The Red-Headed Firefly Shares Excerpts of Her Personal Story and Metabolic Weight Loss Journal
Table for One, Alone in my Thoughts
August 21, 2019
Gary lost 56 pounds! Lisa lost 15 inches! Sue lost 30 pounds and 12 inches! Would I become one of the next poster children for Metabolic Research Center (MRC)? I had my doubts, but I also had an inkling of hope as I entered the door under the bright, lime green Welcome sign. The room was smaller than I had expected and there was a slight mustiness to the air. Always one to find a rationale behind something which has brought disappointment, “Well, it has been raining quite a bit”I thought.
I assumed the “coach” would be young and slim – after all, I didn’t want to dole out cash, check or credit card for a diet program with an instructor who looked worse than what I hope will be my “before” picture. I haven’t allowed a picture yet, by the way, but I know that is coming with my next visit. I was right about the coach, probably late 20-something, pretty, fit as a fiddle and FULL of energy.
I figure when I die if anyone goes through things that were once mine, they will learn at least three things about my life: (1) I wanted to know God, really, really know Him and most importantly be approved by Him, (2) I wanted thin thighs, rock hard abs and/or tight buns in thirty days, and (3) I longed to write a novel – but even The 90-Day Novel had not coaxed more than a page out of my mind onto the page.
Alas, life has its hopes and disappointments, doesn’t it? When I was young I dreamed of one day accepting an Oscar, being famous. Always had at least part of my head in the clouds – the other part I was sure had its own personal cloud — rain, thunder, and fog – all the things that make for disillusion. Actually, my mind could only partially partake of dreamy cumulus. The path I have walked was far more down to earth. I did not win an Academy award or become famous. Those fantasies died in the stratus of reality.
No visit to a clinic of any kind is without its paperwork and my appointment at MRC was no exception. As I journeyed through the appropriate blanks on the “Get to Know You” form, like chards of cut glass, soldiers of splintered remembrances invaded. “I wish I was as fat now as I thought I was then” (then being in my 30s when I was an exercise instructor and workout animal). I could workout with the best of ‘em and teach two, sometimes three classes a day. Still, I thoughtI was fat. Now, I am heavier than I’ve ever been – even on delivery of my children.
When he left, I was devastated – but I have to tell you, it was the most effective (though not healthy) “diet” I had ever tried. My insides had become a calorie-burning inferno; I was so wired with anxiety and grief. By the time our divorce was final I was down 30+ pounds and wearing a size two! I LOVED being that thin. It was the onlytime I wanted to shop. My dear sister-by-choice (SBC) Crystal, aware of my status, came over one day with a car full of beautiful size two to size four clothes. “You’re going to need these for this season.” She was right. She knew because she had gone through the same situation in her life.
The exercise bug had become epidemic shortly after I had married. Then-husband (TH) and I joined Gold’s Gym. It was not too far from home – we could walk or ride our bikes – and “special rates” made it possible. We soon learned that “special rates” could be translated, “Get all the money we can, and then close the doors without notice.”
I remember my first aerobics class taught by a very athletic looking instructor. We were not even through the warm-up and I made a mad dash for the locker room, out of breath with tears just begging to spill from my eyes. I sat on the bench in the dressing area and cried. “You can’t do this. How embarrassing. Go home.” I pulled myself together best I could and went searching for TH.
“Can we go?”
What’s the matter?”
“I can’t do this!”
“I’m not ready to leave.”
“Well, then I’m walking home.”
I left defeated. Wouldn’t be the first or the last time I experienced defeat. When TH readied himself to go to the gym the next day he asked if I wanted to try again. I did but I didn’t but I did. I made it through the warm-up that day and even into part of the next routine before heading to the locker room. This pattern continued until one day I made it through the entire hour! I continued, became stronger and down the road inquired about teaching. Pretty much shocked myself – that this highly introverted persona could get up in front of a group of people to do anything, let alone coach exercise. I remember looking at my “students” most of whom were in their 40s and beyond thinking, “It will be a long time before I am that old.” Guess what? It wasn’t.
