A Neverending Story

December 7, 2008

This weekend kicked off a month of holiday gatherings for me. On Friday night, I joined a few friends for dinner at NYC’s famous Tick Tock diner. Then last night, I went to my friend Marcie’s place in Brooklyn for another part.

I can’t say I “dieted” on either day.

Instead, I tried to same tactic I used for Thanksgiving. I ate what I wanted, but tried not to go overboard. Though I didn’t eat perfectly by any means, I was happy with how I did. I didn’t go crazy. I bascally ate like a “normal” person.

Take last evening, for example. I’m sure I had one too many mini knishes and slices of garlic bread. But I stopped when I was full. By the time dessert was set out — a whole table full of cakes and cookies — I was pretty full, so I ended up having only a couple of small things. I didn’t shove every bit of pastry into my mouth, just because they were there in front of me. And I declined to take a goody bag home when Marcie offered one to me.

I’m still working on the whole “party behavior:” thing when it comes to food. I know that next time I might be better off nibbling on fruits and veggies, and that perhaps I could bring a healthy item like low-fat popcorn. But at the same time, I need to live. I want to be able to continue to see my friends and attend parties; I just need to learn how to have my cake and eat it, too, so to speak.

This morning, I was discussing the situation with my best friend, Lani. She and I have literally known each other since we were babies, and she’s more like a sister to me than a friend. That said, she’s see me through every stage of my changing sizes, and in many cases, her own weight history mirrors mine. We both became incredibly thin when were in high school, and then we both gained a lot of weight after college.

The difference is, she’s managed to lose most of her weight. She walks and goes to the gym and changed her eating habits. I’ll admit that sometimes I get jealous that she found the strength to help herself. I remember at one of my birthday parties, she arrived looking fabulous, while I looked like a frump. Everyone kept complimenting her and I wanted to throw her out onto the street. But most of the time, I’m proud of her accomplishment and wish I could be more like her when it comes to my own weight problems.

I know it isn’t easy for her, though. She works two jobs and admitted that she’s put back on some weight because she hasn’t had as much time to go to the gym. Her trick, though, she says, is that she hasn’t forsaken any parties or treats. She just eats goodies in moderation. If she knows she’s going out to dinner, she’ll eat a small lunch and then enjoy herself; then the next day, she’ll return to healthy eating.

“I know this is a cliche, but it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change,” she explained to me this morning. “This is something I’m going to have to do forever, and there’s just no way that I’m not going to enjoy myself at parties. So I go out and have fun, and then make up for it the next day. This way, I can live my life, but stay healthy, too.”

I know I have a lot of work to do, but I’m slowly learning how to do this. Perhaps a time will even come when I no longer find chocolate cake enticing. Though the odds of that are very slim — I think that no matter how healthy I get, chocolate will always claim a place in my heart!

The Thin Line

December 5, 2008

The other day I pulled out an old album I have from my high school days. Most of the pictures were taken during my senior year, the time when I think I looked my best. I was slender, but curvy, and I was just reaching that point where I was starting to look like a woman rather than a kid.

However, there’s one photo stuck in there that horrifies me. It’s from the previous year when I 17 and weighed about 90 pounds.  It was taken at our school’s junior banquet, and for the occasion I’m donning a black satin cocktail dress. But I look like a bobblehead doll. I have these teeny, tiny chicken legs with no muscle, stick-like arms and my hips — of my God, my hips — are jutting out of my sides with no discernable curves. 

What’s especially scary is that a) my mother still thinks this is one of the most beautiful photos of me ever taken and b) I remember that at the time this was taken, I seriously thought I was FAT! I can recall stressing over whether I should remove the little jacket that came with the dress and whether it made my hips look too wide. In retrospect, I don’t know what the hell I was on that night that I actually thought this. I can’t even begin to imagine what the old me would do if the current obese me were to visit her. I think I’d have to sit on her to quiet her shrieks of horror.

I often wonder how someone who was so obessessed with being thin could end up becoming ridiculously huge. I just finished a wonderful book called Hungry by Allen Zadoff. Zadoff shedover 100 pounds, but what’s interesting about his reflections on weight loss is that he concludes that anorexia and binge eating, as well as other food issues, have more in common than most people think. Now that I think about it, there has been a clear evolution in my eating disorder: I went from starving myself to bingeing and purging to simply bingeing. Though the change from small to large has been relatively gradual, my eating disorder has been there all along — just in different forms.

