I began to relax and clear my mind by my usual method, and went to my sacred space (that place inside your mind that is like your own personal Club Med). There, I called for the Old Wise Woman to come to me.
Now, the Old Wise Woman, you might think of Her as my "Higher Self," or as a "Guide" or perhaps the Goddess Herself. In a way, She is all three. I first met Her in meditation about 15 years ago. I asked Her if She were the Goddess. She answered, "I am the part of Her that is part of you." Whatever you decipher that to me, She is the one I look for when I have problems and seek answers to tough questions.
So I called to the Old Wise Woman, and She came down the path as usual. And I told Her I needed to figure out some of the moments in my life that helped set me on this path to the point I have come to (375).
And She took me by the hand in some kind of Ghost-of-Christmas-Past type journey through my life.
Issues #1 - 12: My parents & my childhood diet. Yikes, my parents. Did they just set me on the wrong course from the start... soda pop like water. Oreo cookies for breakfast. Not just a few cookies-- one whole sleeve of the 3 packaged sleeves that come in the box. That's like 20 cookies. Another popular breakfast: graham crackers, evolving to half a box at a sitting. Midnight snacks: more cookies, ice cream, soda, etc., every night, because my mother thought you shouldn't go to bed hungry. This was all before I was even 8 years old. The issue is not that they fed me snacks, but that there was practically no limit to junk and sweets.
To top it off, meals were not at all healthy. Large portions of protein, often fried, and really big portions of carbs laden with fat and salt. Lots of fried stuff. Their idea of a vegetable was a can of corn dripping with butter and mashed potatoes along side your deep fried chicken cutlet. Lots of cold cuts. Lots of mayo. Lots of fast food. Lots and Lots and Lots of pasta. Huge portions. Ever growing. No limits.
The extent of actual vegetables I ate: occasional (once a week or so) salad consisting of iceberg lettuce, cucumber and tomato, or just cuke & tomato with oil. Occasional tomato on sandwiches. Occasionally, I ate spinach, the one green vegetable I like, but my mother fries it with about 1/4 cup of vegetable oil & garlic. The spinach soaked up all the oil. And I liked to crunch on carrot sticks sometimes.
Okay, I think you get the picture. 'Nuff said.
Issues #13: eating for attention. I loved attention. Part of it is, well, I'm a Leo. Partly maybe it's because my parents sometimes gave me too much and I became addicted to it, or partly because sometimes they gave me far too little and I starved for it, but I ate a lot for attention.
Let me elaborate. I was a skinny little girl with a huge appetite. People somehow found this amusing. So when I'd eat a lot, they'd "Oooh," and "wow" and "look at how this little girl can eat!!!" And they'd say I had some healthy appetite, and must have a fast metabolism and offer me more.
And I liked the attention. Sometimes I'd stuff myself beyond comfort for more of the attention.
Also, if my mom was busy, or my aunts were visiting, one of the greatest ways to get one of these Italian women who loved to feed people to give you attention was to tell them you were hungry.
Issue #14: Ignoring body cues. Not only was I aways offered bigger portions, but my mother would always say things like, "it's jsut a little left, why don't you just finish it?" instead of letting me learn to listen to my natural body cues. So I became pretty deaf to my body cues, if I ever had any (I don't remember). I got into the habit of "you eat till all the food is gone" compounded by the habit of "always cook for an army." Two bad habits that when they go hand-in-hand can be quite destructive to one's womanly figure.
Issue #15: Bad Food Habits. Food as the ultimate reward or consolation prize for anything and everything. Feeling bad? Have a cookie. Feeling good? Go get a treat. Sad? Some ice cream will cheer you up. Lonely? Bored? Have a sandwich, it'll keep you company and give you something to do.
I carried this over from childhood into adulthood, realizing that EVERYTHING in life has come to revolve around food. No freakin' joke! Consider these:
- a holiday is coming. What shall we eat? We should bake. We should make our traditional favorites, and some new stuff. Lets make enough for lots of leftovers. We should do a nice breakfast or brunch early before we start cooking for the holiday meal!
- Wanna go bowling? Yes! And lets get some cheese fries and cherry Pepsi! Staple bowling foods!
- How 'bout a movie? Okay. Lets hit the concession stand. If you get an extra-large popcorn, and an extra-large soda, they let you refill them as much as you want.
- What do you say we go for a walk in the park? Sure. I'll pack a picnic lunch. How about some chocolate covered strawberries, they're in season. Fried chicken. Biscuits. Cole slaw. This rocks, we should have done this yesterday.
- Ummm, the beach, then? You know it! I love the beach! I love to swim. I love to lay in the sand. We should bring some pork and barbecue!
- Err, how about just doing some shopping instead? Excellent-- I know a great little coffee shop with the best maple walnut scones! Perfect for a shopping break!
- On final thought, let's just stay in. Maybe watch a movie. Sure. Let's stop for some pizza on the way home. How about Doritos and a Pepsi? Or make ice cream shakes.
Issue #16: Sexual Abuse. Yes. Ongoing. Starting at about age 6. I will have to reserve details for later because it's difficult to write about. I read somewhere that women who were sexually abused as children subconsciously put on weight because on some level they want to be unattractive in hopes that no one will try to take advantage of them. I don't know about that... but the Old Wise Woman did say that it was a blow to my confidence and self-esteem. This led me to always be too hard on myself, but also to give up on myself too quickly. I was not able to accept or love myself for a long time (maybe 15 or 20 years) after the abuse happened. I wanted to care, but couldn't. Also the stress probably triggered my neurotransmitter deficiency to first begin kicking in, which is genetic, but is exacerbated by stress. I have to think more on this one. This one is a tough one. I'm not sure if I'm completely over this, but then I wonder how do you get over something like that? What does it feel like to be over it? I mean, I get on. But I must admit, it still haunts my dark dreams occasionally.
Issue #17: Genetics & hormones. If I had been brought up in a family with better, healthier eating habits and attitudes, or if I could have gotten control of myself at an earlier age, things might have not gotten so bad. As it was, I had both the genetic factor and the environmental factor working against me. Hormones, she said, also played a part... puberty was when I first began putting on weight, and most of the weight I gained after that came after (not during) my 3 pregnancies. I have to look up the connections between hormones and weight gain.
Issue #18: Physical Limitations. I've had a few times in my life when I have been unable to move. I was once rear-ended in a car, my back was injured and I was laid up for almost a year. In the last 10 years, I've had allergy-sparked pneumonia that laid me up each time for four or five months, unable to breathe-- let alone move. I was at one time more physcially fit, but these things led to my muscles getting flabby & me becoming more lethergic. It got harder to get back up and move after these bouts.
So there you have it... some of the things in my life that contribute to my current problem. I wouldn't say I'm looking to blame anyone, or scapegoats. I am looking for reasons why this current problem came to be so I can figure out the best course to overcome it. I know it's more complicated that just "putting down the food and getting up to exercise" -- as some say-- because if it were that easy I'd have been okay when I tried that over and over. I just was never able to keep it up for long. Maybe now, with some insight as to why it was so hard to keep it up, I can move on.
At least, I pray I can.