Sunday, July 3, 2011

Food: The Afterthought

Many people who have never experienced obesity have the misconception that all obese people do is eat all day in large quantities. This has never been the case for me. Except for during my pregnancy food has always been an after thought. A meal was something I forced myself to eat because I had to not because I wanted to. Food is usually the last thing on my mind because I am generally preoccupied with all the other activities for the day, my next creative commentary, a discussion or debate I’m in the middle of or I’m simply focused on taking care of my son.

My problem with food is not the amount, but the type. We live in a fast food nation and I am not immune. McDonalds is my drug of choice when it comes to food. I refer to it as such because I know how bad it is for me, but it’s easy, quick and cheap. Working for a local Mickey Ds was my first job and that is where my addiction starts. We got free meals on our breaks and when I first worked there it was whatever meal we wanted. A few years later it would be reduced to specific meals for free and discounts for the others, but unlimited soda was always a constant.

Sometimes it was a challenge making the normal meals interesting. We would mix and match what we had on hand to make something new. I would take a normal quarter pounder and remove everything, add bar-be-que sauce and bacon. I used the bar-be-que sauce on my fries and there were some days I would just microwave some pickles as a snack. Along with our unusual creations (mine were actually pretty tame) there would always be the challenge of who could eat the most. When I was 16 I could pack away a double quarter pounder, large fry and large drink and not break a sweat. You would think I should have been over 200 pounds then, but I wasn’t.

I was active back then generally with Junior ROTC. I was involved in every team including the Athletic team so I was constantly burning off everything I ate. Even back then I had to consciously force myself to sit down and eat and while I could pack it away, that certainly wasn’t a daily activity. It was quite the opposite. There would be days where all I ate was soup crackers or Roman noodles. Sometimes team members or friends would have to remind me to eat something.

Now that I am older it really hasn’t changed. Even at the beginning of my pregnancy when I was where I needed to be weight wise my husband had to remind me to eat. It was when I was laid off then placed on bed rest for a short time where I had nothing to do and nowhere to go. I loved my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and bacon and fried eggs. “I’m pregnant, I can eat what I want.” Now I didn’t eat large quantities then but I ate high fat and high sugar and barely left the house. I know part of it was depression. I cried nightly with the fear of what we were going to do once I had my son since I had no job in a society that wasn’t hiring, especially not pregnant women.

Once I had my son, luckily the depression part went with it so I can clearly state that it was my hormones in that case, though I never would have admitted that when I was pregnant. A few months after he was born I began a hiring process with a local agency that required a significant background check, but I eventually got another job that I am very proud of and have been there for over a year now.

Since having my son I have gone back to the same eating habits that sustained me up until pregnancy. Eat a little and when I do, to put it bluntly, it’s crap; easy, convenient fast food crap. Except this time, it’s not helping. I’m not as active as I once was, but also, nothing I have done has helped me drop the weight. Eventually I saw a doctor about it who took all my symptoms and figured out I had hypothyroidism. For all those who don’t know what that is, basically my thyroid, which regulates metabolism, is underactive and therefore I don’t process calories the way I should so I can’t lose weight as easily. In some women after they give birth it can be temporary. Unfortunately, in some rare occassions, it is permanent. Well, there I go being part of that minority within a minority again.

Right now I’m working on getting a proper dosage of medicine to help me get my thyroid working properly, but it will be something that I will battle with the rest of my life. While that absolutely sucks, it doesn’t change anything in regards to my problem with eating. I work 12 hour shifts over night. I work, I sleep, I eat a partial meal, I go back to work where I eat one more meal and the cycle starts again. I don’t get to eat three complete and generally I don’t get to eat even two complete meals in a day.

This will be another part of my journey. I have to get myself on a real meal schedule. When I wake up I need to eat something to get my metabolism going. This will be the hardest part as I haven’t officially eaten “breakfast” since middle school. This already throws things off for me. Then I need to substitute the crap for a decent rounded meal focusing on fruits and veggies with meat and a small amount of grain. All of this is common sense, but just because I know what I should be doing doesn’t mean I have been doing it.

A friend of mine does weight watchers which I have been tempted to do, but you know what scares me the most? The amount of food they have to eat. I don’t mean a small amount. I mean, to do the diet properly, they have to eat all of their points every day (with some exceptions). The amount of points could be ridiculously high. I know this stuff works as I have seen her lose weight since she started and I know what my husband was expected to eat when he did Nutrisystem and lost 50 pounds. I don’t think I have EVER eaten that much food in one day ever in my life. The idea of eating all that food seems so contradictory and yet I know exactly why it works.

Your body needs food to fuel it. Not only does it need food it needs the right type and fat and sugar don’t do it. If it doesn’t get the calories it is supposed to then it starts slowing down and soon shutting down the ability to burn the small amount you do bring in and keep you moving. In regards to fast food it can be a large amount calories in one sitting with only a small amount of food that is high in fat so you don’t process it correctly anyway. The results – you become a flabby butt eating nothing and looking like you ate a house on your lunch break.

Don’t get me wrong, it really isn’t weight I’m interested in and never has been. I would be happy being 200 pounds if it was all muscle, but that isn’t going to happen and I don’t really want it to. I’m not looking for body builder scary, but I am looking for intimidating. I miss the days of my flat stomach and toned muscular arms. Some could say I looked manly and I won’t lie, I have some manly features, but I will consider my mission complete when I can wear my tank tops and I look like I could knock someone out. Not only look like I could, but know I could. I want to be that woman that people look at and think “I don’t want to fuck with her.” Once I get to that point, then I can consider my work a success!

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