Sunday, July 05, 2009


In April 2008 I had a spinal fusion surgery. The length of recovery was almost whispered to me by my neurosurgeon, "In one year you won't even know you had surgery!"

At the time, I was in searing pain from a nerve pinched between arthritic, collapsed vertebrae, and so he could have said, "three years," and I would have dragged my sorry, broken body to the operating table that very day, just to eradicate the pain that had slowly taken over my life.

The surgery went well, he said. The recovery, however, was a different story. Locked into a rigid back brace day and night, it was impossible for me to get up without assistance or even sleep in my bed. I chastised myself for putting myself through that misery. I cried, I groaned and once I think I probably even screamed out from my misery, and the people who were caring for me were concerned, and rightfully so.

To comfort me, my girlfriends cooked or drove out to a restaurant and returned with goodies, put them on a tray and brought them to wherever I had landed for the day, usually on the loveseat in the living room. They were so loving, so patient, so kind! I felt so lucky.

And in a few short months, I was back on my feet and almost caring for myself, but the lack of meaningful exercise and my desire to squelch my self-pity with food, had caught up with me, and I realized I had, somewhere along the line, gathered 20 extra pounds around my waist and on my ass.

Instead of self-loathing, though, I embraced the weight and washed down Oreos with some high-caloric drink, like Corona, at very bad times, like just before bed or while soaking in a tub of hot water. And it wasn't always Corona. Sometimes I drank wine.

This past month I came to the realization that probably I should consider dropping the extra weight. I looked at my granddaughter, who is one and very chunky and nearly impossible for me to carry, and heard a little voice in my own head, at least one of many little voices in my head, asking me if I could not carry the child, how was I possibly carrying this weight around? Immediately my heels began to hurt (power of suggestion, even if it was from one of my own inner voices), and my clothes began to feel tighter. The mirror no longer was my friend. Hell, the mirror had been my enemy for over a year.

About this time, as if my divine intervention, a program began at the hospital where I am employed. I paid twenty bucks and stood on a scale, collected a huge folder of information and learned that the biggest loser keeps the money at the end of twenty weeks.

"Great!" one of my voices told me. "I could use an extra couple of hundred dollars around the Holidays! And so it began.

The first week I dropped, you guessed it, one pound. And the only reason that happened was because I ran in place while trying to decipher the following information: "1 pound is approximately 3550 calories so to lose 1 pound per week you would need to lower your calorie intake by 3550 calories a week. Example, if you weight 250 pounds and are lightly active and eat 2558 calories a day that is 17,906 calories a week. In order to lose 1 pound a week you would need to subtract 3550 from 17,906, which is 13,356 and divide that by 7 which is 2050 calories per day to lose 1 pound per week."

I lost one pound just from the brain power it took to solve that equation. I never was good at algebra OR story problems. And I needed a glass of wine to go on reading the Pandora's box of story problems I had been handed.

This week is going to be different. This week I am throwing away my black three-ring binder full of tips and suggestions and winging it. It is not rocket science, after all. Stop drinking wine and beer, exercise some, stop eating every other meal at McDonald's and when the box says one serving is two cookies, eat two cookies and not half the box.

So, at this time, I am heading out for a walk to the Farmer's Market, to pick up a couple of bags of good fresh homegrown veggies, curbing the almost insane desire to stop at the baked items table where the woman who no doubt bakes the best breads and cakes and cookies in the entire Tri-State, tries to lure me in with her grandmotherly sad old woman look so she can comfort me with her still-warm bread smeared with real butter.

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