Today, I had an apple and a bottle of water in my Toyota RAV4. After two hours at the gym, I had stopped at the grocery store to get a healthy snack so I wouldn’t eat to excess when I met my boyfriend for dinner. I chewed the apple’s core quickly, drank the water, put the key in the ignition and kept moving.
Such a simple act and yet so telling: I’ve come a long way since I first started writing the Weight-Loss Diary last January. Back then, I ate a bag full of bad intentions (chocolate pudding, etc.) in my truck while a pea-green Ford waited for me to vacate my parking space. It took me a while to get moving.
Today, however, I’m all about action: moving fast and frequently, and adhering to a new inner voice that makes my life flow more smoothly. As I’ve shed my weight, I’ve also shed my fears of speaking up, setting boundaries and expecting people (including myself) to respect them.
Now, as my column comes to a close, I’m amazed at how much my mind has opened – and how far I’ve come in just 12 short months. It’s growth that arrives at an interesting time, since I turn 40 this month – an ending and beginning colliding to form a perfect rite of passage. I enter the new decade with a more loving approach to my body and a raised level of self-acceptance. Four decades of dieting, bingeing and self-loathing are almost gone, and in their place, the fruits of the coming year’s lessons will gently guide me.
For example, I now know that the scale is just a measure, and not the most meaningful. That dieting and deprivation don’t work. That m y body knows what it wants and needs and I should listen. That staying fit is about choices and tradeoffs and knowing the difference. That success raises the stakes – once you have it, you can lose it. But then again, I now know that I have the ultimate control over the outcome.
I’ve learned that having a healthy body is up to me. It is not up to my mother, trainer, lover, dog, shrink, mailman or anybody else who’d like a say in what I should weigh or look like. Exercise isn’t a chore, but a privilege we can experience when we’re healthy, creative and reflective.
I now know that you’ve got to change from the inside out (instead of the outside in) if you want to sustain change for the duration. With all this knowledge in my back pocket, I will celebrate a milestone birthday and, at the same time, turn over a new leaf in terms of nurturing myself as a total person (mentally, physically, and emotionally) – not just a woman with fat knees and stretch marks. I will celebrate the fact that I’ve never felt better and I’ve never been fitter, had more energy, spirit or hope.
So here’s to being 40. For that, a good swift engine in my body and the attention of millions of readers, I say thanks.
https://letgoforit.com/wp-content/uploads/2002/10/Dec2002.png5001200Jill Sherer Murrayhttps://letgoforit.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/JSMLogoRev-300x159.pngJill Sherer Murray2002-12-01 17:24:172017-10-12 14:07:26Free At Last
When I started the Weight-Loss Diary back in January, I was an overweight freelance writer struggling with my own confidence. Getting out of bed in the morning to work from home was often a test of will. Getting dressed, putting on my professional best and heading out into the world was virtually out of the question. I used my artist’s spirit as a safety belt that confined me to my own 9-5 work schedule – and the confines of my condominium.
Today, I’m a full-time, out-of-the-house working girl.
My life is in transition. While I still have an artist’s temperament, I no longer let it define a solitary lifestyle. After 11 months of hard work and personal transformation, I’m opening up like a butterfly – breaking out of an outdated self-concept. I’m hitting my stride and, in response, have taken a marketing job with Gatorade.
Yep, Jill Sherer has left the condo.
I started approximately one month ago and, so far, I have no regrets – for many reasons, including the fact that my new employer shares the healthy values I have as a result of m y work with Shape. (I’m not so sure I could have said that a year ago, when I was motivated by self-exile instead of self-improvement.)
There’s a fitness center at the office, which aligns with my need to exercise. And Gatorade, as a culture, breathes life into the concept of mot just taking part, but giving it all you’ve got. Going on instead of giving up. Sound familiar?
That said, the transition has not been without its challenges. I’ve had a few run-ins with my snooze alarm. And, as a freelancer who exercised whenever, I now have to be more strategic about when I get in my workouts.
