The Birthankschriangle

There is a dark and deadly triangle my friends, one that cannot be seen, heard, nor touched, but trust me when I say that it is real, it does exist, and its effects are felt.

In college, a cheese stick at 1 AM on a camping trip earned me the nickname of the “Snackin'est Mutha****a in the World”, although it wasn't just that cheese stick. It was that snack, at that time, that made one of my friends realize that I always had a cookie, chip, or some other food item in my hands at any given moment. When our art club had meetings, I was the soda and chips guy, in that I purchased and consumed most of the soda and chips. I had more munchies than a pothead, which makes me shudder to think what effect the stuff might have had on me if I ever tried it. I'd probably have turned into Galactus; I've already got the head for it.

My big downfall after I graduated was the propagation of a little chain called Starbucks; have you heard of it? I was never a big coffee drinker, and mostly went there at lunch for social reasons, to be around a girl I liked. We eventually dated for two-and-a-half years once she dropped enough anvils letting me know that she liked me as well, and I'm very fortunate for that time since five Venti Mocha Frappuccinos a week with whipped cream tend to add a little weight. There was one Summer before my senior year of college in which running around for six hours in the hot sun for my job at a gas station helped me slim down quite a bit. I didn't realize how much until recently when I looked at some old photos.

The next time I'd lose significant weight would be when, at the age of 25, a birth defect in my intestines that only effects 2% of the population, and is usually diagnosed in infants, up and decided, “Hey, I'ma gonna rupture now.” After nearly bleeding to death, the problem was diagnosed, with the offending culprit removed, and I spent 11 days in the hospital with only IV fluids to sustain me. Gradually, I got back strength and confidence and soon resumed a normal life, and a few years later when my company added a gym, some friends coaxed me into joining. It was one of the best decisions of my life.

I treated the treadmill like a video game, did constant math with the numbers on the display to calculate how fast I would have to run to achieve a certain distance in a certain time, and every day I tried to “beat” my score. I eventually ran in several inter-company races, and it was very satisfying to think that the chubby kid who could barely run during his school years because he'd get sharp pains in his side was now running competitively. When I lost my old job I lost my gym, and I put weight back on very quickly over one dark Winter. When my energy levels dropped and old feelings of anxiety, lightheadedness, and shortness of breath returned in stressful situations, I knew I needed a new gym. The new one was more expensive, but had better equipment, and was worth it. Just as before, I had to start slow, but gradually worked my way up. I didn't get back to where I was until this past Summer, when training for a race, and after I finished the race well below my goal time, I didn't stop running every day in the gym. People who hadn't seen me in a while on band gigs would comment that I was looking slim, so eventually I mustered up the courage to get on a scale, and I'd gone from almost 200 pounds earlier this year down to 175, which while still 25 pounds more than that one year in college is still an improvement.

The last time I got on a scale was a few weeks ago, after I found I had to punch a new hole in my belt to keep my jeans up. But now, now I'm afraid. You see, now I'm inside the first point of that dreaded triangle. My birthday starts things off in November, and between the cupcakes some girls at work gave me and the arsenal of snacks my parents bought, I've been feeling the effects of gravity more and more on that treadmill. I'm still managing 6 miles a day, but it's starting to get harder again. And I get this mentality that the sooner I finish those snacks, the sooner those cupcakes and Kit Kats and Doritos and Milanos and chocolate chip muffins and pudding cups and ice cream cake are GONE, the sooner I get back to my routine.

Only scraps remain now. The Milanos and Kit Kats were the first to fall, followed shortly by the Doritos. One cupcake and one back of mini muffins remain. The ice cream cake didn't know what hit it. Oddly enough, my mom always stocks the refrigerator with cartons of ice cream in the early Fall; I'm guessing the prices are right this time of year. Some nights I've caught myself taking granola bars, one of my healthier snacks, and dipping them into an ice cream “soup” which is just ice cream in a bowl with milk poured in, possibly some dried cereal like Rice Krispies. Seriously, when it comes to gluttony, I'm an artiste. When it comes to will power, it only extends a certain distance. If I have to leave the house to get a snack, I won't. But if it's in the freezer a few feet away, I have a problem. I might tell myself that tonight I'm going to skip dessert, but then I black out or something and find myself slumped in front of an Office rerun with an empty bowl and the faint scent of chocolate from the residue within.

I'm still running. And every day I walk at least two miles at lunch, so long as the weather continues to permit. But my birthday is only the beginning. Thanksgiving will be here in just a few short days. With my Uncle Jerry in a nursing home with dementia this year, he won't be bringing by Cannoli and other pastries from an Italian bakery, but that won't stop my mom from making turkey AND lasagna AND buying a slew of desserts. It won't be as bad as my birthday with leftover snacks lingering, but it will strike before I've had a chance to recover from my birthday, and just as I'm getting over Thanksgiving, guess what? Point #3: Christmas. I'm DOOMED.

I haven't gotten on a scale, but I can see it in the mirror, see angles rounding out and disappearing, definition in my face lost as my cheeks balloon out. I feel that sickly feeling where love handles spill out the sides and drape below the pelvic bones. And I'm a lot more tired than I should be. A lesser man might quit the gym entirely while in this triangle; a wiser one would put his membership on hold, since I just come home and cancel out whatever work I'm doing. But I don't think I should stop, because this isn't a losing battle. Right now, this is a holding action, and the enemy is gaining some ground, but not winning. If I can just hold on for six more weeks, then I'll be poised in January for one hell of a comeback. Let the holidays take their toll for two months out of the year; the other ten belong to a runner leaving the Snackin'-est Mutha in the dust.


Blogger Lorna said...

I loved this post, although I found these words heart-wrenching:

Only scraps remain now.

11/21/2009 9:09 AM  
Blogger Kev said...

My birthday's in late August... but yeah, I definitely feel the pain of that Triangle...

11/21/2009 10:19 AM  

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