Fat as Hell…

and not going to take it anymore!

Big Girls Don’t Cry

I haven’t seen my mother in over 12 years.

I’ll be honest. Even if I wanted to outline all of the reasons for this here, I don’t think there’s enough space on my screen or characters on my keyboard to capture it all. Like all relationships, the one I share with my mother is complicated and messy. And, certainly, the fact that she lives nearly 3,000 miles away has played a role in our long separation. But the hard truth is that if we wanted to see each other, we would, and most of the reasons why we haven’t made that effort are personal, emotional and too painful for me to share publicly.

I will say this, however…

I left home when I was 16 years old. I left Washington State for my husband, college and North Carolina when I was 19 and I’ve been here for a little over 18 years now. In all of that time, she’s never been here to see me. She wasn’t there when I graduated from college. She wasn’t there when I got married. She wasn’t there when I earned my master’s degree. You name the event. She wasn’t there. For the first few years after moving here, I went home every year. I headed back during the summer and at Christmas… but then, over time, I stopped making the trek out there too. And before I knew it 12 years had past.

And then… about a month ago, she called and said that she’d bought a ticket and that she was coming to see me. In typical fashion, she didn’t ask if it was ok. She didn’t ask if it was a good time. She just said she’d bought a ticket and was coming.

So… for the last month I’ve been both looking forward to and dreading this “reunion.” Of course, there’s a part of me that has desperately wanted to see her, to show her my life, what I’ve built for myself and that I’m ok. But then there’s the other part that’s been equally afraid of all that could go wrong… and believe me, a lot could. So, for a month I’ve tried not to dwell on it. I’ve tried not to think about it at all.  I’ve tried not to worry. And, most of all, I’ve tried not to get my hopes up.

Anyway, she was supposed to arrive on Sunday evening, but the long and the short of it is that she never showed up. I’d gotten a call the night before about how excited she was, but then her arrival time came and went and she wasn’t on the plane.

One consequence of 911 is that now airlines will provide you with absolutely no information about their passenger lists, so I was left helplessly not knowing what had happened to my mother and no one at the airport was able/willing to tell me whether or not she’d ever even boarded a plane that day. It wasn’t until around 3am, and a million phone calls later that, I learned that she had decided not to come. She claimed that she’d attempted to but that flight delays and poor service on the part of the airlines made it seem like “too much trouble.” I guess it was “too much trouble” to call and let me know too.

So… that was Sunday night.  And since then, I’ve done little besides eat and cry. I’ve spent the last two days almost entirely in bed, getting up just to forage for food. I can’t recall everything I’ve eaten, but there was a point when I literally felt so full, I thought about purging — something I’ve never done before. In short, it’s been a miserable couple of days.

I guess the thing that bothers me the most about it all, is that this is the kind of thing she has pulled my entire life. In fact, since she called with the news that she was coming to visit, both my husband and I joked that she probably wouldn’t even show. And yet, when she didn’t, I was completely broadsided. And as a result, I’ve spiraled, again, into a dangerous pattern of overeating to feel better.

I’ve been eating and eating and eating, but I *don’t* feel better.
Rather, I feel worse.

And yet, I’ve got to be honest, I don’t know if I’ll be able to stop yet. Even now, as I type all of this out, I’m fighting the urge to scrap it and just head into the kitchen. I’m not hungry… but there’s a hole in me that needs filling.

And here’s the thing…

I don’t want to be the kind of person who fills those holes with food.
I don’t want to spend the rest of my life letting other people control me.
I don’t want to feel like it’s ok to blame her, or anyone else, for undoing what little I’ve been able to accomplish so far.

As I said in a recent post, I feel like I’m in a strange and unfamiliar place. I’ve attempted to lose weight before, but I’ve never lost as much as I have *this* time. I feel like I’m nowhere near the end of my “journey,” so if there is light at the end of this tunnel, I can’t see it yet. But, on the other hand, for the first time ever, I also feel like I’ve gone too far to turn back.

