~ I’m Not That Way Anymore (Part 3 – Adjusting)

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Nobody’s best advice worked on me. I couldn’t lose weight. My neighbor stopped drinking soda, switched to Gatorade, and dropped 20 pounds. Another friend gave up ice cream and lost weight. I could give up all but 800 calories a day and even with exercise, still struggle to lose a pound a month. I wanted to be thin – thinner – but thin didn’t seem to  want me. On some days I felt desperate. At other times, it was easier to remember I had long flowing hair and a beautiful smile and accept myself for who I was to some degree. There were moments when I was sure that losing weight would provide magical entry to the A-list, and then there was that little voice that kept saying, “If they don’t like you for who you are inside, then f… them.”

I had done enough research to know that dieting really doesn’t work. It’s not a long-term solution. I kept hoping for the magical formula that would shine like a jeweled epiphany above my head, the one that would tell me that my fat was caused by something other than what I was eating. It never came. After being diagnosed with systemic lupus and dropping out of film school, I decided to move to Los Angeles and pursue a career in some secure part of the entertainment industry that offered health insurance benefits. I found myself on the West side of L.A with two high paying jobs and discretionary income in my purse so I tried acupuncture… and Chinese herbs and Qi Gong and cranial sacral massage and bought every book on diet and nutrition that I could find. I even consulted a telephonic clairvoyant nutritional advisor. She told me to stop eating wheat. I did, and there went that twenty pounds, like magic. Of course, I strayed a little here and some there, and overnight came the  return of the twenty pounds, poof!

All the while, I kept going back to that same crazy notion that it wasn’t me who was eating badly. It was the food doing me wrong. When I was in college, the media was swept with stories about oat bran being the key to getting enough fiber and losing weight. I ate a bowl each morning and gained weight. It had to be something about the food. I was sensitive to food. I asked to be tested for food allergies and was told to leave 5 bites of each meal on my plate. Clearly, the doctors could see I was in denial and food allergies were an impossibility – although I was allergic to almost everything else on earth.

Well, it wound up that one day I woke up with a mental maturity about my weight. I realized that it didn’t matter who could eat 5 hot dogs or 3 ice cream cones or supersize their french fries. I couldn’t. Food envy and comparing myself to others only meant that I was denying my problem. I had to forgive naturally thin people for being that way and remind myself that they must have other problems. That’s when I had the epiphany. It finally showed up there above my head in glaring neon, and it read, “Nobody has the answer for you except you.” Unfortunately, the only answer I had was to start a diet. I didn’t want to stand up in the front of a meeting and announce, “Hi, I’m Andrea and I’m fat,” nor did I want to purchase pre-packaged measured meals. So, I printed out a list of the Weight Watcher’s points for every food imaginable, and I began counting. It worked a little, but I could see the flaws in the system. I knew that eventually I would start to stretch the points and delude myself and it would stop working.

I decided to call my dietician back in Arizona. I went on a low carbohydrate diet. I lost. I felt like a cavewoman with a brontosaurus leg hanging out of her mouth, but I shed pounds. Then, an amazing thing happened. I met someone who gave me three simple things to do. He explained that he, too, had been heavier once and that he  lost it  by eating, “No sugar, no salt, no fat.”

“Yeah, but your a guy and you don’t have crazy hormones bouncing around your body for half the month.”

“No sugar, no salt, no fat.”

I had already cut the sugar out completely, and of course, we need fat to survive, but I was careful. What I hadn’t done was give up the salt. When I did, I began losing faster.

Of course, nothing can be that simple. It worked, but then I would plateau. Big, huge, vast and never-ending plateaus where the scale flatlined and could not be resuscitated. I had to reevaluate. I cut the wheat. I cut out rice and anything white and starchy except on rare occasions. I ate fish and vegetables, fish and vegetables, fish and vegetables…

I had to deal with the exercise issue. Running was not my thing. I was good at no sport. The repetitive nature of things to do at the gym bored me to tears.  I could dance to Michael Jackson songs, but he had just died and it was too sad. I loved to swim but I had no pool and chlorine did nasty things to my hard-to-manage hair. Walking wasn’t enough – I had already tried, and I would have to drive out of my neighborhood to do it safely. Excuses, excuses, I know, but I had to find what was right for me. I went to Amazon.com and bought every exercise DVD I thought I might like. I tried them. I worked up to getting through them successfully. I forgave myself for my lack of athleticism but pushed to have better form each time I exercised. My pants began falling off.

I went into Macy’s Misses department and stared at little clothes that I couldn’t believe would fit me, took them to the dressing room, put them on, took them off, and stared at them again. How could it be that my body fit inside of so little material? I was shocked when no well-meaning employees tried to steer me back to the plus sizes. I still had to hold the camera way above my head in order to hide the double chin, so I still was fat, but not as fat. I was normal fat instead of Women’s World fat, which was progress. When you lose weight to keep it off, it has to be about linking small beads of progress until you get the whole chain. I was in the midst of the journey. It felt good.

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  1. Reply I’m Not That Way Anymore (Part 1) | Corazon en un Platillo | Heart on a Plate: Recipes and Poetry of Love July 26, 2013

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