Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dieting for Couples

Ever since we've been married, we've been on a diet.

Ok, not a diet, a change in lifestyle, a way of eating... but whatever you want to call it, we've been trying to lose weight. This has not, on the whole, been a happy thing for us, as you might imagine. Actually, frustrating beyond words might well be a whole lot better way of putting it. There are so many reasons why, but I think that the bottom line comes down to a combination of different styles and issues about control. Both of which seem to be worse when you have people with food issues anyway.

Me, I'm a rules-oriented person. I love rules. I love rules because there's no ambiguity, and I can just say, THIS is what we're doing. Exceptions? Of course not. That would be just wrong. (Obsessive? Yes! A tad too rigid? Well, yeah, probably.) But I am brilliant at rules. Tell me that you want a cup of coffee in the morning, and it will be there every day. Forever. And if you say, "I don't feel like coffee today", I'll be all disconcerted. Because that's what the rule was.

Michael, not so much. All you have to do is tell him that he cannot have something, and that will be the number one most wonderful thing in the universe. And the reverse is also true... he has a pretty low tolerance for anything that is easily accessible and Just No Problem if you eat it. That last bit's not entirely fair... I think it's more that he simply gets tired of things extremely quickly. And I can't say that I think he's ever bought into the low-carb thing heart and soul, even though it's been really successful for him.

All of this leads to, as you'd imagine, more than a little conflict. And it's more and more clear to me that something about this dynamic has just got to change. This is the hard part. He thinks that I want to control what he eats... or part of him does anyway... and so he sometimes gets just furious if I mention that it's necessary to keep an eye on the carb content of what he's eating. Hm. Ok. Yeah, as I type that out, I can see certainly why it's annoying to be reminded of that. But... I don't know, what's the option? I really have a hard time with this, in part because I'm so worried about him and because I can see how poor food choices impact both his rate of weight loss (or lately, not losing weight) and his blood sugar. And then he lies in bed at night and frets about not losing weight, and it's hard not to say, maybe you should have thought about that when you were eating X earlier in the day... (not that I would ever say that!).

The other part is that left to his own devices, he doesn't eat at all half the time. And then he gets really hungry and grabs crackers or something like that. (Side note: an economist friend of mine is doing some really interesting research on how mortality rates change after the death of a spouse. His conclusion at the moment: statistically, there's not much impact on women's probability of death, but a fairly big impact on men, probably because at least some men just don't do the "caring" things for themselves that their wives did... proper nutrition, seeing the doctor.) So it's hard to feel like the caring thing to do is just to get out of the way and let him make his own food choices... especially since I shop and cook these days, because he's really not able to.

Sigh. I am really not sure how to change this, although it seems to me part of a big lesson that life is trying to teach me these days, that it is ok for people to handle things in ways that are different than you would.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Non-Weigh-In

You were really checking for stats, right? Well, in a gesture of defiance (or stupidity!), we're not doing that this week.

This isn't much about food/low-carb/fitness either.

It was a terrible week. I spent my LAST weekend in Baltimore, cleaning out my mother's apartment. It's not done, really, but all the things that I had to be there for are done. I simply can't do it any more. It's putting too much of a strain on everything else in my life, and besides that, it's like ripping the scab off an open wound every two weeks. Just as soon as you get somewhere that feels like a little healing, you do it again. I've had enough. I am absolutely emotionally raw, and there just has to be some point where you stop doing this to yourself.

But this whole experience has made me think a lot about some things. My mother was a saver of everything, and she was also a writer, and so, even without really trying to spend a lot of time reading things, going through files and so on gave a pretty good snapshot of a life. And it confirmed something I always knew anyway... my mother was a deeply unhappy woman most of her life. I knew about the later parts, especially the very unhappy marriage to my father, but the thing that never crystallized until now was how unhappy she was even before then. And this is sad... an endless black hole of unhappiness, really... but it also makes you think. At some point, when all of your life is unhappy, you have to stop thinking about the circumstances that make you unhappy and start looking at how you interface with the world. My mother always thought, in a simple kind of way, that her problem was the way that the world treated her... that she was basically ok but that everyone else had a problem. (Actually, in one of the most staggering statements of denial that I've every heard, she once said that she wanted to take Prozac only when other people were around "because other people seem to deal with me better when I take it.") But everyone else in the world is not wrong. When all of your interactions with other people are problematic, at some point, you have to examine what you are doing, how your attitudes and expectations may be creating the problems.

Don't get me wrong. My mother was a wonderful person in any number of ways, and she was unique and extraordinary and very special. But also very unhappy and very damaged by both her childhood and the choices she made after that, and she did a good job of passing on the pain. Sometimes you can see people a lot more clearly in their absence. And I see the difficult relationships with my sisters getting better. I see my own hand in my own unhappiness. I see a lot of previously-hidden things... many of which I'd just as soon skip, really. But avoidance just lets the cycle continue.

And this feels like one of those rarest of life-moments, a point where you can feel everything changing, and you know that you have a choice about where to go.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Weekly Stats, September 15

Michael: -0.6 lbs, 453.8, total loss since January: 89.5 lbs., total overall loss 160 lbs.
Nina: -0.8 lbs, 278, total loss since January, 24.2 lbs.

