Thursday, January 19, 2012

I Used To Be Jealous

I used to be jealous, but not in the way you might think.

Years ago, I used to covet whatever anyone else was eating. Even if it was a food I didn't like, if someone else had it, I got a strange desire to have it, too.

I wonder if it goes back to those times when my mother would sit in her recliner at home, eating from her 1- or 2-pound box of assorted chocolates or her chip bag, and I'd watch her for a bit, then ask if I could have some. She'd always give me this look like she thought I had a lot of nerve to ask her for some of *her* special food. Sometimes she'd give me a piece; whether she did or not, I always left feeling guilty and selfish for having asked.

I wonder if it goes back to being in college and only having a few dollars a week for food, drinking watered-down Cream of Wheat from a cup for breakfast every morning and eating Ramen for dinner most nights. I'd watch the other kids whose parents were paying for their college and sending them money, and I'd feel a bit of envy when they ordered a pizza or baked cookies or even actually cooked a meal in the kitchen.

I wonder if it goes back to those days when my small children and I ate only whatever the food bank had to offer, mainly days-old bakery items like sheet cakes and stale cookies and dry muffins. I was grateful for the dry beans and rice and cans of soup, but when I went to the store for a gallon of milk, I'd always stare at the mountains of food on the belt in the checkout line that the person in front of me was buying. I'd look at all that stuff I couldn't dream of having like cheese spreads and crackers and ice cream and meat, and I'd wonder if I would ever be able to afford to buy what I wanted to buy.

I think there is an underlying insecurity that maybe, just maybe it could happen again. Maybe 'tomorrow' I won't have the funds to buy a pizza or the ingredients for homemade macaroni and cheese, so I should do it now, while I can. Maybe 'tomorrow' restaurants will be off the table so I better enjoy it now. I think there is an underlying feeling of not wanting to once again be the one watching everyone else enjoy something yummy while I can't.

I don't like corn chips. Never have. I never understood how people can *like* Fritos. I hate the smell, the taste, the breath it gives you. Just yuck. Oh, I used to eat nachos sometimes. Anything tastes good with a pound of cheese and globs of guacamole and sour cream on them. But as a rule, corn chips never appealed to me. Then one day, I was chatting with a friend of mine. We were talking about what kinds of things we like as snacks. She said, "Oh, I love this certain brand of corn chips! They are sooo good! They are my guilty pleasure! I sit and have a bowl of them at night when the kids are asleep and they are such an indulgence!" And suddenly, strangely, I wanted those corn chips. For days afterwards I thought about them. I really just HAD to try them. I went to the store, found this special brand, bought them, and promptly ate half the bag myself. Of plain, ordinary corn chips.


Because I was jealous. I had emotions without words, but if I had to translate them they would say:

Why should SHE get a guilty pleasure and I don't?
I want them if they are so good!
I deserve to have the best!
I want a guilty pleasure too!
I want to sit and enjoy those super yummy chips too!
I have to have them!

In the following years, I would sometimes find myself buying those stupid chips again, and thinking about how someone else thought they were so great and awesome so they must be great and awesome. And I'd eat them, almost willing myself to love them. But I don't really like corn chips.

I went to a friend's house once years back. We were chatting and our kids were playing. She poured us some coffee and she and our other friend started doling spoonfuls of sugar and hefty amounts of cream into their mugs. Her husband came home for lunch, and she gave him a three-layer sandwich on thick, homemade white bread slathered with mayonnaise and loaded with sliced cheese and ham. She casually placed some potato chips on his plate and handed him a Coke. Later, the kids were hungry and she pulled out some homemade cinnamon rolls covered in shiny frosting for their snack. And as I was leaving, she took some homemade cookie dough out of the fridge, plopping down spoonfuls on a cookie sheet to bake some fresh, hot chocolate chip cookies for after dinner. She licked the dough off the spoon and smiled.

WHY do 'other people' get to eat like this?
It isn't fair. She is thin, our other friend is thin, her husband is thin, and they appear not to have a care about food or diets or any of that. They just make what sounds good and have it. They don't agonize over the sugar in a cookie or wonder whether that Coke is going to make them gain a pound. They don't stress about the cookies or feel pressed to eat the whole batch. They just have their food... indulgent, delicious food... and it is just another simple pleasure in their lives. Not something to agonize over. Not something to worry about.
And because I had those thoughts, I immediately came home and baked 4 dozen chocolate chip cookies and ate 6 or 7 in a row and then planned my sandwich and Coke and chips for lunch the next day.

