Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Thought for food

I have come quite a ways. I remember thinking that 178lbs was it. I'd be happy being there again and that was that. I've gone 10 pounds beyond it and I am pleased as punch. But the walk hasn't been easy.

I grew up my entire life knowing that I was overweight. There existed no doubt in my mind that I was shaped rather like a hobbit. My medication made me so hungry and growing up in Europe where the chocolate is good and the diet tends to be meat and potatoes, it was surprising I didn't end up more of a balloon than I already was. And people thought that I may have had some sort of delusions of svelte-ness because I was frequently reminded of the fact that I was overweight, I had to lose weight, I had to drop pounds. Ohhh really. What a shocker. I had no idea. Gee.

And why did they have to remind me? Growing up was hard enough. Being a DD by age 16 is its own trial without having people call you 'Dolly Parton'. My back may have been sore but my little heart was in more pain and when I got it reduced (and the insurance paid for it), that was a large load off my chest in more ways than one. I still remember the surgeon analyzing me with his butcher eyes and remarking to my mother that I had a surprisingly small waist. I could have kissed that man.

It didn't get much better though and only when my first transplanted kidney began failing did my dreams of weight-loss become realized. The toxins would build and kill my appetite, smothering it in poison with a little cherry on top. And I began dropping everything, clothes sizes and pounds. When I became concerned and brought this up to the doctor, he gave me a cold glance and told me that I had 'plenty to spare'. He may have said that to attempt to be comforting to me, but boy am I glad I didn't know Tae Kwon Do then, I'd have broken my promise to only use it in self-defense and kicked his scrawny little pansy butt right back home to his mama's.

And it scared me. Losing weight like that was one of the most frightening things I had ever experienced. Laughable, right? I had wanted this forever, why was I not embracing this? Because I was dying. I wasn't losing weight in a healthy manner, I was dying. I would go on walks not for health but because it was and still is one of my favorite things to do and I would startle myself by seeing these skeletal hands swing back and forth. I remember standing in a bookstore and as I reviewed the latest in Japanese manga, I would lean against my hip and my elbow slipped easily inside my pelvis. That shouldn't happen. It scared me to bits.

So after the transplant, I had an appetite again and I took full advantage of it. I ate whatever I want because I was alive again! I was living! I had been dying for two full years and now I was coming back! My feet and hands were able to warm up on their own! I could distinguish hunger from nausea because the persistent, constant nausea was gone! And not having learned a thing from losing all that weight, not how to eat properly or to control portions or let myself only eat until I was comfortably, not overwhelmingly full, I gained all that weight and then some.

191 pounds is the largest I have ever been in my life. 114 was my weight just before my transplant so you know how far I'd come. And it wasn't like I decided "Yeah, I guess I better do something" when I hit 191. I realized that being that weight was dangerous and by heaven I didn't want to have to go through kidney-loss again, killing it because I couldn't control myself.

It's been a long and difficult road. I keep optimistic because I know I don't respond well to brow-beating and punishment. I focus on learning new things and applying them. Like how to listen to my body so I know when to say 'Enough, I'm comfortable now' and to drink water so that my body doesn't have to try to get that liquid from food. I've learned to eat better so my body gets the nutrients it needs without having to sift through junk*. I've learned that exercise is fantastic, it brings energy and joy. And I've learned that I must forgive myself and my body of the abuse I've put it through and in return, I will be able to progress.

Finally, I've learned that obesity does not just come overnight and neither does health. Baby steps.

*That's something I learned from 'You Are What You Eat' on the BBCAmerica channel. Sometimes we are hungry because we need particular minerals and vitamins and if we were to eat better, we'd need less but sometimes we don't eat better, just more and the body has to glean what nutrients it can through the junk and it isn't always enough.