Alison Berkley: The Princess’s Palate |

Alison Berkley: The Princess’s Palate

Alison Berkley
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

“What are you laughing at?” I ask my mom. We’re on our road bikes, on the final climb toward Ruedi Reservoir.

“I can hear you breathing,” she says.

“Why is that so funny?” I say, struggling to get the words out.

The thing is, I am out of breath to the point where I’m starting to wheeze a little. According to my speedometer, I’m only going 6 mph, but all I really need to know is I’m going the same speed as my 68-year-old mother, and she’s not out of breath at all.

Not only does she seem to be ultra comfy at this pace, she’s in her smallest ring, a granny ring I don’t even have on my bike. That means she’s “spinning,” utilizing a lower gear efficiently enough to pace out at a speed that’s just slightly faster than what I’m able to achieve in a higher gear. I’m all legs and no lungs, so whenever I drop down into too low of a gear, I slow to a frustrating, shameful pace. I’d rather suffer a little tightness in my quads and actually get somewhere.

We pass a guy before the end of the climb, which is extremely satisfying even though it’s obvious he’s not a hard-core biker and he’s probably just out for an easy, Sunday stroll. “The old lady’s kicking my ass,” I say, which is true.

The most frustrating part of all this is I really am trying to get back in shape, with the Other Royal Wedding only a few months away. Not only is my mom in better shape than me, she’s also a lot smaller. If she’s a gauge for what being fit and thin means, I have a long way to go.

I know, I asked myself the same question: How did I get so thin before?

The answer is simple. I worked out two to three times a day, smoked cigarettes or drank coffee when I was hungry, and was a nervous wreck most of the time. I was also miserable and convinced that the only way I’d ever land a good man was to become a size 2.

Single ladies: I am here to tell you that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

So now that I’m all, like, well-adjusted and happy in my own skin, I face a new challenge: How do I strike the balance between looking good and feeling good?

When I think about my workouts of old, they were no joke. I remember my mantra was, “You have to go the distance if you want to make a difference.” That meant running for well over an hour (sometimes two) or pushing myself to do that third workout, whether it was a second yoga class or doing cardio after I’d already done yoga or worked out at the gym.

Let me put it this way: It was basically a full-time job.

I know what you’re probably thinking: “Oh, my god, she has serious issues/an eating disorder/bad self-esteem.”

It might be partly true. I did have issues, at least back then, and my self-esteem was perpetually flushed down the toilet by my own poor choices. I was psychotically driven for all the wrong reasons.

But I gotta tell you, when I spend the weekend following my crazy parents around on their road bikes, I can sort of see where it comes from.

My parents live in Steamboat, so when they made the trip to Aspen last Friday, my dad decided he wanted to bike as far down Route 131 as he could and have my mom pick him up along the way. He made it all the way to Burns Road, which is about 60 miles southwest of Steamboat.

When they arrived in Aspen early in the afternoon, Dad decided he hadn’t had enough and took a little spin up to the Bells, clocking in at the end of the day with about 80 miles on the odometer.

The next two days went as follows: Saturday, Dad and Ryan rode from Aspen to Ruedi to Basalt (50 miles). Sunday, Dad and Ryan rode from Aspen to Redstone to Carbondale (70 miles).

Never mind that my Dad is so small and thin and only getting smaller and thinner. One day, I’m going to visit them in Steamboat, and I’m not going to be able to find them because they’re going to be so small I can’t see them.

“Hey! We’re over here!” they’ll yell, their voices like Alvin the Chipmunk.

My mom, despite having ridden almost 80 miles over the course of the weekend herself, shunned the bun of her blackened ahi sandwich when we stopped for lunch in Redstone. She piled it neatly on the side of her plate and ate her fish with a fork and knife. “The bun fell apart,” she lied.

She’s the one who always says, “Honey, it really is a lifelong battle,” and I guess she’s right.

On Sunday, I drafted off my dad all the way from Redstone down to Carbondale, my eyes focused on his bony ass and his back tire. Drafting is the coolest feeling in the world because not only is it super-efficient in terms of speed, I also feel a tremendous connection to the person I’m drafting off of. It’s a transfer of energy that makes me feel tethered to them in some metaphorical way.

Where I’m going with all this is while my parents are somewhat responsible for my occasional drive, they are also responsible for helping me solve the whole looking/feeling good riddle. It’s really all about how you live your life and who you choose to live it with. What you see in the mirror, at the end of the day, will tell you everything you need to know about your choices.

I’m hoping that theory will never ring more true than it will on my wedding day.

The wedding countdown is on. Email your love to

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