We’ll call this the ‘Elephant in the Room’ post.
I’ve lost a little weight over the last few months. I had promised to talk about health and fitness eventually, and since I sort of broke my friend Lauren’s balls about a compliment she gave me, I figure today is a good enough time to bring it up. Especially since I’m currently sitting in bed having just chopped a good chunk of my fingertip off while preparing a healthy dinner and I’m trying to not eat some of the icecream I have hidden in the freezer to reward myself for the trauma.
The single biggest contributor to my interest in getting healthier was buying a bicycle last year. I bought it for utilitarian purposes; after leaving the ‘Wicked Stepmother’ of Amazon.com (well… I didn’t leave. I was terminated after 9 years for not driving in during a state of emergency snowstorm) I found getting around in Philly to be a financial nightmare. Cabs are outrageously expensive and parking when available is equitably cost prohibitive so buying the bike allowed me to get around in the city for no cost other than the initial investment.
The first few weeks were rough; front tire caught in the trolley tracks on 11th street. The douche in the Escalade hitting me while he was texting. The incident with the Septa bus. I almost gave up. Friends told me that maybe it was better for me not to ride a bike. I had to make a choice and the choice was to stick with it and try not to die.
As the months passed I got more confident and while I’ve had a few more incidents I found a love for city cycling that was a catalyst for other healthy changes- namely getting a membership at the 12th Street Gym. I went at it strong for a few weeks last year and really started seeing some changes. At the same time I ramped up the frequency of getting tattooed and as such started taking off more and more time from the gym while the tattoos healed…. and suddenly things sort of stalled.
I continued cycling, but only to and from Center City. I had a million excuses on why I couldn’t go to the gym and from December through May… I didn’t. Wasted the membership dues. Saw all of the progress revert and my stamina go down.
It never really affected my self esteem. I was (hell, I AM) a ‘foodie’ and there’s a pride you take in a round belly… but there was no balance. There was ONLY bad for me/good tasting food. Snacking while cooking dinner. Appetizers with more calories than some people eat all day. It all got out of control and I wasn’t getting any younger.
Then the bomb dropped. In May, my fiancee decided to call off our wedding and end our relationship. Overnight. I went from happy and stable to my world imploding in one day. I was lost. I had friends and family supporting me, but I barely registered it. I was in ‘fake it till you make it’ mode and everyone saw through it. Everyone just sort of let me pretend and kept their distance when needed. But yeah. Lost.
So one night I couldn’t take it anymore. Everything was crashing down on me.
I had recently given up caffeine. I had already stopped drinking (even though I was mostly a social drinking) and I just felt so disconnected. So I went to the gym. It was nine at night. I got on the elliptical and started walking. I overdid it. I heard the announcement that the gym was closing on the final call at nearly 11pm.
But the entire time I was walking, I wasn’t thinking. I wasn’t obsessing. I wasn’t hurting. I was just walking.
I went back the next day. And the day after. At the time I wasn’t eating right. I was barely eating at all. The gym gave me motivation to balance my diet- if I didn’t eat enough or eat the right foods I didn’t have the energy to go to the gym.
I started going to the market every day and picking out nice leafy greens, whole grain breads, lean meat and delicious fruits for dinner. My normal erratic eating schedule became more consistent. Yogurt for breakfast. Sardines and kashi crackers for lunch. Balanced dinner and a snack before 11pm.
And I kept it up at the gym. I set up my Wii Fit (that had been collecting dust, never taken out of the box) to monitor my weight loss. Having already cut out caffeine and soda I radically increased my water intake. I cut out candy and sweets. I researched vitamins and supplements. I alternated routines at the gym and I started widening my biking route from necessary to recreational. Two and a half mile rides became five and ten and then twenty mile rides.
The gym became a reward not an obligation. I started socializing with the folks who worked out next to me. I’ve started taking group fitness classes. I tone my arms while I watch movies at home. I’ve just bought a kettle bell .
I’ve lost weight.
53 pounds as of this morning. I’ve gone from a tight 36w jeans to a 30w. A tight XL to a comfortable medium. I’ve bought and retired several new sets of clothes. I’ve gone from asking advice about food to helping friends who’re also trying to lose weight with menus and accountability.
It’s been a constant battle- I’ve gone through phases of feeling intense food guilt over eating something off of my daily plan. I’ve encouraged myself to having m&ms (dreaded candy!) as a treat for a really hard workout. From denying myself restaurant meals to a controlled bit of gluttony by eating an offensive amount of crawfish in a single setting at Ruby Buffet because I was melancholy over my friend going back to Austin.
I’ve found that staying fit and healthy is a process that’s absolutely worth keeping up.
I appreciate all of the support and comments, but to be honest they’re a bit overwhelming right now.
Photo: New Shirt from I. Goldberg.