Making Peace with My Body – Finally

I have dieted and starved myself to my current weight, which is about twenty pounds more than I would like but less than what it was at its highest.

It all started when coworkers at my first real job decided we were all “fat.” I weighed 128 pounds but when someone else pointedly pointed out that she was going on a diet and she weighed 118 pounds, I bought a carbohydrate counting booklet and found out that not much other than meat, eggs, and fish would allow me to stay under the magic 60 g. I lost eight pounds and gained a lifelong craving for pasta. In all fairness, it was the one diet that did take off the pounds, no matter how much steak, butter, hamburger, fish and eggs I ate.

Not realizing that my metabolism had been damaged, I went off the diet and within days regained the lost weight plus a few extra, up to a shocking 135.

A doctor (who eventually lost his license) insisted that at my height of 5’3″ I should weigh between 93 and 113 pounds and prescribed “energy pills” to help me achieve that perfection. In my innocence after taking what I later realized was speed, I was unable to sleep for 48 hours. That was the end of that.

Back to the high protein diet and a regular at the figure salon, I became a trim and shapely 118 pounds, sought after at the local hang out. Innocent Saturday nights were spent at drive-ins, of both food and movies, and several suitors suggested I should become a Bunny or Playmate.

Newly engaged after a whirlwind romance, I bought a two piece, boy legged blue gingham patterned swim suit for a week-end getaway with my love and his slightly older friends. The more flattering high cut suits were not yet in fashion and unfortunately I hadn’t yet fallen into the one piece black suits are mandatory for anyone not suffering from the anorexia nervosa trap.

“We’re going to have to put you on a diet!” were not the most romantic words I’ve ever heard. Yes, I was hurt and the engagement eventually dissolved.

Still relatively innocent of the ways of the world, I dove back into the dating pool and once again had no trouble getting dates. Since this occurred during the VietNam war, and many of the young men were not available I felt that being able to collect a few hearts verified my attractiveness.

Within a few months I was once again engaged, this time to the one and only man I was ever to marry. Usually I bought my clothing at discount houses but I splurged on a color block play set. I loved it! The top consisted of wide strips of hot pink alternated with white, and the shorts were solid pink.

“Hello, Chubby…” Yes, I married him.

Determined to be what I then considered being a good wife, I spent evenings cooking and baking. Enter 145 pounds and years of starving, emotional eating, excessive exercising, and the resulting weight gain and loss.

The most dangerous diet of all consisted of two bananas and all the pineapple I could eat the first day, all the fresh pineapple and watermelon I wanted the second day, and my blood pressure plummeting the third. By this time I was the mother of two preschoolers and their welfare was much more important than my vanity. To this day I don’t care for fresh pineapple, although I enjoy it canned and crushed in salads and smoothies.

Since I wanted to look good (health still wasn’t a priority), I tried a few other things. Richard Simmons seemed to understand people like me so I exercised with him. (Good.) I walked five miles a day. (The best.) I drank water. (Also good.).

Most of my life I wore black in an attempt to “hide” a few pounds, but instead appeared to be an aging goth.

As the years flew by, stuck in a dead end job and in a failing marriage, I drowned my sorrows in the only source of love that I could find: food. Breakfast consisted of one, then two, bacon-egg-cheese biscuits, followed by two candy bars and two cans of cola. Cola and candy were at hand all day. While working full-time I no longer was afforded the luxury of the time to walk five miles each day, but I did aim for two, and I continued to drink water. How much did I weigh? I don’t know, but I would guess somewhere in the 200 pound range. I looked and felt terrible.

My marriage ended abruptly.

When I began dating again, frequently being rejected due to my weight, I decided to approach the problem from a different angle. Health, not weight, was what mattered. Instead of six to nine colas, I treat myself to one, icy cold, instead of slurping it down all day.

I also developed a taste for fruit and preferred it to cookies and cake and candy, as unbelievable as that may sound. I’m still not my fighting weight, but I have learned that perfection is not necessary.

Furthering my health goals, I joined a club and began hiking. We’ve traversed the plots of Greenlawn Cemetery, in which residents include presidential ancestors, a famous WWI flying ace and Indianapolis 500 driver, circus performers, hospital founders, business tycoons, bank financiers, everyday citizens, a married college professor who rode the Lightnin’ Bolt after killing his paramour circa 1930, and Irish immigrants, one of whom a traveling cobbler and incidentally my great-grandfather. Our hiking club also walked the perimeters of the ruins of an eight foot wall of a prehistoric mound, and a trail deep in abandoned mine country of southeastern Ohio. I might not look like a supermodel or tri-athlete but I’m in good enough shape to keep up.

One of my fitness fails occurred when I signed up to rock climb a wall at a metro park, causing me to have nightmares of being stranded at the top of a needle nosed top mountain. I begged my adult daughter to accompany me and against her judgment, she reluctantly agreed. We slipped away after we were embarrassed about not fitting into women’s safety harnesses and needing to wait for men to finish so we could borrow them.

Two years ago, tired of drama and no longer struggling with diets or emotional over eating, I met a guy. He’s several years younger, tall, good company, and still enjoys an occasional game of hoops.

Deciding we deserved an old fashioned courtship, he took things slow. He didn’t hold my hand until our second date, hug me until our third, or kiss me until our fifth. You know what I thought, don’t you?

I will never forget when he chuckled, saying that I didn’t think he was attracted to me.

To anyone with self esteem issues, I ask you to take care of your health, eat well, drink plenty of water, enjoy the Great Outdoors, and above all, love and accept yourself. You are perfect, just the way you are. As the saying goes, “God didn’t make no junk.”

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