Living Out Loud: : One Day at a Time

Back on the big fat wagon

"You have such a pretty face, Heather. If you could just lose that extra weight, you would be so attractive."

Diane, my co-worker, sounds like she's trying to complement me yet I feel so low that I expect Richard Simmons to bust through a wall like the Kool-Aid Man and save my fat ass.

"Yeah, I'm going to. I'm going to go back to Weight Watchers. I'm really going to do it!"

The words are out of my mouth before I can stop them. Diane looks satisfied, like she's finally ministered to the fat girl, and walks away smiling.

I have issues with food. Food is my comforter, my friend, my alcohol and my heroin all rolled into one.

I lean on it in times of crisis and I celebrate with it when life goes well. I have a big crutch and it's time to lose it.

My weight has been a problem since childhood, when my well-meaning grandparents would give me all of their dinner leftovers. I think they were just responding to how happy food made me. I reveled in playing human garbage can until I had to face the kids on the bus who would call me names and make fun of me because I couldn't fit into the "cool" clothes. As a result, I fought hard to stay in the background. Drawing attention to yourself when you're a fat kid is the kiss of death.

As I got older, I discovered the bonding power of chocolate. Whenever boyfriend problems arose, my fellow food addicts and I would drown our sorrows in chocolate.

I remember the night my friend Becky was fighting with her boyfriend. She picked me up and announced we were going to Frisch's; this was a situation that only a hot fudge cake could fix. Never one to turn down fudge, I've participated in (and instigated) many Hot Fudge Cake Therapy sessions. During one of my first stints at Weight Watchers, I learned that a hot fudge cake is over half a day's food allotment.

Starting in my teens, I started dieting and I've done them all — even that infamous cabbage soup diet that gave me diarrhea and the shakes for a week. I don't buy into the fads anymore — I've been burned too many times. Weight Watchers is realistic, doable.

I've actually gotten close to that all-important goal weight in the past. Just three short years ago I was walking four miles a day and eating a very healthy border Arian (on the borderline of vegetarianism) diet full of soy nuts and fruit smoothies and veggies. I was within 20 pounds of my goal weight and felt fantastic. I swore I'd never find myself weighing in at the over-200+ end of the scale, but my pregnancy guaranteed me a spot back in the weigh-in line at Weight Watchers.

As I walked into the crowded Weight Watchers center, I asked myself how I'd let it get back to this again. I sighed as I stood in line, holding my weigh-in card. Damn it. Flashbacks from my pregnant feeding frenzy flashed before me — eating whole pumpkin pies by the light of the refrigerator at 3 am, consuming more meat than my ultra-carnivorous husband, drinking half-gallons of milk a day. I've never been so hungry and I had no desire to exercise. I just wanted to eat and sleep — and I did. And now I'm here again.

The woman behind the scale takes my weigh-in card and smiles at me sympathetically. Seeing the number on the scale is like a punch in the stomach. I have a lot of work ahead of me.

I hate the fact that my weight has dominated so much of my life. In high school, I never dated — and when I finally did start dating, I had such little self-esteem that I made bad choices and ended up in relationships that didn't work out. When my weight is out of control, I feel incredibly self-conscious. I just assume that I'm being judged when I meet someone new. It's awful to feel so uncomfortable in my own skin, yet it's all within my control.

As I walk out of the Weight Watchers center, I remind myself that I've taken the first step and that I can do this. Hopefully this time I'll finally end my emotional ties to Little Debbie and the Twinkie Kid. Until then, I'll bring my little card and weigh in, hoping that my nightly walks are making me not only healthier but lighter.

One day at a time.

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