Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Steep and Thorny Way

Today, my friend Eric informed me that he was telling his brother about me, how much weight I’d lost and how I’d done it, what a huge feat it was, etc. I was incredulous.

He said to me, “You have to be so proud of yourself for doing that! That’s HUGE! Just getting to the point where you have the mindset to get going is HUGE. The rest, 90 pounds, that’s amazing! You have to be proud of that!”

No. I’m not. Not really. And I’ll tell you why.

Throughout the years, I’ve read all kinds of stories by people who lost a lot of weight, how it changed their lives, how they’ll never go back to what they were, and how if they can do it, you can do it too!


Fuck that shit. Those lying ho-bags left out the biggest, baddest, meanest little factoid in the whole damn story: it’s horrible!

Where they get their little happy pills, I don’t know, because I’m bitter. I’m angry. I’m not digging any of this. It’s a monster of a lifestyle change, it’s expensive, and it’s painful.

Why does no one mention how painful it is?

It’s like childbirth and raising a newborn. People want to talk about the rainbows, unicorns and gumdrops being pregnant was, and godliness of giving birth to this perfect, angelic being who can do no wrong.


Your body is invaded by an alien and you lose control of everything. Then that thing forces itself out in such a way that you have to be cut or torn to accommodate it, and then it becomes this leech on your body, not allowing you to sleep, not allowing you to have a life, and not allowing you any peace. And that’s if you’re lucky. Some people, and I’ve fwatched them go through this, develop hideous abscesses in their nipples and must have surgery because they chose to breastfeed, and others had permanent problems with arthritis, migraines, depression, and hormone imbalances. Pregnancy can forever mess up your gums, your hair, your health! And that angelic baby who can do no wrong, don’t even get me started on the massive amounts of exhaustive care and attention s/he requires. I have seen moms in a cloud of sleep-deprived insanity, and though they cannot recall their actions after they have collapsed in a coma-like stupor for a few hours, I know what I see of them in these states and they are not well. They say and do things that no drug on earth could elicit from them, and if they’re good people, they deny it later out of sheer atrocity over the idea that they could do such things. Sometimes it’s better to not tell them what they did. Those stories of drunken debauchery you have on your friends cannot compare with the dirt that baby-induced sleep-deprivation can cause. And that, my friends, is the painful truth that people don’t talk much about.

Just like with weight loss.

I did not lose 90 pounds gracefully. I fought it tooth and nail, whined, bitched, cussed, screamed and threw tantrums regularly.

Coaches at my gym can attest to the fact that I refuse to join any kind of supportive team/game going on because I don’t have enough faith in myself to accomplish any goals and don’t want anyone keeping close track of me. I’m a non-joiner. I barely speak to anyone at the gym. I grunt, sweat, pout, grumble, and have been known to curse out a machine or kick it. There is very little socializing going on, and if there is, it’s only with the coaches and not the others working out. Screw them. They’re on their own. It’s every woman for herself in there as far as I’m concerned, and I really do not want anyone to be my friend because my sole purpose being there is misery and ass-kicking. You want to help me? Bitch me out before I start my workout and that will help me. You wanna derail me? Pat me on the back and tell me how wonderful I look in my new thrift store clothes because I can’t afford regular store wardrobes every couple months. I hate getting sweaty. I hate getting up early. And most of all, I hate how hard it is. FUCK! I hate working out! There simply is no dignity involved!

So, now I ride a bike. This also means I eat an inordinate amount of bugs, sweat profusely in strange places, have sores in even stranger places, and lug around a bicycle everywhere I go. A bicycle, by the way, requires almost as much care as a baby, which, if I’d known that before I bought it, I’d be taking swimming lessons right now instead. I gave up the filthy gravel trails in my county and have shifted west to the paved luxuries of my neighboring bikers. Yet, no matter where I bike in this flat state I live in, it seems there are hills and moraines so large that they cause my quads to burn as if acid were churning through my legs and my lungs shrink up to raisins. Hills are my enemy.

It’s relative, too. Now the gym isn’t quite so miserable because at least I consider that we’re on flat land. The food sacrifices aren’t quite so severe either, because I didn’t have to bike uphill with a headwind to get fed. Anything that occurs on flat terrain now, no matter how unhappy it makes me, can always be made worse by being on a bike going uphill.

The bitter irony is that when you get good at one hill, you feel the need to go farther down that trail to the next section you’ve yet to explore, and lo and behold, there is a bigger hill. There is always a bigger hill. So true in every way. And I hate it.

I fight the hills. I grind my teeth, I gasp for air, I push my legs, I count the feet I have left until I reach the top, and I just about cry. Crying requires energy to be diverted from the muscles ascending a hill, so it’s simply not possible or I would do it every time. Swearing, too. If you’re nearby, you can often hear me gasp out a very desperate “Motherfucker!” as I crest, but only as I crest because talking requires expulsion of air, and I usually have none to spare, so no swearing until I’ve hit the top. And then the floodgates open up.

