Category Archives: I wanna rant

Diet Life in the S L O W Lane


by Deborah Riley-Magnus

And the heel pain continues, but not nearly as bad as it was in the beginning. I’ve really tried hard to rest my foot for a whole week, careful to eat fewer calories and drink more water. Belly Dancing was part of my plan, but that proved not such a good idea. Guess what, you belly dance on your feet. DUH. I also intended to do some floor work, flat on my back, leg raises, twists, stuff like that. One big problem there … you have to get up off the floor and use your feet to do it. Every time I thought “oh yes, this feels a whole lot better” I’d somehow, without even realizing it, push the envelope and end up aching for hours after.


Life goes on. Go to the grocery store? Good for maybe three aisles. Check out the mall? Good thing there are benches every thirty feet and I wasn’t alone. It was such a frustrating week I wanted to jump out of my skin! Who knew that the person who used to say “When I get the urge to exercise I just lie down and it passes” would suddenly salivate at the mere idea of getting out and moving. Now that I’ve changed my feelings about activity as part of my new life style, I’m forced to sit on the sidelines and watch for a few more days! This (now I need to admit it) injury must heal before I can move ahead. Sigh.

Some progress was made though. I did purchase a new pair of shoes, thanks to the expert advice of the sweet young lady at Dick’s Sporting Goods. Turns out I’m at an age (ah-hem) where the padding at my heel has thinned and I require better padding in my shoes. To get that I needed to step away from the walking shoes display and introduce my feet to running shoes. The perfect pair of light weight, comfortable running shoes were tied on and (can you hear the angelic strains of music?) I could miraculously walk without limping! Granted it only lasted a few hours and the heels made themselves known again, but at least I know that when I’m ready to hit the walking trails again I’ll be well supported.  One would think I was talking about a sports bra, but that’s a subject for another post all together.

All week I cooked carefully, focusing on low fat, well balanced meals, lots of great soups (because it was a rainy autumn week in Pittsburgh) and watching the Major League Baseball playoffs. I will give this foot-resting thing another few days then start walking again … slowly, not too far and with the full intention of stopping when I feel any pain.

Weight loss? A whopping 2 pounds. Sheesh, that’s frustrating but I suppose I should be pleased. It could have been a gain if I wasn’t so careful.

So it’s a total loss of 13 pounds in four weeks, the gain of perfect shoes for future activity and a tentative acquisition of patience. A lot to ask of OCD me, but it is, after all, a journey.


Where did this Start?


By Natalie Preston

Hi Everyone. My name is Natalie Preston, and I am taking a stand. To paraphrase Howard Beale from “Network,” I’m fed up and I’m not going to take it anymore. Let me explain. From a very young age, I’ve had a weight problem. Some of my earliest memories from elementary school were of taunts from my classmates. “Fatso!” “Ugly!” You know the drill. And the taunts were not only from school. My father also called me fat, lazy and said he was ashamed to be seen with me. Even now that hurts … that the one man who should have thought I was the prettiest little girl in the world didn’t want to be seen with me. Since my size was obviously so offensive to everyone, I learned to hate myself and struggle to be “normal.”

My life became one long string of failed diets, exercise plans, and wacky weight loss schemes. At fourteen, I had needles put into my ears because my medical doctor, who was also an acupuncturist on the side, convinced my parents that this was the way to lose weight.

Didn’t work.

At sixteen or seventeen, my new medical doctor diagnosed me with hypo-glycemia and gave my mom a low fat, high protein meal plan that included not skipping meals. A couple of years later, this same doctor put me on a protein fast diet. After drinking nasty-pseudo-orange tasting drinks for two weeks, I rebelled and stopped going to that doctor.

Over the last thirty or so years, I’ve tried two different fasting plans overseen by doctors, Weight Watchers, the Diet Center, and joined countless gyms and spent probably thousands of dollars in this quest to have a body like Cindy Crawford. All to no avail. I’d lose twenty or thirty pounds, then quit due to boredom, discouragement, financial worries, etc. And here I am in my early fifties, still overweight and still not looking a bit like Cindy Crawford. Sigh.

So … what do I do? Give up? Just accept that I’m fat, have type II diabetes and will probably die an early, unhappy death? No. I decided to stop the craziness. Every diet plan, physical trainer, and doctor has taught me a simple truth: If I eat less calories than I am burning in a given day, I will lose weight.

With this humble truth in mind, roommate Deb and I came to a brilliant plan: We will combine our knowledge of weight management, nutrition, and physical exercise and do this on our own. We will support each other, encourage each other, and celebrate each other as we watch our calorie intake, plan nutritious meals, and get off our butts and walk. And, as part of our plan to keep us on track and honest, we will blog about our adventures and successes.

So here it goes … We began this journey on Monday and so far so good. We’ve gone out to walk in South Park (those of you familiar with Pittsburgh will know what I’m talking about), and we’ve done really well shopping and preparing our meals. My next weigh in is this coming Monday, and I’m convinced I’ll be a very happy girl that morning. And I’ll keep going all the way to my goal weight. Could be a bumpy ride and I’m glad you all are with me on this one. Woo Hoo!

Habit? I Won’t Have It!


Where to start? Well, in this case it has to be at the end and on a Monday. Monday? Of course, some things about dieting just can’t be changed. They are law, written in the annals of eternity, stating clearly that fat people can’t think rationally unless the weekend is over.

Boy we did it too. I’m not sure how many calories Natalie (best friend, roommate and codependent) and I consumed over the past seventy two hours, but there was a whole toasted almond cake in there and a night at our favorite restaurant’s Oktoberfest. Beer, wine, weinersnitzhel, strudel, the works! That should give you a good idea.

I will say one thing though – when I woke this morning I was actually excited! Think about it. Overeating, eating badly and living day to day with my growing butt firmly planted in my computer desk chair or sofa is pretty bad. How bad? 214 pounds bad. Here’s the story.

Six years ago I had spinal surgery. Nothing massive, just the simple herniated disks most people my age get, but it made major changes in my life. I was an active person, I worked as a professional chef, on my feet all the time, up early, running here there and everywhere. After the operation I was in so much pain (more pain than childbirth, I tell ya!) I kind of slowed to a complete stop. I couldn’t work anymore because lifting heavy stock pots or cases of #10 cans is simply not possible. All my energy moved into the next career I had in mind … becoming an author. That process took five years to accomplish and it’s great to have broken through, but I did it on my butt. When this whole six year process started I was easily 60 pounds lighter!

Damn, they are right! One can gain ten pounds a year just by not paying attention to what one (in this case THIS ONE) puts in ones mouth! Sigh.

Okay. 214 pounds – an all time high. I’m over fifty with a bad back – an all time difficulty factor. And over the past six years I’ve done several diets that I swear have ended up making me even fatter. Seriously. I’m five-foot-nothing and at this weight I’m officially almost as wide as I am tall.

So, as stated last week, no more strict fad diets, do more big programs, no more paying for what I already know I have to do. It’s time to change my life.

Maybe this won’t really be so hard. Think about it. Overeating or eating badly and being a couch potato are nothing more than habit … and habit is nothing more than behavior … and behavior can be changed. I KNOW this to be true because I was a smoker and now I’m not. In fact, I’m so not a smoker that if I have a cigarette, I actually enjoy it but don’t want any more. Granted, this kind of thing can’t happen to everyone, the chemical, emotional and habitual bound with nicotine can be beyond control. For me it never was like that. I’ve gone years without a cigarette, bought a pack or two then never even thought to buy more. Maybe I’m wired differently, but in this case, I’m very grateful!

Now, regarding habit, everyone can create bad ones. Fantastic sales people suddenly develop “Call Aversion” for no apparent reason at all. If left unchecked, their sales drop and they lose their job. Young parents develop a bad habit of forgetting to take care of their own needs. Some marriages actually end because the baby came first. Writers too can develop terrible habits. We forget to walk away from the keyboard, we forget to walk out of our house and we forget to watch what’s happening in the world. All terrible habits for people who tell stories for a living!

