Trembling, as though Pennywise the Clown had suddenly appeared in my peripheral vision with his terrifying grin, I lifted first my right and then my left foot and stepped on the scale for the first time in six months. After I peeked for the briefest moment out of a half-closed eye, I sank to the floor, wishing for Pennywise to take me away, though I doubtful I would "float" given the appalling number that flashed before me in blue digital horror, burning the number into my brain. WHY WON'T IT STOP FLASHING? I shouted in my head. As the scale went dark, I wept and the anger at how out of control my life had become all flooded out my eyes. I can't even bring myself to type the number here, so you'll have to use your imagination.
The number showed that I've gained 20 pounds since summer. Twenty pounds. Two-zero pounds. I've had a lifelong struggle with my weight, from about age 15 when my whole life turned upside-down after my dad left for work one day and never came back, and I began eating my feelings (I KNOW! That was 30 years ago - get over it). I remember, vividly, shopping with my mother two years later as a high school senior to purchase a dress for a winter dance. I had to get a size 8 - which isn't even that big - and she looked at me sadly, remarking, "Don't you wish you were thin and pretty like your friends?" I pretty much stopped eating after that, then ate again, then stopped, then ate all the fat and calories. Through the next three decades, I've gained and lost the same 75 pounds over and over again, through various means. The most effective diet was the "divorce diet," during which the stress of starting my life over with three kids and no job caused my weight to plummet in a matter of months. I looked great for about twenty minutes, then it all started creeping back on. I'm still waiting to reach my lifelong goal of being so thin people worry I have an eating disorder.
I'm not stupid. I know what causes fatness. But I fool myself every time I lose weight into thinking that, this time, I won't gain it back - much the same way I fool myself every few years into growing my hair out, thinking that this time it'll look like Jennifer Aniston's. And every time, it creeps back on, and I find myself weighing more than some male professional athletes, decidedly without the muscle tone, athletic talent, and salary. The self-loathing and feeling like I don't want to leave my house and subject others to the horror of looking at my body sets in. I feel like I should apologize and offer eye-bleach when I leave the room.
This time, I'm trying the Beachbody program, after a convincing coworker talked me into it. I did a 3-day reset thing, and currently suffer the humiliation of working out at home where my family can watch. In the last 10 days, I have lost a few pounds. I've eaten no carbs, processed food or sugar, and I haven't bought a Party Size bag of Wavy Lay's (my weakness) and consumed 2/3 of the bag on the way home from the store. I've made shakes and eaten a lot of salad. I feel much better - even my back, which has plagued me with degenerative discs of late - and more awake than I have in a long time.
Will this time be the time that changes my ridiculous emotional relationship with food? I hope so. At age forty-seven, there's not a lot of time left for me to fool around with it. I'm putting this out there to beg anyone reading this for some support, and if you see me with a cupcake in hand, PLEASE slap it away and say, "NO, Fat Girl!" You'll be doing me, and the unfortunates who have to look at me, a favor.
Courtney is a most fabulous writer and teacher of gifted middle school students. She is the author of two novels - see the "Cate Books" page of this site for information! Watch for updates about future books that need to be part of your personal library. In the meanwhile, enjoy her pithy life observations.