Wednesday, July 16

Life, Love, and Happiness

I've talked on and off over the past few months about depression and anyone who checks up on me via Facebook knows about the ongoing drama with the new house, the neighbor, and above all the water. (Still not sorted, but I have a much clearer picture of what's "wrong" with Detroit Water and Sewage: they have absolutely no system in place so that one person knows what the last person said or did; there is no communication between departments within the department, and I think their computer system must be related to HAL because it seems to do things all on its own. The people we have talked to are honestly awesome, but the *system* needs an overhaul).

Ahem. But. Today I wanted to talk about some of the awesome things the last year has brought.  :) Like most people, I sometimes (read: often) forget to focus on the positive.

Although I've been pretty bad the last week and not been to the gym, I've been working out pretty regularly since March or so and have lost about 40 lbs. Someone over the Fourth of July holiday asked me how I'd done it. The answer is really easy: I've watched my diet and gotten regular exercise. For the first month or so, I used a calorie counter online and spent a *lot* of days hungry. But I took off a good deal of weight and felt pretty happy. (Not a scary amount, like four pounds in one week, but the first few pounds are always water weight; if I'd continued losing like that, it would have been bad. My normal average is about one and a half pounds a week--some weeks one pound, some weeks, two.)  

I decided to drink more water and  cut out the sugar (except for in my coffee or the occasional glass of lemonaide). I switched to raw honey for cooking and started replacing a couple of my cups of coffee per day with cups of herbal tea because too much coffee makes my heart beat too fast. I happen to love cooking, so making my own food (i.e. getting away from boxes, cans, and frozen delights) was pretty easy for me. The crock pot became my very best friend in the kitchen. My rule now for packaged food is that if I can't read the ingredients without having to look them up, I avoid it. We never went out to eat too much, but when we do, I opt for the best menu choice possible and refuse to feel guilty over the occasional dish of calamari shared with my husband!

I don't follow fad diets, but I'm aware of things like the glycemic index and try to plan the best meals possible as well as the best possible over-all day for my diet. I practice portion control and eat smaller meals. Grandma used to call this approach "moderation." Grandma was seventy five years old when she died, stood five foot two and wore a size ten. I realize that by some standards she was "heavy" (yeah, right!) but in my eyes, she was lovely. 

I have about twenty pounds to go. I'll decide when I get "there" where "there" really is. Then I'll buy that corset I've always wanted but was afraid to buy because I always knew I would lose weight some day and I didn't want to buy a three hundred dollar corset twice (one for "fat" me and one for "healthy weight" me).  Ergo, I've been dreaming of corsets for fifteen years and probably should have just bitten the bullet and bought one for "fat" me anyway. 

But see, when you have the notion that you're fat, it can be hard to do nice things for yourself. And I've been living with the notion that I'm fat for a very, very long time, even when I weighed 115lbs (I stand about five feet tall, and really, I *am* big boned--or at least I have a larger bone structure. I have what I've affectionately deemed "good Russian hips, good for making baby!"  *G*)  

Back in high school, I stood exactly five feet tall. And, like I said, I weighed about 115 lbs (it fluctuated a bit, but that was my average weight.) If memory serves, I wore a size 10/12 in junior clothing--or a medium if it was sized that way. (And seriously, women's clothing *does* need to get standardized. Currently, if I'm shopping for day to day clothes, I'm a large or a an XL--still have those big hips!--but if I'm shopping for workout clothes, I'm a two or even THREE X.)

So anyway, back to high school. I looked hot. Okay, maybe I wasn't as thin as some of the other girls and I could have used more exercise, but I looked pretty darned good.

Only I didn't think so.

My aunts (including my aunt June who was... well...not thin) were constantly telling me that if I wasn't careful, I would end up like my mother (who wasn't especially heavy, just not as thin as she used to be.) Every time they saw my mother they whispered behind her back (but within my hearing) "Have you seen how fat Judy's getting???"  Seriously. She *wasn't* fat. She had health issues because she drank and smoked too much, but that's a different story. 

My self-image was further compounded by my band teacher/flag corps coach who told me point blank one day that I was seriously over weight and at my height, I should weigh about 95 lbs. (I honestly feel sorry for his daughter. Goddess only knows what kind of self esteem issues she got as a result of his attitudes.) I should be on a diet and exercising more. I wanted to grow up to be an attractive woman, didn't I? 

I got the same message less directly from my "peers." You knew who was popular and pretty and it was the skinny girls, the ones always on a diet, the ones on cheer leading and drill team, the ones in basketball and on track. The fit, athletic, outgoing, mainstream girls. 

I tried to lose weight, but I couldn't (maybe because I was smack in the middle of "healthy" and to lose weight would have been bad?) Eventually, I gave up. I stopped trying. I gained weight. Over the years, I gained a LOT of weight. Why? Because all those people telling me, either directly or indirectly, that I was fat made me feel worthless. Ugly. Hopeless. 

