What’s Not Working

A few days ago, the new moon in Aries prompted me to look at my life and say “What’s not working?” and then let go of those things, making way for something new. At first I thought of little things. The colonial kitchen chairs that belonged to my grandmother and did not fit my newish contemporary home. That empty foyer I had painted last summer, and, except for the Christmas tree last winter, has sat empty, waiting for a special piece of accent furniture. The jeans that no longer fit, the clothes hanging in my closet I never wore.

I did a bit of shopping and redecorating and reorganizing my closet and all that stuff was easily handled. What else? Well, I’d been growing out my hair for several months. And it was shaggy and long to the point that I had to pull it up in a twist half the time. Clearly, that wasn’t working. I got a haircut and wow what a difference. No more mullet!

There’s one more thing that isn’t working for me, but it’s a tough one. After years of managing pretty well on a low-GL (glycemic load–it’s all about the sugar levels) diet, I’m seriously stalled. Despite eating well, avoiding the white stuff that shoots my blood sugar to the moon, I’m gaining weight. Why this diet worked so well for so long and then suddenly stopped working is a mystery.IMG_2209

Just avoiding foods that spike my sugar is clearly not working anymore. I can’t lose a pound, and in fact am gaining, and all without pizza or potato chips. I checked out my portions, and they were fine too. I don’t drink much wine these days, so it’s not that either. But after investigating deeper, I acknowledged there was still something I could improve eating-wise. I could stop eating mindlessly. That is, eating in front of the television or while reading a book.

When I started paying attention to the taste of my food, when I stopped eating mindlessly while watching television or reading, when I stopped doing anything but eating, focusing on the taste of my food and savoring it, I realized something big. I didn’t much like what I was eating. I had been eating these same foods, protein, dairy, veggies and fruit, in a somewhat limited repertoire (salad, yogurt, chicken, burger without a bun, apples, peanut butter, cheese, eggs) for years.

I cook dinner every night using the low GL cookbooks, I have had every salad combination, every stir fry, every casserole, every sort of meat and fish accompanied by broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, beets, even berries and apples. I’m not a real fan of cooking, but it was looking like I’d need to start cooking breakfast and lunch as well as dinner if I was going to get food I wasn’t bored to tears eating. I realized that’s why I ate watching television. It was so much easier to plow through another endless salad if I didn’t have to taste the sameness of it.

Mindful eating was causing me a problem. I wondered if I needed to alter my diet, since clearly it wasn’t working for me anymore. So I made a couple of small changes. I started making pizza for lunch with low carb tortillas. Yum. I went ahead and had burritos too. As long as you stick to ONE low carb tortilla a day, you’re good with the sugar. Pasta is something else with a low glycemic load, but in moderation, and done al dente. So I had a little pasta with my cheese and meat. Flavor!

Finally, I tried the low sugar ice cream with only 4 carbs for a 1/2 cup, which is not really enough for me. I don’t think I’ve had one scoop of ice cream ever. Also the artificial sweetener gave me indigestion. So out went the ice cream. Sigh. It’s really good with some nuts, a little bit of chocolate sauce, bananas or strawberries (or both!) and whipped cream. If I can ever get to the point of eating a half cup serving maybe I’ll try it again this summer.

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Still, I wish I could lose the extra weight. It’s not working for me being this size. What else can I do? I know that this is the diet that works best for my health, so I don’t want to abandon it for calorie counting or one of those diets with pre-packaged meals. I’ve done the food journal to the point that I pretty much know how many calories I put in my mouth. I can do that math in my head. And calorie consumption is not the problem.

What can it be?

Well, there is the one thing I have not been doing…I have not been exercising much this past winter. I clean house and stretch out my back and walk around doing errands and shopping, but that’s it. There’s something in the GL literature that talks about the slow twitch muscle. It’s actually an important component of the low GL diet. Basically, the theory says, that in addition to diet, we need to flex our low twitch muscles for at least 30 minutes a day three times a week. Very doable.

Low twitch muscles are the muscles you use without exerting too much energy. Like walking at a leisurely pace. Studies show that health improves and weight is lost just as efficiently walking at a steady pace for 20-30 minutes three times a week as it is doing a complicated gym routine for two hours or walking fast or even running. You don’t have to exert a whole lot of energy to engage the slow twitch muscles, but you do have to get moving. After a long winter spent writing, and resting the knee I reinjured last fall, I understand this is what I need to do.

But it’s still snowing in Michigan. At least this week. So I ordered a walking DVD. No excuses, I’m going to start firing up the slow twitch muscles. It might be the solution I’ve been seeking to this stubborn pound problem. It’s not as easy or as fun as buying new dining room chairs, but this Aries new moon invites us to let go of whats not working and embrace the new. So that’s what I’m going to do.

What’s not working for you anymore? New moon energy is such that even if you don’t drop it, it’s going to end, and that’s for the best. Now the challenge is to find something new (and fun!) that does work.

 

Home: His & Hers

IMG_1890Something that happened forty years ago almost cost me my thirty year marriage last year. I only realized this yesterday. The body holds emotions that the soul and mind don’t divide into time. That’s why when we hear a song that is particularly poignant, we’re right back there at the senior prom.

