I know this absolutely lovely girl. She embodies everything that I am not. She is graceful and stylish in the manner of Audrey Hepburn. Slender and well-dressed in what I perceive to be a subtle, quality conscious, Parisian intellectual style (not sure if that creates an image in anybody’s head but mine). She is kind and thoughtful, modest and discreet. And last, but not least, she is the kind of girl who can enjoy three almonds and think of it as a satisfying snack. Well, actually I don’t know what she is thinking, but that is how it comes across. The best part is: She is not being annoying about it.
I lack most of the qualities listed above. Mostly, I lack the self-restraint required to enjoy three almonds. Sure, I’ll enjoy three almonds……and then another ten. Preferably covered in chocolate. Sadly, I will never be one of these women who enjoy “just one piece of very good chocolate”. Nor will I ever be one of those women who pretend to enjoy just one piece of very good chocolate. And that is OK with me. Very high on my (admittedly, quite long) list of pet peeves are women who eat three green peas and a stick of celery and proceed to spend the rest of the evening going on about how full they are and how bloated they look. Listen, lady: Your belly is swollen because of malnutrition! Now, stop moaning and eat that white bread you’ve been coveting since 2007.
My problem is that I go to the other extreme. It is like I was born without any self-restraint whatsoever. If I am not actively and very consciously on some kind of healthy diet, my life is a no-holds-barred contest in intake of saturated fats and processed sugar. I don’t think I am hungrier than most. Just greedier, I suppose. My only limit seems to be nausea. Thank you, body, for at least having that function in place.
Every two or three months I inevitably start thinking: “This is it! Enough is enough! Have some self control! You’re not getting any younger! It’s time for the new me! It’s now or never! (Insert five more clichés of your own choice)!” Tons of veggies are purchased. Kilos of carrots are peeled and munched. Brains and cookbooks are racked for healthy and delicious recipes which will be a hit with the whole family, including two fussy boys (slim pickings, I tell you). Exercise may even be contemplated. And I will be wholeheartedly enthusiastic about the whole thing. Even about contemplating exercise. I will discuss it with those of my female colleagues who happen to be at the same stage of the self-restraint cycle at the time. We will approve each other’s choices and theories on what it takes and how it’s done. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve said stuff like: “Yeah, it’s really just a matter of habit. I feel so much better – physicallly and mentally – when I eat healthily!”, I would most likely be on-line to book a luxury trip around the world rather than to write this blog.
I’ve been there so many times, that even as I utter those or similar phrases, a voice at the back of my mind is calling my own bluff. After a while, I will forget to bring carrot snacks to work and have a cracker instead. I may even stop seriously contemplating the exercise. And slowly but surely, the healthy, low-fat, vitamin-, mineral- and fiber-packed meals are replaced by high-carb dishes with lots of cheese. At the beginning I may feel guilty and kid myself into thinking that it was just a lapse, and “I’ll be better tomorrow.” But then I’ll remember: “Oh. No, not tomorrow. That’s Tina’s birthday party. Would be so rude not to eat any birthday cake. Saturday, then! Ah, no – we have that reservation for the new Italian restaurant. And I’m not going there to just order a salad. No way! That would be just ridiculous! I hate it when women do that. But Monday – that will be perfect: New week, new beginning…but…on Monday I have that thing where I’d rather stuff my face with cookies, chocolate and pasta carbonara than carrots, rice crackers and grapefruit.”
Not long after, I will admit defeat and get back to the lifestyle of the old (and true?) me. If I am fortunate enough, my colleagues will be at the same point of the cycle now, so we can confirm each other in our “choices” and share other clichés such as “you’ve got to live a little!”, “you only live once”, “well, one shouldn’t be too strict, or it won’t work anyway” or “we deserve to treat ourselves every once in a while”.
And interestingly, we never seem to treat ourselves to just three almonds.