A sense of dread washed over me when my husband suggested a date night. We hadn’t been out together as a couple for months. His invite in past years would have evoked joy. Instead, my insides cringed from knowing I would have to face my clothes closet demon, the two headed monster that silently taunted me.
Even now I remember the taunting questions. “What size are you this week? Will those black dress pants still fit? When are you going to lose weight?”
With middle age most of us add a few pounds, but attending your daughter’s wedding embodied in a full panty girdle to fit into a dress purchased six months earlier was a wake up call. From that point on, I began obsessing about my weight gain. It became the focal point of my life.
Then, within a year of the wedding, the big “M” happened. Yes, and menopause in all its hormonal glory ushered in the birth of the closet demon.
I work from home, so pajama lounge wear is the typical dress du jour. It’s hardly the type of clothing someone wears to accentuate a shapely figure, but conveniently for me, it hid the mounting pounds. Some people have comfort foods; I had comfort clothes and plenty of them. I found myself staying home more often than not. The process of finding casual or dressy clothes to fit was a daunting task and staying home meant avoiding the closet demon.
As my weight grew, so did my closet. There was a “skinny” clothes section, a “post-skinny clothes” section, and the “fat clothes” section. At some point, to keep my sanity and marriage intact, I moved the skinny clothes to the attic. My weight gain obsession was driving my husband crazy. He grew tired of hearing me obsess about not fitting into anything. I had officially graduated into the closet’s “fat clothes” section. I was depressed and defeated; the closet demon was the victor. Based on the bathroom scale, I was a certified “Blimpy Girl”. There was no ignoring my weight gain. Not by me and not by anyone else.
To help you better understand my compulsive attitude about this weight gain, it’s important I share some background information. You see, I have always been thin. I could down a bag of chips, a chocolate candy bar and can of soda without fear of adding a pound. In my late thirties and early forties I worked out at a gym five days a week. I was fit and proud of it. When others mentioned weight gain issues, I was clueless and insensitive to their struggles. It’s funny how things come around full circle. Now, here I was in my fifties facing weight issues that many family, friends and co-workers had faced for a lifetime. I felt ashamed that I had responded with such meager attention.
Throughout the blimpy girl years I tried fad diets and quick weight loss programs. Usually these were prompted because an upcoming trip or vacation required swim attire. I would lose weight using these diets, but within months I was right back to my mid-life status quo weight. And every regained pound was like quicksand. I was being pulled under by the weight (no pun intended) of knowing I had no long-term plan for maintaining my weight loss and making a lifestyle change.
And then it happened. One morning I stepped on the scale and realized if I didn’t do something to lose weight; I was on a journey that would eventually cause serious health issues. I knew in my heart that my self-esteem could plummet into a black hole from which I might never return. I needed divine intervention. It was a long shot, but as I stood on the scale, I prayed a simple prayer of faith: “Lord, I can’t do this by myself. I need divine help. Provide me with guidance, wisdom and inspiration on how to gain back control of my life and feel good about myself. Not just for me, Lord, but for my husband and family.”
And so began the “blimpy girl’s” weight loss journey.
The following Saturday my husband clicked on a cooking channel before heading outside to mow the lawn. Over the sound of the humming lawnmower, the television blared in the background. As I reflect on this, I now believe it was divine intervention in response to my simple prayer. I walked over to turn off the TV but became engaged with the cooking episode showcasing basic recipes. I became engrossed with the demonstrations of simple healthy recipes geared for weight loss. The recipes seemed so easy and effortless.
You must understand, I don’t cook nor do I enjoy cooking. I snack, graze, and seek out all things that require no cooking. A stove, oven, skillet, big kitchen knives, chopping, dicing and all the spices that go along with cooking are not my domain. Heck, a spatula was something you gave to the grand kids to use in the sandbox. But, something about this cooking show captivated me. I had a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, I could cook to lose weight. And that’s precisely what I did.
Call it divine inspiration, or an epiphany. Whatever happened on that Saturday morning changed my life. Knowing I would be leaving for a trip to Chile and Argentina in three weeks motivated me even more. This type of business trip with my husband’s peers usually also included poolside lounging in swimsuits. I visualized that picture and it wasn’t pretty. Following the cooking show episode, I jumped online and ordered three cookbooks. Upon their arrival, I devoured the books like they were snack foods. I composed a grocery list and planned out weekly meals for my weight loss mission. I started eating five small meals a day and was diligent about portions. I limited myself to 1200 calories per day and included veggies, low fat meats, carbs and even desserts. Soon I realized the secret was in keeping the fat intake low and using low-fat, no-fat ingredients whenever possible.
To stay motivated, I began making lunches for my daughter. Even now she stops by every morning en route to work to pick up her plated meal. Yes, “plated”. I discovered that creatively plating your meal helps you eat slower and consume less. To date, my daughter has lost 18 pounds and continues to enjoy her “blimpy girl” lunches.
Within a five month period, I lost 30 pounds and am still holding. Date night with my husband is now exciting. In fact, I can’t wait to open the closet door. That closet demon has turned into the closet diva.