Weight…

Every night at dinner time my Mom would fill our plates then pull out her little white scale. Then she would carefully weigh each portion of her dinner before sitting with us.

“I’m fat,” she’d say in explanation. “I need to lose weight.”

Every Friday we would go to the local mall. My Dad would take us for an ice cream cone while my Mom wandered around the mall until we were done.

“Why won’t you have an ice cream cone?” I asked.

“Because I’m trying to lose weight,” she replied. “Besides, I have a treat waiting for me at home.”

The treat was frozen green grapes, which didn’t sound like much of a treat to me but adults could be weird sometimes.

I had losing weight pegged as an adult thing, right up until one summer when my neighbour complimented me on my looks. I felt a little uncomfortable because he was the parent of one of my classmates and I wondered why he’d commented now.

“You’ve lost a bit of weight,” my Mom pointed out. I’d been homesick and barely ate anything that vacation. “If you lost just 10 more pounds you’d be perfect”.

I’m not digging out any pictures but I weighed 125lbs at the time and was nowhere near fat. But teenage me knew what to do, at least I thought I did. I knew counting calories was a part of losing weight so I started looking at boxes and containers. A packet of Bovril soup stock was 13 calories. Was that normal? Too much? I had no idea. I made it anyway and drank it down with some water. Then I went to the garage and got my bike. Exercise was important too. And so I biked farther than I’d gone in a while; uphill and down, all the way to the local conservation area. I loved going there  but I was much too weak and dizzy to go in. Luckily I managed to get back home. Where my Mom lovingly berated me for eating too little and made me eat a real bowl of soup and a sandwich.

And that was how my weight loss journey began, later than my Mom’s journey which started in primary school.

Even now I know I have a bad relationship with diets. The moment I start one I become terrified of food and their calories. Is it too much? Not enough? What if I screw up? Then I snap and eat half a carton of ice cream or a row of homemade cookies.

Back in September I decided to start walking at least 10,000 steps a day and I’ve been sticking to it. So far I’ve lost 31lbs. My pants are pooling around my heels and my shirts are looser. I am not dieting though, that’s just not a good choice for me.

One thing I did when the kids were growing up is tell them they were pretty, strong, and brave… never thin. And I never talked about being fat, I was trying to get healthier. So far it seems to have worked. Hopefully the dieting cycle has been broken in our family.

We need to stop criticizing ourselves in front of our children. They are little sponges, absorbing everything. And we need to stop criticizing them. It’s normal for preteen girls to put on a little weight, they’re growing rapidly and need that weight as fuel. Yet I had other parents tell me I should put Kait on a diet and take away her baby carrots (one of her favourite treats) because they were full of sugar. She was perfectly normal and thinned out the farther she got into puberty. She’s perfectly normal now too.

And we need to stop linking weight with health. There are plenty of thin unhealthy people and fat healthy people. As soon as you correlate fat with unhealthy you start seeing fat as the problem and stop looking for the real issue. You can’t diet yourself out of Crohns or stomach cancer. As the saying goes, if you see every problem as a nail, soon you’ll see every solution as a hammer.

I wish I could go back in time and tell my Mom not to worry so much about losing weight, she looked fine the way she was. That one ice cream cone a week was okay. To pick out an activity she liked and get moving (the bonus being a child free evening).

You only get one life to live, make life count instead of counting calories.

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Weighty matters…

When I first started gaining weight, I treated it like a fluke. Nothing had changed diet or exercise wise and soon the gain would stop and I’d go back to normal. Except it didn’t stop. One day my pants fit like usual then I couldn’t pull them up at all. The gain was rapid and relentless. By the time it stopped I’d gained 47lbs, all in half a year.

Emma took a video of me singing “Stay” at karaoke last night and I didn’t even recognize myself. Even my face has changed dramatically. I hate the way I look now. I miss my old self.

