I used to be thin. I mean, when people made jokes about size 0 dresses and how it was so sad that women could actually fit into those dresses, I would laugh with everyone else, but the truth was, I could fit in those dresses. I’m not saying I looked good in those dresses. I just mean I could fit in them. I was a chubby little girl but by the 7th grade, I was slim and stayed slim for a long time.
I remember growing to a size 6 at about the age of 25 and being happy for developing some type of figure. I longed for curves—actually prayed for them–and I just wanted to fill out my clothes better. Then I jumped to an 8 when I was 28. Then a 10 at the age of 32. Whoa! Slow down, cosmos!
By the time I approached my mid-30s, I was a size 12…Marilyn Monroe wore a 12, right? That’s cool. Then a 14. But, come on. I bought size 14 trousers only because they were more comfortable. I could fit into a Norma Jean 12 any time I wanted to.
A few summers ago, I bought a pair of shorts, size 16. I convinced myself it was because the shorts were too short and I wanted something that would hang lower on my hips. Just this winter, I jokingly put on a pair of size 18 jeans. They were comfortable. Really really comfortable. The joke was on me.
I’d like to say the vinyl record in my brain skipped on the turntable and the needle screeched. I’d like to say the brakes squealed. Nothing of the sort. I merrily went about my business of sitting in front of a computer, in front of a TV screen, at my desk. I may have been gaining weight and getting super curvy as opposed to the somewhat curvy I prayed for while I was in my 20s, but I was still healthy, still strong, still mostly athletic—but let’s be honest: I was never all that athletic to begin with.
In the novel “The End of the Affair,” Graham Greene makes an observation that has always struck me as somewhat silly. In the book, he writes, “A curious phrase, ‘the other day,’ as though all days were the same except that one.”
Well, the other day, that sentence seemed less silly. The other day, I realized I’m not healthy, strong, or kinda athletic. I work at a ski resort that offers hiking and mountain biking in the summer and fall. The resort additionally provides its guests with scenic lift rides. I’ve always considered myself more of the “covered in mud and scratches” type of person who reaches the peak of a mountain, not the “white sneakers and fanny pack” type of person who accepts a ride to the peak of a mountain.
The other day, I joined some colleagues for a hike. I made it a mile. I have never turned back from a hike. I have never given up before reaching the goal. I would heft my weight as far as anyone—sweating, panting, groaning, but I would do it.
The other day, I couldn’t do it. All my days had been the same except that one. I walked a mile and stopped. I retreated. I abandoned what turned out to be a really fun afternoon for my friends. Because I had let myself get too comfortable. I had officially joined the white sneakers and fanny pack crowd.
On the plus side, I’m starting this blog as a way to hold myself accountable. I don’t mind my body with fat rolls and no waist, unless you count a muffin top as a waist.
I mind my weakness.
As I write this, I’m devouring a wheel of goat cheese I picked up at the farmers market this morning. I refuse to stop enjoying food and wine and martinis and manhattans and more food. I know myself well enough to know I can’t deprive myself of something or I will start craving it. It is a fact that, while hiking part of the Appalachian Trail in an effort to impress my then-boyfriend/now-husband, I spent four days craving orange soda. I don’t even drink orange soda, but the moment I realized I couldn’t have orange soda, it was all I could think about.
I quit smoking by allowing myself to smoke if I really wanted to smoke. I was able to cut from half a pack a day to half a pack a week to half a pack a month to the occasional party cigarette…or 10. I can’t remember the last time I had a cigarette—maybe sometime this winter at a party—but I don’t buy them; I don’t crave them; and I don’t want one right now.
Who am I kidding? I totally want a cigarette right now. But that’s only because I’m talking about it and there are no cigarettes in the house and it’s raining so I don’t want to go to the store. Besides, it’s a waste of money, since I would smoke half of one and toss it out because of the headache.
I digress. Here’s my plan:
Step one: Be honest about what I’m doing. I will hide nothing.
Step two: Get more exercise. Do something physical at least once a day. Yesterday, I mowed the lawn for 90 minutes. Today, I plan to hop on the elliptical for 30 minutes…okay, maybe 20. Tomorrow, my husband comes home after being in Vermont for four days. I think we all know what my physical activity for tomorrow will be. I do like him very much. (I said I’d be honest. I apologize if I become graphic.)
Step three: Purchase and consume items that I can trace back to a local source and/or back to its roots in a garden. Goat cheese from the farmers market, good. Box of Triscuits, bad. It may not be entirely “healthy,” but it’s the right thing to do. I might have to make an exception for coffee.
That’s it. That’s what I’m going to do. If I stay a size 14, purchasing a size 16, and wearing a size 18 because it’s the most comfortable? So be it.
If I can’t hike vertically for more than a mile without falling apart? I have failed.