The Cello Diet


After reading The Neophyte Cellist‘s post this morning, I decided I had to write my own post in response to the following:

Luckily I have time off work today so I can play him all afternoon, although I guess I should remember my wifes parting words “Don’t forget to eat”.

Maybe I’m the only one that finds that hilarious. It’s just that my husband says that to me about a dozen times a day, along with “Did you remember to eat today?” and “When was the last time you ate?” This has been happening ever since I got crazy busy with cello. And the theory class. Plus, I still have to work and help my mom throughout the week. It always happens that I look at the clock and I have to leave for work or class in half an hour and have to choose between food and another half hour of practice. Guess which one always wins! This week I suddenly discovered that my “skinny” jeans that I haven’t fit into for ages are now loose enough that I can play cello in them. And my regular pants are almost falling off (thus the trying on of the smaller pants.) I’ve also found my food preferences have changed considerably — all I ever want now is protein and fat and my insatiable sweet tooth is just plain gone. None of this was intentional, of course. My priorities just changed. Now I’m wondering how long this will last!


8 responses »

  1. You’re not on a low carb diet or paleo-diet are you?

    Things taste so much sweeter in general since I’ve cut out the carbs (not that I ever really had a sweet tooth) but it was crazy insane how much the wife and I shed pounds just by a small dietary change like that.

    Then again, I’ve always craved protein and fats–even when full–I think my body always understood that the carbs just weren’t cutting it nutritionally!

  2. I wouldn’t say I’m on a diet so much as I’m just not eating carbs much anymore and am eating tons of protein (which tastes sweet to me, interestingly) and fat. I’ve had a very hard time adjusting my diet to what my body wants to consume. I was vegetarian for a long time as a teenager and during college, but I was always very ill and had problems that no one could ever solve medically but which went away a couple days after starting to consume meat.

    This past summer I was fortunate enough to visit my father’s family, none of whom I had seen since I so young I don’t actually remember how old I was. I spent my life growing up in my mother’s family, who are all physically so unlike me that people assumed I was adopted because my mother couldn’t have produced someone who looks like me. I discovered that I look just like my uncles (they’re twins) and that their diet consists of basically meat and vegetables. They look 15 years younger than they are and are in great shape. They also have land in Vermont that they spend every winter hunting on and they eat pretty much nothing but what they can kill. More than a bit horrifying to me when I found that out, but after being around people who I’m physically like, I was finally able to acknowledge what my genetic heritage is causing my body to want and feel a little less guilty about it.

    I also find that things taste much sweeter now. My husband always told me that sugar cravings were my body’s need for protein (which I never believed) and so now I go cook myself bacon every time I crave sugar. Works like a charm, although I feel more than a bit guilty still.

    • Your husband sounds like a wise man!

      I wouldn’t really call it a “diet” for me either, and I never was that interested in losing weight so much as I started reading about the whole history of nutrition in the US and how this country started the relatively recent inversion of the USDA food pyramid.

      Sure, I had a vague sense of guilt over the fact that animals had to die for my food but also realized that even were I to go vegetarian, animals would still have to die for my food–whole ecosystems are disrupted by agriculture and the act of plowing fields and reaping the harvest actively kills whatever animals may live in the ground or in the fields during the process.

      It’s actually something that contributed to the first Buddhist “schism” that most folks in the US don’t appreciate since Mahayana Buddhism is the one favored here. But Therevada Buddhist aren’t explicitly vegetarian and never have been. In the Therevada tradition (which technically has the oldest – and therefor the earlier Buddhist texts in the Pali Canon) the Buddha died after having eaten spoiled pork as opposed to the poisoned mushrooms in the Mahayana traditions.

      I recently had a political vegetarian–in fact, he’s a public enough figure that I don’t feel compelled to not say who it is–the Enigma, take me to task for being a “bad” Buddhist without understanding the fact there are many kinds of Buddhism. *sighs*

      Yeah, I find everything tastes so much sweeter now, and when I do occasionally eat bread or actual sweet foods/carbs like cake, it’s almost sickeningly sweet anymore. Dropping 30 pounds in less than 4 months was just a side-effect and I’m not really eating any less and am still eating foods I enjoy and that taste good to me.

      The other side effects I’ve noticed–I used to have what I thought was a chronic skin problem (very dry skin) and issues with a couple of cysts that all but disappeared within a couple of weeks of cutting out the carbs. The wife and I notice that in general we feel much more calm and less prone to becoming agitated. My recent blood work/physical actually showed my fasting glucose levels to be normal; blood pressure on the low normal side (used to be on the high normal side for years).