If I followed societies narrative, I’d be doing anything I could to lose weight. Restrictive diets, extreme exercise. Even medicine fueled weight gain must come off eventually. That’s how success happens, right?

I see the videos and before and after pictures of smiling, happy people… finally proud in their new skin. I also know the failure rate and the struggle and this is when I say “fuck it”.

Our society teaches us to shrink ourselves in so many ways. Physically is just one of them and from now on I’m refusing to shrink.

My Facebook flashback today showed a past me who bragged about only eating one crepe at work and I brought my own diet syrup so I could save 20 extra calories. This was a once only experience where our store owners came in and made crepes and pancakes, complete with whipped cream and strawberries… and I refused an extra crepe so I could lose weight. I didn’t by the way.

We only have one life to live and I refuse to live it in an endless cycle of trying to lose weight so society likes me more. And endless cycle of saying no and praising myself for punishing my body.

I will eat healthy food, exercise to keep myself limber, and treat myself when I need some kindness. And I will accept that I am no longer a size medium, average woman.

Maybe someday I’ll be that size medium woman again but I doubt it. I’m on too many psychiatric medications (including Abilify and Lithium, which are known for weight gain). I have a feeling the only way to lose this weight, other than starvation, is stopping the meds… which are keeping me alive. That’s not an option.

My life was not meant to be scenery. I was always more than a pretty face and now I’ll show it.

New Years…

I found myself at Wal-Mart on Boxing Day with my Christmas money and a complete lack of exercise clothes. Gaining fifty pounds in half a year will do that. Thanks Abilify. Finding a top turned out to be the easy part. I also needed pants in size “I ate Christmas dinner and all the baking”. What I found were pencil thin exercise pants (even in XL) and shorts shorter than my underwear. The latter would probably look amazing on someone who’s fit but on me it would look like my crotch was eating them. Which is never a look I’m aiming for. Luckily I found some comfy yoga pants at Penningtons, a Canadian chain for fat people. They have great clothes.

Fifty pounds is a scary amount of weight to gain all at once, especially when it happened so fast. Literally, one week I could wear my favourite jeans and the next I couldn’t pull them past my hips. I was out of breath yesterday on a walk I did with ease this fall. So, naturally, my resolutions this year are health centred.

Our local gym offers a discount for people on disability so I signed up to start in January. They have all the usually equipment but what I’m really happy about is their indoor track. My iridescent rhinestone headphones and I can listen to music and walk without banging my knees around on a treadmill.

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So sparkly!

I told Jeremy that I’m going on an apple diet, which is kind of true. I’ve decided that every time I’m having an absolutely irresistible craving for junk food, I’m going to eat an apple. Plus I’m centering my diet around beans, legumes, and vegetables. Hopefully this will make a difference.

Jeremy and I are on wait lists for our own separate apartments and, while that’s not happening this year, we can downsize while we’re waiting. Not only will it be cleaner but it’ll make the eventual packing that much easier.

Both of us can’t wait until we have places of our own. Me because it’ll be so much cleaner and Jeremy because he won’t have to hear me complain about cleaning up. I’m not sure how he’s going to end up once he’s on his own. He’s either going to be the sort that cleans dust before it falls on his furniture or I’m going to show up one day to hear a muffled “I’m over here” from under a pile of junk. There’ll be no in between.

One big resolution is getting out of my comfort zone. My comfortable New Year’s Eve would be sitting at home with Jeremy. We’d watch a video together and end up in our own rooms on separate computers… in quiet… only getting together for the count down. Instead, I’m going to my parents’ house for dinner and to my sister’s house for a big New Year’s Eve party. It’s going to be loud, crowded and definitely out of my comfort zone.

And, how about you? What are you doing for New Year’s Eve? Do you have any resolutions?

On food babies and brownies…

My jeans are a bit too tight. They’re uncomfortable to sit in and roll a bit at the waist. The same with my underwear and my smaller pair of shorts. My larger pair was already too big.

