One step forward.

Two steps back.

Three steps forward. And I’ve already won.

I should have seen it coming. I know me. How my head works. I’m an all or nothing kind of girl and maybe it has to do with the leftover eating disordered baggage and maybe it doesn’t, but it doesn’t really matter. This is where I am right now.

Two weeks ago I was months into a clean eating, loving to and making the time to work out, feeling good inside and out kind of routine. Then I decided to sprain my ankle while making a sandwich for The Husband, because obviously I was supposed to hire a personal trainer first and Get In Shape For That Shit. Or maybe I didn’t do enough pre-sandwich-making stretching. Either way, the result was me in an emergency room, my foot in a brace, and orders from the nurse to keep my ass parked on the couch for a few weeks.

It didn’t happen instantaneously. I didn’t wake up the very next day and decide that raiding the pantry for salty carbs and chocolate because I was still holding strong. I was still focusing on how healthy I felt. Forget taking weight “off your shoulders.” Taking it off my middle by reducing the bloat with limited sugars and processed foods made all the difference for me.

Until I woke up on the other side of yesterday and realized where I had landed. On my face. Hiding from the scale. Doing the Mommy version of the Toddler Potty Dance, only my dance is way less cute because it involves trying to shove my fat ass into the jeans that fit me perfectly two weeks ago. They still button, mind you. But unless I’m going for that Purposeful Muffin Top Look (and what the hell is that about, anyway?) it’s a total nu-uh, Mama. Try again. There, that pair. Shut up about how they look. They fit. Right?

I did an hour long yoga session the night before last.

I polished off a package of dairy free gluten-free chocolate chip cookies last night.

I passed up on serving a heaping side of bullshit and instead wrote about the reality inside my head. It’s not always funny. But it is me. And this is what I need to write about for now. I’ll continue to go through the motions for a few days or so, maybe a week. I’ll pay lip service to giving a damn, eat a few more things that I shouldn’t, work out less than I should, and eventually wake up on the other side of tomorrow reveling in the success of having weathered another storm.

One step forward.

Two steps back.

Three steps forward. And I’ve already won.

 

“Okay, baby, what’s this line say?”

Dot… had a …dog. The dog is …the dog is… a cute little puppy who loves her and gives her kisses and I don’t like puppy kisses, Mama.”

“That is not what the page says, baby. You need to try to read the words on the page. We can make up stories later. Let’s look at the letters in the word.”

M…A…G.”

“Good! Now what sound does M make?”

Mmmmm.

“Good! And A?”

Ahhhhhh...”

“That’s good, too. What about the G?”

Guh..Guh…Guh…”

“Perfect! Now how does that all sound together?”

Mu…Mary had a little lamb, little lamb, little…”

“Do you break into random songs at school when your teacher is working with you?”

“Just sometimes. What’s random?”

“Never mind. Let’s work on this word. It’s the name of Dot’s dog! M…a…g…It rhymes with bag but it starts with M. What do you think the word is?”

“Bag!”

“No, baby. It rhymes with bag but it’s a different word. What’s the end sound of the word bag?”

“...ag.”

“Perfect. Now what sound does M make again?”

Mmmmmm.”

“So if you put Mmmmm in front of ag how does it all sound together?”

“Perfect.”

Teaching lesson over. Mommy needs a drink.

 

Milk

Orange juice

That prescription at the pharmacy counter

Bottled water

I push my cart through the Walgreens, my shopping list completed, but I’m sure I’m forgetting something. Through the vitamins, past the toys, glancing at the Hallmark cards. I know I should go. Before I do something stupid. It’s been years since I’ve done something stupid.

My mind wanders to the text message my mother sent me yesterday.

Today would have been your dad’s birthday.

I had forgotten. A day that used to be filled with so much of my life that was buried with him. His phone number still programmed into my cell phone. His spirit preserved in my memories…

And I forgot.

I shake myself back to the present and find myself in the candy aisle. Grabbing a handful of Snickers bars for The Husband’s work lunches, I tell myself that was all I needed and that I should just leave now while watching my hands carefully select expensive chocolate bars and then steer the cart over to the snack aisle where my hands pick up a small bag of Cheetos and another of Fritos.

Shame

Buried feelings

I consider a container of bean dip but quickly change my mind. Savoring the taste and enjoying the moment aren’t in the plans, anyway. I’m done shopping now.

Avoid eye contact with the clerk. If they ask, I’ll mutter something about my husband having a sweet tooth. It sounds like a lie in my head.

Time to get Buttercup from preschool. She asks for a movie. Disney and its princesses can distract her from my thoughts.

I eat clean. I eat gluten free. I provide a healthy example for my four-year-old daughter in the hopes that I can help her grow strong and confident in herself and her body. I tell myself all of these things as I eat one candy bar. And then another.

