Monday, October 22, 2012

The Why. // Patricia R.

I’ve been thinking about, (while simultaneously trying not to think about,) what caused me to gain weight and stay overweight for so long. It is painful to think about in some ways, because in order to understand that, I have to admit to myself that much of who ended up being as an adult was the result of me being so impressionable as a young person.

I was the youngest in my family. My sister was five years older and my only sibling. As early as 13, my sister, Tracy was perpetually on a “diet” of some kind and she desperately wanted to look good in her pink bikini. Weight was a constant source of discussion at our house. How much do you weigh? How much weight have you lost/do you want to lose, etc. This is interesting since no one at our house was severely overweight at that time. Our parents would always be “watching their weight,” though it looked nothing like what I do now as an adult. There was a lot of "frying" in the kitchen and cheat days produced big bags of junk food, followed by binging until it was all gone, and the diet would resume.

I remember one thing vividly and will always have it carved in my mind. My sister and my dad had a monetary bet about MY weight. I was supposedly “the smaller boned one who would never struggle with weight,” which I am sure, whether true or not, made my sister nuts! (I only wish that were true.) One day during this debate of which I was just a third-grade bystander, my sister bet my dad $100 that by sixth grade (age 11) I would weigh 100 pounds! By the way, the year would have been 1979, and I can assure you that $100 was a freaking LOT of MONEY back then.

What I did understand when this bet originated is that IF I weighed over 100 pounds by sixth grade that meant I was FAT. That became engraved in my mind. I kept going and growing like any other kid and was always scared to death when it came time every year to weigh and measure in PE, because I was sure I would be found to be FAT. In sixth grade, I weighed in at exactly 106, which meant not only was I FAT, but that my sister won the bet and would be collecting cash.

I didn’t realize until I had kids of my own that it is extremely normal to be a sixth grade girl and weigh more than one hundred pounds. My own daughter was about 5’4’’ at the time and weighed 120 or so. I researched the matter and found, “The ideal weight for a female is: 103-108 pounds, assuming that the age is around 11 years with average health (6th grade).” This data came from an online health and fitness site. It finally occurred to me the impact this bet had on my psyche as a child.

Follow that up with more of my sister’s influence: we moved to a house out of the country into a small town. Down the street was a little market. My sister would bribe me to ride my bike down to the market and buy her list of candy with her allowance money if she would share some with me. Our parents worked full-time and since she was a teenager, we were left at home alone together. (Many interesting memories were built during these summers, to say the least.) I would do it, come home and we would snack and watch our summer soap operas for hours on end.

This eating was a habit until my sister left home. I was a freshman in high school when she moved out. That is when I first remember feeling any real control over choices with food and I was just beginning my own lifelong battle with my weight. Unfortunately, I was extremely skewed by my past experiences, and saw food as a reward and a punishment, a friend and an enemy too.

I was always ashamed of my body, though I’m not sure why. I didn’t want to attract attention with it. I developed early and largely (fifth grade) and felt out of place from that point on. Other fifth grade girls saw me as a legend with my period and my C cups and adults looked at me like I was from another planet. I felt icky a lot. I did not wear size 3 Normandy Rose jeans like the other girls. I was more like a size 11, with birthing hips.

Honestly, none of this came into a clear view for me until June 14, 2011. I had been married for 14 years, had two kids, both of whom I desperately tried to instill good eating habits into, and was a full-time educator. I honestly don’t know if it was the PERSON this conversation happened with, the conversation itself, or just where I was at in my life at the time to make it all sink in.

The conversation led me to see that I am still young enough to be freaking amazing, perhaps even MILFish. That I could be healthy and strong and be in control of my universe in a way I had never utilized before. That I, at 42, could take the same body that I had been ashamed of in its early development and make it work to my advantage now, as something to be proud of. I could stop letting everything else in my life take more of me than I gave to myself. That I could quit sacrificing ME for the good of everyone else. OMG. Epiphany, baby. And, that is the day. That very day, I took my son to football practice like every other day, but this time, I was dressed in sweats and a tee-shirt and I walked around the track instead of sitting and waiting. And, I did that every day for the whole season.

I stopped looking at food as my comfort, my celebration, my best friend I couldn’t wait to see, but just as a fuel source for my body. I realized I am hardly ever hungry, really. I started eating only when my body told me it needed food. And, I began to be healthy and strong and in control of my universe in a way I had never been before.



This is the most updated progress pic I have right now. It was taken in September 2010/2011/2012. Yes, that is the same sweater. Don't judge. It's silk, and I love it, but it's time to get rid of it!

// Patrica R.

For more of Patrica's writings, check out her personal blog.

6 comments:

  1. Great writing. You look fabulous!

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  2. I think your sister owes you $100 bucks!!! Thanks so much for sharing your story! You write very well! And congrats on your success! ~ Jen J.

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