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hello i am fat

calculations

Moist and delicious homemade carrot cake. Mounds of rich and creamery cream-cheese frosting. A delicate sprinkling of chopped walnuts.

Two, two and a half points, right?

moving

I used to live down the street from a corner store. I was on one corner, and the store, it was on the other corner. Which is why we called it the corner store, I imagine.

We used to do our grocery shopping at the corner store, me and my roommate, because we were very lazy people who disliked hiking a mile and a half all the way to the honest-to-goodness grocery store, trudging through the aisles, and then staggering back under the weight of all our beer (and maybe a couple of boxes of mac and cheese) back home. That was a waste of energy and resources!

Many small one-block trips were far more economical (if slightly less efficient) than one massive rush there and back, and we were content to never actually have any real food in the house, because the cells of college students are designed to operate on florescent lighting, Doritos, second hand smoke and Budweiser. All of which can be obtained at your handy, and also dandy, corner store.

So we were lazy and we were college students, and those things are frequently things that go hand in hand, but it was okay, because I was young, resilient, and could eat quarter pounders wrapped in gorditas, and be plenty plenty healthy. I assumed. I eschewed green things and walking because those were things that took effort and effort sucked.

I thought effort sucked so much, that I would whine when it was time to go stock up on cheetos and weird green Spanish candy.

"I don't want to go!" I would say. "It is too far."

"It's a block," my roommate would say, reasonably.

"It's a very far block."

"It's a block. It's a two minute walk."

"Two minutes is long! One block is far! Let's take the bus."

"IT'S A BLOCK. WE ARE NOT TAKING THE BUS A BLOCK."

And I would be very, very sad. Because I wanted to take the bus a block. Or better yet, teleport. If only I could have teleported. Instead, I shuffled. In a very, very sad way.

I am happy to report that on my birthday, my roommate took me downstairs, handed me a token, and we took the bus to the corner store that day. It was forty-five minutes round trip. It was also one of the best goddamn moments of my life.

So you see, I kind of hate exercise, is my point. I hate exercise and effort. Less so than when I was a deadbeat college student, admittedly. I have never again taken the bus a block. I have even, on occasion, taken the stairs instead of the elevator and other exciting "work exercise into your daily life!" tips you get from women's lifestyle magazines. I am not a slug.

But I still kind of hate exercise.

Which is why I would like to know who am I, and what have I done with the real me, because this weird stepford person that has inhabited my butt has been working it off like a sunovabitch, and she is liking it.

She is liking the sweat and the pain and the feeling of absolute exhilaration and the way she feels wrung out and thrilled and proud and like a bad ass – no, not a bad ass, a BAD ASS after every workout, how she loves to wipe the sweat from her forehead and grin at herself in the mirror and just love the fuck out of her body because of what it can do, how it can carry her, how she can push it and it can push back and back and this is the kind of thing a body is made for, and she is grateful that this is the kind of thing she can do.

Though she still really fucking hates showering at the gym.

now you're cooking with gas

Guy Incognito, my boyfriend kind of person and all-around swell fellow, tells me I can cook.

"You can cook," he says.

No, I can't, I tell him.

"I totally can't," I say.

I can follow a recipe in a competent way that does not result in blood poisoning for blocks around, but he is the cook in the family. He can look at my pantry with its crumpled plastic bag with three beans in, a hunk of four-day-old cheese, and a handful of oatmeal and create a gourmet meal that is nutritious, delicious, and makes me want to jump him.

He spends twenty minutes in the kitchen and then swoops into the living room to set a fancy plate in front of me, and I say "Gosh, I could have sworn I didn't have sirloin tips in the house. Pass me the caviar-enrobed foie gras?"

He's kind of a miracle worker.

Me, though. I am faced with the flotsam and jetsam of my pantry, the end result of a shopping trip that had me flying down the aisles, scooping up things that sounded like they'd be the key ingredient in some exciting dish which I would create out of thin air, but in the cold harsh reality of my kitchen, make no sense.

