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Anatomy of a Wedding Weekend

I knew this weekend would be challenging, but I was not exactly sure how. In looking back on this past few days, I look at the ups and downs, the many small choices and challenges I faced, and what I learned from it.

I went into the weekend feeling I had not much wiggle room to spare. I wanted to come out of it maintaining where I was at before I went in. I’m not going to weigh myself until tomorrow or maybe even the next day.

Friday morning: Got up in the dark to get to the airport. Had coffee. Got to airport and headed straight to Starbucks for my new favorite breakfast, Perfect Oatmeal. It was perfect. Good way to start the day. Got onto plane #1. Slept. I am grateful that not only am I “able” to sleep on planes; in fact, a plane seat hits me like a tranquilizer gun and I immediately pass out into a deep, drooling coma the instant I feel the wheels lift off. I think this has something to do with a period when I was deathly afraid of flying and I literally learned to hypnotize myself into sleep so that I would not freak out. I don’t freak out so much anymore, but I think it’s because I’m passed out.

Layover: Las Vegas airport. We only had 10 minutes before boarding the next flight and I ran around frantically trying to find something suitable for carry-on lunch. Seemed there was nothing but Burger King and chocolates. Finally found a place that sold sandwiches. Whole wheat baguette turkey sandwich. 470 calories. With nothing on it! Blech! But I was desperate. Grabbed it. Ate half of it on plane. It was awful but I was very hungry. Had a packet of Ritz cracker cheese sandwiches courtesy of Southwest, which immediately transported me to my children’s unfortunately unhealthy childhoods, where they and I consumed mass quantities of those things. I am addicted to them.

Arrived at destination.  Went to hotel gym and spent 45 minutes on elliptical! I was so sweaty and proud of myself, especially after having spent all day in vegetative state on airplanes. Went to awesome hotel restaurant and had a wonderful dinner of 2 deviled eggs, a spinach salad from heaven, and a little bowl of polenta and spinach. That would have been quite fine. It would have been perfect if the evening had ended there, but alas, it did not.

Went to post-rehearsal-pre-wedding reception thingie hosted by groom’s parents. LOVELY home, all catered event. At first all I saw was wine and some platters of strawberries, brownies and cannolis. I was full from dinner and not tempted. I took a teeny nibble from my mother’s brownie & cannoli; both were way too sweet and thought, good, I am home free! Big basket of potato chips. Not tempted. THEN they brought out the gourmet cheese tray thing. I faltered a little. Then I got into a conversation with some relatives who asked some very kind but probing questions about the state of my Writing; something I am NOT feeling good or confident or happy about these days, and the cheese dam just broke.  Gorgonzola and Muenster and Brie and baguette slices and some salami rounds and it all just VANISHED into my mouth. I lost my mind. I lost it completely. I actually could not quite believe it, but there it was. Kablooey!

The next morning I woke up with a cheese hangover and….. a severely throbbing ankle. Apparently it had not been super charmed by my killing the elliptical like that, brace or not. I was very sad. I decided not to return to the gym but instead went to  a street arts festival with my sister in law. I walked around for several hours, but at a relatively slow pace. Better than nothing, right? Still, my ankle was throbbing even more after that. I took a very brief trip to the gym and tried to find something that did not make it hurt. I did not find anything. I was sad.

I had another spinach salad. (sooo good) Felt fortified for the wedding. Got dressed. Squeezed self into Spanx and then into dress. Went to wedding. Short and sweet, followed by reception. I resisted all appetizers, including another cheese plate (this cheese was not nearly as good as Friday’s). How did I do this? I constantly texted my WW BFF with the choices that lay before me. I sent some pictures. It was actually easy. If only I’d done that during Friday night’s cheese debacle! I gleefully reported how I passed up some deep fried raviolis in little dishes of marinara. Yay me! The wedding dinner itself proved quite easy: seared tuna and snow peas, which I’d pre-ordered. They came with wasabi mashed potatoes, which I did not eat, because that sounded like a horrid combination. Lucky me. Then the cake!! At first I wasn’t going to eat any. Then a little bit. Then I decided that the dinner had been so healthy I could go ahead and have a piece. It wasn’t a very small piece. Later, in the hotel, I looked it up: 16 points! Sixteen points for carrot cake! If only I’d know. Oh, the power of knowledge. Next time I will use my WW iPhone app and figure this out before I lift fork to mouth. If I’d known, I would have had like two bites. Which would’ve been fine.

People told me to DANCE at the wedding, but I really didn’t. This was the first wedding in which I was of the generation older than the wedding couples, and I felt weirdly old fogeyish, my ankle hurt, and my mother (even older than me) realllllly wanted to get out of the loud loud loud venue and go back to the hotel. So we left when the dancing began.

