Ironic Almost Fitness

I recently have bought a lot of gym gear, because I’m going to the gym and having my ass kicked regularly. And sweating more than I ever have. And having a huge case of red face that lasts a good hour after the workout ends. These developments feel not exactly good, but somehow meaningful and important to me. I’ve committed to going even when I would rather nap (most every time). Despite my ill will, and lack of motivation, I AM getting stronger, faster, and a bit more compact in circumference.

So while I’m basking in my incremental fitness improvements (the final test of which will be a humble return to the 1.5 hour Iyengar level 1 class that crushed me before I began my fitness regimen), I’m eating really terrible food, much of it fatty pork. I’m not sure what this particular combination of behaviors signifies. I mean, I’m much hungrier more often now that I’ve got a few more muscles occupying space below my fat. I’m craving protein. I’m tired a lot. These are pretty typical feelings (hunger, fatigue) for Fall. (When will decency require that I stop blaming Fall for my love of meat and fat?)

I question why I can’t espouse nutritional purity while making efforts at the gym. I have a notion that eventually I’ll wake up craving salad with protein and that this craving will last for the better part of four months. Alternatively, I am hoping that the recent gorging signifies the death throes of my bad habits. Alternatively, these are just my habits, and at least I’m shaking my tail more often, giving me more room to enjoy my habits without the typical guilt.

So yes, I’m more fit-like. But no, health in one arena does not mean that health in other arenas will follow. Sometimes this makes me feel bad. Sometimes I’m fine with it. The balance is tipping, ever so slightly, fit-ward. Sometimes this makes me feel like “come on, how many efforts can I possibly sustain in any given period?” And here we are. Impasse: Well-fed me, feeling good, tonight full of sushi and one pint of beer, last night full of pork and a bit of cognac. And that’s what my fitness looks like. I’m in touch with the ironies.

Food Is So Freaking Good

I made some ratatouille last night. My secret ingredient was the expired wine in the back of the fridge. I have a purple veggie stew and it tastes absolutely delicious. I thought it was just my biased opinion, but a friend came over and confirmed my suspicions. When I get the time and gumption to cook, the end result is usually pretty tasty. This is my downfall. I love what I make. Last night I had two heaping servings of these veggies. My tummy was all stretched out, ratatouille-iffic. I could barely move off the couch to go lie in bed, read and wait for digestion to occur. I justified the second serving because I was eating veggies. Impeccable logic, clearly.

I love food. I’m not sure what food’s feelings about me are, but it really doesn’t matter, this one-way crush is going nowhere.

I keep trying to change our relationship. I ping pong between health-seeking solutions and the total satisfaction of eating a very good, juicy medium rare hamburger with blue cheese and bacon, and plenty of ketchup. Sometimes I double down on fruits, nuts and vegetables. I try to meet my deliciousness quotient sideways. I distract myself with a large volume of berries, and organic heirloom grape tomatoes. Stuffed full of baby carrots doesn’t count. I’m sure of it.

(I wonder what it is about feeling really full that makes me feel so happy. It’s like the world is bountiful and I am now a vessel of that bounty. I am full of nature’s boundless generosity.)

My fruit-stacular evasive maneuvers work sometimes, but not all the time. After my veggie burger lunch, I’ll have an evening cheddar snack, a salad for dinner, and a heaping serving of chocolate and a shot of calvados later in the night. Maybe it’s my tapas-inclined personality. I thrive on flavor variety. I am bored by repetition. I cannot cook two dishes for the week and alternate between them. It would suck the joy out of my food fun. Basically, I need to keep my mouth entertained. It’s a demanding organ with a short attention span. It’s not me, it’s my mouth, it has its own agenda.

In the summer, when there are plenty of good things that come out of the ground, my good intentions get ground to dust by the smell of charred meat. The flavor of crisp, burnt animal fat is amazing. If you don’t believe me, buy a fruit pie made with a lard crust and see if you notice the difference.

Sometimes I fantasize about becoming a vegetarian. It’s a solid move, morally. But my taste buds would just mope around in my mouth. I would gripe about lentils and chickpeas. I try to imagine some halfway measures that might be sustainable for the long term, like eating seafood, bacon, and fruits and vegetables. Who am I kidding. Instead I eat a lot of tofu, flip-flopping between carnivorous and well-meaning.

My current efforts are focused on increasing my exercise to give me a bit more leeway in pursuing my one-way food crush. I’ll provide some updates as this initiative continues. For now I bid you a fond good evening, from the couch, where I have indulged in three salt free spelt squares as an alternative to delicious fondant maples sugar candies. Compromises.

