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.
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!