Sunday, August 24, 2008

The County Fair, Revisited

One year ago I wrote about my first "health conscious" trip to the fair. I remember it well, because even though I weighed 266 pounds, I made a conscious decision NOT to indulge in my usual fair-foods. I did pretty well last year and even lost a pound. This year was, well, not quite as good... but certainly not the absolute pig-out that I used to have at every fair.

I was walking around yesterday with my little one, looking at all the food booths. And I started having some interesting memories. I saw Piggly Wiggly and its shady tent full of chubby folk eating plates of beer-battered french fries and giant bloomin' onions, and I remembered when I was one of them. It was as if I could see my former selves from years past wandering the fair, drooling at every booth, unable to decide between the funnel cakes topped with chocolate and the huge fried elephant ears, so I would get one of each. I could see my 278 pound self hobbling from booth to booth, out of breath, with my knees aching and grease stains accumulating on my clothes... and it made me SO SAD. Because I did not EVER see myself that way. I thought I was like everyone else. After all, everyone indulges at the fair. I was just another person there to eat.

I will never, ever judge or look down on the people who are still there indulging and eating fried stuff even though they are morbidly obese, but I DO feel a lot of compassion for them. Because we are the same, really. We want the food, we enjoy it, it calls to us. And the fair is special so we can indulge, regardless of what it is doing to our health. I feel sad that I did it to myself, and I feel sad when I see a very large person with a foot-long corn dog in one hand a a triple dip waffle cone in the other, just because I wonder if they feel trapped in their bodies like I used to feel. Like I still feel, sometimes.

I had an interesting experience at the food table yesterday. I had taken some time beforehand (before the fair) and thought about all the food choices. I sorted through them in my head so that I would not get overwhelmed and confused and start eating everything in site once I got there. I decided what I really wanted, that I couldn't usually have outside the fair. And I stuck with that. I didn't have the *healthiest* things possible, but I enjoyed and stopped when I was full. Anyway, back to the experience... I was sitting at the table eating an "indian" taco salad. I was maybe 1/2 way done with it. This couple was sitting across from me... young, fit-looking, talking to each other. Well, the guy looks across at me eating and says, "Is that taco salad?" I looked up, wondering if he was talking to me. He was smiling at me. I said, "yes" and waited for the eyeroll/insult/whatever I used to get in the past. But he just said, "that looks pretty good." And his skinny wife looked and said, "yeah that DOES look good, maybe we should get one." Then they went back to their conversation.

WHY is this even worth mentioning? Because, frankly, no one has EVER tried to interact with me while I was eating at the fair before. Sure, I have gotten snide remarks from teens about "oh my god, I never want to be that huge" and I got plenty of eyerolls when I was 278 and eating enormous amounts of fried foods. But no one EVER tried to talk to me. I sat there after they got up and left the table yesterday, and I realized that at least when I am sitting down at a table, I no longer look like I am obese. I look pretty normal. My chins are mostly gone (except the one I was born with), and I just sort of look a bit overweight. (Maybe I am delusional here but that's what I think...) And maybe it's also because my interaction with the food is different. No one wants to interrupt a heavy person who is having an intimate experience with her food, right? I think I was in such an oblivious frenzy before that it was almost like I was making out in public, and no one wanted to interrupt. This time I was just a person eating food.

So I had my salad, only ate about 2/3 and was full so dumped it. I did have a Coke (my Coke-free streak ended 2 days ago with a 24-hour migraine that would not abate until I took Excedrin and Coke). I had an ice cream cone. And for dinner I shared a homemade corn dog and a few onion rings with one of my teens. Eh, it was not even that good. A few bites was enough to tell me that my deep-fried days are done. I was wishing for some fresh fruit instead. And I felt slightly ill after the greasy food. I did not have any elephant ears or funnel cakes or deep fried Twinkies, either! I went home feeling *NOT* stuffed, and having walked about 3 or 4 miles over the course of the day. I would call it a pretty successful fair trip, although next year I am going back to the teriyaki chicken. Much better choice, health-wise.

