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My Fat Story (part 2)

February 10, 2012

Losing weight has very little to do with the scale these days. It has more to do with happiness, acceptance and “keeping up with the Joneses”, a phrase I’ve only just learned so am trying to use as often as possible. The problem, as with big houses and overpriced pants, is that it never ends up being what you thought it would.

I never said it out loud but it surrounded me at all times like Pigpen’s dirt cloud. It was the misguided sense that if I lost weight everything would be better, my life would make sense, I’d work more, and my marriage would have a Christ style resurrection. Imagine my disappointment when I lost forty pounds and nothing happened. I wasn’t any happier and my marriage still sucked. I did work more but that’s not enough. I figured out in the time it takes to step on a scale that forty pounds had not been the answer to anything.

In the beginning I worked hard and focused on the numbers. I learned portion sizes and did the suggested workouts in Portion Savvy. I even started to enjoy the simplicity of a good hard cardio session and weights. Eventually I could afford to stop thinking about it. The problem was that I was unable stop. Everything was based around this new food plan. I would think and plan every waking hour around what and when I would eat and workout. I was driving myself, and everyone around me, crazy.

I don’t know who suggested I go back to the barn, most likely the ex-husband. It could have been anyone though, anyone who watched me tear up every time show jumping came on television. I rode for a while and went to a show as an amateur. I hated it. As it turns out, for me, ribbons just don’t do it. I liked the working part of it much better. It wasn’t long after that I picked up some lessons for myself and discovered that I loved teaching riding as much as doing it. (I’d like to note here that running around in the dirt for a few hours every day and riding multiple horses burns a ton of calories.) Things started coming together. I found a passion and a focus. I was also cleaning up loose ends of things I’d “always wanted to do”.

I enrolled in night classes at UCLA extension just after the 2000 election. I was embarrassed that there had been so much I didn’t understand in regards to my own government so I took Introduction to American Politics. Obsessed is an understatement. I was elated on the day of the class and I’m a big fan of homework and studying and books and school supplies so it was easy to see that this was a missing piece of my personal puzzle. The following quarter I enrolled in two classes, then three and after that I added classes at a local community college to fill in my general education requirements. Remember how I was off to the races after that thigh comment? Well, I was off to the races here but this time I was winning. More than that, I was living. I was one hundred percent involved in my life. I was focused and excited to get up every morning.

I had created a world for myself in which I didn’t have time to sit around and eat solely because I was bored. I was never ever bored. I ate for fuel ninety eight percent of the time. The other two percent was reserved for holidays and chocolate pudding. (I love pudding in ways that I cannot express.) It worked.

Not only did I avoid eating for all the wrong reasons but I also looked at the scale in a different way. It had become a stop over instead of my final destination. I continued to weigh myself every day and record the number but whether I was up or down a few pounds didn’t matter, I’d shrug my shoulders and keep on going either way. I had bigger okra to boil.

Without naming it, or even meaning to, I’d made a lifestyle change. In the past diet A, B, or C had been the end all be all of my existence and even then the plan was to eventually be able to go back to eating whatever crap I wanted. “Stop thinking and start living” was the biggest lesson I learned. In my experience it’s most difficult to lose weight when all you think about is food.

The first time I really processed that I’d lost weight was a morning like every other. I got on the scale and did a double take. Then I stepped off and back on, I shook my head, closed one eye, shifted my weight and shouted “SHUT UP!” before getting off and back on one more time. My first thought was how relieved I was that the dry cleaner had not, in fact, stretched out and ruined my favorite shirts. (Luckily or not I kept them, as they would fit just fine a couple of years later.) After that I went right back to my routine. The only real noticeable difference being that I had moments when I would see and actually like photographs of myself.

Let’s fast-forward a year or two, shall we? Based either on the weight loss or my resulting confidence or, more likely, neither I booked a film that shot in Atlanta. It was there that I smoked my first cigarette in six years and there that I discovered that alcohol was not the devil. Previous to that trip even a virgin pina colada could send me into a full blown panic attack based on the idea that it might accidentally have alcohol in it. I have wasted a lot of money on tossed out virgin cocktails and non-alcoholic beers. Too ashamed to admit my fear I ordered a beer one day at lunch. My lips went numb straight away and I liked it. I had another and tried not to panic about the calories. (I guess I wasn’t that cool about it all after all.)

