I’m (not) fat

I am starting to be very nervous about getting up on Monday mornings. Not because of the reasons you think – work, or school, or writing deadlines – though all of those do apply. Nope, Monday mornings are my appointment with the scale that someone ironically named a “health – o – meter”  This device will cheerfully tell me my weight and take a guess at my body fat percentage.  Even worse, I get a little reminder on my iphone that will tell me, in tenths of a pound, exactly how far away from my ideal weight for my age and height.

I have battled with my weight for most of my life.  I never went into formal therapy for it, but I probably should have been.  A lesson in just how much my views have changed on weight and body image came last week when we went to an event where actress Colleen Clinkenbeard was featured.  (If you need to know who she is go here or see pictures here.)  One of the questions that was asked was why she had not done more film projects.  To my horror, this beautiful, talented and accomplished actress replied “Well I would, but me and my flab have to talk about that.”  I am pretty sure that if you had asked almost any man in the room about the “flab” she was worried about, they would have been more than happy to do a search for it, but from where I was sitting, there was absolutely nothing wrong with her figure.

While I certainly am nowhere near svelte as Ms Clinkenbeard, I can relate, as I am sure most women can, to her comment about weight.  I have had issues with my weight for as long as I can remember.  Beginning when I was in high school and I was dancing on a professional level,  I spent hours agonizing over my body, endured almost endless workouts and thought nothing of cycling everywhere, because there was an extra 1,000 calories I didn’t have to worry about.  I existed on salads, fruits and small handfuls of granola here and there. Anything more substantial was punished with extra workout time.  I would occasionally go on 500 calorie a day restrictions for several days to get to a goal weight, and kept myself under 1,000 calories a day long after I stopped dancing.  As I transitioned to more sedentary jobs, my daily workouts suffered and I suddenly had more issues.  I started fasting every weekend.

I am not saying that my choices were in any way healthy.  What I did eat was aimed at being minimal, not healthy.  I waited until I really couldn’t function to eat, and then had the smallest amount that I could manage.  When I lived in NY, my nutrition grew even worse since grocery shopping meant schlepping it home via subway and the LIRR.  I lived on pasta, coffee and the occasional slice of pizza that I could eat on the train.  There were penalties. Yes, I could cruise through the teen section in most stores to shop almost till I was 30, but my health suffered.  I caught frequent colds and stayed sick for months at a time.  I developed migraines, worsened arthritis, and even small paper cuts took weeks to heal and almost always became infected.  All of my “vacation” time was eaten up with bouts of bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma attacks and other illnesses.  And here is the frightening part – I saw my Doctor on an almost monthly basis for 5 years in NYC, and he never once told me I was too thin, or that I might have an eating disorder. The closest he ever came to counseling me in terms of nutrition was to recommend that I take different medications before or after meals.  Why? Because according to the weight charts posted on the wall next to his scale, I was at the lower end of my idea weight range, but still where I was supposed to be.

I’d like to say that I had a moment of revelation and realized my eating habits were self destructive.  I didn’t.  I got married.  I suddenly had someone living with me who wanted regular meals – and not the anorexic meals I was eating, but real actual food.  I started eating, and wow, I was hungry.  I made up for all the deprivation in the past.  I gained 2 dress sizes in the first 6 months of marriage and didn’t care.  I was healthier than I had ever been before, and gone were the weekends where I would drop into bed on Friday nights and sleep till Sunday afternoon from sheer exhaustion.  Then I injured my knee which stopped my workouts and most of my active habits, but I couldn’t stop eating.  I had so much fun eating suddenly that I even lured my new husband into my new bad habits.  My weight ballooned as you would imagine and in the course of a year I went from ‘ideal” to “obese” (according to the charts at least, I think obese is really pushing it.)

I am back on the weight loss track again, and I admit from time to time I find myself slipping into the old ideas and habits of skipping meals and so on, though I am aware at least that this is unhealthy and making an effort to change my habits.  My metabolism is ruined from years of starvation, so even though I actually do need to lose weight now, it is a very slow process.  We have found a weight loss program that is working for us (South Beach diet).  We are making changes together that are healthy, but there is a learning curve here, both in how I eat and how I think about myself.  I celebrated today because my weight is at a 3 year low, even though at my current rate, according to my phone at least, I will not reach my goal weight until October.  Posting here will keep me accountable for my habits which is part of my plan to NOT become anorexic again.  I will say that I am happier, healthier and more energetic than I have ever been which should count for something (besides, I learned how to make these really great brownies…)