October 16, 2011

A Carb-Free Life

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“Sweet Baby Jesus,” I said to myself, “this is going to be the most delicious stack of carbs I have ever tasted in my entire life.”Some prize sentiments for a mediocre Burger King Original Chicken Sandwich, you might think. My friends, if you had any idea the carb-free hell I’ve endured these past two weeks, you’d be waxing poetic about a bloody Saltine cracker if given the chance.Now I know most people take this upcoming winter season as an excuse to bulk up. I mean, let’s face it: we all look like Michelin men under our puffy down coats. A few extra inches around the midsection is not going to make all that much of a difference in sub-zero Ithaca, my friends.But for some strange reason, my body tends to take the opposite approach to dieting with the seasons. Summer rolls around, and I start to bulk up like I’m going into apocalyptic hibernation any second. The second the leaves turn red, however, I’m back at the gym (at least in theory, if not in principle).Even though the weather doesn’t really feel like Fall, I’m seeing enough color on our trees to officially blast off my new dieting season. This time around, I’m kicking things off a little crazy with the South Beach diet.For those of you not down on the dieting lingo, the long and short of the South Beach diet is less carbs, less sugar, more veg and lean meat. Effectively, everything that normal eating looks like and college eating doesn’t. But what’s deceptive about this little plan is that for the first two weeks, you are allowed approximately zero carbs or sugars. That means no bread, no rice, no pasta, no fruit and even no high-sugar veggies. In short: rabbit food, more or less.If it sounds like hell on Earth, believe you me, it is. Of course, if you think about things logically, two weeks is a blip in terms of your whole life.But if you’re telling me standing in front of the desert display at Manndible munching your shitty celery snack, saying, “It’s only two weeks; I can do anything for two weeks” is really going to get you over the temptation of stuffing your face with Ginger Snaps like it’s no tomorrow, then you are sorely mistaken.Still, determined to shed the chub, I persisted, subsisting day after day on Cornell’s slim carb-free offerings (read: Terrace salad or filtered air).Things were going well. The scale was more or less stagnant, but I had energy! I ate vegetables! I was feeling good! That is, until I attended a Real Estate Conference in New York City last Thursday.Now, I had already made it through a Fall Break in the big city with no carb slip-ups. But the Real Estate Conference that following Thursday was a whole different animal.I made it through a 5 a.m. bus ride in good shape. I made it through the most beautiful sushi spread I had ever seen in my life unscathed.But on the return bus trip home, I hadn’t eaten anything all day and I was running on fumes.  So when the bus pulled into a service station, I knew it was do or die.Burger King, Dunkin’ Donuts, Sbarro. Sure, I could have gotten a black coffee from the big D.D. and shuffled back on the bus, dejected and alone. But that was not to be.  Against my better judgment, maybe, I got in line, waited for approximately seven minutes, and emerged with the best $3 I have ever spent in my entire life.In about 3.5 seconds, my chicken sandwich, in all its fried, mechanically separated glory, was down the hatch. And you know what? I will remember each greasy, preservative-laden mouthful with as much fondness as some of the best meals in my life.Sure, now that I’m back at Cornell, I’m back on Phase One like that slip up never really happened. Today will be my first taste of fruit after a grueling two weeks.But I’ll never think about that sandwich as a mistake. Sure, it’s one thing to splurge on a snack that you’ll forget quicker than the time it took you to eat it.But if it was good enough to inspire an 800-word column, then I’m sure your arteries won’t mind the extra work they’ll have to put in.  Cristina Stiller is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She may be reached at cstiller@cornellsun.com. Believe You Me appears alternate Mondays this semester.

Original Author: Cristina Stiller