WAKE UP CALL
18 September 2002
OK--let's get the bad news out of the way: I gained 5.2 lbs. Now I know why I
desperately need to stick with WeightWatchers and not assume I can go off and do it on my
own. I can't. Time to admit that I am powerless over food without some sort of reckoning
This is a perilous time in my new "lifestyle." The most weight I ever lost
before in my life was 80 lbs and I did it for all the wrong reasons, which is why it
hate this picture. As a photo, it's very good. The guy on the left is my one-time good
friend Phil Dethlefsen (who died several years ago). This photo was taken at his 50th
He began to plan the party a year in advance, and I wanted to do something spectacular
for him...something very meaningful to honor his having lived a half century. (Phil had a
lot of physical and emotional problems and I was always trying to do things that I thought
would help cheer him up). I decided that the biggest "splash" I could make,
especially since he was quite wealthy and didn't need anything tangible, would be that I
would finally bite the bullet and lose weight. I decided to give him 100 lbs for his
The plan was that I would only weigh at his house, so he'd be able to keep track of the
progress. I kidded myself that he cared. He didn't, but he went along with it to humor me.
I worked diligently on my birthday present and had reached 80 lbs by the time of his
birthday, July 29, 1984.
His partner threw a big party for him every year and it was always the same group of
close friends--about 8 or 10 of us, I guess. Most of the others were people I only saw
once a year, at this party.
Additionally, Phil and Woody had, in the previous year, bought a house with a swimming
pool. This was going to be my big coming out party--all those people who hadn't seen me
since I started dieting would be there. I would put on the first bathing suit I'd worn in
years. Phil would be so proud of me.
It didn't quite work out that way. I suppose when you travel in a group of
predominately gay men, you don't expect them to notice things like a woman losing
weight--at least not this group (Steve, Michael, Jimmy--you
have been terrific!), though I kind of expected Phil to say
something like "doesn't she look great?" But he didn't. Nobody else appeared to
notice either (or at least nobody said anything).
I was already hurting from that when Phil, our mutual friend Ginger, and I found
ourselves standing at the buffet table and Phil said "Oh--Bev!--get your camera. I
want to have a good picture taken with Ginger and me." I took the picture. Nobody
asked to take my picture. I spent the whole day feeling so hurt and disappointed and I was
glad that I had to leave early (I was working with a show in San Francisco).
That day I stopped dieting. If Phil didn't care, why should I? Slowly the weight began
to creep back on again and I never really dieted again, at least not seriously, until I
started this new lifestyle change.
Everything about that diet was wrong. I didn't do it for me, I did it for someone else
and kidded myself that that person cared. I didn't do it to feel better, to be healthy, or
anything else. And when I didn't get the response I expected, I decided it wasn't worth it
and I went back to eating all the wrong things. I hid behind food again. In a way I was
"punishing Phil" for not caring, but he didn't care about that either. It was
just all wrong, wrong, wrong. My self-esteem came from the opinion of others, not
from within myself.
This 5 lb gain today is a real wake-up call. Time to look at how I spent the past week
and look again at why I started this lifestyle change. I had reached a point before I
began this eating plan where I was comfortable in all that fat I was carrying around. I
had found out that people loved me even with the blubber that hung down over my hip bones
and the chins that made my face look round as a frying pan. I had come to accept that I'd
always be that way and it was finally OK because people didn't seem to mind.
But I minded. I minded a lot. I hated looking in the mirror. I hated the round
face, the constantly red cheeks, the belly that shook when I laughed like a bowl full of
jelly. I hated dragging myself up the stairs and thinking how mortified I'd be if the
bannister pulled out from the wall. I hated the thought of moving at all. I hated
having to walk more than a few steps from the door of anything. I looked for excuses to
drive from one side of the parking lot to the other if I was going to two different stores
in a strip mall. And even though I knew people loved the me that was inside in spite of
the covering outside, I couldn't love myself because of my disgust with the skin (and fat)
I was wearing.
So this time I started this for myself. And as each pound has come off, with each mile
biked, with each step taken, my self-esteem has grown. When I give in to food, I erode
some of that self-esteem. I didn't like myself for eating that cheesecake (even though I
loved the cake!) because it meant I'd let the food take over. I was not in control.
Control is very important to me. (It's why I gave up drinking alcohol. Not that I have a
drinking problem, but I don't like the feeling of not being 100% in control of my emotions
and my behavior).
Seeing 5 lbs on the scale this morning (I was thinking maybe 3...somehow 5 lbs seems
huge!) has jerked me back into reality, into realizing that I am still only one bite away
from losing it all and from backsliding, slowly, slowly into that fat person I hate.
It's time for the ol' austerity program this week. Eating the low end of my points.
Going to the club after Cindy and I ride so I add more exercise to my daily routine (and
I'm sure that the AIDS walk on Saturday will help as well).
I know that people love me no matter how I look, but I can't love me when I
feel that food controls my life and dictates my body shape. So if I have any say in it
(and who else has but me?) there will be a loss next week when I step on the scale.
I'm going to put this little "vacation" behind me and get back on
track. People who love me fat are just going to have to learn to love me at a normal
weight because I'm not going to be fat again. But I'll certainly be a much happier person,
a person who finally has managed to get a bit of self-esteem. A person who is much more
emotionally strong and in charge of herself because she feels worthwhile.
I want to paraphrase Sally Field and say "I like me...I really like