I now have this thing called a waist. I know; I had to look it up, too. Apparently, this phenomena occurs when deposits of fat suddenly disappear like Christians before Armageddon, leaving you with two curved dents between your lower ribs and hip bones. Having only observed this waist thingie from afar, I’ve always likened it to a mythical creature captured only on blurry video. A Yeti. The Lochness Monster. J.D. Salinger.
And thanks to the miracle that are high-waisted, skinny jeans – the moment I tried on my first pair, I believed in Jesus all over again – my muffin top, if not completely gone, is tucked snugly into my waistband.
A few friends have noticed my new, slimmer figure, but many have been distracted by my hair, which is growing at an alarming rate for someone who isn’t imprisoned in a tower. Combine that with my new waist, and I now have two whole things in common with Gisele Bundchen.
Yesterday, I was donning one of my standard chubby girl dresses to wear to my husband’s office cocktail party…and it was too big. Everywhere. I knew I’d lost some weight. My tees were begin to hang away from my body, rather than cling to my muffin top like cinnamon glaze. Each week, I’ve had to bore a new hole into my belt so that I don’t look like a lank-haired, wanna-be rapper, holding up my jeans with one hand as I lope down the sidewalk. That realization began what I call The Dress Frenzy. Which dresses fit me now? Which ones are too big? Which ones can I donate to Sea World? I slipped on one after the other and, at no point, did I feel like a sausage. It was like Christmas in July…mostly because it is, in fact, July.
For the past two years, my packed dress closet has been virtually ignored, with the exception of a few frocks towards the front, all of which are stretchy, Empire-waisted numbers that have each garnered me myriad versions of the question: So when are you due? When I stepped out in a coral and white, fitted, sleeveless dress last night, I felt fierce. Sasha Fierce fierce. All I needed was a wind machine and some blonde hair extensions, and I was ready to march on stage and rip Jay Z a new asshole.
At one point during the evening, one of my husband’s co-workers asked me what I was doing to lose weight. “Nothing,” I answered truthfully. Hubby and I did move ourselves – and our 17,000 books – into a new place a month ago, so I did engage in quite a bit of exercise for a few weeks, but the weight continues to creep off, pound by pound, day by day. In retrospect, I should have answered, “Cancer.” Or maybe, “Tapeworms.”
“Have you been watching what you eat?” the co-worker asked. Yes, I’ve been watching what I eat. In fact, I stare at my food quite intently as it leaves the plate, balanced on a fork, heading for my mouth. For example, this week I’ve seen beef and potatoes, macaroni and cheese, nachos, freezer pizzas, brownies and candied bacon. Last night, as I was pouring myself a glass of milk before bed, I noticed the brownies, stacked like chocolate bricks of poo in a plastic storage container in the fridge. I told myself, “I’m going to pass on that brownie,” as I closed the refrigerator door. About fifteen minutes later, I decided to make good on that promise – and I passed on that brownie. I passed it on to my stomach and it’s currently lodged somewhere in my intestinal tract.
The other night, my husband asked, “What’s that dark stuff on your face?” I figured it must have been that crappy mascara I’ve been using or maybe stray brownie crumbs.
“Where?” I asked. “Under my eyes or around my mouth?”
“Neither,” Hubby replied. “Under your cheeks.”
I rubbed both cheeks vigorously with the heels of my palms. “Is it gone?”
“Nope, it’s still there.” Hubby’s forehead furrowed with concern.
I dashed to the bathroom, curious about what could possibly cause my husband to look serious, and ogled my reflection in the mirror. After a moment, I figured out what merited Hubby’s worry. Returning to the living room, I flopped down on the sofa.
“The dark stuff is still there,” Hubby said.
“I know,” I answered. “They’re called shadows. I have cheekbones now.”
Yes, I have THREE things in common with Gisele. And one thing in common with actor, Benedict Cumberbatch, now that I think of it. No, wait. We’re all tall. FOUR things in common with the Brazilian supermodel and TWO with the best Sherlock since ever.
Granted, Gisele’s waist is tinier, her hair is lusher and longer, and her cheekbones could be used to saw all the lumber necessary to build a log cabin McMansion, but I can already see myself on the cover of Sports Illustrated. In the pages of a Victoria’s Secret catalog. Married to a football player. Smug about an effortless beauty I did nothing to earn. Smugger about all things motherhood even though I’ve only been one for five hot minutes.
Whaaaat? Wait a sec. I hate football. I dig for my lingerie in the 70% off sale bin at Macy’s; if any of it matches, it’s by coincidence, not by design. Certainly, I don’t stand around posing in it. I’m no breeder and I don’t aspire to rank just below Gwyneth Paltrow on the Most-Out-of-Touch-Celebrity-Ever Meter. I’d rather have four things in common with John Green or Elizabeth Warren or Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg or Harper Lee. C’mon, Tom Brady has got to be the most boring slice of white bread on earth. Just thinking about him makes me nod off.
Still…I have a waist, cheekbones and two things in common with Benedict Cumberbatch.
And, probably, not a tumor.
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You know your workout isn’t off to a great start when your husband challenges you to do a chin up and you immediately wonder, “Which chin?”
