Day 7, and Dude’s story

It’s the last day of my first week on the Daniel diet, and I am beyond sick of it. I am sick of being hungry, and desperate for the taste of brie on my tongue. Will you think less of me if I just quit? Why should I care what you think? And yet … I do. It’s disappointing not to get more comments and messages of support, but that’s a new blogger thing, I guess. And every now and then there is a comment, and that’s how I know you’re watching. I’m not just shouting into the void; there’s someone out there. Plus, my mother reads this blog. So does Himself – and he expects me to fail; I shouldn’t blame him (although I do, of course) because he’s seen it happen so many times before. But not today.

So instead of eating, or thinking about eating, or writing about eating, I will tell you a story.

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The Dude, plotting the kidnapping (or rescue) of Argos’ blue bunny

I got involved in dog rescue the way I make pretty much all the major changes in my life – on blind impulse. First there’s the growing pressure of dissatisfaction with the status quo, then an opportunity emerges, promising change. Maybe something better, certainly something different. I teeter on the brink, pushed one way by fear of change and the other by fear of not-change. I remind myself that I need to “seek God’s will”, think strategically, weigh the odds, seek advice. And then I leap, and deal with the consequences as they march up and smack me.

Hey, it’s a method. It works. And yes, I get bruised and quite often I break, but I also see glory.

So … Dude. Actually, there’s nothing all that special about Dude’s story. He’s just one among thousands. He turned up at our local shelter, an unclaimed stray (in other words, dumped). And there he sat, for months, until we bailed him out. I was responsible for evaluating the dogs our rescue took in, and it was clear from the start that he would never be adopted from the shelter. He’s kinda funny-looking in a pop-eyed way, and although he has the softest coat, you couldn’t know that when he was incarcerated. First, he wouldn’t let anyone touch him; he was one desperately scared boy. And second, he stank the way all shelter dogs do – of pee and shit made of cheap dog food and harsh cleaning chemicals. No normal person would want to cuddle that.

Fortunately (sometimes), rescue people aren’t “normal”, so he got to go stay with a volunteer foster mama. She had a securely fenced yard that he couldn’t escape from (he tried), and a couple other dogs who showed him the ropes once he quit showing them his teeth, a cat who made him feel safe, and an unending stream of teenagers who just kept treating him like a normal dog until he learned to behave like one.

One of the things I was especially proud of with our rescue was that we never rushed our dogs through the process. Sometimes a dog that’s been unkindly treated or injured needs extra recovery time. If you’re lucky you might find an adopter who’s willing to put in the work, but most people want their new dog to be ready to fit in with their family. We also took our time about ensuring that the home we chose for each dog was the best fit we could manage. If a family wasn’t the right fit, they didn’t get that dog.

Dude was with his foster family for a whole year before he went home “for good” to an older woman who lived with her 50-year-old daughter. I drove him to their home myself, and it was just perfect! A big yard with trees full of squirrels, a cozy little house with a dog bed in every room, and two active, healthy moms to dote on him all day and every day. I checked in a couple times in the months that followed, and he was happy and well-loved.

But sometimes forever doesn’t last. A few weeks ago I got a call from Dude’s adopter’s other daughter. Something happened to her sister earlier this year – something bad; I don’t know what. (Yes of course I googled her name.) She’d moved out of the home. And then mom started failing, and moved into a retirement complex near the other daughter. She had her own apartment and Dude went with her, but within weeks of moving in she slipped into dementia and had to go into a high-care facility. Dude was homeless.

The daughter told me,  “When I went to help Mom get packed up, your business card was on the fridge, with Dude’s name on it. Can you help?” Well, retired or not, we’d made a promise to that dog – and to every dog we rehomed. We promised they would never be homeless again. So he’s back with me, until the people who now run the rescue find someone else who promises to love him “forever”.

I should be glad to know he’s okay. Well of course I’m glad! But … I’m also haunted. In the five years Himself and I ran our rescue, we placed at least 600 dogs, all with the same promise. Are they okay? What if something bad happened to their people, and whoever cleaned up their mess didn’t know about us? What about all the refrigerator doors that don’t have our card?

That saying, “If you save someone’s life, you are responsible for them for the rest of their life” – it’s not real. It’s a literary construct – fake Confucianism – and anyway, I’m not Chinese. But.

I saved their lives. They’re lodged in my heart.

Are they okay?

Your turn. Have you saved any lives that have then moved on to be lived away from you? What about the creatures who depend on you – is there a plan in place if something bad happens to you? 

Day 2, with apricots

Update on the diet: so far so good. Yesterday was fairly rough, with little energy and much sleepiness, aches and pains – likely caused more by an excess of rich food and drink the night before, than by the radical simplicity of Going Daniel. Last night brought another valuable reminder of Why Fatness Is Bad For You: I snored so loudly at one point that I woke myself up. Ugh! I’d feel sorry for Himself, if he weren’t as bad! However, snoring like a truck indicates a shortage of that essential princessness that lies at the heart of every woman. Well, maybe not every woman – but certainly at my heart, which is the one I’m concerned about here!

