The Hillhouse

The Journey of a Mother and Son

Year Anew January 1, 2014

Some folks have been complaining about 2013, bidding it good riddance, speaking of it with various expletives and such. My first response is to think something like ‘damn right, this was a painful and terrible year, hell with it’…. but then I realize, bad things happen every year. Good things too, and if I take the glass half-full attitude, I realize that the old year wasn’t, in my own personal world, half bad. That my father died in 2013 doesn’t make it a bad year. It makes it a precious year. One in which I enjoyed all my final moments with him, one in which I had the honor of witnessing his death. That is no small gift. Yeah, the past year has been rich, full and good. (That being said, I’m still ready for a new one.)

It’s the weight loss season again, and so I begin to do a little review of 2013 and my advances – and retreats – on that front. I’d started last year on the crazy Atkins diet, and while it was successful, and I ended up looking pretty good for my 50th birthday and subsequent trip ‘back home’ to Chicago, by the time fall came, and with it home-made apple pies and fresh home-baked bread, I let it all go. I knew I was begging trouble, but it was a quality of life thing for me. I’d had it with eating nothing but meat, cheese and vegetables for the past six months and I meant to enjoy all I’d missed now. I realized I may have gone too far in ‘catching up’, but some little voice told me ‘screw it, you made your goal, now live’. And really, in that time and place I wanted to be there. Joining my son every night, sharing the same menu and this time having home-made dessert. I’d never baked bread before in my life, so the discovery in fall of 2013 that I could do so – and easily – without even so much as a loaf pan – that kinda blew my mind. And once you’ve made it, you feel you gotta eat it. There’s only so much that two people can eat though, and it’s hard to enforce portion control when there’s always more on hand. And so I ate. And then with the stress of a bigger work load, plus my dad’s decline and death, I ate to soothe myself. And while that tiny voice told me I needn’t eat quite so much to make myself feel better, I did. I knew full well it would come to this, and it has. I am back to exactly the same weight as I was one year ago today. Almost twenty pounds are back. Which means that I saw my body change by forty pounds. Yeeks. If I think too long about it, or catch a glance of my pudgy jaw line in a mirror, I want to weep, to sink into despair. Cuz I was there, goddamit, and now I’m back. But that’s ok. That is what New Years are for. Starting over.

Over the past year I’d been very intrigued with death and dying, too. Scared shitless of losing my father, and wondering what exactly it was that a person’s natural death looked like, I’d gone on YouTube binges that would freak many people out. I watched embalmings, assisted suicides, cremations, interviews with people who knew they were dying. Anything and everything so that I might better get what it was to witness a loved one die, and then make those after-life decisions none of us ever really talks about. I meant to demystify death. I’d read my share of Elizabeth Kubler Ross years ago, but never did click with her old-school language. ‘Yack, yack, yack’, I remember thinking. Let’s get down to it, lady! So in 2013 I began to read more on near death experiences – something I’d known about for years, but had begun to read now from a new perspective. And when my own father began to point towards the corner of the room, asking me who all those people were, and when he told me he saw my cousin, and that he missed his mommy, I was glad I’d re-read the literature on this experience. I do get that many folks think these end-of-life occurrences are merely the brain playing tricks on itself in the final moments of life, however I certainly do not. Me, I know that a soul is what animates a body, and quite simply, it has a separation process to undergo at the end. And while I would never had dared to speak my opinion on this subject so candidly in the past, now I feel I can. I’m off that hook – I’ve experienced it myself, I know. And I’m not quite as afraid of death as I was. The loss is still so very sad, and I can see it will continue on…. But having been with my beloved father during his transition has helped confirm for me what I already believed. So now I go into my own future, and move closer to my own death, with some important questions resolved.

