The Hillhouse

The Journey of a Mother and Son

Off Balance June 15, 2014

Since Madeline’s been gone, it’s just felt different around here. Elihu’s noticed it too. The small flock that remains is a rather dull bunch, as something about the attack on the coop the other night has the birds behaving a bit less like themselves – and ironically, perhaps in some cases, a bit more like themselves – than before.  For the most part the gals all meander about as they’ve always done, only we notice they’re not quite as brave as they used to be. They don’t take over the porch (a frustrating but endearing activity), they don’t seem to make it as far as their once-favorite flowering quince bush, and in general they stay uncharacteristically close to the house most of the day. Austin, our slightly neurotic guinea fowl, deprived the past few months of his best pal Maximus, has been acting quite nasty to his coop mates, challenging poor Baldy, pulling every last feather from his royal rear end, as well as running after the hens in fruitless circles as they cluck in distress. And since Madeline – the one rather calming element in the the group – has been gone, he has become something of a bully. Elihu and I both know we need to get him some hens, but emails to local chicken friends turn up no prospects. He’s becoming a drag on the flock, and his bursts of incredibly loud calls of  ‘chank chank chank’ (I suppose him to be expressing some inner conflict – at least he can get it out, good for him in that regard) that sometimes last for five minutes at a stretch and permeate every closed window with ease – well, this is becoming much more than an occasional nuisance.

The absence of our goose Maximus has changed things too. We hadn’t lost any hens to predators over the past two years, the time since we’d had him. But with the coming of warm weather, we’ve had a handful of losses. No coincidence. I guess a two foot tall white gander made an impression on the neighborhood fox and raccoon. With that imposing figure no longer standing guard in the door of the coop at sunset, the critters have nothing to dissuade them. And no one to slow them down, either. Poor Bald Mountain did his regal best the night we lost Madeline; he had put up something of a fight with the attacker, and was covered in new, open scratches and was limping even more than before (in the past he’s lost a spur and returned home quite beaten up after fending off potential invaders). The back half of Baldy’s comb had been bitten off, and though the wound was beginning to clot, he was covered in fresh blood when we first saw him.

We came home shortly after dark to a message on our phone machine from our neighbor. He had discovered Bald Mountain on his front door step. Putting the story together it seems that after the confusion of the attack, he’d ended up fleeing, running through the woods and across the field to our neighbor’s house, where they found him on the stairs of their front door, seeking safety. Neighbor Chad was more than a hero, and wrestled the rooster onto his lap, driving him home on his four wheeler. But by then the damage was done. Madeline had been lost in the skirmish, and Azalea, as we later came to learn, had hunkered down in the darkness for her survival. What a good boy is our Bald Mountain, what a fight he must have  given. How stunned and impressed we were at how far he’d traveled to save himself (it is quite a distance). And that he sought out a house, a light, something he clearly recognized to represent the safety of home – it all has us even more grateful for our poor old fellow. Now, if only Austin, that damned nuisance of a guinea, would let poor Baldy alone.

It occurs to me, as I look about at my tail-less rooster, my psycho guinea fowl and my frantic hens, that this is no longer a harmonious homestead.

It’s also becoming a drag to go out these days. To get dressed, to make myself presentable enough to go before people. Somehow I made it through the last few weeks of school, but these days, like a blossom bursting forth overnight from a tiny bud, I too seem to have expanded my own previous dimensions in a very short time. Regret mounts when I think back to last summer; I inhabited a body of a sexy size 10 (for me this was a huge personal victory) and yet now I find I’m surfing Ebay at 2 am searching for fat shirts with empire waists and stretch waist pants, some even size 16. Sixteen? When the fuck did this happen? I ask myself over and over as I find myself unable to button the waist on the few remaining ‘fat’ pants I find in some long-forgotten storage bins. Seriously, how did I get here? Oh, I know how. The stress of this past year really got to me – the new music I’ve needed to learn and play, the unpredictable and horrific panic attacks I’ve suffered with (yes, they are no mere annoyance, they are irrational yet real experiences of pure terror) and the relentless nature of single motherhood have called for a deep soothing, one that only entire tubs of hummus and double portions of curry chicken with a half bottle of red wine can provide. Yeah, I’ve been riding this train for a while now, and now it’s finally arriving at its destination.

