Chapter 1 – You'll know you've hit the bottom when you hear the THUD
Daily routine: Wake up, feed kids, entertain kids, keep kids from killing each other, put the kids to bed, put the kids back to bed 30 minutes later, and then collapse into my own bed and fade into unconsciousness. Repeat.
My life was a lot like running on a treadmill, a whole lot of effort to get absolutely nowhere. Not that I had much experience with treadmills mind you, but you get my drift. One morning I woke up depressed and berated myself for all the things that I wasn’t. Wasn’t skinny, wasn’t accomplished, wasn’t happy. In a fit of masochism I decided it would be a good time to take on my mortal enemy, the digital scale.
The scale and I have always had a hate/ more hate relationship. I've tried sweet talking it, I've tried yelling at it, I've even tried approaching it with cautious optimism. Power of positive thinking and all. For the last month I had given it the silent treatment and refused to acknowledge its existence. But apparently I felt the need to punish myself, because there I was again, at 7:00 in the morning before the children were awake, naked and oh so carefully avoiding the adjacent mirror (because lets be honest, who wants to see themselves naked first thing in the morning) and ever so lightly (because it might make a difference) stepping on the scale. While I waited for the scale to stop blinking 0.00 and pronounce judgment, I began to pray.
“Please God. Just let it be the same as last month. I'm not asking for it be lower, just... please, let it be the same.” God was apparently out of miracles.. The scale read 216.4. 10 lbs more than last month. I looked around just to be sure my 14 month old hadn't sneaked up behind me adding her 16 lbs to the total. Nope I was alone. So I hopped off and tried again, just in case. Maybe the scale had changed its mind, had a technical error, or something. But no, the evil scale seemed to take joy in my misery and now said 216.6. AHHHH! I had gained 1/5 of a pound in less than a minute.
Scenes from my future played out in my mind. I would gain a pound every hour. Within a week none of my clothes would fit. By the end of the month I would have to order everything from an online specialty store. In a year my husband would need to physically roll me out of the bed and onto a Jazzy scooter because I had gotten so big that my legs wouldn’t support my girth. I was going to be like that woman from What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. When I died they would have to cut a hole in my house just to get me out. Then I’d have to be buried in a packing crate because surely no one would make a coffin large enough to fit me.
I back pedaled off the scale so fast that I tripped. That’s when I heard the THUD of my life hitting rock bottom. It was so loud it even woke my husband. Well it was either that or the crash from the scale reverberating off the travertine. I imagine he ran into the bathroom expecting to find that I had slipped in the shower. He probably did not expect to see his naked, overweight wife sprawled on the floor, trying to beat the scale into submission.
“Betsy, what the heck are you doing?”
“I’m fat!” I wailed
My husband, always a man of few words, wisely said nothing and offered me a hand up. For a few minutes we stood there, him patting my back and me sobbing onto his shoulder. After I had quieted down some, Jarom grabbed a pack of tissues and herded me back into the bedroom. He sat me down on the bed and wiped the tears and snot off my face, then did the same for his shoulder.
“Now start over and tell me what’s wrong.”
There weren’t enough hours in the day or words in the English language to describe what was wrong. At that moment, I felt like the most worthless human being on the planet. Every disappointment, every failure echoed in stereo through my head. It was too overwhelming to think about, so I tried to focus on the immediate problem of my weight.
“Somehow I gained 10 pounds this month.” I sniffled.
Jarom stared pointedly at my nightstand and the ever growing collection of pop cans, wrappers, and pizza crusts.
“To be fair, half of those are probably the kids’.” I said sheepishly. Throwing myself down onto the pillow I exclaimed, “Ugh! What is wrong with me? I was doing really well this summer. But now…” I blew a raspberry and gave the thumbs down sign.
Jarom lay down beside me. “I know what you mean. It’s been a year and a half and we still don’t have closet doors or baseboards.”, he said referring to our recent house remodel.
“Guess we’re both great at starting…not so good at finishing.”
My husband listened patiently while I bemoaned my fat rolls for at least another half hour. I was too focused on my startling weight gain to let the truth of what I had just said sink in. A fire burned in my belly as I started thinking about the quickest way to drop 50 pounds. Upset made way for excitement. I was going to shed all these unwanted pounds…again. So what if I had done this same exact dance 20 times before, I was lost to the “starter’s high”. Like falling in love, starting a new project flooded my body with endorphins and gave me a single minded focus on the task ahead, for at least a few weeks.