      That’s great that your uncles are able to eat wild meat. We’ve been looking around for local free range (not as easy an option in the Midwest, sadly) meats and organic veggies and fruits. There are just so many dietary issues surrounding how we mass produce our food in developed nations it’s kind of sad.

      Oh, and yeah–even bacon taste sweet to us now too!

      Have you read the Vegetarian Myth? If you can get past the preachy tone (the author is a Vegan apostate) it is fairly well researched and outlines how some of the issue that at least one school of Buddhism understood a couple millennia ago!

      Right now, I’m just hoping to combat this possible arthritis that musicians who return to their trade later in life often experience–!

      • Hm… possible arthritis. Me too… one thing that has helped me a lot is wearing fingerless gloves much of the time when I’m not practicing. I have bad circulation and at the suggestion of my teacher started wearing the gloves while practicing until my hands warmed up. They never did while practicing, so I started wearing the gloves throughout the day before practicing and that did the trick. I usually warm up for 5 or 10 minutes with them on. Then I take them off and my hands tend to be warm and much more flexible and certainly less sore. On cold nights I even wear them to bed so that my hands aren’t stiff in the morning.

        As for all the vegetarian stuff, I feel like I could write a novel in reply to what you just said, which I’m not so inclined to do, so I’ll leave it at this: When talking about the precepts, the Zen teacher I was (sort of) studying with would always say that eating meat violated the first precept (no killing) and that not eating meat also violated the first precept. Made the vegetarians kinda mad, which I probably shouldn’t have found so funny, but their indignation at not being praised was hilarious, actually. 😀

  3. You seem to be progressing, cello-wise, at a pretty good pace. How much do you practice every day such that you forget to eat? I’m also an adult beginner, but I feel like I’m progressing soooo much more slowly.

    • The hours per day depends on the day. I will manage anywhere from no practice (usually one day a week I’m either too busy or the cello is at the luthier because she’s problematic) to spending the entire day (with breaks) practicing. It also depends on how much progress I make in any given day. On this past Monday, for example, I had one of those wonderful days where progress happened really fast, to the point where I felt like I’d practiced a whole day in just a half hour, so I stopped practicing because I was at that point where I felt like I’d go backwards if I played more.

      My teacher and I both spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to make my practice time more efficient, which is a large part of our lessons. Thus far we’ve managed to come up with almost formulaic ways of getting me to improve any aspect of my playing that I choose to work on in very little time. I should write a post about that today during one of my practice breaks! From my perspective, I think “If I have X number of hours to practice, how much can I learn in that time” because I feel this insatiable need to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible. From my teacher’s perspective, she thinks I should have a life (ha!) an find a way to learn a given amount in significantly less time.

      Okay, so short answer: It’s not always about amount of time spent practicing, but making the time I have available to me efficient. Also, I don’t know how far along you are, but my progress was very very very slow at first. As in I didn’t even get to Twinkle Twinkle until my fourth month of playing. Then my teacher introduced me to dynamics and articulation and my obsession/addiction started. I think a lot of my progress is due to being truly addicted to what I’m learning. My first four months that made glaciers seem fast were all spent fighting my own mind’s resistance to learning something so very different from what I had ever done before. Then somehow I got so excited about what I was doing that none of that mattered and I would work on my piece or theory or whatever until I understood. I’d loose track of hours at a time working on some minute detail because when I finally got it, it would be the most wonderful feeling in the world. I refused to believe that just because everyone told me how impossible it would be for me to learn this instrument that it really meant it was impossible. Everyone also told me that learning an instrument was one of those things that wasn’t linear and that hitting plateaus and going backwards was just part of the process, which I refused to believe also. I thought it would be a lot more fun to learn exponentially and have put considerable effort into figuring out how my mind learns and how to work with myself to learn even faster 😀 My teacher has told me that I’m the only person she’s ever seen who makes not just noticeable but significant progress from week to week, which she has in fact said is “impossible.” Once she got over the impossibility of it, she started helping me figure out how to make more progress more quickly.

      Hm. So that short answer wasn’t so short. I sort of rambled there. It’s all about working with your own mind and using its own tendencies to force it to learn. I suppose if you read through Jon Silpaymanant’s blog you’ll see some comment threads between me and him about how learning music as an adult is about piggy backing on already existing neural pathways. I suppose that’s what I’m doing, is figuring out what my brain does well already and using those pathways to learn music.

      Oy, long answer again… Hope that was helpful, or at least not unhelpful…

  4. Pingback: The Method To My Madness (Assuming I Don’t Actually Suck At Playing Cello.) « The Adult Beginner

  5. Pingback: Theory, Breathing, and Exercising. « The Adult Beginner

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