My son’s now approaching an age in which his entire outlook on the world will change and mature. Ten now, eleven in a few months, 2014 will likely be the year in which the true magic of childhood ends. Santa, the birthday angel and the Easter Bunny won’t be visiting after long. Even in the cocoon of Waldorf, he will soon know for sure. I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. I’ve savored his small years, even documented a few of them here on this blog, so I can’t feel that I wasn’t present for them, or appreciative. I was. As I write this, he’s sleeping in, catching up after a whirlwind visit to Chicago and dramatic return. Over his visit, and while I was sitting vigil with dad, Elihu was going through a pretty big health scare, having visited the emergency room for knees that had blown up so they’d awoken him in the night – he said it felt like knives – and being told it might possibly be juvenile onset arthritis. Or Lyme disease. And in that I myself had fretted all fall over the Lyme v. growing pains debate – only to be told by nurses and moms alike not to worry (!!) – I kinda knew. And what relief that it was Lyme and not arthritis. So we’re dealing now with that, and the stock regimin of antibiotics to follow. (I am just kicking myself because I really did suspect it but caved to everyone else’s opinion.) Mom, Andrew, Elihu and I went out to dinner late last night (he had his favorite escargot and frogs’ legs) and we were very late to bed. Now he’s sleeping like a teenager, and deservedly so. But what he doesn’t know is that Santa made one final visit to us here at the Hillhouse last night. He even knocked some of the ashes out of the fireplace as he’s done before. Santa knows that it’s the eighth day of Christmas. He knows Elihu is back home. As I sit here and write, I’m keeping an ear out for his bedroom door, for the footsteps, that momentary pause…. He’ll run in to get me, and I’ll be sitting here in my chair, unawares, and then he’ll tell me, with a look of amazement on his face, that Santa has come! Yesterday, when Elihu asked me if I though Santa might come here, I took on a somber tone and cautioned him not to be disappointed, after all Santa had already been to Illinois. But look! He made it here after all! This is a Christmas I will savor, because by next year it will be brand new territory.

Ah, such ambivalence I feel for brand new territory. I listened as my elderly father expressed his longing to be back in his childhood home and wondered to myself, where exactly, do our hearts consider to be true home? Is it the home and hearth of our tender years – or the home we made as young parents to our own tiny ones? I suppose there’s no one answer. But there is one truth for us here on earth; time continues to move forward, and our situations, though they may appear to pause in time at different stages of our life, continue to evolve and change. A sorrow and a blessing. A missed memory and the happy anticipation of a new experience. They exist so closely, these disparate conditions, and they tug our hearts in such different directions. I can’t say that I’m thrilled with the march of time, but I also can’t say that I don’t want to watch my son grow up and one day create a family of his own. I admit it, at my age, and having seen what the end of life looks like and knowing I’m closer to it than I am to my youth, I’m not moving into the future with the zeal that I once did. I’m moving toward it with a more measured approach. It’s coming no matter what, but I’m not running to meet it anymore. It’ll be here – and gone – soon enough.

 

Culinary Tour July 11, 2013

One of the main objectives of our trip to Chicago was to taste all that food that both of us miss so. When Elihu stays with his dad they’re based out of DeKalb, which is a good hour west of the city. So when Elihu visits the Midwest, he doesn’t get to eat in the city much. This time, we had a local favorite every day of our trip. I was in heaven. Saratoga Springs may have some fancy shmancy restaurants – but there aint nothing like the places ‘back home’. Indulge me, if you will, as I share the highlights…

July 2013 trip B 027I’d prefer it from a small neighborhood joint, but Al’s Italian Beef was the first place we saw when we got off the train…

July 2013 trip B 022This was lil man’s first Italian beef sandwich. He dug it. Me too. (My first real carbs in months!)

July 2013 trip B 469Our first dinner was at the iconic Heartland Café in Rogers Park.

July 2013 trip B 456I had what I’ve been ordering for over a quarter of a century: the Dukes Tostada.

July 2013 trip B 457It always ends just like this.

July 2013 trip B 569Aha! Finally, after two long years, we’re at Dave’s Italian Kitchen in Evanston!!

July 2013 trip B 751Such a great, warm vibe in this place.

July 2013 trip B 727Dave’s wife Ellen (at left) is such a magical and loving hostess. Always has little surprises for the kids. Never ceases to impress.

July 2013 trip B 697The ubiquitous signed wine bottles and cozy booth.

July 2013 trip B 621Elihu pays a visit to Dave himself in the kitchen. Ellen first carried Eli through this kitchen when he was not quite a week old.

