Monday, September 27, 2004


And the revelations continue. On our epic, 20-hour roadtrip, Professor Taco and I had occasion to discuss many things, among them, my current project. Right up there with the myriad other ways the professor is the best goddamn thing that ever happened to me is the way he helps prod me along toward revelations. The way he somehow knows what's in my mind just a second before I do.

Most recently, in Gladiola (our little red station wagon), somewhere in, I think, Quebec, or maybe it was just outside Toronto, that part of the trip is a blur (though let me digress here to say that I packed the healthiest cooler ever taken on a roadtrip. Baby carrots, sugar snap peas, homemade hummus, whole wheat pita, plain organic yogurt with ground flax and frozen fruit, roasted tofu and peppers in whole wheat wraps. We didn't stop once for road food, and we were delighted with ourselves for that). Anyhow, where was I? Somewhere in Upper Canada. Discussing the project with the professor. And he said, the thing with you is that if you want a burger, or you feel you've been good and you can afford to eat what you want, you just say, whatever. Thing is, he said, you say it all the time.

And it's true. He's right. I do. I say, whatever, it's just a burger, whatever, it's just french fries. It's just cheese, it's just white bread, it's just pie, it's just pistachios, it's just chips, it's just whatever. Whatever, whatever, I'll make it up somewhere else. Problem is, I never do. I don't keep track of the whatevers, and before I know it, all I've eaten all week are whatevers. I don't compensate with salad, or extra workouts, or more water, or grilled fish, or a day without starches or...well, whatever.

It's like living in a casino these days, being inside my head. Lights and bells going off all the time. My name is Stephanie, and I am a Whatever-Eater.

And this would be why it looks like I don't have a problem with food. I mean, maybe I don't. Maybe I have a problem with math. Or history. Or some other high school subject. Say, gym. I'm not a binge eater, not usually. Oh, I can eat a lot of pistachios in a mindless way, but not every day, and not enough that those alone constitute this avoirdupois. It's more that I eat each meal as if it is totally unconnected to every other meal. As if there is no narrative thread to my eating. No storyline, no consequences, no cause and effect. So though I don't eat a lot each day, I don't necessarily run a tab in my head, right at the front of my mind, of what I've eaten, and what that means I should eat next. It seems to me that perhaps this is something healthy people do.

Well, how do you like that? That one's pretty obvious, probably. To me, though? An epiphany of Joycean proportions.

Christ, for a smart person, I sure am dumb.

In other news, the scale here at the ancestral palace would seem to suggest I've gained four pounds since I started working out, then went down half a pound overnight, then back up two and a half the next day. Yes, I know I shouldn't be weighing myself every two minutes. But after, what, 15 years spent rarely stepping on a scale, I guess I feel like I have lost time to make up for. Or something. Truth is, I just need a new place to start from. So I'll take the number I saw on the scale here the first time I stepped on it, the one that has me four pounds up. I'll take that as my new starting point, and measure myself against it.

Speaking of measuring myself, I did that again this week and recorded some changes, in the bust, calf and upper arm. Slight ones, but changes nonetheless. And I'll lay off the scale for a week, checking in again next Monday.

Anyhow, I'm here for a month, hanging with the parental unit (god, I remember when saying that was cool. Now, I fear, it marks me as old and dull. Damn! Well, I may not be able to do anything about being old and dull, but I'm fucked if I'll be old, dull and overweight.). It'll be challenging...I'll have to be sure to cook a lot so I can make sure I'm eating the way I want to. There's an awful lot of stuff in this house I would never have around my own, like jellybeans and ice cream and chips and things that come in boxes. There is also, however, a treadmill. So instead of eating chips, I'll walk for half an hour. Should be ok.

Meanwhile, the professor is heading to France and China, finishing up his time with the band. We'll be apart for a month, each with our own challenges. Mine, to lose ten pounds by November 1, his to get ready to quit smoking by the same deadline. Before long, we'll be not just an art-powerhouse couple (hee!), but also a lean, mean, clean air breathing machine.

Sorry, again with the rhyming. I'm sentencing myself to 35 minutes on the treadmill for that.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

The weighting is the hardest part

Total. Systems. Failure.

Last night was a big old meltdown. Fortunately, not the kind I've read about, where the subject in question freaks her beak and eats everything in sight. That's rarely been my M.O. No, I just had a complete freak-out about how much I have to do. I'm leaving town tonight for a month. And I just got home on Sunday. I feel like I haven't spent more than ten minutes in my house since I got home in April. I can't settle in to a routine, because the routine keeps changing. Because I'm always on the road.

