The Inheritance of Loss

Posted by Sherry , Tuesday, November 30, 2010 Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I didn't notice this until 5 or 6 years ago when a colleague of mine pointed it out (and mocked me relentlessly) but I routinely use the phrase “Oh, for cryin' out loud!” You know, like, I'm in the check out line at the Piggly Wiggly to buy some milk and Pringles and after waiting 25 minutes for the blue hair in front of me to get out all her coupons and argue with the cashier about whether she can use the .25 cents off Charmin coupon for both bath tissue AND ass wipes or just the tissue and then its finally my turn and the register runs out of ticker tape and the manager has to be called over to replace it because the cashier is a “New Team Member!” and then the manager decides to use this as a 'learning experience' for said “New Team Member!”? That's when I pull out the “Oh for cryin' out loud!”

Now, for those of you who haven't met me or read my profile information, that probably leads you to believe that I am a 75 year old South Jersey grandmother who tells dirty jokes and shakes her fist at bad drivers. Or that I'm Joy Behar.

Unfortunately, you'd have assumed incorrectly. I'm just a dorky 33 year old who complains frequently and loudly enough to SEEM like a 75 year old. By the way, my knees are popping like CRAZY today. Must be a storm coming.

But you see, its not my fault that I say “Oh, for cryin' out loud” or “For Pete's sake!” or “You get married so you have someone to kill the bugs”. I INHERITED these phrases. They're family mottoes! Sometimes we cross-stitch them on pillows.

And maybe its the fact that the holidays are upon us or the fact that my 89 year old grandmother recently came to visit, but lately, I've been thinking a lot about habits and rituals and what I've inherited versus what is 'all me.'

For instance, I bite my fingernails. Yes, it is a nasty habit and probably means I'm a nervous person or need constant oral stimulation (tee hee) or maybe it means I like my nails short. Or that I'm a serial killer.

No one else in my family bites their nails. Not my sister, my mother, my grandmother or my father. They all have lustrous, painted (daddy likes Rockette Red), beautiful nails and have no shame showing their hands to even the most judgmental of Vietnamese manicurists.

Also, I HAVE to sing along to every song that comes on the radio. I simply CANNOT carry on a discussion if there is a song playing in the background that I know the words to (which means there isn't much talking in my car. Unless, of course, we're on the Smooth Jazz station, in which case, we're talking about my impending funeral because I'm about to throw myself out of the moving car). Much of my family is like this. We WILL shush you if you choose to interrupt us during our renditions of any Carpenters' song.

Anyway, while my grandmother and mom were here last week, I took notice of their body types and eating habits. Neither one of them has ever been fat nor have they ever really been skinny. They are both average, pear-shaped, white women who complain mostly about their thighs being a tad jiggly and asking if things "make their butts look big" but in reality, they look like just about every other American woman walking the streets. My sister, lucky girl, inherited that particular shape while I, on the other hand, am a different fruit altogether.

Call it apple, call it top heavy, call it Kathy Bates – I'm basically your average Granny Smith sitting on a couple of Popsicle sticks. Pour some caramel on me and you've got a sought-after State Fair treat. I carry all my extra weight right around my middle, the unhealthiest place to carry extra weight. Also pretty terrible in terms of finding jeans that don't make you look like like one of the Tweedle Dee or Dum twins. This, along with my love for cop show dramas and poop humor, I inherited from my father.

With regard to eating habits, well, I can tell you that I've never ever seen mom or grandma 'binge' on anything other than a sale at T.J.Maxx. Mom's usually on a 'diet' and at any given time you can find a chewy, fake-peanutbuttery, 100 calorie treat at the bottom of her purse. I've seen her turn down homemade cookies with a flip of the hand and claim that she just “can't get enough” of something as mouth-watering as celery sticks with fat free ranch dressing.

Grandma on the other hand, usually drinks ½ a can of regular Coca-Cola at lunch and cooks with Crisco regularly. Although she recently started working out so as to 'watch her figure,' on our recent trip to Starbucks, when our frowny faced barrista asked Grandma if she “wanted whip on her white chocolate mocha” Grandma looked genuinely perplexed when she answered “Well, OF COURSE!”

Although, she, and I, looked equally perplexed when the designer velvet track suit clad soccer mom behind us ordered a “grande half-caf, triple shot, half syrup, gingerbread soy latte”.

See, Grandma simply doesn't see a point in ordering a white chocolate mocha and then butchering it with skim milk and denying herself whipped cream. Why? Because Grandma only gets a Starbucks coffee treat TWICE A YEAR.

Bottom line here people, I inherited the worst of both my mom and grandma's worlds. I basically spent the last 27 years of my life binging on diet food and then turning around and treating myself to more of it for choosing 'wisely' and not eating the skin off of ONE piece of fried chicken.

By the by, Snackwell's Devil's Food low-fat cookies are only low-fat if you eat ONE of them. A box of those cookies will NOT make you thinner.

So, to sum it up, I got fat because of what I inherited and I got fat because of the choices I made. There's really no sure way to know which came first, the fatty or the Olestra.

