To say time flies is an understatement. As I get older it is speeding up and the more I pack into my day the faster it goes. Just to throw in a useful bit of information; the expression comes from book 3 of Virgil’s Georgics, (a ‘georgic’ for those interested, is a book dealing with agriculture or rural topics) where it appears as ‘fugit inreparabile tempus’ which translated as: ‘it escapes, irretrievable time’.
How immensely true that is, we cannot have back what has gone!
It’s a while since I posted and that is partly due to the disastrous meeting with the AP at the Care Home. It was a gloriously sunny day so we were able to meet outside which we felt was a bonus but we were wrong. She had just eaten her lunch and started moaning from the moment the care assistant wheeled her out. The meal was not good, although she couldn’t remember what it was, the sun was too bright although she was in the shade and there was no proper greeting or interest in anything other than herself and what the AP felt she needed. I was referred to as ‘she’ throughout the 30 minutes and the LSO was greeted with enthusiasm and told it was lovely to see him. The conversation moved swiftly on to how she needed money and why was I handling her affairs anyway when she could do them herself. The LSO gently told her that she was incapable of handling her own affairs and had been for many years. It was all very uncomfortable because she continued to be rude and unpleasant and I felt the old angst rising as a knot inside and knew we needed to depart before something was said that could never be taken back.
So it is a return to the weekly phone call when the AP is positive, almost friendly and reasonably pleasant to talk to, in fact it would appear she herself prefers things this way which is fine by me and far less upsetting.
But back to the speed at which time is passing. I have almost completed my first sunset painting and have decided to do some much smaller images of skies as a project but have sidetracked myself with the complexities of sourdough. Some years ago I attempted to make this wondrous bread but failed miserably producing a large number of doorstops; not for me I decided and went back to normal bread making with yeast. The LSO started making it and had much more success, producing beautiful, well risen and airy boules with the required holes but that all stopped when the AP who was living with us then complained that the bread was too chewy and tough.
Recently I bought Vanessa Kimbell’s ‘Ten Minute Sourdough’ and started from scratch making my own starter and what a joy it has been; success at last. There is something hugely satisfying and zen-like about bread making in general which calms and nurtures the soul.
On the subject of success, my weight loss has continued with a few blips along the way but is much slower than I had hoped. Could that have something to do with the sourdough bread? Indeed I had thought I would have achieved my goal at least by Christmas but I am having to accept that it will be a much longer journey than originally anticipated. I am not letting this get me down but I do need to plan better. I have a tendency to wing it with food; looking in the freezer and fridge in the morning, asking the LSO what he fancies and making snap decisions using what is available. Not perhaps the best way to do things, so now I need to think ahead to get to my first target which will be three stone off and I am a tantalising 5 pounds away from that, then a mere 14 pounds to go afterwards.
After a spell of really warm weather, then some torrential rain, we are back to the great greyness and it is cold. Cold enough to tweak the central heating on which comes as a bit of a shock three-quarters of the way through June.
It doesn’t help with dieting either; I was enjoying the barbecued meals with lots of salads and vegetable kebabs which are spot on for a low carb diet. Now I find my mind lingerering, be it briefly, on more wintry casseroles and soups but no, I will not succumb to these thoughts and tonight it is a warm salad which I suppose is a bit of a compromise. I have now lost 30lbs, another 6 lbs off will put me about halfway to my target which I am hoping to reach before my 76th birthday.
My cousin and his wife came down from Scotland for a few days last week and although I was a bit concerned about how I would manage, especially as with so many of our friends and relatives we have developed a culture of ‘wining and dining’ but it was fine and I even lost some weight. The G&T’s were definitely off the menu replaced with fizzy water with a slice of lime and lemon.
But the recent visits of relatives and our children with their families has all been a challenge, be it a lovely one, to not slip into old habits and so far, so good.
I really do feel that I am finally throwing away the shackles that have seriously blighted not only my life but the life of the LSO. It is two years since the AP went into the care home and it has taken all that time to get my ducks in a row. I still speak to her every week and sort her affairs out but in truth lockdown has done us a favour because at the moment we don’t have to see her, well only infrequently, which is giving me the time I need to mentally and physically heal.
