The Great Battle

June 10, 2011

Things I find it nearly impossible to do while in a relationship:

1.)    Lose any significant amount of weight. Not a few pounds here or there, but significant weight.

2.)    Well…no, that’s really about it. Truly. It is a crazy phenomenon brought on by a number of things, and after talking to many others about this, I’ve found it isn’t singular to me. Not nearly.

3.)    Yeah, no seriously—just that.

Now, there are a number of factors that go into this phenomenon. Because when single, despite certain genetic—oh, we’ll call them “gifts,” but they will refer to things like curves—I find I tend to lose weight pretty easily by tweaking any number of behaviors. When I’m putting even moderate amounts of effort and/or money into it. Not that I wish to get rid of my curves, mind you, gentle reader. I usually quite like them, and I think they’re highly undervalued in this society’s media. (Curves in general, not mine in specific. Actually, you know what? Fuck. Mine in specific. YOU WILL APPRECIATE MY CURVES, AND YOU WILL LIKE IT!) But my healthier ideal weight is probably around the one I lied about on my driver’s license, so I’d at least like to get to that place.

But when I’m single, I have more money and effort to put into keeping a certain weight.

And aside from having effort and money to put into losing weight when single, I also find that I just lose some weight in general as a singleton, even without the added effort. This is because when I’m bored or anxious/tripping on the paranoia one can only achieve while living alone and realizing that having not left your apartment all Sunday means you haven’t actually heard the sound of anyone’s voice—not even your own—for over 24 hours, I tend to spend all my free time walking. I do love walking to alleviate unpleasantness. It’s so cathartic.

For example, my anxiety and paranoia while single might manifest like so: “Dear god—I haven’t had sex in two months. TWO MONTHS! Wow. Like, I don’t even really miss it…I just didn’t notice. Oh my god, come to think of it, I read once that there’s a pheromone you emit when you’ve been having sex regularly that attracts the opposite sex. Can they smell my sexual inactivity? Is my singleness repelling people??!”  (Said in my apartment alone, talking to my plants.)

And a walk—ooo, a walk just takes all the nasty craziness away and replaces it with sanity and clarity of thought. Like, “Ahhh. Much better now. Frightening paranoia has ended; I’ll just suck on these juicy beta endorphins for the next hour and go sweetly to sleep.” It just clears the air. A walk is like the Glade air freshener of my fetid psychological miasma. That’s poetry. I may stitch that on a pillow.

Only, since being in a relationship, when I’m feeling anxious, there is another sentient being in the apartment at most times who tends to quell the emotional baddies much better than my plants ever did (who still have yet to put a nice arm around me when I’m sad. So, you know what? I quit watering them. Yeah, screw you, you heartless bastards). And when I’m bored while in a relationship, my sig’ o’ and I just do something or watch something together. I’m not complaining; it’s lovely. I just now have no motivation to go walk out of general malaise until I’m too tired to remember what was bugging me. And that seems to rule out just losing weight without really trying.

In in a relationship, there never seems to be enough of anything to accomplish significant weight loss when I am really trying: free time, money, superfluous energy, etc. Even when I feel like I’m putting lots of energy and focus into it, it does not happen. And it’s so irritating; I eat sensibly. My portions aren’t large; I almost never like fried foods or things in butter; the only meats I usually eat are chicken, turkey, or fish—again, not in butter or fried; I seldom go back for seconds; I don’t often fancy dessert; I like vegetables and healthier options generally whenever possible; and I’ve cut out copious amounts of drinking. Hello, body. I’m torturing you with sensible, healthy eating—you’d think you’d shape up.

But I think I’ve boiled it down to a fair number of reasons.

1.)

First, age. I was 24 when I got into my current relationship; I am 27 today. Now, I’m not exactly a card-carrying member of the local gomer club (despite a rather misleading name for my blog), but I’m no spring chicken anymore either. Maybe like a summer chicken. And I’m thinking my body has decided to prepare me for the joys of bearing children and carrying them on my hips whether I make the active decision to procreate right now or not. Much like happens with chickens’ bodies in the summer! True story…

And I’ve come to this conclusion because, most specifically, it used to be easier to lose weight in certain areas of my frame than it is now. Ergo, I’m going to go ahead and say age is one of the villains of this piece.

2.)

Things can’t get any freakin’ better!

Secondly, happiness. It is damned difficult to worry about fighting myself with health food and annoyingly long hours of exercise when I’m too happy to notice. Not that I disliked myself when I was single, by any means. I was just more honed in to the task at hand, you see. The battle with my instincts of “tastes good = is good” and “feeling of laziness = well-deserved sleep,” if you will. I was a warrior in the body fight. And now I’m all, “Tra la la…whatever. Sugar bomb? Meh. I could really go for an orange pop…” I’m all sleeping in on weekend mornings rather than going out for a walk because the bed is such a nicer place to be with my partner there. Damn this insufferable, infernal contentment! What is it getting me?

