Spring: Around and Around I Go, Once Again Around
I will always be the fat woman walking and the aspirant thin girl running, running, running toward perfection, an elusive state of being.
No matter what the scale says.
In 2016, I never wanted to lose weight.
At least I didn’t want to go through yet another diet and all the drama associated with it.
I had reconciled with my increased body size; my higher, yet not-too-terrible, blood pressure; my daily Zantac and allergy pills; my slightly elevated cholesterol, my achy knees, my diminished energy levels; my skipped heartbeats, and my shortness of breath.
I was old, after all, and these ailments were to be expected.
I mean, at my age, what difference would it make that I, an old woman, am fat and out of shape?
I certainly have a lot of company – most old women carry at least a little extra weight, especially around the middle.
A few peers are normal weight, a few obese, even fewer underweight.
The rest are dead…
No one pays any attention to old women anyway, no matter their weight. We are largely invisible, sometimes even to our own families, who don’t always take us seriously and even think nothing of excluding us.
We are not revered for our wisdom; no one gives a shit what we think.
They are the future, we represent the past.
We wear our invisibility cloaks and find our bliss in other ways.
Mine is food.
I love to eat.
If I could physically do it, I would probably eat around the clock.
An aspirational glutton.
I think about food, day and night, always in search of the Holy Grail of a pig-out buffet – I have yet to find it.
My food is always a disappointment, seeming like a good idea at the time, but always coming up short.
Yet, like those folks who constantly fall for the latest email scam, I am continually seduced and scammed by food aromas wafting my way and TV representations of burgers sizzling on the grill, crisp French fries flying out of the basket fryer, slow-mo lettuce leaves splashing on sesame buns, and just-poured bubbly Coca-Cola.
I don’t even like Coca-Cola that much.
That chocolate pie at Golden Corral calling to me but never quite measuring up to my expectations – afterwards, a letdown, both physically and psychologically.
The old cliché “A minute of the lips, a lifetime on the hips” is apropos.
And have you noticed that it takes three times as long to prepare food than it does to eat it?
Shouldn’t be the other way around, like the impossibly skinny Europeans for whom it takes an hour to eat a lettuce leaf and sip a thimbleful of cappuccino?
If I handled booze like I handle food, I’d be a raging alcoholic, like my dead mother – a whole other story.
I would be spending my life drying out or attending seven AA meetings a week.
With opioids or crack cocaine, I would have been in rehab or prison long ago – or dead.
Food is my cocaine.
Fortunately, one can still score junk food without the threat of being arrested and, filled with a bag of chips in the gut, drive a car safely and manage day-to-day life.
Still. Food is my burden, the bugaboo always derailing my efforts to keep weight off.
Unlike booze, drugs, and cigarettes, one cannot go cold turkey; even fat people need to eat, facing their addiction at every meal.
I had reconciled myself to remaining fat for the rest of my life, especially after the big disaster of 2011.
2011. I cringe when I think of that year.
For the umpteenth time, I screwed up my courage and presented my fat self at Weight Watchers, where I have been a lifetime member (with, at best, a spotty attendance) since 1973.
It was January 3, 2011.
As a prodigal daughter, that first meeting was humiliating; my new weight booklet recorded my restarting weight at 187.2, 52.2 pounds away from my official WW goal and, thankfully, nowhere near my high weight of 230, achieved in the late 90’s after a six-month stay in Brussels – if you know anything about the cuisine of Belgium, you’ll know what I mean. Unlike the Belgians who enjoy their sugar-encrusted and fat-filled waffles, 400-plus beers, and Mussels in moderation, Americans seem to go bat shit crazy at the groaning board.
Fat people not only compare themselves to other fat people – “At least I’m not as fat as that woman across the room” – we also compare ourselves to our other fat selves – “Oh, thank God I haven’t gained all my weight back.”
But as everyone rah-rahhed my return, I swallowed my humiliation, and fell in love all over again.
I embraced the new PointsPlus program.
I was so sure that this was it, the end-all, the be-all, the Holy Grail of diet programs.
Damn it, full speed ahead, I was going to keep the weight off, no question about it.
I didn’t even get down to my official goal weight.
Within three years, I put the weight back on and then some, from 154 to 196.8 – “At least I’m under 200,” I kept telling myself.
I’m not sure what happened, but let’s back up a bit.
The seed for that diet started in late 2010, after having gorged at Old Country Buffet – by the way, a great place to observe the eating habits of the American people (or not).
I awoke in the middle of the night with horrible acid reflux. I thought I was going to choke to death from all that nasty bile shooting up into my throat from my gut.
As I walked the floor trying to calm down the acid and gargling in between, I swore I would never overeat again.
And for about 11 months – the same amount of time it takes to incubate and develop a fetus into a two-month-old baby– I stuck to my resolve.
Okay, the baby analogy may seem a bit contrived, but, at that time, I viewed myself as being reborn as a thin person.
I was counting both Weight Watchers’ PointsPlus (29) and calories (1,200) – you know how difficult that is?
Each system seemed in conflict with the other, PointsPlus concentrating on meeting basic nutritional needs while allowing for weight loss, no matter the calorie count, while calories are just calories, with no room for consuming more than the daily maximum, even the sacrosanct point-free fruit.
I was walking a narrow line between good nutrition and a low-calorie diet – although I was blogging about my “for life” plan.
Spring and Summer 2011 were halcyon and idyllic days; I blogged almost daily about my successes and tips for successful weight loss, the “word,” according to Jennifer.
I even got into a flame war with some Jenny Craig adherents and excoriated Consumer Reports for not recognizing the perfection of the Weight Watchers’ program.
Somewhere on Facebook is a record of this ridiculous exchange.
Please, Jennifer, couldn’t you have let live those things you could not change and concentrate on that you could change? That in 2017, there would be worse things to worry about than which was the Number 1 Diet Program?
I continued tracking my food intake until November 3, 2011, but most of my entries were half-hearted and often incomplete.
I had already given up exercise.
Ho-hum. Another diet biting the dust.
In late July of 2012 and at 176 pounds, I made a half-hearted attempt to restart Weight Watchers, with this opening salvo: “I’m starting a new tracker [food and exercise diary]. It’s been a difficult year.”
That attempt lasted nearly two months (Woot!).
Crickets. That is, until 2016.
Which brings us to May 5, 2016, the day I went on CPAP therapy.
The ultimate insult to my body.
So here I am.
Kicking and screaming.