I was always 20-30 pounds over weight.
I am 5’6” and throughout my adult life, since my junior year in high school, I generally weighed somewhere between 150 and 160 pounds.
On the days that I delivered both The Mayor and Rooster Girl I weighed 204.
Sweet Fancy Moses on Buttered Toast!
TWO HUNDRED AND FOUR POUNDS!!!!!
Lard. Lard. Lard.
I heard that baby weight took nine months to put on and nine months to take off.
When Rooster was nine months old I still weighed 175.
Oh, the HORROR of the Fatty McFat Fat Lady Flabina.
In the middle of June last year, I started counting Weight Watchers points.
Since I started, I have lost 42 pounds and this morning I weighed 133.
For the first time in my life I weigh what the chart in the doctor's office says I should weigh.
I have NEVER even been in the neighborhood of the right weight range for that chart before.
Mom-O-Matic has a “Future MILF’s” Project going on at her blog and she’s gone INSANE and named me an Honorary MILF Mentor.
I’m not totally sure what that means, but if it means what I THINK it means then the next time I’m in Chicago Mom-O-Matic and I are going to get BUSY in that “roll, roll, roll in zee hay” kind of way.
[Roll porno music: Bow chicka bow bow...]
Mom-O-Matic asked me to reveal the “secrets” of the only successful diet I’ve ever been on in my life.
It feels like a complicated request.
Losing this weight hasn't been as simple as "diet and exercise."
It involved wrassling my own personal history and baggage, personality quirks, food obsessions, high performance at thrift stores, jealous competitiveness and a three pound boneless breast of turkey to the ground.
Are you with me?
This post is going to be a long diatribe about my weight and my psychology of dieting.
I am writing this for the Future MILF’s and anyone else wanting to lose weight because all my life when I've asked people how they've done it they haven't really ANSWERED, at least not in detail.
Unless you are interested in a detailed account of my weight loss equivalent to sitting next to a stinky old man on an airplane who turns to you and says, "Lemme tell you ALL about hemorrhoids," you should give up on this post.
Still with me? Here goes...
My adult body never looked like it was supposed to look.
It was supposed to look like one of the computer enhanced media images American women are constantly bombarded with thanks to the beauty industry.
It didn't look like that.
I felt ashamed of my body most of the time.
Sometimes I could overcome feelings of shame and inadequacy about my body by imagining my extra weight as a political statement. My extra pounds were a revolutionary act against THE MAN and his oppressive, narrow definition of beauty.
Viva La Gordita!
But mostly I just felt fat.
I felt exactly the way Heather (from Yummy Sushi Pajamas) does in this post.
When the "Revolutionary" fat argument wasn't working for me, I was fat because of my mother.
It was HER fault.
My Mother (a.k.a. Grandma Seattle) was Miss Teenage New Jersey and captain of the varsity cheerleader squad at her high school.
I am the spitting image of my father.
Beauty was always very important to my mother and she has always taken great care with her clothes, her diet and exercise and her appearance in general.
Until recently, this pissed me off to no end.
For years I felt angry about her efforts to help me learn about diet, nutrition, healthy habits and exercise.
We finally came to an agreement some years ago that she simply was NOT to discuss or mention my body in any way at any time.
After I had children, so much of my “mommy baggage” packed up and left.
The ways that she invariably “pushed my buttons” before I had kids suddenly seemed trivial.
She came to stay with us to help out after The Mayor was born and I distinctly remember her arrival.
She was standing at my front door with her jacket on pulling her rolling suitcase behind her when I grabbed her, threw myself in her arms, started sobbing and said, “You can’t leave.”
She was only supposed to stay for three days but she stayed for ten.
The day before she left I started to cry all over again in anticipation of her departure.
It had been a long time since I felt so lost, anxious and afraid. It had been forever since I NEEDED my mom so much.
As I have grown to understand myself as a parent and absorbed that new piece of my identity, I have developed so much compassion for my own parents.
My mother was 19 when she had me. My father was 22.
At 19, or even 22, I would have won an award for THE WORST PARENT EVER.
Considering that they were barely adults, I think they did a very good job.
As a parent, when I think about my mother's parenting, love and motivation, it is impossible for me to continue to blame her for my struggles with weight.
Oh, I get it. It's NOT her fault.
As with anything, my weight has always been my own fault.
I initially added the pounds in High School when I started drinking and smoking. There is nothing like a few (thousand) alcohol and munchies calories to send you up the scale.
I also ate whatever I wanted and lived by the life philosophy;
“If the pie makes you happy, eat the pie.”The thing is, the pie only made me happy in the pie eating moment.
