March 28, 2012

Having My Cake and Eating It In a Victoria’s Secret World

Posted in Life tagged , , , , , , at 10:11 PM by Dawne Webber

Impatience isn’t second nature to me; it’s first nature. As a person steeped in impatience, I’m grateful to exist in the days of instant gratification with overnight shipping and high-speed internet shopping. Remember dial-up internet? It took entire minutes for web pages to load. I’ve learned (and re-learned) some things can’t be rushed, no matter how impatient I am. For example, babies can’t be forced to come on their due date no matter how many bumpy car rides I take, no matter how far I walk, or how much I beg the doctor.

Catalog, victoria's secret,

It took years for me to learn that the “quick and easy weight loss” mantra is a myth, peddled to those of us addicted to the drug of instant gratification.  My journey began in adolescence, the product of hormones, genetics, and ignorance. It was fueled by my perception of my reflection in the mirror.

It amazes me how subjective looking in a mirror is. It should be completely objective– what you see now should be the same thing you see in five minutes. Maybe a hair’s out of place, or you’ve added lip gloss or a different shirt, but there’s no way you could have morphed from great to dumpy or gained ten pounds. Yet, that was (is) often my perception. I’ve lived the gamut between size 3 and size 14. There were times I could look in a mirror when I was a size 3 and see a size 10 staring back at me and there were times I was a size 14 and saw a size 6. But I was never happy, because I knew the see-saw could tip either way, at anytime. I thought if I could lose weight and keep it off, I’d always see the truth in the mirror.

For years I labored under the misconception that losing weight should be a breeze. Every diet promised I’d never be hungry and the weight would melt off. So I tried them for as long as I could stand them: Weight Watchers, Bob Greene (one of Oprah’s weight loss gurus), the high-carb diet touted by a charismatic, high-energy woman with a shaved head whose name I’ve forgotten. I know they’ve all worked for somebody, but none of them worked for me. I was always hungry.

Fat skinny reflection in mirror

Then came the Atkins Revolution. It seemed perfect. If you limited your carb intake, your body would burn your stored fat cells. My brain translated that into, “Eat as much as you want, as long as it’s not carbs.” So I did. I had four eggs for breakfast every day. That was the least of my gorging. But I’ll refrain from any more examples because, frankly, I’m embarrassed by the tricks and loopholes I used to cheat the diet. The sad thing is I didn’t think I was cheating. I’d complain to my husband that I was following it faithfully and GAINING weight. When I finally called it quits, I’d gained twenty-five pounds.

The Southbeach Diet promised to succeed where Atkins failed. I promised to stick to it faithfully. I did for a little while. But it was too hard with five little kids, and as Lorna so beautifully put it, “Unless a person is presented with a “crisis” that forces him/her to change, the person will remain comfortably in the old patterns, even if the old patterns are uncomfortable.”  I could still look in a mirror and pretend I was a size 10 instead of a size 14.

Then came my “crisis” in the form of pictures. Of me. Wow, was I really that big? That was way bigger than the mirror led me to believe. And I hated myself. It sounds dramatic and silly, but it was true. The first thing I did was talk to God. I’d never prayed about my weight before because I thought  that was a vain and frivolous thing to pray about. But I was desperate. “Look, if You want me to be this big, fine. I’ll stay this way. But give me the grace to accept it or give me the grace to lose weight.”  I realized I wasn’t meant to accept it. So I did what I should have done from the beginning. I went to my trusty family doctor. He sent me to a dietitian.

And in her office I finally learned the truth. If I wanted to lose weight, I would have to be hungry. Exercise was important, but eating less was more important. How many women have you ever heard this about: “Over-exercising is to blame for the skeletal condition of her body?” Not one. Exercise is about toning and strengthening. Weight loss is about food.


Is the body the result of an addiction to exercise?

And my impatience came head-to-head with my “crisis”. Those first few months (OMG, how could it be months and not weeks?) were awful.  How could I, the most impatient person on the face of the earth, live with the hunger? How could my poor family live with me? I had to leave the table when I’d finished my allotted portion, and I’d go pray or watch TV or gnaw my fingernails (they had no calories and probably some fiber). I was too hungry to exercise.