My days of binging and purging are behind me. I deal with my emotions by writing around through them. With yoga. Reminding myself that I’m responsible for all that she sees and hears. I tell myself these things as I rip into the Fritos and lick the crumbs from my fingers. The Cheetos are next.

It’s Tuesday night. Garbage night. Evidence at the curb.

The Husband leaves for his midnight shift. And I have a choice.

My body is swollen with abuse. Breasts heavy. Stomach distended. Auto-pilot will soon find me flushing my feelings down the toilet and ridding myself of the weight I am now carrying.

Instead, I go to bed, heavy and bloated, and hold my daughter close.

 

I’m a follower. Always have been.

I made for an enthusiastic and dedicated employee, but only because  I had an editor breathing down my neck. As a freelancer? You cannot even begin to imagine the amount of total suckage that went into my lack of motivation.

Same goes with my exercise routine. When I’m, you know, Not Hormonal and Not Shoving Food That Makes My Cellulite Happy Down My Gullet. Not that that’s happening now, mind you. Just excuse me for a m oment while I wipe the sea salt from the potato chips off my fingers. *ahem*

But back to the exercise...Leah is always talking about finding our soulmate exercise; the one that never gets old, always gets us going, and has us smiling at the end of the workout no matter how difficult it was. For me, it’s a two-fer. I’m a brand new and dedicated yogi, but when it comes to what makes me smile and sweat?

That would be Zumba. I’m a first generation Mexican-American and grew up with rhythm coursing through my veins. Every wedding, every quincianera (Sweet 15), hell…even cleaning days at home with the Norteno music blaring in the background during my childhood proved my mood didn’t matter. Once the music started I had to move. And once I started moving, the smile would begin to spread across my face.

It still does. I might talk a good game of I Don’t Wanna and But My Cramps Are Pissing Me Off and You Expect Me to Move Right Now? But I know for a fact that if I just shut up and stuck one of the many Zumba DVD’s I own into the player (or fired up the Zumba Party on the PS3) I’d be all what cramps? in about five minutes. I’d merengue and salsa and cumbia and laugh when a certain step combination would make me remember skipping around the dance floor with cousins at any number of family weddings. I’d sweat and I’d move and I’d sweat and I’d dance and I’d sweat and I’d smile when buttercup would join up with me, moving her tiny little booty to the music.

I used to go to classes out here in the desert sticks. But I quit when the time commitment to drive to and back from the gym equaled more than the time I was actually spending, you know, zumba-ing. While I was still part of the class scene, though, I’d smile wistfully when one of the ladies in class would appear in full Zumba gear, proudly announcing she had become a certified Zumba instructor. One was a pastor’s wife and she did it solely to teach classes to the women at church.

I thought she was a adorable. I thought she was brave. And I wanted to do the same.

But I never have. I’ve been doing Zumba since Beto Perez could barely speak English and still have the first set of DVD’s that contain so little instruction anyone without the slightest bit of Latin dance experience can’t guess their way through the workout without first doing the beginner’s steps DVD. A LOT.¬† And ya know? I think I’m pretty good. But I’ve never felt confident enough to see myself in front of that miror, leading the class.

And I still don’t. But I have a new inspiration. Sue, my friend whom you might better know as Mrs. FatAss, recently double-whammied by not only starting Zumba but loving it so much that she immediately ran out, bought some glitter eye-shadow and a coin skirt, and got certified herself. Now? She’s teaching classes and renewing health promises to herself and having smiling through all of it.

That kind of kicks ass.

With a possible cross-country move right on the horizon, I can’t make any promises for the immediate future, but I can say this: Once I have the keys to my new house, wherever that may be, I’m finding a gym as close to home as I can and practicing with real, live people, and I’m going to get myself a pretty little Zumba Instructor certificate with my name on it.

What promises have you made to yourself? And what fears or insecurities have you had to overcome to make your promised goals a reality?

 

I’m trying to figure out what I would have gotten you for your birthday today. Always so hard to shop for. I’m betting Buttercup would have picked out something pink and then had the good grace to feign surprise when you gifted it back to her.

Maybe a new barbeque grill. I’m betting you’d still be using the same one you had four years ago and a new one, just like the one I bought The Husband for his birthday next week, would have guaranteed a happily matched pissing contest between the two of you. You had the same watch. Most of the same tools. A matching grill and I’d have been a hero in the eyes of my husband and in yours, too.

I still have your number saved in my phone. The jewelry mom gave me gets taken out every now and then when I’m feeling wistful.

But I’m starting to forget a little. If mom hadn’t sent me a text message this morning telling me what day it was, I’d have woken up tomorrow still holding on to that nagging feeling that I forgot to acknowledge something important. That means Guelo’s birthday is in three days. The Husband’s three days after that.

I miss the shared birthday cake with the names of all my men written atop it in sugary gel. And your voice. Because that’s starting to fade from my memory, too.

You would have been 54 today, Dad. I miss you. Hope you’re having a hell of a celebration up there in the clouds.

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