From Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul

No More Pancakes on This Woman’s Shopping List!

The family is one of nature’s masterpieces.

George Santayana

Everybody in our family looks forward to Saturdays. Nobody has to think about work or school. We sleep late. Even Tobby, our cocker spaniel mix, appreciates that.

All families accumulate traditions, large and small. It has been a Saturday tradition in our family to sit around the breakfast table together and dig into pancakes made from a packaged mix. We’re not all maple syrup fans, but we each have our own pancake ideas. Some of us prefer pancakes topped with powdered sugar, others with a dab of strawberry jam, others with sliced peaches. Over the years, we’ve experimented with all varieties of pancake possibilities.

Toby takes his pancake plain, cut into a dozen or so pieces, in his dog bowl. Toby is so enthusiastic about our Saturday breakfast routine that we call him our Pancake Prince. Every Saturday for six years, Toby has practiced, if not perfected, his pancake habit.

Turning over a new leaf, the day came that two human members of the family were about to turn forty. Call it a midlife crisis if you must, but they decided to adopt a healthier lifestyle and shed a few of those extra pounds around the middle. The result was that two parents and four teens got involved in sports of all sorts—basketball, soccer, even in-line skating. Saturdays were no longer the same. The pancake griddle was retired to the back of an upper cupboard. Instead of lounging in bed for extra hours on Saturday, we all got up about 8:00 AM to go for a brisk walk with Toby. Over time, the distances increased. That is to say, a few blocks in spring became a few miles by fall. Except for the first weeks, nobody seemed to mind the exercise.

Toby continued to check his bowl for something special, but there were no more Saturday pancakes to be seen in our house. No pancakes with butter, no pancakes smothered in whipped cream. The humans were eating (and enjoying) fresh fruits and dry toast, maybe some plain cereal. That was the extent of the Saturday breakfast gala. It was indistinguishable from a workday routine. We talked about what foods we bought and we talked about what we ate. Shopping lists no longer mentioned pancakes, and the kitchen table had healthy food on it seven days a week.

Nobody dared discuss the good old pancake days, perhaps fearing the very mention might somehow invite invisible calories. It wasn’t just the humans who lost weight, of course. Toby, no longer being the resident Pancake Prince, also took on a leaner shape.

Another lifestyle change for us meant almost no snacking, so Toby could no longer expect to be treated to a peanut or pretzel when the family was watching television. Watching television? Who had time for that anymore? With baseball season and swimming, followed by soccer and then all the half-marathons, it was just about time for football (and maybe a little leaf raking around the yard). Could we find time for some serious ice skating before it was time to shovel snow? The entire calendar had become very active indeed!

The crowning moment came about two years post-pancake. Toby had the vet’s permission to accompany two of the kids walking a half-marathon. By then it seemed as if they’d been in training for what seemed a lifetime. The former Pancake Prince and his human pals got cheered along the entire route. Nobody doubted the trim trio clinched the blue ribbon for best of show that day!

Roberta Beach Jacobson

“The tunnel starts from under the fridge and leads to this hole that was under his dog house. The mystery why we have a fat dog is solved.”

Reprinted by permission of Jerry King.

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