Aha, you’re thinking, now she knows what we’re going through? Not so easy is it, Miss I-do-kung-fu-three-times-a-week?
Okay, don’t gloat. I admit it’s not easy, but it’s not impossible either. Exercise is now about creating the right geographic so I’m five to 10 minutes away from a workout – at any given moment.
I go to the fitness center at work three times a week, where I work out hard (elliptical trainer at a resistance of 9 and 10) for 30 minutes during lunch. I walk, skip, run or kickbox and strength train on Wednesday nights and weekends at the gym three blocks from home. I fast walk three miles from my office to Second City, the improv studio where I take a beginner’s class every Monday night. If life causes me to veer from this routine, I simply stop to figure out how to compensate.
I’ve also learned to be realistic. I love kung fu and covet a green sash, but it’s on hold for a few months until our offices move into a new building, which is conveniently within walking distance of my martial arts studio.
Now that I’m an out-of-the-house working girl, making time to exercise takes a little more premeditation. But that seems an appropriate exchange to escape a cocoon and make way for a butterfly who wings are going strong.
https://letgoforit.com/wp-content/uploads/2002/10/Nov2002.png5001200Jill Sherer Murrayhttps://letgoforit.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/JSMLogoRev-300x159.pngJill Sherer Murray2002-11-01 17:23:292017-10-12 14:07:00Working in Workouts
A funny thing happened to me in New York City a few weeks ago. I flew in from Chicago to surprise my best friend Lorrie for her 40th birthday. She and 10 of her friends were spending a night in the Big Apple, going to a spa in SoHo and then a trendy restaurant.
Eager to show off my new and improved body and healthy lifestyle, I met them just in time for dinner at a place where the food is served family style for big appetites. Once there, each person ordered an appetizer, entrée and dessert, which were served on a Lazy Susan in the center of the table for sharing. A nice concept in theory, but once the food came it was literally survival of the fittest.
As the waitress dropped each plate onto the table, chaos ensued. Hands, spoons, napkins, menus and chopsticks went flying. The energy buzz went up a few notches. At one point, the woman next to me leaned in and said, “Just get as much on your plate as fast as you can and spin.”
She was right in that there was no time to think. I had no idea what or how much I was eating. I just ate, while the chemicals in my brain (which knew better) went haywire.
It had been a while since I ate until I felt sick and, when it was all over, I realized that I didn’t miss the experience – or the food hangover and tight jeans I had to deal with as a consequence. This was a revelation – a realization that maybe, just maybe, there’d been a shift in my food mentality over the past 10 months. Excess is no longer part of my new healthy composition.
Just to be scientific, I put this new hypothesis to the test with my friend Joan in Chicago at a neighborhood café and bakery. After sharing a petite Mediterranean salad and a pizza slightly larger than a compact disc, we wanted chocolate. We asked the waiter to bring us a truffle – a little confection the size of a half-dollar.
“Just one?” he asked, looking confused. Yep, just one. We’re sharing. “OK,” he said, as if we’d insisted on eating the rest of our meal on a bed of hot rocks. But I knew – we knew – there was a method to our madness: Kill the craving without sliding down the all-too-familiar slippery slope of excess as I had done the previous week in New York.
When the truffle arrived, we sliced it in half over and over again, until the pieces were tiny. We wanted to enjoy it slowly, bit by bit. Then we flipped for the last of it.
I enjoyed that chocolate in a way I’ve never enjoying chocolate before, simply because I hate my share slowly, methodically and mindfully. Savoring each morsel, the texture and flavor were punctuated by my awareness, confirming for me what I have come to know over time: that moderation over deprivation is the right approach to having a healthy relationship with eating.
