Yesterday I heard Bruno Mars wailing “Locked Out of Heaven” on the radio. I can really relate.
No, this doesn’t have anything to do with pent-up sexual desire, unless my desire for chocolate and trans fats has some kind of sexual undertones of which I am unaware.
It has to do with dieting.
Hearing the song brings to mind “Be Our Guest”-type visions of Reese’s cups rotating with beautiful precision, surrounded by fudge squares and chocolate-covered pretzels frolicking in delight in front of waterfalls of white, milk and mint chocolate. There are cookies bathing under the mint chocolate waterfall. They become thin mints. They are beautiful. A glass of milk appears. I am salivating. YOU MAKE ME FEEEE-EEEEL LIKE, I’VE BEEN LOCKED OUT OF HEEEAAAAAVEEEEEEN!
Oh God, this is sexual, isn’t it?
Okay, well, regardless, the fact is I need to drop a few pounds. I haven’t been good lately about sticking to a calorie count or getting enough exercise to make sure that eating a little extra doesn’t really matter, so I decided to return to a method that worked when I was in high school – the dessert purge. I would go two weeks without desserts to sort of cleanse my palette of super sugary foods so I could get myself back on track and cut out those extra calories too. In the past when I did it, it was only the first few days that sucked, and then I’d lose some weight and go back to eating desserts. No big deal, right?
On Day 1 I stared longingly at everything that could even be vaguely classified as a dessert and pined for all that chocolatey goodness.
On Day 2 I began to rethink my plan. Maybe I should try something else, like cutting out desserts during the week and only eating them on weekends. It was Tuesday; surely I could survive till Friday night or Saturday? And how bad could it really be if I only ate desserts two days out of seven each week?
On Day 3 I parked outside a Shipley’s and wept for all the apple fritters I could have been eating instead of frittering my life away in yo-yo diets (ha ha). I didn’t actually do that, but I did get out a spoonful of raw cookie dough and almost eat it before my guilt grew stronger than my craving and I threw it away.
(But seriously, look at what just opened like two seconds away from my apartment:
It is wrong and unfair and the fact that it has a drive-thru only makes it worse, because you can get fat without even exiting your vehicle. So now it’s there and open for business and taunting me. Every. Day.)
On Day 4 I ate a tub of chocolate-covered pretzels with patriotic sprinkles and was filled with joy and self-loathing. I did not return for a Day 5.
So why didn’t my mini-purge, which had worked so brilliantly in high school, work for me now? It had been so easy. All I had to do was cut out desserts for a designated period of time, and bam. Lose five pounds. Or seven. This may actually say more about the amount of dessert I was eating since just cutting that one thing created enough of a calorie deficit to cause me to lose weight, but never mind that.
This wasn’t some kind of kooky diet plan. It is based on science. And by “based on science,” I mean 1) it worked when I was sixteen, 2) I read this article once about sugar being addictive. Allow me to further elaborate.
1) When I was a junior in high school, I decided to give up desserts for two weeks so I could lose a little weight. Cupcakes, cookies, candy, cake, and all their relatives were off limits. I think I still ate things like Cocoa Puffs in moderation as a coping mechanism, but no legit desserts. (Sister #3 suggested at one point that my criteria be cutting it if one of the first two listed ingredients was high fructose corn syrup, but I never followed through with that suggestion because I think it eliminated something like graham crackers, to which I said, no thanks.)
Anyway, it really wasn’t the most terrible thing in the world. It is probably more extreme-sounding than it actually was in practice. I continued to eat pizza and Mexican food to my heart’s content. The only difference was that I didn’t follow up with cinnamon sticks or sopapillas and complimentary soft serve ice cream cones after dinner. Once it was over I’d lost about five pounds over that two weeks and suffered only some major chocolate cravings as a price. No starvation, no malnutrition: no biggie. It was a good system.
Now, however, I am beginning to fear for my future metabolism. Obviously it will never be as high as when I was in high school, but the fact that my chocolate detox is not as effective in my early twenties as it was in my late teens is downright disturbing. I have begun to imagine a sad, dark future in which I will have to subsist on a diet of seaweed and kale to keep myself from becoming morbidly obese. I don’t actually know what kale even looks or smells or tastes like but it sounds healthy and I imagine it is like that time my aunt tricked me into eating buckwheat pancakes because they were “good for me.” They were horrifying and awful that nonspecific way most of my horrifying and awful childhood memories tend to be—they looked and smelled like normal pancakes, but even swimming in syrup, they were most decidedly not normal pancakes. They were deceit. They were travesty pancakes. They were a slap in the face to all good and decent pancakes in the world, especially chocolate chip pancakes, which may or may not be a culinary manifestation of God’s presence in the world.
2) I don’t know where I originally read it, but here are some articles about sugar’s addictive properties:
This one comes from Web MD, where you can go from looking up your cold symptoms to a certifiable hypochondriac with terminal cancer in about three clicks.
Here’s the Wikipedia article about it, so that’s how you know it’s legit. Nothing is legit until it has a Wikipedia article. I don’t even consider myself to be legit because I don’t have my own Wikipedia article. (Incidentally if any of my friends were to create one about me and mention my dazzling personality and use a good picture, I would definitely make them cookies. Just saying.)
This is a truly stupendous article that will tell you about the dangers of sugar addiction. “Would you allow heroin dispensers in your kid’s school?” it asks. “Think heroin lollipops or morphine muffins. This is exactly what’s happening in America today.” Dr. Mark Hyman (tee hee) is the author.
Apparently my participation in Red Ribbon Week and a lifetime of hugs-not-drugs education has failed to save me from ingesting what is apparently the legal equivalent of crack cocaine every single day of my life.
I’ve given up my high school dieting plan for now and am searching for an effective postgraduate one with which to substitute it. So far I am on Day 7 of counting my calories and I’ve lost two or three pounds. The “whoop-ee” part of that (not “Whoopee!” or “WHOOPEE!!!” but like, “big whoop”) is that I also have the rather unsavory ability to gain five pounds in a single weekend of eating like I’m a fifteen year old lineman instead of a twenty-three year old with child-bearing hips.
Hopefully doing this the old-fashioned way (everything in moderation, burn more than you eat, drink water, blah blah BLAH) will slowly but surely yield some lasting results.
In summary: My body is mocking me at the ripe old age of twenty-three, and I will cry if you make me eat kale. But, in the spirit of full disclosure, if Bruno and I ever discover we have been locked out of heaven forever, I am definitely going to split a box of Thin Mints with him.