I want to talk about something today that has nothing to do with any of the major crises in my life. By comparison, it is only a minor crisis. It is my terminal fatness.
Now I know there are many people who are fat and happy. I, however, am not one of those people. The fatter I get, the more unhappy I become. Why? Part of it has to do with my fat-sensitized psyche. My mother used to tell me that I was going to be fat because my father’s side of the family was fat. I started dieting around age 11. I just didn’t want to end up being fat.
Luckily I’m a mesomorph (I think this is the correct term), so though I was never small, I was never what one would call fat. And because my musculature, the scale always showed more than I looked like I weighed. It was great at carnival games of “guess your weight.” But then came residency.
Crazy hours, a nasty cafeteria, and having a McDonalds in the hospital that would accept our food coupons led to weight gain. When I stopped fitting into my size 12s, I joined Weight Watchers for the first time. This is still the only weight management program that I endorse. My vow to myself was that I would not end up having to shop in Plus Size stores. My mind could not and cannot accept this possibility. I lost some weight but never got to their goal weight. It bugged me, but then residency ended and fellowship began. I moved to DC.
Before I move on, I must add that this period was the time that I began running. I had always wanted to run, but my cardiovascular fitness was always terrible. Since I was raised indoors, I never had any propensity to do any outdoor activities. And sports, in my mother’s book, was as critical to my formation as wood shop or home economics.
In college I joined the crew team. It seemed really cool and it certainly wasn’t something blacks were doing at that point. I returned home to LA over the winter break and tried to explain crew to some of my friends.
“It’s rowing,” I explained.
“You mean like on a slave ship?” they queried.
I just shook my head.
So during my one year on the crew team I discovered that I was extremely strong, but had absolutely no stamina. The coach told me to spend the break running a mile a day. She might as well have told me to jump to the moon. I had no idea how far a mile was, but I was convinced that I would never be able to do it. After 3 days of procrastination, I put on some athletic shoes, shorts and a t-shirt and ventured outside. I made it as far as the corner before the jig was up. I had a stitch in my side so horrible, I knew I was dying. I rested a few minutes and tried again. Shit, I never made it to the end of the block. It was pathetic. Returning back to school and continuing the grueling training, I found that I could lift more than anyone else on the fresh crew team but I still had no endurance. I was cut from the team.
With this history, I had no belief in my ability to run when I thought about beginning exercising as part of my Weight Watchers program. Though walking had always seemed wimpy to me (too much type-A ideology), I decided that it was something I perhaps should do to increase my weight loss. So I walked and didnâ€™t die. Before long, Type-A Annie decided to try running one of the blocks of my walk. Then I went two blocks. Before long I was running all the way home. I was so pleased. I ran my first mile on the indoor track in the gym. I had to run around 8 times before I made it to a mile, but you would have thought that I had won the New York Marathon. It felt that good to me. (Except for the part where I tripped over my own feet in front of all the beautiful people on the Stairmaster.)
When I moved to DC for my fellowship, though, I fell off the wagon with Weight Watchers. What happened? Met a guy, fell in love and didnâ€™t follow through. I did remember to run from time to time, mostly in spurts, but not too consistently. Then after 11 months we broke up. I wanted marriage and he wanted more time to â€œgrow and develop.â€ After this breakup was when the nuttiness began.
During my fellowship I began to take care of teens with eating disorders. I used to secretly wish that I could â€œcatchâ€ anorexia for a least a few months in order to lose weight. Yet as I discovered, I was exactly the right personality type for an eating disorder: I came from an emotionally-withholding family who were frugal with support or nurturance. My family was overly critical and was very focused on achievements. I had low self esteem and body image issues. Little did I realize what I was walking into when I chose to rejoin Weight Watchers. My Type-A ass walked right into an eating disorder. It didnâ€™t help that my goal weight according to WW was overly low. I would have had to get to a size 6-8 in order to enter the higher end of my goal weight range. I wrote myself a doctorâ€™s note to modify the goal weight but still found that this modification made me a little more nuts.
I was on a mission to lose weight. Strict dieting, exercising until it hurt, pushing myself as far as I could go, were my MO. I did well and lost weight but hit a plateau about 7-9 pounds away from goal. And thatâ€™s when I kicked it into high gear. On weigh in days I wouldnâ€™t eat all day. I would freak out if I drank some water. I drank Super Dieters Tea and steeped it 3 times as long as was recommended. I ended up in the bathroom with stomach cramps way too often. I just had to make goal weight. I just had to.
Of course I spent numerous minutes in the day praying to the scale god. If the god gave me good numbers I was happy. If not, the day was miserable. And then came the vomiting. Luckily it was just on weigh-in days, but it showed me how far I had descended. One of my colleagues started to try to counsel me about my food phobia. Another attending, a sista, told me quite clearly to â€œget over itâ€ since I was black and we didnâ€™t trip that way. Finally after developing a febrile illness for a few days, I managed to make it to goal weight.
What joy I felt! Such accomplishment. The sad thing is that somehow I expected my life to change once I reached my goal. Yeah I went out and shopped for about 3 weeks and twirled around in my short skirts and stirrup pants, but other than that, there was no holy grail. I was still sleeping alone with my cat. All my other problems remained. It sucked. Yet I learned what I was capable of. I was capable of taking my weight issues to the extreme. That was no good.
When I started my job in Philly, I gained weight again but whenever I would reach a certain point, I would get back on some bandwagon and things would get under some control. Somewhere in the mid/late 90s I started spinning and that really helped the weight drop. Then my financial advisor put me on a fiscal diet and there went the spinning and my personal training sessions. And such began the late 30s weight yo-yo cycle.
Now for the past year and a half, I have shot myself so full of fertility hormones and such that I have gained even more weight. And because of exercise restrictions during IVF, the minute I would get back into an exercise routine, I had to stop. The problem is that I havenâ€™t started again since my last BFN. And when I look at myself in the mirror, I see all the fat.
My face is fat. My arms are fat. And my belly! My belly protrudes as much as my breasts do. And I have never been like that before. Not only am I fat. Iâ€™m fat enough to jiggle. And I loathe it. I loathe how I currently look. I donâ€™t even recognize myself amidst this terminal fatness.
I donâ€™t want to be one of those people who hate how they look but never want to do anything about it. I know that I can do better, but all this emotional shit has been whipping my ass of late. Also, my Type A nature gets the better of me. It never seems good enough to just walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes. If I canâ€™t run for an hour, it doesnâ€™t seem worth it. I sabotage myself.
But you know what? Iâ€™m tired of looking at my fat cookie face. Iâ€™m sick of the fact that as of this week, my size 14s are too tight. And I refuse to go up another size. Iâ€™ve got a problem with my fat and I must face it head on with structure and discipline. It is about time.
Can you feel me people?