Category Archives: The Scale

I Know I Can Do This, Which Is Why It Seems So Hard

Sometimes knowing you’re capable of doing something is the biggest obstacle.

Eleven years ago, feeling out of shape and unhappy with my body, knowing my emotional eating was out of control, I took myself to a Weight Watchers meeting. I got on the scale and nearly passed out in horror, but when the stars receded from my vision, I pushed blindly ahead. Determined, blissfully ignorant.

I lost 70 pounds in two years.

I had no idea what I could do, so there were no expectations. I just did what I needed to do. I was young, single, making enough money to live pretty well. Success came easily. I joined a gym; I had time to go to the gym, three or four times a week. I started practicing yoga. I packed lunches, I carried a water bottle with me on the Subway. I walked everywhere.

Flash forward to now. I’m working 50 plus hours a week just to cover expenses. I got married, had a baby, moved from the walking-friendly urban outlying community to the drive-everywhere suburb. I don’t like my job, and I’m frustrated by a lot of things in my life, and the emotional eating has crept back up on me.

Recently, I went back to a Weight Watchers meeting. For probably the sixth time since the initial loss, I went back. I have more to lose now than I did then, and a decade of years working against my metabolism.

And my leader said, “You’ve done it before. You know you can do this.”

And I thought, yeah, I’ve done it before. I know exactly how hard it will be. Eleven years ago, I had no idea how hard it would be, so I just plunged in.

So much in my life is difficult right now, adding another layer of struggle seems crazy. But, last year I lost 20 pounds, so I’m on a downward trend. It seems like just the time to give the snowball a push, let it roll. Maybe try to make it less about struggle and difficulty and more about embracing what makes me happier.

Feeling good in my jeans makes me happier. Horsing around with Felix and not being winded makes me happier. Feeling in control of my emotional reactions makes me happier. Hell, playing on my WiiFit makes me happier.

Sometimes knowing you’re capable of doing something is the biggest obstacle. At which point you have to say, “Get the hell out of your own way!”

So, it’s not going to be about recreating the loss from eleven years ago. It’s going to be about reclaiming myself and my joy.

I’ll make a detour, go around the obstacle, look back at it, and say, “You’re behind me now.”

Or so I hope.

A Weighty Bucket

I’ve been reading a ton of responses to the whole Maura Kelly Fatties debacle at Marie Claire.

How could I not? I’m a woman in my thirties who struggles with her weight. I’m on Twitter, I read blogs. This whole thing is all over my social media plate. With sour, bitter sauce on the side.

I’m not going to talk here about fat acceptance or treating clinical obesity or eating disorders or cancer or alcoholism or any of the other hot button topics which are springboarding off from the aforementioned train wreck of a fashion magazine blogger’s desperate attempt to grab any attention, even negative attention.

I’m going to talk about me. This summer I lost 25 pounds. It took six months. It is a drop in a bucket I carry with me constantly. A bucket which has been full of the weight I’ve lost and gained, full of tears shed over boys who only liked skinny girls, tears shed over skinny girls with mean streaks who picked on me when I was younger, full of a love of good food, and an addictive personality which never took to cigarettes, drugs, or alcohol. Instead, eating. It’s a weighty bucket.

I know, bone deep I know, that I need to take the situation in hand and get myself into some semblance of shape. I know, probably as well or better than a nutritionist how to do this. Losing weight safely and successfully, at least in the shorter term, has been a part of my life since forever. I know I need to find the time to exercise. I know I have to stop grazing when I’m bored and frustrated.

I know. God damn it.

People talk all the time about how we need to make the obesity issue about health over aesthetics. For those of us who struggle with weight, really struggle, with more than the average 15 pounds people wish they weren’t carrying around, how do you untangle the bound up threads of body image, eating disorders, food addiction, and societal pressure to get to a place where you can love yourself enough to start on the long road to healthier?

I tried an exercise a few weeks ago listing the physical attributes which I find attractive in myself.

They were all true.

Were I to begin a list of the attributes which I find unattractive? It would quite literally never end.

