Be ‘slim’ and keep peddling

Be ‘slim’ and keep peddling

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Over Christmas, I stepped on the scales and didn’t like what I saw--a couple of extra kilos have taken hold of my petite frame since the start of the school year and my arrival in Amsterdam.

I blame the mayonnaise.  Dutch mayo is infinitely better than its American counterpart: it’s sweeter, creamier, and more delicate than the yellowish glop dished out stateside.  Of course, it tastes amazing on French fries, hardly a healthy snack even when free of accoutrements.  Then there’s the cheese.  And the calorie-packed varieties of beer, tempting bottles of dark and blonde, bitter and sweet, begging to be tasted.  There are also chocolate sprinkles on toast and thin slices of Dutch bacon, eaten raw or cooked.  All of these tasty nibbles have contributed to an expansion of my waistline since I moved to the Netherlands from Dubai.  Even though I am far more active here than I was in the United Arab Emirates, I have yet to strike a balance between diet and exercise.  For every mile I pedal, I undo the benefits with some tasty indulgence, often in the name of cultural exploration; after all, what kind of expat would turn down fresh pannekoeken?  To do so would be an affront to my host country.

But back to that soft midsection.  I can still fit into my pants and I don’t need to friend Jenny Craig on Facebook, but I do need to burn some fat and get back into shape, never an easy task during the winter months when taking a walk on the icy pavement is a matter of cheating death.

Photo Flickr © VirtualErn

I’ve begun making small changes though, avoiding the beckoning patat stand near my flat, and abstaining from lumpia during my visits to the Dappermarkt; the little spring rolls filled with chicken and vegetables and served with a hot chilli sauce are cheap and delicious, but they’re also prepared in a vat of bubbling oil, the sound of which makes my heart tremble in fear.

In the name of avoiding the dreaded sedentary lifestyle, I’m still riding my bicycle despite the ice and snow, pedalling through the morning chill fuelled by an image of a trimmer version of me this spring. 

However, it’s a risky endeavour. 

Many of the fietspads have been ploughed, but rogue piles of snow, slushy puddles, and the occasional patch of black ice threaten to send me flying into oncoming traffic. 

Not to mention, inhaling the frozen morning air is murder on my aching lungs, leaving me with red cheeks and watery eyes.

Nor is dieting in Holland the same as it is in America, where instructions for celebrity-approved fasts are treated like gospel, and every grocery store is packed with diet products, from non-fat salad dressing to Atkins-friendly crouton substitutes. 

Aside from light peanut butter and reduced fat Gouda, the Dutch don’t seem as obsessed with calories and fat grams as Americans.  I welcome the change in scenery though; it’s nice to break away from a beauty standard which seeks thinness at all costs, be they financial (liposuction) or otherwise (Karen Carpentar-esque eating disorder). 

Still, when standing in a circle of Dutch friends, the top of my head barely reaching their shoulders, I envy them. 
Frikadel speciaal
With those long, lanky bodies, they have plenty of extra room to store a little pudge without anyone noticing, making a kassesouffle at Febo a far less damaging indulgence. 

Me, I’ll just have to keep pedalling. 







Hallie Engel is an American student and budding writer living in the Netherlands.   

Photos credit: FotoosVanRobin; VirtualErn; MacAllenBrothers

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1 Comment To This Article

  • Gevrey21 posted:

    on 20th January 2010, 11:38:56 - Reply

    Wow Hallie, you say "it’s nice to break away from a beauty standard which seeks thinness at all costs" but the whole article's focus is just that. Diet food is chemical garbage and diets are ridiculous too. Moderation and common sense my friend, that's the ticket.