January 11, 2011
Alright… time to come clean. As much as I would love to weave a motivational tapestry of early-morning runs, will-power around bread products, and a new found taste for cabbage soup, this fitness challenge did not start as I would have hoped. Sufficed to say that on Day #1, I found myself drinking mimosas and eating chocolate pancakes in sweatpants and a cowboy hat (which, I might add, was not my cowboy hat), laying on a couch with 11 other people doing the same thing (sans cowboy hat). So, not such a good start. No, I am not 19 years old, as you might be envisioning. I am actually 28 years old, divorced, have my master’s degree in Architecture and have worked in Orlando area design firms for the last 5 years… and apparently have an affinity for other people’s hats. We all have our low points; this Monday was mine.
So in a bold gesture of fear and shame, I continued eating everything shunned by the American Heart Association for the next consecutive 6 days. I blamed it on my lackluster job. I blamed it on boys not calling me back (which, I’ve learned, is still the #1 topic of conversation). I blamed it on the Papa John’s commercial. I blamed it on the upsetting fact that none of my jeans now fit in a way that would be suitable to wear even in the dark, which I rationalized into a reason to buy gummy bears in bulk as some sort of consolation prize. Like “Oh, Claire, you must feel soooo bad about not having any jeans that aren’t painful to wear whilst sitting… Heeere, have some candy. No, no… don’t read the nutrition facts. What’s that?… No, they’re low fat… and sugar is fat free!”… And so on.
Every day I made myself a promise to stop the madness, and every day I accidentally ate a pastry. Until I realized that it had nothing to do with food, and had everything to do with my serious disconnect to my own life. You can do anything you put your mind to, and evidently I was putting my mind to nothing. Last night I had a mild panic attack when I discovered that now my TIGHTS don’t fit. Tights, folks. Like, stretchy, buttonless pants. Suddenly all the chocolate pancakes seemed very, very NOT worth it. So, I decided that I’d had it with the baggy sweater dresses and decided to take drastic measures. Under the guise of a “detox” diet, I went to the grocery store and basically bought 74% of the produce section. Luckily, I successfully did a 2-week detox diet last year (which involved the removal of meat, dairy, wheat, gluten, sugar, alcohol, and caffeine) so I could trick my coworkers into thinking that was the reason I was eating vegetable soup (literally, broth and vegetables) without them scrutinizing my butt through my sweater dress.
In addition to this delicious sounding vegetable soup (I know, you must be drooling on the keyboard right now), I have added 6 servings of fruit per day, and 3 additional serving of vegetables. I know statistically, the addition of fresh fruits and veggies is shown to improve weight loss, even if you don’t cut out any of the “bad” foods. I am consciously drinking more water, doing something physically active every day, and even putting myself on a temporary Cuban sandwich hiatus. I do not want to enlist myself in an unrealistic and unhealthy crash diet, but do need to give myself a good boost at the beginning. I know myself: I respond well to results, and discourage easily if none are to be seen. Hence, the delicious vegetable soup.
I had grand plans of a major cardio blast at the gym, but got derailed by talking to my dad on the phone in Utah about how much we mutually hate FedEx, so I have decided to go for a run/walk around Lake Eola in downtown Orlando instead. The air is cool and hangs heavy and wet with the memory of rain. The hot, soft breath of the lake is blasting against my ankles like a funhouse. It is January. I am in a t-shirt. There are egrets nesting twelve feet away. Take that, snowy-rest-of-the-country. This is such a beautiful, planned urban space that is teeming with the unplanned. There are homeless men playing checkers in far too many coats for 67 degrees. The fountain is lit in carnival lights. The restaurants are closed. The first-daters are making out in the pagoda. Being out here, I am part of this. Part of the fog, part of the moss, part of the purebred dog walkers… part of the show and part of the reality. I wonder to myself what the homeless woman pushing a baby stroller must think of me with my bouncy ponytail, clutching my iPhone like Gollum from Lord of the Rings. We are not so different. We both have our fears and our sorrows; I am just blessed to have a place to sleep. Really, that is the only difference. That, and some Dove shampoo. The breeze drifts over my neck. The palms rustle and chatter above me. I am here. I am alive, and well. I have pulled myself out of my slump. I am present here, in this place, with these people. Sans cowboy hat.
For me, this less to do with fitness and more to do with taking back control. Of my life. Of my body. And of my presence in my own life. Day by day, bite by bite, stair by stair. I’ve finally, finally begun!