I do confess, I also can be heard giggling at the garter snakes, tee-hee-ing at the ground squirrels, and ooh-ing at the hawks as I ride. If you see me violently swerve, it’s most often to avoid the glorious grasshoppers that look just like dead leaves until you get up close, or to go around what looked like a stick, but is really a fuzzy little caterpillar. Sometimes I want to recite applicable Eric Carle books to them as I pass.

But I digress. This isn’t about the cutesy moments. This is about the overwhelmingly angry moments.

Last week I fell off the wagon completely. I abandoned my high-protein, low-carb diet and went on a Culver’s Concrete Mixer binge. (Chocolate ice cream with toppings of peanut butter and peanut butter cups, thank you very much!) It was an awful week. One I may never completely recover from emotionally, but one I need to fight my way out of now, so I had to break up with Culver’s and get back in the saddle, literally. I put on 5 pounds last week, and when I reported this to Eric (who has become my coach), he insisted I hadn’t eaten that many calories in one week and was simply retaining water. I disagreed and insisted I was retaining ice cream.

Two days of riding and I realized I wasn’t doing myself any favors because I was riding my route faster and shaving off more time with each run, which actually reduces the number of calories burned over time, so I had to lengthen my route. By adding another couple miles, I’m riding deeper into a wooded area of the trail that I’ve never been to before. That’s what sucks about weight loss. Just when you get a handle on things, adjust to the level of hell you’ve committed yourself to and you tolerate it okay, it stops working and you have to add more torture on top.

Today I met my arch enemy. It’s a hill. But it’s not just any hill. It’s a hill that I could not ascend.


Going up it, I was down to my very lowest gear, still barely able to turn the pedals, and at one point I had only the strength to hold the pedals from going backward. This toppled the bike from lack of movement, and I found myself quickly dismounting in order not to take a huge fall into the woods. So, I fell off my bike trying to get up this hill that completely immobilized me. It was a bitter defeat and I turned around and rode back to my car 7 miles away. I then drove to my usual restaurant, where I ordered a gigantic slice of pizza and ate only the topping (okay, I had a little crust, but not much), and I pouted the entire time. I whined. I texted Eric, who had recommended this part of the trail, and asked if he was trying to kill me. He insisted he could not recall such a treacherous hill on this part of the trail. That made me angry. Not only had I been beaten by this hill, but evidently it wasn’t even memorable to anyone else as a tough hill to climb. I stabbed at my pizza until it was a saucy mess and decided to go at the wretched hill again today.

The second time around, that hill was just as bad, but I made it a little farther up, with a lot less grace. Instead of freezing and trying not to go backward, I wobbled all over the path, steering into the teeter of the bike going too slow to stay upright, and after swerving all over and off the path, I realized that if I wasn’t leaning all the way forward onto the handlebars, the bike did a wheelie due to the extreme incline of the path. Okay, that did it! This was a bitch of a hill! If I had to lean to keep from falling backward off my bike, it was steep. I stopped and walked the rest of the way up. From the top, it didn’t look so bad. From below, it was like a wall. Yet, there were signs that you were supposed to dismount and walk your bike down the hill because of the speed you would build riding, on a path that was not only dark and wooded, but twisty and turny, so you could easily end up in a pond, or plowing down a hapless walker. (Damn pedestrians.) Clearly, this was not a hill to be taken lightly. As if to emphasize this was the fact that I was hyperventilating. I cannot recall a time I was gasping so hard for air. This hill kicked my ass!

And as I was thinking this, a very capable-looking rider began ascending the hill, growling and grimacing, huffing and puffing, barely able to move his legs at all. He made it!

As he got to the top I said, between gasps of my own, “I hate this hill!”

He shouted back, “THIS HILL SUCKS!”

I loved him in that moment. Comrade. Even though he made it all the way up, we were of like minds: we hated it!

So, I am not a happy, proud member of the lost-alotta-weight community. I fucking hate it. It hurts. It sucks. It beats the crap out of me. I yell. I swear. I fight it every step of the way. And sometimes, something terrible happens in my life and I submerge myself in vats of ice cream, only to have to fight harder to get out of that rut as well. I don’t even know if I’d recommend it, it’s that brutal. It completely sucks.

But if you have the fight in you and you’re up for the challenge, it’s the fight of your life, and it never gets boring.


Anonymous said...

Oh, Hallelujah, someone who admits they hate the exercise! Yes, yes, yes, I hate it too! Amen, Sister! No it doesn't energize me, no it isn't any fun! You go girl!

Mary Piero Carey

Anonymous said...