Monday, April 11, 2016

I am FAT - I'm Trying to Be OK Being Obese

Most of my life, I've been thin. My mother was a national beauty queen and spent much of my life growing up judging beauty pageants. She was often on a diet and would do "shake" diets to get in shape for reunions of the beauty pageant when they would fly the past winners in for the latest national contest. 

My mother also acted and sang and put us into commercials, choirs, modeling and even a few times had us read for movie parts. We had a commercial actually filmed at our house once when I was a teenager. My mother was always seeking attention in the world. She had each of her daughter compete in a beauty pageant. 

I guess that is why when I had my girls, people would suggest I get them into child modeling or put them in children pageants, I would shudder at the thought as I see that in many ways it ruined my mother. 

Having been an actress when she was a child, a radio start when she was a bit older and then an actress, singer and beauty queen later and having competed in her first pageant and modeling classes when she was about 15, my mother learned how to get attention at an early age. 

My father was a triplet, an identical twin and a fraternal twin in the same birth. He also got lots of attention growing up. So, him marrying someone that would also give him attention made sense. Growing up in that environment with so much emphasis on what other people thought could have had a disastrous outcome on my sisters with eating disorders etc but we grew up healthy and fine, or so I thought.

Growing up, I was very active. I was on the all-star softball team at 11, gymnastics before that, Basketball team that won the championship, track team in Jr. High, Drill Squad in high school and if I ever wanted to lose weight that I didn't want, I would stop eating sugar for a month or two and would slim right down to thin.  

Even after five children, I was able to thin down without much effort on my part keeping attractive to the world standards. 

When in my teens, my father would often say, "Did you gain weight?" or "Did you lose weight?" as he said he could see it in my cheeks. It would only be about five pounds but he could always tell and would comment on it. 

About ten years back, we were camping and my entire family was there taking a hike to some petroglyphs and my dad made a comment in front of all my siblings as my brothers had the "middle age spread" and my dad said, "What has happened to my kids, (my name) is the only one in shape." 

Truly, I was thin! I was raising five kids and had gone through years of divorce, supreme court case, flooding, etc. I was thin but I was NOT in shape. How does that affect my relationship to my siblings? 

I have to say here that my father wasn't trying to hurt anyone intentionally but he has been an avid hiker his entire life and has never struggled with weight. If he put on a few pounds, he would just hike more or skip sugar. Guess we know where I got my diet skills. 

My mother, many times after I was married, would introduce us at parties and things to her friends. More than once she would introduce the kids and then get to me and say, "This is my daughter (my name), isn't she beautiful, she is a nurse, her husband is a ...." when she would just name and point to the other kids. 

It wasn't that I was any more beautiful or better looking than my siblings as we all look similar, it was that I was THIN! I would get so upset and tell her not to introduce us but she cared so much about getting attention that she didn't realize that my success, or being thin, giving her a smidge of attention, was hurting her other kids and my relationship with them.

My former spouse has always been thin and would often make comments about others being "heifers," "pigs," and would call me "Bessie the milk cow" at times. It was VERY important to him that I looked "good" so that he looked good. I saw that example in my parents and so that was "normal" to me.   
When I went to the second Dr. trying to figure out what parasites I had about 1 1/2 years ago, he walked in and had no idea who I was. We had been friends and worked together for years. He took about 25 seconds to recognize me while I talked to him before he said, "I didn't recognize you, you have gotten really heavy." Yes, that was the reason I was there. 

Two years before, I did the "healthy town challenge" and dieted, worked out daily and ate NO sugar and didn't cheat and I gained weight! I didn't know back then that my body was starving due to parasites but imagine my stress knowing that I couldn't lose weight! No matter what I did! Also, come to realized with my third Dr. that my thyroid wasn't working and that also doesn't help but I also think that is related to the parasites (click here for that post).

Two years before that, I wanted to lose weight and I exercised, didn't eat sugar and basically slept the rest of the day because I was so tired. I did lose weight but had no energy to do anything else in my life for a few months. I couldn't keep it up but at least I could lose weight back then.

It is sad to me but I realize the more weight I gain, the worse I feel about myself. I am an amazing person who has raised five amazing daughters, maintained a home, paid off said home, given service to community, church and family often and for some reason, I can't get past my weight! I had an awards dinner for Princess Four this past week and due to the stress and lack of sleep when my mother was here for three months, I gained 15 lbs. I had maintained my weight for nearly a year on thyroid medication but am still tired all the time. 

If you notice, I hardly ever post pictures of me anymore on my blog because I hate looking at them. I don't feel healthy, I am tired all the time, I have headaches with every storm, I don't sleep well with parasites waking me at night and then I can't get back to sleep. It is hard to feel good when you are tired and don't feel good. I haven't bought new clothes since my mother was here so everything is now tight. I hate going anywhere because the only thing I feel comfortable wearing is my huge sweat pants. 

I lead the music in my congregation at church and am in the front every week. I only have a few skirts that fit and I am not at "home" in my own body as I have never been fat before so it is new to me. I am over 100 lbs beyond where my all time pregnancy high was. 

If you view the top video, it is some wonderful quotes by an overweight actress and comedian whom I respect as she allows herself to be herself and people love her for that. I find myself having to explain to friends and family about why I am so heavy and feel like I have let everyone down because I can't be skinny. 

The next video is a social media experience where they got a girl on a dating site and made her fat. Four of five guys got up and walked away and she was nice to them. 

