Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Easy Peasy

Over the years, I have had many people explain to me how simple it is to lose weight. "Eat less than you burn." "It's elementary...2+2=4." "Just eat carrots." Easy Peasy, right? Bless their little hearts.

When I was in elementary school, I think 7 or 8, the doctor put me on a diet. He left the exam room and when he came back, he looked nervous and concerned. He said he didn't want to make me cry. I thought, "I must have cancer and I'll be dead soon." He pulled out a 1200 calorie diet plan and explained that I should lose weight. I was relieved that I didn't have a horrible disease, but it was still an awkward moment. As I attempted to act casual, I listened as he explained how to simply lose weight. I threw myself into the diet. Constantly thinking about food, how much I could have, when I could have it, how many calories are in this and that. I always had the instructions close by, planning out when and what I was going to eat. I clearly remember eating dinner one day and measuring out 1/2 cup of skim milk with my meal and feeling deprived and anxious. I really wanted it to work, but after a few days, will-power waned and adhering to the guildlines perfectly was impossible.

I can't tell you how many times throughout the next few years I pulled that stupid paper out of the kitchen drawer and tried to live the life of a dieter, obsessively measuring and counting and thinking, filled with anxiety. The days would drag on as I looked at the clock every 5 minutes hoping it was time to eat again. But inevidibly, I would committ the unforgiveable sin and eat too much or the wrong thing. Failure!!!

Then when I was 16, it happened. I lost weight. I don't know how exactly, all I know is that I began to love biking and aerobics and I finally had this strange control over what I put in my mouth. It felt easy. It was thrilling. I finally felt normal.

I did pretty well for many years and then the trials of life piled up and I began packing on the pounds faster and fiercer than ever. At the time I was seeing a counselor who was very thin. She had a habit of looking at her wrist like she was looking at the time, yet no watch was there. My eyes would be drawn to her skin and bones wrist as she explained that the solution to my weight gain problem was to eat carrots or apples when I was hungry. I felt insulted. It is so much more complicated than that. I looked at her in disbelief, wondering if she and her skinny wrist could have any inkling of what it was like to be overweight and be lulled by ice cream and french fries.

And now, I am swallowed up in fat and I want to know why I can't seem to get it together and do what I need to do. I wonder if I have a hearing problem. Someone says, "Eat less, exercise more" and I hear "restriction, obsession, anxiety and pain." Or someone says "Eat carrots instead of cake" and I answer, "Sure, I'd like some carrot cake...with cream cheese frosting...do you have any ice cream?"

I will concede that the answer to all of this is....simple. It is true: Expend more calories than you eat and weight loss is yours. But doing it, finding the motivation, discovering the strength inside yourself, convincing yourself that people are better friends than food, learning to manage the anxiety, the fear, the lonliness, and even the joys of life without food is the challenge. I haven't figured out how to do that yet.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Tommy and the Brother of Ralphie

This morning I was considering taking my blog down. It's like when you feel unihibited and confident one moment and then the next day you realize you may have exposed a little too much of yourself (figuratively speaking :o). But, alas, here I am again.

I have 2 coats. One is my Skinny Coat and one is my Fat Coat. My Fat Coat I don't really love. It was a donation from a former Large Marge and I think it is a Big and Tall Man's coat. The arms are too long and the shoulders too broad but it's the only thing I can zip up these days. My Skinny Coat is a little more taylored to the female body and I like it more, but the zipper is at least an inch away from connecting. I wore my Skinny Coat today. I found myself unconsciously testing the front everytime I put it on to see if it could zip up. Then I would sing to myself, "fat girl in a little coat" (See "Tommy Boy"--90's movie, Chris Farley and David Spade). I sometimes chuckled as the mantra went through my head over and over and over and over and over and over........ At least I think I chuckled. This should be funny, right?

Later today, in my Skinny Coat, I was riding home in the back seat of my friends car and we pulled up to my driveway and I was trying to make a smooth exit. But I was feeling a little like Ralphie's little brother in "A Christmas Story" when he is walking to school in his big, puffy snowsuit. He can't really move except to waddle down the sidewalk. And then I don't remember if the other kids rush by and he loses his balance or if he just falls over into the snow bank, but he's so bundled up that he can't get up again. So there he is, waving his arms and legs, "I can't get up!" And Ralphie runs back to help him up. So here I am, in my 'fatsuit', what little pride I have is on the line, and I had to almost lay down in the back seat to get both of my legs out the door so I could scooch toward the door and hopefully stand up gracefully. I said something like "This might take a minute" and my friend asked "Do you need a push?" I immediately got a visual of a big cartoon, 3-D foot "helping" me out of the car. :p I was amused. I finally stood up and was free of my metal cocoon...all on my own!

I guess if I had a point to my thoughts today it might be that I'm grateful for friends who accept me (fat and all) in my "little coat" and are willing to give me a push when "I can't get up!"

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Intruductions with a Cherry on Top

Allow me to intruduce myself. I'm a 39 year woman who has struggled with weight and food in one way or another for most of my life. My purpose is to share a part of my life, partly for me to be able to vent and partly in hopes that someone else out there realizes that they are not alone. I hope to be as honest as I dare, as this scares the puddin' out of me. I am counting on some anonymity to relieve some fear, and support of friends who read to take care of the rest. And I hope to intertwine some comic relief, as we must laugh at ourselves to stay sane.

Let me explain my current status now. According to my driver's license I weigh 300, but we all know we fudge a little (a lot) on that one. So in short, I'm fat, obese, big-boned, chunky, however we want to explain it (politically correct or not). I obviously have issues with food...complicated and seemingly impossible to resolve. My plan of action at this point in my life is to have a 'treatment team' consisting of a therapist, dietitian, medical caregiver, and to my dismay, an exercise personal trainer person. (I am not opposed to personal trainers, just exercise...it hurts). At this point, I am in the preverbial "rut".

Last night I was reminded that I am not alone. I was reading the blog of an aquaintance of mine. In part, she says, "I just spent ten days in my house with left over pie and it lived to tell the tale. I lived to tell the tale. The pie didn’t scare me. I didn’t feel safer once it was gone. I really didn’t think about it at all. I discovered that pie doesn’t have a voice to call out with. It doesn’t have legs to chase me around the house with, or a presence large enough to follow me to bed. Nor does it have arms to push me towards the bathroom. Pie doesn’t really have much at all, except it tastes good, if you are someone who likes pie."

It made me sob and sob and sob. Why? Because pie (and most other food) scares me. I think about it most of the time, it does chase me around the house and to my bed, and on occasion shoves me into the bathroom, taunting me mercelessly. Food feels like my enemy, when it really should be Switzerland. And I sobbed to think that it's possible to live life without the anxiety of food. A life where you think to yourself, "Oh, I'm hungry, I guess I'll eat" then "I'm full, I guess I'll stop", then a mind that thinks of anything but food until the next time "Oh, I'm hungry". Do people actually live life like that? I was thinking that it must be like going to the bathroom. I don't think about peeing 24/7. I think about it when I have to go and then I don't until the next time. Is that really how eating is supposed to work?

Anyway, I was thankful to be reminded that there are people who would not give me the "deer in the headlights look" if I were to explain how food nags me, hypnotizes me, and imprisons me. And I do not use these words lightly or exaggeratively (is that a word?). This is truly how it feels to me.