The kid”ll be gone on Tuesday for a good month and a half stretch, and finally I won’t have to concern myself with the preparation of three meals plus snacks all day long. I have no new music to learn, no one to perform for. ‘Me’ time is finally here. But then there’s that catch – the one my astute child himself brings up when I talk about how much ‘progress’ I intend to make in his absence. “I know what you’ll end up doing, Mommy” he says, his voice dripping with cynicism, “You’ll say how fat you are, you’ll look at all the work you have to do at the Studio and all the stuff to do around here, you’ll feel sorry for yourself and then drive to Stewart’s and get a bag of chips and a bottle of wine. Then you’ll tell yourself it’s just for tonight. But it won’t be.” Really? Am I that bad? I wonder. Am I that obvious? Crap. With a month to myself stretching before me, I feel hope and despair rising up inside of me all at once. Ich.

I haven’t done my taxes yet this year either. Filed for an extension. But I’ll need to file for another soon. Plus I need to re-apply for food stamps, something which in of itself is very much like filing taxes. This is support we desperately need at this point; living these past three months without that help has been pretty brutal. Between having to eat and wanting things such as a bike, a bike rack to carry said bike, orthodontics and bass lessons, it’s been tough. Time’s been at a premium too, as with all the outside work my new job requires, I just haven’t had the time to sift through a year’s financial information. So this too is something I have on my growing to-do list for the time ahead. And then I remember the bag of chips, the bottle of wine… Yeah, this kind of a desk-bound project is likely to inspire a desire to consume empty calories. When you’re at this end of the spectrum, it’s kinda hard to remember what it was to live at the other end of it – it’s almost impossible to remember what it was like to be the super diet-conscious, portion-conscious, yoga class-attending person that you once were long ago. But I’ll find my way back, eventually. I hope.

There is also the garage to deal with. Looks like a bomb went off inside. The detritus of a long, unforgiving winter. My office is filled with bins marked ‘to file’, ‘to archive/scan’, ‘to do, medium importance’, ‘to-do, urgent’ (now that’s kinda funny, the bin’s been sitting there for months, untended), piles of Elihu’s art need to find a home, piles of clothing I can no longer fit into sit, waiting, while mice leave tiny turds all over them and begin to pull at the threads… Water continues to seep into my basement, and a white, fluffy mold has burst through my paint job of a couple years ago, sending a funky smell (and millions of funky-smelling spores too, no doubt) into the air. Piles of hand-me-downs sit, waiting to be put away, as well as do a thousand other tiny artifacts of our life. I know that my situation is not so far from most folks, and certainly I am not the only single parent with an extra heaping of life on their plate. But still… I just shake my head in deepest wonder…. How does everyone else do it?

Elihu and I spend a fair amount of time on the streets of Saratoga, watching the people walk past. He busks, I sit on a bench, read and watch. And I wonder about each one of these people. They all look so well-tended, so healthy. They wear trendy clothes, they sit outside at the hip restaurants and spend $200 on dinner without batting an eye. How do they do it? What do they do for a living? Do they have bins of un-filed crap at home like me? Yes, they’re out strolling the boulevard, looking fine, but are they happy? What kind of thoughts do they have? What motivates them? Do they feel fulfilled? Empty? Searching? If one didn’t ask these questions, it would seem that everyone is doing just fine, doing exceptionally well, thank you. I search their eyes for answers, I lean in to overhear bits of conversations in hopes of finding answers. They give no clues away. Perhaps their basements are moldy and full of piles too. Maybe not. They just look so good on the outside, there’s no telling.

I think back on the chapters of my life in which I felt the most promise, the most fulfilled, the most in balance. And, ironically, for all the moaning I’d done last year about turning 50, I can in retrospect say that for about half that year I felt the best that I had in a long time. And the time before that in which I remember feeling really good about things was when Elihu was a toddler – I’d successfully lost 55 post-baby pounds, I had a husband, a child and a home I loved, I was singing regularly in front of a top-notch, swinging big band, and life felt wonderful. Before that, it was a time in Chicago when I was playing in tons of bands, on the move all the time, making music I loved and being nearly constantly in the company of dear friends. These were the times I felt things to be most balanced in my life, and thank goodness I have those memories – they remind me of how it felt, how it might feel once again, if all goes well. It may take a little alone time to consider the new recipe I need these days to find myself living a balanced life once again; it’s my hope that a little reflection will re-invigorate my quest and bring some answers to light.

I know it’s important that I use my time wisely and get stuff done – but I also know it’s important to find peace in doing simply nothing at all. And, somewhere in between, lies that perfect balance. Here’s hoping I can come close.

