Saturday, July 11, 2009

Human Balloon

Friday arvo I caught a bit of Oprah while eating my lunch. Her guest was Kirstie Alley discussing her recent weight gain. It all came about earlier in the year when Oprah outed that she was once again struggling with her ballooning weight and was so ashamed that she'd let herself go there... AGAIN! Shortly after the show aired, Oprah received a sympathetic email from Kirstie, who was suffering the same fate. After her rather public battle of the bulge and her even more public signing on and dramatic weight loss with Jenny Craig, she'd let it all go. She had, 18 months later, piled every last kilo back on (plus a couple of extras for good measure). 
This time round Oprah has decided not to put undue pressure on herself and take it as a day by day battle. She has not given herself a time frame or a 'goal' weight and is trying to dissect and overcome why she continues to make the same mistakes time and time again. 
Kirstie on the other hand, is starting her own magical weight loss company, had already lost 20 pounds and was promising a public unveiling of her new ripped body in a bikini (much like the last time) in November - six months from then.
So, who has the right idea? Is it Oprah, trying to get to the root of the problem? Or, is it Quick Fix Kirstie "get me the fuck into a bikini now" Alley? Well, let me tell you my story and you be the judge...
It all started when I left high school... Actually, you know what? No, it didn't start when I left high school! It started loooooong before that - as I think it does for many young girls these days surrounded by images and expectations of what they should be and look like. Particularly because for the most part, the image portrayed as 'perfection' is totally unobtainable for 99.9% of us.  It's especially hard for those early developers - a crowd to which I belonged. 
Anyone who sprouted titties before hitting high school can tell you it's not fun! I was the oldest child and had no older sister to mould myself on... I was more immature than most my age - still am, I guess! Then (hard to believe) I was a shy, quiet, reserved child, trying miserably to hide my sporting of a bra (one of 3 girls in the entire school). This process involved wearing really thick t-shirts that you couldn't see through at all. The rule of thumb for the purchase of a new top was... if you can shine a torch through the material and see the light, it's not quite thick enough! I was also a dancer and spent most of my spare time in a leotard.. it's hard to hide your changing body with a skin tight piece of lycra wrapped around you! 
As I grew older, my body issues compounded. I thought my boobs were too big, my calves were huge, my arse and thighs could be slimmer and my belly would look good if only I could look as skinny as I did lying down. Looking back on photos of me back then, I think I was totally mad! I had a fucking killer rig and I'd give anything to get it back. But this is also a theme, and one that I'm not alone in (at least I don't think so).
So, I leave high school and have 3 or 4 months before I start Uni. I'd quit dancing in Year 12 because I had too many extra curricular activities with work, dancing and singing that one had to go. Instead of walking the few k's to school and back everyday, I'd walk to work once every week and I spent the rest of my time curled up on the couch with my boyfriend eating burger rings and drinking coke. I started to expand... it was a slow process and I didn't really notice too much. A couple of boyfriends later I moved out of home - that was when the real expansion took place. We didn't really cook... at all! KFC or pizza pretty much every night, lazing around watching TV, drinking and doing fuck all really. It was kind of a metaphor for my life at the time. I was having a pretty miserable go of it, got glandular fever (which made me even more lazy) and was not in the best relationship.
I think I hit around the 77 kilo mark which was about 12 kilo's more than I weighed in Year 12. I decided I was going to get my life back, so I bit the bullet and went to WW. As the kg's fell off, the confidence came back and eventually the boyfriend left with the 10 margarine containers of fat. I no longer needed either of them in my life.
The weight stayed off for a while, but once again came creeping slowly and before I new it I was back where I started... I think I've probably done this around 5 times.  I reach a goal that I've set for myself and somehow once I'm there I drop the ball.  
The last time I ballooned was a couple of years back.  I'd shed the kg's for my wedding and was feeling great.  Micko and I decided we needed a change and were planning to move back to Vic - to Barwon Heads while we considered our options.  In the 6 months following the wedding and the subsequent move to a much cooler climate I stacked on the kg’s BIGTIME!  I was soooo angry at myself for not learning my lesson again!  Why the hell did I do this to myself again?  It's not like I'm simple and can't work out what I'm doing wrong... I know the tricks to weight loss and more importantly how to keep it off bit here I am again, fat and unhappy!  
Weighing in at around 87 kilos, I was at my lowest ebb.  I decided to stop sitting on my fat arse, while it rapidly expanded, I had to get out there and work that fucker off!  I joined a small and friendly gym and soon realised that I really enjoyed working out!  I got a personal trainer, who I saw once a week, and started going every day (except for Sundays).  After 6 months, while my body had changed shape, I hadn't seen much in the way of weight loss.  I was feeling disappointed and decided a trip to the Docs was in order - just too make sure nothing was wrong.  
I'm not sure what it is about GP's but the vast majority seem to have zero interpersonal skills.  I turned up in this Docs office and explained my predicament... I was working out every day, for the most part I ate well and I was still not losing any weight.  I started bawling my eyes out while he sat there coldly looking at me.  He said I needed to have some tests done to make sure it wasn't my thyroid posing any problems and to come back once I'd had the tests.  Test results were all clear so the Doc prescribed me 'Reductil' - an appetite suppressant.  I thought that was a little strange and that he might have asked me to keep a food diary or something, but I took the prescription and had it filled.
Man, what followed was a fucking nightmare!  Side effects included major confusion, loss of decision making ability, crying at the drop of a hat and the least of my worries, a dry mouth. I've never really experienced depression but I imagine that these pills were making me suffer from it.  
It was the strangest feeling... I was never hungry but if I didn't eat anything for more than a few hours my brain would start going blank - like really blank.  Often, I could actually hear my stomach growling but couldn’t feel it!  At that point, the side effects would kick in and I'd start crying and couldn't decide what I should eat.   One time, Micko and I were shopping at Westfield in Geelong and I suddenly felt sick, like I needed to eat something.  I started to get all dizzy and sweaty - kind of like when I'm in a confined space (I'm a bit of a Claustro).  We made it to the food court and Micko asked 'what do you want to eat?'  I just burst into tears because I couldn't decide.  After 4 weeks, I went back to the Docs to check my progress.  I was weighed and guess what?  I hadn't lost a single gram!   I explained that I didn't think the pills were agreeing with me and told him of my side effects.  He just said 'That's strange.  Doesn't mention those in the literature'.  He increased the dosage.  
Initially I wasn't going to take the new pills, but I'd kind of gotten used to the others and I was suffering from the crazy side effects less and less every day.  I started the new bunch of the Friday before Micko's birthday.  My folks had organised a trip into Melbourne staying in a fancy hotel overlooking the Yarra and we were all going to see the Tiges play Geelong (destined to be a disappointing game from our front).   We pull up out the front and there's a driver to take our car to the car park - felt really sorry for the poor prick, I'm sure it quite an experience after parking the lovely new Audi's surrounding us, to get into my shitty 92 Camry wagon!   We grab our bags out of the back of my shitwagon when a concierge comes over to give us a hand.  He says 'Can I take your bag for you?'  I glance at Micko all confused and then start crying.  We get in the lift, there are a few people in it, Mum and Dad say they'll go up to their room, unpack, then head down to check ours out.  The doors open and I get out of the lift... only problem is, it's not even my floor.  I start crying again!  After the game, everyone went out for dinner but I was so exhausted I had to go to bed.  
A couple of weeks later, I ring and make another appointment with the Doc.  I'm going to tell him I'm throwing the pills out, they just aren't working for me.  He says 'Gee!  Looks like the pills are working, lets weigh you'... This time, I've actually put ON a kilo!  That's it!  I'm giving up... I think.
Now, when I say giving up, I mean giving up on the mission to lose weight, not on the exercise front (over these pill popping months I'd actually increased my training to around 9 sessions a week).  Other than the fact I'd not lost much weight, I was feeling really happy with myself.  The exercising was having an effect, it just wasn't happening for me on the scales.  I decided to put in one last ditched effort and starting watching what I was eating... not going overboard, just cutting out crap during the week - the weekends were all mine and I'd worked fucking hard for them.
Slowly but surely the weight dropped off and I got down to about 72 kilos and I think that's where I sit now.  To be honest, I'm not too sure cause I haven't weighed myself in about 5 months.  I figure, I put too much pressure on the scales to perform in the past, I'm not giving them the power again.  I know how my jeans fit, I know which hole my belt does up in and I'm happy to let these measures be my guide.  
Right now, I'm relatively happy.  I mean, I'm not about to get on National TV in my bikini but I have no longer have aspirations to weigh less than I did in grade 4.  Hell, I've even come to like my boobs... bit of an asset, not so much of a liability these days!  My calves?  Well, they are still too big to get into most boots but fuck it, they've always been like that, plus I live in a warm climate where I don't get to where boots too often anyway!
So I'll keep pounding away at the gym and not just because I need it to keep the figure I worked harder than most for... but because these days (besides the abuse I subject it to once a week) I've come to respect my body.  I've discovered that your mind and body are most certainly interlinked and both need to be fit and healthy for balance.
I guess when I weigh it up... Healthy body + healthy mind = healthy self respect 
and I'd like to keep it that way!


