The Cat is WAY Out of the Bag

(All I had to do was type the word cat and my dog jumped into my lap. As he weighs 50 pounds, that disrupted the blogging process. I’ve convinced him that the world is now safe from c-a-t-s and he’s lying down beside me. Back to business.)

My parents came over for dinner last Sunday to help polish off the rest of the black eyed peas, cornbread, and greens.

We’ve been dancing around this whole diet thing with my mom. I know she knows, because she’s talked about it with my friends, but we’ve not talked about it directly. Indirectly, she’s made some comments, but we’ve avoided any actual conversation.

Sunday, she just blurted out: you have to tell me about this program you’re on, because I’ve got to do something.

There it was. I couldn’t avoid the conversation, but I didn’t have to be, because it was clearly about her and not me. Yes, I can get on the internet, the most public of public spaces, but I don’t like talking to my mom about my weight.

I told her the basics, and I stripped the sugar-coating right off:

  • You sign up for a year, and go every week.
  • If you miss a class, you have to schedule a make-up.
  • You do some variation on a liquid, high-protein/low-carb very low calorie regimen to kick off the program.
  • Exercise is involved.
  • It only works if you work it.
  • You have to log what you eat. (This isn’t really a rule of the program, but it is a rule for me, because it is the only way I stay honest.)
  • You really can’t drink while you’re doing it. Really.

She, like me, had done a somewhat similar, though less intensely monitored program through a well-regarded hospital. She, like me, had failed to keep the weight off.

Right away, she was asking about how to modify the plan. True, while you are doing the all-liquid phase, if you get stuck, you can have a chicken breast and undressed green salad, but it is called an emergency meal for a reason. It is not supposed to become your standard meal.

Right away, she was worried about what she would do when going out to dinner with friends. I told her that she needed to learn to drink a protein shake before she went and just have water at dinner.

Water. Not wine. I probably sounded mean when I said it, but when my parents, husband, and I get together for dinner, and I don’t drink, and they manage to finish three to four bottles of wine, where do they think those calories are going?

Conveniently, the doctor’s office I’m working with was having an open house for their program the following night, so I sent her.

She texted me 10 minutes before it was supposed to start telling me she was on the way. This either meant she was running late, or that she was texting in the car. I wanted to text her back and tell her to keep her hands on the wheel, but I didn’t.

She started texting me about 30 minutes after the scheduled start, which either meant she was texting during the presentation or that she had already checked in and checked out. (Or that traffic was really bad, except then I would have for sure gotten a ‘traffic is really bad’ text.)

She said she’d left, but that the nutritionist I’ve worked with most closely was going to call her to get her started.

So that’s it. My mom is going to be doing this program.

I’m glad for her. My weight struggles are the children of her weight struggles. Her mother was tall and thin, as was her dad. She was three to four inches shorter than her mom; I’m two inches shorter than that. Neither of us inherited my grandmother’s statuesque frame. Reverse Darwinism, you might say, except my mom has already toughed out two bouts with the illness that killed her own mom, so we’re small, but mighty, in these later two generations.

My mom. We laugh about her behind her back. My husband and I call the fridge at her house the condiment museum, as that’s all it houses. Even now that my dad is home full-time, retired, there never seems to be much food there. One of my friends and I have an ongoing joke about my mom’s fervent belief that bread will kill you. Seven glass of wine, no problem. Eating out every night, no problem. But bread? Bread will kill you.

Yes, disordered eating and fear of food runs in the family. And, don’t forget, my mom is married to my dad, the man who used to serenade me with the lovely song:

Nobody loves a fat girl
She’s just a truck on the highway of love

I feel that participating in this program has really helped me finally change how I look at food. I’m hopeful that the changes I’m making to my diet are going to become my lifelong food habits.

My mom has done things that I swore I would never do, because they seemed so cruel when she was doing them. She’s taped photos of extremely large naked women, women who clearly have taken great care to cultivate large bodies of which they seem very proud,  to her refrigerator door to remind her of why she doesn’t want to eat. She’s bought juices and potions and pills, and driven me to do the same. (I mean literally taken me in her car, not psychologically hounded me, although …) She’s done the grapefruit diet and the cabbage soup diet and the TWA Stewardesses diet and Atkins and Sugar Busters and so on and so forth.

