Author Archives: Gretchen

About Gretchen

Naturally curious, you can often find Gretchen Wilcox reading an encyclopedia for fun. When not spending (the majority) of her time raising two young sons, she is also a 20+ year food/wine professional, and has been married to her husband Graham, a professional chef, for 16 years. As a former pageant contestant and sometimes model, Gretchen has spent a lifetime trying to figure out how to "have it all"; a lifestyle that includes gourmet food and wine, while still allowing her to fit into her wardrobe. After the birth of her first son, now age 14, Gretchen embarked on a career with the weight loss giant, Jenny Craig International. While helping thousands of men, women and teens lose millions of pounds, she learned first hand that weight loss happens not just in the body, but more importantly, in the mind. Now 40 years old, Gretchen is looking earnestly towards the second half of her life, and how to help people make the body/mind connection. Now studying psychology with a minor in criminal justice, she is looking forward to a career in working with juveniles at risk, and teaching them to focus their mind's eye on a life that is productive, rich and rewarding.

Upper division weight loss

If you follow this blog, you know I’m back in school.  Like alot of returnees, I realized that my successful career was going to eventually reach an endpoint, when I got too old to wear a bistro apron and manage people young enough to be my kids.Don’t get me wrong, I *totally* relate to the younger-than-me generation, as I refuse to grow up (fully).  So being back in school has me thinking; how can I use what I know now, and do it better than I did before?So this time, I’m taking advantage of a generous financial aid package, and am signing up for a unit of P.E. Yep, P.E.! Three days a week, I will drag my happy you-know-what down to my college gym, and grunt and groan through what the catalog description refers to as “Boot Camp.” I can  honestly say that I would never have considered going back to school to get back into shape.  But get back into shape is exactly what I intend to do.  This is one sure way to make sure those student loans pay-off for life.Stay tuned for updates.

Time to plant a garden

It’s spring, and everything in the Pacific Northwest is abloom. I’m thrilled, as I’m an avid gardener, and just last year, discovered the culinary pleasure of homegrown snow peas. Plump, sweet and crunchy, bugs could seem to care less about them, and my then seven-year old would make any excuse to go outside and devour his own body weight in green vegetables.

Yes, you read that right- a seven-year old eating green vegetables!

Gardening is not just a hobby. For those of you following the Peak Oil Crisis and the resulting Cuban diet, soon enough, gardening will be a means of survival. A very real scenario in the next forty years is that oil prices will make transportation of food economically unviable. Pressure on local farmers will outstrip supply, and only those who grow their own foods will have readily available access to fruits and vegetables. Meat will become scarce in urban areas, and dairy will become a luxury few can afford. We are already seeing nearly $5.00 for a gallon of milk, and the cost of gas, to transport that milk, is nearly the same.

In Italy, the term “risorgimento” refers to a re-birth or re-unification, now a way of life for most Italians. Roughly translated, they live on the same land with which they source the things they need to live. The first step is learning to live on less. Isn’t that what a diet is all about?

Slow Food in Schools

It’s finals week, and I’m up to my ears in research. Don’t get me wrong, I love it, but it is painful to absorb that much information in such a short period of time.

My research topic is very pertinent to this blog, so I’ll share a bit with you. I’m arguing for Slow Food in Schools. What is Slow Food? It is a movement spurned by activism, as a protest to the proliferation of fast food, in our towns, and even scarier, in our schools.

In the 2007 study conducted by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, only Oregon and Kentucky received an A- for their commitment to eliminate junk food in schools. As many as 20 states got Fs for failing to raise standards above the USDA minimums, which have been deemed as the leading cause of childhood obesity in this country.

Of course, any good argument has two sides, and the fast food industry likes to argue “don’t look at us, kids can’t drive themselves to Pizza Hut”. True, but why would they need to, when we are bringing Pizza Hut to their schools?

Lose the guilt and gain the consciousness and learn more about your local chapter of Slow Food in Schools.

Alternatives to Alcohol

The following question is one that I am asked often:

“How can I avoid alcohol when dining out, whether for business or pleasure?”

It is a good question to ask, because gram for gram, alcohol is as calorie dense as a fat gram. Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig customers know that a glass of wine is endearingly referred to as “two fats”, or two fat exchanges. It can be tough to stick to that plan when dining out, as one glass inevitably leads to two, which can often lead to lack of good judgment in food choices.

Therefore, the most successful dieters avoid alcohol while they are focused on their goal, and it’s easier to do this than you think! We’ll show you how.

* For a lunch date or business lunch where everyone is expected to have a drink, order a virgin bloody mary, no salt. Count it as a veg serving!

* For a cocktail party or pre-dinner drink with friends, order a club soda, splash of cranberry, squeeze of lime. It looks like a popular drink, called a cape cod, and no one but you and the bartender will know it is alcohol free.

* For dinner itself, as a substitute for wine, ask your server for a new product called “dry soda”. This is a food-friendly soda with negligible calories, invented by a woman here in the Pacific Northwest. Faced with the problem of not being able to drink wine with dinner while pregnant, she designed a beverage that enhances food, like wine does, but without the alcohol or calories. With flavors like kumquat, rhubarb (my favorite!), lemongrass and lavender. Any cuisine can find a dry soda to compliment their wine list.

*Bring a bottle of non-alcoholic wine and pay a corkage fee. More and more, people are bringing in their own wine to restaurants, so don’t hesitate to do so. The corkage fee can range from zero to twenty-five dollars, but it’s worth it to sip decent wine in great crystal and not feel like you are being left out of the conviviality of the meal. A great non-alcoholic (n/a) wine to look for is Inglenook’s Cabernet Sauvignon. As well, many new flavored waters are packaging in wine-looking bottles. Bring what you want to drink, and enjoy!

*Reward yourself later, with a cup of your favorite hot tea or fat-free hot chocolate. Patting yourself on the back for a good decision is one of the best ways to make sure you continue to do so.

Happy Spring!

In case you needed another reason to lose weight

Motivation to lose weight is a fragile thing. In the diet industry, we call it “tension”. Also known as that precise moment when you say, “Ugghh, I can’t deal with this weight anymore”, and you decide to do something about it. Research shows us that tension doesn’t last very long; that’s the reason that when you call a weight loss program, they want you to come in “today” to get started, because tomorrow is another day.

Think of it like a rubber band, that when stretched tight, represents when you are most motivated.

Well, let’s just say I got my rubber band stretched when I read an article about insurance companies imposing higher insurance premiums on people considered obese according to BMI measurements. As someone who rides that line with the best of them, at 5’4″ and either 147 lbs (summer) or 160 lbs (winter), I did the math and realized that my annual post-holiday “padding” could be costing me in more ways than one.

I don’t know about you, but that is all the motivation I need to hit the pool today.