Once upon a time, a youngish 40-something willingly agreed to support her smart, sassy husband in his career endeavors, sold the house they built together and thought they’d live in forever, packed up the kids, medicated the canines, and moved to StarkVegas, MS — home of armadillo roadkill and summer air so thick you can eat it.
On many days, there was a great deal of excitement in the journey. On other days, there were tears — tears and a great gnashing of teeth with a side of bone-crushing loneliness. There were relationships she’d left behind — or rather, relationships that had left her behind as she moved on — the kind she’d believed were forever. Turned out forever wasn’t as long as she’d imagined. There was a great amount of loss in that realization.
Oh, and a large amount of fried chicken and tater babies, too.
On the good days, the wife made fabulous new friends and learned how to choose the best Q in town. She ordered Rotel off the appetizer menu and shared it with her new friends. She indulged in crawfish, found her home-away-from-home in the Local Culture Frozen Yogurt shop.
And on the bad days, she worshipped alone at the altar of Oreos and red wine to assuage her loneliness and general untetheredness. (And yes, she made that word up. She had lots of time on her hands to create her own language.)
She had replaced her friends and family with peanut butter M&Ms. They were not, in fact, a worthy substitute. She had wrapped her arms around fried food buffets in hopes that they would hug her back. But, alas! Only her jeans hugged her back.
And then a miraculous thing happened. Yesterday — just after ten short months of deep South muddling — she woke up. She stretched and yawned and greeted the sun.
And she jiggled.
Lo and behold, while she had been asleep at the wheel of her life, she picked up forty pounds along the side of the road. FORTY! The hitchhiking thumbs of those chocolate-encrusted little bastards must have been very persuasive.
Forty, in case you were wondering, is twenty plus twenty. Or thirty plus ten. Or one plus thirty-nine. However you do the math, it’s far too much.
So she (okay, for those of you who haven’t yet figured it out, the overweight, overwrought 40-something is actually me. Did you guess it already? It’s me!) decided — with a little nudge — that it was time to make a change again.
What was the nudge, you ask? On a return visit to Indiana, Jenny looked at me lovingly and said, “I wish you cared about your health again like you did a couple years ago. It’s difficult to want something for someone you love more than they want it for themselves.”
And that, my friends, was the ever-effective hug/ass-kicking combo. It’s like a gift of a hot stone massage followed by a right jab to the ribs. Love, accountability, authenticity… sometimes they’re messy when you put them all together. Kind of like humans. All those hearts and heads and judgments and emotions and flailing body parts…
So I stewed and fretted and wallowed in my own shit for awhile (because that’s what I do best). I probably ate a few extra Pop-Tarts as I contemplated my next move.
I’ve learned these lessons before. The weight gain, the weight loss, the obsessive exercising, the over-indulgent reliance on food to combat my feelings. But sometimes we all need a refresher course, right? I mean, I studied French for six years. Madame Bettler will attest. But I’ll be damned if I can speak it today. If you dropped me in the middle of Paris (which, incidentally, I wouldn’t argue with), the best I might be able to utter is “un peu.” And that, I’m certain, would not get me to the nearest bathroom or the most well-stocked liquor store. But give me some Rosetta Stone, and I’d be golden in a couple of short weeks.
At one point in my life, I also knew every word to “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” But these days, I might stumble over a few of the more obscure lyrics. Stick me in Row 2 of a GNR concert, though, and it would all come rushing back.
So I did it. I called Craig.
Who’s Craig? Well, friends, he’s my Knight in Shining Armor. He’s my new health and nutrition coach, my accountability buddy, my unfiltered, raw, supremely honest motivation. And it doesn’t hurt that his wife is fabulous and fun and serves really good red wine when I visit. And that they live just around the corner from Mary and Scott.
Craig and I had our “official” first meeting the last time I was in Indiana. We signed the necessary paperwork, talked about goals, cried a little. Okay, I cried — Craig did not. He had me sign something about honoring my body, about treating it with kindness. After all the fucked up relationships I’ve had with food, it was a bit emotional. I was a bit emotional.
And so… here I go again. My first assignment? More greens. Morning, afternoon, evening. My goal is to incorporate more greens into my diet. “I’m not about telling you what you can’t eat,” Craig explained. “I want to introduce new foods into your diet that will eventually crowd out some of your less-than-stellar choices.”
“Do mint Oreos count as greens?” I asked.
Nah, I didn’t really ask that. I already knew the answer. I’ve learned a few things throughout the past 42 years.
When I told Jenny about my new green assignment, she made me an artichoke. I’d never, ever eaten an artichoke in the course of my existence on this earth. I didn’t know how to prepare one, didn’t know how to actually ingest it. All I knew about was the semi-famous quote from The Little Rascals: “It might choke Artie, but it sure ain’t gonna choke Stymie.”
You know what? I like artichokes. I do! I do like them, Sam I Am! Even if they’re not swimming in a vat of fattening dip for my tortilla chips. Who knew?
It’s time to love, honor, and obey this body and the magnitude of power it possesses. I felt GOOD when I ran my marathon two years ago. I want to feel that kind of GOOD again.
If you want to journey with me, call Craig. He’ll make you cry. Then he’ll pick you up and dust you off. He’ll probably tell you a couple of completely inappropriate stories and off-color jokes. Then he’ll help you figure out how to be whole again.
And if you’re really lucky, Heather might uncork a killer bottle of red while you’re there.