I dream in chocolate. It taunts me. That luscious dark brown color, the smoothness in its texture. I want to inhale its aroma and then slip it in my mouth, savoring it as it melts down my throat in a satisfactory climactic explosion of cocoa bliss. I want to bite into salted truffles, guzzle thick hot chocolate with whipped cream, lick creamy chocolate frosting, bury my face in chocolate cake, devour chocolate covered strawberries, slip into a Cadbury Egg, and sprinkle chocolate shavings on everything from pancakes to soup to toast to straight onto my waiting tongue.
But I can’t. I won’t. It’s the last of my Lenten promises that I have yet to break, and so I’m refraining from submitting to this momentary pleasure that might be worth the guilt.
Instead, I’m eating everything in sight to compensate.
I admit it. I’m in a rut. I’m so sick of eating clean. It’s not only chocolate I fantasize about, but big juicy cheeseburgers in a fluffy white bun, greasy pieces of pizza, milkshakes, buttered popcorn, moist cupcakes, melted cheese on crackers, strangely addicting red vines, sour cream….. All the stuff I can’t have. I haven’t had dairy in over a month. Besides one slip-up over the weekend, I can’t remember the last time I ate bread.
Frankly, I’m bored with Paleo.
To save my system from fully paying me back, however, I’m sticking to it. But I need to find a way to stop compensating with endless snacking to make up for the unsatisfaction left by my boring food. It does no good to eat clean if I’m snacking every time I feel anything – hungry, bored, the wind blow…. The worst is when I’m sitting at my desk and having a brain fart. Automatic reply is to reach for some nuts, or eat the part of my lunch I was saving for later, or cave and go to the vending machine and get some potato chips because, hey, they’re potatoes and not bread, right?
Rule #1 when it comes to Lent promises: DO NOT BITE OFF MORE THAN YOU CAN CHEW.
(CLICK HERE to get a recap on the millions of things I’m supposedly giving up for Lent)
You’d think I’d know this by know, what with all the broken New Year’s Resolutions I’ve created and then conveniently forgot. As far as I can tell, those 10 pounds I’ve wished away are still there. And judging by the softness in my belly, wishing them away is not going to help them vacate.
Neither are all those Paleo friendly nuts I’ve been eating.
At any rate, I wouldn’t say the whole Lent thing has been a bust. But at least half of my promises have vacated the building. However, since I believe we’re only supposed to fast from one huge thing, I still have some extra credit on board. And a little brown on my nose as well.
First the successes.
I have stuck to my Paleo diet, with only a few cheats that included corn and a Fortune Cookie I devoured when no one was looking. But beyond that, I have managed to keep away from all dairy and bread with no looking back. I have even managed to refuse, not one, but TWO Sift cupcakes (only the best kind of cupcakes there are) two days in a row. One of the days I was practically held down and force-fed the devilish treats until I raised my Lent shield and said I was fasting for 40 days. But I was still coerced into bringing some home for my kids. You guys, I didn’t even lick my fingers when icing got on them, I was so good. And I instantly went to weight myself when I got home, knowing that this kind of willpower would result in an immediate loss of 10 pounds. Unfortunately my scale didn’t know that, and I weighed the same as I did that morning. Good news though? In the almost 2 weeks that I’ve been faithful to this way of eating, I’ve lost 3 pounds, and my pants are starting to loosen up. Who knows, I might just be a Victoria’s Secret model when this is all over.
Second success, I have finished my bridesmaid flowers!
Well, they’re almost finished. Two are done, and I have one left to wrap up. But we’re not counting that one. They are so gorgeous it’s disgusting, and I am going to have the prettiest flowers in all the land! Take that, live flowers that cost too much and start to wilt upon purchase. Now all I have left is my own bouquet, and I will officially be able to cross that off my list aaaaaaannnnndddd……
….edit my novel! (and then become rich and powerful from the royalties so I can buy my own island and crown myself queen. The end.)
