Saturday was bad.
Saturday was good because I had plans with Doreen and it was a lovely day to poke around the city, hitting a warehouse sale for one of her favorite home-furnishing stores, grabbing lunch at Epic Burger (where seating is always at a premium so we were happy to share a table with a lovely 60-something couple from Oak Park who were Epic Burgering for the first time), making a quick loop through West Elm and then another store next door to a store I'd been meaning to check out that is no longer there. But that store owner had his dog with him and both Doreen and I took turns with Annabelle playing fetch. And we ended our day of meandering with a late-afternoon viewing of "Red."
But before all of that, Saturday was bad.
Since I had to leave the house, I had to put on presentable clothes. I don't really leave the house too often. I go for walks in the morning, but working from home affords me to stay in yoga pants and sweatshirts most of the time, so whatever I walk in is often what I stay in for the balance of the day.
But Saturday, I had to leave the house which required me to put on presentable clothes, and the jeans I got out of the dryer? Wow, did they shrink.
Except, of course, that they hadn't. They were dryer-sized, yes, slightly stiffer and less loose.
But I've gained weight. Which I've known, despite my not owning a scale. But I hadn't realized that I'd gained that much weight. Yikes.
Luckily, I had another pair of jeans to pull on, but even they were snug, and the snugness was a reminder all day long of where I've come from where I've been. And the direction is most definitely the wrong way.
And this has happened before, of course, because most people who struggle with their weight struggle for a lifetime. Most people gain and the lose and then gain again. And each time is more damning, because each time brings with it a compounded "I can't believe I let this happen again
." Oprah knows. She did a cover about it. There she was before, svelte but more importantly fit, baring her midriff, of all things, and then there she was after, fuller and rounder and more buttoned up. Or zipped, rather. Her midriff was covered is my point.
Five years ago, when I was dating G, I was just shy of where I wanted to be with my weight. This morning, in fact, I was remembering one morning when I caught a glimpse of myself in his mirrored closet door. I was wearing oh-so-sexy flannel PJ pants and a thermal tee, but I was taken with my reflection for how thin was the woman staring back at me. That disconnect again. It had happened before.
And the weight crept up a little after G and I broke up. But not a lot. And I was fine with where I was. And then it crept up a little more and I got it off, short stints on the yo-yo dieting string. Hell, I started working with a trainer. I'm much more likely to show up and work out if I'm accountable to someone. But when I lost my last job, Mr. Hunky Trainer was one of the first expenses to go. And just as the holidays were arriving. Uh oh.
After the new year arrived, as I got to better know a man named David who then asked me out, I was feeling OK about where I was, wanting to be thinner but knowing I was more or less OK.
And then L.A. Dave died. And I stopped caring. I was sad. I was more than sad. I was stricken. So if I wanted pizza, I ate pizza. And if I wanted chips, I ate chips. And it was winter. And I wasn't working. And there were stretches of days when I had no inclination to leave my home, so I didn't.
When I was dating David, I was more mindful of my weight, but when things ended between us, that's when the pizza-and-chips abandon really set in. And as everyone who's ever struggled with their weight knows, once you slip on that downward spiral, it's damn near impossible to stop. You feel bad. So you eat. But then you feel bad because you've eaten. So you eat more. And so it goes, down and down and down.
Until you arrive at a day like Saturday when you go to pull on jeans and realize that there's no way they're going to fit.
So you resolve to do better. Again. And you do. But there's the gremlin in the back of your mind that leaves you wondering how long it will last this time, even as you know that it's all always in your control.
Except that it's not. It's not that easy. Because if it were that easy, it would never be a problem at all. You would just never eat that pizza or that cheesecake or those fries. You would walk away and mean it, not slink back to the kitchen five minutes later and cave.
It's so much more insidious than that. It's so much more complex. It's not a matter of just saying "No." It's a tangle of emotions and physiological responses that don't take very kindly to gimmicks.
Because, believe me, I've tried pretty much everything there is to try. And I'm hopeful every time. And some have worked better than others, but none of them are the magic they promise to be, the magic in which we all want to believe.
Over the years, I've become a devotee of Mark's Daily Apple and The Primal Blueprint
. In a nutshell, Mark advocates living like our earliest ancestors, which, dietarily, mostly means cutting out grains. Grains didn't become part of the human diet until about 10,000 years ago, and we haven't evolved to process them properly.
Of course, if you think about what contains grains – including corn – you think of, oh, pretty much the entire grocery store. The center of it. The periphery is mostly safe, if you steer clear of the frozen food section and all of its horrid delicacies.
The trick is cutting out grains. I've been in love with them for the better part of 40 years. But I've cut them out over time – I used to have a honkin' bagel every morning and I quit practice that years ago – and I feel so much better when I do. And the results show up quickly. I did a primal stint when I worked with Brandon, the trainer, and walked into the gym after not having seen him for four days, and he said, "What are you doing differently?!"
So I know what I need to do. I just need to do it. That's the difficult part. Turns out, the act of buying
a diet program or book or DVD doesn't suffice. I actually have to do
the work, make the changes, get up and move.
Which I've started doing again. Even as winter begins to set in, even as the mornings are dark and cold. Even when all I want to do is stay in bed, warm and happy under the covers. I get up, lace up, and go.
Speaking of which ...