Sunday, April 22, 2007

Things are kind of in a standstill right now at Casa Redux. I get paid next Wednesday, which is fantastic as I'm sort of out of food and money and the nerve to attempt check kiting in the hopes that I can get said food without said money. I've also agreed to join Weight Watchers with my friend Missy, but can't get to a meeting until Wednesday.

So I wait.

Planning and waiting for me is a dangerous thing sometimes, because I tend to get into the mindset of not having to make it count until the actual day I plan to do something. So I sit, and plan, and eat. Right now I'm already thinking in the back of my head "You know...frozen pizzas are cheap and WAY more fun than frozen vegatables. Plus, it'd totally rack up some extra water weight for the WW weigh-in." Bad, BAD philosophy, but that's how I roll.

I guess one positive thing about this mini-odyssey of losing that big burst of initial weight and then letting it creep back on over the last two months is that at the very least, I'm not binging like I used to. There has been no consuming entire cakes, or making multiple fast food stops in one drive (although I must admit the other day I did get a 7-layer burrito at one place and a bowl of soup at another, but that was because I was really, really, hungry and there weren't any veggie sandwiches at the soup place). Basically there's been nothing horrible bad, but there's also been nothing really good about my reduxing either. I can't summon enough energy to exercise regularly, even though I know perfectly well that regular exercise gives you energy. The last few days have been kind of rainy and weird and so I never made it outside to walk the neighborhood, so that's been bothering me too. I dunno...maybe I spend too much time plotting and planning and not enough time actually doing. I'm happy I'm not sitting up in the 230's worrying about this, but it also bothers me that I'm still in the 220's and can't update my progress pictures yet. I just wished it bothered me enough to actually take some initiative and get better food and to move my body. Hopefully after payday.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Captain Obvious

I have discovered something: My little redneck barrio has a sidewalk, and this sidewalk runs in a loop shape around our subdivision. I drove my car in the same loop and realized I have a perfectly serviceable .3 mile track around which to walk, trudge, and ultimately run. There is absolutely no--NO, I say--excuse for me not to be engaging in cardio exercise right now. We are enjoying of California-esque weather, I have two sturdy and operational legs waiting to churn down concrete, and I have loads and loads of time in which to do it. It really didn't even register that we had sidewalks around here because my town is so completely devoid of pedestrian-friendly walkways that I just assumed the neighborhood was the same way. But nay, you can actually WALK ON THE SIDE of the street. I marvel.

In my defense, most of the sidewalk is normally obscured
by extra cars or Little Tykes furniture, or various conversation groups of Dale Earnhardt memorial campchairs and coolers, but for the most part I can walk in a straight line for at least the length of three or four quadplexes. The only thing that's holding me back at this point is laziness. My friends, I am going to walk tomorrow at 7:45 pm after work. Bear witness so I don't cop out.

Now, if only I could discover a Bowflex gym behind one of the azalea bushes in my backyard...

By the way, thank you to Jen of Angry Fat Girlz and Dietgirl for being nice enough to notice my last blog entry. Jen's thoughts on the subject are way more insightful than mine ever could be, but really how hard would it be to out-erudite someone who writes about public poopers and Subway?

Yeah, that's what I thought.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


An old friend of mine is pretty obsessive about dancing the Argentinian tango, and one rainy evening last March she drug me to the grey, dank basement of a Presbyterian church in the middle of Kansas City's artsy, Bohemian district. She didn't tell me where we were going, though the fact that she grabbed a pair of gold lame stilettos as we ran out the door tipped me off that she was either going to be dancing or competing in amateur night at the Million Dollar Fantasy Ranch. Either way, I knew I'd be entertained so I followed her gamely down the street into the church.