And did I mention that I have so much to do? I have to call Ikea customer service, and Aliant customer service (and I use the words customer service very, very loosely, you understand). I have to call my bad contractor about how bad he is, how he still hasn't come to finish the job on the bathroom. I have to clean the house, and pack to be away for a month, which means hauling my winter clothes out of the basement. Plus, I have to show my new roommate how to use the furnace, and the VCR and how the recycling system works. And I have to do the dishes. And clean my room. And vaccuum out the vents so that when my new roommate turns the furnace on, he doesn't drown in drywall dust. And I should have the furnace clean. And I need to buy kitty litter. And I have to make healthy snacks for our roadtrip, which we leave on TONIGHT. And I have to figure out what programs they have at the Y in Mississauga, and what my new workout schedule will be, because by the way, did I mention I have to lose a hundred pounds?

I mean, jesus wept, how am I supposed to get all that done? Before 6pm tonight? It's JUST NOT POSSIBLE.

So I did the only thing that seemed productive. I had a major freaking tear filled cryfest. Sobbing, sobbing on Professor Taco's shoulder in the car. Weeping, weeping when he fell asleep in his clothes with his contacts in spread across the bed. Weeping! As if it were a tragedy! Crying, crying and saying, I'm so tired, I'm so tired.

And the truth is, I am so tired. I am so tired of my old ways, whatever those are. I told Kravitz last night about my new project and she, like the professor, immediately said, but you don't have a problem with food. This is how well I've hidden it. That the people who know me best don't know, don't see it.

Because I know how and what to eat. I know that with my brain. But the lizard part of my mind wants and wants and wants. And while I've never mindlessly eaten a tub of ice cream, or woken up with chocolate drool drying on my face, I will mechanically eat nuts or chips, without even really savouring the saltiness that draws me there in the first place. I will take seconds, too many seconds, till I feel uncomfortably stuffed. Not because I'm still hungry, but because I want that taste, that mouthfeel again.

And though I worked out last week, I also went to Banff and ate many, many desserts. I ate bread on Sunday at Mom's, and pie. Ice cream last night at Johnny and Julie's, though not much of it, and it was light, apparently. And one tiny square of chocolate, though the dish of them was in front of me. There, at least, I worked hard and succeeded. I could have eaten all of them. I had one, really tasted it, and was happy with that.

I don't want food to be the enemy. I don't want my body to be the enemy. I think if I get on a scale today I will discover that I haven't lost a thing. Well, that I haven't lost any weight. But I think I've lost my ignorance about the situation. I've lost my ability to pretend I'm not fat, to pretend that the reason I can't do things is because I have weak ankles or I'm afraid of heights. Both those things are true, but not as true as I make them out to be. I've lost my desire to maintain the status quo.

And maybe that's the most important loss of all.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Cheese is the enemy

This is not news to me. This I've known for some time. Not just because cheese is loaded up with fat. Mainly because I'm allergic to it, and it really screws with my head. Case in point: At the airport on Saturday, in the Maple Leaf Lounge (thanks, Guenther!), what there was to eat was cheese and melba toast. And because I was very hungry, and that's what there was to eat, I ate it. Rather more cow's cheese than I've had in years. And because I've actually been quite diligently lately about NOT eating cow cheese, by the next morning, I was all stuffy in the head. Just like the bad old days of unabashed cheese-eating.

These days, my cheese-eating is considerably more abashed. And with good reason. I got on the plane with my stuffy head and dripping eyes, and when we came in for a landing, one of my ears refused to clear. Which meant that I walked around for most of a day feeling like I had an ear full of cotton candy. An ear which just two minutes ago, just as I started typing this, became mostly unblocked with the mother of all sneezes.

Anyhow, cheese. I love it, it does not love me. Once and for all, cheese is the enemy, lay off it. The cheese of goats, however, is still a lovely alternative, and well worth the points once or twice a week.

Ah yes, points. Well, I didn't do too well with those bastards this week. If I hadn't had to learn my valuable burger lesson, I might have come out of it ok. But that cost me 19 points, and despite the incredible number of activity points I racked up last week, I came out with a deficit. Why? Because Banff. Well, because of choices I made in Banff.

