Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Life is Motion (or something like that)

With all this sugar talk, you may be wondering if I have a weight problem. Or at the very least, a compulsive eating disorder. Well, I’ve actually wrestled my way through both of those things at different times in my life, but I’m happy to say that for the most part, I’ve got my head on straight now—and I can fit into my favorite jeans.
            But I’ve been having some serious trouble over the past month or so making myself go to the gym. I thrive on exercise—physically, mentally, and emotionally. And if I want to keep tasting sweet treats and writing about it, I need to get on that treadmill or those jeans won’t fit for much longer. Believe me, I’ve been there before—too many times to count, in fact. And it’s not pretty.
So, I did it. I went to the gym. It took a great deal of mental motivation—arguing back and forth with my inner couch potato and trying to reason my body into sweat-inducing movement on the way home from chem class tonight. But I did it, and it felt good.
It always amazes me how easy it is to slip out of a routine, no matter how well established it may be. Last summer, when I left my full-time job in New York City, I made the gym my life, and subsequently lost 12 pounds in just a handful of months. I was going between five and six times a week, sometimes seven. It may sound overkill, but I know from experience that I wouldn’t have lost the weight so quickly without that level of intensity.
And once the bulk of the extra weight was gone, my gym time tapered off to a more reasonable three to four times a week. This, to me, is ideal. Just enough exercise to keep me sane, stable, and healthy, but not so much that it takes over my life.
Then, in the first few weeks of January, when the rest of the country was getting all revved up for their weight-loss resolutions, I began to lose steam. I started making excuses, like how I didn’t want to wait in line for the treadmill behind all those New Year’s newbies. And how my spin class was so full I had to get there 20 minutes early just to get a bike. But the truth is, I was tired of working out; I was losing my game.
And since I started this waitressing job, I’ve been going an average of one, maybe two times a week. That might not sound all that bad, but trust me—it is. From the time I was 12 years old, I have struggled with my weight. I gain very quickly, and I lose very slowly. I’m a petite person at 5’2”, and small frames don’t carry excess weight well—unless, of course, you happen to be one of those rare and beautiful creatures whose fat settles so sensuously into all the right places. But if you’re built like me, there’s just nowhere pleasant for the blubber to hide.
            Anyway, my point with all this?  I don’t know. I feel like I’ve been finding myself in a lot of conversations lately with people who are trying to lose weight and find a dietary plan that works for them. And I guess I just want to say that I know firsthand how challenging it can be. Getting into a routine with exercise and eating (or anything, for that matter) is hard. Sticking to it is even harder. But once you get in a rhythm, you tend to forget what made it so hard in the first place. And then you grow to love it.
            In the words of my Grandpa Fred, as he lay in bed with a muscle injury a few weeks ago, expressing his frustrated acceptance of his aging body: "Life is motion; stagnation is death."  
A few additional things I’ve learned?
  • Consistency is key.
  • Calories in versus calories out actually does matter.
  • And above all, be compassionate with yourself. Don’t freak out if you relapse into a night or two of binge-eating. Or if you fall out of your workout routine for a week or two.  It’s better to fall off and get back on again than to fall off and never get up
Sidenote: No sweet treats tonight, but when I got home this evening, I swear the air smelled like raspberries, and my mouth watered in anticipation. Yum.

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