Stretching Out Your Wardrobe

Came to work today in one of my best dress shirts, open-necked and buttoned down. Why? Because the neck is already "three fingers" loose when I button it -- it can't be worn with a tie any more. In the next few months it'll be too obviously baggy and I'll have to shelve it for good.

When you gain weight, your clothes stop fitting right and start getting too tight, till you have to move up a size. Then you grow out beyond the "normal" clothes stores and you end up choosing from less and less selection while paying more and more. Even your choices among catalog clothing can be very limited. And forget fashion: I've been going to Big & Tall stores for two decades, and their Member's Only jackets have never gone out of stock.

It used to be very easy for me to shop: I'd go to the special sizes section and, from A-Z, look at every piece of clothing remotely within my size. Then, after the rough list was culled, I'd crop the most egregious stuff and buy the rest. It'd rarely amount to more than a few pieces.

As you lose weight, you start having "pleasant" wardrobe problems. I'm wearing my best clothes now before I melt out of them completely. I'm starting to worry about Christmas clothes (and photos) and how much money I should commit to an interim wardrobe till I reach my goal weight. And as time goes on I have more and more shopping options.

Maybe around Christmas time I'll go to a "normal" store to see if anything fits.


That Whole Wine Thing

Alcohol is not forbidden on the Atkins plan, but it is not exactly encouraged, either. Under their blood-sugar-centric theory, alcohol is not converted to sugar like white bread or Twinkies are. The metabolic process of "fat burning" does not get disrupted.

On the other hand, alcohol is not "free" either. Your fat-burning metabolism is "put on hold" while alcohol is digested, so if you drink too much you end up delaying what weight loss you would have experienced if you had simply abstained. At least that is my understanding of it.

Beer and white wine are mostly off the list (too many carbs in addition to the alcohol) while red wine and most of the clear distilled spirits (vodka, gin) are permitted. I could enjoy a martini, but I'd have to count 4 carbs for three ounces of dry vermouth -- 20% of my daily total. It'd have had to have been a really rough day for me to take that charge to my carb count.

Adam Gopnik, in the recent "food issue" of The New Yorker, (Through a Glass Darkly, 6 Sept. 2004) discusses wine writing and what it is that is talked about when reviewing wine. It opens memorably:

Somewhere in the middle pages of “1984,” Winston Smith is being inducted into the shadowy and, as it turns out, nonexistent “Brotherhood” of resistance to Big Brother, and, to celebrate, the Inner Party member O’Brien pours him a glass of wine. Winston has never had wine before, but he has read about it, and he is desperately excited to try it, since he expects it to taste like blackberry jam and to be instantly intoxicating. Instead, of course, the wine tastes the way wine tastes the first time you taste it—a bit acidic and bitter—and a single sip, or glass, isn’t intoxicating at all. The intensity of this experience as a model of disappointment was significant enough for Orwell so that he inserted it in his dystopia right there among all the greater horrors—as though the future weren’t bad enough, that whole wine thing will go on, too.

Until I read that I never realized that I've felt that disappointment with every bottle. At least, with every crappy bottle I've bought for myself. And every expensive bottle I've drunk has been accompanied by a setting or ceremony or context that practically commands me to enjoy this, and if I didn't enjoy it then I'm an uncultured rube whose palate needs education.

So I am on the look-out for a red wine I enjoy without reservation. I'm reliably told we live in a golden age of vintnerism, where a $5 bottle of Spanish table wine is the match of a moderate-price bottle of similar provenance ten years ago. Tips are welcome.


The Crisper Drawer

I had a conversation with my sister-in-law, who is trying to endure Induction but is going crazy. I asked her what she's eating and she reported that she was mostly eating sliced turkey and Atkins bars.

We had a great conversation, and one thing that came out is that I work pretty hard on keeping this from being monotonous. My tip for her (and for you, dear reader) is to prepare several days worth of food ahead of time, all at one time. Currently I'm using the barbecue grill to grill steak, fish, sausage, hamburgers, and chicken, and I'll do three or four entrees at a time. I let them cool off on plates, then put them into freezer bags. Then I dump them into one of the crisper drawers in the fridge, where my bags of shredded cheese and breakfast sausages also reside.

It feels more flexible at the end of the day to decide between Chicago-style pork sausages, swordfish kabobs, spice-rubbed chicken, or hamburgers, and it is. I pop these foods into the microwave and server with fresh salad or vegetables.

Experience shows what meals last longer (that is, taste fresher longer). I've had uneven experience with steak tips, for example -- at some point they just turn into true rawhide-quality strips of beef, no matter how carefully you glazed them. Grilled sausage, if you seared them well, last pretty much the week.

Head Games

I've been thinking about Krispee Kreme donuts. They're on my mind. And I don't mean a little hint or wisp of a suggestion. I'm just bumping along and I start thinking about them....

Kind of like that. So I try not to think of them, you know, change the mental subject.

Then I think of them more.

Argh. See? This is the stuff your head will do to you.

I've only had them three or four times in my life, being a Northeasterner and all. Earlier this year I bought a "sampler" and, over three days, ate them all, so I think I've had the full Krispee Kreme experience. It's not like there are any surprises in store for me ("holy crap, they're filled with cocaine!").

The trigger for this most recent head-craving was a visit to the Prudential Mall in Boston, where the Food Court is anchored by a full-size Krispee Kreme shop, with glass walls around the machinery and an insane vanilla smell that filled the mall.

But the trigger occurred two days ago -- I had a craving and stuffed it away then and there. So what could bring it back? I'm mystified.

I Googled "where do cravings come from" and sifted through a bunch of pregnancy-related sites. One doctor wrote a book called Potatoes, Not Prozac and posits that some are literally addicted to sugar and must undergo a 12-Step-like approach to dealing with it. Under her theory, the fact I had some red wine last night was enough to wreak havok with my serotonin and beta-endorphin levels, and my fresh experience with fresh pastry fueled the craving.

It's an answer, I just don't know if it is the right one. There are 100 reviews of the book and reading them on Amazon is itself an interesting glimpse into the literature.