And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.

I have been so good. Really. Very, very good.

In January, I decided I wanted to lose weight and get back into shape. I used to love to go to the gym. I did advanced step-aerobics every day of the week and alternated working upper and lower body on the weight machines every day as well. I walked around wearing brightly colored exercise leggings, coordinating leotards, and my special order Reebok sneakers, developed specifically for step-aerobics. Those shoes never touched anything but a gym floor. I changed into them when I arrived and switched out before I left. I had my own designated spot on the floor and the instructor often called out for me to take over the class while she spot-checked everyone else. When the gym held a “fitness Olympics”, I won the gold medal. I taught for several weight loss companies. And all of it went to hell when I developed an eating disorder.

It wasn’t until now that I felt ready to go back. I felt like I could watch what I ate again and exercise again without becoming obsessed. Without letting it rule every moment of my life.

I joined a 24/7 gym. I worked out typically at midnight. And I loved it. I didn’t join a weight loss plan, but made my own, based on what I knew about myself and about oral allergy syndrome, which I deal with constantly. The weight came off slowly, but steadily. Then COVID hit. My gym closed.

I didn’t let it stop me. I kept following my own diet, cutting out sugar and carbs. I still allowed certain “cheats” – our Saturday dinners out became take-out dinners in, we had our “Thursday Sundae” from Culvers, I still had a doughnut for breakfast every Sunday morning, ensconced in my recliner with a really good cup of coffee and the Sunday comics, Life section, and real estate section. I bought a treadmill and resistance bands and turned a back room into my home gym. I still worked out primarily at midnight.

I was so good. Really. Very, very good.

The weight loss stalled about three weeks ago – I’m sticking at 24 pounds off, forever chasing that elusive 25 pounds, and then 30. But I was okay. I knew plateaus happened, and just as I used to talk clients off of cliffs, I talked myself off too.

But this week, something happened. I think the stress just hit a certain level. The news has been COVID, COVID, COVID for months now. Racism is an even bigger epidemic in our country than the virus. Horrible things were happening. I sent my youngest daughter off to college, despite COVID. I watched from a distance as my oldest daughter walked into her classrooms at a university in Louisiana…and then watched further as I shoved COVID aside and freaked out over a hurricane. I saw my granddaughter, who lives a stone’s throw from me, in a photograph on Facebook, wearing a mask on her first day of 2nd grade. A perfectly cute pink leopard print, but a mask nonetheless, on a face that I should have been able to see beaming from ear to ear. I don’t know when I will see her in person again. I read news reports and watched videos of people throwing fits because it was “their right” to not wear a mask, instead of thinking, You know, I can do this one small thing and it might just help somebody. Then the “man” that calls himself “president” showed up in Kenosha and claimed to the world that the violence was caused by “far left politicians”, not at all by a policeman who shot a Black man seven times in the back at point blank range. And that “man” took credit for bringing in the National Guard, when it was our “far left” governor who did so. And he posed a “business owner” in front of a destroyed business so that “business owner” could sing this “president’s” praises, even though that “business owner” did not own that business at all.

There was a notification on my phone that the air quality in my area was poor. I think the air was gray from deception and delusion.

And suddenly, I was stress-eating. I was eating in a way I hadn’t since January. I had lunch at McDonalds, supper at Culvers, another lunch at Subway, and another at Jimmy John’s. I had a Snickers bar, and a couple days later, another Snickers bar. I stepped off the treadmill on Monday and haven’t been back since.

I. Felt. Awful. Not physically, mind you, I was fine. But I felt guilty and awful and like I was the biggest (literally) failure ever. I let things get to me. And I let them pull me down.

Then, last night, as I was reading a student’s work, I came across these lines. A character is telling another character to avoid trouble: “Did you know that trouble starts with a T that rhymes with D that stands for donut? Have one. There’s nothing wrong with stress-eating.”

I sat back and laughed. And forgave myself.

“Michael,” I yelled. “Remember that recipe for Dr. Pepper brownies I found? Make’em.”

(They were a disappointment. Odd texture and I couldn’t taste the Dr. Pepper at all.)

Tonight, I will have my Thursday Sundae, and that will be the end of it. We’ll still eat out/in on Saturday, I’ll still have my doughnut on Sunday. That’s on the program, and I will be on the program. I will climb back on the treadmill.

And here’s the Moment – I know this isn’t something I’m telling myself. I know I can do it.

Sometimes, we break, and we all break in different ways. I broke. I had the donut. And now I’m putting it away and getting out the glue.

And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.

Me standing on the treadmill.
The artwork on the wall beside me when I walk on the treadmill. Yes, I can.
And the artwork behind me. Damn straight.

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