Oh well.

So, today: more drugged sleep-of-the-dead on the plane. More Ritz crackers. Another missed lunch. I was so happy to get home to beautiful unmuggy weather, I pledged to go out and walk. But I did not. I just…… didn’t.

Thus, the weekend got away from me, and I pulled it back, and it was a tug of war back and forth. I don’t know how to score it overall. An overall failure? Overall victory? No. I’d say it was a learning experience.

As we say at WW, it’s either a losing week or a learning week.

I learned:

  • prepare/bring lunch for plane ahead of time. Go to grocery, bring something from home, whatever. Make like a Girl Scout and be prepared.
  • When in a highly charged emotional situation, TRY to have a moment of consciousness and reach out: Twitter or text a friend who can keep you grounded and away from large quantities of cheese.
  • Look up calories/points values of items BEFORE eating so you can at least make an informed decision. I was assuming the carrot cake was about half what it was.
  • Get out and take a walk before catching up with Facebook and blogs, or you’ll never go.

So… I probably got a C- in the weight loss/maintenance arena, and maybe a B+ for learning. And, it was a lovely weekend, a beautiful wedding and great to see family for a brief little time.

EPILOGUE: I did not get a C-!!!!!! Just weighed myself (Monday morning) and my weight is…. UNCHANGED! to the ounce! from when I left. Which was my goal. It’s a new day! It’s a new week! YAY!!!!

Book Review: Cakewalk

What business does a diabetic Weight Watchers leader have reading a book that is so filled with butter and chocolate and sugar that it almosts wafts from the pages? I don’t know, but I do know that I could barely put this book down. Thank goodness for the ankle injury and the 3-day weekend that allowed me to finish  it this morning.

I loved this book, Cakewalk, by Kate Moses. I LOVED THIS BOOK so much. It’s going on my Top Ten list. And for people who have seen my house and my miles of bookshelves, you’ll know this is saying a lot.

Where do I begin? Well, for one I loved it because it brought my childhood back to me, and in the sensual food-memory way that the madeleine brought Proust back to his. Only it wasn’t anything as delicate and refined as a fancy French cookie, it was her unabashed love for 1960s junk food that made my heart beat faster. And it was the way that she described the Ding Dongs and the Baby Ruths without an ounce of embarrassment or remorse: just, this is what we ate, and it gave us pleasure. She loved the badger Frances books like I did, and especially for the food descriptions: not only the bread and jam, but also ode she sings to Lorna Doone cookies.

Kate Moses is roughly the same age as I am, so reading this book was like a tantalizing time-travel through my own life. It was shocking to squeak out, as I was reading, “Me too!” even down to a bizarre coincidence involving rubber alligator toes. Reading this book was in so many ways like a channeling of my own life.

Each chapter of the book chronicles a different era of Moses’ life, her annual moves to yet another new state, new town, new school. Early on she learns to use her baking skills as a way of making friends, or of comforting herself through some new familial trauma (and there are some doozies). Every chapter ends with some amazingly droolworthy recipe: Chocolate cake, homemade It’s-Its, homemade pink and white animal shortbread cookies (which she brought in a basket to her reading: SO delicious! and exquisite), pecan birthday cake and jam tarts. I swooned and sighed over all of these recipes. (um, except the moose turd “candies”)

Although she mentions being called “fat” by her classmates in a particularly poignant fourth-grade chapter, she doesn’t dwell on this. It’s not about that.  So many memoirs of overweight childhoods are drenched in shame and guilt, and this book was refreshingly free of guilt. Which I appreciated so much.  It’s about an often terribly painful and confusing, chaotic childhood and youth that is sweetened and soothed by the pleasure of food. It’s about food as a means of connection and community. It’s about becoming a writer, which made my heart pound as much as the cake recipes. It’s a moving chronicle of family and how people change and don’t change, about forgiveness and honesty and redemption. The writing is so, so, good, and I found myself sighing over individual sentences and paragraphs. Like this:

…we bought boxes and boxes of donuts, baker’s dozens, all different flavors. Then we drove up and down the empty streets for hours, fast past the houses of everyone we knew, past our own, all night long, in our high heels and our new high-school graduate outfits, the convertible top down and our hair flying loose and tangling across our faces, eating just one bite of each donut before flinging the rest out of the car. When there were no more donuts, we reached for our silky blue graduation gowns, pulling them out from where we’d tucked them, and we threw them out, too, letting them catch in the wind we were speeding through, sailing them out into the bright lasting night, the northern lights spraying ribbons of color above us, waving like handkerchiefs as the ship leaves its anchorage.

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