Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Weighty Issues

First, I want to apologize for not posting more regularly. I've been working a full time job, you see, and I don't have my days to myself right now. As much as I would like to continue making money (and good money, at that!) this particular assignment does not appear to be long term, so I will most likely be back to blogging semi-daily in the next week or so. I've actually started three different posts, but my perfectionism rears it's ugly head every time I try to post something without spending an adequate amount of time editing. So, they will sit in in my "editing" folder for a while longer.

Second, the reason for my post today - Some of you don't know this about me (because you haven't seen me recently, or whatever) but I am more than 60 pounds overweight. With a height of only 4'11", each extra pound I carry shows more and causes more problems for me than it would on someone a foot taller, or even a woman of average height. I hate looking this way and I hate feeling this way. Physically, I hurt more and have less energy that I have had in my entire life. My joints have ached, especially my knees and back, since high school because I was just born that way, but the extra pounds make this ache more of an un-ignorable pain. I won't even get into the discussion of how the extra weight is contributing to higher blood sugar and probably all my other physical ailments. I know what all this is doing to me. And, yes, I do care. Quite a bit actually.

For one thing, being short and round makes it difficult to find clothes that fit, let alone that are flattering. I have a rather extensive "personality" (40DD) and that adds pounds as well as size. I actually have to shop in a plus size store, but I can only wear petite sizes. So I wear clothes that are increasingly wider but are still shorter than average. All it does is make me appear more and more like a bowling ball.  I have bags and bags of clothes that I love, but are too small. I hang on to them in the hopes that I will need them again one day, but they are still collecting dust season after season. (In my defense, I have been in situations where I both lost and gained so much so quickly that I had nothing to wear, so I mostly keeping them in an attempt to save money somewhere down the line.) Even my shoes don't fit right right. Any dress shoes with more than a 1" heel are sheer torture but anything less than 1 1/2" makes me look frumpy. The only comfy shoes I can find are sneakers and I "run" through a pair roughly every 3 months.

For another thing, I don't look like myself when I look in the mirror. I have always had a squarish face with baby fat looking cheeks, so my face hasn't changed much. The rest of me has, however. I can deal with larger hips and chest from having (and nursing) three babies. I can deal with a "smiley face" scar across my belly from two c-sections. I can even deal with the stretch marks and scars. I can't deal with the fat. I hate being so fat that my bra straps cut into my shoulders and back. I am disgusted at the way my bottom moves when I walk because it is so much bigger than it should be. I am embarrassed at my arms and how big they look in short sleeves. I want to vomit when I see my self in just my undies (I don't look at myself naked anymore.) Being this fat takes its toll on everything in my life from the way I move to how confident I feel. I have tried new hairstyles, different make-up looks, accessorizing with fancy jewelery, and every other way you can think of to help me, maybe, stop hating the way I look just a little bit. I've read books, taken yoga classes, tried meditation, vitamins, diets, even prescription medications, all to try and get rid of a few pounds here and there. Of course, like any healthy person will tell you, it isn't a diet that I need. It is a lifestyle of healthy food and rigorous exercise that will keep my body fit and my life happy.

I am a perfect example of American society. I am considered obese by the doctor's standards, but  I have yet to make any real progress in changing it. I know nutritionally what and how much I should eat, drink, and exercise but I can't really say that I actually follow those guidelines. I have managed to control my food in the past with some success. For eight months I meticulously recorded and calculated everything I ate and drank. I kept my calories below 1200 and my total fat intake less than 40g per day. I was the smallest I have been since high school and I felt awesome. I did it by becoming, not just aware, but nearly obsessed with everything I ate. Then, I got married and had baby #2. With LH in heart surgery and then a month of recovery and TD only 8 weeks old, I had less time for obsessing over myself. I actually stopped taking care of myself almost entirely. The backlash from that is what I am dealing with today - too much weight and a host of medical issues to go with it.

 I can honestly say that most of the extra pounds came from being sick and being treated for those illnesses. It started with an anti-depressant after TD was born. That was the first five pounds. Then came the headaches and the multiple medications to attempt to treat them. More anti-depressants, and then anti-seizure meds, sedatives, even anti-psychotics. Each of them came with their own side effects and also with many extra pounds. At one point, I gained 40 pounds in just over three months. (My hair also started to fall out and I was unable to remember what I had for breakfast by the time lunch was over. I didn't like that medication very much.) I also had EG, had my gall bladder removed, then broke my ankle, then got fired - several times. Stress does really nasty things to your moods and your metabolism. Some drugs did make me lose a few pounds, although it was a shockingly small amount when compared with the amount that others had made me gain. A lot of them just made me very, very tired. So, I slept, and managed to stay awake to eat meals with my family, and then slept some more.

