Fat and Happy?

The actress Chrissie Metz of the TV show This is Us appeared on the Today Show this morning. She’s written a book, This Is Me: Loving the Person You Are Today, that is apparently giving hope and comfort to women of all shapes and sizes, at all phases of their lives..

That’s amazing! I would have loved to have read the book when I hated the person I was.

Ms. Metz seems really happy and together, as far as I can tell. Her career has taken off – she’s in s hit TV show, making movies, writing books, she’s happily married…Still, her body looked so, so…uncomfortable to me. Even my friend who has no body issues and never comments on anyone’s weight, mentioned that Metz looked really, really uncomfortable. She couldn’t quite sit properly in her seat, even though the show had taken out their regular chairs to accommodate her size.

She says she’s happy, and I have to believer her; however, it’s hard to imagine that their isn’t something underneath that desire to eat enough to maintain her size. In my case, it was pain and sadness. Once that healed through the Twelve Steps, I no longer had any wish to fill myself with more than I needed to keep my body healthy.

I wish Metz could find that solution and not need to eat to the extent that her body looks so uncomfortable. But perhaps I’m presumptuous and she IS perfectly happy and living a complete life with family, friends, fortune and fame. Perhaps my own experience prejudices me?

Any thoughts?

For the Not Naturally Thin

Last night, training at the restaurant, I worked with a super tall, skinny guy who warned me I’d sweat out 5 pounds just working in the kitchen and running food around the dining room.

Since I started working at the restaurant, I’ve been constantly on the run, back and forth – dining room, lounge, kitchen, repeat. Some nights, I’ve worried my 54 year old body wasn’t up to all the flying around.

In my old job, I sat in my car while commuting two hours, sat all day and came home and sat some more, reading or watching TV. I probably burned 10 calories a day. So with my serious uptick in movement, it made sense that I’d be losing weight, right?

I haven’t weighed myself since I saw the doctor in early April. Curious, I jumped on the scale this morning.

I’ve gained 5 pounds. How could that be?

I’ll tell you exactly how. I’m eating more than I used to. For me, it’s all about the food, not the exercise.

AND, I am NOT naturally thin. The tall, skinny kid who trained me last night, ate constantly thru his shift – fries, ice cream, bread – anything and everything. And I’m sure he DID, in fact, lose the promised 5.

Not me. The truth is I have been way less vigilant about food. I’m working much longer hours, am way more tired and my sleep pattern is off. When I’m tired, my body and mind tell me to eat for energy, but I’m not truly hungry or actually in need of food. For me, I must eat to true hunger – eat when I’m hungry and stop before full. I haven’t been as in touch or paying attention.

I am, however, very happy and enjoying my new job. Once upon a time, I thought if i were happy, I’d naturally lose weight, because I wouldn’t want to over-eat – joy would nourish me.

The truth is, I’m not thin by nature. Pounds never, ever just ‘fall off’. If I stop watching, I gain quite a bit of weight and very quickly.

I always have to remember who I am, my truth. If I want to fit into my clothes, I need to eat the way that’s best for me.

I’m not naturally thin AND I am very happy.

Food Tasting

More tales from my job at the restaurant.

Today, I worked with the guy who preps the salad bar. He taught me to test/taste everything to make sure it’s right.

Of course I had a moment! I don’t eat that way – I eat well-planned meals. When I’m hungry. AND, I had eaten a meal right coming to work – I’d heard it annoyed my boss when employees showed and immediately sat down to eat.

So. What could I do? Today’s training was to learn to prep the salad bar perfectly. My trainer wasn’t about to take “I’m not hungry” as an answer.

I want this job. Very much.

And so, I taste tested. I tried everything – the pasta for sesame noodles, the macaroni for macaroni salad, the three bean salad, the coleslaw, potato salad……….Note, that all of the above are things I don’t usually eat.

But this was work. It was today’s job. And so, taste I did.

Turns out, it wasn’t so bad. I ate small little bites – just enough to make sure each tasted right. I was fine.

After that, I went to learn to wash dishes – the restaurant doesn’t employ a dishwasher during the day. Don’t tell the boss, but I kind of had fun.

And then got way too busy to eat for the next many hours. It all works out.

Fat and Food Addiction

A friend once weighed 550 pounds. When he had a heart attack, he almost died because no local NJ hospitals had a large enough operating table to fit his body – the ambulance had to drive him into Manhattan for him to be saved.

Another formerly fat friend talks about needing to two seats on an airplane to accommodate her girth. Unfortunately, the airline didn’t understand the request and booked two seats an aisle apart. My friend experienced serious humiliation as other passengers were relocated, just so she could fit on the plane.

When I was really heavy, I took the bus to work every day and worried that no one would want to sit next to me because I took up too much space. I’d try to squeeze myself into the corner and cover as little territory as possible. Each time, a new passenger walked past me and sat with someone slimmer, I’d cringe inside and hate myself more than I already did.

