Saturday, September 17, 2016

When the Skin Grows and the Bones Stay

Dad used to say there were two times in life: when the bones grow and the skin stays; when the skin grows and the bones stay. 

My mother fought her weight all her life, as did my father in those middle and later years.  As has my sister and myself.  My sons, too...

I'm sure many people can relate to the pattern.  Mom and Dad would lose, gain, lose, gain.  Dad could eat one of those really large chocolate bars on his way home from work every night.  Then he would stop eating much, quickly lose the weight, and gain it back.  This battle was especially difficult for Mom.  She tried many diets and would lose weight only to gain it back plus.  She would go on another diet and then eat a bag of barbecue chips in a sitting in the afternoons.  In about 1990, she joined Weight Watchers, reached goal, and stayed there for many years.  Slowly it crept back up again.

Mine has been the same struggle.  Lost weight in high school...gained weight when pregnant...lost weight after babies...gained weight...lost weight in my 40s.  Kept it off for a few years and gained it all plus another 75...apparently to even it out.  Whole numbers are better, right?  I have been maintaining a substantial loss for a couple of years, but still have a great deal of weight to lose to reach goal.

Since Mom has been in nursing care, she has lost over 25 pounds.  A year previous to her stroke, she fell and had lost another maybe 20 pounds over the next year.  So since she has been semi-now-totally disabled, she has lost nearly 50 pounds.  According to Weight Watchers, her goal weight is 155.  She now weighs about 120--up a couple and everyone gets all excited; lose a couple and the worry comes out.

I recently told her that she could now return to Weight Watchers for free (Lifetime members, if they stay no more than 2 pounds over goal, do not pay for meetings).  The joke was when she was a bit heavier than goal, she said she had not wanted to return until she lost her weight again.  I laughed.  Now she could, if she could :)

The day I learned she had lost more weight and was down so low, she had not eaten lunch.  She said she wasn't hungry, too tired to eat.  We were sitting in her room, she had been laid back into bed, and I watched her so tired and weak, not hungry, not caring about things, drifting off.

I said to her, "You have fought your weight all your life and now you are skin and bones, sadly underweight, people worried about your weight loss."  She nodded.  "Just seems like all that angst and worry, all that struggle to lose, maintain weight...all that battle was for nothing."  She nodded.

I left that day just not caring about weight issues.  I left that day realizing that life is ironic, a cruel joke sometimes.  I watched all my nursing home friends as I walked down the hallway to my car and no longer saw my friends.  I saw old people just waiting...waiting.

I looked at myself in the mirror and thought that this weight struggle was not worth my energy.  Life was too precious to waste time worrying about this stress and struggle.  I am healthy.  Blood pressure is low.  Cholesterol--good and bad--are fine. Heart rate is good.  I exercise every day and move.  All it has to do with is looking good?  Who cares?

I stayed with this attitude for maybe three weeks.  I continued to attend Weight Watcher meetings, but I just didn't care anymore.  One of the leaders asked why did I initially join (she asked everyone at the meeting, not just me, although it is really all about me, right?) and I remembered my goal for joining.  Of course ultimately to lose weight, but I wanted to lose weight in order to be able to move better.  And I was moving better since I had lost 50 pounds.  I still have movement issues, but am much better. Perhaps I was not wasting my time, but reaching toward the real goal--better movement.

Mom is 25 years older than I am; she will be 91 in a couple weeks.  She is simply waiting...waiting.  I am a robust 66 years old.  I am not waiting but living.  When I get to be 91 and waiting, I might remember to reevaluate the battle.  But for now, I'm back in the game.