The Patriarchy is Not an Excuse to Eat an Entire Chocolate Orange

I want to start this, by saying despite disappearing, I made my soft goal of 130lbs by my 30th birthday. It’s been a long, and hard journey, full of sweat and tears, but I made it, quite literally, within twenty four hours of turning 30 years old. Two weeks later, I’m still slooooowly losing weight, and it’s a rate I’m happy and comfortable with. I fully expect to hit a plateau soon, as I didn’t really expect to hit the goal, but I might surprise myself. I plan on writing more about my progress soon.

What I really want to talk about today, is something a little nearer, and dearer to my heart. Terry’s Chocolate Oranges.
Terry’s Chocolate Oranges are quite possibly my favourite sweet treat in the whole world. Growing up, they were the first item I pulled out of my stocking on Christmas mornings, so the combination of chocolate and orange always fills me with joy. When I went through my ‘white chocolate only’ phase, I got white chocolate oranges, and as I got older, and discovered the joy of dark chocolate, my mum and I would savour our bitter slices together over coffee.

While more widely available at Christmas, chocolate oranges aren’t just a Christmas thing. They’re available all year, and not just chocolate, but there’s popping chocolate, and toffee, and birthday cake flavoured, etc. Since giving up sugar and sweets last year, I don’t treat myself often, and when I do, I make sure it’s something totally worth it, like a chocolate orange. While I’ve stopped calorie counting, I do try to keep conscious of what and how much I’m consuming, and a ‘serving’ from a chocolate orange is four segments that weigh in at a whopping 185 calories. Now let me tell you, I am no stranger to eating an entire chocolate orange in one sitting, but that hits for 925 calories, and if I’m playing by the rules of a calorie plan, that’s approximately 65-75% of my daily limit. But if I tried to pretend like I haven’t wanted to eat an entire chocolate orange in one sitting in the past few months, I’d be lying.

But why would one even consider eating an entire chocolate orange? How does one even get to that place of depravity and craving, especially someone like me, who is actively working so hard to change their lifestyle?

The Patriarchy.

I know, it seems like a low blow. I get that. Maybe it is. It probably is. Let me tell you a story though.

For the past six month, I have felt like I’ve been chasing my own tail at work, while helping to set up an office expansion for my company in New York. I’ve been so out of my depth, and it’s been a long, hard struggle learning not only how to set up a business, but to set up a foreign entity. We’re a small company, and we can’t afford all the fancy lawyers and administrators that would normally just do all the leg work, and while I have the support and guidance of my boss, a lot of it has been left to me.

My industry, construction and contracting, is male dominated, and while I’ve become more confident, and have really started taking a stride, it’s still daunting and scary because I still have so much to learn, even as an administrator. The business world is the same, and I know even less. Just yesterday, I had a man question whether I have the authority to make decisions, and then was surprised when I said yes. It’s a constant struggle, being pushed and questioned, and consistently undermined, or flat out ignored.

This isn’t anything new, many women face what I do just as constantly. I have the benefit of an amazing boss, who supports and encourages me, and a team of people, including a female managing director, who are great resources and an amazing network. So what does this have to do with Terry’s Chocolate Oranges?

A few weeks ago, my boss has to make a last minute business trip to Brazil. With everything going on, both of us forgot to confirm whether he needed an entry visa, until he was already at the airport checking into his flight. I was out with a friend, and we had stopped at Shopper’s Drug Mart. It was a cycle of calls, between my boss, our contact in Brazil, and me calling Anna (who has experience, as her boss also travels to Brazil on occasion), while I wandered around Shoppers, half in a daze, absolutely devastated and beside myself for such a failure.

Then, there they were, all lined so nicely on the shelf, the Terry’s Chocolate Oranges. I was about three weeks to my birthday, and so close to my goal, but my brain immediately went into comfort reward mode. I had obviously been depriving myself, STARVING myself, and look at what was happening. I was stressed, and tired, and cranky, and for not taking care of myself, treating myself, I had forgotten to get a Brazilian entry visa, and had ruined my boss’ life and the company, and was going to get fired, and my life was over, all because I didn’t eat chocolate anymore, and if I just bought myself the chocolate orange it would all be better.

I remember physically reaching for the orange, and Anna in my ear (unknowing I was about to binge seventeen chocolate oranges), reminded me that I’m human. That it’s okay I fucked up. I wasn’t going to get fired. My boss was laughing at the whole thing, and was low key grateful he got to come home and spend a week not travelling for once. No one died, no one was hurt, and in a month, I would have forgotten the whole thing. I stopped reaching for the orange, and bought some crackers for a charcuterie board instead, and went home.

It’s been a month, and she was right, it’s been forgotten. That chocolate orange still haunts my dreams, but I’m proud I didn’t binge out of stress. I still treat myself here and there (I low key ate a Mars bar while doing yoga yesterday!), but I don’t do it out of a ‘need’ or a ‘desire’ or even a reward for something. So always remember, don’t beat yourself up for a treat, but also don’t beat yourself up for your stresses. Neither are worth it at the end of day!

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