I look in the cabinet, hungry, growly, and bereft, and I am forced to say to myself, excuse me, self? Self? Hello, self! Hi. Yes. Here is a question for you, and I think it is a very good question. What on earth possessed you to buy canned asparagus? Because asparagus, in a can? That's kind of nasty. And excuse me, but when have you ever eaten a cannelli bean? And you know, I'm pretty sure you have never in your life employed cornstarch, and when have you ever been moved to add water chestnuts to a dish? That's right – never. And you know wha- ooh, pickles!

Crunch.

What I'm trying to say, here, is that I am not so much an iron chef. But I can order in Thai like a motherfucker.

What appeals to me about the Core plan is that it feels kind of like Weight Watchers for grownups. There's no counting on your fingers and spending a whole day eating hot chocolate mix right out of the packet and spoonfuls of frosting and because you came in under points, you still had an awesomely awesome day, oh no.

Which is actually kind of awesome, now that I think about it.

On Core you are eating Wholesome, Unprocessed Whole Foods and Grains, Lean Proteins, and Good Fats (can you tell I read the little book? I read the hell out of that little book). Which of course is so nutritious, and so good for you! Hooray!

The problem is that Wholesome, Unprocessed Whole Foods rarely come in handy plastic trays, wrapped in burritos that are frozen, or on the menu of your local chain fast food restaurant, or on a Thai menu from which I can order the fuck out of. Core means planning and shopping and cooking. And planning means angst and shopping means irritation and cooking means crying – but just a little! tiny, tiny tears – in my house.

So Core was starting to look, for awhile, like maybe heating up a can of beans and poking a fork into it. This one's for the gipper! (where gipper = a happy and healthy me – (happy x self pity)).

Except, you know, I am not doing this in a glorious quest for a brand new body which I will never have and some kind of imaginary unlimited superhotness which will make all the problems in my life go poof! And happiness come strolling down my walkway, whistling a cheerful tune, oh no.

Okay, fine, that's part of it. I am allowed my fantasies, okay?

I am doing this really and true because I want health. I quit smoking (even though I looked really kind of sexy when I smoked) for health, and I am going to the gym five days a week and kicking my goddamn ass for health, and I am going to plan and shop and cook, by god, for my health. And also imaginary unlimited superhotness. And oh yeah, health.

love

Examining myself in the mirror, as we get ready to go to a party:

Me: My god. This shirt makes my rack look huge!

Him (happily): I KNOW!

coring

Today I celebrated my return to the weight watchers program -- selecting to follow the Core program in which you avoid processed foods and sugars and most starches and instead, like a baby bunny, focus on whole foods like big orange carrots and bloody (lean! lean!) steaks -- by counting Points.

My point (ah ha ha ha!) is that I did not so much do the Core plan when I realized that at the core of doing the Core plan hardcore is planning. Seriously. You can't be grabbing yourself a muffin (sugar! processed!) or pouring yourself a bowl of cereal (starch!) or a breakfast bar (pure processed sugar and starch!) for breakfast on the "go" -- you need to be cooking yourself wholesome things like big messes of eggs, or polenta, or a potato. Or, uh, something.

Part of the planning may involve reading the little book they give you.

I've done the points thing, before (where, for the unitiated in the arterial blood of small underweight religious lambs at midnight that occurs after you sign your weight watchers member form and then "accidentally" prick your finger and bleed all over the contract whoops, was that a jagged piece of glass we handed you with your pen, ma'am and or sir?), foods are assigned points values and you can eat a certain number of points in one day, in any combination of foods you want (but, they hope, most of those foods are not buckets of chicken and ice cream cones with fudge on) and I'm good at it. I even have points values memorized for Foods I Enjoy and Turn To in the Dark of the Night.

Do you know you can spend the whole day eating potato chips and still lose weight? It's because you lose all your hair, I think.

So I did studiously and with great care note everything I put in my mouth, just exactly when I put it in. I noted two (2) slices of whole wheat bread (2 pts) and one (1) tablespoon of peanut butter (2 pts) and two (2) more slices of bread (2 pts) and one (1) more tablespoon of peanut butter (2 pts) and heck, why not one (1) tablespoon of strawberry jam (1 pt) and how about some coffee (0 pts) with a splash of skim milk (1 pt) and ALL THE SUGAR IN THE okay one (1) tablespoon AND CAN I PLEASE STOP SEEING NUMBERS EVERYWHERE I LOOK PLEASE OH MY GOD.

