Blog Dare Prompt – The Last Straw – Part I

The Last Straw – Part 1

I had always been rail thin during my teen years and early twenties. Eighty-eight was the year of my high school graduation and this number also matched my body weight at that time.

Now that I think about it, that number sounds rather low as I recall not being a happy camper in school with the bad habit of not being able to eat (or just not wanting to) when I felt depressed which was quite often.

This habit  lasted on into my first and only year in college – experiencing even more depression and not eating enough, but faithfully participating in band camp and practice which was at times much like a military boot camp.

By some miracle (must have been the never-ending rice dishes served for lunch almost daily) I went home with a three digit weight of nothing more than lean muscle mass that just happened to stick around despite my deciding not to go back the next year.

Not being the typical 18 year old, I did not cope well with supposedly normal life changes such as adapting the mentality of my peers, being away from my home and family, and hating sharing a room with two other people when I was used to having my own room at home.

I clearly was not ready for the extra course in ‘One of Your Room Mates is a Freaking Kleptomaniac-101’… I didn’t sign up for it, but it did turn out to be an intriguing study.

Anyway, I kept up with much of my exercise routine once back home where I decided to go to cosmetology school in my hometown. It was definitely a better experience.

My twenty pound gain remained in tact until I got married and began to enjoy take-out on weekends (my mom always cooked – take-out was a rare treat) while also relishing in the beauty of frequent alcohol consumption.

I had begun to put on a small amount of weight but it actually looked good on me as I was still working out and still had a functioning metabolism. I was finally beginning to reach the ‘normal’ weight of an adult female.

At the seven year marriage mark, there was no itch, but there was finally a baby…long awaited by my family who frequently volunteered and enjoyed feeding my ravenous appetite during my first pregnancy.

Despite my gorging on mom’s famous butter roll (yes – with cinnamon) and a two foot long Hershey Bar from one of my sisters (Christmas gift), I was still able to drop the baby weight with no problem. I worked out religiously.

Five years later, my next baby came and I had read about how breastfeeding would help to take off baby weight and I found this to be true.

During that time, my appetite dwindled even more because my parents’ health problems had begun to deteriorate, so I was taking care of my kids while helping them also. I noticed that whenever one or both of my parents were in the hospital, I would go into ‘help mode’ which killed my appetite. This went on for several years – emergency runs and stays in the hospital, cleaning and cooking for two houses, taking care of young kids – who had time to eat?

I had totally forgotten about working out as much as I had eating, so my weight stayed down for unhealthy reasons, but this all changed after my last baby and soon after the death of my parents.

I began to eat everything that wasn’t nailed down and found myself at a weight that I had only seen during my pregnancies.  The emotional eating continued as a coping mechanism until about one year later, I took a good look and noticed that I could hardly recognize myself.

Upon this realization, I began to change my habits and started working out faithfully.  I was no longer in a marching band where working out was the norm, but I was as die hard as if I were back in band camp.

This time I was actually concerned about my weight, not comfortable in my own skin, and very self-conscious. I counted and logged my calories, burns and losses on a website that I had found and kept up with my workouts like a pro until my lean muscles began to show themselves again.

At that time, I could look in the mirror and know that I was winning the battle. Proud of myself for all of my hard work and determination, the battle continued on until…

My husband’s job offered a health workshop in which employees and their spouses could visit a facility that would run a battery of tests and give a thorough health report.

I had become a bit of a health nut, so I was all for it. Everything went fine with my husband who eats pretty much whatever he wants and can do fifty push-ups once a week and poof – the mere three-pound gain is gone. But my appointment was just a tad different.

I walked in with a confidence that I’d never experienced before. By my own volition, I had gone down from 171 lbs to 156 and feeling stronger than ever! I was proud of my results. But my pride was short-lived when I found out that my so-called BMI placed me in the ‘obese’ category. Obese?

What the hell was I before? Determined to not allow one tear to fall, I kept my composure as the nurse gave me all types of documentation on how, what, and when to eat, and how often I needed to work out.

I was expected to return the following year having lost 15 lbs which would only be the beginning of working towards ‘becoming a fit individual‘.

Don’t get me wrong, I was glad that everything else came out well with the exception of a severe vitamin D deficiency, but these people acted as if I had done absolutely nothing to help myself despite my calmly given explanations. (I don’t usually explain myself due to my ‘like it or lump it’ attitude) But with each explanation, I received a lecture on how I could either change or improve my ‘behavior’. Really?

Although I knew they were just doing their jobs, I still wondered if they were telling the same mess to every female who didn’t fall under the same weight bracket as I was as a teen which is completely ridiculous.

But for some reason, I still walked out of there feeling like a lazy, non-caring, gluttonous slob. The preceding words are a total taboo for me, but the attitudes of the nurses made me feel like they saw me that way.

Despite all that I had accomplished, it apparently meant nothing according to their standards.

The idea of goals reached went clean out of the window, and all I could hear was that I was obese and needed to start working on myself. Without even bothering again to tell these people that I had already been ‘working on it’, I spent the following months desperately trying to follow their instructions which produced a 15 lbs gain instead of a loss.

My spirit had been broken and I was angry. I was angry at them, for telling me that I was not good enough.

I was angry at myself for giving what they said an ounce of merit. I was angry at my body for not doing what I (they) wanted it to do, not realizing that I never should have changed in the first place.

So my life of fitness was a serious struggle until I finally went back to doing what worked for me before, and I never went back to that facility.

As I finally began to come out of my rut, I realized that the last straw for me was trying to conform to a standard that was not my own.

For the first time I could remember, I let myself be thrown for a loop and couldn’t believe how easily I fell for it. But once again, by my volition, I recovered successfully and was on my way back to myself…or so I thought.

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Aside

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. buildingalifeofhope
    Jun 03, 2013 @ 16:00:09

    Wow! So many women deal with body image & weight issues all of their lives and each story is at once common and unique. I am looking forward to reading part 2.

    Reply

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