It happens slowly, doesn’t it? The distance between ideal health and uncomfortably snug pants is generally marked by gradual tiptoeing rather than giant, bold strides. Tiny, seemingly-insignificant, often-unconscious little decisions accumulate until one morning a straining button gives way and takes flight. Out of curiosity, you step on the scale and exclaim, “What the what?!! How exactly did I get here?!” And then you recall…the extra cookies, the lack of attention to regular exercise, all those delicious and totally-worth-it holiday cocktails.
After proving to myself in November that—even after a life-altering injury—I still have it in me to run a race and perform decently, I did myself a huge disservice. Rather than continuing down the path toward health, I patted myself on the back and gave myself a pass for the holidays. Because I pushed it a bit too much during the race and my foot ached as a result, I justifiably gave myself permission to ramp it back a bit. “Ramp it back a bit” gradually became, “Can’t run OR walk because it’s too cold and dark and the dog’s old,” “Give yourself a break you just started a new job!,” “You should probably test every single thing you bake during the holidays,” and finally…“What the heck?…it’s the holidays!”
Last week, after about a month and a half of slacking, I mustered the courage to step on the scale and survey the damage. Much to my dismay, I found that I am the heaviest I’ve been since pregnancy. While some of my friends scoff when I tell them this and say things like, “What are you talking about?! You look great!” I remind them that OF COURSE I look great! It’s the middle of winter! It’s still perfectly acceptable to hide all of my extra “softness” under many layers of clothing and a fabulous coat. I think they’d be singing a different tune if they saw me in a bathing suit or—better yet—talked to that button that finally gave up the fight after struggling too long to contain my girth. Whether a size 6 or a size 26, when things stop fitting the way they’re supposed to …it’s just not fun anymore. No matter how I may look to myself or anyone else…I feel sluggish and gross. The boys are starting to squish my once taught parts and say things like, “Mom: How come you’re so squishy?” How come, indeed.
I am fully aware that at the ripe old age of 42, after the birth of two children and two months of bed rest over the summer, things aren’t just going to perk up like they did when I was 20. I’m ever-so fine with the inevitable droop that befalls us all over time. Still, there comes a time to distinguish between what is inevitable and what is simply poor management. For me, that time has come. And so, I am issuing this reclamation proclamation…
Self: You don’t seem to be performing up to your potential. If you continue to underperform, a heartbreaking loss of very cute wardrobe options may ensue. Body: You belong to me and I’m taking you back. You’ve had your fun little vacation and now it’s time to get back to work. Instead of gradually tiptoeing toward a bigger size, it’s time to gradually tiptoe back to where you belong. Maybe instead of coasting up elevators, you can take the stairs. Maybe you can do some yoga while you’re catching up on Downton Abbey. Maybe you can bring your running clothes and get moving while the boys are in karate class. Perhaps you can limit yourself to just 3 pieces of chocolate most days. We’ve wandered dangerously off course and it’s time to get back into familiar territory.