Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Women & Food

Women talk about food a lot. My students (20-somethings) always seem to be talking about what they are going to be eating next and reflecting on what their previous meals were like. Today I went to the UPS Store to express-mail something and the all-female staff was discussing getting Subway for lunch. It was just past 11:30 a.m.

My sister-in-law Emily and I have discussed this phenomenon. It seems even skinny women think and talk about food. Perhaps even more feverishly than women who struggle to maintain their weight. Perhaps skinny women (like my young students) have more to lose (or gain!) by gaining weight. I used to be one of those skinny gals. Of course I thought I was overweight; par for the course these days, right? I remember the terrible sense of failure and self-loathing when a pair of pants suddenly seemed a wee bit tight. The awful punch-in-the-gut sensation upon hearing a family member or friend I hadn't seen in a while say: "Girl, you've put on some weight!"

Here is a list of the diets and weight loss cycles I have put myself through:

Age 17 -- sensible three meals, no desert, no soda, few carbs (felt I only needed to lose a few pounds)
College -- The breakfast-only diet, with aerobics in the evenings (lost probably about 15 pounds or so) ALSO, the cookie diet, surviving on the oatmeal cookies my roommates mother made. A couple of those in the morning and that was it. (Lost probably about 5 pounds or so).
Early 20's -- Jenny Craig. Lost 40 pounds. Kept it off for about a year. Jenny Craig again about two years later when I was engaged and getting ready for my wedding. Again lost about 40 pounds. Gradually gained weight through my mid-twenties as depression set in. Weight from size 10 to 12, 14, 16.
Late 20's -- sensible three meals (Lean Cuisine and yogurt for lunch, for example) and walking 30-40 minutes each day. Don't know how much weight I lost, but friends and co-workers noticed the change. This lasted maybe six weeks. Soon after...
Also Late 20's Weight Watchers -- lost maybe 20 pounds but fell off the wagon when my meetings (in a beautiful old mansion by the lake) moved to a generic Weight Watchers Center and my leader changed. Size 16 to 18.
Mid-30's -- Weight Watchers again. Great meeting, great leaders. Lost 45 pounds, back to size 16. Yay! This lasted until just after I got married about a year later. Tough period emotionally. Up to size 20.
Late 30's -- Slim Fast, only lasted a week. Hated it. ALSO, Nutrisystem. Again about a week. Hated it.

Now at age 39... I weigh about 320 pounds, that's size 22-24. Most of my shoes are extra-wide and have to be ordered from catalogs.

I need to lose about 160 pounds, according to the needs of my body (height, age, etc.) This will put me at about a size 14. People always tell me my appearance doesn't match my actual weight, so perhaps I will look like a size 12? Ha ha!

About the protein/liquid regime. Yesterday was tough. I made it through the entire day, but when I tried to fall asleep about midnight the hunger set in big time. I lost control and ate an Amy's Kitchen Organic Breakfast Burrito and a cinnamon raisin bagel with nothing on it. These are the last edible things in my apartment aside from the protein drinks and cans of broth. I had three cans of broth yesterday -- 2 Campbell's chicken, which were pretty delicious and comforting, and one Swanson's beef which was bland.

The clinic I am working with requires this regime for two weeks (!) before surgery. It's supposed to shrink the liver to allow the surgeon better access to the stomach. I can't help but wonder, if I eat at least one high protein meal/low carb/low fat a day will that sink my surgery? I am afraid to ask the clinic in case they decide I am not fit for the procedure, willpower-wise.


  1. I see so much of me in you!! Ok, you did NOT "lose control" and eat a burrito. Your body, you smart, smart body, overuled your mind-imposed diet and fed itself. Bodies need food to work. I've learned that the hard way. It seems that in your life you've eaten lots of non-foods (frozen foods, diet foods, canned foods) that left your smart body hungry for nourishment. There's a reason we gain weight after our diets. Our bodies are replenishing after the period of famine and starvation. I don't want to rant on your blog comments. Let me just say how smart YOU are. You come across as articlulate, funny and sensitive. Please nourish your body. Don't end up in a wheelchair like me 3 years out from my gastric bypass (and NO those packaged bariatric shakes are no replacement for real food). I'm so so sorry for all your troubles. You deserve to be happy and healthy!!

  2. Every surgeon is different and asks different things of you. I don't think you lost control either. In 2 weeks, food will be the last thing on your mind. :-)