Friday, March 4, 2011

The Weight of My Weight

I am struggling. I stepped on the scale and I definitely felt a seismic rumble as the digital numbers flashed up (oh horror) then back down (relief) and then back up again; two pounds since Sunday. I cannot plead ignorance, my husband's de facto position. His immediate response is to question the findings, "This, can’t be right. I don’t know how this could have happened", uttered with a righteous indignation that would fill any politician with pride.

No I do not do this. I know exactly how it happened. After all, I was the willing participant- three packed tortillas with an extra helping of Spanish rice along with my usual cooking companion snack. I try to choose healthy and organic snacks.But like most Americans, I can't seem to stop myself and before I know it the entire container is gone.

For most of my childhood and adult life, I could eat whatever I wanted and I remained small. I was never rail thin since I was blessed with curves from both sides of my family but my weight hovered between 115 and 120 pounds. The largest I ever got was 180 pounds when I was pregnant with my son George but then he was almost ten pounds when he was born. I left the hospital weighing 135 pounds.

The trouble started after I had William. I was almost forty and it felt like I just couldn’t shake the added baby weight. Exercising was tough after I gave birth to him since he was a winter baby and the weather was snowy and brutal and my exercise of choice is running. Once spring began, I tried running regularly but then I was sidelined with allergies. By the time the allergies passed, the temperature shot straight to hot and humid. I ran when I could.

I was not obese and the weight was not very noticeable to other people but I didn’t like the way my clothes clung to me. I didn’t like feeling slight aches and pains where I had never had any before. I didn’t like that I was constantly thinking about food, especially during high stress times when the baby was crying, I needed to cook dinner, my other children needed help with school work, and there were the endless cycle of chores to complete. Since I was always getting a bowl for someone else why not for myself also? Some for you; some for me.

Then when William was well into toddlerhood, we were out with some friends who came up from the city to visit. We went for lunch and then stopped for ice cream. As we took a leisurely stroll through town, my pants split. Thank goodness for clean underwear! At the time, I didn’t make any connection between this accident and my weight. In my mind, I was the same lean athlete who ran every day and raced almost every weekend. The pants were defective, case closed.

Thankfully there weren’t any other wardrobe malfunctions on this scale but I did start to notice a lot of my clothes were defective. A perfectly fine pair of jeans wouldn’t go past my knee. The new pair of pants I bought off the rack without trying on, said my size but for some reason they didn’t fit. I’d never shop in that store again. Shirts felt tight in places and ripped with the simplest movement. I consider myself an intelligent analytical problem-solver but in this instance I was too deep in denial. It was cheap manufactured clothing from China, hard water and my crappy dryer were conspiring to shrink my clothing, and my favorite reason, the new lotion I was using on my skin which acted as an anti-lubricant preventing my pants from smoothly moving up my leg.

But then I went to the doctor for a check-up and found I was 154 pounds. I only ever reached 154 pounds when I had a life growing inside of me. Yikes! I was in a state of panic. In a moment of crisis, some people turn to religion in their moment of crisis, as a writer, I naturally turned to books. I read everything at the library but the advice was overwhelming- eat low-fat, eat low calorie, eat based on your blood type, eat based on your body type, count calories, don’t count calories, weigh every day, don’t weigh daily, keep a food journal, create a spread sheet, drink wine, eat chocolate, eliminate sugar, eat only raw foods, cut out all gluten or meat or dairy, use special Chinese herbs, eat an Asian diet or a Mediterranean diet or a French diet, meditate, pray—you get the idea. Is there any wonder Americans are so confused when it comes to nutrition.

Basically I've distilled these millions of pages of information to: eat less, exercise more. Less crap, more substance. Intellectually, I understand what I need to do, but emotionally I’m resisting. I’m resentful that I have entered this stage of life where I have to pay attention to my weight. I hate knowing there are consequences to having the giant Caramel Latte with whipped cream, I hate that I can no longer eat three slices of pizza and still fit into my jeans.

Enough whining and complaining; it’s time to take action and make substantial changes if I have any hopes of reaching my goal weight of 125 pounds by my birthday in July.

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