Because in Banff, baby, there was great food. I mean, these people had soymilk available at the breakfast buffet. Breakfast, in fact, was no problem, and it is usually the meal that stymies me on the road. But in Banff, I ate the same as I would at home. Fruit and yogurt, cornflakes and soymilk. Scrambled egg (no toast! no potatoes! didn't miss them!). Even lunch was ok, the first day. Chicken breast, vegetables, plain rice, salad. But then came dessert. Lots and lots of dessert. And plenty of peer pressure too. One of my colleagues there said she lives each day as if it's her last, and that includes eating dessert. It's a nice philosophy, but frankly, if I'm to live each day as if it's my last, then I'd best get on this getting strong and capable. Because I'd hate to die and not be at my best. Because even though I haven't been admitting it, I know that the way I'm living is probably going to kill me if it doesn't change. So for me, from now on, living each day as if it's my last has to include eating food that's good for me, drinking lots of water, and working out, every day.

That was one thing I managed to do this weekend. And it surprised me. I went for a big walk on Saturday morning in Banff. Just hauled myself out of bed, into my sneakers and out into the cold mountain air. Totally worth it. I had a great walk and felt invigorated from head to toe afterward. Yesterday, in Mississauga, same deal. Hopped out of bed soon as I woke and headed out on a 35-minute walk. As long as I can do that every day that I don't go to the gym, I'll be ok.

And I told Mom about my new project, and she wants in. Jeff, too. This is good, considering I'm going to be living there for a month. Nice to have them onside. Mom will check out weight watchers while I'm in town. And I'll keep up with the walks, plus investigate the local branch of the y. Because though my first week was rocky -- I'm not expecting to see a loss, frankly. It'd be a freaking miracle -- I am committed to these changes.

Next challenge: Road trip to Toronto with the Professor. Should be ok. He's supportive, and I can pack a whack of healthy snacks.

Heh. That all rhymed. Sorry about that.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

In which I learn a valuable lesson about hamburgers and french fries

There were tears this morning. Before that, there was an itchy nose. That's where it started. Actually, where it started was at a soulless chain restaurant in the soulless big box planet just outside of town last night. That's where I thought, hey, I'm good. I earned, like, a brillion activity points, I would like a hamburger and french fries, and that's what I will order.

Duly ordered, duly eaten. No big whoop.

This morning, with the itchy nose. A symptom I get from foods I'm sensitive too. Including, once and for all, puffy white bread. Hello, Steph? You can't eat that shit. It makes your nose itch!

So I tell the professor about the itchy nose. He doesn't get it at first. I tell him that I ate a burger and fries for supper, and that it wasn't, actually, very good. And now that I have the itchy nose, in the cool light of morning, it's easy for me to see that the burger and fries weren't very good. And he's all, well of course they weren't very good. Geez. You ate at Montana's for the love of Mike.

Which made me cry.

Why? Oh, because I'm a crybaby. And probably premenstrual. And because it's so simple for him, and so not that simple for me. And because all my revelations now make me feel like an idiot. Because the thin world knew them all along. But anyhow, I sobbed. I expressed dismay that he wasn't trying to hear me. He sat down, I started talking, I figured it out as I went.

See, the thing is, I'd been thinking about that burger all day. About the fun experience of going shopping with a friend, and then stopping for a burger and fries. The thing I realised, though, is that in the past, I have eaten all burgers and all fries as if they are good. I have thought of them as abstract foods-that-I-enjoy eating. Whether or not the actual, concrete experience of eating them THAT TIME were really pleasurable. In the past, I have eaten many a mediocre burger in a mindless way, thinking, yup, burger, good. When really? The burger at Montana's -- and so many other places, so many other times -- was exactly what you'd expect. Merely whatever. Merely ok, inoffensive. But if I'm going to eat a puffy bun that makes my nose itch, it had better be a beautiful puffy bun. If I'm going to eat french fries, they had better be handcut, skin still on, piping hot so the vinegar tastes sharp and the salt sticks to them. Because otherwise, what is the point? Last night, I ate an only-ok burger and fries and it turns out I would have been happier with salad.

Talk about a revelation.

Not because I don't love salad. I do love salad, actually. I do not serve supper without salad, as a generally rule. But I never think of it when I'm out. When I'm out, I think of treat foods. Like burgers and fries. But you know, maybe if I ate those at home, where I could make really great burgers and really great fries, maybe if I scratched that particular itch in a way that I control, then maybe when I'm out, food could just be food. Just something you eat when you're hungry. Instead of some iconic meal I eat whether I want it or not.

