I find it best to delay discussing a goal until some steps have been made toward achieving it. Otherwise (at least in the history of my life), speaking or writing about an aspiration seems to be a certain talisman against it becoming a reality. For example, about a year ago, I wrote about how I was hoping to get back to the weight I’d achieved at the peak of the long-term diet I started back in 2010, when I lost 135 pounds over the first three years of this decade. So what happened after I wrote that? I gained 25 pounds over the next year.
It’s true that soon after I wrote that post I started having knee trouble, the first of several physical challenges I’d face. The knee issue was just the door opening to the revelation of my ruptured lumbar disc and eventual spinal fusion surgery. I remained as active as possible with the challenges I faced, but I did not want to focus much on what I was eating.
I do fix some indulgent desserts and dinners from time to time, but I am not going to blame my cooking for my predicament. I really believe that the lack of home cooking leads to more weight problems than cooking itself does. I have found that I can eat whatever I want. I just can’t eat as much of those things as I’d like to.
A couple weeks ago, my sciatica resurfaced, like heat lightening spotted far into the horizon. These flares first appeared in the wake of eating something disagreeable in volume or content. I figured that I may have been approaching the tipping point where my back might be straining over the weight I’ve gained. From seeing the multiple images of my spine through x-ray and MRI images, I can see that I still have the exaggerated lordosis, or back curvature, of someone who was seriously overweight. Gaining lots of weight again certainly would not help this situation.
As last weekend began, I woke up with the certain knowledge that the time had come to do something about it. It was one of those moments when you know that you must turn back and choose a different path, that change could grow so hard that only a future “rock bottom” moment could right your course. I had to stop myself from doing a Nestea plunge version into obesity: a trust fall into a sea of french fries and Little Debbie snack cakes.
I had taken that plunge before, more than once unfortunately. In my early 30’s, I reached a the point where I felt so at home with my fatness I justified it sometimes as an act of subversion. Being fat seemed to be the ultimate protest against consumer culture. I wouldn’t buy what was being sold if I couldn’t fit into it. Never mind that I didn’t consider that food is a huge part of consumer culture.
I was secretly pleased when people I didn’t like spotted me and couldn’t completely disguise their shock or displeasure with my size. When I despaired over waking up in the middle of the night to eat ice cream once again, I’d take comfort in a photo moment that never happened: how great it would be to see my daughter’s absent father be shocked if he finally returned and saw me weighing 300 pounds. I imagined that the look on his face would be priceless.
I did not reach 300 pounds. My rock bottom moment was discovering that I weighed 260 pounds at a doctor’s appointment seven years ago. By the way, I am only 5’1″ tall. For a person my height, just 26 pounds separates a borderline healthy BMI (24.9) from start of obesity (30.0). While I was gradually putting on weight this year, I kept thinking that I still weigh so much less than I did way back when. My excuse was the error of my past ways. I didn’t stop to consider that I’d crossed back into obesity.
Since my reckoning last Saturday, I have lost five pounds. I’d like to lose all of the weight I gained this past year. I’m sure that my back will thank me for it.