Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Handful of Fritos Diet

It’s one thing to wake up and find your pants are a little tighter than last week and quite another to climb in bed and realize the sheets and blanket don’t exactly cover you anymore. So yes, this is the obligatory Thanksgiving/Diet blog.

The wife, who I will hereafter refer to as St. Pauli Girl, and I started a diet early in the month, November 10 to be exact. Maybe not the best timing with an upcoming holiday feast including a gaggle of guests who would try to set the world record for most pumpkin pies on one table.

Of course, the diet began with the obligatory weigh-in which wasn’t nearly as exciting as a prize fight weigh-in. There was no media or audience, just me bleary-eyed, fresh from bed and a scale that noticeably braced itself as I approached. Gadzooks! No wonder people were shifting uneasily and staring at the load limit when I stepped on an elevator. But it was a happy day to realize that it was the most I would ever weigh. Except that I thought that in 2004. And 1998. And probably 1988 for that matter.

I went into the diet unconcerned. We had decided on a low fat, low carb diet, nothing crazy, and St. Pauli Girl is one of the best and most creative cooks around. I knew that just cutting portions would set me on the path of a helium balloon due to my already religious workout schedule. ("Fanatical" workout schedule may be the better term, as I rarely go 30 days without a workout.)

After one week, St. Pauli Girl noted that she had only lost 1.5 pounds while I celebrated (and flaunted, maybe just a little bit) a 5 pound loss due in no small part to the aforementioned fanatical workout schedule. It was at this point that I realized I could probably be a little more liberal in my eating. About this time, also I noticed an open bag of Fritos from pre-diet days in the pantry. As St. Pauli Girl got ready for bed, I ate a handful of Fritos. And so it began. Every night, after I had checked to make sure she was going to be occupied for a few moments ("you better put the chickens to bed!") I snuck into the kitchen and grabbed some Fritos. Sometimes two or three handfuls.

Later that week, I noticed that the bag closure was not on the bag. Aha! I confronted St. Pauli Girl, who said with a sideways glance, "Mmm-hmmm. Looks like someone has been getting into the Fritos."

When I accused her (offense is the best defense, right?) she just shrugged. "Actually, the closure popped off while I was standing there. But--I did notice the bag has become noticeably smaller. Come here. Let me smell your breath."

Backing away, but honoring my marriage vows, I did not lie. Plus, I’d lost 5 pounds! "I may have been grabbing a handful every now and then," I mumbled.

"What?" She came toward me ready to punch me in the shoulder.

"It’s an economics thing. We can’t just throw food out."

"Yes, you’re right, that 60 cents could very well wipe us out."

Thanksgiving week finally came around. It would be our toughest time on the diet with so many guests in town all week, most of them carting in bags of chips, cookies and pies. But I had swagger; I was down 7.5 pounds. I could do it. And I did very well through Wednesday, eating only what was on our diet, declining sugary treats and snacks--save for the handful of Fritos before bed.

On Thanksgiving, I still felt strong, despite the piles of food on the table. I confess I’d never much liked turkey or really most of the Thanksgiving side dishes. This would be a piece of cake. Besides, our diet also allowed us to go off on holidays, so I felt no shame in sampling three different pies.

Pie/sugar is a funny thing. With one bite, the strength, swagger and resolve of my diet faded away. Really fast. Some sort of force came over me. It pushed me toward the bag of potato chips, and my hands kept diving in for more as if they weren’t a part of me. After a twenty-second feeding frenzy, I emerged from the kitchen with potato chip crumbs all over my face and shirt. I still don’t know how they got there. But it didn’t stop there. On that glorious day stuffed with turkey, dressing, green bean casseroles, mashed potatoes, and pies, I had to go to the cookie jar too. I just had to try the chocolate chip peppermint cookies that St. Pauli Girl had made two days before. "That’s good," I thought after eating one. "I wonder if they are all as soft…. Yep, that one was…. And that one….Mmmm, they’re all good." Within two minutes, I had scarfed down 8 cookies.

The next day (on the road), I ordered just a medium order of fries with my cheeseburger. I had decided not to be a hypocrite pretending to be on a diet while chomping on chips and cookies (at least that’s what I told myself. Note the gallantry of avoiding the large or even super size.) And by the following Monday, we were back on the diet full force, with a nice serving of soup and a side of boiled cabbage. Tuesday was weigh-in. I wasn’t worried; after all, how much weight could a few fries, Fritos, and cookies put on, especially with my strenuous workouts?

About 4 pounds, apparently.

Dejectedly, I reported the results to St. Pauli Girl who had managed to gain nothing over the holiday. She feigned concern, pretending to sympathize for a moment. Then she smiled, patted my cheek, and said, "Too bad, Frito boy."

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