Part of being in my 50th year has been the fun I've had just throwing caution to the wind. Not in a way that will get me a mug shot, or that would require counseling...or even an arched eyebrow (unless you count wearing pink Crocs because that occasionally happens just so you know) but just stepping outside my cautious-first-child-I-think-I-have-a-reasonably-good-sense-of-what-I-can-and-can't-do-comfort zone. Because if there is anything more uncomfortable for me right now...other than being without air conditioning (please refer to yesterday's blogpost for more detailed whining on that subject)...it is getting outside that comfort zone. It has been necessary to get my head around the fact that I'm getting older and that someday I may not be able to do some things I've always wanted to do...
So why not do them now?
Never mind that some of this wanting to live more intentionally wasn't helped along by the DVDs I picked up this week from Costco (transferred from VHS to DVD) and I sat here watching them with tears in my eyes. One of the tapes was dated December1989, and there I was in all of my glory just before Jill was born the next month. On others...I got to see Jill's little face and hear the sound of her baby voice and to see Brian rolling over and being "loved" by Jill felt like it was yesterday. They are now 22 and almost 20.
As I sat there...I realized that as much as I'd like to go back for a while...I'm grateful that I have survived!
I also loved looking back knowing now what I certainly couldn't have known then. That my kids would turn out to be such great kids. That I'd love them more than I thought possible. That Jill would outgrow "cute" somewhere in the 7th grade and grew into "beautiful" instead. That Brian's white blonde curls would be swapped out for brown hair when he turned 16. That Big Dave's dark brown hair would turn "blonde" when he hit his 40s.
Knowing now what I obviously didn't know then gave me quite a paradigm shift as I looked at my amazingly poor videotaping skills and smiled and sniffled my way through some of them. I didn't want it do end...and I'm fairly convinced that I didn't take out the video camera often enough...and I was seriously behind the camera far more than I was in front of it.
I mean, when I did appear...I was this girl with brownish hair (I always have considered myself a blonde, but I was obviously in denial for at least part of the past twenty years) holding a busy two year old (who at two knew how to count to ten, all of her colors and the words to songs I'd forgotten) while I was pregnant with Brian. I have adorable footage of her jumping all around her bed and singing at the top of her raspy little voice because she knew that she had 100% of her Mommy and Daddy's attention. Cuteness on overdrive.
One thing I didn't remember, though, was that I obviously weighed more than I remember weighing. I realized that I am overweight, and (unfortunately) it is much worse now than it was then. But seriously, I've been on my back so hard for the past twenty years trying to lose weight...that I think it is time that I need to just chill out a little bit.
Not abandon ship, mind you...but to try to find something between eating cardboard and an entire six pack of Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs. I've done both of these, you know. And I'm tired. Lately I've been filled with a quiet desperation to put this issue to rest in my life. I do without and do without...and then one day...just give in. The odd thing is...I already know that the war is won. I don't have to suffer this.
I'm just still trying to convince myself of this...and the devil is having a heyday poking me.
I've seen people lose weight by being dedicated, or because they have gotten all jazzed up about running a marathon, or just because they got a diagnosis that scared them straight. I've also had friends who have had gastric bypass surgery, friends with eating disorders, and friends who exercise religiously because they are afraid that a stray pound will hop on there and stay. I wish I had that fear that I seem to be completely lacking...the one that would keep me on the treadmill...because while I was off living life...Occupy Hips and Thighs has been going on all up in here.
I haven't been able to get anywhere near the girl who was so slim many moons ago. What some people know, and what others only suspected, was that "that girl" was so convinced that being thin was the road to happiness that she almost wrecked her health by trying to achieve what was impossible for her.
Sometimes you listen to people telling you that you need to weigh a certain weight...and sometimes they are wrong.
Fortunately, Big Dave was not that person.
Yes, life would be easier for me if I could manage to figure out the magic combination to keep the weight off. I know that it is not at Weight Watchers (which I refer to as "Rehab"...and it worked about as well for me as it does for the stars if the tabloids are accurate.) I sat in Weight Watchers meetings at age 14...and at age 44...I realized that I already knew how to game the system.
I could not bear striking up conversations with people who had lost 75 pounds and were so gung-ho that I wanted to slap them or feed them a Twinkie just to be spiteful. I tired of the endless stars and ribbons, bookmarks and check writing, recipe collecting, applauding for everything...while secretly hoping that the scale wouldn't betray me. Some people need that kind of accountability. I can't have that much of it...or I start losing myself in it.
One week, a chipper instructor was going through her spiel and looking for feedback from our mostly dead-eyed, water-logged, group. Just sitting there...I realized that I just had to speak up. To say that I realized that this was the beginning of the end would be an understatement. I answered all of the questions, explained why to each, and then offered my analysis of the entire lecture. Not in an unkind way, but in a "I've sat through so many of these lectures that I can now recite to you all of the answers and what you should do to fix your life" kind of way that was pretty shocking to the newbies sitting there. It wasn't awkward...it actually made them laugh. But that was my last meeting.
