Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

My own particular hell: Weight Loss

This isn't just gonna be one post. It's a lifelong issue, 50+ years in the making, and it doesn't just get polished off in one fell swoop. Weight. The Bane of most people's existence. No matter what we weight, we weigh too much. No matter how great we look, we look to fat. No matter how healthy we are, we are judged on our weight. It's the bugaboo that strikes at regular people and turns them into complete head cases. Weight. We all have a story. I know I sure do. Our stories differ greatly, but it all heads back to the feelings of self-recrimination because our bodies are not air-brushed perfection and food has become the enemy.

When I was little, I was far from fat. I was a normal sized child, a kid that ate a fairly normal diet controlled entirely by two far from normal parents. My parents were the food police incarnate. Both overweight, they were so fearful of having fat kids that they did just about everything to ensure they would have children the perfect weight. Of course, that backfired, but it wasn't THEIR fault. Just ask them, they'll be sure to tell you how they were great parents with no issues whatsoever.

I'm a large person. I am 5'9" tall, I have a very large frame, I have a huge head and huge feet. I'm not petite, I've never been petite, I'll never be petite. When I was in 5th grade I was my full height, quite developed, and a tad bit pudgy. By that I mean, maybe 5 lbs over skinny. Not overweight at all. But my parents panicked. You see, someone with a large frame, which my parents did not have, and at 5'9" tall, a normal weight was around 150 lbs. To my parents, that was morbidly obese. This was before they had all those insurance weight charts, so my parents went on what they thought was a reasonable weight for a person of my height. They thought I should weigh what the Miss American contestants of my height should weigh: between 110 and 125 lbs. They never took into account that those women were tall drinks of water, and not large boned peasant stock. Therefore, my parents put me on a diet that lasted froom 5th grade to the end of high school when I got the hell out of there.

But it wasn't the diet that did me in. I didn't mind the diet anywhere near as much as I did the Saturday morning weigh-in. My father would wake me up early Sat. morning, and in my underwear I would have to get on his doctor's scale, where he would weigh me. Then he wrote down the exact weight, to the ounce. Those records were kept from the time he started this mishegas until I left home. If I gained an ounce, I was punished. My food was restricted, I was grounded, you name it, I got in trouble and suffered the revenge. If I lost weight, he would begrudgingly tell me to keep up the good work. The entire emphasis was on the negative.

I was not allowed in the kitchen ever by myself. If I walked into the kitchen, an adult had to be with me and would decide what I could and could not eat. Fruit, acceptable. Ice cream, not. No desserts. No treats. Everyone else in the family got them, but I didn't. My treatment is was radically different than those of my brother and sister, who were smaller boned and naturally thin. My brother graduated from high school weighing 130 lbs and was 6'2. That was the way my parents liked their kids. Skinny.

My mother forced me several times to go to weight watchers. I never weighed enough to really be in the program, but my mother would cajole the group leader and in I went. I hated weight watchers because it was actually more food than I ever ate. I gained weight every freaking time I went on the diet, but my mother didn't care. She believed I was cheating, but I wasn't.

At the end of 4th grade, I was in a very serious car accident and almost lost my life. I was hospitalized for almost an entire summer, then on a hospital bed in my family's dining room for several more months in a spica cast. After the accident, I was restricted from any gym or exercise for a couple of years. I couldn't even ride my bike without my mother going ballistic. So I was fairly stationary until I got back on the horses in 6th grade. I was an active child, and became a semi-active teen. I played lacrosse, I ride horses, I walked long distances, I swam in the backyard pool almost every day.

By the time I hit high school, I was about 155 lbs. My parents were beyond rabid. They blamed the vietnam war on my weight. Nixon was my fault, too. It was as if nothing could ever go right unless I got thin. Bone thin. I look at pictures of myself from that time and I just cannot believe how insane they were about my weight. I was FINE. Absolutely fine. But not to them. One diet followed another. The nasty remarks, the punishments, the crazy weigh-ins continued. It was clear that my parents were ashamed of me and embarassed by me, although, again, I was not fat. I was big. BIG.

My senior year of high school was very difficult. My delightfully sensitive parents decided to move across the entire country right before my senior year and insisted I go with them. I knew not a soul in my new community. I was miserable. I was sad and lonely. But before I had moved, I had stocked up on illegal entertainment galore, and I did have that to help me out. Eventually, I made friends. Everyone is interested in the stoner from LA, right? Not only did I make friends, but I had a serious boyfriend. His parents liked me just fine, my parents, of course, hated him. HATED him. They did everything in their power to keep him from me. I left home and moved in with his family for a while. That went over VERY well with my parents. Eventually I had to go home, and my parents pulled something that I won't discuss here, but it ended up with me having a big of a breakdown. Not a hospitalization, just a complete inability to stop sobbing and get out of bed. I missed the last few weeks of high school, but the upside of this was, I lost a lot of weight. I was finally bone thin. I was well under 150 lbs. My mother was dancing in the streets! She bought me clothes. She was nice to me. Life was great because I was finally skinny.

I left the country before my 18th birthday and really never went back home. I also packed on the freshman 15 and then some. Being allowed to eat what I wanted was liberating beyond belief. It had never been like this. I chose wisely, but having the ability to eat 3 squares a day for the first time ever packed on the lbs. I think in the first year I gained back the weight I had lost plus about 15 lbs. Still not fat, but pleasingly plump. Softer, rounder, and I had a butt!

Part 2 tomorrow.....

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Blogger Shan said...

Thanks for sharing your story.

13/8/07 12:17 AM  
Blogger Blog Antagonist said...

My youngest son is pudgy, and growing up, my sister was very overweight. I am so sad for the little girl that you were. I can't imagine parents putting their child through something like that. I do want my son to lose some weight and be healthy, and not feel like he is worth less because he has a little roll here and there...but not at the risk of his self-esteem and his happiness.

I'll be back for part II. Definitely.

13/8/07 5:42 AM  
Blogger Wack-A-Do said...

I can't believe what I just read. Did your parents know my father? Do you think they had/have any idea how damaging these messages were to the psyche of a young girl? I look forward to reading part two.

13/8/07 8:55 AM  
Blogger JaniceNW said...

I am so proud of you for breaking the cycle and being an excellent mother! You're awesome.

14/8/07 12:05 AM  

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