Reasons for Regain #1: I stopped cooking

Regain boat

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve regained weight since I was at my slimmest several years ago. The weight started to come back after I got a headache that still hasn’t gone away and I started eating my way through the pain. Chocolate-covered pretzels. Mint chocolate chip ice cream. Krispy Kreme donuts. You kept me sane and I thank you, but you also made me fat again. However, I do not regret what I ate during that first year or two of the headache because it was all that kept me from going nuts. I went for chocolate-covered nuts instead. Eating felt good at a time when I never felt good.

However, I’ve been managing my headache better lately and it’s nowhere near as agonizing as it used to be. So when I look back on the past few years I have to admit that I’ve gotten lazy. I’ve stopped doing the work necessary to keep me healthy and thin. (I realize thin and healthy don’t always coincide, but for me at that time of my life they did.) Sugar may have kept me sane when I was in pain, but it also opened the gateway to bad habits that I’d hope to rid myself of forever. I’m reminded of this every year when the National Weight Control Registry sends me their annual survey asking me if I’m eating low-fat cheeses and how big are my portions and am I exercising regularly and OH MY GOD, National Weight Control Registry, stop nagging me already!! As annoying as it is, their survey does basically serve as a checklist of everything I’m doing wrong, wrong, oh, so wrong.

This year I thought I’d take a look at the different bad habits I’ve adopted since I was at my healthiest and then try to correct them. That way you can learn from my horrible mistakes, and perhaps that’ll give my screw-ups a little bit of meaning. First up:

Reason #1: I stopped cooking

I’m not sure when I stopped cooking, but I suspect it was a gradual thing. When you regain weight it’s usually because of gradual changes, not because of any sudden spectacular moment of change. Ironically, whenever people would ask me about my weight loss they always wanted to know what my turning point was, as if they expected there had to be a sudden spectacular moment of change. I don’t think that’s how people typically operate. For the most part I think we change gradually, like children growing ever so slightly taller every day, not noticing how different you are until the aunt you only see once a year exclaims, “You’ve gotten so tall!”

When I first started to lose weight, I became smitten with cooking. It was an interesting new thing I’d never bothered with before outside of microwaving a pizza or boiling Ramen noodles. (Oh who am I kidding? I usually ate Ramen noodles raw. CRUNCH!) It was fun for the first few years, but then it became more and more like a chore. The same thing happened when I learned to drive. I would have driven anyone anywhere when I was 16 because it was so cool to be behind the wheel. Nowadays driving is just another task on the list of things I do because I am an adult, right up there with complaining about traffic.

I realize there are people who lose weight and maintain that weight without doing any cooking. It’s possible to eat well without owning a skillet, but I think it’s easier when you do.

Cooking requires planning

If I’m cooking my own meals I have to have materials on hand for those meals. That means I have to buy things ahead of time from the grocery store. This forces me to plan ahead which helps prevent me from eating something bad because it happened to be fast and convenient.

When I cook, I control what’s in my meal

If I’m cooking my own food, I know what is in it. I can make a good guess at how calorie-dense it is. I can make sure to use Extra Virgin Olive Oil instead of lard or Crisco or some other trans-fat atrocity. I know it wasn’t drenched in butter, even if that’s what makes restaurant food taste so good.

I can eat leftovers later

If I’m taking the time to cook something, I can cook a large portion. That means I’ll have leftovers later, so I’m getting several meals from the same time it would have taken me to cook just one meal.

Solution: I’ve started cooking again.

Ever since I got back from the holidays I have been doing a lot more cooking. It’s been pretty basic stuff like whole grain-spaghetti that only requires me to boil water and microwave some turkey meatballs from Trader Joe’s. I’ve been doing a lot of stir-fry too because all you have to do is stir and fry.

What’s strange is that the cooking thing just kind of happened without me making it an official goal. One day I got hungry, but I was out of TV dinners or anything else I could quickly microwave, and I really, really, really didn’t want to leave the house, so I broke down and was like, “Fine! I will cook something! I’ll probably starve to death in the 15 minutes it takes to prepare it, but I have no other options!” So I grilled a chicken breast and microwaved some green beans and made some couscous and it was all rather delicious. It reminded me that, oh yeah, I used to cook stuff all the time. And yes, it is work, and no, I still don’t find it all that fun, but it’s probably a worthwhile endeavor. So I have been cooking more often and eating better as a result.