No, I was not invited to leave. I was actually supported. But I realized that when you cross the line and could actually teach the class...it isn't worth sitting in the class. It wasn't like I was going to get a PhD in weight loss. Although, truth be told, I think I deserve one about right now.
I also cannot do crash diets, extreme exercise, or anything where I eat a lot of carbohydrates. The most effective way I know for me to lose weight is to give up sugar, carbs, and most fat, and just survive on fish, chieken and vegetables. In fact, I feel better, it is easy to do for the family (I just add a starch for them) and I don't have some of the unpleasant day to day issues that I seem to have with more regularity the older I get.
So, knowing this...why do I not...as Nike says..."Just Do It"?
I mean, I know that Jesus died on the cross to release me from this prison, and that as Philippians says...and Tim Tebow touted in his eye black at University of Florida for four seasons, "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength..." I also know that I have a whole host of supporters who want me to be healthy and around longer than the trajectory that I'm currently on. I know this because they tell me. They tell me that they love me for who I am and that what I look like doesn't matter to them...but they know that it matters to me. That they are there...will walk with me, exercise with me, pray for me, and even do it with me.
And yet...here I am.
When you have a problem of this magnitude...the desire to change has to come from within. And as a Christian, I trust that the timing will be perfect. I know that I have to claim the strength that I already know is mine in Christ. I do not have to worry about the consequences of failing again...because I believe that worry is just a way of saying that I don't trust that God has my back. I should and do expect miracles in my life and in the life of others for which I pray.
What it really is boils down to this...you have to be ready to deal with the fallout that people inevitably rain on you...anything from "Oh, that diet? You'll gain it all back if you eat carbohydrates." to "You've lost so much...can't you just have this cupcake?" to unwanted attention that you get by people asking almost constantly how much you've lost and how you've done it.
I used to do that all of the time to people, too. Still do, actually. Except coming from someone heavy...people don't seem to mind as much. What they do have trouble with is it coming from someone who is fit and thin. Someone who is farther ahead of them...or who has a metabolism that they can only dream about. I wish these folks would just say to someone that they see doing well..."you look beautiful/healthy/glowing/happy these days...whatever it is you are doing...keep doing it." That can cover anything from weight, to hair, to makeup, to just dressing better. It is non-confrontational...and it doesn't require the 85th rendition of what they are doing and how they are doing it...that day. It also doesn't make us feel like we looked so bad before that people were actually thinking "Oh, honey..."even if they were.
People that gush about how much weight you've lost actually make you feel less attractive...although they are really, sincerely, honestly, trying to make you feel better by being interested in what is going on in your life. But all of that talk about weight loss just makes people who are trying to get through it even more focused on it...as if we aren't obsessed enough.
But then again...I'm not the spokesmodel for overweight women. I can only speak for myself and for those who have told me exactly what I've just written here.
So, I'm stepping out a little bit this 50th year and trying new things. Cooking healthy meals. Using ingredients I've never considered before. Cutting my portions in half (and then sometimes...in half again.) Staying away from anything with the word "fried" or "cake" in it.
And for those of you out there who are sitting in Weight Watchers meetings and succeeding...more power to you. It is a great program, and you'll succeed if you stay with it. But it is not intended to be a thirty year program...and that's what it was to me. For those of you training for a marathon or are religious about your exercise...I admire your dedication. I really do. I've trained for two 60 mile breast cancer walks and completed one (the 2nd one) and 53 miles of the first one (they shuttled us up on the third day to get us there on time to finish).
I don't envision a life where I can never have another taste of something sweet, another steak, or even a bowl of cereal on occasion. But I am envisioning a life where I can finally exorcize those demons that have held me in this prison of either food hyper consciousness or self-medicating with food that really, really has run its course. I know what I need to do, and I know that it works. I've had people praying for me, and I know that a lot of people have my back.
The changes are not going smoothly, though. They are difficult and painful and one step forward two steps back sometimes. I eat when I'm stressed, and I have good days and bad days. But I know that the victory has already been won and all I am doing is wandering around the waiting room waiting for my name to be called.
Today is that day. Again. Every day is actually going to be "that day" because I have to make the right choices every day that I draw breath. I have to eat to live...but I do NOT have to live to eat.
I hope that if we videotape me this summer that I look happy...and that the woman who looks at how I look now will see the happiness and not the extra pounds. Because although they say "You are what you eat..."...you really are so, so much more than that.
And so am I.
Thanks for reading...and for those of you who have been encouraging...even when I have failed...thank you for loving me just the same. To Mom...who I know reads this from time to time...thank you and Ralph for loving me just as I am.