Currently, I work at an all-you-can-eat restaurant, where many of our guests are quite heavy. Too heavy to fit into our booths. I know this, and always ask if they’d prefer a table or a booth, but sometimes they get it in first – they need a booth. Often, they say it’s because they’re too fat to fit in a booth. They pat their big tummies and say, “not enough room for this.” (Often times, they’re leaning on a cane to help them walk to that table.)

Of course as a confirmed compulsive eater in recovery, this gets to me. Others may see fat; I just see pain. And perhaps that’s a judgment, but in my experience, if I want enough food to get me that obese, something’s not right.

Normal people – those not addicted to food- could never stomach enough to get that big. Maybe on Thanksgiving? Maybe. It’s just not conceivable. Sure, lots of folks carry some extra weight. But not enough that they can’t fit on a hospital bed or airplane.

AND, yes it is uncomfortable and impossible to find a seat or clothes that fit. And of course, obesity is so detrimental to health. BUT think about the stigma in our society around being fat. Heavy folks are fodder for all sorts negativity. Often, the opinions of others hurt more than the physical pain. One has to be pretty brave to be obese.

And pretty addicted to food.

How to Raise a Healthy Daughter?

The truth is – I don’t really know if there is a guaranteed way to raise a healthy daughter – a girl without food or body issues.

Early on, I decided I wouldn’t have children. First, as a kid, I was pretty bullied and extremely lonely and miserable, at home and at school. I couldn’t bear for my child to go through what I did. And second, I really, really worried that I would have no idea how to feed my kids and encourage them to have strong and healthy body images.

Would my experience have been different if my own mother didn’t so long to be thin? I don’t know. Yes, mom and I did every diet together and she was ALWAYS way more successful than I. But I think her success came from her not being the food addict I was. When I ate one piece of bread, I craved the whole loaf. And then wanted a few more.

I definitely had an abnormal reaction to food – I always wanted more, more, more. And I couldn’t get food off my brain. My mom loved music and art and adventure and socializing. I just wanted to eat.

Would I have been better off with a happier home life? I don’t know. In OA, I run across lots of women who say they had terrific parents and very nice upbringings, but still found themselves binge eating constantly.

Yesterday, I met recovering mother-daughter anorexics. Would the daughter have been healthier if the mother hadn’t been sick? Again, I just don’t know.

It’s a hard world we live in, where there’s such focus on delicious food. When I lived in New York City, every other storefront was a restaurant or bakery or gourmet supermarket. AND yet, there’s such a focus on eating all that food and still being fit and thin. Not easy.

My own grandmother hated fat people and like her daughter, my mother, longed to be thin. And yet, grandma cooked and baked and served round the clock. Food, food, food. Thin. Thin. Thin.

I have more to say on this topic, but now I have to leave for work – at the restaurant! 🙂

More later, but in the meantime, if anyone has any input, I would really appreciate it. Thank! Love, M

Me and My Mom, Complicated

I wasn’t kind enough to my mother in her lifetime. I resented her for EVERYTHING and always freely shared that with her. AND, of course, I scared her to death with my addictions.

And yet, all I ever wanted was for her to acknowledge to me what she had done wrong and how her choices had hurt me. She actually did, in her own way – pretty cool, if you think about it.

I suppose I felt kind of validated. But I still gave her hell. Never once did I think how my rotten actions effected HER.

While my mom was dying, I was active in all my addictions. In fact, they got worse, so terrifying did I find her illness.

I wish, more than anything, that I could have been the woman I am today, while my mother was so very sick. Sometimes, I take comfort in believing that she now knows I’m okay and safe. But even that still feels selfish – it’s comforting to me.

Mother’s Day is a mixed bag. I love honoring all the wonderful women in my life who are amazing mothers (especially, my sister, a truly excellent mom.) And I’ll be working all day at the restaurant, beaming at mom’s of all ages, wishing them a happy day with all my heart.

Still, I wish I’d been far better to my own mom.

To the Beat of our Own Drums

I’ve always been.. different. Quirky. Odd. Eccentric. Unique.

As a kid, I was depressed and friendless, with no idea how to fit in. I’d spend my time indoors, reading or watching endless hours of TV. My ‘friends’ were Mary Tyler Moore, Hawkeye Pierce and Keith Partridge.

Later, as everyone around me got married, went to law school, had kids, I continued to flounder. I never found a steady career, a strong relationship or anything much that resembled ‘normal’.

In the work world, I struggled with typical jobs. For one thing, I have NEVER been a morning person and am miserable when having to be at a desk first thing. Working nights has always worked better. Also, I hate at actually sitting at a desk in an office all day. I feel trapped and stuck.

A therapist once told me that my preferred hours are those of an addict. Addicts like nights and hate mornings. Well, I guess the shoe fits?

However, even as a child, that’s how I rolled. I was a very young insomniac, who’d stay up all night reading. (I was also terrified of the dark and often couldn’t sleep until the sun came up.) Pretty much every day, little Melissa showed up late for school. I just couldn’t get out of bed, even in grammar school!

In my last job, I’d have to get up at 5 and leave the house before the sun rose. Even when I went to bed super early (yuck!), I’d be exhausted all day, every day and all night too. It just didn’t work. Spiritual friends told me I’d be less miserable if I got up earlier and meditated for an hour before work. Were they crazy?! Even the birds would be waking up after me! Again, yuck.

