(Note: This article originally appeared in FOF.)
I wasn’t one of those young women who gained the extra, unwanted 15 lbs. (famously called the ‘Freshman 15’) after starting college, probably because I was a commuter college student (or a ‘commuter chick’ as we were called at St. John’s University in Queens, NY). I was way too busy going to classes, then to work selling shoes at Bloomingdales (probably my all-time favorite job: I got a 20% employee discount) at nights and weekends, and then back to classes again the next day. I was too tired to eat most of the time.
According to my many friends who lived on campus during college, it was very hard not to succumb to the siren call of Twinkies, chips and all-you-could-eat meal plans. My daughter, a freshman at a Pennsylvania college, is relating to all that now, and bemoans the fact that food seems to be just about everywhere she turns. However, so far my years of parental nagging about foods to eat (and not eat) for good health are winning the battle.
I wish I could say my advice stayed with me during the last few weeks when we all were glued to the TV, watching the devastation from Sandy, stuck in the apartment, and doing nothing but waiting, getting stressed and . . . eating.
It was so beyond anything we had imagined would happen that to say we were shell-shocked is not an exaggeration. Even though my immediate neighborhood suffered a loss of trees and bus stop poles, it was nothing compared to what our neighbors downtown, or in parts of Queens, or Staten Island and many other places, experienced. We still needed to be comforted, however, especially as the loss of homes, belongings, and more importantly, lives were reported in the media and it became obvious how truly severe this storm was.
I couldn’t run, but for sure I could have climbed up and down the stairs or gone to the little gym in our building. But I didn’t. I could have at least done my usual daily 20 push-ups and the Plank. But, that didn’t happen either.
Instead I ate. I ate all the things that are easy to buy, easy to eat, and stuff which I had pretty much given up when I turned 50, except for when I allowed myself an occasional indulgence: cookies, ice cream, PB& J sandwiches (made with Skippy, not my usual organic sugar free peanut butter), Snickers bars leftover from Halloween. My healthy routine of devouring a daily bowl of kale was thrown out the window (mostly because I just couldn’t get any from the stores), and I ate and ate just to make myself feel better.
So, what do I have to show for it? Well, it’s not exactly ‘Sandy 7’ . . . but there’s no question that if I hadn’t stopped myself from succumbing to mindless eating, I’d be inching closer to ‘Sandy 17’. I was having flashbacks to when I turned 50, looked in the mirror and realized that almost 15 lbs. had been superglued to my body, and quickly understood that this was a road I had no interest walking on . . . ever again.
By late last week, as the city started to get back to normal, I got back to exercising and eating kale and all the other foods I genuinely love that make me feel good, and strong. Whatever weight I did gain is slowly going away. Like all of us, I’m still discomfited by the storm, but Sandy’s done enough damage. No more mindless eating!
Now pass me those fries . . .