Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Accountability ...

In a moment, L.A. Dave will be clucking his tongue.

I've been doing a lot of thinking today, mostly related to my weight. I am not morbidly obese, but I have weight to lose. How much? I don't know. I don't own a scale. I've never owned a scale. I'm far too obsessive to have a device in my bathroom that would be able to set the entire course of my day in mere seconds.

L.A. Dave and I talk about women and body issues often. He keeps telling me I look great. I keep telling him I want to look better. Better than great? No, just better.

At my height, I can pull off more weight than most women. It's justified, even. This weekend, in New York, I saw some women who were nearly as tall as me but who couldn't have been bigger than a size 4 and they looked ridiculous. Remember that scene in "In & Out" when Cameron Drake says to his supermodel girlfriend Sonya, "Eat something, I'm begging you. You look like a swizzle stick"? That's who I was seeing wandering around MoMA. They were absurdly skinny for their height.

Waiting for the flight home on Sunday, I was seated in front of a column covered in some shiny metal. My legs looked super skinny in the reflection of the curved metal, like Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas. I mentioned it to mom. She said she thought the same thing, but didn't want to say it. "I wish I was this skinny," I said. Only, I don't.

I don't want to be a swizzle stick or a Tootsie Pop, as I've heard people refer to the women in Hollywood with their normal-size heads and ridiculously thin bodies. I just want to be healthy.

I was my thinnest (as an adult) when I worked at the Chicago Tribune. I wasn't thin when I started there, but I was thin when I left. Thin, relatively speaking. I was wearing a 12, which on a 6'3" frame is kind of thin. Or maybe it's average. In any event, I'd gotten down to that size, whatever we want to call it, thanks to the stress of my job. I'd gotten to the point where I was subsisting on Lender's garlic bagels and Diet Pepsi, because that's all my stomach would tolerate. And I was drinking Cherry Creme Mylanta (cherry creme, my ass; cherry chalk, more like) straight out of the bottle.

I left the Tribune to work for a division of Thomson Newspapers. Shortly after I started there, we were hosting an event at Soldier Field and Paul, my boss, asked all of us to wear black jeans and a denim shirt that night, so we'd be easy for guests to identify if they needed anything. I went to the Gap. I bought my black jeans in a 14. (The Trib stress had abated and my new employer had a ridiculous budget for snacks.)

The night of the event, I needed to get something out of the visiting team's locker room and as I walked back toward the party, I glanced at myself in one of the mirrors and I stopped dead in my tracks.

Because I didn't recognize myself.

I mean, I recognized my face, but my brain wouldn't grasp that I was looking at my own body. I literally stood there for a few minutes, staring at my body in the mirror, trying to make my brain engage.

It's a very unnerving feeling, not recognizing your reflection.

Since then, my weight has fluctuated. Not wildly, but up and down a bit. When I was dating G, I was wearing 12s. (It's been nearly two years since we started dating. How is that possible?!) Tonight, I put on a pair of 16s to run to Borders. Not a huge difference, but the fact that I've put on any weight at all bothers me. I wanted to keep going down, not back up. Sigh. They don't call it yo-yo dieting for nothing.

And let's not talk about my arms. My Oprah arms. (Actually, I'm pretty sure I got them from my grandmother, not Oprah.) I recognize that I will likely never have ripped arms like Linda Hamilton in Terminator 3 but surely I can do something to make them less Oprah-esque. (She wore a dress the other day that exposed almost all of her upper arms and when I saw them, I said, to my T.V., "Eeeeeeeee!" God bless her for her upper-arm-baring bravery. I couldn't do it.)

The point of all this, though (yes, I thought you might be wondering), is that something clicked in me today and I decided that it's time to find a personal trainer. Because I know myself, and if I rely solely on myself to get myself going, I'll likely stay stalled. But if I'm accountable to another person, I'll show up.

And then I remembered a trainer who J-D told me about and I looked him up again and yep, I can't afford $80 a hour, not if I'm going to be meeting with him multiple times a week, for many weeks on end.

Of course, there are other trainers who don't charge $80 an hour, and there are gyms where a trainer will set up a program for you but you don't work with them one on one. But I'll need a few days to do some investigating.

In the meantime, I thought I should be accoutable to someone, or many someones, so I decided to write about my intentions here.

My birthday is just over six weeks away. So for the next six weeks, I'm going to focus on eating what I know I should be eating and avoiding what I know I should be avoiding and commiting to an exercise plan.

There. I've said it. Of course, most of you don't know me, so you won't really know if I stick to it or not, but lying is bad karma, so I'll also commit to being honest about my progress. The goal is to wear my 12s on my birthday.

I'll write weekly update posts to let you know how it's going.

For your part, you can think good thoughts and post lovely little encouraging comments.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why not just join a health club? Living right in Chicago, there's got to be a bazillion health clubs that you could choose from!

10:11 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Yup, joining a gym is one of the options.

10:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I tried this and lost 11 pounds right off the bat. Give up the bad sugar. Period. I was forever eating candy, a cookie here, a muffin there... Getting rid of sugar in your diet will get you moving in the right direction AND you won't crave that sugary stuff after a while. Honest. I've also heard really great things about Weight Watchers. A friend of mine helps people with weight management for a job and she speaks highly of it.

11:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOVE Weight Watchers! It is the most sensible diet out there. They have an on-line version if you're not into the "weekly cheerleading meetings" and "public" accountability kind of stuff. Ultimately, even their program is just basic common sense ~ portion control and everything in moderation. It's stuff we all know, just sometimes choose to ignore. IMHO you do look great (based on the pics you post) but YOU have to be happy. So you go girl! Maybe I'll get motivated and join you for the challenge!

11:48 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Anon 1: Ooh, yeah, I know I need to cut out sugar. Says the girl who wants to open a bakery! It's just so hard. But I've cut out high-fructose corn syrup, and I cut out diet pop years ago, so I know I'm able to eliminate entire food products from my life. Sugar's just so pervasive. Good thing I like fruit.

Anon 2: Yep, I've heard great things about WW, too. Like you say, it's mostly stuff we know, but I think the structure would do me good. And thanks for the kind words about my picture, but you can't see my hips! : o )

12:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, so you give up the bad sugar until your birthday. Try it. Then allow yourself something. But I will bet that you will have made good progress and you will be hesitant to even want to splurge. What I found too is that I am very picky about what I allow myself to splurge on now. I challenge you to that. Cold turkey. Until your birthday.

12:29 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Ooh, damn. I do love a good challenge.

OK, you're on. No refined sugar until my birthday. (Naturally occuring sugar is on the table, though. I can eat fruit and carrots and stuff.)

And then I'll try a piece of birthday cake and see if my body says, "What the hell is this crap?!"

And note that I'm taking this on despite catering the sweets for a baby shower in October!

12:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eat fruit and carrots if you want. I wish you good luck. Be strong. Don't give in. Don't let yourself get too hungry.
Oh and tell yourself that it's only 6 weeks or 5 weeks or however much time there is left when you're dying for a scone or something.

1:06 PM  
Anonymous Ethan said...

Meanwhile, I am going to savor the irony that you're locked into an "accountability"-themed weight loss challenge with...


Oh come on, it's funny. :-)

Also: I was listening to the local public radio talk show recently and the guest was talking about diets, and diet books in particular. The first blast of weight loss of any diet (per the guest) is water weight, which gives the impression that the particular diet is working wonders. However, many specialized diets are unsustainable, which then prompts the dieter to try the next one, and the next.

Not trying to be a jerkola about the weight loss plan. I hope you get the results you're looking for. Speaking for myself, I wonder if nature conspires against us somewhat because as I feel the weather change, I'm wanting to eat "heavier" fare. I'm resisting, but could be a factor especially more northerly.

4:46 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

In fact, Ethan, I could be posting comments as Anonymous and challenging myself and accepting my own challenge.

But I'm not.

Yes, your point is indeed funny.

As for the diet blast of water-weight loss, I drink a lot of water every day (it's all I drink, actually), so I think my body is pretty well regulated in that regard. I think most people carry more water than they realize because they don't drink enough and their bodies hoard it.

So my weight loss might be slower at the outset. But I've had other friends mention that cutting out sugar does indeed make the weight drop off.

And I know what you mean about the cooler temps (well, "cooler" is relative for you) making us crave heavier food. But it's still pretty temperate in these parts. '70s. So I should be able to focus on healthy-ish food through November. But come Thanksgiving, I'm having stuffing, dammit! : o )

4:53 PM  
Blogger Mercurie said...

Granted that I have only seen pictures of you on the blog, I don't think you look fat at all. And you certainly look better than those skinny supermodels. Honestly, I have never quite figured out why some women worry about their weight when they look good. I mean, my Number Two Best Friend looks very attractive to me, but she claims she has to, you guessed it, "lose some weight!" Maybe as a guy I just cannot comprehend it.

9:33 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Well, it's a conundrum, mercurie. Men like you say that they want "real" women, yet the standard we see all around us is the super-skinny, huge-breasted woman. I just watched "America's Next Top Model" tonight (a guility pleasure) and those women are freaskishly thin. That's what sells. I believe there's a girl on the show who's a size 8 and Tyra refers to her as "on the thin side of plus size."


And, from my own experience, I can tell you that back when I was wearing a 14, I went on a date with a man that was truly the best first date I ever had. And then he stopped calling. When I finally asked him to be honest with me, his response was, "You're heavier than I thought you'd be, and I'm having a problem with it."

He wasn't looking for a partner, he was looking for a trophy.

9:48 PM  
Blogger Mercurie said...

Yes, there is a bit of conflict in what men say they want and what society presents as the ideal look in women. I guess, I can't speak for other men, but I just don't like the super skinny supermodel look. Personally, I liked the way the old movie stars looked--Ava Gardner, Marilyn Monroe. They weren't exactly skinny. To have those kinds of curves, a woman does need a little bit of weight!

7:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you considered that you might be peri-menopausal? (Stranger things have happened.) A friend of mine hit menopause at 38 & had been really struggling with her wieght for the previous 5 years.

8:27 AM  

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