Monday, May 5, 2008

When Life Isn't Fare

In general, mankind, since the improvement of cookery,
eats twice as much as nature requires.

~Benjamin Franklin

I spent the better part of this past week weighing the pros and cons of joining a gym (I’ll pretty much weigh anything to avoid putting myself on the scale). I’m just not sure I have the right personality for a gym-goer. I’m not a fan of routine and I prefer the kind of exercise that happens by accident (not to mention that our local gym is in the same parking lot as a really good bagel place and with gas prices being what they are, I can’t justify NOT picking up a dozen for the weekend).
I’m also concerned that I might not be any good at working out. For the past decade I’ve worked hard to perfect my skills as a power-walker and I fear that cross-training might confuse muscle memory (and since I already suffer from CRS, this could be dangerous).
By weeks end, I came to the unfortunate conclusion that in order to meet my weight loss goal, I basically have two choices:
(1) I can become one of those people who eats to live, rather than one who lives to eat.
(2) I can hire a local bakery to drive their truck at a moderate speed consistently just yards ahead of me, around and around my circular neighborhood for a daily five-mile chase, and then speed off before my eager palms meet buttery brioche.

Again, gas prices being what they are make the latter totally impractical, and so I am left to face the harsh reality of being someone who is genetically predisposed to the enjoyment of food and the distaste for exercise.

I wanted to believe that it was just a myth that some people eat only to live because the very thought of such a lifestyle saddens me.
The person who eats only to live likely doesn’t spend much time thinking or learning about food. Without understanding the finer nuances of food, it seems impossible that one could enjoy the flavors and the sensory experience it has to offer. But over time, I have been forced to finally acknowledge that such alien creatures exist, as they have infiltrated my family and my friendships.
Black-belt dieters will tell you such a lifestyle is about choice, commitment and willpower and has little to do with nature.
While this may apply to some (and I will be first to applaud their determination), I would argue that the greater population represents a dichotomy as simple as the question boxers or briefs?
Most of us fall into one of two categories; either you love food,
or you don’t.
It’s no secret that ones relationship with food is paramount to the body’s well-being. In this case, there is good love and there is
bad love. We all know that emotional eating can be the catalyst for a myriad of physical and mental complications, but the love I am referring to is more about the appreciation for the sensory experience food has to offer, and not for a void it is expected to fill.
Explaining this isn’t as easy as it may seem, but allow me to try.

A few years ago I discovered my unfortunate inability to understand or appreciate wine. Glass for glass my own pedestrian assessment of “dry” or “sweet” paled in comparison to my husband’s descriptive interpretations and his ability to detect flora and flavor unfamiliar to my oeno-phobic palate.
To this day, he cannot wrap his head around my affinity for cheap wine (and even the occasional wine cooler), and I just don’t get what the big deal is about wine in general. If it tastes good, I’ll drink it (truth be told, I’d rather have a Sam Adams).
I may never understand how one glass of wine can be interpreted so differently by two people, but I completely appreciate the passion with which my husband approaches his first sip. The complexities of wine elude me but the passion for such a flavor-driven experience is an old familiar friend.

I would argue that those who eat to live are not passionate about food. They understand and accept the need to satiate hunger but will never know what it means to mourn the loss of good food. This is precisely why they rise above the rest of us as successful dieters (I would imagine these are the same folks who suggest that it is inadvisable to shop for groceries when one is hungry.
Who pray tell, shops for groceries when the pantry and fridge are full? Chances are if I’m at the grocery store, it’s because the cupboards are bare and I’m starving—not withstanding the fact that I’m always hungry

I wish I could eat just for the sake of squelching hunger, and drink for the sake of quenching thirst. But we, who live to eat, approach food with all of our senses—and perhaps more.
We spend much of our waking hours thinking about food—all food; the good, the bad, and the ugly. For us, the simple act of feeding others can be euphoric. We read about food. We talk about food.
We talk about reading about food. Cookbooks are our novels and the kitchen is our playground. We plan meals. We make meals. We share meals. When free time allows, we watch food on TV. We visit online communities and e-chat with like minded individuals worldwide about food. We ask questions about food and we share our knowledge of food. We live vicariously through the global gastronomic experiences of others. Some of us bake for sport, and feel true joy when others indulge in our efforts. When night falls, we rest well thinking about tomorrow’s first cup of coffee and another day filled with gastronomic possibility (and somehow we manage to squeeze in those mundane tasks like daily household chores and shopping for the basics. When we go to the market for food, staple items are often secondary—seemingly inconsequential. I’ve been known to get lost in the produce department as I ponder the beauty and succulence of seasonal fruit, and then proudly return home with a cache of nature’s perfectly ripened specimens, only to realize that we are still out of toilet paper and milk).

Living to eat is joyful.
The experience of a fine meal can be so much more than a physical one. Breaking bread is spiritual beyond religious parameters.
A meal shared is flavorful medicine for the soul.
But as with any medicine, there are side effects. Not the least of which is the potential for a forty-something, rapidly-expanding waistline.
Apparently, I’ve got a lot of potential.