Well. What can I say? At least my weight was fractionally lower and hopefully after this weekend's trip to Baltimore, I can get back to Really Serious. Because, let's face it, I have not exactly been putting everything in the world into this for some time. Michael's weight loss slowed this week, but he still lost some after bouncing around a bit throughout the week. That's fine, too, though unexciting... he's been doing so very well throughout the summer that the occasional slow week is only to be expected.

Last night, the power went out about midnight... leftover winds from Ike, I gather... and didn't come back on until 4, so I tossed and turned until that happened. Then had to get up at 6 to make sure that my son's alarm went off (yes, I am a bad mom; I usually don't get up with him unless I have an early class. He is a grumpy boy in the morning, and more than capable of toasting his bagel.). Back to sleep for a few hours of weird dreams, and then up... result, we are all a little groggy today except for Son, who is delighted because in the end school was canceled, giving him a mostly-free day with the New Big TV.

We're trying a slightly new regime this week, or Michael is, anyway. I sort of cringe when I say this, but I think that he's not eating enough carbs. Every little low-carb bone in my body shivers when I say that, because I know that technically, there is no carb requirement. But for him, at just above 450 lbs., just moving is exercise. And he's been exhausted all the time lately. Some of this may be something unrelated (and I'm still wondering if the endocrinologist will find something when we FINALLY get to see him/her in January), but I think that part of it may be that he's not eating that much, rich fatty foods aggravate the stomach issues caused by his hernia so he doesn't eat that much of them, and he's not eating something extra to compensate. Result: fatigue all the time. Possibly slightly low blood sugar all the time. So what we're going to try by way of experiment is supplementing his diet with soups and legumes for maybe a 10-15 carb boost per meal. He's still going to be well in the low-carb range, but not in that 30-40 carb range. We'll see what happens.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Life and TVs, sort of

I haven't exactly been posting a lot lately, not for lack of thoughts but due to general life chaos, I guess. Every time I think about the thoughtful, insightful thing I'd like to write, life sort of takes over, and it seems pretty unimportant.

These are the things that I really want to write about: body image, hunger, diet and emotional state, the challenges of eating a high-quality diet in a world of junk, cooking that works because it's great cooking and not because it's low carb.

Here are the things that are actually happening in my life: dealing with watching my spouse in pain all the time and not coping well, a whole lot of work and work-related issues, a looming (and hopefully final) trip to help clear out my mother's apartment, and a computer that totally crashed yesterday, taking all day and a lot of stress to repair.

To add to all the actually serious stuff, I spent most of yesterday evening and all of today (and expecting to spend all of tomorrow) totally rearranging much of my house, a move spurred by my son's desire to have a Huge TV to play Playstation games. I told him he could have this thing if he earned the money for it (the other condition being that he had to put half of any money that he earned into his college fund), and he actually did it, working mostly for his grandfather this summer, doing hard labor getting clam seed ready to ship (don't ask!). So the Huge TV arrived, and now we have to find somewhere to put the thing plus we had to rearrange the room that the adults sit in to accommodate the Not Quite Huge TV (although still pretty ridiculously large, if you ask me). I am still in the middle of that part, and haven't even gotten to the Huge TV part, although I'd better before he comes back from his father's on Saturday or there will be one disappointed kid. And he did really work for this, even though his mom admittedly thinks that the whole thing is silly.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Weekly Stats, September 8

This is a two-week weigh-in, as last week I was in Maine with my family at my mother's memorial service.

: -5.72 lbs, 454.5, total loss since January: 89 lbs., total overall loss 159 lbs.
Nina: +2.5 lbs, 279, total loss since January, 23 lbs.

Don't know what to say, really. Kind of the usual... Michael continues to do well; I continue to do not so well, fluctuating around the same base point that I've been at for a long time. Part of me says, it's been just an awful time, and you really should be ok with pretty much maintaining. Part of me says, yes, but when do you stop babying yourself and say, it's time to do something different?

I feel more like the second thing. I am so tired of feeling wretchedly awful, so tired of waking up every morning depressed as hell and then weighing myself, which makes me even more depressed. I feel like I'm giving into it all. And beyond everything else, I'm tired of feeling sick and anxious and unhappy. It's like all the stress of the past year and a half since Mom was diagnosed with cancer has all consolidated into now... all the things that I didn't feel then, because at least then there were things that I could do for her... all of that is compressed into this intense sadness that I can't seem to shake.

I know it hasn't been that long really. Not even two months. I know that a lot of this is kind of normal. But life has to go on; you have to pick up the pieces and do something different. I have to put me back together, somehow.

And maybe this isn't an appropriate topic for a blog that's meant to be about low-carb stuff. Or losing weight, anyway. But you know, losing weight isn't something that happens while the rest of your life is on hold. The whole process of losing weight is about the every day things, the days that are bad, the days that are good, and how this affects what you actually do. Part of the process of losing weight is not losing weight, of having weeks and months sometimes when nothing works, for whatever reason (and there's a good post on The Divine Low Carb about this, sort of, too).

But I still don't know where exactly I'm supposed to go from here... in the same way that Michael sees the scales go down but gets frustrated because he's still injuring himself all the time, still in so much pain, and still waiting for some day to be really better.