Tag Archives: food

Locked Out of Heaven: How to Diet Like a Pro

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.



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Why I’ll Never Be a Superhero (and some of life’s other sad truths)

You know those movies where someone ordinary does something extraordinary? And I’m not talking about one of those made-for-TV movies where someone just happens to be at the right place at the right time and performs CPR and saves someone’s life but they could only do it because they had just recertified their CPR two days before. I’m talking about look-at-me-I’m-a-poor-village-lad-but-I-will-save-thousands or I’m-just-a-girl-in-China-but-oh-wait-I-am-also-Mulan-and-now-I-have-saved-everyone-from-the-Huns kind of story.

I have determined that even though I am a pretty tough cookie (and who doesn’t love cookies?) and have been through some things I didn’t think I’d make it through, I also don’t think I’m Tony Stark/Mulan/Everyman-Turned-Fairy-Tale-Hero material.

Allow me to elaborate.


I haven’t actually been diagnosed with any kind of major disorder (this will come as a shock to some, I’m sure), but I have a plethora of just-minor-enough-to-be-annoying-but-not-major-enough-to-be-medicated kind of issues. Basically I am afraid of heights/bugs/deep water/small spaces. This rules out the following heroic actions:

–          Climbing trees

–          Scaling tall buildings

–          Hanging out of a plane

–          Freefalling

–          Sticking my hand into the hole full of bugs to save Indiana Jones’ life in the Temple of Doom

–          Hunting for sunken treasure

–          Being shipwrecked

–          Being buried alive

–          Dragging my daughter’s beloved down a tiny tunnel away from a failed revolt in the sewers of Paris

–          Playing dead and carried out of Chateau D’if only to be dropped into the ocean (what is it with the French?)

–          Digging a tunnel to a different sewer to escape from Shawshank while my actions are narrated by Morgan Freeman

I would also not be great in a high-speed car chase, a burning building, or any type of torture situation. Sometimes I’m at the optometrist and they’re like, “and I’ll just take out your contacts for you and put in some eye drops” and as soon as they reach for my eyelid I’m like, “NO STOP, PLEASE, I’LL TELL YOU ANYTHING!!!

It is quite dramatic and I don’t think these ocular-minded individuals appreciate my sense of humor/respect my legitimate fear of having people mess with my eyeballs.


I am also a slow packer. I could never be a drifter or a wanderer or any kind of legitimate nomad, because I am not nomadic. I am a nester. Everywhere I go, I put up pictures and make the place homey and accumulate books and leave them there.

I wish moving was like:


Sadly, it is not.

It takes me an hour to pack for a weekend trip, because I have to go through a long list of Things Not to Forget and check it twice and inevitably leave something off and then be mad about it later because I forgot to think of it more than once.

Things like: “don’t forget your hair gel or your head will look like a brunette poodle is sitting on it all weekend,” so I remember hair gel but I forget toothpaste. So instead of looking like I have a brunette poodle on my head I just smell like that there is a brunette poodle in my mouth, which is both strange and disgusting. Or, “don’t forget a sweatshirt or you’ll be cold at night,” so I remember a sweatshirt but don’t pack pajama pants so I am scurrying around all naked-legged and shivery with three layers on top, which doesn’t even make sense because I carry way more body fat on my lower half than on my upper.

According to the Employment Relocation Council, moving is the third most stressful life event, after death and divorce. Now some scales rank it differently, but let’s just think about that for a second. Putting all your junk into boxes, hauling it somewhere else, and unpacking all your stuff is a life event topped only by the disintegration of a marriage and the cessation of life. I have chosen to do this without taking off time from work. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME.

So basically I spend all day scurrying around the motor pool and am anxious to get home so I can paint/organize/unpack/agonize over my book cataloguing system. I certainly could not move from place to place with ease or uproot my whole life and just set off across Middle Earth to defeat all the evil in Mordor. There is no second breakfast in Mordor.


I used to read a lot of bad historical romance novels with sickly aunts and mothers who frequently had to excuse themselves to go lie down because they had a “memgrin.” I think that is a migraine, and while I used to scoff at these weakling women in my more naïve high school years, I, as a migraine sufferer, now envy them quite a bit. I wish I could send a note on a silver tray to my maintenance tech that says something like this (penned of course in flawless cursive with a feather pen that I dipped in an inkwell):


Chief –

I have taken ill with a memgrin. Do forgive my absence at the maintenance meeting this afternoon, and I shall see you tomorrow morning for PT formation.


Your Lieutenant


Then they would all cluck sympathetically and call me a poor lamb and send flowers and notes of sympathy penned in equally flawless cursive with feather pens that they had first dipped into inkwells.

Of course this makes no sense. But I also tend to get a little delirious when I have a migraine at work and I’m sitting in a meeting with my skull trying to contract into a tiny ball of quivering agony and there are spots all over my vision and my neck hurts and I strongly suspect I might throw up and everyone is all, “hey LT, you feeling okay? Why isn’t this part on order?” and I’m like, “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WHY IS EVERYONE YELLING.” Except not really, and I have yet to hear any Soldiers in the United States Army do any clucking or call anyone a poor lamb, so it is probably just a twisted coping mechanism brought on by the fact that the neurons in my brain apparently do not function normally.


