You can’t teach an old dog new tricks (2/10/2016)

Much to her irritation, Mama was told by her insurance company she needed to get a checkup.

She hates being told what to do, particularly by some stranger informing her she needed to get poked and prodded for blood work and to have her insides examined.

“I’m 70 something years old and I feel fine,” she argued to me one day. “I don’t want to go to the cussed doctor.”

Hey, I don’t blame her. I don’t like going myself.

She wasn’t complaining of anything other than the regular old people stuff.

But to the doctor she went.

The doctor was surprised Mama wasn’t on a bunch of medication and told her that.

“That’s easy, I stay away from doctors,” was Mama’s reasoning. “Best way to get on a bunch of prescriptions is to go to someone who will prescribe them.”

But the doctor wasn’t satisfied – how could this 70-something year old woman not be on a bunch of meds?

So she ordered some more tests.

“I can’t eat after midnight,” she complained one afternoon.

Nothing makes you want a sandwich at 11:58 p.m. like knowing you can’t have anything after midnight.

She just knew she was going to starve between midnight and 9 a.m. when she was scheduled to have blood work drawn.

The results were unnerving.

“The doctor said I am close to being a diabetic,” Mama announced.

“Oh,” I said.

“I don’t believe that,” she huffed. “I am fine.”

This is the woman who still insists the food pyramid she was taught over 60 years ago is accurate and chided me over giving my child organic yogurt and sunflower seeds as snacks as a toddler.

“Mama, you do eat too much sugar,” I said.

She snorted at me.

“I do no such of a thing! I’ve cut way back on my Pepsi so I am barely have any sugar at all.”

“Mama, sugar is in things other than soft drinks.”
She didn’t want to hear it.

According to her, she wasn’t eating anything that tasted good as it was – she wasn’t going to give up her occasional candy bar or milkshake.

“Do you think maybe it may be you eat too much protein? Or bread?” I suggested.

She scoffed at this notion.

“You can never eat too much protein.”

“Actually…you can,” I tried to tell her.

“No, you can’t. Your body needs meat. Are you going all vegetarian on me again?”

When I announced I wasn’t going to eat anything that gave birth at age 13, my mother rolled her eyes, fired up another Virginia Slim and told me that was the craziest thing she had ever heard and was terrible for my health.

“I have omitted red meat from my diet,” I explained.

“You’re going to get rickets,” she declared.

“No, I am not. I feel fine and we don’t need as much protein as you think. You are always in fear of not getting enough protein and having excess protein is just as bad as not having enough.”

“Your grandmother was nearly 93 years old when she died and she ate fatback and biscuits every day until she died,” was Mama’s argument.

Granny did eat fatback and biscuits. She also didn’t graze like Mama did or eat as much bread as Mama.

“If you think you will have some massive protein deficiency, maybe you should try limiting your bread. I think that is a contributing factor of a lot of your problems. Celiac is hereditary….”

Mama thought I was being ridiculous.

Similar to our conversations when she smoked years ago, she was not going to listen to any of my suggestions- no matter how valid they were.

The doctors were not done. She had more tests. This time, she was told she has three hernias and would need surgery.

“I don’t want surgery. I feel fine,” Mama insisted.

I didn’t know what to tell her. I worry about her, more than she worries about me now.

“Mama, I really think if you lost some weight, it would help this,” I said.

“Maybe,” she said. “I have lost 2 pounds since I went in December.”

“That’s good, Mama,” I said. “But, I think you may need to lose more than that.”

“I don’t think I eat that bad now,” she said forlornly.

“Would you consider doing what I suggest?”

Reluctantly, she agreed. She would try. But I better not expect a whole lot.

I sent her my copy of “Wheat Belly,” to give her some insight into the way the grains are different now and tell her how maybe her eczema and other skin issues were caused by the bread.

I also sent her a few other health books.

I have had her on aloe vera juice for over a year, but I was going to get her on some other supplements, too. Surely, surely, a better way of eating would help.

When she got the book, she read a few chapters before she called me.

“I’m kind of understanding some of this,” she said. “I admit, it does make sense. But it’s hard to give up bread.”

