Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I'm Appalled (what else is new?)

Since my run in with real-life crime, I have tried to stop watching Forensic Files as a soothing television show to fall asleep to. I have resorted to Nightline on ABC which, up until last night, was working well.

Bill Weir spotlighted a court case on last night's episode that would ban the presence of a toy in McDonald's Happy Meals. An overbearing and health conscious mother has filed a law suit in reaction to her hatred and disgust over the menu options for children at McDonald's. She firmly believes that the little plastic toy inside the cardboard box that's bookended with some nuggets and fries is making American children fat. And that's when I heard the statistic that blew me away: One in three American children are overweight or obese.

One in three American children? Overweight? Obese? I am blown away. I am absolutely, positively, disgusted at this number! How could this happen? How could America's children be the largest children in all the world? These questions all lead to the one question that is grating on every last nerve of my body: WHY NOW?????

Where were all these fat kids when I was at Matthew Patterson Elementary School? Where were all these fat kids when I was attempting to play soccer in middle school with an inhaler on a lanyard? Where were all these fat kids when my Girl Scout's sash was more of a cummerbund with patches? Where were these fat kids when I was forced to be a pumpkin every year for Halloween because all the other costumes said for ages "4 and up" and although I was "four," I definitely surpassed that "up." And where were all those fatties when I would be asked to get off the jungle gym by the recess monitor because the moving bridge was starting to buckle?

I have spent thousands and thousands of dollars in therapy. My parents contemplated pulling me out of public school and into homeschooling because of the bullying I was subjected to. Yes, I had two cupcakes shoved into each cheek and sprinkles on my shirt, but that was no reason to make me sit by myself in the cafeteria at lunchtime. Out of my entire class of oh, let's say, 30 kids in the great New York school district, only two of us were fat. One was me. And the other was Timothy Pachowski who added to his excommunication by picking his nose and eating it (the kid must have always been hungry). He is also guilty of putting gum in my hair and forcing me to get a bob. To this day I hate him for that, and the fact that together, we stood no chance against the skinny, knobby-kneed, bony armed runts running around the halls.

I am not a genius when it comes to math, but if one in three kids is fat or obese in America today, that means that in Mr. Saskiewicz's 4th grade class of 30 kids, 10 would have been fat-asses. That would mean that I would have 9 other allies to protect me on the playground, in the cafeteria, in the hallway, in the classroom and on the bus. And out of an entire school of 400 kids, over 130 kids would be little chubs. That's 130 kids that I could have played with!! That's 130 kids I could have swapped easy-bake oven recipes with. Kids that I could have swapped Halloween candy with by the pillowcase. And dozens of girls that could have had sleepovers with me and recognized my need for Little Debbie Yodels to be on the pillow next to me (just in case).

But God has a sick sense of humor. He waited until I was "all grown up" before making kids fat. The skinny ones are the minority now. The only simple wish that I had growing up came true 15 years too late. So, to the little fatties running around (ok, waddling around) today's elementary schools, I say: "Stand up! (don't hurt yourself) Be strong! And go sit on a skinny kid because when I was your age, they always said that that was their biggest fear. So take a seat on their bony lap and say it is from Kristen, with love."

Oh, and the McDonald's Happy Meal Toys? Collect the whole set kids. :)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sounded Like A Good Idea at the Time

It is not a secret that my diet and exercise routine revolve around one simple mantra: Is Jillian Watching? I have a sickening fear that anything I consume, anything I think about consuming, or even anything that I see available for consumption on television will prompt Jillian Michaels to find me, scold me and then beat me with my own appendages.

When I went to visit my family in Vermont over Christmas I walked into a kitchen filled with cookies, cakes, pies, candy and other Divine sugary delectables that, while typing this, cause a pool of drool. But I knew that the birth of baby Jesus was no reason to deviate from my strict "Is Jillian Watching?" rule. **(Please note though, that the 100th birthday of Ronald Reagan will be a perfect reason for consuming copious amounts of cake and cookies until I enter a self-induced diabetic coma). ** So, keeping this in mind, I promptly took a black Sharpe marker (I have been known to deliberately smear washable ones) and wrote messages on containers of frosting, pans of cookies, lids to cakes and bags of candy. Some notable ones were:

--"If you eat this Jillian will find you and then kill you."

--"Don't eat this Kristen. Stop it. Put it down. Seaworld called, they heard you got out."

--"Your legs will be ripped off and you'll be beaten with them by JM if you think of eating this."

