I’m Ready to Lose It

As crises go, I suppose it’s not huge. The tooth I broke two weeks ago at my temple’s monthly Shabbat dinner—which will cost two weeks’ worth of unemployment checks to crown (and that’s after what my dental insurance, maxed out in one fell swoop, will cover)—was a bigger one. But when climbing temperatures prompted me to begin dragging out my summer clothes, I discovered nothing fit. Not one single thing. Now, I  confess to having sometimes jerry-rigged a tight waistband with a safety pin and covered it with a tunic just to get out of the house. But there was no getting around this: both halves of the zippers, in every single pair of pants, were several inches apart. How did this happen?

I’m pretty sure ice cream figured into it. Last summer, it was my drug of choice. The Mister Softee truck parked at the south end of Margaret Corbin circle, just above the entrance to the A train, provided a sweet send-off when I headed into the subway (or the park) and a welcome home when I came out. But a daily cone habit is extravagant on unemployment, so I eventually turned to the supermarket, picking up whatever half-gallon was on sale. I could get about three days out of it if I restrained myself, and it was usually about three dollars.

Fitness in Ft. Tryon Park. Photo: Aliza Holtz

Ice cream consoled me not just for my lost job, but for the fact that severe knee pain barred me from the morning fitness walks in Ft. Tryon Park and bicycling down the Greenway—two things I had counted on to keep me sane through those first months of unemployment. Of course, if you can’t exercise, the solace of ice cream is unwise … but let’s just say wisdom was in short supply last summer.

Way back when I had begun working at Juilliard, I lost 30 pounds without even adjusting my diet when I returned to thrice-weekly ballet classes for about a year. Several years later, when my weight had crept back up, I dropped my triglycerides by cutting out pasta and bread, and hitting the salad bar for lunch. But now, even though I’ve returned to an exercise regimen that includes the aforementioned fitness walks along with 10-mile bike rides, the scale isn’t budging. Fish or chicken, veggies, and brown rice for dinner three nights running? Steady. Have dessert? Gain a pound and a half. (Wait—in one day?) Even more alarmingly, I’m still huffing uphill and upstairs after weeks of exercise. This isn’t good.

I suspect that yo-yo dieting and encroaching middle age have conspired to hijack my metabolism and transport it into the fifth dimension. I’m also finding it’s just too darn hard to tackle this on my own anymore. The solitary lifestyle of a freelance writer suited me just fine 20 years ago; now I seek the structure and communality of a full-time position. Likewise, I could stick to my own eating plan when younger, relying on life’s momentum (as well as the satisfaction of seeing the scale go down three pounds a week) to stay on track. Now, I need some determined compatriots in this strange new terrain, as well as someone to make sense of all the rapidly evolving research on nutrition and the intersection of brain and body.

Enter fitness instructor and health writer Nancy Bruning, founder of Nancercize and leader of those morning fitness walks in Ft. Tryon Park. When I returned to the walks after several months’ absence, I was astonished at the transformation of some of my cohorts, and it wasn’t just from walking. They had participated in Nancy’s Transitions program, and here were the dramatic results right in front of my nose—way more convincing than those “results not typical” diet ads! Through a program of low-glycemic eating (something my own doctor has been a proponent of), exercise, behavior modification, and stress reduction, they had lost fat and built muscle, increased their energy, and (in at least one case) lowered their risk for heart disease and diabetes. And what’s more, they seemed to have had fun doing it!

Now, I’ve never been much of a “joiner.” But when Nancy begins her next 12-week session on June 14, I’ll be there … as will my “best bud” from my building. Maybe it’s just a matter of the right thing at the right time, in the right place. But I’m serious about stopping my downhill slide and want to make a commitment to health part of embracing “new things”!

If you’re curious, check out Nancy’s web site. You might want to join our group … or gather a few friends, and Nancy will come to your part of Manhattan to lead a Transitions session!

