October 10, 2005

Health and Fatness

I thought perhaps, in addition to my witty anecdotes, you people would like to know a bit about what’s happening in my life. Maybe you just want the funny stuff. Or maybe you don’t care either way. But I am the puppet-master here, so I have decided to include the occasional synopsis of current events, as well as a few goals, hopes, and dreams. Besides, I’m going to run out of topics soon, so this is a good way to fill up some space. Warning: This is mostly expositional, so it may be less amusing.

I am trying to lose fifteen pounds. I used to weigh180, and currently weigh 145, so I’ve come a pretty long way. According to various websites and fat calculators, a person of my height (a very sad 5’5”, but I make it work) should weigh no more than 140 (snort! uh-huh) and no less than 118. That number again: One eighteen. Well, yes, that would be a little underweight, wouldn’t it? I myself would never dream of weighing less than a freaking fifth-grader. Seriously, who weighs 118 pounds? I’d be like a five-and-a-half-foot Twizzler.

I come from fat people. We’re Polish. The only thing that weighs 118 pounds in our family is the Christmas ham. No one person weighs less than 160, the average is 260, and the traditional pastime is birthin’ babies. At my current ‘fat’ weight, I am told in turns that I look ‘too skinny’, ‘sickly’, and ‘like I’m wasting away’. It has been suggested that I am anorexic, been accused of being bulimic, and been given numerous sympathetic looks and offers for nutrition counseling. I have gone from marginally-overweight teen to a Save the Children commercial. My family thinks I am starving myself, even when they see me eat. They don’t understand why I use the small plates at dinner and cut desserts in half. They see it as deprivation, and deprivation is unhealthy—unlike eating 4 servings (one “slice”) of pie. They can’t understand why I don’t eat as much, or as often, as they do. They do not understand portion control.

This is why I weighed 180 in high school.

So I got skinny—or ‘skinny’, since I am skinny in the Midwest, but fat in L.A.—and boy, did the family take notice. I can’t think of a more emotionally draining experience than being the only skinny person in an overweight family. I don’t know what I was expecting, but if it was “Wow, you look great! How much have you lost?” I would have been greatly disappointed. What I did get was a mixture of pissy looks, catty comments and cold shoulders. I get made fun of when I am too cold. I get dirty looks when I wear dresses that fit. I get yelled at when I try on clothes and need a smaller size. I basically get treated like I won the lottery… and didn’t share with any of them. That’s how they see it: it wasn’t effort. It wasn’t discipline, or commitment. It was all just luck. I dropped 30 pounds because I was in the right place at the right time. Yeah: The gym.

Even enduring all that, I am still in weight-loss limbo: I got to a point where I can say “OK, I’m not a ‘fat girl’ anymore. When people say ‘fat girls’, the group does not include me. However, I am not yet in the ‘skinny girl’ group, either. I wonder what I would have to weigh to be in that group?” So I go online and find out. Sigh.

I didn’t want to find out what my “normal” weight should be, because I knew I would fixate on it instead of the process. I would get discouraged by the gaping distance to my goal, and not concentrate on what I was doing, and how well I was doing it. I’ve made vast improvements over my former life—TV, cookies, panting up the occasional flight of stairs—I don’t think I could ever revert to that. Especially since every time I leer at a cupcake the Guilt voice in my head kicks on: “You know, in some countries, people can only eat one cup of cornmeal a day.” Grumble grumble stupid-Diet-Nazi-voice-in-my-head grumble grump. [Beedoo replaces cupcake on tray.]

I don’t mind a healthy diet; I actually feel better when I eat less. I have more energy when I eat well, and get better sleep when I exercise. And, actually, I love exercising. I love aerobics, and running, and yoga. It’s fun. People don’t realize that you can actually enjoy exercise—especially people who have spent many years of life being sedentary, and assumed daily aches and pains are mandatory living expenses. It hurts more to be unhealthy than it does to work out, believe me. Oh, sometimes it’s a hassle, and you forget how enjoyable it is—especially when it means changing into your running shorts when there’s three inches of snow on the ground. But you will always feel better for having done it. Weight loss is almost just a side-effect. Almost.

So that’s where I’m coming from. I am now setting little goals for myself, like losing 4lbs. per month versus so-much-a-year. I am trying to stay on schedule. Next hurdle: I want to lose 4 lbs by Halloween. I will keep you posted.

And I will try to be funnier tomorrow.

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