I used to be jealous, because I wanted what other people seem to have.

Not anymore.

I still want the foods sometimes, but I have become aware of the senseless desire to "have what she's having" simply because, well, I don't want to miss out.

I have realized that I am not missing out because I had spaghetti squash and chicken instead of pizza. I am not missing out because I played a game with my daughter instead of eating half a bowl of cookie dough. I am not missing out because I did NOT eat everything I wanted, but instead, found the discipline to lose and keep of this 80 pounds and turn my life from a prison into a dance of joy.

I have my rough days, I have my down days. But when I stop and look at what has happened to me in the past four years, I am amazed. That morbidly obese woman who could not walk to the park, play on the playground, walk down the beach, take the stairs to kiss her kids goodnight, sleep lying flat, sit on a lawn chair, fit in a booth, or take a walk down the block would *never* have dreamed that she could change her life like this. She would never have imagined a life of walking her child to school, taking the stairs multiple times a day without thought, raking the yard, playing with her children, getting up and down off the floor easily, being active in dog sports, and being physically able to participate in life so fully. I am a whole new person! I have been given a second chance at life. I went from lying on a steel table in the ER with an oxygen mask and heart monitor on, surrounded by chaos and nurses and doctors and thinking I might be dying, to THIS LIFE where I can do just about anything any other person can do, where I am no longer trapped by my morbid obesity.

I used to be jealous, but now, I am just so grateful for what I have done, and all the rich life that lies ahead of me. I am not jealous anymore.


Big Mama T said...

Wow. I just found your blog, and I'm glad I did. I completely understand that 'jealousy.' I have yet to get it under control- but it's so, so good to know that it can be done...

violinista said...

I'm so glad you're not jealous anymore:) Those feelings just make us feel more miserable. Once every great while, I find myself having those feelings--maybe not about food, but other things--and I suddenly realize that my life is great as it is because it is MINE. Nobody else is living it for me.

I think you've come to such a healthy way of thinking. Happy for you.

Ruth said...

Wonderful post! Makes me want to stand and cheer!

Diandra said...

Well, people can be slim and unhealthy as well... I do not think I would want to trade my healthier food for the greasy, salty snacks some of my skinny friends are having. I like feeling well, even if it is not yet at the weight I want to be.

Anonymous said...

You are an inspiration. Please know that.

Miz said...

oh lyn.
you are suc h a beautiful beautiful writer.

LindaLou13 said...

I agree with Ruth--inspiring! Thanks for being really helps me :)

Anonymous said...

I understand completely!

And look what you've done - you should be so proud. It takes a long time to turn around a lifetime of food/eating/weight problems, so what you've done in four years is outstanding. And just look at it as Phase I.

I'm basically in the same place - wish I was farther along, but trying to just be proud and forward-looking at having lost half of the weight I want to lose. It's taking a while and I have setbacks and such just like you. But it sure is better than where we were isn't it? And we ARE persisting.


lisa~sunshine said...

I loved this post Lynn.. You have come far and I really like it when you got back and do the reality checks of just how far you have come.. and how much better you are now..

I use to do a lot of comparing myself to others.. until I made myself change and told myself the best person for me to compare myself too.. is a earlier version of myself.. If I'm in a better place than 3, 6 or 12 months ago.. then I'm doing well...
Enjoy your weekend.. we are suppose to get more snow..

Anonymous said...

Great post - I think this might be a breakthrough for you?
I understand the frustration about thin people eating whatever, but it you're doing it for health, their arteries are not good, eating all the stuff - and they might be more likely to develop diabetes or have a heart attack than someone overweight, yet eating healthily and exercising is. THAT always makes me feel better - because I know it's the truth.

Sue said...

Amen Lyn! I think the exact same way as you do.

I am having the same struggles. I had lost 99 pounds...and have regained 25 back. I am angry and worried ... and what do I do? Eat. Today is a new day. I spent two hours shoveling snow...made myself a healthy omelet.
Thanks for letting me have my coffee with you this morning!