I usually felt angry (and fat) pretty soon after the last bite was gone.
[Unless I was stoned... then I just wanted more pie.]
I stopped drinking and smoking in 1995 when I met K.
I might have lost weight then if I had not spent the next 10 years in a spoon-for-spoon ice cream and berry cobbler eating competition with him.
When Rooster was nine months old and I was still 25 pounds over my ideal weight, a few things happened that made me commit to losing it.
First, my neighbor, friend and parenting guru, Michele, joined Weight Watchers. She told me she was on a quest to be “hot by 40” (we are both 39) and that she didn’t want to be “one of those dumpy moms” that sit on the sidelines all the time.
The “dumpy mom” image resonated with me.
I am of solid Irish peasant stock and have tremendous potential to achieve the quintessential middle-aged thickness.
Thanks to female relatives that have gone before me, I can see a version of myself in a housecoat and slippers with whiskers on my chin and upper lip buying knee-high panty hose at Sears.
It is not pretty.
I hate the idea of just watching while The Mayor, Rooster and K run, hike, bike, swim or MOVE.
I worried that if I gave over to the sedentary lifestyle then The Mayor and Rooster would follow my lazy lead and join the ranks of the many obese children in America.
With all the junk food, fast food and television to entice them, they don’t need any help from me to learn how to lead an inert life.
I want to be a fit mom not a dumpy one. I want to move with my family, dance when they dance and run when they run.
Additionally, I sheepishly toyed with Michele's notion of being a “hot mom” -- or at least trying to be a "hot enough" wife to K.
Becoming parents and parenting toddlers has put an incredible strain on our relationship and while it is strong enough to bear the burden, we argue much more now than we did before.
Looking reasonable, rather than hilarious, in lacey underwear can't hurt given the circumstances, you know?
My resolve started to firm up.
Next pure jealousy and competitiveness worked their way in to my head.
So many of my female friends with children are thin and beautiful. I was tired of being the fattest mom and the fattest wife at gatherings.
It made me feel like a failure.
I was relatively new to blogging at this time and discovered this on-line realm of smart, capable women who were also hotty, hot, hot and I just wanted to be exactly like each and every one of their beautiful, amazing selves. (I need a lot more words in this sentence to even begin to come close to capture how many of them I am profoundly strengthened to have learned about here in Blogville... and her, and her.. and you get the idea.)
All of this combined led me to get my game on, so...
What did I do next?
I decided to cook a three pound boneless breast of turkey.
I picked up this gelatinous mass of bird meat to put it in the roasting pan and realized that three pounds of meat in your hand is a big, heavy, disgusting thing.
Then it struck me that I needed to lose TEN TIMES that amount of flesh. I had TEN three-pound boneless turkey breasts stuck all over my body.
That just made me sick... but I kept thinking about that turkey breast.
Michele gave me copies of her Weight Watchers documentation and I read it cover to cover.
I didn’t join Weight Watchers.
I didn't join on-line and I didn't go to any meetings.
(The Weight Watchers CEO is so happy that I am posting this.)
I don’t think Weight Watchers is the ultimate diet strategy or a silver bullet solution, but I think their "points" system worked for me because it fits my personality.
If you give me $20 and tell me that is my whole budget to furnish a room I will end up with a room full of matching furniture and accessories because I am the Queen of the Thrift Store (though Marcie may want to fight me for the title).
I have a special gene for budgets and bargains.
The Weight Watchers points system plays into my strength here.
I get twenty points per day and I have to make them stretch as far as they will go – make them equal as much food as possible each and every day - because let’s be clear…
I. LIKE. TO. EAT.
Besides "budgeting points" the whole thing seemed logical to me. Nothing was off limits and I understood that I had X amount to eat every day and anything beyond that was too much.
I could never get my head around this insanely basic concept by counting calories.
(Maybe 1,500 or 2,000 or whatever is just too high a number for my pea brain to think about counting up to each and every day.)
Anyway, I wonder if finding the "right" diet isn't about finding one that triggers something in your personality...
So, now that I have waxed mercilessly on and on for pages and pages...
Here’s what I did:
The weight watchers “points” system allowed me a certain number of points per day, plus “floating” points.
Confession: I almost never allowed myself access to the floating points.
(See the Weight Watchers CEO frown.)
I did this because I assumed that I was going to miscalculate the total points value of the things I ate - more specifically, that I would miss things like an oil serving here, milk in a coffee there or loose butter sneaking around in my food.
I assumed that I probably used the floating points most days without knowing it.
That said, I was conservative and fair in counting the actual points I used to the best of my ability. I tried hard to be as realistic as I could about the portion sizes and the total points.