And she says absolutely mean, scathing, judgmental things about people who are fat. She says it like it is a dirty, filthy word that causes her physical pain. She calls someone fat and her eyes narrow, her mouth gets hard, and she looks like she’s about to hit someone to drive home the point. She has so much baggage around the notion of fat that she could employ a full-time porter to lug it around and she’s still have to carry three or four bags herself.

She hates fat. I certainly felt how disgusted she was with me any time I was overweight.

So how does she feel about herself?

She’s tormented, and I know exactly how excruciating that torment is. I really hope that she benefits from this program the way I have.

Selfishly, however, I really hope that she’ll just do it on her own and I’ll continue to do it on my own and we’ll never have to share the class. That’s selfish, but I’m just trying to protect myself. I can’t handle her issues right now. I’ll try to be helpful, but I don’t want to become her new best friend about this.

I want my mom to be healthy and happy. I’ll do what I can to support any health habits she adopts. We see them all of the time, so it’ll be obvious whether she’s doing the program or not. I’ll have to get myself to a good place on this and not let old patterns and habits trip me.

Blargh. Thinking about all of this has made it harder to blog this week, so now, I hope that’s out of my system.

Thanks for listening.

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8 Responses to The Cat is WAY Out of the Bag

  1. From what I can tell about you from reading your posts over the past few months, I’m guessing that your mom — who you obviously love and want to support — is also perhaps the worst person to suddenly take part of this program with you. This program has been YOURS in the best possible way: something you’ve owned, something that has given you structure and support, and something you’ve excelled in. It makes total sense that you would be frazzled and even stressed by this development.

    You are so amazing and so honest and self-aware. It sounds like you’re setting appropriate boundaries and protecting yourself in this process. That alone is a victory here. I hope that getting this out on the blog will help you move forward.

    • Andie says:

      Thank you for your very kind words & insightful comment. I do want her to feel good and be healthy and find a way to let go of her nonsense, but I guess I’m just not feeling strong enough to be very supportive. You are exactly right – boundaries are called for here!

  2. Jennifer says:

    Argh… This was a beautiful post, even with its pain. Like lovelyproject said, your self-awareness is amazing. I don’t know you, but you have clearly demonstrated your power and triumph over your upbringing. You will never be your mom. Go Andie! 🙂

  3. Great post thanks for sharing.
    One thing I didn’t notice you post and so wonder whether you are aware of it is that by asking you about the program and signing up to your program she’s obviously very impressed and envious of your results. I’d say she’s proud of what you have achieved.
    If you are fearful of her impacting your progress then I think you are right to set boundaries. I know people often talk about the support friends and family can offer people on weight loss journeys but the reverse is also true. They can make you feel ok about slipping up because you’re both being naughty and then the spiral back to unhealthy livings sets in again.
    Ultimately the key to your success has been the program and your hard work. If your mum wants to see the same results she needs to follow that model i.e. work with the clinic and put in the effort.

  4. TresLaLa says:

    This is one reason why I am so glad my mom lives 2,000 miles away. She, too, has tried every diet in the book. And yet, when I come home, there are bags of potato chips hidden in the living room. We just can’t be responsible for their choices. Sorry that you have to share this with her – I hope she does well, but I wouldn’t blame you if you kind of hope she drops out.

    • Andie says:

      Seeing you write that I can’t be responsible for her choices reminds me that I can’t hold her responsible for mine. I often wonder if part of her mean comments to me about my weight are really reflections of perhaps guilt that she somehow has some responsibility for my tortured relationship with food or weight. Ahhhh … MOMS.

  5. phat50chick says:

    Andie – thanks for this post. My mother achieved her weight loss before me, but we are at least able to share alittle bit about our points, activity, cheating over a glass of wine on weekends. 🙂 We can laugh about it and still enjoy our life.
    I was touched by your words, I almost teared up and I giggled like hell about the condiment museum. Doesn’t everyone giggle about their parents behind their backs? (Don’t get me started about the “stewless beef stew” that Mom made 2 weeks ago for dinner. She’s a lousy cook!)
    I love your writing. I wish you continued success and I wish your mom success.

    • Andie says:

      Stewless beef stew! Love it! Thanks for your kind words. I am sure we’ll get there, but we’ll both have to work to squelch the judgment & meanness.

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