Larder in Order

Don’t like to think of it as a New Year’s resolution, but rather a project that I’ve been putting off for a while now, one which just so happens to be starting in January. I am finally embarking on a diet. One that is well planned, one I have read about and researched, a diet that I in fact did myself years ago and lost 20+ pounds in a relatively short amount of time. (Then I had a baby and kinda undid all that.) This is a diet that just looks wrong at every turn. It is the most counter intuitive way in which one could possible approach food. Healthy inclinations must be ditched, quelled, ignored. This is the diet of protein and fat, the diet that hardly allows the meagerest ration of carbs in order for success: the Atkins diet. Can’t refresh myself with a peach, nor an apple, nor a fistful of blueberries on my cereal. And cereal – with milk, heaven forbid – that’s entirely out of the picture. Really, just what the hell is this diet about? Some may know well, others may have a faint idea. In a nutshell? Turn your body from a machine that burns carbs for fuel into a body that burns fats and proteins. Simple. And yes, it does work. But like I said, it sure don’t feel natural… there’s a tiny voice in my head the whole time saying ‘your cholesterol will skyrocket… what if it backfires and I end up gaining fifteen instead? Sigh. Only thing keeps me going is knowing I’ve done it before, and successfully.

So yeah, you simply deprive your body of ALL carbs (ok, maybe not ALL carbs, but maybe like 99% of the carbs you’ve been accustomed to eating for your entire life) and you honestly do force your body to shift it’s source of energy. Seems kinda sneaky to me. Kinda not right. But hell, it works – and although it’s certainly not a way in which I intend to live years down the line, for now, it’s just what I need. See, I’m turning 50 on May 7th, and by then, I’d at least like to feel good in a dress again. It’s been years since I’ve worn the dress of a real, grown-up woman. And that aint right. (Oh, does anyone remember my dresses? I remember gowns upon gowns in my closet – and yes, I most certainly enjoyed and wore them all!) So, enough pussy-footing around here. I quit the cigarettes in earnest, now it’s time to get back to the body I feel represents me. I’m still kinda dragging my feet on the working out thing. I just can’t seem to find the time… and I know that sounds like a huge excuse… but I’m working on it. Created an enormous to do list (which I add to moment by moment) so that I may know what I face and plan my life better. So goddam much to do! But I’m gittin there… If it kills me…

It began in earnest with a tidying up of my pantry. I realized that I knew where just about everything else in my house was, but my pantry was an unknown to me. If I was going to organize the way I ate, I’d have to organize my food first. Cans from the year we moved here still hid in the back, there were empty storage containers way, way in the back on tippy-top shelf… So I did it. Had a Sunday of domestic tasks (venting the birds was one) and so it was time. Pulled everything out, relabeled tins and tubs, and most importantly, got rid of the crap we’ve kept ‘just in case’. Plus got rid of things we had only the teensiest bit left of. I had two goals, the second of which didn’t even become clear until the first was met: feed the chickens. I didn’t have enough money to buy feed, nor gas to get there and back, and so had to become clever about how I was to keep the galls alive (and laying) for another day or two. Everything I found was boiled or just dumped into a couple of huge pots. Warmed and softened to a pleasing (it’s relative) gruel-like consistency, it was the perfect answer for our gals. They even seemed to be having fun, picking out favorite bits and running all around the hen house with large, choice pieces hanging from their bills. And lots of variety – and flavor. Mama added some salt, cuz it may as well taste good, right?

With all this purging of the ancient foodstuffs and all the identifying of containers going on, I began to get clarity. About food. What I had, and what I tended to use most…. I stood back and could see my pantry well-labeled, easy to see all shelves, all contents. A good, solid start. Every container was boldy and neatly labeled in sharpie so that even Elihu, with his limited eyesight, could find things for himself (thereby reducing my temptation when making him snacks.) Only problem is that 99% of my pantry was off my list. I needed protein. I needed fat. And here before me was a closet mostly full of white foods – rice, flour, pasta, sugar; all carbohydrates. The big no. My larder had no lard!

My new go-to food source will have to be the fridge. Lots of vegetables, meat, cheese, and – how fortunate for me – eggs. These little miracles of nature will really end up helping me out the next couple of months. Thankfully, I love em, and I enjoy savory things more than sweet. A variety of hot sauces and I should be good. It’s just the cost of the rest that worries me a bit. The main reason I chose the Atkins diet was because I could simply not afford the $150 fee for Weight Watchers (with which by the way, I have experienced the most weight loss – 55 pounds – and had kept it off the longest…that is, until Fareed made his big announcement a few years back). Atkins seemed doable, after all, we get food stamps, so that removes some of the burden. But only one week of shopping into the new plan, and I’m beginning to worry. Meat is expensive. So is produce. It’s gone faster than I’d thought, in spite of my conservative approach and waste-not consumption. (My second reason for Atkins, btw, other than cost, was that I knew I had a pretty good chance of knocking fat off quicker – and there’s just not a lot of time before my 50th to go slow and steady like WW does.)

In spite of my concerns about cost, I do feel pretty good about my prospects for staying the course. I have now a small paycheck from the Waldorf school which will help me cover the extra food costs, and I also have a new student starting next week. We’ll butcher a few of our chickens, and that will help a little too. And eggs, got those for sure. ! Having money helps, yet having hope is really what’s key here – I feel like I’ve lived with so very little of that these past few years. I have up moments, and I am grateful every single day for the amazing little homestead we have, yet being socially isolated and having nothing much on the horizon to look forward to has kept my overall mood since living in New York a bit down. So this is good. I now have a picture of myself effortlessly slipping on one of my old dresses. I have a goal. I’m beginning to get brave enough to dare to remember how good it can feel…  How good it feels not to be winded, to actually tuck in a shirt, to wear knit fabric…

Folks often say that you have to go through emotional pain, not around it, to arrive on the other side. Ok, I’ve done some of that. I’m doing a lot better than a couple of years ago. So onto the physical part of the equation… Ironically, it looks like I may have to consume the fat in order to ultimately lose it. Still seems all wrong, but I’m committed for now, and thankfully I finally have the resolve to push ahead. Onward and upward…

4 thoughts on “Larder in Order

  1. Liz, you are beautiful inside and out, and yet I know how it feels to not have the body that represents you and completely support you on your quest– especially as it stems from self-respect and not self-hatred. If it’s any comfort, I knocked out an autoimmune disease by going paleo (no grains, legumes, sugar or dairy– so Atkins essentially) and my cholesterol improved! It continues to do so with me eating plenty of butter and cheese. I believe the hypothesis that is refined carbs, not animal foods, that raise cholesterol. Mother Jones has a great article about it that shows how the sugar and grain industries drove the “research” on cholesterol that sparked the low-fat craze.

    1. Hi Lisa, Thanks for your emotional support, it’s something I do appreciate. Good for you on your health success! Sounds amazing – and for me, still hard to believe. (But I really do believe you. !) Plus your numbers improved. Crazy. I myself really feel that the fats that occur in nature – unmanipulated by excessive processing – are best. That just makes sense. And that bit about the ‘research’ motivated by sugar and grain industries… that has me shaking my head. Down with manipulators. !

      Bottom line, all things in moderation. Oh yeah, and that pesky detail about exercising…

  2. Here’s another vote for paleo, and 100% in agreement with how the carb/grain-based agri-business changed the american diet and created the obesity trend we’ve seen since the 70’s. The biggest difference from Atkins is that paleo is a bit more flexible, and infinitely more sustainable.

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