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Am I Ready?

SNOW
This morning, the cat looked up at me, flicked his tail and let out a meeeoweer when the cold air hit his whiskers. Yeh, I know he’s just a cat, but I was pretty certain that was his equivalent to WTF. He turned and walked back over to his food bowl, also exactly what I want to do …French toast would be just fine with me.

I didn’t need snow this morning, and frankly it surprised the hell out of me. Sure, I heard “winter storm” on the news, at least I think I did, but who really listens to that shit mid-November. Last night, I took it as meteorologists looking for a little evening wood over the potential of bad weather. I was not ready to wake up and actually see the shit.

I’m not sure why the wintery mix makes me so mad. Would I feel differently if it weren’t Monday, if I knew there wouldn’t be a stupid-ass long commute or if there was going to be a crack of sunshine today? The husband will wake up this morning and check the snow report for Mad River before grabbing a shovel to clear the driveway. I’ll look at him and grumble something about picking up his gloves off the kitchen floor.

What if we have another winter like last year? I’ve heard mumbling. Yes, I’ve chosen to ignore it, but what if it’s true? I sit in my cozy chair with a soft, fuzzy blanket wrapped around my shoulders with the SAD light beaming in my face. Can I make it through another Polar Vortex?

During periods of snow last year, I vaguely remember saying, “Well, at least it’s not rain.” No sir-ee, and it might be here a while. That doesn’t really help my half-full outlook, but it also doesn’t change reality.

Am I ready? The cat sucked it up and went outside. Unlike my cat’s furry wardrobe, neither the ass of my pants nor my head can handle four or five months of total hibernation. So, what’s next?

Maybe I need to grab the snow shovel and begin my morning with a little brisk activity. Maybe I could learn to love the snow like the husband. Maybe I could lie down in the front yard and catch snowflakes on my tongue and swish my arms up and down in the fluffy white stuff until my snow angel appears.

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I’ve got a confession.

For the last three weeks, I’ve been taking a Zumba class.

You don’t understand. I am not Zumba. I am not Latiny dance, I am not pop music, and I am not cute aerobics outfits.

But I needed something to help me get back on track and put myself at the top of the to-do list. A friend and I agreed to give it a shot after another friend who mainlines Zumba said, Oh you gotta come. It’s so fun. I looked at her ass and legs that she had whittled down to tiny, muscular rocks over the last year with Zumba.

A week before I went to Australia, my friend and I took the pinky swear. Well, it was actually a “cheers” during a glass of wine, but I’m pretty sure that is more binding.

I returned from Australia and dragged my uncoordinated self to class. So far, so good, I told myself. No 20-something perky bitches who look my way and say to themselves, I will NEVER let myself get like that.

Mostly, it was just a bunch of people in varying sizes and shapes and ages walking around in sweat pants or yoga tights before class. You can do this, Melissa.

The first three weeks, I moved and I watched. The old lady, two rows in front of me, gyrated through the hour of the peppy, Latin-inspired music. If she can do it, I can do it.

Move. Move. Move.

I could follow the warm up and the cool down just fine, but those 55 minutes in between were filled with grand mal seizures, sans the loss of consciousness.

But last night, for the first time, I followed the music (okay, some of it). I still feel like Elaine from Seinfeld in the dance scene, and I’m confident that won’t go away, but for now Zumba offers an hour of activity that goes by pretty fast. So, unlike Elaine, I give it two thumbs up knowing full well there is someone definitely laughing at my antics, but I don’t care.

 

 

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Today instead of looking at things as stupid or marvelous, I searched for beauty in simplicity.

At lunch, I trekked off to Pilates. It’s always a good workout, but also centers me in ways that a spin class can’t touch.

As I thought about stupid vs. marvelous and twisted into one of the seated moves, I caught my reflection in the mirror that stretched the length of the wall. I saw a beautiful woman – not fat, garish or any of the other negative terms I often attach to my body, but someone sitting up tall taking care of her body and soul.

I have to admit there was a moment when I wondered if the Y had placed mirrors along this wall that were meant to flatter. I glanced at the woman next to me, but her reflection looked no different than what I saw in the flesh. Instead of chastising myself for thinking the likeness was not the real me, I thought about what that woman brought to my world as if we were two separate beings.

