I was doing great.
Portion control. Like, real, honest-to-god, proper portion sizes. Satisfying.
Points. I was a Weight Watchers point-tracking fiend. It’s fun when you want to do it.
Activity. I dusted off the treadmill. Found I liked reading inspirational stuff on my Kindle even more than listening to my 80s tunes. Shoveled snow. Cleaned.
This was more than a New Year’s resolution. I was ready. Committed. My husband was on board with his own commitment. We cheered each other on.
I was down eight pounds by the end of February. Twenty-two to go.
And then it happened.
My husband and I went on a date. Dined at a steak-&-grill downtown. Chose our dishes wisely. Watched our portions.
And then I said it: “I want dessert.”
I love dessert. I have loved it all my life. It’s like the metaphorical cigarette you smoke after sex. Or it’s the sex itself. I can never eat dessert before dinner. Dessert is like Christmas; it’s something to look forward to.
My desserts had been consisting of one Dove chocolate per night. Two if I had some flex points to spare. And I was content with that. Most of the time, a bite would suffice.
But that date night, something in me was clamoring for more than just a bite. That ol’ fear of depravity reared its head. At least I think that’s what it was. Or maybe I just plain wanted the dessert.
I ordered this brownie-cookie concoction. You know, with the ice cream and the sauce. It was delicious. Gooey and smooth and chewy. Sweet. Decadent. Everything a dessert should be. I didn’t finish it (I’d been getting full faster). But I sure did enjoy every bite, and I made sure to put down my fork for good before crossing the line from enjoyment to shame.
And that’s when the tracking stopped. And the weighing in. And the portion control. Two Doves per night. Three. And two after lunch. Somewhere after that dessert it stopped being about pleasure and started being about defiance. My commitment was shattered because I was back to the dilemma of balancing the need to be healthy with the need to eat pleasurably. I can’t seem to find the happy middle ground.
And not to blame this all on Nora Ephron, but she hasn’t helped.
No. Scratch that. She's helped quite a bit.
What I mean is that Nora Ephron loved food. She loved writing about it, she loved cooking it, and she loved eating it. She urged people not to wait to eat their last meal, because they may not get to eat it as their last meal when the time comes.
I envy her for that. I envy the relationship she had with food. So healthy—her mentality, I mean. Her emotional connection. There was no codependence. Just a mutual romantic love. And her body size reflected it. I don’t know if she ever had insecurities where her body was concerned (it’s rare to find a woman who doesn’t, and I don’t say that as a criticism but as a sad social reality), or what her eating habits were in terms of how much she consumed. I don’t know if metabolism played a role. My guess is that it didn’t matter. She loved food. Food loved her. It was a good relationship.
I want the same. And forgive me for resorting to the cliché here, but I want to have my cake and eat it too. (I love cake. Especially for breakfast.)
For the most part, I eat foods that are pleasing to me—who doesn’t? (I’m a picky eater, so I’m kind of limited—that’s another blog post for another day.) But some days I feel like I’ve chosen them out of obligation rather than true pleasure.
I wonder: What if I were to make a list of foods that make me truly, intrinsically happy—like chocolate cake for breakfast, for example—and do a 30-day experiment, eating them only and nothing out of obligation? And I’m not talking all-you-can-eat gorging. I’m talking about joy. I’m talking about mindfulness. I’m talking about allowance. I’m talking about listening to my body and heart and soul and silencing the scale and the points and the self-critics.
Heck, forget about the thirty days. What if I just made it the norm? What if I treated every meal as if it were my last?
Is something like that doable? Is it realistic? Is it selfish?
What do you think?
Recipe: Chocolate Cupcakes for Two*
*This is not my recipe. But I can't remember where I got it (just tried Googling it and none of the links look familiar). Thus, my apologies to the person who deserves the credit. Nevertheless, it's one of my favorites for a no-leftovers dessert. (Photo courtesy of Sprinkled with Jules, which has a recipe too.)
Chocolate Cupcakes for Two
Measurement Tip: Note that 1/16 teaspoon is about 1 pinch.
I'm an author of commercial women's fiction and a writing instructor. My claim to fame: I can say the alphabet backwards.