Friday, March 22, 2013

A moment on the lips...

I've been on a diet lately. This is not an unusual thing for me. I am not built to be a skinny girl. I crave carbs; I have no interest in vegetables. I view serving fruit for dessert as a cruel joke. My body clings to every calorie like a great famine is coming. (I like to think that, from an evolutionary perspective, my body is ideal, being built to lose nary an ounce of body fat, no matter if you starve it for days. It's a bit of a comfort.) I hate exercise: no, I don't get any sort of "high" from it; I get sweaty and tired and hungry. So very hungry.

Needless to say, for most of my adult life, I have been battling my weight. I am lucky in the fact that when I gain, I gain proportionally, so I can "hide" a certain amount, but there's a limit to anyone's ability to finding clothes that hide your sins. Lately, I have crossed that limit. (I'm always embarrassed to admit that I've gained weight, but being overweight isn't like a secret drinking problem; anyone with eyes can see that, yes, I could stand to lose a few pounds.) Maybe I should learn to be happy with my curves: I see plenty of ladies who are larger than me and rock it. But I'm not there yet.

I've tried a number of diets. When I was at my highest, I joined Weight Watchers, which I followed to the letter. I lost over 40 pounds, but it took me over a year. I kept it off for a while, but it creeped back up. (Unfortunately, dieting is one of those stupid things you need to do your whole life.) Now that I have a metabolism of a lady in her mid-40s, my metabolism is even worse than that.

Four years ago, I gave up carbs for a while and that worked quite well for me. Of course, I had a few extra factors to help out: I was living alone, going through the tension of a marriage falling apart (being stressed actually helps me eat less). I was working on a project at work that was so crazed, people still talk about it. Eating was not a priority. It actually worked! I got as thin as I had been in 15 years. But, eventually I started eating carbs again, bread was back in my life, and once again, the pounds creeped back. These days, I'm much happier, but that's not helping the waistline.

This year, I decided to revisit the no/low carbs thing, at least for a while. Lent was about to start, and I find that's a good time to diet. It's a long enough chunk of time that (with luck) one can see some results, but it's also a set amount of time. No trips were planned during this period, which makes it easier as well. I had my yearly physical right before Lent started, so I took that weight as my starting weight (sure, I was dressed, so my weight surely wasn't that high, but that meant the first few pounds were easy.)

A few things I'd like to point out: I get that no diet is actually *no* carbs, so, please, don't be telling me that "fruit has sugar!" I just say "no carbs" because it's easier when I explain to someone why I'm taking apart my sandwich. I don't actually believe that this type of diet helps you lose weight because it alters how your body recognizes food. I think it works for me because I am no longer eating a loaf of bread with chocolate on top. I don't believe in magic ratios of olive oil or amount of protein in each meal or a handful of nuts. I do believe that different people have slower or quicker metabolisms, and that's just the hand you're dealt.

I've modified the "no carbs" diet slightly. Here are my exceptions. Sauces are ignored. I am not trolling through a list of ingredients for spaghetti sauce or having my Chinese food cooked in a special way. I am not counting anything. I am not figuring out how many carbs are in a teaspoon of Splenda or whatever. I will allow the Atkins snacks, but no more than one a day. Here's the big one: I allow myself one "cheat" carb every other day. Once a day is too much (I've tried that), but I need something. This also allows for some needed flexibility: you're at a work lunch and there's nothing that you can have, etc. I end up using it on oatmeal for breakfast a lot, because I am a weirdo.

It's been going pretty good. I'm getting close to that 10-pound mark, which is enough to prevent me from giving up in a fit of frustration. It's probably not that noticeable to most people, but I can feel it. For that reason, I'll probably keep it up after Lent is over. I feel more in control, and my clothes are fitting better. I'm looking forward to things getting loose. I still am not so sure about fruit, but, for now, it's all I've got.

Friday, March 8, 2013

How do you sleep?

