Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Starting the Fight

Image by my friend Guz Schneider -
These are my wings

It's not about looking good, but feeling great!

On August 2nd 2009, my father passed away from health complications due to overweight. At the time of his death, he weighted 300kls/661lbs.

Five years before his passing, I was arriving in Porto Alegre, Brazil. My parents had just divorced each other, and since I am an only child I really didn't want to live at what I considered to be at the time my very own Gaza Strip: between crossfires!

I arrived August 2004, and immediately went after health insurance. I decided about living here and knew that I should get ready just in case something happened. That's when it all began! To get my contract going, they got all kinds of information about my health, and one of the things they analyze is obesity. Well, record shows that at the time my weight was 135kls/297lbs. I'm only 5"7inches/1,65m. That was bad, really bad news.

I was told to look for a doctor and see what was going on with me. I heard the doctor tell me that I was the very first 21 year old girl he'd ever met that was ready to get killed over at any moment because of the overweight. That hit me hard. I had no response - didn't laugh, cry, smile, get angry... I just stood there.

I came out of his office decided not to tell a soul about what had just happened. I've been in enough diets throughout the years to know that there is nothing worse than having people - skinny at most times - telling a "Heavy Set Person" things like: "don't you think you've had enough?", "isn't that your fifth piece of candy?" or "I thought you were on a diet...", as you hold in your hands a slice of your friend's birthday cake.

I joined a gym that was across my grandmother's house - I was living with my grandparents, my uncle and aunt along with their kids in a duplex while I looked for a place of my own. Every day, morning time I was in the gym, religiously! Morning time because almost no one came at that time, and most people at the house didn't see me coming in or out! I made myself go out at night every chance I had, even if it meant going out by myself. I got a full body mirror in my bedroom so to look at myself coming and going to the shower, especially when I got dressed. To look, is to admit.

I'd ask myself why should I care, or even love myself. I've been through already - my 25 years of age meant nothing near my 40 years of experience. There was a lot of recent bad experiences at the time, some good. Many times it got difficult to find a reason to just love myself. It is harder than one may think - to love yourself.

Thank God that it is ok to cry, and the best part of pillow talk is that 1) it doesn’t talk back to ya, 2) it knows how to keep all of your secrets!

Four months into living with my family and going to the gym regularly and I began to show some changes. I kept on wearing my regular clothes, kept on looking big. Only by the fifth month I got my own corner, and that is when the real running for me began.

A little later I got admitted to college, and I had to come out of the shell into a former social circle – no escapes. I exposed myself. During the first semester I was all about dark make-up, black or purple clothes, long purple hair or short black hair… piercings everywhere! I did scare a few off! And that’s what I wanted.I had found out recently that I was extremely overweight, and realized that people wouldn’t come to think of me in a more loving way because of the overweight –that got in my head because I put it there. So with that, it got easier to scare them off then to risk getting hurt.

By the time the second semester came around my hair was a chocolate brown, the makeup got reduced to lip gloss and maybe some mascara, the long pants gave in to skirts, and my need to scare became my need to laugh! I had officially become the funny heavy girl! Much lighter than before, but still very much on the heavy side.

I admit that I have been extremely lucky about my body type. I have a pretty curvy body, a generous bottom and big thighs. I never really looked my weight!

Still, it wasn’t enough! I was beginning to feel lighter, movement was being discovered! Muscles I’ve forgotten all about, and bones that I hadn’t seen in years were beginning to show up! I had to keep on. Over the course of the next three years, I watched my father get bigger and bigger. Whenever I’d try to get him to see how great I was doing, and that I’d help him do the same, he’d throw tantrums as a small child! Food was all he wanted. That sit with me for a while, and hearing that brought me to an important realization later on.

I went to a doctor after getting rid of the first 20kilos/44,9lbs. he told me that I was doing ok, but that I really shouldn’t lose over 1kilo/2,2lbs a week, and that for that I should go and see a nutritionist. Here comes the realization, something I stand for until today: why follow preset rules? Eat only what I was told for the duration of the diet, and then it is all over, I bake a brownie, have a piece and gain all of the weight back?! No way! I had to listen to my body! Take away the junk, eat normally and healthy, gradually eat less. Nowadays I eat all kinds of food, the sweets and candies are under control, but I just won’t get out of the 90-95kilos/198 - 209lbs., my genetics won’t let me go! My body has learned how to stay heavy, and doesn’t want to unlearn it.

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