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Today is a good day.

It’s good despite a certain physical discomfort I’m really trying hard to restrain myself from writing about again. But how not to when my high school classmate contacts me via skype earlier today, and when I say I won’t be able to chat long due to the above mentioned experiencing of pain, she bluntly asks:

“Is that perhaps the famous PMS?”

We haven’t spoken in a decade, mind you, minus an email here and there. Dumbfounded I utter:

“But how do you know???”

“From your blog!”

Ah. That. Though I haven’t written about this one yet. YET.

The day is good nonetheless. It’s great. It’s FESTIVE & CELEBRATORY. Here’s why. Something happened today, something unprecedented, at least as of the year two thousand and six…

It was one of those exotically warm days in October, back in 2006. It was exotic to me, as I had just moved to Los Angeles from quite positively four-seasoned New York City. Don’t forget also that I grew up in Poland. Four ever changing seasons was all I knew till then. It must have been one of those summery days of Californian fall in 2006 when my ass was wrapped in a pair of my favorite jeans for the very last time. As never after it was able to fit again. Until this day…

Today I pulled the old buddies out of the closet where they sat in the dark corner forgotten and in disgrace since TWO-THOUSAND-AND-SIX. I dug them out from underneath a pile of all those new guys I collected in the meantime. And just like that, suddenly inspired, four years later I tried to reunite the best of me with the best of the blue jean kind. And it worked!

Truth be told, it did require me to HIP-HOP some, and then to CHA-CHA-CHA a little bit more in order to tuck every last bit of me inside of those pants. Nevertheless it WORKED! Not only was I able to zip and button up, but also I am able to sit in those jeans as I type these words. Initially I tried the desk chair first for it’s adjustable, then the couch as it’s lower thus more challenging. In the end I was rolling on the floor exchanging hugs, tears, kisses and stories with my best buds who have returned home at last.

About this photo… May I inform you that my legs go for inches and inches beyond the frame of this photograph, so don’t be fooled by skewed proportions. Also, Cosmo is a very SMALL dog. A miniature really. What you’re looking at are legs… thin and all-the-way-to-my-tuchas long. Note that at the time of taking this photo my tuchas was sitting at the neighbors’ kitchen table.

Well, then. Now you know WHAT. Time to reveal HOW. Let’s omit the part where I skyrocketed three sizes up in the first place, about four years ago. The first two sizes left me shortly after I met Jason and fell in love. They just packed their stuff and went on their own, leaving no letter good-bye. Not that I ever missed them. But that last little size got stuck. Let me assure you that I didn’t even mind it in the end. I was comfortable in my skin at last, for the very first time in my life really, and it didn’t matter that much what the scale underneath me said. I wouldn’t even step on one, because who cares!

Lately, however, Jason and myself found motivation to get back to the gym, as we do every few months or so. Jason was complaining about a few extra pounds he no longer wished on him. I needed to get my core muscles stronger for those long hours of dancing around the kitchen when at work. Every child knows, however, that no exercise will bear results if the diet ain’t right. Hence, following the wisdom of many trainers that crossed my path (whose secret equation for losing weight is: 70% diet, 30% physical torture), we decided to switch dinners and lunches around.

For a few weeks now, I’ve been sending Jason to work with his lunchbox full of hearty and filling goods so he has enough energy for a jog when off duty. And then, after the gym, instead of stuffing ourselves with a bowl of pasta or rice, we simply enjoy a nutritious salad, full of natural vitamins and metabolism-boosting enzymes along with a touch of protein (nuts, chicken, fish, cheese, beans, etc.) and healthy fats (olive oil or walnut oil, nuts, avocados, and such).

This salad-eating also forces me to keep inventing new dishes and re-inventing what’s known and out worn. Above you see a version of a coleslaw. It’s crunchy like the traditional one with slivers of radishes, ribbons of red cabbage, and thin slices of Green Apple. It’s full of toasted walnuts that take the edge off the apple’s tartness. The dressing is somewhat familiar, though made with a non-fat Greek yogurt (like in my slaw recipe I posted here). However, there’s butter lettuce in the place of white cabbage, sprinkled with poppy seeds and thus turning the mix into a brand new experience. And trust me, a plate full of this salad, where you must work out your jaws on each bite, will keep you satiated till you’re ready for bed.

What do you do with the left over cabbage, you ask. It’s a good question. Let me also applaud you for purchasing the whole head in its natural form versus already shredded one and packed in plastic. Use those crunchy ribbons as a color-booster on all the different types of salads. Not only does it add esthetic value, but also texture and anti-oxidants, calcium, potassium, and loads of vitamin C, K and A.