Rest assured, the next time I attempt to eat family style, I’ll let my memory of that chocolate truffle serve me before the waitress does.
https://letgoforit.com/wp-content/uploads/2002/10/Oct2002.png5001200Jill Sherer Murrayhttps://letgoforit.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/JSMLogoRev-300x159.pngJill Sherer Murray2002-10-01 17:22:522017-10-12 14:06:35Moderation Vs. Deprivation
I knew it was just a matter of time before I’d lose momentum trying to lose weight. A seasoned yo-yo dieter, I knew well the signs of self-sabotage: too tired to get to the gym. Too bored with vegetables to keep eating them. Too exhausted from counting calories, workouts and life’s pressures to care.
This yo-yo was about to drop down and roll clear off the string, out of the building and into rush-hour traffic. It was that time for me, especially when you consider I was eight months into my fitness plan. Instead of spiraling down the high-way without direction (like I usually do), I went to the Heartland Spa in Gilman, Ill. I hoped a five-day stay would rejuvenate my spirit and renew my motivation and enthusiasm.
Harried and frazzled, I drove to the spa accompanied by a grande skim latte and three angry Alanis Morrisette CDs. Two hours later, I arrived at The Heartland – a private health retreat on an estate in the country 90 miles south of Chicago. I was greeted by gravel and grass, a converted farm, a small lake, a few of the 20 or so guests checking in for the week, a beverage and fruit table, a name tag, sweat clothes and a room without a telephone or televisions. It’s going to be a long week, I thought. In retrospect, however, it was not long enough.
What happened between the time I arrived and departed was transforming. I enjoyed four massages, three salon services, 107 belly laughs and many tasty and moderately portioned meals. I participated in three exercise classes, four morning hikes and countless giddy bonding sessions reminiscent of my college days. I learned how to give a hand massage, meditate and belly-dance and that air-popped popcorn can taste good if you’re hungry enough.
I went the entire time without makeup or a bad attitude. I spent five luxurious days with mothers and daughters, best friends, a husband and wife, a boss and employee, executives, colleagues and strangers. I experienced the best service the world has to offer in just 120 short hours.
My only regret is that I forgot to bring my bathing suit. It would have been fun to swing from one wall over a warm blue pool to the other side like the participants did during an event called the “Heartland Adventure.”
But then again, that was just like me in the weeks prior to the trip – to skip the adventure part of life and move through each day passively. What I learned from watching others splash and dunk is that I wasn’t having enough fun. I was swinging to and from my own hard walls without paying attention. Moving from scale to scale, class to class and meal to meal without stopping to enjoy a little indulgence and frivolity.
No wonder I was starting to feel frustrated and stuck.
I vowed to make changes starting with the ride home, where I listened to a happy concerto by Mendelssohn. When I got to my condo, I dropped off my bags, grabbed a healthy snack and went straight to the gym for something new: a circuit step class replete with risers, Dyna-Bands and Resist-A-Balls. And just to be adventurous, underneath my workout clothes, I wore a bathing suit.
https://letgoforit.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Sep2002.png5001200Jill Sherer Murrayhttps://letgoforit.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/JSMLogoRev-300x159.pngJill Sherer Murray2002-09-01 17:22:242017-04-14 16:36:27A Motivation Tune Up
When I first started this weight-loss program, my mother, who lives in Philadelphia, came to Chicago to help me pack for a move. It turned out to be a real turning point in our relationship.
Mom and I were cleaning the walk-in closet in my bedroom. Over the years, I’d kept her out of there, ashamed that it was full of so m any sizes. I didn’t want to admit to her that I had a problem. She had spent the bulk of my life scrutinizing my weight, appearance and eating habits, which made me feel bad about myself. I had held onto those feelings all my life.
I didn’t want her to see all the size 8, 10 and 12 clothes that I couldn’t fit into. I didn’t want her to comment on the fact that I had enough elastic in my closet to supply Haines for an entire decade. I didn’t want her to know that she was right: Being overweight was a burden passed down to me that I needed to confront. For me, buying clothes that fit was expensive, degrading and uncontrollable.
