In 2012, I decided that enough was enough. I weighed close to 250 pounds and wasn’t as physically fit as I would have liked. Granted, I’m 6 foot and I have an athletic build; but boy! did my joints hurt. I was just finishing up my coursework and exams for my PhD and was moving on to writing my dissertation. I was also teaching 2 to 4 classes a semester at different campuses and taking care of my Mom, who was getting more fragile with each passing day. I couldn’t afford to be unhealthy or unfit. I had way too many responsibilities. The breaking point for me was when one of my blog readers applauded me for being a good role model for other “chubby bloggers.” Chubby. I read the words with horror. I had always been an athlete so being chubby … fat … wasn’t part of my identity. Let me be clear, I am feminist and a great supporter of body positivity. The fashion industry’s body standards and sizing are INSANE. The diet industry is making billions from people’s insecurities and hatred of self. I support people loving themselves and whatever body they are in right now. And that means ALL bodies, not just fat bodies. Willowy gals, I see you! Wheelchair bound and those with prosthetic limbs, I see you!
BUT, I also believe that love for one’s body means taking care of that body. It means accepting what you can’t change — like the fact that I have my Pop’s bony knees — and changing the things that are unhealthy and unfit, like getting rid of my excess weight. It means eating the best way your budget allows. It means keeping your joints well-oiled with movement. It means keeping your heart and lungs healthy, sugars in check, and metabolic functioning purring. It means working towards mental and emotional health. This is the only body you have. ROCK IT RIGHT NOW.
I knew that I had to make a lifestyle change, so I did. I ate “small portions of whole, nutritious foods lovingly made by me” — at least that was the tag line — and I worked out. I danced. I walked. I lifted weights. And I swam … oh glorious swimming, my beloved sport. I lost 55 lbs in 6 months. I wasn’t really doing anything extreme. I just gave my body what it wanted: movement, and what it craved: good food.
In June 2013, my Mom went into the hospital for a severe GI bleed. Her heart and lungs were failing, and eventually her kidneys shut down because of a life-time of smoking. She died on July 25, 2013. I was in the middle of writing my dissertation. My brothers decided to contest the will and sue me. The stress and mourning were unbearable. I ate and drank myself to oblivion. I hit 200 … then 215 … then 220. I was on the job market and landed in Texas. I hit 240 again. I wasn’t exercising. I was eating crap.
Last year we moved back to NYC. I had a hysterectomy to remove a huge fibroid that was preventing me from urinating and that was sitting under my spine, causing severe back problems. Recovery was slow and I gained 8 pounds, putting me at 248 pounds. I had a hard time exercising because I hurt and because I had no energy. I was depressed … so I ate. I hated my job … so I ate. I hated what I became … so I ate. And then one day I just quit … everything. My contract was up and I chose not to renew it. I quit being the person who I didn’t like. I decided it was time for new beginnings. It was time to transform once and for all. I owed it to myself.
Here I am, on a new path (MLS) that I love and I’m pursuing things that will give me the experience I need in a field where I want to be. I cut off all of my hair to uncover my natural, graying locks. And now it’s time to lose the weight and keep it off. It’s time to transform my outside self to match the glowing, happy inside self.
But how? I’m glad you asked. I decided that I’m not going to bumble into this like I did the first time around. While the ultimate goal is to be back down to 190-195 pounds, which is pretty perfect for my 6 foot, athletic frame, my current focus is to change my lifestyle in a sustainable way. In other words, I just don’t want to lose the weight and get strong. I want to keep it off and maintain my health and fitness as a permanent state.
Being a scholar, the logical thing for me to do was research. I had questions: where did the American diet go wrong? Did I really eat as well as I thought I did the first time I started Bat Fit win 2012? How can I lose the weight, but in a slow and steady way so that it sticks? What lifestyle change is good for my age and activity level? Turns out, there are answers to these questions in the 1950s! Doctors’ recommendations, informational movies, home economic books, and health standards like the Dietary Pyramid provide the needed guidance for how and what we should eat. Tableware and glasses from the 1950s provides clues about portions. And my own love and joy for movement is guiding my exercise. This isn’t about those weird Jello creations, crazy casseroles (though some are pretty balanced and good), and bizarre food centerpieces that I don’t think folks actually ate. Crown roast of frankfurters? Nope. Not here.
Intrigued? Tune in next week for my next installment of this series and for a long awaited full body photo for reference. We’re going to need it to track our progress. Throw some Chuck Berry on the record player and pull up your bobby socks! We’re heading back in time to the 1950s!
Note: I do no condone extreme dieting and excessive exercising. I don’t think smoking to keep skinny, starving yourself, and not exercising — or over exercising — is healthy. I also don’t think being fat regardless of whether you exercise is healthy. Metabolically healthy while fat/obese may exist when you’re young, but your mechanical body (joints, etc.) is not healthy at all. It’s being damaged and destroyed by the weight you are putting on your skeleton, joints, etc. And metabolic health disappears the older you get. Health is wealth, my friends.
Note 2: I’m not a doctor or dietician. I have a PhD in Art History … I research. I critically think. I come to conclusions. I can’t tell you what to do or how to do it. I am only offering my thoughts, what I’m doing, etc. for inspiration. I talked to my doctor. I suggest you do the same.
All crazy, militant comments will be deleted, as will those by fad diet folks. No, this isn’t up for discussion.