It wasn’t that doughy image, though, that propelled me to begin making healthy choices. I’ll never forget looking in the reflector that one morning, as I prepared for work. Pinocchio came to mind. Not the nose. (I am honest to a fault.) The hinged mouth. I had a deep crease that started beneath the right side of my chin, spanned the length of my fleshy throat, and curved up into the left side of my face. The extra weight had designed me a Ventriloquist’s Dummy’s jawline!
I’ve never kowtowed to vanity. That very day, however, I began making healthier choices. I decided I didn’t want to diet, to deprive myself, because I knew that would be short-lived. I simply needed to enjoy smaller portions, and eat in moderation. I needed to be mindful of my eating habits. Deliberate. Yes, I needed to be deliberate in my actions.
I contacted a friend who had achieved success with the Weight Watcher’s plan. I didn’t want to join a program because I wanted to lose the weight for myself, not because I felt embarrassed over it. I didn’t want to be part of a mindset that says “I have to be good because I have to weigh in.” I looked over my pal’s Points book, and jotted down the values of the foods I typically ate in a day. I discovered I had been consuming enough food to sustain a person of over three-hundred-fifty pounds. Now I was nowhere near that heavy, but it was no surprise that I found myself in the position of needing to lose between fifty and sixty-five pounds. (According the the bullshit BMI tables, I could have lost seventy-five to one-hundred -two, pounds and still been healthy. BAH!)
I began making mindful decisions that night. When the Primetime boredom and hunger pains arrived, I went to bed. I went to sleep at eight-thirty or nine-o’clock, many times in those first few weeks. But I continued making choices that suited my aspirations. I succeeded in my goals and the weight began coming off. Success breeds success, and I continued to grow in confidence, and shrink in size, throughout the next year.
I had never been so complete. I had reconciled my husband’s affair with my best friend. He and I had never been more…at ease?…at peace?…one? We’ve never been one, really. We have quite different interests and personalities, but those differences seem to create a beautiful balance, we complement each other. We held hands walking into the grocery store or sitting on the couch. We were comfortable. That’s it, comfortable. With ourselves and each other. We were content.
I would listen to other women gripe about how their husbands did not support their dreams, their desires, or didn’t seem to appreciate them for the women they are. I sat quietly. I have such a wonderful husband, such a beautiful life. I am so glad to have a husband who allows me the freedom to be me.
When my office held a drive for the food pantry, I brought in four, five-pound bags of sugar, a personal tribute to my continuing triumphs. Colleagues and friends noticed my success and asked what I was doing. “Are you exercising?” “How does one eat Cheetos and lose twenty-six pounds?” one of my co-workers asked me at lunch one day.
“Portion control,” I’d say. “See this snack-sized bag? Eating this little bit will keep me from sitting down and devouring the entire bag.” And it was enough. I had reached a mindset of acceptance. Food was no longer a threat, a fear, a comfort. I didn’t have to have more. Like the French, I appreciated the food itself, savored each morsel, and was as content with a single portion as I was with my individual and married self. I began walking at night. My dog also reaped the benefits of my new found lifestyle. A joy I don’t think I’d ever known put a bounce in my step, a swagger in my hips, and song in my voice. At times it felt more like a dance down my quiet country road.
I had created new habits that had become a part of my life, that seemed to be as ingrained as my old ones had been. Even after I discovered, quite by accident, on that early September morn, that my husband was carrying on another affair (clearly, we were content, was my individual reality…). Even after I decided to proceed with my plan to quit my twenty-six-year nicotine addiction, roughly six weeks after uncovering the betrayal. Even after my December hysterectomy…
Shortly after I returned from the hospital, a wonderful friend brought me a wedge (a gargantuan slice that must have been about 1/4 of the cake) of her homemade German Chocolate Cake. How can you do this? You know I’ve lost forty-two pounds and still have more to lose. I can’t possibly eat this. I thought. “This looks so delicious! Mmmm, I’m going to enjoy this. Thanks so much.” I said.
After she left, I obsessed for about two minutes over the food. What do you mean you can’t eat this? Sure you can. You don’t have to eat the whole fricking piece in one sitting. You can enjoy it for days.
At that moment, I knew I’d won my battle of the bulge. I cut off a sliver of the cake, placed a piece of cellophane over the remainder, did a little jig over to the table, sat down, unhinged my now-creaseless jaw, and let each bite of delicious melt in my mouth. I thought about the saying, “It ain’t over ’til the fat lady has sung.” The fat lady has sung. What a great title for an article or story! I should write it, sometime. I finished my treat of the day, went to my computer, opened a Word document, titled it, “The Fat Lady Has Sung,” and closed it.
This is the beginning of that tale…