All of the ads on the tele didn't help either. You know the ones. Look at how fat I used to be but now I'm a size 0 and I'm happy. I will never, ever be a size 0. It isn't the way my body is made. 

But eventually, I also gained some self-respect, so that when a smart assed cook I worked with said (to his buddies behind the line but loud enough for the waitstaff to overhear) for about the sixth or seventh time that he didn't date "fat chicks" I turned around and said "That's okay, I don't date assholes. Guess neither of us has to worry, huh?" His face turned bright red. The other girls were gobsmacked (I was always the quiet one), but then laughed because somebody finally said what we were all thinking. 

Eventually, I got pregnant, put on more weight, had a baby, and really learned to love my body exactly the way it was. After all, I got this way all on my own and if I didn't like it, I could do something about it. I made an effort to make better food choices for overall health, but I was going to be happy as a two, sometimes three X and just live my life because newsflash: it's *my* life. Not my band teacher's, not my co-workers, not anybody's. (I also have a wonderful husband who knew me when I was thinner and who never stopped looking at me like I'm the most beautiful woman in the world.)

And now, at 45 years old, I'm ready to take the weight off. Not because of my aunts or Dr. Oz. Not for my band teacher. Not because of the Victoria Secrets underwear models or a screwed up society whose idea of "ideal" has caused so many young women to become anorexic (a society that tells girls to dress up and be pretty but not to be sluts or a tease; the messages sent to young women are only getting uglier). I'm doing this for me. Because it was frustrating to be winded after going up a flight of stairs. Because heart issues and high blood pressure run in my family and I don't want a bunch of problems down the road. Because I want that freaking corset that I've always been afraid to buy because as happy as I said I was (and mostly I was despite the best efforts of advertisers who assured me I wasn't desirable) I always dreamed of taking off the weight, I just wasn't quite ready to do it. 

Because next summer, I'm going to wear a bikini, no matter what my dress size happens to be. 

I have no idea what weight I'll end up at. Like I said, I have a goal, but it's hard to tell how I'm going to look when I get closer to it. I've had a baby and major surgery. My body will never look like it did in high school. But I can go up a flight of stairs without feeling winded (unless I've been on the elliptical that morning!) I have more stamina and I'm happier on days when I work out. I'm lifting weights because I love it, doing yoga because I love it, and hope to get back into the pool soon. (I sort of fried my hair the last time I did it, so I've avoided chlorine for a bit.)

And last week, I went out and did something I've wanted to do for twenty years. I got my nose pierced. Earlier in the year, I dyed my hair blue (I've always wanted the crazy colors but was never in a position to be able to do it.) I got my hair cut short and funky (thank you, Johnny! I have *the* most awesome hairdresser in the whole world! The "fried" was totally my fault; I bleached it at home, which normally I'm really good at, but then I started writing this hot sex scene....*sigh* the life of a writer. I went in and as Johnny was assessing the damage, he made faces you *never* want to see your hairdresser make. And then he said with confidence that we could fix this and gave me the most awesome cut to camouflage what I'd done to myself. I seriously love the style--it's what I'd wanted when I first got it cut short, by someone else. The first stylist gave me a perfectly nice but perfectly boring cut. Next time I went in, I didn't care who cut it, I just needed *something* done. So I got this sweet guy who saw right through my suburban housewife disguise and pegged me as fun and funky. *G*  He's the only person I'll go to now.) 

Not really my best pic, but I'm smiling
So it's been a year of ups and downs, but it's getting better. I should be moving into a house I love by the end of the month (although it still needs work, but I'm okay with that.) I'm working on getting back to writing; I have two WIPs and a couple of back-burner stories (one of them with a character whose experiences with weight and weight loss mirror my own). I have Tentacles and Chain with its awesome cover art by Gus Li. And just by living my life, I'm starting to figure out that there are some people around me that I really don't want to be around. They're not toxic per se, but they are toxic to me; I don't need the drama. I don't want it. Time to move on.  


Anonymous said...

"I'm doing this for me."

This is what matters! I'm really happy for you doing this for you, not for anyone else. And I wish you the very best.

I've had a somewhat similar journey, but minus the baby and surgery... but I did get quite deep in my eating disorder and let it consume me. I'm 30 lbs down from my top weight, and have maybe 50 to go. I'm doing the healthy thing for me, as well, not for anyone else.

Tali Spencer said...

You've got such a healthy and wholesome attitude toward everything, now including weight loss. Like you, I was perfectly healthy (and HOT) in high school and it was my mother who convinced me I was too fat, unlike my "prettier" sister, and defective (she also thought I was mentally ill because I loved to write fantasy stories). I don't talk about it on my own blog because family, and she, reads it, but... why do we buy into the labels other people put on us? At least in adulthood we find ourselves, right? I'm losing weight and exercising, so hope soon to be where you are. You're doing so marvelously, and everything is coming together for you. Yay!