A lot of things have changed for the better since coming “home.” Here are the highlights.
I haven’t been writing about dieting lately because it just wasn’t my focus. I was working on my career, moving cross country, establishing new relationships, fostering old ones, and letting others go. It was rather time consuming. Through all that uproar, my weight remained amazingly consistent. Of course, consistent considering they about thirty or so pounds I gained in Florida.
I could give excuses as to why I gained weight in Florida, being recently divorced being the major one. My ex-husband’s weight fluctuated some, not as much as mine, but we still attempted to eat healthy and we always had a gym membership. My dog was a lot younger and we went on walks a lot. Oh no, am I about to blame my weight gain on my aging, arthritic dog? Maybe. Also, I lived in a resort town, I was depressed, angry, lonely, and it was too damn hot and humid to exercise and I couldn’t afford a gym. That’s enough of excuses, right? Honestly, I was going through a lot and food was my comfort. I also kind of picked up a minor smoking habit. Bad, Charlotte. The thing is, I have been this heavy before back in 2001 when the first signs of my husband’s homosexuality emerged and I had a hard time keeping a job in the teaching field, which I had no business being in the first place. I was miserable and my weight reflected that misery and mounds of unappealing flesh. Let’s not even talk about the kind of men you attract when you are a mess like that.
I have adopted a more “plant based lifestyle” which is NOT becoming a vegetarian. There is so much polarization in our society, let’s not polarize on food. I don’t eat any red meat any more, but I do have the occasional organically raised chicken, turkey, or fish about two or three times a week. I am walking more and have really begun to slim down. I am feeling so much better.
This is what I look like when I look for my Prince Charming
I was hired over the phone for a pretty good job. It is still a little too “entry-level” for a woman in her thirties, but times are tough and I am happy to have it. I have shown great promise and I believe I will go far very quickly. Its about time I got my shit together professionally. I have some good friends. Strangely, now that I am more secure in myself my need for constant companionship has waned but my ability to make friends has increased. Friends in your late thirties and forties can be difficult because everyone is so busy with family, careers, or both people can hardly squeeze in a barbecue every once and awhile. Good thing I don’t need friends so much.
Dating and New Beau
I did date some. Dating is still exhausting and I am just over that bullshit. Online dating, office romances, friends of friends, been there, done that, no more. I think I am in a good place professionally, emotionally, and physically that I am ready for a real relationship. Before I thought so poorly of myself that I kept seeking men that were my opposite to make up for my imagined shortcomings and then wondering why it didn’t work out. I like myself more so I am naturally attracted to someone more like me.
I met someone nine days after I got back to Indiana. I had no intention of dating him. He was a friend of some friends. He’s a part-time photographer at some local events that my some of my friends are into and he just kept showing up to places I wanted to go anyway. He had all these cool friends and knew all this artsy stuff that I definitely wanted him as a friend. The first night I met him after some Facebook flirting he was photographing a local burlesque show a couple of my friends were in. No really, it wasn’t creepy at all. Some of girls vouched for him and we took me to the after party and the after after party and then he drove my drunk ass home and was a perfect gentleman even though I was too drunk to be a lady. I “friend zoned” him pretty early on because first off, I wanted to play around when I got to Indy (short for Indianapolis in case you didn’t know) and had some pent up wild oats I felt obligated to sow, and the second is that I was concerned about his health. I figured he was older than me, but not by much (turned out to be only a year) but he looked so much older and he walked with a cane. No forty year old should walk with a cane. I was concerned for his health. How could I be serious about someone who looked like he was trying to kill himself one cheeseburger at a time? Of course, I was not much better. I was trying to kill myself one fried chicken sandwich and cigarette at a time. We were a mess and had no business seeing other romantically….guess what happened next.
He was “dating” me for a few months while I was “seeing” him and “seeing”other men too. I was always up front about it and he knew it. I was never out to hurt him. I might write more about this later, but long, romantic story later, I kind of fell for him.
I did not fall in love with the photographer like I had for any other man before. It wasn’t a “love at first sight” or a long pining for a man in which he finally submitted through sheer attrition to give me the time of day. Neither was it a “you’ll do” kind of Mr.-Right-Now kind of thing. It was a slow, gradual waltz toward love instead of the highway to Hell all my other love affairs turned out to me. He courted me like a gentleman, bided his time, until finally it occurred to me that we were meant to be.
But then there was still the weight and health issues we both had.
I am realizing that I might want to build a life with this man but the way we are both going, that life might only be a few years. It just seemed like there were two very large coffins in our near future instead of little winter condo along the Gulf Coast in our distant future. Something had to be done.
