to my dad and that girl sitting behind me at the basketball game

For the second year in a row, Sam and I have season college basketball tickets. Last year I didn’t attend any of the games because I was ginormously pregnant, uncomfortable and pretty sure Duncan was going to fall out of me at any second. This year, we’ve donated some tickets but I’ve attended several of the games with Sam while the kids stayed home with one of the handful of amazing graduate school students we interviewed to babysit (living in a town with so many universities and colleges certainly has its perks!) Yesterday we witnessed a rather dismal loss to Louisville, made all the worst by the couple sitting behind us who kept up a constant stream of loud-talking conversation that mainly went something like this:

The girl: I’m hungry. I am SO hungry. I am dying. Those nachos look amazing. That pretzel looks delicious.
Her fiance: So go get something to eat.
The girl: I can’t. We’re getting married. I have to fit into my dress. But God, I’m so hungry.
Her fiance: Well, then, think about dinner. Where do you want go to dinner?
The girl: I don’t know. Maybe(INSERTS PLACE NAME HERE)? I’m obsessed with it. OBSESSED. It’s not healthy.
Her fiance: Sure, that’s fine. We’ll go there.

It took a majority of my self-control to keep from turning around to this young woman and saying for the love of God, if you are hungry, EAT. Feed yourself! Have a pretzel, for Pete’s sake. It will be okay, I promise.

Segue.

At seventy-two years old, my father has started the paleo diet after reading exactly one magazine article about it. He is claiming to change his eating lifestyle because this particular magazine article claimed the paleo diet can stave off Alzheimer’s, but we know him and have no doubt this is ultimately about weight loss, which begs the question – is there ever a point in your life where you are allowed to stop worrying in some fashion about your weight? According to my mother this is the fifth or sixth time he has made a major lifestyle shift like this, and ultimately she is the one who suffers, firstly because even in her late sixties she has the metabolism of a souped-up sports car so decreasing her calories in any way causes people to ask her if she has cancer, and secondly because my dad is the type of guy who starts a low-carb diet by deep frying bologna at six in the morning.

Segue.

All of which brings me to an update on my progress on the South Beach Diet from last year, which I started with a bang and stuck to for three months or so, until it became obvious that the different food I was eating was very confusing for my daughter, who couldn’t understand why I wasn’t taking a bite of spaghetti and meatballs or sharing a piece of chocolate with her, and who started asking all the questions no four year old should have to ask. I saw in myself my father, regularly unhappy with my body, always trying to find a new way to achieve the unachievable, and I very clearly saw the possibility of going down this road in full view of my gorgeous, healthy, not-yet weight conscious children and I told myself stop it – just – stop it.

Eat, I told myself, like a grown up. Like a reasonable grown up, and be done with all the nonsense.

Currently, I have no idea what I weigh. I do know my clothes are all fitting well and I feel great. I’ve made sure to make time on a near-daily basis for exercise, including hot yoga, dance classes and swimming laps. I still do, and probably always will, evaluate what I eat on a daily basis, asking myself at the end of each day if I consider what I ate to be reasonable, and if it trends toward too much fat or too many simple carbohydrates, I try and address that the next day.

It’s hard – it’s hard to think this way, and admittedly I have some perhaps unnecessary ideas about what it means to eat like a grown up. Mostly these ideas center around avoiding too much sugar and too many white products and eating salads, but they aren’t terribly developed.

I love my father unconditionally, but there is a part of me that believes I wouldn’t have yo-yo dieted, and my weight wouldn’t have yo-yoed either, if our family hadn’t been subject to his dramatic swing in diets over the years – vegetarianism when I was eight, quickly followed by extreme low-fat (all the sherbet and pretzels we could eat, but never a hamburger), to South Beach and Atkins later on. I don’t think anything he was doing was so terribly unusual for the eighties and nineties – a lot of people started to diet in a really committed way around that time – but it’s time to stop the madness. I don’t want to be beginning a paleo lifestyle at 72 – I want to be eating pasta and gelato and exploring Italy because that is maybe when I’ll be able to afford to do so.

So, yep. 2015 can be considered the year I stopped dieting. I think everyone in my family is better for it.

Throw back thursday: A bullet post!

*Well, I started writing this on a Thursday, at any rate…
Sometimes, on my old blog, which I really need to do something about sometime soon, when I couldn’t choose a blog topic to write about in a timely fashion, I went the way of the bullet post, a form I always enjoyed when other bloggers used it. This morning, as I sipped my coffee and pondered what to write I realized my indecision made for a perfect Thursday bullet post! It’s been a while but I am just going to write bullets until I run out of things to say today!