I did use floater points when I was in a situation that forced me over my allowance on a given day.
For example, I was at an all day barbeque event and pulled pork bbq and baked beans were the only options.
Baked beans? Beans are a vegetable, right? How bad can they be?
Oh. My. God.
Do NOT eat Baked Beans. You will PAY.
I wrote down everything I ate and the accompanying points value every single day and I am still writing it all down now.
I struggled a lot getting used to all of this, particularly because (I have learned) I eat when I’m bored.
To compensate for this, I looked up all the “zero” points foods and if I want to eat for the sake of eating, which I pretty much want to do every single day, I eat something with zero points.
I eat the zero point item (and eat it and eat it) until I am bored of eating.
Here are some examples of disgusting ways I over eat, but don’t use points…
I can sit and eat half a bag (the big bag) of the peeled baby carrots. (I will never need glasses.)
I chop and store celery in celery sticks right when I get home from the store. I eat an ungodly amount of celery with my favorite salsa and pretend the celery is a tortilla chip. It’s crunchy and provides a vehicle for the salsa.
Domestic Chicky recommended keeping sliced cucumbers (and I like to add tomatoes) in a container with a little vinegar. Excessive snacking on this gives me a little bit of an upset stomach – which means I have to wait a while before I eat more. The joys.
Beets have zero points. I actually like beets, but I tried buying canned beets and when I was bored-hungry I opened a can and ate the whole thing. The beet eating was a zero points experience and that is the best thing I can say about it.
Brussel Sprouts also have zero points, but as Moobs will tell you, they make you fart.
I am here to testify that all of the zero points food will make you fart.
The whole “five servings of fruit and vegetables a day” thing will make you fart.
Seriously, I have become a jet-propelled, cartoon woman zooming around the house from room to room fueled by the power of my own gas.
Al Gore would LOVE me.
Moving away from the near and dear subject of my mighty wind, let's talk about breakfast.
I am a huge believer in eating protein in the morning and I eat scrambled eggs for breakfast every day.
K makes them for the whole family. He uses eight jumbo eggs and only three of the yolks, so the overall points value is very low.
Instead of toast, I have a “Kavli” cracker. This is grossly unsatisfying compared to actual toast but I have become used to it.
Kavli crackers seem to expand a bit if I eat one and then drink one of my ten thousand daily glasses of water. Sometimes it fills me up for awhile, other times I have to resort to a giant bowl of brussel sprouts, hence forth to be known as "jet fuel."
Yogurt has replaced ice cream. I like to eat it over fruit and have discovered that, of all the brands, Yoplait Light has the least points. Some of the flavors are truly nasty though. I like their vanilla flavor – especially over strawberries.
I did not cheat.
I did not take little bites of things I wasn’t supposed to eat.
In one of the Weight Watchers brochures it was actually suggested that you carry a zip lock back in your purse and every time you wanted to “take a small taste” of something you put a bite sized piece of it in your bag so that at the end of the day you could see how much food you “tasted.”
The image of a nasty bag of food in my handbag was enough to put me off cheating through “little tastes” and I didn’t do it.
If I ate ANYTHING, I wrote it down and counted the marscaponing points.
Finally, I swam.
I swim a mile to a mile and a half three to five times a week and have I have done that for many years.
My friend Gary watched me swim one day and said, “Damn, Jessica. As much as you swim, you’d be thin if you didn’t EAT so much!”
(Gary is now dead.)
(Okay, he’s not dead, but WTF?!)
Swimming is an exercise that I love because it is solitary and non-competitive. I don’t race against anyone and so I don’t ever feel like a “loser” at swimming.
That said, I am competitive with myself and am always trying to reach some new goal.
Most recently my goal was to swim one mile of the butterfly stroke without stopping and I did this twice before Christmas and then came down with the plague.
Lately, I've started thinking about what it feels like to be thin for the first time in my life.
The truth is that physically, in an every day way, it doesn’t feel that different.
Emotionally, it feels a lot different.
I am not depressed about my body every day.
When I look in the mirror, I am not dismayed. (I am sort of amazed at how old I am though. I am OLD!)
Clothes fit well. I don't have to try on 400 pairs of pants to find on that I can stomach.
I have discovered belts. Belts holds my pants up, a job formerly done by my wheat basket-y, kangaroo pouch of a belly. Belts?! Who knew?
My husband notices the difference. Definitely. There is much getting busy here at House of Joy... as much as there can be between two overly-tired, middle aged, parents of two toddlers.
It is a relief.
It is a life long dream that has come true.
If it is your dream too, I wish it for you.
Thursday, January 04, 2007
I was always 20-30 pounds over weight.