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Monday, April 11, 2011

A Weight Off My Shoulders?

Okay, so I just revealed to the world (and admitted to myself) my current weight.  Does it feel like a weight's been lifted off my shoulders?  Yes and no.  It is out there and I can't retract it.  Now, I have to change it.  And, that's a scary thing!

But first, let me put things in perspective.  Call it a running history of my weights ups and downs.  A chronology of dabbling with different diets.  A segmented sequence of suffering, perhaps.  In order to move forward I have to acknowledge where I've come from.

In sixth grade I was my full adult height of 5'4".  I had already reached puberty.  I sported a healthy weight of 125 pounds.

In eighth grade, after putting on some pounds, I starved myself and exercised my weight down to 135 pounds.  I would starve all day, eat dinner, exercise for 30 minutes (leg lifts, sit ups, arm circles) and occasionally gorged myself on a box of fat-free Mike&Ike fruit candies.  Bad habits.

High school came and more weight piled on.  When I did get rid of it, it was never gone for long, and it came back and brought along a few friends, every time.  By eleventh grade, my mom started The Diet Center diet and was having great success.  I weighed in at 174 pounds in October of 1981.  I started the same diet with my mom and by February of 1982 (five months later) I was down to 125.  I could actually fit into my size 10 Calvin Klein jeans (they were very popular at the time).

During my college years, while I was far away from the drama at home, I hovered around a size 14-16.  I was comfortable enough in my own skin that I would actually wear a bikini to the Florida beaches.  Basically, I felt good about myself and didn't give a fuck.  I was really being me.

By the time I graduated college in 1987, and went back home with my tail between my legs, I ballooned up to a size 24 quickly.  Crazy shit was going on at home (impending divorce and alcoholic drama) and I ate my way into oblivion.  When being passed over for a promotion at work I decided to try Nutri-System.  It was August of 1989 and I was at least 220.  By January of 1990, five months later, I shed 50 pounds, was down to a size 14, and had a new boyfriend.

My boyfriend turned into my husband.  I got a better job at a better firm.  With a career came stress.  I went to Weight Watchers to try to get my weight under control.  By this time I had gained all my weight back.  After just two months of going to WW, I found out I was pregnant with my first child.  It was a high-risk pregnancy.  I had high blood pressure.  For the last month of my pregnancy I had to get fetal monitoring twice a week and get an ultra-sound each week as well.  They estimated my baby's weight at 10 pounds on his due date.  After an unsuccessful induction, we did a C-section.  I began my pregnancy at 220.  I ended it at 255.  And, I got down to 235.  

Four and a half years later in 1996, and with a less-stressful job, I gave birth to my second son at 250 pounds.  I hadn't gained as much weight and did not have much trouble with this pregnancy.  It was a repeat C-section.

Every year it seems that I had goals of getting healthy and losing weight.  I kept some of the documentation over the years and here is just a snippet of the consistent elevation of my weight:

2003:  275
2004:  306
2007:  307
2008:  304
2009:  303
2010:  305
2011:  317.5

During the last couple of years my mother and I have tried Herbalife protein shakes.  As you can see, not much progress was gained.  I would love to do something like Nutri-System again but it is way too expensive and I really don't like the idea of packaged food.

Bar none, the best and most healthy diet I was on was The Diet Center diet.  It incorporated unlimited vegetables, lean protein, fruit (you must have one apple a day), and little to no carbs.  And, of course, water.  I am adapting a diet similar to this one.  I plan to have three to six meals a day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner plus three snacks).  My caloric intake will range between 1500-1800 calories per day.  I plan to exercise 30 minutes a day 3 times a week and then continuously increase time and frequency as I am able.

I don't think my shoulders could handle another increase of weight.  It is time to shed the old me and transform into the person I know I was meant to be.

How Others See Me

On Friday, while running errands, I was approached by a local reporter to comment on the impending shutdown of the Federal government.  At first I protested explaining that I was a little emotional and fired up about it.  She assured me that I would be perfect for her piece.  I caved and gave my two cents.

I knew going into this that there was a chance that I would be on t.v., the local news, in all my day-to-day, unrehearsed fatness.  I also knew that there wasn't a tree I could hide behind or a valid excuse for not showing a picture or clip of me.  Subconsciously, I guess I knew that I would have to face reality and actually get to see how others see me.  Yes, I did feel passionate about the story being reported but underneath it all it was an opportunity for me to face my fears and to see the real me.  As a camera-shy person, agreeing to be videotaped and then revealed to a large viewing audience was a huge, ballsy step for me.

When I arrived home at five o'clock I told my family that I may actually make be on the news.  I wasn't necessarily excited about it but I told my family so that they could offer their support to me in my reaction to how I saw myself.  They knew I would need their reassurance and comfort.

My anticipation until 6:00 p.m., when the news started, was more of mental preparation to face the music of my reality.  You see, for years, I've been living with a type of body dysmorphic disorder.  I look in a mirror and pretty much see what I want to see.  But, if for instance, I am out shopping and happen to pass by a mirror or reflective window unexpectedly, I'll avoid it or deny that what I see is me.

