The Demons That Haunt Me

Obesity is such an ugly word.  I’ve hated being fat my entire life – which is about how long I’ve been fat.  And the weight causes me to hide myself from so many things.  I’m uncomfortable in my own skin most of the time – even when I leave the house feeling like I don’t look too bad.  But maybe I need to be that uncomfortable.

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Me just prior to my gastric bypass (on the right, weighing just over 300 pounds) and about a year ago, weighing about 20 pounds less than I do right now.

The two times in my life I can honestly say I wasn’t overweight were the result of drastic measures.  In high school, I stopped eating.  No, seriously – just stopped.  I drank iced tea all day long, and then for dinner, had small portions of whatever my mother was cooking.  Nothing to eat, all day long, took me from a size XL teenager to a size medium teenager.

The other time, I had gastric bypass surgery.  The surgery took me from a size 3XL woman to a size medium/large.  From a size 26 to a size 10.  And aside from the grey pallor, I thought I looked damn good.  I didn’t – and I had friends and family telling me I didn’t – but I was convinced.

Then I had a couple of surgeries, followed by complications, and with each instruction to rest and recuperate, I ate.  I learned that my surgically altered pouch could hold way more than I thought it could – especially if I ate stuff that was bad for me.

Thank you, Tania Lamb, for the photographic evidence of how far I've let myself go!
Thank you, Tania Lamb, for the photographic evidence of how far I’ve let myself go!

I’ve started and restarted diets more times than I care to count since my surgery.  It really is like an albatross around my neck – and every time I feel like I can lift my head up and move forward, it drags me back down.  We’ve started cooking all of our meals at home, so there are no fast food temptations, but I find myself grabbing a bag of chips or package of cookies every time I hit the supermarket.

And guess what?  I’m about to turn 50 years old.

This last surgery, combined with the realization that I am now only 6 years younger than my grandfather was when he died, and only 16 years younger than my dad was when he died, has issued yet another wake up call.  I don’t know how many of those calls I’ll need before I finally “get it”, but my kids leave for camp on Monday, and Jim and I are going to head back into the gym.  We have no running around or excuses to prevent us from getting there.  And the cookies and chips that I buy because I think my kids need them?  No need to have them in the house for two full weeks.  Maybe by then, I’ll have cured my own need for them.

My most recent blood work came back excellent – and my sugar level (I was full blown diabetic before my gastric bypass surgery) was 85 – which is great.  But the rest of me is a hot mess.  I’m going to see what I can do about that.  Maybe I’ll celebrate turning 50 with a little less of me.

 

The Skinny on Why Our Kids Are Fat

I have always packed school lunches. I am not the best cook, so lunches are where my culinary excellence shows – dinosaur cut sandwiches, rosette strawberries, little melon balls.  I’m the Wolfgang Puck of the lunchbox set.

In September, we sent Eilis to public school for the first time.  In January, we sent Granuaile.  The schools have real cafeterias, not Burger King one day and Papa John’s the next – this is real, government regulated food.  So it’s better for them, right?  Michelle Obama wouldn’t let the school serve unhealthy lunches, would she?

Oh – and did I tell you this part?  Because my husband is disabled, we qualify for reduced price lunches.  The cost to feed my children lunch each day?  80 cents.  For both.

But wait, there’s more!

Granuaile’s school began a breakfast program!  This is a busy mom’s dream, right?  The kids can sleep in an extra 15 minutes, and I don’t have to scramble to get breakfast ready.  Bonus – Reduced price for breakfast?  40 cents.

I browse the menu each week when it comes out, and it looks like there are all sorts of healthy options.  There are salads, fruits, vegetables.  But the reality is that I’m not there when my kids go through the lunch line.  I hear the salads smell funky, or the vegetables taste bad.  And breakfast, where there are no options, feature things I’d never feed my kids.  Granuaile on Monday had PopTarts.  How is that healthy?  I’ll tell you the school answer – it’s a whole grain PopTart, and it has a serving of fruit inside.  Let’s just disregard the fact that the fruit is steeped in sugar and the whole grain is frosted.

And gym class – remember that?  I do, because as a fat kid, I hated it.  And one reason I hated it so much is that it was an every day thing.  EVERY DAY!!  Granuaile has PE once a week, and they don’t even ask them to dress in PE clothes – they just take them outside to play.  Eilis has it once a week, and the class time is so brief, I’m not even sure why they bother to make them change.

I’ve ranted on kids meals before.  Why, when you go to McDonald’s, is there no kids sized salad?  Because kids don’t want them, McDonald’s won’t sell them, and parents (especially in cash strapped times) are going to opt for the $1 double cheeseburger over the $4 healthy option.