Maybe I have the "Oh, poor me" complex going here. It does sound a bit like I am pushing the blame off on the meds or the doctors. I have a dirty little secret about that though. I don't really believe it. I think that it is my fault I gained the weight. I have so little self control and motivation that I have eaten and sat myself into this situation. I get cravings for sweet things and I give in - even if I know I don't need it or that my blood sugar is already high. I have a terrible caffeine and cola addiction and, in spite of the added calories, I drink an average of three a day and I refuse to switch to diet drinks. (Believe it or not, my twisted brain sees diet drinks as unhealthy and potentially poisonous from all the artificial sweeteners.) I eat ice cream and cookies and even candy if it is around, even though I swear I hate it and I don't really like chocolate. There is a terrible disconnect between what is real and what my brain thinks is real.

Think this sounds harsh? I do to. It sounds a whole lot like I am mentally beating myself up for all the extra weight which makes me feel guilty and ugly, so I turn to yummy foods to make me feel better, and that makes the problem - and the guilt worse - and so on. That is an eating disorder based around overeating and emotional eating. People like me end up on reality TV shows. How is it that I know what the problem is but I don't fix it? How can an intelligent and educated person, such as myself, fall into a trap that I can even identify and describe? The answer to THAT question is way more painful than it should be.

Eating disorders affect 1 in 10 Americans. 25% of those are women in their 30's, like me. That makes it sound like someone just rolls out of bed one day and decides to puke up their food suddenly. It doesn't happen like that. It starts with ugly words thrown at you from people who are angry, or jealous, or just plain mean. Or, it might be a comment from someone you love that is said at a time when you are especially vulnerable. Maybe the hateful words are heard only in your head because of a warped sense of comparison between you and the outside, media filled world. No one (decent anyway) would call someone a name with the sole intent of causing that person so much pain that they refuse to eat more than a few handfuls of food a day or that they drown their sorrows in several dozen donuts, but it happens every day. Again, there is a disconnect in the mind between what is real and what is perceived.

Would I dare put myself in the same category with those (mostly) women who are anorexic or bulimic? How can I even consider that when I am way too fat, not way too skinny? The root of it all is the same, though. Whether it manifests itself in food denial, binging and purging, or just binging they are all the same -  hateful thoughts turn to actions as a way to punish your body because it isn't the way you want it to be. Do you think that having a cookie when you are depressed is so different? It's not. It seems backwards, but the same cookie that makes you feel better makes you feel fat which makes you feel depressed which makes you think that just one more cookie would taste good even though you aren't really hungry.

Sometimes the weight loss is needed to begin with. Maybe losing a few pounds would be good for you. The line gets crossed when you continue to need to lose "just another few pounds" even after you weigh less than is healthy or even when you abuse yourself for NOT losing that first five pounds. Losing weight to the extreme is hard. It takes dedication and there is a sense of victory when you can overcome your desire for food. The more weight you lose, the harder it is to lose more, but the sense of accomplishment is greater and greater. Gaining weight to the extreme is much easier. In this society, all you have to do is eat what is put in front of you - all the time. And clean your plate. And have dessert because you were good and ate all your dinner. And reward yourself because you had a good day, or a hard day, or a blah day, or whatever. The slope is very slippery.

My other little secret? I envy the people that have the strength to deny themselves food when they are hungry. I see ridiculously skinny people and I wish I could be like them. I consider throwing up my food when I overeat. I  watched a news special about women who are anorexic. They point of the report was to talk about how awful it is ti go through it all, but all I kept thinking was that I wanted to BE her. I guess feel that I already have an eating disorder. Why no switch it to one that makes me skinny instead of fat?

Deb Lollar


  1. Oh Deb we are so sorry. Love you girl!

  2. The trick isn't denying yourself food when you're hungry. Just limiting the intake.
    That's what I'm told anyway. My main issue is a problem breaking the seal between my ass and the couch.
    I hope you're able to do what you want to do.