This is a pretty crappy way to live.  The good thing is I have very few pictures of me in the last 14 years showcasing my morbid obesity.  The bad thing is I have very few pictures of me and my loved ones and the celebrations and fun experiences we had.  I cut myself out of the photograph of my own life.

I'm not sure why I was ready on this particular Friday to disrobe in public but I guess it is better now than never.  I know that I keep gaining weight and I can no longer proceed on this course of unhealthiness.  I am so ashamed of my lack of progress that I actually canceled my six-month checkup with my cardiologist because I did not lose weight like I told him I would.  I rescheduled my appointment for September so that gives me a good five months to get to work and get serious.

Every Tuesday I watch NBC's, "The Biggest Loser".   I sit and wonder (while I'm eating my popcorn on the couch) how I would handle a situation like that.  And, yes, I realize I am a perfect candidate for that show.  I could see myself in every contestant on the show.  The one who makes excuses.  The one who sneaks food and cheats.  The one who complains, "I can't do it".  The one who has an off-week and loses nothing or actually gains a pound!  But, as the season comes to an end, and the contestants are nearer to their goal weight I can actually feel some of their power and self-confidence that I had thirty years ago when I lost weight.

But, I digress...

So, the six o'clock news came on and within the first five minutes I saw this woman that, I guess, is really me.  What a fat pig, I think to myself.  But, boy, does she sound empathetic and intelligent!  The reporter ended up using four soundbytes from my interview.  And, I was happy with how it turned out.  Content-wise I was happy.  Looks-wise?  Oh, who could get past that quadruple chin?!  My mom called to say that I didn't look too bad and I actually looked pretty.  Nicolas said from the top of my chin and up I am a pretty woman.  He also said that he would help me over the summer.  He'll help motivate me, walk with me, and work out with me.  After an oral commitment to my mom and son that I would try for the next five months to make some changes, I took a big step this morning.

I know most people begin diets on Monday morning and I am no exception.  I got on the scale and weighed myself.  I got my tape measure out and wrapped it around my waist.  I made some goals, pasted them up on the refrigerator and vowed to make a concerted effort this time.

4/11/2011 First Weigh-In:
317.5 pounds
56 inches

Monday, April 4, 2011

Would Have Been

I want to recognize the fact that my grandfather would have been 100 years old today.  It is kind of surreal to think such a thought.  The would-have beens, could-have beens, and should-have beens are normally a waste of time and energy.  But, I'd like to pay my respect to a person who had a positive effect on my life.

My grandfather, whom I called 'Pepa' (pronounced 'pee-pah') was the most down-to-earth and 'real' of all my grandparents.  Born and raised in Stamford, Connecticut, he was a sickly child.  I'm not sure what happened to his father but I know that my grandfather was the only man in his household.  He had to leave school at a very young age (seventh grade), go to work, and support his mother and sisters.  He worked as a machinist in factories most of his life.  He was a hard-working blue-collar man.

He married my grandmother, whom I called 'Baba' (pronounced 'bah-bah'), and raised his two daughters (my mom and my aunt).  He was a faithful and devoted husband.  He was happy with just the basics in life.  While he didn't make loads of money, he was able to offer my grandmother a nice retirement in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  They moved when I was only four.  We would make our annual visit to them or they'd come up north to visit with us.  Then my Baba got sick with breast cancer.  My Pepa was by her side the whole time. 

After her death in 1976, we started a ritual of sorts whereby my Pepa would come up north for the summer and stay with us for a month or so.  These are the times that I remember most.  Yes, he was retired but this man had unending energy.  Every year he planted a garden consisting mostly of tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers.  He nurtured it, watered it, and inevitably picked the fruits of his labor.  My dad wasn't much of a caretaker so Pepa would cut our lawn  during the summer and do the weeding.  Pepa really enjoyed a good sweat.  And, I remember him equally enjoying the rewards of a nice, cold beer afterward (Pabst Blue Ribbon, usually).

During the day, Pepa would 'hang out' with my brother and I.  He taught us how to play pinochle, a card game that I still play to this day.  He would walk with me to the tennis courts at the high school for my NJTL (National Junior Tennis League) practice sessions.  During the summer evenings he would sit and watch the New York Yankees (he was a die-hard fan of baseball).  Occasionally, he'd indulge in his favorite ice cream, butter pecan.  On some days he would walk about seven miles to downtown Stamford to see if any of the 'old-timers' were still around.  My Pepa could strike up a conversation with anyone on the street.  He was approachable, friendly, and had a wonderful sense of humor.  In July of 1989, just before he was to fly up north, he passed away.

About six months later, I met my future-husband David.  I saw so many similarities between Pepa and David.  It was the simple things like: being a good person, having a sense of humor, working hard, and loving me unconditionally, that made me see how blessed I am to have had them in my life.

David never met Pepa.  I'm not sure how my grandfather would react but based on the times that he grew up I think initially he would have a problem with me being with a black man.  But, I think Pepa would have given David a chance.  And, once Pepa realized how much he and David had in common like:  pinochle, the Yankees, work ethic, and me, I think Pepa would enjoy David's company.

I still share these stories of my Pepa with my husband and sons.  I want them to know how special my grandfather was to me.  I'd like to think that if my Pepa were alive today, at 100 years old, he'd be proud of me, my husband, and his great-grandsons.