I’m officially on a diet and have been counting calories the way scrooge counted out coal for the stove. The goal is not ‘skinny;’ it’s simply to fit back into my old clothes. Frugality supersedes body image. I hate the idea of spending any more money on things that look better in the warped dressing room mirrors of the department stores than they do in the random group photos that friends take when I’m front, center and feeling particularly bloated or even just thick in the arms. Please leave my arms out of the photographs.
The closet, a holding space for my varietal A-cut linen dresses and busy floral prints, has its corners stuffed with the jeans whose zippers can’t close and pants whose seams threaten to give way. The shirts with buttons that struggle to hold things together are tucked behind the oversized boyfriend style sweaters. Going up yet another size in any of the afore mentioned is not on my to-do list. It’s just not an option so I am going to count calories and exercise-ish myself back into my old clothes.
I just wish I liked my old clothes better.
I also wish I could remember how to hula hoop.
Counting calories during the work week is easy. My Monday thru Friday is so repetitive in its routine that looking up the caloric content of every single hunger pain craving is a form of entertainment. Coffee with honey has 76 calories. Coffee black has none and ruins the joy of having coffee in the morning altogether, so that’s 152 calories every 7am that I kiss goodbye like the lover I wish I had.
Six ounces of white wine has 145 calories whereas a white wine spritzer knocks 38 calories off but is only available in a plastic cup, costs $15, and sides with festival favorites like smothered fries, funnel cake and a hotdog with everything.
A slice of cheesecake has 401 calories whereas cheesecake flavored yogurt only has 180. Woo.
It’s fair to say I tried the yogurt. It tasted like Frankenberry cereal and for a moment, I was eight again and sitting in my grandma’s kitchen, wishing I had had a bowl of Count Chocula instead. The artifice of crunchy, tiny, berry balls fooled no one. Better luck next time, Chobani.
It got me to thinking about the cost of things. Is a slice of real cheesecake worth the additional 221 calories? Those extra calories are equivalent to a three-mile walk or forty-five minutes of hard yard work. Add both chores together and not only do you have a slice of cheesecake with twenty calories left over, but also a cleaned yard and a happy dog. A resounding yes to the worth of it all and a Saturday well spent.
A glass of wine is equivalent to one-half an hour of housecleaning. This is calculus I can do.
The math mission is designed to squeeze the allotted calories each day into a single digit pair of jeans. Comfortably.
It’s adding and subtracting to balance out proportions of satisfaction and self-worth. I love the bounty of beautiful, curvy flavors but prefer them to not impact where my denim rips or why.
It means exercising like I mean it instead of renaming my regular chores of folding laundry as “yoga”, vacuuming as “calisthenics”, or cleaning gutters as “working the stairmaster.”
Though all these things count in the calorie bonfire, none of them, even added together, amount to a single donut or a piece of coffee cake, so Saturday mornings kinda suck now. Just like that, a lifelong tradition gets thrown out along with the stuff left behind from last year’s boyfriend. (To be honest, it’s been closer to 18 months and the stuff got thrown out by day two of the breakup).
To be clear: I’m not losing weight because of him. He has nothing to do with the dynamic duo of a diminishing metabolism and poor will-power. Those are all mine. Where he has influenced me, however, is that there was some part of me that attracted and accepted a very unhappy and self-defeating person into my life. As much as I hated to admit it, in the closet behind the baggy dresses, was hidden a part of me that aligned with this. People meet in their broken places, and I met that guy.
It was a reflection that I certainly didn’t want to see but could no longer un-see.
Frugality, it turns out, was a creative way to disguise my unworthiness. It looked a lot like a busy floral print.
Self-repair, in the time since, has looked like a dog, a new pair of running shoes, a yoga video, a therapist, a self-help book or two, fifteen or so amazing girlfriends, roller skates, a hula-hoop, highlights, whiter teeth, a longer patio table, more chairs, and a quest for a low-fat cheesecake recipe.
I’ve been adding and subtracting the sums of what I want, what I don’t want, how I want to be and how I’m going to get there. There’s no calculator involved. It’s pretty simple math that starts with knowing that no matter what size is embroidered into the label on my clothes, I am always worth a full slice of real cheesecake with real strawberries on top and that the crunchy little berry balls will never cut it in a life inclined towards happily-ever-after.
It’s time to clean the closet. My jeans are counting on me.