Well, here I am almost four weeks since my last post and the 16lb loss is now 24lbs off but I have reached a bit of a plateau which I refuse to be down about. I do need to move a bit more but I am back to swimming twice a week and I have resorted to doing some stretching exercises only intermittently and have bought some resistance bands. I just need to read the book and then remove them from the wallet they are in, they are way more effective that way!
Lockdown has done me no favours and I am sure many can equate to this feeling. I have definitely become a bit of a couch potato and the very word ‘exercise’ can reduce me to a jabbering wreck, full of endless excuses as to why I should avoid it.
Also whilst battling the little devil that sits on my shoulder I am trying not to look too far ahead because then I might just cave in due to the enormity of the task facing me. I need to lose a further 42 lbs to be in a true health zone and to become non-diabetic as well as fitter and just as importantly very much happier in my skin.
So I am taking small steps and enjoying my new mindful eating and the fact that I can now bend over and pick things off the floor, bonus.
It’s the word ‘mindful’ that intrigues me. Has anyone else noticed how often it creeps into so much literature. It’s obviously a new buzzword, an all encompassing word to take the place of others, such as meditation, stress busting, good old fashioned awareness among but a few. There is even a mindful chef!
But being serious it’s interesting how I have found that mindfulness when applied to eating can actually make a difference. Also I have never, until recently been quite so aware of how the past seven years have impacted on everything to do with our lives. How overwhelmed we have been by it all and how the circumstances that brought about a great deal of unhappiness, distress and in my case, illness could have been avoided if the LSO and myself had been more mindful and more fully present in our own lives. The AP would not have come to live with us and we would both have had fond memories of her. Sometimes it is not right to do what seems to be the right thing, the attempt to offer her warmth and kindness fell on stony ground. At some point we should have put our own needs first.
Now I am struggling to even ring her nevermind go and see her which is so sad; so it’s definitely a time to meditate before making the call. Will it work?
In the last post I had vaguely wondered how long it would be before the AP could no longer pretend to be a dear old lady whilst we have had our farmer friend eating with us every evening. Not much longer it would appear, as inevitably we experienced a dose of her unreasonable behaviour only a few days ago. She had a hair appointment and was given the time it was occurring and the time of departure and as usual she didn’t listen because she was utterly focussed on herself. Nothing new there but it resulted in her getting everything mixed up, trying to leave an hour earlier than was said and we were to blame for her getting it all wrong. She stamped her feet, screwed the face up and stomped back into the living room to sit for a further hour with her handbag on her knee. It really is like dealing with a recalcitrant child but at least with the child you can explain how the display of bad temper is unnecessary. The AP is not suffering from dementia and is more than capable of being surprisingly normal with a little effort even given her great age but this makes it more difficult to accept. It’s a minor occurrence but because we have put up with so many it is definitely irritating. These displays are seldom seen by others and most think of her as a bit of a sweetie. They couldn’t be further from the truth!
But since I refuse to be irritated for long and I have adopted the laid back approach, withdrawing mentally and physically from any given situation, she has to stop behaving badly. It’s good that something works in our favour for a change.
Weight-wise I am still on a plateau but I am not worrying about it for the time being. It is so cold and frosty at the moment and some days so desperately grey that although I am continuing to keep as much as possible to the diet I do slip a little. My main weakness has been potatoes and that has surprised me but I guess when I am cooking warming dishes such as Caribbean Lamb Shanks it just cries out for a creamy mashed potato to mop up the delicious gravy. I know I should consider a creamy cauliflower mash instead but somehow that doesn’t have the same appeal. Even the thought is hard to resist and occasionally I just don’t and sneak a small spoonful of mash onto my plate. Chips cooked in duck fat have a similar effect, oh dear, maybe I should do new potatoes with everything as they don’t worry me as much!
I am also aware that more exercise would be beneficial but life seems packed with tasks that are not allowing me time for myself. I know things will finally change just as inevitably Spring will arrive and with it a fresh approach to everything. So for now I am paddling along and not being too bad or hard on myself when I just have a tiny slip here and there.
