Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Roar of the Discount, The Smell of the Sale

BY SOME MIRACLE OF grace — which I call Amazon — my holiday shopping is done. The closest I have been to a mall in the past week was 5:00 this morning, when I grabbed a post-poker breakfast at a diner on Route 4 across from the upscale Riverside Square Mall. As I munched my way through a bacon-and-egg sandwich, I watched a Sysco food-service truck unload its wares into the dormant precincts of the Cheesecake Factory, McCormick & Schmick, and the other restaurants that fringe the outer edge of the shopping center. The lot was otherwise empty. Soon, very soon, I knew, this would change radically. I felt lucky not to have to join the Christmas Eve scrum.

This was a long week, but my reward is a 4-day weekend beginning today. I was very busy at work this week, still catching up from the days I burnt at the Word class, during which I was lucky enough to get a ton of new work. Coupled with this, one of our designers had last week off. As a delightful cherry on this sundae of stress, the other two designers — both Queens residents — had the NYC transit strike to overcome. I was largely unaffected by the work stoppage (more New Yorkers on the PATH than usual) so I was able to get in and keep things moving while my teammates struggled with cabs or long walks to get to the office.

I was nearly caught up in the transit snarl myself. On Friday, my usual NJ Transit train was cancelled, and the subsequent one was delayed 30 minutes. When this second announcement came over the station speakers, I decided my best option was to snag a bus. I was banking on light traffic due to it being a pre-holiday Friday, a bet that paid off. Had the strike still been in effect, I would have had a walk from the 41st street Bus Terminal to, by coincidence, the Port Authority's old building at 15th. Not as long as the distance some of my coworkers had to hoof over the course of the week, and it wouldn't have killed me, but I was happy to have the subways running to avoid adding yet more of a delay to my arrival.

By the end of the day, I had placed what remaining jobs I had in my inbox in some sort of order. I had loaded my new backpack (one of my Christmas gifts from my parents) with the many items from Amazon I had ordered. We had been given early release at 3:00, but I ended up leaving at my usual time, just to get some more stuff moved forward in light of my being out an extra day (we all get Monday off, and I took Tuesday). I had been trying to pin down this last paid-time-off day for 2 weeks, but work had caused it to skitter away each time. Now it was mine.

The extra time at work over the course of this week and the classes last week disrupted my efforts to eat right and hit the gym. I managed to go Monday and today, but the rest of the week was a mess. I feel like I lost a lot of the progress I had been making. But I also know it was working, which gives me confidence to keep going. It was damn tough to ignore all the Christmas baskets of food — junk food, however well intentioned – flooding into the office. And I had to attend a pizza lunch thrown by my boss as a thank-you for besting the transit difficulties. Courtesy slices they may be, they're still simple carbs and unhealthy fat that had me falling asleep at my desk. So you can see why a diner McMuffin was not too much of a reach after hitting bottom this week.

The gym will be closed tomorrow, but I get to hit it Monday and Tuesday without having to breast huge crowds or wake up early. (Hell, 90% of the county will jam the malls again on December 26. The gym won't be crowded until Resolution Day, aka January 2.) More importantly, I reassessed the workout I had adopted and decided to go with a different one. I think we'll be doing without the squats in the future. I know serious bodybuilders worship squats with fanaticism not normally seen outside the fan base of the Cincinnati Bengals. How they deal with walking around stiff-legged like a Thorazine-dulled golem for the next 2 days is apparently a secret I have not yet divined.

One idea from the forums I did pick up was writing up a goal sheet. Actually setting positive goals down on a piece of paper has helped some of these folks achieve them with greater efficiency. I have a whiteboard on the inside of my apartment's front door upon which I can record meditations, but I am sure if I just let myself write, I can come up with things I want to achieve in 2006 outside the realm of fitness that would benefit from being right in front of my face.

I had set a goal, back at the beginning of December, of getting down to 230 by January 15. I was as low as 235 before the week I took the classes. That's now about 3 weeks away, so I don't think it's entirely unachievable. I will actually try to attend the gym and eat rationally and let the number descend as it might. It's more important to me right now to ingrain the habits I need to adopt. Weight loss hopefully will follow, at a reasonable pace and over the longer term.

All right, there are actually a couple of chores I need to do (it is Saturday, after all). More soon.

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