Until that day, when I literally came out of the closet – and cam clean with all of my cotton, silk and wool skeletons. I sat on the floor, holding open a trash bag while my mother tossed in items, thinking to myself, “Go ahead, Mom. Get a good look. Let me have it.”
She said nothing.
I don’t know if it was because she knew I felt I was under the gun to lose weight for this column, but she acted as casual as if we were looking for ribbons at the dollar store. I thought to myself, “No, this is disingenuous. Something’s got to give.” So I did.
I gave her a black sweater, a silk shirt, and a few shirts that were too small for me, but too stylish and well crafted to give away to a stranger. She tried them on and liked them, conflicted. I could see it in her furrowed face – the thrill of something new and the painful realization that they were the hand-me-downs of her overweight daughter.
She kept asking, “Are you sure you don’t want this? I know you’ll be able to wear it at some point.”
“No, Mother,” I said. “You take it. If I want it back, I’ll ask.”
I smiled calmly, knowing that we were OK. We were on our way toward a dialogue and healing the scars of the past that, until now, lay between us like 10 white elephants.
Later that day, over chicken, asparagus and slivers of corn bread at one of our favorite restaurants, we talked about the closet, the clothes and the Shape diary. While the conversation was sometimes superficial, the subtext was powerful. It reflected an understanding on both of our parts that still holds true today: Clothes don’t make the woman or her mother. What does is love, perseverance and forgiveness. For that, I am grateful.
A thin woman. A fit woman. A trim woman rebounding from a pregnancy. What do they all have in common? After talking with each, I learned that it’s negative perceptions about their bodies, given to them, in part, by other people (a mother, husband and colleague, respectively).
That really bums me out. If these women are struggling, what’s to become of those of us with bona fide weight issues who are working hard to make changes? Perhaps what I’m striving to achieve won’t make me blissfully happy once I get there after all.
When I was in my 20s, I was, for a long time, a perfect size 8. I remember that I still wasn’t satisfied, convinced that being a size 6 would improve my status. Still, I plowed forward into days when I felt almost attractive; when I embraced the fact that a size 8 was the right size for me, Jill Sherer.
That is, until I went to the New Jersey shore one weekend to visit my parents, who have a summer place there. My brother, his tall, thin wife and her equally svelte sister were also visiting. Before going out one night, my brother took a picture of us three girls. I knew that I looked short and squat in comparison, but tried to think positively. My poor mother, however, looked distraught. Maybe I was projecting my own insecurities, but the look on her face read, “Why can’t my daughter be tall and thin like the others?” I knew she didn’t mean to, but that me mad feel bad.
Since my 20s, I’ve packed on the pounds. Now, I look back at that time and long for the shape I was in. How unfortunate I didn’t appreciate it when I had it. Which is why today, I’m trying to come to terms with my body. I truly believe that’s part of winning the battle for body confidence, and perhaps why I lost the battle so many times in the past. I’m learning that I’m beautiful at every stage in the process (even though people consistently tell me how beautiful I’m going to be, before catching themselves).
It’s building an awareness of what you’re capable of doing and being, going for it, and giving yourself a pat on the back for each small stride in the right direction. I know I’ll never be built like my sister-in-law, but I can be the best that I can be: muscular and in tremendous physical condition.
One day I spoke to my trainer, Michael Logan, C.P.F.T., M.E.S., if he gets fulfillment from seeing his clients make great physical transformations. “No,” he replied. “I get fulfillment from seeing them make great mental transformation and from seeing them accept their bodies.”
Which brings me to the women at the beginning of this piece (and myself). I only hope we can turn off the critical voices around us so that we can truly embrace and accept our bodies. Nobody knows better than I do how difficult that is, yet I’m discovering that the payoff can be great.
News flash (to myself): I am not perfect. The signs of my imperfection are everywhere, or at least they were this month in terms of minding my own fitness.
