Eating My Way Down

Last weekend, my friend Dee came up from New York to visit.

It was wonderful to see her – she looked great.

I also got to see her boyfriend, another friend of mine whom I hadn’t seen in months.

But his appearance shocked me.

He must’ve lost the equivalent amount of weight, to that of a small child.

I’ve known him for years, and from what I know of him, he is a BIG foodie. Burger joints, izikayas … you name it, he’s probably eaten it. Even now, I’m sure he doesn’t NOT eat at a restaurant. Which is why his super-slim figure shocked the hell out of me.

I don’t recall how – perhaps another friend of his was complimenting him on his new shape – but I caught wind of the secret to his success: apparently having a very regimented diet during the week, only allowing himself to cheat on weekends.

For all I know, maybe that’s BS, and it’s the cigarettes keeping him skinny.

But it definitely got me thinking – particularly about my OWN eating habits.

I know over the last two years, I’ve put on even more weight than usual. It’s probably not as noticeable to my friends (or if it is, they’re kind enough not to say anything).

But it’s noticeable to me, in the way my pants fit a little too snugly (or fray and rip in a matter of months), the way my lungs feel like they’re on fire after I (occasionally) go out dancing, or the comments my mom makes when I go to visit.

I sometimes look at myself in the mirror, or in pictures. And while I’m not out-and-out unhappy, I know I can do better.

I think work has played a factor, and has made me more of an emotional eater – eating when I’m bored, frustrated, angry.

Things started getting to me after I returned from Costa Rica. I just couldn’t get back into the habit of making time to cook more lunches.

I was buying more takeout from Popeye’s, eating more of those super-sweet cookies from Starbucks, buying more Fudgie-Os from the drugstore late at night – just because I could.

So in the last few weeks – especially because of the work-related fatigue I’ve been feeling – I’ve been trying to cut down on the fried foods and eat more salads with my pasta. I still can’t do without sweets as of yet, so I’m trying to shrink the amount I do eat – or find a low-fat/calorie-friendly way of satisfying the cravings.

I still haven’t gotten a leg up on the “make my own lunch” scenario, but I’m trying to make more of my own dinners again.

I know I also need to exercise, but I want to get the food thing sorted out first.

And who knows? Perhaps I can eat my way down a little in the weight department. It would be nice to lose a little extra baggage before summer officially starts.

What Do I WANT?

Apologies for not writing this month. It’s been a busy and (sort of) strange one.

Due to some short-staffing in my department at work, I’ve been working more than usual. It’s taken a bit of a toll, sapping energy and motivation.

Adding to that, my workplace is in the midst of budget cuts and – as a result of that – layoffs.

For the last two and half weeks, the work environment was weird, tense, and perhaps a bit anxious.

And then last week happened.

Instant messages over computer, lowered voices in corners and hallways, speaking in sad, hushed tones about co-workers who had meetings with bosses in cramped offices … being told they were being let go … that while they were perfectly welcome to stay in touch, not to count on getting steady employment – that they were better off looking elsewhere.

I was not one of those who had a meeting. However, in the days leading up to those pink slips being handed out, I didn’t lull myself into a false sense of security. I kept reminding myself that – like anyone – my job could be at stake.

It also had me thinking about what I would do, if I were to get a much-feared meeting.

Honestly, by this point, exhausted – perhaps a bit burned out – by work, I couldn’t imagine myself crying over a decision that wasn’t in my favour. I’m not sure I would have been upset at all.

On a personal level, things are … okay. When I haven’t been working like an ox, I’ve been trying to get out and do things here and there. I signed off for another online dating Web site. But it seems I’m running into more of the same types of people that turned me off the previous site. So I took a break in mid-March, slightly discouraged, wondering if it’s even worth it.

I remember mentioning my experiences with a friend at work – someone who’s had a couple of long-term relationships and not doing shabbily at all in the dating department – and she asked me: What is it that I’m looking for? What is it, exactly, that I want?

Perhaps this is the question that applies to all aspects of my life.

What is it that I want?

I keep asking myself this question. And I don’t think I have or know the answer. Or, everytime I try to answer, the words come to mind seem … I don’t know, trite? Phony? Cliche?

Maybe what I want is to have more fun with my life? I honestly don’t know anymore.

I’m hoping that this summer is my first chance in two years to do things other than just work. To do fun things that all my other friends do. Perhaps I’ll re-discover and re-claim a little bit of who I am. Or finally start to discover it.

Epilogue (or, The Return)

Monday, February 20.

We’re ready and packed pretty quickly. We’ve almost got the routine down to a science.

Jen drops by our room; we give her our remaining food to take with her on the long trip down to Santa Teresa, where she’ll spend the next week with a mutual friend with ours.

Somehow (and this pretty much convinces me she’s simply blessed in travel-related matters), she’s gotten an arrangement through the hotel, for a shuttle that will take her (and two other women from the States) all the way down to Santa Teresa – avoiding an otherwise long, winding trip to get to the six-hour ferry she’d otherwise have to take.

According to the man at the reception desk, arrangements like that NEVER happen.

(I NEED to know how she does that.)

We part ways, and Jenn, Zoe and I drive the two or so hours back to the car rental place to return our trusty RAV4.

We’re shuttled to the airport, and before we know it, we’re in the air … back to our chilly home, and cold reality.

Today.

It’s been exactly six weeks since our trip ended. And man, does it ever feel like a dream.

I did spend another week after Costa Rica puttering around, before returning to work.

But it didn’t take very long for the post-vacation bliss to completely evaporate.

It’s as if my workplace decided to make me pay – nay, overcompensate – for the fun I’ve had, by working it right out of me.

Long shifts. Numerous requests to work overtime. The list goes on.

I even took a long weekend off in mid-March, to visit a friend in Ottawa. But it didn’t really ease the fatigue or the grind of the big, bad work machine.

In fact, I’ve just come off of nine consecutive days of work, had one day off, and have started another six-day stretch.

The only thing keeping me from completely losing my mind, is the prospect of a future trip.

I just submitted my request for summer vacation.

Fingers crossed, I get my first choice. But I already know where I’d like to go.

And I’ve even been speaking with another friend, who’s thinking of going to one of my desired destinations. With any luck, our trip itineraries will overlap.

Even if they don’t and I end up going alone, I’ll be happy just to have the privilege of going places I’ve never been before, and to soak up what I can, for however long I can.

And perhaps in between my big trips, I can find the time to take some day-trips outside Toronto (providing I don’t have to work, that is).

But make no mistake: The travel bug that’s laid dormant for the past few years is awake.

My wanderlust has returned. With a vengeance.