Since I didn't have the foresight to bring my own drag queen shoes to our night together, I ended up sinking into a tweedy, low-slung couch that belched the scent of dirty hair and Aquavelva in puffs as I squirmed against the fabric. The room was only half illuminated, and as my eyes swept across its walls I noted ancient Boy Scout flags, like pale examples of heroic Medieval banners dangling precariously from the exposed water pipes overhead. The dancers circled the room in little packs, some breaking away to practice odd, figure-eight dance moves on their own, some just mingling and fondling the chocolates and grapes laid out on a scratched communion altar made profane by the addition of a vermillion table cloth. Nothing seemed to be going on until a strikingly tall man with a curly pony tail tapped something on a laptop perched on corner table and suddenly the strains of "La Cumparsita" drifted across the room. Couples quickly formed and began their rotations on the dance floor, some simply walking together in rhythm, others bending and swirling in magnificent patterns...their legs conjoining and separating like braided hair suddenly pulled loose by an errant hand.

I wax rhapsodic about this moment partly because it was one of the few times in my life where I've been free to observe almost completely unnoticed; since I wasn't dancing I was almost roundly ignored, much to my delight, and I could mentally record details about each person...the way she brushed a sweaty strand of hair out of her face and smiled each time her partner inclined his head after a dance...the way he seemed more graceful, almost feline, when he practiced his balleos in the corner where he thought no one would see. And I loved the moment also partly because those mediocre dancers in that unassuming church basement suddenly seemed so elegant, so composed, so exquisitely beautiful that I knew if I could just feel that way every night I'd be an extraordinarily happy person.

Six months later I drove to the dance studio where these people had trained and signed up for tango lessons. I drove an hour both ways twice a week for three weeks, changing from teacher clothes into a skirt and heels at stoplights in the middle of the ghettos on the way there. I ended up hanging out at the advanced class' milongas on Sundays, too, drinking bottled water and swirling my feet in front of the same battered couch where I watched the my first tango night a year ago. I would walk into work the next morning, limping a little and with bruised-purple crescent moons under my eyes and when co-workers teased me for partying my life away in the big city, I just smiled, because it was so much more than that for me.

That was when tango was easy...for the first three weeks. You didn't really have to touch anybody then. We certainly danced, but it was in demure embraces that kept the bodies apart while we stepped cautiously around the perimeter of the dance floor. For three weeks it wasn't much more than walking forward, walking backward, and turning corners. I was pretty good at the easy stuff.

One night came when we started learning extended techniques and how to dance with a partner in a closer embrace all at once, and our substitute teacher for the night was a blazingly effeminate man whose crusade to bring tango to Kansas City had mostly been a bitterly disappointing odyssey of uncommitted students and tenuous sponsorships with restaurants and dance halls who broke their contracts when more lucrative organizations came knocking. We had been warned about this man before, that he would refuse to dance with anyone less experienced than he, and that he took tango so seriously he had almost completely lost the sense of joy that was supposed to come with it.

The evening started out innocuously enough for me; we practiced walking and turning like every other night, and then our instructor asked us to partner to learn a new technique. I don't remember the name of it, but it involved crossing one leg over the other in such a way that the feet essentially reversed positions, all while the leader pushes you off balance, catches you and turns you in order to face a new direction. It seemed, in theory, an easy enough maneuver, but when I realized my thick thighs wouldn't squish together close enough to switch my feet I realized I was going to be having problems from now on. I remember dropping my head so my hair hid my face, and muttering an apology to my partner for being so awkward. We faked it for a few turns around the floor, until the instructor called a halt to the music and walked over to us.

"There will be times when you'll have to make adjustments for your body", he remarked with the bored air of a freshman survey-class professor, "Erin's body, for instance, is rather large and if she'll demonstrate for us the difficulty she has in getting a decent leg extension, you'll understand that tango is not the ideal dance for everyone." I went numb, from the roots of my scalp all the way to my toes, and as I demonstrated for the class that my legs were, indeed, so monstrously fat that they couldn't do the movement properly I felt my nose get hot and red like it does when I'm trying very hard not to cry. My partner patted my shoulder and told me to just lean in and keep dancing while they watched, and that he wouldn't make me do the new move during our turn, so we just walked...and walked...and walked during what seemed like the longest tango verse in the history of all tango music ever. After the class was over I drove home and decided I just wasn't going back until I had lost some weight.