I don’t want to give up.

Tonight, my husband pulled me out of the bed and made me shower and put on some clean clothes. Then he took me for a drive to the beach with the top down. It was a nearly perfect night… much cooler than most summer nights here and to top it off, after a week filled with thunderstorms, tonight there was a cloudless, star filled sky. As we sat on the cool sand, watching the dark ocean come in, I commented on how beautiful the night was and how my mother was really missing out on something special. As if on cue, David said I was right, but that *I* was the thing she missing out on.

I want so much to believe him.
And I know I have to if I’m going to ever get back on track.

I think a lot of times, people who are overweight struggle with feeling as though they don’t deserve to be thin or healthy or even happy. Self-loathing so often goes along with the obesity package and, as a result, it’s sometimes hard to put ourselves first or to put what *we* need at the top of any list.  Even if doing so means changing or even saving our lives.  We simply don’t believe that we’re worth it.

But we are.  We so are.

And that’s the thing I’m trying to cling to tonight.  I’m trying to remind myself that I am worth treating well.  I am worth all the hard work that goes into losing weight.  My body deserves to be treated with respect.  I deserve to be thin.  I deserve to be healthy.   I deserve to be happy.

Even if my own mother doesn’t think so.

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August 12, 2008 Posted by | losing weight | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Trigger (un)Happy

Lately, I’ve been trying to pay attention to the patterns in my eating, or more specifically, my overeating. It seems like my ability to stay on track, to eat sensibly and to stick to my exercise routine is easily undermined by certain conditions. For lack of a better way to put it, I guess I’ve been looking for the things that “trigger” my tendency to overeat, in the hopes that recognizing these triggers will help me avoid them. I find that being aware of my behavior can sometimes help me curb the negative aspects of it.

Anyway, although I’m sure there are others, this is the list I’ve come up with so far.

Trigger

Description

Me?

Boredom This is pretty self explanatory. You’re bored, so you eat. I see this as being true for me occasionally, but I’m usually able to recognize and prevent this kind of overeating.
Self Loathing You hate the fat on your body, so you look for comfort, ironically, in more food. I definitely see this as being a problem for me. When I’m feeling bad about myself, it’s especially easy to drown myself in food. Without a doubt, I am a glass half full kind of girl which, sadly, often leads to a too full plate kind of meal.
Stress Again, self explanatory. When the going gets tough, the fat go eating. This can be true for me. But I don’t stress *alone* as being a terribly dangerous trigger for me personally. Rather, I think stress in combination with other triggers is truly a recipe for disaster.
Lack of Willpower You just don’t have the mental fortitude to stick to your eating plan. When it comes right down to it, I’m essentially lazy, so yeah… will power, or lack thereof, can definitely be a problem for me.
Fatigue Zzzzzz. Absolutely. Losing weight takes energy, effort and a lot of work. When I’m pooped, it feels nearly impossible to do.
Habit Your lifestyle is arranged such that overeating is a part of your routine. Recently, I’ve realized that this is more of an issue for me than I would have thought. I need a *routine* filled with healthy habits in order to survive. When my routine is disruptive, I revert to the unhealthy habits of old.
Emotional Association You find yourself in situations that feel like a time when you turned to food, so you turn to food again. Yeah. This happens more often than I would like to admit.

It’s funny, but when I look at this list, all laid out before me, it does feel a little overwhelming — as though there’s an awful lot of forces out there, conspiring against me. I mean, with traps like these lying in wait around every corner, it’s no wonder that I fuck up from time to time. However, as with all things, I’m learning that identifying, accepting and facing the problem are essential first steps in conquering them. I’ll never learn to *not* overeat in the face of these triggers, if I refuse to acknowledge their existence and the power that they have over me.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this whole blogging thing it’s that while all of us share a few things in common… we all struggle, we all hate what being fat has done to us and we all want to do better… for every way that we’re similar, there’s at least one other way in which our stories are varied. We’re all different people, with different personality ticks, different backgrounds, different relationships with foods and, I’d be willing to guess, different things that trigger our unhealthy behaviors. Just as each of us have to learn to recognize our own individual recipes for disaster, so too do we have to identify our own unique plan for success.

