Has this ever happened to you: you start a healthy eating/exercise plan with gusto, you’re totally stoked, start seeing results, then you’re hit in the face with free cake? Is it just me? Because I’ll tell you what, free cake has been coming at me from every angle.
Years ago when I was working down to my lowest weight ever with the very poor plan of eating 1,200 calories a day, I was involved in what I call the Chocolate Cake Incident of 2005. I had been diligently sticking to my calorie counting and elliptical, had been losing weight steadily for months, and I was proud of my success. My best friend and I went to a Bennigan’s for lunch one day, and I ordered a plain veggie burger on a wheat bun with a side of broccoli–bo-ring. But that’s how I was back then, and I didn’t blink an eye about it. It was working and I was sticking to it. My best friend had also just started a medical diet of her own that involved not eating chocolate (the horror!). We were sitting at our table minding our own business probably talking about something absurd like cats in space when a young man in a Bennigan’s uniform approached our table with an enormous slice of chocolate cake.
Waiter: Excuse me, ladies, one of my tables ordered this chocolate cake and then decided they didn’t want it. Do you want it? It’s on the house.
Us: Uhhhh… ::nervous glances at each other, profuse sweating, tears welling up:: No. No thank you. We wish. We’re on diets.
Waiter: Really? Are you sure you don’t want it? It’s free!
Us: ::world shattering around our souls:: No. No thank you.
Waiter: All right…
My BFF: We’ll give it to our roommate.
Waiter: Great! Here’s a box.
She brought that home to our roommate at the time, who took one or two bites a day until the fifth day when there was still half a slice of cake left in the fridge, and I threatened to murder him in his sleep if he didn’t get rid of it.
That’s a true story, one of the saddest ever told. As I’ve mentioned before, I lost 70 pounds that year, got insanely ill from the lack of nutrients in my diet (can’t do much with 1,200 calories) and ended up being hospitalized. I went back to eating like a “normal” person after that, put some weight back on, started exercising, lost some weight again, gained a little more because of endocrine problems, started seeing a Registered Dietitian, and here I am present day nowhere near my highest ever weight, but still more than I’d like to be. I work out six days a week, I eat cake sometimes, and I mostly just eat well. A few weeks ago my dietitian and I started working with my resting metabolic rate (which I recently had tested) and have been using those numbers with my general calorie intake (which I don’t count, she does) and get some of my endocrine-gained weight off. All’s been well, except…
Well, people keep giving me free cake! I’m cursed! I’m cursed by free cake!
Let’s be clear. I never get free cake when I’m not in an active state of trying to lose weight. If I’m comfortably maintaining, free cake never appears. But when I’m actively losing, measuring, weighing—there’s free cake everywhere.
Now, I say cake, but it’s not always cake. It’s really free dessert. I call it the Free Cake Curse because of that first Bennigan’s incident, which I think was the first time I was ever offered free dessert in my life. But any free confection counts.
Weeks ago when I first started seeing my RD I went out to lunch with some co-workers to a barbecue place and as we were finishing up our meal a girl came around with free samples of their new house-made ice cream. It was a fairly small serving (maybe two ounces) so I had it and it was amazing.
About three weeks ago I was at dinner with my best friend’s parents and our food took a little longer to come out than it should have, so the manager offered us not one, not two, but THREE free desserts for the inconvenience, even though we hadn’t complained. When does that ever happen? You usually have to raise a ruckus to get a free dessert. We got THREE! Two brownie sundaes and a chocolate lava cake. I only took a few bites, but still, free dessert.
This past weekend I went to Dan’s brother’s wedding. I left after the reception and Dan stayed behind to help his brother load up his car with wedding gifts and what not. In the meantime, the caterers loaded up Dan’s car with all of the leftover food. He got home with about 40 chicken breasts, 10 pounds of green beans, five pounds of cornbread, three to-go boxes of salad, and TWO BOXES OF WEDDING CAKE!
By the way, Dan doesn’t eat cake, so it was all for me.
I didn’t know what to do. It was my worst nightmare and my wildest dream come true. I was at a crossroads. The cake and I had a standoff. At first, the cake won. I couldn’t even hide it. The frosting was blue and I looked like I had been making out with a Smurf. The next day when I got home from the gym, the cake and I had another standoff. There were still two boxes, because I hadn’t had THAT much the night before, but I knew it could only be mere hours before the cake was but a memory and a stomachache. I had a few bites, then threw the rest away.
It. Was. Crazy.
This might not sound like a big deal to some people, but this bitch likes her cake. When I was a child I dreamed of the day someone would just walk into my house with two boxes of free cake just for me. As an adult, I had to make the responsible decision and enjoy it in moderation, then send it on its way.
I can only hope that in doing so, the curse has been broken.
(But really, I don’t know if I want the curse to be broken. There’s nothing like free cake.)