Assuming that to be normal, thirty years later, as a newly minted father, I panicked when the doctor informed me that my firstborn weighed six pounds six ounces.
Looking me in the eye, attempting to calm my jitters, he replied, “Six-six is normal. I promise he’s fine.”
“But I weighed ten pounds when I was born!” I protested.
“I can’t help it if you were cruel to your mother,” he replied.
Moral of the story: I was born big, and from that moment, packed on the pounds, tipping the scales at ten pounds for every year.
To explain, I weighed 50 pounds at age five, 90 pounds at age nine, and 130 pounds when I was a teen. From there, I accelerated, reaching 230 upon entering high school — poor timing to say the least. Of the 1107 students in my class, I was the second fattest. Further putting this in perspective, that was in the day when childhood obesity was an oddity, rather than unfortunately as it can be today, quite common.
Kids are brutal, so what were supposed to be some of my best years were anything but. Girls ignored me; guys badgered and bullied me.
Physical education was the lowest of the low.
Without exception, I was the last one chosen for team sports, disgust unhidden in the expression of the luckless team captain forced to have me on his roster. Yet all that paled to the torture of taking group showers after P.E. Walk-ing past the jocks in my all together, attempting to wither from them while covering my exposed self was the lowest level of Hell. Teased and humiliated, I was shoved into lockers naked while pushed from jock to jock down the narrow aisles until finally, I could put my clothes on and run from the gym, seeking respite from the merciless cruelty for 24 hours; knowing it would resume the next day.
Outside of school was no break. My clothes came from the “husky” section, a degrading experience unto its own. Doctors hounded me, family members chided me, and my parents put me on diet after diet, all to no avail.
So, I obsessively became a “serial dieter.” In layman’s terms, that means that I have been on and off diets and programs beyond count. I jokingly tell people that I’ve lost 2,357 pounds — if you add up all the weight I’ve lost and gained since childhood. Actually, it’s probably not too far from the truth.
Although I briefly achieved my correct weight a few times, I always put it back on. On one occasion, someone in a meeting displayed her “before” picture, proudly stating she had lost 100 pounds and kept it off ten years. I thought to myself, “I can never do that. Why bother to try?”
I’m thrilled to admit I was wrong.
I’m smarter than some and not as smart as others, so it’s not a sign of intelligence that got me here. Also, I am not “fixed;” I still slip up and stumble.
So what’s the secret?
Simply put: Our “inner jerk” is not helping us.
After all, if guilt and shame were motivational, we’d all be skinny. It doesn’t work. Instead of bullying ourselves into submission, we must look at flubs in the same fashion a toddler views falling down while learning to walk. “Oops, that didn’t work. Let’s try again.”
Who we were does not dictate who we can be. Also, it matters not what we’ve tried before — or for that matter, what we have not. All that is of consequence is the right now, the immediate. After all, that’s really all we have.