Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Eat, Drink and Be Merry...For Tomorrow You May Die-t!


A Wisconsin news anchor was featured yesterday speaking out on a viewer telling her she was too heavy to be on TV.  Good for her!  This reminded me of a favorite essay I wrote several years ago, that still applies to this day.   I am thinking many of you will be able to laugh and relate!  GW-T

“It is better to have dieted and lost, than to have never dieted at all.” –Gale Williams-Thompson

Disclaimer:  The following is not to be construed as any sort of advice.  I am not, nor wish to be, a medical, nutritional or fitness expert.  This is just a good-natured essay about my observations, successes and failures in the attempt to keep (actually, get back) my girlish figure.  Enjoy!

Diet is a four-letter word.  It is no coincidence that the first three letters spell die.  For me, it is about the same thing.  Now there is a difference between dieting and exercising for health concerns (being medically obese) and just being somewhat overweight.  Fortunately, at least at the moment, I fall in the latter category.  But I recognize the time will come when I will have to get with the program.  Just shoot me!

For more than four decades I have fought the Battle of the Bulge.  I have won, but I have lost even more.  Pardon the pun.  At present, I am not winning.  What truly works is to eat like a rabbit and work out constantly.  (Remember manatees get huge eating just lettuce!)  But it isn’t realistic.  Most of us have to juggle full time work, children, errands and house chores.  We are pooped and want real food!
My journey began when I was still very young.  I was a pudgy kid who grew out of it in high school.  My first attempt to diet was eating handfuls of caramels called “Ayds”.  They were supposed to be appetite suppressants.  I guess they worked because after I ate them, I didn’t want dinner!  I still didn’t lose weight.  Imagine that. 

These were terrible, yet popular in the '70s.  I don't think you were supposed to eat a box in one sitting.  They took awhile because they were wrapped in cellophane.  (Which might have been tastier!)

I would eat Ayds while drinking “Tab” or “Fresca.”  These sodas are still available.  I would say that growing up on these drinks has trained my taste buds to actually prefer diet soda.  In the 80’s, I remember eating bread that had wood fiber (sawdust?) in it.  It’s not around anymore.

I drank gallons of this chemical concoction that was later found to be full of cyclamates...whatever that is.  Apparently, lots of lab rats didn't survive it.  I think it's reformulated now and I being sold again.  

 I spent some of my twenties living in Los Angeles eating “Slender Bars” nearly every breakfast and lunch.  I told myself they were tasty. I think they are also extinct.  My mom tried the group humiliation method of dieting.  I tried the “looking for a Hollywood agent” humiliation method.  I was told I was too pretty to be a character actress and too heavy (then, a size 10) to be an ingĂ©nue.

Look how happy she looks!  It was made up of styrofoam looking (and tasting) pebbles with some spray-painted chocolate coating.  You could never find the chocolate caramel nut ones.

In L.A., I learned that being broke could be a good diet aid.  However, it doesn’t work even if you have a little money, because you can afford carbohydrates.  Healthy foods are generally more expensive.   Some people get so depressed that they can’t eat.  Not me.  When I’m depressed, bring it on. Especially chocolate!  I did get down to a three dress and six jeans somehow.  Mostly by not eating and working out every spare minute.

What the “normal” folks need to understand is that those “beautiful people” on the west coast are beyond obsessed.  The stars you see with the perfect bodies have (highly paid) fitness gurus, nutritionists and cooks.  They work out many hours daily.  One fault of society, in my opinion, is outward looks are more prized than they should be.  Body type is only a somewhat changeable inherited trait.  We should be looking more carefully for inner beauty, wisdom and altruism.  It is insulting for many of us to hear about how 106 pound actress Renee Zellweger is working hard to “pack on” twenty pounds for her second Bridget Jones movie.  I would love to weigh only 126 pounds and I’m not alone!  I wouldn’t have to work hard to put on a lousy twenty pounds either!

Though not officially diagnosed, I am sure I had anorexia nervosa while in L.A. (I went from a size 12 to a 3.)  One time I tried bulimia (upchucking), but that was more awful than it was worth.  It was easier to just not eat and over exercise.  I lost my energy, health, monthly cycles, ruined my metabolism and was still thinking I needed to lose more weight.  I am a relatively large framed person and a size three is too small.  If I went a day without working out, I felt really guilty.  After I moved back to Ohio (where normal folks live) it didn’t take long for me to change my lifestyle, gain it all back and then some.

