Not that I had intended to forego chocolate altogether, but I had hoped to be satisfied with a square or two of a Hershey Bar – not a meal consisting of a pound bag of peanut M&Ms.
I made a promise this year to avoid cold-turkey resolutions I couldn’t keep. So, I decided to take a natural Zen approach to tweaking the 60-plus years of a couple of undesirable habits: my chocolate obsession and my constant procrastination. I have allowed myself leeway with the definition of change, trusting my intuition through meditation. For example, I didn’t berate myself when I realized it was the second week in January and my Christmas decorations still made me smile when I woke up in the morning.
When I finally decided it was time to de-glitz the house, I focused on my project, wrapping each ornament and boxing them properly. Each string of lights was wound around separate pieces of cardboard instead of throwing them into a box to become magically tangled. I stacked the containers in the attic to await their next annual outing and felt the satisfaction of a job well done.
Addressing my organizational skill was a good start to my self-improvement path, but taming my sweet tooth was going to be the real challenge. I didn’t stress right away. I simply meditated when I thought about eating a spoonful of fudge topping right out of the jar… which made me want it all the more.
It’s been over a month now, and I’m not feeling the Zen. Not that I had intended to forego chocolate altogether, but I had hoped to be satisfied with a square or two of a Hershey Bar – not a meal consisting of a pound bag of peanut M&Ms.
The immediate problem is sitting in the corner of my kitchen. Two extra large gift bags embellished with a laughing Santa (his hands holding his rotund belly) and tagged with my name (how appropriate), waiting to be emptied. I’ve avoided the presents for thirty-three days. I am terrified to open Pandora’s Box.
Nevertheless, today’s the day. A large kitchen drawer has been cleared of its contents to store these new goodies. Maybe, I should get a lock; I seriously consider the thought, but then, well – I have the key.
I could throw away the contents of the gift bags. No! Not an option. Oh, for goodness’ sake! I’m a grown woman. I can muster at least a modicum of restraint. I begin to hum and call upon the self-control buried inside me under layers of fat. (Not totally unattractive!)
Before I tackle the contents of the bag, I take a few eggs from the refrigerator, put them in a pan of cold water and turn on the burner as an insurance policy of sorts. You know, never go shopping on an empty stomach. Six minutes and I can peel the eggs, slather them with mustard and a touch of mayonnaise, and maybe a little sweet relish on top. I slice a piece of roasted chicken and decorate my plate with cut cucumbers and carrots. A thin drizzle of tangy raspberry vinaigrette finishes off my healthy lunch.
Who am I kidding? I know what’s in those bags, and there’s no one but me tortured by the CHOCOLATE overload. I can smell it over the aroma of the coffee perking in the coffee pot, the savory rotisserie chicken and pungent salad dressing. I can see the confections in their luxury packaging and clear cellophane wrap, though I haven’t laid eyes on the sinful stash since Christmas. Super-sized pretzels covered in white chocolate streaked with fudge stripes and tied with a red ribbon – a perfect bundle of edible birch logs. Santa and Christmas soldier pops glow under a burnished gold glaze, two five-inch squares of specialty chocolates: one salted and crunchy, one spicy with crushed pepper, two one-pound bags of decadent truffles and a huge tin of assorted brownies. A “Night at the Movies” themed popcorn bucket in the other bag contains theater-sized boxes of Junior Mints, peanut M&Ms, Malted Whoppers and cherry licorice waiting for date night with my husband – if they last that long.
I try not to think about the comment my doctor made about my weight at my last physical. She would not be pleased by the number today, never mind after the chocolate binge I see in my future.
Then, I remember reading a recent report extolling the benefits of chocolate on the internet from a very competent source (ahem). I open my computer and attempt to locate a report with no investment in cacao beans. I read several articles proclaiming my addiction to be a superfood! I want to believe it, but not even I could swallow that.
An article, “Health by Chocolate,” on WebMD catches my eye. Researchers from Harvard University School of Public Health claim studies have shown health benefits of eating dark (70 to 85 percent cocoa) chocolate attributing its antioxidant rich flavonoids. The study suggests a decrease in cardiovascular disease by those who consumed chocolate on a daily basis.
Other studies claim it increases circulation, lowers blood pressure and improves brain function. Random (unproven) trials tout a reduction in stress hormones, an increase in the production of endorphins (those things that make you feel good) and a slowing in the loss of collagen –meaning a reduction in wrinkles.
I close my computer feeling calmer and more in control. I can do this. I begin to stock the drawer with the confections.
Finally, all that’s left to be put away are the Christmas pops. I admire the molded soldier with its gilt finish before I tear the cellophane wrap from his body and bite off his head. My body becomes weightless as my endorphins surge and the lines in my face begin to fade.
Nope, just kidding.
I eat my eggs and chicken and finish off the body of my little soldier while I hum my mantra – a little tune from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.