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Losing the Battle ... and the War

I’m perpetually locked in a heated war with my figure.



Photo illustration by Patrick Neil

I’ve been fighting in the war with my figure since my sophomore year of college when I first discovered that ice cream—much to my horror—contains fat and calories. I remember nearly reaching the bottom of a pint when, out of boredom, I read the label and realized I just consumed three candy bars’ worth of fat—yet I hadn’t enjoyed the delicious benefits of eating three candy bars.

I was confused: Milk, cream and sugar? … Bad for me? Did my mother forget to have the “You can’t just eat anything you want” discussion when she gave me the sex talk? No wonder I went from the Freshman 15 right into the Sophomore Chunky Lard Butt. (That’s the official term for it, I think.)

Regardless, I first declared war as I glanced at that empty ice cream container, and I must say that I have fought valiantly since that time. Sure, I lost a battle here and there—particularly during my two pregnancies when I almost surrendered completely, as I gained upward of 55 pounds with each child and scared my doctor into regularly lecturing me about water retention, healthy choices and “When you have an Oreo, don’t have 20, dear.”

I fought on.

Recently, I realized how close I am to admitting defeat—waving the proverbial white flag and then Cookie-Monstering a plate of ladylock-stuffed éclairs to mark the occasion. I don’t know if those exist, but, my God, they should.

I place the blame for every single excess pound I’ve gained, for my body mass index increasing, for the sudden desire to shop in the granny-panty section of Kohl’s squarely at the feet of Pittsburghers far and wide. That’s right—I blame you.

If it weren’t for blogs, Facebook or Twitter, I never would have known about the Pittsburgh Public Market. I wouldn’t have needed to go there to buy bananas-foster-flavored marshmallows the size of Rubik’s Cubes from the Pittsburgh Marshmallow Factory. I wouldn’t have walked out of there with a bag of goodies containing a year’s supply of the recommended fat allowance … for an elephant.

If it had never been tweeted, I wouldn’t have known what a Grinder is. (It’s a sandwich sold at the CONSOL Energy Center that’s essentially a Reuben—except it’s stuffed with kielbasa instead of corned beef. The Grinder may also contain some magic sparkle dust and ingredients you can only find in Never-Never Land because the sandwich is so good you can feel angels tap-dancing on your tongue with each bite.)

If it weren’t for you, I never would have known about the local Brown-Eyed Baker blog where I can read posts to get detailed instructions on how to make chocolate-chip-cookie-dough cheesecake bars in the privacy of my own home and then inhale them. Little Miss Can’t Share.

I didn’t know Nutella existed until World Nutella Day, which I also didn’t know about until you mentioned it on Twitter. You said it was heaven in a jar and told me to put it on a tortilla with banana slices. You told me to make crepes with it. You told me to EAT IT STRAIGHT FROM THE JAR WITH A GIANT SPOON. Didn’t your mother ever give you the “You can’t just eat anything you want” talk?

I need to eat at Franktuary. I need some kind of smothered french-fry dish from Bocktown Beer and Grill. I need pho, chocolate-covered bacon and—against all odds—a “Cat on a Stick.”

Perhaps the most insidious force being used against me in this war is not knowing how many calories or grams of fat are in most of these things I need to eat, and my thighs don’t seem to believe me when I tell them, “What you don’t know won’t hurt you.”

Of course, Pittsburgh is full of healthy alternatives, but you’re not telling me about those on a regular basis with flashing neon lights and stunning photos. And, most importantly, those healthy options are not calling to me with the sweet siren song of a cellulite-depositing succubus.

But the war is not lost. I will not surrender. I’m determined to close my eyes and cover my ears and sing la-la-la-la-I-can’t-hear-you the next time you tell me about something I “have got to try.”

But first, I’m going to see if ladylock-stuffed éclairs exist. And if they come deep-fried.

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