The other day, my son told me one of his classmates said I was old and fat. How rude! I don’t know who this kid is, but I’m not a fan. The thing is I keep saying the same thing. And I’ve got to stop. I’m 45 years old and I’m still trying to shake off that chubby girl.
My worst fear as a chubby kid at St. Gabriel’s Catholic School was that there would be a fire drill in the middle of gym class. Oh god, please, I’d silently pray do not make me go line up outside in my t-shirt and shorts! Suddenly, puberty hit and I was thin. Everyone kept asking what diet I was on. I was embarrassed by the attention and the reason for it. On the plus side I was able to enjoy teenage years full of root bear floats, boxes of chocolate chip cookies with milk, and whatever else I felt like without ever exercising and I remained thin. I also had perfect skin. Life was good. No not really, it was horrid. But that’s a story for another time, maybe.
In my early 20s, I travelled through Europe. In Brussels, they thought I was as skinny as a table leg. I weighed about 45 kilos. I had a boyfriend who worked at a restaurant in the Grand Place. Everyone there was constantly feeding me! I went on the pill. I got my first pimple and put on the pounds. When I came back to America I was 60 kilos!
I went to Weight Watchers. I lost 30 pounds. Even though at 25, I was 20 pounds heavier than my weight at 20, I could fit in the same size clothes. This was because I had started to exercise. It must be true that muscle weighs more than fat.
At 28 years old, I decided to quit smoking. I gained 15 pounds quickly. I had actually been trying for years, but this time it worked. I credit it to taking up running. I am not a lover of exercise. I am not coordinated for step classes, I have two left feet and have never been very athletic. I suck at sports. I always hated gym class, even in high school during my thin years. It was stressful having the sporty girls scream at me because I missed every time. I really suck at sports. Then I remembered that chubby girl was a fast runner. The only thing I ever got picked for in gym class was the relay races. Once, I beat a neighbor boy in an impromptu race down the alley. He claimed he tripped on a rock. Any excuse to deny the fact he lost to a girl, and a chubby one at that!
At 30, I ran the NYC marathon. I still wasn’t thin, but I wasn’t fat. The problem was in my mind. I was always that chubby girl in gym class that nobody wanted on the team. I never felt o.k. with my body. It seemed like gaining weight was so easy. I ran the marathon and gained 5 pounds.
At 32, I got married. I think I am the only bride in history who actually put on weight for her wedding! I was still running, hiking and following Weight Watchers. I was also no longer, young, impoverished and hungry. I had finished college finally, at age 30, with an M.A. in TESOL. I was working full-time at a public elementary school, with a husband who was an engineer. All this meant I had access to food! There was a time when I didn’t. When most of my money went to rent, utilities and my college tuition. This was a time when I ignored my hunger because I couldn’t quiet it. Now, I answered even the tiniest of grumbles from my tummy.
When I had my son at 37, I weighed less post-pregnancy than I did pre-pregnancy. The headaches went away. I had a flat stomach. I never had a flat stomach before, not even when I weighed 95 pounds. Life was good. This time it truly was. I was feeling good, eating healthy and running.
At 40, I decided I wanted another child. I had a hard time conceiving the first one. He is the product of 3 IVF attempts. I had no extra eggs to freeze so we had to start the process from the beginning. It was worse this time, because I had a DVT during my pregnancy. Tests revealed I had a genetic mutation for blood clots (I’m a mutant, people!). This time, the doctors wanted to keep my estrogen down so I would not die, basically. It was not a successful attempt. Well I didn’t die so that was a success. I did not get pregnant either. I gained 15 pounds during the process. I couldn’t lose them. I was eating healthy, attending weight watchers meetings and running 3-4 times a week. I just couldn’t do more. My endocrinologist said it would take drastic life changes to rid myself of the hormones. I did what I could. I would lose the weight and get within 2-3 pounds of my goal weight and then start to go up again. I changed my goal weight two times. Still not there.
This year, I turned 45. Weight Watchers cancelled it’s Monday morning meetings. My meeting. With my tribe. I quit. I was just giving them money and no longer following the program. I did not lose weight with their points program, and when it was introduced I started to gain weight. The Core Program worked for me, but then they stopped that one. They call it simply filling now, but its not the same. So, I was left out on the curb by weight watchers. Then I broke my toe and had to stop running. Now I was laid up on the couch. I started to inch up on the scales. This is where I am today. I am gaining weight in places I never have. I am morphing a new body – A middle-aged body. One I am not familiar with. My old clothes don’t cover up the muffin top!
As I get wider and heavier, I am getting lazier. Working out feels harder. I can do less than I did. I berate myself that I should eat less and move more. The catholic guilt sets in. I can tell you that writing “I will practice self-control” one thousand times does NOT help one control oneself! Still, I believe that is what I need to do. What I need is more will power and discipline. But this little pep talk is not useful. As Gary Taubes explains in his book Why We Get Fat and What To Do About It.
Of all the dangerous ideas that health officials could have embraced while trying to understand why we get fat, they would have been hard-pressed to find one ultimately more damaging than calories-in/calories-out. That it reinforces what appears to be so obvious – obesity as the penalty for gluttony and sloth – is what makes it so alluring. But it’s misleading and misconceived on so many levels that it’s hard to imagine how it survived unscathed and virtually unchallenged for the last fifty years
One thing that never changed for me, even when the numbers on the scale either went up or down, was my propensity to overeat. I am a glutton and a sloth. (There’s that catholic guilt again). I just love to eat. I am compulsive about it. Which it seems, is related to ADD. John Fleming, Ph.D. is quoted in Attitude stating:
Those who live by impulse eat by impulse. Eating compulsively is a main cause of obesity in many adults with ADHD.
I don’t consider myself obese, but my Wii Fit does (damn that thing for judging me). I thought once of joining Over Eaters Anonymous, but a friend told me that they’d hate me. She had gone to one meeting and swore never to return. Today everyone seems to be a hater. Thin people hate fat people. Fat people hate thin people. Plant eaters hate meat eaters and so on. There are so many judgements made. There are haters who say Meaghan Trainor, singer of this summers hit, All About That Base is not fat enough to sing that song.
What the what? Why so many judgements? Why is everyone pointing fingers? I am always telling my son that people come in all different sizes, shapes and colors and that is o.k. Most of the images and comments flying about social media these days don’t support that. Then there’s that mom with three kids hanging off her physically fit form, telling us, No Excuses! And really, I just want to respond with an expletive. But, that is just spreading more hate. Let’s try No Judgements!
As we enter the holiday season of eating and drinking excesses let’s remember that. Enjoy without guilt and judgements.