Illustration: Olivia Fields
Do you know what a Stroopwafel is? It’s a pastry, from the Dutch city of Gouda. (Yeah, the same place the cheese comes from.)
The official definition of a Stroopwafel is two thin layers of soft-baked dough pressed together around a caramel filling.
My definition of a Stroopwafel, though, is yumdroolomgsoftwarmsweetyum.
Up until last week, my temptations were the normal things: Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked, Doritos, soda — like any kind of soda ever — and homemade sugar cookies. But now I’m ruined.
How did I discover this amazing Dutch treat? My soon to be husband, Shane, brought some home. (I’ve been talking about him long enough, it’s about time you knew his name too.) He came in, wandered over to where I was working on the couch, and plopped a box of the treats nearby.
Like most women, I’ve climbed up and down the scale over years. For most of my forties, I’ve been relatively happy with what I’m working with — at least until Covid-19 struck and I found myself quaran-baking.
“These look good,” I said. The box had about a dozen inside it. I prefer to get my sweets individually, especially considering how tantalizing this new treat looked. But I decided to just hope they were not tasty (they were) and hope I could exert some self-control (not likely).
And then, dude put another box of a dozen on the couch. And another. This continued until there were eight boxes on the couch. This man brought 96 damn Stroopwafels into our home. On purpose.
“Why?” I asked. “Why couldn’t you just buy one or two?”
He shrugged, opened one, and held it in front of me. “You can place your Stroopwafel on top of your morning cup of coffee and let it gently warm that way,” he said.
He was smiling. I was not.
Each Stroopwafel is 180 calories and has little to no nutritional value unless you need a quick sugar rush for a marathon or a 100-mile bike ride. I do not.
The next morning, I woke up and found a piping hot cup of coffee next to the bed. That’s not unusual; more often than not, my partner brings me coffee in the morning. (I love that man.) But this time, there was a gently warmed Stroopwafel resting on my coffee cup. (I hate that man.)
Why do I care about my partner bringing home 96 Dutch pastries? Well, because I will eat them. All of them? Hopefully not. But close enough.
Here’s the real issue: Shane can eat 96 Stroopwafels, chase them all with a pint of ice cream, and lose a pound or two that week.
Now, of course, I understand physiology. Men lose weight more easily than women do. They produce more lean muscle and have a higher metabolism. Also, Shane is a former trainer for marathoners. And he’s one of those people who will ride his bike from Pennsylvania to New York just to say he did it. Or, sprint in heels to raise money. Seriously, he is the world-record holder for sprinting in heels. So even though he doesn’t run and cycle much at the moment, his body has some degree of what I’ll call metabolism memory.
And me? Well, I’m a former cheerleader who hasn’t done a cartwheel in decades.
Like most women, I’ve climbed up and down the scale over years. For most of my forties, I’ve been relatively happy with what I’m working with — at least until Covid-19 struck and I found myself quaran-baking. I made sugar cookies, peanut butter cookies, chocolate chip cookies, some from a mix, some from scratch. As time went on, we started to order out, Thai, Indian, Italian, repeat. All gyms were closed, so there wasn’t much in the way of working out. We literally ate, recorded a podcast in our bedroom, and ate some more.
When quarantine ended, we took turns hopping on the bathroom scale. In just a few months, we’d both put on about 20 pounds. That was in August.
Guess where we are now?
I’m still holding on to mostly all my pandemic pounds. He shed all his, gained a few back, and then shed them again.
He never lifted a single weight. Didn’t run or get on his bike. I never even saw him turn away sweets. It was as if he willed the weight off. We have a puppy who needs lots of walks, and I know he pays attention to getting his steps in, but seriously? Dog walks? That’s it?
It’s not fair.
(To test this out, I did a terrible thing once. We bought two pints of ice cream; I put a spoon in each, and gave us each one while we watched a movie together — except I only pretended to eat mine. I watched this dude eat nearly a pint all by himself. Didn’t matter: body still taut and lean. Damn it.)
Granted, I never walk the dog and don’t pay attention to my daily steps. So, it’s my own fault I suppose.
But I need Shane’s help. I want him to stop bringing junk food into the house. We have two children, so we’ll have chips and ice cream occasionally. But 96 Stroopwafels? That’s just mean.
My point through all of this? Help your partner out. If you see that they’re trying to cut down, try to be supportive. That doesn’t mean barking orders or making a face when they make cookies. But bring home some fresh fruit and make a smoothie occasionally. Try out a new recipe that’s a bit healthier than takeout. You don’t need to make a big deal out of it. Just let your partner know you can be supportive.
I’m definitely a lot fluffier than I was when Shane and I first met. And sometimes I wonder what he would do if the fluffiness got into turned-off territory. I’ve asked him a few times and the answer is firm: You’re fine. And I have no reason not to believe him.
But. But. What would he say if he felt like I really did need to stop baking cookies and get in the gym? And how would you tell your partner to put down the pastries and start counting steps?
So instead, leave the Stroopwafels in Gouda.
Shane texted me today to tell me that that special for bulk Stroopwafels is being offered again. I put my foot down and said no.
Mainly because I made brownies last night. The kind with chocolate chip cookies in the center. And they are good.