Points is easy! Except I hate math.

Next week, I will go on Core. Core does not have math. Core has, like, polenta. And, uh, bulgur. And I think pie (1 slice, 9 pts) is a fruit and fruits, like, don't even count! Core rules.

not watching

What I did was go to weight watchers at work!(tm) and what I did there was get on the scale. And then sit for the 45 minute meeting with the horrible shrieky woman who laughs at her own jokes, a high and shrill noise that rises and rises and then drops off suddenly, and then there's this sigh, this little satisfied sigh as if there just isn't anything better in the world than one of her jokes, mmmahhhyes.

For the forty five minutes, though, I was not really thinking about her and how much I hate her or how weird it is to be sitting at a table full of fat people, all of us fat and all of us furtively hoping we are not the fattest in the room, and how unpleasant it was to not be eating a ham, thirteen snickers bars and your mother for breakfast any more and daydream about the cute clothes I was going to be wearing when, next week, I arrive back at the scale having lost all of my weight in one magic swoop.

What I was thinking about is how I had gained exactly 20 pounds since September. Twenty! 20! XX. A lot of weight, in a little time. What the hell is wrong with me? And don't you bring up the ham, which is only a funny thing I made up anyway (the 13 snickers bars, though - so true).

This is bad. Though you have to wonder how much I would have gained if I hadn't been going to the gym every workday. My god. My god. Oh, the plorkosity.

Tomorrow I will be totally Core. Tonight, it's pork lo mein for dinner.

then the future came and took my dreams away

Back when my ex was way fat, and trying to get buff for all sorts of complicated reasons, he decided the way to do it, without expending any effort at all, was via The Atkins Plan. Because on the Atkins Plan, you could eat bacon, and butter, and bacon fried in butter, and bacon fried in butter with pats of butter on top, and steak and butter-fried steak, and you know, so on. Also, so forth.

And he lost weight. I am not entirely sure how he lost weight, because he was eating entire packages of bacon, and deep-fried butter on sticks, and his eschewing of vegetables as prescribed by crazy not-right-thinking Dr. “Crazy not-right-thinking” Atkins was a thing of beauty to behold in its stringent adhered-ness.

I can see the benefit of being careful with carbs – you know, refined sugar and white bread and things that are probably not so great for you. But the strict crazy not-right-thinking kind of Atkins that my ex was following was just – well, you know. See above, re: crazy and not-right thinking.

But again – he lost weight. And I thought, oh my god. I want to eat bacon and lose weight. Because bacon! Bacon, for Christ sake. Any diet that includes bacon is the kind of diet that I’m going to jump both-footed into.

We didn’t do it in any sane and rational way, either. We could have stuck with skim milk and lean protein, but no – no, we started eating eggs scrambled with pure creamery cream and fried in butter and eating steak and sausage and all sorts of noxious things, which was kind of awesome for awhile. Because have I mentioned the bacon? And oh my god – the cheese. The beautiful, beautiful cheese. And you know how fat tastes good. Goddamn, does it taste good.

I theorized that the point of the full-fledged Atkins (theorized, because I wasn’t actually going to sit down and read the book, which was painfully written and poorly printed) was that fat is satisfying and you would not eat as much full-fat stuff as you would its poor low-fat cousin.

That theory was blown all to hell by the way he ate. And it was blown all to hell by the way I enjoyed omelets with way more eggs than I am willing to admit in a public space and handfuls of cheeses.

But somehow, after a month, I had dropped twelve pounds, except I was feeling gross. Really gross. Kind of oily, and like I was going “squish squish squish” as I walked. Squish. I felt greasy, and I knew if the house didn’t stop stinking like grease, I was going to burn it down (“Whoops! Must have been a grease fire! Hahahaha! Sorry.”).

There is some point in Atkins where you stop being so strict about vegetables, but I stopped before that point. He, however, kept on going. As far as I know, he is now skinny and dead of a heart attack. Or not. I’m not really sure.