For ten days I have suffered from being a mucus making machine with a hacking cough courtesy of a cold virus. It was a great source of concern to me as the day of our son’s wedding was approaching at speed. I really didn’t want to be the one leaving the ceremony sounding like a seal under water or causing the guests to back off in horror at the awful sound. Fortunately I did manage to suppress the cough with the help of a variety of lozenges and a certain amount of alcohol. It turned out to be a really special day, a gloriously fun time with both our son and the bride looking stunning, they make a gorgeous couple and their obvious happiness throughout the day was a glow that affected us all. We all thoroughly enjoyed the event even having the AP with us wasn’t too bad with both families helping to guide her through the day which was a relief for the LSO and myself. Our lovely daughter and son-in-law spent time chatting to the AP who did find the noise difficult to cope with. It was the first time we had met our new daughter-in-law’s family but the small numbers and the windmill venue all helped in making us comfortable together and there was much laughter and talk both there and during the rest of the day.
On the diet front I was delighted to find on the morning of the wedding that I had finally cleared the first two stone marker but as the candid wedding photographs show, I am only half way through the total weight loss, so a while to go yet. But it didn’t spoil my day as mostly I felt slimmer and I was thrilled to actually fit into my favourite velvet trousers for the occasion with the Jaeger jacket actually fastening! Roll on May when I should be facing a summer of being a lot lighter and therefore a great deal more comfortable in my skin in every sense of the word.
We had hired a chauffeured car for the day which took all the pressure from the LSO who could enjoy a drink without worrying. The alternative would have been hotel bookings, taxis and kennelling for the two terriers all making the day a very costly one. It did mean we perhaps left a little earlier to head home because the AP kept nodding off but in truth I would only have had too much to drink if we had stayed longer! The drive back was uneventful and extremely pleasant thanks to Pedro the driver whose friendly and amiable personality all helped add to the pleasure of the day.
Well, our month without the AP is over and her one hundredth birthday has been successfully celebrated in style and is now over so we are back to the same old routine and the same old repetitive conversations.
At least with the summer looming the weather will be better and the AP can sit out under the shade and catch a few rays. They might work a miracle and improve her attitude and behaviour but I won’t be holding my breath. Sadly the AP’s very presence has ratcheted up the angst and watching her pretend to all and sundry during the celebrations that she is this dear, sweet little old lady has caused the LSO and myself much frustration. The reality is very much the opposite. At this very moment I am listening to the conversation between my lovely cousin from Canada and the AP and no matter what is said the AP manages with amazing skill to bring everything back to herself! I have to be thankful that there is some conversation at all because in truth I have nothing to say to her which is sad in itself but anything in the present is promptly forgotten, hence the repetition and the past is always the same old stories over and over again.
Our month off was pretty stressful but all the boiler work is completed and the results have been definitely worth it, just having a shower is a joy. But the LSO and I now need a break! What a joke but I suppose October isn’t too far away as long as my equally lovely Scottish cousins will have the AP back.
Now I must really get to grips with the diet and next Monday I will start the 5:2 diet in earnest. I am also looking at a low carb regime following Genius Foods. Our darling daughter has sent me some information on podcasts to listen too and the LSO and I will be following this new, according to the LSO, tyranny (typical male response) as soon as I have sorted the meals out. I haven’t gained the weight I lost originally but equally haven’t lost any more. I try to tell myself that being positive is the way to go but do know that as far as the AP is concerned it can only get worse but in the meantime I will endeavour to be a better person and think better thoughts.
Well here goes on another attempt to lose weight. Dieting is a bit like giving up an addiction such as smoking, you must never give up trying.
The 5:2 Diet book has arrived and filled with much enthusiasm I started reading as much of the information as possible. Can this last? I see no reason why not but to begin with I am going to try out recipes before ordering in a shop. There is sound reasoning behind this decision, I cannot afford to just jettison food at a whim so I must first use up what is already in the fridge and fortunately most of it is pretty usable as far as the diet goes. Apart from that is, the full fat yogurt, the puff pastry packs, the crisps tucked in the cupboard and not forgetting the newly made cake filled and topped with marscapone and white chocolate or the sugar free but I guess, not fat free oat biscuits that nestle beside the all butter shortbread and the crunchy ginger snaps that dunk so well in the morning coffee. I shall not continue but oh dear, when an inventory is started on the contents of my cupboards and fridge it becomes apparent why I have a problem with my weight.
