So here we are again fighting the fat wars. I have been at this fight for most of my adult life and it’s beginning to unhinge me. The fact that I keep coming back to it — somewhat like smoking, on and off, stop and start, up and down. It’s enough to make my body feel rather schizophrenic.
“How does this happen?” I ask myself. I do my best to maintain a reasonably healthy attitude toward my body, but I seem to like to sabotage my hard work, and end up right back where I started from. Two steps forward eight steps back. Uggghhh. It is truly frustrating.
Do I want to examine this whole fat thing? No, not really. It’s just a matter of realizing I’m not the type who can eat anything and never gain an ounce. Perhaps if I could let myself off the hook about it I wouldn’t find it so ugly. The fat, I mean. I hate the feel of the extra weight on my body, the look of it and how it makes me feel as a person. It just sucks.
As a young woman I never had to think about food. I just ate what I wanted and never gained an ounce. I always think about the movie What’s eating Gilbert Grape. The mom in that movie was obese. One of her lines in the film is “I didn’t always look this way.” Or something to that effect. I know what she means. I often think back to my youth and wish I could have maintained that weight.
I want that body back, but I think it’s a fantasy to think that I will ever be that weight again. Or maybe not, maybe I can get to that weight again, if I am persistent, if I don’t sabotage myself for the sake of the junk food. It’ s so tempting, all of that delicious wonderful food: fries and chips and pasta covered in sauces rich in cream. Cakes and cookies — chocolate chip cookies made from scratch, the recipe from my mom with at least 3 cups of sugar. Oh man, I can taste those cookies now, melt-in-your-mouth, right-out-of-the-oven CC cookies. Or butter tarts, the oozing syrup dripping down my chin, the pastry made with lard (now I know where Lard Ass comes from). Yes, for me, food is the devil in disguise. I love to eat, what can I say? Roast beef with roast potatoes, soaked in rich gravy, stewed tomatoes with bread crumbs on top baked to perfection. Pizza and lasagna, veal parmigiana. I can feel the pounds now right around my mid section, my cholesterol level rising, the threat any minute of a heart attack, or cancer or now I have read fat causes Alzheimer’s, oh God not Alzheimer’s.
So what is a woman to do but diet? Just the thought of a diet makes my stomach churn — ouch I hate that word. It carries with it such agony and pain and lacklustre. Diets suck, what can I tell you. I have been on so many over the years it’s disgusting; you’d think I would have learned how to eat by all the diets I have been on. Is it just my rebellious side, saying, “Oh, screw you, diet. I will damn well eat what I want and you can’t stop me”? I can’t figure it out; maybe it’s just the way I’m made, like my mother. My poor mom: she too struggled her whole life with her weight. Up and down, depressed about it, fighting the fat. I witnessed this as I grew up. I hope my daughter is smarter than I am, and I think she is. She seems to know that if she puts A in her body B will happen. Unlike her mother and grandmother who would much rather put A in the body and suffer the consequences at a later date!
Turning sixty next year gives me pause to say, “To hell with it.” I have horrible acid reflux which tends to put me off food. A couple of months ago I went to the hospital thinking I was having a heart attack; I am still waiting to hear from the gastroenterologist. Because as it turned out it’s not my heart; it’s my gut!
Sixty is the new forty, I have heard, so I had best start looking after myself. It’s tough though: my brain says I’m twenty and svelte but my dress size says a whole other thing. Perhaps I will grow old gracefully with a paunch and a thick double chin. I suppose what matters is I’m healthy and I should just forget about the size eight dress size? Which I never was, but that is beside the point.
Fat is not pretty but it’s not ugly, not really. It is a protector of sorts; it’s a soft tummy for grandchildren to lie on when they aren’t feeling well. I have a feeling this extra weight just might be here to stay. But I want you all to know it’s not because I like it; it’s because it likes me! So be careful what you think about people who carry extra weight. Maybe they like it; maybe they are like me and are just fed up with the whole idea of trying to be somebody they aren’t. Maybe it’s time we stop looking at the rakes of women in the media and start looking at the glorious figures of the past, the classic women who had tummies and breasts and thighs and who were considered goddesses!!
I am finished fighting this war. I will surrender. I will only try to be conscious of what I eat and hope that this helps me to maintain basic health. As the years go on I am sure my diet will change. As we age so do our taste buds and our appetites. So maybe when I’m ninety I will finally achieve my goal of being a certain weight. If so I will celebrate that I did that without scolding, shaming, feeling depressed or making myself sick. I would have achieved it by just being myself. And that is a war I can win!
Photos by Martha Farley. All rights reserved.