Sleeveless in Seattle
It’s a brand new year and I’ve got the same old resolution – to lose weight. I can’t remember a time when I was content with my body. At 16, I wore a size seven bikini and thought I was fat. Now that I’m actually overweight, I’d kill to have that “fat” teenager’s body again.
I blame genetics (two chubby parents) and my unhealthy relationship with food for the pickle I find myself in.
We grew up poor. My father died young and Mom raised four of us on a waitress’ salary, supplemented with Social Security benefits. We were often hungry and filled up on white bread, potatoes and macaroni. I understand newsfeeds showing overweight people in food bank lines. It costs more to eat healthy.
Food was used as a reward in my family. If we were well-behaved, we got a bedtime snack. When Mom doctored my banged up knee, she soothed me with a Popsicle. When we got all A’s on our report cards, my grandparents would take us out to dinner – individually. I loved those dinners; no Mom, no siblings. It was all about me. I could order anything I wanted. Gramps would try to steer me towards the special or whatever he was having, but Grandma always sided with me and honored the original deal.
Not long ago I had a therapist, Rosemary, who told me her parents used books as a reward. When she was good or got all A’s, her parents would let her choose any book and they’d buy it for her. (Oh, what a skinny genius I could have been!) Rosemary was pencil thin, an astute listener and a good counselor. But she was pretty fucked up personally. She confided in me about her dating life and actually took all her phone calls during my sessions – didn’t want to chance missing her guy. Once, when I was unloading about my older sister, Rosemary told me she understood the rivalry and shared a story about shooting her older sister with a BB gun. On purpose.
But to be fair, my flawed psychoanalyst did help me recognize some important body issues. My mother struggled with her weight and was on diet pills, “uppers,” during my preteen years. The drugs made her bat shit crazy. I don’t think she ever got over my father’s death and her predicament of being left alone to raise four children when she was just 25 years old.
Whatever the reason, Mom had some choice nicknames for me. Bubble Butt and Bubbles were her favorites. The truth is, I inherited HER backside. It’s one of those butts that starts at the waist. I long for a J.Lo bum that begins after that lovely indentation below the waist, but it’s not in the cards for me. For some reason, Mom called me out for something she probably was teased about when she was growing up. Maybe she was happier when her biggest flaw was “behind” her, but with me, she had to face it coming and going.
When I started to develop at the early age of 11, she called me “Tits.” In this case it was more of an envy thing – she had very small breasts. Of course, at the time, I thought all mothers humiliated their daughters over physical issues. Once I got older, I didn’t need Rosemary to know how messed up that was, but I did need her help to put it all in perspective.
At some point, you have to understand your parents did the best they could, take ownership for how you deal with it and shake off the past. I was on a pretty good path until I got tripped up in November, 2012. I was discarded by corporate America after a successful, 16-year career and had to figure out what I wanted my life to be.
I initially turned to food for comfort and porked on seven pounds in 60 days. I’m just over five feet tall, so that’s like 14 pounds on a normal person. I’ve always loved to walk, ride my bike, take exercise classes at the gym – but that’s only about 20 percent of the equation. I knew I had to get serious about what I was sending down my pie hole.
In February of 2013, I got back on track. I gave up potato chips, cold turkey. That might not sound like a big deal, but I ate a lot of them. Think in terms of bags, not chips. I was already eating lots of veggies but I added more fruit, fish and chicken. I drink more water. I don’t deprive myself of anything, just dialed down the portion size. And I write down everything I eat. I’m kinder to myself when I deviate and have stopped using food as a coping mechanism.
During the past 11 months, I lost those seven pity pounds and about eight more. It’s coming off slowly, but that’s okay. I’d like to lose 20 more and have learned to be patient with myself. I’ve got lots of company. Two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese.
Jessica Simpson dropped her baby weight and is romping in the Weight Watchers meadow with the biggest dog I’ve ever seen. I guess that’s to make her look smaller by comparison and also to hide her hips. But come on, she looks great. I hope, in future spots, they ditch the horse and bring her in a few feet closer to the camera.
Dan Marino is back talking about the 22 pounds he lost on Nutrisystem. I suppose it’s true, but am I the only one who finds it hard to fathom that Dan got his meals from a box in the mail? (Although for some reason I have no problem believing Marie did.)
So, as I adopt my standing New Year’s resolution, I will not only feel better about my body, but appreciate my lowered cholesterol and blood pressure. It should be about health and longevity, and it is. But I’d also like to look in a mirror and see a face, less chubby. I’d love a midriff without the muffin. I’d like to spin around and see a butt without the bubble
The closest I’ve been to Seattle is Portland. But if I ever do make it there (and have one of those annoying hot flashes), I’d like to remove my twin-set sweater and bare my arms without reservation.