Alison Berkley: The Princess’s Palate |

Alison Berkley: The Princess’s Palate

Alison Berkley
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

So the other day I’m at the gym and I decide it’s high time I weigh myself.


It’s one of those doctor’s scales, the kind where you have to slide the thing to the right, and then slide it farther, and farther, and oh, a little farther because the stupid balance thing isn’t moving. So you tap-tap-tap – oh, my god, there’s no possible way, tap-tap-tap, you’ve got to be kidding me, tap-tap-tap. By the time the metal thing finally drops, you have to stare at the numbers, convinced your eyes must be playing tricks on you. So then you tap-tap-tap to the left, thinking just maybe you can get the metal thing to hang in the balance, but it doesn’t. It makes a loud clank and bounces back up again.

The first time it happened, I was able to talk myself down off the ledge, making all kinds of calculations about how much time it would take to lose x-number of pounds and making resolutions about counting my calories and controlling my portions and upping my cardio workouts. I would only weigh myself once a week, which would give me time to see my progress.


The following week, I went through the whole ordeal all over again, only to discover that for all my efforts, I’d gained two pounds. It doesn’t matter if you’re a drug dealer or a cyclist or selling produce at the farmers’ market: Two pounds is a lot.

Always a glutton for punishment, I walked straight out of the gym and started running up toward the East Aspen Trail. Only I wouldn’t call it running – it was more like shuffling. My legs were tired and tight after an hour-long circuit-training workout that I hobbled along, all the way to the end of that goddamn trail. After about six and a half miles of dragging my sorry ass up Independence Pass, I pulled a muscle in my calf (probably on account of not being properly hydrated) and had to limp the rest of the way back to the gym.

So now, not only am I overweight, I’m injured.

I’m also frustrated.

For the last three months, as you can imagine, I’ve been in full-on training mode, doing hot yoga at 7 a.m., doing these psychotic circuit training classes at the gym that leave me feeling like someone beat the crap out of me the next day, and running up and down the Rio Grande trail with our 100-pound horse/dog, George.

I’ve given up this and that and the other thing until there’s very little left for me to actually eat. So I snack on fruit and pumpkin seeds and almonds and drink soy milk lattes and if I’m really up for a treat, I’ll have some brown rice or half an avocado or, I know, a baked sweet potato.

Please, God, if you are out there, prove it and let me be a man with a fast metabolism in my next life.

Meanwhile, I have these friends who are naturally skinny and still they find a reason to complain. I think every woman is hard on herself, but I’m sorry, complaining about being too thin is simply not allowed.

“What happened to my hips?” my friend Cat posted on Facebook after she’d had her baby. Yes, that’s right, I said “after baby.” She has the nerve (get this) to complain that she eats all day long and can never satisfy her hunger and she can’t stop losing weight!

When I totally freak out on her she’s like, “But I’m so out of shape, blah blah blah.” Two weeks later, I find out she climbed and skied Grizzly Peak, tromping up a mountain with skis and boots on her back, so she could ski in July, while I was hobbling along and calling it “jogging.”

Then I have this other friend who has always been naturally very thin. When she told me how much she’d weighed when she was pregnant – with twins – I shouldn’t have been surprised to discover it’s what I weigh now. (Did I mention I am four inches shorter than she is?)

So she comes up to Aspen for a little visit, and after going through this whole song and dance about how she hasn’t worked out in years, she kicks my ass going up Smuggler and has to wait for me.

“So anyway, Back of Sarah’s Head,” I called out to her.

“Oh, sorry, sorry,” she said. “I wasn’t paying attention.” She’s not out of breath or anything. To her, it’s obviously just a casual stroll that happens to be on a 6 percent grade in the hot sun.

Then I give her a bunch of my old skinny clothes that I need to get rid of and they all hang off her like she’s just a hangar with nobody underneath. “Wow, these are super comfortable,” she says.

And I have to do all I can from screaming, “THAT’S BECAUSE THEY’RE TOO BIG FOR YOU!” at the top of my lungs.

For the 15 minutes in my life that I actually was thin, she’d always say, “You’re so skinny. I’m concerned.” And I’d go, “You’re not allowed to be concerned until I get to the point where I actually weigh less than you.'”

Maybe this is why most people get married in their late 20s or even early 30s. That way, they can look back at their photos and go, “Remember, we were so young and beautiful then.” Instead, I’ll be like, “That’s when I hit 40 and my metabolism slowed to a screeching halt.”

So as I sit here and eat my pumpkin seeds out of a little measuring cup (portion control), I’m wondering if I’ll ever get anywhere for all my efforts.

I’m pretty sure the answer is: fat chance.