Among my mother’s obsessions was weight, her weight, my sister’s weight, my weight, Zsa Zsa’s, the neighbor’s, the TV reporter’s, Jiminy Cricket’s, and even Earth’s weight. No one was spared this scrutiny. No one. One year, while watching the 10 finalists in the Miss America Pageant parade by in their swimsuit Mom actually gasped, “My God, she’s fat!”
I believe I understand where this obsession came from although I am not certain the source warranted the lifelong fixation. According to Mom, she was, as a young girl, fat and was teased at school. In today’s lingo, we would say she was bullied or body-shamed. But I’ve seen pictures of Mom from that era and she was neither fat nor skinny. She was pudgy.
Pictures of Mom in her 20s and early 30s showed a slim, darling woman. But, once she married, had two children, and realized her marriage was unsatisfying and her life unfulfilling, she gained weight, an extra 20 to 30 pounds which she carried through most of her life. But it never got out of control; she never became obese. Although they bothered her, those extra pounds, did not draw attention, trigger jokes, or embarrass the family.
Mom, however, saw it differently. She saw herself through the eyes of her elementary school-age self. I, having spent 66 years with her and know the quirks and personality disorders she had, however, wonder if her recollection of her young years is accurate or distorted by her view of the world. Mom was self-involved, oppositional, and loved playing the victim. She saw the world through that filter, not how others saw it, and frequently her vision was unrealistic.
So, why am I telling you all this? It is because I have environmentally inherited a bit of my mother’s obsession with weight. Is it any wonder? But it is limited to my weight.
I graduated from high school weighing 148 pounds. At a shade under 5’8” I was not overweight. But I had no muscle tone and was soft, a bit blobby. And why wouldn’t I be? I, like many pre-coming out gay male teens, did not participate in sports or any other regular physical activity. By the time I graduated from college, I weighed 152. Thankfully, though, I never experienced the freshman 15 pound gain.
I came out shortly thereafter and within a few years began going to the gym, which turned my soft blob into muscular biceps and pecs, gave me a tighter, flatter, smaller waist and redistributed my basic 148-152 weight range. I maintained this for years, wearing a Speedo long after I should have and fitting into 31” waist Levi 501s well into middle age.
But as I progressed through my 50s, my weight slowly rose well into the 150s. I accepted that. I was getting older. My Levis waists now were 32”. But I promised myself I would not let myself reach 160 pounds. That was the limit.
Then I hit 160. I was somewhere between 60-62 years old. “Well.” I said, “this is not going to last. We are going to lose five pounds starting right now.” But it didn’t happen and when I was 63 an unforeseen obstacle blocked the path to dieting’s door.
My annual physical showed that my PSA count was high and that can lead to prostate cancer. I was sent to an urologist who prescribed a drug that, while it did its prostate-related job, caused me to gain 10 pounds in just a few weeks. I suddenly weighed 170 pounds.
My pants now had a four-digit waist size. Stairs creaked when I simply came near them. I wore a muumuu to the beach. I tore up my application for America’s Next Top Model. And I told myself, “OK. Now you have to lose 15 pounds.” But I didn’t or couldn’t.
When I moved to Ajijic I weighed 170. The people I would meet would only know me as that guy, the 170 pound Tom. But, I hoped, since I walk a lot on Ajijic’s cobblestone streets, I might lose some weight. But, alas, that didn’t happen. Instead, my weight slowly increased, plateauing at 175 on April 8, 2017. Instead of gaining the notorious freshman 15 in college, I had gained the effin 15 in later life. I had reached the point that I had to take this issue seriously. I had to do something, something effective to lose this extra weight.
I, therefore, insisted my doctor prescribe a metabolism enhancing drug, a diet pill. He was apprehensive, probably fearful of a potential addiction, but I assured him I do not have an addictive personality and would responsibly monitor his concern. He agreed and wrote a prescription for a medication that worked as much as a hunger suppressant as a metabolism booster.
It was a slow, gradual process, but on Monday September 4, 2017 I again weighed 160 pounds. I had reached my goal. I had lost 15 pounds. It took nearly 5 months and I was happier than a die-hard Trump supporter at a White Supremacist Rally. I was elated. I was walking on air because I was light enough to walk on air.
But, man, was I hungry!