So, without major psychological therapy or reading a hundred more books on the subject, we already know how to change our behavior.

Just change it.So today, day one of my new life, Natalie and I have already purged the house of all those stupid snacks no one really needs (snacks so bad, even ants won’t eat them). We’ve gotten up early and planned a walking regime. We’ve set up little notes around the house to remind us to …

  • Move Around (even if it means vacuuming, ew)
  • Drink Water (get those eight glasses down!)
  • Substitute Good Choices for Bad Choices (apples over Snickers bars – salad over burgers – 35 calorie fudge popsicles over toasted almond cake)
  • Eat Three Small Meals and Two Healthy Snacks Every Day (no more, NO LESS)
  • Reward Ourselves! (More on this next week)

So now that I’ve blogged, it’s time to tie on my walking shoes and go for a long walk! Maybe I’ll see something cool I can use in my next book. Better yet, I’m creating a whole new habit … a good habit.

Welcome to Our World


First off, if you are skinny, have a hard time gaining weight or maintaining enough weight … baby, YOU ARE SO AT THE WRONG PLACE! Cleanup in Aisle Six is about being overweight and finding a new way to not be overweight anymore.

I’ll give you Twiggies a moment to move on and then our little meeting will begin.

Okay, they’re gone. Where shall I start?

No, you don’t need to step on a scale. No you don’t need to follow a program we give you. No you don’t have to even admit you’re overweight. If you stuck around, you’ll totally understand where we’re coming from.

I’m Deborah Riley-Magnus and my best friend, Natalie Preston and I have decided to stop the crazy diet crap we’ve been dealing with our whole lives.

From having a few extra pounds to coping with major health issues, we both find ourselves in our fifties and frustrated beyond reason! No, we’re not lazy or non-committed. We’re not satisfied with being overweight and we’re not willing to imagine that we’ll never wear those great clothes in the fashion department stores. We’re just sick and tired of the plans, expense, acrobatic strategies, insanity and foolishness of weight loss programs from the super well known ones to those little fad diets that still manage to find their way into my email inbox.

Between us we’ve tried Weight Watchers, South Beach, Nutrisystem, Jenny Craig, the Stillman diet, the grapefruit diet, the rice diet, an expensive, medically-monitored liquid diet, and a few we’ve either forgotten or refuse to admit to. Funny it took until Nat had an argumentative cancellation of our current online efforts with WeightWatchers to realize that guess what … diets don’t work.

Not being a woman to let something this big just slide by (and really sick and tired of a closet full of clothes that don’t fit anymore), I simply planted my fists into my oversized waist, stomped my swollen foot and stated, “Well then, we have to do something about this!”

I was a professional chef for 10 years and I did take at least one nutrition course at culinary school. Together Nat and I have studied and managed to be temporarily successful at a number of different diets, and frankly, if we don’t have a basic clue about how to do this by now, we never will! I refuse to believe we’re not smart enough to figure this out.

So, yesterday we sat at dinner and made some notes. We listed what we know works and what we know doesn’t work. We listed the triggers that knock us off a diet and we imagined the triggers or rewards that would help us get back onto the right track.

Above all, we chose NOT to call this a weight loss plan or diet program. This is the rest of our lives, it’s a new chance to be happy and healthy and it’s a WHOLE DIFFERENT LIFESTYLE. At least that’s what we’re hoping it will be.

So, welcome to our world. We’re giving our new way of life one year to be successful and the remainder of our days to prove we were right.

Well hell, if we can be codependent when we’re not dieting, why can’t we be codependent to help us succeed? Stick around, we’ll be blogging twice a week, me on Mondays and Natalie on Thursdays. We’ll share experiences, we’d love to hear your thoughts, ideas, opinions and especially your encouragement!

Here’s to making peace with the cupcakes and friends with the fresh veggies! Let’s get this new lifestyle started!