As part of the above fast-forward we fast-forwarded past a divorce. I didn’t want you to think I was a harlot! Moving on, I met a boy. He was gorgeous. His eyes were the same blue that sits inside plastic soda caps. He had freckles across the bridge of his nose sprinkled just so. He also had really nice teeth. Being light years behind my peers in emotional/relationship maturity I barely noticed the Axe Body Spray or the fact that he still lived with his mother. I slid right by the inconsistencies in his stories because I just couldn’t believe that anyone would lie. I was incredibly trusting and naïve. I took everything at face value. I tell you all of this to help you understand what an easy target I was at the time and why he had the power over me and my emotions that he did. Also so that maybe your judgment of me will be a little less harsh when you read this next bit.

Every morning he’d make steaks, eggs, or bacon for breakfast, which disgusted me and often drove me from the house with my nose plugged. Once, trying to push a chicken breast on me, he said the one thing that would turn my whole world upside down. “You know, you would lose weight if you ate more protein. Oh, and while we’re talking about it there are these fat burning supplements you should get.” I was 5’5 and weighed 110 pounds. I wish I had turned on my heel, gotten in my car, and driven straight home, never to speak to him again. Instead I turned on my heel, got in my car, and drove straight to the vitamin shop in West Hollywood where he recommended I get the supplements. The minute that statement passed his lips though it was over. All the fat burning and chicken eating in the world wouldn’t have kept me from gaining the weight back. All I could see and hear pounding in my ears was that it wasn’t enough and it would never be enough. I had worked so hard and I was still fat. My first “fuck it” meal was a massive bean and cheese burrito covered in red sauce with chips on the side and dessert after. It made me nauseous but at least my physical self was now consistent with my emotional self. I continued exercising because I enjoyed but it did become sporadic after a time. Eventually, I lost my ability and desire to get up at 5am to make the drive to Calabasas. Along with my ability to wake up, I lost my job. (By “lost” I mean, “just stopped going”.)

I don’t regret that time. I believe that every person needs a few years to be a disaster, to make mistakes and enjoy life. I would prefer it to have been between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one instead of twenty-three to twenty-seven but what’s done is done. I went up and down about ten pounds here and there but didn’t make it close to my lowest weight. I also didn’t care that much. Until I did.

Which will be part 3.

image via http://www.nlm.nih.gov

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Mette permalink
    February 10, 2012 9:29 pm

    Isn’t it just a little bit insane to think that what you’re sitting in the privacy of your own home (or wherever you might be) writing about your experiences, and maybe even more so the way you do it, can have a huge impact (no pressure!) on some anonymous little person on the other side of the world?
    It seems crazy to me that I’ve been looking for motivation for ages and all of a sudden I find it in your story and I can’t really imagine what it must be like to know that your words can change the life of someone you’ve never met or heard of.
    For someone struggling with self esteem issues it’s sort of comforting to know that someone that you really look up to has gone through some of the same struggles.
    So thank you for sharing. Just thank you.

    (P.S. I just threw the “fuck it” meal (love that term!) I was about to have in the trash.)

  2. February 10, 2012 9:45 pm

    brutally honest post. thank you for sharing.

  3. February 10, 2012 10:07 pm

    Nice piece. I really appreciate your honesty.

  4. February 11, 2012 12:21 am

    I hate that society engrains in women a sense that we need to look a certain way. I wish it didn’t take us so long to realise that we are all beautiful the way we are. Every size is beautiful, every colour is beautiful, every single one of us.

    You seem like a very beautiful person, both inside and out. I think it takes a lot to not only be able to write all of these thoughts down and admit them to yourself, but also to share them with others in hopes that maybe it will help them. Maybe it will make it a little bit easier for them.

    I look forward to reading more from you.

  5. b4evrwld permalink
    February 11, 2012 1:25 am

    When shall I look for your book?

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