an army of nutrition information, experts, and advice for losing weight, along with a food diary and exercise diary that keeps you on track. (It's $9/month and money well spent; Anne tells me the FDA has a similar one online for free that works just as well.) Anyway, MFD tells you how many calories you need to eat in a day to lose weight. My adventure on MFD resulted in positives and negatives. In short, I lost the 15 pounds, kept them off, and am healthier and in better shape than I've ever been in my life. But, one big negative - I became, and still am, obsessed with counting calories. It's a switch in my brain I have not yet been able to turn off, resulting in yet another way I can be hard on myself, something my evil little brain loves to do to me. This, friends is another journal entry.

Anyway, the plethora of new year's weight loss advertisements are really getting to me, and making me reflect on my own experience with trying to be healthier. I'll probably write a big paper someday about all this, but I can't let LBDelicious start the new year without "weighing in" with my own two cents on this issue. Dear readers, if you want to lose weight, do it. But for the love of God, don't do Nutri System, don't do South Beach, don't to Atkins, don't to Jeni Craig, and if I find out you're taking HydroxyCut I will find you and pour the pills down the toilet while yelling at you. Don't do a "diet," make lifestyle changes that you can live with. Eat smaller portions. Exercise. Don't expect to lose 10 pounds in a day. If you do, you'll only gain it back the next. Want to know the real secret to weight loss? You need a 3500 calorie deficit in order to lose a pound in a week. You must burn 3500 more calories than you eat in a week to lose a pound a week. Sign up for MFD, sign up for the FDA's free version, give it a month, and see if I'm not right. Or look it up for yourself.

There is one caveat to the 3500 calorie rule. If you go overboard and don't eat enough in a day, your body can go into "starvation mode," where despite what you cognitively know about what you're doing to yourself, your body thinks you are, like, starving, and will hang on to whatever fat reserves you have in an effort to "survive" until you eat a good meal. If you think this sounds ludicrous, just think about how our cavewomen ancestors survived in the wilderness when they had trouble finding food because their sorry ass cavemen husbands got lazy and refused to help them hunt. Or how our more immediate ancestors survived rural north Alabama during the Great Depression (their diets consisted of dirt, mud, grass, and the occasional biscuit. See Daws, 2005 unpublished A.U. thesis, or Barker, 1934 A.P.I. unpublished thesis, for details or if you don't believe me.)

As a direct result of watching the sickening weight loss ads, I decided yesterday that I wanted chocolate cookies. I couldn't find a recipe that I liked, so I invented my very first cookie recipe! I was very happy. Try them & let me know what you think.

Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies (an LBDelicious original)
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 dash salt
12 TB butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup nutella
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
12 oz bag chocolate chips (semi sweet, bittersweet, whatever you have on hand)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In medium bowl, combine flour, soda, and salt; set aside. Cream together butter and 2 sugars with hand mixer until light and fluffy. Add nutella, mix together. Add vanilla and eggs one at a time until well incorporated. Add flour gradually, mixing until just combined. Stir in chips. Drop onto greased cookie sheet and bake for 9 minutes, cool.

Nutella is made with hazelnuts; don't eat these if you have a nut allergy. You may even want to add nuts so that an unsuspecting nut-allergic friend doesn't mistake them as safe. They are delicious with a big scoop of ice cream sandwiched between two of them, still warm.

Happy eating, and happy new year. :)

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