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.

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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.