Friday, August 6, 2010

Health and Weight and Love

When I was growing up, I was skinny. When my husband and I started dating, I only weighed 115 pounds. I didn't wear a bra because I barely had any boobs (plus, it felt rather liberating). I ate whatever I wanted my entire life without ever once thinking about a calorie or fat grams or what my scale said. I didn't have to try on clothes at the store because when I brought them home, they always fit. I am going to tell you something that normally women don't like to share. Something happened, because when I was 20, I still only weighed 120, and when I got married at age 22, I was at 165 pounds.

Something being my medication? The fact that I was now living on my own with my own money and could buy and eat food whenever I wanted? The fact that because I had never thought about it, I didn't really know how to eat well, so I was eating brownies for breakfast and making Hamburger Helper for our supper? I don't know. A combination of everything, I suppose.

After I had my second child, things got worse, and when I finally joined Weight Watchers, I weighed 176 pounds. Eek, I hate even typing that! I struggled through more than a year of Weight Watchers meetings, losing weight, but losing it slowly and painfully. I will never forget the day I went shopping and had to buy size 12 clothes to replace the size 16 that were too baggy. What a natural high! I had done it! I had worked hard at something and accomplished it!

My goal weight that I was focused on was 135. When I got down to 143 pounds, I got pregnant with Grace. I started eating whatever I wanted again, because I was pregnant and felt it was a good excuse. I gained 30 pounds with the pregnancy. I am still carrying around about 15 of those.

Being in Weight Watchers taught me a lot about my food choices, and just how horribly I had been eating. I learned a lot, but I will never join again.

One reason is that I was way too focused on that magic number, and way too focused on how many points I was eating. It really hit me one day when I realized I was eating the most tasteless piece of crap sandwich I had ever eaten. Low-calorie bread, fat free turkey slices, and fat-free cheese. It was only three points! Blech! How could this be acceptable? I was also drinking diet soda and other drinks with artificial sweeteners. Not good.

These days, Weight Watchers really pushes so many processed meals, snacks, bars, etc. that it is ridiculous. There are desserts, muffins, cookies, all with the Weight Watchers label on them, but still NOT healthy food choices.

I no longer look at fat and calories in my food (if I even buy food with labels). I look at the ingredients. If it has things I don't want in my body, I am not going to eat it.

I work with a woman who thinks she is a big health nut. Her husband has cardiac issues, and she and her family changed their eating habits. This is a good thing...but in my opinion, she is a bit misguided. Every day she eats a Fiber One bar as a snack, and she made a comment that it is delicious, and good for you too! I asked her about the sugar content. She answered, "Only 10 grams." That means nothing to me. I said, "What kind of sugar?" She looked over the ingredient list, and rather sheepishly, answered, "High fructose corn syrup..."


Another thing is, when I was eight pounds away from my goal, I was happy. I was still in the category that was considered "Overweight," but I felt great. I was thin. I looked good. I was a 30-year-old minivan-driving mother of two boys, but I had guys looking at me and totally hitting on me on a regular basis. Not that my goal is to be hot for the guys by any means, but is that not a confidence booster?

I was at a happy weight. I was fine, no matter what the scale said, or what the charts think I should weigh. And my goal was high, too. According to the charts, 135 is the absolute MOST I should ever weigh since I am only 5'3" tall.

Right now, I weigh myself every single morning, and sometimes at night. Some days my weight has gone down a couple pounds, and I feel light and happy. The next day it has gone back up, and I feel miserable and depressed. I really want to stop depending on that stupid number for my happiness.

Nobody else cares what that number is. My husband has loved me through all of my weights and body shapes. My kids couldn't care less. Grace calls me "My beautiful mommy."

But I still feel disgust when I walk by the mirror and see my big belly, and my fat thighs, and I still wish they were gone.

I have been walking this summer, but I haven't been doing much more than that. And I have been eating really well most of the time, but I still need to exercise more. I still need to stop hating my body and worrying about the number on the scale. I need to throw away the scale and just take care of my body until I am at a happy weight, whatever that number is. Until I feel good in my clothes.

When I go to the swimming pool, I feel a bit self-conscious in my swimming suit. But when I get out there, I look around and see that every single person there is a different size, and a different shape, and that is perfectly okay. They are all beautiful. We need to all stop hating our bodies and feeling that we will never live up to some ridiculous, impossible standards set by media, society, movies, magazines, etc. that are made to make us feel inferior and unhappy. Life is not like that.

I know a fellow reporter that works for another paper and we always visit at meetings. She is in her 70s, and she looks great. She said she always wishes people would listen to her when she tells them to exercise, and how important it is for your health. I told her I would listen, and it really did hit me. This woman has been through many health issues, including leukemia, and she has survived and remained in shape and younger looking. If I don't start taking care of my body soon, I will regret it someday.

I'm going to finish my coffee, and this afternoon I'm going to do a rigorous yoga routine with Garrett. And it's going to feel great. I think I will skip weighing myself tomorrow.

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