 

Dressing Down November 22, 2013

I dress for bed with relish. I can’t wait to be nothing but comfortable. It’s long underwear season for me (a season which takes but a mere two month hiatus in the height of summer) and if I can just find my XL gray fleece pants I’ll be in business. I don a zip front bathrobe on top of the whole affair, and with these three layers (plus knee socks and wrist warmers and maybe even a scarf for the neck) I am done. As I add each piece, I marvel to myself that I’ve been wearing this particular ensemble since my pregnancy, now over ten years ago. The older one gets, the less of an impact time seems to have, so for me it has become a number of little significance. At first it sounds kinda comforting even. Yeah, this go-to set of pajamas has been part of my life for ten years now…. ten years….a decade…. infant to fifth grader…. Hmm. I begin to wonder if this isn’t actually something I should announce to too many people. I stop for a second and look down at my own clothes. I begin to take a slower and more critical look at them and begin to see some obvious shortcomings: the robe is full of pills and is nothing close to soft anymore, the pants have the very weakest elastic left in the waist, and the fabric itself is thinning in small, penny-sized spots. Just a few days ago I chided my mother for wearing a sweater simply riddled with holes. She readily copped to it but said it was by far the warmest sweater she’d ever, ever worn and she kept it for that reason alone. “What’s it made of?” I asked her, truly curious, and expecting it to be made of the finest wool or some high-end fiber. “Oh, it’s just a polyester blend of some sort.” What?! I couldn’t help but think ‘cashmere anyone’? Likely as simple as picking up an LL Bean catalogue…It’s not as if she doesn’t have a stack of em somewhere in her many piles. And I’m thinking her budget could handle one such purchase without much trouble. So, as my mind flashes onto my mother’s holey sweater for which she really has no valid excuses, I wonder, am I as bad as that??

Good Lord, please say I’m not. But then I remember all the episodes of “What Not To Wear” and realize that yes, I am as bad as that. But I can’t justify spending a hundred dollars on new pajamas and long underwear when I run out of food money before the month’s end. And even if I did come into a bonus windfall of cash, why in hell should I spend it on clothes that no one ever sees? Wait. Is this also my mom? She’s got the cash but wouldn’t dare to ever spend it on herself. (Naw, I’m not that bad by any means. Give me a couple hundred bucks and I’ll find something pretty to take home. Just not sure I could blow it on pajamas and underwear.) Phooey. I feel a little less than comfortable in my comfy clothes now. They’re reminding me a little too much of my parents’ place. Old and worn. Man. Is this how it starts?

My ex and I used to marvel over the strange arc of our parents’ lives with respect to fashion – of their clothes, their home decor, hairstyles, accessories… We both noticed that our parents – both pairs being about the same ages – had somehow ceased being stylish at some point in their middle adult years. We’d look at gorgeous black and white prints of them in the sixties and ooh and ahh over our mother’s suits, the perfect hair, our father’s ties and crisp trousers…. they all looked so damned fine. And their houses were tidy and tasteful too. Then we moved into the 70s, and both pairs seemed to keep pace alright. Ties became wider, colors leaned towards harvest golds, browns and yellows, women’s hair got bigger. They still presented themselves well. Then came the 80s. It was that decade in which our parents seemed to slow a bit. (Granted, if you were going to miss a decade of fashion, this was the one to pass on!) Our homes no longer received cosmetic upgrades, our mothers no longer looked sharp and put together, our fathers no longer seemed hip and cool. When we looked at what was going on concurrently in our lives, we realized that our parents were knee-deep in the kid/family/career thing by then, and so the fashion side of life just sort of stalled in the shadow of everything else. I even noticed a time – when I was very young – when mom and dad would have parties, or even go to parties, but that too seemed to come to an end the older we kids got.

And then there came a time – I think around when I was in high school – when my parents just seemed to become cut off from their peers altogether. They had absolutely no social life. They hadn’t much of one to begin with, but by the time I was a senior, they had no life other than their work and the summer music festival they hosted here in Greenfield. My ex had noticed the same behavior in his folks. The only common thread we could find that made sense was the stages at which they were in their lives. They just sort of disconnected from the culture sometime in middle age, never to truly return. And if it was happening to our folks, it had to be happening to others’, too.

