Tuesday, December 29, 2009

the weighty history - from soup to nuts

I was totally normal in both shape and weight until puberty. I have (actually my parents still have) an old photo of me at about 8, and I can see knobby suntanned ankles. I love that photo.

After puberty, my ankles just disappeared. I didn't really notice until a boy at judo class asked me why I didn't have any. Up to that point, it wasn't something I thought about. After that, it was all I thought about. My weight was normal but I didn't ever feel OK. I never felt just HOT. I was beautiful....BUT. I think it was all my mother thought about too. She talked about it constantly and criticized me constantly. You know....oh you'd be so pretty if ONLY you could slim down your legs. She was a food nazi, and no matter what I did, how much exercise I did, how little I ate, it wasn't enough. There was always something that I just wasn't doing right, and if I just did something else, then I would be acceptable in her eyes.

I forgave my mother a long time ago. She was only doing what she thought best. Now she has Alzheimers and can no longer identify a banana. Really.

My weight continued to be within the normal range. I was around 118-126 lbs for my young adult life, and I skiied cross country and was very fit. Then, I got the adult form of whooping cough and was really sick for a while. I lost a lot of weight, but hey, guess what??? The legs stayed big. My cheekbones were sharp enough to slice butter, but no ankles had come into view. Bugger.

This photo was taken when I was 21, in 1981. Check the hair style. No one would ever guess that this girl had fat legs and only felt good when no one could see them. For that reason, I always loved ball gowns.

When I got pregnant with my first child I was 29 and weighed 135 lbs. I put on a chunk of weight, but I lost it straight away. A couple of years later I got pregnant again but this time I didn't lose it so quickly but eventually it came off. With my last pregnancy, I felt really well. I swam a km nearly every day. I walked and did maternity yoga. I had the easiest pregnancy and birth ever. Afterwards,however, it was a different story. I was breastfeeding, exercising, watching what I ate, and the weight was going in the wrong direction. I was cold all the time, and exhausted beyond all reasoning. Oh, and my pulse?? My resting pulse rate was 40 bpm. I got a referral to an endocrinologist.

He did one test, didn't examine me, or ask me anything. He informed me that my thyroid function was normal. All I needed to do, in his illustrious opinion, was to "step away from the trough, and get on the stepper". I felt like I had been spat upon. I wanted to slap his arrogant face, but of course i didn't. I just retreated and didn't go near another doctor again for years. All these years later it still makes me angry.

My first marriage started its slow decline just about when my second daughter was born in 1992. It finally bit the dust in 1999, when my youngest was 4. By that time I was huge. I'm only 5'4" but I weighed in at 232 at my largest. The weird thing is though, that if anyone had seen a picture of my face, they never ever would have guessed that I carried any extra weight at all. My face never got fat. In some ways though, it allowed me to kid myself. I could look at myself in the mirror and never acknowledge that the rest of me didn't match. Denial is a tricky beast.

I started losing weight in 2001. Oh God, I worked so hard. I had not been back to get a second opinion on the thyroid issue, but I was working, working, working. Every pound that came off had been worked for.

I met my wonderful husband in 2001. He was in the US and I was in Australia, but against all the odds we got together. I moved to the US and we got married in November, 2002. By the time we married I was down to 184lbs. I went to a new doctor who was recommended to me by friends. She did a number of tests and said, "this explains your weight gain" I told her that I had actually lost over 40 lbs and she gave me the longest look and held my hands in hers and said" oh my dear, you must have worked so very hard". I felt like crying.

I was put on thyroid meds, but it took a long time to get it to anywhere near the proper level. Eventually I got down to 166 lbs. Then, at the beginning of 2008, I accepted a full time substitute teaching position because my childrens' math teacher had lost her mind and was in the loony bin. I was teaching high school algebra and geometry and it was really stressful. My thyroid got waaaay out of whack, but I didn't really put everything together. I ought to have, but I didn't. By the end of the semester my weight had gone up to 181. It was the first time I'd been over 179 in 4 years. I joined Sparkpeople to use their tools, but still, the weight didn't move. I was recording every morsel I ate. I was exercising every day. Nothing. Nada. It was so discouraging.

In July 2009, I decided to to and see the University of Nevada weight control folks. It was touted as being medically supervised, which means to me that someone might have a clue. I knew that something was off, but I didn't know what to do. I printed out the food and exercise diaries I had been faithfully keeping. I trotted off to Reno with a smile on my face and hope in my heart. I described what i had been doing. The doctor nodded and glazed over. They sent me off for a battery of blood tests. My sugar levels, triglycerides and cholesterol levels were a work of art. My bad cholesterol is low, my good ones are high. My blood pressure is 100/70. All fabulous. Then they did this awful test to measure my Resting Metabolic Rate. I had to sit quietly with a peg on my nose and breathe into a device that made me feel like I was drowning. The nutritionist sat and watched me, and then when it beeped to indicate completion, she had a look, said "Oh, that CANNOT be right" and made me do it again. And again. And again. And again.I did that frigging test 5 times.

By this time, my beloved had become worried and had come looking for me. We sat there and listened while she told me that the tests had revealed that my body burns calories at the rate of 840 per day. Given my weight and age it ought to have been about 1500 cals. She had NO clue and no explanation. She was just going to send me off with a diet plan written for a 1200 cal diet. HUH??? I had been eating this for months. I KNOW what a healthy diet entails. The doctor called me the next day and just blew me off. Maybe it was my experience with the first doctor all those years ago, but i just kind of blamed myself and gave up.

So, here i am. I weigh 202 lbs as of this morning. My husband, who is so loving and supportive, is helping me research options. He thinks I need to do something different and is willing to go into bat for me. It's mad, but I still feel that if I work hard enough, and try long enough, I will have the results to show for my efforts.
Last night I did the Biggest Loser cardio DVD. I did it for the first time last week, and it kicked my butt. The movements aren't difficult, but oh man, when I was done, everything I have was quivering. I hurt the next day - quite badly. It cracks me up though. I watch the people to see how to co-ordinate things, but everyone is doing something different. Bob just yells, "It's OK just KEEP MOVING", and so I do.
This morning I walked Gizmo, and did a yoga workout. It felt good.

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