Welcome To The Dollhouse

Terminal Fatness

I want to talk about something today that has nothing to do with any of the major crises in my life. By comparison, it is only a minor crisis. It is my terminal fatness.

Now I know there are many people who are fat and happy. I, however, am not one of those people. The fatter I get, the more unhappy I become. Why? Part of it has to do with my fat-sensitized psyche. My mother used to tell me that I was going to be fat because my father’s side of the family was fat. I started dieting around age 11. I just didn’t want to end up being fat.

Luckily I’m a mesomorph (I think this is the correct term), so though I was never small, I was never what one would call fat. And because my musculature, the scale always showed more than I looked like I weighed. It was great at carnival games of “guess your weight.” But then came residency.

Crazy hours, a nasty cafeteria, and having a McDonalds in the hospital that would accept our food coupons led to weight gain. When I stopped fitting into my size 12s, I joined Weight Watchers for the first time. This is still the only weight management program that I endorse. My vow to myself was that I would not end up having to shop in Plus Size stores. My mind could not and cannot accept this possibility. I lost some weight but never got to their goal weight. It bugged me, but then residency ended and fellowship began. I moved to DC.

Before I move on, I must add that this period was the time that I began running. I had always wanted to run, but my cardiovascular fitness was always terrible. Since I was raised indoors, I never had any propensity to do any outdoor activities. And sports, in my mother’s book, was as critical to my formation as wood shop or home economics.

In college I joined the crew team. It seemed really cool and it certainly wasn’t something blacks were doing at that point. I returned home to LA over the winter break and tried to explain crew to some of my friends.

“It’s rowing,” I explained.

“You mean like on a slave ship?” they queried.

I just shook my head.

So during my one year on the crew team I discovered that I was extremely strong, but had absolutely no stamina. The coach told me to spend the break running a mile a day. She might as well have told me to jump to the moon. I had no idea how far a mile was, but I was convinced that I would never be able to do it. After 3 days of procrastination, I put on some athletic shoes, shorts and a t-shirt and ventured outside. I made it as far as the corner before the jig was up. I had a stitch in my side so horrible, I knew I was dying. I rested a few minutes and tried again. Shit, I never made it to the end of the block. It was pathetic. Returning back to school and continuing the grueling training, I found that I could lift more than anyone else on the fresh crew team but I still had no endurance. I was cut from the team.

With this history, I had no belief in my ability to run when I thought about beginning exercising as part of my Weight Watchers program. Though walking had always seemed wimpy to me (too much type-A ideology), I decided that it was something I perhaps should do to increase my weight loss. So I walked and didn’t die. Before long, Type-A Annie decided to try running one of the blocks of my walk. Then I went two blocks. Before long I was running all the way home. I was so pleased. I ran my first mile on the indoor track in the gym. I had to run around 8 times before I made it to a mile, but you would have thought that I had won the New York Marathon. It felt that good to me. (Except for the part where I tripped over my own feet in front of all the beautiful people on the Stairmaster.)

When I moved to DC for my fellowship, though, I fell off the wagon with Weight Watchers. What happened? Met a guy, fell in love and didn’t follow through. I did remember to run from time to time, mostly in spurts, but not too consistently. Then after 11 months we broke up. I wanted marriage and he wanted more time to “grow and develop.” After this breakup was when the nuttiness began.

During my fellowship I began to take care of teens with eating disorders. I used to secretly wish that I could “catch” anorexia for a least a few months in order to lose weight. Yet as I discovered, I was exactly the right personality type for an eating disorder: I came from an emotionally-withholding family who were frugal with support or nurturance. My family was overly critical and was very focused on achievements. I had low self esteem and body image issues. Little did I realize what I was walking into when I chose to rejoin Weight Watchers. My Type-A ass walked right into an eating disorder. It didn’t help that my goal weight according to WW was overly low. I would have had to get to a size 6-8 in order to enter the higher end of my goal weight range. I wrote myself a doctor’s note to modify the goal weight but still found that this modification made me a little more nuts.

I was on a mission to lose weight. Strict dieting, exercising until it hurt, pushing myself as far as I could go, were my MO. I did well and lost weight but hit a plateau about 7-9 pounds away from goal. And that’s when I kicked it into high gear. On weigh in days I wouldn’t eat all day. I would freak out if I drank some water. I drank Super Dieters Tea and steeped it 3 times as long as was recommended. I ended up in the bathroom with stomach cramps way too often. I just had to make goal weight. I just had to.

Of course I spent numerous minutes in the day praying to the scale god. If the god gave me good numbers I was happy. If not, the day was miserable. And then came the vomiting. Luckily it was just on weigh-in days, but it showed me how far I had descended. One of my colleagues started to try to counsel me about my food phobia. Another attending, a sista, told me quite clearly to “get over it” since I was black and we didn’t trip that way. Finally after developing a febrile illness for a few days, I managed to make it to goal weight.
What joy I felt! Such accomplishment. The sad thing is that somehow I expected my life to change once I reached my goal. Yeah I went out and shopped for about 3 weeks and twirled around in my short skirts and stirrup pants, but other than that, there was no holy grail. I was still sleeping alone with my cat. All my other problems remained. It sucked. Yet I learned what I was capable of. I was capable of taking my weight issues to the extreme. That was no good.

When I started my job in Philly, I gained weight again but whenever I would reach a certain point, I would get back on some bandwagon and things would get under some control. Somewhere in the mid/late 90s I started spinning and that really helped the weight drop. Then my financial advisor put me on a fiscal diet and there went the spinning and my personal training sessions. And such began the late 30s weight yo-yo cycle.

Now for the past year and a half, I have shot myself so full of fertility hormones and such that I have gained even more weight. And because of exercise restrictions during IVF, the minute I would get back into an exercise routine, I had to stop. The problem is that I haven’t started again since my last BFN. And when I look at myself in the mirror, I see all the fat.

My face is fat. My arms are fat. And my belly! My belly protrudes as much as my breasts do. And I have never been like that before. Not only am I fat. I’m fat enough to jiggle. And I loathe it. I loathe how I currently look. I don’t even recognize myself amidst this terminal fatness.

I don’t want to be one of those people who hate how they look but never want to do anything about it. I know that I can do better, but all this emotional shit has been whipping my ass of late. Also, my Type A nature gets the better of me. It never seems good enough to just walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes. If I can’t run for an hour, it doesn’t seem worth it. I sabotage myself.

But you know what? I’m tired of looking at my fat cookie face. I’m sick of the fact that as of this week, my size 14s are too tight. And I refuse to go up another size. I’ve got a problem with my fat and I must face it head on with structure and discipline. It is about time.

Can you feel me people?


2 Responses to “Terminal Fatness”

  1. Julie says:

    I hear ya and I feel ya. :)

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hey…I hear you too….you are a beautiful person with an amazing ability to give to others. I’m not a specialist but I know that I keep thinking that I want to get healthy not that I want to diet. It’s a thought, I am rejoining the gym this week and determined to get that IVF weight off. It’ll happen for me, for you, when you are ready. Hang in….life has been throwing you a number of curves, you can only do so much. Take care of you. Chrissi

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