Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Call Me Mike or Mary Anne

I have battled my weight since 1987.
In August 1984, I left my hometown weighing 107 pounds and wearing girls size 12 jeans (I'm short. Very short. 5'3/4" short. Short.)
In September 1984, I discovered that weekends, including keg parties and pizza consumed at 2 a.m., began on Thursday nights and ended with the first class on Monday morning. If I managed to make it to class, that is.
In the spring of 1985, I started trying to match bite for Dunkin Donuts bite my boyfriend who was about 6' 1" and who officially qualified as a stringbean. He had a certificate and everything.
Even all that youthful, nubile sex didn't save me from gaining a few pounds.
By July 1985, the size 12 jeans no longer fit. Good thing I was working at Sears so I could use my employee discount to buy some skirts and pants with elastic waistbands.
I went to France for a summer semester in 1987. There I lived on wine, pastries, pizza, coffee, beer spiked with all manner of sin and whatever I could get my hands on at Flunch. No, I didn't really like French food. What a shame my palate was so limited back then. Talk about missed opportunities!
However, thankfully, when I was in France, I walked everywhere.
Then I came back to U.S. and enjoyed all the things I'd missed while I was away. No, I don't mean fruits and vegetables and whole grains. I mean Oreos, peanut butter, Arby's, Skyline Chili and Big Boys. The sandwiches, not the gender.
As luck would have it, I chose that same moment to give up walking for the great American past time of sitting behind the wheel of a car on an ever-expanding bottom.
And so it began. The slow slide into the reality that is fat genes, fat jeans and tears in front of the mirror because no fair!!!! I'm shaped just like Grandma Hewitt!!!

Why couldn't I have really been adopted like my sister told me I was?

Getting married, settling down, and having children did not help matters.
Phentermine did. But that's no solution, clearly. I can suppress my appetite, but eventually, my bad habits catch up with me. Again.

You see, I come by my bad habits honestly. You know how some people are Charmin people or Chevy people? My dad was a Ford man who loved his Pepsi. Cereal wasn't breakfast until we'd ladled tablespoons of sugar over it. That was a gift from our mom. Dad's breakfast of choice was a tall glass of 2% milk with about 1/4 cup of Hershey's Syrup added for giggles. The only bread in our house was white.

I learned well how to nurture my sweet tooth like it was my most precious possession. If I want to clear my family from a room, I don't have to pass gas (although that can work if I've consumed the proper combination of chocolate and green peppers). Nope, all I have to do is load a bowl with cherry jello, sprinkle it with sugar and pour milk over it. Sugar sprinkled on gelatinous sugar. You'd think I was eating raw brains or something.

But I am not here to play the blame game. I'm a grown up. I am perfectly capable of making my own choices now. I just choose to make all the wrong ones when it comes to food and exercise.

It's come to my attention, however, through the baleful stare I receive from the scales right before they squeeze their eyes shut in pain as I step on them, that things are horribly out of control. Again. I am obese. Contrary to conventional wisdom, saying it does not make it any easier. I no longer can see myself as a potentially thin person. I can't even remember what it looked like. Even my eyelids look fat. No really.

Bless his heart, MathMan pointed it out the other day without knowing.
Him: Are you sinuses bothering you?
Me: Yes, a little. Why?
Him: Your eyes look puffy.

When he left the room, I ran, okay... I lumbered to the bathroom to stare at myself in the mirror. More injustice! My mother's eyelids had attached themselves to my face!

I have nothing and no one to blame but myself.

I'm genetically predisposed to being rotund. I carry my weight around my middle like a fat little apple on fat little legs. Let's just say, I would hate to read how someone might describe me in writing.

You know, once, a long long time ago, when I worked for AARP, one of the older volunteers (older being someone in their late 80s, perspective, my friends) was overheard describing me as "you know, that pretty, chubby girl." I was crushed. I wanted to parse the heck out of that statement. Did he mean pretty, but chubby or pretty chubby as in "Watch it, girly, or you'll find yourself crossing the line from chubby to fatso before you can say Ice Cream Sandwich."

But I knew what he meant. Chubby, but too cute to call a fatty. That was then. Now, I don't even qualify as cute or a girl. I'm silver-haired and swaddled in a layer of lard that is going to kill me. Slowly. But dead is dead. And I'm not a fan of the nasty way people who are festering with slow killers, the proverbial ticking time bombs, age.

So I'm making some changes and I'm going to log them online because I'm too cheap to go out and buy a notebook. And besides, I've forgotten how to write longhand.