I had some mishaps at Gold’s Gym. Actually mishaps are part of who I am. If someone is going to enter a room and trip or knock something over – it’s me. Once at Gold’s – after the exercise animal in me had woken from its dormant state – I was pedaling away on a bike set up in the area where the body builders were getting their dose of grunting and groaning (and mirror gazing). My gigantica Walkman was belted securely to my waist – I had a waist! Headphones of the 80s with saucer-sized circles covered my ears as Heart belted out their greatest hits as high as the volume would go. No wonder I can’t hear now. I couldn’t hear anything but the music as feet pedaled as hard as they could, sweat dripped from every pore. I was soaked. What I didn’t know was that as I was pedaling, the pin which secured the seat was vibrating, pulsing with each revolution. Then it happened – out of nowhere – SPLAT! I was on the ground. The pin had fallen out which caused the seat to sink to the lowest level. The domino effect dropped me off the bike and onto the ground. I didn’t even want to look – just picked myself up, grabbed my things and headed out the door.
TH and I moved in the early 90s to a huge, old Victorian house at the top of a brick hill. I loved it. He hated it. After a while, I could see why. It was a money pit but was only four blocks away from the YMCA and that is where I found my second home (well, third, second was the grocery store). I could walk to the Y and I did – every day. There were days I would get up long before TH or the kids, take off on my bike, ride 30 miles round-trip and be back covered in bugs just as the rest of the household aroused.
One day at the Y I was walking on the treadmill, elevated as far as it would go, about 4.5 miles per house. Again the headset and Walkman, also had a book on the rack attached to the frame (and I wondered why I didn’t make friends – not exactly approachable). I was about 45 minutes into it when I thought I smelled smoke. Certainly didn’t hear anything. I happened to look down at my feet and the treadmill was on fire! I jumped off, ran out of the room to seek the Director. Of course, in effort to free myself from the headset the music blower had become tangled in my hair but there was no time to deal with it. I scoured the facility for the Director with the headset wadded in my hair.
“The treadmill is on fire!”
“Did you unplug it?”
“Hell no, I’m not touching it!”
The Director grabbed his gloves, made a dash for the workout room and swiftly ended the debacle.
“I’ll be with you as soon as possible.” The MRC coach was on high wattage going back and forth with current clients who filled the chairs. She never lost her smile or the look of sincere empathy as she engaged with each behind the doors of the Consultation room.
“I’m so sorry. Really, will only be a few more minutes.”
“It’s not a problem, still working on this form.”
“Thank you so much for your patience.”
Little did she know that for me filling out the form was akin to repeating the “I’m fat” message of all those decades past. Only this time I really am overweight and I am closer to the end of life than the beginning or the middle.
“Thank you so much. You can come on back now.”
I explained my woes with the disclaimer, “I know I can’t improve a lot at my age.”
“Oh, I don’t know about that. I think you’ll be surprised at what you can do if you follow the Plan!”
What was that – was that a cumulus dream cloud about to burst? The Plan – I’ve never really had a plan for me. Rather, I’ve walked a path of “logic” careful to never color outside the lines life has dealt me. Coach’s declaration perked me up. Perhaps there is hope of possibilities as I embark this journey. It won’t be easy – I am a stress eater who doesn’t like to do much cooking, instead reaching for the easiest “fix” to satisfy emotion-induced hunger. Ironically, the “fix” isn’t a fix at all – but it’s brought me to this juncture. I signed up for the Plan and will have my first post-sign-up weigh in seven days.
In reality, once we’re born, each of us is closer to the end than the beginning. Aerosmith’s, “Life’s a journey, not a destination” rings true. We can’t do anything at the end to improve the middle, but wherever we are at we can inventory what we are dissatisfied with, what we want to make better and then take a step of action. It is my hope that this truism will bring inspiration both to me and others.
Francis the red-headed firefly
Who am I? Until my life ends, the answer will ever evolve. I am a soul compelled by visceral stirrings to create, to dream, to document, to apply meaning. I am an aspiring wannabe and an aging has-been in perpetual pursuit of revelation to discover what I am going to be. Read more about Joni • Articles by Joni