July 2013 trip B 732Elihu visits Tuan, who’s worked there for decades now. He’s from Vietnam, and Elihu has wanted to learn Vietnamese for several years now (have no idea why or where that came from). Tuan’s telling him to learn Mandarin instead as it’s more useful.

July 2013 trip B 741There’s Paul (and Jimmy’s backside). Bye guys! Love ya!

July 2013 trip B 858Ok, time for some REAL Mexican food.

July 2013 trip B 847I woulda had the goat if I’d seen it first. Phooey.

July 2013 trip B 845Ah, Jarritos de tamarindo in a bottle. Yes.

July 2013 trip B 559The next day, a little something sweet from Belgian Chocolatier Piron on Main Street in Evanston.

July 2013 trip B 561And away he goes with a cool $10 bag of treats. !

July 2013 trip B 919Our friends Chloe and Brad took us out for sushi at Hot Woks, Cool Sushi in Chicago! So nice of you guys! (Tastiest, most delicate spring rolls I’ve had in years.)

summer trip 2013 A 038Next stop, Ethiopian Diamond in Rogers Park. Man, have I missed injera. This was SO good. Even better leftovers, too.

summer trip 2013 A 042You just use your hands to eat by picking up the food with the flat, spongy injera bread (which has a lemony sort of flavor).

summer trip 2013 A 057You know this place is the real deal cuz all the Ethiopian taxi drivers eat here. They were so kind and shared some of their fish with us. It was off-the-hook good.

summer trip 2013 A 031And with a cold Ethiopian beer – heaven.

July 2013 trip B 937Being in the business ourselves, we just had to stop in and see what this was all about.

July 2013 trip B 942These poor creatures are caged in the same room in which they are dispatched. Ich. But they had room to move and were fed and watered generously. I forgot to ask the guy if he said prayers before butchering or if he used any different techniques. Not convinced there was necessarily a more humane element to the preparation of halal meat.

July 2013 trip B 943He can’t resist.

July 2013 trip B 949These are the cones. The birds go in upside down, the necks are slit and they bleed out. Doesn’t sound like it, but it’s actually a rapid and fairly humane way in which to do it. No matter what you think, it’s way, way less stressful on the bird than the whole factory experience.

July 2013 trip B 500On to my MOST important culinary destination of this whole trip. Can Evanstonians guess where this might be??

July 2013 trip B 489You’re right! The Evanston Grill! Bless this place, unchanged in thirty-some years.

July 2013 trip B 513And this is what we’re here for. Mr. Lee’s Bi Bim Bop. Like none other in the world.

July 2013 trip B 522I just love the Lees. They are the hardest working people I know. No time off ever, except Sundays. And they go to church on that day, so I sure don’t know when they rest. !

July 2013 trip B 495How touching – Elihu’s drawing and our photo, sent at Christmastime, have been put up on the wall. (Those are the Lees’ son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren to the right of our pics.)

July 2013 trip B 1015This might be a new item on the menu. But then again, maybe I just never noticed it before as I was so focused on Bi Bim Bop. !

July 2013 trip B 1027The Lees have known Elihu since before he was born. I fueled up here often during my pregnancy with him. Later, as a mere baby, Elihu himself ate – and very much enjoyed – the Bi Bim Bop too. (That’s Oscar in the back, a tall Mexican fellow who has been the only cook at the Grill – besides Mr. Lee – for a decade. He DJs on the weekends.)

July 2013 trip B 1036One of my favorite views. Mr. Lee always has WFMT playing (the local classical station) and a stack of newspapers by the door. Never a more soothing and peaceful feeling was there in a diner.

July 2013 trip B 686And speaking of diners, this join hasn’t changed in forever either. Yay!

July 2013 trip B 685Love the homey, unpretentious feel. Such a wonderful neighborhood hang. Sometimes there’s hardly anyone there…

July 2013 trip B 664But on weekend mornings the place is packed.

July 2013 trip B 666I just LOVE that you get your cream in a pitcher. No fumbling about with those crazy-wasteful tiny half and half containers. !

July 2013 trip B 681One of the major reasons I come here (aside from the turquoise vinyl booths): their home made hot sauce. You can even buy a bottle. For $2.50. Why, oh why did I buy only one? I shoulda left with a case! My tiny bottle’s almost empty now!