Obviously I'm going to need to eat more fish. Because as it stands, I am just not smart enough to understand myself right now.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The fervour of the recent convert

Is there anything that burns so bright? Possibly my face after yesterday's exertions. I left the office before five, as per my plan. Hit the Y and, after some confusion finding the actual gym (yeah, ok, I've never set foot in there. I've always been more interested in the pool, myself), submitted to my very first ever organised gym class.

It's a little like religion, isn't it? But with more sweating.

This particular class was Circuit, which I LOVED. Yup, loved it. Forty-five second intervals of cardio and weights. More of that, please. I felt strong and invincible after, and had many ridiculous revelations throughout, like, "Hey, the more I do this, the easier it gets!" and "exercise makes me feel good!" I'm like that talking Barbie, the one that said mainly stupid or self-evident things, like "math class is hard." Doy-oy, Barbie.

And then after Circuit, I changed into my bright red swimsuit and slid into the pool for Deep Water Aquafit. Which is taught by my neighbour. Which is so, so Halifax. The class was challenging and though I've done it before and loved it, coming after a brisk 45-minute workout in Circuit, um, it just didn't feel as fun, somehow. But I pushed through it. And it got easier. Ah, the revelations. It's not so much that they keep coming. More it's that that particular one comes again and again (harder!) (sorry.). Anyhow, by the end of it I was glad I'd stuck with it. My limbs felt noodly, but invigorated, if those aren't diametrically opposed.

Getting on my bike and riding home was something of a challenge. Like slow-motion girl I pedalled the slight incline all the way from the Y to my house. Whew. Then, though I'd been fantasising that Professor Taco might be home from practise making me supper, sadly, he was not. And for the second night in a row, instead of falling hungrily upon whatever snacks I could lay my grimy paws on, I sliced and chopped and cooked and stirred, and before too long I had a pot of outrageously good curry and some soba noodles to go with. Sometimes, I love my own cooking so much I think, heck, we've legalised gay marriage...I should just go ahead and marry myself! But then I'd have to cheat on myself with Taco, and I respect myself too much for that. ANYHOW, I digress. Surprisingly.

So, curry and soba, yum. World Cup Hockey Game, in which Team Canada wins the cup, double yum. Professor Taco coming home exhausted and falling asleep on my lap as the hockey game winds down, triple yum, except it meant I had to yell very quietly at the tv during the final minutes of the third period which was difficult, but hey, one must make sacrifices for those one loves. And then, too tired from a double workout day to stay up for the Amazing Race, I popped a tape in and slept the very satisfied sleep of the extremely on-plan.


And today, again, so good so far. Which is good. Because tomorrow afternoon I fly to Banff for meetings. Meetings that will be catered. Meetings that will not be catered in any kind of healthful way. And then a day at the ancestral palace, a day that will doubtless include some kind of cake or pie or squares or, god help me, all three. Cake I can take or leave. But pies and squares? Oh god pies and squares. Do I love myself more than I love them? Yeah, I probably do. I'm pretty big on myself, ask anyone.

Tonight, I meet my personal trainer. Hee!

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Twenty four little hours

When Taco came home last night, I said, do you want to hear about how I did today? And he said, with what? And I said, hello, dummy, with what we talked about yesterday morning? And he said, oh, you started changing already? And I said, Oh yeah, I do not fuck around.

Ok, maybe I fucked around for most of my life, but now that I've made a decision -- a conscious decision, a vocalised decision, and this is very important, this part of it -- now that I've made a decision, I'm all, like, decisive. Ah, that rings with authority, doesn't it? There was the Weight Watchers, for starters. Weird and churchy though it feels to me -- and that's without going to meetings, even -- joining was a bold, decisive move. My own devices haven't been very helpful to me over the past few decades, so I'm ready to try someone else's devices, even if they scare me a little. Maybe especially if they scare me a little.

