Friday, July 31, 2015

The Agony and the Idiocy

Remember how I told you about how much I hate being embarrassed and how I do pretty much everything I can to avoid it?

And yet, I still manage to make an ass of myself at every given opportunity. This time, I did it to myself. I walked right into it. Well, I hobbled into it.

I threw out my back (this is not the embarrassing part - that's coming, don't worry). My back problems started about seven years ago when I injured it while dead-lifting at the gym. I had never dead-lifted in my life and had zero weightlifting experience, so when my then-boyfriend asked me if I wanted to give it a shot, the logical answer was "sure!" An hour later while recovering in my hospital bed, it occurred to me perhaps I should have given my response more thought.

Since then, I've thrown my back out at least once a year doing the most mundane tasks: running the vacuum, putting a gallon of milk in the fridge. Any awkward movement can trigger it, and I end up with debilitating spasms of sheer agony shooting through my body. This time, I was sitting on the floor with Libby. I lifted her up and turned at the waist to put her on the couch. The movement was off just enough to send that first spark of pain up my spine. It wasn't so terrible, just enough to make me take note and realize a full-fledged spasm wasn't far behind. But, in my experience, that warning shot can mean days of general discomfort before the Big One comes. I had to work at the library that afternoon, and I really didn't want to call off so close to the start of my shift, so I decided to ignore it and proceed as normal.

Later, looking up at the ceiling of the library office as I lay rigid on the floor,  it occurred to me perhaps I should have given this more thought.

While lying on the floor while willing myself not to scream at my place of employment was embarrassing enough, this still wasn't the worst of it.

The worst of it happened en route to the library. The drive there had been fine - sitting upright in the car actually felt pretty good so I figured the pain was subsiding. I parked on the street behind the building as usual and started the short walk up the hill to the library entrance. By halfway up, I was clinging to each brick as spasm after spasm attacked my back. I couldn't breathe. Sweat poured down my face. I was cold and hot at the same time and so, so nauseated. I started to shake. I knew I just had to get to the top of the hill, round the corner and make it 50 feet or so past a few other storefronts to the library door. I cried out with each step, but being able to use the side of the building to steady myself helped. Until there was no more building left, and I had to let go.

I mustered what meager strength I had left and stepped around the corner. This landed me directly in front of a taco stand a few doors down from the library entrance. I buy those tacos at least once a week, so I'm on a nod-hello basis with the guy who runs it. Today, he had a group of about six patrons enjoying an early dinner at his stand. The instant I saw them, my back froze. I was simultaneously paralyzed and writhing in pain. Taco Guy caught my eye and assumed, justifiably so as I was now lingering in front of his stand, that I was there to buy tacos.

"Hola! Tacos?" he addressed me as the pain started to make me jerk like a person having a seizure.

Every eye turned toward me. I couldn't respond. All I could do was stand there and will myself not to pass out.

Taco Guy furrowed his brow, shot a confused look to his patrons, then looked back to me.

"Tacos?" he asked.

"My....b-b-back!" I managed to scream whisper.

He pulled another perplexed expression, but my answer seemed to satisfy him. I was now also dying of embarrassment, but I couldn't worry about it. I could see the library entrance. I had to make it. I sucked in what little breath I could, and forced myself to move. In my mind, I just kept saying, "Baby steps to the library. Baby steps to the library," channeling Bill Murray in "What About Bob?"

It took forever, but I finally made it. I managed to avoid knocking over the displays of best sellers in the front of the library and made it all the way to the circulation desk, where I flung myself while my concerned coworkers ran to get me a chair and cold compress. I eventually made it to the floor, where I stayed until the worst of it passed. I called Justin, who came and picked me up and got me home and in bed with a heating pad, where I stayed for the next 12 hours.

X-rays the next day showed it was just another bad sprain. A couple doses of steroids and muscle relaxers later, and my back was somewhat back to normal.

However, thanks to my continued state of mortification, my taco consumption has decreased dramatically.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Losing It

" you know the sex?"

The woman with the kind eyes and warm smile approached me in the library near the circulation desk. I tilted my head to the side, the universal sign of "I want to be nice but have no earthly clue what you're talking about."

"I'm sorry?" I said.

"The sex? Of the baby. Do you know what it is?"

My head swung to the other side. What a weird question. I mean, babies make your brain a little scattered, but I think I can keep track of Libby's gender. Clearly, I was dealing with an insane person.

"I do," I said, trying to match the woman's warm tone. "She's a girl."

"Oh, how wonderful! And when are you due?"

Due? But I....