Gotta say - I have 6 diet pepsi cans left...they are bad for me...lead me to a salty binge.

Mrs. Chupchake said...

Good post Lyn. I used to be so jealous of people who could cook and bake or of the food in magazine layouts. Good for you (not being jealous anymore).

Hope you have a great weekend.

Finding Me, One Pound at a Time said...

Great post! I enjoyed reading it. Thanks.

Catherine55 said...

This was a really great post. I just found your blog and look forward to reading more. Feel free to check out mine if you like -- I'm 80+ pounds down, with the help of my lap band and lots of exercise...

Jack Sh*t, Gettin' Fit said...

It is so hard for some of us to find a healthy relationship with food. I spend a lot of time thinking (and blogging) about it and still think I've only scratched the surface. It still makes no sense to me that a brain in charge of a body's self-preservation would apparently send such mixed signals, make us crave such unhealthy foodstuffs. And sometimes it isn't even about the food... just the sensation of eating.

As always, I enjoy your explorations into the subject. Keep up the great work.

Anonymous said...

I can relate with the whole jealousy thing. Lately, though, I've been doing better with it, like you.

Looking at food/cooking pictures can really trigger these thoughts, sometimes. Why can't I have yummy, comforting foods like these people. Why can't I make some delicious cupcakes for dessert? Why do others get to, and not me?

I guess because that's life, and really, it isn't too bad. Everyone has certain weaknesses in their brain/body. No one is without flaw.

JUST BECAUSE PEOPLE EAT DELICIOUS FOOD DOESN'T MEAN THEIR LIFE IS PERFECT. whoa. I think that's a big revelation for me. Thanks for helping me find if, just now. :)

Marilyn said...

You've come SO far, Lyn - and I rejoice with you at the release of the jealousy! Like Molly, I'm only halfway to my goal but have learned SO much over the past couple years about what my body can handle. And slowly, ever-so-slowly, letting go of those urges to overeat, to eat foods I don't even LIKE because in SOMEONE'S eyes, they're "irresistible"... thanks for a wonderful post, Lyn!

Anonymous said...

I absolutely love this post! Thank you so much for being honest and sharing your feelings and insights. Sharon

thursdays child said...

thank you for verbalising something that I've been struggling to understand about my own behaviour.

It's great to find another trigger - now to break it's hold.

Dinahsoar said...

Jealousy is dangerous. It says 'poor me'. Those kids whose parents paid for their college were blessed to have parents who worked hard, earned their money and made it count. Some of us didn't have that fact many did not have that benefit. But that's life. Our parents all had the same opportunity per se--the freedom to pursue happiness. If our parents fell short we can't dwell on that. We have to focus on our opportunity to pursue happiness. We still have it in this country, though I wonder for how long. We can't wait on someone else to give it to us...and if we don't use it, it's our own fault. In each and every one of us is the ability to triumph, but we have to get off of our butt and put in the blood, sweat and tears required. Looks like you've done that. Be proud of your accomplishments and don't envy others who had it easier. Surely you want to make it easier for your kids, don't you?...I'm sure you wouldn't want others being jealous of them. Too many countries end up in socialism or worse communism because of jealous people who think they are entitled.

You are changing from the inside out as well as the outside in, which I believe is necessary to be healthy, whole and fit. Way to go!

Lyn said...


true. In my case my father worked very hard, spent many, many years serving our country including seeing action in Korea and Vietnam, and then after retiring from the military worked a job until the day he died. My parents chose not to support my decision to go to college.

I know that was not your main point, but I did want to say what a wonderful, hard-working man my father was and didn't want to give an impression otherwise.

Anonymous said...

I'm SO happy for you Lyn. I did all of those things you did, lost all of my weight by eating whole living foods right off of the earth and lean meat. I did go the direction of a VLC diet. I got very sick and nearly lost my life going that way. I didn't see that I was harming my body. When I started to drop my fear of gaining weight, and took up healthy whole foods, my dance of joy began too. I am hoping that you will find a way to stop being so afraid of re-gaining your weight that you quit starvation dieting and go toward healthy whole eating again!! <3

LoriBee said...

I've just recently found your blog and had to add to the other comments what a wonderful, inspiring writer you are. This post was touching on so many levels I will read it again. Thank you for having the courage to share your experiences so others like myself can benefit.