Monday, November 23, 2009
HELLOOOOO SPARK WORLD!! I'M BACK!!
Boy, I've missed everybody! Thank you all for your notes of concern. I've been tied up with taking care of two ailing, elderly parents -- my 96 year old father, and my 81 year old mother-in-law. They are both like the proverbial Timex watches. They "take a licking and keep on ticking"!!
My father is the most cheerful guy there is. Just recently back from the hospital, I went up to see him in his nursing home room. Despite the fact I had seen him the day before, he exclaimed "Joanne I haven't seen you in ages"! While the Large Jamaican nurse, Bonita, bustled around his room, he chattered on about how I always managed to stay thin and keep my figure and never let myself get fat like -- and he points not so secretively at Bonita, who sees his gesture. Mortified, I start to chastise him but she breaks out in a raucous laugh and reminds me of what a sweetheart that he is, but his mind is getting more childlike and besides he isn't saying anything that isn't obvious! I told her for some reason he doesn't remember that I was indeed heavy just a few years ago, and in fact spent most of my adult life overweight. She explained that it's a facet of his dementia. He can remember details from his childhood, but not what he ate for breakfast.
You see, I wasn't one of those roly-poly children. I was painfully thin. The neighborhood boys loved to tease me - "Hey Joanne - I bet if you turned to the side and stuck out your tongue, you'd look just like a zipper"! My older brother had the teasing down to a fine art. Somewhat of a late bloomer, I found myself still stick straight in Jr. High just about the time the rest of my friends were developing cleavage and curves. He knew this caused me angst and so he would slide up to me and say " You know what your "teats" look like"?
Yep. He'd say teats, knowing that if my mother -- who had supernatural hearing caught him saying "tits" she would cuff his ears. So this way if she overheard anything, he could claim he was discussing barnyard animals. If I tried tattling on him, it would be his word against mine and therefore in the interest of fairness, she would cuff us both!
Anyhow, his next line would be "They look like two raisins on an ironing board" and collapsing into gales of laughter he would lope off while tears of pure anger and shame burned in my eyes! He even found an ingenious way to torment me without uttering a word. He'd just hold up two fingers with one hand while pantomiming the motion of ironing with the other and then point at me!
My weight started to pile on with the 45 pound weight gain during my first pregnancy and blossomed steadily up through two more pregnancies continuing up until I reached my all time high -- 203 pounds on a 5'4" frame!
Not genetic, I had nothing or no one to blame but myself. It was the usual - I ate more calories than I expended. But the big question was why? Was I an emotional eater? Not particularly. I'm a cheerful, the glass is half full kind of person. When I feel stress I usually try to meet it head on and plan accordingly. I am a creature of habit and mostly an organized individual. I enjoy self-indulgences like bubble baths and reading. Nice ways to redirect stress eating urges.
Did I eat out of boredom? Sometimes, but not a big issue. I gave up TV in favor of SparkPeople. Can't eat while you type:)
I could kick into a binge for sure. I did that plenty. But what triggered it? My love of food? Yeah... I'm getting warmer.
Then one morning a month or so ago I had a revelation. A breakthrough if you will:
I walked into my office in the phone triage room where I'm a nurse in a busy ob/gyn clinic carrying a bag of Hershey's miniature candy bars that I like to keep in a container on the counter for several doctors who enjoy a little chocolate now and then. It's mutually beneficial -- they get a treat and I get a captive audience to answer questions on charts I've stockpiled on the side of my desk. I don't really have any trouble staying out of them myself. I've managed to convince myself over the years that unless it's premium chocolate like Godiva, and I have plenty of time to savor a reasonable piece, I skip it.
As I opened the bag and inhaled the sweet chocolately aroma, I exclaimed "Mmm I love the smell of chocolate"! One one of the newer - overweight - triage nurses, Kathy, who only knows me as the "thin Joanne" who eats tuna and vegetables everyday with a piece of fruit for lunch, pronounced to the other two nurses "Ooo you wait, now she'll have to go to the bathroom and throw up that vapor"! A little titter arose from the others as Kathy winked at me. Not easily offended, I unwrapped a piece and popped it in my mouth, chomping it down. "See", I declared defensively, "I eat like a normal person"!
While sitting at my desk a few minutes later, feeling guilty and remorseful at eating 80 calories so senselessly, the image of my mother catching me -- around age 15 as I bent over an ironing board trying to iron my hair straight, came to me. Jerking me up by the other side of my hair she shrieked, "What on God's green earth are YOU DOING"???
"I'm straightening my hair", I stammered "All my friends are doing it"!
She leveled me with a stare that only my mother could do that bored holes right through me and without blinking she demanded, "And if they were all jumping off a cliff, would you do that TOO"?
And then it hit me -- PEER PRESSURE. The desire to feel a part of the group. To be liked. I ate and binged on food like an alcoholic with drink to feel accepted. And just like an alcoholic, the course was one of self-destruction. Why did I feel like I needed to prove to anyone that I was a "normal" person? Why couldn't I feel liked without participating in their excessive behaviors? Why was I constantly justifying my "odd" lunches? Did I have to eat what I knew was unhealthy for me or else launch into one of my long winded explanations of how just a little miniature candy bar used to trigger a "What the heck" attitude in me and set off a binge of astronomic proportions?
Work potlucks. Church potlucks. "Ladies night out". Dinner with my nieces. Holiday dinners at my daughter-in-law's. How many occasions did I find myself overeating so I didn't hurt anyone's feelings? So that I felt like I fit in?
By not attending I would appear even more standoffish than if I went, ate reasonably, and offered no explanations. I always volunteered to bring something healthy like the veggie tray and I always noticed that I was able to toss the empty tray away at the end of the day. I wasn't the only one eating healthy apparently.
Maybe, just maybe, some of my angst was self-imposed.
Gradually, I began to reframe my thinking. I quit worrying about what others thought or didn't think about my eating. I pulled out my before picture one day and showed Kathy who gasped, "No way! That can't be you -- you look awesome now. How did you do it?" "Tuna, veggies, and fruit for lunch", I said smiling.
When my dearest friend that I work with, Terry, brought in her terrific homemade salsa I noticed she brought in a special bag of whole grain tortilla chips for me. Yes, she chuckled when I counted a serving size of chips out on my plate chip by chip, so I could could track it online later at home. I rolled up the bag but before putting the clip on I looked at her and unrolling it quickly I reached in and took out one more chip and tossed it over my shoulder to the plate. "If I'm going to be naughty", I told her, "It'll be with YOUR salsa"!
We shared a laugh and I knew...
That I don't have to prove anything to anybody. I'm liked for who I am -- not for what I eat - or don't eat.