Monday, August 23, 2010

Day 85, Pink Lady vs. Schlump Girl - an interesting truce

Ok ok ok so I'm going to use the words "unlawful" and "indulgence" in this post.
I'm just preparing you all for that. But don't freak out and call this round for Schlump Girl just yet - The Pink Lady has triumphed in a new way tonight, people! Read on to find out how!
Before a full report, I want to offer up some 'then' and 'now' definitions to those words.

Pre-PCP "Unlawful" = nothing. Nothing's unlawful, because I can eat and drink anything I want, anytime! I run and do pilates and ride my bike for transportation, I deserve to eat delicious things all the time!

Post-PCP "Unlawful" = food that does not make me feel good, physically and/or mentally/emotionally.

Pre-PCP "Indulgence" = lunch. dinner. snack. daily beer. full full stomach. every meal.

Post-PCP "Indulgence" = something delicious and extravagant that I would only eat or drink once a month or so. does not at all equate to quantity, rather this is all about quality, decadent foodstuffs.

So I've learned many things during this project, and rather than save them all for one post i'll probably wax poetic throughout the week as they come to me. Today's lesson is about unlawful things, and about indulgences.

In my previous life (before THE PROJECT) I had unlawful food snacks all the time. Mostly they were tied to my emotional state (fueled mainly by tiredness and boredom and anxiety); my office is a minefield of unlawful snacks, if I'm looking for them, so I could easily be constantly snacking on terrible, non-food junk all day and still think I was a healthy person who ate quality meals. What these unlawful, non-food junk items do (to me, at least) is whittle away at a crater of dissatisfaction. Each bite leaves me searching for something that will outdo that last taste, so I'd mindlessly hunt around for something saltier, sweeter, crunchier, smoother. Naturally, when I'd start down that path, nothing would quite ever hit the mark.

Now stepping away from the dark world of Schlump Girl, we have the idea of the indulgence. What a wonderful word that is - INDULGENCE. It's so luxurious and filled with promise, but the key thing for me at least is that it's a fancy word. A gross pita chip can't be part of a true indulgence! A black truffle is an indulgence; fresh salted butter from a local farm is an indulgence; cheese, beer, wine, chocolate - these are indulgences. An indulgence can't happen every day, or even every week, because the essence of indulgence implies being somewhat of a rarity in and of itself.

Over the past week or two I've inched back into unlawful snacky land (aka Schlump Girl's playland). Little bites here and there have turned into too many, especially this past week --after my failed indulgence #3. Today, I noticed the problem growing a bit too much for my svelte PCP self to condone. What's the deal? I'm not even tired today! I'm not bored! I'm not even really anxious (though I kind of am). So, why did I eat 10 of those gross non-food "honey wheat pretzels" that probably have no honey or wheat in the ingredient list? Why did I go back for 5 more??
I confronted the inner, rebellious adolescent, who was obviously doing this to be stubborn and resentful from something.
What's the deal Schlump Girl? What's your beef this time? Your regular conditions don't exist today, so tell me what bee got up your uglyass bonnet?
Answer: Waaah! Woe is me! I didn't have a good final indulgence! it's not fair! i work so hard and weigh all the stupid grams and have no life or relationship except for the one with my dishpan and my iron skillet! i deserve SOMETHING!

Ahhhhh, I see what you're doing, Schlumpy! You're so transparent. And for the record, you DO deserve something - but something more than 15 honey wheat pretzels. I'm just saying...

So here's the big reveal: the indulgences are important. REALLY important. I get it now. They offer these respites from being so gosh darn responsible and healthy, and yet they are both responsible and healthy, because we don't need a break from that, we just need a little acknowledgment of the hard work. A nod from the other side that signals, hey - enjoy this. it won't derail your efforts and the memory of it'll keep you going thru a couple weeks of more simple, yet still satisfying foods.

When I landed on this conclusion today, it was as if Schlump Girl had worked herself into this whole fit, and here came The Pink Lady, all comfort and rationale. No fighting between these two today, just some understanding and compromise. Now, you could call this whole thing a wonderful rationalization for me to gorge myself on unlawful foods, but I feel really peaceful and aware of something new with all of this.
Once I decided on the fact that what I just needed to do was NOT slip down this consistently-caving slope, but rather decide on a really satisfying indulgence and mindfully have it, I felt much better. I thought about what to have.
Some tapas from local restaurant?
Mexican? (NOOOO!)

Here's the funny part: what did I want? did I want to go out? to have "fancy" restaurant food? Nope, I wanted to cook something for myself. I didn't want to go out and have something be needlessly greasy or salty or sweet. I wanted to make something decadent that I knew would be delicious.
So I bought the ingredients for a carbonara twist, came home, and whipped up this:
It was, without a doubt, the most glorious thing I've made since 2009. Seriously. I had so much fun making something other than veg-protein-carb, and it was indulgent to not think about how many meals this would last me or how many grams i'd get out of it. It was cooking-to-relax, which is something that I used to do fairly often but I've not been able to have that mindset about cooking these past months, due to PCP planning and time constraint issues. It was so relaxing, so ZEN to just make this singular dish for this singular taste-focused meal (a new cuisine? Zen Indulgence cooking!!).