That said, this blogging thing really does help, doesn’t it?

Each time I stay away for awhile, I’m reminded of all the reasons why I need this. I need the support, the tokens of kindness and the wisdom that each of you so generously shares with me. But most of all, I need the camaraderie. It’s so helpful to know that I’m not alone.

August 10, 2008 Posted by | losing weight | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

The Queen of Denial

As you might imagine, since my last post, I’ve been in a pretty bad place.

I’ve spiraled into a fairly deep funk, and frankly, up until now, I just haven’t been motivated enough to claw my way out of it. I’ve felt like one of those characters from the old Saturday morning cartoons who’s being followed/shadowed by a single, lone storm cloud, while the rest of the world lives in complete and perfect sunshine.

Ok. Perhaps that’s a bit melodramatic.

But I do know this: caring about yourself is hard when it feels like all your efforts have been for naught… and that is exactly how I’ve felt. It’s been one year since I decided to turn my life around, and while I have lost 70lbs in that time, recently it’s felt as though my health has, in many ways, declined. And that’s been a particularly hard pill to swallow because finding my way to a healthier, (rather than simply skinnier, cuter or more socially acceptable), place has always been my *primary* goal in all of this. I realize, of course, that thinking that all my obesity related health problems would simply disappear if I lost weight was, well… simplistic and naive. However, I guess I didn’t really expect them to get worse either. And that’s kind of the kicker. Over the last few weeks, I’ve felt cheated, scammed, tricked, bamboozled, etc… as though I’d invested all my money into something that turned out not to exist. It’s been like The Emperor’s New Clothes, only I’m the stark naked fool.

Of course, I’m not really naked, am I? Or perhaps the better analogy is to say that I’ve been naked for a long, long time. I just haven’t faced it until now.

Like many overweight people, I’ve spent a long time denying that I had a problem. Sure, I looked in the mirror each morning, but I found ways to focus on things other than my weight. Facing the fact that I was killing myself and thereby admitting that I needed to actually *do something* about it was just too daunting, so… for the most part, I flat refused to think about it all. And as a result I completely ignored my body and all of its various cries for help. I did this for years and years. But what’s more, even after I “faced the fat,” as it were, I only really faced the health issues that were an immediate problem. I focused on the high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol, because my doctor made it impossible not to. The other things? Well… I continued to ignore them.

I guess what they say about old habits dying hard is really true.

And, really, when I think about it, that’s probably a big part of why I’ve been so scarce these last few weeks. Something unexpected happened to me when I wrote my last post. When I allowed myself to purge all of the things that were plaguing me, I did more than just “get them off my chest.” I also put them in a place where I couldn’t ignore them anymore. It’s the old, “you can’t unring a bell” thing again. Once they were out there, I had to face them, and that has been hard. Each time I signed into wordpress or tried to read all of the gentle and wise comments that so many of you left me, I found myself panicking. It was like looking in the mirror and seeing all the damage I’ve done to myself, over and over again. Even now, I’m struggling with reading over that post or all of the love that people left for me in the comments. (Seriously, Fat Bridesmaid said she would shave her head for me. If that ain’t love, I don’t know what is).

In the meantime, I haven’t spent the last few weeks with my head completely buried in the sand.

First, I decided to go ahead and take the hormones that were prescribed by the doctor. She indicated to me that I might not have a period the first month that I took them, but I did… and she said that was a good sign. Two more months to go, then we’ll see what happens.