About a year or two ago, a thing started happening. I wake up, an hour or so after I first fall asleep, I wake up in a panic. I am convinced that I have medication I need to take. I need to take it immediately. If I don't take it, it could be fatal. In fact, I'm a bit worried that I've actually waited too long to take it.

Some nights when I wake up, I just wake up, have the thought, then realize it's not real (In real life, I don't have any life-or-death medications I need to take. The worst thing I can do is forget my synthroid, and that simply results in me being a bit woozy that day.) I'm panicked, I'm confused for a moment, but then I realize that I don't truly need to take anything, and I go back to sleep.

But then there are nights that I actually get up out of bed to get the medicine. I sometimes just walk across the room; sometimes I make it all the way to the bathroom, and I stand there, confused, wondering where the medicine could be. In fact, I can't remember which medicine I need to take, but it must be here somewhere. After all, it's critical that I take this! It always surprises me how long it takes me to figure out that there is nothing I need to take.

This happens to me at least once a week. I am awake, my heart is racing, my mind is struggling with what I need to do. I feel a rush of adrenaline. It always takes me a while to calm back down and get back to sleep.

Until this started, I never had anything like this happen to me. Sure, I would have vivid dreams that would leave me momentarily confused when I first woke up. But this is different. When this weird thought wakes me up, I am absolutely convinced that I need this medication, and it truly is a matter of life or death.

I have no idea what brought this on. I wish I knew how to stop it or what triggers it. It freaks me out, while it is happening and afterwards, when I realize that my thoughts have tricked me again. It's sort of the opposite of waking up from a nightmare. I wake up with the thought that there is something I need to do immediately.

I am hoping it goes away, just like it randomly started. I really do wish I could figure it out. Until then, sweet dreams to all of you.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Another 365

I've just completed another 365 project. (If you want to see the whole thing, go here: Link to 365 project.) It seems simple: one photo a day for one year. It's tougher than it sounds. I did my first one in 2010, and I really loved it. I learned so much about how to take photos, the limits of my camera, getting over the shyness of taking a picture. But I needed a break.

At the beginning of 2012, I decided I wanted to try it again. I recruited a number of brave souls, and we had at it. (Want to see the whole group? Go here: The whole 365 group.) We started March 1, 2012. Most of the members are from parts of my life: friends from high school and college, aunts, a spouse of a friend from grad school. It's a small group, but there are people all over the country, which made for some lovely pictures during the seasonal changes. I love seeing everyone's pictures. I feel like I know everyone a bit better, and I'm so pleased to see the beauty they all captured.

There are a lot of things I love about the 365 project. I find I'm more aware of my world. I have to be looking for that picture. I want to find something interesting or unique about the day, and that requires paying attention. I like that I can look back on my year and be reminded of every single day. But it is a challenge. There are days that nothing came my way, and I would just wander the house, looking for a new way to take a picture of that candle or stack of books. Or I would forget completely.

The biggest challenge this year wasn't directly related to the project, but definitely affected me. In November, we lost my favorite subject, our beloved kitty Murray. He was always my go-to picture; at the end of the day, when I was scrambling for something, he could be counted on for some pose of kitty splendor, and, suddenly, he was no longer there. It threw me off, probably more than I realized at the time. I know I lost track of the days, and I just didn't want to take pictures, but I felt obligated. I'm not happy with the later pictures in the project, and I have to believe it was related to this. I miss my boy so much.

The project officially ended last Thursday, and Saturday we got two kittens. These events aren't necessarily related, but it seemed right. I am sure there will be thousands of pictures of the new kitties, but last year needs to belong to Murray. I will cry when I look over this 365, but I also see so many wonderful days, mixed with those pictures of Murray.

Thank you to all participated, even if all you did was look at a few pictures. I'll probably start up again in a few months, but there is a relief to not being obligated to my camera. Yesterday I walked home from work, and I realized that I could just walk. I didn't have to look for that next picture. I could just enjoy the sunshine.