Three days have now passed and I have read and absorbed the information on this diet and I am ready to start. I was struggling to sort out the breakfasts as well as lunches and the evening meals whilst cooking for three very different appetites as well as food preferences. Then our daughter suggested I miss my breakfast altogether on fasting days and no-one need know and then I can have two 400 calorie meals or a 300 calorie lunch and a 500 calorie dinner. I then not only manage a good length of fasting time drinking only liquids in the morning but the AP will not know I am dieting. As I have said in previous blogs she is an absolute pain about my weight and once allowed any information worries it like terrier, unable to mind her own business. My life becomes a misery. But this bit of subterfuge should solve the problem.
Actually I did laugh. The AP arrived downstairs yesterday after her weekly shower and announced it had been lovely. We do have awful water pressure problems here in the village and I asked her if there had been a good flow of water. Oh yes she replied followed by ‘but I’m not really the one to ask as I don’t need as much water as you do, being smaller’. For just a moment I was stunned as the implication sank in and I just had to laugh; you really couldn’t make it up. I was asking about the water pressure and didn’t expect a response that implied my much fatter body needed more water in the shower. I think the AP thought she was being very witty, not insulting in the least but it has made me smile at intervals throughout the day just because of the sheer gall.
I decided today, after a phone call from a good friend, that I really need to plan my menus in advance if I wish to have any success at losing some of my excess weight. That may sound easy for most but it isn’t for me. I tend to gauge how I feel each day about what to prepare for dinner. For instance ‘am I in a chilli or curry mood? Do I fancy cooking fish or shellfish? Perhaps a vegetarian dish would be something a bit different so as you can see I am not too good at wearing a straight jacket where food is concerned and I guess that explains partly why I have a weight problem.
The LSO has said that the AP will have to accept that if I am to lose weight she will either have the same as us or a ready or pre-prepared meal from the freezer. I will not be explaining any of this to the AP because I know from experience she will never be off my back. It will be a continuous stream of questions and useless advice based on no knowledge and I will become even more stressed out.
Low carbs are the way to go and tonight we are eating out which can sometimes present problems. But tomorrow, well I will start then.
It’s back to the fat issue! Is there really a fat gene or do fat people just eat the wrong things? I do eat a sensible diet, well balanced generally but probably a little too heavy on the carbs but that is something that can be lessened. I don’t eat or drink huge quantities and the need to reduce carbs is to do with diabetes. Just how much of the fat problem is genetically inherited? It would be great if scientists could discover a magic pill to just melt the fat away.
Yesterday evening the AP thought she was being really subtle by mentioning that she had been watching Tom Kerridge on the TV and was telling the LSO and myself how much weight he had lost and he has produced a book about it all, would I like it! For those who have read my previous blogs you will know that the subject of my weight is not a topic of discussion especially with the AP but in this case I was irritated but also slightly amused. Tom Kerridge probably lost a great deal of his weight by giving up a prodigious drinking habit. I am not in the habit of downing 15 pints a day although I do enjoy a couple of glasses of wine. The irritation factor is that despite asking her not to be so critical about my weight she still persists. If I felt it was a genuine concern about my health I really wouldn’t mind but I know it is all to do with vanity and other peoples perceptions of her. A fat daughter is not good for HER image. Unfortunately her constant ‘nibbing’ for want of a better word has done nothing for my self esteem and my general response when feeling down and frustrated by it all is to head in the direction of a nice comforting carb.
Also still on the same subject, all these dieting books are much the same and I have a cupboard full of them, The Hairy Dieters, Anthony Worral Thompson, Low Carb Cooking, Low Fat Recipes, books by Slimming World and WeightWatchers, the list is endless. That is not to say that these books aren’t useful because they are and they are great guides when meal planning. Interestingly they all have two things in common and that is the prevalence of punchy, spicy flavours and a variety of lovely crisp vegetables so once again we go full circle and are back to the problem that continually haunts me these days. How do I cook for us and also satisfy the AP and her love of bland, soft food smothered in sauces or gravy.
We have another fridge/freezer arriving next week to go in the utility room and the LSO has decided that one drawer will be dedicated to meals for the AP whether bought in or pre-prepared. Well, it’s a plan and sadly no magic pill for me, just diet and exercise.