It’s been liberating for me to admit that yes, I have an eating disorder, and I appreciate Zadoff’s book for recognizing that connection between the various incarnations of it. That said, when I beat this thing — notice I’m saying WHEN and not IF, I think I’ll come out stronger than ever.

Well, as it turns out, my two Thanksgivings didn’t derail my weight loss. I’m down another pound, bringing me to 289. Still a looooong way to go, but I’ll take anything I can get for now.

I didn’t have too much time to dwell on my weight, though; today was World AIDS Day and my mind was elsewhere.

For the past two years, I’ve played flute at Beth Israel Hospital on World AIDS Day. I do this through a group called LIFEbeat (www.lifebeat.org), which my musician friend Isabel introduced me to. Basically, LIFEbeat recruits musical volunteers to perform for AIDS patients throughout the city. For the Beth Israel event, they had me playing classical music to welcome the patients, doctors and their families, and then again during the reception.

During the actual event, several people got up to speak or perform songs about the cause. I was particularly moved by the speeches made by two women who are living with AIDS. One lost her entire family to AIDS and then learned she was also infected; the other lost her 5-year-old son to the virus. By the end of their talks, I was in tears.

I’ll admit, when I first arrived to perform, I was worried about what people would think. Would they think I was too fat? Would I look stupid in the photos that were being taken for the paper? But I quickly realized that NO ONE CARED. People were just grateful I was there to entertain these patients who’ve been through so much.

Before I left the venue, the LIFEbeat organizer, Erika, wished me a “happy” AIDS Day. This took me by surprise.

“Is it happy?” I asked.

“Well, we now have hope,” she explained. “Patients are living for many more years with it.”

This is true. We’ve come a long way with AIDS research and the outlook isn’t as dire as it was 20 years ago. Still, once you’re infected with AIDS, that’s it. At least for now, there’s no turning back the clock. It’s something you’ll have to live with for the rest of your life.

You see, this is where I’m lucky. I can turn back the clock when it comes to being obese. I can lose the weight and make myself healthy again. I have an opportunity to treat my body like it deserves to be treated. It’s selfish of me not to when other people don’t have that option.

A Tale of Two Thanksgivings

November 30, 2008

As an overweight woman, I have a love/hate relationship with Thanksgiving. On one hand, I really like the holiday. I love the fall colors, the chill in the air and the fact that our entire family gets together. We don’t celebrate Christmas, and no one’s thrown a Chanukah party in years, so this is THE family holiday for us during the seasons. And yes, our family actually gets along. When we see each other, it’s usually a happy occasion.

Unfortunately, Thanksgiving can be a huge trap for those trying to lose weight. You’re surrounded by mushy, easy-to-eat foods (seriously, almost every Thanksgiving dish from craberry sauce to the creamed spinach is like baby food) and then surrounded by family members who gorge themselves on said meal. In other words, it’s like peer-pressure for bingeing.

This year, I had the added pressure of attending not just one, but two Thanksgivings. On Thursday, Jon and I went to his Aunt Sue and Uncle Joe’s annual party at their house. Then on Friday, I joined Scott and his family for a slightly belated celebration. I’m happy to say that I survived both.

My game plan was to enjoy myself and not go overboard, which is exactly what I did. Things got a little dicey at Sue’s when I had one too many of the pig-in-a-blanket hors d’oeuvres she laid out, but I quickly checked myself and didn’t use my “slip-up” as an excuse to gorge myself during the rest of the evening. Instead, I took a small scoop of everything I wanted to try and limited it to one serving. That was it. I had to show extra restraint this year because we had few enough people that we could actually eat at the table instead of eating buffet style. So the trays of food were right in front of me. But I managed to distract myself by enjoying the conversations around me and by paying attention to the things I liked that weren’t food.

Before I went to Scott’s, I asked my friend to make sure I didn’t overeat.

“Are you sure?” Scott asked. “It’s Thanksgiving, I don’t know if I’m comfortable doing that.”

“Do it!” I insisted. “If you see me scarfing down too many pieces of pie, yank the plate away from me. I’m serious. I won’t be angry with you.”