What I do know, now, is that thanks in a HUGE part to my Lap Band, I'm finally able to take the best and healthiest bits from Grandma's eating habits and Mom's eating habits and come out the other end a thinner, happier and healthier person.

I don't know if I inherited this ability to take control of my life and make it better or if it is something I learned, and it really doesn't matter, I guess. I'm just glad I'm finally able to do it.

Grandma showed me how to make her famous pie crust. LOTS of Crisco

Then she showed me how to make her amazing fried chicken. MORE CRISCO!
I had about 3/4 of a piece, WITH the skin. Just the right amount and YUMMY!

Grandma, Mom and the Little Girl who I hope only inherits the best parts of all of us.

My Re-Education

Posted by Sherry , Thursday, November 11, 2010 Thursday, November 11, 2010

So, I have this friend....

Don't you just LOVE when stories start out that way? In high school such a phrase was often followed by: “who is having sex with her boyfriend and needs to get on birth control but she can't tell her mom and doesn't know where to go to get it” which was then followed by YOUR mom narrowing her eyes at you, getting a little sweaty on the forehead. Which was then followed by you cocking your snotty teenage hip to the side whilst responding “NO! REALLY! Its my FRIEND! Not ME! I SWEAR, MOM!”

Anyway – I have this friend, we'll call her Olive Oil. She's skinny. Really skinny. Always has been, always will be. And she's beautiful. And a whole bunch of other things that are wonderful and lovely and covetous. Like, she never fails to give people the benefit of the doubt. And she doesn't like to gossip. What is UP with that?

You already hate her, don't you?

Here, hate her some more: She once bitched and moaned to me about how she was sad that after birthing two kids she could no longer fit into her size 2 jeans. SIZE TWO. This conversation happened while we were eating our Panera Bread lunches – my salad (dressing on the side!) and her foccacia bread sandwich (extra cheese on the side!) and NON-DIET Coke. She DID get some salad too, that day though. In her lap.

Then I took off my size 20s and wrapped her skinny butt in them and stuck her in the trunk of my car. It was all done with love though.

Anyway, we've known each other for a long time. She's seen me at my heaviest, she's seen me at my skinniest. She's seen me happy with my body and hating my body. What she's never seen me as though, is NOT on a diet.

She's been with me to Walgreens when I was spending my allowance on Metabolife. She's eaten my Everything Bagel after I'd taken off the turkey and cheese while doing Atkins. She's scrunched up her nose at my Slim Fast and tasted a bite or two (and spit them out) of my Jenny Craig turkey and rice soup. She's listened while I've calculated the amount of Weight Watchers points in my chicken fajitas and wondered aloud how I fit in all the exercise I do. After school I'd eat carrot sticks and she'd have McDonalds.

Somehow, amidst all of my dieting and her NOT dieting, I continued to get fatter and she continued to get skinnier. In the abbreviated words of our deteriorating youth: WTF?

So, Olive Oil has been having some issues with feeling dizzy and disoriented and lethargic. She's not yet seen a doctor but she thinks she's has issues with her blood sugar. Her hypothesis was that she had started doing some exercise but had not upped her caloric intake enough to account for the amount of exercise she is doing. Her current solution? Stop exercising.

I suggested EATING MORE, because, well, for a fat girl, that's as instinctual as buying the black one because its most slimming. Elliptical for 30 minutes = a night of eating buttercream frosting out of the can. IT'S MATH PEOPLE.

Then she said something so horrific, so foreign, so unbelievable, I ALMOST put down the miniature Snickers bar I was licking. She said: “BUT SOMETIMES I'M JUST NOT HUNGRY.”

Stop the press! My skinny friend DOESN'T LIKE TO EAT WHEN SHE'S NOT HUNGRY?!

“Are you sure?” I asked? “What about just ½ a cheese stick or maybe a handful of nuts? M&Ms? A Whopper Jr.? I mean, you're skinny, C'MON! Live it up!”

But she insisted. She doesn't like to eat when she's not hungry. Not even a little.

And for the first time in my life, I kinda 'get it'. I'm not totally 'there' yet but thanks to Leona, I'm starting to understand what its like to have a normal relationship with food. I can't say that I don't pop a chocolate or potato chip every now and then, even though I'm full from lunch. And sometimes just seeing that its 6pm makes me hear dinner bells. But they aren't ringing that loudly and sometimes I'm able to shut them out as I would a Michael Bolton song on an elevator.

Every fat girl knows that 'only eating when you are hungry' isn't some giant secret that the skinny girls are keeping from us. We know its common sense. It is just that, for whatever reason, we've been ignoring that instinct for so long that the sense isn't so common.

After 27 years of doing it, eating when you aren't hungry isn't just a bad habit, it's inherent.

They say “you learn something new every day.” What they don't tell you is how hard it is to UNLEARN something you didn't want to know how to do in the first place.

Me & Olive Oil in 1995. She made brownies for our road trip but I couldn't eat them since I was on a diet.
Also, yes, her waist was and is, smaller than my bicep.