Waking up takes time. And it doesn’t happen all at once. I think it starts as a whisper in the back of your head. … your pants are tight and these are the new ones you just bought….. then somehow, you go back to sleep. Until it happens again, and it’s louder this time. I was on a bus once and a little boy (maybe 4 or 5 years old) said “Mommy, she’s fat!” His little finger, pointing at me. His mother pushed him past me as fast as she could. My face went red. I was AWAKE and ASHAMED and ANGRY. The bus pulled into NYC and I made it to my office. I had a bagel and a cup of coffee at my desk and I could feel the haze of sleep coming back over me. By the time I had my lunch, I had gone back to sleep. My self-protection mechanisms were working over time and all was well with my world. Until it wasn’t.
How long did it take for the ALARM to start going off on a regular basis? Yeah, it took a while. It was January 2010, I had just turned 44 and I went to see Dr. Ryan for my annual physical. I got on the scale and the numbers slapped me in the face. I WAS AWAKE. I love Dr. Ryan. She talked to me. She listened to me. I was in tears in her office, telling her that I was out of control. If THAT number was possible, there was no end to how high it could go. What was stopping it?? Surely not me. I was medicating myself with food most of my life and I didn’t even understand why. It was just a habit. A habit I learned on the couch. Hmmmm. Ouch!! The truth hurts. These two things go together like Bacon and Grease. I mindlessly eat while I’m on the couch. Ok, let’s analyze this and work it like a problem like I do at work. Use my brain power and solve this sucker! Let’s break this down.
Fact#1 I sit on the couch
Fact#2 I eat when I’m not hungry
Conclusion: I sit on the couch and eat when I’m not hungry. (1+1 DOES equal 2!!)
Um, I think I’m done. THIS is NOT HARD STUFF DIANE.
Wait, but it is hard. It’s hard because I don’t know why I do it. I don’t want to be fat. I don’t want little 5-year-old boys pointing at me like I’m a circus fat lady on the bus. It’s hard, and it hurts. And as shameful as it is to admit, I don’t know how to stop sometimes. I DON’T WANT THIS!
I don’t want this. Ok, that’s a start. So what do you want Diane? I didn’t know. I didn’t know how to imagine something different for myself, let alone know how to figure out how to achieve it. So what did I do?? Back to Dr. Ryan. She told me I had to get a hold of my weight. Pretty much period, end of sentence. Yes, yes, she gave me tissues, and I wiped away my tears. She suggested Weight Watchers. I rolled my eyes…I had done that before. I joked that I needed to be hypnotized. She said, OK, DO IT. Whatever it takes. I was shocked that she didn’t treat it like the joke I meant it to be. Well, what she was saying was….Diane, WAKE UP, time for joking is over. WAKE UP and STAY AWAKE. You have work to do girl.
So, I went home and gained 12 more pounds, cried some more, felt sorry for myself. (Tell me you wouldn’t have done the same???) Then on March 20th 2010, I walked into the East Brunswick Weight Watchers Center at 730 am on Saturday morning and became a member. Hell yes, I bought the monthly pass — this was a long-term engagement! There I met Denise. I thought she was scary. Hell, they were all scary. I was afraid. I didn’t know how to be anything different from what I was. I was addicted to overeating. I had an unhealthy relationship with food. I had an emotional attachment to my couch! I was afraid of what I didn’t know. But then, there in the back row of the 8am Saturday meeting I made myself admit that most of all I was afraid of failing……and gaining more weight….. and I was all alone. I couldn’t have been more wrong, about all of it, about all of them, about myself. I was AWAKE, now I had to learn to BELIEVE.
You know how they say “we are born alone, and we die alone?” Well I am here to tell you that is Bullshit!! I don’t know about you but I was born into the loving arms of my amazing mother Alice and I believe I will die in the loving arms of my family. And I didn’t know it then, but on March 20th, I was far far from being alone in that WW room. Peter, Cait and Erin were there with me in spirit. Denise was there — she is perhaps the strongest tool in the room. Her warmth, her humor, her talents as a teacher were ever present. But most importantly her strongest message was — “No Body quits without coming to see me first!!” Tenacity. She is filled with it, and she had set out to fill me with it also. No body is quitting. How do you quit on yourself? Not if Denise had something to say about it. I was the least alone than I ever was — Lisa was there, and Cindy and Russ, and Michele, and Roberta and Mady, and Susan, and Yolanda and Lina, and Kathy, and dozens and dozens of other wonderful people who, every week cling together and celebrate, struggle and support each other on this journey to find another way to BE.
So, I started Watching, and Weighting on March 20th 2010 — at the starting weight of 277.2 pounds. I can write these numbers now, without tears, without shame, without embarrassment — because they don’t OWN me anymore. I’m down 68 pounds so far, and I’m moving down. I’m learning a new way to BE myself.
And who knew…..I’m 45 years old and I’m learning who I am. I can be strong (er)…..and I’m a runner. (Gotta Believe, right?) And I’ve never been happier Off the Couch 🙂
Ciao for now…..Diane