The thing about birthdays and anniversaries and holidays is that they force you to think back over time and what's happened. And what hasn't, I suppose. It's been a hell of a couple of years. Michael's lost a total of 114 lbs., but his knees are much worse, so it's kind of a mixed bag, because he's actually less mobile than he was two years ago. But I think we're on the road to changing that. I weigh about the same as I did two years ago, which is a little frustrating really. But I feel better. And what else? One severe auto accident and its lasting effects. A year of worrying about my mother, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer right about this time last year... but seems to have come through everything well; it's been a far worse year for her than for us, unfortunately. Bouts of cholesterol medications that made everything about life worse. And discovering low carb. And a whole lot of time together, most of it good, some of it stressful, all of it learning how to be together.
And so, I was reading Roy's blog yesterday and thinking about lists. Of course, he's funny and I'm mostly, well, depressed I think, but still.... I have two lists. Things I've Learned About Low Carb, and Things I've Learned About Marriage and Dieting. I think I'll start with the second one.
Things I've Learned About Marriage And Dieting
1. Don't ever believe anyone who says, "really, honey, I want you to keep me from eating
2. It's way better to be married to someone who has the same food issues that you do than someone who doesn't. (My ex was rail-thin and mostly never understood the concept of, "it really does not help me to stock the house with Doritos and ice cream.")
3. This has more to do with marriage in general, but... just about everything is about how you frame the problem. You can look on things with love, or you can look on them with irritation, and if you want to stay in love, it's best to work very hard at the first option.
Things I've Learned About Low Carb (and, I suppose, food stuff in general)
1. It is mostly just asking for trouble to tell your friends that you're on a low carb diet. They don't really want to hear the explanation, they will mostly tell you stories about how someone they knew ate nothing but, say, bacon, lost weight and then died. Or gained it back. Or couldn't stay on it. And then they will say, protein is bad for your kidneys, eggs are bad for your cholesterol... and if you point out the lack of science behind these claims, they will not believe you. So unless you have a strong evangelist desire, shut up and save yourself a lot of annoyance.
2. Possibly the biggest mistake you can make is thinking about low carb as something that you will do for a while and then stop. It's a lifestyle change. If you made a lifestyle change like quitting smoking, no one would ask you when you planned to start again. No one would say, oh, fine, but you'll gain all the nicotine back once you go off it. (See Dana Carpenter talking about this kind of thing, too., here.) But in fact, that's what a lot of people do, think about this as a temporary thing that they will be able to stop one day. And that's why they regain weight. The science behind the logic of low carb doesn't go away because you hit your ideal weight.
3. There's a lot more to life than what you weigh. One big thing is how you feel. I have to say, I haven't lost a ton of weight lately. But I feel better, look better, have more energy... and all of those things are as much the point of losing weight as whether I can get into a smaller pair of jeans (which would be nice, too, but still...).
4. You always have to give up something. On a low fat diet, you give up fat (obviously). On a low carb diet, you give up carbs. On
5. And that brings me to my real epiphany of the last few days... every single choice you make matters. Michael and I were talking the other night, and I said something like, when you get to the weight that you want to be, the good thing is that on a low-carb diet you're unlikely to gain weight, so we can have loads more of this lovely Brie. He said, I'd happily give up cheese forever if it would mean being thin. Well, sure. Right at this moment, if the fat fairy came down with her magic wand and said, "your call, no cheese forever and you get to be thin forever", everybody would say, sure. But it's not like that. It's the choice not to have cheese today (or whatever), and the next day and the next day; it's the sum of all the small choices. And that's what wears you down, having to make the right choice again and again. So you have to practice making those good choices until they become automatic.
6. And in my opinion, anyway... the greatest misconception about about Atkins and other low-carb diets by those who are actually on them is that portion size doesn't matter. It probably doesn't matter that much if you're trying to maintain weight... that's the joy of a low-carb diet... but if you're trying to lose weight, at some point, you absolutely have to pay some kind of attention to what quantity you're eating. Everyone's metabolism is different, and what that quantity must be will vary... but you must pay attention to it. A diet of "more fat and more protein" does not mean "all the fat and all the protein" that you can eat. Moderation is hard; it's a hard habit to get into after a lifetime of big portions; it's probably the thing that I struggle with most. But you know, I don't actually need the quantity of food that I like. And the sooner I can get that through my head, the better.