A family of wild hogs lives in the overgrown field running along the back of our property line. Following some sort of biological imperative, the hogs leave their family home as the sun comes up every day, moving along the fence line and ambling across the road to an undetermined location. In the evening, they reverse their direction and trudge home heavy snouted, ready for a nice wallow and glass of beer.
Our dogs, Luna and Bailey, have a biological imperative of their own which compels them to pelt down to the fence line twice a day and bark furiously at the hog family. Luna and Bailey are surprised every time the hogs appear, so they guard the property with the same ferocious, joyous abandon every time.
Their pelting has created a path. This path serves them well when spring grasses give way to summer sticker burrs. Back in October, the dog’s path was where I started, to keep the sticker burrs at bay. I set my timer for 15 minutes, and I walked up and down the dog’s way. Luna and Bailey ran trotted up beside me from time to time, peeling away when the grass became too thick. I looked back every once in a while, and there the two would be, standing together, looking at me, then looking at each other. That first fifteen minutes seemed to take forever, and produced a flop sweat heretofore only suffered by those kicking a lifelong heroin habit.
After Super Husband came home from the doctor with the “weight,” word on his lips, I resolved to take action. I realized that my habits had a direct effect on him, and I wasn’t going to be a bad example any longer. On the morning of October 12, I got up early and put the batteries in the scale. When I stepped up, I didn’t know what I’d find. My weight had become, like the numbers that indicate money in the bank, like the popularity of the Kardashians, a mysterious, distant unknown. For two years, I ignored the mirror’s message; you’re getting fat, girl.
In the beginning, it’s always innocent enough. I’m sitting in the emergency room all night and after that trauma, who’s thinking about what goes into their mouths? Not me. Then the next day comes, and the day after that, and before I know it, I’ve blown it. Again.
I don’t know much about other people, but I’ve been struggling to maintain a healthy weight for my entire adult life. Having to take care of other things has always been my go-to excuse for getting fatter: the kids needed me, the school needed me, the church needed me, and so I didn’t have time to tend to myself. The other myth: when things are settled with (insert crisis here) I will have more time to take care of my health.
This time, I pulled it all around me to get away from the hurt I felt. The fear of losing a loved one. It swirled and coagulated and landed on my belly, my hips, my thighs, my breasts. The hurt, it took the shape of Buddha and of the whiskey barrel that someone famously used to dive over Niagara Falls. It took the shape of a second chin and a measuring tape stretched thin and the shape of bobbing up and down in the water like a fishing cork with all this extra blubber. While the world moved on without me, I sat in my chair and looked out the window. I congealed.
I hated having to start over in this quest to stay thinner. I hated that being fat is not understood, not even by the fat. I hated my explanations, which sounded as thin as a balding pate, as weak as a thin man’s knees, as lame as weak tea. And so I found myself, again, on the dog’s path, walking in the field on our property because I was too ashamed for people to see me out walking, because I was frightened of the road and the path at the park. And forget about the gym. People would see me at the gym.
The first time the dogs tore down to the back fence to torment the hogs, there was no path. They paved one over time. And that’s what I’m doing. I graduated from the yard to the neighborhood, and to the park. In a very short amount of time, I’m now able to go several miles without stopping. SH and I went to the park and hit tennis balls around for almost an hour last weekend. I didn’t have a heart attack, and neither did he. Sometime soon, I’m going to give Zumba a try. In a gym. Even if the instructor is five feet tall and does the exercises fast, fast, Chipmunk style, I’m going to lumber along in a good natured way. I’m just going to try it and see what happens.
I like the dog’s path better than the other path, the one where I sit in a chair Jabba-the-Hutting. That’s a path, too, the one where you repeatedly do the wrong thing. Excusing untenable behavior, also a path. I can’t talk about tomorrow, but right now, I’m with the dogs. Maybe someday, I’ll be fit enough to dash headlong toward the back fence with Bailey and Luna and there, salute the wild hogs with unruly abandon.