WHAT ARE YOU WILLING TO GIVE UP?

FAT CAT

I still stand by my statement that nobody can have it all. Those neurotic, Type-A women who say they’re doing it all and they’ve never been happier? The ones who claim they’re able to run their own business, work out, be an awesome mother, a loving and fulfilling wife, AND plant an herb garden on the weekend are fooling themselves. Or pilfering their kid’s Adderall.

It’s just not physically possible, is it? I have the job, kid, and working out part going on, and most of the time I feel like I’m going to drop dead from sheer exhaustion. I want 2 things more than anything in this world: for my son not to grow up to become a part of the penal system, and to have a lucrative career as a writer. So what am I willing to give up? A relationship, which requires work, energy, and persistence.

What am I willing to give up for staying in shape? Ugh, what a bitch that is. My entire life I’ve been able to wish away the pounds… or snort them away, or starve them away. Until I hit my 40s. Then, not eating for 3 days suddenly didn’t work anymore. Which meant I had to exercise. I hate exercise. Always have. But I was forced to do it, because I saw my body changing in ways I had never seen before. Ways I didn’t like, and it wasn’t pretty. So I started exercising regularly and whipped my fat ass back into shape. A boyfriend commented, “You’re so tight. How are you so tight?” I told him he could thank my obstetrician for that. “No,” he said. “Not that. Your body.” How? “I work my ass off, that’s how,” I told him. Even when I’m tired. Or hungover. Or feeling lazy.

A few years later, I stopped working out. Went through a winter depression and just didn’t care. Body parts became soft again. How bad did I want to get back into shape? Meh. Wasn’t high on my priority list. Much more important was my coffee with heavy cream and dark chocolate Lindt balls. Even more important was writing my novel.

Now, with the novel finished and summer here, my priorities have shifted yet again. Keep my son’s head from exploding from too many video games, and get back into shape. I’ve started swimming and running every day, because I can’t get away with only exercising every other day anymore. Not with a sedentary job. I’m almost tempted to work at McDonalds just to up my metabolism. Now I weigh the choice between 4 potato chips verses 35 minutes on the treadmill. How bad do I want those potato chips? Not enough to add another half hour of running into my day.

Today, as I was getting my son’s daily allotment of 3 Oreos, I just had to stick my nose inside the bag and inhale deeply. “It’d be really, really easy to eat 16 of these,” I said to myself. How badly did I want Oreos? I sighed. Then I cursed, and sealed up the bag. Not enough to feel like crap tomorrow.

What are you willing to give up?

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HOLY CRAP I’M FAT!

I grew up wanting to be a model. I worshipped the uber-divas
of my time: Naomi, Christie, Linda, Cindy – no last names needed. As any girl
who’s ever wanted to be a model knows, she must procure the perfect size 0
body.

I came out of the birth canal with hips. Hips that became
even more padded when I went on the Pill as a teenager. (Damn estrogen!) While
I may have been considered thin, I was never skinny. You know the skinny I’m
talking about – no boobs, protruding hipbones, flat stomach, can see daylight
between the thighs. The kind of body that makes men worry they’ll break you if
they lay on you, but women say, “Damn girl, look at you! I hate you. What’s
your secret?”

It didn’t matter that I come from Italian and Polish
ancestry, where having a “child-bearing” body is supposed to be a compliment. I
wanted that unattainable skinny boy’s body that is only possessed by 2 % of the
female population. I never got it, of course. The closest I came was one summer
of modeling school, when I subsisted daily on raw veggies, two lattes, and the ubiquitous
protein powder used by models to stay thin – cocaine.

Barely pushing 5’5”, the only country I was invited to model in was Japan, so I gave up that dream
to pursue a more self-esteem-building profession – acting. Instead of illegal
drugs, I kept myself thin in a much healthier manner. I drank coffee all day to
keep from eating.

To say I have always been somewhat obsessed with my body image
is like saying Kim K. is a bit of a publicity whore.  I have always maintained my weight, even
throughout my pregnancy, because well, I was too damn vain to become fat.

Then came the happy pills…Zoloft, Prozac and Effexor, in
that order, to ensure I didn’t wind up in the psych ward after my ex walked out
on me and our one-year-old son. Take the anxiety and depression I already felt
over being a new mom, pour in 2/3 cup of abandonment, mix with a ¼ cup of
unemployment; top it off with no help whatsoever, add a dash of poverty
sprinkles, and you wind up with one enormous shitcake.

Low serotonin levels usually trigger a craving for carbohydrates.
Here I was, receiving steady doses of the happy hormone, serotonin, and for the
first time in my life all I craved were carbs – specifically in the form of a
cinnamon raison bagel dripping with butter, and dunked in tea. I had one for
breakfast and one for dinner. Each and every day for approximately two years.

One day my sister and I were watching a video taken from her
birthday party. There was a woman in the background wearing a strapless dress.
She should not be wearing that dress with her back fat, I thought, and look at
those flabby arms and – “HOLY CRAP, THAT’S ME!”

That was my A-ha moment. It’s true what everyone says. You
don’t realize the full extent of your fatness until you see a picture of
yourself. I must have packed on a good forty pounds, and the sad part was I
didn’t give a flying freak. I was on meds. Who cared if I was fat? At least I
wasn’t psycho.

Surprisingly, a lot of people cared. Friends and family
actually had the audacity to comment on my extra poundage. They’d say things
like, “Remember when you used to be so thin?” To me, that’s the equivalent of
telling someone who’s been laid off, “Remember when you used to be employed?”
Uh, yeah.

As if I don’t realize I can’t button my jeans anymore. “Gee,
they must have shrunk in the wash.”

My “every woman should be a size 4 or else they’re worthless”
father tried to intimidate me out of my fatness. “Do you know you’re considered
clinically obese?” he demanded, and then proceeded to whip out his medical encyclopedia
to prove his clinical observation.  Any other daughter may have thought, How
sweet. Dad’s concerned about my extra weight affecting my health. Knowing my
father however, made me realize his cutting comments had more to do with his
unrealistic standards of perfection, and the fact that I hadn’t attained them.

“How dare you become clinically
obese and make me look like a failure as a father!”

It was the prospect of getting naked with someone again that
finally propelled my fat ass into gear. If the world were filled solely with women,
I’d probably be 300 lbs. and swimming in a vat of melted chocolate layered with
whipped cream. But I had gotten to the point, after six long years, where I wanted
to have sex again. I knew that if I didn’t get myself back into shape I’d be
doomed to a life of missionary sex with the lights off.

I lost the weight; this time by working out. I may not have
the body I did when I was twenty, but I’m doing okay for forty-three. With or
without anyone’s approval.