photo courtesy of

photo courtesy of

You’d think that because I spend less and I eat less, that I’d have no choice but to weigh less. You’d think I’d be walking around (this isn’t going to be PC) like a barefoot and bloated third-world baby. Not so. Some of us it turns out are pre-disposed to slow metabolisms that require huge amounts of fuel in the fire to stay trim; when you can’t afford the fuel, the fire goes out, and when the cheapest kind of fuel is pasta and cereal, your body is going to change—and not for the better.

The first thing to expand when my budget shrank was my waist line. Everything just felt a little tighter—winter weight, I told myself—New Yorkers put on winter weight. Next it became hard to button my pants—bloating, I told myself—I must be retaining water, maybe special lady time is around the corner. When I did manage to button my pants, I looked like too much sausage in too little casing. We all gain a little weight now and again, but when faced with severe muffin top, lying to oneself is pointless; the truth is right there, hanging over your pants.

No one likes owning a closet full of clothes that don’t fit when they don’t have the budget to buy a new wardrobe. One experiences a quiet humiliation; your closet becomes a reminder of who you once were—there hang your 7 for All Mankind jeans, your herringbone Italian blazer with the piping detail and ruched sleeves, your now too tight little black dress, and all the work clothes you bought on sale at Banana Republic and had tailored to fit your body. You begin to mourn your former self and the ways in which you were able to take care of yourself. I used to be a stone-cold fox. But being foxy costs some cash. It took grueling workouts with Gay Gino my trainer, an awesome executive gym, and consistently healthy food choices that included lots of salmon, egg-whites and leafy greens to keep my ass lookin’ like you could bounce a dime off it. (Not that you could, but at least back then my ass looked like something you could bounce.) None of those things are affordable now. Those were all luxuries, I remind myself. We scale down to survive. But scaling down doesn’t mean having to surrender everything. I can substitute beans for salmon and coach myself into working out harder. I can go out less and entertain less and do so much less of everything. But what I can’t do is deny myself a gym membership. Because though having less isn’t stressful, working hard and feeling like you’re getting nowhere sometimes is. So is not being able to fit into your pants without the help of Spanx.

I don’t know about you, but I’m the kind of person that needs the gym. A gym to me is what the Fortress of Solitude was for Superman; it’s a place to recharge, de-stress, and get some solid thinking done. New York doesn’t make it easy when you’re on a budget, but it does offer up two great options. My personal savior is the YMCA. In New York the Y is comparable to a lot of the fancier clubs around town. Depending upon the location, you get a pool, a steam room, towel service and plenty of cardio and weight equipment. The Y also has fitness classes. It isn’t the cheapest deal in town, BUT, if you plead your case and show financial hardship, you can set your own price OR get a scholarship that pays for the year. They’ll also kick down if you have health problems. To find out more, check out, YMCA Financial Assistance. If you’d rather not go through all the hassle, then let the gym facilities of New York City Department of Parks and Recreation be your Fortress. For only $75 you can snag yourself a year membership and work out at any of their recreation centers. The P&R also offers pool access and an assortment of classes you can sign up for. Find out more at New York Parks and Recreation.

Staying skinny in today’s economy is as tough as staying sane, but it isn’t impossible. At least that’s what I’ll be telling myself as I look longingly at my jeans and sing the anthem that gets the fat girls up in the club, I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly, cos my body’s too booty-licious for you babe.