And the weight began to come off  S L O W L Y……. S L O W L Y. I fell often and I’d get discouraged. I weighed myself once a week and the numbers went up and down, like the see-saw I’d been riding for years. My husband encouraged me to record my weight in a spreadsheet and graph it. That helped immensely because even though it seemed like a bumpy ride, I could look at the graph and SEE that my weight was steadily (but oh, so slowly) diminishing. So I hung in there. And I learned to eat less and my stomach learned to be full with less. It took me five years to lose forty-five pounds (six clothing sizes). I had friends that were losing that much in one year.

It's a bumpy road, but the chart helped.

Had I known how long it would take, I never would have started. So I thank God I didn’t know. The seven years since my visit to the dietitian have flown by. I know that the rest of my life will be spent balancing precariously on this see-saw. But it’s become intuitive, like balancing on see-saw really is.  Sometimes I’ll go out to dinner and eat cake and drink a mocha martini and enjoy it without guilt or fear. Sometimes I’ll really, really, really want cake (or the entire box of Cheez-its) but I know it’s better at that moment if I don’t have it. Sometimes I still can’t see the truth in the mirror.

And I share this with you because if I, the most impatient person on earth, can do something impossible, you can too.


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March 1, 2012

The One Less Traveled

Posted in Life tagged , , , , , at 8:15 AM by Dawne Webber

I know a man. He would say he’s ordinary, but I know he’s extraordinary. He took the road less traveled, and for me, it has made all the difference.  From him, I’ve learned the truth about love and sacrifice and humility.

I thought I learned all about those things growing up. I’d learned about love from soap operas and reality tv. I’d offered sacrifices to my brothers– “You drank out of my can of Pepsi? Well, I don’t want it anymore. Just keep it.” I’d experienced humility in gymnastics class when I took an unanticipated dive off the balance beam while uttering a few choice profanities. When I got married and had children and I learned more about love, but I still didn’t understand it.

Then I met a man. He has a friendly smile and a self-deprecating wit that can convulse a crowd with laughter while pointing out with laser-like precision, the folly and humanity of each of us, himself included. But he never leaves it there; he teaches us how to overcome those things if we desire. He treats every person with respect, no matter how stupid I think their question or remark is. He controls his snarkiness with a skill I can only marvel at (not being able to control my own).

He always makes time for me and anyone else that needs him, or wants him, or dislikes him enough to want to tell it to his face. People come to him to be unburdened and he welcomes them day and night. (He meets less often with happy, contented people; they don’t need him.) At his feet, we dump our sorrow and grief and anger and confusion and addiction and ignorance and hatred. When I’m with him, I know I’m the center of his attention, no matter how full his inbox is or how deep the garbage around him.  And when I leave, my burden is always easier to bear.

He spends his days knee deep in the misery that pools around him. I glimpsed it once, before he knew I was there. He was slumped in his chair, his head in his hands, the burdens of other’s squarely on his shoulders. And when I sat across from him, I could see it in his eyes and feel it in the air. I knew he didn’t get enough sleep and went many times without a meal.

Many people love him, but aren’t interested in him or his life or what he goes through. And I wonder if he sometimes feels alone amidst the humanity pressing about him constantly. Sometimes, even though you know you’re not alone, loneliness wraps around you and through you like a shroud. And I know, although he hides it well, that he longs for a moment of solitude.

I witness others watching him the way I watched my brothers around my can of Pepsi, hoping to catch him stumbling or better yet, falling down. They’re so intent on him as he journeys down his narrow road, they fail to see how often they themselves trip over the debris littering their own wide road. He faces the animosity aimed at him from every direction with unflinching humility, but I wonder how it affects him when he tries to sleep at night.

I could not walk in his shoes; it’s hard enough walking in my own and they’re much smaller. But he treads with a joy and humor that belie the things he hears and witnesses day after day. I’ve heard people ask him if he regrets his life. A look  of sincere astonishment crosses his face. Then he breaks into a smile that I’d call radiant if it didn’t sound so cheesy, and he says simply, genuinely,  “No. I love being a priest.”

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

Robert Frost two paths diverged

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