Gee, You’re Fat! Part 2

By Mary Jedlicka Humston © 2012

Not long after the “shorts in the locker room” incident, I lost most obsessive anorexic-like behaviors. I even gained weight back. However, the desire to be thin remained, and I still lamented the number on the scale. Several months later, I wrote this entry in my January 1969 diary:

“…I’m getting way too fat. I’ve gained everything and even more. I’m going on a diet and I mean every word. 1) Try not to eat desserts. 2) No second helpings. 3) No sandwiches at school lunch. 4) No nibbling. Keep gum handy. 5) Do 10 sit ups and try to run in place each day. 6) Wash face often. 7) No chocolate. 8) Watch out for cakes and cookies, each are 100-250 calories or more!! So I’ll try and I mean try. Last summer I got down to 104 lbs. Can you believe it? And right now I’m back to about 118 again. Isn’t that horrid?”

Four years of high school cheerleading kept me in shape. Four years of dancing in a college modern dance troupe helped despite gaining the “freshman ten.” The four years after that I was so busy teaching high school, planning a wedding and getting married that I didn’t have much time to worry about weight. It actually remained fairly stable.

After our daughter was born, I resigned from teaching to become a stay-at-home mom while my husband taught at the local elementary school. Then, while I was pregnant with our second daughter, my husband became a professional firefighter, and we moved. When our son was born, I’d had three children in four years. Adapting to our new, busy life was a challenge, especially since my husband’s work schedule required 24-hour shifts.

The cycle of yo-yo dieting became problematic at this point. While pregnant, I gained 37, 32 and 44 pounds respectively. Sometimes, I lost the post-pregnancy weight. Sometimes, I didn’t. Finding time to exercise was difficult, not only due to infant and toddler demands, but also because we were a one-income family. It was hard to justify paying a sitter just to exercise.

In those early years of parenting, it seemed the only task I could reliably finish without interruption was eating. I could stuff down a cookie or two or three (or more) before a child needed me. I easily slipped into the role of an emotional eater.

As the kids grew, I explored a variety of exercises depending on what worked for me at that particular time. I used Jane Fonda videos at home, took aerobics classes, water aerobics classes or worked out with weights and machines at a fitness center. I started a walking program. I joined a weight loss support group and slowly whittled down to my goal weight. That was a great feeling, albeit temporary. Once again, the weight crept back on. I just couldn’t break away from the lose it, gain it, lose it, gain back more cycle.

Then, chronic illness struck with a mind-numbing exhaustion like I’d never known. Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome changed my life in numerous ways, but especially in exercise and weight. The debilitating fatigue and other symptoms eventually leveled off to a restrictive but more manageable level, but my weight rose. A few years later I joined a different weight loss support group and am still a member.

Several years after that, a new doctor guided me to an improved quality of life with the new diagnosis of Myofascial Pain Syndrome, medication and different daily routines. I started to feel better. I was “normally” tired, not fatigued. I exercised more easily. Life improved, but the yo-yo cycle remained. Willpower, determination and prayer helped me lose, but my track record for maintenance was dismal. How long this would have continued I have no idea, but life changed on November 29, 2007. Without any prior symptoms, an atypical node in my neck progressed from being a highly suspicious papillary carcinoma to stage 3 metastasized thyroid cancer.

I need not go into my life as a cancer victim. That’s another story. But being a cancer survivor for almost four years has become important to my healthy-weight journey. It forces me to make maintenance a priority, keep my weight consistent and my life balanced. I now live well without a thyroid and take thyroid replacement medication.

Working out is crucial. To prevent boredom or injury from repetitive exercise, I alternate bicycling, walking and yoga. I don’t count calories. Instead, I balance extra-food days (holidays, parties, traveling, etc.) with less-food days. Accountability is key, so I continue attending the weight loss group for support, and I faithfully keep my regular medical checkup appointments.

What my 57 years has taught me is the importance of balance in exercise as well as watching what I eat and the number on the scale. Prayer has also been essential. It helps me muster the strength to resist temptation. It gives me the push to exercise, especially on days when I’d rather not. Prayer also provides comfort, peace-of-heart and guidance. My weight trials might never be completely over, but the goal is and always will be good health.

Gee, I’M DETERMINED to be healthy.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary Jedlicka Humston has over 100 publications in newspapers, magazines, books and websites that include Liguorian, Coping with Cancer, Today’s Caregiver Magazine, Cappers, Julien’s Journal, TEA: A Magazine, Farm and Ranch Living, Our Iowa and a cover story for TOPS News. She is a member of the National League of American Pen Women, Besides writing, she loves reading, yoga, drinking tea, walking, and being with friends and family. To contact Mary, email

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