From time to time, I'll share some of my journey? adventure? shame? with you. I know, you're thrilled. But perhaps watching me flounder about in this fat suit (see, I still don't want to believe this is the real me) will A. Make you feel better about yourself; B. Give you some universal sense that you are not alone in your struggles, whatever they maybe; and/or C. Make you laugh, because let's not kid ourselves, watching the fat chick slip and fall? Even I, with my highly cultured sense of humor, find that funny.

The thing I'm not seeking here, to be just flat out honest with you, is advice. People, I'm 44 years old, moderately educated and weigh - well, let's not get too personal. I'm aware of what I should be doing. Both my parents have hypertension and each has some level of diabetes. There have been incidents of colon cancer and breast cancer on my father's side. On my mother's side, it's like nothing to have open heart surgery. People, I get it. I really, really do. But getting it and implementing it are two entirely different things. I am an emotional eater with a heavy hitter sweet tooth. I am allergic to exercise. Really. I have a doctor's note.

But there it is, plain and simple, what I need to do. Eat less of what's bad for me. Eat more of what's good for me. Move more. Yes, yes, yes, and yes. And for that one person who is going to email me and tell me to make sure I'm drinking enough water. Noted.

So if I don't want your advice, why I am writing about it? Well, accountability. You know, MathMan has a cute way of describing accountability. He likens it to Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel. In the book, Mike and his trusty steam shovel Mary Anne dig better, faster, deeper when they have an audience.

Well, writing about this need to get healthy is my own way of doing a Mike Mulligan. If I write about it, I know one or more of you are going to occasionally remind me of my plan to be healthy. Oh yeah, you'll whack me with it just after I bake a pie or write about consuming martinis and wine full of empty calories. And that's cool. That's accountability. That's what friends are for, right?

But then there are those of you who will snatch a picture of me from my flickr and send it to me and make me want to grind my teeth and scream at the universe and dive head first into some Ben & Jerry's Phish Food. And that's cool, too. There's a bit of me who likes you when you're cruel.

Of course, I should say here that I am indeed doing this for my health. But the truth is that I want to get skinny so that I can indulge my fantasies of swanning about in steampunk fashions or vintage clothing from the 30s, 40s and 50s.

Mostly, though, I'm doing this Because I soooo need a day when I can look in the mirror and not say to myself "Fat, fat, the water rat....."

Whatever it takes, People, whatever it takes......


  1. I'm with you and big hug and support for your efforts, but if we boil ourselves down to the bones we will NEVER fit into 40's vintage. I just don't think it's possible. :) Don't forget you're a great writer. You and I should start the great writer diet...that would attract that bitch Oprah's attention, bet. xo

  2. Ahhh yes. I know these thoughts and the fat suit.

    I am right here with you and trying to do the same.

  3. But you have the most adorable little toes!

  4. I noticed something when I was down in Texas. I did not see people walking for either fun or to use public transportation, as I do here even in the coldest winter. The bicyclists I saw all were those professional-type ones trying to be Lance Armstrong (it was Austin, after all), and I only saw those on weekends. I did see people lounging around pools instead of actually swimming in them, eating from big bags of Doritos.

    Yet they were thinner than my poor fellow Chicagoans, who I can see doing all things "right," yet are kinda chubby. Not "obese," like Waffle House regulars, but ... not svelte like the bbq-slathered, creamed-corn eating Texans who didn't so much as walk their dogs.

    I guess what I'm saying, just like BlueGal, you may never reach "skinny" even if you "boiled yourself down to the bones." Because of unknown factors.

    But that should NOT stop us from doing the things we know keep our bodies in prime operating condition. And you and I both know that has more to do with our mental state than with our physical one.

    I will join you in your quest. Let's actually give a shit about ourselves this year.

  5. You wrote MY essay! As we say at my church, I stand in agreement with you, Lisa, beloved. Le's us do this. Everything you said.

    (Except my claim to fat is savories, not sweets. I hate it when diet people assume that I'm fat because I want to eat candy and cake all the time. It's the fries, the burgers, the bread, the mac AND cheese . . . .)

  6. I'm with you sweet Lisa that this is the year. Check out http://loseitbitches.blogspot.com/
    for some cool bloggers coping with the same issues.

  7. Let's do this thing together, you guys! I'm serious. What Ubermilf said. Let's make 2010 the year where we give a shit about ourselves.

  8. I could have written 90% of this! Well no trip to France, and add a few years and a few pounds and I'm with you! (I haven't been politely chubby in a long time).
    I'm with you too, not to really hit thin, but healthier so that in some decade when I have grandchildren I can chase and play with them, so maybe sooner I can do wild sex positions again(gasp) and so my heart doesn't hate me so much!

