Yesterday, Mark and I lunched at one of our favorite places, Meskerem, an Ethiopean restaurant in Hell's Kitchen. There, I struggled with my diet. It's the dreaded 'portion control' part that stumps me, the part which I suppose makes a diet a diet.
How on earth do you not eat a lot of something sitting before you that's delicious? The tangy, spicy sauces, the savory pancakes to sop it all up, it is a meal worth driving into the city for, braving traffic, potholes and the wintry cold.
Mark is six inches taller than me, but often I eat more than he does. I am struggling to stop. So far, in the last 2 1/2 weeks, I've gone to the gym 7 times, for yoga, weights and the treadmill. There's been a lot of soreness, but the scale has not budged.
'Muscle weighs more than fat,' Mark offered, trying to help.
'It's only been a couple weeks. It takes time.'
But I do expect miracles.
Several years ago, my friend Liz and I started doing Body for Life, the workout routine that advertises itself with unbelievable before and after photos. A photo of a shlubby, half-naked guy is coupled with a photo of a guy with a rippling body and the shlubby guy's head. Liz and I would review photo after photo, trying to determine whether they were real or fake. Our findings were inconclusive. We did the workout anyway.
We were lucky. Liz and I were not grossly overweight, just out of shape. She is a tiny, fiesty Korean woman, with the same tendency to eat a ton of food. If you're ever in Koreatown, they are everywhere - tiny women sharing several entrees and all the little appetizer dishes littering the table.
Liz and I started lifting weights, running and eating small meals throughout the day. I mixed protein shakes at work. After a few months, we were going to the gym 4 or 5 days a week. We looked svelte and were happy our bodies.
I kept up the routine, more or less, until I met Mark. That was 2 1/2 years ago. Now, I can barely run the 20-minute intervals without stopping. I'm determined to get back to that svelte feeling. I did it once, I can do it again.
At my lowest moments, I am known to siddle up to one of my work buddies.
'It's my last hurrah,' I'd say wistfully, in reference to my advanced age and desperate situation.
'Your last hurrah,' he would echo.
'It's my swan song.'
And then he would look at me and laugh.
A clip showing those hard to believe before and after pictures:
Top photo by myself, at Meskerem in Hell's Kitchen.