But I do know, that I was sitting in the House of Prime Rib with my visiting relatives, one of whom does not eat anything but mashed potatoes from a box, spaghetti with “tomato sauce, not ‘marinara or whatever’” and steak, and looking at the House of Prime Rib menu and realizing there was nothing - no, really, nothing, I’m serious – on the menu that in any way conformed to any rational weight watchers kind of plan, this menu with only steak fried in butter and creamed spinach, I took small and possibly ironic comfort in the fact that if I were on Atkins, I would be so goddamn on plan I should get some kind of goddamn medal.

diet tip

Here is a Diet Tip from me to you:

Manage your money very, very poorly. So poorly, you cannot go grocery shopping, and you are forced to subsist on beans and brown rice and the smell of pizza parlors when you walk by.

Subsisting on beans and rice and the smell of pizza parlors equals weight loss success! In kind of an unpleasant way. And if you define "success" as "the result of deprivation, and feeling kind of stupid because you managed your money very, very poorly."

When I get paid on Saturday, I am buying a ham.

shift, tectonic

My body has changed – not just the way your body tends to change when you gain weight and head so far away from fitness that it is just a tiny little blob on the horizon. No, the shape of my body has changed, the feel of it, the topography. It’s changed in a way that I sense will be permanent, no matter how much weight I ever lose, and I’ve started to mourn that.

I am never going to look like an After picture on one of those late night bowflex infomercials. I am never going to have the perfect body I never had to begin with, even back before I was overweight. I am never going to feel comfortable naked, or in my own skin – I will always be far too aware of my flaws (and I am always far too aware of all my flaws, almost every moment). And that makes me just unbelievably sad. So I’ve started a savings account – tummy tuck, ahoy!

That was a joke. What I’ve actually done is try to shrug it off, as much as I can, and concentrate not just on the I Will Be So Very Hot aspects of getting the goddamned weight off, but on the heart-healthy, energy-gifting, supercharged I Am A Badass kinds of aspects, which were always a part of my wanting to get out of the plus-sized zone. I swear. Though I admit that wanting to look good? That’s always been the top of the list. I am a little bit ashamed of that. Someday, when I grow up, I will not be so shallow. But I’ll also be skinny, so it works out pretty okay.

But the going to the gym I’ve been doing has already started to shift me that way – I’ve started thinking less about how I look in my goofy gym clothes and whether my stomach sticks out and if I look like the cliché of the huffy puffy fat girl on the precor while I do my workouts, and I am so much more conscious of how goddamn good I feel while I push through the hard parts of the workout, how awesome it is to kick my own ass up and down and sideways and emerge kind of scathed, but feeling exhilarated. I had no idea it was possible to feel tired yet exhilarated after a workout. But check me the fuck out.

In a haze of exhilaration, I seriously considered, this weekend (my weekend being Sunday and Monday, and the days I usually take off from the gym) checking out that serenity yoga class and a body-sculpting class, but a cuddly boyfriend dropping by the first night and a little bit of laziness took care of the second; however, I did manage to eat a lot of junk, with the idea that I am going to go back to weight watchers tomorrow, when the weight watchers at work program restarts, with all manner of fat people from all over campus joining forces to not be fat no more, go us.

I have the booklet and the slider and all the various accoutrements (I always have to say that the faux-French way, because it makes me laugh. Ah coo tra mohn, oui oui) that you get when you join yourself up, but I am thinking that maybe spending cash and maybe sitting in a room with a bunch of people who have Awesome Lo-Points Ideas for Nutritious and Delicious Lunches!!!! will be in some way inspiring. Annoying, but inspiring.

Here is where all the talk of accountability and responsibility goes, irritating me, because aren’t I old enough to be accountable to myself and responsible for my own well-being? You’d think so. You’d be totally wrong, but you’d think so.

