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.
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.
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.