I don’t know what it is about eating healthier, but for some people it seems to come easier than for others. I see you, size zero lady happily munching on a bowl of greens n things with what amounts to a teaspoon of dressing. With a sated look on your face you replace the cover on a half-eaten salad and I think to myself…What planet are you from!? I on the other hand would finish the salad and continue on with my meal of fish tacos with a side of cilantro lime rice convincing myself I had done the right and healthy thing by eating a salad first. My pants on the other hand tell me otherwise.
So every year about this time I make a concerted effort to do the right thing and start to do battle with the pot au feu, lobster mac n cheese and freezer full of Ben and Jerry’s I ate the previous 6 months give or take 2 months… ok ok give 2 months. I dread those first few days when you know damned well a sweatshirt is not only inappropriate, but it just makes you look downright insane. Sixty degrees is alright, seventy is meh, but at eighty degrees the whole “I lived in Alabama for 11 years so I’m just not used to the cold” alibi doesn’t hold much water.
I start with the concept that if I switch it up and make different salads, vegetable oriented sides instead of buttery mashed potato with cream, cracked black pepper, chives and a nice bit of salt… and maybe some lardon of bacon or shredded gruyere…wait…what was I talking about?! Oh, right…so lighter sides with smaller meat portions and skipping dessert should have me ship shape in no time…and by “no time” I mean August.
I suppose if I went to the gym more often instead of hitting the “stair master” (this is what I lovingly call the three steps leading into the liquor store) I could probably cut that time by a third. I suppose I could also purchase that Bugatti Veyron and live in Malibu if I just made forty million a year, but I’m pretty sure that isn’t gonna happen either. It’s not for the lack of trying mind you…I do have a gym membership and I do go, but people of my genetic composition are not predisposed to being rail thin.
I am blessed with low cholesterol and triglycerides plus a strong ticker but a number approaching my score for an average round of golf for a body mass index, can’t be healthy. I can’t do any finger pointing at my ancestry as they did the best they could living in regions of the world where fist fighting Neanderthals or turning into human popsicles was fairly common. Heck, by the time you hit thirty you were positively considered geriatric!
Working grill or sauté station in a professional kitchen was great for keeping the weight off. When the insta read thermometer hits 120F (49C) on a nightly basis it is good for making a body sweat a little. It is also good training if you plan on running a jackhammer in hell for all eternity or opening a blanket in Al’Aziziyah, Libya.
The weight loss benefits of working the line are offset by the color your skin takes on by never being in direct sunlight. You end up looking like an extra for “Walking Dead” but with less color. While your exposed skin is bathed in artificial light, your unexposed sweaty skin is rubbed lovingly hour after hour by your chef’s coat and check pants. These have all the comfort of thirty grit sandpaper but without the absorbency. So you look like a poster of what one might see going to the dermatologist’s office, or a who’s who of dermatological anomalies.
Sitting in front of a keyboard is the antithesis of working the line but instead of bitching about the heat, I find myself bitching about having to get up to grab the snack I made. I forgot to get it when I went to check on the laundry that has been sitting in the washer for two days, instead of the dryer which is where I thought it was. I must have seen a pretty color or a bird flying by, or “The Cat” was practicing some kind of card trick. So this type of “exercise” does me no good in helping achieve my goal of looking like a sexier version of Brad Pitt.
So I start out strong doing different salads, grilled vegetables, nice piece of fish with exotic salsa’s or chicken and various spices to add flavor and punch to what can become a fairly boring meal. I do well through the spring months with this regimen and get half way through the summer before the locomotive starts to run low on coal. The problem I have is not being able to eat when it gets hot outside. Lunch becomes tedious and the thought of having to eat makes me more irritable than the members of Metallica being forced to sit through a Michael Bolton concert.
So in the evening when I get into my nicely air conditioned (translation: 59 degrees because the thermostat doesn’t go down to 58 degrees) home, I could eat the ass out of a dead skunk! Portion size is definitely the problem and I have to tell myself that four chicken breasts are not a normal portion size…even though my brain always comes back with…”But it’s chicken!”
“But Pav, you should eat five or six mini meals a day…this will kick your metabolism into high gear!” Let me tell you poor, innocent, well-meaning people something about my metabolism. When I was in the eighth grade I weighed 196 pounds just before my first weightlifting tournament… that was the last time I weighed less than two hundred pounds. At that time I was hiking, running, playing football, hockey, baseball and in the summer… riding my bike to the lake every day to swim. I’m pretty sure my metabolism got up in the middle of the night when I was four, stole the money I was supposed to get from the tooth fairy and ran off to join the circus!
Besides this metabolism thingy I don’t have, the other thing I don’t have is time…the time to eat five or six mini meals a day much less the time to prepare them. If I were to eat five or six times a day I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t find it any more satisfying than wanting a few large Jameson and Gingers, only to have someone give me shots of Jameson five or six times…Ok maybe we’re on to something here, with the Jameson that is.
So by the time we get to the end of summer beginning of fall I am finally hitting my stride from a weight standpoint and even feeling good about myself to the point I’ll go out in the daytime. But by this time I’m just eating the same salad every couple of days and dry chicken and green beans the other days because…well because screw them that’s why. Misery loves company and if I’m gonna be miserable so is my food.
*I think this is due to the puritanical streak that runs through most New Englanders as they start off fresh with hope during Red Sox spring training, only to be crushed after the all-star break. Even being 20 games out of first place the end of September they will still watch the games as if the pain only makes them stronger. When in fact, it just makes them hurt more, but I guess we like it that way.
*(I precluded myself from the previous Red Sox analogy as I am a self-confessed Yankee fan, and for that I make no apologies. I saw way too many of the aforementioned seasons when I was a kid to ever be a fan of that Boston team but for my father’s sake and in his memory, I’ll never hate them. But I can say, if you’re watching Dad…you may want to round JC and the boys up and send them to Boston this year…it looks like they’re gonna need it! )
So I’ll start my dietary journey with renewed hope and blind faith that this year will be different. This year I’m going to always be eating healthy, and the variety will be mind blowing. I’ll be sure to hit every farmers market to get the finest, freshest produce and eat the leanest meats I can get my hands on. In the meantime I’ll be rocking the shorts and t-shirts. If this cooler weather we’ve had for the past few days continues I’ll throw on a hoodie…but its definitely gonna get taken off, come July….ish.