Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Brendan and I jokingly refer to ourselves as "fat kids".
But in every joke, there's an element of truth! All butter-chomping and chocolate syrup-guzzling aside, the yo-yo'ing between losing and gaining weight marked our childhoods in such a way that, as adults, we are both prone to all-encompassing obsessions about our weight.
I will look up the latest, most radical diet, try it for a couple of days, then decide that it's "unhealthy" because (gasp!) I'm hungry. Bren will embark on a self-diagnosed new ritual with sniper focus, giving up ALL carbs or giving up ALL fat or ALL breakfasts, never deviating for a second. Inevitably though, the radicalism will fizzle out, and we'll find ourselves even heavier than we were before.
Aha, but we are triumphant at the moment. We have found a happy medium between caring about it (making a plan), doing something about it (sticking to the plan) and then... letting it go (not talking or thinking about the plan all the time). It seems to be working for both of us.
Part of the plan is eschewing sweet, sweet dessert.
Earlier this year, Bren decided that he wasn't going to touch dessert of any kind until Burning Man, the light at the end of a three-month tunnel. He asked me if I wanted to do it. I, of course, balked.
"Brendan," I said. "I know you think this is going to work. But *I* go to Weight Watchers."
He blinked. Not being a convert, he had not idea what that meant. I realised a little enlightenment was in order.
"Well, Bren. *My* group leader says that we shouldn't deprive ourselves in this radical fashion, because... well, I'm prepared to say it now." I paused for dramatic tension. "I. am. A food addict. I have a problem. If I deprive myself of dessert, even the low-fat kind, then you'll come home one night to find me indulging in an ice-cream facial, under a carpet of chocolate bar wrappers and cookie boxes, with a cheesecake baking in the oven. And I think you know you might end up that way too."
Bren rolled his eyes.
"I know, I know. You don't believe me. I didn't believe it either. It took me months of meetings to get this point," I preached at him.
"Well, I'm doing it. We'll see what happens," he said, flashing just the slightest verbal gauntlet.
I sighed an all-knowing sigh. We'll see indeed, I thought. "Come here my precious," I whispered, grabbing a Skinny Cow from the freezer.
A week later, for some reason, I decided that as a good wife and partner, I should join his crusade. So I left the low-fat ice cream bars untouched, cast the weekly chocolate croissant out of my mind and turned away from anything fried. My sole sweet-tooth soother was a small cup of warm chocolate almond milk at night.
At first, I was a maniac. My sweet tooth snarled at me every couple of hours. "This isn't sane!" it roared, pointing out that God didn't give us a "sweet" portion of tastebuds for nothing. But Bren was steady; the second I started to whine about craving some chocolate, he shrugged and said, "Just wait for Burning Man."
Ha! Easy for him to say. I marvel at his ability to just give something up so easily. Once it's given up, it's given up, with nary a thought given to it afterward. Meanwhile, I salivated over the thought of that chocolate almond milk. All. Day. In fact, a couple of times, I ditched the almond milk portion altogether; I grabbed the chocolate syrup and quickly drained a big squeeze of it directly down my gullet before the fridge door had time to shut. Yup. I did that. I guess it's kinda cheating huh? I don't know -- I figured it's choclate-FLAVORED syrup, not the real thing, right? And if it's ok in the almond milk, then... oh forget it.
But then a funny thing happened. Against all odds, I didn't crash; it only took a few days to shake the sugar monkey off my back; I thought it would take weeks. Funny what you tell yourself is the truth huh? I was CERTAIN that I would break at some point and end up in a binging abyss. But Bren never came home to find me sitting in front of the telly, hoovering through my second pint of Ben 'n' Jerrys. I was good! I was strong! I did it!
In fact, I did so well that one day, I realised that it had been a week since I'd had any chocolate almond milk. Soon, Burning Man was just around the corner, and even then, the food gods determined that ice cream (with which I had been planning to break my sugar fast) was not in my future; Bren found free ice cream with no problems at all. I didn't find even a lick.
When we got back, Bren weighed himself and realized that, thanks to Burning Man and the new dessert-free lifestyle, he'd lost SIXTEEN POUNDS. I hadn't lost even a quarter of that but I felt cleaner, emancipated. Even when we had ice cream, I didn't curl up in the fetal position the way I thought I would. It just wasn't that satisfying anymore. I can't even believe I wrote that! Don't get me wrong, I still love ice cream, and ate as much as I could on Thanksgiving Day, but it didn't make my eyes glaze over the way it used to.
I didn't realize how much I had bought into the "fat kid" or "food addict" persona... shows you the power of words, doesn't it? I know that Weight Watchers is right; and in fact, this plan is a great compromise between Bren's radical nature and my overly-indulgent one. We haven't deprived ourselves since we still give ourselves permission to indulge, except that rather than indulging whenever we feel a craving coming on, our indulgence is built into the calendar.
So we get dessert about once a month. First it was no dessert until Burning Man. Then, no dessert until Jed's wedding in October (when we found the best ice cream I've ever had in my whole life of ice cream consumption, at the Black Cow. So good that I actually, really, genuinely did a happy dance. Swear on my life).
Then, Thanksgiving, and now, Christmas Day. After that, I think it's no dessert until Valentine's Day.
Anyway, it's funny that I launched into this whole story just to tell you that I'm at a loss as to what to do with these:
They're left over from Bren's ice-cream making adventures, and they go bad on Dec. 12th. Having never had that much cream in my fridge before unless I was making dessert, I am racking my brains for uses. So far, I have planned a frittata, and maybe a creamy sauce thingy over pasta? Do you guys have any ideas? I could really use them!
p.s. I wrote this whole thing and realized that I hadn't said the most important thing: Bren (wince)... for once, your radicalism worked. You were right.
at 1:11 PM