Today it was hard to wake up, but once I did I found I had noticeably more mental and physical energy than in the past few days. I’m also feeling nice and empty … Not to get too graphic, but all that roughage in yesterday’s fruit, nuts and veggies, flushed along with lots of our sweet, home-grown well water, is working its magic.

For breakfast this morning, I visited the apricot tree.

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This has been a great season for apricots! Over the past few weeks, Himself and I have been engaged in delicious experimentation in the kitchen (no, don’t you be getting all kinky, now! I’m fat and he’s old – these experiments were strictly culinary!) And I have been taking pictures and keeping track, specifically in order to share the bounty. Or at least to tantalize you with it.

This is where we started, before picking. The apricot tree, a pear and a nectarine all grow in a fenced area that is also home to our chickens. They have been STUFFING themselves on windfalls! Apricot chicken, anyone?

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So … first, Himself made a large batch of apricot jam. It didn’t set quite as it should have so is a bit runny, but the flavor is excellent – perfect for french toast or pancakes.

I then made apricot preserves. I started with this recipe, trebled for 6 lb apricots. but they cooked down so much I went ahead and added another 5-6 lb apricots (but without increasing the sugar). The result is just out of this world!

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Himself made apricot puree and apricot leather, and I filled the crockpot with apricots and stewed them down, with just a little stevia for sweetening. They are delicious and sugar-free, so I can enjoy them a la Daniel…:) (Stevia’s a natural substance, not an artificial chemical sweetener, so I feel okay using it.)

Finally on Sunday, I baked up loaves of vanilla cake for the freezer, only I replaced some of the milk with apricot juice, and then I dumped in a whole lot of fresh blueberries (a gift from a neighbor). I’ve been using this recipe since I was about 12; it was originally handed out with Stork margarine, which I don’t think even exists any more (plus margarine, you know, ick). It’s a fairly solid cake, which I like, and the recipe is pretty much fool proof. (For instance, I meant to double the quantities for this recipe and accidentally tripled them, and it STILL worked!) Fool-proof recipes are necessary for me. I’ve had a good run with these apricots but don’t be fooled; I am usually completely inept in the kitchen! Anyway, here’s the recipe – enjoy.

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Beat and Bake Cake

9 oz (250 g) sugar
6 oz (180 g) butter
10 oz (280 g) flour
2 oz (60 g) corn flour (aka corn starch, aka Maizena)
1 T (15 ml) baking powder
Pinch salt
4 eggs + milk to make 2 Cups
1 t vanilla

All ingredients should be at room temperature.  Set oven at 350 F (180 C).
Cream sugar with slightly softened butter.
Sieve together flour, corn flour, baking powder and salt.
Break eggs into measuring jug, add milk to make up to 2 C, and add vanilla essence.
Mix well at low speed, pausing regularly to scrape ingredients together.  Try not to mix for longer than about 1 ½ minutes total.
Pour into greased cake pans. Put onto oven rack slightly below middle.
Bake for about 30 min. Turn out onto cooling racks.

Variations:

Cocoa in place of corn flour.
Lemon or orange rind added to liquid, replace milk with water and lemon or orange juice, no vanilla.
25 ml coffee powder diluted in hot water and mixed with cold milk, then added to eggs.

Daniel diet: Day 1

Argh. Just argh.

Here follows a deeply uninspired posting. I will try to keep it short.

I have, in a previous post or two, shared my feelings of disgust, despondency and dismay regarding my corporeal form. And here’s the problem with going public with certain subjects: sooner or later, you have to decide – Do I want to strive to become the definitive blogger on the subject (in this case, fatness)? Or would it be more entertaining to strive for, and document, a change?

Plus there’s that dang bucket list I posted. That’s not a wish list or a dream list; everything on there is something I genuinely want to do. And a whole shitload of the goodies in my bucket are literally impossible to do when your bones and heart and liver and lungs are carrying around the equivalent of an entire extra adult (and not some skinny-malinky, either; this body of mine is a real two-for-the-price-of-one deal).

So for the sake of some good blogging material, and my bucket list, and also as an act of kindness toward my thumping heart and sore feet and aching ankles and perpetually tired, de-energized self, I have launched upon a 40-day Daniel diet. In other words, for the next 40 days I am restricting my diet to fruit, vegetables, nuts and whole grains, with only water and rooibos tea to drink. The food is minimally processed and free of any chemical additives. By the end of 40 days I will have figured out what to do next.

