Archives For Life

I have a sweet tooth so large that if my body were in proportion to its size I’d be as big as a wooly mammoth. I’ve had this sweet tooth for as far back as I can remember. As a kid growing up in Atlanta my mother used to make absolutely magically awesome Toll House cookies from scratch. There were no easy-to-open Toll House cookie dough cans during the 1960s, so my mom made hers from all the necessary ingredients, mixed everything with her Sears mixer, and carefully baked then in the oven. The aroma of those baking cookies filed the house and spilled out the open doors and windows into the yard, which is where I’d be helping my dad or playing with my brothers. As soon as I smelled them I was first through the door into the kitchen. She quickly learned to make a double batch every time, hiding the majority of them so I wouldn’t eat them all the same day she made them.

As I grew older my sweet tooth kept up. For example I used to work the camera department part-time at a local J.C. Penny’s while going to college. Unfortunately for me the candy department was right next to the camera department. I’d go over just about every night shift, when things got slow, and buy a half pound of chocolate covered raisins, and eat them all before going home. And yet, because of my youth and running I managed to burn calories and thus keep the weight gain at bay.

Then I got a real job as an engineer, the kind where you sit behind a desk. Unbeknownst to me, sugar itself was changing. Up until about the mid-1970s sugar was sucrose, Dixie Crystals made from good old-fashioned cane sugar. But about that time high fructose corn syrup began to be substituted for cane sugar in just about everything, including my beloved Coca Cola (on which, living in Atlanta, I was just about weaned on), which I drank like a drunken sailor. My sweet tooth, combined with a growing sedentary lifestyle, resulted in a growing weight gain. When I married at 28 I was 6’4″ and 200 pounds, already up from my college weight of 190. At my current age of 63 I weigh 260. That’s not good, no matter what anybody says.

Starting with my trip to Denver around Christmas I decided to not so much as lose weight as to tackle the fundamental problem in my diet, my addiction to sugar. That’s when I stopped literally eating candy. To combat the craving I started chewing Mentos and eating Ice Breakers Raspberry Duos. I’m doing that now, rather than raid the candy machine or head over to the local canteen. The other unspoken about junk food I’ve managed to switch off of cold turkey are snack foods like Cheetos and just about any chip in general. Those were easy enough to turn off. The other sweet item I’ve managed to pretty much turn off completely is diet soda. While it might seem wrong to eat or chew sugar-free candy, I’ve known for some time that guzzling diet sodas comes with its own issues. Substituting water, unsweetened tea, or coffee for diet sodas has helped to control the urges for sugar. While those urges seem to crop up occasionally, they’re not nearly as strong as they once were with the artificially sweetened diet soda cut out.

What I have here is a repeat of all those busted prior New Years resolutions to lose weight, except the focus is a lot narrower and hopefully more achievable this year – break the sweets/sugar habit once and for all. And while I’m at it, go back to my roots as it were, eating a lot more fruits and vegetables like I once did while growing up in Atlanta. After three weeks I am feeling better. It looks like this resolution will succeed, helping to re-create a healthy dietary foundation I can build on going forward. This isn’t about living longer, it’s about living better.

cleaning out, letting go

October 26, 2014

old chair, old memoriesMy wife and I have been cleaning out the house now at a rather rapid clip. We reached a point, after literally years and years of looking at an overcrowded house, to start cleaning everything out. This was last weekend’s efforts.

That stuffed chair was something we’d had for over 20 years, a piece from her mother (long since passed away) that had been re-covered more than once. It wound up sitting back in the rear room of our house. I have no idea what happened to the seat cushion, but the chair gradually filled full of stuff, some of it in the trash bags sitting next to the chair. Before we got cat trees the cats had turned the top into their personal scratching area. The rest of those bags are full of things that were so old we couldn’t use them and couldn’t give them away in good conscious.

What’s not in this photo are the five very large bags of clothing that went to the Salvation Army facility on West Colonial.

What’s also not shown are the cardboard boxes holding books that the girls read as middle schoolers. Those filled the back of my wife’s black Prius and were driven up today to my oldest daughter for her to disburse to the Friends of the Library up in Gainesville.

I wanted this photo to act as a point in time, and to act as a personal motivation to get the rest of the house cleaned up. Next year marks the 30th year we’ve been living in that house, and I want 2015 to be the Year of the Great House Renewal. We’re not hoarders, but we’ve got stuff that spans the full 30 years (and even earlier when we were dating, and then before that when we were just regular singles). And it’s time to let it all go. We need to fix the place up, either to retire to, or else to sell it and find another place to retire to. Whichever way it turns we need to get the place fixed up.

And, of course, the cats were effected by all the cleaning and moving of stuff around. The labs were all cool, but the cats were very curious and liked having new pathways open up in the back room. Ellipse (below) wanted to observe in a convenient hidden spot. Lulu didn’t care. She was in her fish sitting in the other stuffed chair (which we’ll keep for a while longer) as things were moved out of the house.

hiding

curiosityWe’re on a solid roll now. We’ve broken through the barrier that’s basically kept everything in the house because the question was always coming up “what if the girls want this stuff?” We’re now aggressively asking the girls about all of this, and handling it accordingly. A lot of it needs to go to, either out as trash or out to folks who can use this stuff.

It feels good. The house is opening up, and so are we.