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8 Comments on “I’m Ready to Lose It”

  1. Miriam Silverberg Says:

    Jane, that’s terrible aboutyour tooth. I’m so sorry.
    I know how hard it must be for you right now. The economy is so bad. I’m curous–did Nancy pay for this
    plug? Does this give you any ideas?

  2. Yeah, my mouth has managed to betray me before … remember the “infamous crouton” of three years ago?

    My blog is (as of yet) too small-potatoes to attract paid advertising via WordPress … and in the event that it ever does, such advertising will never be confused with editorial content!

    Not sure what sort of ideas you’re referring to … I would certainly entertain the possibility of a job as a blogger for a company or institution, but this particular blog is strictly about my own personal enthusiasms and challenges.

  3. Katie Gates Says:

    The game sure changes as we get older, doesn’t it?

  4. Lucy Says:

    What a fun read. Glad to see I’m not alone on the writing/eating thing.

    Hope your Nancercise goes well. Sounds like a lot of fun.

    • Thanks! And I never realized how many writers eat while they work until I stumbled into that discussion!

      The fitness group is fun; I actually LED it on Thursday, since Nancy is away at the moment. I used to teach dance in another life, so I have excellent kinesthetic memory (for movement sequences) and can project my voice.

      The Transitions “eating plan” part of it starts in two weeks, so I still have time to use up my pasta, bread, and rice. Oh, how I’ll miss it (but not as much as the ice cream)!


  5. Eileen Pollock Says:

    Jane, I looked you up, and behold, you are writing a blog! And an interesting one. You have in one posting discussed two topics close to my heart: breaking a tooth, paying for a crown, gaining weight and losing it. (Oh, that’s four topics) Do you still go to Dr. Engelson? I gave up dental insurance as an economy measure, then two weeks later broke my tooth! (I paid through the nose.) And as for gaining weight – gosh, it happened to me too, and the weight has stayed on for close to 2 years!! I had so many sizes small and medium in my closet that I couldn’t wear anymore, it was heartbreaking. In the past I would periodically gain weight, then determinedly lose it. This time my good resolutions were too weak. So I happened on a strategy. Here it is:

    You know how sometimes a childless couple will adopt a child, and then they have one of their own? You know how you bring an umbrella and it doesn’t rain, then you skip the umbrella and sure enough – you get the point. I applied this principle to my size small and medium clothes. I gave them all to Eileen Fisher, a store that was offering a $5 rebate card for every EF item. I brought in 20 items in 3 shopping bags on a swelteringly hot day, taxied down to 21st & 5th to do so, met a charming sales associate who helped me fill out the itemized statement and gave me a $100 gift card (less taxi = $10).

    The day after this closet sweep, I woke up with a strange knowledge. The knowledge that now I would stay on a diet. And it is working! It’s early days yet, but I feel the same determination that I felt in the past when I successfully lost weight.

    The reason is that when you give away your small and mediums, then and only then will you be able to lose weight. As long as those smaller clothes stay with you, staring reproachfully at you, you will be immobilized, hoping, hoping in vain. Just give them away, and with the perversity of life, you will slim down! It’s working so far.

    Jane, I admire your ability to keep writing under these circumstances. I have no motivation to write because I am employed in another field and am motivated by making money. Writing has never succored me in the way I need – which is to enable my rent habit.

  6. Oh, Eileen … how funny! Does bringing to Housing Works the size 10 Ann Taylor jeans I bought on sale several years ago intending to “diet into” (but never wore) count? Maybe that’s what finally did it! Anyway, I’m looking forward to bringing all my “fat clothes” to Housing Works this fall; knowing THEY are gone should be added incentive to stay at my desired weight once I get there.

    Yes, I still go to Dr. Engelson … I have learned never to give up my dental insurance, because that’s just when disaster strikes. (And I’ve also learned never to do anything “elective” until the very end of the calendar year, or you max out your annual benefits and THEN disaster strikes!)

    I just appeared on MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan Show yesterday, talking about my job search. With my unemployment insurance ending in two weeks, I hope “something gives” very soon!

    Thanks for looking me up … and good luck on your way to a svelt self!

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