So, despite my belief that weight loss organizations are nothing more than for-profit machines who care only about making money, I have joined Weight Watchers. Gasp.
Yes, I'm paying for it. I felt that old indignation creeping up on me as I looked over all of their membership options. Of course my cheap ass wanted to do the "Pay As You Go" plan, but there was a catch: With that one, you didn't have free access to the online tracker thing (they call it eTools). So I chose the Monthly Pass option, which is going to run about $45 per month. I think that's kind of high (oh really, broke ass? Shocker.) but here's the deal:
More importantly, I'm sick of being fat. If you've read my blog with some regularity over the past two years, you know that I struggle with many things. Finances, guilt, interpersonal relationships, etc. But I think the biggest struggle, the struggle that never seems to get any easier, is my fatness.
I've tried so many things, from my awesome friend Faith volunteering her Wellness Coach services, to using My Fitness Pal, to just plain old self-flagellation. All of them worked....for a while. And this isn't saying that any of those options aren't great, in fact, I know that they work. Faith has clients who have had absolute success, My Fitness Pal has hundreds of testimonials on their site, and just about everybody knows someone who has conquered the Fat Demon armed with nothing but sheer will-power and a dash of self loathing.
But not me.
The last time I lost a significant amount of pounds (about 70, to be exact) and was at my lowest weight and looked my best, was when I was on the Divorce Diet. I wish I had started blogging back then, so I could look back and see what was going on in my head, but all I have are fuzzy memories and few pictures of a much slimmer, smiling me.
I do remember this, however: I was so sad. Not sad about being skinny, God no. But sad because my life had changed, and changed radically over just a few months. Part of my weight loss then was an effort to woo my absent husband back, to try and get things back to "normal". I was desperate and delusional.
Don't get me wrong, at this point I would gladly take a few months of desperate and delusional. Anything, really, just to get back to that point where I could look at myself in the mirror and not want to cry or scream or go buy a bag of salt and vinegar chips, turn down the lights and eat all of my bad feelings until my fingers were coated with a vinegary crust.
But I know that being desperate and delusional is not conducive to healthy living. And I know that going through another divorce is not possible. Back then, back in my skinny days, I didn't eat much. I drank lots of wine. And margaritas. I viewed food as the enemy, as part of the reason my life had collapsed, part of the reason I was now facing a very uncertain, very scary future. I blamed food, and myself, for everything bad that had happened.
And here I am today. I have obviously overcome my hatred of food (lol). I'm not going to publicize my current weight, because if I did that I think my keyboard would start smoking and arcs of fire would start shooting from the monitor. Let's just say it's the biggest I've been, ever. And I mean even bigger than I was when carrying 10 pound fetuses in my belly.
I've written before about how I've let the fat control my life, how it's made me a prisoner. A prisoner inside fat girl yoga pants and 3/4 length sleeve tunics. Blah blah blah, right? But it's done more than that. It's like my brain and heart are prisoners, too. It doesn't take a degree in psychology to see that a lot of us fat girls are using all those extra layers to insulate ourselves, to protect us from whatever it is that we think is going to hurt us or challenge us or expose us. I haven't sat in a therapist's office for quite some time, but when I did, and when that therapist started peeling back some of my layers of crazy...it was terrifying. I started remembering things, bad things, from my past. Things that I think altered my brain, and for sure altered my soul. I don't know how big this piece is in the fat puzzle, but I think it's a pretty significant piece in the puzzle that is my life.
HOWEVER. I'm slowly learning that the past is, well..passed. You can't go back and change things. You can't relive events, or alter them in hopes of changing the present. You can't unscramble an egg, ya know? All we have is the here and now, and the days ahead. It's up to us to make the most of them.
I'm choosing to live in the present. For a melancholy, "what if" kind of gal like me, that's a big choice to make, and not an easy one. Living in the present means letting go of the past. Not forgetting, mind you...I think forgetting what has happened in your life is being disrespectful to yourself. Rather, it's akin to a photo album. You are absolutely entitled to go through it now and then, to walk through the memories like they were a field of daisies, to inhale the phantom smells of years long gone. But you can't paper the walls of your life with those images. Keep the walls current, if you will.
And it was with those deep thoughts in mind that I followed one of my BFF's urgings, and joined Weight Watchers. I've spoken at great length about my friend Danielle, she of the silvery tresses and luminescent skin. She's also struggling with her body, like me. And like me, she has also tackled the Fat Demon, and for a while, was svelte and slender, just like I used to be.
She did it with Weight Watchers. Now, I'm not going to speak for Danielle here, or make assumptions about why or how she gained her weight back. It's not like it's an unusual occurrence. Millions of "diets" are started every Monday morning, and by Monday afternoon I'd bet half of them are finished. It's what makes Jenny Craig and the CEOs of NutriSystem and Weight Watchers and health clubs and the docs who perform gastric bypasses employed and wealthy. Bottom line is, she's right there with me as far as the fat thing is concerned.
So we went together, mentally holding hands (ha, sorry Danielle, but we were, right??) and walked into the Weight Watchers center. Stepping on that scale, in front of a complete stranger, was like one of those dreams you have where you're sitting in a lecture hall or a restaurant buck naked. It was humiliating, and heartbreaking and yet...it was kind of affirming. It felt like I was finally, after all these years, being honest with myself. And the lady who recorded my weight, she didn't gasp or start laughing or dry heave or anything. She clicked a few keys, attached my little sticker to my Weight Tracker and said, "There you go! You're all set!".
That was 10 days ago (yes, Friday the 13th. I certainly like to tempt fate, right?). I had my first weigh in last Thursday morning and had lost four pounds. When the lady looked at me and said, "Good job!", I felt like a million bucks. If I had a tail, it would have been wagging.
Now, I don't put much faith in the numbers game. In fact, it was just a couple of months ago that I broke down and bought my very first scale. Seriously, the first scale I've ever owned. And after calling the suicide hotline when I stepped on it for the first time (ok not really but damn...that was an eye opener), I figured out that my weight can fluctuate by as much as 5 pounds in a day. So I don't know that I'm 100% sold on the scale. But, if nothing else it's a way to chart things. And I like charts. Charts show progress, or lack thereof. Charts are tangible proof that change is (or isn't) happening.
So now I am a member of Weight Watchers. I couldn't, and wouldn't have done it without my friend by my side. Having Danielle do this with me has been invaluable. She was the one who fielded my "I'M STARVING" texts the first week, she's the one who knows how many points are in the iced coffee I need every morning, she's the one who turned me on to pre-cooked brown rice in steaming bags (5 points for a cup, yo). If you're thinking about doing this, I'd highly recommend doing it with a friend. In fact, I'll be your friend, if you want. Just let me know.
Thus begins my latest Adventure in Weight Loss. I'm learning a lot, learning something new every single day. It's given me some invaluable insight into the mysterious dark cavern that is my brain. I'm figuring out why I want to eat (boredom is number one, stress is number two). I'm figuring out what time of day is my witching hour (between 3:00 and 5:00 in the afternoon, and of course after 10:00 at night). I'm figuring out that any fears I had about alcohol and my consumption of it are unfounded: given the choice between a glass of wine or a bag of 94% fat free popcorn? Popcorn wins, every damn time. I'd rather eat my points than drink them, thank you very much. Booze is FATTENING, friends.
I'm also learning that living in the present is ok. And not as scary and overwhelming as I thought it would be.