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Little Ms. 2%

January 11, 2009

I know that it’s not terribly PC of me to say that I hate the anorexic looking personal trainer I see every day at my gym, but I do. It is a disease and I should be sympathetic. But I am not. I resent her. I have no proof that she is anorexic, but I do not have any proof she actually eats either. By my learned eye she is, at least, a size 00, as she is too tall to shop in the children’s department. Moreover, because she does nothing but exercise, I would say she has no more than 2% body fat. I take offense that my gym has hired her. Personal trainers, to my way of thinking, should be inspirational looking. They should exude health and their state of physical fitness should be attainable without laxatives, 4-hour daily workouts, and calf implants. Ms. 2% only inspires me to figure out ways to force feed her.

Now, while I resent Ms. 2%, I also envy her. Not for her lack of body fat, but for the sheer force of will it must take to forgo food and spend that much time in the gym. I am too inherently lazy, and cook far too well, to ever be plagued by that kind of will power. I trudge to the gym 5-6 times a week. I do my cardio on the TreadClimber. Maybe not at the intensity of someone with motivation, but I put the geriatrics in their place. I do my sit-ups but do not really know where my core is, and am not really sure the Spectrum Club is the place I want to get in touch with it. Sometimes I do weights, but I steer clear of the area when there are profusely sweating men who grunt with each rep. They distract me from my audio book and listening to those stories is the only thing that gets me through the three sets of 10. However, I do not do yoga, it is too slow and makes me angry – not to mention I do not like men in tights or bike shorts. I have yet to understand why Pilates should cost $50 a session, and I will go to my grave without ever having done Tae-Bo or Zumba. I have not always been so lackadaisical about my fitness regime. In college, I ran 5 miles a day and helped run the campus gym. I could press 300lbs with my calves and would brow beat sit-ups out of the complaining males in my classes. I have even walked a marathon in Alaska.

I have bouts of self-loathing or whims of self-improvement that inspire me to tackle one fad diet or another. I was on my first diet in 6th grade. In high school, I tried everything from Dexatrim to amphetamines and cocaine to The Cambridge Liquid Diet to a 500-calorie a-day diet combined with injections of impregnated cow’s urine (Thanks Mom). In the 80’s dear old Jenny Craig, who I have visited from time to time over the years, helped me find my way into a size 4; in the 90’s I attended Weight Watchers meetings, and before my wedding, I choked down Nutra-System. I have eaten low fat, no fat, low carbs, and no carbs. Thanks to Dr. Atkins I spent a few blissful months eating nothing but bacon and cheese and one tragic dose of Xenical (Thanks again Mom).

I gave up any notion that I would someday be a supermodel when, at the age of 11, the famed Nina Blanchard informed me that I was never going to be tall enough for the runway. A cruel reality check for a young girl, and I have oft wondered what a difference 2 inches could have made in my life. Probably none, as I said I am lazy and I do not take direction well. I am also not built like a model. I am neither tiny nor waif-like. I am broad shouldered, so much so that my Jr. High beau, Jim, nicknamed me Mac because of my similarity to an 18-wheeler. I am an ample 38D. Even in my brief stint as a size 4, I was a 36D. In my youth, my aunt was inspired to get implants because as a pre-teen I had a bigger rack than she did. I remember buying a dress for my friend Suzanne’s wedding that was a 12 because it fit my shoulders, but had to be taken in to fit my temporarily tiny waist. My own wedding dress was a disaster. First off, bridal sizing is designed to put even the thinnest of brides in their place. It almost seems a test of your commitment to put on a wedding dress and head down the aisle. Whatever size you think you wear, add 2 sizes. The uppity sales girl at Vera Wang kindly ordered me a size 16 which they insisted was necessary because of my bust. I would still like to slap the sales girl upside the head for that. Mind you, she was wrong. My dress arrived so disastrously proportioned that it took several alterations to make it passable. A small vindication.

Sizing in itself is something with which I take issue. There is no universal standard for sizing. The Europeans try to stay consistent to their metric measurements, but their numbers make me unhappy. In my youth, size 4 was small and size 16 was somewhere you did not want to go. These numbers are ingrained in my psyche. What do they expect me to do with size 38? Even XS-XL are not universal. I have bought my size 6 mother French sweaters in XL that I cannot get my forearm into. However, I can deal with my inability to convert to the metric system better than I can deal with the advent of vanity sizing. I dealt, not well, but nonetheless dealt with the arrival of size 2, and its little sister size 0. However, I draw the line at size 00. That is just plain offensive to those of us on the other end of the double-digit spectrum. On a recent trip to the mall with my husband, I took great offense to a sign on store offering what it called “Plus Size Fashions” for ladies size 12 and up. Suddenly my moderately overweight body, my Average American size 12 figure is now a freakin’ PLUS SIZE? It was only Dave’s firm grip on my forearm that kept me from vandalizing the storefront, but not from muttering obscenities.

For this affront, someone has to absorb my wrath. For me that person is Ms. 2%. And for 2009 I resolve to spend most of my time at the gym this spring concocting schemes by which to meet out suitable punishment. That should keep me distracted through my three sets of 10.

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