For the Love of Sweets
“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” ― Charles M. Schulz
You are so excited and late for work, but you had to make that quick stop to the nearest 7 eleven store. You signal to the right so you could take that first open parking space you were eyeing from a far. Shit! You did not notice that motorcycle parked midway through the space, so you had to back up the road again, slowly so you do not hit your rear end at any passing vehicle. Yes, parking is full but you could spare a few minutes on the side of the road, hazard lights on, anxiously/patiently waiting for that elusive parking slot. Finally, the person who bought his steamed bun ‘to go’ is out and about to leave. You held on to the steering wheel ever so tightly leaning forward almost kissing the windshield, inching your way towards the backing car. As soon as the other car leaves the driveway, you are already in. You pulled on the hand break and turned off the ignition while forgetting to turn off the radio and the air-conditioning unit as you step out of your car fidgeting. As soon as you got inside the store, your feet knew where to go.
The isle where all the candies and chocolates are displayed, a wide selection of local and imported sweets. You were there for the chocolate bar though so you got yourself not one but two, thinking that you are going to save one for later. As you head towards the cashier, she was already grinning at you, in your head you are thinking, ‘this ass is judging me, 7:50 am is not too early for a chocolate bar, I deserve this’. You realized that maybe she was just being nice and genuinely smiling at you. You felt bad for a second, thinking that you are the judgmental one. You approached her, avoiding eye contact so as not to embarrass yourself, handed her your rewards card, exact payment and the chocolate bars quickly like dealing an illegal drug because you do not want to attract the attention of other people in the store. You said ‘NO’ when she asked you if you wanted a bag so you can make that quick escape. The chocolate bars went straight to your pocket and you left the receipt at the counter as you sped out of the store and into your car. You reached in to your pocket for the chocolate bars before getting inside the car to make sure you don’t squish them inside those skinny jeans. You held both bars ever so gently like new born chicks, ever so fragile, ever so anxious. You do not want to feel anxious right now because you know that it will raise you body temperature just enough to melt that sensitive bar. You just do not want to smear melted chocolate inside that wrapper, no sir you don’t. It is going to be messy and hard to eat. You do not want to waste any bit of it don’t you? You looked around you and made sure no one was watching as if you were about to shoot cocaine up your veiny arm. You also thought twice if you were actually riding the car with the heavier window tints this time and lucky you, you actually were.
You turned the ignition on, cold air blasted on your face along with the loud radio on your eardrums because you did not turn them off earlier. You composed yourself, you just sat there for a few seconds with a grin. Of course you are not going to wait until you get to the office to open that bar, you know why? Because on the corner of the wrapper it says, ‘PEEL HERE’ in all caps. It is a command you must obey. The cocoa spell is already in your head controlling you, you just have to give in and you did. You then went on ahead and indulged yourself. You opened the bar as it says. The summer brown forest hue of the chocolate bark on your face felt like ‘Kal-el’ staring at the sun after snorting kryptonite. A burst of hope, a burst of energy, a burst of life. You did not do the ‘chip a piece from the bar to-mouth method’, no you did not. You bit a big chunk of that bar like a savage turning your whole head from the side to the front like eating a smoked turkey leg from Disneyland because you are a man, “you are the man!”, at least that is what you said to yourself. The chunk you had in your mouth melted like butter on a hot pan, it enveloped your tongue and every crevice in between your teeth. You are alive again and hopeful, God exist!! The whole thing was gone in less than a minute and you went on your way with a smile of contentment on your face knowing that you have an extra bar for later that day. You ate the other bar at the office parking lot as soon as you arrived at work. You were late again, late but happy and nobody had a clue why. So it really happened to me, not once but often. I just love sweets, I cannot and will not give up on it. Somehow, a dose or two makes my day. Several doses and you win me over. I notice myself binging on sweets when I skip several days of not having one. Does it mean I am not living a healthy lifestyle?
Close to 40 years old, my weight runs around 162-165lbs lean with visible abdominals not to brag. I can get lean-ER depending on the season and still indulge on my obsession with sweets. How is that possible you may ask? 16 years ago, I would just go berserk with eating non-nutritious carbs, not worrying about the repercussions of it to my body composition. My heaviest weight was 210lbs that falls on the overweight/obese classification considering my height of 5’6”. As a newbie, I wanted to change what I looked like by drastically trying every diet program in existence then. There was just no way they were going to work on me because majority of them told me to lay off sweets. I would start strong every time only to end up falling off the wagon looking even worse than when I started. I even got to the point of having an eating disorder in the process (I will tell you more about in the future journals). So what happened really? How do I maintain my built right now? First off, let me discuss and encourage you never to give up on sweets.
Chances are, you will not be able to resist the urge even if they make it illegal. You see, human beings are very intelligent creatures. Our hard drives are capable of learning and storing information voluntarily and involuntarily as we go through this life through our experiences and a lot more. Unless you live inside a bubble or under a rock, the moment your mother placed that chunk of milk chocolate bar in your mouth, you are cursed and doomed for life. You may automatically have aversions to it, or in my case, the opposite. There is no way your system is going to get rid of it unless it suddenly became extinct after that first-last bite which is not going to happen in this lifetime. With a developed sense of familiarity to a gustatory sensation, we are bound to look for it, crave for it, even hate and get repulsed by it against our control. Advertisements, peers, availability, etc. will see to it that we are reminded all the time that it exist for us to consume or not. The fact that I consumed those chocolate bars early morning was a primal response to a craving and I just could not help it even if I tried. I could though, but with a price. I know that if I did not do it that day, I certainly would in the next few days with double the amount.
Through the years, I find that what works for me best is when I count calories. The equation calories in=calories out is my baseline to maintain and I tweak it regularly based on my body composition goals. When I ate those bars, I was well aware that each cost 210 calories each, 420 (my favorite number) total. On top of the rest of my meals that day, It would exceed the calories intake allowance I set myself that may or may not turn out into body fat depending on the calories I give out/burn that day. 16 years ago, I would eat those bars and do nothing, it accumulated in time and was responsible for the extra weight and body fat. This time, a little smarter, earlier that day at 5:00 am, I already burned 550-600 calories jogging for 45 minutes. My clean breakfast of brown rice and scrambled egg whites cost around 320 calories. A total of 740 calories intake which came from 420 calories chocolate bars plus 320 calories breakfast minus 600 calories burned is 140 calories surplus that I needed to burn. Since my day was not done yet, I planned it in a way that I could still do a few minutes of cardio in the afternoon along with weight training. That will allow me to burn enough calories to get into a deficit, given that I will stick to only consuming what is left of my calorie allowance on the dot with clean sources as much as possible. That would be easier to do though since I was already happy by giving in to my indulgence of sweets that morning. My craving was fulfilled and I can move on. Food is in abundance and is there to be enjoyed, we should not feel bad whenever we cut ourselves some slack once in a while. Of course I do not indulge on chocolates every day because compensating to get rid of surplus calories takes more of my time to do other stuff that I like. I say do the math, record and write things and be mindful of your choices in food and the calories both coming in and going out. Being aware will allow you to plan ahead and be ready for your next move. So go ahead, eat those savory potato chips, that cold pint of beer, that ‘Cherry Garcia’ from ‘Ben and Jerry’s, that gooey chocolate bar, you deserve it.