--"You don't even like walnuts, stop drooling Tubbs."

After my Mother came home to find her Christmas kitchen had been vandalized with vicious, violent and graphic dieter graffiti, she made it known (very clearly) that if I was that dead set on not eating the sweets, she wouldn't let me. Now, if you don't know my Mother you are in for a treat. When she says she wouldn't let me eat it, she means it. I can just imagine her gnawing off my own arm as I reached into the Reindeer cookie jar to just eat one Andes-Mint chocolate cookie. She would say it was for my own good and because I told her to do it. (I would reason that it most likely was revenge for the hell I put her through my senior year of high school).

Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and even the days following came and went with intense temptations, inner monologues on refusing to be the Pillsbury Dough Boy's bitch, and reasoning/bargaining with the bad angel on my left shoulder. Needless to say, every time I would venture towards a container, a box, a tin or even a jar, I would hear "Jillian is watching you!" in a think Bronx accent. Well, that's a deal breaker every time. Damn it.

When I returned back to Nashville after the holidays I was weak and defeated from the lack of sugar, the neglect of my sweet tooth, and the severe frosting deficiency I was experiencing. But I was proud that I had made it through the holidays without going completely overboard. It wasn't like I ate an entire pie with a couple containers of cool whip to top it off! (The Christmas of 2007 is still, to this day, not to be mentioned. I was eating my emotions. And Santa's. And every freaking elf in the North Pole's.)

But writing on my pantry products and cabinet contents was not going to be enough. I had no one to stop me from actually putting food in my mouth that didn't belong there. I try to not to buy food that shouldn't be in my apartment. I don't know how the funfetti frosting gets in the cart. I don't know how a bag of skittles can somehow magically appear like a happy rainbow in silverware drawer. Perhaps it's the luck of the Irish. Or perhaps its untreated kleptomania. Either way, for my own good I have to combat the temptation. And I devised a plan.

Some people will put pictures of themselves in thinner days on their fridge and use that as an encouraging reminder to be careful when opening the fridge door. The only thin pictures I have of me are those taking right after birth. And even then I was plagued with fat legs. So that is not an option for me. I could put a picture of me at 300 pounds in high school with a dutchboy's haircut, but I have tried that, and I just cover my eyes and reach into the fridge. Who really wants to see that anyway?? So the plan was simple: Buy every magazine at Kroger for January that had pictures of Jillian in it. Since January is the month for New Year's Resolutions, there was ample Jillian face time.

I meticulously cut out Jillian's pictures from Fitness, Cosmo, Ladies Home Journal and even Runner's magazine (who the hell reads that? and for the record, the check out girl looked at me and judged me as if I was buying Playboy. Ok, so I'm not a runner. But I like the articles!). Then I strategically placed the cut out pictures inside the pantry taped to cans and boxes. I put her picture on the fridge door but realized, just like every other attempt to stop my opening of the fridge, it just wouldn't work. So Jillian was transplanted: inside the fridge. I taped her up so that every time I open the fridge there she is with her ripped biceps looking at me. Staring at me. Scolding me. Getting ready to pounce me.

It worked like a charm. But I will admit it had some downfalls. No, I am not stating that I am malnourished because I have been too afraid to open the fridge. That would be ridiculous. But, I did suffer a mild coronary when at 3am, slit-eyed and shuffling, I walked to the kitchen and opened the fridge door. The only light that shown was from inside it and it lit up Jillian brightly. I screamed. Dropped the cup. Slammed the door. And in a slur of strung together profanity was able to make out "The bitch is really watching me!". I went back to bed thirsty that night... and every night since. She's in there. And I am afraid she may get out if I open the door again.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Slave Without A Master

The day that Daughtry (real name is never shared) challenged me to lose weight: it was on. There was nothing I would hold back. As long as there was a pair of sneakers on my feet, a Cardio playlist on the ipod and an inhaler in my hand, I was good to go. I was lucky enough to have a beautiful fitness center at my apartment complex and I was also lucky enough to have the stubborn, competitive attitude of an OCD-Irish-New Yorker. When those powers combine, you get a force to be reckoned with. Or at least a force that will find a way to complain, bitch, and moan about every day in her battle for weight loss.