I also bought a really great wedding planning book that has encouraged me to be super obsessed with all things wedding. And I am now having a hard time conversing with anyone about anything unless it has to do with my wedding. So naturally, everyone else has gotten really boring.
Now for the things I was giving up that I gave up.
My phone is super intelligent. And Facebook is still as lame as always. I know, I’ve checked it at least 10 times in the last hour. From my phone.
I may have told my son to “shove off” yesterday when I got mad at him. Except, I didn’t use the word “shove”. Strike two for using my pirate voice instead of my inside voice.
And the praying department? Not so bad. Not so good, but not so bad. But I may have been able to have a bit more success with the top things had I just prayed a little instead of giving up because it was too hard.
However, I’m learning some things through this whole process of Lent.
First, I learned just how many food addictions I have. I mean it, I’m obsessed! It’s getting better since I’ve managed to stick to this and not eat the foods that cause me to spiral downward. But if someone were to put a box of chocolates in front of me, I’d probably make out with it. I know exactly what it would taste like to devour a whole box of cookies, and my willpower is hanging by a thread. The only thing that holds me down is knowing that if I invite even one cheat into my mouth, they will invite all their friends, have an all night orgy, forget to use protection, have a million fat cell babies, end up on my thighs, and then make me blow ass the rest of the day because I’ll have gone into shock from all that sugar sex they were having.
Second, I am a rockstar at planning my wedding when it comes to folding little tiny flowers and gluing them together. The dress thing however? It’s scaring the bejeezus out of me. I mean, first I was going to go wholesale, because I can’t imagine spending so much money on one article of clothing that will only see the light of day once in its whole existence before I put it in a box for my daughter to wrinkle her nose at when I suggest it is coming back into fashion around her own wedding day. But what if wholesale means they are sending me a dress made out of bed sheets that would fit me perfectly assuming I was a fire hydrant? But then the bridal shops are about 5 times the amount of what wholesale costs. And then alterations? A friend of mine told me today that her alterations cost as much as her dress. That’s a lot of money! And what if I gain or lose weight? I have to get it altered. Again. And what if I hate the dress I picked out as the wedding date gets closer? And I haven’t even gotten to the part where I haven’t tried any dresses on because I’m scared to go in and try on dresses. Basically, I just want it to look totally perfect and cost next to nothing. Is that too much to ask?
On the other hand, I’ve been watching a lot of “Say Yes to the Dress”, so I think that counts for something.
Third, I’m using my iPhone less.
Ok, just kidding. However, telling the truth isn’t part of my Lent promises, so we’re all good here.
While no longer the genuflecting type, my Catholic roots have kept a few traditions under my belt that I cherish in my Christian faith. One of those is the season of Lent. I find it a beautiful time of starting over and ridding myself of the things that are warping my life. Much like the rest of the population has New Year’s Day to create resolutions, Lent is the perfect time to rid my life of everything that is bringing me down.
It’s the time when I make my life more holy.
Admittedly, diet is about to take a huge part of my Lenten fasting. Knowing I’m embarking on stricter food rules come Wednesday, I relaxed my regiment over the weekend. On Saturday I had a sandwich in a thick Dutch Crunch roll. I had not eaten bread in months. It was delicious, if not super filling. That night I enjoyed a dessert of King’s Cake in honor of Mardi Gras. The almondy taste was heavenly. Over the weekend I filled up on Ritz crackers. OMG. Ritz crackers are golden! I could eat those buttery loves all day long. And then last night I took a flour tortilla, filled it with refried beans, and then topped it with cheese. Dairy is another food item I have nixed from my diet in suspicions of being lactose intolerant. But nevertheless, I figured a little bit wouldn’t hurt.
Today I am down for the count and have been a slave to the toilet for the past 3 hours. Damn you cheese.
I fantasize about chocolate. I feel dumb when I go out to eat and can’t enjoy what everyone else is eating. I hate that I gain 5 pounds immediately when I stop eating “clean”, and it takes me weeks to lose it again. I think about food all the time.