And so presently, the scale and I are in a bit of a tangle.
If I could rewind the clock twenty-five years, the solution
would be simple. I would call upon the wisdom of adolescent
meal-management and go back to eating dinner in my bikini.
But alas, there are now adolescents of my own to consider.
I must spare their appetites the atrocities of my midsection and
find another solution.
Thankfully however, with middle-age comes middle-wisdom. I am acutely aware of my ever-morphing middle and experience has taught me what meals and measures are necessary to motivate my metabolism. I need to focus once again on whole foods; fruits, grains, lean proteins, and anything leafy and green.
I need to put down the pie and pick up the pace. I need to drink like a fish and pee like a race horse and…well, you get the idea.
Knowledge is indeed power, but dieting is still a pain in the ass.

As I consider the challenges of calorie counts and portion control, I am painfully reminded of what seems like a lifetime of schizophrenic eating.
I have been many versions of me— from mini-me to maxi-me, and everything in between. Comparatively speaking, there is more of me today than there was just a few years ago. This applies not only to my physical being however, but to my emotional and spiritual being as well.
The irony here is that by all (non-physical) measurements, I like me in my present form better than all the others. My mind, body and heart are all more substantial than they were in my twenties or my thirties.
So how do I shrink the outside without shrinking the inside?
If I remove food (as I know it) from the equation, basically it would change the whole equation.
I suppose I might find a new hobby, but how does one knit while holding a cupcake?

Clearly, it’s time for me to make a few changes—but I don’t have to like it.
For years I was able to get away with the no pain, no gain philosophy of eating. I would avoid any exercise that pained me, eat whatever I wanted (in moderation) and gain little or no additional weight.
Today however, I wear a slice of pizza much differently than I did in my twenties.

Perhaps it’s time to reassess what a moderate ice cream sundae looks like. Better yet, I might have to skip the ice cream sundae altogether and find something a bit more figure friendly.
This is not a happy time.

Back in my successful dieting days (before I discovered the joys of panna-cotta, and crème brulee), Jell-O was the panacea of choice for my need to be desserted. Today however, I think I would rather chase that bakery truck for ten miles and indulge in an occasional crème brulee than resort to such vivid, synthetic sweets.

And so I am left to solve a dilemma that is perhaps unsolvable.
I might just take another crack at my husband’s copy of
Wine for Dummies. Instead of reaching for a vanilla cone with sprinkles, perhaps I’ll do my heart and hips a favor and choose a glass of Cabernet instead (although I’m not sure how to get
the ice cream man to comply

In the meantime, I haven’t ruled out that gym membership.
A friend of mine tells me she knows a great personal trainer
who will whip me into shape in time for bathing suit season.
I wonder if he likes cheesecake?

Because from where I sit,
Life is fare.

Until Next Time,
Make Life Delicious
Share Your Food


I can’t resist the urge to share with you some (okay, more than some) funny quotes about eating and dieting.
We’ve all been there at one time or another and it’s nice to be reminded that we are not alone in our daily struggle.
If hunger strikes while you're reading (and unless you're a speed reader, it will), allow me to recommend my new favorite candy bar; actually, it's not a candy bar at all but instead a fruit and nut,
flavor-packed bar with no funky ingredients. It's called a LARA BAR and it fills the need when hunger strikes. I hesitate to call this a
meal-replacement bar because for me, it doesn't cut it. When I'm at work however, it solves the dilemma of 5(+)hours with no break. Instead of reaching for the usual, portable fat-laden snacks, I grab a Lara Bar. To date, my favorites include Cashew Cookie, Key Lime Pie, Pecan Pie and Cherry Pie. These are gluten-free, dairy-free and preservative free. The bars never contain more than six ingredients and I believe they qualify as raw food (if you're into that kind of thing). They can be pricey but if you shop around (read:Amazon), you can usually find a coupon code for a quantity discount and free shipping.
Whoever this Lara is, I love her.

Now, chew on these (delicious enjoyment, zero calories):

The cardiologist's diet: If it tastes good, spit it out.
~Author Unknown

One should eat to live, not live to eat.
~Cicero, Rhetoricorum LV

Inside some of us is a thin person struggling to get out, but they can usually be sedated with a few pieces of chocolate cake. ~Author Unknown

I feel about airplanes the way I feel about diets. It seems to me that they are wonderful things for other people to go on.
~Jean Kerr, "Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall," ~ The Snake Has All the Lines, 1958

I've decided that perhaps I'm bulimic and just keep forgetting to purge. ~Paula Poundstone

In the Middle Ages, they had guillotines, stretch racks, whips and cahins. Nowadays, we have a much more effective torture device called the bathroom scale.
~Stephen Phillips

People are so worried about what they eat between Christmas and the New Year, but they really should be worried about what they eat between the New Year and Christmas.
~Author Unknown