The realization that this woman thought I was still pregnant hit me just as the reality of her gaffe passed over her. We both had this little moment of silent panic while we decided how to proceed.

"Oh, I'm not...." I started.

"I'm so sorry!" she interjected.

"It's fine. Really, I..."

"Oh, I'm mortified!"

"Don't be. I have a four-month-old. I guess I just...."

"No! No. You look great. I'm so sorry."

"Really, it's OK. Honest mistake."

But at this point, I was talking to the back of her head as she'd turned to flee from me and the horror of the situation. I felt for her, really I did, but in that moment as the tears started to burn behind my eyes, I knew I needed to get out of public ASAP. I went to the rest room, where I stood in front of the mirror, turning from side to side to assess the situation.

Did I look like my pre-baby self?

Not a chance.

Did I look pregnant?

I mean, not to me. Granted, I was wearing a loose hanging peasant blouse that didn't do my figure any favors, but pregnant? I mean.....

OK. Maybe the tiniest bit.


Clearly, it's time to actually put some effort into losing the baby weight. Time to pack away the maternity clothes, stop avoiding the scale and get myself back into shape and to a size I'm more comfortable with.

True talk: I gained 55 pounds during my pregnancy. I lost 40 in the first few days after delivery, and another three since. So I'm floating around 12 pounds higher than where I was pre-pregnancy. Not the end of the world. But enough to make it so my normal clothes are just a tad too tight for comfort. And I like my normal clothes, so it's time to get to work.

I've dealt with weight gains in the past. The freshman 15 decided to hold off until my mid-twenties and at age 25, I actually weighed close to what I do now. That gain was so gradual, I didn't even really notice it until my brother, in the most loving and straightforward way possible, pointed it out to me. (Eric has this amazing personality trait that I'd kill for: He can say literally anything to anyone and somehow, it's never offensive. I don't know what it is, but I know for sure I do not have it. I can tick people off just by looking at them.)

I digress. Eric simply pointed out that I'd put on a few pounds, and at that point, I decided my best option was to join a gym. I signed up at Bally's, and was shocked to discover that I could barely make it around the 1/8-mile track without getting winded. I took it one day at a time, adding another lap every day, until I could run a full two miles again. I alternated running days with weight-lifting days, and after a few months, I was back to normal. But once I hit my goal weight, going to the gym became more a chore than something I looked forward to. Hundreds of wasted membership dollars later, I terminated my contract.

I stayed the same for a little while until a series of events led to the most extraordinary weight drop I've ever experienced. In the matter of two months, I dropped from a size 10 to a size 6 without ever lifting a weight or running one lap. All it took was being dumped in the most unceremonious manner possible by my then-boyfriend and the subsequent break-up blues that left me utterly uninterested in food. Seeing as how I'm now happily married, I'm not thinking this approach is the best solution for my current problem.

I tackled my weight again in the summer of 2012, in the weeks leading up to my cousin's wedding. I was a bridesmaid and, in an incredibly rare occurrence, the dress was super cute. It also was form-fitting and full-length satin. So that meant, if I wanted to look even somewhat decent in photos, I needed to tone up. I'd been back to running regularly for years at that point, so I didn't feel the need to amp up the exercise. Instead, I changed my diet drastically based on the advice of a celebrity who had recently undergone an amazing transformation. It was really simple: she said for a few weeks, all she ate was grilled chicken, brown rice and veggies for lunch and dinner, no snacking. I did just that, and by the day of the wedding, I needed two-sided tape to keep the dress up and in place.

(Ugh - this is where I have to tell you which celebrity inspired me, don't I? Do I? Blah, I do. It was Snooki, OK? The "Jersey Shore" train wreck chick. Whatever. She looks good! Go 'head, Snooki!)

My most recent weight loss happened in 2013 for my own wedding. I'd managed to keep my diet pretty healthy, so this time, I was open to a new workout regime. I wanted something fun that would challenge me and give decent results relatively quickly. I wanted Insanity.

My God, Insanity. After the first warm up, I thought I was dead. Not going to die - already dead. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't see, thanks to the cascade of sweat pouring from my brow. I couldn't move. I couldn't speak. But somehow, I kept going and after a few days, I was obsessed. I was (and still am) so in love with Shaun T. He is the best motivator in the world. I felt so sore, and so happy and so psyched and...God. It's just so awesome. All I need is to hear Shaun scream, "Come on ya'll! Let's Goooooo!" and I'm so pumped, I can't stand it.

So maybe it's time to get back to Insanity. Or maybe bringing back the Snooki diet would be the easier option. Either way, I'm excited to start feeling more like myself again. And ridding my closet of any and all peasant blouses.