Thursday, January 21, 2010

35 Years and a Little. Black. Dress.

So, I turn 35 today.

And I couldn't feel better about it.

I am in better shape today than I have been in the last 10 years +.

This morning I weighed in at 225 lbs. That's 71.4 pounds less than I weighed seven months ago.

I've been jogging -- JOGGING!-- three miles a day for a couple of weeks now.

And I'm NOT dead!

But, best of all -- and I realize how trivial and narcissistic this may sound -- but, I ZIPPED THE DRESS!

One of the key "mind tricks" I've been using as motivation throughout this process is to keep one piece of cute clothing, in a size ONE size too small, prominently displayed in my bedroom.

Shortly after Christmas, I found a cute little black cocktail dress in a size 16.

I have not been a size 16 since I was age 16. Maybe younger.

(Hey. I'm old now. My memory is fading.)

Anyway, the dress -- which, by the way, was a STEAL at just $3.40 at Target -- became my new "goal" dress. I didn't even try it on in the store, knowing full well that it could be months before it would actually fit.

When I brought home THE DRESS, I tried -- REALLY tried -- to try it on. This process involved a series of contortionist moves envied by full time circus performers. I grunted, squealed, and -- of course -- SCREAMED at my husband when he "just couldn't" zip it.

I was eyeing a can of WD-40 when I finally decided to give up.

The damn thing just. wouldn't. zip.

"Easter," I thought, "This dress WILL. FIT. by Easter."

And I hung it in the closet and hit the treadmill again.

Three miles a day for the past two weeks.

This morning, it zipped!!

(Without the help of my husband, by the way! Nothing says "I am woman. HEAR. ME. ROAR!" like being able to dress myself! YAWP!)

I still won't wear it in public, but I'm shooting for Valentine's Day. It's sleeveless, and we'll be in Arizona, so perhaps this will work.

Granted, we'll be with the kids, so I may be the only crazy woman in Chuck E. Cheese sporting a black cocktail dress, but, HEY, it's THE. DRESS.

Sure, by tomorrow I'll be one day closer to age 50 than I am to age 20, but the view from this "peak" is looking pretty good.

And -- if I do say so myself -- SO. AM. I!!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

3.2 Miles and a Meditation on Moderation

This morning I did 3.2 miles of treadmill jogging at a pace of 4.2 mph. I promised myself that when I could jog over 3 miles on the treadmill, I'd sign up for a 5K with a friend of mine. Why do I make myself such promises, anyway?

I am under no misconception that this is a remarkable human feat, as any hack jogger can tell you it's really not that amazing.

But, for me, this is a milestone. 3.2 of them, actually.

Six and a half months ago, I was completely convinced that I could NOT exercise.

I couldn't even stand upright on my husband's NordicTrak. ONE minute on the elliptical trainer -- aka "The Albatross" -- and I felt my lungs collapse, my heart implode, and my legs buckle beneath me. And I still shudder when I recall the ramifications of the first time I attempted walking on the treadmill while simultaneously listening to music. While I'm thankful that my grand tumble off the human conveyor belt didn't result in any permanent damage, the image of my children hovering over my near-lifeless "corpse," covering my head with a blanket, declaring me dead, and then STEALING my iPod has left a tiny rift in the parent-child bond that may never properly heal.

But today I RAN 3.2 miles on that beast.

(Okay, so I use the word "ran" loosely. Were I on the plains of Africa, the lions would long since have made a hearty meal of me, so I hold no delusions of Darwinian grandeur. However, I was, most decidedly, NOT walking. Perhaps "jogged" is the fairest term?)

So, the miles are slowly stacking up; it's the moderation I'm struggling with.

I'll just admit it. Christmas was hard.

I was doing pretty well in the weeks leading up to the actual holiday. I did virtually no Christmas baking and managed to get by with just one moment of fudge-related weakness when a well-meaning co-worker offered some. I was feeling pretty proud of myself, really, until Christmas Day came and I rediscovered potatoes.

