There are many things that I credit with keeping me sane through this period of motherhood and wifedom; copious amounts of chocolate, caffeine and alcohol would rank highly as would the company of like minded friends, a husband who can still make me laugh, and the joys of a book in the bath at night with the bathroom door firmly locked against teenage incursions.
However, one of things that definitely keeps me on the straight and narrow is my exercise group. It is a run every morning and evening down at the beach and I try to go three mornings a week. It starts at 6:00 a.m. and so at this time of year in Sydney, the initial half hour is generally spent running round a car park illuminated by a solitary street light until dawn breaks and there is enough light to see what we are doing without the help of Narnia type props on the lamp post front. Needless to say exercising in the dark and cold—and five degrees Celcius strikes me as jolly chilly, gives an extra glow to my virtuous halo as I bounce back to the household ready to tackle the horrors of missing school shirts and nothing deemed edible for packed lunches.
As part of the exercise group I get a free consultation with a nutritionist–I had been putting off this meeting rather as one does the dental teeth cleaning appointment—you know it is going to do you good but it is not something I skip off to with joy in my step.
Fortunately, the nutritionist when I do finally manage to front up is delightful, understanding and kind. She is just the type of sympathetic person to whom I feel I could confess all kinds of dietary bad habits—or at least some of them. She asked me to walk her through my average day’s food consumption and I did try very hard to be as honest as possible. It is a bit like when the GP asks you to estimate your alcohol consumption—I act on the assumption that they will automatically double anything I say so I immediately halve my intake.
Having started my recitation off with porridge for breakfast I felt I was playing a winning hand although things fell off a bit by the time I reached five o’clock in the daily recount, which is the witching hour when I get home from my teaching job and despite good intentions on the rice cake and carrot stick front, in reality I raid every cupboard in the house in search of some stodge.
I finished up by mentioning the fact that I always eat an apple in the bath—with a good book—as if literature has an impact on calorie intake, before I go to bed. Having given her a reasonable idea of what I eat on a daily basis with only a few excesses in the chocolate Freddo line, mentally airbrushed out of the picture, I sat back ready to be congratulated on my healthy regime.
It became rapidly apparent I had been deluding myself on the health front. Her first considered remark was that it was pretty clear that I was eating too much. As one of my male university friends, Benny, used to say at moments of extreme shock, “I jolly nearly had a baby.” I certainly sank cravenly down in my chair and resisted the urge to clutch at my stomach. One of the ways she suggested of getting an accurate picture of the situation was that I could keep a food diary. My initial feeling was that this could be quite dangerous as writing fiction is one of my strong points.
However I have given it a go and I am now at the end of week one of the new regime and am finding it quite interesting in that I am certainly more conscious of what I am eating and I am making a real effort to eat a lot more vegetables, drink a lot more water, and imbibe slightly less alcohol—I did say very firmly that a glass of wine with a meal five nights a week was a bit non negotiable.
The family, who are indirectly benefitting from the regime, on the grounds that it would be good for them to be healthy too, are in a state of revolt. Things on the food front were made worse by my husband unsuspectingly cooking up some dodgy sausages that have been in the fridge rather too long. By the time I had finished shoveling food round on my plate to check I had the ordained half vegetable, quarter protein, and quarter carbohydrate ration and realized that the protein portion was definitely verging on the very unhealthy if not deadly category, half the family had already wolfed the sausages. I am now mentally bracing myself for the onslaught of food poisoning.
However the food diary for that particular meal rather smugly records lots of tomatoes and a potato as the botulism alert had gone out before a sausage touched my lips.