It also helps that I haven’t been keeping many just-microwave-it types of food in the house. When microwaving something isn’t an option, I’m basically forced to cook. I supposed I could call for take-out, but I’ve been keeping that off-limits in case of a total food emergency that would otherwise leave me eating the crumbs that collect under the stove-top burner coils.

Although this has definitely been good for me, the downsides are that 1) It’s definitely work, and 2) I’ve noticed I’ve had to run my dishwasher a lot more often. Cleaning up after you cook is not fun and might have been one of the reasons I stopped in the first place. 3) I haven’t cooked anything that takes longer than 10-15 minutes, which is limiting my options. If I don’t branch out I’m going to get really sick of stir-fry soon. Still, it’s better than nothing!

I suspect my improved eating might be a result of the hedonistic chocolate rampage that some people call “Christmas” and I call “sugar-geddon” and is best illustrated by this photo:


Is a Whitman’s Sampler really still a “sampler” when it’s as big as your abdomen? I don’t know. I do know that the box was so big it was difficult to match the items in the chart to the actual chocolates. I had to start counting columns and rows to figure out where the vanilla cream was.

Anyway, I ate so much chocolate and pumpkin pie and cheesecake over the holidays that by the time I got home I had no desire to eat any of it again in the near future. I’ve been eating healthier in January than I have for months, maybe years, and it’s all been strangely easy. I’ve seriously wondered if my lack of appetite is the first warning sign of some terrible disease that is slowly killing me, but also making me thinner. I suppose that’s a sign of how screwed up my natural eating instincts are, that I feel like I need to go to the doctor and say, “Help! I don’t feel like eating chocolate. Something is terribly wrong with me!” It’s more likely that now that I’ve been off sugar for awhile I don’t crave it like I used to. Sugar can cause an addictive cycle that’s hard to break.

So that’s where I am right now. One bad habit down. Several more to discover and conquer, yet again. I will let you know how it goes.

An exorcist gave me chocolate

The Exorcist

To be honest, I normally tune out during midnight mass. I only go to church once a year on Christmas Eve to be with my Mom. Although my body is there my mind is usually somewhere else. I’m also still annoyed that they changed some of the words in the call and response sections of the mass. Is nothing sacred?

So, there I was in la-la land, daydreaming away during the sermon, when I suddenly came careening back to earth because I swear to God I think I just heard the priest say he was an exorcist. (And when I swear to God in church I really mean it.) So I lean towards my mother and whisper, “Did Father Vince just say he’s an exorcist?” and she confirmed that yes, Father Vince is the official exorcist for Indianapolis. Who knew? Well, anyone who watches Paranormal Witness on the SyFy network knew, because Father Vince was recently featured in Season 3, Episode 19, The Exorcist. And he got 500 new Twitter followers after it aired. You can watch the full episode online right now if you’re interested.

What does any of this have to do with midnight mass? I cannot remember, but he worked it into the sermon somehow. Father Vince is actually a rather good speaker who walks around the church as he preaches, asking the congregation questions and drawing people into the sermon even if they’re trying to tune out like I do. Last year he handed out candy to a few people, including me, though I can’t remember how this related to the sermon either.

That’s the reason I can now say an exorcist gave me chocolate. I’ll go cross that off the bucket list.

JenFul Playlist – October and November 2013

Fisher Price record player

I’m a bit behind on my playlists because I ran out of levels on Candy Crush Saga. Let me explain. Lately I’ve been getting a lot of my new music recommendations from “Epic.Awesome.Videos” on the Palladia TV Channel. To my utmost shock they play three hours of music videos every weekday morning. Crazy, right? I had no idea TV stations still played music videos. So, I set a season pass for the show and in the evenings I would watch it while playing Candy Crush Saga on my phone. Honestly, I spent most of my time fast-forwarding because they’d play several of the same videos every day, but there was enough new material sprinkled in to keep me interested. Or at least, interested enough to listen as I played Candy Crush Saga on my phone.

Then I beat Level 455 of Candy Crush and ran out of levels. Yes, they have up to 515 levels if you play on Facebook, but it’s really hard to play Candy Crush Saga with both a cat and a computer on your lap. It’s not a cat-top computer after all, though they both keep you rather warm. (Dibs on the patent for a cat-top computer!) As it turns out, it’s kind of boring to sit around fast-forwarding through three hours of music videos and ads for Proactiv and the TreadClimber when you’re not distracted by candies that demand to be crushed. So I haven’t been watching it as much and thus haven’t had as much new music to recommend.

