By now, two months into 2017, most people have given up on their New Year’s resolutions to lose weight. I’ll admit it, I give up every year around this time, and the chronic pattern of lose-gain-guilt-lose-gain-guilt repeats itself in perpetuity.
Every year, I start out raring and ready to drop ten pounds fast.
I pick a simple diet without pesky portion controls, to fit our hectic lifestyle. You know, the kind that allows me to eat pork rinds dipped in mayonnaise, bacon-wrapped prime rib, and blocks of cream cheese to my heart’s content.
A couple of weeks into the diet, I’m five pounds of toxin-flushing water weight down, and other than extreme constipation and debilitating fatigue, I feel fabulous.
However, during week three or four, the needle on my scale wouldn’t budge. I eat more eggs than Cool Hand Luke, but the only thing I lose is motivation. Without the stimulus of weight loss, I just can’t take it anymore.
In a last ditch effort to break through my weight loss plateau, I hit the base gym … hard.
Although I haven’t done more than power walk in years, I find myself in the weight room with dozens of iron-pumping young military men, heaving heavy disks onto the squat machine like a pro. They’re doing it, why can’t I? With the bar across my shoulders, I lower my 50-year-old mom frame into a squat, and am pleasantly surprised to see a little muscle bulging in my thigh. I’m so relieved to know it still exists, I repeat the maneuver over and over, happily watching my little muscle flexing just under the skin.
The next morning, I cannot get out of bed.
My stomach muscles are screaming in pain from the sets of planks I’d done to impress some younger spouses on the mats, and I feel paralyzed from the waist down. Unable to lift my torso from the mattress, I roll sideways to exit the bed. While walking gingerly to the bathroom, I note that my thighs feel a bit tender, but nothing prepares me for the excruciating experience of using the toilet.
Standing in front of the porcelain fixture, I unhinge my knees, expecting my quadriceps to take over where my joints left off. But as my quads contract to support my middle-aged girth, I am seized with dual jolts of agony. Instinctively, my legs go limp, I cry out in pain, and I plop onto the seat, knocking the toilet paper off its roller and the magazines off the sink. After making all necessary deposits, I wonder how I’m supposed to get back up without the use of my thighs. In a clumsy attempt to stand, I somehow pull the towel rail out of the wall.
The rest of the week, I walk around like I just got off a horse, I avoid all physical exercise, and I stop drinking liquids to minimize bathroom visits, which of course, stalls my weight loss. I turn to a can of Pringles for comfort, and the whole cycle starts all over again.
However, this year will be different. Instead of falling back into old routines, I’m trying new metabolism-boosting meals, I ordered a gluten-free cookbook, and I’m finding new walking trails around town. I started eating more fish, loading up on weird veggies I’ve never tried like rainbow chard, and enjoying all the fruits that were forbidden back in my pork rind days.
I still made mistakes, like the night I drank three glasses of red wine, which lowered my inhibitions enough for me to eat an entire package of windmill cookies that had been in the back of the cabinet since Christmas.
But overall, I’ve stayed on track.
Still, I can’t help but worry… Is long-term change really achievable? Do I have the strength to disprove the adage that old habits die hard? Will the syrup smothered smorgasbord of Fat Tuesday tempt me to board the weight loss roller coaster for another ride?
Fat chance. After 35 years of gaining and losing the same ten pounds, I’m ready to break the cycle for good.
Rainbow chard, anyone?