Monday, December 8, 2008

My Life in Weight-the backstory

My Life in Weight:

The Backstory

I was underweight once in my life-the day I was born. I came six weeks early on March 25, 1971, weighing 4 pounds 14 ounces in Montreal, Quebec. My parents are not avid storytellers but I recall some of their accounts involving a Blizzard or a small snowstorm. I stayed in the hospital for two weeks to learn how to eat. There are days I wish I could invoke the desire to not eat. Plus, the idea of my baby self as an anorexic cracks me up. How ironic.(It does fuel a theory of mine that we grow up to emulate the opposite of our baby selves.) My sister, who you will meet later , weighed in around 8 or 9 pounds.

Harriet Shulkin was a skinny girl and a skinny woman. Then she spent nine weeks on her back trying to keep me from sliding out. Leonard was a roly-poly boy whose gentle touch warmed my mothers heart. He helped her carry groceries up the stairs. He grew to be a fat man, a happy fat man.

Marcie, my sister, was adopted before I was born. My mother had been unable to carry a baby to term and she worked for a lawyer. Back in 1969, governments hadn’t sunk their bureaucratic teeth into adoption, they had bigger problems. Before men landed on the moon, my parents carried 5 day old Marcie onto a train in Toronto bound for Montreal. Two years and two months later, I followed. Marcie, I am told, bit my big toe the day I arrived home. Another irony since it was I who spent childhood jealous of my big sister. She may have been envious of attention, but I desired her clothes, her friends, and her minuscule appetite.

When Jordache Jeans rose to prominence my parents-trying to give us what we needed to survive the social land-mines- packed us into the station wagon. Marcie slid on the skinny jeans. The Children’s Place deemed me to fat for the pant. My mom took me to JcPenny’s for sturdy ‘elastic waist’ fashion. A year later I grew too big for all kid sizes. My dad termed my ‘fat pants’ size OX.

In High School I weighed over 150 and measured 5 feet. I, like my father, was a fat little girl and grew to be a fat woman. My father nourished my love of food. Teenage social life in Florida handed me some lemons, so Daddy and I ordered cheeseburgers...and ate them, at Burger King. I was the only kid in West Palm Beach who could eat a Whopper with Cheese and a large ketchup with fries. I have the best Dad, but he did send some mixed messages. Eat the burger, eat the fries, but no dessert for you. You need to watch your weight.

My graduation photo from Nursing School shows a gigantic Heather. The first year of school, I had to wear a dress and extra Queen size white hose because they didn’t have my size in the pants. I spent two-thirds of my nursing career in extra large scrubs.

I can summarize my twenties with two words: depressed yo-yo. I did earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Arts and graced the stage, but other than that it was up and down. By graduation in 2001 I weighed a whopping 230 and nothing could satisfy my hunger.

The change that emerged in the hippy, veggie loving town of Asheville, North Carolina rose to fruition in New York City in 2003. The light went on and I stopped eating crap. There was a book, Conversation’s with God, that helped me sort out my spiritual side. And then a photo which made the disconnect in my brain evident. I really did want to make my outside match my inside. My dog, removed from his backyard, needed to run. Also, I liked climbing rocks and mountains; ninety pounds of blubber made the trip difficult. I removed 70 pounds on my own, by healthy exercise and a vegan diet.

Enter Extreme Makeover, a Television show centered around a person receiving a ‘fairy-tale’ makeover with plastic surgery. Producers said I excelled at being ‘average looking with a great personality.’ I had one Summer of 2004 and it changed my life...for a while. I went to LA wearing size 12 and came home a size 6. I got whiplash. I couldn’t process the change and my lipid tinted eyes couldn’t see the skinny.

In the last four years, I vacillated between 150-180. I allowed myself the luxury of gastronomic peace. I didn’t have to worry, spinach and tofu would satiate my bottomless hunger forever.

Can I get back to 136 pounds? I doubt it? That took severe caloric restriction, I don’t want to stay at 180 either. My ski-pants wont fit and I can’t afford a new pair. Guess I have to find someplace in the middle.

Join me on the journey...

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