* On Reading – I’m still reading Peter Straub’s Mr. Xwhich I like just enough to keep reading but not enough to read quickly, and yet I urgently want to finish it so I can start Gone Girl before the movie comes out because I have actual plans – in the evening, on a weekend, no less – to go see this movie with my girlfriends, and they have all read the book. I want to be on the same page so we can discuss all the things with them. The difference between one child and two? The year Evangeline was born I still managed to read nearly 30 books. This year I’ve read six and will maybe hit ten. Maybe. If Gone Girl is fast and I get my hands on the new Tana French novel. I’m hopeful the pace will pick up a bit in 2015.

* Watching – I am in love with Outlander. I was really unsure how I would like the televised version of one of my favorite books but from the opening song until the end of each episode I am completely hooked, so much so I don’t get up from the couch to complete chores off and on, as I usually like to do with the 1/2 hour to an hour of television I watch at night. I’m quite late to the party but I am also watching Silicone Valley and even if it’s sort of a dude-centric show, it makes me laugh more than once every single episode so I keep watching. I unabashedly love television and often think the perfect career for me would have been as a script writer who turns books into television series…maybe it’s not too late? In the meantime I’ll just concentrate on continuing to write…I’m really looking forward to the return of The Mindy Project.

* My in-laws keep insisting Evangeline needs music lessons and the earlier the better, but I am unsure. They push this because they are HUGE classical music buffs and raised two daughters who now actually make livings with their music. Sam, as he will openly tell you, was not blessed with similar talent and I am decidedly unmusical as well. Evangeline has expressed an intense interest in ballet and I feel much more inclined to honor that desire at the moment because (a.) it’s something she wants to do and (b.) her pre-school curriculum is a little-heavy on the sitting down and not so much on the playing, and I am eager to provide her outlets for her toddler physicality – there is a reason I’m currently pricing junior trampolines. I wish my reasoning was not accompanied by some inner bristling whenever they pointedly suggest music lessons, though – I don’t like this quality in myself.

* Writing – I am setting aside a dedicated writing spot for myself in our house, and it feels practically revolutionary. I haven’t had a dedicated writing space since I was in graduate school. Our condo in Novi was much too small so I wrote at a desk in our living room, and while I now have a house that borders on too-big, I could never figure out intuitively where my writing space should be. Before we had our children it didn’t matter all that much – I generally lugged my laptop to the kitchen island early in the morning to write – all the better to access the coffee pot. Since the kitchen has turned into the hub of our family activity it’s no longer a peaceful place to write, so I am in the process of setting up our ages-old desk in the guest room on the third floor. Our guest room’s electric leaves something to be desired so I have to put the desk against a wall near an outlet instead of by the window, like I had hoped, but hey! A real writing spot – it’s thrilling.

* Sam asked me this week if we should stop watching the Steelers because of the NFL’s handling of Ray Rice’s assault against his fiance and I surprised myself by saying no. I already worked through a lot of complicated emotions with the league after the concussion cover-up came to light, and while I am absolutely disgusted by the video of Ray Rice beating his fiance, I feel this was a failure of law enforcement as well as the NFL. In addition, domestic violence isn’t solely the domain of the NFL. It occurs in homes of all income levels across the country and around the world, and I have no doubt in my mind that organizations as well-established as the NFL cover up for their more violent members. I am outraged by this video but I am generally outraged by what women have to suffer the world over – I mean, entire governments and religions sometimes sanction violence against women. The Steelers do a ton of good in our community – I have seen first hand year after year the positive work they do in our hospitals, so I am not quitting on them because of this horrifying incident on another team.

*Hillary for President!

* Diet update – I only have three more days on phase I of the South Beach and I’ve stuck to it faithfully. The first week I lost 2.5 lbs – the book claims you can lose between 8 and 13 but I imagine that is for people with a slightly higher BMI? I am feeling very strong and confident about my choice of diets, and with the exception of one day where I really felt wonky, I feel great. I always feel better eating a lower carb diet and now that I won’t be getting pregnant again hopefully I can adopt this into a long-term lifestyle. When I was pregnant with Evangeline grilled cheese and eggs on toast were the food of the Gods – with Duncan I felt sick almost constantly but once I started nursing him I fell into waffles and cake with a vengeance (in my defense, he was born during a polar vortex and we weren’t allowed to leave the house!). We’ll see how I do as I enter the next phase!

Happy Throw Back Friday – I promise a more substantial post next week!

