I hate to talk about my weight. Not only when I've gained, but just generally hate to talk about it because I am so much more than what the scale says when I step on it. I've had numerous people comment about my weight lately. I finally feel like I'm getting my body back. Everyone from a woman I worked with a decade ago, my sister, and my mother-in-law have brought it up. My mother-in-law particularly seems determined to figure out how I've done it for some reason, not that the woman needs any weight loss secrets. She cornered Lissfull at one of the kids' birthday parties to ask her how I was losing the weight. I'm not sure what she expected to hear, "Yes, Diosa's taken up coke, but just until she reaches her goal weight."
I refuse to diet. I think the entire concept of dieting and weight loss in this country is fundamentally flawed. It causes men and women both, to have unhealthy attitudes toward food, their body image and their self-esteem. I was placed on Weight Watchers by my pediatrician, or rather, temporary pediatrician, when I was twelve. He labeled me as obese. Talk about crushing a young girl's self esteem. I'd never been thin, but obese? So I started on Weight Watchers and started losing weight. Everything went fine for a while, but after a few months I stopped losing. The pediatrician told my mother I must be cheating, but I wasn't. They restricted my caloric intake further. I was hungry. I still didn't cheat. I still couldn't lose anymore weight. I don't remember exactly how long I spent on Weight Watchers, somewhere in the vicinity of six months to a year. And while I did put some of the weight back on, it's not like at any time my weight was seriously out of control. At least not in my opinion.
Several years later, my mother took me to another doctor to have my height analyzed. I am four inches shorter than my sister and nine inches shorter than my brother. At 5'3" on a day after I've done yoga and stand my straightest, I do not have short genes. My height was stunted while I was on Weight Watchers. What the damn pediatrician or one of the counselors at Weight Watchers should have considered, is that a pudgy twelve-year-old girl could be getting ready to go through a growth spurt. A growth spurt that never happened because I wasn't eating enough to grow.
This does not mean I eat anything I want and ignore extra pounds. I do not use my height or my previous experience as an excuse for my weight. Maybe I'd be four inches taller, maybe I wouldn't. Doesn't do me much good to know either way now. If anything, it just means I have to work a little harder at it.
While I was in college, I spent several years teaching aerobics, and was physically in the best shape of my life. I got down to a size 8. The smallest I'd been ever. I ate very carefully. Lots of salad and grilled chicken. And I worked out an average of 7 hours/week. Not to mention the 30+ hours I spent waiting tables. And still, I was NEVER the thinnest girl in the room. But that didn't mean I wasn't the one with the best figure. Yeah, no self-esteem issues here.
Obviously, I don't have the kind of time to devote to working out that I did before I had kids. I get in about 3 hours/week usually. But when I'm sick, the kids are sick, we're moving, or there's some other stress sucking up my time, it might be not at all. And with the foods kids like to eat, it's easy to pop fatty, calorie-ridden food in your mouth without even realizing you've done it. Eating right and exercising takes vigilance, planning, and a lot of self-control. I do pretty well at it most of the time, but then there are those days . . . I know you know those days. The days when all self-control goes out the window. When you didn't have time to eat a proper lunch and now you're home and stuffing yourself with chips or whatever was the first thing you could grab. Or when you just don't have the energy to care. When you'd just as soon someone take a gun and put you out of your misery, as put down the chocolate.
But through all the years I've struggled with my weight, which is basically since I was twelve, or even earlier than that, I've learned that dieting is not where its at. The whole concept of a diet, where you deprive yourself for a period of time and then at some point stop and go back to eating like before, it doesn't work. We're completely inundated with diet ads, weight loss pills, the best new thing that's going to make you thin - and it's all a bunch of crap. The woman who trained me to teach aerobics, she was this tiny English woman, and she said something to me once about weight loss that's always stayed with me. It's there in the back of my mind every time I see an ad for a new weight loss drug or miracle program. She was talking to a number of us in the training program, many of us interested in losing some weight, and she told us, "There is only one way to lose weight." And I'm listening intently to what amazing secret she must have to offer us, because obviously she's figured it out. "You have to burn more calories than you take in," she told us. And it was sort of eye-opening for me. I mean, we all fundamentally know this. It's basic science, but somehow we still buy into all these crazy weight loss promises. So whatever the new hype is, the new diet craze, I always come back to that - There's only one way to lose weight - Burn more calories than you take in.
I don't mean to knock anyone who is dieting, because if you need some structure or support in losing weight, by all means, go out and get it. And if there is one weight loss program that does make sense to me, it is Weight Watchers. Because they'll teach you about appropriate portion size, about where those calories that are landing on your thighs are coming from. I still remember and apply the tools I learned at Weight Watchers more than fifteen years ago. And it's easy in our society where everything is super-sized, and it seems everyone's having a grande cappuccino with whip cream and muffin for breakfast, to not know where those calories are coming from. Bottom line is - everything you put in your mouth adds up.
But you're never going to be done eating healthy. It has to be a life-long commitment. I run into people that I haven't seen in fifteen years, and I'm not going to lie, there's some satisfaction when you see the former size 2 cheerleader has an ass bigger than yours now. But this is where I have the advantage. Because while other women find themselves all of the sudden struggling with their weight, I have years of experience on them. I have the weight management thing down. Losing those last ten pounds I want off, well I still haven't managed to do that. And while I'll keep working at it, a little bit at a time, I know it's not the most important thing in my life. I'm happy and I'm healthy. My weight does not get in the way of me living my life. My cholesterol and all that was so good from my check-up last year, they didn't even run any this year. I seem to be doing something right.
You shouldn't be put off by the life-long commitment either. It's a commitment to yourself, to your health, happiness and physical and mental well-being. When you're eating right and exercising, you just feel better. Your clothes fit better, you expel the stress and toxins from your body, you feel that great endorphin rush, and you can just move, sleep and breathe easier. Time is your friend. If you just keep at it, work it a little every day, you can find your rhythm.
So that's it. That's my secret. I'll never be a size 2, but I'm perfectly okay with that.