Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Cold, Hard Facts?

"I hate to burst your bubble, but you ain't never gonna be the way you was back then."

This was the jokingly friendly greeting I got upon my arrival to Senior Water Aerobics class on Friday.  My classmate friend had just read my last blog post and watched my 20-Minute Workout video before coming to class.  She laughed as she let me know that "gravity" had taken it's toll on all of us and we're destined to remain in the shape we're in now.  I smiled and told her that "my bubble had been burst long ago," and I reminded her that I'd be happy just to get down a pant size!
(As you can see, I need to get down at least a pant size)

The truth is, trying to lose weight has always been a struggle for me.  Back before the 20-Minute workout days, before folks talked about anorexia/bulimia, I was a part-time bulimic for awhile.  I knew there was something wrong with my closeted bingeing and purging, but when I read someone's letter to Ann Landers, I realized I had a potentially serious problem.  I hadn't known there was a name for my condition, or that anyone else had discovered my secret method for weight management.  It was 1979, I was 21 years old, a student in the dance program at Cal State Fullerton, and I believed that I was too heavy to be a dancer, but that didn't keep me from eating.  I went through fast food drive-thrus on a regular basis, loaded up on junk food, got depressed and upset, and forced myself to throw up soon after.  When I finished reading the letter to Ann Landers, and her supportive response, I walked straight to a local  athletic store and bought myself a pair of bright yellow Nike running shoes and started jogging.  My logic was that I could eat like a pig, if I  exercised more.

But it wasn't until 1981, when I was introduced to Karen Voight's intense aerobic class by my long-time pal, Brian, that I completely kicked the bulimic habit.  Aerobic classes were definitely a healthier obsession, and when I worked out strenuously, I could eat whatever I wanted (I'm sure my youth had something to do with this).  Somehow along the way, I overcame my eating disorder without therapy by reciting the following mantra whenever the urge struck:  "if you're gonna eat like a pig, you must suffer your consequences."  

By the time I was cast in the 20-Minute Workout, I was working out five hours a day!  Still, even at my smallest, I felt that I was bigger than the other girls on the show, and was self-conscious about my weight.  At my lowest, I weighed 116, (and that only showed up on the scale one day during 1984).  In general, my weight seemed to waver around 125, and I was a medium, not a small.

Now, I'm an extra large!  And this crept up on me slowly over the course of several years.  Maybe it is gravity!  Or hormones.  Or metabolism.    But I suspect it's because I stopped working out the way I used to (hell, I stopped workout out entirely!), while continuing to eat the way I was used to.

Since 2009, I've tried several dietary approaches:  I've been a vegan, then a vegetarian; I've avoided gluten, and limited my sugar, and yet I can't seem to get the weight off.  I have women friends here in Nashville who are slim and fit, and they all have something in common: they exercise regularly and vigorously in addition to eating less.  

So, no, I may never get back to where I once was, but I'm convinced:  I won't get anywhere if I don't exercise--daily and diligently.  


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  2. Holly, as that 102 pound (my heaviest weight in college), skinny, flat-chested girl across the room at MJC and across the stage at Modesto Light Opera, how I wish I had told you then how I envied your figure! I was sick of the years of being teased for being too skinny (something no one could possibly call me now) and I thought you looked perfect. How did our self-images get so skewed? I remember when I was a little girl, and my mother a beautiful woman who had recently helped run a modeling agency in LA, Twiggy hit the scene - and suddenly my size 10 mother was convinced she was fat. Granted, 10s then were probably bigger than they are now, but something was seriously wrong. I try my hardest to not pass this down to my daughter, but it is really hard. I had to throw the scale in the bathroom away when my nine year old daughter was weighing herself three times a day. Than you for sharing so much of your struggle - you are an inspiration!

    I do have to admit a long-standing addiction to Jack-in-the-Box tacos formed during those college years has finally been broken. I am eating plant strong these days, walking, and doing Pilates.

  3. Thank you for your candidness, Holly! It makes me feel freer about embracing my own weight issues without shame or self-loathing.


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