I started to clean out my pantry today. Our house is newly on the market and I know that people will inevitably be opening the cabinets and doors peering into my storage spaces and eyeballing my clutter. In my head this means judging me on my neatness, my organization skills, my dietary needs and choices and even judging me on the snacks and cereals I feed my children. Of course this is not true, they are merely looking at space for their own stuff, but I cannot help it.
It is while I am rearranging things that I begin to really look at what is in there, and for a moment I am the one judging, or rather reflecting.
The bottom shelf contains 2 bins of prepared diet food. Unfinished, unrefrigerated, made to survive the next ice age and still be edible.
The next shelf is weighed down with cookbooks of all varieties. Scratch that. They are almost all diet cookbooks. All varieties of diet cookbooks. Atkins. Low Carb. Juicing. Healthy. Low Fat. Low Calorie. You name it, my shelf has it.
The next two are mainly the kids foods-the junk, the cereal, the cookies and snacks they get in their lunches.
The top is my baking and dry goods. Pasta-regular for the kids and low carb for me. Rice-white and brown. Flour-white and whole wheat. Sugar-real and artificial sweetener.
In the door pockets are various seasonings-low salt, low sugar, low fat, and packets of perfectly proportioned oatmeal, popcorn, pretzels and calorie free drink mixes galore.
Do you see what I have come across?
What we have here is a perfect example of my diet history for the last 12 years we have lived here. Each of them painstakingly started with the highest of hopes for ‘this will be the one that works’ and each of them forgotten, left behind or given up.
Never mind what they cost, let’s not even talk about that.
If only I could tell you it was just the last 12 years. In truth, I have been on some diet or another for as long as I can remember. I have never been a tiny girl, frail and delicate, dainty or elegant. I was a tomboy. I was the girl that played kickball with the boys and hated dresses. As I matured, I ended up with a booty, but no boobs, thick thighs and an average middle. I was a pear, and to this day, I still am. I don’t recall ever feeling comfortable in my body or with my shape-there has always been something I wanted to work on. I have always had some unattainable picture in my head of the way I am supposed to look. And this is not it.
I could level blame at the media, the magazines, the designers that feature skinny models for all of the latest trends and forget about those of us with ‘a little meat on our bones’. I could blame my parents, or my grandparents for my genes-my German, French and Irish heritage produced a fine, sturdy woman but not one that will ever be able to wear a bikini. I could (and likely should) blame myself. I love to eat, I love good food, I love to socialize with friends and family and of course, that most often means, let’s go out to eat or drink. I am an emotional eater-stressed? Cheez-Its. Sad-chocolate. Bored-whatever.
Where did it all start? What is it that brings me to this place? This place where my jeans are snug and my body feels slow and heavy and I am more comfortable in my sweatpants than anything any designer would offer. Why do I let myself fall back into bad habits until I am here? Again.
You know, as I write this there is a tab open in the background that reads “1200 Calorie Diet Plan” RIGHT THIS MINUTE. How ironic is that? Despite the foods in my pantry and the cookbooks that literally spell out how to cook the healthy food to lose weight, I am Googling still another way to go about it. Ridiculous.
Why is it that at my age, I am still so concerned with it? Why do I care anymore if I have cellulite on my bottom or if my thighs touch (yes, that is something we worried about in middle school)? Why haven’t I accepted that my body is not ever going to be ‘like that one’-the one in the ad for that diet I just signed up for. Why after all the things I have had to let go of, and accept and change the last few years, why is it that I cannot accept/change/let go of this? Why can’t I look around at the children my body created and the husband my body fits perfectly with, and just be okay with it? I can wear my hearing aids without issue and crack jokes about my foot and the leg brace I had to wear, but I cannot make peace with my ample curves, my thunder thighs (now that is a nickname from waaaaay back), my muffin top, and my beer belly.
I keep hoping that I will age as my mother has. She is beautiful, a tiny little bird of a woman. Delicate and frail. Her claim to fame has always been that she weighed a mere 106lb when she was 9m pregnant. Imagine having THAT to live up to! She is shrinking as she gets older, her legs look like those of a 10 year old, all of her tiny clothes have been hemmed or taken in or altered. I have inherited none of that from her, but I keep hoping that as I age, my weight will melt away as it often does with some women, as it has from her. As the years go by they turn into whispers of their former selves. I know it is foolish to think that my body will suddenly change course, but I keep it in the back of my mind.
For now, I will just go back to cleaning out my pantry.