This brings me back to my present meditation: Is this decline a natural characteristic of one’s middle years? Is this a real danger – a statistically supported phenomenon of middle age? I realize that not all events are inevitable, and the more one questions and scrutinizes something the better one understands it and the more empowered one becomes to change things… but honestly, are my comfy clothes a warning sign of my increasing cluelessness? Is the ease with which I don my twelve-year-old pill-y bathrobe an indication that I’m tuning out? I do know that I don’t care as much – we all know that aging-related phenomenon. Super-old folks often dress like crap cuz they don’t f*ing care anymore. Why should they? They no longer have anything to prove. Plus – they’re not out to get laid. And frankly, it does seem that most self-beautification is about getting some. Or at least having someone else consider you being a person worth getting some with. And doesn’t there finally come a time when one stops caring about that kind of stuff at all?? I know I hardly do. And maybe that in of itself is just giving up. I don’t know. But hey, how can you miss what you don’t even want? My life is so different these days from my life of two decades ago, I’m not sure it makes sense to even compare the two. (When people ask me if I’m not interested in dating, I reply that I’m already dating a ten year old boy. !) Joking aside, there are moments when I’m a bit worried that I’m losing my touch, my oomph. Yeeps. Me, rockstar Liz, an old lady. Never woulda thought.

I do miss one thing though. And there is one thing I do continue to wish for as I muddle through my middle years out here in the country. I miss looking good. Dressing up. Just for the joy of it. I may be a chicken farmer these days, but I still want to feel like I look good from time to time. I want to know that even if most nights I hunker down in some really crappy looking threads, that even if I do pull out the high rise mommy jeans when I’m carrying around an extra ten pounds, that somewhere in my closet there is an outfit or two that I feel slammin in. Usually that goes with a smaller dress size. Off the no-carb wagon some four months, I’m almost where I was at the start of my weight loss last Spring. So maybe that’s part of it. Hard to get psyched about dressing a body you’re not keen on showing off to begin with. So was that part of the mix for our mothers? Did those extra ten or twenty pounds seal the deal for them? Not sure. For one reason or another – or a bunch of em all together – they just kinda tuned out and settled into a holding pattern of non-style. And it seems as if they were oblivious to their departure from the world. But I am most definitely not oblivious. Only wish I were. Then my crappy sweatpants wouldn’t seem like such a mark of shame. And I could forgive my mommy pants. But I can’t. And I don’t want to give in yet.

So please call ahead if you’re planning to stop by for a visit, because while I’m old enough to enjoy lounging all day in elastic waist pants, I’m not keen on you seeing that for yourself. And although my chickens don’t give me much of a reason to clean up my act these days, I think I still remember a little something about dressing up…

 

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, 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.

 

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…

 

Atkins Two Weeks In January 28, 2013

Filed under: An Ongoing Journal... — wingmother @ 9:47 am
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Well, it’s working. If by no other reason I can tell by the funky taste in my mouth. The score? Lost two pounds this week. Not exactly what I’d expected. “Don’t lose hope” Elihu tells me, “you’ve lost one guinea fowl!”. Dear boy. There are so many stories of people losing gobs of weight during the ‘induction phase’, which are the first two weeks of the diet (during which you eat no more than 20 grams of carbs in a day). I experienced some pretty dramatic weight loss myself during induction, some eleven years ago. Although I’d hoped for similar results, I have a couple of ideas as to why things didn’t turn out the same this time…

First is portion size. I remember all this chatter about how ‘you can eat as much meat and cheese as you want on Atkins!’ – so I’ve pretty much done that. But hey, this is a diet, and the idea is still to use more fuel than you take in – so why push it? But I know I did – having three eggs when the diet recommends two, upping the steak size just a skich… Maybe that’s why I was never hungry! So this next week I’ll be a bit better regarding portions. Then there’s the bourbon chicken from the mall’s Famous Cajun joint. One bite in and I knew it was not what I should be ingesting. Both the chicken and the green beans were kinda sweet and glazed. I had a feeling they’d be out, but in that it was my big meal for the day and we weren’t due to be home for hours, I ate it. So that mighta stopped or slowed my induction process. Atkins folks say that just one bite of a sugary food – even a taste – can switch your body back into a carb-burning machine just like that. Sounds a bit much, but I can’t know for sure. Then there’s exercise. The folks at Atkins also say that exercise is a non-negotiable. Yeeps. 

Not that it’s had anything to do with my diet, but I’ve been sick for the past few days too. Fever and the usual suspects made sleeping difficult. Usually I’d have taken some Nyquil, but this time it was out, too much sugar and alcohol. Last night was long, but thankfully it’s over. Elihu and I are both taking a day off from school today. I just wish I could make myself some tea and toast. Man, who knew cutting out carbs would be such a bummer? Ah, but instead of thinking about what I don’t have, I need to concentrate instead on what I do have: heavy cream in my tea… This is one of the handful of tiny incentives that keep me going. That, and the idea of losing twenty pounds – or four guinea fowl, whichever. !