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Let’s Talk About Carbs

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I remember the first time I thought I was fat. I was in my
twenties and had given birth to my third child, Bo, who I
believe was six months old. (No, not when he was born. Six
months after he was born.) I was 5’3” and weighed 134
pounds. I was standing outside of our apartment talking to a
friend and she readily agreed that yes, I was indeed fat. I
wish now that I was as heavy as I was when I first thought I
was overweight.
Back then my life was a rollercoaster and I didn’t need to
diet to lose unwanted weight. I divorced and instantly
became thin. Then I was in a new relationship and again
gained some unwanted weight. During the courting period
with my now-husband Rex, my weight would rise and fall
depending on how our relationship went. We had a very
rocky start and when we married on October 22nd, 1988, my
wedding dress was a size five. To be a size five again, I
think I would be too thin, especially at my age now. But in
a size five, I looked and felt great in my twenties.
I remember when I really knew I had an overweight
problem. Rex and I moved to Florida on April 26th, 2006. It
was a great move. We both had great jobs, the sun was
shining everyday, and the winters were warm. Life was
grand. One night in October, Rex and I got into this huge
fight and he called me a “fat ass”! I was shocked and hurt,
even if it was the truth. By this time I weighed 176 pounds
and being a short girl, I knew he was right. I was fat. But so
was he. What right did he have to call me that?
So, you know what I did? Yep, that’s right. I dieted and I
lost the weight. It wasn’t easy, but every time I thought
back to his “fat ass” sitting on the couch eating, I was more
and more determined to lose the weight and show him who
the fat one was.
I was a nurse and worked at a prison in Lake City, Florida.
I worked with a thin, cute girl named Amanda. Amanda
was also from Ohio but was much younger, prettier, and
thinner than I was. I loved her. She had spunk and will
power, and she was one of the sweetest girls I ever met. We
worked well together and became instant friends. I guess
when you work twelve-hour shifts with someone, they do
tend to grow on you. We were more like family than coworkers.
We got to talking, and she told me that she was heavy when
she was in high school. I couldn’t believe it so she brought
in a picture of her in her senior year of high school. Yep,
Amanda was once a fat girl. When I asked her how she lost
her weight, she told me she told herself she didn’t like
snake cakes. One day, she actually believed it.
Well, what works for one does not always work for
another. I told myself everyday for two weeks that I didn’t
like snack cakes, candy bars, or potato chips. The more I
told myself that, the hungrier I became and the more I
craved snack cakes, candy bars, and yes, potato chips. I
love that kind of shit, and I knew telling myself I didn’t like
it wouldn’t be enough. I needed a diet, and it had to be a
diet I could do.
While I was starving myself to be thin, Amanda was eating
and snacking. She would bring in nuts, cheese sticks,
pepperoni rolls, and even three pieces of Starburst candy.
See, working night shift as a nurse in a prison, we had some
downtime in the late night hours. We got to talking again
and she told me she doesn’t eat carbs. That’s a lie. Carbs
are in almost everything. She told me she tried to stay away
from all carbs. We talked about the foods she ate daily and
the foods she never eats. Birthday cake being one of the
things she never eats. Hell no. I was born and raised that
you have to have a piece of birthday cake for luck. I have
no idea if this is true, but I wasn’t about to find out if it
wasn’t. Besides, I loved birthday cake. I took notes as
Amanda talked. The faster she talked, the faster I wrote. I
honestly and truly believed I could also do the low-carb
diet. Breads and pasta are bad carbs, while fruits and
veggies are good carbs.
I bought books and eagerly researched everything I could
on this new-to-me diet. Bound and determined, as opposed
to the book, which was bound and paginated, I went to the
store and bought everything on my list of things I could eat.
I was so excited because I knew this was something I could
do. I even bought the whipped cream in the can, because
believe it or not, whipped cream was low to no carbs. Hell
yes, this was a diet I could excel at, I just knew it.
I did the low-carb diet and the first two days were fine. Rex
and I went out for breakfast one morning, and I had my list
of things I could and couldn’t eat. I needed the list because
I still couldn’t remember everything. I sat at the booth and
anxiously ordered my breakfast. Two eggs over easy, three
slices of bacon, and white toast. Wait, I can’t have toast.
I’ll have biscuits. Nope, I can’t have bread. NO BREAD!
Nothing to soak up my runny yolks with? What will I do?
Rex? He did this. He knew I would want toast. He planned
this all along. I smiled and told the waitress, “No bread.
Just the bacon and eggs, please.”
“Would you like grits or home fries?”
Hell yes, I want hash browns and home fries, and hot cakes
and syrup, and toast. “No, thank you,” I said politely
instead. She’s in on it with Rex. It’s a conspiracy.
I sat there at the booth and pouted. I added the creamer and
Splenda to my coffee and stirred. I could still at least enjoy
my coffee, and my Mountain Dew, even if it was diet. I
watched the waitress and Rex and wondered if they’re in
cahoots. I’m being ridiculous. I wanted toast with my eggs
and I’m acting like a child. This wouldn’t be the only time I
would be childish over the lack of foods I love to eat and
couldn’t eat. When the food came to the table, I almost
ordered toast until Rex’s words — “fat ass” — replayed
over and over in my head, just like a record stuck on repeat.
