My daughter has for the last week or two been on a new diet - Jenny Craig. I have not been doing it with her, though admittedly I probably could. All the talk about food around here the last two weeks has made me think more and more about my relationship with food in general. Because for sure it's a relationship.
When I think about being aware of food in my life I think about the smells of my grandmother (and mother) cooking and baking. I liked to help, particularly with baking. Even today, I am the only one in the family that still makes some of the traditional Slovak pastries that she was so wonderful at producing. I have a lot of pride surrounding the fact that I can duplicate some rather well now (others are still a work in progress.) I liked to eat as a kid, but wasn't overweight ever, that I remember. Maybe fifth grade - right before puberty took hold, but I was never what anyone would call "fat". That was then.
I put on maybe 15 pounds during college - enough to begin to think about diet programs. I joined a place called Gloria Marshall with my best friend for a summer. I dropped all my freshman weight gain and then some, starting sophomore year in the best shape I have ever been in to this day. THen I started dating my (now) husband. He has been overweight his whole life, except when we first began dating. We cooked together, ate together and began to gain weight together. For the most part, I kept my figure under 180 lbs until after my first child.
When my first child was 4 and second was 2, I weighed in at 265. I remember going to my doctor and crying. He sent in his nurse, who talked with me and took me to my first OA meeting. I went to meetings for a period of maybe 18 months, and lost about 75 lbs altogether. I kept that off until Hurricane Andrew, about two years later. Then began the slow climb up, again. 10 lbs up each year of the last 10 or so. Oh, I've lost 30 lbs here, or 15-20 lbs there, only to gain them back.
So I'm now nearly 51, and thinking that I have on my frame probably 130 lbs that shouldn't be there. THat's a whole person. It occurred to me that I can't lift 130 lbs - how can I continue to carry a whole other person around on my body? This has never occurred to me before, frankly. I have known, of course, that I'm overweight, and have suffered the shame of that too. I have been humiliated in restaurants or theaters where I cannot fit comfortably into a chair because I carry the weight in my hips, for the most part, being a pear shape. I try to shrink myself as well as I can in airline seats, needing to life the armrest for comfort. Most seatmates are understanding. I have bought first class tickets just to avoid the humiliation. I am VERY weary of facing this. I am afraid that my body won't be able to keep up with the load I have asked it to carry the last 15 or so years. Already I am showing signs of it beginning to break down. Joint pain, back pain, high blood pressure. I have to be realistic and face the crisis I am in.
I'm not sure why I have let myself get to this point. It'll probably take a whole lot of therapy to figure that out. I like to eat and love to cook - it's a creative outlet for me, really. I enjoy having others eat the food I have made and nod in satisfaction. But funny enough, it isn't when I am doing all that cooking that I have the urge to overeat. To the contrary, when I am doing all that preparation, I don't really feel like eating when it comes time to sit down at the table. For me, it's the alone times that drive me to my pantry. And for the last few years I have spent A LOT of time alone. ALONE is what gets me into trouble every time.
I think I am beginning to turn a corner in terms of my own health. I am starting to think about cooking in different ways. I cleaned out my pantry yesterday and am donating lots of food that I shouldn't eat that someone else may have. I am thinking about making better, healthier choices when I'm in a restaurant. Still have a hard time passing up a piece of bread, but I do think that this will be the year that I make some positive, lasting changes.