A few days ago, I hopped on the scale to get the base reading for a puppy weight check. What? What's that?The scale must have been on a grout line or something, but no... there it was. It wasn't horrible, but it was a number I haven't seen since I was on my way up or down from having a baby*. And while that would be a welcome surprise, I'm pretty sure that's not the case, as a decision we made in early 2008 would make that somewhat of a medical miracle.
I should be clear here--I'm not popping any buttons, we're talking maybe three (five) pounds, but when I reflect back, I realize that putting on my favorite Lucky jeans has been making me feel more breathless than fortunate recently.
So what's the story? I read author Nichole Bernier's clever interview about what gives when wearing the hats of writer and mother, about how it is difficult to keep more than three balls in the air at once. This year, I added the new ball of having my kids home all the time to my juggling routine, so there was WRITING/BOOK TOUR, HOUSE, KIDS/HOMESCHOOL. Like Nichole, I watched exercise fall out of rotation more and more. (And if you ask my husband, he might point to a few other items that have been more backburnered this year. Yes, I'm talking about the ironing.)
The kicker is, I do exercise; I still run, but it's the same 3-6 mile routes I have since I was eighteen. In the winter season, I play ice hockey, and there's co-ed field hockey once a week March-November. But I don't go to the gym. I haven't since 2007, when I had my kids on a delayed vaccine schedule and we renamed the day care room at LA Fitness "the germ" for everything they brought home from there. The most serious 'workout' I do is the Gilad fitness show on cable--not rigorous and so ridiculous to squat and curl in my living room where swinging a weight too wildly could brain one of the kids bopping and sweating alongside me.
While I went through the usual teenage weight angst, rib-counting and dieting dramas, as an adult I have been lucky. Pregnancies were kind to me and breastfeeding melted the pounds right off again. I eat pretty much what I want, play the sports I like, and I look pretty much the way I want to. (Though of course who is ever really satisfied?) Part of this is because a lot of the things I like are relatively healthy--roasted kale, quinoa, grilled tilapia and grape tomatoes with a little shredded cheese stick is one of my all time favorite meals. Our family doesn't eat much meat and we've been gluten free since 2005. As a result, we don't eat out often. My biggest vices are bacon and dairy--I could go the rest of my life without ever having another bagel, but removing cheese from my diet is unthinkable. And then there is the sugar in my tea, a must. And white wine...
So how to handle these unwanted extras on the scale? Do I tell myself it's just a number, and focus on the more important things? Could it be that I'm crossing over into that new phase of life where, post-35, a woman has to work harder, literally run to stand still? Or maybe I need to do the hospitable thing and invite these three (five) random pounds to stay? After all, they got up in the dark with me on those early writing mornings and kept me company while I drank sugared jasmine tea and wrote about a fictional marriage falling apart. These three (five) pounds traveled all over the country with me on book tour, eating nachos everywhere from the deep South to the Pacific Northwest. (It's a disorder--if there are nachos on the menu, even in a Chinese restaurant, I am literally unable to order anything else. Ask J about the crab shack in Outer Banks.) I'd like to be a gracious host, but I don't think the pounds can stay. Summer is here and trust me when I say with my short legs, 'mom-style' tank suits do me no favors; I've got to be able to sport a two piece. The extras must be cut.
My first line of attack has been to add a little more intensity to my runs--to pick a route with the hill I mention in this essay more frequently and try, despite the summer humidity that makes it feel more like swimming, to go more often.
Secondarily, I have examined my diet and I've come up with a few likely culprits:
1.) Nutella--I buy this in the jumbo size jar and Pippi and I have 'tella toast 'n' tea almost every morning. People we stayed with on book tour could not believe the amount of Nutella we can go through in a week. This is not negotiable. Do you see this face?
Would you leave this face hanging when it came time for our morning ritual?
2.) Summer mojitos-- every summer, the mint patch under our cherry tree goes wild, and J and I are forced to harvest it, to keep it in check with nightly mojitos during our evening walk. These are his amazing concoction of muddled fresh lime and mint, ginger ale, Bacardi and sugar on the rim. Swoon. There are so many reasons I love this man.
Which leaves us with this:
3.) Grilled vegetables-- this is the only other thing I can think of. It's summer, and we're grilling more, which means asparagus and sweet potatoes and peppers and onions drizzled in olive oil outside on the grill. Olive oil is fattening, right?
So the cut that needs to be made is obvious. It seems a shame, with summer's bounty and all, but I sure am going to miss those veggies.
* *** *
*This is not entirely true. Other than pregnancy, there was one other time when I weighed more than 125. It was at the end of my freshman year of college. Seventeen years old, at The University of the South, away from home for the first time, I discovered beer. Thursday nights, my roommate and I would buy Falstaff by the $10/case (it's no wonder I still don't like beer with that as my intro!) and there was no amount of D3 field hockey or dining hall salad bar (albeit with liqui-lard ranch dressing) that could combat guzzling those before heading out the ATO house to drink more of it while standing on our heads. A complete cliche, I gained the dreaded freshman fifteen.