Romance Can Become a Weighty Issue

I hate to admit this, but romance can lead to more than a pitter patter in your heart and head. As we begin to turn up the heat, our waistbands may start to expand as the pounds mount--and lots of them. I’ll explain why.

I’ve seen this happen to me since the guy, “Fixup,” I’ve been dating loves to eat, cook at home, and dine out. Food has become one of the main ingredients in the feast and fuel of our romance.   

The pounds started piling on with the pizzas and toppings Fixup and I made each Saturday for lunch, sometimes for company. We started with freshly made dough from a favorite supermarket, which we rolled out, and shaped into a big circle, and placed atop a cookie sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. The first time we topped it with heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, a variety mushrooms, caramelized onions, and garlic for our version of a Margarita. The next time we went for a seafood version with big shrimp, caramelized onions, chopped up sprinkles of curly parsley, some sautéed fresh spinach, and garlic. And then there was our ode to healthy eating (ha, who were we kidding) with veggies of sautéed spinach, broccoli florets, tomato sauce, caramelized onions, garlic, and so on.  

Then, it was on to Fixup's homemade Bolognese sauce, spaghetti carbonara with just four ingredients of healthy pasta, eggs, fresh parmesan, crisp bacon; roasted chicken based on Zuni Cafe in San Francisco's recipe (with bread salad inside the chicken), and tacos with all sorts of toppings and salsas since one of our favorite restaurants is Rick Bayless' Frontera Grill in Chicago. 

Fixup learned to excel at guacamole, too. And one day when I spied a contest online for the best grilled cheese sandwich, I put my creative culinary chops to work and came up with the Hudson version, inspired by the gorgeous river in my 'hood and Henry's discovery. Calorie count censored. While cooking up my creation, our favorite music played and a bottle of a good wine was waiting in the wings. The perfect harmony. It was a symphony of sybaritic proportions. 

This food fascination didn’t stop here. It led to gifts to each other of our favorite new cookbooks--Deb Perelman's Smitten Kitchen cookbook and blog and former New York Times' cooking reporter Amanda Hesser's Food52's blog and cookbook, and even my daughters got in on the act with gifts of the 12 Recipes cookbook and others. New utensils were another must-have gift, from great new knives to tongs, and even a pot that promised nothing would stick. If only this could apply to my unwanted pounds.  

We also loved trying new restaurants for a "date night" out alone or with friends, and sometimes to toast good fortune or to rally our spirits when one of us had a bad day. 

Just six years ago, I was svelte, having shed so much weight for my younger daughter’s wedding. I’ve been horrified at the weight gain since then. My recourse has been to head back to Weight Watchers, check my Fitbit device religiously, go to Pilates twice a week, sign up with a trainer, and try a gluten-free, anything "white"--rice, potatoes, bread boycott, and indulge in only one glass of wine per night, and sometimes none. At the same time, I urged my beau to try and banish conversations about food to avoid wetting our appetites. We're preparing more salads, even for main courses with some key protein tossed in and just a slight touch of salad dressing instead of our once favorite Thousand Island. We are also avoiding movies with food playing a major role, though we recently loved "City of Gold" about L.A. food critic Jonathan Gold. All the food and taco trucks pictured in the documentary made us wish we could head straight down to Manhattan and Brooklyn and feast al fresco on some New York sidewalks. 

And I've just urged a local friend from Pilates class, who also has gained pounds with an escalating romance, to work out with me in a daily buddy system where we'll walk each morning and do a check-in, weigh-in at the end of the day, as well as figure out some reward when we eat hit our goals, but which won't include celebrating over a fattening meal. But this activity was sidelined for a while after I broke my right arm.  

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. I guess this applies to women, too. Romance on the front burner may be delicious in so many ways, but it's dangerous on the back burner, especially those bad ingredients for your waistline if you don't pay attention. 

Share with us tales from your kitchen and any great recipes and ideas to lose those extra pounds.

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