Wednesday, April 7, 2010

You Can Be Honest With Me

Do these glasses make my butt look big?

I have been in a power struggle with my weight since I was 12, although I never really had any excess weight at all until I was 19, and even then we're talking maybe 5 or 6 pounds.  I think I was misinformed as a child because I always thought I was fat. I was never skinny like some kids who have little stick legs and narrow waists you could wrap your fingers around. As one of my aunts once told me when I was very young, "You're not fat, you're healthy". At the time, I took it as an insult.

I remember going to a church potluck when I was 11 or 12 and making the agonizing decision not to have any dessert since I was convinced I needed to lose weight. Anybody who has gone to a church potluck knows that food is good at these things, especially the desserts. All the ladies (only ladies cooked back then) were in competition with each other and this was an occasion to really shine. So, at my tender young age I had decided before I went that I would not have dessert and begin my New Life as a Thin Person. As I remember it all these years later, that night the act of resisting the urge to indulge my sweet tooth was physically painful. I longed to have the wonderful taste of sugar, chocolate, whipped cream, ooey-gooey yummy stuff filling my mouth with happy flavors. When we got home, I remember my mother commenting on the fact that she noticed that I had skipped dessert. She said she was proud of me. Rats. I really didn't want to ever have to live through that experience again, and here what I'd done had made my mother proud. And she was not easily impressed.

Looking back on all of my years of dieting and I'm-not-dieting-I'm-just-eating-healthy, the potluck dessert fast was probably my first official act of dieting. Since then I have been on Weight Watchers several times (including way back in the late 60's when the plan called for canned bean sprouts to replace spaghetti noodles), Diet Center, Nutrisystems, some version of the no carb/high protein diet, Slim Fast, magic soup diet, diet pills (awful!), candy diet (special candies you'd eat right before a meal to fill you up... right....), and my latest endeavor, Jenny Craig. I lost weight on just about every diet I tried, and, just like most people's experience with dieting, I gained the lost weight back some time within a year of going back to eating "normally". I'm currently about 53 lbs lighter than when I was at my heaviest in my 40's. That's a lot of weight, I know, but losing it isn't the problem for me. Keeping the weight off without constantly yo-yo dieting is the issue.

So. Here I am in my post-Jenny Craig days, having lost 17 pounds (again) during the four months I was on the plan. Wow, what a struggle to lose those pounds now that I'm in my mid-50's. Based on that you'd think it would be easy for me to cherish those lost pounds with the passion of a weight-loss zealot, making it easy for me to stay away from all those sweets I crave, that I would feel good about turning my head (and mouth) away from that forbidden unneeded second/third/fourth afternoon snack. But that is not the case at all. When it comes to food, and sweets in particular, my craving for it and my ability to rationalize eating it has not diminished one iota. In fact, in the last few weeks since I declared victory on Jenny Craig I've spent more time and energy looking for new food to eat than ever before. My freezer is so full of reduced calorie, low fat desserts that I can hardly get the door closed. But, see, the thing is you're not supposed to eat three of these desserts in one day. You're only supposed to eat one and then stop. But some days I just can't stop, especially those days I'm just hanging out at home all day taking care of my granddaughter.

However, I will not gain that weight back. Well... this is what I'm telling myself. The big question mark hanging in my mental mid-air is, will I or won't I? If I talk about it and start watching Oprah more often maybe I can figure this out.
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