His getting a better job and losing weight was NOT a condition of us dating, it just turned out like that. When I met him, he had a shitty schedule. He worked every weekend 3pm-Midnight Friday-Tuesday for like ten bucks an hour. That kind of pay and schedule is not conducive to courting. He was working on getting a better job anyway, and he did. He has a better schedule, not a 9-5, Monday-Friday kind of deal, but neither do I, but its better and the pay is a lot better. He is happier and he feels he might finally have a career. When you don’t have to worry about your livelihood so much, the rest of your life can flourish too. He works from home now doing tech support and can make better food choices. He has already lost a lot of weight, I’d say easily thirty pounds and all though he has a lot more to lose in order to free himself of the health risks associated with obesity, he is well on his way.
I too have been losing weight. I will give more specifics in a later post, but it my weight loss started almost accidentally. The first thing is that my new job has a shitty health plan and getting a day off work for sick time or vacation time requires a pardon from the Vatican so being sick was just not an option. I have struggled with migraines off an on for the past year or so to the point I have had to miss work from time to time and required a prescription. Well, that was just no longer an option . SI could not do that much about stress or my menstrual cycle. Moving cross country and starting a new job would make cause anyone lots of painful stress. My periods were troublesome and PMS was manageable but I was and still am unwilling to go on birth control pills so I had to manage my symptoms in other ways. I did my research and tried to remove as many environmental factors as I could. What that meant was pretty much not eating packaged or prepared foods anytime especially right before my period. I also eliminated diet soda and sugar because of the chemicals in diet soda can trigger migraines as well as the sugar spikes and lows that sugar can cause. Well, hell, you eliminate soda, prepared convenience foods, and sugar and you will lose some weight.
I also wanted to help my friend. Let’s call him “Andrew” for now. I did not want to make him feel bad about his weight, but I didn’t want him to lose his sight or a foot to diabetes. I didn’t want to walk around with a man who was barely forty who was so heavy he had to walk with a cane. I saw so much potential in him that I don’t think he even saw in himself.
Now, conventional wisdom would advise that you cannot “change” a man and it is disrespectful, futile, and even kind of cruel to see anyone as a “fixer upper.” But hey, I’m a fixer upper. No one WANTS to be fat and anyone who is fat sure as hell knows it. They do not need to be reminded. What they do have to be reminded of is that they are loved and that they can get healthy again. Shame or conditional love will not produce real change in anyone.
The truth is that I do love him. I would love him even in the state he was in and if that never changed, it would be okay. He loved me for the mess I was in. I still would have occasional crying fits over my ex-husband whenever I had to go to the old house to get some furniture or deal with the dogs in whom we still kind of share custody. I was kind of homeless when I moved up here and I was pretty broke. The “savings” I had for the move went really quickly and I still had to borrow money from the bank for a deposit and first month’s rent on my apartment. I could have borrowed it or received a gift from my family for the expenses, but I rather answer to the bank at 6.5% interest for the next two years rather than answer to my family with 100% guilt and obligation forever.
It was very brave of him to take a chance on me, but he saw potential in me like I saw potential in him. He saw my homelessness and my struggles as temporary. He saw that I had a plan and the means to make my dreams come true. I had a fast approaching start date for a new job with a major financial firm, even if it is near the bottom. He saw that I did have an apartment in the works and my couch surfing would lead me to shore soon enough. And maybe he saw that my weight was not as problematic as I saw it. He did not even keep himself from loving me even though there were no guarantees that I would love him back. When I asked him why he still fell in love for me even though I was clear we were just “friends” he said, “because I couldn’t help it and I would have kept my distance just to be near you.” How could a woman not fall for that?
Health wise we are both doing well. Neither of us have weighed ourselves, but I know I have lost a size in clothes and looking less “fluffy.” It is hard for me to notice how much weight I have lost because I never accepted my heavier self. I just know that my body is looking more like I think it should and my clothes are fitting better. Some clothes are fitting so loosely like are falling off my shoulder and off my waist. But, of course they don’t “fall off” because my boobs and butt are as prominent as ever, just the areas around them are smaller making my curves even that much more noticeable. Not a terrible thing, mind you. “Andrew” is looking a lot slimmer, especially in his face and tummy. He walks with a walking stick for balance when we go hiking, (Yes, we hike) but he doesn’t keep it as much because his balance is better because he is slimmer and his joints don’t hurt as bad carrying around all that heft. You take a fit person, pile on eighty to a hundred pounds on them and they are going to be winded and their joints are going to hurt. Any physical exertion done by an obese person takes considerable effort and it does hurt, but its the only way to get better. Thin people just don’t get that.
This is exactly what my beau and I look like when hiking. Not really…I’m not blond.
There is so much I want to talk about in regards to the transformation Andrew and I are going through. So many things in my life are going well. I feel like my life was so unbalanced that it should be no surprise I had a weight problem. Weight is more of a symptom of physical and mental disease which in turn causes disease. It is a vicious cycle. If we remove the shame from weight and obesity, then maybe we can do something about it. It is not a joke any more, its an epidemic.
You have read so much of my story so far: the funny, the sad, the sexy, the tragic. Right now, I think we are getting to the good part. We are getting to the happy ending.
Here is what we will look like when we lose all our weight.