Spite is a Great Motivator: A Health Journey
Its no secret that I don't handle food well. I have had issues with eating for as long as I can remember. Even as a five year old, whether I was living in Brazil with my dad, or in the United States with my mom, there was always a thinner female cousin to compare me to. I don't know if the adults in my life knew what they were doing. I mean, who maliciously talks about a five year old's weight? I just remember feeling self conscious about my doughy little body for as long as I have been alive.
That didn't stop be from eating. Even as a child I ate my feelings. All of my feelings. I ate when I was sad. I ate in celebration. I ate when I was anxious, which was often. I even ate out of boredom. When I came to America the eating became worse. Unlike in Brazil, junk food was was always present in the land of good and plenty. I lived in a house filled with cousins and treats. Anytime someone went to the kitchen to fix up a sweet concoction, I would pop out of the new-age rocking chair I was so fond of like a toaster strudel. A hedonist at heart, I was never one to deny myself.
This changed when I discovered boys in sixth grade. All of the boys were interested in my lithe blond friends with blue eyes. No one spared a glance at my cushy eleven year old body, slightly rounded with budding breasts and what would one day be a superb ass, if I do say so myself. I was constantly looked over for dances in the school gym. I might as well have been scenery, fading into the backdrop while my skinny friends awkwardly danced to Kcee and Jojo, at arms length.
I remember deciding during one particular trip to the mall with my thin, perfect gal pals who looked great in everything, that I would lose weight immediately. I did. It didn't come easily though. I literally stopped eating much of anything. I was on a 500-800 calorie-a-day diet. I basically ate a yogurt for lunch and a can of soup for dinner. That's all I ate for almost four months. And everyday I would come home from school and do a 45 minute Tae Bo VHS tape. Occasionally I would spice things up and jump rope alone in my room while listening to "Call Me" by Le Click, imagining the life my crush and I would have together as soon as I managed to lose all the weight. He would stop me one day by my locker after Drama practice, and he would tell me how great I looked in my Pocahontas braids ( we were doing a super inappropriate piece about Native Americans at the time). I would tell him "thanks" and we would kiss passionately thereby sealing our love for an eternity.
My teachers noticed. One of them even asked me about it. I lied, of course, and told her I lost the weight by eating vegetables and working out. I don't know how much weight I lost exactly, I just know that it was a lot and in a short amount of time. After a while I began to feel faint constantly. One morning when I was showering for school I passed out in the shower. It was terrifying. My eyesight went completely black. I thought I was going blind. It turns out that my diet was not sustainable.
Somehow I recovered without a lot of help. There were no therapists or rehabs for me. You don't get that sort of treatment when you're poor. Also, no one was aware of my issue. I never told anyone about my dizzy spells. I basically just started eating again, and while I gained weight, I still managed to stay at a normal weight. Still, there was no escaping the fact that I was meant to have a full figured body, tits, ass and all. It kept me single in High School, but I was a success in college, especially with the older crowds.
For years after that my weight would yo-yo, often reflecting my emotions. For example, every year when I moved in to my new dorm in college, I would lose 10-15 lbs. I was happy. I loved learning, and I loved my friends. I loved the freedom even more. The month or two before I knew I would have to move back to my oppressive hometown with my mom breathing down my neck I inevitably gained back all the weight and then some. Once I came back home weighing almost 200 lbs, much to my mom's chagrin. I have never been screamed at about my weight like that in my entire life.
My life has been a series of ups and downs as far as weight goes. It constantly fluctuates. It definitely happened during cancer treatment. I was able to keep my weight normal throughout chemo, but after surgery things went downhill for me. I began eating what I wanted when I wanted. Most of what I ate were carbs. For the better part of a year I basically ate anything and everything to try to make myself feel better, to fill the never ending hole of existential dread that cancer seemed to have opened up in me. I gained a lot of weight. I didn't really think about it until I changed hospitals and medical teams.
The first thing my surgeon told me when I went in for a consultation is that if I wanted a DIEP flap, a special kind of surgery where they take the fat and blood supply form your stomach and make fake breasts out of it, I would need to get my BMI down. Not only did he say that, but to add insult to injury, the guy practically challenged me. He said in a roundabout way that I would probably not be able to do it. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a determined bitch. Nothing makes me more motivated than someone telling me I can't do something, so now I find myself in a weird weight loss journey.
I say weird because you would think that vanity would put me on the weight loss path. I mean, if you look at my instagram, it's pretty clear I like looking at myself. That didn't do it though. The cancer didn't do it either. A lot of my fellow survivors decided that after they were diagnosed that they would go on a health journey and eat only the best and most organic products. I scoffed at the idea. THE PRE DIABETES DIDN'T DO IT. Can you believe it? Apparently the steroids they give you during chemo can raise your blood sugar so much that you become pre-diabetic. Assuming it was only a temporary thing, I did nothing to change my diet.
I'm not saying I don't indulge. I had a soda last night. I couldn't help it. I will have the occasional piece of chocolate or a spoonful of rice with my dinner. I am not going to lie to myself and act like I will happily live off of vegetables and no fun. I can't. It's not sustainable for me. But this surgeon pissed me off so much that he actually caused me to take better care of myself. I'm losing weight out of spite.
Whatever it takes to get you there, whether it's spite, health concerns, or if you have just discovered boys, I highly recommend a health journey in moderation. The working out makes me feel great, and eating a little bit better has me feeling more energetic and proud of myself. Every time I see pounds, or even ounces, going down on the scale it's like a little victory. I'm proving my enemy wrong.
The whole weight loss thing is super hard. I don't blame anyone for needing one or two or ten tries before getting anywhere. Food is really an addiction to some. I fully believe that. I remember once I was invited to a dinner party at a Tapas restaurant for a friends I had just made and liked very much. Right before we were seated, I lied and said I had another place to be at and just wanted to stop by to say "hello." I lied because instead of spending my limited funds on some measly tapas, I wanted to sit at home and eat an entire deep dish pizza from Unos by myself. If that's not an illness I don't know what is.
Sickness or not, weight-loss is hard for most, especially emotional eaters. There is nothing more discouraging than doing what you think is your best and the numbers on the scale not budging. I think that's the main reason why I have always quit in the past. I hated denying myself so much and not seeing results quickly enough.
I really think what is working for me is the spite. Having something to prove is keeping me from quitting. I'm happy I'm not quitting. Now that I am starting to shed lbs (7 to be exact) it's all the motivation I need. It's like a game where you lose points instead of gain it. I want to challenge myself to lose more, to beat the game.
What I am trying to say is spite is a great motivator, but also, if you're not a spiteful person like me, find a goal, any goal. If you have a real goal, one that isn't flimsy and will blow away as soon as a big, fudgy brownie is placed in front of you, the "life style" change WILL work. I mean it!