Some of the unsuccessful things I’ve tried in the last decade include, Meridia, Redux, medically endorsed diet shakes (yuck!), no fat diets, all carb diets, no carb diets (whichwould probably work the best if I could only give up everything I love.)  Show me a diet that includes chocolate milk, bread, Oreos and French fries and we’ll talk.  The old fashioned diet pills of the 60’s & 70’s (I believe also known as speed, but they were legal) work fine if you don’t mind never sleeping, rather lying there feeling your heart race.  Once again, they were too nasty to be worth it.


My “Top Ten Diet Rules” are:
#1            If it tastes good, it’s fattening!  Example:  Margarine will never taste as good as butter.  Diet foods are flavorless, unless you add a chemical substance to it such as fake sugar, fake fat, and fake salt.  Often those have worse side effects than the calories!
#2            If it’s “diet”, we eat twice as much of it.  Example:  Remember the “Snack Wells” craze?  It reminded me of the “run on the bank” video footage from the Great Depression.  The cookies are fat free maybe, but certainly not calorie free.  A ton of people (pardon the pun again) gained weight on them when they first came out.  Me too!  The supermarkets limited how many boxes you could buy and only distributed them certain days.  I even had to put my name on a waiting list. 
#3            Diet frozen meals are diet because there is more packaging than food.  Perhaps they should flavor the box!
#4            Thin folks get sick and even die.  Buses aren’t picky about what who they run over.  Many diseases, especially cancer, don’t weigh their victims and give them extra credit for being in shape. (I would rather go into it in a good “fighting weight” though!)  James Fixx, author of “The Complete Book of Running” died jogging at age 52!  My thin exercising friends are always whining about shin splints, bad knees, and other aches/pains.  They have to go to sports medicine specialists. 

#5             Exercise:   Don’t sweat it (just kidding!  It IS good for you!) However, a close friend of mine, who could certainly be considered a health nut, came home from an “extreme” vacation in such bad shape her husband called the squad.  It appeared she was having a heart attack.  Fortunately, it was only some strained muscles.  But, she was in the hospital undergoing lots of elaborate tests (which I couldn’t even afford) and scared to death.  Meanwhile, I was probably on my riding lawn mower, sitting in front of the computer or TV, or even taking a nap. 
#6            Tofu tastes just like it looks. 
#7            Eat from as many food groups as you can.  These include Chinese, Mexican, Italian, fast food, junk food, and take-out food.           
#8             Diets are prejudiced.  They are anti-white.  No white sugar, white potatoes, white bread, 

white pasta, white flour or white rice.  One diet from a recent “Reader’s Digest” even suggested 

chocolate would be better for you than potatoes.  No kidding!  I need to look into this one further.                     

Unfortunately, during both of my pregnancies, all I could keep down was mashed potatoes.  I can 

certainly vouch that they are indeed fattening!





 #9            The only good reason to diet and exercise is to be healthy.  It’s important to take good care of yourself.  Moderation is the key.  The truth is that thin people eat less and do more than heavy ones.   Sad, but true.

#10            Don’t listen to those commercials that attempt to make you feel like a loser.  You know the ones where folks declare they became instantly happy when they got thin.  You have to work on happiness as hard as your health.  I don’t recall being blissfully happy when I was thin.  Actually, it was rather stressful period of my life.  Once you lose the weight, all you do is worry about gaining it back.  Plus, other problems just fill in the void.  I looked pretty good though!

Socially, I wish we could treat weight as a matter of fact issue like my 7-year-old son Taylor does.  Though I died of embarrassment, a heavy young girl in a scout uniform came by our car while we were waiting for his sister.  He said “Look Mom, there’s a big, fat Girl Scout!  I said, “Taylor, shhh, that’s not nice.”  Then he said even louder, “But Mom, she’s big, she’s fat, she’s a big, fat Girl Scout!”  I hurriedly turned on the car and rolled up the windows.  He didn’t mean anything by it.  It was just an observation, not a slam against her personally.

Another recent conversation we had involved those awful diet shakes I occasionally attempt.  He said, “Mom, do you drink those to get skinny?”  I said yes.  He said, “Well, you aren’t too skinny yet!”  Then he wanted to taste it.  I told him to take a small sip and he complied because he “only wanted to get a little bit skinny.”  The next time I opened the fridge he asked, “Mom, are you going to drink another one to get skinny faster?”


The Bible (Hebrew, Isaiah 22:13) states “Eat, drink and be merry.  For tomorrow, you may die.”  Here’s to your happiness, whether you are fat or thin.  Life is to be enjoyed!

Until next time,
Gale

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