So, how does one start on a fitness journey that actually may end up in success? For me at least, one would enlist a badass trainer with ice blue eyes whom you’re literally afraid of: like Chelsey Wilkens. (She looks like a sexy Terminator and acts like John Conner is my belly fat.) She then takes you to Soho Strength Lab and puts you on a weird, futuristic Scientology-looking thetan-scanner/body fat measurer, quickly after, you sob uncontrollably when you realize that you have endless pounds of ooze to lose. Since I don’t own a scale and haven’t weighed myself since pterodactyls flew the skies, this number made me feel like I should paint my body blue and spray paint Goodyear on my belly so I could at least make some side cash.
To give you a sense of my weight change, when I moved to NYC I was so thin that a light wind could pick me up and whoosh me to another zip code. People often mistook me for a life-size cut-out of a two dimensional advertisement. Now, I have micro side-vaginas all over my body. They’re cute, and my elbow crease could probably help catch a predator, but an indicator of fitness they are not.
Chelsey assures me that this is ok, explaining that I simply have to gain 10 pounds of muscle, because for every pound of lean body mass you have, you burn 50 more calories a day, and not to worry that apparently all my muscles have atrophied and turned into bisquick batter. Easy for her to say, since her body is composed mostly of carbon fiber and glass shards. I also learn that due to my body type I need to consume slightly less than 1,500 calories a day, not 2,000, (I’ve been hoodwinked my whole life – damn you, food pyramid of lies!) Which is good, because after this helpful information, the only food I plan on eating is Adderall and 5 hour energy drink.
Here’s how my morning goes. I wake up, stretch, and everything hurts. Did you know your insides could hurt from non-sexual exercise? I had forgot about that. All over my body, connective tissues in places I didn’t know existed are pissed and they are screaming at me. According to Chelsey, if you get really sore its because you didn’t ingest at least 20 grams of protein within 30 minutes of exercise, either way I feel like there’s a Hitchcock movie being filmed inside my abdomen. I then stare at my ceiling and think to myself, “Boy, I would rather have sex with a cheese grater than face the day ahead of me.” Too bad, because out of bed I go where I sit on a pillow and attempt to meditate.
This is the part of the day where I wait for aliens to come out of the sky and connect with my mystical meditation hole, beaming ancient, healing, extraterrestrial wisdom into my pineal gland. Suffice it to say this does not happen. Mostly what happens is I hyperfixate on my inability to achieve whatever feeling meditation is supposed to bring me and then fall deep asleep at a weird angle, waking up totally confused as to how my body could so closely resemble an acute triangle and yet stay asleep.
Following Chelsey’s directions, I make a glass of warm water with lime and salt to “kick start” my day. Tastes like lemonade, if lemonade had married the love of her life but never had children because he didn’t want any, but then left her for her best friend who was pregnant. By which I mean….bitter.
I then make a nutritional meal replacement shake with coconut milk. This tastes roughly like I’m taking a pile of sawdust on a sugar-free tropical vacation. This would upset my nutritionist Fernanda, who recommends whole grain bread with eggs and avocado or Greek yogurt with fruit, but for now my brain is literally functioning at Australopithecus levels, so liquid food in tube it is.
Next up: swallowing as many pills as someone undergoing a sex reassignment: vitamins, brain boosters, mood stabilizers, probiotics….on and on it goes. Do I really know if supplements work? Of course not. Do I take them and think that somehow swallowing a ball of fish guts and powdered non-magic mushrooms will reverse the effects of living in NYC? I DO. Why? Because lying to myself is the only way I’m going to get through this without losing the last precious marble I have rattling around my brain.
Then, ladies and gents, it’s time for my least favorite activity of the day, which if it were a TV show would be called, “Zoe, What Can You Wear?” There would then be footage of me spinning around my bedroom like a Tasmanian devil on PCP creating mini-tornadoes of clothes in my wake, hopelessly trying to get dressed for whatever misc NYC job I have. It’s infuriating, because I have so much dope shit I could wear, but it’s all one size too small. I rifle though my closet trying to find anything that doesn’t actively show my nipples or cervix in my “Yeah, Right” section, trying on pants that somehow used to fit over more than just one of my legs and then freak out, shove all these clothes back in my closet, and find my fanciest pair of black yoga pants with a stretchy waistline and a “can-do” attitude. I pair that with a silky, billowy top that covers all my squished-in belly fat, because if I wore something tighter people might stop me on the street and ask me the most dreaded question of all, “Awe, when are you due?” I then find a fabulous, sparkly, distracting jacket so people won’t notice I’m basically wearing bedazzled athletic maternity pants.