I am kind of pathetic when it comes to relatively minor crises that adults face every day in the world. It’s not even something life-threatening, like we had a bad harvest this year and now my family and I are probably going to starve this winter. It’s First World Problems. Stuff like a flat tire.

The problem is that, in my mind, it’s not just a flat tire. IT IS THE END OF LIFE AS I HAVE KNOWN IT.

For instance.

Last month I had a blowout. I was leaving PT, heading home to shower, and all of a sudden I lost control of the car and was swerving all over the road and there was this horrible noise and I didn’t know what had happened and I was scared out of my mind and I pulled over and sat on the side of the road for a minute with both hands over my heart, breathing unnaturally hard and saying out loud, “okay. I’m okay. Okay. I’m okay. Okay. It’s okay. I’m okay.”

As soon as I started driving again, there was a new, different, horrible noise, and I realized that my tire was totally destroyed. Once it was safe to pull over and look at the tire, I got out of the car and the wind picked up and it started raining and as soon as I got a good look at how flat it was and saw the horrible slashes and torn places in the tire, I literally burst out crying. I’m not really prone to fits of hysteria but for whatever reason that blowout had me thinking all kinds of overly dramatic thoughts like, OH MY GOD I WAS ALMOST IN A HEAD-ON COLLISION AND NOW MY TIRE IS RUINED AND I COULD HAVE DIED AND I DIDN’T EVEN FINISH MY NOVEL OR MAKE A CHILD OR SEE THE TAJ MAHAL AND NOW IT’S RAAAAAIIIINIIIIIING.

But then I put on my Big Girl Pants and got the jack out of the back of my car and lay on the ground in the rain and jacked up the car. Then I called my dad crying because I didn’t know if I had put the jack in the right place and I didn’t want to die because my car fell on me. Having been assured that it was all right, I got off the phone and went to take the lug nuts off my tire. Now I am not a little person—not a waif by any means. But no matter how I strained and tugged and swore and torqued (not to be confused with twerked, which I did not do that morning), I could not remove the tire from my car. So I threw some of the tools on the ground and started crying again. Then I panicked that I might have messed up the only tools I had and fetched them and wiped them off on my filthy PTs and continued to cry. Then I called roadside assistance. You know. Like a normal person would have done in the first place.

That afternoon when I went to buy a new tire and found out how much tires cost, I just about choked. Once it was all over I got in my car with my new tires and sat there and cried some more. There should be emotional plumbers or something, because I am pretty sure that my tear ducts were broken that day.

Essentially what I am trying to convey to you is that I cannot save a plane full of screaming people as it goes spiraling into the ocean because I can barely handle my tire exploding and trying to change it in the rain. It makes me weep in a very angry, infantile, and unattractive manner.

(Also later it hailed that day while I was walking into the motor pool and it was basically the worst thing ever, but that’s not really the point. I’m just making sure you know it was a really bad day.)


I can work in Windows and operate Word and Excel and Power Point without any major issues, and I spend an inordinate amount of time pinning things on Pinterest and stalking people I love and people I hate and people somewhere in between on Facebook, but I am really not computer literate.

For instance, all that fancy computer stuff that Q does in the Bond movies? Or the ridiculous things Tony Stark creates as Iron Man? Or even just the wings that Leonardo DaVinci makes for Drew Barrymore in Ever After so she can walk into the ball like a boss and steal the French-prince-with-an-English-accent’s heart like a boss. Circuits and plugs and wires and networks and designing things all escape me.

Last week my Manfriend came to visit and he set up my big TV so it is connected to my laptop and I can run it off a wireless mouse and keyboard. He goes, “Oh yeah, that’s easy. We just need to get you an HDMI cable.” Then we went back to the apartment and he plugged it all in and all of a sudden I could stalk people on Facebook at 60” of high-def from the couch across the room.


So sure, I can type fast, but I’ll be damned if it’s useful for anything other than telling you my woes and publishing them to this blog. If anyone with knowledge superior to Norton Antivirus or McAfee or any other anti-virus software I might have installed at any juncture in my life decided to hack my computer, they would hack my computer. End of story, sayonara and adios computadora. Or maybe I should say zaijian, because word on the street is that the Chinese are going to hack all of our computers someday, and somehow I think being able to say, “hello, my name is Tang Kai Li” (that’s my super awesome Chinese name my adorable Chinese teacher gave me when I took Chinese at West Point) in Chinese is going to save my computer from its inevitable demise.

It is a sad fact that none of my life skills would be particularly useful in an action movie. Anyone who saw my award-winning performance in the 100th Night Show last year knows that I do not have stage fright. But let’s be honest: when was the last time someone saved the world because she enjoyed wearing a face mic?

