Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Me and my chubby... a personal narrative...

My brother Dan and I were 8 and 10 years old (I was eight) and lived in an apartment complex.  One day we observed a very, very overweight man and we promised each other that when we grew up we were not going to be fat.  Those were our exact words... we were just kids, so don't be too hard on us!  That is my first recollection of thinking about being overweight.  Now, we had family friends that were definitely overweight and we loved them and respected them... so we didn't have any attitude going on about others.

When I was 10 my mom brought in a photographer to take pictures of my two brothers and me. 


And mother dear proudly framed this photograph and placed it in the living room.  Hey, it's great today for proving that my brother Dan can actually smile...

One day a family friend stopped by and made a comment to me about being chubby... me being chubby.  I remember the sting of those words.  When I went inside, there was this photograph.  I looked closely at it and saw my chubby.  Horrible feelings came over me.  I remember taking a shower, grabbing my chubby with both hands and crying and praying, "God, please get this OFF of me!"

At that time I didn't continually obsess about it, but I do remember watching my portions sizes.  I was 10.

Junior high years weren't too bad for me and my chubby.  I think I must have grown a couple of inches and it evened out a bit on it's own.  But, looking around at the other girls who were really thin got to me.  I wanted a flat tummy SO badly.  In January of the 8th grade I got determined.  I took my wall calendar and in the privacy of my bedroom gave myself an exercise test and recorded the results.  Written down on that date were how many leg lifts I could do, how many sit ups, how many jump ropes.  That was my regimen.  I kept exercising and every two weeks marked down the progress on my calendar.

Summer came and I found a terrific show on tv each weekday morning at 9am... The Twenty Minute Workout.  I did this faithfully.  I started watching my portion sizes.  I loved the comments that I received.  One day, walking across a parking lot my mom noticed that I'd lost weight and told me that I was getting thin.  I loved that!  That fall I was right where I wanted to be with my shape, although my tummy never did flatten entirely.  Picking out clothes for school was so much fun!  I kept exercising that winter.

I'm not sure what changed... but, over time I stopped exercising and simply ate less.  One summer I measured food and counted calories.  I think it was the summer prior to 11th grade and I allowed myself 1000 calories a day to maintain my weight.  Parents noticed and commented on me needing to eat more.. telling me that I looked fine... I really enjoyed not eating to control my figure... food did not mean much to me. 

For the next 10 years of my life I continued this pattern, although I did add in exercise.  I worked out with the fitness channel after the birth of my first baby and was in pre-pregnancy clothes by the time the baby was 6 weeks old.  Even though I'd lost all the weight and weighed even less than when I conceived, I began eating less and less to be thin.  When I conceived my 2nd child, I had no idea that I was pregnant.  My terrible habit put myself and my unborn daughter at risk.  I ended up sick and had my appendix out in my first trimester.  After she was born I swam laps.  You would think that I had learned that eating less wasn't the best approach  to control my weight.  By eating less, yes, I do mean that I would go without food for the day or eat very minimally.   After my 3rd child was born, I used the soloflex machine to work out.  After the 4th was born, I used a video and a stair stepper.  That was kind of fun!  Each time, though, I felt an incredible pressure to be thin... I wasn't exercising to be healthy. 

What was going on though, was so sad.  I was never overweight.  I always weighed between 110-118 when I got pregnant.  I always delivered my babies weighing about 150 lbs.  I did not limit portions when I was pregnant.  I think that I stopped going without food in my 30's.  

Why am I sharing this?  I know there are much worse cases of anorexia.  My story pales in comparison to many others... but it's the story of me and my chubby.  I never felt comfortable with my shape.

In my 30's I went post-menopausal because of an emergency hysterectomy when I ruptured during childbirth in 1999.  My body really, really, really wants to look like a pear now.  I have to laugh about that.  I never overeat.  I rarely eat junk food.  But my body is in "pear default".  I did feel a mental shift happen during my 30's.  I don't know if it was because there were much bigger problems to face in my life other than whether or not my tummy was flat... or if I simply matured.  But, I got comfortable with my shape.  In my 20's my weight goal was always below 120 lbs.  In my 30's my weight goal was under 130.  In my 40's I really do not want to continue this trend!!!  But, I do find myself in the 140 area.  Many days I am okay with that.

There's so much more to share about this.  When I see someone overweight, I rarely see their shape, I simply see a person who has gifts and life to share with others.  I see them as someone.  I don't think about their weight, I think about their heart and their life and if there is a need they might have that I could help with (particularly if I know them personally).  But, I haven't given myself the same consideration... I've never let myself simply be.  I've very rarely simply accepted who I am.  I can laugh at the bump on my nose... I can ignore that when I smile, my lips go a little crooked... I mean, who cares?  A smile and a laugh are good medicine, right?  So what if one front tooth slightly overlaps the other.  But, when I get a little chubby going on... I feel as though I have failed.  That's my personal story and what I work on.

I have one grandson, a granddaughter who will be born any day, another grandson due in January and I want to be healthy.  Some days I lag in energy and coffee just doesn't do it.  My father's side of the family has diabetes and my mother's side has heart disease.  Me?  I have stress.

Last week, after a few years of ignoring exercise and pretending that it really didn't matter, I put in a dvd and danced away in my living room.  My daughter had given me a work out tape with dance moves and I thought it would be fun.  It was.  I had so much energy after that!  So, that evening I was walking around a store and picked up a couple more dvd's to exercise to.  The next day I worked out and it was a bit more difficult.  It wasn't so much fun, but it felt good.  Then by the end of the day I was feeling the pain.  By morning it hurt to stand up out of bed!  I limped around, glad that it was the weekend.  I wont really exercise in front of my family!  I do this when they are gone in the morning.  Well, today I popped that dvd back in and got to work. For fun, I took my measurements.  I even wrote down in my planner the information.

Attitude is important.  I want to keep perspective.  My goal isn't a flat tummy.  I have no weight loss goal.  I simply want to be healthy.  At the end of the week, I think I'll have a "Friday Fitness" post, where I share my progress and write about this "journey".

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