Much to my relief King Games released not one but two new episodes of Candy Crush for smartphones on the day before Thanksgiving. I was truly thankful, indeed. So I have been watching videos again more regularly and expanding my music horizons while also fantasizing about switching candies whenever I close my eyes. Level 472, baby!

I’ve included playlists for both October and November this time. You can listen to the playlists in the Spotify players below if you have Spotify installed. If not, the playlists are listed in text below that, and I had to type all that by hand this time because the copy and paste function isn’t working in the latest version of the Spotify software. (Jerks!) You can follow me on Spotify here and view my other playlists here. I’ve also commented on a few highlights below.


Twenty One Pilots – Holding On To You, Twenty One Pilots – Car Radio
Ok, why didn’t anyone tell me about Twenty One Pilots? This is my favorite new band of the moment. There are some thoughtful lyrics, catchy music with unique structures, and at times a ukulele. For instance, the song “Car Radio” is about someone who has to drive around in silence because his car radio was stolen. This is of course horrifying because you have to actually spend time with yourself instead of being distracted by music, or, um, Candy Crush Saga. Yes, their music contains more rapping and shouting than my typical music, but it works. It’s like when you eat an apple slice with goat cheese and you don’t think it’s going to work but it totally does. I also watched a recording of a live show they did (on Palladia of course) and they brought a lot of energy and fun to their performance. Hope these guys go on to even more success!

Pearl Jam – Sirens
Pearl Jam is still around! I find this reassuring, even if I’ve never been a big enough fan to buy an album. I’ve always enjoyed their singles. And I adore the Charlotte Martin cover of their song Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town.

The Goo Goo Dolls – Come to Me
The Goo Goo Dolls are still around too! Unfortunately, Johnny Rzeznik’s face is not. He got plastic surgery that makes him look like a creepy mannequin. He was such a cutie too. If you watch the video for this song it’s funny how he’s continually backlit by the sun, obscuring his facial features. Good call, director. I listened to their latest album “Magnetic” on Spotify and I was surprised to find I really enjoyed it. I would have thought they’d be way past relevant at this point in their careers, but it’s a good little alt-pop album. Nothing groundbreaking, but something I don’t mind playing in the car as I run errands. I know, my praise is overwhelming at times, isn’t it?

Lily Allen – It’s Hard Out Here
Lily Allen’s back, yay! I have been fond of her music for years, especially her ability to tell people to fuck off in such an upbeat way. Did you know her brother Alfie Allen plays Theon Greyjoy on Game of Thrones? He’s the Alfie from the song Alfie!

New Found Glory – Crazy for You
I know this band mostly for its punk rock covers which I’ve always felt ambivalent about, but I really, really love this cover of a Madonna song. I enjoy the album it’s on quite a bit too, From the Screen to Your Stereo, Part II which includes a lot of 80’s and 90’s movie hits (and even a Goo Goo Dolls song).

Hugo – 99 Problems
This is an alt rock cover of the Jay-Z song and quite frankly it rocks. The verses are different, so I guess it’s not exactly a cover. I don’t know if they have a word for what it is.

Moon Taxi – The New Black
I am beyond sick of the expression “the new black,” but this song rocks, so I will hand out a temporary pass for it and the Netflix series Orange is the New Black which also rocks.

October 2013

Jack White – Freedom at 21
The Avett Brothers – Another One is Waiting
The Chain Gang of 1974 – Sleepwalking
Pearl Jam – Sirens
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals – Stars
Sia feat. The Weeknd and Diplo – Elastic Heart
The Royal Concept – On Our Way
Alpha Rev – Sing Loud
St. Lucia – Elevate
Emeli Sande – My Kind of Love
Junip – Line of Fire
John Newman – Love Me Again
Cassadee Pope – Wasting All These Tears