My body’s changed significantly, but the way I feel about it has changed, too. Going back to weight watchers, what I’m thinking about, I just realized, is not “going on a diet will make me skinny!” but “doing weight watchers will help me figure out what food is good for me! And what food will help me work out!” And that is such an amazing shift in my thinking, I cannot even tell you. Accountability to myself and responsibility for my health might even be on the horizon. Huzzah.

serenity

Today was one of those days where I felt strangely accomplished and efficient, a really good kind of day, even though I really didn't do very much at all – but everything I did do was something I had planned to do, and it's always nice to slice things right off your list, zwick zwick zwick, all efficiently, even if those things are stuff like "drop off package at Post Office" (there's one open on Sunday here! That is a thing that is kind of beautiful) and "wander around flea market" and "try a Chantico(TM) from Starbucks.

Oh, Chantico(TM). It's like drinking god, if god came in a tiny little paper cup, and made you both want a glass of water to clear out the phlegm (because god, is it thick and pasty) and also feel a little dirty. You know, I don't usually associate god with phlegm, and so I might have to reconsider my on-the-fly analogy, here. Chocolate phleghm is less appetizing than you might imagine.

It apparently has every calorie ever, and most of the fat, however, crammed into a six ounce cup, which just doesn't seem right. Though I've spent most of the day hiking around Bernal Heights and through the Mission (with brief stops to fondle things that are pretty and not in my price range, but with plenty of deep sighs which I understand are good for you, cardiovascularly), telling myself the whole way that all the walking was clearly working off those 21 grams of fat, I can't help but think that the Chantico(TM) is currently lodged firmly in my ass and will remain there for all time

Also, my heart's still screaming.

In about an hour, I've got to make a decision about heading back out into the weather to take a Serenity Yoga class. By weather I thankfully do not mean the rain that's been plaguing the city for the past eleven years, but the chill. The chill! I am a princess, and I cannot take the chill! Or maybe I am a lazy sumbitch. So far, crawling into bed (at five o'clock in the afternoon) and pulling the comforter all the way up to my chin and reading is what's sounding pretty fine to me. "Serenity yoga" sounds pretty goofy anyway. I'll get my serenity the old-fashioned way – I think I've got a nice bottle of pinot in the wine rack.

you say you want a resolution

You know what I did over the holidays? Over my break from this journal and my break from work and school? You'll never guess! Unless you guessed "got wicked fat, man." Because that is what I did. Also, I took up smoking. I know! I never claimed to be bright.

So all through most of November

(Thanksgiving, you know. Time off from work equals time off from the gym because the gym is at work and getting on a bus to go to the gym at work on my holiday? That's madness! That's craziness! That's the pumpkin pie talking. Please pass the bottle of wine, some figgy pudding, and also a ham. Thank you)

and then all through December

(Hannukwaanzamas and the New Year and the parties and the pie and the more pie and the pudding and the wine and the cookies and the cake, none of which I could turn down because what if I never not ever ever again got offered another chocolate chip cookie after I turned this one down and spent the rest of my life regretting that moment until I withered away and finally died, bereft, friendless, cookieless, strapped to a bed in a roach-addled nursing home? Then I'd be sorry. Also, the gym closed for the week between Christmas and New Year's day and what was I supposed to do? Go outside and walk or something! You are a very funny person. Now pass me a ham)

what I did was eat everything that made me happy, and what I drank was everything that made me happy, and what I did was sit on my butt.

That is not a "winning weight loss equation." It's a "wow, this is totally the fucking life, man! equation," but apparently the answer to "the fucking life" is "gaining ten pounds, or something like it." I am not sure exactly how much I gained, but I have a shadow under my chin that is totally not a double chin or anything and if you press the issue, I am going to goddamn cry.

But the whole time, I can defend myself, I said "self! You are doing these bad things to yourself. But come the New Year, all in initial caps like that, you're cutting this shit out." And I said sir yes sir! and took a drag of my cigarette and washed down a bonbon with a bottle of wine and then injected pure heroin right into my eyeball.

That's not much of a defense, really, now that I think about it.

And yet, here it is, eight days into the new year, and I am a living cliche of New Year Resolutionisticalness. I have not placed a cigarette to my lips, and I am five days in on kicking my own ass at the gym every work day. The weight loss setting on the Precor is a motherfucker, let me tell you.

As for the bonbons (and ham and pudding and ham pudding and etcetera) – a couple things at a time, okay?