“Oookay,” he said hesitantly. “If you say so.”

When I got to his house, I was going to kill him when he put out a cheese tray (cheese is one of my trigger foods) right in front of me. Thankfully, he also thought to put out some vegetable crudites, so I munched on those instead. Later, I did the same thing I did at Sue’s: I ate a little of everything, but kept it to one serving. And when I did want a piece of the pumpkin pie cheesecake, Scott smoothly asked, “Do you want a whole piece or a half?”

Also joining us that day was Scott’s friend Matt. Matt’s lost a lot of weight on a program involving intense workouts and  pre-packaged meals. Of course, everyone asked me why I don’t order these meals. I don’t think they totally understood my explanation, so I’ll try here in writing:

My problem is bigger than knowing what to eat. I know what to eat. I know what a good portion size is. Hell, I have measuring cups and a scale, if I need to find out. I’ve also done the pre-packaged programs before and it worked for me… for a little while. Then I’d get upset over something and happy over something and use those emotions as excuses to eat. Sending me little packages won’t matter. While this works for some people, I need to change my BEHAVIOR around food. I’ve finally come to accept this, that I have an eating disorder, and need to alter my outlook on life. Permanently. Packaged meals won’t do that for me.

I appreciate them trying to help, though, and am glad that I have friends looking out for me. I’m also proud of myself for the way I handled Thanksgiving and how I managed to view it as more than just a holiday about food.

And I found the best way to make sure I didn’t overindulge on cookies. I brought a box of rainbow cookies — one of Scott’s favorites — and he ate almost the entire thing. I guess even thin people have bad days!

Weighty Matters

November 26, 2008

OK, first the good news: I lost four pounds this week! For those of you who aren’t schooled in math, this brings my weight to 290 lbs. Still beyond the average realms of fatness, but a step along the way back to Healthyville.

Unfortunately, my size still remains a weighty — pun intended — topic between myself and my parents. This Saturday, we visited them to take my dad out for his birthday. But what should’ve been a happy celebration, especially with all my dad’s gone through recently, turned sour when my mom got in a sneak attack and brought up my gain.

Now don’t get me wrong, I GET that they’re concerned. I GET that my mom’s probably freaking out about her obese daughter having a heart attack since her fitness-minded husband just had one. I KNOW that they love me and want me to be healthy and happy.  But you have to understand that with every confrontation comes the weight — another pun! — of years of past arguments and tears.

When I was in college and began to rapidly put on the pounds, my parents would hold little “interventions” for me when I came home for breaks. I’d always try to preempt them by wearing baggy clothes and making up a number of pounds I’d lost that semester, but of course, they could see right through my bullshit. They’d then sit me down in the den and then lecture me about the evils of weight gain.  I didn’t mind so much them wanting to talk about it; hell, I was upset with how I looked and could’ve used the help. It was the WAY they discussed it and the way in which they tried to scare me straight by using negative reinforcement. They warned that I’d never get a job, make friends, get a boyfriend… and that worst of all, I just didn’t look my best. One time they even threatened to remove me from college unless I lost 25 pounds that summer (I did and then gained it back). I found this pretty funny considering the fact that I was an A student who never did drugs and rarely drank. Yet it was my inability to stop eating Ben & Jerry’s that put me in the hot seat.

What I remember most about these “talks,” was just how badly I felt about myself, how I felt like I’d let my parents down. How they were ashamed of me. I was always the good girl and wanted to stay that way… and I had this problem that I couldn’t control, that was making me dread going home to my family. And the lectures never worked. Since I’m an emotional eater, the hurt just made me want to scarf a box of donuts — which I often did. My parents are good people and I’m sure that none of the fears I had were true and that the last thing they wanted to do was hurt me, but it did hurt and this is how I reacted.

Over the years, my weight continued to fluctuate and the arguments got wosre. Being young and stubborn, I became less and less tolerant of the lectures and sought out ways to avoid going home for holidays. I’d stay with my friend Debbie (who ended up becoming my sister-in-law) for spring break, and I remember one lonely Thanksgiving weekend, where I stayed in our apartment while Debbie and our roommate Amy went home. For the entire four days, I never left the place, instead watching movies and eating bowl after bowl of pasta.

