The Longest Night

Winter is my least favorite time of year. I hate cold weather, and the shorter days trigger my Seasonal Affective Disorder. Throw in all the holidays that revolve around food and a tendency to carb-load, and the biggest gift I get every year is an extra twenty pounds–or more–that I spend the next twelve months trying to shed.

Moving to Georgia helped. Mild winters make it possible to get out in the sun more, and that really makes a difference with the SAD. But I’d still gain too much weight over the winter. Something had to change. And since winter and shorter days weren’t going anywhere (absent climate change), it was up to me.

Last year, after losing a lot of weight over the summer, I had a serious conversation with my doctor about my fear of gaining it all back. She put me on an antidepressant for the SAD. When the solstice came last year–the longest night of the year–I’d only gained a few pounds. With longer days coming, I thought I was out of the woods.

Yes, I did lose a few pounds after the solstice, but by the first of May, I’d gained back half the weight I’d lost the year before. I didn’t get back to my pre-winter weight until August. (Information courtesy of Weight Watchers Online, where I’ve recorded my weight every week since May 2011.) I cussed myself all summer long for having to work so hard to get back to where I started and vowed to do better this year.

My doctor decided that starting the antidepressant a few weeks earlier would make a difference. Unseasonably warm weather has helped, too. The week before Christmas I ran three miles without a shirt. It’s been so warm I’ve been been able to run shirtless quite a few times since the time change–enough to keep my summer tan and to suppress the SAD.

Instead of a spike at solstice, my weight today is the lowest its been in at least ten years and perhaps as many as twenty. Instead of thinking longer days mean the fight is over, I’m redoubling my efforts. I’m determined to make it to spring without the customary weight gain. I can do this.

That my time at the gym is paying off motivates me to stick with the program. None of my clothes fit–even the recent additions are loose. I’m running out of holes on all my belts. Punching new ones isn’t an option because the extra length already wraps halfway around my waist. I’d buy new ones, but something about a belt being too big feels too good to let go.

For more than a year I’ve been working out more or less kinda religiously, running as often as possible, and hitting Zumba classes two or three times a week. The layer of fat around my midsection is shrinking, little by little. I’m in much better shape so it looks like I’ve lost more weight than I have. Fine by me.

Now that the weightlifting is paying off, I’m really getting into it–so much so that I think maybe I hurt this adorable young man’s feelings. I’d seen him on one of the telephone “dating” apps and sent him a message that I sometimes saw him working out. He found me at the gym and said hello, and we ended up having dinner together. Nice guy, way too young, and cocky in a way that makes me want to pinch his cheeks and tell him how cute he is.

The next time I saw him at the gym, he wanted to chit chat. I’d already been there for an hour and was about done–close enough to the end that I didn’t want to stop. He seemed surprised when I told him we’d have to chat later. Yeah. Me. I haven’t seen or heard from him since, either, though that may be a function of the holiday.

My gym has several mirrored walls, allegedly so people can check their form while they lift. But the mirrors are really there to make it easier to watch someone without getting caught. And of course, because watching yourself get pumped up is hot. Seriously. And it’s not just lifting. Some of the ladies in my Zumba class love to watch themselves, too, but I ain’t judging.

Remember, my vision isn’t exactly 20-20. In fact, they don’t ask me to read the chart any more at the retina specialist’s office–they ask me how many fingers they’re holding up. Keep this in mind as I relate what happened the other day.

I’m watching myself doing dumbbell presses when, out of the corner of my eye, in the mirror on the far wall I see the backside of a very attractive older guy. A few seconds later, I realize the sexy dude is none other than yours truly. I’ve had similar “who’s that?” moments glimpsing mirrors at home. Each one is a reminder that I’m fighting a battle where defeat is not an option.

Don’t tell anyone, but I go to the gym thirty minutes early for Zumba so I can lift enough to get pumped up. For the ladies. It just goes with being the Zumba King.

Oh, who am I kidding.

Want to know why I’m always on the front row in my Zumba cargo pants and tank top?  So nobody blocks my view. I’ve got moves to perfect! Besides, I’m looking pretty damn good.  It’s enough to make me think about mirroring a wall here in…

My Glass House