Even before my eyes open, my mind is busy processing the position of my body. My ears come alive to listen for the waking sounds of my husband. Trying not to wake him, I slowly reach down, as I do every morning, knowing what I’ll find. I groan as I realize it’s still there. Two years ago it started to appear, little by little, so that I didn’t recognize it until, wham, there it was. I touch softly what used to be my waist, but now is an overgrown belly sprawled like a puddle on my crisp, white, 1000-thread sheet. Instinctively, I roll onto my back before my husband reaches for our morning snuggle. In this position, he won’t feel the muffin top as it retreats into the hollows of this foreign body.
I ponder the day ahead of me that is full of promises in trying to achieve a healthy lifestyle. In the distance, I hear the coffee machine grinding roasted beans. I spend a minute self-hypnotizing to stay motivated and make good food choices today. Get up and exercise, I tell myself, and get it out of the way in the morning. But instead, I slink out of the warmth of my bed and head to the kitchen for my morning brew. The aroma fills the kitchen with Columbia heaven. My slippers scoot across the floor and suddenly I’m stopped cold. The battle moves up another notch to the many food decisions I’ll make today, as I stare at a note from my husband wishing me a good morning. Unfortunately, the note is leaning against my coffee mug and a fresh blueberry muffin.
I leave the muffin on the reception desk at work, proud of myself for not eating it during the morning commute. Back at my desk, I log into the network and an IM comes across the screen announcing donuts in the conference room. I chant my mantra, free food is fat food, free food is fat food. My co-workers rush past my office eager to get their favorite choice of this sugar-filled breakfast. As a distraction, I chomp away on a handful of almonds and wonder what I’ll eat for my mid-morning snack. By nine I’m staring at the apple and banana that have been sitting in my drawer for two days.
I have a buddy system in place to help with motivation and to bounce ideas off about diet and exercise. I take a break from my work and email her my accomplishments of morning self-control. I tell her of my plan to take a walk at lunch, logging steps to reach my daily goal of 10,000, and then hitting the gym after work. She responds with her own new plan to visualize her five, whole-grain crackers as a bagel with cream cheese. We wish each other a successful day making good food choices.
A lunch pizza seminar has just ended and the leftovers linger in the lunchroom. I reach for a piece and put my homemade salad back in the fridge. It’s a slender, vegetarian slice, so I take two. This should be enough for lunch as well as getting me through the mid-afternoon crave. After three bites, the first piece is gone and I walk back to my desk. A colleague notices my one piece and comments on my willpower as she has loaded four slices onto her plate.
My pedometer reads 2,587 steps at 12:23 p.m., and I quickly do the math in my head and sigh at the challenge I have in front of me. I change my high heels for tennis shoes stored under my desk and plan to spend the rest of my lunch taking a walk outside. It’s breezy, threatening rain, and the sudden rush of cold air wraps around my ears making me wish I had worn my beanie. I turn my iPod to motivating music, and walk with the purpose of adding 4,000 more steps. My breathing increases as my pace quickens. Lightning strikes and thunder reverberates a little too close for comfort. I quickly rush back to my building just as rain, the size of Junior Mints, starts pelting my head. I look at the pedometer and sigh as it has added only 489 steps.
Around 3:00 p.m., I’ve taken the apple out of the drawer and am now mindlessly tossing it from hand to hand. The onion from the pizza starts to rumble in my intestines, and I am momentarily averted from my hunger pangs. After a stint to the bathroom, I forget about the apple and reach into my drawer for the stash of Ruffles potato chips. Like a starving contestant on Survivor, I devour half the bag as if I haven’t eaten in two days. On a positive note, my trip to the bathroom and around the halls of the office have added 124 steps.
Later in the afternoon I call my husband to see what’s for dinner. He wants me to stop at the grocery after work and pick up some vegetables, pasta, and wine. I’m married to a chef and will gladly assist him as long as I don’t have to cook. As we continue to talk, I look down and my muffin top is spilling over my skirt band. I sit up taller and suck in my lower abdomen. I stop breathing and start talking in a weird voice. My husband asks what I’m doing. I exhale and hang up.
Dinner is healthy, portions are within fist size, and I enjoy a couple glasses of wine. Unfortunately, we are eating at 8:30 and I go to bed at 9:30. This doesn’t fare well with the plan to eat two hours before bedtime. As I change into my pajamas, the Spanx comes off and my stomach rejoices with expanded freedom. My pedometer sits on the vanity, logging in a final day’s total at 4,671 steps. I silently curse myself that I’m three miles from my goal. After reviewing today’s diet and exercise choices, I resolve to make a u-turn tomorrow. I finally settle in bed, and as I close my eyes, I hear Scarlett O’Hara whispering to me, “Tomorrow is another day.”