And yet, somehow, I am expected to take time away from a 50 hour a week job, full time parenting, my tentative writing efforts, and some semblance of a social and family life to care for myself. That takes a lot of self love, a lot of commitment to my own cause. And a lot of money. I have no funds for a gym, or for expensive shoes or equipment. I had it in my single twenties, funds and commitment. I was a foxy creature for a few years there. How cruel that the knowledge that I was once that healthy and gorgeous is like a sore that won’t heal. A failure. As now that girl, who was never skinny, but lean and curvy and confident, she taunts me from the dusty corners of memory.

Sometimes it’s just easier to make a cup of tea, have a slice of toast, and read another blog. Write another vignette. Play with my small boy. Not get into the yoga pants and do something. Not run. Or cycle. Or whatever. I am not so heavy that I cannot dance, do yoga, run with my son, climb stairs. I can see my toes. But I can’t do those things for as long as I’d like to, and I don’t like very much of what I see when I look down at my toes.

And then? There are the loving people in my life. The ones who know the woman inside the body, who see that I am generous and caring, that I am silly and sweet, that I am fierce and loyal. They see me far more kindly than I see me, and they say, “You are beautiful.” And I want so desperately for that to be enough.

So, I wake up every morning, and I pack up a healthy bag of lunches and snacks for myself and my small boy, and I promise to drink my water, to make better choices.

And then, I read a column like Maura Kelly’s and I can’t decide whether I want to crawl into a hole and die or come out fighting. What I do, is drop the column in the bucket, along with the 25 pounds lost, the weight I still wish to lose, and the tangled ball of emotions and tears, pick it up and keep carrying it. I will keep carrying it for the rest of my life, even if I should find myself at some ideal weight, some ideal body image. The bucket will be with me forever.

Nice Rack

I was reading the email recap from my Saturday meeting, which I skipped after checking in, and one of the exercises suggested was to make a list of positive attributes about yourself, but to limit yourself to only one personality trait. The rest had to be positive body image items.

Talk about a challenge. In recent years, I have not been proud of much about this physical shell of mine. I have, however, been making progress, slowly, but surely.

And I have been all about the sharing and being brave and vulnerable here lately, fiction, photos, poetry, so here I give you my list of things I love about me, starting with the one personality trait-ish item.

I am an Aries, an astrological child. Benignly self-centered, imaginative, determined, playful, trusting, delighted by the world around me, quick to anger, quick to forgive.

I love that my third and fourth fingers are bowed slightly towards each other. I have strong, competent, worn hands. I am proud of them, even if they are not ladylike.

I love my feet. Strong, sure feet, though I am neither particularly graceful nor elegant in my movements. I have long toes and nice arches, and in a pinch, I can pick things up without using my hands.

Despite being a brunette, the tips of my eyelashes are blond. With mascara on, I always surprise myself.

I love the freckle on my lower lip. Just to the left of center. You have to know to look for it. It’s like a secret, hiding in plain sight.

And?

I have a great rack.

The Fat Tax

Marzipan says it better than I could have.

Crave-y Rabid Boar

I have been all kinds of crave-y lately.

As with many behavior changes, when I start out, it’s hard. For the first two weeks I was back on Weight Watchers, I literally wanted to EAT EVERYTHING THAT WASN’T NAILED DOWN. Seriously. It was gross. But I stayed on track, I made smart choices, I stacked the cabinets and fridge in my favor.

And I lost.

And as the weeks went by, my body adjusted to fewer, more nutritionally dense calories, and I stopped wandering the kitchen like a rabid boar.

And I lost some more.

So, I started exercising. Just some WiiFit in the afternoons while Felix was napping. It was hard, and I was sore, but it was fun. I know. I know. Fun? Seriously. Fun. Exercise packaged as play. Whodathunkit? So, I started doing it more, and daily, and now I’m challenging myself to faster, more, yes, oh, yes, more, faster… wait. What? Ahem.

And I lost some more. I hit a small weight loss milestone. I stepped up my goals.

And promptly fell on my ass.

This week, in part because hormones are tricky wee pests, and partially because I am just a teeny bit nervous and stressed about my new job which starts on Monday, I have, again, been eating everything that isn’t nailed down.

This doesn’t bode well for my trip to the scale tomorrow. But I will go. Because accountability, to myself, even if I show it by being accountable to a receptionist at a Weight Watchers center, is at the core of why I’m making these behavior changes. I am responsible for keeping this body healthy. When my body is healthy, I am happier, more focused, a better wife and mother, a better nanny. I am the only one who can accomplish this for myself. I cannot do this if I’m too busy scarfing down pretzels and macaroni and cheese leftovers.

