I haven’t posted for a while because my Mom was in and out of the hospital in the last month, and on January 16 she peacefully passed away. Free at last from the many years of struggle with her health.
It is strange how we create a routine out of the obligations of life. A pattern is shaped from necessity and reluctantly overlaid. Eight years ago my father died, and my mom asked me to come see her more often. At first it was every other week. Somewhere in there it became a weekly visit. Usually on a Saturday, I’d be up by 6am and on my way. The 2-hour drive a quiet pleasant meditation through lovely Ontario country-side. A stop for a coffee. Sometimes a pause for walk on a trail.
I’d stop at the grocery store along the way and get what was needed, And arrive at my Mom’s usually before 9AM. We would have breakfast, discuss what was new and news, make a to-do list of what needed doing, Check the sump-pump, change the filters, light-bulbs, garden, lawn…whatever. Somewhere in there the PSW would arrive and help my mom with her personal care.
Then my mom and I would have lunch, and we’d cook something extra for the fridge and freezer. Sometimes we would bake – tea biscuits, cake, cookies – so my mom would have goodies to offer her many guests through the week. Her local church/community was simply amazing for how they took turns visiting her each evening.
Sometimes I’d stay for dinner, but usually by 4 pm I’d be heading back on the trek back the other way to my own home. Back to my own to-do list that was waiting for me.
Yes there were times I would feel trapped by the pattern of obligation. Times I just felt too tired, too overwhelmed…
And still I would go – maybe shifting the visit to a Monday…
I am not writing this to grumble and brag. I did what I did because I was available and I could. It was my choice. I am writing this because it became such a part of my life that today, this morning, In this here and now of quiet reflection, I realize and I feel the empty space that is here and now. It feels odd not planning a shopping list, gathering the tools to bring, creating a menu, finding a recipe…
I am writing not to say what I did, but to say how much it is missed.
There is no way around this. I am large. Full on fat.
And I mean that in the nicest way possible.
I am corpulent. Disgusting. Rotund. Obese.
Go ahead judge me. Place me on the scales of social comment and weigh me down with your words. I can take it – after all I am a big boy. And I do mean big. Huge even. Go ahead snicker and snidely aside to your trim posse of the svelte.
The past year. Well really these past many years I have tried to lose some weight. I set reasonable achievable goals of 5 pounds this month. 2 kilos. And it does work. For a while. I have dropped 15 pounds some years starting from January and keeping on into September. Then October hits and it starts with the food fests – Thanksgiving, Halloween, and into Christmas. Food glorious food!
My bane however is a simple pastry. An easy to make and easy to eat flaky fold of delight. The apple turnover. Oh how do I love thee – let me count your flaky sheets of joy! Here are the food stats on a typical apple turnover.
Calories:400 Sodium:150 mg Total Fat: 16 g Sugar: 26 g
Nutritional value? minimal amounts of vitamin C and A. Not exactly a health food.
For the past ten years I have walked past a coffee shop on my way into work – and the smell of cinnamon and coffee has lured me in nearly every morning. Fresh baked goodness tickling my nose, tantalizing my tongue. Pavlovian zombie I slip inside. Grab a cup, fill it up. Add 1% milk to cool the hot black brew. Make a promise to only buy the coffee. Stand in the line that snakes past the pastry display. Resolve firm. Smell cinnamon. Eyes glance. See that delicate curve. Soft gleam of sugar. The seeping hot inner juices wanting to be set free.
Just. One. More. Time. Only. I surrender, slip one into the white paper bag. Quickly pay and rush out with my sweet sin firmly in hand.
I walk out with coffee and apple turnover. Back into the fresh air. Slip the pastry free of it coverings, and savour the first sweet flaky mouth filling bite. This is happiness. This is joy. This is guilt. Once more I have given into that wonderfully seductive pastry.
For years I justified that excess by not eating breakfast. After all breakfast is about 400 calories as well – so it is all a trade-off right? Except breakfast may contain other ingredients – many with real nutritional value and fibre. And a heck of a lot less sugar. But none are as sweet and as full of joy as my apple turnover.
This January I resolved to stop the pastry guilt trips of gluttony. This January I did the math – 400 fewer calories primarily from sugar and complex carbs times 5 is 2000 calories. Times 52 is 104,000 calories. And that is 29 pounds. That is of course the optimal count – let’s be conservative and say 20 pounds for the year.
And dollar-wise that was $1.50/day. $7.40/week. $390/year. Again let’s be conservative and say $300/year saved.
Here it is 6 months later in July, and I have managed to *mostly* avoid the lure of apple turnovers. I should be 10 pounds lighter given all else being constant. Weight check: Up 5 pounds. WTF!?
So I reviewed my food diary (as spotty as my record keeping is…) and the problem is of course that I didn’t really stop eating that 400 calories! As I mentioned I had already deluded myself into making apple turnovers a part of my (un)healthy breakfast. By eating breakfast at home – even if it was one piece of multi-grain toast with butter (or cream cheese) and a small serving of fruit – I was still eating at least 400 calories. A slice of multi-grain bread with butter is about 200 calories. A banana is about 100 calories. That breakfast is 20 grams of sugar and 8 grams of fat. Plus more fibre, and other nutrients. So plus on the better eating. Not so much on the caloric intake.
And here is the kicker – because I ate breakfast at home I was finding myself hungry by mid-morning and snacking. Now my snacks are reasonable on the healthy scale – being some combination of fruit/veggies/nuts/yogurt/water. BUT under my own “less healthy” eating pattern I never ate snacks.
Conclusion: Fat man FAIL.
This morning I walked past that coffee shop and walked into the tantalizing sinful aroma of sweet pastry sins. It was the best god-damn fricking pastry I have ever eaten. It was like going home for Christmas and finding out that Santa Claus is totally real. Cinnamon sugar fantastically awesomely real. In case you didn’t quite get that: I enjoyed that apple turnover like nothing before. I’d go all cliche on you and say it was better than sex – but since fat-men don’t have sex I wouldn’t really know!
Whew. That was good. Now if you’ll excuse me I think I need a smoke.