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hello i am fat

being naked at the gym

With some tweaking and some experimenting, it turns out that I really fucking hate going to the gym after work when it is dark and the place is crowded and smells like dog and taking the bus home in the dark and getting home late and starving and wanting to eat everything that is in the world, and then everything else besides and I eat all my leftover Chinese food and then start thinking about the leftover Turkish from last week I forgot to throw out and I consider sticking my finger in a packet of dry cinnamon sugar oatmeal and licking it off and my cat, he starts to look plump and delicious.

So no gym after work.

And it turns out I can't get up an hour earlier in the morning. I can't do it. It is not a thing that is possible, when you've got a bed that is as soft and comfortable as mine, and pillows that are as fluffy as mine, and sheets that are as silky as mine, and a boyfriend who is as warm as mine, and a cat to motherfucking spite because he does not need to be smacking me in the face for twenty minutes straight because he only has a fourth of a bowl of kibble left and that is next to starvation and DOOM.


So no gym before work.

That leaves, if you're doing the math along at home, gym during work. Since I work on a university campus, there is a gym right next door to my office, and I am lucky to be able to take a lunch break and do this, bim, bam, efficiency in sweating, and then hopping into the shower.

It's the hopping into the shower thing that has been awful. The days I was going after work, I didn't even head into the locker room. I dropped my stuff next to the treadmill or the bike or the elliptical, and I swat (that is the past tense of "sweat) and then I shot out of there like a light. When I go in the afternoon, I do not want to go back to work sweaty, and so I do the whole get a lock, get a locker, stuff your stuff into the locker thing, and that means going into the locker room (which is where they keep their lockers) and that means I have to see a lot of naked people.

The human body is a beautiful and glorious thing in all its imperfections, but you know what? I do not feel comfortable in a room full of beautiful and glorious naked ones, perfect or no. I don't want to look at your ass, lady who is bending over at the end of the row, and oh my god, are you doing squats in the aisle? and I am sure your husband quite admires your lush and luxuriant pubal regions, madam, but could you please not brush it in front of the mirror in front of the door to the bathroom, because oh my god.

I do not like running on a treadmill (okay, jogging slowly as all my extremities sort of wiggle in a horrifying slo-motion Jell-O commercial) next to someone who looks perfectly normal, and then find out they like to cram their index fingers in their ear and piston it furiously while they march up and down the corridor between the shower room and the lockers. I do not like it at all.

I avert my eyes, I try so hard to not look at other people, but sometimes you catch a glimpse, against everything you've prayed for, and there is just nothing you can do but shudder.

But that's standard I Hate the Locker Room behavior, isn't it? Even less appealing, I've found, is being naked in front of all these people. I hate changing in front of people so much that I get into my gym clothes in the bathroom here at work before I head over to the gym. But I can't shower and then put my sweaty clothes back on, and I can't wear a towel across campus to the safety of my office bathroom. And marching into the bathrooms from the shower is almost as long a walk. So there are moments, in the locker room, where I am exposing my highly imperfect body

And no one cares, right? No one is looking, and no one cares about your body and no one is judging, so what the hell? But there is that five minutes of flushing with complete and total shame, while I hurry out of my gym clothes and wrap that towel around me and try to hold my gym bag in a way that hides me the most, and I wonder, the whole time (even more and more intensely than I do when I'm out in the gym and wondering if I look stupid, a fat girl trying to run on a treadmill) if these women – so many of them gorgeous college kids - are looking at me and wondering what the fuck I'm doing here, and why should I bother?

I am happy to say I'm still bothering. I am still going and the more I go the easier it gets. And also, I have been building a routine of efficiency and order, so that everything is perfectly aligned and all the steps fall into place and I keep my head down, get in, get out, and with as little nakedness as possible.

bang, bang

I don't look good in bangs. Every time I cut bangs into my hair, I cry a little bit, looking at the mirror, and then I swear to all that is good and all that is holy and all that is good and holy that I will never, never, ever, never ever ever again, not ever, cut bangs into my hair because I look like an asshole in bangs.

Which is why, last night, I got bangs cut into my hair. Because I am stupid. But I had this vision in my head, of how different and cool my hair was going to look. Short spiky bangs and shaggy shoulder-length layers and hip coolness, all around. Coolness, hipness, a way to mark my transformation into A Healthy Person. Or maybe I'm just vain and was tired of my old hair wanted to be cute.

But I am so not cute. The hairstylist listened very carefully to my ideas about what I wanted, and then she ignored them all. My hair used to be really long, down below my shoulder blades. It used to be all one length, and it used to be wavy. This hair, this stupid hair I don't recognize, is not that much shorter, but much thinner because she razor cut it in the most bizarre patterns, and it waves like the idiot hair of a local teevee anchor person or a fucking soccer mom, or a porn star, and I've got these bangs. These ridiculous-looking wispy bangs, with a cowlick in the middle.

I hate my hair so much. No – you know what? It's a perfectly fine haircut, but I don't look like me. I've been sitting here trying to work but what I'm really doing is, every ten minutes, looking into my compact and fiddling with my bangs, these layers, trying to configure them in a way that doesn't make me look ridiculous and old. And unsurprisingly, I am really not having all that much luck.

Of course, certainly, yes, hair grows! Grow, hair. Grow. Stupid hair.


My scale isn't entirely clear, exactly, on precisely how many pounds I may (or may not) have lost, weighing myself four times a day after this first week of candy-cutting-out and treadmill-aching, but it appears it could be in the range of five to eight pounds.

I am trying not to wet myself. Five to eight pounds! I'm out of the two fifties, that ugly place, and down in the two forties, and it feels really good. I know the majority of it is that first-week water weight plummet, but this is a gift horse I will gently pat on the nose and feed a cube of Splenda to, and there will be no prying open of its jaws.