Today I am going to focus on getting back to a produce-based diet. I have a counter full of Farmer's Market fresh peaches, berries, and melons for when that sweet tooth strikes. I have a fridge packed with beets, carrots, kale, cucumbers, lettuce, and all sorts of other locally grown veggies. I even got some local, fresh Crowder peas, which I am told are similar to black-eyed peas. That will be my protein source today. And I am looking forward to it.

I really do not want to have to post a weight gain for the month of August. Even when I was struggling over the winter, I was able to at least maintain my losses. That's my motivation for the week. I want to end this month NO HEAVIER than I started it. I will work hard this week to get the rest of those pesky regained pounds off me. And I want to post new update pictures of my at 208 (70 Pounds Gone) in September!


Kate said...

Congrats on making choices. I think there is a 'weight line' that people just stop talking to you at... I'm not sure if it's that at a certain weight you're "making out with food". I don't know a that the intensity of the eating experience is any different between 'thin' and 'fat' people. I've seen some pretty slender women practically orgasmic over fair food ;)

I have to agree, fair food can be tough. Last year I ate a gyro because the meats were broiled and the bread baked. Half the day I was miserable because I didn't have any fry bread. This year I'm going to have the indian taco and enjoy. I love fry bread and seldom get it except at the fairs. My own frybread (my mother's recipe) tastes like cardboard sprinkled with baking powder, so I'm not terribly inspired to try to make any at home, and improving the recipe would take several trials (and a lot of frybread lying around). I guess it's a blessing in disguise.

I'm surprised at how often you can find healthy food at the fairs these days... there are often juice stands now side by side with the pulled taffy. I just have to remember which booth to go to ;)

Fabulous @ 50

Linda said...

You did really well - be proud of that. I know that even though I can't seem to lose weight I look at the food differently. I can't help myself sometimes with the "judging" other people and their food choices. I'll work on that. Like at Subway the other day I got the chicken sub loaded w/veggies and a shot of honey mustard. The woman in front of me got seafood, double cheese on white bread, a few onions, a little lettuce, and a huge shot of mayo. I wanted to grab her and stop her from eating that. I also want to tell people at the gym on the treadmill to freekin' let go! I don't. I zip it. Sorry I'm rambling on your blog, but you set me off. In a good way, mind you.

Thanks for the motivation.

cindy said...

way to go lyn, seriously! i hope you lose weight, but even if you don't, please don't be too hard on yourself. all of your triumphs in your thinking about food, well, you've come soooo far from binging. thanks for inspiring me.

Chris77 said...

I guess everyone is different. I still really like some of the food that's bad for me. And I still eat it, just infrequently and in moderation. I don't think I would ever prefer fresh fruit and veggies to fried chicken or elephant ears :) But good for you!

Sarah said...

Look at you go! Glad to see that you have gotten over the bump in the road, more or less. That is so key to being long term successful. I think you made great choices at the fair, and I can understand why you craved the fresh fruit. I always thought that they should top funnel cakes with berries. Then it kind of feels healthy right?

briy said...

Yay for getting through a tough stumbling block. :) Congratulations!

Dinah Soar said...

Awesome Lyn--you are making so much progress. I really think you are on a path that will lead to long term permanent weight loss. You're not just following some diet--you're thinking through your food choices and changing the food dynamic in your life.

So many people on a diet will avoid fairs and the like...but we have to learn how to integrate these events into our lives...we can't hide out until we lose the weight.

Heather said...

that is so great that you went and had a positive and eye opening experience. it is possible to go to places like this and enjoy food and have a good time without making it ALL about the food and leave feeling full and mad at yourself. I had a similar experience this past summer when I went to a car race and noticed people eating and eating and how I used to be one of them. and you are totally right, you can feel nothing but compassion for them because you know what its like to be there. and it can make you all the more thankful that you are where you are now.

redballoon said...

Your post is touching in its honesty. My heart goes out to you when you talk about people not talking to you and that the simple act of a couple engaging you in a bit of conversation could move you to write about it.
You have made tremendous progress since your last fair.

Ann said...

Loved your post. I too had my first health conscious visit to the fair this year. Just taking a little time to think about what you really want to eat versus what you eat just because it's there made a real difference to me. Maybe I'll never get to the place where I don't have to walk through that exercise consciously, but at least I'm doing it. Thanks for being a great inspiration!

