This is such difficult subject for me! When I was in junior high school, and subsequently during high school, I was very thin. When I got married for the first time, at age 19, I was 98 pounds and about 5 feet 4 inches tall. I NEVER gained weight! It didn’t help that I was a very picky eater as a child, but I still wonder if that was really a factor, as my mom always had pasta and homemade sauce (my absolute favorite) on hand as a “go to” meal when all else failed. I come from a large Italian family, where food was always the center of everything! My mom didn’t work and always had a three course meal on the table for my dad and the kids when we came home from work and school respectively. She was a phenomenal cook, and just as good of a baker, so we always had homemade desserts on hand too. Mondays were usually homemade chicken soup, Tuesdays a meat, potato and vegetable, Wednesday, Chicken, rice, vegetable, Thursdays pasta, meatballs, sausage, and Fridays homemade pizza. Saturday night was sort of pot luck, and Sunday dinner was a huge feast after church, with the whole family, including grandparents, aunts and uncles. Every meal was accompanied by fresh bread, salad, and cheeses. As you read this you might say how can this be? How did you never gain weight? Well I’m not sure I have the answer! I do know we were extremely active as kids, we road our bikes, played basketball, kick ball, hung out down by a small stream, where we would hike through the woods. On the summer weekends we swam at a lake where my grandparents had a cottage, I was a cheerleader and into gymnastics, but I also just think I had good genes. These good genes carried me through much of my young adulthood. I did kind of follow fad exercising during that period, and experimented with aerobics, step aerobics, and jazzercise. At 28 I got pregnant with my daughter and things started to change. After the initial exhaustion and sensitivity to smell period, I found myself hungry ALL the time, and the old “I’m eating for two excuse” was a perfect way to have that second bowl of ice-cream, or bag of potato chips. After she was born, I thought I’d be able to squeeze right back into my pre-pregnancy jeans, and of course nursing would just melt away my excess calories…not. It was then that I really began to struggle with my weight. Instead of sleeping while my daughter did, I’d try to exercise, do laundry clean the house or catch up with all the chores I needed to accomplish for that brief and I do mean brief, period she was off in dreamland. I was a stay at home mom, and my husband at the time was a truck driver with oodles of overtime, so he really wasn’t a lot of help, which was fine with me, because I’m not quite sure I’d relinquish her anyways! I was exhausted constantly. I began a very unhealthy form of eating disorder, where I would eat something then exercise, then weigh myself, then eat again, then exercise, then weigh myself…well you see where I am going with this. I was finally able to lose the weight and then four years later I was pregnant with my son. I was a bit more careful this time, but I had already adapted bad eating habits and an unhealthy thought process when it came to dieting, exercising, and food in general. My son was born three weeks early and my milk hadn’t come in yet, so I couldn’t nurse him, and eventually I took up smoking again, while they napped, or after they went to bed. This helped curb my appetite in the unhealthiest of ways! I of course carried along in my mom and grandma’s footsteps and when my husband came home for dinner there was always a meat, potato (rice, pasta) and vegetable on the table for him and the kids. I made all my own baby food and they flourished. My husband loved my cooking and he was so active his metabolism burned every calorie he ingested. So started the ups and downs of my battle with weight. After nineteen years, my marriage my failed. I developed ulcerative colitis and lost a lot of weight, once again, by being very unhealthy! After many years and lots of medication, I was able to get the disease into remission, and then its very distant cousin, diverticulitis took over. I was on the verge of getting a portion of my intestine removed, after it had perforated, when my general surgeon suggested we wait and try a regimen of antibiotics for an infection that just wouldn’t clear. Thank God he thought surgery was our very last resort. Through diet and lifestyle changes, I’ve been able to keep the diverticulitis in check, but lo and behold I am still on a dieting yo-yo. Four months ago a virus attacked my thyroid and I became very ill. I was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and could only swallow liquids for about a month; I lost a substantial amount of weight, and as awful as it sounds really liked my body. With high doses of steroids to treat the swelling, I am now feeling better and am able to eat solids again, but just as my doctor predicted, my blood levels are now reflecting hypothyroidism. We are not sure if this is a permanent condition yet, but my weight has steadily risen. I wish my weight wasn’t such an issue. I wish my happiness and self-esteem wasn’t tied to what jean size I fit into, but most of all I wish getting “sick” wasn’t the only way I could feel happy with my body. I never thought I expressed these feelings to my daughter, but kids are astute and now at 28 when I hear her mention gaining or losing weight I cringe. I look at my husband and I think “why doesn’t he ever speak of his weight”? If he wants an extra helping, he helps himself to it. Is this a gender thing? Are we as woman so programmed that happiness and beauty are tied to a number on the scale? I am a certified yoga teacher, and I try to practice an hour every day. I love what yoga has done to my body, but it’s not a weight loss solution and neither should it be. Its benefits far outweigh that, so why can’t I just be happy with the body I have. It’s limber and beautiful and when I am in a pose I feeling so powerful, why am I so concerned about that little roll on my tummy? This is definitely a work in progress, but I will conquer these unhealthy thoughts.
I will eat healthy foods to nourish my body, not because I am dieting.
I will ask myself do I really want a second helping because I am still hungry or it merely tastes so good.
I will remind myself that I can always make this meal again, I don’t have to stuff myself like it’s the last time I will ever taste it.
I will make fewer portions, and that will help me to limit myself to one very healthy serving, instead of going back for seconds or thirds.
I will not eat because I am bored, depressed, or angry.
I will NOT deprive myself, if I want ice-cream I will have it, but maybe I don’t need it every night.
I will love my body, and I will remind myself how sick I felt when I “thought” I was the “perfect” weight.
Finally I will not let a number on a scale define who I am or determine my happiness.
To be continued…