In retrospect, I’m less angry at my parents because I realize that they were desperate and wanted to help someone they love. We don’t have kids, but I often wonder how I’d deal with a child who had my problem. The truth is, I don’t entirely know. I think for starters, though, I wouldn’t try to scare her into becoming thin. Instead, I’d be honest about the problem, but then try to find a positive solution, like teaching her to make a low-fat version of her favorite meal. I’d also MAKE SURE to keep her self-esteem intact, reminding her that she’s beautiful, but will live a fuller life if she can move more easily. Still, what would I do if she continued to expand? I can see why maybe they felt they had no choice.

It’s for these reasons that I don’t want to discuss my weight with them. Now that I’m older, we have a good relationship. But when my size is brought up, it brings me back to becoming that snarly 20-something who wants to move clear across from them. Besides, it’s not like I’m not aware that I have a problem. I THINK ABOUT IT ALL THE FUCKING TIME! So when I’m with my friends and family, I really don’t want to gab about this thing that plagues me in my dreams. I want a break, dammit.

I’m pretty sure that my parents won’t stop bringing it up. As my dad says, it’s their job, they’re parents. But they’ve got to understand that I’m 34 years old and have to face the consequences of my own stupid actions. Ultimately it’s up to me to lose the pounds and having the extra burden of satisfying two other people will my progress just makes an already tough task seem all the more difficult.

In the end, though, they’re my parents and I’m can’t write them off. After all we’ve been through, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to come to them for help. Yet, even with our painful past, it’s comforting to know that they’re there if I do decide to.

Tropic Thunder Thighs

November 22, 2008

Well, I’ve already had my first slip-up last night. Is this a speed record for falling off the wagon?

For her birthday, my friend Michele chose to have dinner at the Hawaiian Tropic Zone in the city. She thought we were going to a fun luau-themed restaurant. Instead, we got a Hawaiian Hooters.

As soon as I entered the club, I was greeted by a barely dressed woman sporting a tiny sarong, an even tinier bikini top and ginormous boobs that were even larger than mine! She led me to the bar area to wait for the rest of the girls (I’m almost always early to things; it’s that “Gotta make deadline” mentality that comes with being a journalist) and I realized that other than our “Hawaiian” hostesses, I was pretty much the only woman in that area. Even though it was boiling hot inside, I instinctively wrapped my winter coat around me in a sorry attempt to hide my bulging flesh. I could almost read the thoughts of the guys who were milling around: “Hey, Fatty, move it, will ya? You’re blocking out our eye candy!”

Finally, Michele and the rest of the “girls” showed up. Upon seeing the waitresses, Michele quickly realized this wasn’t exactly the theme she’d imagined when she’d picked the restaurant. Still, because it was warm inside and we were hungry, we decided to make the best of it and enjoy dinner. Plus, the waitresses seemed nice, and not at all perplexed that a group of girls were at this place.

As we arranged ourselves at the table, I surveyed my friends. I’m, wihtout a doubt, the largest out of all of them, but to their credit, they’ve never treated me like the “fat one.” In fact, most of these ladies I’ve known since college and they’ve seen me through all my different weights and sizes — and yet, that’s never been an issue for them. During the periods where i’ve lost a lot of pounds, like my latest stint a couple years back, they’re the first to compliment me, so I know they notice. But they’ve never made me feel self conscious about any weight gains, which I greatly appreciate.

I looked over the menu and the choices didn’t seem too bad: the fixed price menu included a grilled chicken dish that came with vegetables, and a choice of soup or salad. I chose the chicken and the sweet potato broccoli soup;

Unfortunately the service in this place was slow. Reeallllly sloooow. This was mainly because the waitresses were so busy. Between taking orders and serving people, they’d take to the stage and do dance numbers or ” beauty contests.” So by the time we were served just the bread, I was about ready to eat my hand off. Though I’d vowed to skip the bread, I devoured a piece.

Finally my soup came and it was delicious — light and tasty with huge pieces of fresh broccoli. However, instead of serving it with crackers, they paired it with cheesy breadsticks. I took a bite, which was a big mistake. Oh my God, they were so good–just dripping with mozarella cheese. I ate them as well as the soup.

