March 6, 2010

Saturday is for sitting and thinking.

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:37 pm by otherdeb

I was answering a comment from a friend on LiveJournal, and was thinking about how I came to do WW this time around, and why I seem to be succeeding so spectacularly when the other times I tried it (this is my fourth time), I failed faster and sooner.

The first time, I was about 15, and was dragged there by my mom, also obese. Neither of us got to goal, and after a while it became just too much to schlep from the almost-Brooklyn end of Queens way the hell out to Great Neck, so we gave up. Also, the diet was much more stringent in those days than it is now.

I tried it again in my 20’s, and even had the same lecturer (she lectured in Forest Hills as well as Great Neck). My failures had nothing to do with Helen’s leading; she was fabulous, I was not ready.

I tried it a third time after I met my fiance. That time, I lost 50 lbs in about a year and a half, but crashed and burned (and gained it all back), after I moved in with my roommate. The good thing is that I don’t blame Sue for it. I did it to myself. I had lost the 50, then got cocky. I figured I knew what to do, so I didn’t need to go to meetings or track food. Well, the upshot was that I gained back the 50, plus 10 more.

When I went back this time (last May), I was angry and disgusted with myself. I hated the way I looked; I hated that I could barely walk 100 steps a day, even after the surgery and after the anemia got treated (I really had been hemorrhaging to death, though the surgeon refused to believe me about it!) I hated the way I looked, and felt it was unfair that I would have to do things differently to look the way I wanted to. I had a magic number I wanted to get to, and told myself that if I could only get to that number (which would have been realistic if I was still 18 or so), my whole life would magically change. But I hated that I would have to work to get there. It wasn’t fair, I whined, that so many people didn’t have to go through all this to maintain a reasonable weight. It wasn’t fair that there was no magic to turn my life around. It just wasn’t fair (imagine me stamping my feet and throwing a full-blown tantrum — not pretty)!

Well, I’ve been getting over that. Losing the weight won’t magically change my life. What it will do, however, is give me skills for coping and living that I can apply to other areas of my life. I have let go of the magic number, and changed my goal to a much more realistic one: having a body that truly represents who I am. I’m learning to not give a damn about whether it’s fair or not, and to acknowledge that if I want what this goal I have to do the work to get there, no matter how effortless it seems that others have it…and they really don’t. It seems to me that almost every woman I know — and some of the men, too — are constantly going on about fighting to lose or keep off between five and twenty pounds. How could I ever have thought they had it effortless and easy? It’s about learning that we all have our own places of ease and places of struggle, and that I have some power over which of those choices I see things as.

The result is that it has been almost ridiculously easy to lose the 64 lbs. I have lost. And that loss has happened in nine months, not the year and a half it took me last time. I track religiously, and while some of my friends joke about it, that’s fine with me. They are very lucky that this is not part of their path, but it is part of mine, and it works for me, so I will keep doing it.

Would I recommend this path to others? Hell, yes! It is still one of the safest, most reasonable ways to lose weight out there. Is it easy? Depends. Are you willing to honestly face yourself, or are you still looking for that magic bullet or fairy dust that will make your life different?

The thing that is making the difference for me this time around seems to be that I am willing to do the work to make the changes — not just in my habits, but in looking at where my thinking is faulty, and where I BS myself, and where I blame others for my shortfalls. Easy, no, but neither was being 271 lbs, and watching my world grow smaller and smaller as I could physically do less and less.

There are great things about this program — I can eat ethnic foods (and why the hell live in NYC if you can’t). I can do things that keep me from feeling deprived (dark chocolate, anyone? Lemon pound cake with mandarin oranges and fat-free ReddiWip.) Does it mean effort? Hell, yeah. I am relearning how to cook. Hell, I’m cooking again. I’m not falling into the easy old “What can we nuke tonight?” syndrome. Even better, I’m learning to plan a bit. When I cook on the weekend, I try to make something with many portions. Then, instead of just dumping it all into a quart container or two, I divide it into portions, freeze some and fridge others. That way, I build up options. I get home I can pick and choose, rather than just having, say, crocked beef, 12 days in a row. I have, further, made a new decision this time around. I will, going forward, be trying to use meat, poultry, and fish more as “just one element” of a meal, rather than as the focus, in order to reduce the amounts of them I eat.

See, WW is a points system, and as you lose weight you lose points. I currently get 24 points a day, with an additional 35 points I can use throughout the week if I want to do so. Now, I can spend those 24 points any way I want to, but…meat (and even poultry and fish) are much higher in points than veggies and fruits. Now, I can’t say this would work for everyone, but I happen to like fruits and veggies, so I think it will work for me to start shifting my meals to include more of them. Given that I have mostly learned standard assimilated-NY-Jewgirl-raised-in-the-1950s-cooking (i.e., meals where animal protein is the main component), this mean relearning cooking at the age of 57. Is it an adventure? You betcha. Am I having fun along the way? Yeah. Is it scary as hell? Yes, but so far the good has outweighed the scary. Finding out that my roomie loves beets and asparagus (two of my favorite veggies) was a delightful surprise. So was last night when Sue yelled to me from the kitchen to find out if we had used up the beets and stewed tomatoes because she wanted some for dinner (we hadn’t). So is the joy of watching my roommate go down in size along with me, even though she is not formally on the program.

If I had it to do over? Yeah, I’d love to have been born one of those for whom weight is not an issue. I won’t lie about that. But the thing is, worrying about what might have been, or what went before, or what I could have done differently way back then is not gonna change my life going forward. Doing this, and doing it one step at a time, and doing it no matter what the short-term scale number says, will. So I’m taking it on faith that changing what I do will change what I get as a winning outcome. And I will keep doing it because I know it works, and I have seen results not only in the area of weight loss, but in how people treat me, and in who I am becoming (not to mention because I’m a stubborn b***h, which those of you who know me in RL already know).

I used to hate myself. I used to think I was substandard (hell, I was told that most of my childhood). I like myself now. I like who I grew up to be. I like who I am growing into being. Can I credit all of that to WW? Maybe, maybe not. A lot of that came from them asking me to look long and hard at myself. But the bottom line is that I am now willing to do the work necessary to become who I want to be, and knowing I have the tools to accomplish it. And that is the bottom line here, folks.


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