I’ll Eat What I Want

I am moving in with Mom.

Mom is 89 and says “I’ve lived a long, full life, I’m going to eat whatever I want.” Which means, cookies, ice cream, chips, cheese, crackers, etc.

I’m going to be 50 and I’m hoping to preserve myself so that I, too, may enjoy a long, full life, so I’m going to eat whatever I want. Which means all organic, kale, quinoa, sprouted grain breads, on occasion, and nothing that contains enriched flour, refined sugar, hydrogenated fats, high fructose corn syrup, or anything overly processed.

Somehow, we are going to coexist in the kitchen and at the dinner table.

I don’t keep on hand things I shouldn’t eat; cookies, ice cream, chips, cheese, crackers, etc. Mom stocks up whenever there is a sale, a coupon, or both.

Mom, always the gracious entertainer, will, when I visit, offer me, repeatedly, the things I should not eat. She knows full well I don’t want to eat them, yet she offers, relentlessly. Over Christmas, I spent a few days with her, I finally told her she was like a drug pusher, but with enriched flour and refined sugar! “What, do you work for Gold Medal and Spreckles?”

My mom is frugal, buying what is on sale, that for which there is a coupon in the paper, and certainly nothing “unnecessarily” expensive, like organic produce, free-range chicken and cage free eggs, and grass fed, hormone free meat. She chides me for my excessive spending on things like organic produce, free-range chicken and cage free eggs, and grass fed, hormone free meat. I contend that by investing in wholesome food now, I am warding off expensive medical care and prescriptions later. I call this the “Whole Foods Standoff”, and I’m not sure exactly how a winner will be determined, except that it’s going to be determined after one, the other, or both of us pass into the next life.

Mom always asks me whether this particular food, or that particular food are on “my diet”. I’m not on a diet. This is how I eat. A diet is something you do for a measured period of time to change a condition; usually how much you weigh (and, I contend, water weight), but sometimes some other undesired medical condition. When you have been choosing to eat kale and quinoa and organic food for over two years, that is not a diet, but a way of life. For some reason, I let this get to me, “is this on your diet?”

Mom used to go on diets, every week. Occasionally, I think they lasted a full week, once or twice, maybe even two. I can tell you what night of the week it is by what lands on the dinner table based on the Scarsdale Diet. I have my thoughts about diets, and I think they are backed up with a mountain of evidence gathered by reasonably intelligent people over the course of many years. They don’t work and, in fact, end up making you fatter. Perhaps that’s why the word enrages me so.

I lost fifty pounds. It took me a year and a half. I’ve kept most of it off and the only reason a little crept back on was because of my busy travel season, which makes eating organic and working out nearly impossible for the last few months of the year, which, coincidentally, are the holidays, when no one on the planet is eating anything remotely healthy. I am so relieved to back to a more normal schedule, still with travel, but not constant. I can work out regularly and eat normally and be a bit more comfortable in my size sixes. Though I’m shooting for a size four this year. I don’t care what I weigh, really, I care what I wear. As long as I don’t weigh more than my boyfriend. Every time he says he’s going to lose ten pounds I get real antsy.

This brings up another point. When I shunned my size eights for my size sixes, Mom suggested I hang on to my size eights, just in case (what did I say about those “diets”?). Um, no. I’ve worked really, really hard, I’ve invested heavily in sweat and in dollars to get to size six. Size eight cannot be an option. If the size sixes start feeling snug, I had better buckle down, because I shop at Buckle, and if I don’t, it will be a huge economic hardship to return to size eight. And thus a deterrent, but not as much of a deterrent as losing face.

I hate to admit this, but I don’t always have the willpower necessary to stay out of trouble. I’m an all or nothing. If it’s there, I’m going to eat it all, so my only option is to make sure there is nothing, as in, don’t buy it. This is why Mom’s shopping habits concern me. She will buy several cartons of ice cream, at one time, if they are on sale. She will buy all that the coupon allows, or as much as will fit in her freezer. I am quite happy the extra freezer in the garage died. Less ice cream. When I buy ice cream, and I do, on occasion, I pay way too much for just a little. I’ll buy a pint and I’ll eat the whole thing, if not in one sitting, then within the day. This usually occurs as a reward for running twenty miles or something that makes me feel outrageously deserving. But, as long as that pint of ice cream is in the freezer, it is the only thing on my mind. Let’s not even get started on Oreos, which, by the way, are almost always on sale, somewhere, and so, in endless supply at Mom’s.

I go way back with Oreos. There used to be a copper chafing dish on the back counter in Mom’s kitchen. Early in the morning, my dad would get up, go downstairs, make coffee, and take it up for he and my mom to enjoy in bed while listening to the news on the radio. While the coffee was percolating, he would quietly remove the lid of the copper chafing dish and remove three Oreos from the package hidden therein. He’d eat them. Only three. At some point in my childhood, I became aware of this secret stash of sweetness. As soon as I could reach the chafing dish I was raiding the Oreo stash on a regular basis. The unspoken rule was that there had better be three left in the morning when Dad came down to make coffee. Somehow, my entire childhood, I managed to look freakishly malnourished in spite of my eating habits. At some point after marriage, pregnancy, I think, this all caught up with me.

So, the exodus back to my childhood home, where my bad habits were learned and supported, is going to be an exercise in sheer will and determination. To further challenge me is the fact that not one of the three gyms I belong to are in my home town. They are near enough by that I cannot cancel my memberships, but in every case, they are in a neighboring county requiring significant highway travel and unpredictable traffic. I love my gyms, I consider them a refuge. When I am in need of motivation, when I am feeling weak and need some inspiration, I head to the gym. An hour of cardio, a good, sweaty class, and my purpose and motivation are returned.

I know it all sounds pretty hopeless, but, you know what? I can do this. If I can lose fifty pounds by changing my lifestyle and not by surgery or fad diet, I can do anything. I can certainly learn to maintain my lifestyle in less than favorable conditions, I mean, I guess I already do. I travel a great deal of the time, for work, and I eat in restaurants more often than not. And I have managed to only fluctuate about ten pounds, and keep the size sixes “business appropriate”. Barely.

So, when you spot me in Buckle, rest assured, I’m not there buying size eights, I’m there to buy size fours! And I’ll eat what I want in order to achieve that goal.