By the time the actual main course came, I was feeling pretty full, and did a better job of controlling myself. I removed the skin from the chicken and only ate half; I also got a nice serving of veggies with the dish. Iinstead of ordering diet soda or alcohol, I had water.

As I ate, I observed how my skinny friends eat to see if I can get any tips from them. Adrienne ordered the sauce for her pasta on the side. Ellen halved her chicken and prepared to take the rest home at the start of the meal. Marianna ordered a very plain piece of salmon.

Then there was Teri. We always tease Teri about her habit of not eating. Oh, she eats plenty, but often she’ll literally hold a bite up to her mouth about to swallow it, but gets so caught up in talking she forgets to actually put the food in. She’s certainly not starving — it’s just that food isn’t a priority for her the way it is for me. After years of watching her do this, I asked her about it. “How do you do that?” I said. “How can you have food right in front of your face like that and not shovel it in?”

“Oh, she shovels it in when it’s chips or chocolate,” Marianna cracked.

“Seriously, how can you do that?” I repeated.

She shrugged. “I guess it’s because I was talking and the conversation was interesting,” she explained. “When I’m eating by myself, I just eat, but I don’t get to see all of you that often, so I like to catch up.”

Huh. She raised a good point. Often when we go out, I’ll be busy with my dinner while the rest of my friends are engaged in a conversation. Maybe it’s about time I also start making our get-togethers less about the food and more about seeing everyone else.

I decided to try this tactic during dessert. Once was saw it, though, the conversation turned to the food itself. In honor of Michele’s birthday, they gave us a free chocolate fondue. We were also given individual bowls of sorbet that were adorned with “lady fingers” — and by that, I mean cookies cut into the shape of a scantily-clad woman with big boobs. No, I am not kidding.

“See, I’m eating this without waiting,” Teri said digging into the fondue. “I just wait for when something is really good.”

Everyone around me was enjoying the feast. It was hard to resist. I gave in and dipped some fruit into the chocolate sauce, then had one bite-sized brownie piece. Not great, but much better than I would’ve done otherwise.

Like I said, this journey is all about me learning moderation. And so, I’m not going to beat myself up over having a nice night out with my friends. I need to live my life. I just need to learn how to keep living it as a happy and healthy person.

Saved By The Bowflex?

November 21, 2008

Woo hoo, I’ve had another good eating day so far. I had the best burrito for lunch; it had a whole wheat wrapper and was stuffed with fresh veggies and black beans instead of the usual cheese and meat. And again, I didn’t go to the vending machine!

Though it’s only been a few days since I’ve (re)started my weight loss plan, I can already feel some changes. For one thing, I’m definitely losing water weight because I’ve been peeing my brains out. I’m also finding it a little easier to walk. Last weekend, when I went to visit my dad in the city hospital, I literally had to stop to rest at every block — and the subway stop was only four blocks away.  As I explained to my husband, it isn’t so much that I get out of breath; it’s just that when I have a huge, bulging stomach, it puts a lot of weight in the front and my back hurts. I guess it’s somewhat similar to what many pregnant women experience,  But today, I walked without feeling the need to stop. I’m already feeling a little less bulky in my stomach area.

It’s frustrating to know that I’ve taken so many steps backwards (in more ways than one) when it comes to walking and being in shape. It wasn’t that long ago that I was clocking several miles of walking each day. I’d vowed to never get to a place where I couldn’t walk again. And yet, here I am, struggling once more. Why do I do this myself?

Well, I think at least part of the reason is because my beloved gym closed last year. It was right across the street from our home and I adored it. In fact, I don’t know why it took me so many years to finally join up. But once I did, I faithfully worked out there. It was a small, friendly place in the basement of the building and had all the equipment I needed like ellipticals, rowers, weights. It wasn’t anything fancy, but I Iiked its simplicity.

