Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Mule Salad

I have to ride a mule next summer. That, in and of itself, is no big deal since people ride mules all the time, I am told. The problem is I have to ride a mule down a two-foot-wide crack in the wall of the Grand Canyon (approximately 70,000 feet above the canyon floor, based on the videos on YouTube).

Lots of people, including my oldest son and my mother-in-law, would consider that to be a fantastic adventure. For me, however, it’s a small-scale version of The Biggest Loser.

The mule ride company’s rules state that each rider must be under 200 pounds, fully dressed. I would argue that they need to buy sturdier mules, but they are very adamant about the weight limit, even throwing in the verbiage “No Exceptions” for good measure.

My initial weigh-in on Monday morning was 214 pounds, in my boxer shorts.

So, I need to lose some weight. Actually, quite a bit of weight, since I figure I better be 190 at most in my boxers. That’s assuming the mule ride company will accept shorts, a T-shirt, and flip flops as “fully dressed.”

If my rudimentary writer math is correct, I need to lose just over 11% of my body weight. Possibly more, since my wife thinks our bathroom scale is lying to us. I wonder if any POW camps offer monthly membership packages?

I’m not going to lie. Things look bleak at this point. That is possibly due to the fact that our family went to Europe this summer. We visited Italy, Austria, and Germany. Do you know what they have in Italy? Margherita pizza. It’s basically a cheese pizza, but Italy has some kind of culinary voodoo magic that makes everything ten to fifteen times better than anywhere else. I basically ate an entire margherita pizza (with sausage added, because, sausage!) every day for lunch. What makes that possible is the pizzas are thin crust. What makes that not great is they are fourteen inches in diameter.

Italy also has pasta carbonara for dinner, which is pasta with eggs and bacon. The perfect complement to a whole pizza for lunch. They also have really good red wine and pretty decent beer.

Austria and Germany have schnitzel. Schnitzel is meat of any variety, pounded flat, breaded, and fried. (Yes, it’s as good as it sounds.) I ate at least two per day. They also have really good beer every place they serve schnitzel, which is every restaurant.

Basically, Europe made me fat. If it wasn’t for all the walking and hiking we did, I would need to lose fifty pounds right now instead of twenty-four. I blame the euro exchange rate. It was basically one to one with the dollar, so I was forced to eat and drink about 1.7 times more than I would have in previous years. Damn you, euro.

The only ray of hope that I have for not being the guy that didn’t get to go on the mule ride - or worse yet, the guy who ruined the mule trip for everyone by somehow faking out the scale and then dying when his hopelessly overloaded mule fell of the cliff - is that I have been under 200 pounds before. Sure, it was in high school, but still...

In fact, I think I weighed around 180 pounds my senior year. Of course, back then I could eat the entire left side of the fridge and lose a pound. I’m pretty sure I bulked up in college, though. A diet consisting mainly of Top Ramen and Keystone Light is a great way to pack on the manly pounds, apparently.

The idea of getting back to my college weight, let alone my high school weight, seems a bit daunting, but I have to try. The highlight of an entire summer vacation depends on it.

In order to lose 11% of my current body weight, the only mathematical solution is to stop eating. Stop eating anything that tastes good, anyway. Sugar and bread are out, which is really unfortunate, since I have survived for the last few years on a diet consisting mainly of chocolate chips, chocolate chip cookies, and sandwiches. (The sandwiches had no chocolate chips... normally.)

Pizza is my favorite food. Pizza is out.

And beer is out.

I don’t want to talk about it.

Breakfast now consists of fruit, and lunch is now a salad with a little chicken on top. I call it mule salad. I’m on day three of mule salad and I’m already sad. Dinner consists of a glass of water and some air. It’s going to be a long year.

Plus, the sugar withdrawals are giving me a headache. Or maybe it’s the kids. My wife selfishly went back to work this week and left me here with all three of them for the whole day. Every day. Just me, three boys who love to argue with each other, and mule salad. (Normally beer would mitigate some of that, but like I said, I don’t want to talk about it.)

The boys go back to school next week, so that should alleviate some of the headaches, but I’ll still be here with my mule salad. Every day. With no sugar and no bread of any kind.

I’m sad.

All I can say is this better be one spectacular mule ride. Everyone who’s gone says it’s the trip of a lifetime, but even if it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, I know I’ll have a good time. I’ll be the one riding the mule down the Grand Canyon while eating a sausage pizza and washing it down with a giant beer and a dozen chocolate-covered doughnuts.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2015 Marc Schmatjen

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