The Low Carb Luxury Online Magazine 



    July 18, 2003    PAGE FIVE      
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 News & Product of the Month
 When Food Is A Drug Pt I
 When Food Is A Drug Pt 2
 Jo Cordi's  Lifestyle Series
 Brenda's Low Carb Good Life
 Summer Vegetable Recipes
 Favorite Chicken Recipes
 Dear Aunt Sissy


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      The Low Carb Good Life with Brenda Crump

We're proud to feature "The Low Carb Good Life" by regular columnist Brenda Crump, who's also one of our smart and resourceful moderators at Talking Low Carb (our Low Carb Luxury Discussion Forums.) Brenda has found the keys to making low carb a true lifestyle, with proper nutrition at the heart of it all!


Iím taking a break from the scintillating world of vegetables to discuss a topic that has been on my mind quite frequently lately. The topic is fat. Not dietary fat, but body fat and my former love/hate relationship with a good portion of my own.

I began low carbing in late 1999. Though I have hit some bumps along the way in the past four years, I have managed to lose a little over 50 pounds and have been maintaining for a while. My size goal was always just to "look like a normal person" which I felt that I achieved when I fit into a size 8. That isnít everyoneís ideal, but to me, thatís "normal". Since I reached my size goal, I have done quite a few things that I would never have done before losing the weight. Some of them, like speaking my mind without fear and engaging new acquaintances in conversation, have nothing to do with my physical size. Some of them, like wearing shorter skirts or being able to tie my shoes without performing circus-caliber contortions, have everything to do with my new "normal sized" self.

But there was a time when, without making a conscious decision to do so, I chose to make my fat my friend. While my appearance in the mirror was distressing, my comfort level on the inside was just right. All my life, I was surrounded by well-rounded women. Somewhere in my mind I came to believe that a good wife and a good mother always has a little "junk in the trunk". Thatís how you know sheís a good cook and her husband is a good provider. I know, I know, this is very out-of-date thinking. But picture a warm and comfortable home and smiling faces gathered around a table loaded with delicious homemade goodies. Now, picture the person who is responsible for all that lovely warmth and great food. Does that person have a body like Calista Flockheart? I didnít think so.

In addition to helping me fit my image of a good wife and good mother, my fat protected me from threatening situations and disappointments by either preventing me from taking chances in the first place or by providing a handy scapegoat if things went wrong. I have no idea how many times I passed on participating in an activity or social occasion, mentally blaming my reluctance on my size. The truth was, I was afraid that underneath the fat was a person who others would not like. I would rather have not tried at all, than run the risk of looking like a fool or being disliked by complete strangers. My big hips and thighs saved me from humiliation, because if you never try new things or meet new people there is zero risk of looking foolish or being disliked. If I did happen to find myself in a social situation, my fat protected me by shoving me into a corner or propelling me to the ladies room with astonishing frequency. As a result, I was not generally considered the "life of the party". But in my mind, people did not like me because I was fat. Built in protection, built in receptacle for blame when things go wrong - my excess weight never let me down.

Of course there was still the matter of that distressing appearance that I mentioned earlier. So there were times when I attempted to lose weight. I would be moderately successful for a while and then I would revert back to my old way of eating and envelop myself in a barrier of fat again. I was disappointed in myself for failing each time, but returning to my bigger self was almost like coming home. Eventually I got tired of trying to lose and I threw myself into all sorts of ways to deflect attention from my weight. My all-consuming mission became to have the perfect home. Having a home that looked like something out of a magazine made me feel worthwhile and kept my focus off of my own body and what I was putting into it. The problem was that when I was done decorating, my friendly excess pounds were still there. Worse yet, while I was busy putting an Italianate style paint job on my dining room walls, fifteen to twenty new "friends" had affixed themselves to my hips and rear.

So if my fat was my best friend and my protector, why did I decide to change? Because I started getting angry. When I realized that the perfect house did not make me happy, I got mad. When people dismissed me because I acted as if I had no value, I got mad. When I saw that other people were out doing the things that I never ran the risk of trying and that life was passing me by, I got mad. When I realized that my fat barrier was not protecting me but was preventing me from making contact with the world outside of myself, I got mad. I figured out that my fat was not my best friend, it was actually my enemy. Thatís when I became serious about losing the weight.

I have to admit that at first, life was a lot scarier without the convenient all-purpose excuse of being overweight. But I found that as I grew to feel better about myself, I ended up feeling better about everyone else, too. I realized that all those times that I spent holed up in the ladies room or standing mute in a corner, I wasnít being judged because of my size. If anything, I was being judged because of my unfriendly attitude. Now when I meet new people, I assume that theyíll be as friendly towards me as I am towards them. I also know now that good wives and mothers come in all shapes and sizes. I can make a warm and comforting home for my family without all the extra padding. In fact, I am a better wife and mother now because I am happier with myself. Iím pretty sure that if you asked them, my family would say that this makes me much easier to live with.

Without my extra layers, Iíve stopped trying to deflect attention. Itís now OK for me to wear nice clothes and to receive compliments. Itís acceptable for me to walk my dog in public, even though thereís a chance that someone will drive by and see me in workout clothes. Itís perfectly all right for me to speak my mind and while I donít expect everyone to agree with me, I no longer expect to be dismissed either.

Of course I know that all of these things were true of me when I was overweight. I had value and was worthy of compliments and I certainly had the right to walk my dog in public. And yet, I never saw it that way until I removed the barrier of my weight from around me. I donít know if I ever would have realized that these things were true if I hadnít gotten the extra weight out of my way. Isnít it ironic that the fat I was hanging on to for protection was the very thing that hurt me the most? It was not only keeping me from feeling the pain that goes along with living, it was also blunting the exquisite joy that should have been part of my life.

If you find that you have been in the same lose-gain-lose-gain cycle for a long time, maybe itís time to examine your relationship with your excess weight. Do you feel that it is protecting you from having to face certain situations in your life? Is it enabling you to fit an image that could use a little updating? Are you using your fat as a scapegoat for anything that happens to go wrong? Is it the perfect excuse for you to avoid truly living your life?

Maybe you will find, after some reflection, that hanging on to that weight is not protecting you from anything, really. Your excess weight is not your friend. It may actually be preventing you from seeing how much value you have as a person and how much better life can be when you live it without that barrier around you. Once you are free of the extra layers of false-protection, who knows what wonderful things you may discover about yourself?

                                                                             Brenda





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