Make it for your next indulgence. Please do. PLEASE. You'll be so happy. Here's all you need:

Elena's Mindful Indulgence Carbonara Twist*
*The twist refers to a liberal swapping of cheeses, pasta shapes and pork cuts used by my ancestors. Some might slap me for still calling this a carbonara, but at least I'm not a heathen who adds cream!

  • a couple handfuls of Pasta of your choice (a penne-like shape works best, in my opinion)
  • 1 TB high-quality olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 2 fresh sage leaves
  • sprinkle of red pepper flakes
  • thin slice of pancetta or 1 slice bacon
  • 1 oz hard swiss cheese of your choice (get wild with this! sometimes I go with a standard gruyere, but today i tried Montagne de Jura and it was divine. just make sure it's a good melting cheese, with a nutty, swiss-essence taste.)
  • 1/2 oz pecorino of your choice (standard version: romano, but today I got this Bianco Sardo and it was craaaaaazy good)
  • 1 egg, as fresh as possible

  • Boil large pot of water (unsalted!) for the pasta; in meantime, heat olive oil in an iron skillet.
  • Mince garlic and pancetta, set aside.
  • Once oil is warm, add garlic and the whole sage leaves and heat on low for a few minutes, moving the leaves around with a wooden spoon. After a few minutes take the leaves out and discard.
  • Sprinkle red pepper flakes into the pan, to toast (not too many! you only want a hint of heat in this dish or else the other delicate flavors will be tragically masked!).
  • Add pancetta and continue to heat on low/medium so that pancetta firms up and the garlic starts to brown. Stir occasionally as you wait for the pasta to cook.
  • In meantime, once the water boils pour pasta in and reduce heat to a rapid simmer/almost boil. Stir! Be sure it doesn't stick, but don't bother the pasta too much! Taste it to be sure you take it out 30 seconds before it's perfectly al dente. Preserve a small cup of the pasta cooking liquid - you may need this, though I never use it. But better safe than to see it all disappear down the drain when you needed it...
  • Crack the egg into your serving dish!
The next steps should be done with a quick hand:
  • Spoon the drained pasta onto the egg and pour the pancetta/oil/pepper/garlic mixture over the pasta & egg (if some of the garlic has browned too much, try to get that out with a spoon first).
  • Grate the swiss cheese over the pasta as well.
  • Using tongs or two forks, quickly toss all this delicious stuff! Mix the raw egg with the hot pasta and hot oil and the cheese and it won't scramble, but will turn into a most delicious, wonderful sauce. (If for some reason it's not wet enough, now's the time to splash in that pasta cooking liquid you smartly saved.)
To finish, grate the pecorino on top, sprinkle with freshly grated pepper, and ENJOY YOUR INDULGENCE!
A warning: after consuming bowl of indulgent extravagance, you might look like this:
Next step:
Wake up the next morning, do your jumping, and enjoy eating your clean diet foods. Meditate on the physical and emotional purity of this indulgence! Be happy that you can relish life's pleasures and still look SEXAAAY.

that's all.

oh, and p.s. no bathroom disaster aftereffects! BONUS!


  1. wow, it's like you peered into my brain and emptied it of all food related content. it's quite inspiring to read about your healthy pre/post pcp unlawful/indulgence. obviously, i'm not at your level but it feels like the transformation is in the works.

    and your indulgence, omg! drool, drool, drool! sounds like the pink lady and schlump girl are on their way to living happily ever after :P

  2. I love that your indulgence was something you cooked for yourself. You seem to truly love cooking and you're finding a way to integrate that into your PCP-fied life. I also love your definitions of indulgence: fancy, rare. Good reminders.

  3. I love how your refer to this as THE PROJECT in all caps. Ha!

    Yes, ma'am! You've got it! Now, I hope that I can apply the same wisdom you have come across here to my habit of over-indulging on the booze. I will think of this post and perhaps the lesson you learned from the Mexican food (considering how I always feel after a hard drinking night) next time I'm out with friends and thinking of getting that shot of tequila or that third beer.

  4. Sounds delicious and sage. This is good to read as I find myself doing the occasional mindless snack. Your reflection on pre-Project and Project attitudes toward food can help in the post-Project life as well. Thanks!

  5. Enlightenment attained.

    Gooooooooooo Buddha Girl.

  6. totally awesome - all of it. elena, you are ending this on such a high note!

  7. YUMMY! I'm going to try this recipe.

    This is a great post! Your reflection has really inspired me these last few months. I'm cheering you on to the "finish line"!!!

    Go ELENA, go!!!!