The trip? Oh yeah, definitely! Deciding to eat without restraint for a month? Well, it seemed like an okay idea at the time…but now that I'm facing a 12lb. gain, depression has set in.
I know, I know, I have nobody to blame but myself and I should have thought more about what I'd be facing upon my return instead of enjoying the moment. Sigh, I never learn. Thus, this posting will concentrate on what I consumed during my trip and perhaps I may learn from it…
I guess it started on the plane. I now have a new favourite airline (sorry British Airways). Lufthansa really knows how to treat its customers – more leg room than I'm accustomed to, great movies, soft cushy pillows and blankets, friendly and helpful attendants, free booze galore, tasty meals (I kid you not) and plenty of them! In fact, you could eat all night on that plane, which led to my first downfall. You see, I'm not the greatest flyer – its not that I'm afraid, I just don't like being cooped up in a large tin can with 500 other people for over 8 hours (WELL over 8 since we sat on the runway in Toronto forever while the wings were de-iced and the runway snow-ploughed).
My main problem was I knew there'd be no hope of being able to sleep and I'd arrive in Frankfurt miserably overtired and having pretty much lost a day with the time difference. I decided to relax myself by taking advantage of what the airline had to offer. If I couldn't fall asleep on my own, I'd try to pass out! We were barely off the ground when the drinks cart rolled up the aisle I asked for a double scotch on the rocks to ease the tension and when they rolled back down again I settled for another. Then came dinner – a choice of chicken and noodles or beef and potatoes, along with salad, buns, butter, dessert and wine (I had two glasses).
During the next few hours we were continually offered water, pop, juice, tea and coffee. Soon it was movie time and back came the carts with more offerings (nuts, candy, beer!). I availed myself of a beer and settled back to watch "Finding Neverland" which, in my by now mildly drunken state, seemed the most touching and heart rendering story I'd ever seen. Tears streamed down my face and at one point I believe I opined out loud that I was in love with Johnny Depp. My seatmate, in an attempt to quieten me, offered some of her duty free chocolate and I munched on that happily while I waited for our next meal. It soon appeared (ham and swiss on crusty roll along with another dessert and choice of drink – beer for me!).
Everyone else seemed able to drift off to sleep eventually and I was left reading a book that became increasingly blurry for some reason. I must have drifted off for a moment, because the smell of omelette woke me and I chowed down on brekky (again quite tasty with a lovely cherry danish to boot). As we were drawing close to Frankfurt I pulled out my journal and started to write what I'd eaten….I quickly gave up and then made the fatal decision to eat as I please and pay for it afterwards.
The plane landed and I found myself in Frankfurt (wheeeee, there was no snow!!!). Mind you, I've been to Germany before and Frankfurt is the least "European" city in the country to my mind. Its skyline is similar to any found in a large North American city (it actually boasts Europe's highest skyscraper). Not much olde world charm to Frankfurt until you get away from the city centre. That's where the friendly pubs, gingerbread architecture and Bavarian charm is found. That, and chocolate. Man oh man the chocolate is superlative and sooooo cheap! The fact that Easter was approaching didn't help – you couldn't go anywhere without creamy, high quality chocolate flying off the shelves and into your mouth (that's my story and I'm sticking to it). My few days in Frankfurt were spent with friends and filled with fun, hearty dinners and desserts. Oh and steins of frothy beer. Burp.
Soon I bid a fond farewell to Germany and set off for Russia! One of the reasons our hotel was chosen was because it boasts the greatest breakfast buffet in Moscow – which was a necessity seeing as during the World Figure Skating Championships our only meal would be breakfast following which we'd be at the rink for up to 10 hours daily. If you're wondering why anyone would choose to spend that length of time in an arena its because there are figure skating fans and then there are figure skating fanATICS (aka our group). Yes, we went to practices, qualifying rounds and even watched the Mexicans (not exactly known for skating brilliance).
However, food choices at the arena were limited to popcorn, ice cream (Russians LOVE their ice cream), slices of bread with either a slab of unrefrigerated cheese or meat and huge big breaded knots that looked like the pretzels we have at fairs – but they were not salty and savoury, they were more like cake and had sugared icing on them (naturally over the span of a week I tried one…or two…was it three?). Since the arena was in the middle of a vast area where the 1980 Olympics had been held, there were no restaurants or stores nearby to pop out and purchase anything and had there been it would have been impossible to get it through security (yes, they checked our bags for "outside food").
The aforesaid explains the rationale behind why I felt the need to pig out at the breakfast buffet, which consisted of the usual – scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, cereal, yogurt, pancakes, Belgian waffles, danish and croissants, along with the not so usual. Again, since it was included in our "package" I just had to get my money's worth and fill up so my tummy wouldn't grumble during the skating events. Problem is, I didn't eat the cereal and yogurt - I ate my fill of those other things I don't have the heart to mention again…However, by the end of my stay I began eating more like a Russian and partook in blineys (savoury little pancakes) with red caviar and smoked herring on crispbread. Still, I always had my slab of crusty bread with that delicious unsalted French butter.
