February 1, 2006
“Maybe I should write about this stuff,” I am telling Elizabeth [her therapist]. “. . . I don’t have a story; I just want what happens to be a story.”
— Wendy McClure, b. 1972
American writer and editor, from I’m Not the New Me (a memoir)
I’m starting over.
I first went online with something like this in 1997, when I had my first GeoCities “home page,” before I even knew that there was an online journaling community and that I was a pioneer in it.
My efforts at weight management go back much farther than that, to 1972. I’d gained twenty-five pounds over the three years since my college graduation. A romantic relationship had ended badly. I joined Weight Watchers. I weighed 149 pounds at my first meeting.
I would jump for joy if I weighed 149 pounds today.
I don’t remember how much I lost that first time, but I do know I quit before I attained “lifetime member” status by reaching my goal. In fact, I think I quit before I was awarded a blue ribbon for losing the first ten pounds!
In the years that followed I had experiences typical of a middle class suburban wife and mother. My weight fluctuated, never going back to the 125 of my college years, but not rising much either. I weighed 151 at my first prenatal visit in January of 1985. I gained 30 pounds while I was pregnant. By the time my daughter was a year old I was down to 157. And I never went below that.
When I started my online journal in 1999, I included a section called “Refiguring” to track my weight loss efforts. That year I topped out at 227 pounds, almost 80 pounds more than at that first Weight Watchers meeting. As usual, I had limited success at the weight loss, but I was growing as a writer and enjoying that process. And I lost ten pounds, and was actually awarded a ten-pound ribbon. In 2001, however, I pulled the material after a discussion on a word lovers’ mailing list about the word “stout” garnered a snarky public comment from someone who had visited my site and seen my weight loss pictures.
In January 2005 I had a health scare. I was sort of doing Weight Watchers again. That is, I had a membership, I attended meetings fairly regularly, and I paid some attention to what I ate. But not long after the holiday season was over, I got sick. It started as a cold, but quickly escalated. The side effects of the over-the-counter medications I was taking were worse than the symptoms they were designed to control. I was overweight, depressed, and sinking fast physically and emotionally. Worse, I was having mobility problems.
I focused on recovering my health and some measure of mobility. I didn’t lose a lot of weight, but I felt better. In June I went on a two-week solo foray to Wyoming, a landscape that I had longed to see nearly all my life. The trip entailed exploring some rugged country, much of it by car, but a good deal of it on foot. I enjoyed every single minute and came back feeling that I had drops of Jupiter in my hair.
Then I rested my way through July. In August I went to Vermont again for the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, a ten-day event that kept me so busy in the classroom and the library that I didn’t have time (or didn’t make time) to walk the nature trails that surround the place.
I began following Weight Watchers again in September, weighing in at 220. Just before Thanksgiving I stood at 216. The season of feasting put four pounds back. Well, the season didn’t do that, my indulgence in the feasting did. And I let the business and the busy-ness of the season distract me from focus on my weight loss efforts and my fiction writing.
And then I got sick again, random cold viruses mixing with the January blues I am susceptible to. I was miserable, and starting to feel out of control physically and emotionally. Today, after reading about the problems two online friends are having with their health (both contending with Type II diabetes), I sat myself down and determined to tackle this project one more time.
Now that she’s back in the atmosphere
With drops of Jupiter in her hair,
She acts like summer and she walks like rain,
Reminds me that there’s time to change . . .
— Patrick Monahan, Train
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margaretdeangelis [at] gmail [dot] com (replace the brackets with @ and a period)