Call the law. Somebody—I don’t know who would’ve pulled a mean trick like this, but somebody—broke into my apartment, crept into my bedroom, went through my closet…and shrunk all my clothes. My jeans, my skirts, my slacks, even my track jackets and party dresses, all vandalized, zapped down to junior’s department-sized wittle-ness.

OK, OK. The chances that some criminal with nothing better to do in the big city than hatch a diabolical plan to annihilate the wardrobe of a random freelance writer are pretty slim. I, alas, am not. I’ve put on some weight over the last few years, though I can’t pinpoint exactly when I started packing on all of these extra pounds. But I do know the factors that have conspired to make me a favorite for the title of Ms. Fatty McButterpants: being social, which always includes food; sitting through long meetings, which are always aided by food; and being able to burn a little bit in the kitchen myself.

While I’ve been caught up in the rapture of my long-running love affair with food, however, I’ve also maintained a less than enthusiastic commitment to working out. I’ve been so busy grindin’, working hard to carve my dreams and launch a business and—let’s be honest—make that money—that if it came down to knocking out an assignment for a client or driving 20 minutes to an hour-long zumba class, the score has always inevitably been Hustle 1, Gym 0. I don’t mind exercising as long as it’s fun. I would shrivel up from boredom on a treadmill, but my competitive spirit comes out in classes.

Historically, I have never been thin. After I outgrew the children’s department, I completely skipped sizes 0-4, stopped briefly at 6, hovered at 8 for a while when I was in college and settled comfortably at a 10. I was always on the thick side, even when I ran track back in high school. Because Black aesthetics make it totally acceptable to have some extra padding on your package, I didn’t pay much attention to my beefy thighs or the love handles—I call them “kickstands”—rolling up on my sides. Now here I am, one Chick-Fil-A trip away from Ashley Stewart status.

Lucky for me, it’s the beginning of a new year and I’m living out the same ol’ tired cliché as millions of other people who will spend, at the very least, the next 10 days or so going hard on their resolutions for 2012. That means I’ll be right there with other folks who haven’t set a sneaker across the threshold of a gym in untold amounts of time and vowing to live a healthier, more calorie-controlled life from here on out.

Judging by the commercials, I’ve got plenty of company, even among celebrities who’ve also found themselves getting the cartoon eyes when they step on the scale. I see Charles Barkley is getting in on the weight loss mania. So is Janet Jackson, whose yo-yoing has endeared her as a friend in my head. And Jennifer Hudson is still doing the hard sell, even though I’ve gotta admit if I get accosted by one more of her over-the-top commercials in a 30-minute period I can guarantee I’ll never, ever to go to Weight Watchers.

Not that I would anyway. Even with all of our fancy schmancy techniques and fad diets and singing celebrity spokespeople, losing weight boils down to four basic words that we all know but so many of us fail to execute: eat less, exercise more. It’s simple, but it sure does suck sometimes. Last year, I managed to smite about 20 pounds of bulk and I was pretty proud of my achievement. But I ended up putting it right back on. This year, I’m doing it again, but it’s more about a lifestyle change than a been-there, done-that-before-and-failed diet.

I might’ve been able to get away with eating like an Olympic triathlete a while back but now that I’m the big 3-0 plus a few, I’m not burning fat just sitting down having a thought like I used to. I don’t want to take the blessing of good health for granted, and I want to live to heckle at least one other generation of Harris babies and maybe another after that, sans all kinds of health conditions. But most importantly, I’ve got to set the example for my daughter to be fit on her way to being fierce, too. I say all of this to say: it’s hard to stay on the straight and narrow when my drug of choice is always being shoved onto my plate, but I’ve got to learn how to just say no.

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  • jamesfrmphilly

    it’s less about what you eat and more about your attitude toward food.
    it is your life style that needs to change.

    • MW

      With all due respect, I dont think cases where people have really unearthly relationships are the norm. I do agree though, that it’s a lifestyle: heading to the gym after a long day takes some serious willpower. I was a dancer and athlete all through high school and the moment I got to college I went off the academic deep end and gained a whopping 25lbs.

      Personally, I think when we listen to our bodies as they call for balance and we recognize the difference between thirsty and bored or hungry and depressed and really understand where cravings come from (I.E women and “that time”) that balance will come and slowly, a reasonable weight will come.

      In my studies (and personal experience) I’ve learned that while food is a good part of the process, it’s not the biggest part. Everything in moderation.

    • jamesfrmphilly

      fruits, nuts, grains and vegetables…….

  • Ketta

    I lost 53lbs this past year by taking up running. This time last year I couldn’t run 45secs and now I run 6miles on long run days and 3.5miles on my regular run days. Dedication and a mindset to change ISN’T all you need. I entered into races to compete and stay motivated and it really does help. I also joined a running group, there are plenty of free ones in big cities. I’m located in ATL so I run with a group of women involved with Black Girls Run. Nice to see black women so passionate about working out.