Posted by: jility | January 30, 2011

Just Like Oprah Only…

Weight has been an issue my entire life. I have written openly about my 100 pound swings over the years. I have seen doctors, shrinks and weight counselors.  I even saw a hypnotist once. I have been told that I am fat because I am an evil person or because my mindset is wrong or because of my genetics or my thyroid (which is fine) or because I had an abusive childhood or because I am unhappy or because I am too happy or because I have no willpower or whatever other reason pops into your head. The “New Age Guilt” I have because of thinking I was fat due to the fact that I was messed up in the head has eaten me up at times (no pun intended ;)).  I bought into all that “we attract to ourselves what we think” for 30 years! I have been told that I have even failed at thinking! CRAP! Is there anything I do right? I do believe we act on what we think so there is some truth to that but blaming people instead of empathizing makes no sense to me.

When I was young, there were very few fat kids. We all played hard and rode our bikes and there were no McDonald’s or computers or video games or even much TV. I was an anomaly in my fat childhood. My siblings and other kids teased me to no end. It was hurtful and confusing. Why, out of six kids was I the only fat one? I remember standing on the curb outside the library when I was about 11 waiting for a ride home. We attended a strict Catholic school for eight years so we were sheltered from the “real” kids who attended public schools. The library was next to a large grade school (1 – 8 ) and some of these kids were pretty dang tough. Gloucester was a rough and tumble New England fishing town of about 30,000 people back then (50,000 in the summer from the tourist invasions) and you had to fit in and be tough to be able to take on the dangerous life of a fisherman.

So, there I was, standing on the corner waiting for my ride when a group of thuggy looking grade school boys went by me. One, clearly their leader, had a cigarette hanging from his 12 year old mouth. They were dressed like the boys in West Side Story; their hair was slicked back,  their jeans rolled into a cuff and the sleeves on their white T-shirts (nobody wore T-shirts then except thugs) were turned up over their packs of Camels. I saw them coming and knew I was in for trouble. There I was in my neat little (or should I say BIG) Saint Mel‘s Day School (can you believe I went to a school named after Sir Cussalot?) blue uniform, black patent leather shoes and some books in my arms. I saw the look on their leader’s face and wanted to run for it but there was no place to go and they were wiry little suckers. They would have run me down like a cheetah after a potbelly pig! As they approached, they began looking me up and down and laughing hysterically (fat kids were hard to find back then and I was a BIG ONE!!!) . The leader of the pack started chanting, “SOO-WEE!!! PIG PIG PIG!” Then, as he passed me, he bent down low and tried to burn my leg with his cigarette butt while yelling his pig calls.  His followers laughed with great joy and took much pleasure in their fearless leader’s actions. I looked straight ahead, hoping they would just keep going and leave me alone. I was used to harsh words from my siblings but they had never tried to burn me! I continued ignoring the young jerks, praying they would move on to torture somebody else. Which, eventually they did.

I would like to see those skinny boys now! I bet they make me look like Twiggy! I could always lose weight but they would always be nothing more than cruel assholes.

Finally, at the age of 13, I got a HUGE crush on a 17 year old guy (like I had a chance). My oldest sister, Pam, helped me to lose weight. I dropped about 40 pounds (quite a lot for somebody only 5’4″ at the time). I shot up in height at the same time, ending up at about 5’8″. Nothing ever happened between that boy and me but that crush sure changed my life!  I was only a little chunky going through high school but not enough to stand out much. I was always on a diet and remained on one for the rest of my life. Even at my fattest I am still trying to hold it down.

I have missed out on a lot of great things because I felt fat or didn’t want people who knew me as a kid to see me fat or my family to see me fat or whatever. A lot of life has passed me by because of my weight and my guilt over those excess pounds. I have lost 100 pounds several times in the past 60 years and more than 50 pounds countless times but it always comes back. I have tried meditation, starving (which works but you can’t maintain that for very long unless you are a super model living on air and whatever remains in your stomach after making yourself puke) and everything else to get and stay thin. Counting calories SUCKS! Cutting down on portions SUCKS! Hating myself because I am fat SUCKS! Up until now, I thought it was a vicious circle of self-loathing and fat.

Then, there I was sitting in Dr. Doug Lisle’s phycology lecture at the 10 Day McDougall Program I attended recently and he said something that will forever change my life and the way I look at myself and other overweight people. Dr. Lisle went through all the well accepted and well spouted reasons why people are fat:

 Abusive childhood (check)

Low self-esteem (check)

Addicted to salt, sugar and fat (check!!!)

Incorrect mind set (CHECK – there’s that pesky New Age Guilt thing again)

Lazy (CHECK – who wouldn’t be lazy if they had to carry around FOUR 25 pound bags of dog food strapped to their stomach, legs and ass! YOU try it sometime!)

No will power (THAT one didn’t fit me because I knew I had will power! I had given up alcohol, cigarettes, coffee, pot, meat, fish, eggs, dairy, etc. MANY years before but I just couldn’t moderate my food and I don’t do anything in moderation!)

Then he said, “WRONG!” The reason people are overweight is that they don’t get enough FIBER in their diet!


And, at that moment, I knew exactly why I was fat and what I had to do about it. Too bad it took 60 freaking years for THAT light bulb moment! I am NOT evil! I just need more oatmeal!

So far I am down 10 pounds and eating more than I ever have in my life. I feel better mentally AND physically and have more energy. I have been so public with my weight struggle (or should I say fiber struggle) that now I can’t fail can I ;)?

I feel a little like poor weight struggling  Oprah only without all her money, fame, respect,  houses, magazines, TV shows, philanthropy… OK, OK, NOTHING like Oprah.

Oh, and for the record, I was no saint in my family. I was also a brutal teaser to my younger siblings (I was the third of the six)! Sorry for all that toture Lizzie and Nate. You KNOW I love you right ? In a big family that doesn’t get along well, each one takes on the next younger ones but that poor youngest has nobody to tease so he ends up having to kick the cat.


  1. Elizabeth !!
    Fantastic post and my smile is wide !

    • :))))

  2. I love you, Helen! Always remember & never forget…
    What makes a king out of a slave? Courage! What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage! What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk? What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage! What makes the sphinx the seventh wonder? Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the “ape” in apricot? What have you got that I ain’t got? Courage! You can say that again! Huh?
    You have it!!! xoxox, Moi

    • You always make me smile Lizzie 🙂

  3. I strongly recommend reading the book Wired for Joy. It was a real eye-opener for me, and how our brains become wired for stress even at very young ages. The patterns we set up – stress=go to food, smoke,drink, etc become automatic, much like a “fight-or-flight physical response, and unless the patterns are recognized and broken, we’re doomed to repeat them. They can be “rewired” through a process called Emotional Brain Training. Between this and fiber, maybe there’s hope for us all…

  4. Wow! I have never been very sympathetic towards ‘fat’ people, but now I can’t ‘just loose’ I am starting to understand what if could be like.

  5. What a great read.
    It could have been me you are talking about .
    You have allot of courage HElen, to share your struggle , and aha moment in public.
    can’t wait to see the new you !

    • Or me. I am the youngest if 4. I just have as many dogs as my family will allow & make sure they are the same color so the home owner’s assoc doesn’t notice. Lol

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