Yesterday marks two months in this fair city. Well, “fair” is a relative term I suppose. Most of the time it’s been like the inside of a freaking sauna since I’ve been here. I’ve traveled to California once, but really, I flew into SF and drove to LA, so I wasn’t “home.” In two more months I’ll actually be home for a few days with my family and I’ll get to see my friends in the day light, not just for a couple drinks in a dark bar. I doubt any of them will mention the “Chicago 15” that found me while testing deep dish and mexican food around the city. My friends are of the “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” camp, so being around them is easy and makes me happy and not worried about it. My family however…
Of course, when I say “Chicago 15” I don’t literally mean 15 pounds. It’s more a figure of speech, cause in reality, it’s more like 20. FML. The “Freshman 15” is usually attributed to school stress and cafeteria food, I think Chicago’s version has more to do with being social. Food here is different, and its EVERYWHERE. Apparently the easiest way for a bar to get a liquor license is to sell food. Therefore, if you’re going to be social, you end up drinking and eating, cause when a waiter walks cheese-sticks past you, not ordering is not possible. Also, it’s my responsibility, as a new person, to try it and find what I like and what I don’t. Turns out the list of “don’t like” is pretty short.
Fighting the 15 can be a challenge in this city (one that apparently most overcome it in the plethora of gyms and private workout studios). I ate at a chain Mexican restaurant the other day and all of the meat was covered in some sort of sauce. It hadn’t actually dawned on me how much extra calories gets added to your food when there is a flavoring sauce soaking it. I mean, it’s not exactly a surprise, and overall, it is tasty, but it’s also new. When I ask for carnitas or carne asada in California, thats what you get. You don’t get carnitas that have been soaking in some sort of bbq sauce, or carne asada that has been ground up mixed with chipotle sauce. If I remember correctly from the limited number of times I grocery shopped in California (yes, I ate most of my meals outside my home, cause I was busy and I hated to cook), you could find fruit that wasn’t bruised or mealy. That being said, I’ve eaten more strawberries from Watsonville here than I ever did in SF.
That seems to be the only fruit I’ve been eating lately, if you catch my drift. It’s not that I don’t want to take a bite out of the dating scene here, and apparently the Chicago 20 doesn’t bother most of the guys, but it bothers me. I’ve been a big guy since I jumped in the pool and started playing water polo oh so many years ago. 15 years of inconsistent weight lifting, sporting and bad eating landed me where I am today, but that doesn’t mean I’m comfortable with myself all the time, I own that. I know my fare share of people who have been so affected by their appearance that they go to drastic measures to alter it (surgery, eating disorders, etc.). For me, it comes from a long life of small whispers in my ear about how tight my shirt is, or how I may want to reconsider eating everything on my plate, along with my vast experience telling people to go fuck themselves. It’s nothing out of the ordinary, unfortunately, and it’s not going away any time soon. I feel like these life lessons have landed me somewhere in between drastic measures and not giving a fuck.
Sometimes I wish I was OCD about my body. If I was more beholden to my body image issues, I’d be a big muscle bear, spend a substantial amount of time in the gym and counting every calorie that goes into my body. I also know that if I was, I’d never be happy with where I was. Worried that every guy that I dated was out of my league but would be relish any attention paid me, no matter the form or how much. At the moment, I feel like I am in a healthy range about it. I might not be totally happy, but, I don’t count calories, cause if something is yummy, i’ma eat it, at least until I’m full and try not to overdue it (cause being satisfied and happy is way different than full and uncomfortable). However, I do feel like I’m missing out or letting myself down if i don’t have some form of exercise daily, which is healthy for the body. I do enjoy attention, but too much freaks me out and I’m very shy when a guy flirts with me (in or out of my league. And before you say there is no such thing, we all know that’s crap. There totally is a hierarchy and expected level of attractiveness that accompanies anyone, gay or straight). So as long as my clothes fit and I’m not busting seams or looking like a bakery with muffin tops all around, I’m pretty ok. Not great, not thrilled, not usually able to buy dress pants from the mall, but pretty ok.
So I continue to battle the Chicago 15, hopefully since I’m 30, it doesn’t turn into the Chicago 30. I did get a membership at the gym across the street from my house on purpose after all, and have managed to keep the ice cream shop downstairs from profiting too much from me. I think I’ll be able to keep it that way. May even be comfortable enough with myself to date here and there, not today, or tomorrow, but sometime in the future. Until then, I’ll stick with being happy around my friends and not worrying about it, and I’ll make sure to wear baggy clothes when I see my mom in November.