Because there were no TVs or anything high-tech like that in the gym, I used to listen to music and entertain myself by watching my fellow workout fiends. There was the “Mouthbreather”; she’d do over an hour on the elliptical, keeping her mouth open in a huge, gaping “O” the entire time. She looked very much like the person featured in that painting “The Scream.” Then there was the “Woot Woot Girl.” She liked to motvate herself while using the elliptical by waving her hands in the air and shouting, “Woot, woot, woot!” “Cell Phone Lady” wasn’t as entertaining, but it was difficult to ignore her. She’d stand on the treadmill, motionless, and talk on her phone in a loud New Yawk accent. “Omigawd! You won’t believe what happened at the awwfice today!” And then there was Mike. Ah, sweet Mike. I couldn’t even think up a good name for him. He was the resident workout-aholic. He’d do about two hours on the cardio machine, boasting about his stats as he did so. But what made him really annoying was that he’d SHOUT ACROSS THE ROOM TO HIS BUDDIES TO DISCUSS SPORTS!!! Ugh. A little drama ensued when Mike ironically reamed out Cell Phone Lady for being too loud. Yet no one ever bothered to tell Mike to shut his trap.

During the year-and-a-half I spent at the gym, I got into decent shape and was devastated when it closed down so the building could add more parking space. I joined another nearby gym, but it absolutely sucked and I didn’t go. Bally’s and New York Sports Club are very expensive… and without a place to work out, I began to spiral out of control.

The good news is, we recently purchased one of those Bowflex home gyms! It takes up the entire living room and looks like a torture instrument, but my husband and I are both enjoying it. Instead of traditional weights, it uses resistence rods — and let me tell you, they really work! Bowflex recommends doing 20-minute workouts and you definitely feel it, even after that short amount of time. I like to do a few exercises at a time, two sets of each; with over 60 exercises to choose from, I’m never bored.

I’ve taken to working out in the morning. I like feeling like I’ve accomplished something by the time I get to work. Also, reruns of Saved By The Bell are on at that time.

Yes, I still watch that show and yes, I still have a little crush on Zack Morris and his gigantic cell phone (Imagine if Cell Phone Lady had gotten her hands on that?). But my real reason for watching is I like having something silly on to keep my workouts fun. Music doesn’t work as well for me when it comes to doing a weight training workout, but SBTB does the trick.

Now that I’m back on program, I’m determined to use the Bowflex more religiously. And with Screech and Mr. Belding as my workout partners, really, how can I fail?

I had two victories today! First, I beat the vending machine. I considered buying something from it at work today — those M&Ms were staring at me — but I had plain yogurt with fruit instead. Then at home, I was craving pizza for dinner. My solution? I compromised. I ordered a thin crust veggie pizza and had two small slices. I then wrapped up the rest for tomorrow. Like I said before, it’s all about me learning to eat things in moderation — not too little, not too much. I’m on my way to a healthy me!

In other good news, after a week-long stay, my father was finally released from the hospital! However, as happy as I am that he’s well enough to be at home, a small part of me — the probably very selfish part — is relieved that I managed to avoid running into the many family friends who’d visited him; the ones who haven’t seen me in a few years and have no idea how big I’ve gotten.

Having once been thin and now grossly overweight makes getting together with old acquaintences interesting, to say the least. I experienced this in full-force at my wedding, where I wasn’t even at my top weight; I was about 220 at the time — skinny compared to what I am now! For those who weren’t expecting to see a fat bride, my appearance was a shock, and I could see it in their expressions. “Oh, uh, er… congratulations!” Sure, most of my friends and family told me I was a beautiful bride, and I do have to say, I look okay in our photos. Still, there were some guests who were clearly uncomfortable with my change and didn’t know what to say; on a day where I was supposed to be the prettiest woman in the room, I felt self-conscious.

As for everyone else I’ve gotten back in touch with — which is really easy to do these days with Facebook, MySpace and the other reunion sites — I’ve had mixed results. Before we make any arrangements, I always give the person a warning about my weight so he or she won’t be too shocked.  A handful, including a childhood friend, simply stopped calling after actually seeing me. But there have been a few who didn’t care and have stayed friends. Whenever I see the name of an old classmate who I liked, I’m always torn between honoring my dignity or my desire to reignite a relationship. Usually the friendship wins out.

My most successful reunion to date has been with my friend Scott. He and I were band buddies in high school (we both played sax) and though we weren’t extremely close, we always got along well.  He was also very encouraging when it came to my music career. For my final jazz band concert during senior year, I decided to play an improvised flute solo (my main instrument). I almost didn’t do it, but Scott pursuaded me to go through with it. That helped launch my career as a jazz flautist.

