I like to eat. I have a tendency to gain weight. I like to be thin. That is the unholy trinity that puts most women on a lifetime rollercoaster of torturous emotional self-abuse.
It’s also the deadly threesome that causes young women to throw their lives away to anorexia, bulimia and a plethora of other forms of physical self-abuse. So it’s damn serious.
I think the average woman cursed by the ‘triad of doom’ goes through three weight stages in her lifetime. Lucky me, I’ve already been through three and I’m speeding toward the final stage with much trepidation.
My first phase was pudgy. That lasted until about puberty when awareness dawned and I created my own very dangerous weight loss plan. The doctor who treated the resulting mononucleosis made a few comments that made me realize I had been well on my way to anorexia when mono – and the ensuing medical community onslaught – intervened and saved me from a horrifying fate. Most girls like me are not that lucky.
I then cruised into my second phase (the first phase for most eat-o-centric* women). I went through a period of about seven years when I could eat anything I wanted and still maintain a perfect Size 10 (and believe me Size 10 is perfect for me) figure. It was awesome! Sadly, most women who start life as ‘pudgies’ never get this wonderful stay of execution.
During my “eat with no regrets” phase (by far my favorite life eating stage – bar none) I could eat five large slices of pizza and a giant hunk of Sara Lee cake in one sitting! And sometimes I did. My size 10 never waivered. But I never forgot that feeling of being chunky, and I never really lost the feeling that being even thinner would still be better.
Sadly, in my sophomore year of college I moved into my third – and what is proving to be my longest phase – by a longshot. I started to pork up again.
It was okay though. The first time I realized that my jeans were just a little too tight I gave up eating extraneous bread with meals and shed the weight immediately. As the years went on each weight loss event became slower and more difficult. I had, at least, three different clothing sizes in my closet at any given time.
The pattern was established, over time I would pack it on and then jump into a diet regimen for a course correction. Just how many times did I shed those extra 20, 30 pounds? In the beginning the weight would creep up due to lifestage issues – I wanted to get out of teaching and was in a stressful job search so I gained weight. Then I got my job at an ad agency and went into a diet mode that got an entire 40 person agency eating cabbage soup and munching on carrot sticks.
As I got older the gain and diet pattern held but the reasons became more health specific rather than lifestyle oriented. I herniated a disk in my back and gained 30 pounds and… what else – found an expensive weight loss counselor to help me take it off. I had my thyroid removed and had trouble regulating my meds so once again I am back on the diet express!
As time progresses I find myself learning more and more about nutrition – the older I get the more scientific knowledge is needed to break through the slower metabolism, toxin filled liver and other flagging bodily functions.
It is hard work, and it eats into my social life. I have to be ever vigilant and that’s easier said than done. My steely resolve tends to manifest itself in sporadic waves of unflagging self control and the other times – don’t ask! It seems so unfair that so many of us are plagued with decades of yo-yo weight gain and the resultant scrambling to fit back into anything flattering.
I know it doesn’t get better because my own Mom tells me that she eats like a bird (she really does – I’ve seen it myself) and she’s unable to shed those unwanted pounds that somehow manage to multiply over time.
When I start to feel really frustrated and sorry for myself I need only remember that final eating stage – the one I know is coming. I will feel disinterested in food (with the possible exception of strawberry parfaits) and eating will be a chore. I will forget to eat sometimes and eat little when I do make the effort. Weight will fall off of me at an alarming rate and I will have very little ability to stop it. By then it will probably be those around me who are more concerned than I. My body will be significantly thinner – but will not look even remotely attractive. The effects of the rapid weight loss combined with years of gravity will make me resemble a partially deflated balloon.
It’s an end of life eating phase that I’ve seen all too often with elderly loved ones. People who have battled to lose weight for years to no avail. Finally, they can eat all they want and enjoy! Only eating no longer interests them.
I don’t know if this is fate’s way of demonstrating true irony or a subconscious decision to self starve a tired and old body. I do know that this phase is the last. The inability to properly nourish the body will ultimately shut down all life sustaining systems.
Still struggling to keep those unwanted pounds from overtaking my battle worn physique it’s difficult to envision a time when well meaning youngsters will try to force feed me Ensure because I can’t bring myself to eat enough food to survive. I do know that if there’s a way to avoid this phase altogether I’d sure like to know about it.
*Do you like that term? I just made it up but I like it a lot more than other terms to describe women with healthy appetites!