A recently refurbished restaurant, on trend, but subtle. It is evening, and the restaurant is full of loud merry-makers. In the corner, a couple sit at a table, having just happily finished their dinner.
[A waitress approaches the couple’s table, with a menu in hand.]
WAITRESS: Would you like to see the dessert menu?
WOMAN: Yes please.
[The waitress hands the woman the menu and wanders off. The woman furrows her brow as she inspects the menu.]
WOMAN: I don’t know whether or not to have dessert…
MAN: How long has it been since you went to the gym?
[The woman puts down the menu and stares at the man. The restaurant falls silent.]
The answer to that question, is 140 days. As of earlier this week, it had been 140 days since I had been to the gym. I know this, because when I turned up to the gym (without my membership card – because I hadn’t seen that for at least 139 days), they punched my name into their computer, and their computer told them it had been 140 days since I last visited them. We all know how I feel about computers.
It had not been quite that long, when Louis asked me the above question. It had been a reasonable number of weeks. In any case, to me it didn’t sound like he was asking how long it had been since I went to the gym – to me, it sounded like he was telling me I shouldn’t have dessert.
Or that I don’t exercise enough. Or that I’m fat. Over the next 24 hours we went through all the interpretations that had ran through my head, when he asked me that question, while I was in the middle of deliberating whether or not to have dessert.
Poor Louis. He spent the next 24 hours explaining that he hadn’t been telling me not to have dessert. That he hadn’t been telling me I don’t exercise enough. And definitely, absolutely, he had not been telling me I was fat.
MAN: I’m sorry.
WOMAN: So why did you do it?
MAN: I don’t understand what I did wrong.
WOMAN: Why would you ask me that question at that moment?
MAN: What was wrong with that?
WOMAN: Why would you ask me about the gym when we were talking about food?! It had nothing to do with what we were talking about!
MAN: But exercise has everything to do with food. I always think about exercise and food together! If I didn’t, I’d be dead by now.
Just about everyone who knows me, knows that I’m obsessed with food. I think about it, I talk about it, read about it, and eat it – all the time. And I’ve been fairly lucky, that due to good genes, I was able to spend most of my twenties doing this, and at the same time never think about dieting or exercising. I’ve always had an abhorrence to dieting – probably because when I was growing up, it seemed that dieting was something which people did just ‘to look good’.
Having said that, my metabolism seems to be slowing in my thirties, and over the last few years, I have been steadily putting on weight. About a kilo a year. If this continues, by the time I retire, I’ll be about double what I weighed when I finished high school – roughly the size and shape of a short snowman.
As a result, I’ve spent the last couple of years sort of, sometimes, watching what I eat; and sort of, sometimes, trying to exercise – and still putting on weight, and then feeling generally miserable because I abhor dieting, but still want to fit into the clothes which I was wearing two years ago.
WOMAN: Do you feel like frozen yoghurt?
MAN: Not really. But I’ll come with you. Did you want to walk there?
Just about everyone who knows Louis, probably doesn’t know that he is obsessed with food. He thinks about it all the time. He thinks about when he needs to eat next; he thinks about whether there is enough carbs in his meal to match the insulin he just took; he thinks about whether he needs to take extra insulin if it is a particularly big meal; he thinks about how much to eat before going to the gym so that he doesn’t have a hypo; he thinks about whether to eat something extra now before we go shopping, or just grab something when we are there so that he doesn’t have a low; and at 2am when all he wants to do is sleep, but he has to keep doing push-ups to try and bring his BGLs down, he thinks about what he could have possibly eaten that day, to have pushed them so high, or if it is just because he hasn’t been going to the gym lately. He thinks about food all the time.
And exercise. Any physical activity really. He spends all day, every day, calculating and balancing what he’s eaten, how much physical activity he has done, and how much insulin he has taken. It never ends. It is automatic, and when I debate whether or not to have dessert, it just slips out ‘How long has it been since you went to the gym?’
Louis’ diabetes means he doesn’t have much choice about how he thinks about food and exercise. I do have a choice, and it seems to me that perhaps my choices haven’t always been the best. I don’t have to worry about taking insulin, but that doesn’t mean I’m free from the consequences of the food + exercise equation. So it’s time for a reset – a healthy one. It’s not about dieting. It’s about growing up and taking a mature view of food and exercise. It’s about balance – and not getting upset when Louis asks me how long it has been since I went to the gym.
It’s also about still being able to eat my coconut macaroon (recipe below) when I want to. Because as I said, it’s about balance. It’s not just about whether or not I can eat a macaroon, it’s about what else I eat and what else I do that matters.
Per Serve: 0.5 Exchanges, 8g carbohydrates, 443 kJ, 106 Calories
Before there was Donna Hay, there was Donna Hay for Marie Claire. This is basically her recipe from Marie Claire’s “fast food”, with just a smidge less sugar. Enjoy!
- 180g desiccated coconut
- 110 white sugar
- 2 egg whites
- Preheat the oven to 180º Celcius.
- Mix the desiccated coconut and sugar in a bowl.
- Add the egg whites and mix till well combined.
- Line two small baking trays with baking paper.
- Using your hands, press heaped tablespoons of the coconut mixture, into flattened balls.
- Carefully place the balls of mixture on the baking trays. Don’t worry if they fall apart somewhat – just squish any broken bits back on!
- Cook in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until golden.
- Take out of the oven, and try your best to wait and let them cool. If you eat them while hot, they will taste wonderful, but will also likely fall apart mid-bite – you have been warned!
- Once cool, eat with gusto!