My lifetime of struggles being overweight.
It’s the food. I love food, all kinds, like soft and creamy, hard and chewy, spicy or sweet, hot or cold. I started eating olives when I was two years old. I guess I was born with a spicy palette. Chinese food is still a delicious event to me but so is American, French, Italian — you name it. I still look forward to the next meal.
And I delight in good food, not slap-dash any old thing — fresh ingredients, prepared thoughtfully, and served with panache. My dad also loved good food served with elegance, so, with my palette and his elegance, I was destined to have a weight problem.
My father grew up on the lower East Side of Manhattan, and my family frequently visited that area.
When we passed Katz’s Deli, my father didn’t just pass it.
We’d stopped in for a “quicky” hot dog on a bun with sauerkraut. My mother always scolded him for overfeeding me, but it was his way of showing me love. Or, if we went for a walk in the park on a Sunday afternoon, he made sure it was always accompanied by an ice cream cone, double scoop.
Food, fun, and love went together.
One day, when I was about thirteen years old, I noticed my shadow on the sidewalk. I was shocked to observe I had breasts and a butt. Wow! To say I was thrilled by this development would have been an understatement.
I was becoming a woman.
As I walked home, I saw my mother with my uncle watching me as I approached them, whispering to each other. He was my favorite uncle. I felt they were talking about how I looked. I even thought they were about to compliment my new shape. I was euphoric, but no one knew or cared about how I felt.
Instead, my mother said, “Your uncle thinks you put on a lot of weight, and you look fat.” My heart sank. With that statement, he’d crushed my delight in this new body. I felt guilty about my joy and was instantly revolted by how I looked.
My mother had already been at war with me because of my weight, and his remark augmented her disgust and embarrassment with my eating behavior.
By then, I was in High School, and lunch was available at the cafeteria, but my mother decided she would make my lunch to assist in my weight loss effort. The lunch consisted of a few celery sticks filled with a teaspoon of cottage cheese, some carrot sticks, and cucumber stalks. I ask you, “Is this an appropriate lunch for a growing girl”? The answer is no, and by the end of the school day, I was famished.
I got a small allowance, and I used it to buy a tuna fish sandwich and a black and white ice cream soda every day on my way home. Of course, I never mentioned that to Mom.
One day, when I arrived home, my mother told me that our neighbor had seen me at the Hilltop pharmacy, the site of my afterschool snacks. She asked what I was doing there, and the neighbor told her I was eating at the luncheonette counter in the pharmacy.
In other words, I was busted.
Hell hath no fury like my mother’s. She accused me of not caring about all her efforts on my behalf and vowed she would never waste her time making lunch for me again. And she didn’t.
I was secretly relieved because I didn’t have to eat all that “rabbit food.” I could eat normal lunches that didn’t advertise my overweight condition. Truthfully, I wasn’t all that overweight. It was about 20 lbs. But the extra pounds made me look matronly at 16.
During my first year away at college, instead of gaining the Freshman 25, I lost it. When my mother came to pick me up at Penn Station, she didn’t recognize me and walked right on by. I was shocked and had to call her to stop.
By the time I was married and had my third child, my OB/GYN told me I needed to lose weight.
He did this by forcefully removing the sheet covering my naked body on the examining table and studying how I looked, humiliating me to the max.
He said if I were not thinner, my husband would lose interest in me and seek out the company of one of the nurses at the hospital where he worked. He was an MD.
So, I joined Weight Watchers (now WW) and lost 25 pounds. By New Year’s Eve, I was very trim. I found myself surrounded at a party by all my friend’s husbands, eager to impress me. This was not what I had in mind.
So, with gusto, I gained the weight back, and life returned to normal.
Ironically today, I am obliged to weigh and measure every morsel of food I put in my mouth. As I’ve mentioned in prior articles, I became a Type 1 Diabetic at about 60 and then lost forty pounds without even trying. To keep my blood glucose levels in a reasonable range, I must evaluate all my food.
Life’s developments are freakish. My last job was working for WW for 16 years, first as a meeting leader and then as a receptionist (the weigh-in person). Part of my qualifications for this job were my own lifetime weight loss issues. Also, I was a life/time WW member, meaning I had attained my goal weight.
So, if you’re struggling with weight loss issues, I am sad for you. Remember, only 12-year-old athletic boys can usually eat whatever and whenever they chose, without gaining extra pounds. Dealing with a lifetime’s over-eating habits are gritty. These habits are so hard to give up. Have courage and perseverance. Try setting realistic goals. This can help.