To say that I’m stressed these days is an understatement. Unfortunately, I’m not one of those people who lose appetite and thus, weight when I’m going through tough times. Just the opposite. I’m an emotional eater, I admit it. I’ve got a sweet tooth, too. After the immediate crisis was over and my son was out of the hospital, I reached for chocolate, sugary cereals, and real corn-syrupy sodas. The first week living in the extended-stay hotel, I had limited cooking facilities, not that I felt like cooking. Even in the rental house, there are limitations. I don’t have a fully-stocked kitchen or pantry, and I hesitate to buy too much since I’ll have to move it all back to my house in a few months. These days I eat out more than usual, which really adds to the calories. And then friends have wanted to take me out after my ordeal. It’s very sweet of them, but again, restaurant food adds up quickly on the scale. Luckily (or perhaps not) I no longer have a scale, so I didn’t worry too much about weight gain at the beginning.
Eventually, I took stock. Since moving back to Texas seven years ago, I have gained about 50 pounds. It wasn’t one of those slowly-but-surely weight gains, though; it happened at three distinct times: moving to Austin (a move is pretty high on the stress scale, even a desired one), the teen years (my son’s, not my own, as he cut the apron strings with a vengeance), and menopause (every woman’s excuse). I gained 15 or so pounds each time, so what were the odds I’d add another 15 during this immediate post-fire time? When I weighed myself at the Y, I hadn’t gained anything yet, but I needed to better my odds.
I decided to sign up for a weight loss class at the YMCA. When I first mention this idea to friends, a few worried I was taking on too much, given all the stress in my life. I see their point, but I figure if I can at least avoid gaining weight during such a stressful period, that’s almost as good as losing weight. After all, life will eventually get easier and better once this immediate post-fire phase is over, and then I can focus on losing. I don’t seem to have much focus these days, so I’m hoping a class will help with that. At the first session, the trainer weighs me and takes all my measurements. I don’t even look at the measurements; I know they’re depressingly large. She assigns us a cardio routine and then guides us through strength exercises. The next day I can hardly move. This is good, I tell myself. This just might work.
The other factor is food, of course. I like to eat but I don’t like to cook. I used to, years ago, but I burned out after cooking meals all those years as a single working mom with two kids. I wish I could afford a cook, but unless I marry one, that’s not going to happen. If I lived in New York City like my sister Leslie, I’d have a ton of take-out/delivery options, but I’m in suburban Austin. There aren’t as many options, so I need to get motivated to cook. Oh wait. All my cookbooks are gone along with everything else in my burned kitchen. No excuses, though. I make my way to the bookstore and pick up a couple with lots of photographs to inspire me. My kids learned to cook at an early age, so they can help. Their dad is a foodie, so he trained them early on. No reason I can’t benefit from that! I tell them that they are responsible for at least one meal a week. My son sticks to his trademark meals, but my daughter begins to look through the books, flagging recipes as she goes. I’m thinking this just might work after all.