July 2013 trip B 682

I cannot explain how exquisite this sauce is, and how it simply transforms an ordinary breakfast.

summer trip 2013 A 251

Well, diners may be just fine for the commoners, I guess, but the fancy folk go downtown. We’re finally at Reza’s for Middle Eastern food – and of course for Elihu’s number one favorite dish of ALL TIME: roasted quail.

summer trip 2013 A 253This place has high ceilings, a courteous waitstaff and doors that open to the street outside. It might be a classy place, but there really is no classy way in which to eat a quail. It really is a hands-on sort of thing.

summer trip 2013 A 258The enthusiasm just can’t be contained.

summer trip 2013 A 260It’s all over in short order.

And so ends our culinary tour of Chicago. Undid a bit of my previous weight loss success, but there is no question but that it was entirely worth it. I have no regrets, because nothing beats really good food.

A Post Script: Can’t find my pics of Cross Rhodes in Evanston. That was another important stopping point on our tour. I’m still trying to re-create their vinegar-y, oregano-y sauce on my own here. I’ve come close… but no cigar!

Two more post-post items, called to my attention by Facebook friends: first, Cross Rhodes owner and familiar face to all who ever entered the place, Jeffrey Russell, died last September. Thankfully, I knew way ahead of time so my heart wasn’t broken all throughout my meal. Second, there are two Ethiopian Diamond locations, each run by the same family – one’s on N. Broadway, one on N. Clark, both in Chicago, both fantastic.

If you haven’t tried any one of the places mentioned in this post, then DO. Each one has something extraordinary and unique to surprise and impress you.

 

Atkins Winds Down June 2, 2013

When I started on my weight loss campaign back in February, I’d hoped to use this forum as a substitute for the famous Weight Watchers weigh-in. I had enjoyed some good successes on Weight Watchers in the past, and I attributed it mainly to the element of witness that it provided. (I realize this is perhaps the ‘down’ side of WW for many; I can remember my mother herself complaining bitterly about it.) Personally, I needed it. I needed the accountability. Weight Watchers online? Not so much. Why? No accountability! Hey – if it’s one thing overweight folks usually have a problem with – it’s the truth! Sneaking something here, downplaying the significance of repeatedly over-sized portions, justifying it all in the name of comfort, or some such reasonable excuse…. Isn’t this one of the reasons we’re there to begin with? Doing in online means weighing yourself at home – rounding up a half pound cuz your scale isn’t accurate enough – rounding down cuz you just know the scale can’t be right… I can even see one giving up before too long if going it alone. I know I can’t be entirely right about this – but even so, I think some will know what I mean. Anyway, doing it on my own is not for me. I like the weigh in. Only I was clever – speaking of evading the whole truth, did you notice? – I never actually mentioned my weight. Only the amounts I lost. Ha!

Since I’d also had success once upon a time with Atkins (just how many diets have I been on? you may wonder), and knew it to be more ‘fun’ than WW (lots of salt and fat), I thought I’d go the no carb, low carb route this time. Plus, in my experience, I’ve made progress faster with Dr. Atkins’ method. The down side of this trendy diet is, however, that if you go right back to your pre-Atkins life as usual, it’s likely you’ll find all that weight back on your frame after a while. This time, I have taken a different tack. I don’t intend to live a carb-free life, but in that I certainly don’t need all that quick energy – and in that carbs are far more prevalent than they ought to be in our grab-and-go culture, I’m simply opting not to go looking for them. First, I don’t eat fast food. I don’t prepare rice or pasta at home. Don’t eat bread, pancakes or bagels. In ongoing, everyday life, that is. But I am not going to avoid them to the point of being a lifelong carb martyr! Forget it! When life presents its little moments – like eggs benedict one Sunday out of many, or a rare dinner out – I am not going to whine about carb counts. But in terms of everyday life – it actually works out well. I must admit, that it is a little pricier to eat so many vegetables and so much meat, but in that I no longer make wine a regular part of my life (carbs), the money I saved there goes into the food budget. Ich, there’s never a perfect plan. Ya just gotta figure out what’s really important. If I have to cut back on something else in my world so that I can maintain a size 10, that’s ok.

