Don't worry, I'm not going on about my own personal battle with weight all my life, nor am I going to recant recent tribulations (and triumphs) associated with that battle.
During our walk in the park today, though, I thought about two very different stories associated with weight and how it affects people differently.
I taught on a 9th grade team with two other girls, one of whom fought her weight constantly, as did I. We commiserated, we walked together, we weighed each other, and it seemed that was all we talked about. Our other team member was a girl who taught science, and she was a tiny thing. She was about the same height as Teri and me, 5'2", but she was rail thin. You know how some women gain weight when they get pregnant and never seem to lose it? (You can put your hands down now.) Not Kim. Even after two children, she still looked like a kid herself.
As if teaching high school and raising two children (who were very close in age) weren't enough stress on her, Kim's husband decided to enter medical school. Approximately a thousand miles away. (I don't know how much stress that caused HIM, since he wound up hooking up with a floosie he met in med school, but that's none of my business. I guess.) So then Kim was a SINGLE parent for all practical purposes, and her stress level skyrocketed.
I know that stress causes some people to stop eating, or not to eat as they should. I have no personal knowledge of this, since I have never, ever been too tired/rested, sad/happy, stressed/relaxed, cold/hot, manic/depressed, nervous/calm, angry/pleased to EAT. When I was a senior in high school and we suspected I may have mono, the doctor asked about my appetite. "Don't you worry about her appetite," my mother told him, "what's wrong with her?"
Kim's stress caused her to continue to lose weight, though, and one morning she came into Teri's classroom with tears in her eyes. She had stepped on the scale that morning (she probably avoided it as much as I did), and she weighed 88 pounds.
I'm not kidding, 88 pounds. A grown woman with two children.
Teri immediately started railing at Kim, telling her she wished she had HER problems, and she didn't want to hear it, and a lot more things that only someone as insensitive as Teri was could come up with. I finally stopped her and said, "Kim's weight problems are just as real as yours and mine, and you need to hush." I would have told her to shut her damn fat mouth (emphasis on mouth, not on fat, since I really didn't have room to throw rocks myself), but we had to teach together.
Another time I saw some eye-opening dynamics associated with weight was when I was a Weight Watchers leader. A mother and daughter came in together, and they were faithful about attending every week. The girl was home schooled, so she didn't have the problem of staying on the program while she was at school. Neither of them was extremely overweight, but I guess the mother didn't want her daughter to develop a problem in her teens that would be hard to deal with in adulthood.
The mother lost weight faster than her daughter, and pretty soon she was at her goal weight. Then she was at the bottom end of her goal weight range. And she kept losing. Then she was 5 pounds below the bottom of her goal weight range, and the Weight Watchers instructors' manual said I couldn't continue to weigh her. When she came in the next week, I told her she was below a healthy weight and I was no longer allowed to weigh her. She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, "But what do I do? If I eat, she eats."
I didn't know what to tell her. They didn't cover the psychology of family dynamics as it relates to weight loss in moms and their teen daughters in the 8-hour blitz course I took to become a WW leader. Pretty soon they stopped coming altogether, and I have wondered what ever became of them, particularly the daughter. She probably has daughters of her own now.
I don't know where I'm going with this topic. I think the whole food issue is a major design flaw in our make-up. Why do we have to LIKE food? Why can't we get JUST ENOUGH to survive? I mean, we don't suffer from an excess of AIR, do we? We breathe just enough to get by, maybe a little more in high-pressure situations or during heavy exercise, but breathing in extra air doesn't affect our health or our looks. I have often said that if I could quit eating the same way I quit smoking - cold turkey - then I wouldn't have a weight problem. Knowing the difference between just enough to keep living and too much is the problem. I have an "all or nothing" mentality.
Which may just explain why I opened four boxes of Girl Scout cookies today and put them on the table in the center of my room and told students to help themselves. I knew I could have just one Samoa and not do any damage with its 70 calories. It was the other 14 cookies in the box that would have done me in.