So anyhow, I had a perfect day. A day of perfect, clean eating. Here are the things I did not eat yesterday:
Chocolate chip cookies provided by the MN Cookie Cabal, a media organisation that has its headquarters RIGHT BESIDE MY DESK. The cookies aren't particularly tempting, and salt has always been more my game, but the cookies are THERE, and lately, that's been enough to have me eating at least a cookie or two a day.
Speaking of salt: A Quarter Pounder With Cheese. This is something I eat approximately four times a year. Yes, my quarterly Quarter Pounder. And because there is nothing Core about it, I longed for it yesterday. But not too terribly. Not badly enough that I went on automatic and footed it over to the grease factory to get one. Though I did walk by. But that was on my way to the Y to get the class schedule. Mwhahah.
French fries from Randy's Pizza on the way home. I was hungry, it was late, I hadn't made a supper plan, and there was Randy's, with its neon siren song, right at the corner of my street. But that would be foolish, I thought, as I cruised by on my bike. I don't really want those fries. What I really want is to make myself proud. And some whole wheat pasta. With veggie sauce. And a big salad. With two teaspoons of olive oil, which, it turns out, is exactly enough! Well, slap my ass and call me rosy.
Several handfuls of lime nacho chips. My previous MO would be to scoff some of these while cooking supper. Thought about it tonight. That's the thing -- I THOUGHT about it. It's nice to be thoughtful. I am everywhere else in my life. It's my thing. The goal, the true goal, is to become thoughtful about food, as well. And not in some abstract way, but in a very, very concrete way indeed.

So here I am, a day in. I measured myself this morning. Taco came into the room while I was doing so, and it was so marvellous to feel unashamed. To acknowledge my body. To have it spoken between us, rather than unspoken. To say he doesn't care what my body looks like is not quite accurate. He loves me regardless, that is true. He loves the package I come in, he says. But we both want me strong and capable. And in my case, that's going to mean smaller as well. We're both excited by this. I'm not doing it for him. But maybe I'm able to do it because of him, somehow. Not that he'll be the one not eating ice cream. Not that he'll be the one going to the gym. Not that he'll be the one rearranging patterns of thought and habit. But he makes me feel safe. Safe enough to change.

I am indeed a lucky happy girl.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Well, this is awkward

After, oh, 25 years spent not discussing my weight with anyone, I've suddenly discussed it in detailed terms with Professor Taco, the most perfect boyfriend ever - and now, with you, the World Wide Web. Go figure.

So what the hell happened? I don't know. It's not like I've never thought about it before. Of course I've thought about it. Like, every day. All day. I've thought things like, I'd like to be a size smaller by my birthday, or by that wedding, or by Christmas. And then...well, then I've done not a whole lot to make that happen. A bit of half-hearted exercise here and there. Yoga, aquafit, hip-hop dancing. But never enough to make a difference, and never for very long.

And so yesterday, when I woke up and Professor Taco was still snoozing, I laid in bed and thought: I have to do something about this. Now. And the first thing I have to do is talk to Taco about it.

And so, when he woke up, I did just that.

Why now? I don't know. Why not now? I mean, why not a frillion years ago, sure, but really, now's as good a time as any. But as to why I think I can now, why I've said it out loud for the first time...a lot of it has to do with my relationship with the Professor, I think. Knowing that he loves me no matter what has somehow made a little space for me to love myself a bit more. Enough to want to work out and feel better and be more fit.

This is a very, very simple answer. There's more to it, of course. But hey, it's not like this is going to be over soon. Plenty of time to examine my head. Won't that be fun?

Anyhow, here's the plan: I signed up for Weight Watchers today. Extremely out of character, but staying in character hasn't really helped my health, so might as well buck a trend. I'm all Core all the time now.

And tonight, I'll go to yoga at the Y. Normally, I'd go to my yoga studio. I'm a yoga snob. But I'm not getting around to finding out when the classes are these days, and I have to be out of town a bunch and so it's not worth buying an eight week pass or whatever...and the excuses mound up. So, snobbery aside, it's YMCA yoga for me tonight.

Tuesdays will be circuit training at the Y and deep water aquafit.

Wednesdays I will meet with my personal trainer. My personal trainer? Who the hell am I?

Thursdays will be Latin cardio and aquafit, at, of course, the Y. My new home away from home.

Fridays will be yoga, again at the Y.

And then of course, there's riding my bike to work. And later this fall, bellydancing classes.

My goal weight? To be determined. I have a vague idea how much I weigh right now. Will find out for sure at the Y Wednesday night, which will become my weekly weigh-in. I'm not so interested in pounds as I am in sizes and ability. I want to be able to comfortably climb into the backseat of a two-door car. Run with no knee pain. Buy a bra that doesn't come in a box. Never worry about fitting airplane seats. Lie comfortably on the couch with Taco. Buy tall boots. Learn to kayak. Shop wherever I want.

You know. The usual stuff.