But I will not carry around a water bottle

My freshman year of college, my roommate and I lived down the hall from a group of girls relatively indistinguishable from one another, all sharing a common goal that A and I did not: the determination to pledge a sorority. To a t, these girls all had shiny, light brown hair and skin that seemed perpetually freckled and tan, and when they weren’t engaging in sorority-pledging activities they lived in athletic clothes and flip flops. They ate enormous bowls of of cereal, plate after plate of salad and endless servings of frozen yogurt and not much else. And they carried oversized water bottles everywhere they went. The water bottles were so ubiquitous, in fact, that in an unattractive fit of mean-girlness, I nicknamed them (very uncreatively) the water girls. This was before I knew some people choose to drink massive amounts to help control hunger and I just didn’t understand why a quarter gallon of water needed to accompany them wherever they went. Granted, they spent quite a bit of time at the gym, but still.

Are they really concerned about becoming dehydrated?” I asked A. “I mean, is that an actual, valid concern on their part?”

This is my roundabout way of telling you I’ve started a lifestyle changeoh hell let’s call it what it is, a diet. Definitely a lifestyle change but really, a diet. In this day and age we aren’t supposed to diet anymore – no – we are supposed to be accepting of all body types, or if not that, then we are supposed to at least make moderatechanges we can live with for the long-term, but really even then we should be all about body acceptance and liking ourselves the way we are, even as we watch obesity rates soar across our country, with all the attendant health problems that accompany being overweight.

The truth is, I’ve been a little overweight for a decade now. I’m not obese but I carry extra weight in my middle that has only grown worse since carrying Duncan. Oh, I fluctuate back and forth seven pounds or so, and I’ve hopped on and off weight watchers for years…sometimes I lose some weight but then I gain it back. Truly, I am fortunate I don’t gain back more,. I’ve remained in the same 7 pound range for a really long time now with the exception of my pregnancies, and I actually didn’t gain much with those – 24 pounds with Evangeline and 19 with Duncan. I am pretty decent at maintaining at this weight but I’m not happy with myself here and so I’ve made the commitment to follow through with the South Beach Diet.

I am tempted, here, to start telling a traditional fat narrative…to share with you how I started out, how I gained weight, and why I am seeking to change, but that wouldn’t be fair, or ultimately honest. I have a solid extra layer of chubbiness that I dislike, but I don’t wear plus size clothing – I wouldn’t be a contender for the Biggest Loser reality television show. I am motivated partially out of concern for my long-term health (my mantra right now is “better a voluntary diet now than a mandatory one later”), and more than partially out of setting a great example for my daughter (I don’t want to endlessly be dieting in front of her), but more than anything else I am motivated by vanity.

Yep, vanity. I am grateful – so terribly grateful – for my body and how well it treats me. I am extremely active with my kids, pretty flexible, and with the exception of some disturbing loss of core strength post-Duncan, I feel great. I’ve carried two babies to full-term, avoided c-sections, and nourished those children with breast milk. Working in a hospital setting, I value and say thanks for my great good health, every day. Truthfully, I feel as though my outside self doesn’t match my inside self – inside I feel no older than 27 most of the time. But I can see how quickly, in one’s late thirties, a little extra weight that wasn’t prohibitive before quickly spread, and I am going to at least try to halt it. I could say I’m doing it for my kids, or for my future grandchildren, or something like that, but that’s not really how I think. Honestly, I’m doing if for all the clothes I’ve pinned on my Pinterest board. I am doing it to participate in fashion, and I am doing it so my outside me matches my inside me.

I chose the South Beach Diet because it targets the area where I carry my weight – my middle – and because I believe growing up in a stringent, low-fat house is part of what put me over my target weight to begin with, but that’s another story for a different time. Admittedly, I’m only on my third day but I’ve noticed two things: first of all, between breakfast and lunch, I don’t grow hungry. At all. Overall I’m actually not hungry, but the hours between breakfast and lunch have always been particularly tricky for me. Secondly, I realize just how shoddy some of my eating habits have become. The other day I automatically went to eat a spoonful of Evangeline’s macaroni and cheese and then realized what I was doing – I did the same with her applesauce. Sometimes I pour myself a slug of her juice in the morning – can’t do that either. It’s only been three days but it has certainly been eye-opening!

Anyway, in the interest of this blog is really about anything and everything with absolutely no theme whatsoever, I thought I’d share this part of my life as well. I might try to update every couple of months or so on my progress, if the mood strikes.

Two things I promise you I won’t be doing? Carrying around half gallon bottles of water – I still don’t understand that habit unless you are pregnant or ill. The other thing: Two words: green smoothies. Nope. Just
– no.