Years ago, when I’d hear people complain about the inevitable weight gain that came with aging, I’d thought they were idiots. Yes, there was a time when I worked out seven days a week, when I race walked miles every day, when I just knew that would never be my story. I was way too aware for that. But now, as my life has changed, as my time thins out and I must settle for a to-do list half done, now that I am no longer one person in the world, I have had to – finally – accept that there might be a bit of truth to this change-of-life-weight idea. Sure, I suppose one could keep it up, but as I’ve said before, you can’t do it all, and if you’re to keep some things in your life, other things have to go. If my weight is to go up, this is a good time I suppose. My body has changed over the past five years, and it’s got me crying uncle. My thighs have that crazy crinkly skin that looks all dried out in spite of being perfectly moisturized. My hands have been transformed by arthritis. The silver on my head has found its way to other parts of my body, and regular readers may remember that my neck is no longer behaving as it once did. So I suppose it figures that my weight too might settle into a new groove. It certainly seems to have. While in years past I’ve lost as much as 55 pounds on a diet (the post-baby, WW success) and have always, always been good at knocking off ten pounds as needed here and there – I just cannot seem to budge past the weight I am now. Maybe I go down a pound, up a pound, but here I hover.

For years I remember 123 being my resting adult weight. I can also remember in those days becoming extremely upset if I should migrate up one single pound. On my 5’4″ frame I do know that it’s possible to see the effects of weight gain or loss fairly quickly, but in my younger days I had absolutely no perspective. Man, when I think back on the emotional energy I gave to that shit, it makes me shake my head. If only I could tell myself back then not to worry so deeply. Not to tie up my emotional health like that… But I realize my frame of reference was different. All things in their time and place, I guess. Some time in my early thirties my base weight snuck up to 126, where it stayed for a few more years (that’s what I weighed when I got pregnant. It jumped to 188 just before I had the kid!!). Post-baby WW loss my ‘resting’ weight landed at about 135. In the wake of my move to New York and separation from my husband, naturally I went back up again. Topped off at around 163 pounds some time last year. That was deflating. Or inflating, as it were.

I’ve landed at 140. A hundred and thirty-nine on a good day, 141 on a not-as-good one. I’m pretty sure I could bust it down to 135 again, maybe even 130, and I might give it a go in the future, but for now I’m not in high diet gear. There have been so many parties lately – my mother’s retirement, birthday parties, end of school events – not to mention fresh fruit. Seems crazy that such a healthy carb as fruit should be such a no-no, but it is. So when cherries hit the stores recently, I knew my full-on Atkins thing was going on hold. I refuse to feel that eating fresh fruit is bad. Sheesh. I do understand the theory and the science, but at the end of the day, a cherry’s simply got to be better for you than a cheddar cheese stick, ya know?

So fellow dieters, I can report success, albeit on a different ‘scale’ (!) as at one time in my life. While I’m not a fan of the overly-used phrase ‘to be comfortable in one’s own skin’, it does describe the phenomenon that’s taken place in my life these days. Probably a combination of physical age, of experience and shifting priorities. I do enjoy feeling good in clothes again, but I also realize that the look I’m sporting would have been entirely unacceptable to my twenty-something self. But I’m not twenty-something. It’s taken me awhile to get it, much less to make peace with it, but I’m much further along in the process than just a year ago. I complained once in a recent post that I don’t know what the hell happened to my forties. Now I think I have a good idea – I raised a child from baby to young boy, I learned what it was to live life on my own, and I became acquainted with a new body. As long as I can continue to understand that I am not who I was two decades ago, and as long as I can adjust my expectations accordingly, I think I can proclaim that this most recent dieting chapter has been a success.

