The sound that came out of my mouth was something that I’d only heard in movies. That loud over-dramatic gasp that is usually reserved for Mothers being shown their long-suffering daughter’s engagement ring that she was sure was never coming or the prim and proper woman offended by a “beast of a man” usually followed by a “why I never!”
That was my gasp this morning.
There was no bling or twisted corset involved in my exclamation. My reaction came simply from rolling out of bed and setting my nice toasty tootsies on the hardwood floors below.
Here in the midwest we’re in the throws of that vaunted Polar Vortex that every Weatherman in America is beaming about during their extended camera time this week. This Polar Vortex, which incidentally would be a fantastic name for a Bond villain, has us blanketed in snow and registering some of the coldest temperatures that many people can remember (it was -41 when I shrieked this morning).
As someone who thrives on the observation of human behavior, whether requested or not, spending this last week in the tundra has lead me to make a strange connection. Perhaps it’s because we’re still in the honeymoon period for New Years’ Resolutions or because the only news converge that isn’t #Snowmageddon related revolves around dieting and exercise, it was hard not to pick out a few parallels.
So, with full knowledge that my list is about as scientific as a weather prediction and equally reliable, I threw together a list of ways that the Polar Vortex and our attempts to lose weight and get healthy are alike.
Hypersensitivity – Being cold and being hungry are very similar feelings. Everything is a little achy. You don’t feel much like moving. You’re on a hair-trigger just waiting to blow up. The tiniest thing will set you off and there’s nothing a dozen blankets or a dozen rice cakes can do to satisfy you.
It Makes TV Unwatchable – It’s torture. What’s on when it’s cold out besides the 24-hour news cycle of poor rookie reporters out in the elements? The Brady Bunch goes to Hawaii. Island Week on the Travel Channel. All of the college Bowl Games are in Arizona. What’s on when you’ve had a plain chicken breast and simple salad for the fourth straight day? Every commercial is for a restaurant. Food Network isn’t even an option. Even that news story about the recall of questionable beef has you thinking, “I bet if I cooked it long enough and used gravy it would be OK”.
Awkward Conversations – I was at the grocery store yesterday and realized that this weather is like utopia for old guys. They were almost lined up three deep at the entrance of the store to greet every new shopper with a “Cold enough for ya?” or a smirk-laden “Think we’ll get any snow?” People have a similar bizarro laundry list of buzzwords that they think you want to hear when you’re on a diet. Slim. Tiny. I remember still being way north of 350 pounds and having to plaster on a fake smile for every “Hey Skinny” or “You’re going to blow away”. Shhhhhh… less talking.
Everything Looks The Same – It feels like the whole world is just covered with this off-white mix of snow, mud and road salt. It’s not even that picturesque billowy fields of ivory anymore. It’s like the world’s grossest Slurpee just plastered over everything. Sort of like dinner when you’re watching your calories. A lot of beige and green. Sure, we try to pep it up with some nice bright peppers now and then, but, after awhile, it looks the same. And, eventually, it all tastes the same too. Try as we might to avoid it, we suck all the fun out of food. Every meal just looks like another pile of mush like we see stuck in the wheel wells of our cars.
My Dog Hates It – When I open the door to the back yard, my Golden takes exactly three steps outside, whips around with a “Are You Crazy, Old Man” look on her face and runs back in. She hates the cold just as much as she hates when I have my eating in check. Why? No tasty scraps for her. No pizza crust. No milk from a cereal bowl. No last bite from a bagel. That same “Are You Crazy, Old Man” look covers her face when I have an appropriate sized dinner, show her my clean plate after and say, “Sorry… none for you today.”
For as brutal as it is, rest assured that spring is on the way. I love spring and all of the new beginnings that it brings. By this time next week, it’s going to be 40. Two months from now we’ll knock on 60. Six months from now we’ll complain that it’s 90. People who live in this part of the country, do it because they like the changing seasons. They like April showers and autumn leaves. They like swimming in the same lakes in the summer that they’ll ice fish on in the winter. With that comes weeks like this. And… every once in awhile… a Polar Vortex.
When you’re on a path to improving your health and fitness, there’s going to be some cold snaps. There’s going to be some tough days. Whether it’s still a fresh New Years’ Resolution or you’re months down the path, when times get tough, it’s super easy to just pile up the blankets, crawl inside and simply quit. It’s not all sunshine.
But… it’s temporary…
And it’s worth it to get to what’s next.