Wednesday, 27 May 2009

The Weight of the World... or Just America

The day after I arrived here in the States, I weighed myself for the first time in months. I don't even own a scale at home, but after receiving several positive comments about my post-pregnancy figure from friends I hadn't seen in a year, I was curious to see how much I actually weighed. I was pleasantly surprised to see numbers I hadn't seen in quite some time; I weighed even less than I did before I was pregnant. No wonder my jeans had started to feel so loose on me. Less than four weeks later, however, and I am 10 pounds heavier than when I arrived.

I admit that since I've been here I've indulged in pretty much all of my favorites: Mexican, German, Indian, good ol' Southern barbecue, and lots of desserts. But it's not just the types of food I've been eating that have been my downfall; it's the portion sizes. Good thing I skipped a visit to The Cheesecake Factory or I'd be 15 pounds heavier.

I think I would have even gotten away with my gluttony if I had kept up my regular fitness routine. I have never been much of a gym bunny, but back in the U.K. I walk everywhere: to the grocery store, to the doctor, to baby clinic, to my friends' houses, around the local park. Walking has become such a part of my daily routine that it doesn't even feel like exercise anymore (I've come so far since I first started visiting The Other Half in London and wondered why we couldn't drive to the train station instead of walk the 10 minutes uphill). I didn't even notice that I had dropped so much weight because I certainly haven't been depriving myself of a jam donut for "elevenses" or a slice of cake with tea. Since I've been here, I haven't walked ANYWHERE. (That's not entirely true. The Other Half and I did take Crumpet for a walk around my parents' neighborhood every morning when he was here, but only because we didn't want our legs to stop working. I haven't actually walked anywhere with a purpose, that is.)

So, as I prepare to head back to the U.K. tomorrow, I look forward to giving up the automobile (couldn't you tell from my last post?) and using my feet again. I'll be cutting back on sweet treats and trading in take-aways for the healthier meals I usually prepare. I can only use breastfeeding as an excuse to indulge in extra calories for so long, and I'm sure I've already exceeded my calorie allowance for the next four months. Friday's fish and chips will be my last take-away for a while. Really, I mean it....

Thursday, 14 May 2009

The Road Less Travelled

Until yesterday, I had not driven in over a year. The last time I was behind the wheel was last April, during my last visit to the States, and then it was just a quick trip to pick up some take-out from a local deli. Otherwise, I have relied on family and friends to get me around. Although that can sometimes be a little nerve-racking (I suffer from serious "backseat driver-itis"), I have pretty much come to accept it.

I guess you could say I have a love-hate relationship with the automobile. I did get my U.K. driving license last April, but it was mostly a symbolic gesture. I wanted to know that I could drive if I had to, but, quite frankly, I wouldn't mind if I never sat in the driver's seat again.

Not owning a car has given me the biggest sense of freedom. Although I do sometimes miss the convenience of being able to just jump in the car and go, I certainly do not miss the car payments, the insurance payments, the gas (petrol) prices, the maintenance, the other (bad) drivers on the road, etc. that comes with owning a car. And although some people may find having to plan your life around bus schedules and train timetables restricting, I find that I can relax knowing that I can pretty much always count on a bus or the Tube to take me wherever I want to go.

One thing The Other Half doesn't like about the U.S. (particularly North Carolina) is the fact that you are so dependent on a car here. You literally have to drive EVERYWHERE. This morning, we ran out of milk, so my mom had to drive to the grocery store just to pick up a gallon. Back in the U.K., you can pretty much count on the fact that there is at least one corner shop within reasonable walking distance, unless you live way out in the wilds of the Hebrides. It's not even so much the distance that necessitates driving here; it's that roads are not designed with pedestrians in mind. Why would anyone want to walk when they could drive? Since I've lived in the U.K., I, too, find it hard to come back to the U.S. and its auto-centric lifestyle. (Don't even get me started on what all this driving has done to my fitness level. That's a whole other blog entry!)

We've often said that if we ever move back to the States it would have to be somewhere where we wouldn't have to drive just to pick up a pint of milk. But I'm not sure anywhere like that exists, except maybe New York or some of the other big cities, and the cost of living there is just as bad as in London. Basically, we want an English or European village located somewhere in North America. Is that too much to ask?

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

You Say "Fil-ay," I Say "Fil-et"

Over the past few years, I have given in to certain Britishisms. I say "courgette" and "aubergine" instead of "zucchini" and "eggplant." "Nappy" and "dummy" have replaced "diaper" and "pacifier" in my everyday vocabulary. I've even learned to drop the h in "herb," mainly because I got tired of everyone correcting me. But never, until I was at the fish counter of the local Lowe's Foods the other day, have I had to stop myself from saying "fil-et." Next thing you know, I'll be sounding like Madonna. Somebody kick the "ya'll"s back into me before that happens!

Friday, 1 May 2009

It Really IS a Small World After All

The customs hall of an international airport is the last place you'd expect to strike up a conversation with someone who, it turns out, not only grew up in the same town as you and now lives within about 20-30 miles of you in another country, but whose mother also happened to be your third grade teacher. But that is exactly what happened to me yesterday when we arrived at RDU.

No matter how many miles from home I may end up, the old cliche is still true....