I weighed myself last year on this day and weighed 168 pounds. Today I weigh 194. A lot has happened this year and my weight reflects it. Severe depression and anxiety, a relationship with my best friend (after 15 years of being single) and the subsequent breakdown of said relationship, plus suicidal thoughts severe enough to be involuntarily admitted. I’m a comfort eater and my stomach reflects that. If I had a food baby, her name would be Double Chocolate Marshmallow Brownies. I have that recipe memorized.

Anxiety makes dieting tricky. It should be easy, just measure and write what I’m eating. I even have a Fitbit so I can track the food on my phone. Two minutes and my meal’s all tracked and calculated. Unfortunately I obsess over diets and the Fitbit tracker fluctuates easily between under calories, “in the zone”, and over calories.

I’d picked up an apple, it looked so good and I was hungry… plus I showed as under calories. The needle swung into over calories as soon as I selected “apple” for an evening snack. And then the panic started. I was so fat, I’d never lose weight. I was horrible at dieting… horrible at everything. How could I do this to myself? I needed to find something with less calories. Fat! Fat! Fat!

Then I looked back at the apple. It was healthy, damn it, and only 90 calories. Why was I panicking over an apple?!? And it wasn’t just the apple. I was panicking over licking a smear of peanut butter off my finger… an extra bit of broth in my soup… a couple of pieces of Jeremy’s popcorn. I can’t live like that. Suicidal and “I can’t live like that” are a deadly combination. I don’t go into that part of Fitbit any more.

What I’m doing is bumping up my fruits and vegetables, drinking lots of water, and walking. I’m dragging Jeremy along with me, although dragging is relative. Zie found a game called Ingress and decided to try it out. The best part is it involves getting out and walking to various portals all over our neighbourhood. The bad part is we have no idea what we’re doing.

“Aren’t you going to help me fight?” Jeremy said impatiently.

I looked over in surprise. We were standing beside a nearby apartment building, in front of a straggly garden. I’d been updating my Fitbit while zie jabbed at zir phone. I thought zie was looking something up.

“I didn’t know you were fighting,” I pointed out. “So, umm, what are we fighting and how do I fight?”

“We’re fighting the portal,” zie replied. “You push the fight button repeatedly.”

“So this is a weapon?” I pointed to an item on the screen. Luckily I had a lot of them.

“Yes… I think…”

Numbers rose up on the screen while my inventory went down. I threw two things that were probably weapons and something happened.

“Start hacking the portal while I fight,” Jeremy snapped. Zie was focused on zir screen, finger pounding the fight button.

The portal said it was unstable. Colours swirled around it. Then Jeremy ran out of weapons too.

“I don’t think we did anything,” zie said dejectedly.

“Do you want to try Pokemon Go?” I asked and zie nodded.

“I’ll have to trick Google Play into thinking we’re in Australia…” zie mused.

I don’t really want to know what zie’s doing to get us to appear down under, although I am proud of zir. Zie could download the game for free illegally but wants to pay for it. The downside will be trying to explain to MasterCard that, yes, we did make a purchase in Melbourne. I wonder if the agent will believe it was a day trip.

Technology is bringing Jeremy out of the apartment and giving me a walking partner. And hopefully Pokemon Go will be easier to figure out. Jeremy needs the exercise just as much as I do.

One thing I have to stop doing is making brownies. I have tried but don’t manage portion control with them. Unless you count a pan as one portion and then I’m doing amazing. Those brownies need to be a special occasion treat, not an “it’s Wednesday and I have chocolate chips in the cupboard and a free half hour”. My food baby is rapidly turning into twins.

Yesterday I walked to group therapy, went shopping with Jeremy (walking from one side of Super Walmart is a good number of steps), then went hunting for portals after dinner. This racked up a serious number of steps. Today I’m going to hit our downstairs gym and go hunting for Pokemon with Jeremy in the evening. I’ll leave tomorrow for when it gets here.

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