You know what’s funny? I’m nervous about writing this blog post. Way more nervous than the time I wrote that entry about how I had postpartum depression so bad that I basically wanted to figure out the quickest way that I could divorce my husband and steal his child from him without having to actually have a conversation with him about it.
Friends: cyber friends, real life friends, crazy stalker guy who reads my blogs: I am overweight.
I have been living in a happy dreamland world for the last few months whenever I go out in public because I always have Maren with me– she’s like a built in excuse. So, like, everytime that a total stranger is eclipsed by my growing shadow and looks up expecting the sun to have turned to ashes and instead sees this gigantic woman waddling towards him at a pace that can only be described as OH MY GOD, SHE’S TURNED TO HUMAN SACRIFICE! I DON’T HAVE ANY COOKIES, I DON’T HAVE ANYTHING TO OFFER UP IN MY STEAD!!! Will then see the baby in the stroller and say, “Oh, she just had a baby.” And suddenly the thought of me spreading mayonnaise on them and frying them up right nice passes.
This illusion is a mite bit harder to uphold when I’m with my sister in law. She had a baby a week after me. I think she gained like ten pounds while she was pregnant and then had a seven pound baby, and is now back to looking like she could just ‘real quick’ go run in that marathon next weekend, or she might just join in an all day soccer tournament. You know, for funsies.
But for the last seven months, as I watched the scale climb, I just kept telling myself– hey, you know, you’re busy. You’re in school, you’re working, and OH YEAH that whole human being that you’re in charge of, you know the one who– by the by– sleeps a total of 10 hours in a 24 hour period and has had four ear infections in the last five months? OH YEAH.
It’s easy to pretend like I’ve gained all my weight in the last year, and like– if I wanted too– I could take it all back off just as quickly. But here’s the truth: I was overweight before Maren. And it’s not really all that okay. Not nearly as ‘okay’ as I pretend it is.
As a woman, an educator, and a mom, here is something that makes me so sad about growing up in this country: There is SOOO much pressure to be thin. And not just thin– so thin that you’re invisible. One of the most painful memories I have from high school was watching all my girlfriends try on each other’s clothes, and I couldn’t join in the fun because they were all a size 2 and I was *gasp* a size 10. TEN. DO YOU KNOW HOW I WOULD KILL TO BE A SIZE TEN NOW?
That’s the thing. I was overweight then– as in– I could have lost ten pounds, maybe fifteen or twenty. But more importantly, I was not healthy at all. My diet consisted of Mountain Dew, McDonalds, and Mac and Cheese. I called it the three Ms. I’m super strong and put on muscle quickly when I work out, but the idea of running makes me angry. Like, just PICTURING it in my head makes me angry. But that wasn’t– and isn’t– what my peers, my mentors, or society focused on. It wasn’t about me being healthy, it was about me looking good. As if the sight of my size ten body could send people into convulsions and send old people on their death beds grabbing in desperation for the plug.
But here is the happy part of it all: after high school, after clawing my way out of the cess pool that is adolescence, I gained a lot of confidence in my sense of humor, in my talents, in my intelligence, etc, and I stopped caring about what size I was. I was never uncomfortable in my skin. And what I always say to people when they get down on themselves for being overweight is this: Being overweight has NEVER kept me from doing what I wanted to do. I never felt like I should exclude myself from something– like swimming or going dancing– because I was overweight. And on a totally superficial note– Dude. When I met my husband, I was a size 16, and I married him in a size 18W dress. One time when we were dating I lost some weight and he started to complain because my ass wasn’t as curvy. Trust me. When you meet ‘the one’ they will love you no matter WHAT size you are.
And then sometimes I want to follow that up with: Maybe we should work on your irritating woe-is-me personality. I kid, I kid.
And then I got pregnant. Instantly– like on a dime– my focus changed. Because I realized that I wasn’t just taking care of me anymore– the three M diet wasn’t going to build me a baby. So I started eating those leafy green things I’d been ignoring, and paying attention to how much grease was going through the umbilical cord, and started drinking WATER. WATER, people. Freaking nasty.
When I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, I was honestly terrified. I watched everything I ate so carefully, checked my blood sugar religiously, and took better care of myself than I ever had. Because all the literature said that babies with diabetic mothers could be born with enlarged heads and shoulders– have you guys ever seen my husband or I? I started having nightmares that Ndamukong Suh was going to fight his way out of my uterus in nine months.