It all started with the night I ate pizza. Acting on a repressed craving – using it as a poor reward for the fact that I’m swimming in last year’s T-shirts – I probably ate half the pie, ruining my perfect food record to date. Fortunately, I was so nauseated from eating so much grease and cheese that I could only get down a small piece of chocolate cake for desert.
Riddled with guilt and a stomach the size of a volleyball, I did double duty at the gym the next day, confessing all to my trainer, Michael Logan, C.P. F.T., M.E.S. His response was, “That’s OK, Jill, just get back on track today and thank me in advance for a great workout.” Then he put on some music, and put 20 of us through a rigorous hour of kickboxing.
Unfortunately, my exercise record was the next to hit the skids. The week after the pizza binge, my brother and his daughters (ages 15 and 12) came to town for five days. We shuttled from museum to restaurant to movie to restaurant and so on, with yours truly as tour guide. Although we “ran around” a lot, I didn’t get in much physical activity. Unless you consider starting the car, making beds, and picking up after two young girls exercise.
My get-back-on-track plan went to pot the day they left, when I promptly came down with the flu. I knew I was done for when I got winded going down the stairs from my third-floor condo. For the first time in six months, I spent a week in bed, nose running, eyes tearing and ears ringing with their words. “Get back on track, Jill.” That is, until the NyQuil kicked in and I dreamed of fighting dogs (but that’s another column).
And so here I am, finally on the upswing. Getting ready to ease back into my routine and prove that you can fall off the wagon, binge like the best of them (but I don’t recommend it) and start over again.
Which is what I’m doing. Keeping a food diary and planning this week’s much-needed exercise. Trying to make up for lost time. Still, I’ve learned something from the derailment. Mainly, that I’m changing. In the past I might not have been so forgiving of my sins or able to start over so quickly.
“It’s important to realize that overcoming overeating is not about being perfect,” says Ann Kearney-Cooke, PhD., the psychologist (who specializes in body image) I’m working with. “It’s about knowing you’ll go off track and developing the skills to get back on track faster so you can maintain long-term physical and emotional fitness. After all, it’s not just your weight you’re working on.”
Frankly, being imperfect comes as a great relief. After all, who can sustain perfection in a world with so much temptation? I’m learning it’s more about sustaining motivation and self-preservation. To me, that makes perfect sense.”
I’m five months into my weight-loss journey and there’s one thing I know for sure: Losing weight, at least for me, is like watching paint chip, grass grow or snow melt. And, quite frankly, I’m frustrated.
To this, my nutritionist, Merle Shapera, M.S., R.D., says, “You’re just a slow loser. But you’re losing!”
Sifu Dino Spencer, my martial-arts instructor, says, “Hey, but look at how many more steps you can climb and kicks you can do without getting winded.”
My trainer, Michael Logan, C.P.S.T., M.E.S., says, “Yes, but every pound of weight you lose is really like losing two because you’re building muscle.”
My physician Mari Egan, M.D., says, “But look how you’ve shaved almost 20 points of off your cholesterol!”
My friends and family say, “You look like you’ve lost more weight than that!” and to all of them I say respectfully of course, “Blah, blah, blah.”
I can live with how much I weight, my new addiction to massage and the fact that I no longer eat dinner in my car. But I’m having trouble managing the fact that I work out like a dog, eat like a saint and lose only a whopping 1 – 2 pounds a month. Don’t get me wrong. My support system is fabulous. And I appreciate all the encouragement. But don’t these people realize I’ve got to lose 40 pounds by the end of the year?
Or do I?
Not according to Ann Kearney-Cooke, PhD., the body-image expert I’m working with (and the others, too, I’m sure). On the contrary, she says women who start with unrealistic goals (uh, hello?) tend to give up midstream. Feeling like they’re not getting anywhere, they make matters worse by going to extremes. They either start overeating or stop eating altogether, both of which end in disaster.
