Fat and Unemployed is No Way to Live
‘Galatea’ is a columnist writing about her experience looking for work after her recent downsizing. Previous entries in her series can be.
It took me a few weeks to stop spending all my free time lying face down in my bed after I sent out my resumes, thinking about how much my life sucked now that I didn’t have a job. The pizza boxes and sodas clustered around my bed like tiny mountains, and occasionally I’d roll over onto my back and onto a pile of laundry that I was too unmotivated to fold.
Occasionally I’d leave the house to have lunch with a contact at some fancy restaurant, smiling and acting upbeat, but to my dismay I discovered that in time, all my business clothes grew tighter and tighter.
Hey, you lazy fatass, I’d think to myself. If you keep eating like that, you can kiss your job prospects goodbye.
Nom, nom, nom, slurp, nom.
You know why? Because your business clothes don’t fit you! Who wants to hire Jabba the Hutt?
I crammed more pork rinds in my mouth.
And Jesus! Look at your room! Your business cards are everywhere on the ground, there’s boxes and paper in front of the door, and every night you’re cuddling with a boyfriend made of old laundry.
“Hey! Ben Folds and I love each other,” I retorted.
Oh how cute. You gave it a name. That’s pathetic.
This went on for nearly a month, and it wasn’t helped by the nearby jumbo slice restaurant, where I could get a pizza the size of my leg for three dollars.
Then my sink broke and was clogged up with water.
“Oh, no, how horrible, my sink broke and I can’t cook at home. Looks like I can’t do anything but eat this cheap fried chicken.”
What about that damn gym membership you were crying about when you lost your job?
Turns out that I still had it. Every month it charges money to my credit card, which I’d forgotten. I guess I forgot a lot of things that month, like the fact that I had to clean up my room like a normal person and get those old business cards off the ground. Some of them were from contacts, but the rest were mine. I handed in my box of business cards when I left the office, but weeks afterwards I kept finding my cards in random places—purses, jacket pockets, wallets, and once in my shoe, with my name and old title emblazoned.
After a while I stopped being depressed and started cleaning my room, probably due to the realization that one, life still happened whether I was depressed or not, and two, Ben Folds would never love me back.
I sorted papers with furor, cleaned every window and threw out bags of trash, but kept my old business cards on my dresser—possibly to burn in anger while I shouted meaningless curses at my former employers. I was either going to burn them, or throw them off a roof with an increasingly flabby arm in one angry, cathartic release.
Meanwhile, I started going back to the gym, at first for the free yoga classes to counter the consistent state of anxiety over the future. It helped a bit—I had something to look forward to every day, and the voice of a soft-spoken yoga instructor can give my brain a massage by itself. For a while, I thought this was a good thing—until the day that class was somewhat empty and I could see myself in the mirror for the first time as we did vinyasas.
My stomach undulated over my yoga pants with a baby made of pure fat. I’d stupidly worn a tank top, so I could see that my arms had bloated into soft curds. My face puffed, my back squished , and my butt…it was a tragedy.
I’d been a high school varsity athlete. I could squat my weight and a half. Last summer I looked like an action hero. What the hell happened to me?!
I TOLD YOU I TOLD YOU I TOLD YOU
I knew that I’d eaten badly and laid in bed all day, but this was unacceptable.
I stared at the Stay-Puft Woman I’d become, and slowly but surely, something shifted in my mind. I would not stay like this. I’d get my old body back. I’d climb mountains with nothing but ropes, run marathons, hoist hundreds of pounds of iron over my head. I’d eat clean, like I’d done back in college—raw vegetables and turkey burgers. I had time—I could be here in the gym for three hours a day. I knew how to be my own trainer. Why the hell not?
The beauty of my newfound resoluteness was that I had complete control over getting back to normal. I could send my resumes out like so many messages in bottles and wonder whether someone out there liked me back. In the gym, however, I knew that if I put the work in, I’d get something tangible in return, and for the first time in a long, long time, I had certainty in my life.
Each day I go to the gym with a plan for the day: box jumps, squats, farmer’s carries, with specific numbers of weights and reps and intervals. I do a new routine every day, following a specific order, as many times as I can before I fall over.
I write the routines down on the backs of my old business cards, which fit in my pockets and don’t fall out as I sprint and grunt. At the end of the day, six days a week, I pin each card on a corkboard at home to track my progress. By the time I run out of business cards, I’ll be back in fighting shape, strong and fast and looking like I can take on the world.