Friday, June 18, 2010

Family History

I ran last night and the first mile?  'Great.'  Second mile?  'Hmm this feels not so great.  UGH.'  Third mile?  'Must I?  Should I?  OMG I want to die from the heat and the aching and the stomach rolling.'

I made it through all three miles and I thought 'HUH well I made it, I guess I am a little out of shape and man oh man did I eat like shit, probably should not have done that...'  For fuck's sake, by the end of the night, I felt like I had the stomach flu!  I was so sick.  SO I definitely over did the junk food last week and the heat and the lack of water just made for a bad run and a rotten aftermath that I am still feeling right now with a massive headache.  Shit-teee.  Actually all of this got me to thinking a lot about eating and exercising. 

I was chatting with my super sweet most awesome cousin on earth yesterday.  She brought up her mom and her mother's eating habits.  My cousin mentioned how she has 50 lbs to lose.  That her mom spent a lot of time taking food away from her as a kid, how she always felt hungry and over compensated for that by eating a lot when her mom was not around. She told me how her mom believes in not taking breakfast or lunch and that eating one good dinner is enough.  Her mom was born during the war, as in WW II, for those of you who are curious.  She was taken out into the country side as a kid to be "stuffed" as her mother put it because apparently it was feast or famine.  I am not sure of the validity of that story as it was my first time hearing such a story but who knows... my mom does not remember a lot of stuff these days anyway.

Funny thing about her mother who is four years younger than my mother is that they are different and yet the same.  My mom definitely fueled the fire for me.  My mom went to the grocery store once a week and brought home a few bags of groceries for a family of five, two of which were teenagers.  I can remember waiting in the kitchen while she unloaded the food than literally fighting with my brother over who could get to the goodies faster.  Our cupboards were not bare but they were not always full.  It got worse when it was just she and I. 

However, for me, my family life really set off everything.  I could control food, I could not control the insanity that went on in our house.

As I ran last night, I thought about how my mom is similar to my Aunt in some ways about eating only my mom produced a child who suffered from not eating and my cousin suffered from over eating.  My mom never pushed food on me.  She generally ate healthy and taught me a lot about eating well.  She was never much for "junk" foods.  If we ate out, we ate out somewhere nice.  My dad took me to McDonald's as a kid for rare special occasions.  However, my mom would simply "forget" to eat breakfast and/or lunch.  She would prepare a large dinner and feel that was good enough.  She would forget to buy food and especially when it was just she and I she would leave for the weekend without restocking the cupboards and I would have little to no money to buy any food.  This was definitely a back and forth thing.  She would do well for a while offering up plentiful amounts of healthy foods and than nothing.  Feast or famine. 

Starting in Elementary school, I stopped eating.  I would throw away my entire lunch and sit hungrily watching kids eat.  I can remember looking into the metal garbage pail at my crumpled brown bag.  I remember how strong I felt for returning to that peeling green painted picnic table hungry. 

This got worse as I got older.  I was definitely a binger too.  I would skip meals for days and than give in and eat everything in sight.  This aspect of not eating (and my total disgust with throwing up) started me on a road to exercise anorexia, if you will.  I figured I could eat anything I wanted as long as I worked out.  And by working out I mean I would spend 3-5 hours working out.  Running, swimming, lifting weights, doing multiple sessions of the Stairmaster, walking, biking, hiking... you name it, I did.  I found a journal not too long ago that I kept for a period of time when I was a young teen.  I wrote done every activity I did, how much I ate and what a bad job I was doing in losing weight.  OH and I wrote my weight down after all of that just to prove how huge I was?? (I was not huge.)

I discovered Vogue at some point in the midst of all this.  My sister gave me back copies that I kept literally for years.  I would obsess of those skinny tall girls and dream about modelling.  I am 5 foot 2.  It was not going to happen even if I was pretty enough.  Vogue.  To this day, I can still see the covers of some of those issues in my mind's eye, I can feel the weight of them in my hands and the thickness of each page in my hands.  I would flip through page after page of that 1,000 page tome (September edition, 1986!) and wonder why genetics dealt me such a crappy hand.

I often think my life would have been different had I not spent entirely so much mental time thinking about food and exercise and how I looked.  I was obsessed.  It drove me to do a lot of negative things to myself.  My self image was so very low for many, many years.  I trudged through a lot of high school and college feeling rotten and depressed.  I constantly felt fat even when I was size 2.  I used to drive Kevin bonkers over my near constant fat talk and I really did a lot of harm to myself for years with the constant cycle of eating and not eating, diuretics and heavy duty fitness.  Hell, I have a degree in Health and Fitness simply because I figured I could just work out all the time, not because I entirely liked the prospect of trying to beat people into healthiness a la Jillian Michaels.

The hardest part about being this way from such a young age, and doing it for so long, is that it never goes away.  The instant default for me when I want to lose weight or if I feel fat is to think STOP EATING and workout.  Getting pregnant and having babies changed me in many ways.  I no longer feel the intense urge to be this way.  I need energy to take care of kids and work and to be a good wife and generally a happy person.  Because dude an underfed Christina makes for an angry Christina!  However, I think that I will forever automatically shift back to what I know best.  To the near obsessive thinking that if only I were a size 2 and 110 lbs again I would be happier.  The funny thing about that thinking?  I won't be happier.  I was not happier back than.  I am happy now. 

I never voice my opinion about myself, my weight or my desire to exercise to lose weight in front of the kids.  I definitely do not want my kids to grow up feeling the way I did.  I want them to love themselves the way they are.  I do not want to ever make them feel they need to starve or exercise or overeat to feel better.  I think it is a fine line overall both for my kids and myself.  For me, and my kids, I refuse to perpetuate what one generation learned because of a war. Most importantly, all of that will stop with me.

I mostly do not have the time and energy to obsess over food like I used to and I enjoy it more than I used to.  I firmly believe these days that everything must be done in moderation.  I used to do everything (bad for me) to extremes.  I now just moderate a lot more internally.  However, the natural default is always to stop eating and exercise.  That is frustrating and likely this will never go away.  Check check check.  It is a near constant process to be careful, to not over do it.  To firmly tell the little pathetic voices in my head to go away, that I am not fat or flabby or ugly, that I am happy, healthy and living life to the fullest. 
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