Hey, it’s a serious question. Do I need to pull all of my body weight up towards a metal rod of random height and merely touch the tip of my chin to the bar – or do I have to haul my waddle up there too and dangle it over the other side? I bet you George Lucas wonders the same thing all the time. Do I stuff all of my waddle under my shirt collar or do I allow it to drape over like Miss Snarky Pants’ muffin top?
Oh yeah? Well, the dialogue in Star Wars sucks. Hear that, fat man!
In my case, the issue was moot because I can’t do a single chin up. Nor could my hubby. In my defense, after six weeks of working out, Hubby is only up to four. Not four reps of ten, but four chin ups. Of course, he’s only 140 pounds soaking wet, so he doesn’t have the same, erm, challenges that I have. I’m not just pulling myself up; I’ve got a monkey on my back. Make that a full-grown gorilla. With hypothyroidism and a penchant for eating anvils.
In practical terms, imagine that you’re a person of average weight for your height, unless you already are – in which case, imagine me glaring at you because you insist upon mocking me with your perfectly fit body. However, despite the fact that you are constantly rubbing your toned abs in my face like I’m a puppy that’s pooed on the carpet, I’m still a thoughtful friend. I’ve bought you a lovely, sturdy belt for your birthday – and then, because making a point is ultimately much more important to me than your friendship, I’ve looped that belt through the handles of six, one gallon cans of paint. Though you wish I’d given you a book or maybe some earrings, you still fasten the 60+ pound belt around your waist. And when I ask you to go ahead and do a chin up, you tell me to fuck off.
“Do you realize that I’m wearing enough Sherman Williams to paint the White House?” you ask. “Inside and out?” Of course I do; welcome to my life.
While researching the elusive chin up, I came across an article on stronglifts.com which insists that “[y]our body-weight is not the problem. Strength is. If you want to get stronger at Pull-ups & Chin-ups, do them more.” Let’s see now…if I do 5 times the chin ups I’m doing now, I’ll have done, erm, zero. Great advice, douchebag.
I was surprised to discover that even my slimmer and testosterone-infused friends are similarly challenged. My friend, Evan, recently lamented to me that he can’t complete a single chin up – or pull up, depending upon your definition – unaided. The worst part is that he has to rely on the “assisted pull up machine” in the gym to train so that he can eventually accomplish this tremendous feat of strength. “As soon as you climb onto the assisted pull up machine, you’ve just announced to everyone in the gym that
you are a pussy you can’t do a chin up on your own,” he complained. “Having the muscleheads know this is worse than not being able to do a damn chin up in the first place.”
This reminded me of when I used to work for a pharmaceutical company that formulated a little, blue pill which lifted the, erm, heads of many a man. While I was practically assaulted in the waiting rooms of each and every doctor’s office I visited by decrepit, old codgers just dying to shoot their wad, not one of them accepted my offer of a pen or notepad with the pill’s name on it. No, they wanted samples – a request that only their doctor could fulfill – and lots of ‘em. Prescriptions were useless as they announced to everyone working in the pharmacy that Flopsy was not the name of a member of your four-legged family, but the pet name for your, erm, member.
Still, I’m perplexed by why this seemingly simple exercise is so damned difficult. By the age of six, I could complete hundreds of one-armed chin ups in a row, hang upside down from the monkey bars until all of my blood pooled in my brain, and contort myself in such a way that I once crammed my entire body into a pillowcase. Why can’t adults do something that kids can do so effortlessly?
I suspect the answer lies in knowledge. As children, we don’t know that we can’t do things, so we just do them. Second graders don’t know the first thing about their Latissimus Dorsi…and, frankly, neither did I until I Googled it. Apparently, it’s not the name of the roguishly handsome, but tragic hero in an Italian romance novel as I’d initially believed – and instead are big ol’ muscles in your back that make a pronated (overhand) grip pull up/chin up possible. My problem lies in the fact that I’m aware that muscles are involved in exercise, thereby making chin ups an impossibility for me. Moreover, my back muscles and I aren’t on speaking terms and haven’t been since I allowed numerous cars to plow into mine over the years.
Were I to try a supinated (underhand) grip instead, I could rely more heavily on my biceps – which is kinda like Tony Stark relying on the phrase, “Stop! I’m a rich dude” to halt criminals instead of donning his Iron Man suit and crushing them beneath his metallic red foot. However, my biceps cooperate only when alcohol is involved – and it’s simply too difficult to attempt a chin up with the stem of a wineglass clamped between your teeth.
So for now, I will celebrate the fact that I’ve lost 9 pounds (and have been placed in the Witness Protection Program so that they can’t find me again and re-staple themselves to my ass cheeks) and, thanks to the miracle of technology, I can watch Bravo on every single cardio machine in the gym. As Hubby conquers one more chin up after another, I will have to revel in the knowledge that if he brags about it and pisses me off, I can easily crush the ego out of him by merely sitting on his lap.
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***Photo credits: Chin Up: Menshealth.com George Lucas: Georgelucasneck.tumblr.com White House: WhiteHouse.gov Sixteen Candles Chin Up: Tumblr.com Latissimus Dorsi: Wikipedia.com