Here’s another variation on a salad that served as post-work out dinner for Jason and moi. As seen above, its an abundance of sautéed kale with shallots, garlic, and tomato over roasted young potatoes, with added crunch of red cabbage, persian cucumber slices and paper-thin slivers of radishes. Needless to say, it is a warm, comforting, and filling plate of … vegetables. Yet it won’t weigh you down just hours before saying sayonara to your day.

The bottom line is this: exercising is undoubtedly good for keeping my butt cheeks closer together, tighter I mean, less jiggly and more bouncy. It also allows my back to stay firm and strong during those 8-10 hour shifts in the kitchen when on my feet at all times. However, it’s those hearty SALADS FOR DINNER that let my bottom jewel shrink enough to fit in my old blue jeans and wiggle woogie-boogie.

I think I won’t be parting with these for a while… My ass can’t be trusted.

mas•och•ism – n. 1 form of perversion involving one’s own pain or humiliation. 2 colloq. Enjoyment of what appears to be painful or tiresome.

Next time you’re at the gym, do me a favor, glance around and watch people’s faces while they’re in the midst of their “sets”. Show me one person that seems to be enjoying themselves.

Wait, I take it back, some people actually may be having fun… Most women at the gym look like they are on a field trip, come to think of it, catching butterflies in their nets while whistling “la-lee-lee-lee-la” and hopping across a flower-bedded meadow. Life is light, joyful, oh so easy, and the sun always shines.

The men, however, are in hell. Painted all over their faces are expressions of pain, disbelief, repugnance, and most commonly – ANGER. Yes, anger. As they pull, lift and push, each man’s composure slowly dissolves under a thin layer of glistening sweat. With every jerk of his body the mouth wiggles uncertain, the tongue shyly takes a peek outside only to get instantly ambushed and captured by a pair of meaty lips, the rosy cheeks take an elevator all the way up under the squinting eyes, and the forehead collapses like an accordion. And it’s not silent body language, oh, no! There’s the sighing and the growling, the teeth grinding and spontaneous whistling. Then comes that ONE DEEP BREATH, and with it the arms – bearing a 250 lb load – catapult into the thin air. Inevitably, a deep dark and devastating roar abruptly tears the silence of the heavily air-conditioned fitness temple. That’s ANGER!!!

I can relate.

Three weeks into my new routine of exercising my “six-pack” under Jason’s supervision and at his command, I find myself lying on a mat in between his spread legs, holding onto his ankles, staring at his crotch, and facing a series of excruciating crunches and kicks into the air, followed by holding my legs against the laws of gravity and folding my chest into a saucer. I panic.

Many a time has a thought crossed my mind to run away, to simply leave the gym without a word and camp by our car in the steaming-hot underground parking garage, awaiting Jason’s arrival, who would eventually figure out I’m no where to be found and descend to get his automobile. Usually it hits me right before heading to the mats to see my honey-poo–slash-personal trainer. But the second the thought finishes its run across my head I am so embarrassed that I turn around obediently and scuff my sneakers working my way to the dreaded AB LABORATORY.

–       Are we done yet? – I moan a question half way through the first set. And one set, mind you, consists of 4 different tummy exercises, and each exercise, mind you, consists of 15 to 30 repetitions. You do the math.

–       With the first set… soon. – Jason replies stoically.

–       I have the best view in the world! – I shout in a whispery manner and flirtatiously wave my eyebrows while looking straight at his crotch, trying out a new diversion technique.


–       Great. Give me another 15 of those – Jason is unmoved by the compliment and urges me to keep throwing my legs up, so he can push them back down while I, with my whole abdominal might, keep them from reaching the floor.

–       It’s been three weeks! When will the pain stop?? – I hear myself crying out loud, and hope for some compassion if not from Jason, then from my fellow masochists on the mats.

–       Never – Did I just hear him say “NEVER”??!! – Once you get stronger we’ll switch to a more challenging exercise routine.

I realize I’m starting to boil up in fury. I can’t believe I ever asked him for this little “favor” to help me get back in shape! I want to be done with this stupid work out!

Jason manages to keep his face straight, and steps on my feet while I power-push through another set of crunches. I swear, all I feel is PAIN ripping my insights apart.  Anger becomes the ONLY driving force.  The sad howl of a deadly hurt, savage animal resonates in my head. Jason squeezes two more full sets out of my wrenched and abused body. When we’re finally finished, he smiles warmly at my sour face:

–       The good part is that it only hurts while you’re doing it. The minute you’re done, it’s all gone. Why are you still pouting? There’s no more pain.

–       The memory of it still hurts though, boo-hoo – says me.

An elevator ride and two sets of escalators later I recover my reason and other senses enough to mumble “thank you” and blow Jason a kiss just as we reach our car.

–       I am very proud of you – He acknowledges. – You did it!

Yes! I fooking did it… for the fifth time this week! That is worthy a reward, I decide, and treat myself to a rich and oozing with chocolate brownie. Uhm… Life is good again.


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