Then I had Maren, and my blood sugar returned to normal, and guess what? Her head is fine. SHE was fine. Her blood sugars were normal at birth, normal a few weeks later, etc. There seemed to be no indication that my diabetes would have an effect on either of us. I looked at that as a go-ahead to start supporting my local Krispy Kreme again, and I’m sure that I’ve probably put at least one of their workers through college by now.
But then…. I started getting these little nibbly feelings. First of all, the SHAPE of my body was completely different. Where there used to be a curve, there was now a truck stop. My favorite jeans no longer fit– and then my favorite HOODIE no longer fit. I didn’t own a favorite gurney sack, but it looked like I was headed in that direction.
And in a less vain-line of thinking, it occurred to me, kind of randomly, that even though I’m no longer LITERALLY eating for two, I still kind of am. Because if I didn’t lose the weight, I was going to end up taking years off my life, and maybe Maren’s, too. Because where do kids learn to eat terribly and sit around every day? That’s right– by watching their parents do it.
And Mitch one time summed it up for me: “Why does it feel SO good to make healthy decisions for Maren, but so hard to make them for ourselves?”
You know how people always talk about that moment when ‘the truth’ hit them like a pound of bricks? That was that moment for me, only my truth hit me more like 80 lbs of Big Macs and french fries. He’s right. I do not consider it hard, inconvenient, or eye-rollable to buy organic food for Maren, to balance her meals, to make sure she’s getting enough fluids every day and make sure she’s getting outside a lot and playing a lot and not watching TV ever. But for myself? It’s like torture. TORTURE. The thought of budgeting to shop at Whole Paycheck every week makes me cringe. The idea of planning three meals and two snacks that are wholesome and nutritious makes me want to leap off my apartment building. I don’t even want to get into thinking about what exercise is going to do to me.
At my six week postpartum check up, I felt like I won the lottery when my doctor was sick and I had a fill-in, and asked her to prescribe me some diet pills. She didn’t like it, but she said okay, and I skipped all the way to the pharmacy, which gave me more aerobic exercise than I’ve had in the last, oh, nine years. And phentermine was my personal savior…. for about two weeks. I lost 12 pounds, and then I started getting these horrendous stomach cramps in the morning. So I stopped taking the pills, and voila, those 12 lbs– plus ANOTHER 12– climbed back on. Some people say that their weight ‘crept’ up on them, but mine didn’t. Mine was more like 30 lbs of pure butter knocked on the door one day and said, “What up, Beez-natches?” and then sat down on the couch and made itself comfortable.
I’m reading this book that my father in law gave me that is all about Wellbeing. He and my mother in law have lots of books like that, that are all about self-reflection and finding strategies that work for you and being your own best advocate and stuff like that. Books that used to make me roll my eyes, but then again, my in laws are extremely successful, so maybe there’s something to all that self-reflection stuff.
So anyway, I’m reading this book, and it starts to discuss how we are an instant gratification society. We might make good decisions, but it’s only if we feel that those decisions will pay off IMMEDIATELY. We know that eating an entire bag of potato chips is bad, but we’ll do it anyway, because it will make us feel good RIGHT THEN, and we figure that we’ll deal with the consequences later. We might go for a walk in the morning, but only because we know that it will give us more energy over the next 12 hours, not because we feel like we’re building up a lifelong healthy habit.
The book then goes on to explain that psychologists believe that the shift between recognizing short-term and long-term ‘feel good vibes’ coincides with the shift between childhood and adulthood. So put THAT in your pipe and smoke it.
So I stopped thinking about diet pills and crash diets. And I stopped believing that I can lose all this weight without exercising– which is kind of like saying that the best way to lose weight is to just burn your hands off. That’s how much I hate exercise.
Last week I joined Weight Watchers. I know, I know. We also bought a minivan and I started using shampoo that I purchased at a salon and I found myself looking at a scarf that you wear purely for decoration and thinking it might be a good idea. I’m one cleat sale away from being ONE OF THOSE MOMS.
I was planning to keep all of this a secret until either I gave up or I had lost a significant amount of weight, but I realized that that would be counterproductive. Because if I keep this a secret, then if I give up there won’t be any real consequences, other than that I gave up. BUT if I let it hang out there, and people KNOW, giving up will be a lot harder. Because how embarrassing is that?
I believe that my wellbeing book would call this “Accountability”
So anyway– I’m throwing it out there. I need to lose at least 80 lbs to be considered in my healthy weight range, but if I think about that number it makes me want to curl up in bed with a bucket of chicken and watch Twilight all weekend. So I’m publicly announcing that my first goal is to lose 25 lbs, and I want to do it by the end of the year.
So there you go. /end embarrassing sobfest 🙂