A Conversation with My Body: The New Orleans Edition

The author reading excerpts from Fat Woman Walking
College English Association, New Orleans, March 2019
____________________________________


Hey, body, where are you when I need you?
Body: You called?
Me: Where have you been for the last year?
Body: Watching helplessly as you packed on 20 pounds.
Me: You have betrayed me.
Body: How so?
Me: You made me gain weight.
(Body laughs.)
Me: What’s so funny?
Body: You’re delusional. I didn’t feed your face.
Me: (Pouty.) I didn’t cheat all that much…
Body: How about those three servings of Bananas Foster in New Orleans?
Me: That was a special case; I was at a conference, and it was there.
Body: And the Jambalaya… 
Me: Hey, I only ate one helping of that.
Body: If the line hadn’t been so long, you would have gone back for more. You made up for it with the King Cake
Me: I had only one Sprite and rum.
Body: And I commend you for that. My point: when you overfeed me, the food has to go somewhere. It doesn’t matter where we are and what occasion you are celebrating. I’m just along for the ride.
Me: (Huffy.) You didn’t have to pack eight pounds on me in less than a week.
Body: You didn’t have to stuff your face. You ate every bite on your plate and every dessert plopped down in front of you – and then some. You piled your plate high in buffet line. Disgusting. Don’t forget the crusty bread, frozen yogurt, and pralines. If Jerry, the food police, hadn’t been around, you would have eaten until you dropped dead. Oh, I almost forgot that huge breakfast buffet you hoovered on your last day in the Big Easy.
Me: But it was free.
Body: I bet poison nerve gas from World War II is free, but would you want to eat it?
Me: Good point. But it was New Orleans, and the music was great as we ate. Jazz everywhere. (Whining:) I wanted to dance, but instead I ate.
Body: Well, that was a choice.
Me: (With petulance.) And Jerry ate a lot, too, but he gained only two pounds.
Body: Yes, Jerry overate, but he overate modestly. He overate like a thin person eats, and you overate like three stevedores… 
Me: Stop quoting Mo; it wasn’t cute when I was a child, and it isn’t cute now.
Body: The truth hurts.
Me: Why have you abandoned me?
Body: I haven’t abandoned you. I have been here all along, but you just weren’t listening.
(Pause.)
Me: Okay. So how do I move forward? WW Freestyle doesn’t work for me. It took me almost a month of strict program to lose that New Orleans eight.
Body: That’s because you’re off more than you’re on. You must be more mindful about eating. And, yes, it sucks that you’re older and your metabolism is sluggish.
Me: (Pondering.) I have thought about doing Keto…
Body: No, no, and no. Been there, done that. You hated the high protein, low carb diet. You fell off that diet wagon hard and went batshit crazy.
Me: Yeah, yeah. we binged for years.
Body: You, not me.
Me: (Sighs.) Yes, just me.
Body: Okay, then, let’s figure out how we go forward. Let’s start with the so-called zero-point foods. While Freestyle allows for these foods as needed, keep in mind they still have calories.
Me: Fruit. Especially bananas, which I don’t eat anymore.
Body: Don’t forget the Bananas Foster.
Me: That was a three-time thing, but in my normal program life, I avoid them.
Body: (Laughs.) Probably a good idea.
Me: Time to do some excising. Where to start?
Body: Depending on the fruit, you’re looking at 50-100 calories a pop, so to say you can eat all you want is disingenuous.
Me: So if I eat more than three servings a day, I need to start counting additional points?
Body: That’s right. While fruit is good for us, with loads of fiber, it also packs a lot of sugar.
Me: How many points?
Body: Depends on the fruit – we can figure that out later. Another thing: we need to discuss portion size. WW really doesn’t cover this well, but you tend to fall into the portion distortion trap.
Me: How so?
Body: When you eat a large apple, how do you count it?
Me: As one fruit.
(Loud Buzzer.)