For just a moment, I looked at her in the mirror and saw me – strong, independent and yes, beautiful. I wondered why I didn’t let myself cohabitate with this woman more often, and yet wondered what might happen if I talked to her on occasion.

It’s been a long time since I looked at my reflection and saw the real person. After first losing 100 pounds, the mirror image looked strange, foreign, unreal. From time to time reality and reflection converged, but quickly splintered leaving me squirming for answers.

When I was at my heaviest, I knew I was overweight, but I never thought I was THAT big, and when I was at my thinnest, I always compared myself with large farm animals. How can I find some peace in all of this?

As I talked to my counselor last week, she asked if I had been overweight all my life. I quickly said yes, but then realized it might not be an accurate statement. I can look at old photos, and remember thinking I was fat, really fat, but the faded Polaroids don’t reflect that either. There were certainly times when my weight fluctuated as a kid, but now I wonder how much of this mindset centered on reality.

I do need to take charge of my recent fluctuation. It scares the hell out of me, and I never want to go back to the woman hiding beneath an invisibility cloak, but today I saw something else, something worthwhile, something simply beautiful.

How closely does your reflection in the mirror match the image in your mind?

Pause the Slippage

I want to eat a house right now. I nearly ate one last night, and it gave me horrible indigestion all night long. I’d like to avoid the re-run this evening so I’m hoping that pushing pause for just a few minutes to post a blog entry might help.

Part of the problem is I spent some time over the weekend traveling and eating too much sugar, which always wreaks havoc so I’m trying to detox a little. Gum usually helps; of course I have none. I’m sucking on a lollipop trying to constantly remind myself not to bite into it, invariably busting up one of my fillings.

I had a pretty good day with food and exercise so the evening cravings threw off my mojo. I ate reasonably and took a spin class at lunchtime. I also noticed today that I didn’t get extraordinarily freaked out in the locker room. I didn’t even contemplate taking two towels into the shower with me, and I stood naked in front of my locker without feeling major heart palpitations. Shit, if things keep going this well, I might be able to bend over in all my glory and not give a rat’s ass, or stand in front of the make-up mirror next to Naked Woman to compare saggy hooters. Nah, that will never happen.

At any rate, I think I have my head screwed back on and the house might be safe for one more night. What helps you press pause to gain control when you feel slippage?

Look Her in the Eye

I saw her again. Naked Woman She appears unexpectedly in odd places in the locker room like the skinny dude in Where’s Waldo, sans the red and white striped shirt – or the pants for that matter.

Am I the only one who notices her or are others just as intrigued as I am? Does she live in some secret nudist colony right here in Central Ohio? Has she always had a healthy self image? Are bodies just bodies to her? Is walking all around the locker room completely naked freeing? Why do I even care?

I just think there may be a lesson to learn if I push myself to find the answer. I had set a loose goal to moon someone by Lyle’s birthday. I had hoped it would give me some acceptance of my own body, once and for all. I wanted to be able to bare my ass and not give a shit if someone else was going to try to count the dimples glowing their way. I set that particular date as tribute to Lyle since in his younger days he’d been so free to show his cheeky side.

Well, Lyle’s birthday came and went last week, and I have nothing significant to report. Maybe six months was unrealistic; I have after all squirmed in my own skin now for 46 years. Erasing body phobias in just a few short months may have been too lofty of a goal. Now, I’m not entirely convinced I need to subject the innocent to my social experiment. But Naked Woman got me thinking.

The funny thing is when I saw her last week, I realized I have indeed talked with her on several other occasions –had complete conversations actually not realizing that she was the ONE. She even has a locker in the same aisle as mine.

I had no idea. I had been trying so hard not to look at her as she walked around the locker room. I realized these two women were indeed the same when I saw her sitting in the lounge where others put on makeup and finish last-minute primping before heading back to work. She was sitting on one of the cream-colored leather couches flipping through the newspaper, her and all her freshly showered parts, as if she was at home cozy and comfy reading the morning headlines and enjoying her first cup of coffee. I’m not sure if I was grossed out or mildly jealous, maybe both.

Without even knowing it, she put me in my place several weeks ago, but it was before I had made the connection that she was Naked Woman. You see, she has also had some significant back surgery that limited her mobility, but she still comes in the Y and exercises every day. Like an insensitive boob, I came in one day after working out, and said to her, “man, I’m glad that’s over,” to which she replied, “I’m just glad that I can come in and work out.”

Smack. I slinked off to the shower hoping I could wash away my tactless comment. I saw her a few weeks after that and she told me about the surgery, and I confessed about my unintentional insensitivity. She absolved my sins, and I didn’t think much more of it.

I find it extraordinarily funny that I have talked to Naked Woman and never realized it was HER, which again makes me wonder if all of this has more to do about my hang ups than puritanical societal restrictions.

I don’t feel like I’m making much progress in becoming comfortable with my own skin, and it is causing more questions to surface. Will the inquiry help me stare down my own fears?

Batter Up

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I’m not sure how last week unraveled, but I’m recovering from a carb tryst.

My batting average tanked with a business trip to Cleveland, which included an Indians game – in the Indians suite, no less. Beer, hot dogs, subs, cookies, you name it; all there within too-easy-of-reach. It was a pretty cool way to watch a baseball game, but my eating habits mirrored the performance of the home team ending their winning streak, and I left feeling bloated and jittery and more disappointed with myself than with the Indians.

Traveling over the weekend didn’t help matters much, but today I got back to business and concentrated on healthy foods, packed with protein, wishing there was a way to outlaw over-processed shit that I like to dump down my pie hole.

This morning I managed to skip donuts at a special event and cookies in the office and dove into a bowl of fat-free cottage cheese and fruit for breakfast at my desk. Woo hoo, not nearly as interesting, but I felt no compunction to start my week full of errors that I wasn’t prepared to calculate.

Midday Pilates and a salad for lunch kept the momentum going. Tonight, I dumped my stuff at the front door and quickly made some eggs scrambled with a bunch of veggies before I could talk myself into a tortellini binge.

So, this week I’m looking to improve my batting average. Exercise and food journaling will hopefully get me to home plate.

Teary Tomatoes

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It’s been no big secret that I workout at the YMCA chronicling my progress with a trainer as I hopefully make peace with my body.

I like the Y. It’s a place where real people go to exercise. I don’t think I’ve seen one set of big fake hooters or collagen-poofed lips in the months I’ve been going. I can just show up in my sweats and tie-die T-shirts, and no one stares at me wondering why I’m there. I like it, and I feel good about what I’m doing for my body.

The Y also reminds me about my stepdad. After Paul had his first heart attack, it was where he headed to get in shape, but it’s also where he had a fatal heart attack. I can’t believe it has been almost six months since he died.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been spending more time in the weight room, probably much like the one where he hung out early mornings, but I feel connected to him when I’m there. I often see men at the Y who are similar in age as Paul, laughing and cracking on each other. I worry about some of these sweating red-faced guys and sometimes they make me sad. I want to tell them to be careful and take it easy and to remember there are people who want them to come home safely. Is someone watching to make sure they aren’t pushing their hearts beyond what is safe?

Back in the locker room, there is a treadmill, bike, elliptical and an exercise ball. When I’m in a hurry, I can hop on the elliptical for a half hour and get it knocked out before I head back to the office. I like the solitude. The other day I noticed a sign that prohibited exercising alone. At first I thought it was pretty cool – the idea of promoting working out with a buddy, but then I realized it was a safety warning. They don’t want people keeling over unsupervised. My stomach lurched

I know it’s morose, but I wonder about Paul’s last day at the gym. I imagine him greeting the people at the front desk with a smile as he grabbed a towel before heading to the weight room. There are times when I’m zoned into my iPod in a heavy sweat on the elliptical and hope for a glimpse of him walking by taking part in some mild trash talk with a trainer, which sometimes makes tears well and threaten to spill over my cheeks before I curse myself for such irrational thoughts.

It’s odd how these thoughts have preoccupied my mind the past few days. I like to believe Paul’s energy is giving me a shout out. I miss calling the house when I know he will pick up the phone so I can get the scoop of what’s going on and share some non-blood banter. I missed an entire winter of him calling just to tell me how warm and sunny it was in Tucson, and I won’t have anyone to brag to about how big my tomatoes grow this summer.

I’m thankful for the smiles, which sprout when I reminisce, but as I planted those tomatoes this afternoon, the memories fell miserably short.

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