Sunday, May 8, 2011

I Just Want to Testify!

My father died in 1998 after a long, protracted illness during which my brother and I took care of him in the family home. By the end he needed care, 24/7, and my brother and I took turns being there for him, along with a home health care aide. We were happy he was at home and not in a nursing facility, but though the situation was stressful, his death was much more stressful because I ended up not only grieving my Dad, but my mom's death all over again. You see, she had died in a car accident when I was 23 and I never truly dealt with the pain of her loss. So as I grieved them both I expanded into an adipose balloon of almost 240 pounds, the heaviest I'd ever been.

A chubbette  since I was a kid, my fat cells cried like babies whenever I dieted. Like you or others you know who are buffeted by the winds of the latest dieting trends, I tried the Low Calorie Diet, the old Weight Watchers Diet, Atkins, The Watermelon Diet, The Milk Diet, Richard Simmons Weight Loss Plan, The Peanut Butter Diet, The Slimfast Diet Plan, The Low Carb Diet, The Salad Diet, The Low Fat Diet, The South Beach Diet, The Herbal Life Slim Shakes Plan, the Bologna Diet, The Grapefruit Diet, The Banana Diet, the No White Bread Diet, the No Sugar Diet, The Zucchini and Tomato Sauce with Parmesan Cheese Diet, The Health Bars Diet and I'm sure I tried others but I must have gone off them after the second week, because I can't remember. I bought the THE book about dieting or cooking low fat touted on TV whenever I watched Oprah or Phil Donahue (You probably don't remember him, but he and Oprah were rivals.) I tried Fasting, Diet Pills (in high school) The Stepper, Jane Fonda's Exercise Tapes, other exercise tapes, dance tapes, NOT EATING (that didn't last...I was "starving") Tony Robbins motivational tapes, The AB Lounger, Exercise Bands, free weights, gym memberships numerous times, tennis, badminton, Yoga, running, walking and calisthenics at home. I am proud to say at one point I got up to three hundred sit-ups. Yes, I did!

By the way, I LOST WEIGHT on every single one of these plans using one or more of the endorphin exercise chasers to swallow the bitterness of the pill of "starving" my fat cells. Future blog testimonials will highlight the craziness and hilarity of some of my body imbroglios during these diets, but only if you promise to share yours. We could fill books with our humorous anecdotes about plumping down.

Fat Acceptance ( ) authors Kate Harding (  and Marianne Kirby (  assert in their much appreciated and clever book, Lessons From the Fat-O-Sphere:  Quit Dieting and Declare a Truce with Your Body, that you should accept that diets don't work. To that, I say Ha!!! Diets do work! Every diet works YOU over by helping you get weight off quickly.  However, here is a HUMGOUOUS caveat. Why do you want to lose weight? If the answer comes from a well of darkness and shadow land of Gothic emotional chaos then Watson, you need to find your Sherlock and discover the "Why" by examining deep, deep, deep down, underneath all the layers to the onion's core.  You see, once weight is lost, then what?

For me, shallow gal, I just was frantic about getting those numbers on the scale to ramp down at hyper speed. So I rampaged headlong into all these weight loss panaceas out of an emotional abyss of self-hatred at my fat APPEARANCE without asking these questions: 1) For how long am I going to lose? 2) Is this plan effective for keeping weight off permanently?3) Will I be hungry? (stupid question) 4)Will the plan stir up my will power or do I have to generate it myself? 5)Will I be bored out of my mind? 6)Can I fall off it and easily recover in one or two days or will I just give up? 7)Will the plan exhaust me? 8)Is my goal just to lose weight? 9) What is the plan's maintenance component? 10)How will I respond to stress, emotional lows, frustrations and petty life annoyances while monitoring my eating? 11)Does the diet allow for my food addictions or does it abjectly restrict them like a gestapo?  AND the most vital of prodigiously vital questions: WHY AND THE HELL AM I SUBJECTING MYSELF TO SUCH PAIN? (Remember, a fat cell looks to be sated as it has always been and it howls in misery when it isn't. It knows nothing about BMI.)

Well, around 2005, I retired from my education career and my grieving became less and less acute.  I traveled, played tennis, wrote a novel and had a blast. And in between I did my usual yo-yo dieting (losing the same 50 pounds so I weighed around 185) to "look good" on my trips to Italy to visit family. But in 2008 I was back up to 215 pounds. (At  5'5.6"  my  BMI was 35.1 Obese I and heading for Obese II, which is Morbid Obesity.)  Obviously, I had stopped dieting.

Then, it happened and I'll never forget it.  One morning I woke up startled and shocked after a frightening dream which I can't remember. I had an epiphany. I knew I had a fatty liver and I was unwell. I knew I was curtailing my life expectancy. I myself was doing it, no one but me. I had come to the end of myself. And now I had the answer to WHY. I had found my Sherlock!

That moment of revelation and panic saved me. I changed everything I did, including my eating patterns and selection of foods. I discovered I had a gluten allergy. I avoided all white flour products. I read books and having learned all my life about those various meal plans, I had the expertise to make up a plan that suited me and was convenient to my schedule and obligations. And I enjoyed playing tennis. During the course of two years, I lost over 100 pounds. And I wrote about my reactions and others' reactions to my weight loss (very surprising). And I eventually will publish my book (which is not the usual "How to lose weight and keep it off" book, nor is it a book elucidating what to do with yourself being fat). It is very different. I'm different.

After three years, my BMI is 21 and I still weigh 132. But this is today. Wish me luck. My story is ongoing and tomorrow is another day.

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