Are you the kind of person who has battled your weight at least once in your life, if not all of your life? Do you feel surrounded by thin people everywhere? You know the ones I’m talking about… the ones with the great figures who you always see eating anything they want and never gaining weight.
You hate those people, right? It seems like you just look at food and you gain weight, while they never gain an ounce yet still bring that large Starbucks Mocha Latte worth 190 calories and a couple of donuts worth about 800 calories to the office every day and nope – still never gain an inch around the middle… or anywhere else for that matter.
Well, I’m here to share with you how not all those thin people are thin by nature … many, like me, either struggle every day to keep our weight down, or some have actually lost a lot of weight and now they’re thin. Yep – they did it. They know full-well what it’s like to be overweight but you may not ever know their before stories. You may just keep assuming that they magically keep the weight off because they’re lucky or blessed or simply have a high metabolism or better genetic code than you.
People treat me like that all the time… as though I’ve always been skinny. And while much of my life I was of average weight (I don’t think I was ever skinny), little do most of them know that I also tipped the scales at nearly 200 pounds several years back. Yep, 200 pounds. Now while 200 pounds may not be morbidly obese it was a good 40 pounds more than I needed to carry around. And I wonder just how much more I might have ended up with had I not changed some things.
It was also an extra 40 pounds that didn’t fit into my clothes – necessitating I needed to spend money on other, more roomy ones. It was an extra 40 pounds that made it harder to walk fast without huffing and puffing. It was an extra 40 pounds that made me feel like I looked pregnant – and to some I did. I mean, trust me – you don’t have to be 100 pounds overweight to wish you could shed some lbs.
There are an enormous number of people who just need to lose those 10, 20, or 50 pounds to make a big difference in their health. In fact, more than 2 in 3 adults in the US are overweight or obese today. (That extra 40 pounds put me in the “overweight” category at my doctor’s office too. Never thought I’d see that day.) But whether you want to lose 10 or 100, it’s simply not easy. (If it were, everyone would be skinny, right?)
Of course , I did my share of trying this diet and that diet – some worked for a while – some never really worked at all. Most I didn’t last more than a couple of weeks on. In fact, it seems as though each time I decided to lose weight my next step was always to run to Dairy Queen to get myself a “last supper” Blizzard, then hit the grocery store for my favorite can of mixed gourmet nuts, then run home and make up a batch of brownies and gulp them all down the same night as well, since on most diets I’d not be seeing any of them for a long, long time to come. The usual result was that I’d generally gain 5 pounds in the first 24 hours of the diet!
Bottom line, I confess: I’m a closet junk food junkie. A choca-holic. A sugar addict. Whatever terminology you want to use. Sure, I eat salads and meats and veggies – sometimes. But mostly I eat every unhealthy food out there and quite frankly, I don’t want to give it up. Yet all at the same time that I don’t want to carry around unnecessary weight either. I literally want my cake and eat it too!
This was my journey to do just that. I call it my dieter’s memoir that reads like a novel but that helped me to discover that I really can eat anything I want and still lose weight. And even my dog reshaped her girlish figure right along with me. Neither she or I saw that coming!
This was my story and my 40 year journey that taught me there is No Cheatin’ – Just Eatin’.
This is not a recognized diet by any entity or company whatsoever. It is a way of eating that no nutritionist or physician would ever approve of. I am not suggesting that you or anyone you love (or hate) eat t his way. See your doctor before beginning any new weight loss program. This is simply what worked, and continues to work, for me. And I hope provides entertainment for you.
PART ONE CHAPTER ONE
BUT I’M NOT THAT BAD – AM I?
For probably the zillionth time I was yet again sadly staring at my naked body reflecting back at me from the full length mirror in my bedroom. My dog, Larkin, curled up at the foot of my bed, was watching stoically. I kept hoping she’d say something encouraging as a girlfriend would, like, “Hey – what are you talking about? You look great,” or at least “Not to worry …your weight’s not that bad.” Alas, I’d been trying to teach her English for over 4 years and she just wasn’t getting it. She yawned and then began licking her crotch instead. Obviously more important to her. She had issues too, after all.
Returning to my nakedness, I looked back at my reflection with my devious, critical eye and groaned, as usual. At 5’8” and 175 pounds I certainly wasn’t morbidly obese. But my body felt like it was rebelling against me these days. I’d certainly weighed much less at many different times in my life. And not just all the way back in high school. Staring straight at myself, I began the painful judgement routine, starting with my arms, which I have to confess, weren’t too bad. I posed like Popeye, lifting each bent arm towards the sky and was pleased to see a couple of muscle definitions there. At least all the time at the gym doing arm workouts was doing something right. So, OK, the arms weren’t bad.
As I moved down to my breasts, I could even tolerate them, for the most part – after many years of hating them. God had simply been way too generous with me in that department. As an athlete in high school and an equestrienne for years, too much boob was simply too much boob! For those who need further explanation, try strapping 2 heavy water balloons to your chest as you go jogging or even worse, galloping full tilt on a fiery steed. Not pretty. And certainly not comfortable.
