Monday, February 25, 2008

The Diet

And now...for the much anticipated food blog.

I was going to upload photos of myself as a child and as a teen, but frankly, that would require more energy than I can muster, so I will try to be descriptive and perhaps you can use your imagination and I can follow up with some photos later. At any rate, this is my history with diets and food.

I was probably average sized as a child. Never skinny mind you, but average. I think I went through the normal slightly chubby stage around 10-12. By age 13 I was a size 7 or so. Not skinny, not fat. Somewhere around 12 or 13 my mom started freaking me out a little about my weight. I got the distinct impression somewhere in there but that my mom would really have preferred me to be thinner. She never explicitly said this - it was just implied. By the age of 14 I was a size 9 and my mom was officially a bit worried about my weight. My first official 'diet' was started by my mother. It was the diet center diet and what I mainly remember about that was that you could eat a lot of apples, chicken baked in lemon and salad. Forbidden items included red meat, bread, cottage cheese and tomatoes. It was very restrictive and I really hated it. More than hating the diet, I was super annoyed with my mom. I remember going over to my friend Kari's house and complaining about it. Kari's mom was horrified that my mom had me on a diet. I remember it made me feel so much better that Kari's mom thought I was thin. the same time my mom was fairly thin, and Kari's mom was not thin. So it didn't make me feel all that much like Kari's mother knew what she was talking about - clearly she was not a very successful dieter. Eventually I became a little obsessed with food all on my own. My weight fluctuated between a size 7 and a size 12 all through high school - mostly I was a 9. And my life fluctuated between periods of extreme depravation and normalacy/borderline binges. I don't know if you could characterize it as "bulimia" but it was probably close.

By my senior year I became much more adept at 'dieting'. My weight was at my lowest, I was a solid size 7/8 and I was eating the following: Breakfast - toast with butter and maybe orange juice. Lunch either a diet coke and an apple or a frozen yogurt and a day old donut. Dinner - a small portion of whatever my mom was cooking. Oh, and you drink a TON of water.

A few times I threw up meals. Not usually though. 6 months or so of eating like that eventually got me down to a size 5. Sometimes there were days when all I ate was diet cokes (lots of them) and 1 hostess chocolate cupcake. So that was healthy. You learn to enjoy the feeling of being hungry rather than the feeling of being full or satisfied. There's a bit of a sharp edge to that hunger all the time - if you can learn to like that feeling, that's more than half the battle.

Then, through college I fluctuated between a size 5 and size 9. My body seemed to want to settle in at a 9 and I fought against that all the time. I exercised quite a bit - doing aerobics or water aeorbics.

Then I got married. And had kids. And fought my weight. Constantly. And mostly lost those battles. And everytime I lost a battle it seemed my body gained ground on me. Until a size 9 seemed so far away I couldn't even imagine it anymore.

I've done weight watchers and la weight loss and different exercise programs and atkins diet and south beach and a million other permutations and trends in eating. I've learned something fairly valuable. Well, lots of valuable things actually.

Some of us, if we try to eat like normal people, will balloon up like an abnormal person. This is not fair at all, but true. I have friends who can eat and eat and not gain weight. I have learned that many skinny people are like this - which is why I think there are lots of judgmental skinny people - because there are two kinds of skinny people - those ones who can eat a lot and therefore assume anyone fat must be eating a WHOLE lot. Then there are the other skinny people - the ones who don't eat. They look down on people who eat. For good reason. Because they are hungry.

I've learned that basically, there is no way to loose weight without major restrictions. Believe me, I've tried the whole, 'eat healthy' or 'moderation' thing. It doesn't work at all. When I do that, I stay the exact same.

I have gone back and forth at times between liking myself for who I am and not concerning myself too much with my weight and the exact opposite.

I grow really weary of the emphasis that is all around us all the time on being thin. I think it really distracts women from focusing on more important things. For many of us, it sucks every bit of energy we have. But to ignore it feels like ignoring something really important too somehow - and oddly, I do miss being thin more than I enjoy the peace of mind of not worrying about being thin.

I can't stand men who are overly fixated on thin-ness as an ideal. It's the worst kind of sexism. It's a horrible oppression. Especially because 99% of the time I guarantee you that their wife, girlfriend or daughter is already thin or at least thin enough that it shouldn't be an issue. It is like telling a woman who may otherwise be smart or talented or funny or capable that it doesn't matter - all that matters is that you are a piece of flesh.

Luckily I am not married to one of those guys. Though I know he would be happy if I did loose weight. But he has never been a jerk about it. He has never made me feel that I am not otherwise smart or funny or talented or capable.

Sometimes I am acutely aware that there are issues which lurk beneath the surface that affect my weight. But they are too complicated to get into here. Not insignificant is the aforementioned forced dieting at age 12/13.

So I have reached the conclusion that if I want to loose weight I should probably return to the high school diet I was most successful at: lots of diet coke and lots of apples. Because it seems to me that if a diet isn't going to be restrictive, there's almost no point.

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