3.)

Thirdly, I do not live in the constant fear of never having sex again. Say what you will about this statement, but that panic button for me and many others is a big, shiny, red one. It will make you do things you have absolutely no desire to do (when being totally honest with yourself)—things like going out at all hours of the night to packed bars booming with music so loud that you nightly lose your voice just trying to ask the name of the random sweaty person whose hand has been on your ass for the last half hour rather than just staying home with a hot toddy and a decent, quieter, more satisfying form of entertainment. Or suffering through torturous first date dinners with people you wouldn’t want to talk to if they were the only person who spoke English in a 1000-mile radius. Or regular small talk. Or going to comedy clubs for amateur night. Or, I don’t know, jogging. Point made.

4.)

An actual shot in my kitchen last week.

Next, I spend most free time I do have (which is precious little, let me tell you, and that is no understatement) doing relationshippy or couply things rather than at the gym. If I do get a night free, it’s so much nicer spending it at home with the darling male companion. So that’s how I spend most of my free time. And again, “most of my free time” is a small percentage of an already small percentage of my composite time, so have perspective. (I work a full-time job, do freelance work, commute 3 hours a day, 5 days a week, go to meetings and appointments most evenings, and see people constantly.) Also, see “not living in the constant fear of never having sex again.” This fear would trump wanting to spend free time at home if it were a certain reality, but it is not.

5.)

Cakes!

And finally, cooking for two. It has always been really easy for me to lose weight when cooking for just myself because I’m willing to eat some remarkably unenjoyable things. When I was single, since I don’t care about meals terribly much, I would often just make sure I was hitting certain food groups and stayed below a certain calorie/fat content amount. And then I’d eat what I’d made, regardless of whether any of it went together. It wasn’t about the pleasantness of the experience. It was about having fuel, and …doing math, and …eating nearly indigestibly healthy, tasteless things. But now that I cook for two (we have a nice system where I do all the cooking, he does all the dishes), I cook entirely differently.

It’s not that he’s picky; he’s said numerous times he’ll eat whatever I cook. And let’s just all pause now and appreciate a good’un when we see one. He’s a good’un.

But even though he assures me he’s not picky, I don’t want to inflict bad meals upon him. I prefer to give him a nice, balanced meal (taste-wise as much as health-wise). No, I don’t know why. I just do. So I cook things we both want to eat, which immediately ups the starch intake, at least. It also puts more meat where I normally wouldn’t put it, since he works on his feet all day, and I feel he should have a good intake of protein. I still cook things without putting them in butter and have other healthy cooking habits thoroughly ingrained. Still.

But furthermore, healthy food is often fresh food, which as you probably know is pretty damned costly. Health food generally does not consist of things that come out of boxes and cans. And therefore, making meals of healthy food for two people is even more expensive than…well, than making healthy food for one. Which is already fucking expensive! So in order to cut costs, we eat more things like pasta. More bread. More rice. These carbs add up, don’t ya know.

So, despite my continual work to overcome these obstacles, so far, aside from the small weight losses here or there, my efforts to lose significant weight have been fruitless as of late. Similar stories from many, many of the shacked-up people I’ve talked to. Damn. And combined with back problems I’ve had over the last two years that make it difficult for me to do any workout more athletic than walking, I think it might just be one of those things that will continue to plague me for quite awhile.

As will my plants not responding to me.

Heartless.

Save

Um.

January 19, 2011

This reminds me of one year when I went to use a bathroom stall in a shopping courtyard in Hawaii. There was a black permanent marker inscription on the stall door in front of me once inside, and after I sat down to pee, I noticed it: “Look up and smile for the camera.” Now, I knew perfectly well that there was no camera above me, but that didn’t stop me from slow-mo craning my neck upward to see what was on the ceiling above me. Turns out, no camera. Which was good, because I did not smile.

But I think this dude is for real. The orange head tells me so.

Rural Idealism Fruit

February 24, 2010

So, lately I’ve been lamenting the rural and suburban life after having moved out of my darling city into the Not So Great Beyond—the greater Jolietland area (Sounds weird, doesn’t it? Why do we say ‘greater Chicagoland area’?). And frankly, all my whining about it is actually nauseating me. I get it, I get it; it’s not as busy out here, not as walkable, more conservative, less possessing of independently owned restaurants or new things to do, I’m more conspicuous here, and nearly everyone moves at a glacial speed, regardless of what they’re doing. Yes, I know. It’s not a glittering metropolis and cultural haven.

The thing is, truthfully—it’s not so bad. In fact, parts of it are really nice. Especially when the crazy snow/ice/winter thing stops and the cabin fever ends, the daylight lasts longer, and I no longer have to wield a snow-scraping device of any kind for another 7 months. Probably.