Then there were the comments and even worse – the looks, from the male of the species, when it came to their response to female breasts. It always seemed to me that they thought that we women ordered boobs in whatever size we wanted and if a gal was pretty chesty that she obviously had ordered boobs in a larger size because she was looking to use them somehow. And when that was the case, the looks got even worse. The slobbering, put-your-tongue-back-in-your-mouth, looks were about as pathetic and embarrassing as you could get. What made it worse was the guys who never could connect with a girl’s eyes but could only stare her in the chest. My daughter used to talk about that phenomenon in high school and how she and her friends had come up with a defense against the look. Their answer was, “You may as well look up here (pointing to their eyes,) “for you’re not going to be meeting these girls anytime soon!”
I remember staying over at a college boyfriend’s house one night, when I hadn’t planned to do so, and as such, had no PJ’s of my own. He lent me one of his T shirts and as I pulled it over my head and settled the girls comfortably in place he turned to me and said, “Looks like a couple of rabbits fighting for air in a sack in there!” Need I say more? That memory is burned in my brain in intimate detail.
Then, I remember being on the high school track team and jogging around the track warming up with the girls one day while the boys were still fooling around, waiting for their coach to arrive. As the girl’s team jogged by, smiling and flirting with all those cute boys in their cute, little gym shorts (think 1974, before big, baggie shorts took over) the boys all picked up the chant of “Bounce, bounce, bounce” as the girls and their entertaining breasts, bounced by. Somehow quite a stir came out of the situation and hence forth as we bounced our way past the boys, their new chant was, “No derogatory remarks, no derogatory remarks!” Which only changed the verbiage but not the meaning.
I even remember walking across the street in my little hometown of 12,00 people, three stoplights and one Hardee’s one day. It was much like Mayberry. People were generally decent. And yet, there were still jerks among them. It was summer. I was crossing the street in the middle of the two-block, downtown. I was wearing a T-shirt. The girls were tucked neatly in a nice, supportive bra when a man slowed his car down and stopped, then waved me across at the crosswalk. Then just as I got near his front bumper he yelled out, “Hey Baby, I’d love to suck those girls.” As a naive 18 year old, I really didn’t know what to do with that. All I can tell you is that to this day I avoid wearing T shirts at all cost. Yet one more example of how the male of the species seemed to think we order our boobs in the size suited our intention.
Of course in today’s world of wide spread breast augmentation, that assumption is more true than untrue but it certainly wasn’t the case in 1974. I was, however, especially pleased that I’d underwent a breast reduction when I was about 30, despite my husband’s objection. Bringing the girls into a more reasonable size. Yet at present, they had crept back up to 40-D’s with a bit more droop than I was hoping for, but gravity does have its way over the years. At least a good bra generally held them in fairly well, with substantial cleavage that would catch the male of the species’ eye at least. So the boobs, all in all, I could live with them. But as I moved further south I ran into my nemeses – my God awful belly.
My critical eyes immediately went to my pouchy tummy that I felt made me look about 5 months pregnant, especially when I turned the view to profile. (I turned it profile then, just to prove the point.) Ugh. It was still there. I’d only had one child, for God’s sake. Only one. How could only one innocent baby leave me with such a pooch? And years ago, to boot. I didn’t even have any stretch marks, for God’s sake! And I’d only gained 13 pounds when I was pregnant, as I’d spent the first 4 or 5 months puking my guts out.
In fact, the day after I delivered my daughter and went to the nursery to get her, the discharge nurse who had not seen me before, looked questioningly at me as I didn’t look like the other new moms, whose tummies still looked pregnant. After all, between the months of puking as well as teaching aerobics until I was 7 months pregnant, my body was in pretty good shape. Even better still was when I jumped on the scale at the nurse’s station I asked, “Is this thing accurate?” The nurse replied, “Yes, it’s accurate. But don’t worry – all the new mom’s hate it. But you’ll lose your baby weight real soon.” What she didn’t understand was that I weighed 150 pounds that day after I gave birth … which was the same amount I weighed when I conceived! While all the other mom’s were lamenting the battles they faced getting their girlish figures back, my weight was already gone. What the heck happened to that cooperative belly from my baby-bearing-year?
It seemed that these days, any extra weight I added took a b-line for the gut. “Belly fat,” as it was commonly referred to today. All the magazines and books everywhere were reminding us all that belly fat is the most dangerous for our health… and the hardest to get rid of once it sets up housekeeping in your body. I sucked my gut in as I always did during these naked body checks, holding my breath. Yep, if I could just drop those damned 20 extra pounds that the scale was pleased to inform me of – and, if it all could come off directly from my belly – I knew I would feel so much better about myself.
Here I was, staring at my pooch again. And it didn’t just haunt me when I was naked either. It caught my attention every time I went to slip into clothes that had a zipper or a button at my waist. Not to mention something as torturous as panty hose! Oh my God. Talk about feeling miserable. I gave up wearing those years ago and if I absolutely had to wear some kind of stockings, I would wear thigh highs and thanked my lucky stars for whoever invented them. I returned to my critique. One last look, with only the butt and the legs to go.