This happens in many ways and for me it involved men and new houses. I have owned two new houses in my life. Half a lifetime apart. It would never have occurred to me that the husband I bought the first house with would influence how I responded to the husband I bought the second house with…I was married to house guy #1 for only seven years and house guy #2 has been with me for thirty. So, no comparison. Right? Wrong.

Subtle, though, which is why it can be a good exercise and clearing for you if you run into a perplexing problem of unknown origin like I did. I had my beautiful new home. A home I had never aspired to (I always wanted a cute little ranch house). My husband happily organized the appliances, the shiny new deck that caught the sunset perfectly, and picked out a television and the few pieces of furniture he believed we needed, including a king-sized bed.

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Meanwhile I shopped in my basement, filling out the house as best I could with things that didn’t really fit. I mentioned I’d like to do a bit of decorating and husband said “Bank’s closed. We just spent a small fortune.”

I didn’t think much of it. I’m not a money person and I was fortunate for all I had. I moved on. Or so I thought. But I kept getting more and more depressed, feeling more and more isolated from my husband, and just in general unhappy. I didn’t connect it to the house. I eventually entered therapy where I found that I lived in an unequal marriage. The money management wasn’t equal. The time-commitment to each other and our home was not equal, and trust was all but gone.

Just like my first marriage. But this husband (which is why he has lasted thirty years) was willing to dig in and do the work. It started, funny enough, with me drawing up a budget to decorate the house, him laying out the budget for me, and us working together to make it all fit. It did and we went from there. I’m still working on some things like painting which men see as pointless in a new house because it’s new. But builders use cheap paint and nails pop and since I’m redecorating there are all those nail holes to fill. Also I want new color.

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Since I’ve become an equal in money management, I know what we can afford and I’m not going crazy but I wonder, if, that first time I bought a new house, had he listened to me and bought the ranch instead of the quad-level (I had two children under two years old, but he wasn’t thinking about my needs, although I did stay slim running up and down those stairs), we would have had money (not that I’d have known) to buy curtains for the gorgeous living room patio doors and bay window. We’d have had money for real furniture instead of my worn down bachelorette fuzzy love seat and battered old plaid chair someone gave us.

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What I didn’t know then was marriage has to be equal or everyone loses. Don’t give the money duty to your husband. Don’t let him make the “big” decisions to help him feel like a man, don’t do it because it will erode trust and without that you got nothing.

Contemporary or Vintage?

grandma.mirrorWe recently moved to a new home with a very contemporary feel. All the lighting fixtures, the appliances, countertops, and the general architectural layout scream MODERN. Lots of granite and slate. Problem? I love old things. That’s my grandmother’s mirror in the photo and I still use it every day to check the back of my hair:) It sits on my bathroom vanity and I simply love it. Still, I made a vow when I moved in, this house will be decorated with contemporary furniture.

One reason: my mother just gave me a coffee-with-cream colored contemporary leather sofa in great condition. And three pieces of semi-contemporary light oak furniture. (They’re a little bit French Country). We also have cream colored carpet. So everything is light. The walls are painted in one of those new neutral tones–light moss green that matches the filigree on my other grandmother’s china. No way am I getting rid of the traditional cherry wood china cabinet Al bought for me when I inherited that china.

I love dark furniture, Victorian trimmings, and gilded everything. But I have passed through my lace doily phase, much to Al’s relief. So. No Victorian in this modern house, or if, only mixed in for an eclectic look. Then we went furniture shopping. We have had a Paul Bunyan bedroom set from the day we married 28 years ago. Now it’s in the guest room. We wanted to treat ourselves to a new bedroom and my eye went straight to a French Country set in antique white. I knew it was too girly for Al. He didn’t like the brass headboards I showed him either.

By the time we’d viewed every bedroom in the store we came down to one we both loved. I do not know what to call it, but modern it is not. It’s pretty, not stark. Curvy, not “clean lines.” The headboard and mirror are gilded (yay!). It’s very Italian Rococo. Love it!! Which got me thinking. I really don’t want to have a totally modern home. There’s already the traditional china cabinet and stemware curio in dark cherry. There’s already some French Colonial pieces I cannot bear to part with. And instead of the bedside table that came with the flashy set, I opted for a plain old bookcase my mom and I found tucked in my grandmother’s basement. It’s simple but has a beautiful patina and is just the right height. I’m not getting rid of my grandma’s cedar chest (Pennsylvania Dutch, painted an antique white), either.

So, while I’m making some concessions to the new, I realized I’m just not ready to get rid of the best of my antique treasures. Al and I are still in discussion about the tall French Colonial bookcase, antiqued in a beautiful blue, in the foyer. We didn’t use to have a foyer. We’ll see who wins that one. I’ve got my vintage Shakespeare collection in there! It shall not be removed to the basement! We never had a basement before, either.

However this new house turns out (window treatments to be installed next week–furniture delivered then as well, we hope) I will always love both of my grandmothers’ things and am so grateful to have just a piece of them still in my life. Love never goes out of style.