I watched as Rex buttered his hotcakes and added real
maple syrup to them. He added salt and pepper to his hash
browns, and real sugar to his coffee. At that moment, joy
smacked me in my face. While I was dieting and getting
thinner, Rex was eating and gaining more weight. Who’s
the fat ass now? It was all the motivation I needed to make
this low-carb diet work.
The best times I had on this diet were the nights I worked.
Amanda was on the exact same work schedule that I was
on, and I loved working with her. She wasn’t a diet cheater
and she’d been on this diet long enough to know it by heart.
She would tell me what she had to eat for her meals and for
her snacks during her days off. She was so disciplined and I
wanted to be like her. Who am I kidding? I wanted to be
her.
After a few months, I reached the point where I knew what
I could and couldn’t have, and dieting became easier. Rex
and I would have pizza and I knew that I could have the
toppings, but not the crust. Oddly, I was fine with that.
When I craved something sweet, I would stand at the
refrigerator door and hold the can of whipped cream to my
mouth and squeeze. It was delicious and satisfying. I didn’t
miss the pie or the other yummy stuff that was supposed to
be eaten with it. Jello and whipped cream was a satisfying
treat for my sweet tooth.
In May of 2007, I had lost thirty pounds and I looked and
felt wonderful. I secretly and beneath my breath thanked
Rex for my weight loss. If he hadn’t called me a “fat ass” in
the midst of a heated argument, I never would have lost the
weight I needed to lose.
Sadly, as we all know, all good things must come to an end.
Amanda left the prison and Rex and I transferred further
South for his job. I started working at the Manatee County
Jail where my weight slowly returned, plus some.
Through my dieting adventure, I’ve learned that with every
diet I have been on my weight loss was short lived. When
the weight returned, it also brought a few extra pounds with
it. Therefore, the end result was, I was heavier than I ever
was before.
Being a woman and being heavy is tough. The world says
that beautiful sexy women are tall and thin. Every
commercial portrays sexy as thin; whether they mean to or
not, they do. Sadly, when I’m thin, I feel sexy, confident,
and beautiful. When I’m heavy, I feel embarrassed and
ashamed.
Does anyone remember the diet pill Fen-Phen? It was big
in the late 1980’s and 1990’s. They took it off the market
when women started suffering from strokes, heart attacks,
and yes, even death. I remember watching a talk show
about women and the drug Fen-Phen. I will never forget
this one woman said she was willing to take the drug even
if she may die as a result of taking it. What does this tell
us? What is society teaching us? Death as a side effect is
OK just to possibly lose the excess weight? We’d rather die
than be fat? It’s sad and it’s the painful truth for some of us.
When Fen-Phen was taken off the market, women were sad
and upset. No other diet pill could do what Fen-Phen did.
Thank God.
All the women I have known have obsessed over their
weight for as long as I can remember. Why? Can’t all
women feel and be beautiful no matter their size? I’m still
the same person no matter what my weight is. I’ll always
be 5’3”; that will never change. But at 130 pounds or 180
pounds, I’m still the same person. Sadly, at 180 pounds, I
don’t feel like the sexy, confident person I am when I
weigh 130 pounds. People in public don’t look at me the
same either. It’s a sad reality and I face it daily. When I’m
thin, I’m funny and successful, and men and women notice
me. When I’m heavy, I’m still funny and successful, but no
one notices.
Guys don’t get it. My husband doesn’t get it. My brothers
don’t get it. My sisters, now they get it. We were all thin in
our younger years, but those days are long behind us. Well,
for most of us, not for my sister Martha. She lost weight
and she looks amazing, not that she didn’t before. My sister
Rosa also fights the battle of the bulge, just like my other
sister Carla.
Leave your husband, suffer a death of a loved one, breakup with a long-time relationship, that’s a sure way to lose
the unwanted weight. They are a little extreme, so I think
I’ll hang on to the extra fat, thank you very much.
While being a corrections nurse, I’ve seen many things in
my life. Crack cocaine users for one. Talk about weight
loss and rapid weight loss at that! You want to lose 50
pounds in a month, smoke crack daily. Man, that stuff is
wicked. I can’t guarantee you’ll come off the crack, but
you’ll definitely be thinner. (You may also lose extra
weight due to the loss of your teeth.) Thanks, but no thanks.
If I have to do illegal drugs to lose weight, I’m happy just
the way I am.
Most of the nurses working at the Manatee County Jail
were women. We always talked about weight loss, dieting,
and food. It’s what women do, right? Right. We often joked
that strawberry ice cream was indeed one serving of fruit as
were chocolate-covered strawberries, strawberry
margaritas, mojitos, and sangrias were also one serving of
fruit. Of course, we didn’t believe it, but it was funny to
joke about. Man, how I wish it were true.
Can you imagine cheesecake being one serving of fruit
because you added some fresh fruit to it? I’ll have two,
please. Or red wine counting as your daily intake of fruit
because it’s made of grapes? I’ll have two bottles of that,
too. Or how about counting frozen bananas dipped in
chocolate a healthy dose of dairy and fruit? Count me in.
I’m all about that.

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