And that decision, to this day, still irritates me because I really, really liked dancing. I liked getting girled up and being held close to strange Greek men who smelled spicy in a really good way and giggling in the corner with college students who didn't know I was 26 and not 19 and who were all just as bad as I was. I still read all the emails and announcements the tango school's Yahoo group sends out, and I still waste time at work by writing down the details of the tango shoes I wanted to have specially made just for me from Buenos Aires. Getting real tango shoes is a rite of passage in the community, and every woman's pair is supposed to be a reflection of who she is as a dancer. Mine were going to be black, with red dots so small you can't see them unless you admire them up close. One time I even bought nail polish to match.

My old friend who started all this mess in the first place moved to Switzerland last summer, so our conversations about this have been relegated to Skype video chats and IM. She pressed me for details one evening after she realized I hadn't talked about tango class in quite awhile and when I admitted I had stopped taking lessons, she sighed and then said something that might truly be one of the most profound things I've ever heard. She reminded me that our bodies are designed to evolve and adapt to whatever situation we put them in on a regular basis, so if we force our body into a regular activity it will respond by creating the most appropriate combination of muscle, fat, and bone to accommodate our interests. I found the fact that my friend, who has struggled with weight herself, could rationalize this as extraordinary, because it meant she wasn't completely overwhelmed by her physique like I was. And really, my friend's body is already doing exactly what she said it would...the more she danced, the fitter it got, and now she's a beautifully curvy girl on top of two pretty fantastic legs and extremely sculpted calves that can dance and dance and dance some seriously beautiful tango without getting tired.

And I know this is one of those moments where everyone else in the world says "Um...did you seriously not know that yet, Erin?" and I twirl a lock of hair around my finger and said "", because obviously if you dance or run or do aerobics or lift weights your body is going to change its composition, and if you sit around or nap and eat lots and lots of food naturally your body is going to get bigger and fluffier. Duh. Der. Dar. All of that. But still, I never thought about it as a functional thing before...that if you pick an activity and do it every night, your body is going to have to figure out a way to make that activity more comfortable for you by adapting and changing shape. So right now, my body is saying "Erin, I've noticed you watch a lot of television, type on the computer, and allow small children and animals to nuzzle against you throughout the day. Clearly you're going to need a big ass, soft hips and thighs, and a jiggly stomach in order to be that person. (As a consolation, we'll give you big boobs so you'll at least look hot while you're driving in a car)."

So if I want my body to be different, maybe I shouldn't worry so much about burning off 450 calories a day, or getting in 30 minutes of weight training every other day. Maybe the secret is to figure out things that help you become what you want to be...a dancer or a really powerful musician or your country club's most infamous tennis player...and then to just figure out the necessary steps towards getting that particular body. Maybe that's where the terms "runner's body" "yoga body" "beach body" came from...not from the covers of Cosmo's spring issues, but from enlightened people who actually figured out what they wanted their body to do, and what they needed to do to get it to comply.

But even if I never get a dancer's body during my lifetime, at least I can take my massive thighs, find that tango guy, and squeeze his neck with them until his schmucky little head pops off.

Monday, April 16, 2007


So, I yoga'd. Yogaed? Yogad. Sounds like a digestive aid.

Anyway I did the above, but I only got four and a half hours of sleep, so I already need a nap. Sleep, water, yoga. Goals for the week.

Must stagger off to the shower now. Thanks for making me do felt awfully good.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Funny how every time I start, or re-start, or re-re-start I do so on a weekend where I'm committed to eating food with absolutely no nutritional value. I spent Saturday at a choral festival where I helped wrangle 175 third through fifth graders for several hours while they sang, folk danced, and giggled behind their hands as I attempted to clench a conga drum between my thighs and channel Desi Arnaz to accompany some calypso choir song the conductor picked out. The other teachers all paid to have a Chinese chicken salad delivered to them, but since I don't do the meat thing anymore and decided I wasn't going to spend $10.95 for an iceberg lettuce salad with Ramen noodles on it, I went with the kids' lunch. For the low, low price of five bucks I got two pieces of cheese pizza, Cheetos, Famous Amos cookies, and a Pepsi. I like it when I have a meal so nutritionally deficient my body actually dies a little from the consumption of it.