Sam Turnbull said...

*sigh* we've had this discussion before... it's just not fair that some people have to work so hard to maintain a reasonable weight... i'm in the midst of a ballooning session now... i know i should do something about it but i'm in that headspace where i don't have the motivation and it's probably going to take another 10kgs for me to get my fat ass into gear! boo hoo

Rachies Soap Box said...

Karly I hear you!
I have been on a “diet” (watching what I eat and exercising) since I was about 8 years old, that was when I first became aware of the fact that I hated my body and that I had a weight problem (which was pointed out to my fairly regularly by various members of my family, all of whom are thin). I still hate my body and still want to change it and obsessively diet and exercise, I did recently put on quite a lot of weight though and have just lost 10kgs and have another 7 to lose yet before I can say I am “happy” with my body – and I know I probably won’t be anyway when I get there!
But the thing I am thankful for and will always do for my kids (if I ever get lucky enough to have some!) is do what my dad did for me, and that was teach me that running, or any other exercise you enjoy simply has to be a part of your daily routine, not only is it great to maintain weight, but it also helps with maintaining a great state of mind like you pointed out, but also counteracting some of the shit effects of booze and smokes and general aging.
My family are all thin except for me – a constant source of entertainment to them all, but they all drink to excess and smoke like chimneys and yet they all maintain a youthful appearance and state of mind – I reckon its all due to the fact that they all exercise in the same capacity as they do cleaning their teeth, its just part of their day and I am glad it is part of mine too!


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