OK, show of hands, please… how many of you have your self-esteem all wrapped up in your body-image or weight?
Come on… hands up.
Wow, that’s a lot of you.
I feel your pain.
Remember how I said I have a love-hate relationship with my hair? Yeah… I have the same sort of relationship with my body. Actually, there’s little love involved. I have a couple of parts that are pretty good (and have received some critical acclaim ;), but overall? Nope. No love. All the love has, in fact, been extended to the food in my life.
Like many women, I’m an emotional eater. And I know exactly why. I can trace it back to when I was pretty young… when my ‘safe place’ was my Aunt Jean. She was, and remains, one of my most favorite people on the planet. All my happiest childhood memories center around her and her house. She has three sons, all near my age, so when I (the only girl in the family) visited, I was spoiled rotten. She always made sure to stock up on my favorite treats (and designated them ‘hands-off’ to the boys) and, a great cook, she prepared all my favorite meals. Because my cousins have always been big guys, athletes, and big eaters, there was no such thing as portion control. I ate what I wanted, when I wanted it. Life was so good at my Aunt Jean’s. I was almost always incredibly happy there. And when I was sad, there was a lot of love and a lot of food for comfort. So, for the rest of my life, when I was unhappy or stressed or worried (or happy or feeling celebratory, etc), I went to my safe place – figuratively, anyway – and I ate.
Sound familiar? I’m sure it does for a lot of people.
When I was younger, it didn’t matter. My metabolism was fast and my knees didn’t hurt when I ran. But as I got older, weight crept on. Then I’d realize my jeans didn’t fit anymore and I’d do something about it. Then the weight came back… then I’d do something about it. Then it came back again. Then I just bought new jeans. And the weight stayed. And my self-esteem took a nosedive... a deep, deep nosedive.
But I made a decision last week. I decided that since I know why I eat too much, there is no excuse for doing it anymore. I decided I wasn’t living up to my goal not to be a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ parent and that my daughter deserves a better role model. I decided I was tired of my ass needing its own zip code. I decided that since my baby now weighs 75 pounds, it’s time to (finally) take off the baby weight.
I decided to join Weight Watchers.
I was reluctant to seek out any sort of help or support. I really thought I could do it on my own and when I couldn’t, I felt like a failure. But then I realized I’d really be a failure if I had the resources to fix my problem at my disposal and didn’t use them. So I sucked it up, put on my fat pants, and on Thursday afternoon I stood on a scale in front of another human being. Ugh. But amazingly, and no pun intended, when I got on the scale I felt a huge weight being lifted off my shoulders (though it would have been much better had it been lifted off my ass!).
The program is sensible and smart. I knew I couldn’t do a ‘diet’ or a plan where I had to buy special food or cut out entire food groups. That just doesn’t make any sense to me. I know myself. I have to live in the real world… I have to be able to eat out and splurge every now and then. This plan isn’t a diet and I can eat whatever I want… but to make it work, I have to make some choices… choices I should have been making all along. And if I make the wrong ones, getting on that scale every week will be twice as hard. I’m just not up for that, so I think the right choices will be much easier to make than they’ve been in the past. The program also focuses on working out, which isn’t an issue for me. I’m already active and don’t find it hard (though I could stand to push myself more than I do).
The way it works is that all foods are assigned a point-value and you get a certain number of points to eat each day. They’re adequate but certainly not abundant (duh). However, you get 35 extra points every week, which you can spend any way you’d like. And can I just tell you, a beer is only worth three points!! How cool is that?! A glass of wine is only two points, but, as far as Weight Watchers is concerned, a glass is four ounces. Pffffftttttt. That’s not a glass, that’s a swig. Still, I can drink more than a bottle a week and not go over my points.
(And I totally sound like I have a drinking problem now, don’t I? In addition to my eating problem. Nice. Seriously, I don’t drink that much. I only drink socially and since my social life is non-existent at the moment, well, you do the math. I just want to know I can drink if I want. Of course, I could use those extra points for actual food, too, which I’m sure will happen on occasion.)
Anyway, as I said, I took the plunge. And so far, so good. I got through the weekend easily, feeling very in control and mindful of what I was putting into my body. I expect to see results and I expect them to be for the long-term. My goal is not to be a size 2 (mostly because that's simply not possible in this lifetime, in this universe). It’s to be fittest and healthiest I can be. It’s to be a good example for my daughter, so that she doesn’t carry on this legacy burden I inherited from my mother, who was very verbal about her own body-image and weight issues (which I am not, by the way… well, not with Ryan, anyway). It’s to find some love for this body that’s got to carry me through the rest of my life. And it's to feel good about myself... about what I can do, about who I am, and about how I look. Because I deserve that… at the very least.