Sixty-three Pounds Down, 8,376 Miles to Go

(Look closely. That’s me leading the elephant.)

Dear faithful followers, cheerleaders and naysayers alike, it is nearly time for takeoff. We begin our 738139495 hour journey in nine short days. Our personal Passage to India (minus the beautiful 1924 clothing and British oppression) is finally upon us. Typhoid vaccines are being ingested and my left arm still hurts from a tetanus shot. Reservations are reserved as are some of my opinions since we are going to be visiting with my in-laws. Just kidding! They are lovely people and I’m looking forward to seeing all 150 of them at a party on Christmas Eve. Yes, 150. You won’t be able to miss me in the crowd. For once, I shall truly be “the fairest of them all”. #whitegirlproblems #sarinotsorry

“So, Memsahib, how goes the battle of the belt?”,  you may ask. There are inches to spare and I am no longer insisting that Raj sit next to me so I can encroach on his leftover seating. Phew. I know, I know. You are thinking, “But this is for your health!” Okay, butt (which is much smaller, BTW) my mental health in a metal tube hurtling through the sky is just as critical as my cardiac condition right now, and both are much improved, thank you very much. I am bound and determined to resist the rice, say no to the naan, swear off the sweets and tango with the tandoori.

Lest you think this trip is all about the chai and samosas, it is actually so much more than that. We are visiting relatives, there will be the obligatory photo at the Taj, we are probably hopping on a camel or elephant, wandering through the bazaars and the bizarre. The real journey here is not my weight loss or the miles to be traversed. It has been fun to find the humor in my every day battle but our kids’ exploration of the other half of who they are is the real trip we are about to embark upon. They are both awakening to the side of their heritage that is thousands of years old, completely different from the instant gratification of America, and they will be seeing true poverty up close and uncomfortably personal. The colors, the smells, the sights and the sounds of India are cliches of every Fodor or Lonely Planet guide but there is truth in the maxim that it is “a study in contrasts”. Full immersion in India, when you experience it as a family member and not from the comfort of a five star hotel, overwhelms the senses. Some of this trip may be difficult for them physically and psychologically, and like all true learning there is bound to be pain with their growth. How very thankful I am to share these moments with them. I can’t wait to see their faces, hear their thoughts, and see India for the first time again through their eyes. I “found myself” there in 1988 and am so looking forward to walking beside them as they discover new parts of themselves. Oh, and then there is the ilish maach. Kolkata has some amazing fish dishes. We’ll be exploring those, too. Namaste, my friends. 

Today’s Challenge Is…

to write a blog post that does not contain the following words: Trump, Hillary, Liberal, Progressive, Racist, Fascist or diet. Leggo. (As in “let’s go”. This is not about waffles. Sorry, I’m still low carbing.) 

Thanksgiving is nearly upon us and I, for one, am making lists and perusing recipes. There may be a change up in this year’s green bean iteration. I am ditching the cream of something soup for a whole food, natural, organic, fancy dancy version from Bon Appetit that no one will probably like. But they will be thankful for it, or else. And that’s what this is really about; being thankful. 

It is common and a bit trite to post, blog, or tweet about gratitude for the entire month of November, and that is why I like it. You see, I am decidedly common and not above trite. These are a few of my gratefulist things (my apologies, Rodgers and Hammerstein)…                

                   (Did you ever notice how much Julie and I look alike when singing to our adorable children? It’s striking, right?)

