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.

16 Response to "My Re-Education"

Gilly Says:

I hate your friend.

Yeah...I also have friends who eat to survive. I don't get it, m'self. But you know something? I also don't get the lap band people who waste calories drinking a protein shake when they could be eating FOOD. What the WHAT?? Food is delicious! It's also FOOD. Yum!

Today, as I was shoveling halloween candy into my mouth, it occurred to me that this week, I have eaten chocolate in lieu of at least one meal every day this week. That's bad! Ugh.

On an up note...LOVED this entry! I want to marry it.

Theresa Says:

Great post, amazing insn't it. My ex mother-in-law was one of those. There would be a delicious cake or something and she'd say "shame, I'm not hungry!" I never understood that. And, LOL at tuning out Michael Bolton!

Ronkidonks Says:

I just love your blog.
That is all.


Amanda Kiska Says:

I think what people don't get is that for naturally thin people, it would be really unnatural to eat when they aren't hungry, but for us, it seems strange to eat only when we ARE hungry. I don't know how to re-learn that bit either, but the band does help a lot!

I love this post! You so eloquently identitifed and dissected what most people fail to grasp. It isn't about, "Just eat less and exercise!" when our brains tell us to eat when we are stressed, mad, bored, happy, tired, horny, etc.

Anonymous Says:

I am beginning to understand about not eating when you are not hungry. It makes total sense. I always think that if I don't eat a mealtime then I can't eat later! Thanks for the insight, and I hate your friend too :)

Nicole Says:

great post! I too have a 90lb best friend..who insisted we stop for a blizzard while we were at the mall today

Band Geek Says:

Yep, I really hate her and her knobby knees.

Bonnie Says:

That's why I don't hang with skinny people. :)

Kate Says:

I adore you, have I mentioned that? Great post! You look fab in that picture too.

Amy W. Says:

I tell you this all the time, but I love the way you write...I really do. And do you know what is crazy? You still look just as young as you did in 1995!

Mary H. Says:

Amy W is right - I didn't even realize that pic was from 1995 until I read that comment!

And in other thoughts...thanks for writing this. I've been busy and away from keeping up with the blogs and I needed to read every single bit of this.

I wish I knew why my brain works the way that It does...I wish I could turn it off. The lapband helps, but it definitely doesn't do the work for you...

Sandy Says:

I loved this post and it is so true. Even my weight loss doctor seemed confused this week when I saw him and he was complaining how hard it was to stay away from junk food at this time of the year. I wanted to ask him if the lightbulb came on and he could see it wasn't about knowing what food to eat. There is something that doesn't turn off what we eat when we eat it. I have skinny friends too who eat "normally", have never dieted like us (and I will say, I think I've hit all those diets you mentioned). A couple seem to think they should lecture me on what to eat. Most of them don't seem to care. It really is our decision. Thanks for writing this.

CeeJay Says:

What an awesome post...only the "fat girls" can understand what this is all about. I hope and pray that one day we can say triumphantly, "no thanks...I'm not hungry" and really be happy. :)

Kristin Says:

1. You are such a good writer. I love reading your posts.
2. The idea of not eating when you're not hungry... I saw a nutritionist once, nine years ago, who suggested that I not eat when I wasn't hungry, even if it was dinnertime. I completely freaked out. I even cried. I never went back to that nutritionist. Jeesh, you think that should've tipped me off to a serious problem?

Gen Says:

Awesome post, I agree you are a great writer! Thanks for your comments on my blog, so helpful. Habitual eating is definitely still an issue, though my relationship with food is SO much better and I mostly do not eat when not hungry.

My deal is I have felt the sweet spot and I just want it back!!!! I want that feeling of no interest in food. Its not so much the quantities I can or can't eat, its the feeling of no hunger.

I've tracked my calories several times in the past few weeks and I come up with between 1300 and 1500 minus about 300 for exercise. I think I just can't lose now unless I am below 1300, and without the sweet spot it is just so hard to do, I don't know how to do it besides some form of dieting!

Which, your post clearly proves, is probably the worst thing to do.

Thanks again.

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