Honey’s squire will arrive on Friday, wife in tow, and we spent much of the weekend running errands in preparation.  That aside, I backsweetened my mead and racked it to tertiary.   Indulged a bit at Sephora and BPAL.  Hennaed my roots.  Got a mad notion to go in a new direction with my large collage, then stalled, changed my mind, and set it all aside before frustrated vapor lock set in.  Had a fabulous spa pedi, the kind that ends with hugging your nail tech and remembering her kids’ birthdays.  Watched two movies that were completely meh.  Caught up on some nonfiction. There is a lot more to do (and I’m doing it, I’m doing it!  Jeez, Ma!)

But food and my relationship with it is eating  my head, in good ways and bad.

Saturday was fine, and I ate very lightly, knowing that Honey would be busting out snacks for the movie.  My plan was to save dinner for the movie, to eat a real meal while he snacked, and to have one beer with him.  But while Bridesmaids had a few good moments, it’s the kind of comedy I really loathe, and to try to boost my experience, I had another beer, more cheese, and half of Honey’s microwave popcorn, and he does not go for that Smart Pop! business, oh no.

The next morning, I was dreading the weigh-in and food-log catch up.  The good news:  no psychologically damaging degree of bloat, and my calories did not exceed maintenance level or head into “gain” territory.  The bad news is that I’m trying to lose weight, not maintain my current level, and stopping the process of losing slows the process just like braking on the freeway.  Getting up to speed again takes a while.  Big-picture bad news is that relying on comestibles as an irreplaceable part of my entertainment experience endows them with too much significance, damn it.

Is there a way for me to eat properly?  And what would be best for me?  When I was a bachelor, I skipped meals, never ate breakfast, and went to restaurants frequently — but I almost never ate junk food or fast food or soda or candy.  I cooked for myself, but in bachelor style.  This meant making a big pot of soup, for example, and reheating it for meals until the pot was empty or I could no longer face the sight of it.  Cooking for someone else means trying to make tasty meals with a lot of variety, and let’s just say that my training in tastiness involves a lot of butter.  (And pasta, bread, meat, sauce, gravy, cheese, and other things that add to life.)  There is very little overlap in our preferences and restrictions.  Eating out of that wee slice of the dietary Venn diagram has done us no good.  How to adjust?

Goals:  eat less and eat it slowly; do NOT try to match him bite for bite.  Do NOT try to please him with treats; the way to a man’s funeral is through his stomach.  If I know temptation is coming, have my own meal ready that is tasty, slow to eat, calorie-cheap and bulk-rich.  Chilled celery with a dab of neuchatel or hummus.  Cauliflower with yogurt Ranch.  Hot and sour soup (no meat or tofu.)  Mustard-only deviled eggs with lots of paprika and big garlic dills.  Smoked fish on Finn Crisp, Kavle, or some other paper-thin knekkebrød.  Water-packed tuna with lemon juice and cracked black pepper.

And remember the tricks:  things like crumbled boiled egg yolk and sun-dried tomatoes add richness without oil, particularly to salad dressing.  A dab of anchovy paste or a teaspoon of real bacon bits add a lot of flavor for minimal calories.   And calories count, but carbs matter too.  If you want to eat more than a tablespoon of food, legumes are not for you, Sedentary Girl!  And don’t even think about pasta.   There is no amount of exercise, short of marathon running or full-time bricklaying, that justifies pasta.   Don’t lie to yourself.  Get over it.  Forget it and drive on.

So, yeesh.  Normally I drink decaf or weak half-caf, since I drink coffee all day, but I had proper coffee on Sunday — eight scoops of fresh-ground high octane, and most of the pot to myself.  I skipped breakfast, had a nasty-but-filling diet shake for lunch, and had raw cabbage and tomatoes for dinner.   Being stressed about the indulgences of the night before didn’t hurt (MAKE FEAR WORK FOR YOU! ALL EMOTIONS MUST PULL THEIR WEIGHT AROUND HERE!) but it was the unusual caffeine intake and the running around that kept me free from hunger all day.  I think it was also the fact that I had eaten more than usual, later than usual, the night before; my body was still full, and I’m listening to it more, rather than only imposing my will upon it (for better or worse.)  I just wasn’t hungry.

I MUST NOT EAT IF I AM NOT HUNGRY.  Conventional wisdom has insisted that meals be on time and never skipped, NEVER!, or your body will start breaking down your muscles and organs for protein.  Frankly, I have a hard time believing that skipping one meal causes a fat person’s body to go into starvation mode, but I read it everywhere, all the time.  Perhaps it’s true for those who are already thin, but that’s not me.  And I’m just over five feet tall.  Everything I read says that if I consume less than half what it takes to maintain my fat body (minimum 1400 or so cals per day) my body will stop burning fat and start eating muscle.  Why would it do that?  Eating when I’m not hungry seems so counterintuitive; I just can’t do it.  Eating for reasons other than true hunger is what got me into this mess!

I just don’t think I’ll ever stop being fat if I consume calories based on calculations by people who don’t know me and my situation.