It isn’t bad. It’s kind of…errrm…quaint. Kind of comfortable in a way the city is not. So. In the spirit of positivity, and in order to counter the darker parts of my brain that continually make lists of the things I loathe about residing outside of the city, I am going to list a few of the things I do actually really enjoy (I initially typed “brian” here instead of “brain” and almost kept it, because I sort of relish the idea of possessing a brian who has dark parts and makes lists for me of things that irritate him. But that would sadly be a lie. I do not possess a dark, list-making brian. Christmas? Anyone?).

1.) This morning I went into the gas station at an ungodly early hour to use the ATM during a commute of ridiculously bad traffic on Route 6 and another day of mind-numbing snowfall (thank you, February). On my way out, an older gentleman I don’t know was coming in, saw me, and held the door open for me. After I thanked him and was making my merry way out, he smiled warmly at me, and not in a quick hold-frozen-fake-smile-for-three-obligated-seconds smile—a genuine expression. Then he turned around before shutting the door to wish me a really nice day and to tell me to be careful not to slip out there; it’s an icy one. This does not happen in the city, and if it does, I’m convinced it’s rural people who’ve gone up there for one reason or another to gaze and reckon about.

2.) While you don’t generally have the convenience of walking everywhere, you always have the convenience of driving. And if this doesn’t sound as nice, consider this when you’re sick, when you need to get to someone who’s sick, when you have a headache, when you’re exhausted from work, or it’s 30 degrees, or 20, or 2, or you need to get somewhere fast. Think of always having some parking spot you can grab in a matter of minutes where your car won’t get towed. Think of no city tickets, no meters, no L seats with a hand-written sign on them that says “I think this is urine; Don’t sit!”. Think of leaving your windows down and cruising around in the summer with the radio going, not concerned about having your purse in a car with an open window. Think of driving for long, relaxing stretches of time when traffic isn’t slowing you down. Bloody fantastic.

3.) I can go to certain grocery stores out here and buy spices for a dollar each. A dollar!! And that is the tip of the frugal iceberg, my friends. The frugal, frugal iceberg.

4.) If you get antsy at night, most of the bartenders around here will remember your name and your drink, often as you are walking in, and beers are frequently $2.

5.) Community theater. I went to a play down at Bicentennial Park with my darling male escort last week, and it was great. I mean, you know…community theater…but great. Ah, how I miss it.

6.) I love country roads. I love looking at the cornfields for long periods of time. It is calming, restorative, quiet. Alternatively, if you’re not driving through fields, there is green everywhere. And I’m not an outdoors enthusiast by any means—most things that exist in nature will make me turn into a human Braille plate with hives if I touch them or breathe next to them too heartily. Nonetheless, the greenery is much more relaxing than concrete, no matter what soothing reaction the Art Deco statue on top of the concrete is meant to evoke.

7.) The number of places I can legally walk barefoot (or at least where people hardly notice) is exponentially higher. Yes, I have hippie feet. No, I’m not a hippie. I just like maintaining a well-calloused foot; sue me. I assume I’m conditioning myself to swiftly climb trees in the event of a ground assault of some sort. Hey. I’ve seen When Animals Attack.

8.) I’m not terrified to listen to country or oldies music loudly or with the windows open when driving out here. Not that I listen to country much at all anyway (I pretty much just love the Chicks and a few others), though I do enjoy oldies quite regularly. It’s an irrational fear, probably, that keeps me from doing this in the city. I’m not sure why I’ve always felt that I couldn’t—I have this very convincing fantasy that I’d be parked at a stop light in the city, a song that seems glaringly out of place would come on my radio, and every pedestrian, bus driver, and car owner would turn to stare furiously at me. Possibly bullets would fly, and impassioned people would start mobbing my car’s feeble frame. I think when you get used to the great gaping anonymity that the city easily provides you, you get all comfortable holing up in it. And anything that breaks that anonymity is startling and sort of shatters this little mini-environment you maintain as a 50 or 100-yard radius around you wherever you go. This mini-environment you create to feel contained and at ease, to keep your stasis when lights, people, and blaring noises assault your senses at all conceivable moments. You learn to sort of tune them out of your immediate mini-environment, or tune them down, and go about your business without the notice or scrutiny of others. But breaking your anonymity also ruptures the boundaries of your environment, and everyone suddenly looking at you leaves you feeling alone at the mercy of the elements for awhile. Umm, that’s the best way I can explain it. Irrational fear of having loud country music is eliminated when out of the city. Big plus. Moving on.

9.) People only ever honk at you out here when they’re about to run you over. Consequently, I buy less ibuprofen.

10.) This area has the monopoly on people I love per square foot, and a few of them in particular. So, logically, I have a greater mathematical likelihood of running into someone who doesn’t piss me off me than up in the city (this, of course, takes into account my notion that I’ve probably met everyone I’m ever going to like already, and so all strangers count, for this equation, as people who would piss me off). Irrefutable logic.

There. A list of things I like about it. May I plant this seed of optimism into the…fertile soils of…collective consciousness and hope it bears fruit sooner than later. Rural idealism fruit. The…most…succulent of ALL fru—okay, I’m done.