Friday, March 30, 2007


Those who have been kind enough to follow these entries for the past few weeks will know of my decision, a couple of weeks ago, to take a vacation from my habitual evening glass of wine. I did so, in part, to see what morning clarity of thought and increased mindfulness might follow; but also, in part, thinking to work a little on that spreading waistline and the sense of bloat that seemed to accompany the consumption of alcohol. I confidently expected to lose a few pounds.

Well... you can hardly imagine my dismay, stepping on the scales nearly two full weeks later, to discover that I have actually PUT ON weight! And not just a little: I'm SIX POUNDS heavier than I was two weeks ago. Dismay is too kind a word to describe my reaction. I was appalled, staggered, distressed... SIX POUNDS? After all that dedication, all those envious sidelong glances at my neighbor's glasses at the restaurant, all those noble moments of resistance at the refrigerator door (I bought an excellent bottle of Sancerre before making my decision. There it sits, cooling nicely.)

I sat glumly over one half of a "healthy muffin" at breakfast, brooding at this injustice. The temptation now, of course, is to go out and get pleasantly soused as a gesture of indignation. Maybe that would take some of this extra weight off. Is it possible that wine has been protecting me from obesity all these years? Perhaps I was entirely mistaken in believing that it contributed significantly to the flab? Any dieticians or nutritionists out there who can help me with this? I need to get to the bottom of it.

Before this travesty occured, I had been planning to write today about the "Chocolate Jesus", a six-foot sculpture of a naked Jesus on the cross by the artist Cosimo Cavallarro, which was to be shown starting Monday evening at the Lab Gallery inside Manhattan’s Roger Smith Hotel. Said Bill Donohue, head of the Catholic League, a watchdog group, “This is one of the worst assaults on Christian sensibilities ever. It’s not just the ugliness of the portrayal, but the timing — to choose Holy Week is astounding.” Aside from the bad taste, I'm not sure that it's any worse than the chocolate Easter eggs which represent, I was told as a child, the stone that was found rolled away from Christ's tomb on Easter morning. Or what about all those bunnies? What to they have to do with anything? I always understood that rabbits were the champs in the field of sexual reproduction...

Anyway, listen, it's always fun to tease the Christians. I applaud Cavallaro for his subversive action, and wonder who gets to break off the first piece and eat it. And what that piece might be. It would take some balls to go for the penis, no? (The picture I found is strategically cropped to avoid any possible embarrassment to sensitive viewers, but I would have to assume that it's circumcised.) But anyway, I'm off my chocolate now, given the first part of this entry. And what's next? A chocolate Buddha? God forbid. Well, no God. So, heavens forbid. No heavens either, actually. No matter. In the meantime, of course, cheers, skool, prosit, salute, salud, sante...Cheers...

Oh, by the way, I've discovered that you can indeed view the whole, and wholly naked chocolate Jesus. Try the link. And be sure to "launch!"


Fred said...

"My Sweet Lord", indeed. George Harrison would be pleased.

Cardozo said...

Don't worry, Peter...body weight fluctuates from time to time.

On the other hand, I think there are many better things to cut out than wine. Drinking enough water? Staying away from carbs in the morning? Eating whole grains rather than enriched? Getting plenty of excercise?

carly said...

Had another "serendipity" today.

I was eating my 9 vegetable stirfry with ginger/scallion sauce for lunch, and I spotted my book, The Healthy Kitchen, on our recipe bookshelf. You know, an 'old friend'. I pulled it out and cracked it open, whereupon, it serendipitously opened to page 27, header, "Eating Mindfully". I began to read, " An exercise in mindfulness training, a Buddhist meditation practice, is to put a raisin in your mouth and see how long you can keep it there while paying attention to its taste and texture. Minfulness is the technique of bringing all our awareness to the here and now, to the sensations in our bodies and our breathing, for example, rather than letting much of it slip away in contemplation of the past and future or of other subjects that are not real. The assumption is that when we act with full awareness, our actions are more likely to achieve what we intend, and that when we feel with full awareness, we are more likely to feel fullfilled.
Many people perform the act of eating semiconsciously, swallowing food without really tasting it or focusing their attention in the next bite before they have enjoyed the present one......One consequence of unmindful eating is overeating........Another is not getting the full enjoyment from food.....

.....We eat out of habit. To break the habit requires motivation and practice. Try the raison exercise to see how long you can go without chewing it up or swallowing it."

Then Andrew Weil, M.D, goes on to imply that if we really get the most out of each bite, we won't eat as much and may become mindful of what we put in.

Hope this message has meaning.

p.s. I never heard anyone cutting out wine as a dietary thing. The Italians are among the highest in the world in longevity, right at the top. So drink. and eat cooked garlic!

Eli said...

This is just my own opinion (and not based on any real proof), but maybe this weight gain should be expected at the moment? If your diet consists only of cutting out wine then it would be harder to justify, but if you're also eating less, then the weight gain would make sense. When the human body begins to receive less food, it set off triggers that cause fat to build up, because the body thinks it has to generate fat for use later, now that it has to rely on less food.

If you're on a "less food" diet, I might recommend something a little different. The body works better when it has the same or even more than the usual amount of food to digest throughout the whole course of the day, rather than three big meals. If you're eating habits involve a few meals with moderate to a lot of food, you might want to consider decreasing your meal sizes, then eating a few healthy snacks like vegetables or crackers between meals. When the body is constantly digesting food throughout the day it burns more calories, and thus causes you to actually lose weight. It also builds up the endurance of your digestive system, adding years of health to your life.

Exercise also is critical. Even walking is a good source of exercise that can help trim up a waistline, but you may be interested in something a little more intensive, something that will bring you results sooner. In that case, I would recommend a cardio class at a local pool. Using water as resistance is fantastic, because the work isn't strenuous to the point of real difficulty, but the benefits to be reaped from an hour in the pool are numerous: reduced weight, increased energy, increased levels of vitamin C from the sun...

The most important thing to keep in mind is that you've only been at this for a little more than a week. Think back to your initial meditation practice: you probably had a few lows before things started to get much better, right? It's the same situation with anything, especially with health and fitness. In the beginning it can be difficult and seemingly fruitless, but once your body grows accustomed, you'll begin to notice great improvements.

Hope this helps.