We put televisions and computers in our kids’ rooms, expecting them to use them for homework or occasional entertainment, but when was the last time you saw a game on your street of kick ball or street hockey?  I don’t mean something organized by the school – I mean just random kids playing a game outside.  It doesn’t happen in my neighborhood.  We bought out kids a basketball net, and it was stolen out of our driveway.  I went through the neighborhood to see if I could find it, then convinced myself that it was a conspiracy of neighborhood families to steal it because my kids were outside, laughing, playing and having fun.  I’m pretty sure that’s not legal anymore.  It was a message to get my kids back where they belong – in front of an XBox game or on Club Penguin!

Commercials aimed at children don’t pitch fresh fruit and vegetables.  They pitch the things kids love and moms love to hate.  But I buy them.  You buy them.  How can you look at those tiny, pleading faces and walk past the ice cream aisle or the cookie display?  And places like Costco and Sam’s Club allow us to buy three boxes of cookies at one time – cheaper!

Did you know that less than 10% of parents seek treatment for their child’s obesity?  Why is that?  Do we not want to acknowledge our kids are fat?  Do we not want the doctor to point fingers at us?  Do we think it’s going to go away?

Time to step up, Moms and Dads.  If it’s too late to help ourselves, we have to do something to help our kids.

I think I’m going to go pack a school lunch.

 

So How’s That Weight Loss Thing Going?

Yeah, well, ppffffttttt.  That’s how it’s going.

After a great first week, the second week, things slowed down to nothing.  And then there’s this week.  Monday was Valentine’s Day, and Jim took me out to lunch, and the kids out to dinner – except, yeah, I went too.  And when you take kids out to eat, you take them to restaurants where you know kids will eat – not those fancy gourmet restaurants that give you just enough food to make you want to stop at Burger King on the way home.  My kids chose the Chinese buffet.

Fortunately for me, Chinese food generally makes me deathly ill, but I can eat my weight in the little sugar coated nuts they have at the buffet.  And as we know, my weight is substantial.  That’s a lot of nuts.

Then came Tuesday, a day where I did nothing but run errands all day.  And it was Eilis’ birthday!  So after we picked up three dozen heart shaped doughnuts for her to celebrate at school, we followed that up with taking Eilis out to dinner Tuesday night.  Yeah, Granuaile and I went too.  And Eilis picked the restaurant.  Famous Dave’s BBQ.

And with all that fat already on my arse from the first two days of the week, I do what every chunky chick does – I threw in the towel on the rest of the week.  I was stressed over school, over some issues with a friend, over my mom (who is back in the hospital as of this evening), and it just seemed like that last box of chocolate covered peanut butter cookies was screaming to me from the hiding place they were in.

So, I am up 2 pounds this week.

But I haven’t fallen completely on my face.

I am back on the bandwagon tomorrow.  Rally the troops, call in reinforcements!  I’ve got to just keep swimming…..

24 Hours of Dieting, and I Survived Dunkin’ Donuts

Okay – so I don’t dare tell you how much I weigh – until I don’t weigh that much anymore.  Then I’ll be all like, “Oh, did I tell you I lost 12 pounds?”  That’s how I roll.

So, I found an iPhone application that helps me keep track of my calories.  It’s kind of a neat app, in that it lets me put in my starting weight, how much I want to lose, and at what pace I want to lose the weight.  After I programmed everything in, the thing called me a big fat ass, and then told me to lay off the Girl Scout cookies.  I kid…

Unless I actually do something with the gym clothes I bought besides pairing them with the right eye shadow and the perfect shoes, I am limited to just under 1400 calories per day if I want to reach my goal in time.  Of course, seeing a number that small, I instantly thought there must be a zero missing somewhere – or they were giving my calories in metric or something (yeah, I know).

I was pleasantly surprised at the end of the day yesterday when I had only gone over by 17 calories – and that was because I stopped for a second latte.  I can’t be blamed for that one – my crazy husband tossed and turned all night long the night before in his sleep, and as I dragged my butt on the ground, I knew I needed caffeine or a contract hit man to deal with the rest of the day.

But today, gentle readers and dear friends, I faced the ultimate challenge.  We were running late, and I had to stop to grab breakfast for the girls.  It was also the opening performance of Eilis’ play at school.  Being the fat mom that I am, I thought I’d reward them with a treat – Dunkin’ Donuts for breakfast.

I could have stopped and gotten them fruit and yogurt; or even an egg McMuffin, which would have been healthier and eliminated my temptation.  I didn’t.

And I ate a doughnut.

And I’ve stayed in my calorie range (well, 12 calories over for today – blame that second latte again).

The thing I’m most proud of is that I didn’t go back for a second doughnut – as I have been known to do.  Or come home and decide that I needed a doughnut for lunch, if for no other reason than to get them out of my house as quickly as I could – to save the rest of my family from the burden of obesity.  Because I’m kind like that.  And glaze is my favorite food group.

So as I stand here in the confessional, I hope that my prayer for absolution – my Act of Doughnut Contrition – includes at least an “Amen” for avoiding temptation for the rest of the day.