And, sitting at a desk, time creaks by for me. I’d joke to myself that this was great – I was aging REALLY slowly.

Fast forward to now – working nights and running around the whole shift. I am the happiest I’ve been in a very long time. I’m way more rested – I’d so much rather come home late, exhausted and ready for bed. And when I awake up (after the sun. And the birds), I feel good.

Time flies on the job, I’m having fun, there’s lots of camaraderie and best of all, I can be myself – silly, funny, quirky…

For too many years, I tried to shove myself (miserably) into places I just didn’t fit. What a difference it makes to accept my own truth and to live it.

Everyone’s different (certainly different from kooky me!), but as long as we each honor ourselves and follow our own paths, I think we’ll do and be better. 🙂

Do you honor your truth?

Too Thin?

I work with a woman, Lynn, who is very,very thin. At first glance, I assumed she was anorexic. That was just an assumption, and I really don’t know her well enough to gauge. And according to Lynn, she eats quite heartily. Could be.

BUT, I can’t tell you how many women come into the restaurant and drool over Lynn’s tiny, tiny figure.

“What do you eat,” they ask her jealously while listening intently.

“Everything. Lots of junk food,” is her regular response.

“Oh, you’re so lucky”, coo our customers. “If only I could look like you.”

There’s also a young mother at work, Jess, who is desperate to lose the baby weight that’s not coming off. I think her husband is giving her a very hard time about it.

Jess is always querying Lynn – “what do you eat. what do you eat?” I want to tell Jess to stop, because something can’t be right. And instinctively I want her to leave Lynn alone.

Afterall, maybe Lynn IS suffering with anorexia, in which case, she shouldn’t be told her body’s ideal. OR, what if she has a medical issue she doesn’t want to discuss? Or, maybe she’s naturally skinny and would much rather be left alone.

Still, it’s so odd to me that so many women long pretty desperately to be THAT thin – so thin that it looks like you’re sick.

Why is that?

Control Top Pantyhose

I can’t remember the last time I wore pantyhose and certainly can’t remember the last time I bought them. But today I need them, so I can wear a skirt to work at the restaurant.

Off I went to Walmart, assuming I’d find a large (and inexpensive) selection. But guess what? There was not one single pair of stockings that weren’t Control Top, and I DON’T DO CONTROL TOP!

Like my mother before me, I have a belly. Even when I was anorexic and my arms and legs looked like pencils, I still had a pooch. When I put on control tops, I truly can not breathe – there is no circulation happening. I’ve tried, I really have, but I can’t function in them. Although I am a very average sized woman, I’ve even bought Queen Size control tops, but then the stocking themselves bunch and sag.

So, today, I will be wearing pants once again, with knee highs.

Still, let’s look at this concept of controlling our tops – yet one more way of torturing women, if you ask me. (Of course, there are many ways to torture us, from stiletto heels to botox needles. Has anyone ever tried eyebrow threading?!)

But back to our bellies. What’s wrong with them? Why do they need to be controlled? Some people’s are naturally flat (you know who you are, sis 🙂 ), some people work to get them flat, and the rest of us have varying degrees of bulge. So what?

In many way ways, our stomach’s are our most feminine characteristics. They expand to house a human life as it grows! Pretty cool! Highly important!!!

Why not valuable?

(Oh and by the way, my sister – who sports like a 20-pack – says Control Tops give her a stomach ache. Sooo, who the heck can wear them?)

Why Aren’t You Eating?

Working at a restaurant and eating my own way has it’s (albeit small) challenges.

First, we are rewarded with food – it’s kind of like a bonus (and is very generous, of course.) After each shift, we are entitled to a free meal from a limited menu which mostly includes foods I don’t eat a heck of lot of – mac and cheese, grilled cheese, wings, cheeseburgers, fries.

The ‘normal’ workers love this perk and get together excitedly to put in their orders. Each night, they look at me quizzically – why on earth don’t I want a free meal? (Fair question.)

A second challenge for me, if it’s still busy in the restaurant, the staff eats their meals on the fly, standing up and between taking tables.

I can’t eat like that and stay sane. (If you are a normal person, I’m sure you think my ‘rules’ are bizarre and annoying and not sane at all.)

I’m an addict of all kinds, and I have a mind obsessed with the relief I get from things like food (and alochol, etc.) If not careful, I will begin to see food as comfort and a reward, not sustenance, and I will start heading for trouble.

If I begin eating stuff out of the norm for me, I’ll (sooner or later) start getting obsessed with food and eating and when’s my next meal……..and I will be able to think of nothing else. Food will become something other than nourishment.

Staying within my boundaries allows me the freedom to live a full life, with ‘free’ being the important word here. Food once owned me. It doesn’t now. But that doesn’t mean it couldn’t again. I’ll always be an addict.

So when I’m asked if I want the free dessert, I still say no.

There is, however, another question I am asked over and over and over at the restaurant – how do I stay so enviably thin.

The answer, I honor my truth.