After college, he and I lost touch for about 10 years, but when I saw his information online, I just knew I had  to call him. I did, and we had a great conversation. He then suggested he meet up with Jon and me for lunch.

“First, I have to tell you something,” I warned. “I’m really fat now.”

“So? Most of us look different now that we’re older,” he replied.

“No, you don’t understand,” I explained. “I’m fat, like really fat — I’m fucking HUGE!”

“I don’t give a shit,” he said. “I just want to meet you for lunch.”

We met up and sure enough, Scott didn’t seem to care about what I looked like. As it turns out, he had a little secret of his own: he’s gay. Once that was out, we dropped all pretenses and discussed everything we could think of. Three years later, he’s one of my best friends.

The one thing we don’t have in common is that he’s in really, really great shape. He runs marathons and cycles. When he joined us in Mexico, he ran up the freakin’ Pyramid Of the Sun! He’s the one who got Jon and me to do that 20-mile charity walk last year.  Like Jon, he’s gone out of his way to help me get back into shape. He constantly cheers me on and even had me send him daily workout and food diaries (which if you’re reading this Scott, I promise I’ll start doing that again).

I’m not sure exactly where I slipped up this time around, especially with such a great support system behind me. But I’m determined to beat this and be the person I know I can be. I want to be able to attend my 20th high school reuion without having to warn everyone first.

Of Vice(s) And Men

November 19, 2008

There’s a new reality show on the Style network called Ruby, which chronicles the weight loss attempts of a 400-plus pound woman.  What I like about the show is that unlike many of the obesity-realted programs shown on TLC, it doesn’t only focus on the medical aspects of her journey. The viewer really gets to know Ruby the woman and what her personal world is like. Plus, unlike many other reality TV ladies, she’s not a screechy psycho whore and is actually, well, likeable. Sure she’s flawed, but overall she comes across as a kind-hearted person whom you want to root for.

That said, I felt for her when her ex — the man whom she almost married — came back into her life after a six-year absence. Yeah, yeah, I’m pretty certain that the show’s producers requested his return in order to add some drama to the series (it is a TV show after all), but I don’t doubt the veracity of their prior relationship history. Basically, she believed that this guy (who’s totally buff and really cute, by the way) was the love of her life. He, however, didn’t want to marry her until she lost the weight, and ended the relationship. Heartbroken, she put on even more pounds. This time around, he again told her that he’d be with her if only she’d lose the weight. Ruby then, in the nicest way possible, told him to get lost, explaining that she wanted to get healthy for herself — and in the meantime, find a man who’ll love her regardless of her appearance.

While my first instinct was to cheer, “Woo hoo, Ruby! Kick his skinny ass to the curb!” I can kind of understand where he’s coming from, too. Most of us — much as I hate to admit it, even me — do judge our significant others (or potential mates) at least somewhat on physical attractiveness. I think that when you truly love someone, though, you stick by him or her through thick or thin — figuratively or literally.

In my case, I’m very lucky that my husband, Jon, is one of these guys. We’ve been wed for 8 1/2 years now and I’ve been overweight for most of that time. Hell, I was even a fat bride. Still, I was thin when we first began dating, right after I completed graduate school. Though I’d ballooned up to 190 in college, I decided to get in shape while I was graduate school, mainly because it helped me deal with the stress of a tough journalism program. I worked out six days a week and got down to a nice, trim, muscular 140 lbs. This was probably the best shape I’ve ever been in — even more so than when I was stick thin, back in high school.

Therefore, I was lookin’ gooood  when we first started going out, and after a few months, our romance turned into a serious relationship. I then started work and began putting on the pounds… and before I knew it, I was obese. Still, Jon’s never said anything bad about me. He always tells me I’m beautiful and hates when I criticize myself. I guess there’s a silver lining in knowing that yes, if something happened to me where I didn’t look my best, my husband would stick by me. And yes, there is definitely some comfort in knowing that.