Next stop on my day is…drumroll please…my cold-pressed, vegan, sugar and taste free overpriced juice place (which in my mind is called “Haute Hippo”). This is where I get a “juice” by which I mean a large cup of pulverized lawn clippings with a dash of celery and cayenne pepper for flavor. I used to love fruit juice, until Chelsey ruined my life and informed me that the tart, sunshine filled ambrosia I used to drink was basically a liquified brick of sugar that had a good publicist. The main problem with HH, is that I’m always in line behind a large group of newly transplanted blonde women all somehow named Laura. You can spot them instantly by their purple yoga mats and lululemon outfits carefully concealing the OM tramp stamp that they got at the full moon festival in Thailand. As soon as I see them the dark thoughts begin…
Have you ever fantasized about sending yoga chicks to a deserted island so they could fight to the death over dwindling supplies of Diva cups, Palo Santo and hula hoops ala Lord of the Flies? No? Weird. Recently, sometimes when I see women like the Laura’s, I’ve wanted to strap her into an electric chair and force feed her super sized Big Mac meals until she would only be able to leave the house with the aid of a forklift. This is not a good thing, I am working on it.
I then go to CKO Kickboxing, where a man who looks like he just got released from Rikers yells at me through a faulty PA system so loud that I’m shocked I’m not forced to learn sign language after every class. Halfway through kickboxing I feel invincible, endorphins pumping out of every pore. Forty-five minutes into class I crash, ready to sign a pact with the devil to release me from this curse from the gods that feels like being tied to the top of a mountain with a ravenous eagle feasting on my liver forever. Then, miraculously – thank the devil – the class is over and I limp out, full of pride and pain, ready to take on the day.
Lunch? According to the Internet, if you want to lose weight while maintaining energy throughout the day, the best thing to do for lunch is have your mouth wired shut and then have midgets baby-bird you wheatgrass shots through the wires. Or, technically, according to Chelsey, you should have healthy fats and lean protein, because it’s more satiating, boosts brain function and keeps you full longer. So, my next stop is usually Sweetgreen.
Ah, Sweetgreen, where endless lines of millennials converge, swallowed up in their misc Apple products, lost in their own amorphous world of tweeting, texting, liking, hearting, and obsessing; building virtual businesses; helping no one but themselves. But damn, aren’t those salads delicious! This place should be an event in the Hipster Olympics. “Will Zoe be able to go for gold, waiting in a two hour line behind the entire Urban Outfitters catalog from 2012, so she can pay $20 for gussied up hamster food…can she do it? Coming in hot behind her is a Swedish eco-furniture designer with a Flock of Seagulls haircut and teal culottes, talking loudly in a James Bond accent about his vision for his “brand.” Is her stamina up to the challenge?” Briefly, I hate the person I’ve become.
I then spend the next six hours trying not to think about chocolate croissants and making up excuses why I can’t go to whatever misc food orgy social event I’m invited to, since I have no self-control, and when I go to dinner, I do things like drink a whole bottle of port and order three deserts.
For dinner I have an imaginary bowl of penne vodka-covered in fresh parmesan and a side of buttery, aromatic garlic bread and two invisible glasses of Rioja, followed by a chocolate caramel mousse of air. Boy is it delicious. My roommate is a bit concerned when then she comes back and sees me dipping a spoon into empty bowls, then licking it and smiling in delight as the rush of imaginary fat and sugar light up the synapses inside my One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest head. (If you actually want to eat food, not air, the trick is to eat before 8 pm and have your plate consist mostly of fresh veggies, lean protein and good fats).
Due to the angry sugar demons that live in my brain that like to play a accordion heavy Mariachi tune right before bed, I walk over to my empty refrigerator (I had my model roommate throw away anything and everything that had flavor, calories or sugar in it; leaving behind only a bottle of soy sauce and and old carrot) and remember days where I would take a bowl of whole milk and crumble Pepperidge Farm Brussels cookies into it for a light bedtime snack I called, “Real Life Cookie Crisp.” I then sigh, brush the remaining kale remains out of my teeth and crawl into bed, full of the kind of superiority only people who feel like they have a future ahead of them have, and dream of Val Kilmer in Willow reading me Whitman, while Dolly Parton and I eat whipped cream-smothered key lime pie.
Health doesn’t have to be a science. It’s literally a consistent series of decisions like, “is this food, drink, or party bringing me closer to my goals or farther away” or “does this choice benefit me for five minutes, or get me closer to where I want to be in five years?” It’s all up to me…. So I remain, faithfully your climbing slowly up the Everest of health, trying to remain positive while waiting for my side v’s to dry up.