And here is where I pledge to not burst violently into tears or throw my hands up in the air and eat a ham, when next week I do not, in fact, lose five to eight pounds.

doubts, apace

So it turns out that working out? Makes you really fucking hungry. RAAR! kind of hungry. GIVE FOOD OR BITE HAND OFF! kind of hungry. I EAT YOUR FACE kind of hungry. Really hungry. Which makes sense, scientifically. Look at me, being scientific! Now I will say something smart about energy expenditure and calories and things! Hooray!

So yes. I exercised five days last week, all five of the days I was shooting for. I promised myself I could just do two, and three would be bonus, and four would be a gold star, and five means I can get a haircut. I can get a haircut! Today's the day I treat myself to that haircut, and so far every single person I've run into, so far, has told me how cute my hair looks today. Because that is always the fucking way.

But cute is as cute does. Anyway.

This is usually the time I am leaping into the air and congratulating myself on my coolness and my awesomeness, and rhapsodizing in long sentences about how this is the way things are meant to be, this is the way things will always be, how I cannot imagine anything will ever change, because I have found The Way, I have stumbled on The Truth, hallelujah, what's that over there in the corner? It's The Light! Come to Jesus.

Except my doubts continue apace - this time I am still feeling a little more war-torn than other times, and a little more realistic about my chances of ever being a size [insert tiny size here] or being fit or even being healthy.

I am trying to remember that it feels amazing to be in charge of something in my life. I can't control my myriad of mental problems, I can't control my shitty finances, I can't control the crappy way of the world, or control the emotional troubles of people I love, or control my goddamn cat who keeps waking me up at five in the morning with a claw in my face, but by god, I can slap on a pair of sneakers and I can fucking wheeze on a fucking treadmill, and then worry about catching Creeping Foot Doom from the locker room floor. Which is very satisfying. The control part, I mean.

like that

And like that, just like that, I am counting weight watchers points, and I am exercising. I've been afraid to say it to anyone, been afraid to write it down, been afraid to think about it. I've just been keeping my head down and plowing ahead as unconciously as possible, for fear I'd jinx everything and ruin it all and I'd be back to my old slothful ham-eating ways.

I've been to the gym every day, since Tuesday, and have been clumsy on the Precor and bored on the stationary bike, but tripped off both machines after 45 minutes, feeling triumphant and shaky-legged and exhausted. I've been experimenting with when I go - right after work? On my lunch hour? before work? - to see when I feel best, when I am most likely to go, when I am most likely to keep it up.

I've been bringing food from home - the only way I can combat being both terrifyingly fucking broke, and making my way towards figuring out what I can eat to keep me satisfied (because I'm starting to consider that growly empty hollow stomach feeling the worst feeling in the world - maybe because I'm so not used to it, after months of that mindless eating-to-overstuffedness). I've been taking a multivitamin every single morning, and have plans to pick up calcium and vitamin C pills.

I'm sleeping all through the night again, which is amazing to me. I've started to feel like I have more energy, and I'm feeling that dark sort of hopeless feeling lift off, just a tiny little bit. I'm making to-do lists, and I'm crossing stuff off. Progress.

Four days seems to early to declare victory over sad, slothful, ham-eating ways, but I am cautiously optimistic. And cautious about being cautiously optimistic.

closet shopping

I've been waiting for the click. The thing that will turn off the "not on a diet with a vengeance mode (also known as the "I CAN EAT WHATEVER THE FUCK I WANT, GOD FUCKING DAMMIT, and life is unfair!" plan) and switch back on that good feeling, the one that overwhelms you with its goodness. The one where you're eating healthily and exercising steadily, and you can't believe that there is any other way to feel, and any other way to be when you are in the midst of it.

It's kind of like that feeling you get when you're just plain happy – that sense that you can't imagine feeling any other way, ever, that unhappiness is some kind of terrible myth, and you'll never be like that again.

I have been eating the world, and waiting for the click over into determination and desire and go-to-itiveness, in a lazy, passive way, kind of disgusted that I had given up so easily, kind of horrified, but in a quiet, back-of-the-head sort of way, that I wasn't working to fix things, I was just waiting for things to get better. And I think, in a dumbass, dumbluck kind of way, it happened.

I do not, however, recommend you wait for it, though, because it hurts when it happens like this. Because it usually has something to do with a "my god, how did I let myself get like this," and a "my god, when did I start to look like that?" kind of thing.

It happened on Saturday, for me. Getting ready to go out, realizing nothing I had hanging up in the closet fit. I stood there, surrounded by clothing, and I didn't want to put anything on, because it would be too tight, or too short, or both, and make me feel even fatter, stupider, dumpier.

So I tore open the fat clothes bag, the one that had been sitting in the back of my closet for almost a year, the one I had been meaning and meaning and meaning to bring to Goodwill but never managed to – which is kind of interesting, psychologically speaking. And really fucking depressing.

Almost as depressing as the fact that no matter how cute the skirt that I dug out of that bag of fat clothes was, it was two sizes bigger than anything else I had been wearing, and it fit comfortably – maybe a little loose, maybe a little – but it fit.

And there we have it. A wake up call, a call to arms. A fit of despair.

I hate so much that it takes something drastic to shake me out of the downward spiral, that it takes being shamed into it, it takes vanity and a tag with an ugly number. Hello, brain - it couldn't have been feeling tired all the time, or having a little more trouble walking up the stairs, or the pants getting a little more snug? It couldn't have been some kind of early five pound signal, instead of this ridiculously late in the game oh my, goodness me, when did I gain 40 pounds?

At least, you could argue, it finally happened. Which I'm happy about, yes. I just don't have to be happy about how it happened.