Post Script: While on the subject of numbers, we’ve just reached 23,000 visitors to this blog! I remember when Elihu and I jumped up and down and danced around the house for joy when we reached 1000. Ah numbers, we’re so attached to them, huh? But this number is truly significant because it helps to remind us that we’re not alone and that we have friends somewhere out there in the world. Hello to all of you, and thanks for being with us! We send you all our love and gratitude…

 

Atkins: Seven, Eight Weeks? March 25, 2013

It feels like a year but I don’t think it’s been two months yet. Not in a mood to check. Lost about twelve pounds, then ceased losing over the past two weeks. In Atkins language, I’m “stalling”.  Yeah, I know why. Portion control, as usual. I don’t have much latitude with this silly diet, so I admit I’ve started to go heavy on the heavy cream in my coffee as a perk in my day. The pours have gotten more generous, and coffee has begun to last the whole day, instead of just a cup first thing in the morning. That, and a couple of strawberries here and there. So goddam counter intuitive that I shouldn’t be able to eat a fucking piece of fruit, right? I don’t eat much of it, but every now and then I am so tired of sugar free jello being the only sweet thing on the menu…

I don’t mean to sound so bitchy, after all, this is my choice to do this. And I am, lest I forget, now able to wear some new pants that have been waiting in a bin in the basement unworn for the past four years. I guess some progress is better than none. I just need to step back for a minute and regroup. To help myself get back on track, I’m pouring out my day’s ration of cream ahead of time.  Same goes for cheese. Limiting myself to two eggs a day. It’s easy to go a bit overboard with Atkins, cuz it seems so forgiving. Eat fat and lose! Yay! But then you realize after a month that it’s like anything in life. Sounds novel at first. In the beginning, limits feel reasonable, easy to manage. But somewhere down the line one’s patience thins and limits are tested. So then you stall.

Back to basics. Will review a couple of Atkins sites, pump myself up with new inspiration and remember that my 50th will be here the first week in May whether I can wear my old skinny jeans and dresses or not. New clothes that cost me nothing and make me happy to wear?  That really would be a nice birthday present. Ok. I’m good. I’m back on the horse again…

 

Atkins, Six Weeks In March 4, 2013

Could it be only six weeks? My immediate impressions are thus: I feel like I’ve been on this ridiculous, low carb diet for years (yes, it gets very boring), and secondly? I am pretty happy with my success. So onward I go…

I have lost ten – maybe even eleven – pounds so far. My scale’s not terribly accurate, nor can I quite see the needle from five feet above. Several people have told me this week that they can see a difference in my face. These unsolicited remarks have given me just the bit of evidence and morale-boosting I needed. That, plus the ability to finally get into, zip up and actually wear a pair of my ‘in between jeans’ (from my collection of not quite fat, yet not quite skinny clothes). I’m wearin’ em now, in fact. And I’m sitting in them too – that, for me, is the true test of whether I’m truly in the next size down or not. Yup, last night I was finally able to zip up three new pairs of pants that I haven’t been able to even consider wearing since shortly after I moved here, four and a half years ago. One might then go on to question the fashionable relevance of these garments in 2013, but not to worry. It’s all kind of era-neutral stuff that will work just fine. I think.

What might not work fine a month down the road are my bras. Whoda thunk? I guess I never really and truly believed that I’d get smaller again – I’ve just been doing the old ‘fake it til you make it’ thing these past few weeks. Now that there’s proof that I just might get into the old ‘skinny’ clothes after all – I’ve got a few things to address. I don’t need to run out and spend money I don’t have just yet – I’m still doing fine in my old undertogs. But they are a decade or more old (buying things for me virtually came to a stop when Elihu was born). Regardless of weight, my spirit seems to crave a few nice, new underthings. All part of this chrysalis thing. Slow and steady…

Although I really miss crunchy, salty snacks and some good, hard-core sweet stuff now and again, I’ve learned something pretty amazing for me: a very tiny amount of the craved foot can really hit the spot. ! Just two potato chips, for example. I know, I know! You don’t believe me! Hell, I wouldn’t believe me! But just a bite or two sates me, calms me. It reminds me of the flavor and crunch. And just two dark chocolate-covered pomegranate seeds can take the edge off a sweet craving. In eating less of these foods, when I do have them, they’re much ‘punchier’; saltier, sweeter somehow… Plus now that my goal seems closer, it’s easier still to keep it to just a quick taste. Course I can then enjoy a burger pattie for supper, so that takes the sting off. Yeah, for as boring as this Atkins thing is, it does make dieting so so much easier. And in the future, when I disembark from this carb-less routine, I will be so much more aware of what I eat. Much more aware of gratuitous eating and empty calories.

All of those carbs are going to taste so much better ten more pounds from now, I just know it. And hopefully, I’ll be able to enjoy my life just fine with fewer of em.