Since I was still on the sideways view, I was pleased to see that I had still kept the cellulite at bay there and in fact, even had some muscle definition on each side, which had to be the result of years of staying busy, athletically. My calves were ok too. At least no complaints there. Whew. I guess I liked my legs the best. At least until 3 years ago when I had both my knees replaced due to the disappearance of all cartilage in both of them with resultant, constant pain. (The down side to a life time of physical activity.) The scars had softened somewhat over time, but still looked like someone had taken a brown eye liner and drawn an 8 inch line down over the knee caps, heading towards my toes. Thank God they weren’t any worse than that – I’d seen some other folks’ scars and some weren’t as pretty as mine. And while I was glad my state of affairs wasn’t any worse than it was, I did miss my pretty knees of a younger age. However, I was much happier with working knees, I have to admit. I didn’t miss the pain either. And the fact that they still got me around fairly well, I couldn’t complain too much.
One last check; I grabbed my hand mirror and turned my back to the floor length mirror to study the rear view – already knowing what I’d find there as well. My butt and I had had a fair relationship over the years. While it was a bit flat, it wasn’t horrible to look at. Cellulite didn’t seem to hide there. Years of horse-back riding must have pounded it in shape, I guess. I could live with it. It wouldn’t win any body builder competitions, but it did OK in a skirt.
But all the parts of my body that were not so bad didn’t stand a chance of being noticed over that damn belly. It haunted me. It felt like it called me names every single day. I hated the muffin top that showed up in most of my clothes. And on top of that, add any little indigestion or bloating and forget buttoning anything. And the days of a two piece bathing suit only a handful of years ago – well, I wasn’t in any rush to return there.
And on top of that, according to the chart on my doctor’s wall, I had fallen in to the “overweight” category. Most of my clothes were size 14 but some of them weren’t too comfy anymore either. I absolutely drew the line at buying anything size 16. I stuck out my tongue at the reflection, as I frequently did. And after slipping into my sweats, I headed to the kitchen to find something sweet to fill the empty space within me that either couldn’t accept myself the way I was, or, wouldn’t give myself the firm kick in the butt that I needed to do something different.
I’ve rarely been totally and completely happy with my body, but for the most part, it has served me well. While I have never been obese, and have been pretty physically active most of my life, most people don’t realize that I generally do battle with my weight, maxing out at 196 pounds a few years back. Now that was scary. That’s 40 pounds more than I should be. And seeing just how close the number 200 was each time I got on the scale left me terrified but with a boundary I MUST NOT BREAK! I liken the cause of that binging time (and anytime I seem to balloon up) being tied to something overwhelming like depression, which comes and goes with various issues in my life – like no-man-in-my-life times, for one.
Funny how whenever I gain weight and it shows in the fact that my clothes don’t fit anymore, I subtly move from jeans to leggins, yoga pants, or stretchy shorts so I don’t have to worry about fit or comfort. At the same time I realize that not worrying about those issues surrounding fit allows me to only compound the problem by providing even more built-in space to accommodate more fat. Vicious cycle.
This revelation occurred to me during my heaviest of times when a neighbor asked me why she had never seen me in jeans. Did I even own any? Of course, I thought. Way in the back of my closet for those hopeful times that I might fit into them again. Ironically, the same neighbor who pointed this malady out to me indeed wore jeans, despite being substantially overweight herself. Of course, I’m not sure she’d have looked better in leggins, had she tried that option. Her thighs were her enemy. In her case, the right size, roomy jeans seemed to be the smartest move. Yet for me, the idea of handing over more money for yet another size jeans to live quietly in my closet when not in use during another weight gain, just didn’t sit well. I stuck with the leggins and stretchy things for the time being. Thinking I was fooling myself, but not.
For the last couple of years I’d been stuck at 175 pounds, which for someone my height is approximately 20 pounds too much. But that was after losing the 40 and then gaining the 20 back. While I realize that I’m not in high school anymore, I do remember weighing about 148 pounds while on the track team and being about as fit as I could ever get. So, considering I’m no longer a hormonal, high energy teen who burns weight even while asleep, I’m comfy compromising my ideal weight to sit right around 155. I was last there (for a relatively short time) in 2009 when I managed to drop 30 pounds before my daughter’s wedding. (Great incentive, right?) I then dropped ten more after that over the next few months. God, I loved that time when my body felt just wonderful and I couldn’t wait to pull on my skinny jeans!
Of course I was also almost an addict to my weight loss at that time as well. In fact during the race to be skinny for all those wedding photos I was not only counting every calorie that went in my mouth, I was also working out twice per day! And included in those workout was running about 40 miles per week! Get my drift regarding the addiction part?
So, you might be wondering, if I lost 40 pounds once, why couldn’t I simply lose 20 now? Why didn’t I just do what I’d done before? Ah, that’s where I get ahead of myself. It all actually started one summer day in 1976 … Which you’ll have to read about next in CHAPTER 2 “My God, Girl, Have You Gotten FAT!”
Stay tuned for more and please, if you enjoyed this chapter of NO CHEATIN,’ JUST CHEATIN’ please, please share it for me with your peeps!
NO CHEATIN’, JUST EATIN’ copyright July 20, 2016 by Mary Jo Fay