Which is why I put down the string cheese and the chocolate cookies, and wrote this post.

Also, today is my 5th Wedding Anniversary. I love you, hon!

I Been Locked Out

It happens to everyone, right?

You go to your Weight Watchers meeting, have a successful go on the scale, collect your stars, and head out for the grocery store. En route, you call your husband so he can be proud of you. (You need immediate third-party validation of your accomplishments, of course, and your toddler isn’t providing sufficient appreciation for your 1.6 pound weight loss.) He is duly proud. You hang up. You park the car at Stop & Shop, check your list, grab your bag, get out of the car, open the back door, drop your bag on the bench seat, haul out the toddler, unknowingly bump the lock button on your remote, hug your toddler, assume you’ve grabbed your bag, and that it is, indeed, on your shoulder, bump the car door closed with your hip, and nearly vomit in panic at the cheeky beep! of your car arming itself against invaders.

I happens to everyone, right?

It sure happened to me yesterday.

There I was, standing in the parking lot, with Felix (thankfully!) on my hip, looking into my locked car, which contained my keys, wallet, cell phone, and AAA card.  What struck me as funny was that my second impulse, after nearly vomiting, was to try the door handle. It’s locked! Armed! Why would I try the handle? And yet, I did.

Okay, I think. We’re at a grocery store. They have telephones. Yes. I am a competent woman. I can fix this.

I took Felix inside, and asked customer service if we could call AAA from their phone. They obliged. It took remarkably little finagling, given that my membership number was locked in my car, but I’m fairly certain this isn’t the first time this has happened to someone. In a jiffy the roadside assistance truck came cruising into the parking lot. He had that car open in a snap. He also had a cute smile.

I digress.

We finished our shopping, and went home. All was well. I am still mildly embarrassed.

Two years ago, I wrote a ranty post about this same Stop & Shop, and I’m pleased to say that this time, everyone was great, and their help was much appreciated! It’s nice to be able to reverse my position once in a while.

A Doctor’s Word

I was talking with (okay, emailing with, but let’s not split hairs) my Weight Watchers buddy today, and she told me a story about her doctor that got me thinking.

As part of this whole love-my-body, self-care trip I’m on, I’ve been trying to go back and pinpoint when, and more importantly, why my relationship with food and my body image went wrong. It’s a multifaceted issue, not one easily dissected in a blog post, but one particular event stands out in my mind.

When our family practician retired, my Mom continued to take us to the woman who had taken over for him in the office. It made sense, the offices were familiar, and finding a new doctor is a huge hassle, so why not.

This woman, we’ll call her Dr. G to protect her, was no MD ingenue. She’d been around a while. This probably made my Mom more confident in making the switch. The first time I went to see her, I was a young teen. Maybe thirteen or so. She examined me, frowned, wrote on her chart. She released me to my mother with my health form for school in hand, my Mom payed for the visit, and we left.

Somewhere during that process I looked at the medical form for school. This is what I saw, on a piece of paper that would be in my file. At. School.

OBESE.

In reality, it was one of three checked off items in a long column, but in my head, in my heart, it looked that. Huge. Red. Seething with shame.

I was fat.

I was too ashamed to ask my mom what she thought. The doctor hadn’t said anything to me. She’d just left a ticking time bomb of horror and fear and shame in a teen-aged girl’s hands.

When I think about it, I still get a swooping sense of vertigo and burning embarrassment. Looking back on it through far older and hopefully wiser eyes, I feel rage for that girl. Silent and horrified that she’d both betrayed and been betrayed by her body.

You see, before that I knew that I wasn’t the skinniest girl in school, but I wasn’t the fattest either. I wasn’t super into sports, and I had developed a few dangerous eating habits due to the availability of crappy food both in my school’s cafeteria and at the house I went to after school for a few hours before my parents got home from work. I had a pretty strong sense of self at that point. I can see it start to erode from that day until some time in my twenties when I found myself again.

Seeing that word, with no actual knowledge to back it up made me retreat into the fat-girl corner. If you’ve ever been a fat girl, you know about the corner. It’s quiet and dark and lonely, and no one notices you.

