From the Archives – Dinner Party with other people

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As we are away again, I am once again dipping back into the archives – this time to our 13th wedding anniversary! For those counting, that makes this from 2005! At the time the boys were 7 and 9 years old.

I have really appreciated the responses on my ‘from the archives’ posts as well as the one about smoking … so I am going to pluck another one from the depths of the archives of an older blog written for myself. When you read this we will be on the road at the crack of dawn coming home from another round of college tours!

Just a note – I have been loving the amazing posts and comments from everyone these last couple of days. One thing I really loved was the reaction to my supplement post – it was meant to be provocative and many of you chimed in somewhat disagreeing but also being very respectful. It was awesome! I can’t wait to fully catch up on everything!

My wife and I got the rare opportunity to go out to dinner together without worrying about the babysitter. Last week* was our 13th Anniversary, and on our anniversary day we went with the kids out to Deerfield (MA) to a place called ‘George’s Rocks’ which had a nice litte Dinosaur exhibit and a man-made ‘mine’ for kids to get a bunch of polished rocks. It was fun for an hour or so. We also went to the Yankee Candle Factory store, which is always fun – they make it such a pleasure just to explore that the shopping part is secondary. Then we went to a nice little Italian place (Monty’s Garden in Leominster) for dinner – one of those places that was good as a family, but not so much of a ‘me & the wife’ things.

Last week we also had one of Lisa’s good friends from college and Christopher’s godmother up from Wed – Sun. She offered to stay with the kids while we went out Saturday. Whew! Normally we have to deal with the babysitter (she is very good, but only 13 so we are careful about time) or my parents (…).

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We went to a very highly regarded place called the Herb Lyceum, which was a herb garden that has evolved into a fine dining place. No liquor license, bring your own wine. They have a single fixed menu for the month. All that was fine, but seating was ‘communal’ – meaning that there were two tables for 10 and one for 15, making their 35 person capacity. We tend to like more intimate dinners, but thought we’d try. Our thoughts were ‘not bad, never again’ – see, we had no real together time. Intimate side-talk during a dinner party is rude. Also, you don’t know anyone, and there were two very nice couples we sat with and had some nice discussion. Then there was a ‘younger’ couple, early 30’s. They never relaxed and weren’t much fun to talk to because of it. Finally there was a very pretentious couple, who would throw out names and places, but when anyone would want to discuss them, would seem bored and detached. Not much fun. But at least we got to dress up, have *awesome* food and wine, and a little time away.

So what did we learn? While we both enjoy the company of others, what we relish most is intimate time alone to celebrate our life together. In an age of 50% divorce rates – some of which have hit awfully close to home recently – I revel in the love and friendship I share with my wonderful wife. So even though we didn’t have the greatest time at this ‘dinner party’ style night out, we did it together, and shared in that experience and learned something about ourselves as individuals and as a couple.

It was funny reading this for the first time in 9 years. Back then we were JUST getting a reliable babysitter, but still wouldn’t do anything major or outside of our town – we were happy just to get some rare alone time! In fact, we had gotten into the habit of doing most holiday dinners as a family – including Valentine’s day … so this was a real rarity.

Now that the kids are older and we are getting much more time together … we still revel in our time alone together and I don’t think our thoughts and feelings would be any difference.

Another thought – I thought I knew what I meant by divorces ‘hit awfully close to home recently’ … but then I realized that neither of my siblings (both of who are divorced now) were even separated at the time.

Have you eaten in a fine dining place with communal seating? If so what did you think? If you have kids – or other reasons why time with your significant other is rare, what does your date night situation look like?

From the Archives: A Reminder About Fad Diets From ‘The Ghost of Weight Loss Past’

As a reminder, I am on vacation this week and planning to be ‘mostly offline’ – so I scheduled a few post ‘reruns’ from the very early days of the blog (when I had very few readers)! This one was originally posted here.

Rice Cakes

I like to call fad diets ‘fail diets’, because unless you look at one and think ‘wow, that is pretty much how I eat anyway’, you are probably being asked to totally cut out some food group you actually love … and for me that is a sign of ‘rebound failure’. You will feel like you are denying your self and depriving yourself … and then end up on a binge spiral. The degree to which people can totally cut out things they love to eat … well, it is shown pretty solidly through obesity statistics.

I think the mindset needs to be ‘modification’, and NOT ‘massive alteration’. Of course, when I first lost weight there was some of both.

I was reminded of this as someone on Facebook posted about their weight and health issues and how their habits were in dire need of a change … and so they decided to go vegan. Not regulate their intake, not reduce portions and control the balance of processed and fried food, not even go vegetarian … but full-on vegan.

That is a radical change – I am NOT calling becoming vegan a ‘fad diet’, but when people jump to it as a magical cure for weight and health issues, it might as well be. I am again reminded of Bloom County:

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Back when I started losing weight a year out of college in 1989, things like yogurt, rice cakes and fat-free salad dressings were all the rage. And because I love salads, love yogurt and fruit, I was easily able to switch over to having grapefruit and plain toast for breatfast, simple salad with fat free dressing for lunch, yogurt & rice cakes for a snack, then a simple dinner.

As I have noted, I lost about 175 pounds when all was said and done in 1989 through a combination of diet and exercise. There is little doubt that I used deprivation and the feelings of hunger to motivate myself. But there was also no way I was giving up steak or ice cream completely. But what is interesting is how one of the staples of my weight loss – rice cakes – is such a terrible food.

Rice cakes: Considered as one of the ultimate ‘diet-food’ in the late 1980s and 1990s, don’t let yourself get fooled by this dish. Rice cakes have a glycemic index of 91 and can make your blood sugar go sky-high. They are bad for weight loss and your overall health.

Fat free salad dressings are another one – full-up with HFCS, they mess with your system. One that I used last year when I started losing weight again was grits. I thought they were like oatmeal – fill you up, good for you. Well, only half of that was true! Grits are absolute crap, as it turns out! Once I found that out over a year ago I quit it immediately.

My point is that for many of us weight control is a lifelong struggle. And there are MANY multi-billion dollar industries that have sprung up around it. But think … what would happen if everyone learned how to lose weight and just lost it and kept it off using nothing but products from their grocery store without needing special pills, chemicals or books? That would be terrible for the industry – and so you have to remember that this industru doesn’t succeed when too many people succeed.

So beware of fad diets and miracle products – because it is not in their best interest for you to succeed.