Last month I had an annual checkup. I was wondering if my doctor might notice my fifteen-pound weight loss. She did:
My Doctor: You’ve lost seventeen pounds from a year ago!
Me (thinking): I was seventeen pounds heavier last year? That’s like packing a terrier!
My Doctor: This is terrific. For someone your age, it’s not an easy thing to do. What made you do it?
Me (thinking): Feeling like crap and looking like crap.
Me (saying): I thought things were going in the wrong direction.
I didn’t mention that my gastroenterologist had read me the riot act about my weight, prompting me to invest in a spin bike that I strenuously ride four times a week for forty minutes a session. In addition, I eat significantly healthier and do something highly un-American: practice portion control. I steer clear of processed foods. I am no longer on eating terms with cookies, chips and bread.
All year I have been predominantly eating organic: mountains of whole grain, acres of leafy greens and fields of fresh fruit. Gone are the days when I’d slap together a sandwich in twenty seconds and toss a banana in my satchel for lunch at The Grind. Now I spend over an hour preparing cous cous, sautéing tofu and steaming vegetables for a low calorie, nutritious mid-day meal.
As much as I hate cooking (and the subsequent clean-up), I hate feeling like flab on feet even more. Home cooking fresh ingredients is not only a cheap and healthy way to eat well but it keeps the lost weight off. My formula for staying fit is simple: eat less, eat well and exercise.
But now it is holiday season, a.k.a. eating season. My self-control will be sorely tested. I am not going to be eating less. That pimp, Trader Joe, has brought back one of my favorite seasonal indulgences: Brandy Beans.
I bought those the second I saw them — and brought them straight to The Grind. Sharing them with The Boss and my colleague, Godsend, allows me to eat them, but not inhaled in a single sitting, something that could happen if I were alone with them in my sanctum sanctorum.
I will be spending Thanksgiving in New Jersey with my long-time friend, Martini Max. With a name like that, he’s not the type who guzzles sarsaparilla. Max and I spend Thanksgiving Eve at his man-cave and Thanksgiving Day at his sister’s house. She makes a superb turkey basted in bourbon and butter. I am not much of a turkey fan. I think it’s rather bland, but turkey basted in bourbon and butter is quite tasty. If tradition prevails, Max and I will stuff ourselves royally on alcoholic beverages and appetizers. One year we ate so many deviled eggs, by the time dinner was served, they had expanded so exponentially they completely filled our intestinal cavities. I can say with authority that I know exactly what it feels like to be a hen. This coming Wednesday and Thursday are two days that I intend to thoroughly indulge, but I will practice restraint around those eggs.
In the weeks ahead, there will be more occasions when I will ditch my diet in favor of holiday conviviality, but I will still be riding my spin bike regularly, possibly closer to six times a week at five hour stretches. Come Christmas, my spin bike will remain in New York, cooling off, and I will be with my family. My sister, Dovima, who loathes kale, knocks herself out preparing food. She has some great holiday dining traditions.
On Christmas Eve, she bakes a spiral cut ham on the bone. She uses the bone to make a terrific split pea soup. Christmas morning, she prepares pancakes and bacon. Christmas dinner, we have Chicken Marsala, a dish she hit on several years ago that everyone likes. There’s usually a night when she serves fresh cracked crab with incredible San Francisco sourdough bread. She also always has a stash of Brandy Beans on site as well as other candy and a bottle of port we quaff together. When I visit, Dovima gets great wine. My niece, Sweet Pea, bakes her brains out. Her specialty: cookies.
This is one test I am destined to fail, but I don’t mind. This is why I time seeing my doctor before holiday season. The masochism of my healthy habits will resume after the New Year.