Another issue:  for my food log and weight tracking, I use FitDay.  Except for it logging me out after five minutes of inactivity, I love it.  But I would never, ever trust any textbook calorie count for a dish (ingredients yes; dish, no.  How do they know how I make curry?)  I made an experimental low-cal version of alu saag, created a custom food entry based on the ingredients (onion, potato, spinach, garlic, fat-free broth, lots of spices, a little oil,) and divided the total calories by the number of portions.  Leftover portions, with lots more FF broth, made good soup.  And if I make it again, the same way, I don’t have to go through the trouble of recalculating everything.  So there is another great tool just lying around, quick to hand.

Another bonus:  I successfully avoided temptation at the farmer’s market on Sunday.  It was lush with the grape harvest and end-of-season stone fruits, but it’s all candy to me, and I’d rather have ice cream, which is just as verboten. The ripest grape tomatoes ever were a treat, and very affordable, calorie-wise.  (I did buy some nectarines, peaches, berries, and lotus honey for next weekend’s company, but they are untouched.)  Honey had a luscious blackberry galette, but said no to the Acme bread and spinach bolani and tzatziki (unusual for him), and the only prepared food I brought home was fresh sauerkraut, which I had for dinner.  The Bay Area may be famous for its sourdough, but my weakness is a tender, well-browned farmhouse white, or the beautiful challah from the Marsee Bakery back in Portland.  Good thing neither of them is here!

Fears: age (it’s harder to lose weight now that I’m perimenopausal); inactivity (walking/running/jogging is now a scheduled event rather than a frequent-through-the-day ADL); hormones (my PMS has kicked in, and I am craving a blood-rare ribeye, charred on the outside; a jumbo prawn cocktail, heavy on the horseradish; a stack of dark golden pommes frites; a thick piece of toasted bread, glistening with garlic butter; two bottles of fat-assed cabernet; and enough thick-sliced fried mushrooms to choke a hobbit.  I would step on granny’s neck for this meal, and you know I love granny.  But a five foot tall person doesn’t get to eat meals extensive enough to require semicolon separation of the list.  Once or twice per year, maybe, and only a bite of each.  I’ll think about it once I’m no longer fat, maybe on my birthday, %$#@^!&, et cetera.)

[Speaking of that:  losing weight seems to be having a physical benefit in terms of hormones.  Like a lot of women, I tend to hypervigilance in analyzing my self / moods / health, and I think I can tell the difference between good cheer that I’m making progress and an enlivened physical being.  Is it simply eating less?  Has my body been trammeled by a more-or-less constant state of digestive torpor?  No idea.  But it feels good.]

[Another aside:  lots of exercises demand that you tighten your abdominals to create the proper form, and yesterday, for the first time in ages, I sucked in my stomach and it moved.  A hollow was created.  I still have gut galore, and a sagging inner tube — but it’s no longer a high, tight, rigid inner tube.  Good news?]

That brings me to my last and greatest fear:  sagging skin.  Back in Oregon, a friend lost over a hundred pounds (very, very slowly) and became very muscular, but had skin so loose that she had to pull it aside for me to see her six-pack.  I have to lose about the same amount of weight, I’m doing it more quickly, I’m not weight training, I’m ten years older than she was when she lost it, and I’m half a foot shorter — am I doomed to the same loose skin, or worse?   I hope to start grad school next spring, and I won’t have money for plastic surgery until I’m fifty, at least.  I’m petrified of general anaesthesia, since my sole surgery (which took fifteen minutes and went off flawlessly) led to me nearly dying while in recovery due to a bad reaction to the drugs.  Almost as scary is that the sagging skin would certainly depress me enough to turn back to old habits.  Can’t look good, losing weight didn’t remove the bulges, so why bother?

My waist is super short, and I have a large ribcage and boxy hips.  For most of my adult life, I had a flat tummy, and relied on it and my dent (where other people have waistlines, I have a sharp dent) to look good in jeans and chinos, always with a shirt tucked in.  If I have a pannicular bulge, I will look sloppy, and I hate that.  All the dieting in the world can’t gift me with a long, narrow waist, but can I have a flat tummy again? It it possible?

And since I’m on the TMI bent, let’s talk tits.  The first place I lose weight is the balcony, and my nipples are pointing straight down; it’s horrifying!  This, as much as the tummy, convinces me that a something-plasty is in my future, no matter how scary or life-threatening.  I don’t want to replace this huge udder with untested upholstery foam, or leak-ready saline, but can I get my perky little teacups back?  Plastic surgeons say anything is possible, and there is a world-class board certified genius just down the road, but I fear the scarring.  One of my long-ago clients had zero scarring after major chest surgery thanks to a special diet, perfect care (vitamins, hydration, no sun/smoking/drinking, regular sweaty workouts, etc.), and, I think, good luck in genetics.  Are similar results possible for me?

Either way, I’m currently fueled by a combination of fear, vanity, and stubbornness.  And while I’m no optimist (not at all!) I have a deeply positive mental attitude, which helps.  I love life and the living of it.  If I had the kind of freedom from desire and all-around wa that would allow me to be motivated solely by good health, again:  I wouldn’t have gotten myself into this hole.  I just need to learn to have my joy and not eat it, too.