Friday, March 5, 2010

Early Proportions: The Spaghetti Story

You would never know it now--mostly because white pasta has tied my digestive system in knots for almost ten years now--but pasta and I once shared a very intimate relationship. In fact, when I was eleven, a life altering conversation took place between my mother and I, and the full understanding of that conversation would culminate over an innocent plate of spaghetti.
To fully understand where I'm coming from here, you must know that I was raised in one of those families--a wonderful family--that held high emphasis and great regard for, FOOD. Part of this emphasis happened out of necesity, because we were close knit, and Grandpa was an insulin-dependent diabetic. Meals happened like clockwork to assure his good health and balanced blood sugars.
However, most of this emphasis on food happened because we liked to eat, and food--good food and lots of it--was just part of the joy of life. Holiday meals were carefully and artfully constructed with an anual line-up of traditional foods. We ate to celebrate when we were happy, we ate to well-wish when congratulations were in order, we ate to commiserate when times were hard, we ate for comfort when there was nothing else to be done.
Raised in this excellent tradition, and watching the men in the family answer simply "yes" when asked to choose between two different desserts, I caught on quickly, and by my pre-teen years was no novice at filling my plate in tiers. Grandpa always challenged the grandkids to clean their plates just like him, and when your plate was as full as mine, that was no small task.
Consequently, the time came when my mother had to sit me down for the big "discussion." Unlike most pre-teens, the discussion did not involve boys, the birds and bees, or substance abuse. No, for me the discussion was about some strange creature called a "PORTION." My mom, who has been a Registered Nurse now for a great many years and quite qualified to bring up the topic, explained to me that I should limit myself to one "portion" or "helping" (as we called them as children) at dinner, and forego seconds.
I must have nodded my head in a satisfactory manner during this conversation, because my behavior shocked her reasonably that night at dinner. We had company, and she had made spaghetti to assure that there would be plenty to go around. When the spaghetti pot came my way, I filled my plate within an inch of its life and then topped it off with two or three ample ladles of sauce.
As I went for the parmesian cheese, mom stopped me quietly, leaned over, and asked, "Sarah! Don't you remember what we talked about today!?" I nodded fervently and answered, "Sure do, mom! But if I can only have ONE helping, I may as well, make it a good one!" With that meal began the battle of the attitudes that so makes or breaks the process of healthy eating and well living. Do I feel more deprived in my mind by limiting myself to a portion? Or do I feel more deprived if I am deprived of control, health, and energy by eating and lifestyle habits that rob me of those things?
I look back on this time as one of my first GENUINE growing up experiences in my life, because at that young age, I met one of my life's greatest challenges. This conversation, along with the realization that my daily choices could turn out to have serious consequences, was one of the first small steps out of childhood for me. I couldn't be the princess in the stories who lived happily ever after if I got FAT, because the princesses in the stories were NEVER fat.
Well, that particular thought, could spawn a million blogs regarding the unrealistic expectations set before our young girls currently in the form of Barbi Dolls, pre-teen idols, Hollywood actresses, etc., but the point is, the early mis-conception that I could not be successful, liked, or even taken seriously, became a vicious battle as time progressed.
I certainly didn't get these thoughts about myself or my weight from my family, because I was a very loved, encouraged, and affirmed child and teenager. For me however, though losing weight has been difficult, the battle has been, and still is so very much, a mental tet-a-tet. For that reason, I think it will be very healthy to rehash some of these past struggles, face them, see them on paper, and get past them.
The fact is, I know my thought processes have been wrong. I've been able to condemn my thoughts categorically throughout my journey, yet I still catered to and believed those thoughts more than just a little. I remember a time, not so long ago, that I felt it was a shame I did not have enough character to be an anorexic or a bolemic. That's right. I said CHARACTER. Now, is that not MESSED UP?!
I think it's fair to say that I have gained complete freedom from the above thoughts, but I do still find myself worrying that people will judge my character by my girth. I also catch myself looking at home videos of my mom and grandma--both beautiful ladies--and wondering, "Will my kids ever remember me like that? Will their memories and attitudes about me be affected because I'm heavy?" And in the situation of a wrong done or a slight committed against me, I often still think--though I do ever give the thought voice--"That person would never have treated me like that if I was twenty, or thirty, or fifty pounds lighter."
Now. Do I look at these printed words and say "Oh my goodness! That's just outrageous and completely wrong!?" YES! Nevertheless, I still catch myself attaching these mental tags to situations, and more and more, I realize how essential it is to dump thoughts like these with the garbage or I'm going to find myself fighting the same mental battles when I finally DO reach my weight loss goals.
So, bare with me friends, while I type it all out of my little system--because if I'm gonna write something--I may as well write A LOT of it!!!

1 comment:

  1. Wow...those are the exact same thought processes I go through on a nearly daily basis. It'll be interesting to see the detailed version. You may very well find that you're not alone in this mental battle.