Weighty Matters

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Public Eye

Early American Idol winner Ruben Studdard is a contestant on the new season of Biggest Loser. For some reason, this has me thinking of other obese celebrities I’ve been aware of in the past. Shelly Winters. Roseanne Barr. Jackie Gleason. Drew Carey. John Goodman. Oprah Winfrey. Aretha Franklin. The list really is endless.

I remember when a lot of entertainers played to their weight, or at least appeared to. They were material for countless monologues by late night talk show hosts and stand up comedians. They often made fun of themselves. As an overweight person, I never understood how they could stand it. I’d cringe inside whenever someone made a fat joke about one of them or, as often happened, to them when sharing the set or stage.

It was almost worse when one of them embarked on a successful weight loss effort. Yes, they’d get great acclaim for the pounds they’d drop. I can still remember when Oprah dropped something like 60-70 pounds on the Optifast program. She arrived on stage towing a little red wagon behind her on which they’d piled the equivalent of her weight loss in actual animal fat. I think she had on a long overcoat. With pure joy, she whipped open that coat to reveal her skinny self in a black sweater and tight jeans. What a moment!

She gained it all back and I can’t help but think that it was a more emotionally miserable time for her knowing that she was under intense public scrutiny. I hate it if I think that even one person eyes what’s on my plate and could possibly be assessing or, horrors, judging the choice. I’d want to crawl into a deep cave (with electrical power, running water, a bathroom and internet access, of course, but still a cave) and not come out into society if I was a person who lived her life as a celebrity in the public eye.

On a much, much, much smaller scale, I really craved a cookie tonight. I actually felt a little weird buying a small package and bringing it home. A friend has been staying with me for a few weeks. Living alone, nobody knows what food I buy and have in the house. Having someone around is different. It’s amazing how quickly I reverted to old thinking — the idea that if I make a food choice that’s inappropriate, I need to hide it. I was a champion sneak eater, a skill I developed when I was pretty young. I could open squeaky drawers in my family’s kitchen, open up a package of cookies and eat some without anyone hearing me in the other room. One of the things that I just realized is that I overeat more when I conceal foods. It’s like I need to eat it all and faster before someone catches me or discovers my secret.

Part of improving my relationship with food means being open and honest about it – in all respects. A big part of being successful on the journey overall has been that I’ve been as open and honest about it as I could. Hence the whole writing of this blog. In a way it’s me taking this trip in the public eye.

I just reread this post. You know, where I thought I was going with it at the beginning is not at all where I ended up. I thought I was going to muse on my empathy for overweight celebs. Yes, I have that empathy, but the writing process uncovered different stuff. The whole thing about eating more when I eat in secret is not something I’ve been in touch with, that I can recall. I’m glad that I got there tonight. It’s something I really need to think about and, more importantly, use to aid my recovery.

In the meantime, just to circle back around, I hope that Ruben succeeds on Biggest Loser. More importantly, I hope he is able to maintain his success, whether in private or in the public eye.


If It Doesn’t Fit

Crazy busy stuff going on again, folks. The last two nights, I’ve been exhausted when I’m finally home and able to relax. Lots of stress involved in everything. It’s amazing that I’m not flinging myself headlong into a tub of double chocolate fudge brownie ice cream.

I’m happy to say that while I might think about doing that as a fake coping strategy, I’m not putting the thought into action. I call it a fake coping strategy because opening up to a binge of compulsive eating is not coping. It’s a distraction. I sometimes think of it as the principle of the counter-irritant. When I used to binge and overeat mass quantities, I’d then feel so bad about the overeating that it would distract me, temporarily at best, from whatever situation was causing me the stress and upset in the first place.

I digress. The bottom line is that I’m stressed and overwhelmed, but I’m not overeating because of it. Points for me.

Today I was at my desk at work by 7:30 a.m. We had a media shoot from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. All great stuff, but it was hot, humid and endless. I felt like a salt block when we were finished. I left work early, vegged at home for an hour and then went to Zumba. Seriously. I could have seasoned a movie theater full of popcorn with the salt on my skin from sweating. Thank goodness I sucked down water all day to remain hydrated.

Okay. Enough complaining.

My thoughts these days are very much focused on whether I need to make some changes in my activities. Not my exercise. I’m talking about the other things and organizations in which I’m involved outside of work. There are a couple of things that I don’t think are a good fit for me and vice versa. I’m paraphrasing an old defense strategy when I wonder, “If it doesn’t fit, should I quit?” If I’m not the person that’s truly what’s needed in this one circumstance, then I should step aside and let the role be filled by someone who will more effectively fit the situation. This is better for all concerned.

If I’m a square peg in this situation, then trying to shove myself into the round hole is uncomfortable and way too stressful. I get bitchy when I’m stressed and overwhelmed and that’s not effective or desirable either.

It’s going to take me a few days to reach a decision. In the meantime, I will not let the emotional turmoil kick me into a binge. The disease and the binge behavior doesn’t fit my lifestyle now either!

Wow, I just dozed off while typing the above sentence. Sorry, folks. That’s a sure sign that I need to get to bed!