Yeah, I kind of knew about that.

I heard her chewing on something and asked what she was snacking on. “Oh, I got the best bread earlier – it’s a cinnamon raisin swirl bread, and I toasted it with some butter and jelly.”

“Mama,” I began.


“It’s bread.”

She paused.

“Oh. Yeah, well. But it’s good for me bread. It’s got raisins. That’s a fruit. It’s fruit bread. Right?”

It’s hard to make a lot of changes, especially when it comes to what we eat. But one day, she’d get it.

Embracing myself, whatever the scales may say (3/5/2014)

My scales broke.

No, it was not because I finally pigged out on cheesecake. The battery had died; I replaced it and then, they just broke.

And here I was, tapping the corner with my toe, waiting for the zeroes to blink across the window and for me to step on to see the magic number.


The scales had officially gone to be with Jesus.

We had a good run, the HealthMaster scales and I, even though for the most part, it had been a very acrimonious relationship.

Depending on what the number was, if it showed a gain or a loss, determined my attitude for the day.

When Cole was around 3, he stepped on them one morning, yanked his binkie out and muttered a bad word.

“Cole!” I reprimanded him.

“What? You say that when you get on there.”

True, I did. I probably said worse on some days.

I had struggled with my weight all my life, battling eating disorders where my weight went from one extreme to another – first, I was dangerously thin, then I was a chunky monkey.

As I entered my late 30s, I found out I had food allergies, sensitivities and intolerances that made me unable to eat anything without it waging war in my body. One bite of gluten could send me into an inflammatory response that caused a three-pound gain overnight and left me feeling like I had been hit by a Mack truck.

Then there were times I just didn’t care and ate cake and cookies knowing the price I would pay, scale and body-wise.

My life revolved around what that evil platform said each morning.

If my weight was up – even when I knew it was possibly just an inflammatory response to some sneaky ingredient I had inadvertently had – I was in the foulest of moods. If it had gone down, even by the smallest of ounces, I was on cloud nine.

“Stop weighing yourself every day,” Lamar would advise me. “That is part of your problem.”

Maybe it was.

“You obsess over those stupid scales,” he said.

Maybe I do.

“I want to have everything loose and jiggly squeezed up to my chest area,” I commented one day.

I am sure if given the right amount of money, a plastic surgeon could make that happen.

My husband is smart though and knows to either tell me he thinks I am perfect as I am, becomes a deaf mute, or swiftly changes the subject by asking if he can draw me a hot bubble bath and get me a glass of malbec. 
I am not quite as bad as the lady who has turned herself into a real-life Barbie doll and calls herself a “Breathatarian.” Not by a long shot. I have no interest in being a brunette plastic figure; I just want to feel comfortable in my own skin. Is that too much to ask?

What would I do without weighing for a few days? Without knowing what my weight was each morning? Would it make me worry and fear if I had gained an ounce or three? Or would it give me the freedom to just…be?

I thought of all the recent articles, the stories, the ad campaigns I had seen recently about embracing yourself, regardless of your size. The ones that said ‘real women had curves’ kind of irritated me, because I have some natural skinny friends that get tired of the ‘eat a cheeseburger’ comments just like I get tired of comments about how with my hips, I could have been a breed mare. Our weight, waist line, hip width and breast size do not make us more or less a woman.

I thought of women who had confidence, who didn’t seem to care what size was sewn in the back of their jeans and envied them. Even when I weighed 115 pounds for about two minutes, I didn’t feel that way.

“Be like Beyonce,” Cole commented one day. “She’s curvy and she owns it.”

“You, my child, watch too much ‘Big Bang Theory,'” I told him, knowing where he heard that.

So I decided to try to keep images of confident women in my view of all sizes – women who embraced the sisterhood in my real life, women who celebrated their size and their beauty no matter what, and women who were honored and respected for their contributions regardless of their appearance.

I haven’t bought the new scales – yet. I know I will. Even though it will be nice to have a temporary break from it. I know that yes, my routine will fall back into weighing every morning and seeing what that evil platform tells me.

Just this time, I will choose to not let it dictate quite so much of my life.