November 2013

Twenty One Pilots – Holding On To You
Lily Allen – Hard Out Here
New Found Glory – Crazy For You
Hugo – 99 Problems
The Goo Goo Dolls – Come to Me
Twenty One Pilots – Car Radio
Moon Taxi – The New Black
American Authors – Best Day of My Life
Fall Out Boy – Alone Together
Tom Odell – Hold Me
Sky Ferreira – 24 Hours
Terra Naomi – You For Me
Sarah Simmons – Fall
Keane – Higher Than the Sun
All Time Low feat. Vic Fuentes – A Love Like War
Rudimental feat. Emeli Sande – Free
Zee Avi – The Book of Morris Johnson
Jane Jensen – Love Song
Zedd feat. Hayley Williams – Stay the Night
S. Carey – In The Dirt
Best Coast – I Don’t Know How
John Grant – Marz
The Script feat. – Hall of Fame
Travy McCoy feat. Jason Mraz – Rough Water

A ballsy move for someone who doesn’t have balls

Java Bean plots his next crime

I’d just turned the lights off to go to bed last night when I heard some undistinguishable noises in the kitchen which were then punctuated by a very distinguishable CRASH!!! That’s right. I regret to inform you I’ve had to reset the counter in my sidebar widget to reflect the fact that it’s been 0 days since Java Bean broke a glass. The little bugger had made it to 292 days, which isn’t even half his record of 614 days that ended in February of this year.

It’s rather ballsy to be this naughty so close to Christmas, especially considering that he doesn’t have balls anymore. If we had an elf on the shelf he’d probably knock that over too. I lay 100% of the blame for this incident on Java Bean. In the past I had been known to leave a glass on the coffee table at night which the Bean found so tempting to knock over that I figured it was akin to entrapment. I’ve been very diligent not to leave any glasses or mugs on the coffee table overnight, instead putting them in the dishwasher, or on the kitchen counter if I feel lazy. Last night Java Bean knocked off a glass on the kitchen counter, now nixing that as a safe place in the dishware protection program.

I think he did it to get my attention in a ploy to get me to feed him. At his annual vet checkup this year we noted that he’d gained a pound, so I’ve been much stricter about only feeding him at specific times of day. Java Bean doesn’t seem too happy about that. Which is why I was picking up broken shards of glass at 1:30 in the morning. Someone will not be receiving any Christmas catnip this year!

I’ll end this entry with the video for The Crystal Method song “Glass Breaker,” which always reminds me of a certain naughty black kitty.

Google Instant is a bit of a gossip

Are you guys familiar with Google Instant Search? Of course you are. This is like asking if you use the Internet, which you do, or else you wouldn’t be reading this. When you do a Google search you’ll see Google Instant Search in action when it displays a list of suggested searches that change as you type. Like so many things, I doubt the creators of Google Instant Search anticipated all the ways it would be used. Instant searches can be funny and disturbing, mostly because they’re so unpredictable. It’s like you’re playing a round of Family Feud with the rest of the internet, and the Internet is WEIRD. The results have also been used to write surprisingly good found poetry or reveal a disturbing amount of sexism in popular searches. The alogrithm behind the results uses a combination of popularity, relevance and freshness to generate results.

So, what happens when you Google my name? Um, this happens:

Google Instant Search for 'Jennette Fulda'

That’s right, the second suggested search is “jennette fulda boyfriend.” Say, whaaaa? Be honest now, have any of you been asking Google about my love life? And why? I’m not sure what to think of this. Are you trying to score a date? Did you read my books and want to know if I found the man of my dreams afterwards? It’s all slightly disturbing. I’m also surprised it ranked higher than “jennette fulda twitter” or “jennette fulda half-assed” which seem like reasonable searches. I even understand why people would be interested in “jennette fulda weight gain” though I obviously wish that weren’t the top search. Why isn’t “jennette fulda is a delightful person” in there? Can this system be gamed like it is with Google bombing?

I am now curious what Google Instant Search conjures up for other people’s names. Does anyone have any funny or horrifying stories to share? If you’re really into self punishment you can prompt more specific searches by adding a single letter after your name and running through the entire alphabet. For example, “jennette fulda h” prompts “jennette fulda half-assed,” “jennette fulda headaches,” and “jennette fulda half of me.”

So lay it on me. What is the Google Gossip saying about you or someone you know?

Keep reading: 

Want second helpings? Devour more entries in the archives.

Chocolate & Vicodin: My Quest for Relief from the Headache that Wouldn't Go Away Half-Assed: A Weight-Loss Memoir

Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, chronic headache sufferer, (former?) weight-loss inspiration, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She was formerly known as PastaQueen. You can contact her if you promise to be nice.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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