|My grandmother (standing) with her sister at home, Mendicino, Italy|
A while back I went to the doctor for the first time in three years. Not the OB-GYN kind but the regular kind although my doctor isn't all that regular as she works in what's called a center for integrative medicine. It's the kind of place where tabletop fountains make a beautiful noise and the receptionist asks you whether you'd like a cup of green tea as you sit on the little sofa in the waiting room and leaf through yoga magazines. Santa Monica breezes waft through the room, It would be nauseatingly politically correct if it weren't so damn peaceful, and while I have to submit paperwork to my insurance company because the center doesn't deal with insurance companies (a plus, in my book, actually!), it's worth the extra hassle and money.
It turns out that I'm perfectly healthy -- my "numbers," the blood work, all that jazz, are well within normal range and for that, I'm very grateful.
Except that I need to lose weight. I knew that already.
A while back I wrote an essay on the tyranny of exercise, how much I hate it, how much I hate that it's so good for you. I think I tied it up with the tyranny of Roman Catholicism, too, but that's another story. But speaking of Roman Catholicism, my Italian grandmother, a devout Catholic, was an incredibly strong woman. It's said that she could carry many bags of groceries blocks and blocks in New York City and then up many flights of stairs. She had worn, leathery arms, one of them covered by a large scar that was the result of stirring tomato sauce that spattered when she was a child. She was quite stout and not particularly cheerful, but she was a good grandmother, tucking dollar bills into our hands for the ice-cream man and urging us to eat more and more of her astoundingly good food.
I doubt my Noni ever worried about her weight and probably took her physical strength for granted. She became quite demented in her old age but died at nearly ninety years of age.
When the doctor laid out the results of my blood work and cheerfully told me that everything looked fine, except for my actual weight, I felt a tinge of annoyance. I'll admit to the insane thought I had that it would almost be easier if there was a life or death reason to lose weight. It seems like I have the constitution of a southern Italian peasant but the desire for a Sophia Loren body.
Today is the second day of a doctor-directed 21-day Cleanse. I'm eliminating sugar, caffeine, dairy, wheat, beef and pork from my diet for 21 days in the hopes that I'll kickstart my metabolism and perhaps take some weight off. I'm going to try to appease the exercise tyrant as well.