Last weekend my daughter marked a very significant milestone. My mother and her husband made the trip from Tennessee to be with her during this important event.
Throughout my entire life, my mom has fussed about her weight. In my childhood memories, I saw her as heavy, when in actuality she was average size. Her own body-image was always poor. Looking back as an adult, it pains me to know she had such low self-esteem.
She is an amazing woman, and only now in her 70s is she seeing that herself.
Recent health issues forced her to change her eating habits and incorporate more exercise into her daily routine. As a result, over the last several months, she has lost close to 50 pounds. I hadn’t seen her since she lost all that weight.
I was stunned.
My mom always seemed larger than life to me. Not because she was overweight, or unusually tall, but she was imposing, a force. When I saw her this weekend, she looked so small. It wasn’t that she had just lost so much weight, she somehow seemed shorter, tiny, frail.
I tried not to stare, but it was such an unexpected change in her appearance. It was if she’d aged 10 years and not simply 10 months.
She was very proud of her weight loss, so I made the obligatory ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ noises. I was truly happy for her, but I wondered if maybe she lost too much weight.
As I watched her pick at her food, asking our server if she could get her chicken prepared without salt, I thought of my own recent foray into losing weight.
As a teen and young adult, I had the metabolism of a gnat. I could, and did, eat anything and not gain an ounce. Somewhere around age 40 all hell broke loose. I developed Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune thyroid disorder, and my metabolism basically shut down. I can now gain five pounds licking an envelope.
Then around 45 I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and I could no longer be as physical as I used to be. I had trained in martial arts for almost 10 years, and I simply couldn’t do it any more.
Over the last four years I’ve continued to gain weight, hating my bathroom scale, but still doing nothing to counter all these hurdles. And, they were only hurdles, not barriers. I could’ve done more, I just didn’t want to.
Inching toward a weight I can’t even say out loud, I decided I had to do something. Of my immediate family, I am the only one who has not been diagnosed with diabetes. Both my parents also have high blood pressure and my dad has had a heart attack and bypass surgery. I could see my future if I didn’t change.
Day One of Lent I decided to give up being fat. For six weeks I kept track of what I was eating, limited my calories, and started walking for an hour most mornings. My efforts were rewarded with a loss of about 15 pounds. I hope to lose another 25 by my birthday in October. Ironically, that will put me at the same weight my mom is now. And that… is my worry.
I don’t want my weight loss to create the same reaction in other people, as my own reaction to my mom. I don’t want to lose the weight to only look like an old woman. I know that my mom is 20 years older than I am, but I’m also edging very close to 50 and don’t want to get there before I have to.
Vanity was never one of my vices, but I find myself worrying about my looks more and more. I see scowl lines, and the beginnings of a turkey waddle. I started coloring my grey again (after ignoring it for years). Seeing the numbers on clothing labels increasing… all of it is so disheartening.
Now, add to that my fears that if I do reach my weight goals, I’ll look worse than I did at my heaviest. Since coming home from seeing my mom, I haven’t been concerned with what I eat and haven’t been on a walk in four days.
I can’t give up now, but I don’t know if I want to succeed as much as I once did.
Submitted as part of Shell’s “Pour Your Heart Out” writing prompt. Please stop by to read the other posts, and give a little comment love.
20 thoughts on “Like mother, like daughter”
Ugh. I’m with you. Since being told to “sit” while they attempted to figure out what was wrong with me a YEAR ago, I have gained about 35 lbs. The meds I’m on, which include fluctuating doses of steroids and a medication that slows everything in my body down (in an effort to prevent seizures, help with the neuropathy and slow my resting heart rate) just add to the pound packing.
My sister, who is only 29, recently lost about 30 pounds. She looks older. Her face. I’m kind of afraid of the same thing at this point. Maybe all that chub is hiding wrinkles I’d rather not know I have.
Good luck to you on your weight loss. Better to look old than develop diabetes. 🙂
well, you KNOW how well i can relate to this. but, i know you. i’ve met you. i think you’ll be beautiful no matter what.
gain 5 pounds licking an envelope…that has to be my favourite line of my blog-reading binge today!
I lost around 25 pounds a couple of years back – a combination of high stress and pure bloody-mindedness, and thought i looked fabulous. in fact everyone told me I did. I’ve gained back about 6 (high stress and also some bloody-mindedness…) and now I’m told I look fabulous. go figure.
I will echo what Lou said– You’re one hot mama! That being said, I get this, especially now. Before I had surgery, I kept saying “Oh, I don’t care if I have skin, I don’t care if I look different, I just want to be thin and healthy” and now? The “batwing” that I joke about having almost gives me a heart attack every day when I see it in the mirror. It has to go. So working out has been upped, the weights have been upped, and I realized that even though it was about being healthy, I wanted to look really nice too. When you work hard, by feeding your body good foods, and exercising regularly, you want to see awesome results. And that’s totally normal and okay. You’ll get where you want to be- you’ll know it when you see it in the mirror 🙂
I hear you! I’ve gained about 75 pounds and would love to lose weight. I’d much rather not look at the number on the scale and instead look at the effects of the weight loss, lower blood pressure, lower sugar numbers, smaller belly, etc.
You know, I totally get this. I really do.
There’s a difference between being healthy and losing weight and obsessing about it and losing the joy of food and life. And food is joy. You’ll always be you, and gaining or losing weight can’t lose sight of that. And hey, you may be one who gets to a certain weight and then it refuses to budge. But watching what you eat and walking? That’s just smart and healthy no matter the results. Besides, you’re always gorgeous to me!
I agree with other commenters… its about being healthy more than being “thin” etc. Keep up the exercise and whatnot, but don’t pressure yourself to death about it. It’s okay to slip up here and there! I don’t think its healthy even mentally to worry to heavily on what you eat and whatnot. Just be smart and sensible and… be happy, beautiful you!
Stopping by from PYHO…congratulations on the weight loss! I think as you travel through this loss journey you will find a weight that feels comfortable and healthy and you can go by that rather than the numbers. Keep up the great work! 🙂
Tara R.: I hope that is true. I’ll keep eating right, and staying active, and maybe I’ll find my perfect weight is more than I thought, but I’ll feel great.
That was one of my biggest worried when I had the weight loss surgery – looking much older. I had always looked younger than my age and it was my one vanity. I am so glad that I still look younger than my true age. Call me vain, but it matters to me. I think if I lost a lot more I’d have looked older.
I agree with what others said – don’t focus on the number, focus on how you feel physically, how your clothes feel, and how you feel emotionally.
Tara R.: And you do look fabulous!
I think I’ll be happy with my size, when my thighs no longer rub together. TMI? I do want to feel better and be okay with what I see in the mirror.