Sunday, April 22, 2012

Twice the Smiles

Okay, so maybe double chins are cute on babies, but I had a frustratingly painful reminder yesterday that 190lbs, while less than 196lbs, doesn't disguise the fact that I am still painfully and obviously obese.

(She whines as she bites into a sandwich creme cookie...)

Alright, so maybe I am doing a little stress eating, but at least it's a Whole Foods brand cookie!


Grrr! Maybe some of you can understand this, but in recent years--since I became overweight and then officially obese--I have shunned having my photo taken. In fact, I have probably caused myself more shame and embarrassment just from the lengths I'll go to avoid caving in to this cruel request from my friends and family than I do from seeing yet another picture of that fat version of me.


Seeing a picture of myself nowadays, in my opinion, is the most hurtful and deflating setback to my efforts. It is such undeniable evidence of what others truly see when they take a gander at this plump goose. Really, there might be some truth to the old tale that "the camera adds 10 pounds." I hope. Or is that just video cameras?

Shucks, anyway, does that even matter? Take away 10 pounds and I can still imagine that people only see a chunky-dunker when they notice me. If they notice me at all.

Alright, I am breaking my own new rules and being a little mean and unforgiving to myself right now. But this is always what happens after someone forces me into another one of their photo "opportunities". Grumble, grumble.

I'll be chugging along, saying no to bad foods, saying yes to exercise, exchanging the tea and soda for water. Sure, the scale may only be dropping down a pound, maybe two, a week but hey! Down is the key word here. Down is good.

So I'll be feeling pretty good about myself, and since I am starting to notice even the tiniest degrees of change in my curves when I run my hands over them in the shower, I keep thinking any day now someone else will notice, too. They'll be nice enough to say something and I will feel even more sure that I am on the right track.

But seeing a photo of myself has the power to banish all such hopes. I start wondering if what I was noticing was just wishful thinking on my part. If anything I am doing is really working for me. Then, I'll spend a few days doing just what I'm doing now....

...feeling sorry for myself.

Darn my Mother!!!

She is a truly great, great lady and a sweet person. However, when I first started gaining weight, she noticed right away. Out of concern--I am sure there was no malice intended--she began to comment on every little change she noticed each time she saw me again. One time she flat out gasped with despair for my burgeoning body and demanded to know if something major was wrong.

Do you need to talk about anything?

You know how Moms are. Finally, I told her how much she hurt my feelings and tearfully admitted how I was starting to hate coming around her. It made me feel so bad. Could she please keep her comments to herself?

Because she is such a kind,loving soul she was true to her word and the weight gain comments dried up. Then, she switched to the other extreme. Now, it is like she constantly pretends to live in denial that my pants size has changed from 4 to 16 in less than a decade. As in, if any reference at all is made to my size by myself or others, she casually brushes it off.

I don't know what hurts worse. The straightforward, semi-constructive lard litany from my Mom...or her new stock of Mom-ishly pithy mantras such as "you're a beautiful girl, honey" or "you carry it so well." Or the worst and most aggravating of all because I know it is completely untrue and just some cajoling soothing thing people resort to as an attempt at politeness:

"You're just big-boned."


So my Mom and stepdad come to town yesterday to celebrate him completing his PhD in Psychology. Since my little niece is with us, and she has never been, they decide to take us all to the Dallas Zoo (and it is much much better than it was 15 years ago, by the way...I was impressed).

In the midst of petting a happily grunting pig named Zoe, rubbing noses and kissing Allen the goat, and serving as a perch for I don't know how many parrots, I felt more like my old self than I had in a while. A deep kinship with animals and a joy in their presence has always been with me, so being around so many again always carries me back to my happy child hood days in the country.

But then that Mother of mine wants to take a picture of all this. Why? Isn't the one of me french-kissing a calf (accidental), riding an elephant, and carrying in a cat from the woods at camp as a kid not enough to satisfy her need to capture the memorably bizarre moments of her eldest child's life?

Apparently not.

Making her swear to God she would not post these photos anywhere on the internet (where boyfriends past might find them and cease regretting the day they chucked me for some silly reason), I allowed her to subject me to a dozen photos. This was almost okay until, in the car on the way back to their hotel, she insists on making me see them.

Begging her not to show me, and my stepdad the psychotherapist trying to beat her back with sound reasoning as well, she would not be denied and I caught a glimpse of one awful picture.

There was that pretty face--blue eyes with an almond shape, high apple cheekbones, french lips, ethnically charming and aristocratic nose--all set back in some seriously chipmunk like chubby cheeks in a perfectly round face. Below the smile, the dewlap of skin hanging from cheek to cheek we know as a double chin. This was the irrefutably signature feature of someone who is still fat.

I slid my hat down over my face then, feigning a nap...but I sobbed silently under the blessed cover of darkness there.

My sweet hubby was the only one to have an inkling of how I was feeling. I knew when he reached across our sleeping niece in the back seat between us to hold my hand. Thank God! I'd hate to make my Mom feel as horrible as she would if she knew how much I was hurting from this. My stepdad Scott later commented that it never occurs to my mother that other people might not like the pictures she takes of them because she looks good in them all.

She does. She is 48 years young, still a size 4 after 3 kids and 4 depressing marriages. There was a brief time in the middle where she bulked up to 170 pounds right after my little sister died, but that's it. After the very hard life she has endured, she still manages to take good care of herself and stay gorgeous as ever. Men of all ages always look twice at my mom.

So I look at myself now in these zoo pics (she texted them all to us later of course), standing next to my lovely mother. Same pretty face, but the teardrop shape of hers ends in a firmly pointed chin, and the arms are slender and strong beside my own salmon filet sized biceps.

Le sigh. I can see why she worries. Her own mother was paralyzed from strokes in her 30s, and we've lost most of the men in our lives to heart disease. She must be terrified for me.

Well, I ain't quitting just yet. And I know she hasn't really given up on me either. She often says, "when you're happy again, the weight will just come right off." When I stop looking for happiness at the bottom of a soda can, or a pie plate, she's right. The weight does come right off.

The sandwich cremes are put away now. The serving size was two for 120 calories. I stopped at two cookies. And I had them with water. Hey, for a "stress eating" event, I'd say this is major progress!

Thanks Mom, for making me face the facts. I love you.
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My Tax Day Dream

Hey, I promise I'm not planning to use this blog as a forum to push my political agenda, but once a year, in honor of Tax Day, and in support of a great dream to get our tax system back in line with the way our forefathers imagined it, I will post one blatantly obvious request for my readers to find out for themselves what the Fair Tax is and how America could say goodbye to Tax Day forevermore.

If you wanna hate me forever for wishing you could bring home your whole paycheck to your family and not be punished for winning with money, I can live with that. Read more!