  9. Holy shit, I had that book as a kid!

    Good luck with your Jack Lalane-ism, but don't be trying to guilt the rest of us into exercising. I'm not ready to give up not giving a shit just yet.

  10. Loved this post. Obviously, it applies to me as well. You totally need to link up to Club HASAY. The ladies of that group would appreciate your writing, and they are a great accountability gang - especially Casey.

    Tell her FF sent ya: http://halfasgoodasyou.com/?p=1530

    XOXO And keep drinking water!

  11. I hate drinking water.

    As for reaching the grand old age of 75+ ... why? I also hate bingo, tour buses, nursing homes, senior discounts, canes, walkers, saying, "When I was your age ...", Murder She Wrote and blue hair.

    Being a perfect weight at 85 years old in a world gone nuts and over populated isn't how I see the "Golden Years".

    None the less, weight loss does mean being more comfortable in the NOW and also being able to wear cool clothes and not moo-moos or circus tents. I'm for that.

  12. you do have adorable toesies, Lisa!!
    And that Mike Mulligan story is one of my faves from waaaaaaay back in the day.
    That monster of a cheesecake I blogged about yesterday is but a memory now, there's a fresh batch of rumballs sitting on the counter, leftovers from the rumball birthday request of one 20 year old stringbean I wanted to strangle for requesting of me....I thought my holiday sugar/cream/chocolate/booze/butter festival was over....sigh....if it's in the house, I eat it.
    big hugs and support comin' from the desert here...I'm a shortie too with an apple figure---the weight just doesn't become me.
    I think sitting in front of the ass-widening machine (lovingly known as the personal computer) is to blame.
    there, I said it.
    I need a hamster wheel powered IMac--
    Celery sales are gonna skyrocket this month.

  13. Well, by the Chinese lunar calendar I AM a water rat, but I'm the only skinny daughter in my family. Why? I'm allergic to wheat and dairy. Cut those out (along with carbonated soft drinks) and you're set. It helps if you live on a steep hill and have a dog who demands walks every day.

    I am so totally dressing up steam punk with you when you're ready. We'll look divine!

  14. You and I started this journey together as I recall.

    You are so hard on yourself m'dear friend. DONT BE!!!

    I have managed to lose 60 lbs. I did it by eating really picky and by walking oon the treadie..nothing more, nothing less. When I was bored with the treadmill, I walked the mall for an hour..and when I walk Lebron James wouldn't be able to keep up..yes, I walk very very quickly.

    I backslid during this past silly season..meaning all the new skinny jeans are awfully fucking tight and unwearable at this moment.

    It's a life process woman..just look at it in a different pov..and for the love of dog..quit being so hard on yourself. I look in the fucking mirror and I see NOTHING BUT MY MOTHER!!! That drives me nuts more than the weight..as I can barely stomach the witch. If I was still fat I wouldn't look like her as she is rail thin.

    I LOVE YOU!!! Be nice to yourself...please?

  15. Oh, yes. I'm jumping on that bandwagon. I see myself in photos and cringe. The 5'2" me does not wear the pudge well. Funny, as soon as I look away from the photo or mirror, I forget what I look like...

    Thanks for the push. I'm with you!

  16. I'm with you, as soon as all of the Christmas chocolate is gone.

  17. Eating well and exercise really sucks, especially when it's so cold outside! I just want to curl up in my bed and eat chocolates. I just realized we are the same age! I'm on board with ya, girl!

  18. I can empathize with the desire, and support your effort to become healthier and fitter. As long as you don't start spouting nonsense about good foods and bad foods as though what we eat possessed moral agency separate from our own behavior or denying that Dr. Pepper is the nectar of the gods, I'll keep reading.

  19. I could have written this post! I'm short too, and don't wear weight well. My genetics don't help either - we're efficient pioneers who live through droughts by storing excess fat.

    But OH MAN I love food! I love to cook it, serve it, eat it, savor it, etc. Food equals FUN for me! And I like to walk but with 3 kids, a 30hr job, and living weather that could freeze exposed skin, it's hard to find a time OR an activity.

    But I'm with you!!

  20. This is so well-written, Lisa. You are hilarious -- even though I know the subject pains you.

    I just read an email from my mom and she was telling me about one of my childhood friends (with a lifelong weight problem) who lost 100 pounds with a gastric band. She has had lots of problems with the band, which keeps slipping, and she actually had to be hospitalized with dehydration last week. Despite that, she is terrified of not having it and gaining back the weight. It is very sad. Food/weight problems are very complex and I don't know any woman who isn't plagued by them to some extent.

    I know you don't want advice, but how about a walking buddy? I find that I can walk for an hour or so, gabbing the entire time, and hardly even notice that I'm exercising. Or, walk by yourself and mentally work on your book.