I can relate.
“People who set realistic goals from the beginning lose the weight and, motivated by success, keep it off,” Kearney-Cooke says, reinforcing the point by claiming that it I’d set a goal of 18 pounds instead of 40 at the onset, I’d be feeling pretty good right now.
And to that I say, “Touche!” So, I’m making the following changes, per her counsel. I’m now aiming to lose:
18-20 pounds this year.
10 pounds next year.
5 pounds the year after that, and so on.
While people in their late 30s like me are starting to gain weight, I’ll be losing weight and body fat slowly and methodically, making good habits an almost spiritual practice and employing them as a lifestyle instead of a temporary fix. I’ll give new meaning to the phrase “shrinking as you age.”
Now that’s a fact I can live with.
https://letgoforit.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/May2002.png5001200Jill Sherer Murrayhttps://letgoforit.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/JSMLogoRev-300x159.pngJill Sherer Murray2002-05-01 17:20:312017-04-14 16:35:27A Shift of Focus
It’s that time of the month again: the big weigh-in, when my trainer Michael Logan, C.P.S.T., M.E.S., puts me on the scale and pinches my inches to gauge my body fat for publication. Only this time was different.
Instead of waiting for him to ask me how I’m doing, I started our session by complaining about my exercise-induced aches and pains. They are the direct results of the new self-defense routines I’ve been practicing in preparation for advancing from a white to a yellow sash in Shaolin kung fu.
His advice was simple: Get a massage. Ha! I thought: Simple for Cindy Crawford of Heidi Klum or my best friend Lorrie, who’s blessed with a surplus of self-confidence and legs that qualify her for the Rockettes, but it’s not that simple for me. I’m too self-conscious about my naked body to let somebody rub exotic oils all over me without first buying me a four-star dinner. Even then, I have my reservations. When I told this to Logan, he dragged me over to the mirror.
Him: What do you see when you look in the mirror?”
Me: A chubby little Jewish girl who’s not ready to strip for a stranger with a bottle of baby oil.
Him: I see a woman who has a strong body that’s becoming healthy and fit. Your problem is that you’re speaking to yourself with other people’s voices – your mother’s, the skinny girls’ frim junior high, you ex-boyfriends’ – whose words and comments fueled bad feelings about your body. But they’re all misguiding you.
Me: Good grief, you’re right. And they’re loud.
Him: So move past them and start talking to yourself with your own voice, which says you are worthy of a little indulgence. When your body aches, you should heal it with a massage because it’s good for you and you deserve it.
So I did. Before I lost my courage, I took Logan’s advance and got a message from a stranger armed with a lavender-scented potion who did not feed me and who, despite his best efforts, could not heal me of feeling horribly self-conscious. At least not at first.
What he did heal, besides my throbbing shins and stiff back and neck, was my fear of being too overweight and unworthy of a little pampering. So he saw the cellulite on the back of my thighs and jiggled the paunch around my navel. Big deal. I am, after all, a real person.
When I finally allowed myself to relax, about 20 minutes in, I had to admit it felt good. Then I spent the remaining 40 minutes giving myself permission to enjoy the experience, remembering that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Now that’s progress.
Picture this: I’m on Oprah in a fabulously flattering martial-arts uniform. Oprah and I are chatting about my taut, muscle-clad body. She commends me repeatedly for my rock-solid abs and butt. Bored, I suggest we move on to my performance. She introduces me to an audience full of my e-boyfriends and steps offstage. I ease into a complicated Bruce Lee routine that leaves me airborne for the finale—and my ex-boyfriends breathless and chanting, “Forgive us, Jill.”
Hey, it could happen. Since I’ve been learning Shaolin Kung Fu at the Iron Fist International School of Chicago, I’ve seen the glimmer of a few taut muscles and the faces of a few ex-boyfriends on the punching bag. The fact is I’ve always been afraid to try martial arts, and at the same time, I’m intrigued by it. So, as part of my Shape adventure, I decided to take kung fu.