Today I ended up at a BBQ and was of course proffered many plates of meat. Lots of meat. Meat. Meat. More meat. Also, carnage. The throwers of said barbecue are the types of people who become mortally offended if you turn down the meat and talk with pained expression about their fathers who were beef farmers and their uncles who owned a hometown meatpacking plant, so when they put a half slab of pork ribs on my plate and looked at me with a very anticipatory expression I knew what I had to do. And damn, were those ribs good. Likewise the other mounds of BBQ related food I had (probably to excess).

But the good news is, of course, that tomorrow is another day at Tara and I don't have to eat BBQ with Ashley and Charles Hamilton on Monday. I'll resume my vegetarian ways with a black bean wrap and something...vegetably...for dinner.

My goals this week are to figure out a way to drink water that still allows me to be a teacher, because I'm uber-dehydrated right now. While I understand intellectually that thirty kindergartners can't be trusted to chill in a classroom for two minutes while I run down the hall every half hour because I'm pushing water, but somehow it seems just a little inhumane to make teachers develop camel bladders for the sake of their profession. Le petit sigh.

Also, I really want to wake up in the morning and do yoga. I've wanted to do this for two months now, but of the 60 days I've set my alarm for 5:30, I think during maybe 58 of them I've pressed the snooze button seven times and actually awoken at 6:50. Maybe by pledging my intentions of doing morning yoga to the Internets, I'll do it. Maybe. Make me do it, okay?


Friday, April 13, 2007

I'm still here!

Wow, I feel like I broke up with this blog and then saw it at a Starbucks a few months later and had to have that really awful conversation where we both say "You look really good" but actually mean "So, are you sleeping with anyone right now?" until one of us finally bolts for the door and whips out their cellphone to call everyone they know.

Yeah, something like that.

I miss this blog! The Great Period of Angst from early February seems to have finally passed by, and I want to write. I just haven't really had a lot of stuff to write about. My poor gym card hasn't been swiped since my grandma's funeral, and I'm not eating spectacularly well, but I'm also not binging either.

I toyed for a few weeks with vegetarianism after seeing Fast Food Nation, then back to the GI Diet with meat, then veganism, then quasi-veganism for a day (meaning I avoided milk but felt no compunction about eating chocolate covered espresso beans) and now I've landed rather comfortably back on whole foods vegetarianism and it's going really, really well. I don't know how or when it happened, but at some point the mature part of my brain that usually only gets dusted off when I have to pay bills or pretend to disapprove of the armpit farts my kindergartners make when I turn my back decided that it would be important for me to develop the ability to stop eating when I'm hungry and not eat nasty junk food unless I'm really, really craving it.

So far, the strategy's been good to me and I've been holding steady at between 221-222 pounds even without exercise or watching my calories very strictly. There definitely were whole weeks where I DID overeat on purpose and I'm sure had those not happened, I would be a bit lower. Being a vegetarian has also really made me appreciate how subtly good vegetables can be if you take the time to prepare them correctly. It just makes me feel sort of calm about future dieting endeavors knowing my body doesn't want to consume whole acres of food anymore, and even if it does I'll likely attack an avocado grove these days rather than, say, an Arby's.

I was thinking fondly about this blog, and about how I miss all of you and the sense of purpose it used to give me when a woman I work with interrupted my train of thought to ask if I had lost weight. She said she noticed from the back I was smaller.

Did you hear that? The back. Which means my ass, my ASS! IS! SMALLER!

And that's really all I needed to hear. I'll do all the official weigh-in stuff on Sunday, but I'm fairly certain I'm back, because even though I've typed those words before, this time it actually feels good to do it.