Tuesday, December 29, 2009

How I Got Pulled Over And Detained on The Dieting Super Highway

During the last several weeks, many friends have asked about my absence from this blog.

“You really need to get back to it,” urged one colleague at a recent dinner. “Why haven’t you been writing?” asked another at a Christmas party.

I wish I could say that I have been suffering from a long-festering bout of writer’s block but that would be a lie. I have been avoiding this site because I have been avoiding my diet.

It should come as no shock that the holidays have been harder to navigate than I expected.

Heading into December, things started reasonably well. I survived the gluttony of Thanksgiving and actually lost weight. Given the way I had eaten that week, I was genuinely surprised to see I had lost a few pounds. Well, from that point on I hit a rocky road – and I am not talking about the ice cream.

With each passing party, event or dinner out, I became more daring and my gradual comfort level with tasty and all too familiar comfort foods made me feel a bit like a crook on the lam.

I say that because at some point shortly after stuffing that cocktail weenie or puff pastry down my throat, inevitably someone would take that as a cue to saunter up to me and ask about the diet or this blog.

No kidding.

Practically every time I went in for that mouth-watering bite, someone was there to tell me how great the family looked. Talk about a binge buzz kill :)

Now the good news is the safety net that I envisioned when I publicly declared this life change almost a year ago really does work. No matter where I went, no matter what I may have just swallowed, someone somewhere unwittingly was reminding me that I was supposed to be dieting.

The bad news is that safety net was not enough to support the cheaply erected platform because the diet foundation that I thought was pretty firm crumbled at the first real test of stress and pressure.

When I think back on the last few weeks, I have been so good at being so deliciously bad, I have actually won awards for my misbehavior.

I shit you not.

Yes friends, I confess that during my delinquency from dieting, I entered and won a holiday cookie baking competition taking home the Grand Prize for Best All Around Cookie (the actual ribbon is posted at the top of the blog).

As you well know, any respectable competition requires practice. So, in the name of science and experimentation, I had to crank up the Elzer test kitchen and make a few batches of gooey goodness so I could determine which recipe might reign supreme in this nail biter of a cookie battle.

Of course, we are talking about trying at least one back-up recipe that didn’t quite make the cut because damnit, I have standards, and I didn’t deem the final product “award worthy.” And you know my tough "standards" bull puckey is really just code for "I wanted to scarf down as much cookie dough as humanly possible without throwing up."

Now come on! When the dieting fat guy decides to celebrate the spirit of the season by firing up the oven with a fantastic concoction of Valrhona chocolate and melted marshmallows, I dunno, something is wrong.

I am no rocket scientist, but looking back on it now, any sane person might say this whole scenario seems like a desperately bad idea. At a minimum this is a display of deeply rooted diet depravity of the highest order.

You see, when other serious addictions present themselves during the holidays, the police will step in and randomly erect one of those oh so effective sobriety checkpoints and voila -- it’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

Thankfully, the cops have little care for drivers with a freshly baked batch of award-winning Whoopie Pies in their trunk. For the record, they were obscenely awesome and deserving of the blue ribbon and I want to thank the committee of judges and the voting members of the Cookie Academy should any of them be reading this indecent confession.

So, instead of facing the law, I ultimately have to face the scale, which after the year we have been through is a helluva lot more sobering to me than handcuffs.

Sure, there is a certain part of me that expected to gain a little weight this month and up to a point, I would have been totally fine with savoring, the sweet and starchy rewards I have enjoyed guilt-free.

But I feel like I went about this all-wrong.

Just as I have avoided this blog, you should know I also neglected the doctor and regular workouts with my trainer and most importantly, my weekly appointment with my friend the scale. Yep. Turned my back on them all.

Then, yesterday morning, the noose tightened.

I got an unexpected call from the doctor’s office – which I guess was the diet police equivalent of a holiday sobriety checkpoint.

“We haven’t seen you in a while and we just wanted to make sure you are OK,” the nurse said.

In the time since my two missed appointments, I have experienced a trip to Vegas, extravagant wine dinners, Chanukah parties, my daughter’s birthday, an unbelievable orgy of lobster and Peking duck at a Chinese restaurant on Christmas, and lots and lots of little side celebrations. With each passing day, my belt began to feel just a bit less comfortable, so I knew the post-Thanksgiving weight loss victory was a distant memory.

Here, now, on the phone the Monday after Christmas weekend, the long arm of the doc was tapping me on the shoulder to reel me in.

“Can you come in today?” the nurse asked.

“Uh, no,” I replied.

“Why not?” she politely but pointedly chimed back.

At that point, the gig was up. She could smell the carbs on my breath through the phone 35 miles away.

I confessed to the nurse that the last few weeks had not been great and I had no intention of coming in to the office and surrendering to the scale. I didn't need that cursed needle to tell me I gained weight.

I told her I would get back to the plan in the New Year and would see her in a few weeks.

As I was spewing my best conciliatory spin, I could almost hear the nurse saying to herself "not so fast, chubby."

After a little back and forth involving whether I would check in as they wished and get on a scale, we compromised and she talked me into an office visit today.

Now truth be told, I sincerely do not want to know how much I have gained and no matter what, it probably is not as bad or dramatic as I am making it appear. My lord, I still fit into the same pants I was wearing three weeks ago, so the havoc is more in my head than on my waist. But I stuck to my guns and I did not get on the scale - though the dutiful staff did their best to coax me.

The point in making the trip back to the doctor's office an hour from my house was to reconnect with the office staff and rekindle the routine.

I promised to return to face the scale after the 1st of the year.

I know that many people struggle with weight gains this time of year. The trick for me will be to make the adjustment now and return to the regimen that has been so successful for me and the entire family (all of whom are doing extraordinarily well, by the way).

The troublesome part of this introspection is not that I gained a few. It is that I abandoned the pillars of my program so easily when I have worked far too hard to get to this place. I know I should have been more dutiful about blogging and sticking to my workout routine just as I know I should have faced the music of a potential weight gain after the first missed doctor’s appointment.

So for the next couple of days, I am gonna keep my eye on what’s important but also cut myself some slack and hit it fresh in the New Year with a new resolve to continue what I started.

To those of you who have followed the ups and downs of this journey this year, thank you for your incredible support. Whether you know it or not, you are the first line of defense and I couldn’t ask for better friends or a better safety net.

2009 proves to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that anyone is capable of change if you set your mind to it. The last few weeks prove that you can give in but you can never give up.

I wish you and your family only the best in 2010 and the years ahead.

Copyright, 2009
Steve Elzer
All Rights Reserved