I Am That Girl Now

Monday, June 27, 2005

Lotta good, lotta bad

After much discussion on what we ought to do regarding my "splurge" meals this weekend, my Hub came up with the brilliant observation that at this point, I ought to avoid splurging in situations without set portions-- hence, for the most part this should be in restaurants. He also deduced that if I drink, I should do so at a restaurant, where such things will be limited by three of my own inner quirks: an aversion to bothering the waitress overmuch, an aversion to overconsuming things in public, and an aversion to spending too much money. (Two of those apply to the food thing, too.)

The more I consider it, the more I believe that this is pure, unadulaterated genius. It gives me the option of learning to indulge under very controlled circumstances, and in doing so it also takes my old concept of indulgance and turns it on its head. Where it used to be that my big splurges were binges-- solitary, secret, and usually with me on my own turf-- now the big splurges will be in public, in the presence of other people, and seen. Brilliant. It's the best shot I've got at re-wiring my brain on this particular section of food indulgance, and I love that it's fighting fire with fire-- using innate limits I have on some things to start training me to have a limit on food.

I have married such a smart man.

We checked over the weekend and decided that Taste of Chicago was in, because we were limited to four strips of tickets to share between the two of us, which creates a built-in limit money-wise. The party at my friend's apartment could not be dealt with as a splurge meal, however, because there would be food and alcohol involved in a sort of ghetto buffet, and because it's more important for me to learn how to socialize at parties without either the crutch of alcohol or the distraction and protection of constant grazing.

Therefore, we went out to dinner on Saturday night. The original plan had been to finally try the Korean BBQ place one neighborhood over, but when we got there the place was packed. The upshot of this was that we've managed to confirm (even without eating there) that it's a fantastic restaurant, because it met our two criteria for ethnic cuisine: 1) it smelled FANTASTIC and 2) it was utterly mobbed by people of the restaurant's ethnic stripe, thus indicating that those who know the food approve of this restuarant. We stood in line for ten minutes and then gave up and went to a bar/steakhouse a block down.

I had two goals going in: first, that I would eat slowly and track the sensations, in order to learn to gauge my own fullness, and second, that I would limit quantity if I could. I ordered one beer. We ordered some appetizers: two oysters on the half shell (my Hub had never tried one before, and at 50 cents apiece, it seemed like a good time to end his raw-oyster virginity), four oysters Rockefeller, and ten buffalo wings. I had my share of the oysters, two of the buffalo wings and then ceremonially wiped up with my handi-wipe, declaring myself done.

(One of the themes of the weekend, incidentally, is my Hub's tendency to offer me things. It's sweet, in a way: anything he's enjoying, he wants to share. In the past, I haven't noticed the pattern, and just accepted the offers and, often as not, let it spiral into a little eating spree of my own. Not good. These days I'm practicing saying, "No thanks, sweetie," and not regretting it. He doesn't appear to mind, as long as it doesn't make me upset. He doesn't care so much about the yes or no, he cares about my reaction-- if I'm upset or stewing or angry he feels horrible and guilty, but if I'm calm about it he never minds me saying No. Good to know. Another brick in a good foundation, I think.)

For the meal, I got a reuben with fries. This is the first reuben I've had in a restaurant in two years, folks, and I tell you right now I'm not getting one again. There's nothing I wasn't horrified by. Not enough sauerkraut, for one thing, and the bread was wimpy and tasteless. The cheese startled me by being greasy (my, I have gotten used to 2% cheese) and... good grief, the corned beef had inch-wide swaths of fat imbedded in the meat. I don't remember corned beef being like that. Dear God. That was horrid. The fries were droopy and fairly tasteless; I wasn't in the mood for malt vinegar so I dumped catsup on them and was surprised by how sweet catsup is.

Ate the whole thing nonetheless. I honestly should have rejected it and got the waitress to bring me something else, but that's not something I really have in my restaurant vocabulary yet. I didn't want to cause a fuss over having stupidly ordered something I didn't like, and I didn't want to waste my splurge (in retrospect, duh, this was wasting it on crap I didn't like), so I ate it. It occurs to me that I might benefit from etiquette books-- most of my issues here are due to the fact that I grew up entirely unaccustomed to waiters and waitresses (fast-food restaurants and buffets were my parents' customary venues for eating out) and so I've had to pick these things up from watching my friends. If I knew what the "right" way was to deal with situations like this, I could proceed with more confidence.

We shared bread pudding for dessert. I find more and more that I require dessert to be something substantial rather than frothy or creamy; I wish to chew.

All in all, not bad. We finished, went home, and I made mental notes on the nasty sensation of being over-full and on how much I was served versus how much I should have eaten. Bleah.

Skipping ahead for more food fun:

Sunday at Taste, we had four strips of tickets to share-- 44 tickets in all. This is a huge step down for us from previous years, in which we've been known to buy four strips of tickets apiece, and come back more than once for a similar blow-out. Last year I was on WeightWatchers and so I planned out very, very carefully what I was going to eat, within my Points budget and within my ticket budget. This year, I had two strips of tickets that I controlled. My Hub and I picked carefully, on a "I want to try this" basis versus a calorie basis, and shared everything. This was not virtue as I have traditionally defined it; this was an honest-to-God compromise between the crazed binge and my everyday eating. Amazing. My Hub was happy, since for the last few years Taste has been followed by horrible food-induced illness for him, and there was no sign of such this year. Yay.

The food tricks I pulled for the Pride Parade party were many. First of all, my Hub marinated some chicken breasts, which we brought and which were grilled alongside the brats and hamburgers and veggie patties, and they were GREAT. (You can't understand my irritation with restaurant chicken until you've tasted one of my Hub's creations; they're always simply prepared, juicy, tender, and so full of flavor that I make uninhibited yummy noises.) For my carb, I carefully separated the two sides of a whole wheat mini-pita round, coated each side with Laughing Cow Light cheese and a dusting of garlic powder and black pepper, put a bunch of chopped scallions in the middle, and smushed it back together. This was also grilled, so it got all crisp on the edges and the cheese got all melty and the scallions got all cooked, and it was droolworthy. Also, I trimmed up a bunch of sugar snap peas and tucked them into an aluminum foil pouch, which was also grilled. Yum. I brought along a container of cucumber chips and a 2-liter of diet soda (I try not to buy it anymore, so that makes it seem special when I trot it out for parties), and ate my food and my food only, and drank my soda, and had a good time. I did not touch the chips, the cookies, the meat, the drinks, or the candy. My Hub was right: in an unlimited food type of situation, it's best for me to just stay the course for now.

The bad part I mentioned... well, mostly that was about the 5K.

A mental note: never ever ever eat a nasty "splurge" meal the night before a race. It was hot out, and oppressively humid, and I had a very nasty time of it in spite of my pretty good finish time (I'll find out the exact number when they post the chip results). I had to walk. I had to stop to walk. I've never had to do that in a race before. I never let myself. That I did, this time, was humiliating, and I wouldn't have done so except that my spirit was already broken from my other problem on the race course.

That is to say, out of nowhere I developed some bladder issues. (God, this is embarrassing.) I leaked, and couldn't for the life of me track down the muscles involved to clamp down on things; I seriously couldn't feel 'em. It was completely fucked up. I ended up throwing water on myself at every water station to camoflage the resulting wet spots. I felt completely humiliated, and angry, and spent the last ten minutes of the race thinking more about how I was going to hide this from my Hub and my friends (thankfully, a far-too-large race t-shirt saved the day).

I'm mad at myself for sprinting out of the gate and not getting a steady pace at all on this race. First mile was less than 9 minutes; second mile was 10 minutes; third mile was a grim, gritted-out eleven. I thought I'd do better with my iPod to set the pace. No such luck.

I came in right around 30 minutes, which is still good time for me, but the race was completely ruined for me (obviously). Grrr.

This, in combination with the upcoming visit to the inlaws', indicates that I really need to get some kind of running device. Problem: I am on a budget, and since to be honest I only run outside once a month or so, I don't know what to get. I need something that could be a heart rate monitor and an interval/lap timer, but I can't spend more than $70 or so at most. Any advice?

For more of the bad, one of my friends has hit a point of despair with dieting. The scale won't budge, she won't get a referral to a nutritionist from her doctor, and she sees exercise as a horrible thing that, considering she's not getting any results right now, is unacceptable punishment that she would have to do for hours every day. I'm trying hard to figure out how to respond. I'm personally convinced that she's driven her metabolism into the ground with her yo-yo dieting over the years, and that the answer is to adjust her diet in such a way that would bring it back up, but she doesn't listen to me. ARGH.


  • You know, that really IS a brilliant idea!

    By Blogger M@rla, at 4:45 PM  

  • I have a similar problem with a friend - I hate seeing her starve herself! I can understand your frustration totally.

    By Blogger Katy, at 6:38 PM  

  • That is a great idea for the splurge meal. I have always tried to go for quality over quantity with food and drink - well the idea has been there in theory anyway. Must try to implement that more.

    And I wouldn't worry too much about the ettiquette issue. So long as you are polite and friendly (which I'm sure you would be) the wait staff aren't going to mind you reordering.

    I mean, if you bought a pair of pants from a store and decided you didn't like them, you'd go back and buy another pair without even thinking about how the staff would react. After all, it's a financial transaction not a home cooked meal that someone has an emotional investment dependant on your enjoyment.

    And mostly, they would rather you had a meal you enjoyed rather than struggling through something you don't want.

    By Blogger kathrynoh, at 6:42 PM  

  • Meg! Thanks for your brutal honesty about everything this weekend, and even considering the speed bumps you hit on the 5K, you *still* came in at around 30 minutes! WOW! I, for one, am extremely impressed. And you have at least 2 more 5k's to go (right?), so you will see a big improvement with the lessons you learned during this race. I'm sorry you felt the race was "ruined" for you, but it was still a vicarious inspiration for me! So thank you, and congrats!

    Nice idea about the splurges. Kudos to your hub on that one!

    By Blogger Zara, at 6:48 PM  

  • Your hub sure is a clever man, it is a great idea, but no way known I would ever think of it myself. Might have to borrow that one.

    Well done on the 5K as well, even though you felt bad about it at the end. Hope the next one is better for you.

    By Blogger Joc, at 7:17 PM  

  • Be proud of yourself just for finishing the race!

    As for training tools...I recently picked up the Garmin Forerunner 201 (it was suggested to me by another running blog that I like to read). At $150.00 it wasn't a cheat investment, but I saved up my pennies and am really happy I picked it up. It's got all sorts of fun bells and whistles and makes me want to run outdoors more often (instead of on a treadmill at the gym).

    By Anonymous SmartyPants, at 2:46 AM  

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