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The “Daniel” part comes from the book of Daniel in the Bible, which describes how the prophet and his friends refused the food from the royal table and ate only vegetables and fruit. And here’s the bite … This isn’t really supposed to be a diet; it’s supposed to be a fast – undertaken with prayer and contemplation, with a spiritual motive. I wish I could just think about it as a diet, but I can’t; I am conscious that this ought to be a God thing. Because man (and woman) does not live by bread (or chocolate) alone. Only I’m still kinda skulking in my corner and sulking at God.

I can’t do anything about that right now. If I could get me to a nunnery for 40 days of contemplation, I would. Even an isolated fishing shack on a rain-swept beach would work. I would fast and pray and hold the infinite up to scrutiny, and emit verse and gush prose and eat nothing but apples, and at the end of that I would be … what? Enlightened, maybe? Certainly thinner.

Which brings me back to the point. You have to start somewhere, so I’m starting with 40 days of a really tough diet. I hope that at some stage I will be able, with integrity, to start referring to this as a fast and not a diet, but right now this is all about the stomach and, honestly, my spirit isn’t engaged. Having done this before, I know the first seven days are horrible – the past several times I’ve tried to do this, I’ve not made it past Day 3. I’m expecting headaches, nausea, zero energy and tears. After that it should get better.

And I am going to blog about it. Every. Single. Day.

Hold my hand, okay? I’ll try to write about other things too – I have so many stories to tell! But I have to do this – I have to win this fat battle – or all my stories will be in the past tense. And that would be such a terrible waste of the good life I’ve been given.

Body image

Several of the blogs I follow have been talking about body image just lately, and how important it is to have a good one. Here, we have shamelessly rounded thighs, here sexy jiggliness, something sad but hopeful here, and one of the better improvement strategies here. And if you think that I’m dangling all these great posts – that will make you laugh, touch your heart and inspire you – in an effort to distract you from my own contribution to the topic, you’re probably right.

A couple days ago I gave Himself a pretty cool camera. (It was our anniversary, and his birthday’s coming up, and what the heck, he’s a nice guy.) He’s a talented photographer, often reminisces about his time as president of the photographic club at his school, but for all the years we’ve been married he’s been making do with a series of mik-en-druks. It was only recently that I became aware that this was a real but unspoken longing, so I did something about it.

A happy Himself promptly spent several hours bebopping around the house figuring out how it worked. Obviously, that entailed photographing everything that entered his new viewfinder. He was absolutely thrilled by the quality of the images. “Look how clear the detail is, even when I expand the picture to the max!” he exclaimed.

Yeah. That’s some detail there, alrighty…

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So tell me … how the fuck does one have a “positive body image” over that?

I want to blame somebody. Maybe I should sue the chocolate companies – they know that shit is addictive. That’s why even Hershey is a sweet stock on the market – and their so-called chocolate is disgusting. (Sorry, but it really is. Don’t argue with the connoisseur.) If cigarette companies must pay for people who die from smoking, then clearly same penalty should apply to the pushers of chocolate, candy, cookies, cream cakes,  ice cream, cream cheese, artisan bread, real butter, peanut butter … oh good grief, someone stop me, because even with those horrible knees up on my monitor right in front of me as I write this, I want to eat something, and I’m not fantasizing about celery sticks either. Not unless they’re sliced and lightly fried and incorporated into a cream sauce, anyway.

So … what to do? The last post I wrote on the topic of My Fatness ended on an optimistic note – diet and exercise and yadda yadda yadda. It sounded great, but it didn’t go well.

Today I got up onto my bathroom scale and … there was this sort of ouchie noise, and then – I swear I am not making this up – the scale wailed, “I give up! I’ll tell you whatever you want to know! Just Please Stop Standing On Me!” And numbers flashed and glowed and it told me that in 24 hours I’d shed 36.4 pounds. So I got off, pondered a bit, picked it up and shook it a little, and stood on it again.

“Okay, okay, you knew I was lying – how about 16.2 lbs? Maybe 23.4? Too much – right – not convincing – okay – 8 lbs? Just a nice round 8.0 – you can believe that, right?”

Not really. Plus, it said “round” and presented me with a number that is essentially a bulgy torso and a blob. I think that damn scale is trying to mess with my head.

Your turn … Do you have any addictions that nobody else takes seriously? And are they killing you too?

The Big O

The really horrible thing about having an unhealthy involvement with food (there are lots of horrible things, but I’m talking about the really most horrible thing here) is the way it takes over. Every. Single. Aspect. Of my life.

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There’s the house I am too tired to keep clean, and the garden I struggle to grow. The puppy I am too weak and slow and awkward to train, and the horse I can’t ride. The glaciers and mountain peaks and secret valleys I can’t reach. The shame of catching a glimpse of myself in a mirror or plate glass window or a stranger’s eyes. The uncrossable gulf between Himself and me. The constant pain in every joint and muscle and fiber, and most especially the ache in my heart.

