Here are the facts about me. I am 49 and had kids at 40. (Twins—better living through chemistry.) I am chronically sleep deprived. I never exercise. I am five foot eight and have always been 20 to 25 pounds overweight. Never mind what that number on the scale is; I don’t know, and I don’t want to know. But I’ve been a size 12, fluctuating to a 14 or even 16, my entire life.
Here’s the truth: I never really minded. Having my particular father helped. My skinny father was a chubby chaser; my mother was always fat, and he liked it that way. And you know that when it comes to body image, fathers matter. I was doted on and admired, and I never grew up with the sense that I’d be more appealing if I dropped a few. Undoubtedly there were plenty of men to whom I was invisible. But the world’s a big place; I found the ones who accepted, and perhaps even preferred, me the way I was.
But last February my father died, and with him the sense that being pudgy was fine. Maybe the problem was that I didn’t feel great. My blood pressure was high (140/90); my LDL cholesterol, while not terrible, was about 130, on the border of problematic. My blood sugar hovered around 105—a little high. Also, I drank too much, or too much for me: maybe 20 glasses of wine or cocktails a week. Nothing that should have sent me scurrying to AA. But the day I realized that my local Manhattan watering hole, Temple Bar, knew me by name—and knew to put a mojito in front of me before I said a word—was the day I began to feel like Norm from Cheers.
So I decided to give health a chance.
I didn’t have grandiose, Biggest Loser dreams. I figured if I could drop two dress sizes in five months and maybe improve a few of those sugar and blood pressure markers, I’d be ahead of the game. I was going to work out; I was going to . . . I refuse to use the word diet, but let’s say stop eating spinach dip and chips at midnight. And beyond actually going to the gym, I would find new ways to move. For five months, I’d make myself a veritable swag bag of self-improvement—with a big assist from some helpers More lined up to work with me gratis, so I could see what was possible when money was no object. Here’s a record of my adventure.
Meeting with trainer at the Equinox gym in SoHo tomorrow. Eating M&M’s like I’m facing the guillotine.
My new trainer is Clark Kent. He has another name, Zachary Yurcisin, but as far as I’m concerned, he’s Clark. He’s six foot three, conventionally handsome, with a long, lean physique, a square jaw and a cape. OK, not really, but the cape is implied.
Clark knows exactly how much of a couch potato I’ve been. His goal is not only to help me slim and tone but also to increase my flexibility and mobility. I have lousy posture. I am stiff. So I will work with the Superhero for one hour, two or three times a week, an expensive arrangement made possible by Equinox, which kicked in a free six-month membership plus 50 Clark sessions.
Each time we’ll follow a similar pattern: mobility exercises (stretching), then aerobic conditioning and weight training. The last two activities are important, since everyone in my family dies of a stroke or heart attack related to high blood pressure. Besides my Zach time, I commit to doing cardio on my own at least once a week.
One problem. Not the soreness or fatigue, though there is that. But from the get-go, I am bored out of my mind by exercise. I have to think of a way to make this interesting.
When it comes to eating, the fewer choices I have to make, the better. My main problem is that I love to be hungry—and then I love to be a glutton. So I subsist on coffee until noon, then go out for a late business lunch, no holds barred. Or worse, I’ll eat nothing but a bagel all day, then have a glass of wine (or three) with my husband and nine-year-olds while they eat their dinners, then wait until everyone is asleep and Jon Stewart and I can dine together on a Cobb salad roughly the size of my head.