When my baby girl was three, and she spent a few hours in a cush pre-school,
I saw an endocrinologist for my thyroid.
The endo can do magical things that other doctors can't--all the hormones, all the tests.
I was tired and depressed, still, three years after her birth.
The endo listed it out for me:
metabolic syndrome or insulin resistance
polycystic ovary syndrome (high androgen levels)
hursutism (testosterone stache)
I wasn't crazy.
My hormones just went a little sideways.
The word diabetes, even with the prefix, was a little alarming at 35 years old.
I never questioned weight loss was something I had to do,
It just is. Factual.
The soap operas my birth mother watched back in the day,
Days of Our Lives,
displayed women who were a smaller size.
If one of them was slightly larger--
still smaller than the average woman, but a teensy bit not skinny,
I thought differently about her.
Judgement. At 12 years old.
She's not as nice. No one likes her. Is she the villian?
She's not as smart as the others.
The men don't like her.
Her body size equated to her moral standing, intelligence, and ability to be loved.
So, I started dieting, because it was 1981 and that trickled down somehow.
It's what women do.
And if it works, I won't be like her.
My mother was alone.
And she was bigger, had outer thighs and baggy arms.
To a child's mind, a case study is absolute proof.
Flash forward to three years after my son was born, at thirty years old,
when I first joined Weight Watchers.
In a strip mall rental, ladies lined up,
opened their wallets to pay for the 30 minute meeting,
taking our turns on a scale with a successful WW veteran.
Successful women almost always had smaller upper bodies,
with little shoulders,
empty bagged arms,
and larger lowers.
Like their livers were only eating the stored food at the top.
As the culture deemed, I walked through the WW revolving door a few more times.
We ate what was available or what we wanted,
until we gained enough weight and couldn't stand ourselves,
and returned to the meetings.
Little changes were made in the programs.
Points were given.
The last time, an entire wall was lined with WW crackers and cookies that were only 2 points each.
Tiny boxes of processed foods, with happy marketing,
that we could grab as we waited to pay for the meeting.
Small enough to fit in our bags, eat in the car on the ride home, and stuff into the trash for no one to see.
A day's worth of food.
So no more eating today.
Measuring thin spaghetti into a 1-cup measurer, because regular spaghetti doesn't mash as much--
"You get more with thin spaghetti."
Sugar-free pudding cups.
Low-fat cottage cheese.
Zero-Point Vegetable Soup. The recipe came with your enrollment packet,
a carry-over from the cabbage soup diet of the 50s.
It's a good soup. There's just nothing in it but veg. Fat-free broth, no protein.
Couple this with Mormon life of no addictive substances,
No tea, no coffee, no booze, no smoking.
Caffeinated pop became acceptable (or soda, if you don't speak my language,)
though for a long time, it was evil.
But for dieters, pop had to be Diet.
God did not make that stuff.
I was totally addicted to it in the 90s, along with fat-free candy.
Sugar, caffeine, and aspartame. Oh, the dopamine.
The exhale of bliss each morning.
Breakfast of champions.
Sweet nectar of life.
All of this did not help with my list from the endo.
The PCOS, insulin resistance and pre-diabetes got bigger and stronger.
I saw a nutritionist, with her little plastic food dish serving of rice,
1/2 cup cooked,
the size of a cupcake wrapper.
Her plan was oatmeal with no protein or fat for breakfast, with coffee and juice,
a sandwich for lunch with meat and cheese.
Of course, a half chicken breast with veggies and rice for dinner.
Low-fat milk at every meal.
She mentioned the low glycemic index list of foods,
gave me a paper list, but then
said ice cream after dinner was okay, as long as it was a half cup or less.
Walk, eat less.
With these efforts, a hormonally-balanced person will lose weight.
The PCOS girl will lose one pound to the balanced girl's ten.
I was doing a lot of things,
shaming myself if I wasn't perfect,
and convinced that if I could just be thin, I'd be happy.
At the same point that I left the church, I started to wake up from all of this crazy as well.
I was aware of the damage I was causing,
the vertigo and liver enzyme tests for fatty liver disease,
there was new information about fat being actually good for us.
It's been a ride. For sure.
Our marriage was not going well, there was an egg-shell vibe in our home,
our kids could feel the space between us and were growing up in that charged air.
My response was to eat.
Decade to decade, I went from bingeing on alcohol, to caffeine and sugar, to a case of diet pop every few days, to apple fritters and drive-thrus.
I was afraid to feel anything. If we feel it, and acknowledge it,
we may have to actually talk about it.
And we don't do that.
I mentioned last week that I've lost 45 (46 now) pounds since January 2019.
I joined NoBS, a weightloss tribe that uses the thought work processes from the Life Coach School.
Eating that nutritionist's meal plan probably would have had an effect,
if I'd made sure my breads were whole grain,
and added fat and protein to the oatmeal.