I suffer from food addictions.
So yes, I am going to be making some changes for Lent, and am starting early today to give my tummy a break, as well as to fix some of the other areas in my life that are less than holy.
1. Diet: I am going back to my Paleo way of eating, but will be even stricter about it in the next 40+ days of Lent. I will allow beans in my diet (not considered Paleo), but am giving up corn and corn products, soybean, grains, and dairy – focusing my diet mainly on lean meats, fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts. I also plan on trying my best to stick to non-GMO foods (I am really scared at how genetically modified food has transformed the health of our society!). And buh-bye sugar. It’s been sweet knowing you.
2. Use my inside voice: I am raising a teenage daughter. I have not been very good at it. I find myself acting in ways I swore I never would. In the past few weeks we’ve gotten into at least two screaming matches. I said things I’m not proud of, and acted out in ways I’m ashamed of. If I were my daughter, I would want to move out of my house and in with my dad – just as she wants to do. I can’t blame her. So the first rule on this I am making for the next 40 days is that I am not allowed to raise my voice. If I feel the need to yell, I need to take a moment and think before speaking. It is my hope that this will also help me to pause and remember what it felt like in her shoes, and to not take everything so personally. And perhaps I can become the kind of parent I’d want to have if I had to (God forbid) relive my teenage years.
3. Make my phone “dumb”: Another addiction? My smart phone. I am attached to my iPhone, and have become dependent on it. Free time? Feeling lonely? Need to do something I don’t want to? My iPhone is right there to distract me and help me procrastinate, replace my need for actual socialization, and help me feel less awkward in times of discomfort. And it’s holding me back. I have a wedding to prepare for. I have a novel that will never be completed until I start editing it. I have kids who need my attention and a career I need to refind my passion for. And my smart phone is right there telling me that all of that can wait because I need to beat my high score on Bejeweled. I can use the Internet when I’m sitting at a computer. All other times, I don’t need to. So my iPhone is about to become really “dumb” and lose its internet abilities so it can be used only as a (gasp!) phone.
4. Wedded focus: I have a bunch of really cute DIY bouquets I’m creating instead of using real flowers. But they aren’t going to get done if I’m not doing them. By Easter, these bouquets are going to be finished. I also plan on finalizing the centerpieces, invitations, and have my dress ordered. Phew!
5. A novel idea: This step is tentative, and really hinges on whether I can get the steps in #4 done. But I need to work on my book. I’ve written it, and marked it up with a red pen after re-reading it twice. But I am scared to make any changes. I need to step over my fear of altering it and dive right in. After all, what if my procrastination is depriving the world of the next NY Times Bestseller?
6. Pray. Pray like there’s no tomorrow. Pray like there is a tomorrow. Use this time of Lent to remember to lean on God when times get heavy, when parenting hurts the most, when going to work feels like heading to my execution, when I’m scared to talk to people, when every day feels like a repeat of the last, when life seems bleak, when friends feel far away, when I feel fat and ugly, when I’ve lost my purpose, when time seems too fast, when the clock seems at a standstill, when unfairness rears its ugly head, when I’m overwhelmed, when I don’t know what to do with myself…. And pray when I remember all that God has blessed me with in the hurdles he’s helped me overcome.
And perhaps some of this might become lifelong habits long after Lent has ended.
Today is Ash Wednesday, the day when practicing Catholics start their 40 Day Fast from one thing until Easter Sunday when they can indulge to their heart’s content. The reason behind it is to a) make a sacrifice in honor of the sacrifice made for them, and b) up their opportunity of prayer and meditation as they struggle with giving up something they love.
Our Christian family finds this Catholic tradition beautiful. And while it’s not a required tradition in our sect of faith, it is a tradition in the roots of my faith. And it’s become something I’ve taken from my childhood religion and introduced to my family at this time of year. We welcome the challenge to give something up for 40 days, seeing if we actually can do it. And more times than not we come out of the experience with a fresh outlook, as well as an ability to lessen one more addiction from our lives.