  • When the dog bites. Sometimes life really bites. It gets you in the heart, in the leg and sometimes right in the ass. Illness, loss, financial woes, and uncertainty touch us all at one time or another. And when it does, I am grateful for the unwavering support and love of my family. From my parents and sisters, my nuclear family (that does occasionally go NUCLEAR, but that makes it all the better when we are in a state of fusion rather than fission), to the extended clan, I am always stunned by the generosity and support of these people. Long ago I compared family to a rubber band. We are bound together loosely sometimes, tightly others, with a bond that stretches but never breaks. Though one of my sisters lives far away, she is still bound to us. Our cousins, aunts and uncles are flung about Connecticut and the rest of the country, but they are really never far. Sometimes, they are no further than an inebriated FaceTime session (I’m looking at you, Pete and Dee. And Zak and Briana. And Chris and Mauro.) And when things are truly bad, they seem to be right there in our arms. And my kids. Oh, my. My kids. They make me laugh (a lot), they make me hopeful, they bring out the best in my heart and I can’t believe how lucky we got to be entrusted with these two glorious human beings. I am grateful for the gift of family.
  • When the bee stings. Ouch. Stinging comments, zingers, jealousy and insecurity sometimes rule my day. But my friends, both those long held dear and the ones who have newly taken up residence in my heart, always put me back together. Out of the blue texts from my St. Mary’s girls ensure that I never feel alone. Spending time with our college friends, who have shared our bad times and rejoiced in our good times, is the sweetest reward for years invested in mutual support and unconditional friendship. Who else can you say three words to, and you are all reveling in the same shared memory and laughter? There are the folks with whom we have raised our kids and shared adventures. Experiencing a second generation of friendship with their kids is an unexpected joy that makes us feel young, until we collapse at 10PM and are reminded that we are not. And the Queen City has brought new women into my life who have made me laugh, challenged me, helped me to grow, and extended their kindness and generosity. I am grateful for the gift of friendship.
  • When I’m feeling sad. There is one person who is always able to detect the tears that go along with the smile. None of what I have, who I am, or what I do is possible without my husband. He is the only one who really knows what is in my heart, and he usually knows it before I do. Every day since March of 1989, this man has put me and my needs first. He has defied cultural expectations, embraced my family, loved me through thick and thin (I am not just referring to the dreaded “d word” here, but that, too), taught me to be kinder and more generous (I tell him almost daily that he is a lot nicer than I), and has supported me in every way. When I wanted to stay home with the kids, he found a way to pay the bills and never made me feel guilty. He is a mathematical wizard because we never went without, but I suspect he went without some sleep over the years. When I wanted to teach, he helped with the laundry and groceries on the weekend and bore up under my stressed out unreasonableness. He has never, not once, complained about a meal that I have made him, not even the sandy spinach incident of 2016. Through more surgeries than you can count (I was on a real streak of seven in seven years a while back), he has held my hand and held down the fort. I am grateful for the gift of a good marriage, but especially for him. Really, the guy deserves a medal. 

So aside from green beans and turkey, what else will be on my plate? A heaping helping of thanks. I hope your dish tastes as good as mine. (There will also be butternut squash rolls with so much butter and a little bit of a piece of pie (maybe a lot of a bit) because there are no carbohydrates on Thanksgiving because the pilgrims said so. Look it up. It’s a fact.)

The Diet Diaries. Entry #9. 

I have a good friend here in the Queen City who kindly plays the role of Joan Rivers for me. She is my fashion police with a wicked sense of humor, except she is kind and her face is original. “Events” and “Functions” and “Galas” have become a part of our Charlotte life, and they are still a new thing for me. I love them because I like nothing better than chit chat and meeting new people. I know, I’m weird. But as a newbie on the charity circuit, I really don’t want to commit a fashion faux pas that would detract from all of the witty repartee to be had at a table for ten in a ballroom. I often run an outfit or a dress by her to make sure it is appropriate and she responds with her always supportive thoughts and advice. It’s a good system. Today, she innocently sent me an email ad from Ann Taylor and suggested that I might like some of the styles shown. Ann Taylor. Not Lane Bryant, not Dress Barn Woman, not Moamar’s Caftan Bazaar. Ann Taylor. Ya feel me, fam? Ann Freaking Taylor.

My immediate reaction was, “Wow. These are such pretty clothes but they’ll never fit me and good heavens I can’t imagine going into that store with all of those pretty women and paying that price for a dress that I’ll be afraid to wear because it costs more than the rent on our first apartment and I would totally feel like Fudgy the Whale standing next to a kale salad if I even stepped foot in Ann Taylor so NO. Just NO.” And then I clicked the link. Many of those beautiful garments would fit me now. Gulp. And they are not really that expensive. Intriguing. I’ve spent as much from one of the online retailers that I favor (my bedroom is a far more comfortable dressing room than any store cubicle). And then it hit me. I’m “normal”.WTF.

 I have been here once before and it didn’t end well. I did not handle “normal” very well.  Dropping weight is easy, but dropping my armor is not. As long as I am defined by my weight, I don’t really have to worry about being noticed, being pretty, being judged by other women (surprising fun fact: some of us ladies are pretty bitchy), or even being spoken to sometimes. I can be the funny fat lady who has a great personality if you just get to know her, but otherwise you can skip on past her. If someone gets to know me, and likes me, I know it is genuine. Fat women don’t have to sift through potential friends because only genuine people take the time to get to know us. Really, it makes things easier. But, now, as I have achieved the typical American woman size 14, I am “normal”. How I look matters. People who meet me for the first time don’t just see an obese woman and then move their gaze on to someone else that does not make them feel pity or discomfort. They see me. 

Being as big as I recently was, have been before and may be again (I live in daily fear of gaining weight) is an eating disorder. No one wants to be obese and the reasons for obesity are as varied as the number of people who struggle. (What I can guarantee you is that being obese does not necessarily mean that someone is of lesser intelligence, slovenly, lazy or that he or she consumes mountains of food at each meal. That’s just not how it is. “My 600 lb Life” ranks right up there with “The Biggest Loser” as some of my most despised television shows. Reality, my ass. My Big Fat Ass.) I really can’t tell you why anyone else struggles with his or her weight. But, I know why I do. My fat is my chainmail. My food is my weapon and security. I am accustomed to navigating the world with a protective suit on and now that it is falling away, my nerves are exposed. It is freeing, but it is frightening. Now the real work begins. How do I live in this body? Can I cope with being “normal”? I have no answer for you, but I think it is good that I am asking the question this time. And I just may pop in to one of those stores for “normal” women and try something on. Imagine a thing like that. 


The Diet Diaries. Entry #8. 

September 7, 2016

This is starting to get tedious. Both the dieting and the blogging. Yes, yes, yes, it is a “lifestyle change”, I am “doing it for my health” and “salads taste good”. But, still, five months into this “lifestyle change”, it is not yet a habit but remains a horror. Science says it takes between 18 and 254 days to embed a new habit. Always the overachiever, I seem to require the full 254 days because I am 142 days into this living nightmare and the ghost of chocolates past (the bag of M&M’s from Easter 2015 that are still in my pantry) is calling my name. Another setback is my faded hope of Turkey Trotting (bye, bye stuffing dreams!). A torn meniscus and arthritic knees have me off the treadmill. Maybe I’ll walk it, and maybe I’ll just drink cinnamon apple sangria. We all know how this is gonna go down….I’m going to wash the punch bowl next week. 

But before we get too down in the mouth, or heaven forbid stuff it with Reese’s peanut butter cups, there is good news to share. First of all, I have a chin! Secondly, remember that airline seat that caused me to get my shit together and has haunted me like those clowns in South Carolina? It’s got inches to spare. And finally, you know how I’m not going to focus on pounds but rather “how I feel” (Hahahahaha! Oh boy, I crack myself up!)? There are fifty-one fewer of them. So, take that stale M&M’s! Your sweet siren song will not tempt me. Okay, it will. But, I can do this for ten more seconds.

The Diet Diaries. Entry #7. 

July 29, 2016

A few days ago, one of my dear Charlotte friends casually mentioned that her pectoral muscles hurt from weight lifting. The only weight I have lifted as of late is my bat wing arms while reaching for my iPhone. The only sore muscles I have are around my thumbs from texting and scrolling. 

Yowza, did her comment ever shine bright white lightning on my thunderous thighs. I am the perfect storm of middle aged spread and jiggle. As my husband likes to quote, “That must be jelly, cause jam don’t shake like that!” So, this jellya$$ (I think I just coined a new term) is kicking it up a notch. You know that gym membership we all pay for and look at guiltily when the money is debited every month? Well, I’m going to actually go. In about 10 minutes. No, for real. I’m gonna “Just do it!” (Thanks, Nike, goddess of the fleet footed!) And since public accountability is what holds my feet to the fire and treadmill (and I just bought some Nike shorts that will expose all of that aforementioned jiggle), I hereby pledge to run/walk/crawl/gasp the Charlotte Turkey Trot. WHO’S IN? Join me on race day (in Charlotte or your own hometown) and help me earn some stuffing and a piece or three of pie. #40down25togo #imsohungry #couchto5Kredux

The Diet Diaries. Entry #6.

July 13, 2016

I have been hesitating to update you, my dear faithful followers, because the world has gone to hell in a hand basket. (BTW, that phrase dates from mid-19th century America and the proverbial basket is the one in which heads are caught after meeting with a sharp guillotine. Thanks, Wikipedia! You never let me (or millions of high school students) down!) 

My thinking changed this morning and the catalyst was a soul satisfying breakfast with a delightful friend. We had a great conversation on a multitude of topics. There was laughter, a few tears, we solved some of the world’s problems and we talked about social media and how it is understood and used by three different generations: our parents, us and our young adult children. I reassessed my recent dearth of diet diaries. I believe that the best FB posts should be a̶l̶l̶ ̶a̶b̶o̶u̶t̶ ̶m̶e̶ lighthearted. Bring on your puppy pictures, vacation adventures, delicious dinner photos, babies, weddings and funny memes! I LOVE THEM ALL! And, in the spirit of keeping my FB timeline a positive space in the social media maelstrom, I will add the sixth installment of my diet progress to my digital footprint.


The Diet Diaries. Entry #5.

June 20, 2016

Eleven weeks. Seventy-seven days. No bread, no rice, no sugar, no fun. No poetry; my brain so fogged I’m barely able to compose prose. Woe be unto those who cross my path for I am vexed for lack of vittles! But, with the pain there is the proverbial gain (um, loss). I have not yet reached coach class nirvana nor the Valhalla of sizes without a “W” in them, but I do share the pride and pose of this sexy beast.