My first experience at Iron First involved an Open Training class. I didn’t know this going in, but the class brings martial artists of all levels – from beginning white and yellow sashes to more advanced green, blue, purple, red and brown – together to work out. Imagine my surprise when I was paired with a blue sash, who promptly put me in a headlock. Imagine my surprise (and his) when I got out of it.
Yet, that’s what martial arts is all about: self-discovery, endurance, acceptance, renegotiating your own perceptions so you view your body as a functional system, rather than something purely aesthetic.
“It makes sense that women who may take martial arts may a more positive body image because they don’t see their thighs as large, for example, but as powerful,” says Ann Kearney-Cooke, Ph.D., the psychologist I’m working with. “They’re more inclined to take care of their bodies.”
Since that first class, I’ve gotten closer to living this sentiment. When I leave Iron Fist, I feel tougher than I’ve ever felt after 30 minutes on the treadmill; tough enough to endure another headlock and go for my white sash (one of the few white fashion accessories you can wear after Labor Day).
And I got it, with the help of Iron Fist owner and fifth-degree black sash Sifu Dino Spender (“Sifu” is a title of respect). “Martial arts helps you develop the balance, fitness, health and energy to live a long life,” he tells me.
I started working out with Sifu after the headlock incident. He challenges me to go beyond my limits. Now, I’m able to jump rope for longer than when I started, lift my knee higher to my chest, and straighten out what used to be a painfully twisted crescent kick.
I’ve also come to see the practice of martial arts as a metaphor for the weight-loss process. Both require me to overcome fear, embrace important rituals, and show discipline (strength of body and character). I fantasize about the possibilities. I just hope Oprah comes back for another season.
Last month, at the start of this project, I weighed 183 pounds. There. It’s out in the open. 183. 183. 123. (Oops, typo.) Yep, I’m obsessed with “the number.” Always have been. I’m convinced it’s the true measure of my worth as a human being. Unfortunately, I, like a lot of women have been taught to look outside myself for my self-worth, says Ann Kearney-Cooke, PhD, the psychologist I’m working with who specializes in body image.
So I’ve spent most of my life fleeing from the scale like Harrison Ford fled from Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive. Lying about my weight on my driver’s license (135). Ignoring reminders for my annual Pap smear (BAD!) because I didn’t want to get weighed at the doctor’s office.
Until recently. Since this column requires me to be weighed each month, I’ve had to get over my phobias—fast. I’m also required to get my body fat tested monthly and take a fitness test every three months. To keep me honest, my editors designated Michael Logan, C.P.F.T., M.E.S., an American Council on Exercise certified personal trainer at the Galter LifeCenter in Chicago as “keeper” of my numbers.
When the day came to get weighed, I walked the mile very slowly from my condo to meet Michael at the LifeCenter. (1…8…3.) A medley of minstrel hymns and the “Peter Gunn” theme played in my head. Sure enough, Michael was there, waiting to measure my body fat and (gulp) weigh me before putting me through my first hour of strength training. As we approach the scale, I promptly took off my shoes, socks, fanny pack, rings, hair clip, and necklace. I’d have stripped down to my skivvies if there hadn’t been 10 cardiac-rehab patients watching. Then, I climbed on as Michael removed the metal thingamajig to the right, the silver bar and my nerves hanging in the balance. 150. 160. 170. 180. 183.
And just like that, it was over. I was still breathing. None of the rehab patients had a coronary (even though I was dangerously close). And Michael gave me the first of what I suspect will be many lessons in my yearlong journey. “Jill, once you know what you weigh, you still don’t know anything,” he said, emphasizing more important and less intimidating gauges of fitness, like my body-fat percentage, cardiovascular fitness measure (max VO; how efficiently I use oxygen while exercising) and how I feel. Without these, the number on the scale is meaningless.
