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If It Isn’t One Thing, It’s My Mother

My mother has been a big girl her entire life.  She says she started gaining weight in the fifth grade, although when I look back on pictures (She totally rocked the look back then!) I don’t see an overweight girl.  When did women start having body issues?  Like, circa 500 B.C.?  Were there cave women that wore their mammoth skins a little loose to hide baby weight?

Anyway.  My mother has been classified, by medical charts the world over, obese as long as I’ve known her.  When I was seven she went on an All Microwave Popcorn And Diet Pepsi diet.  She lost 100 pounds that year.  I think she wore her “skinny” jeans for one day.  She tried Weight Watchers.  Jenny Craig.  The fitness center. Herbal life. She would pull me along on her treks around our town, walking so fast that I had to jog a bit to keep up, her pace a furious attempt to drop pounds.

The thing I’ve learned about diets is that they work.  You may have seen Valerie Bertanelli saying this on a Jenny Craig commercial and she’s right.  Diets work.  Anyone can lose weight on any diet plan out there.  The real trick is sticking with it.  Finding what works for you.  Holding yourself accountable.  No excuses.  No one to blame but yourself.

I’m just learning this at 30.  And I know that healthy foods and a gym membership are going to be what it takes for me to live the life I crave.  I know that I’m going to have dessert.  I also know that I can’t have dessert three times a day if I want to live the life I have imagined.

My mother is still struggling.  She is thin as a rail now.  She had gastric bypass surgery in November of 2007.  Anyone who says the surgery is the easy way out has certainly done NO RESEARCH about the life you must lead post operation.  I could never do it.  I couldn’t live and struggle the way my mother does.  Her food choices are extremely limited and, more often than not, anything with too much fiber, grease, fat, or cellulose doesn’t ‘agree’ with her and she finds herself running to the bathroom.  Each person is biochemically different, of course, and I know other women who have had the surgery and are able to eat ‘normally’ without an issue.  My mother is not one of those people.  And the catch is this:  You won’t know if you’re a “lucky” one until AFTER you’ve gone under the knife.

So my mom has lost all of her weight.  She’s actually a bit too thin by her doctor’s standards.  Ironic.  She’s happy and has the body she wants.  Except for the loose skin. 

I’m not sure what the focus of this post is supposed to be.  I’m not sure where I was going.  I guess I’m just frustrated the woman I love more than anything in this world has struggled her entire life.  I’m upset that she never learned good eating habits that she could pass down to me.  I’m angry that I learned to be ashamed of my hunger and my body and my growth.  I’m worried that girls today are growing up the same way, maybe a bit worse because our culture is more health-conscious than ever, but we’re also fatter than ever.  (Again, In Defense Of Food is the best book on this subject!)

I’m figuring this out at 30.  My mother is still struggling even though outside appearances would never betray that fact. 

A bright side to this otherwise gloomy monologue is that my mom and I are able to do things that we never would have if she hadn’t dropped the weight.  We’ve entered a 5K!  A first for both of us.  We’re going bike riding this week on some pretty amazing trails in the area.  We’re living life together. 

I guess that’s a pretty happy ending after all.


2 Responses

  1. Ah the title of your post so speaks to me.
    My mother is just like your mother (except she was never sucessful on any of the “fad” diets she tried). She did evetually lose weight, by eating healthy and working out, but she still had a “I’m fat” mindset. She and I disagree on what “health” looks like. I don’t equate healthy with skinny, and I’m pretty sure she still does.

  2. On the plus side (bad choice of words there, but I’ll go with it) at least your mom is healthier now, no matter how she dropped the weight. As long as you don’t turn anorexic or bulemic, I think the ends might justify the means for her, but of course, it’s a personal choice/dilemma/chance you take. I totally agree with you about how untrue it is when people say GB is the “easy” way out. It’s incredibly expensive, not being covered by most insurance plans, and it requires a ridiculous amount of after surgery diligence. I don’t know if I would be strong enough to handle it.

    Uber kudos to you and your momma for signing up for the 5ks! Rock them out, girl!

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