It’s like having a portal to another universe populated by starveling goblins, in my gut. Every time I eat, or don’t eat, or think about eating (which, by the way, is all the time) the portal opens and another goblin pops through, takes up residence, and adds its muttered/wailed/shrieked “FEED ME!” to the cacophony. Sometimes I can be full to the point of nausea and still feel a grumble of hunger – for protein, if I’ve just eaten sugar; for sugar, if I’ve just eaten protein; for a cheese-and-tomato sandwich or cake or ice cream, pretty much any time.

Yesterday I took myself off to my doctor. Now here’s the thing, I don’t have medical insurance. I’m not allowed to get sick. I don’t go to the doctor unless I really, really need to. But a few months ago I decided that, at 50-something (I honestly never remember without doing a sum in my head and really, who cares? “They” say 50 is the new 40, but I feel 70) it was time I had a full physical. So I hied me to my doctor and she was thorough – she listened to my insides, poked here and prodded there, checked out the rude bits, and tested various bodily fluids. And at the end of it all, she officially declared me to be pretty dang healthy. Not diabetic – in fact she took me off the blood sugar meds I had been taking. Heart chugging along happily. BP more-or-less in the normal range. It was amazing! I had been so sure of bad news I just about floated out of her surgery – praising God and making all sorts of promises regarding lifestyle changes that would enable me to enjoy and fully use this unexpected blessing of good health.

Unfortunately I had completely forgotten to mention to her that I’d been experiencing an annoying pain in my leg that I was pretty sure was sciatica. And even more (that is to say, very-to-the-point-of-kicking-my-own-ass) unfortunately, instead of following through on the great lifestyle changes I’d promised myself, Himself, and God, I did what most of us fatties do when we’re happy: I ate. I celebrated with chocolate and ice cream and sandwiches, and chocolate ice cream sandwiches. I opened my mouth in a loud SHOUT of happiness … and a whole shitload (and I use the word intentionally) of food flew down my gullet … and the portal opened … and a great howling arose from my gut as new goblins arrived for the party.

Sciatica is caused by an inflamed sciatic nerve. In my case, the pain starts in my left butt cheek, continues down the back of my thigh, becomes crippling behind my knee, then takes a short leap to do achey-icey-burney-tingly to the tops of my toes and my instep. It is not a lot of fun. It comes and goes – and was in gone mode during my health exam, which is why I forgot to mention it. It’s caused by pressure on the lower spine, which gets worse if you add more weight. Which, of course, is what I’ve spent the past six celebratory weeks doing.

And this is why, yesterday, I hobbled back to my doctor. I got onto the scale and … Oh holy shit! What happened?

Yes, it was bad. She prescribed a few weeks of anti-inflammatories and ice … and really serious action on weight loss.

But who am I trying to kid? I knew it was bad. I waddle. I lumber. Its a big deal for me to sit on the floor, and an even bigger one to get back up. My huge jeans pinch and squeeze. All my buttoned blouses gape. Walking hurts – and not just the sciatica, either. Exercise? Don’t be ridiculous! Just sweeping my house demands at least one sit-down-and-rest, and usually two.

I’ve never bought into fad diets, but I’ve tried pretty much everything else. The Daniel fast (which is a fast, a spiritual exercise, not a diet – but you do lose weight),  eating only when hungry while giving myself permission to eat what I wanted (oh boy, did that SO not help!), Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, hCG, counting calories, substituting various expensive concoctions for actual food. And they all work. So really, the only thing I haven’t tried is … sticking to it. Which is to say, I’ve tried, and failed, and tried again, and failed, and despaired, and tried again, and failed.

And here I am. The only Big O in my life is in in the word Obese. I was curious to  know the difference between fat, obese, and morbidly obese, so I looked it up in Wikipedia. It turns out there’s a fourth classification – super-obese. With a BMI of 48, that’s where I belong. For now.

Writing this down, putting it out there, is a new effort. I don’t know how public it’ll ever get, since not many people even know about my blog and I don’t plan to tell anyone about this posting. But it’s here, and I’ll follow up with updates as often as I can – maybe even daily. If God, or serendipity, brings you here, I’d be glad to hear from you if you want to share your own Fat-to-Fit story.

And now to action!

  • The diet plan is hCG. It works, and I still have two vials left. I started today and am furiously carboloading. Funny how uncomfortable it is to be too full when you have to cram in a lot of calories!
  • Exercise … Well, I have five potatoes still waiting to be planted. That’s a good opportunity for some bending and stretching. And the house is a bit of a tip … I can tackle just one chore at a time at intervals between working on the current editing deadline, but I’ll try to do each chore by moving as fast as I can.
  • Water … as much as I can hold now, and then a glass every time I pee. That’s not hard to remember!

I’m ready. Set. Go.