Surprisingly enough, we could always find places to eat after the skating, even though it was 10-11 pm. We eventually found what was to become "our" restaurant – a small, intimate place with friendly waiters and great traditional food. They made the very best borscht with just the right dollop of sour cream and the most wonderful savoury puff-pastry type bread to go along with it. Other favourites were Russian salad (not a leaf of lettuce to be found – its potatoes, carrots, onions, spices and mayo), spicy cabbage soup and sinfully delicious chocolates treats. We were always greeted with a glass of champagne before our meal and a shot of vodka served in an ice cold glass afterwards. I miss that place already!
We made a few trips to a local grocery store to check out the different kind of items and noticed a definite lack of fresh vegetables – there was hardly a head of lettuce to be found (potatoes and carrots were readily available though). The prices were shocking too - I really don't understand how people can afford to eat. One of my friends bought 6 chicken wings to try to sneak into the arena and that little package cost about $7! Another noticeable thing was how the milk, eggs and cheese were on tables and not in refrigerated containers. It was so interesting to see all the different brands of goods like cereal, peanut butter and juices with their own little advertising mascots and logos not seen on our side of the ocean (although they did sell Snickers and Kit Kats!). The biggest freezer was filled with ice cream of every kind imaginable. There must have been 50 different blocks wrapped in multi-coloured foil. We had no idea what kind each was and would pretty much buy a different one nightly and share it in our rooms as we rehashed the day's events. Smooth, creamy and oh so delicious (my favourite was coconut!)
Also included in our "package" were welcome and farewell dinners which were rather opulent – our welcome dinner was at our hotel in a beautifully decorated banquet room and we had strolling Russian guitar players serenading us as we ate our choice of wrapped pork tenderloin with salmon mouselline or trout with potato pancake and red caviar. Our farewell dinner was at a restaurant inside an ancient downtown building where we feasted on chicken Kiev (stuffed with buttered mushrooms) while being treated to a full show of Russian folksongs performed by girls in exquisite traditional garb while Cossack styled men played accordions and sang along. It was like stepping back into history (until the show was over and the performers came to our tables trying to hawk their CDs). As always, we were provided with champagne before the meal, red wine during and vodka afterward. Hiccup.
Where else did we go? Well, there were a few visits to McDonalds, but not to eat – it had the cleanest public washrooms in town! Okay, I did try one of my cohorts fries and they tasted really strange (I think they fry them in lard) but what struck me most was how so many young people were there, yet the cost of a Big Mac combo was the equivalent of around $14.00 (I mean, where do they get that kind of money??)
So, that pretty much describes my eating habits while away. I was kind of hoping that all the walking during our tours of the fabulous sites would help, but I guess those massive breakfasts and late dinners did me in (not to mention the alcohol consumption and midnight ice cream parties). Now, what I'd like to understand is why I can't indulge like a "normal" person without going hog-wild (so to speak). Since 2002 I've ruminated over every morsel that's gone in my mouth. I've lost over a hundred pounds, gained tens of it back, lost it again and still haven't figured it all out. Many of the people I was with also took the "indulge" route but appeared to gain nowhere near the amount I did. Is it because they are slim to begin with? Is it because my shrunken fat cells scream with excitement and store everything out of spite? Sigh…I know I'll lose it again (as usual).. Problem is, I'm likely to gain it back, again – it’s a never-ending cycle for me. Man I'd love to be able to maintain (even with 20 or so pounds to go)!!!
Anyway, while I'm well aware that one can lose 10lbs. or more in a month, this is my first experience of gaining more than 10 in the same time period (12.5 to be exact). Again, was it worth it? At the time I enjoyed everything I ate, while in the back of my head I knew it wasn't what was best for me. Now that I'm faced with the knowledge that it'll take much more time to take it off than what it took to gain it, plus its 12.5lbs. on top of that elusive 25 I've been trying to lose to get to goal. ARGGGGHHHH. I should have been able to exercise the willpower and determination I had when I started this journey and lost over 100lbs! I hate being a human yo yo and I yearn to learn the secret of "doing it right" and knowing that its for life. My sweetie thinks I'm overreacting and tells me soothingly that worse things can happen (and he should know), but my point is that those "worse" things that create unhappiness, such as car accidents, illness and losing a loved one are almost always out of your control, while my never-ending weight issues are something that is in my control and its my failure to exercise that control that results in my unhappiness . Thus, once again I vow to be the mistress of my own destiny. Bring it on!
Well, this turned into somewhat of a downer. No worries, I'll be back soon enough to recount some of the more ridiculously amusing adventures I experienced!