Me vs the Chocolate

At the risk of sounding like Bridget Jones: over the last week, ever since my mother-in-law came up with bagfuls of chocolate (including a 1-lb bar of Hershey’s for each of us), I have gained 5 lbs. I’m totally serious. I could try to blame some of it on water-weight, but no. The fattage has creeped back up and I’m going to have to stick to rabbit-food to get it back down again, and keep the weight-reduction going. 5 lbs doesn’t seem like much when I see it on the screen, but considering how much of a challenge it is to work it back off again in a healthy way . . . it’s extremely disheartening.

There are numerous reasons why I have to regain my will power and avoid the chocolate, but aside from the health benefits (both short- and long-term), the most immediate is this: two years ago I bought dress slacks on sale from Long Tall Sally, in the size I normally wear, and when they arrived, they didn’t fit me. Rather than send the pants back for a larger size, I determined to lose the weight and fit into my clothing. It took some months, but I managed it. And two weeks ago, although I feared I’d split the seams, I was happily surprised to see that I was able to wear my pants.

I won’t be wearing them tomorrow.

My hubby reassures me that I am not all the nasty things I tell myself, which is lovely and supportive, but in the back of my head I accuse him of lying. He reminds me that I’m aging, never to look again like I did when we first got married, but that’s not really helpful either.

The fact of the matter is that I currently weigh as much as I did at the height of both of my pregnancies, and I’m not carrying a second body within mine. It’s all me. Plus chocolate and cheese and doughnuts and cream in my coffees.

I used to be afraid of exercise because I worried that working out would leave me feeling hungry, and when my kids were younger and money was tight, I wanted to make sure they got the healthier foods that were in the house. That was my excuse, anyway. I bought the fresh veggies and fruits and made sure we all got a share, but I avoided buying large amounts because the fresh stuff is inordinately expensive. It’s no wonder we turn to chips and pop and other forms of junk food to satisfy our cravings — it’s just cheaper to fill a cupboard that way, and when your budget only allows you to shop once a week, dry goods and cans last longer than lettuce or strawberries. We can get apples to last, of course, and carrots will do well. The real secret that we’ve found, though, to getting the most out of buying fresh produce in the winter and spring is to eat it right away. Munching it raw throughout the day is particularly helpful at staving off cravings for everything else.

The weekly skiing I’ve been doing has been helpful, too, I think, but I still want to do more. Hubby’s still on the lookout for a decent pair of used cross-country skis for me, although I could just as easily borrow a pair from the Community Complex. The thing is, I want a pair that I can use whenever, without having to go in and do all the processing. Again, it’s a lame excuse, I know. More valuable is that I want to be able to ski with my dog, and it’s frustrating having to leave her in the car while I go and get the skis — she barks too much if I just leave her waiting for me outside.

I find it incredibly frustrating, though, that instead of feeling a burst of energy after having exercised, I just feel tired and I become capable of sleeping for hours through the ensuing afternoon / evening / day. So why bother getting out there all active and sweaty if it’s just going to leave me comatose?

Because it will stave off heart disease, diabetes, and an number of other ailments, dumb-ass.

(I really need to keep working on the negative self-talk, too.)

Anyway . . . the chocolate has been consumed and there is no more left in the house. I know, because I’ve prowled. I even briefly considered mowing down two strawberry-chocolate hearts that were in a lovely gift package from our neighbours, but I’m not a fan of that particular sweet. As Hubby learned a number of years ago, the easiest way to keep me from noshing on candy, cookies, and other desserts is just to keep the kind I dislike in the house. It’s a bit cruel, but much easier on the willpower.

It’s such a good thing I’m not a smoker — I’d have a hell of a time trying to quit. I did try smoking once, years and years ago. It was in university, and I was feeling reckless. Going through a, “why not? I’m young!” moment. I can still vividly recall the way the smoke caught in my throat and lungs, how the rush of chemicals into my bloodstream and brain cells (or wherever they go) made it feel as though the top of my head were lifting off and pleasant pinpricks tickling me all over my skin. That’s a topic for a future post, the smoking thing, but the key is how I managed to avoid getting hooked.

I binged until I made myself sick.

The bingeing involved copious amounts and mixes of alcohol as my friend and I emptied her boyfriend’s parents’ liquor cabinet. Not proud of it, but there it was. The next morning was the only time I’ve ever called in sick because of a hangover. in the midst of the debauchery, I chain-smoked a half of a pack of cigarettes that had been sitting in my coat pocket for a week. I did not know that once they’d been unwrapped, the tobacco went stale after a few days. I kind of wanted to make sure I hadn’t wasted my money by throwing them out without having used them up — yes, that was my state of mind. And honestly, I was having too much fun with my friend to care what I was doing with them.

Cared the next morning, though. And when I contemplated buying another pack so I could have a smoke at some point that afternoon, my body revolted. Doubled-over, head-pounding, dry-mouth reaction to just the suggestion of putting that crap back into my system. So that was it. Me, 1. Cigarettes, O. I was a smoker for approximately 2 weeks and then I escaped.

That’s how the chocolate thing has been feeling lately. I’ve been craving it, knowing it’s going to be bad for me, and since it’s been readily available, I’ve been indulging in short binges at work and after school. But sometime on Thursday or Friday, I started feeling sick of the stuff. Suddenly, the veggie sticks that Hubby’s been thoughtfully loading me up with are tasting a hell of a lot better than the Hershey’s. So maybe I’ve done the same thing that I did with the cigarettes: given myself an overdose to which my body is now reacting, although with less violence and sickness than it did the smokes. It’s harder to escape now, too, because chocolate just goes with so many things . . . but the key on this is not only recognizing that I’ve been overdoing it, and going back to the veggies and fruit, but also not buying any more.

It’s that last part which I find the hardest at this time of year. We’ve had a week of -35 to -45 C temperatures. I find myself wanting comfort foods more than anything else. Comfort foods are warm and fatty and salty and sweet. If I concentrate on the colours of the veggies, that helps to redirect my attention. Red and green peppers on a bright white winter day can also be comforting. Fresh cucumber slices and carrot sticks help too. I have to rewire my brain to accept these things as the go-to for happiness eating, even though they’re pricey at this time of year. It’s going to be better for me in the long run.

(Just ignore the little pail of Hershey’s kisses sitting in my desk drawer at work . . . shhhh . . .)

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2 thoughts on “Me vs the Chocolate

  1. B.J. Baye says:

    Replying to the part about staving off heart disease by working yourself comatose: Actually, that’s a bad thing to do. What you want to aim for is light exercise: A 20 or 30-minute walk every day is healthier on the heart than a strenuous workout. Working yourself to exhaustion, while better than doing nothing, is actually hard for the heart.

    I’ve been doing a lot of reading about this in recent years, with my father’s heart troubles and the fact heart disease runs in both sides of my family and I’m rather overweight. Now, translating a 20-minute walk into wheelchair-based exercise has been challenging, but my dad’s taken the advice of a daily walk recently (when weather allows anyway) and he’s shown quite a bit of improvement.

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    • That’s my ideal — going for a walk or a ski or something every day after school. It’s been too cold lately, though. The good news is that once the weather warms up, Bridget is able to walk herself home after getting off her bus at my school and checking in with me, and Jack is old enough to watch her once she gets home, so I can try getting into better habits by taking the dog for quick runs. (I know I should be taking Bridget and/or Jack along, but here’s the thing: I cannot get a good walk in with a child in tow. I want to raise my heart rate a bit and cover some ground, which means moving faster than they can keep up. Plus, it gives me some ME time, you know? If, in spring, we all get new bikes, though . . .)

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