 

Prep Work February 18, 2013

IMG_5539

Here it is. I’m about to experience a right of passage, a coming of age. My mortality seems even more real now, my increasing age can’t be denied. The young clerk at the convenient store has been calling me ‘Ma’am’ for years now – but even that hasn’t really phased me, as I’ve managed to ignore his unintentional slights. But the white hairs on my head have moved in permanently and remind me daily – as does the arthritis in my hands, the wrinkles on my face – and now this. My first colonoscopy is tomorrow morning. And in a few minutes, I will begin the dreaded “prep” procedure. My maternal grandmother died of colon cancer, and my cousin, at 46, is a survivor of the disease. It runs in my family, so I have to take it seriously. I need the screening, for sure. But I can still find humor in this, can’t I? I mean really. I’m about to ingest several quarts of a high-octane laxative called “Movi-Prep”. And I’ll be moving to the bathroom pretty frequently for the next six hours from what I hear. I’ve hardly had more than a scoop of egg salad over the past 24 hours, so really there aint much to get rid of. But I expect it will be dramatic. At least that’s what all the hype tells me. I’ve been hearing about people’s colonoscopies, or at least the famous “prep” that accompanies them, for years. Always kinda thought of it as something my older friends had to deal with. And even with my family history, I still kinda blew it off as something other people had done. But this year I face fifty. Time to prep for the future…

That’s kinda what my whole late winter/early spring has been about; assessing where I am now at this point in my life. How healthy am I? How unhealthy am I? Just what might I be able to actually do to ensure that I stay flexible and relatively vigorous as long as possible? I admit, I’ve put far less into action than I’ve intended, but I am making improvements. This is my fifth week of the Atkins diet, and I’m down eight pounds. Not crazy amazing, but it’s definitely something – and my intake of food is certainly no longer thoughtless, in of itself an accomplishment. And I don’t smoke. Or drink. All that is pretty major, considering the sad place I was one year ago. Behind my life was a continuing, low-grade depression which I self-medicated as best I could. I still self-medicate in a matter of speaking by procrastinating, allowing myself to follow distractions – all the usual human stuff. And I feel far more easily discouraged than I’d like to admit, but in the final summation, for the most part I think I’m taking care of my shit. As it were. ! Yes, pun intended. Couldn’t resist.

Seriously, I gotta drink all of this?? See you on the other side….

 

Atkins Four Weeks In February 11, 2013

Hooray! Seven pounds lost so far! I now weigh less with all my clothes on – shoes too – than I did one month ago with no clothes on at all. Now that feels good. And my jeans more than comfortably close around my middle. Still the same size, but hope is restored and I can fully visualize that next size down. Good news for me, because I was just beginning to lose hope. 

I kinda gave up on the pure induction lifestyle (less than 20 carbs a day) when I had to cook for my father this week. He likes a drink before dinner and almost always has wine with his meal. I missed my wine, so I very much enjoyed having a glass along with him – plus the tiniest taste of the meal’s pasta, rice or bread portion. Yeah, in fact I ‘cheated’ a few times. But all in all, I’ve come to a rhythm that works for me. My best successes on diets have always come once I’m over the initial phase of becoming reacquainted with the counts – grams, portions, fat, carbs and so on – and have come upon the go-to shortlist of foods that work best. I find I’d rather have just a few foods that I like really well and that fit the numbers, than have to come up with new ideas over and over again. For me it’s just easiest to ‘set it and forget it’. In short, diets for me are a bit monotonous. Which is fine for a few months, and usually that’s all I’ve ever needed. (With the exception of the post-pregnancy loss of 55 pounds on Weight Watchers, and that was a long and slow process of nearly a year. I ate a good variety, but portions were small and I used a great amount of personal discipline. Not sure I could muster that kind of self control right now.)

I’ve decided to allow myself a few small cheats, as it saves me from feeling the poor-me, my-plight-is-so-boring-and-everybody-else-is-having-such-a-good-time self pity thing. In the end I’ve got little to complain about – I eat sausage and eggs for breakfast every day, and I’m seldom gnawingly hungry. I might miss a good handful of potato chips, but really, now that I’m in my groove, it’s not that bad.

Now on to month two…