Small Compliments & Small Signs of Progress

One of my coworkers took a look at me today and was like “you’re losing weight.”

I was like, “thanks for noticing.” In fact, I’m not losing weight, but I am losing width–the exercise is making a difference. Sporadic small bits of encouragement keep me motivated, and get me thinking, “Hey, if I actually put more energy into this health initiative of mine, I might get more noticeable results.”

I have been a bit of a slacker since my delicious trip to France, but it’s nice to be reminded that change is possible, incremental, and there will be some results.  Occasionally, the casual bystander will gaze at you and remark upon a change you’ve been trying to enact.

In a similar, not quite success but better than the alternative, vein–I’m getting a lot of semi positive rejection notices. The tone of the rejections is changing, for example this closing: “However, we are intrigued and would be interested in seeing more of your work in the future. Onward with the battle!”

So I’m going to put this development also in my small signs of progress column. And pick up that motto: Onward with the battle!

How to avoid being shallow

I have always disdained those who love their appearance too much, those who cultivate a beautiful body, which they use as a bargaining tool. My revulsion with the beauty cult started in seventh grade when a cluster of my female acquaintances, with perfectly nice 13-year-old bodies, shared that they were dieting as I surveyed their bare lunch trays, with a sprinkling of red apples and low-fat yogurts, as we sat in our sunny cafeteria. These were the popular girls. They were already richer and better dressed than I. I remember thinking that they were totally ridiculous for dieting when there was nothing wrong with their bodies. How neurotic. How weird.

My disavowal of body-focused inwardness (of the female variety) has been in many ways quite useful and in many ways compromising.
I have striven to accept myself. I have refused to buy into the culture of anorexia and self denial.
I have refused to pass the cake slice at parties, as so many of my friend did. I ate the cake.

But after four decades of single minded individualism, coupled with a pleasure-seeking, celebratory disposition that loves food, drink, and fun, I’ve ended up not fitting in my pants.

So I’ve decided to be more healthful, and this means doing things like joining, my employer’s wellness challenge, and (they could really use some re-branding) Weight Watchers–I mean after all, watching my weight go up is what got me here in the first place.
I’ve been trying to understand my aversion to nutritional self control, and I’ve finally figured out two really helpful things thanks to my friend Jessica:
1) I’m not being punished, I’m being healthful and taking care of myself.
2) Being careful with your health does not equal being shallow.

Voila! Let’s hope this new perspective translates to action. It’s certainly helping my attitude (constantly wondering, “why am i being punished?” makes it hard not to eat chocolate.)

Resisting the New Year

I don’t suppose I should feel guilty for spending most of this week napping. I recommend it for those who aren’t sure what to do with themselves. Napping is 1) enjoyable 2) nourishing to the imagination 3) restful 4) relaxing 5) easy to justify and 6) a better alternative to snacking.

Having built up my napping reserve, I’m headed into the new year with a slightly wonky back, wearing a shiny layer of sparkly makeup and silver hoop earrings, holding my sweetie, and possessed of a great appetite for champagne, or reasonably tasty methode champegnoise.

I’m never sure what to think of New Year’s Eve. It seems like a booby trapped occasion, much like the equally dubious Valentine’s Day. At least New Year’s seems less commercially contrived in its origins.

As I consider my options in the face of the new year, I try to resist the tide of doubt that washes of over me whenever I’m in life evaluation mode. Instead of wallowing in the contemplation of things left undone, incomplete, or inadequate (a tempting option), I’m opting to embrace small joys and pleasures. The pleasure of my friends’ company. The joys of waffles with strawberries and syrup. The sweetness of falling asleep and waking up next to someone I love.

I’m going to cling to what I know nourishes me, instead of being tempted by the thoughts that will tear me down, one nudging small sadness at a time. So here’s to resisting the cold tide and choosing to swim in a warmer body of water: May your thoughts, wishes and dreams bring you joy. Happy New Year.

Frenchness without a plane

I was looking over a bistrot menu and it was in french, and it was full of french menu items. I wasn’t in France. I was in Quebec, where they have genteel, continental ways.

The citizens are slightly more stylish than those of the average american city. Everyone is riding bikes.

I really like it here. (It’s easy to like in September.) It reminds me a bit of France, although it’s clearly not France.  It’s got enough french elements to provoke a sense of homeyness.

And as I sat at the restaurant, I realized that I had managed to commune with aspects of french culture without taking a plane.

What a treat.

It reminds me that when I was a little girl and found out about Quebec, it seemed like the perfect solution to my cultural quandaries. I was convinced at the age of 8 that I would end up marrying a french-canadian.