Monday, August 24, 2009

Running From My Family History

Most of my girl friends over the years have been thick. I met most of them through sports so while most of us needed to lose a few pounds we were all very athletic and pretty healthy. Over the years we have all let ourselves go gaining any where from 20-120 lbs. There are various excuses (some legitimate but most not) for our weight gain but the bottom line is that we aren't working as hard as we used to even though we don't want to admit it. At this point we are set in our ways and don't want to stop eating wings every Thursday night even though we're no longer running 20 miles a week. But we still expect to drop the weight that it took us years to gain in a matter of weeks with minimal effort.

Recently, three of my girlfriends figured it out and have been able to drop the weight due to major life events. Two to get ready for their weddings and one because the doctor wouldn't perform fertility treatments until she lost weight. I wish that I was as noble as them but my main motivation is completely shallow: I don't want to be the fat friend. I don't want to stick out in pictures. I want to wear the sexy clothes that I used to wear when we went out dancing and not the flaw-hiding conservative clothes I'm wearing now. I want people to tell me how good I look and ask if I've lost weight. I want to open my closet and fit everything in it. I want to look like a runner and not have people look at me like I don't belong when I line up for road races. I guess I don't want to stick out because I'm fat but I do want to be noticed for being fit.

I come from a long line of fat people. Almost everyone in my family becomes morbidly obese once they reach a certain age. They all have diabetes and high blood sugar and eventually die from weight-related illnesses. They are not active. Every event whether happy or sad is commemorated with a large table of deep fried food. You are insulted if you are too fat and equally insulted if you are too skinny. My mother was skinny her whole life and gained weight when my father became ill. All the comments from my family were still negative they just shifted from skinny comments to fat comments. She has started to lose the weight so of course the attempts at sabotage through mean comments have started again. Literally, the first thing out of a lot of my relatives mouth is "Wow you've gained weight" or "Damn your so skinny why don't you eat" and not the normal hello that most people would find appropriate. It's no wonder we all have weight and self esteem issues.

Me, my mom and two of my cousins are working to try and be the exception to the rule. We are trying to live long productive lives at healthy weights. When we go to family functions we have to learn to be strong enough to ignore their comments. We cannot let their negativity derail us because, realistically, that's what they want. They want us to be just like them. If we're all fat then it must be okay. I can't tell you how many times I've been told that "we" (black people or people from the south) are just naturally thicker. There is nothing natural about the 4000 calories that most of us take in at a family dinner or my 32 year old cousin being put on a 1200 calorie a day diet to keep her from developing type 2 diabetes.

While I have lost 15 pounds so far on my weight loss journey, I have been struggling for the past month. I have found myself slipping back into my old habits and giving myself permission to slack. I let myself get cocky because the 15 pounds came off in 10 weeks. But the fact that no additional weight has come off in the past 5 weeks and the fluctuation in the scale by 2-3 pounds on an off week is the wake up call that I need. I will have issues with food for the rest of my life. I will always need to be careful with what I eat because of my family history. I can never go back to eating whatever I want every day. I have to care enough about myself to try harder and stick with it.

Realistically, I don't think I can lose the 40-50 lbs that would put me in the ideal weight range for my height. I think those charts are not specific enough. Every women that is 5'6" does not need to weigh 145 lbs. We are all built differently. I haven't weighed that much since I graduated from high school and I had very little muscle tone then and injured myself frequently. I do think I can lose another 20-30 lbs and get my body fat down into a healthier range. Am I going to run 20 miles a week and do karate 4 days a week like I did at my peak? Of course not. But I can do a lot more than I'm doing now.

For now, I will be walking very briskly from my family history and working to run from it. I refuse to spend another year of my life being fat and feeling bad about myself. I will not continue to hold on to clothes that I haven't been able to wear for years or that I have never taken the tags off. When I open my closet all of the clothes will be in my size, whatever it is at that point. I will be whoever I am by the end of this year. I just hope that person looks a lot more like she did 5 years ago and not like the person that I see today.

1 comment:

  1. Good luck and congratulations in your quest for a healthy lifestyle. I'm gaining weight, don't need to but cutting out the smoking .....