Monday, June 25, 2012

Pay no attention to the figure in the mirror!

Sweat dripped from the tendrils of hair that had escaped the grip of my hair elastic. I peeled off my clothes and stood in the current of air that blew from the fan. The chill let me know that I'd perspired in far more areas than even my damp clothing would indicate. As I walked warily to the bathroom I congratulated myself for a good workout and made up my mind to just soak away the day. Passing the mirror I stopped, as I had many times before. I examined myself from multiple angles and when my gaze finally met my own eyes in the reflection I was shocked by what I saw.

Anger. Disgust. Failure. Loathing. The clown from the movie IT. Just kidding... only anger, disgust, failure, and loathing. The face was familiar. It was the same face I gave my kids when they did something that disappointed or angered me. I hadn't realized how hurtful it was until I saw it reflected at myself. Ouch!


Two years ago I was able to look at myself in the mirror completely naked and smile with pride. I was far from perfect and 40 pounds heavier than I am now. I would critique what still needed work and praise myself on some new found bit of definition in my ab (yes, singular) or perhaps the way my arms weren't waving back anymore. There was feeling of accomplishment that I had never experienced before. It felt good. I felt good.

Another forty pounds later I had lost that feeling. As time went on, the critiques became harsher and more frequent while the feelings of accomplishment dwindled. After 3 years of watching what I ate and maintaining a workout tracker to ensure that I met weekly and monthly fitness goals, I realized that it would never be enough to satisfy me. The changes were less noticeable and took so much longer to achieve. I was sick and tired of egg white omelets and frozen Weight Watcher meals. It was then that I realized that all of those fitness gurus were full of shit. Exercise doesn't make you happy! That peppy blond doing high impact on the DVD had to be on uppers.

I tried bulimia back in the 90s, but one day after eating half a Jello cheesecake I realized that bulimia wasn't for me. I was too lazy to throw up, especially after that much cheesecake. A good binge? That was something I definitely excelled at. I eyed junk food at the grocery store like a recovering alcoholic gazes longingly at a bottle of whiskey. My car followed illogical routes in order to take me past fast food restaurants where I could put the window down and inhale the greasy burger aroma. My kids were the ones who really felt ripped off. Imagine being a kid who gets to smell the happy meal but never gets the nuggets. To be honest, I'm shocked I never wiped McNugget grease on my gums like a junkie. 

Then one day it happened. I snapped. I waited until the kids were gone and I drove to the hood where all the best devices could be found. KFC would be my undoing. It was that damned bowl that sunk me. Mashed potatoes, corn, gravy, chicken, and cheese? What farm girl can resist that? Hell, the only thing better would be to serve it with beer and a slab of bacon. I ate with joyous abandon and my body tingled as the gravy slowly cut off my circulation causing a mild heart attack with pleasure.

I sat in the parking lot of that tiny chain restaurant like a man who'd just dropped off his first hooker and I reflected (just guessing here). It was good. It was sinful. Dammit, I wasn't getting it at home! I justified it ten ways to Sunday then I drove back home. I wasn't in the door 5 minutes before I had washed the crispy chicken crumbles and gravy smears from my face and put my running shoes back on.

The problem was never the food. It wasn't even my body. It was always me. My imagination had pasted my head on to Angelina Jolie's body and every single time I looked in the mirror and didn't see what my imagination told me should be there I kicked myself... really hard. I was tired of kicking. The same realizations that had put me on the fitness track were the ones that finally put me on the reality track. I was doing okay. I was healthier. I could still eat what I wanted from time to time and the world didn't end. My pants didn't split. The scale didn't jump 10 pounds. I could still be human... instead of glossy magazine paper. 

Today as I slipped out of my workout gear I allowed my eyes to rest momentarily on the set of weights next to my bathroom door. I really should have done toning, but I was already naked. I didn't want to risk dislocating a shoulder or a back spasm that would leave me in a naked crumpled mess on the floor. My poor kids would have to dial 911, and that's a visual I didn't feel right leaving them with. No, it was better to just put it on the schedule for another day. 

As I passed the mirror in the bathroom I averted my eyes. "Pay no attention to the figure in the mirror" I told myself. In my mind I used the voice of the "Great and powerful Oz" and a smile crept across my face. I crack me up.

read to be read at

No comments:

My Zimbio
Top Stories