Over the past several days I have been reading the book, Confessions of a Carb Queen, by Susan Blech. This is the memoir of Susan's battle to lose more than 250 pounds. I think the one paragraph that spoke the loudest to me and reminded me of a very basic, but simple truth is the following:
It's not an option not to go to work for me. I wasn't born rich. I always kid my father that he "forgot" to give my siblings or me a trust fund. I had the good fortune to be born into a family that valued education and hard work. I was born healthy and strong. It's my "job" to keep that pact with myself and with my Creator to work at getting myself healthy again -- and at keeping myself that way.
While I was reading Susan's book, I also couldn't help but make a few comparisons to my life.
Comparison #1- The first food memory Susan writes about is when she is eight years and old she is making butter-sugar sandwiches with her friend. Like Susan, when I was a young girl, I also enjoyed these very same delicious sandwiches. In fact, I broke down just yesterday and had to make and eat a couple. :(
As a child I took the butter-sugar sandwiches a step further. I would sneak into the kitchen when my mom was busy with other things, and I would pull out the butter and white sugar. I would then take a mini Dixie cup and mix the two ingredients together with a spoon. I absolutely loved how butter and sugar tasted together! As I got older and learned how to make cookies, I would add a bit of flour and vanilla to my butter-suager mixture in an attempt to conjure up some kind of make-shift cookie dough.
My obsession with butter and sugar was a secret to my mom until just a few years ago when I told her about it. We all laughed about how odd I was to have done such a silly thing as a child. I probably should have cried, though, as butter-sugar was part of the beginning of my food addiction.
Comparison #2 - In the book, Susan describes how she would peer into the windows of restaurants to see if they would have chairs she could fit on. If she only saw booths or small, unsteady chairs, then she wouldn't eat at that establishment. Like Susan, I can be quite paranoid about where I eat out.
For years, I have had an actual fear of booths. I won't go to restaurants unless I know I have a place to sit comfortably. The odd thing about my fear is that it doesn't seem to go away even when I have lost enough weight to comfortably fit in a booth. Several years ago when I was a size 12/14, I would hesitate for just a second whenever a waitress/waiter would seat me at a booth. I would look at that booth with fear and anxiety wondering if I would fit. Then, when I sat down and discovered that there was an abundance of space between me and the table, I would be elated.
Comparison #3 - This one goes along with fitting in booths. Susan describes having to fly on a plane and the humiliation of having to ask for a seat belt extension. She also relates the thrill of that first flight when she no longer needed the extension and the seat belt fit around her. I have had both of these experiences myself. I don't think there is anything more embarrassing than having to ask a flight attendant for an extension. Every time I have had to do it, I have felt like the eyes of all of the other passengers are staring at me. It is such a horrible feeling that I have made excuses for not wanting to go on certain trips, when really the only reason I didn't want to go was that the vacation involved flying.
At the end of June, my hubby and I took a two week trip in which we decided to fly instead of drive. I was so excited for our vacation as we were going to be visiting family and we had some fun activities planned as well. But, I dreaded having to get on a plane and having to ask for an extension. On the first flight, my husband asked for our two extensions once we were seated in out seats. The flight attendant kept forgetting to give us the extensions. He had to repeatedly call her back and remind her. Finally, she brought one! Then my husband had to tell her we had needed two and she had only brought one. Again, she forgot. How humiliating that was to have to keep requesting the extension. I just wanted to hide in the overhead bins. On the rest of the flights, we asked the flight attendant as we were boarding. Sometimes we got the extensions right then, but other times they said they would bring them to us. How thrilled were we on the last connecting flight of our trip when we discovered that on this plane we didn't need any extensions! What a relief! One flight when I wasn't totally embarrassed.
Comparison #4 - Susan says, "When I was almost 500 pounds, why did I feel like I wasn't "that heavy"? Certainly, I didn't think I was obese. Why?" Before I had my first successful weigh loss, I too felt like Susan. I would look in the mirror and I would know that I was big, but I didn't think I looked that bad. Then a funny think happened to me. After I lost 165 pounds, I looked in the mirror and thought how incredibly fat I was, when in reality I was a normal size for the first time in my life. Now, that I gained all of that weight back, I think I am finally pretty realistic about just how large I am. I don't look in the mirror anymore and think that I'm not that bad. I know I am morbidly obese right now, and that is why I have to do something about it once and for all.
Comparison #5 - Susan shares a poem which she says reaffirms that she will be okay as long as she believes in herself. Here is the poem:
where I am
where I want to be . . .
because of all I may become
I will close my eyes and
Four years ago I began to write my first blog. Included under the title were these words - "Taking the Plunge - Sometimes in life you just have to close your eyes and jump in." These words are very similar to the poem Susan shared. These are words that I have been trying to live my life by since my first marriage ended about 7 years ago. Sometimes I am strong and I jump right in, but other times I struggle and hold myself back for some unknown reason.
Comparison #6 - Susan says, "We've all made it another week. Someone says, 'Did you know that diet means 'way of life' in Greek?' I didn't. But I remember it, for later." For years I have been to tons of Weight Watcher meetings, watched lots of Oprah shows on weight loss, and been to way too many doctor's and nutritionist's appointments where I have heard that you can't just go on a diet, you have to make lifestyle changes. Because if you go on a diet, then there is a time when you go off of the diet and if you haven't changed your life during that time you were on the diet, then it will all be for not. So, in other words . . . It really isn't a diet, it's a way of life.