I’ve struggled with my weight all my life. And by struggle, I mean that the numbers on the scale have haunted and tortured me for decades.
When I was young I was very active. My brother and I were outside goofing around all the time. In grade school, I began twirling baton in the individual competitive circuit, and I was really good. I would practice hours each day, so burning calories wasn’t a problem. Still, I was always cognizant that I wasn’t rail-thin like the other competitors.
Through middle and high school I continued to worry about my weight. I wasn’t the heaviest girl in my class, not by far, but it certainly felt that way. Looking back now, I was probably not nearly as disgusting as I thought I was. In 10th or 11th grade I discovered that a very low calorie diet was the key to losing weight. Exercise did nothing but make me hungrier. Starvation was the way to go.
And then on to college. I gained the “Freshmen 15,” but being around a more diverse group of people made it seem not as bad. And over the next few years, although I complained regularly, my weight remained relatively stable.
I think I started gaining weight late in 2001. I had lost my job and hadn’t been immediately successful in finding a new one. This led to less activity, more depression, and stress eating. I estimate that I gained 40 pounds over two years.
In August 2003 I experienced a terrible loss. I was hurting so bad, and I figured nothing could make me feel worse; so I decided to starve myself while I was at it. I went to one of those ‘medical weight loss’ places. Basically, you meet with a doctor, they tell you to eat very few calories, and they give you an appetite suppressant (phentermine). You go back every few weeks and pay them directly for this drug. (They don’t accept insurance, of course.) On the shady scale, it’s only a few steps up from selling smack behind the gas station. I lost 50 pounds in 7 months.
By the time I stopped the appetite suppressant, I had developed low-calorie habits and kept off most of the weight. And if I needed to keep myself in check, I would jump on the pills for a week or so to help me remember that I don’t need much food. And things stayed relatively manageable for 3 years or so. I probably gained 5-10 pounds a year during that time.
In March 2008 I was laid off from my job and once again found myself with a lot of time on my hands. But this time, instead of eating, I decided to try to lose some of the weight I had accumulated. Since it worked the time before, I decided to go the same route with the ‘medical weight loss.’ And once again, I was successful. I didn’t lose as much weight, but I was happy enough. The key to success here was to sleep as much as possible. I wasn’t working, and I figured the more time I slept, the less time I could spend eating. Oh, it sounds funny, but it is absolutely true. I could sleep through breakfast and lunch and have a small dinner thanks to the appetite suppressant.
And here we are now. Since that last success I’ve gained at least 60 pounds. And it might as well be tattooed on my forehead. In fact, in one of my first meetings with my oncologist, I told him, “if I have to have cancer, I better at least lose weight!”
Of course, that hasn’t worked either. The prednisone has made me retain water, gain even more weight, and display it in my face and belly for the whole world to see. It’s so screwed up that I’ve even dropped a pants size while the upper half of me grew.
And with a serious diagnosis, worrying about my weight seems a little silly. I have bigger fish to fry. That said, I’m not eating sticks of butter over here! My most frequent snacks are rice cakes (35 calories each), Fudgsicles (35 calories each), and bananas. At dinner, I eat whatever I want without considering calories. Depriving myself of a decent dinner just doesn’t make sense.
But my weight has really started to bother me over the past week. I ‘blame’ the whole back issue. It’s really been bringing me down (mentally and physically). I hope once I can start walking around – even at a snail’s pace with a shopping cart – I will feel better about myself.