Albert Einstein, who discovered that a tiny amount of mass is equal to a huge amount of energy, which explains why, as Einstein himself so eloquently put it in a famous 1939 speech to the Physics Department at Princeton, "You have to exercise for a week to work off the thigh fat from a single Snickers." ~Dave Barry, Dave Barry Turns 50

I've been on a diet for two weeks and all I've lost is fourteen days. ~Totie Fields

Rich, fatty foods are like destiny: they too, shape our ends.
~Author Unknown

The biggest seller is cookbooks and the second is diet books - how not to eat what you've just learned how to cook. ~Andy Rooney

Gluttony is an emotional escape, a sign something is eating us.
~Peter De Vries

If hunger is not the problem, then eating is not the solution.
~Author Unknown

Nothing tastes as good as being thin feels. ~Author Unknown

If I had been around when Rubens was painting, I would have been revered as a fabulous model. Kate Moss? Well, she would have been the paintbrush.
~Dawn French

No diet will remove all the fat from your body because the brain is entirely fat. Without a brain, you might look good, but all you could do is run for public office.
~George Bernard Shaw

The first thing you lose on a diet is your sense of humor.
~Author Unknown

Food is like sex: when you abstain, even the worst stuff begins to look good.
~Beth McCollister

I go up and down the scale so often that if they ever perform an autopsy on me they'll find me like a strip of bacon - a streak of lean and a streak of fat. ~Texas Guinan

Life itself is the proper binge.
~Julia Child

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst, for they are sticking to their diets. ~Author Unknown

I recently had my annual physical examination, which I get once every seven years, and when the nurse weighed me, I was shocked to discover how much stronger the Earth's gravitational pull has become since 1990. ~Dave Barry

Food has replaced sex in my life; now, I can't even get into my own pants. ~Author Unknown

To lengthen your life, shorten your meals.

You can't lose weight by talking about it. You have to keep your mouth shut. ~Author Unknown

I think I just ate my willpower.
~Author Unknown

If you really want to be depressed, weigh yourself in grams.
~Jason Love

Brain cells come and brain cells go, but fat cells live forever.
~Author Unknown

I am a nutritional overachiever.
~Author Unknown

The second day of a diet is always easier than the first. By the second day, you're off it. ~Jackie Gleason

If food is your best friend, it's also your worst enemy.
~Edward "Grandpa" Jones, 1978

I have a great diet. You're allowed to eat anything you want, but you must eat it with naked fat people. ~Ed Bluestone

A diet is a plan, generally hopeless, for reducing your weight, which tests your will power but does little for your waistline. ~Herbert B. Prochnow

I'm not overweight. I'm just nine inches too short.
~Shelley Winters

People say that losing weight is no walk in the park. When I hear that I think, yeah, that's the problem. ~Chris Adams

As for food, half of my friends have dug their graves with their teeth. ~Chauncey M. Depew

To promise not to do a thing is the surest way in the world to make a body want to go and do that very thing. ~Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, 1876

I'm on a 90-day wonder diet. Thus far, I've lost 45 days.
~Author Unknown

The commonest form of malnutrition in the western world is obesity. ~Mervyn Deitel

I've been on a constant diet for the last two decades. I've lost a total of 789 pounds. By all accounts, I should be hanging from a charm bracelet.
~Erma Bombeck

My advice if you insist on slimming: Eat as much as you like - just don't swallow it. ~Harry Secombe

I am not a glutton - I am an explorer of food.
~Erma Bombeck

Forget about calories - everything makes thin people thinner, and fat people fatter. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966

When I buy cookies I eat just four and throw the rest away. But first I spray them with Raid so I won't dig them out of the garbage later. Be careful, though, because that Raid really doesn't taste that bad.
~Janette Barber

It would be far easier to lose weight permanently if replacement parts weren't so handy in the refrigerator. ~Hugh Allen

A waist is a terrible thing to mind. ~Tom Wilson

If you have formed the habit of checking on every new diet that comes along, you will find that, mercifully, they all blur together, leaving you with only one definite piece of information: french-fried potatoes are out.
~Jean Kerr

All people are made alike -
of bones and flesh and dinner -
Only the dinners are different
~Gertrude Louise Cheney

My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four. Unless there are three other people. ~Orson Welles

Fat is not a moral problem. It's an oral problem.
~Jane Thomas Noland

Never eat more than you can lift.
~Miss Piggy

If you wish to grow thinner, diminish your dinner.
~H.S. Leigh

Obesity is a mental state, a disease brought on by boredom and disappointment.
~Cyril Connolly, The Unquiet Grave

There is a charm about the forbidden that makes it unspeakably desirable. ~Mark Twain

Probably nothing in the world arouses more false hopes than the first four hours of a diet. ~Dan Bennett

I bought a talking refrigerator that said "Oink" every time I opened the door. It made me hungry for pork chops.
~Marie Mott

And my personal favorite:

When we lose twenty pounds... we may be losing the twenty best pounds we have! We may be losing the pounds that contain our genius, our humanity, our love and honesty.
~Woody Allen

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