I’ve had it, ladies. My moment of truth. It came to me not on the mountaintop, and not on the battlefield or in the pew, but in front of the full length mirror.
My normal routine for getting dressed involves yanking my clothes out of the closet in the hallway, skittering a few steps into my room, just far enough in to be hidden from free range children, and yanking the clothes onto my body. I may trip over to the vanity for underwear or spend a little time diving for socks, but I do not dawdle over putting on clothes. I do not ponder my selections, nor do I dwell upon my appearance. Standing in the spot where I normally get dressed, the full length mirror is all the way over there. I see a vague shape careening past it, I recognized vaguely that it is me, but I don’t stop to evaluate it. As long as it’s shaped like a human being, it doesn’t alarm me, or require my undivided attention. I’m pretty sure if I saw a rabbit or a wildebeest or a stew pot in the mirror out of the corner of my eye, I might give it a closer look. But barring that unlikely event, I tend to move on to other more interesting things.
Until the other day. For some awful, unanticipated reason, I took a really close, unflinching look at myself in the full length mirror. It was morning. The bright, unforgiving light was pouring in through the door to the balcony, and I stood there, transfixed by what I saw. It wasn’t that I was aghast at the fat. I’m not telling you that I was shocked at the size of me, or the shape of me, or anything like that. Those things were pretty much as I expected — I’ve been the same general size for many years now. What I saw when I looked at my body was even more terrifying than fat.
It looked old.
Those of you who know me have heard me casting about for motivation on this diet and exercise, these last few months. I have been looking for a reason to get serious about weight loss, and I was having trouble finding it. My clothes fit, my husband likes me, I move around over this earth with relative ease and comfort, I have a busy, funny, interesting life, and I don’t really ultimately care that I am not the size I was 20 years ago. I don’t really notice. I am not afraid of being this weight. I am, however, afraid of death. Not of getting old, or being old, but of getting and being dead. I do not want to do that. Stuff that reminds me of my mortality, like the way my body looks, and the wrinkles forming around my eyes, and just the general shape of things that’s changing — let me tell you, it makes me want to get on an exercycle and actually eat eggplant and pass on the sugar cookies and wear out my walking shoes.
If diet and exercise means raging against the dying of the light, then sisters, brothers, children, I am all for it. This is just the context I have been looking for, and this is just the urgency I have been trying to fabricate, except it’s not fabricated, it’s actual, and if I think every day about the way I felt my death approaching, standing there naked in front of that full length mirror, I will probably actually win at this. So, reality check. Decision time. The first is on Friday. Here is my plan:
1. Every day, stand in front of that full length mirror and take a mental picture. This is not an exercise in self-loathing, but in self-preservation. Rage against the dying of the light. Then do elaborate, expensive skin care regimen.
2. Each week, read one book or watch one movie about food and the food industry. The Way We Eat, Food Politics, the Omnivore’s Dilemma, Stuffed and Starved, Food Inc, Appetite for Profit, etc. The more disgusting and appalling, the better.
3. Do relentless tracking of food, and follow low calorie plan for diet. No processed food, no sugar, no dairy, minimal grains and chicken/fish.
4. Boisterous dog-walking and stair climbing regimen. Strength training too. Listen to audio books. It won’t be terrible.
5. Track everything on Spark People site, no matter how soul-crushingly boring that becomes. Participate. Join.
On January 1, our trial (remember I promised not to call it a journey) begins. For the first time I think I may have found, right there in the space between me and my reflection, the motivation I need to get the bit between my teeth and do this.