I have never had a Barbie-doll shape. As a teen, I was told that I had “good hips for having babies.” – because that’s something every adolescent wants to hear. It, of course, translates to, “Yo, you have a fat ass.”
It does. It helps to create a negative body image. How about just, “you are beautiful just the way you are.” What the hell is wrong with that?
In high school, I listened to things like that. It didn’t matter that I was tall, and mostly thin, with washboard abs. It didn’t matter that I modeled. It didn’t matter that on a fat day, at 5’8”, I weighed-in at about 120 pounds. In my head, I was fat.
I fulfilled the expectation of having babies, and with each, I got fatter. After my third baby, I was a horrifying 135 pounds. I was fat!
The commentary changes as one ages. It changed from, “good hips for having babies,” to “oh, you’re so much bigger than you were in high school.” Well, yeah, I’ve had three babies, and gained fifteen pounds. So, my BMI went from under 19 (the charts don’t go lower than that), to a healthy 21. But I wasn’t as thin as I had been in high school, when I was considered fat enough to easily birth babies. I inched from 130 to 140 to…
I hurt my back in 1989, and as a result, I was unable to do any sort of high, or even moderate, impact exercise. No more aerobics for me. Goodbye Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons. Weight became a whole new challenge. Up and down my weight went.
I was never big on sweets, but I drank a lot of Pepsi. So that had to go. I successfully weaned myself off of soda in 2004. I lost fifteen pounds in a week. I did all of the right things, read all of the right books, and dropped three sizes. Thank you, Jillian Michaels.
But then my schedule shifted. Meals became…random…eat when the opportunity presents itself. Dinner at 11 p.m.. I began drinking Mountain Dew on days that were “long days”. Two, sometimes as many as four, days a week began when I left the house and 7 a.m. and ended when I made the thirty minute drive home from a class that ended at 10:30 p.m.. Caffeine, I drank Mountain Dew to sustain myself; that’s what I told myself. Other than soda, my diet was healthy, if not time-wise, at least food wise. But, ounce-by-ounce, my victory was chipped away. I inched from 140 to 145 to…
My clothes got tighter, and had to be replaced with larger sizes. Once, twice, a third time. I suffered with heartburn, headaches, exhaustion, and weekly Rheumatoid Arthritis episodes. I was short tempered, harried. Frumpy.
Frumpy! That wouldn’t do.
I looked back through old photographs of all the earlier fat me’s—I looked at how thin I was—at how deeply ingrained those tiny voices from the past are. I thought about how society—American culture—thought I should look. I thought about the patriarchy and how detrimental it is to the female psyche. I thought about how every woman I knew bought into that, that image of what a woman should be. That unrealistic image that says, you will never be thin enough, pretty enough, smart enough; you’ll never be enough (because you’re not a man?). I thought about how I define the word fat for my Composition 1 students; it used to mean rich. I thought about how American culture encourages me to be unhealthy: eat this American-processed food. It makes you ill? Take this pill, have this operation, do therapy. Medicate. Anesthetize. You are healthy enough. Well, I’d had enough, enoughs for a lifetime.
And so began the quest, to be the fat me of previous years. I needed to do this for me. To be healthy, whole, pain free.
I needed to use the gym membership I was paying for, in the first week of June, I did just that. I began using the recumbent bike four times a week. I stopped drinking Mountain Dew—eliminated soda from my diet completely (well, with the occasional exception of a Dry Lavender Soda).
On June 19th, I bought a Jawbone Up. This simple act radically changed my perception of myself. According to the documentation, a healthy human being needs to take 10,000 steps a day. The average person, in the United States, using an Up took 5,500 steps a day. In the first week, I averaged a little less than 4,000.
Damn it. So, what to do? Well, obviously walk more, a lot more. But I realized quickly, that wouldn’t be enough. People have asked me what I have done to lose weight, so here it is:
Eliminate soda. Check.
Reduce gluten. Check.
Eliminate dairy. Sort-a check.
Eliminate half and half from my coffee, replace with vanilla almond milk. Check.
Reduce cheese and butter. Check.
Eat breakfast every day. Working on it.
Ride recumbent bike thirty minutes, four times a week. Check.
Walk a minimum of 5,500 steps per day. Check.
Within two weeks, I had lost fourteen pounds! No one noticed. But onward! All heartburn episodes disappear.
Eat a GMO-chemical-laden Nutrigrain bar every day before leaving for work. Check.
Vow to find a better breakfast choice. Working on it.
Subscribe to Jillian Michaels app. Check.
Add a 15-minute weight circuit to gym activity. Check.
Increase minimum step count to 6,500. Check.
In three weeks, I was down by 22 pounds. A student walking in the hall notices. All Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms disappear.
Vow to find a better breakfast choice. Working on it.
Add mall walk three times per week, approximately 2,500 boring steps. Check.
Reduce time on recumbent bike, increase weight circuit to 30 minutes. Check.
Increase steps to 6,800. Check.
Focus on weekly counts to eliminate guilt of daily shortfalls. Check.
Eliminate processed sugar, replace with organic coconut sugar (except in lemonade, because that was gross). I noticed no difference in my coffee. Check.
Add a walk through Garden Ridge to mall walk making it less boring, increase overall mall steps to 5,000. Check.
Incorporate inch measurements in success rate. Check.
Eliminate recumbent bike. Increase circuit training to 50 minutes alternating weight and laps around the gym. Check,
Increase steps to 7,000. Check.
Weight loss: 31 pounds.
Phase 5 (where I am now):
Experiment with breakfast choices. Egg white omelet on days off…a nut-granola mix on workdays. Who knew breakfast could be so challenging? We’ll see.
Eliminate remaining (few) processed foods.
Increase step count to 7,500 daily.
Things I still need to work out:
Incorporating writing time without sacrificing exercise time.
Twenty pounds to go. I won’t have a Barbie body, but I will be happy with myself and live a long life in which I will be able to disrupt the patriarchy! Who’s with me?