September 9, 2010

Lucky Number ____

I was running late, a product of taking a leisurely stroll to the subway, and having to stop to take money out of the bank.  But nonetheless, I didn't think I'd get there by 5:45.  It was a beautiful, beautiful fall day, and stepping out into Union Square was like seeing New York City for the first time: the bustle, the car horns, the street performers, the merchants, the students, the cell phones, the brisk walking - the people.  The sheer volume of people.  When you get to the top of the stairs at Union Square, you always need have a beat to adjust, assess where you need to go, and then take that initial step forward onto the park stone.  I was headed down University Place, to 11th Street, and making a right, and straight on until morning.  Not really, but until I saw the recessed apartment complex I visited two weeks prior.

I just wasn't sure what avenue it was near, and thought the walk there had been noticeably long the first time, so I was prepared to go all the way to 8th Ave., almost 5 avenues down, if need be.  I had music blasting, and the leisurely stroll was so nice except for me forgetting to change out of my very uncomfortable dress shoes I wear in the office.  I always wear sneakers to work, and then home.  In my satchel lay two very important documents, one in particular I was proud and anxious about, almost praying that it would turn out to be what I had hoped.

The other settled a dispute, ensuring I could arrive and make my appointment without issue.  It was critical, and I knew I was correct about it.

I pass Jack's, a restaurant my friend Alicia works at, and I look for her in the mirror.  I already knew she was not there, as she is only there on Sundays, but force of habit I guess.  A bald man was behind the bar.

Alicia, like so so many other people, have been enormously supportive and vocal about their support for my new initiative.  She has coached me up, just like tens of others, and has helped me remain focused.  She's a good friend, and a very entertaining bartender.

So, I digress, I pass Jack's on my right, which means I've hit 11th St., and it's time to make that right.  I'm now going eastbound towards my appointment.  I pass 5th Ave., and there's a church on the corner, but I don't look to see the name, and keep going.  A woman passes me with her massive dog, looking like parts pit bull and parts greyhound.  I turn my music off, and then look up, and oh! I'm here.  Great.  Right on time, too.

I go into a brightly lit, white walled room, with no windows, and Ms. Podel greets me.  She is tall for a woman, red hair, and in great shape.  She has kind eyes, nice glasses, and always very well put together.  He office is cluttered but I get the sense she knows where everything is in case she needs it. 

She has the US Open Tennis match on her computer playing when I enter, and she congratulates me on settling the dispute about my appointment.  It's stupid health insurance, I tell her, and I had the Summary Plan Document in my satchel, along with assurances from my work's account representative, to make sure our visit would not be denied again.

I am eager, I tell her, to know where I stand.  I've been fighting for weeks now, day-in and day-out, knowing that I am making progress, but my irrational mind refuses to let me enjoy it.  Up until now, I have had no defense for the demons who chided me at every turn, telling me it was all useless.  I knew I needed to see marked improvement to truly be able to fend them off.  And so I speak up.

"I really need to know how much I've lost."

Without missing a beat, Ms. Podel says: "Then let's get you up on that scale."

"Right now?"

"Right now, come on."

There are two scales at her office.  The first, a metal, very futuristic one, that measures much more than weight: % fat, % muscle, BMI, blood pressure, and so on.  I had stepped on this scale two weeks prior, only to have it return a reading of "ERROR".  We tried several times, until we realized that I was too heavy for it.  It only went to a certain weight.  I would need to step on the black scale.

Well today, Ms. Podel placed me again on the black scale, and as I turned away from her, facing the wall, I winced as I knew the number was coming up.  All the sacrifices of the last 14 days! All the good, thoughtful decisions! All the monitoring of exactly what is going into my body! All the walking! All the disgust looking into a mirror! All the energy I now felt from my new lifestyle! All the blog posts and facebook posts and tweets! All the reassurances and well-wishes and support! All the mental battles to forget 27 years of morbid obesity and focus on 14 days on the straightened path! It was all coming down to this moment!  I could do nothing else but brace for impact...

"Seven pounds.  Great job, John."

"Really? Okay great."

And with that, a RUSH of information floods into my brain.  That foe that stood next to my "real" me inside my head - the irrational mind, the little boy - whatever you want to call him, got his first dose of cold, hard, evidence.  PROOF.  This works!  This really does work.  And I have began the fundamental change towards a life of health, moderation, and harmony.  And you cannot, absolutely cannot, deter me anymore.  I've done it! I've jumped off the cliff into an unknown, with tremendous anxiety, and realized that the landing is soft, it is comfortable, it is all life. 

My appointment continued, and I showed her the other document in my satchel - my food journal.  I received praise and lots of recommendations for how to improve it.  It was all-in-all a tremendous experience.

I left energized, and feeling like I could walk for miles and miles.  As I bounded down 11th street back towards Union Square, I had a side-moment with myself, something I do quite often with others.  One of those after-the-smoke-clears, "you know, that was really awesome" kind of moments.  But with myself.  And the number 7 flashed in my head, and I thought of what 7 pounds really feels like to pick up.  And how it represented 7% of where I hoped to journey towards.  And in two weeks, I had done so much, have not felt hungry, ate heartily and fully, and have succeeded.  And there is only more to come, because the train does not stop.  It never stops. And without my trying, my body produced a grin.  A wide-eyed, toothpaste-commercial kind of grin.

One more thing: as I sat in my appointment, and we were about to part ways, Ms. Podel and I booked another appointment for the first week of October.  It would be 4 weeks from now, and she felt that would be a great amount of time to see some improvement.  "Just think, John, the next time you're here, you can use the silver scale."  I right then willed it to be my goal.


  1. John this is one of the best posts I've read. The hardest part is done. . BEGINNING. You've started something great and I'm sure everyone of your friends will be behind you 107%. Every good decision is a battle won. :)

    Lots of love and encouragement!

  2. beautiful. i am so proud of you. you absolutely rock john :) -lorae