If you are trapped in a fire, I recommend that you call the Fire Department and not me. If you are drowning in a deep, scary ocean I suggest either some SEALS or some enchanted dolphins or the Genie from Aladdin. If you are clinging to a cliff over some roaring rapids, you might hope that someone very strong is nearby to pull you over the edge and away from certain doom. As for me, I will either be humming to myself and wishing for a face mic and a spotlight, or standing in the rain in dirty PTs, still trying to remove the lug nuts from my busted tire.


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In Which I Am Asked a Lot of Silly Questions

I ask a lot of really stupid questions at work. My knowledge of cars is pretty much limited to checking the air pressure on my tires, checking my oil, and laboriously changing a tire. But now I work in a motor pool that services a lot of big trucks, so I am routinely stumped by the shop talk that surrounds me. (True story: I bought a copy of “Auto Repair for Dummies” but it is so insanely boring that I have only read like two chapters.) Luckily, ridiculous questions are not exclusive to hapless, confused butter bars.


“Why do you need another bookshelf?”

My own father had the audacity to ask me this when I sent him a picture of a bookshelf that I was looking into buying. I own over 500 books and plan on acquiring many, many more. Books belong on a shelf, on a pedestal, or in my hand. Not in storage. I need ALL the bookshelves so that I may properly display/pay homage to/systematically arrange my collection. I still can’t believe my dad asked me this question. IT’S LIKE HE DOESN’T EVEN KNOW ME.

“Are you going to finish that?”

If it’s bread, chocolate, or pizza, why are you even asking? Look at me. These hips don’t lie—of COURSE I am going to finish what I am eating.

“Why are you speaking in a British accent?”

Well, clearly it is to personally irritate you and make your day a little less pleasant. No! I shall tell you why:

          Because British accents are awesome.

          Because now I sound like a resident of Downton Abbey/a student at Hogwarts/a character in a Jane Austen novel.

          And if neither of those works for you: because I’m honoring my heritage. How about that? Now go away before I honor my Native American heritage and scalp you or something.

“Ma’am, do you know how to spell ‘deterioration’?”

Oh you poor, lost little lamb, you sad young man filling out that form. OF COURSE I know how to spell “deterioration”! Better question is why you DON’T know how to spell it…or look it up on your phone…but we’ll move past that and I will spell it for you, because it will probably be the most useful thing I will contribute to America this morning.

“Do you want to come to this week’s training meeting?”

Three questions in return:

  1. Will it be two and a half hours long like last week?
  2. Are there more than fifty slides in the slide deck?
  3. Could I get a shot with a gajillion-gauge needle or bathe in the Arctic instead? Because that would probably be less agonizing.

“Ma’am, are you married?”

This question has confused me on several occasions. Do some people just not wear any kind of band? Because frankly I think this is a stupid question. I have a Manfriend. He is tall, dark and handsome and really good at physics but pretends to be a dumb jock. This basically means we’re perfect for each other because I can never remember if it’s centripetal or centrifugal force that isn’t a real thing and I “catch” objects tossed to me by letting them bounce off my body and then picking them up off the floor.

But despite this felicitous boyfriend/girlfriend relationship in which we are gleefully involved, I am not, in fact, wifed up at this time.

So here’s my confusion. This is what my left hand looks like at work:


This is what my left hand will look like at work after I am married/engaged to be so:


Any questions? (Manfriend, if you’re reading this, please note that the ring is saying, “bling bling!” but if the ring can sing a song as well as declare its superiority over other rings, that’d be cool too.)

“Want a donut?”

Well hello there, unnaturally skinny NCO. Thank you for noticing that it is 10:30 and my blood sugar has just plummeted into Dante’s Third Circle of Hell. There is nothing that sounds more appetizing right now than a piece of bread fried and smothered in chocolate deliciousness. One donut? Actually, I would like about nine (dozen). Unfortunately I cannot partake as my body is currently acting like the United States government in a financial crisis: bloated and still gorging. Therefore I must politely decline your offer of a donut as it is bathing suit season and my tummy is pleasantly squishy and not prepared for its debut. Also, you are Satan. Stop eating that donut in front of me.

“Hey ma’am, wanna go for a run? Show us what you got?”

First of all, I haven’t run without pain in almost two years because of a femoral stress fracture. Before that, I ran slowly. Very slowly. “Shuffled” would probably be a more accurate description, if you’re feeling generous, “trudged,” if you’re not. Second of all, what I’ve got is big hips and stocky legs. My nickname as a toddler was “Dozer.” (Kid you not; ask my parents.) I hate when lean guys with skinny legs ask you if you want to run. Or when dudes whose upper halves are disproportionate to their lower halves aggressively ask you what you bench (P.S. friends don’t let friends skip leg day. Remember that.). You don’t see me running around (colloquially speaking, of course; running is against my religion now) challenging people to sit-up contests all the time. I am a beast at sit-ups. Know why? Low center of gravity. But you don’t see me rubbing it in people’s faces all the time! Know what I want to say when people ask me if I want to go for a run?



“Wanna come down to the shop and play with the welding equipment?”

This is a silly question because OF COURSE I want to play with the welding equipment! It’s loud and dangerous and I’m signed for it, so what the hell, right? BRB, gotta get my coveralls.


April 3, 2013 · 5:23 pm