But while’s accepted my overweight status, he’s also gone above and beyond to help me lose weight. He’s never demanded that I do so, mind you, but he knows that it’s something I want to do and is anxious to be supportive. He even did that 20-mile charity walk last year. This time around, I want to show him that I appreciate his efforts because while he’s never said so, I know that my being obese can be frustrating for him. He loves to take long walks, for example, and with the way my weight is right now, that’s difficult for me. And traveling? Forget about it. We both love seeing the world and have been to many exciting places together, such as Iceland, Norway and Australia, but it just isn’t enjoyable visiting a place when you can barely move. The worst was when we went to England while I was at my highest weight of 326 pounds. Back then, I couldn’t walk a block without having to sit down and rest, and I was miserable the entire week we were there. We didn’t see very much of London and I knew just by looking in his face that he was disappointed.

We currently have a trip planned for Japan this spring. I’m determined to get in shape for this. I want to be able to run around Tokyo and perform karaoke without fearing that I’ll be mistaken for Shamu. I want to be able to hike around the temples in Kyoto and appreciate their beauty without gasping for air. I want to be able to enjoy my life — and for my husband to be able to really, truly enjoy seeing the world with me.

Just How Big Are My Thighs?

November 18, 2008

A quick warning to those of you who’ve come here thinking this is some kind of porn site: turn back right now! Unless, of course, you’re into porn that features morbidly obese women with thighs the size of Texas. I’m not here to judge, I’m just sayin’.

That’s right, I said it. I’m super morbidly obese. I’ve admitted the problem — isn’t that supposed to be the first step toward recovery? I certainly would like to recover from the food addiction that’s plagued me for my entire life. The one that’s led to me, a 5’3″ woman, weighing 294 pounds.

Yikes! It really does suck to see the number written out like that. It even looks fat, doesn’t it, unlike a number like say, 111, which looks as slender as a person who weighs that. Still, I’m confident that I can turn that 294 into something lower. I don’t know if 111 is in my reach, but for now, I’ll settle for losing the first few lbs. and go from there. After all, I don’t have a choice. I’ve been up and down, up and down the scale for so long, my body is ready to murder me. If I want to add many more years onto my 34, I need to take care of this problem… yesterday.

My first step toward weight loss (again) is writing this blog. I’ve always kept journals — fhandwriteen from way before the blog craze hit — and they’ve helped me make sense of my life. Hopefully, this will do the same. I’ve been debating starting one for a while now, but what’s prompted me to finally begin is the heart attack my dad suffered this past weekend. He’s not fat; in fact, he’s in great shape, but I guess you just never know who’ll get one. The doctors say he’ll be okay, but it hit home for me how I’m a ticking time bomb when it comes to my health. I think my dad, who’s going to be 66 this week, is too young to die. I certainly think I’m too young, as well.

As I said earlier, this isn’t my first time trying to lose weight. All of the diets and I are old acquaintences: Jenny Craig, Slim Fast, Nutra System, uh, starvation… I’ve tried them all. The two times I’ve been the most successful, I was on Weight Watchers, so I’m planning to do that program again. I like WW because a) if forces you to keep a food journal, which I desperately need to do and b) you can eat pretty much anything you want. Last time, though, I didn’t really work the program. I lost a lot of weight, but would work out just so I could gain activity points to eat more chocolate — which I’m pretty sure isn’t what you’re supposed to do. And yes, I know what foods are healthy. It’s just that when I’m stressed out or depressed, chocolate does it for me more than broccoli. This time, I’m going to do a combination of WW’s Core and Flex programs; which will have me eating plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. I also plan to get back into exercising. Two years ago, I joined the gym across the street from our house and got into pretty good shape. My husband and I even completed a 20-mile charity walk. Then the gym closed and I joined another nearby one, which I hated. I slacked off… and the weight came creeping back ob. We recently purchased a Bowflex home gym, though, so I don’t have any excuses.

While I want to lose weight, one of my other main goals is simply to learn how to eat and exercise in moderation. I’ve always been an all or nothing person, especially when it comes to food. I’ve been chubby, borderline anorexic, bulimic and now morbidly obese, but only for a short time in my life have I ever been just average. I so want to be average — not too thin, but in good shape with nice curves. That’s not too lofty of a goal, right? Whoever thought being “normal” would take so much work, both mentally and physically?

Well, I’m off to make my healthy dinner of carrots, hummus and whole-wheat pasta. Mmm! Here’s to some good eating — and to good health.


January 24, 2010

I’ve recently started blogging again!

To find me at my new home at see where I’m at with my weight loss adventures, please head to: