In my 26 years of life I’ve rowed a women’s 8 and commanded my non-runners body into pounding out a pair of decently timed 10Ks, training for, but never completing, a third. I’ve bested bilateral hip surgery with a smile and gritted it out as my back exploded into heated nodes of pinching vertebral pain. I’ve bootcamp-learned two foreign languages and run herd on a clutch of wily, wild Spanish elementary schoolers for an entire year. I’ve figured out how to live in now two countries to which I am not native, patting at the parameters of adulthood in the framework of a different tongue. Nine years ago I undertook the challenge of losing–and keeping off–100 sedentary, jiggly pounds. Ordinarily I’d say that determination is rather one of my strong suits–my track record is good!–but this weekend I was powerless. This weekend I had no control. This weekend my ironclad will was tested, and I’m sorry to say that I came up wanting.
There in the sleepy German town of Bad Pyrmont it lay in wait: my kryptonite. Velvety and glistening it lounges in foil packets, shining sweetly as it rots itself into the crevices of my frenzied mind. Whipped into layers of billowy cream or folded cunningly between pockets of faultless spelt it is particularly hazardous–one can so easily take a much bigger hit than she plans. This weekend I knew as I always seem to that it was there; in fact, I couldn’t forget about it. Its easy availability is my downfall, which is why were one to examine the environs of my kitchen, I’d never be pinned for possession. All cupboards, cabinets, drawers and shelves are kept as free of the stuff as a normal, healthy household will allow, and if I bring it in, it won’t be there for long. I’ll make sure of that.
If it’s brown, I’ll eat it by the spoonful or the packed, roundish egg. if it comes to me in a syrupy form I’ll drizzle it atop yogurt, and when it’s white or grainy and cane I’ll whip it into cookies or quickbreads or cakes. Jams, jellies, sweetened soy milk and lesser forms of my personal smack I’ll take in a pinch, but they’re all to be deployed sparingly and with tiny spoons, preferably alone and never too frequently. Chocolate is perhaps my vehicle of choice, with ice cream oozing in a close second. Whether the craving is in my genes or the self-wrought compulsion of a recovering obese child I know not. Really, it doesn’t matter: the outcome is the same. After a period of being clean, of clearing my skin, of wriggling free of a layer of toxic puffery, I kneel to my addiction’s siren song, roll amongst its powdery crystals. The first hint sets it off and I’m gone.
Sugar in all its forms: I belong to it, and if there were ever a season by which my addiction and I are both firmly owned, Christmas is the one.
This weekend was marked by holiday cheer, by warmth and snuggery in a different family setting, and feeding almost guiltlessly my addiction to the sweet stuff. I head home now, ensconced in a quiet compartment on the Intercity Express, my belt a notch or two looser and a twisted melange of guilt and satiety lodged in my slightly heftier gut. This is Caitlin Schiller, confirmed sugar addict, checking in from the road to Berlin.
Not long ago I wrote about the hardships of being far from my family at Christmastime. It was as sad as I’d expected, but Niels’ sweet, thoughtful and kindly mother and quirky cake-eating father made it not quite so hard. We arrived in Bad Pyrmont on Friday night, just in time for abendbrot. After a sit down in the family’s living room where it was confirmed (of course) that German TV didn’t get any less craptastic during the month in which I’ve been away from it and also two delicate glasses of sekt, I was out like a light. Niels and I slept for nearly ten hours. We started Christmas Eve day late, the day’s activities including making a pan of beautiful pierogi and decorating the family tree. It is his family’s tradition to decorate on Christmas eve. Mostly, it was just nice to have a Christmas experience at all. It was restful, it was full of cooking and Nature Channel watching and cake eating.
All in all, it was a sweet weekend, and belly, my leggings and my heart are all very full.
…and now for detox, or to risk allowing the Dark Passenger to take over my body (and to fill out all the clothes in my closet).