The first day I walked into that fitness center as a competitor, not just a girl engaging in a nonchalant work out, I met an inanimate object that would personify my master, engulf me in waves of pain, guilt, hatred and exhaustion, and ultimately form a Stockholm-like syndrome effect on my psyche. It was treadmill #3... the third one in the row of 5 along the wall of windows. I grew to learn her speeds, her inclines, her programs, her ability to cause me to fly off, her finicky methods of pushing me to the brink of a collapsed lung, and the lovely convenience of her double cup holders.

I never named her. Although I did name everyone else that came in contact with me and treadmill #3. There was Grandma Battle Ax/ Betty Boniva who continuously berated me on my weight, eating habits and appearance. Shutting her up with a container of frosting and a spoon placed in one of those fantastic cup holders ended that relationship (thank God). There was Juicy Barbie and the sorority sisters of Tappa Kega Hoe. They ran in tight Lycra and bobbed their blonde pony tails on treadmill #2 and #4 on either side of me. They didn't sweat. They didn't pant. And they found great enjoyment in my outbursts of "Mother of God, when will this mile end?!??" and "FML!!!." They also looked on in horror when I would tape a picture of a Wendy's frosty to the screen so that I could "run towards that."

But in moving out of that complex and into another, I had to say goodbye to treadmill #3. I gave her one last good run (that resulted in a great post-run throw up), and then I shut the door to the gym and waved goodbye to my master. I don't know if it was sweat running down my face or not, but I may have shed a tear or two. No one will ever know...

My new apartment complex has a fitness center too. I went in there today with hesitation and nervous anxiety. What will it be like? Would the treadmills be the same? Will I have enough equipment to suit my routine? The answer to those questions was a resounding: NO. There in the corner sat a lone treadmill and on the other side, two elliptical machines. Like a pathetic, abused puppy the treadmill looked at me, begging me to give her attention. How could this machine become my master?? She was pathetic and I do believe the nineties called and asked for her back. She was old and should have been out of the game years ago. But alas, I stepped onto her and hit the "up" button for speed. She sped up, she huffed and puffed and began to gain momentum. Just like me, we both struggled to find our strength and our stride. But after the first quarter mile we were doing just fine. I huffed. She puffed. I sighed. She squeaked. And together we completed a 5K. It wasn't easy (the new Shape-up's didn't help in that aspect either), but it was over.

So my new "master" lacks authority, dominance and fear-inducing aggression. She is abused, tired and defeated. But that sounds a bit familiar. Perhaps instead of a master, I will have a companion. It's not what I am used to... and it's not exactly what I need. But I think it will work. I will always miss treadmill #3 and her "no excuses allowed" work out, but I need to move on. To close that chapter in my book. And with the absence of treadmill #3, the dominating force in my life can finally be a human: Jillian Michaels.

Goodbye to 2010... Did I Ever Tell You I Loathe You?

Within the past two weeks I have lost my apartment, my identity as a "south Nashvillian," a pair of shoes, the laundry room key, two pounds and a decade. For someone who needs a GPS tracker on her keys (which have been found in the freezer several times), it's not that bad of a collection.

A new apartment, a new area of the city, and a new decade gives me a fresh start after a year that provided me with more "downs" than "ups." Now, in fear of being a Debbie Downer, I would like to point out the positives that I was blessed with in 2010: meeting my best friend (even though that kid frustrates me more than my curse of being vertically challenged), becoming an Aunt, making a decision on what I wanted to be when I grew up (although that changes weekly), learning that Nashville is my home, learning to give of myself for others (and actually liking it), spending time with Rosie's, starting graduate school (and surviving!), and finding strength within myself that I didn't know I actually had. Now, I gained some new talents and traditions as well: never leave home without a life vest, it's best not to trust anyone, metro police should be your speed dial #1, roses are the worst gift ever, and there is nothing wrong with answering the door with a shotgun (girl scouts be damned... If I wanted your thin mints I would have asked for your thin mints! Don't tempt me with your little boxes of heaven).

So 2010 brought about a lot of things in my life that wound up changing me forever. And I am hoping 2011 decides that I have learned enough lessons for a while and let's me live in peace. Nevertheless, I know that won't be the case and I am ready to take her on... kick ass... and take names. This year will challenge me to further my education, to get in the best shape of my life, to maybe fall in love (eh, highly doubt that one), continue to figure out who the heck I am (eh, that one too), and continue to be a single 20-something trying to make it in her beloved, bittersweet city.

2011: I am ready to face you head on. As long as there is very little rain, a lot of good friends, and an endless supply of Jack, I foresee us having a beautiful relationship. But then again, if you fail, there is always 2012.