Friday 26 October 2007

I dream of cheese. Toasted, mostly

CBATG for the exact quote I'm afraid, but it's Ben Gunn in Treasure Island, in case you can.*

A conversation that Blue Witch and I are having in the comments column from a couple of days ago has prompted this post, which is on the thorny problem of losing weight in middle age, and what weight you should be.

I was quite slim - size 8-10 (English size, of course, I think that means 4-6 in Transatlantic terms) and I've always eaten properly, just not very much. When I started to cook for my mother too (which I did on and off for the last nine years of her life) the style of what we ate altered to accommodate her needs. Because there were various things she was unable to eat, I did more of the things she could - not at all an interesting subject to go into and I won't ... basically, nothing wrong with any of it but not the pattern that suited me. Furthermore, she became unhappy and depressed and I was the person on the spot, and it was quite difficult. It was, perhaps, not altogether surprising that I gained a couple of stone over a decade.

Thing is, that's not much in a year. Negligible difference over a week or two. Quite hard to reverse. And there have been some advantages. When I was thin, I didn't have much stamina. I was strong and energetic, but when I'd used up the strength it took days to recover. And if I got up too quickly, I got dizzy and had to sit down again. Sometimes, I was so woozy that I had to lie on the floot until the buzzing in my ears went away and the room stopped spinning round. Now, I can keep going for ever and am never dizzy. So I'd come to terms with the downside, which is a measure of distinct porkiness. It used to be said that, after forty, you choose between your face and your figure, too - I know a few people who have lost weight in middle age and they gained a lot of wrinkles. I also achieved a cleavage for the first time, going from an A cup to a discreet D.

There's another thing that reconciled me. My father died suddenly when my mother was 46, and she lost a lot of weight. She wasn't that big but she became very thin in a few weeks and she retained most of the weight loss. In later years, although her bones were otherwise strong, she lost several inches in height and her back became quite bent. I'm sure a lot of this was due to what equated to a crash diet at a tricky age. I'm short enough already and don't want to lose what I've got.

The doctor is insistent that I eat healthily and not lose weight quickly - I suspect he reckoned he had said enough already and decided not to mention bone density on this occasion. I won't eat such fripperies as chocolate, biscuits, pastry etc - but they aren't actually a major part of my diet anyway. So I've cut out cheese. That's dairy products gone then, as I don't use milk except in cooking, and not often that (cheese sauce, mostly, so that's gone). Dark green vegetables, kidney beans and the like, yes, but that's not enough calcium.

Oh damn. I'm off to buy plain yoghurt and some calcium tablets. And maybe the butcher will give me a nice juicy bone.

*Oh, hell, I've looked it up. "many's the long night I've dreamed of cheese--toasted, mostly". I wasn't far out.


The Boy said...

Chocolate is not a frippery! Nor is cheese! The trick is, as with everything, to eat in moderation.

I'm with you on this, have just had a similar discussion with my doctor but more heart related. A bit too much risk I think as a family man. Just had a neighbour who died of a heart attack at 59, which is far too young. He had an awful diet, though was of such a cheery disposition no one cared.

So, please keep a bit of cheese in the diet, otherwise I'd have to give it up too, and that's too horrid to contimplate.

Z said...

Thing is, darling, I do eat everything in moderation, and I don't gain weight with that but I don't lose it either.

I will eat a small piece of delicious cheese weekly, just for you. But chocolate is out for at least six months. The only other thing left to take out is wine, and you can imagine that this will be a measure of last resort.

My father died at 59 too, of a heart attack. But that was 1970, he'd survive it now.

Monozygote said...

This might be a silly thing to say, but what about exercise? It's the other side of the equation. Also, it speeds up your metabolism, to help with the intake side.

The other thing that's pretty simple to change, without cutting things out, is portion size. Emotional eating is tricker to change, but if you're aware of it, it can be done (don't know if that's at all relevant).

Z said...

Dandelion, I walk a fair bit but it does hurt. The doctor suggested swimming and cycling, but I really dislike both. I don't do sport, any activity has to be useful. I've been trying to think of something I'll actually do, but I can't at the moment.

I eat small portions already and often leave food on my plate. Apart from the occasional I NEED CHOCOLATE!!(!) I don't think I've any emotional issues relating to food. I'm not actually bothered about giving up any particular foods. The title was only a way in to talking about calcium.

Anonymous said...

I purposely lost 30# this last year. Did it by eating much smaller portions, more fruit and veg, watch the transfats and very rarely having fast food. It wasn't easy. Did lots more heavy gardening, regrading the soil, tree trimming, etc. too. You can do it Z, just don't beat yourself over the head if it takes time to lose weight. Is a stone 14 lbs?

Girlplustwo said...

life is too short to forsake delicious cheeses.

Z said...

It won't be for ever, Jen. Apart from my weekly nibble, just for the next year or two. I trust life will not be that short...

Anonymous said...

The calories are all in the alcohol.

Since I've been unable to drink hardly at all, I've lost the podgy middle bit that has crept on in the last 3 years.

Without trying.

Alcohol is also really bad for bones.

Pat said...

Right I'll be done soon. Calcium tablets are a good idea and all the related veg etc. After three fractures I had a bone density test and (thanks I believe to HRT) it was fine. One thing I did have to accept is that alcohol can inhibit the absorption of calcium and so I cut down. It also inhibits the losing of weight as I'm sure you are aware.
Good luck honey - we all have some sort of battle.

Z said...

I'm under instructions not to lose weight too quickly and I'm not cutting out drink unless I have to. I've cut down, even from what I told him, anyway. Trust me, I will look after myself. And I'll talk to him about a bone density test as, now I've looked it up, I seem always to have taken in way less than the recommended amount. I'm more concerned about osteoporosis than arthritis, actually, as I can live with dodgy hips or have them replaced in the long run. As I said, I would rather be somewhat overweight than have weakened bones.

Sorry, Anon - yes, 14 lbs = 1 stone.

luckyzmom said...

I want to be a friend here z. Listening to all you've said about it, I think you are in denial. I think you eat healthy types and amounts of food, and you keep your body active. So, what is left? If you can eat only one piece of cheese a week for one of your blogger friends, you can limit yourself to one small glass of wine a day for another (me!).

Z said...

Darling, if I say I'm not in denial it will only reinforce that I'm in denial. But I'm being realistic, honestly. I do find it easy to cut things out, but if it's something I like, it's hard to have a very small amount. I ate a small piece of Stilton cheese on Friday - about half an inch cube - and I so wanted more.

I have cut down on the wine, having a glass and a half most nights and nothing at all other nights (not much over a 1 glass average!). If need be, I'll stop drinking altogether - I don't have an alcohol problem, although I can see that I may give the impression that I have!

luckyzmom said...

I wasn't seeing the wine as an alcohol problem. I was seeing it as extra calories because there is lots in any kind of alcohol.

Z said...

I'll give it three months (I don't intend to weigh myself frequently) and if I haven't lost any weight the booze will go. I am keeping it up my sleeve, as it were.