I have a long and sordid love affair with potatoes. They were present at virtually every meal of my childhood. Seriously, I once remember my mother preparing spaghetti with a side of potatoes for supper. I'm pretty sure the prevalence of potatoes in my childhood diet had a lot to do with my mother's incredible gift for thrift -- a valuable and necessary virtue for any woman raising 13 kids on a family farmer's income. Add to the potato as a source of cheap sustenance the fact that my ethnic heritage is approximately 50% Irish (give or take a few French & German genes) and there you have it. Potatoes are sacred stuff.

This blessed simple carb has, thus, earned its status in my gastronomical world as the ultimate comfort food. One bite -- no matter the preparation method -- and I'm a psychological infant again. Not a care in the world, save where my next bite of potatoes will come from.

And then came the cheese. And the sour cream. And the garlic. And -- as if you even had to wonder -- the BUTTER.

(I've decided there's a good reason the root word of "butter" is "butt.")

They simmered in the Crock Pot all Christmas Day long, and by the time the kiddos were snug in their beds in a post-holiday haze, so was I, having hit the carb-crash with an empty Crock Pot soaking in the sink, and a blood sugar reading somewhere in the stratosphere, hitching the last sleigh-ride home to the North Pole.

(I always used to sarcastically joke with people that "I'm not diabetic, but I'm working on it." or "I'm not diabetic . . . yet." but, on Christmas Day, as my pancreas will surely submit, I was testing fate.)

I'd love to report that this was a momentary lapse in judgement, perhaps brought on by holiday cheer, exhaustion, the overwhelming scent of fresh pine, or the ill-effects of Holly Nog, but it only got worse from there.

We travelled home to Northeast Iowa to visit family, and I simply lost all resolve. I even PLANNED to eat my way through the home visit, knowing that resistance was futile. I had pizza (more than once!), kolaches (My mother-in-law bakes kolaches that should probably be considered a controlled substance. They're THAT good.), cookies, cookies, cookies, and BREAD - lots of it! Topped, of course, with "butt"er! -- LOTS of it!

We stayed for four days, and I'm surprised I wasn't rolled home on a stretcher.

I'd be lying if I didn't admit it was worth it. At least a little.

Now, I thought I'd be better by the time I got home. I'd be back in my own environment, I reasoned, with all the self-control and mechanisms for forced moderation I'd worked so hard to achieve over the last six months.

Not so fast, Potato Queen.

The temperatures dropped to the sub-possible-why-the-hell-do-human-beings-live-on-this-part-of-the-planet-anyway range. We got another six inches of snow, on top of the 24 or so already on the ground, and my kids had not one, but TWO snow days from school.

Here were my options: Give in to the uncontrollable URGE -- NEED?? -- to bake copious amounts of warm, sugary treats -- OR -- murder one of the children.

I chose to bake.

(I know, I know. One should never joke about child homicide. It's called sarcasm. COPE!)

Anyway, I baked. And then I baked some more.

And then I ate. And then I ate some more.

The results were not pretty. For the first time since this saga began on June18, 2009, I gave up stepping on the scale -- just too depressed by the rising numbers.

"I'm giving myself a scale-free week!" I promised. And so I did.

A week ago, just after the four day soiree into the "no exercise, feeding frenzy" of a trip home, I weighed in at 235 lbs -- over seven pounds up from my pre-Christmas weigh-in of 227.8.

So, I gave up the scale. BUT I got back on the beast. And I ran. A lot.

Today, I weighed in at 229, just two pounds over my pre-Christmas low.

I can work with that.

And, I have a renewed New Year's resolve to re-embrace the concept of moderation.

I've always heard that it -- much like it's close cousin "balance" -- is a healthy thing to strive for.

Of course, I've NEVER been accused of either virtue.

I'm more of a "both-feet-first, no-holds-barred, ask-forgiveness-rather-than-permission, you-can-sleep-when-you're-dead" kind of girl.

BUT I'm getting older.

I've heard it has a mellowing effect.

Perhaps year 35 -- that number of shortly impending doom -- will be the year of moderation.

But I'm still gonna kick ASS in that 5K!