USE IT OR LOSE IT
by Nancy Rechtman
Do you remember the days that you could eat mountains of ice cream, bags of chips, a family-sized pizza, and you wouldn't gain an ounce? And, if the scale did fluctuate slightly to the right, you could just do a few extra pushups or walk around the block and you would be right back where you started from? No, it wasn't a wonderful dream; it was one of the many metabolic benefits of youth.
Fast forward twenty years. You now chow down on a daily delectable bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, a dry salad for lunch and steamed veggies for dinner. The thrill is gone. And in spite of living in a constant state of deprivation, you hope and pray that you have caused no insult to the stern and unyielding scale in the corner of the bathroom, precipitating an upward spike for no earthly reason. But scales are fickle creatures, easily peeved. One day, you might be at a normal weight. You might have eaten your normal foods, done your regular exercises, not varied your routine in the least. But the next morning, you scream in terror. The scale has given you its evil eye, gleefully leaping five pounds higher than the previous day with no rhyme or reason as to why this happened.
And, heaven forbid, you decide to deviate slightly from this unending boredom during that frenzied eating season known as "The Holidays." This encompasses all holidays from Thanksgiving to New Year's. (If you dig into the Halloween candy, add another month to your calculations.) Even if you don't stuff yourself like the Thanksgiving turkey, you might decide to eat an extra cookie, have a sliver of pie, take a spoonful of sweet potatoes. Just to add some iota of joy back into your life. A little color. A little bit of the carefree child you once were. Faster than you can say, "Wow, that was delicious," your weight has catapulted into the stratosphere. As penance, you deny yourself all gastronomic pleasures, you double your efforts at exercise and, a week later, you cautiously approach the scale, plaintively, on your knees. You whisper your apologies. You promise you will never stray again. You gingerly rise and put your toes, then your feet fully onto the ice cold surface. You slowly open your eyes. Once again, your screams reverberate through the house. The scale has tauntingly refused to budge. In fact, you are certain you can actually hear it laughing at you.
The diet experts on TV are always reminding us that we didn't gain the weight overnight, so how can we expect to lose it overnight? But, you protest, I actually did gain it overnight. This bulging stomach was not here a week ago! These thunderous thighs are a new addition to my appearance! This apple of a figure is not the real me! But the scale has no pity. And neither do the seams of your desperately straining jeans. There is no forgiveness once you have passed the dewy-eyed naivete of your youth.
I have tried to solve this problem through exercise. Specifically by going on a spending spree of purchasing various exercise books, DVDs and equipment. I now have an exercise ball, free weights, dance DVDs, yoga DVDs, Pilates DVDs, stepper, resistance band…well, you get the picture. I used to have an exercise bicycle, too. I found it made a great clothing rack. The one thing that is definitely lighter is my wallet. Am I actually using these books, DVDs and equipment? I will plead the Fifth. Anyone walking into my house would think that I am an exercise fanatic, with carefully scattered exercise paraphernalia on display throughout our house. I even have the clothing that would label me as someone who is totally into fitness. It was all bought with the best of intentions. If I got tired of the treadmill, I could do cardio salsa rocking to the Oldies belly dancing. If I got tired of that, I could do light weights Pilates yoga balance ball trampoline. Or, I could spin around in my computer chair until I get so dizzy that I fall off and roll around the floor until smashing into the wall. Actually, that sounds just about as appealing as any of the other alternatives.
I really do want to be strong and healthy and back to a weight that doesn't involve elastic waists and over-sized sweatshirts. I remember what it was like to look down and actually see my toes. But, now that the experts are telling us that chocolate may be considered a health food, I may just have to figure out a way to decoupage my scale and use it as a paperweight.
Please let me know your reactions to these columns as I would enjoy hearing what bugs you, too. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved. Small excerpts of the column may be republished as long as appropriate credit is given. To request permission to publish larger portions or the entire column, e-mail email@example.com.