Since then, I’ve come to trust that my weight is not the sole measure of my worth as a person (despite what late-night cable and the instructions for my Thighmaster tell me). The people in my life still find me as deserving of love and acceptance as my lighter counterparts.
Now that I’ve lost a few pounds, these things haven’t changed. What has is my ability to validate the changes in my body, despite that number. I’m already stronger than I was last month. And I’m getting adept at picking my own criteria, like exercising more and eating well, for what it takes to be strong. I now use the scale as one source of data instead of the whole story- and as a footstool for getting closer to the light over my bathroom mirror so I can really see who I am: a woman, who recently weighed 183 pounds. And for now, that’s okay.
https://letgoforit.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Feb2002.png5001200Jill Sherer Murrayhttps://letgoforit.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/JSMLogoRev-300x159.pngJill Sherer Murray2002-02-01 17:18:042017-04-14 16:34:43Downplaying the Scale
Tonight, I ate dinner alone in my Toyota RAV4. After three hours at the hair salon, I made the mistake of going to the grocery store hungry, where I bought a whole host of goodies that, frankly, I shouldn’t have. I left the store with two sacks of food, a plastic fork and bad intentions. I hurried through the parking lot to my car, put the key in the ignition and fired up the fork instead of the engine. While a pea-green Ford Taurus waited for me to vacate my parking space, I downed a quarter-pound of tuna salad laced with full-throttle mayonnaise.
Feeling no pressure, despite the angry looks I was getting from the driver of the Taurus, I washed down the tuna with six pieces of vegetable maki, two slices of tofu teriyaki, seven forkfuls of chocolate pudding, one turkey ball marinara, and a partridge in a pear tree (not really, but if they had sold one, I’d have eaten it).
Once the food was gone and my stomach fully distended, I finally gave the Ford my space and drove off to meet my boyfriend for dinner — making a pact with myself to eat only a small bowl of lettuce no matter what restaurant we settled on.
You might be thinking, gee, that all sounds very healthy (not the behavior, clearly, but the food items). “Tofu. Tuna. Turkey. Vegetables. All the food groups were pretty much covered. So, what’s the problem?” The problem is, who am I kidding? As we all know, the mayo in the tuna, the oil in the tofu and chocolate chips in the pudding contain enough calories and fat for an entire day.
I’ve been kidding myself for years. When I was a little girl, I used to believe that if my mother said I could eat it, it didn’t have any calories. This was based on the simple fact that my mother watched my food intake (and still does, despite the four states between us) like a probation officer watches an ex-con. I knew that if she let me have a cookie, a piece of birthday cake, or lunch on a day we were going out for a “big dinner;” it couldn’t hurt me.
Well, that was — and still is — a fallacy. And there are more fallacies where that came from in my grab bag, like the one that calls tying a sweater around your waist “a fashion statement.” In my world, it’s a way to mask too many tuna melts at the diner.
So what to do? Well, I’m doing this, committing to the Weight-Loss Diary for one year. An act of true bravery, probably my most courageous since the whole “lose weight while you sleep” scandal. (Never mind.) Putting my actual weight and bad eating habits out there for my entire high-school senior class as fodder for our next reunion. Bringing the rest of you along for the ride in the hopes that you’ll help keep me in check — and out of the checkout line.
The fact is, I’m ready. I’m ripe like a grape to give up the fallacies, the tricks, the gimmicks, the yo-yo dieting, the extra paunch in my belly and the chubby arms I inherited from my favorite grandmother; in other words, the 40 pounds I’ve put on since my 30th birthday. The fact that, despite a closet the size of Bloomingdales, I struggle to find something to wear to a Cubs game.
I’m especially ready to give up the heavy person on the outside (because I don’t know if you ever really get rid of the one on the inside) eating dinner alone in her parked car while the world — or somebody in a pea-green Taurus — waits. It’s time to get moving.