Secondly, I made an appointment with a dermatologist. This was really for my own peace of mind more than anything else, and in the end, I was glad I went. Apparently tricholosists, like the one Jenny saw when she had a similar problem, are few and far between in this country, (the nearest one to me being over 1,000 miles away), so I did some research online and settled for the dermatologist. The bottom line of what he told me was this: a) my hair is thinning and it is not my imagination. This acknowledgment of the problem was important to me. Though I hadn’t told anyone (who could actually see my hair) but my husband about the problem, and his steadfast assertion that he didn’t notice any difference made me feel, at various junctures, like I was going crazy. As strange as it may sound, knowing that I hadn’t completely lost my mind made me feel a bit better. Then he told me b) that my hair follicles were *not* dead or damaged in any way and that they were entirely capable of growing new hair. *whew* He also said c) that there’s a difference between thinning hair and going bald. Going bald means that your hair falls out and doesn’t grow back. Hair thinning, on the other hand, is when your hair falls out more quickly than it grows back. The latter is what is happening to me.

Then we went over my medical history. I showed him all of the previous blood work I’d had, including the recent hormone panel and thyroid check. We talked about the history of alopecia in my family (there is none) and about my recent weight loss. And in the end, he said that he treats a lot of people who lose their hair during periods of extreme weight loss or gain. He said that when your body gains or loses a great deal of its mass that sometimes it shuts down or slows what it considers to be less than “essential” functions in order to focus on other, more pressing, issues. He said that hair production is frequently one of these functions and that he felt strongly that this is what was happening to me. Needless to say, this made me feel a lot better. He also prescribed something for me… a topical solution, (similar to rogaine, I guess) that he said he’d experienced a great deal of success with, (but that doesn’t require endless use and that doesn’t cause you to lose all the hair you grow once you stop using it). I haven’t filled the prescription yet and, to be honest, I’m not sure I will. Just having it, though, is comforting.

So… that’s where I am right now.

I’m not sure I’m completely ready to “get back on the horse again,” but I’m no longer slumped over in a pool of my own tears anymore either. I could say that I’m somewhere in between, but I think, really, I’m a lot closer to feeling “whole” again.

I think one of the mistakes that most people, myself included, who are trying to lose weight make is to constantly try to quantify our success. Sure, we celebrate the occasional None Scale Victory, but for the most part, we hinge everything on numbers. Whether it’s the scale, the tape measure, the never ending calorie ticker or the size on the backs of our jeans, numbers become the sword upon which we live and die. And that’s unhealthy, for a lot of reasons.

Yes. Losing weight is a numbers game. There is math(s) involved and you can’t take the pounds off without occasionally breaking out the calculator, believe me, I know that. But what I also know is that it’s not the analytical part of my brain that enabled me to put this weight on. It wasn’t bad accounting that landed me at 300+ pounds. Like it or not, there’s something in my personality that makes me susceptible to this problem. You can call it emotional eating or whatever, but what I’m coming to realize is that being fat is really just a symptom, and as with any disease, treating *just* the symptoms is a recipe for disaster.

So… now, I find myself in a strange place: somewhere along what seems to be a never ending path… not close enough to the end to see it yet, but too far from the beginning to turn back. It’s been a year since I headed down this road and in that time, I’ve lost some weight. But I still have a long, long way to go. The difference, this time, however, is that for the first time ever, I recognize that, that “long way” encompasses so much more than just the pounds that I have yet to shed. And since they don’t make a ticker to help me measure that kind of progress I can only go by how I feel inside. To that end, I’d be lying if I said I felt good about my progress over the last month. I don’t feel good about all the steps backward I’ve taken while reeling from this. But I do feel pretty good about the steps forward I’ve managed to tick off, and at I know that least one of those steps is a pretty big one.

That said, I’m back. Or, perhaps I should say, I’m on the way back. Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to leave a bit of themselves here for me to find. I can’t tell you how much of a lifeline all of your comments have been to me. I’m so very grateful. Thank you.

August 6, 2008 Posted by | losing weight | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments