Friday, February 24, 2012

Trying To Make Light Of A Heavy Subject

I make it no secret that I am trying to lose weight by eating right and exercising. Actually, it is hard for me to remember a time when I haven't been dealing with my weight in one way or another. This time is different in that I have a different motivation. Before I would say I want to be healthier, when deep down I really wanted to look better. Now, both older and wiser, I have a focus on health in the physical and spiritual aspects of my life.

Now let me just say that I grew up in a time when childhood obesity was rare, unlike the epidemic it is today. I was that rare plump kid and I definitely knew it. On the odd occasion I forgot about my looks, I was frequently reminded by my peers, or the very sparse selection of clothes available to round girls like me. Anyone else remember the tiny department for "hefty" girls called the Lemon Frog? The name is somehow burned into my mind. Was it because of the sigma of being a "lemon" or maybe the fact that girls my size were frogs, not princesses?

I didn't date much in my teens. Of course I believed it was because I was the chubby girl. Seriously, who would want to be seen with me? My mom always said it was because the boys were intimidated, but I would roll my eyes telling her she was my mom and had to say that stuff. I became a compulsive dieter, and along with that came other odd compulsions. For one, I couldn't let anyone see me chew. Lunches were spent sneaking food into my mouth and covering the lower part of my face. If by some chance someone did see me eat it had to be something healthy for fear that person would confront me with "Lisa, french fries are the LAST thing you need to be eating." If I ate too much I would panic and force myself to throw-up.

Exercise was a whole other matter. I hated "exercise" and still do. Remember back then there was no such thing as sport bras, and busty girls like me took their lives in their hands just trying to jog the track. I should also mention that our sadistic school system made the girls wear a GYM SUIT. Talk about cruel and unusual punishment! This thing was a one piece number that combined shorts that looked more like bloomers, with a longer top that was supposed to blouse a bit. It zipped up the front and had a bit of elastic in the waist. Trust me, I was not inspired to exercise in this thing. As you ran, the shorts would slide down, the zipper didn't like to stay in place, so the days we had track were spent in a half jog/half walk while I tugged at my shorts, adjusted my zipper, and tried not to give myself a black eye! It was no wonder I was thrilled to have fractured my ankle one year just because I got out of gym class.

Back then, exercise was what you did when you played sports, (I didn't) or did aerobics, (I did but not well) or lifted weights, (I did that but stopped for fear of becoming to big or masculine). Dance, which I loved, didn't count, nor did colorguard (yes I was an indoor colorguard person), and I rode my beloved Huffy Santa Fe 10 speed bike every where, at least I did, before I started driving. After I started driving, I regularly got my exercise by pushing my car through intersections when it would stall out. Through all of this I had people around me to point out that I was "pleasingly plump." True story, I heard those very words spoken as I walked out of the lunchroom in Jr high school.  Two boys were behind me, and I heard one say, "She's not fat, she's pleasingly plump." Needless to say my heart sank because the focus, in my mind, was on the "plump" NOT the "pleasingly" part!

Enough reminiscing. Through the years, I have been up and down the scale in my own virtuoso of  weight loss. But as I said, it was always more about fighting the demons that haunted me about my looks. If I could finally win the battle, I would suddenly find, not only true love, but true happiness and have the successful life I always dreamed of. What a lie! I know that now. And I am glad I finally got it through my least I thought I got it through that skull of mine.

Now I am not so sure.  I truly enjoy healthy foods. My husband marvels at my ability to contentedly munch on salad with tons of veggies and just a bit of oil and vinegar. Fresh fruit sends me over the moon.I admit I have a weakness for carbs but even then I want whole grain high fiber bread, not white. My kids even refer to cereal in terms of "Mommy Cereal" vs "Kid Cereal."   These days "exercise" includes things like walking, dancing, aerobics done in the pool, and video games on Wii. But the scars of the past remain and I find I am even more aware of perceived teasing.

Take today for example, I was dancing with my one daughter for a minute. She did a move she saw on Zumba where she shakes her rump very quickly. I did it too and she started smirking. I stopped dancing and sat down, crushed because I was sure she was looking at my "fat jiggling."  Later, I actually did my Wii Zumba workout. My husband was in the room, working from home, and I breathlessly commented, " If this is medium intensity I can't imagine what high intensity would be like."

His response? "I wouldn't be able to work, with my laptop bouncing off my lap." I can only imagine what my look conveyed because he quickly continued, " That is, with anyone, even the girls...." Our girls are small but honestly, his save just didn't cut it. Really, all this time and I am still dealing with the reminders that I don't fit the physical ideal in my head.

So where do I go with all this? Well for one thing, I am not going dwell on it. Yes, yes I know that blogging about it may, in fact, appear to be dwelling on it. But here is the difference, the things that happened in the past were things I never spoke of. I held on to them in my head, and there they stayed for decades. Whenever I needed to indulge self flagellation, I went to that source. Now I am determined to stay in the here and now. I want to feel the feelings, not stuff them down with food or other self destructive behaviors.

So, yes it is no secret that I am trying to improve my health, and while it may not show on the outside, I am improving on the inside.

Don't Say I Never Told You...


  1. This is so honest and very well written. We all hold hurts from our childhoods. Somehow they make us into individuals who are wonderful even on days when we doubt ourselves. Well done!!

  2. It's very hard for me to fight the impulse to whack over the head the people who did, or do, make you feel this way. I've always been bigger than you and I'm fortunate not to get that treatment. Well, I mean you know I did as a kid but it's stopped for me in adulthood. I have a cocoon of support.

    Blogging DOES help - it provides accountability in your head. Even if half your readership is imagined, you have this sense that there are people out there silently (or not silently) cheering you on, and waiting to hear from you on how you are doing.

    You know I'm here for you, always!