They did the same thing with a fat man and none of the women walked away and he was trying hard to offend them. I went dancing a few years back and men who fawned over me a few years before would hardly say "hello" because they were worried if they hang out with a fat girl, they may not attract the pretty girls. When I was thin and going regularly, they liked hanging out with me because it made them look good. I have known these men for over ten years and was really hurt by how some of them treated me because I had gained weight as they had all gained some over the years or lost hair and it wouldn't occur to me to not be their friend due to either of those things. It is how most men are. One guy actually asked me to be his "arm candy" and "trophy wife" when we went out a few times. Men like a woman that makes them look good. Women just want security for the most part. 

I remember many years back while taking a potty break while dancing and I asked a woman in the rest room how she could be wearing a sweater at the dance as it was so hot. She said, "Your only hot because you get asked to dance." I had NEVER EVER thought about any other women there not getting asked to dance. It hadn't occurred to me as I had a group of friends and we would just go out and dance and if I stood on the sideline for more than a song, I would go find someone I knew to dance with but most of the time, I would get asked to dance as I am a good dancer but more truth, I was thin.

We as a country place so much emphasis on thin as beautiful for women that for those of us who aren't thin, it is damaging to the self esteem. I overheard my father asking why my sister had gained so much weight when she visited last year. Ummm, she is a single mom, going to school and trying to keep afloat with constant court battles. He really is a wonderful dad but it is just how our society and most men think. 

They don't have to deal with hormone changes, pregnancy fat and fluctuations in clothes and size. It seems to me, the more children a woman has, the larger she is. I think it messes with your thyroid and hormones and it is harder to lose. Also the more children, the more stress. Stress and cortisol play a huge part in weight. I think my stressful marriage and then very stressful divorce, house floods etc gave me more stress than I can handle and my body is just done.

There is a girl that is the daughter of a friend and she has always struggled with weight as her father is large and her mother is thin. Yet, she "owns it" and is always taking pictures of herself and she always looks adorable, made up, hair done and cute outfits. For some reason, I can't "own it." 

The heavier I get, the worse I feel physically and it is really hard to do things when my lungs are damaged and I wheeze running up the stairs. The thought of working out makes me want to cry. I mowed the lawn and did about four hours yard work cleaning out the front garden beds and was so tired I did NOTHING the next day. I nearly fainted while working in the yard and felt like I should stop but pushed myself as the garbage men were coming the next morning and I wanted to fill up the cans. I have always pushed myself to get things done by pulling all nighters and working through but I can't do it anymore.

So, today, I realized I can't do anything about where I am at right now. Dieting and exercise make me gain weight, I only have a small amount of energy so have to choose what I will spend it on and usually that is supporting Princess Five, my mother or the other girls as needed. I can only take a small amount of thyroid meds as I get "toxic" on it and swell up so am taking half the lowest pill. I have parasites that are virtually unknown in humans and until I can get science to catch up or find a miracle cure, I am where I am! 
Like I said in the title, I am TRYING to be OK with who I am. I remember back when my children were little. My mother-in-law was visiting and we took the kids to a water slide. She refused to get in a suit and play with them because she was a little bigger than she wanted to be but not huge. My mother went to that same water-slide weighing probably 100 lbs more than my in-law and got into a suit and went down the water-slide with my kids and they all had a great time. My mother didn't say a word about her weight and neither did anyone else. 

I realize that I am the one making a big deal of my weight. My kids love me for who I am, not how much I weigh. Today, Princess Five was with me while I was visiting some women who were sick after church and as I walked back to the car where she was waiting, she said, "You are so beautiful momma." I asked why she said that and she said, "The wind was blowing your hair and you are so beautiful!"  

At church today, I spoke and led the music. After the meeting a woman that looked familiar to me came up and said, "I am Julie, do you remember me?" I didn't at first but she said, "When I came to live with my in-laws a few years back, you were so friendly and you took me with you to the temple every week for a few months and I loved going and visiting with you and getting to know you. You are so beautiful and I just wanted to tell you "thank you" and was so happy you got up to speak and I got to see your beautiful face."  

It was right after I was pondering on writing this blog post tonight. Why do we judge ourselves so harshly and allow what some "haters" may say to effect how we see ourselves. The girls asked if I was going to go back online dating after Princess Five graduates and I have said, "I wouldn't want to marry me so why would I want someone that would?" How can I expect others to accept in me what I don't accept myself? I have to share that part of that is that I have parasites and don't want to marry someone and give it to them so it isn't all about weight but part of it is about my weight. 
I love that there are people out there who see past the waist line and the clothing size and I feel that God is giving me a lesson to not judge others. I used to think, "I have five kids and can loose the weight, why don't they lose it?" Now, I understand the they may be doing EVERYTHING in their power to lose it and it just isn't coming off. It is always interesting to me how God teaches us lesson on not judging. 

The hard part about that is, that now I am not judging others and always have an added measure of understanding why they are in the situation they are in, but what I can't seem to come up with is how to overcome judging myself. Even though I know I am doing everything I can taking care of my mother, children, home and church obligations, I can't seem to get over the fact that I feel like I am a failure somehow. 

I just have to get up each day and know that I am trying. I am trying to feel good about how crappy I feel. I am trying to be the best mom and grandma I can be. I am trying to keep up on my yard and house. I am trying to figure out these parasites not only for me but for my family and neighbors and the many people who continually contact me saying they have the same symptoms. I am trying to be the best me I can be with what I have been given. 

I wonder though, will trying ever be enough.......  The above picture is me 7 years ago on a trampoline and is who I feel I want to be..... The bottom picture is me today. This is who I am.....  Will it be enough????? 

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