  21. Good luck with this, Lisa and fellow bloggers.
    As long as you're happy in your own skin, it matters not what others think about how it is filled.


  22. Not to be contrarian, but my Lisa struggles with this very issue. She says I don't help her because I don't criticize her enough, or point out how fat I think she is, or complain about how unattractive she is when she's getting in the shower. Instead, I tell her she is beautiful, that she isn't fat - and she really isn't - but a woman who has birthed and nursed two children, has parents who both were predisposed to being a bit bigger (hardly fat, though), and that her body shape - very broad shoulders, hips still not as wide as them - plus her own good dressing sense hides it very well.

    And she usually ends up crying because I just don't understand. As if me pointing out, "Do you really need that pile of cookies next to you?" works.

    I applaud your decision to take stock and make changes. Let's just say - in a fit of honesty that many of your commenters will probably scream about and want to walk to Illinois and smack me for (I ended that in a preposition!) - that I will support you, of course, but will also withhold judgment.

    Of course, Lisa thinks I don't get it because, when I started working at WalMart - after a year and a half of being a stay-at-home Dad with a pantry always whispering my name - I weighed in at just under 230 pounds. After about a year, I was down to about 185. I don't see the changes except when I try to put on an old pair of jeans and I don't have to undo the fly, just pull 'em up, and watch them fall to the floor. I hold them out and think, "These used to be tight on me?"

    Regular exercise - which is what my work is - plus a changed schedule plus changed eating habits add up, I suppose.

    I'm not bragging, just talking about my experience here.

    So, anyway, I will read, and support, and applaud and scold as needed. But, you know what? You're beautiful just the way you are. And I'll stick with that to the end.

  23. After 6 weeks of inactivity following my surgery, I'm just trying to stop gaining weight. However, my inner aerobics instructor will tell you: IF YOUR KNEES WORK, GET MOVING!!!

    That being said... I've thought you looked great in all the photos I've seen of you.

  24. Lisa, it's a pleasure to see your ...umm... softer, gentler side.

    Like you, I'm on the rotund side. About four years ago I weighed 350. I'm down to 280. I'm on the no diet diet. I just moderate what I eat. Two slices has replaced two pizzas. Two pints of B&J Cherry Garcia a month (summer only) has replaced two pints a day, year round. And if I need to burn a few calories, I watch the Glen Beck show from beginning to end.

    Hang in there, an if you feel tempted, take too Republicans and call me in the morning. ;-)

  25. I am right there with you, lady. No advice coming from me, just good karma.

    I freaking love Mike Mulligan. I even bought a copy for adult me.

  26. Oh your writing skills just send me flying Lisa!

    Wow, this is really good. And it is good because it comes from inside your heart, very authentic.

    It is a struggle. Yesterday and today were the first two days in a long, long, long time where I have managed to eat somewhat healthy and moderate amounts of food.

    You are my hero. Always, my hero!

  27. Lisa, I am with you on this one. I am 5'4" and weigh...never mind.

    I have read and re-read "You: On a Diet" over and over and over again. I highly recommend it. I usually recommend taking books out of the library (to save $). I would recommend purchasing this book. It dismantles weight issues down into basic, logical information.

  28. When I first met Michael I weighed 113 lbs. So I blame my weight gain on him. My whole adult life its been a battle. I guess with the current health situation I will have to start and try and do something about again.

    I think you are beautiful in fat or skinny pants.

  29. Little things, repeated. I take the stairs rather than the escalator when I have the option. Don't look for the spot closest to the store. And don't beat yourself up for having a piece of cake. Just drink more water, try to add more fruit and veggies to your diet and throw in some stretches every day. I exercise almost every night for about 30 minutes (I herniated a disc about 11 years ago and do it to avoid ever dong that again). I haven't lost any weight (would like to lose 5 to 10 lbs.), but my weight has been steady and I am firmer.

  30. I like 'em little.


    And at five two (and a half!!!) I have to either watch what I eat or change me handle to The Cunning Beach Ball.

    I'm intent on improving my physical self in 2010, on the grounds that "It's now or never!"

    Best of luck, Lisa, and Fran was right-on with that Oprah idea!

  31. Hi... I've been reading your blog for a while and lurking, but wanted to tell you how much I love your writing. It's always a pleasure...

    And I go through the same thing. I joined weight watcher's and it works, esp. if you have a sense of humor, friend with whom you can go and laugh and call it "cult," and a gay leader who says things like, "I lost 80 pounds, which means I lost a Nicole Ritchie!" I'll admit, I kind of suck at it, but still -- I've lost 25 pounds. Not bad.