Anonymous said...

It feels wonderful to realize that "other" people think you deserve to eat. When you are grossly overweight - you don't think you deserve to enjoy eating - others don't either.

I think the reason people don't interupt a very obese person while they are eating is because they are embarrassed to bring up the subject. They aren't 100% sure how the overweight person might react; much like asking an alcoholic about his choice of alcolholic beverage. In a sense, I think people are afraid and don't won't to make themselves or the overweight person uncomfortable - so they just ignore it and pretend the overweight person isn't there.

I have done this myself - even though I have been overweight my entire life. I used to be 323 lbs (probably more, but that is the highest recorded weight), now I am 242 and still losing.

Congrats on your success and good luck with 208 in September. I can't wait to see your new picture. Thank you for posting pictures - many don't and I love looking at them for inspiration of what is possible for me too!


ryry the adventurous said...

Hi Lyn!

I did pretty well this year... while last year was an all-out eat til you drop fest, this year we did a lot of walking and while we didn't eat the best foods, my husband and I split everything, and really didn't have all that much to eat. Small cheese curds, a bag of mini donuts, I had to try some fried green tomatoes, and had about three small slices of those... but then after that felt like I was going to pass out from exhaustion. You are quite right... our bodies just dont like those fried foods anymore. After walking for another half hour and drinking some water, we opted to finish our day with the sweet corn stand. YUM! Didn't leave stuffed, in fact after a nap I was hungry again and had a light dinner.

HOORAY for a (more) successful day at the fair!

If only we didn't bring home a bucket of cookies.... man, I'm going to have to take those to work. ><

elife said...

congrats on moving forward.

spunkysuzi said...

The fact that you can now go to these places and enjoy yourself besides having the food it a step ahead.
And in my opinion you have to get to the place where you can deal with being in these situations and if you want to indulge a little then so be it! Life won't end because you've decided with a clear mind to have a corn dog ;)
However, endless eating without thinking about it its a totally different cup of tea!

new*me said...

Lyn, your posts are such an inspiration to me along the way. I think when you can go to places that you once did and eat in moderation, it shows that you already have changed your life. You are in the tweaking stages now :)

Anonymous said...

I love your entries. I was at a BBQ this weekend, and we are the oldest couple there, and I was the thinest guy. I was the only one that shrunk recently, and all the other guys had started the middle age expansion. I desparately wanted to help them, but I knew that setting an example, like you are doing, is the best way to do it.


Anonymous said...

You are NOT delusional! Your look FABULOUS and no one would think "FAT!" when they see you now. You have inspired me so much that as of today I am jumping on board the weight loss train with you. I am finally READY and I can hardly wait to experience all the positive things you have described in your blog all along.

Thanks for being such a great inspiration.

Karen in TN

Karyn said...

Good job, Lyn! Making a plan ahead of time was probably the key.
I'm rooting for you to make your goal this month!

Mal said...

I firmly believe that making "better" choices is just as powerful as making "perfect" choices -- maybe even more powerful because when I allow myself measured indulgences, I don't feel so frustrated. Soemtimes, yes, making "better" instead of "perfect" choices will slow down my process a bit, but because I'm going for long-term, sustainable change, I don't mind so much.

I've always had the mantra that it doesn't matter how fast you're moving, as long as you're pointed in the right direction.

Keep it up!

Hide those cookies said...

I've noticed that yearly events, like fairs, force me to look at my "old" self with new eyes. Good job making a conscious effort to make good choices!

deanna said...

Good for you! For getting back on the horse, for taking care of yourself, for being honest with yourself - and us, it's appreciated because I struggle the same way. And I am so glad that you saw yourself differently than last year, it's hard to do, and you have accomplished a lot. A few weeks of sadness, feeling alone, being tired and unmotivated will NOT erase ALL you have accomplished this year. I had to have that same conversation with myself. It's easy to stay in the rut -as a wise therapist said - it takes work to be happy. So here's to HAPPINESS - no matter the struggle. We deserve happiness in our lives, we are worth it!!!