There are a couple of (gay) women living here who I’ve nicknamed the Skinny Minnie Twins. Both of them were college professors and have been together since their early twenties. They are upbeat, friendly and well accepted into the ecosystem here…if the term ecosystem can be applied to a continuum care campus. They both took Mahjong lessons when we all started but one decided the game was not for her. We’ve had 4-5 others who’ve tried to learn but gave up on themselves ever catching on, so they dropped out too. But the other twin plays Mahjong every Wednesday along with me and enough others to make up two tables. American Mahjong is a hard game to learn and even harder to get good enough at it to occasionally win which is why I love it. The challenge of always having something new to learn about playing the game excites me. Yes, I’m obsessed. And I'll bet you're thinking I got side-tracked away from the dieting theme. I didn't. Well, maybe a little bit but not much.
I recently learned that Twin # Two has been going to Weight Watcher meetings every week faithfully for over 40 years. I’d been a member of Weight Watchers for a couple of stretches in my life but I gained what I lost back again when I quit. I’ve been in Tops and another diet group whose name escapes me. I’ve done a doctor supervised, all liquid diet (my favorite of any I’ve ever been on because I never got hungry or thought about food). I’ve joined gyms and worked out obsessively, then quit when the pounds were gone. I’ve lost and gained back 50 pounds three times in my life.
I was 14 or 15 the first time my mom dragged me to a (quack) weight loss doctor. He had me breathe into a tube and declared I needed thyroid medication to speed up my metabolism and he had me wrapped in clothe strips soaked in some kind of herbs and put in sauna bath. Behold I’d come out five pounds lighter and ready to pass out. Of course, the water weight that got sweated out of me would come back just in time for another ‘treatment.' which he sold in blocks of ten. Years later, another doctor told me that putting me on thyroid medication that young and without the proper tests to know if I even needed it is probably what killed off my thyroid gland so that now I actually do need it. (Being on it for so many years is what thinned my bones out.)
I’ve always admired how the Skinny Minnie twins look. Their bodies could easily pass for women in their twenties and they dress in simple but well-made jeans, tailored shirts and occasional sweaters. Before I learned about Twin # Two not always being skinny I thought they maintained their healthy bodies because they walk a lot and take the line dancing classes which I know helps, but I never would have guessed # Two once had an unhealthy relationship with food, like I do. I asked her if she was a WW leader. “Nope.” I thought maybe she worked for the corporation like all the long-timers I knew back in the day. I asked her if after all this time she still feels she needs to go and she replied, “I’m afraid to stop going.” I need to have a one-on-one conversation with her sometime. I’d love to do a deep dive into her back story regarding her relationship with food.
My back story is the classic tale of a fatty-fatty-two-by four. I use food for comfort, for celebration, to soothe hurt feelings or to treat anxiety and depression on the rare occasion when I experience the latter. I use food when I’m bored or if I want to punish myself or someone who dares to suggest I shouldn’t eat this or that. Yes, I’ve been known to be a closet eater because no one tells ME what I can or can’t put in my mouth! Not since I turned thirteen and my dad and mom had a huge argument over making me clean my plate or sit at the table until bedtime when I didn't comply. Closet eating makes no sense and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out nor would it take a psychiatrist to point out that it’s all my mothers fault. Just kidding. She may have set me up for an eating disorder but intellectually I know I’ve been an adult for far more years than she forced fed me as a child so in theory I should be able to monitor myself by now. I can get obsessed over things like playing Mahjong or learning a new craft so why couldn’t I have obsessed over developing a healthy relationship with food for the past 69 years?
Weight gain has been on my mind big time since the first of the year when I usually do the traditional New Year’s Resolution and loss a few pounds but this year instead of losing I’ve been gaining at an alarming rate. So fast that I obsessed for awhile that I had a huge tumor growing inside me until I remembered that in February when I was in the hospital they did a thorough set of x-rays of my body looking for broken bones and would have seen the mass my imagination conjured up.
My only comfort is that one day at a lunch table with a dozen or so of my fellow residents everyone was complaining about gaining ten pounds over the past year. One lady said, “It’s all the carbs they serve us” and a guy replied, “they do it on purpose so we’ll all die off faster and they can resell our apartments.” Ms. Social Worker bemoaned the fact that she’s had to buy all new clothes and I confessed that I refuse to do that and I have fewer and fewer choices left in my closet. I mean that, too, about not buying clothing in a larger size. I’m only fifteen pounds under what was the highest I’ve ever weighed in my life. I’m not going to make it easier for me to get there again.
I’ve done a lot of thinking about my life since The Fall in February. I’ve experienced most of the benchmarks we humans are supposed to find along the way and I’ve long ago made peace with the ones I’ve missed. I’ve had hard times and good times. Fun times and sad times. Times when I've failed and times when I succeeded. But I’m mostly proud of the way I've 'done life.' I may not have accomplished great things that will go down in history but I've had some good friends, found my soulmate and I'm a good person where it counts in my heart. I have only one real regret, one big thing that if we had do-overs in life, I’d do over and that's my relationship with food. Its my Achilles' heel.
Until next Wednesday… ©