    Anyway, good luck and I can't wait to read more of your adventures. Your wit is always fabulous, so I'm looking forward to more in 2010.

  32. I like Tomcat's comment about take two Republican'ts and call me in the morning. Getting pissed off at the NeverRight should burn a bunch of calories. Do you still watch Morning Joe??

    Anywho, stay healthy, losing weight doesn't always equal getting healthy.

  33. You go girl. And I'm with Bee: a walking buddy will kill that goal so kindly....do it do it do it!!!

  34. I'm kind of late to the party, but I just wanted to mention that you are doing the right thing by exercising and watching your diet. Additionally, lifting weights, even in a modest sort of way will also help you lose more.

  35. 5'3" -- ha! You call that short???

    Safe passage in this endeavor, Lisa. You have a ton of friends (pun intended, now that I've written it) rooting for you.

    Love from Suzy (5'1")

  36. Yea-- you struck a nerve here w me.
    My "babies" are now 25 & 21 years old. I'm pretty sure there is a statute of limitations as to just how long you can use the "baby fat" excuse for the weight gain. I have not desire to be a Victoria's Secret anorexic runway model.
    I'll just come out & say it-- am carrying too much weight- not the I need to lose 5 to 10 pounds variety.
    It is unfair that as you age your metabolism changes, and poundage hangs on with such fierce determination.
    Intellectually, I understand and even agree about all the virtues of taking care of myself... but put some ice cream in front of me & it is gone.
    As someone else said.... if it is in the house, it will generally be eaten.
    So for me I need to get that crap out of the house.
    If all there is to gnosh on is carrots, I will eat carrots..... but if the "wrong" foods are there....
    carrots be damned.

    I need to avoid the cookie aisle & hang out more in the produce department.
    One can *pig out* on a really good salad and feel full.

    The one thing I hate about traditional dieting is this puny portion deal. Eat one half cup of this or that.... who the hell are we kidding?
    So being able to pile high a generous salad or mountain of steamed veggies give my belly & mind a sense of a real portion.
    That is one issue for me.

    The other big issue is what I will call *dietary confusion*. Low fat • Low Carb ?
    Are we eating butter because it does not have hydrogenated oil which our bodies can't process, or is butter the enemy & loaded w fat?
    Vegetarian or Meat & no carbs?
    I am really baffled by it all.

    I've seen people lose a ton of weight w low carbs-- but also think it is an extreme diet.
    And have seen some of those folks wind up with gout from the heavy protein.

    I wish I had the ability to have a diet & exercise guru just tell me what to do.
    the obvious answer is to cut out the bad food junk stuff, empty calories.

    I have been hitting the oatmeal pretty hard lately.... soluble fiber, which is filling & satisfying on a cold winter's day.

    We've been doing more veg meals- in part because they are easy, and also seeing a lot of tainted beef stories in the US of late.

    But exercise is the biggest loser for me.
    I can always find a reason no to & one has to rev up the metabolism to make it all work.... but damn. I hate those lycra wearing bitches in a size 2, hustling on a stair stepper giving me a raised eyebrow.

    A hearty eff you lady.... I've had four knee surgeries & need to have a 5th..... we're talking total knee replacement. Bone on bone.
    It hurts me to even LOOK at a stair stepper.

    But I digress. I can do knee friendly stuff, and I figure the super skinny ones in the pool or fitness center who judge me can think of this.... I have hauled my ample derriere to the fitness center.... I am not sitting @ the donut shop. So quit vibing me with your lycra holier-than-thou looks.

    So I will get on the bandwagon with you.
    Lord knows I could use all the help I can get.

  37. Dear Love- (Have you had your thyroid checked?) Ugggh, is that advice? Sometimes that's the link in the hereditary chain.

    Anyway, for me, I cut out coffee which I cannot drink without milk or cream, after I heard it can slow thyroid hormone assimilation (and I've had my t-gland removed and am on synthetic t-hormone) and I've lost a pound a week or so for some time 2+ months. Maybe the detoxing? I can't diet, though. I have eating disorder mentality and all I can do is make life changes and only allow myself to record my weight on Saturdays when I first get to work. I definitely can't own a scale.

    Anyway, I wish I lived close enough to walk with you or sex you up- either way. I just want to help (myself, right?),

    Much love,
    Dr. Bee fake MD.

  38. I lost a whack of weight by cheating. I didn't bring the junky stuff into the house. I don't carry cash and I feel silly buying a bag of chips with a credit card. I drink diet soda (the aspartame will kill me). I wear skinnier clothes cause the extra pressure makes me want to eat less and you can't undo your pants to drive in a car pool.


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