Sunday, April 24, 2011

How did I get here?

How had it come to this? That I was diving for pie, looking like I needed a girdle, and hunkering down behind a bathroom door? Yeesh. My life-long obsession with my weight was making me hungry. And, like the rest of overweight America, I had been trying to make the food behave instead of myself.

I tried to think of a time when I wasn't overeating or obsessing about my weight. It was all the way back to preschool. At that age, I didn't even know what fat was. I was just a regular, little kid playing outside and not wanting to come in for dinner. I would only eat until I was full and then stop. I remember the very first time I was able to finish eating an egg, or an apple, or an ice cream cone. I proudly told my mom that I had eaten the whole thing, and she praised me. I had been eating the whole thing and a whole lot more ever since.

I was in kindergarten when I first thought that I was fat. In fact, I remember the moment the idea first occurred to me. I was sitting next to a high school boy on the bus. His legs were skinny. I looked down at my bare legs (the dress code did not allow pants for girls--a dumb rule because dresses were super short in the late 60s). My legs looked bigger than the boy's. "My legs are fat," I thought. But I was far from fat. I was just sturdily built and a little tall for my age. I was jealous of the cute, little girls. They seemed like they got all the attention. The upside of being sturdy is I could beat boys at arm wrestling.

In fifth grade there was a push in our school (some sort of government mandate, I think) to put heavy kids on a weight-loss program. There weren't many overweight kids in the 70s. I was one of three girls in my grade to be chosen to go to the nurse's office each week to be weighed. Humiliating, really. I was a little confused about why I was in the fat group. I wasn't that big, I thought.

My first weigh-in I was less than 80 pounds, a normal weight for someone nearly five feet. The third week there was a substitute filling in for the nurse. She looked puzzled and asked me why I was in the program. I told her I didn't know. She looked at the weight chart and shook her head. "Jacci, you're normal weight. You shouldn't be here. Go back to class." I didn't have to go back to the program ever again. But it didn't matter, the damage had been done.

From that time on I had been obsessing about what I ate and my weight. When I was in high school I always thought I needed to lose 10 pounds. I vowed not to overeat every day. I'd make it to lunch and then overstuff until I went to bed. I worked hard, though, tossing haybales on the farm, so I burned off whatever I ate.

As an adult I was still fighting to lose weight. I'd have some success, but over the years I had been on the steady incline. Now I could no longer deny I had to lose more than just a few pounds. It was getting out of control. I was now in my late 40s. Did I really want to be dealing with this issue for the rest of my life? I wanted to get to the place where food or my weight were no longer an issue. I had to figure out a way that I could eat normally and maintain a reasonable weight. Bottom line: I needed to eat like I did when I was a little kid--just eat until I was full and then forget about it and go outside to play.

I was ready. I had to move more, eat less. It wasn't rocket science. (But then I figured those scientists who designed the rockets were probably fat, sitting behind a desk somewhere.)

Next post: I Blame Nurse Marsha


  1. can't wait to read more . . . you are such a great writer . . .

  2. No wonder, Jac, you didn't like school, esp. elementary! That would've been humiliating! But, you are beautiful and thanks so much for always making me laugh! As I said before, you are an inspiration to me and others. Proud of ya, sis! Vicki

  3. Vicki, you were one of the cute, little girls.