Ultimately, I was too much of an extrovert to stay there, so I became the happy, funny, smart girl in order to combat the feelings of inadequacy that develop from poor body image and general teen-age angst. I was akward about my body, which translated to awkward with boys, so boys weren’t interested in dating me–which is a feedback loop of misery. Even if they didn’t know it at the time, I was an emotional molotov cocktail, and I thank my friends and family for loving me enough to keep it from breaking open and destroying me.

I wonder now, would things have been different if the doctor had said to me, “I’m concerned about your weight. I’d like to see you try to get more exercise. How about riding your bike? And I want to help you make better choices when you eat. Try more fruits and veggies, and less snacks.”

I’m fairly certain the teen-aged me would have been embarrassed, dismissive, and surly. Surely, though, after a conversation like that, the word, the awful word, might not have had such a lasting impact.

It’s very likely I would have struggled with my weight no matter what, but that secret pain, just under my skin, never made it any easier.

The Knight Errant, Just As I Am

I’ve tagged all my weight and body image posts with “Knight Errant” since I first broached the topic. I think that it’s because I see myself, wandering through different attempts to work though my difficulties with food and eating and fitness, always wanting to prove that I am worth my ideal body, but ultimately not loving myself enough to follow through.

from Wikipedia:

A knight-errant (plural: knights-errant) is a figure of medieval chivalric romance literature. “Errant,” meaning wandering or roving, indicates how the knight-errant would typically wander the land in search of adventures to prove himself as a knight, such as in a pas d’Armes.

Back in January, I hinted at a secret project with a projected end date. That date came and went this past Saturday, and while I didn’t post any celebratory updates, I actually succeeded.

I didn’t succeed in any of the ways that I thought I would, but I think the ways in which I did are more constructive and positive.

I set out, 129 days ago, to lose some of the post baby weight and get in better shape before my 15th high school reunion. That, technically, didn’t happen.

Here’s what did happen: I gained 10 pounds, and came to a decision. I must not hate myself for being overweight anymore. I cannot continue to want to be thin because this is better. Instead, I want to be healthier because I deserve the best health I can achieve, for myself, for my family. I want to be a Mom who can run and play with her young son. I want him to have a positive role model and a realistic image of womanhood, not someone starving herself to be thin because thin is better.

That decision prompted me to return to Weight Watchers meetings nine and half weeks ago. I’ve been paying attention to physical hunger, to why I reach for food, and what I reach for. I started taking care of myself, dressing the body I have now, and forgiving myself when I make bad choices.

I got the opportunity to test drive a WiiFit about a month ago, and a funny thing happened. For the first time since I can’t remember how long, I’m excited about exercise. I’ve been on that balance board more than twenty out of the last thirty days. I’ve lost the ten pounds I gained back, plus one and a half more. The WiiFit tells me I am stronger, more physically balanced, and I am more attuned to myself than I’ve been in a while. I am enjoying becoming healthier.

I recently reread an old post in which I come clean about food and addictions and some of my struggles. I had a flash of wisdom there, and I’m going to try to remain mindful of that while I’m loving myself–in the immortal words of Bridget Jones and Mark Darcy–just as I am.

115 Days

Just a quick note to let you all know that I’m still working on that project of mine. I had some trouble getting motivated to start, but I think I’ve got a plan. I’m well into it now, and it seems doable.

Thanks for keeping me accountable, simply by reading.

The Wagon Came ‘Round Again, So I’m Climbing Back On

Do you ever have the feeling there’s a zamp in the lamp? No wait… That was Felix’s naptime story… (Yay Dr. Seuss!) I’ve been in a decline since the whole job thing exploded on me, and it’s physical, too. I’ve put on more weight, I’m more out of shape… I’m too broke to join a gym or go back to WW meetings, so I’ve let it slide. Bad idea, right?

Well, I found a free site for food journaling (something, which I know doesn’t work for everyone, but it very much works for me), and registered myself. I’ve spent a lot of my free time today getting it set up, and documenting my meals and activity. I even hauled myself out and spent an hour and a half raking the lawn (more tomorrow! love those leaves!), which was nice, because Felix and I, and the dogs, could be outside, and I was still getting a workout.

I’m going to try it for a week, and reevaluate its usefulness. I’ll report in on that here, in the name of full(ish) disclosure. Wish me luck.

Also, I might have some more interviews… fingers crossed.