Monday, December 27, 2010

Stickin' It To The Scale

Returning from Zambia/Washington DC, I vowed to get my life back on more of a "regular" schedule. It may be just my personal outlook, but spending a month sipping (draining?) g&t's and inhaling carbohydrates is more therapeutic than healthy. So, upon returning home, I made a conscious effort to eat better, take some more challenges classes at the gym (spin, zumba, etc) and hopefully, lose a little weight.

Initially, I was pretty excited. I arrived home energized, loving my new classes. I felt strong, capable, empowered. It didn't matter that I didn't know the steps. I danced in between a barefoot pregnant woman and an octogenarian. They didn't care; I didn't care. My butt didn't look as good as the guy in the spandex pants during spin class, but what did it matter? I was sweating too much. And I had a stupid grin on my face the whole time.

I thought for SURE that my new found joy would find its translation on the scale.


So, what did it matter? Why was I so upset by this? I still had access to the sauna. That dude in the spandex pants' butt still looked pretty good.

But I began noticing (re-realizing?) that I am a terrible dancer. The spin instructor plays Coldplay - for everything, even the uphill parts (seriously? who gets energized by "Yellow"?) Then it snowed. I got a blister. Who can haul themselves to the gym when the couch is such an appealing option?

"What is the point?" I groused to a friend, "If I watch what I eat, I stay the same. If I eat whatever I want, I stay the same. I'm staying on the couch."

My friend replied not unsympathetically: "What are you doing trying to lose weight during the Holidays anyways? Do you like being set up for disappointment?"

During one particularly snowy weekend on the couch, I rented a documentary entitled "America: The Beautiful". It was about the extreme lengths that American women go to - from plastic surgery to injecting ourselves with known poisons. The lose storyline followed a young girl, a super-model at 12 who by 14 was CONVINCED she was ugly. At six feet tall, pug-nosed, blue eyed, dark skinned, she is the closest thing to 'gazelle-like' I can imagine. It was absolutely heartbreaking to watch.

As I put two-and-two together, I realize that its not the scale's fault that I've begun a long-term relationship with my couch. We all start out so blissfully unaware - of our beauty, our capability, even our joy. Then someone or something comes along and we let it tell us otherwise.

And I don't like being told what to do. Even (especially?) by inanimate objects.

Reverse self-psychologizing? You bet.

I'm not about to run out and replace my diet with candy and fried chicken (fried chicken candy? am I onto something here?) but I'm through beating myself up over an inanimate object. I enjoyed Christmas and all its offerings, guilt-free. I am not in danger of becoming morbidly obese from some Dove chocolates. Especially in the "post-Christmas" season when every commercial makes it sound like you're one step away from the Biggest Loser, I think its important to keep reminding ourselves of this.

Do what you love. At the risk of riffing from Michael Pollan's tagline brevity; "eat some, move some more, mostly cardio."

Tonight I went to the gym and ignored the scale like all the cat hair in my car. Tomorrow, I will be back dancing next to that barefoot pregnant woman.

Then I will have chex-mix for dinner.

///and be allllllright.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Meaning of Christmas

Last night, after all the toddlers and babies and grandparents and sisters and brothers-in-law went to bed, I sat as I normally do: by myself, in the dark, quietly soaking in the lights of the Christmas tree. I was tired - it's been a long year - but got to thinking about the Meaning of Christmas.

The Meaning of Christmas is:
  • listening to kids at the mall
  • paying $9.99 to see Santa (??)
  • watching any and everything being turned into That "Perfect" Gift (a roadside sign on the way home: Give the only gift with taste - a Subway Gift card!....) (sheeesh)
  • an enormous. exhausting emotional investment
  • wondering why you and your sister can get along perfectly in your own houses, but the moment you're back at your parents, everything she does is annoying.
  • seeing old friends and laughing until soup comes out your nose
  • being hopeful for the new year
  • Feeling guilty, fat and/or alone - atleast once, however briefly. Perhaps all three. Hopefully not on Christmas eve.
  • Dealing with it, as a matter of course. Just because it's Christmas, doesn't mean life isn't happening.
  • witnessing your family growing and changing
  • taking crazy photobooth photos at the mall with your dad
  • finally having an occasion to wear those tacky socks
  • Andy Williams
  • expecting to relax
  • being surprisingly irritated - at bad drivers (do they get worse at Christmas, or is it just me?) or at everybody
  • finding room to forgive yourself for real or imagined flaws
  • giving that same grace to everyone else (including those wicked drivers..)
  • letting it ride
  • Bailey's
  • seeing everyone around the beautifully decorated Christmas table for one more year, the same way we've done it for the past 31 years, and wondering what the next year will be like.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Motivation. Aka - Get Out of the Pajamas.

In a (literal) flurry 17" of snow, Winter arrived last week - and its here to Stay. Like an unruly houseguest, winter has muscled its way into our communities and households, sucking up street space, eating all the best food and refusing to replace the toilet paper. In its wake, it will leave chapped lips, cracked cuticles, static-y hair and runny noses.

Worst of all, Winter takes away all my motivation. Aside from my need to consume thick calorie-laden carbohydrates and sleeping in/then wearing my long johns to work, there's not much I can get excited about. In fact, the only thing that is productive in the wintertime is my cough.

Christmas distractsfor a little while by "requiring" me to purchase shiny things and shiny wrapping paper and create more gooey carbohydrates to eat, but that -at best- is only a temporary fix. There should be an interim holiday in January - like "You're Not Even Close to Being Done but Here's a Mandatory Visit to Jamaica Anyway" holiday. Yeah, I like that.

Two weeks ago, I was coming off a terrific trip to Washington DC (where there was no snow, by the way). I came back re-energized, ready to move into 2011 with new ideas and hope. Was it the sunshine? All the walking? Or was it just not feeling like a crusty, chapped, white blob ...? In DC, one can wear cute winter hats and leather gloves - not the enormous, sexless Russell pants with sweater mittens and fleece-lined bras. Perhaps its simply the wardrobe, or perhaps it was residule Vitamin D from my November trip to Zambia.

Perhaps I should make peace with Winter - play with it a little. But playing with winter is a little like playing with a fuzzy kitten who needs its claws cut. Sure, you may get a few nice cuddles and laughs out of it, but eventually your couch will be shredded, there will be hair everywhere and you'll both feel bad.

It's time for winter to go back to the pound. For now, I'll settle on getting out of my pajamas and making a cup of hot cocoa. Now THAT'S a winter tradition that I can wrap my hands around.