I don’t want to make a big deal out of this, but as of today I think it’s official: I have successfully lost every pound I gained during my pregnancy, and am back to what I guess you’d call fighting trim. (I’m a welterweight.) I think they tell you that at the OB’s office at your first post-natal visit: “Nine months to gain, 18 years to lose.”
But of course, when I finally dropped the baby, the placenta and all the extra blood I was carrying around, I had 10 to lose. Then it was 15, then 20 — you know the drill. Our culture makes it easy to be fat, my individual psychological profile (“eat your feelings”) makes it even easier, and I can’t even say when the corner was turned and I started taking better care of myself, but just in case you’re in the same place, here are a few things I learned along the way:
** Ninety percent of weight loss is getting your mind right. If your head isn’t in the game, it won’t work. And for me, that basically meant giving up. I stopped thinking in terms of “by this date, I want to weigh that much” and approached it more like an alcoholic: Today, I’m going to take care of myself. Just today, not tomorrow, not next Christmas. You will have many days when you fail at this. But as long as you succeed more often than you fail, the successes will add up. This weight loss was about 30 pounds, but took the better part of two years. There were a lot of failures along the way.
** There’s no way around this, but at some point you will have to become something of a hunger artist. My aim was always to arrive at the next meal hungry but not ravenous, and trust that the smaller portions I slowly grew accustomed to would satisfy me. I’ve mentioned many times that our culture keeps making everything bigger, and nowhere is this more true than in portion size. Restaurants pile our plates high, and we become accustomed to it, and soon this is the model at home, too. You don’t have to eat that much; the restaurant is dealing with economies of scale that don’t apply in your own kitchen. But you have to get comfortable with occasional tummy-rumbles, that’s all there is to it. If you’re hungry at 5 p.m., have a tall glass of water and a few almonds and ask yourself, “Can I put up with this for 90 minutes? Until dinnertime?” I bet you can.
** Exercise is great, but unless you’re training like an Olympic athlete, it’s still the lesser part of the battle. Controlling your eating is. What exercise will do is make your body look much better once the fat goes away. The last time I weighed this much I was a size 12. Now I’m a 10. I think it has to be because of all the weight training and yoga and cycling and swimming. And exercise, besides making you feel better and stronger, can come in handy at other times. A few weeks ago, I was having a bad day, part of a bad week and not the greatest month, either. I was in a mood to destroy some Haagen Dazs, maybe a pizza, maybe both. Scowling at myself in the bathroom mirror, I reached up to brush my hair and something resembling a small mouse scampered under the skin of my arm. Holy shit, it’s a muscle, I thought. And went for a bike ride instead.
** That said, be kind to yourself. Make room in your life for Haagen Dazs and pizza, because both are wonderful. You can have them, just not the whole thing, and not every day. Understand that winter happens, and you may not want to leave the couch for weeks at a time, and that’s OK, as long as you get back into it come spring.
** Finally, go for a walk every day. What MichaelG said about the people of Barcelona is true: Walking, and walking tall and with a nice forward stride, is just the most natural, pleasant, simple physical activity human beings can do. It’s why we stood up from all fours in the first place. It enables us to see the world, smell it, meet the eyes of others, experience the weather, all that stuff. It elevates your heart rate, but not too much. It’s an anti-depressant. Sometimes I pick up a weight at the gym for one reason or another think, “I used to walk around with this all the time. No wonder my feet were always killing me.” I walk a lot more now. For this I have Wendy to thank.
And that’s all I know. I think I’m going to stop losing for a while, see how the maintenance goes, and then reassess in a few more weeks. I feel great, honestly. My knees, the ones the orthopedist said were overdue for replacement a year ago, still hurt, but not as much – I don’t even take ibuprofen. But that’s about it. And I just ate some macaroni and cheese. Just not very much of it.
So, some bloggage?
The Building Detroit program, a city-run ongoing auction of blighted, yet still restorable, houses, has been going on for a while now, and is generally considered a success. Online bidders pay peanuts for places and agree to fix them up within a certain time frame. I encourage you to click the link and explore the variety of places being offered. Detroit boomed in the 1920s, and many of the houses date from that era with its lovely, sturdy architecture, but I’m also struck by the homelier places. There are a couple houses up now that are 700 square feet, maybe 800. Someone raised a family in that house, maybe several families. They stood in line for one bathroom. They never thought they didn’t have enough, even though the house was an ugly box. And there are thousands upon thousands of places like those in Detroit’s 138 square miles. Even if we could figure out a way to turn water into oil, if we could spark a North Dakota-style boom here, people just don’t want to live like that anymore. But remember: The failure of Detroit is due to? Yes, DEMOCRATS.
Somehow I think this story about a man rescued from a floating hamster wheel, says everything you need to know about a) runners; and b) people who pull stunts to “raise awareness” of things. But you be the judge.
Big week ahead, and deadlines still have to be met, so expect the usual scantiness.