Published Sunday, September 30, 2012
I’ve lost 50 pounds but that’s not what this is about.
This is about being 50-plus pounds heavier and the stuff that goes with it. Though it is extremely personal, I’m writing about it because a lot of people struggle with their weight and I’m no exception. And it’s certainly not a secret. One can keep things like drugs or alcohol addiction a secret to passersby, but food? It’s often obvious and I’ll probably struggle with it for the rest of my life for reasons that would fill several columns in this paper.
I still have a lot of weight to lose. Over the years I’ve tried a few things but it took me until age 52 and a diagnosis of diabetes to give me the push I needed to learn about nutrition.
Being a larger size has never been lost on me. I feel it physically and emotionally every day. When my kids were younger I was embarrassed for them. I didn’t want to be the overweight mom in the crowd of parents. I wanted to be the one who blended in with the others in cute, trendy clothes with great hair and makeup. I was wearing whatever would cover and my hair would never do what I wanted it to. As for makeup, I didn’t even wear it until my 30’s.
Folks can be cruel and insensitive to overweight people. There was the clerk in Victoria’s Secret who ignored me until I walked up to her and asked if she would show me where some items were. She slowly looked me up and down and said, “I’m sorry, but we don’t carry your size.” I replied by asking for the manager. She was very upset with the clerk, especially after I showed her the $300 cash I had intended to spend in her store for my sister who was getting married.
There have been other instances that “encouraged” me to crash diet, like the extra chair a waiter brought to the table. It broke during the dinner out with friends. Even though the chair had a cracked leg and had been put in a corner for that reason it was a terrible thing to have happen.
I once lost 23 pounds after dropping a huge milkshake-type dessert on the floor of Wal-Mart. It wasn’t the dropping it that was embarrassing; it was that I couldn’t get down on the floor to clean it up. An elderly woman who worked at the store was able to do what I could not. It didn’t escape me that the area of the store I was in displayed petite clothing for women so I had quite an audience.
The embarrassment lasted a while but somewhere down the road I had those 23 pounds to lose again. All of my adult life I’ve seen pounds come and go, with the typical number of 23 for some reason.
But things are staring to fit now. Like the chair in the theater. Like the clothes in the far section of my closet, waiting to see if one day I’d actually wear them.
I went into a thrift store this week to check out some “in between” sizes – something to get me through while I’m navigating this weight thing. I found a pair of shorts with a designer tag, a line of clothing I never thought I’d wear. I bought them, and once home, I washed, dried and tried them on. They fit.
I was ecstatic and called my best Savannah friend. She’s tiny. When I say “tiny” I mean, like four foot eight or something and teeny tiny. Though she has no idea what it is like to be a size 22, she is a great cheerleader for me and encourages me in every way. She sincerely, wholeheartedly shared my joy for my accomplishment.
And I get that. When I was at my heaviest I saw a friend in town for the first time in a year. She had lost four sizes and was radiant. Though I was at my heaviest, I cried as I hugged her because I love her and was so happy to see her succeed.
I know the struggle; I’ve heard the remarks and received the sneers. The weight isn’t all gone yet and now that I’m 53 my chances of having an athlete’s body is surely past but I’ll take “healthier” any day. I have no idea how far I’ll go but I’m getting there, with faith and God’s strength. And to me, for now, it’s a path I’m on. And getting there is what it’s all about.