Read at your own risk. Things are about to get very real. Things are about to get very deep, and very shallow all in the same moment. Some may be offended by this. Some may call me “shallow and self-absorbed”. Some may think I might need see a physician. That’s all cool with me too. Because it is what is.
I recently came to face the reality that I have gained 50 pounds. Much of it over the past 15 months. There is no real explanation for it. Trust me, I went looking for one long ago. I showed up to my primary care physician one day last year in early summer, and nearly begged her to tell me something was desperately wrong with me that I had gained all this weight. I truly was living no differently. I don’t eat horribly. I put forth effort to eat healthy my whole life. I don’t excercise at all, but what would cause the change?
She humored me, and ran a blood panel. Bless her heart. All within normal limits. I won’t forget the words she said to me for a very long time. “You have to reduce what you are eating. Then when you’ve reduced. Reduce it again”. “bitch”. was my thought. Since that visit, I don’t believe I actually lost a pound. Only added about 10 more.
For months on end, I have looked in my large bathroom mirror mostly naked every morning, and scowled at what I see. I actually stick my tongue out at myself like a 3-year-old might. But it’s not to make me laugh. It’s the mind saying to the reflection “You disgust me”. I’ve had the new experience of learning what it is to have stretch marks all over your body. I’ve counted them. I’ve studied them. Kinda like a broken blood vessel; kind of like a shallow bruise, or a bout of bad acne. However, they don’t look like the one’s I’ve seen pregnant women get. I have to stare at this large flap of skin hanging from my abdomen. How will I ever rid myself of that? Many months ago, I started buying maternity sized clothes online, because it was the only size I felt would certainly cover my belly. To make sure my midriff wouldn’t show at the office because my pants don’t fit, and my shirts don’t come down low enough.
Maternity tops and tanks fit for a little while. My stomach still exposes now. It was not the answer I hoped for. I spent $650 dollars on my credit card last year on pretty much a new wardrobe from lingerie all the way down to shoes. Trust me, $650 spending sprees on one income, is nothing to blow off. All of the purchases in a very comfortable size up from what I wore in the stores. Only the shoes have survived. Even the bras I bought hurt to wear now. And those were a size them the ones before. Who knew your breasts can enlarge past puberty?! Never me!
My clothes actually hurt to wear. Some days recently, I had that type of distraction at the office where you were just imagining getting in the door so you could strip off these horrible clothes. What I am describing is a pair of dress slacks also part of that $650 shopping spree.
I’ve seriously contemplated taking “Shame” photos. Meant for someday like a before-and after. I’ve contemplated putting them on Instagram where I am not active, so the world can shame me for how much I’ve let myself go. Maybe I would enlarge some and hang them up in my house,and reflect back on them when I make progress. You had a great body at one time. You squandered it. You let it all go. “How dare you”.
I was listening to a talk-radio show recently.A woman from the city that I live called in. The host of the show, as many of them are, is a comedian so they wise-cracked some joke about whether she was overweight or not based on the minimal lifestyle details she shared; and the fact she said she lived in Los Angeles. ”
Her answer was so dumbly.. profound to me! “I live In Los Angeles. I pretty much have to skip a few meals each day for people to even talk to me”. I know I smiled in laughter instantly But did I feel her comment deeply! “sister, you aren’t truly kidding”.
I’ve gotten help as of the last month. I have a registered dietician working with me every other week, and a personal fitness trainer working with me as many times a week as our difficult schedules can align. I feel proud of this step. I really need the help, and I hope I have communicated that.
My dietician is a wonderful woman with great training, credentials, and a great reputation. She has a very full schedule of clients! She gives me bullet points to work on between appointments. I love bullet-points. Definitely my focusing/organizational tool. One of those is to log all of my food. I’ve chosen to use an online app that I’ve had for five years (previously mentioned in other blogs). I then have agreed to hand over my iPhone to her during our appointments. Do you know how vulnerable it is to even had someone your phone? But I am. She judges nothing, even when I picked probably the MOST unhealthy meal at the Olive Garden, and only ate half. No judgement Do you know how stressful and frustrating it is to log everything you’ve put in your mouth? I feel a very adolescent rebellion rise up some days. “I am not accountable to anyone but me. No one tells me what to do. Screw this!”