Of course, our favorite addiction to give up is sugar.
Not only is our family in love with all things sweet (in terms of dieting, it is my #1 downfall), we crave it when it isn’t around. This is why I try to keep my house free from desserts at all times. Our biggest sweet splurges in the house are Jello pudding snacks, strawberry jelly, and honey. The absence of desserts keeps us from scarfing sugary sweets throughout the day. But, of course, when it is around us – WATCH OUT.
Remember that scene in Finding Nemo when Marlin and Dory are at the would-be vegetarian shark meeting, and Dory is hit in the mouth so that recovering fish addict Bruce catches a whiff of her blood? This is slightly less dramatic than what it looks like when the kids and I catch sight of some innocent chocolate just laying around.
This is also what has made it so dangerous when we come over to Mr. W’s home.
Mr. W is one of those annoying people who can eat ANYTHING without gaining weight. His son has annoyingly taken on this genetic ability as well. The two of them rave about their greasy cheeseburgers, two-pound sirloins, cheesy lasagnas, and other artery clogging, thigh-enhancing, humongous meals without any sign of their health deteriorating or their waistbands expanding. I, on the other hand, only have to smell such foods to gain 5 pounds around my lower half. Another characteristic to this unfair calorie-cancelling duo is the ability to pass up sweets without a second thought. I mean, their ice cream has been in the freezer for so long, it has freezer burn. I wasn’t even aware ice cream did that! I suppose if it stayed in there longer than 3 days, however….
In Mr. W’s kitchen is a cabinet at eye level that holds the most enticing snacks a sugar-holic could dream of. Halloween candy. Easter candy. Those two-pound dark chocolate bars from Trader Joes. Truffles. Cookies…. You get the picture. When I come to Mr. W’s house, we all make a bee-line for this cabinet if only just to stare at the wonderfulness of it. Here is this magical cabinet that holds candy that has been untouched for months! Is that even possible? And for some reason, whenever we visit Mr. W, the candy on those shelves lessens just slightly. And I can’t for the life of me explain how I gained a couple pounds just from a mere visit to Mr. W’s house… I finally had to instruct the 6’ tall Mr. W to hide everything of interest on the very top shelf so that my 5’4” self couldn’t reach them without some effort, and so they weren’t staring me in the face every time I walked by. And it seemed to mostly do the trick.
But still, those sugar addictions exist.
Yesterday afternoon I caught a chocolate craving so intense I could barely think straight. And I made a beeline to our office vending machine to quiet my inner chocolate gremlin. Alas, I only had a $5 bill. I plugged it into the change making machine, and then listened to what sounded like the winning jingle at the casino slot machine. Apparently the machine was out of dollar coins and quarters. But it had plenty of dimes and nickels. No worries, I just pulled out 20 nickels and bought myself a Hershey’s chocolate bar – which promptly got stuck when it fell to a part of the machine that wouldn’t allow it to travel the rest of the way to my waiting hands. You’d think I’d listen as the universe plainly told me I didn’t need these extra sugar calories, but no. I just counted out more change and bought myself the world’s most finicky chocolate bar. And sitting at my desk, I forgot that anyone could see me as I inhaled the chocolate bar without coming up for air. And it was heavenly.
And it was also my last sugary indulgence until Easter Sunday when, appropriately enough, we will be surrounded by chocolate bunnies and crème filled eggs.
This morning my son asked me if he could give up video games instead. And I told him I thought that was a wonderful idea, but that it didn’t make much sense unless he included his computer games as well.
“But what will I do then?” he lamented before deciding that sugar was an easier addiction to avoid for 40 days.
Goodbye pudding. Goodbye yogurt. Goodbye juice and soda. Goodbye chocolate. Goodbye freezer burned ice cream at Mr. W’s house…. I’ll miss you all terribly.
Are you giving up anything right now, for Lent or for any other reason?
Giving the kids something to talk about in therapy.