Body: Wrong. Let’s try two fruits.
Me: (Obviously shocked.) Two?
Body: That’s right, Buttercup.
Me: (Whining.) If I can’t eat a whole apple, how will I fill this great yawning gut of mine?
Body: Green veggies, like lettuce. Little nutritional value, but you’d have to eat a lot of lettuce to get fat.
Me: Gulp!
Body: Let’s take a look at that shredded non-fat cheese you like that zeroes out at 28 grams.
Me: I sprinkle 14 grams on my egg white omelet.
Body: Good choice. But did you know that if you eat more than 28 grams in a day, you start accumulating points?
Me: No, but if you hum a few bars…
Body: I’m serious. Some of those saucy casseroles you and Jerry like call for 56 grams of this cheese. Be honest: at what point should you start counting points?
Me: So zero points does not equal zero calories – they can add up fast…And when you eat a lot of zero-pointers and include foods with points, you can suck up 2,000-plus calories in no time flat.
Body: Yes! Be careful of other zero-point foods: if you eat large portions of white meat chicken, eggs, beans, and corn, you can end up with a whopper of a day.
Me: (Thinking.) I need to reconsider corn…too tempting. I should count it, no matter what WW says. Keep fruits to 3 reasonable servings a day and count any additional servings.
Body: My opinion? WW is too lenient, and the zero-point system can be misleading.
Me: So what you’re saying: I need to create my own system to fit my body and metabolism.
Body: Exactly. Take the best of WW and create your own program, concentrating on lean proteins, fewer refined carbs, no more than three fruits per day, more green veggies, and some nuts and seeds. Oh, people over 65 need to up their protein intake. Premier Protein is a good source of lean protein. Equate is Walmart’s less expensive knockoff.
Me: I can make this work!
Body: Reminder: keep cheat days to a minimum.
Me: And then we’re good?
Body: I can’t promise that you will lose all those 20 pounds overnight – you really didn’t gain them overnight…
Me: What about those eight pounds I gained in five days?
Body: Well, you lost them, didn’t you?
Me: Yes, but it took so long.
Body: Life isn’t fair. Boo, hoo!
Me: Okay, okay…
Body: While I’m ragging on you, I might as well bring up another issue.
Me: What?
Body: Exercise.
Me: Oh, that.
Body: Yes, that
Me: I’ve been slacking off…
Body: And I have felt it. Could also explain why your weight has crept up.
Me: (Hanging head down.) Yeah.
Body: Your three-year anniversary is coming up in two days. On May 5, 2016, you weighed nearly 200 pounds…
Me: Now that you mention it, 146 pounds doesn’t look so bad.
Body: A lot to celebrate. Get your diet back on track and get yourself moving. You got this.
Me: I got this.
Body: We have a lot to celebrate.
Me: Yes, we do.
Body: One more thing. (Pausing.) Even if you can’t shake that last 20 pounds, consider this: you are only slightly overweight. You would be okay if you leveled out here.
Me: Maybe. But I’m afraid it won’t stop here if I don’t take control now.
Body: I have faith in you.
Me: Thank you.
Body: One more thing before I recede back into the depths of your psyche.
Me: Oh, oh.
Body: Just some positive reinforcement. In the end, no matter what you weigh, it doesn’t define who you are.
Me: But it does define what people think of me. It’s why I like Facebook so much. On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.
New Yorker cartoon, July 5, 1993
Artist: Peter Steiner
____________________
Body: I saw that silly cartoon, too.
Me: But it’s true.
Body: The people who love you are going to love you no matter what. What others think doesn’t matter.
Me: It’s humiliating being grossly obese.
Body: That’s out of my milieu, I’m afraid. You’ll have to conjure up your fantasy shrink for that.
Me: (Laughs.) I’ll try to cultivate a better self-image.
Body: Okay, then. Meanwhile, get cracking on that rejiggered Freestyle plan.
Me: I will.
Body: Keep in touch!

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