Which to be honest, probably is the first train car on this runaway train of out of control weight. Being in total control is a big theme of my life in this stage. I have my own small home. I am accountable to no one in my personal life. I work as late (or not) as I want. I sleep as late as I want when its responsible to do so; I eat what I want when I want; I play my music as loud as the speakers allow, I clean my house and make my bed–or not. More than once these past few years, I’ve realized I am n a minority. I am a 30s career woman with no liabilities. Sort of joking, but I answer to no one. I will watch TV with no pants on as much as I like. You only wear pants when you think someone else will be offended if you don’t!
What I find to be really helpful to are these things: 1. She always asks if she can weigh me at our appointments. I would think she wouldn’t ask. Doesn’t she just expect to do that? Isn’t that what everyone is there for? No, she asks. She also uses a pretty advanced scale that measures more than just weight. Body composition, body fat percentage, BMI. But it also doesn’t SHOW you the weight! She has to tell me if I have lost, gained, or stayed the same. I am not permitted to see any numbers. This is so relieving to me.
Numbers drive me crazy! and not just because I am useless at AND hate math! But every time I pick up my phone to use this app, my eyes are drawn to the top corner to see “How many calories are left for the day in your budget?” I’ve even logged things thinking I would sit down and eat it, but deleted it when I saw it “Spent” too many of my few daily calories. AND– because I have begun my weight loss, every time I record weight, it will actually REDUCE my daily calorie allotment. Bigger bodies need more calories to function. Those that weigh less actually NEED less. So, as I lose weight, to keep to my “Set goal” of weight loss, they continue to cut the daily calories I am allowed in the “budget”.
I can already feel myself spin mentally when I think that I’m already hungry, and my calories are going to continue to reduce. Today, for instance, I was enough aware of what I was feeling to know that I was SCARFING my lunch. And it was not for the fact that my lunch breaks are only 30 minutes most days. I was hand-over-hand, I couldn’t get it in fast enough. And then I instantly felt guilt and shame again! I logged the half-turkey sandwich and the 1/2 cup of cooked cauliflower I brought with me. I think the app doesn’t understand serving sizes. Because it wants to tell me that 1 cup of cauliflower that is sautéed in 2 tablespoons of olive oil has around 300 calories. Does that seem fair? My calorie budget said I only had 285 calories left for dinner. And that’s with only eating 55 calories for breakfast. Lunch cost me 661 calories?! Hardly seems worth it.
And my “witching hour” seems to be the moment I leave work. My dietician are having many conversations around this issue. I am never more hungry during the day then the second I leave work. I have a few theories on why this is. I told her that I think one contributing factor to my problem is that I literally will here a voice in my head say when I eat something I really enjoy, “You worked really hard today. You Deserve This” As I bite into a delicious bakery cookie. She stopped me right there and said, ”
You can’t view food as a reward. You can’t view food as a ‘treat’. Don’t even use the word ‘treat’. My kids will ask me if they can have this,– or that. I won’t say to them, ‘Oh, you want a cookie’. I’ll say to them ‘You want some junk to eat.“Because that’s what that is”. And without skipping a beat, I said, to her, “GLAD I DONT LIVE IN YOUR HOUSE! GEEZ LOUISE”. She back-pedaled and explained why she feels its important to shame her kids into thinking nothing they could want could ever be healthy for them.
In my next installment (which may be written VERY soon), I will talk about my friend Katie. I am purposely not spelling Katie’s name correctly, because she has a HUGE, thriving, and monetizing presence in social media. Katie is also a marriage and family therapist with a specialization in Eating Disorders. Certainly not as a client, she has offered me some amazing insights into what I am going through, that is simi to what her clients go through. I will work those thoughts out next.