April 21, 2013

in therapy in session

I have lost 30 lbs. since last summer.

There. I said it.

I don’t know why I have been feeling too embarrassed to tell you this. I feel guilty. What’s with all the “you are beautiful the way you are” “girl power” blah blah rah rah Dove marketing speeches I tend to meander into. I did not come clean earlier because I am worried that you will somehow be mad. Somehow it feels like I have committed betrayal.

It all started last May when they were getting a Weight Watcher group together at work. Have I told you that my office has 500+ people and most of them are young and female, above-average-looking and most importantly, thin? It took a llllooooonnnnngggggg time to get 15 people (the minimum for a WW group leader to come onsite) to sign up. I thought, “Why not? I have nothing to lose [ha ha].” I was lucky that the WW method of counting points turned out to work for me. It was difficult in the beginning of course considering how an ounce of vodka is 5 points and I had only 29 points per day to spend. What saved me was the “rule” that all vegetables and fruits count as zero point and therefore I filled myself up with apples and bananas in the morning and ate a lot of grapes throughout the day. At night I ate a lot of egg whites and fish which I loved.

I eventually got a hang of it: counting points forced me to become aware of everything that went into my mouth. [Stop giggling, you pervs!] I learned to make mental trade-offs: “Do I want to have this piece of cheap cookie now or do I want a shot of vodka later?”  I started eating healthier with less carb and smaller portions without going hungry and found myself with lots more energy. When we left for Taiwan last August to visit my family I’d lost about 15 lbs.

I was excited to be home even more because I thought that my family would notice my weight loss and would, you know, say something nice.

What was I thinking?

I tried to brush off the usual comments about my “American” size –  These comments were laid upon me by everybody, I mean, EVERYBODY, sometimes even strangers (grandmothers with good intentions lest I lose my husband due to my not keeping myself in good shape…) every time I went home. you’d thought by then I’d gotten used to them.

Pardon the cliche, but the straw that broke the camel’s back was when a female relative greeted me with this line, “Come let me see how much fatter you are since the last time I saw you.” It sounds a lot worse in English. In Chinese, it could be interpreted as a good-humored tease, showing affection and familiarity. But what the fuck? I’d lost 15 lbs before I came home. How much thinner do I have to be to make you people happy?!

The thing about teasing by your Chinese family is that you cannot get upset. If you do, people will be offended that you cannot take a joke, and that somehow is a sign of poor upbringing.

“You bring dishonor to your family.” <– Ok. That was a joke.

I gritted my teeth and smiled while she spun me around.  As soon as she’s done “inspecting” me, I immediately accused myself so I could rush to the bathroom and quietly sob behind the door.

Usually I give up easily. I don’t ever remember myself being the type of people that turn rejection into a motivating force.

“You don’t like me? Fine. I will just crawl into a dark corner and die. Take THAT!”

Something clicked however last summer as I sat wide awake in our hotel room at dawn while the kids were still sound asleep. [Btw, THANK GOD for kids that do not suffer jet lags!] I started taking full advantage of the decked out gym and spa at W Taipei. I was on the machine for an hour in the morning. I went back to the machine for another hour in the evening, sometimes after midnight because I resented those beautiful people that were frolicking in the bar area surrounding the beautiful swimming pool. [I know this does not make any sense at all. Just work with me…]

Maybe that’s what did it. The 10 days of serious workout regiment kicked off some weird biological thing inside my body. Long story short, instead of gaining weight from stuffing myself with all the awesome food that I had missed (I was not going to let those people stop me from eating. Hell no! Carb or no carb!) I ended up shedding more lbs during the trip.

I will be honest even though I fear I sound like a hypocrite: I do like looking at my pictures more now. They look more like what I’ve imagined myself to look like all along. [Yes, I will also confess that I am a Narcissist.  So there!] Instead of deleting every single picture with me in it, I will do that to only 80% of them. Yes, possibly I have also become more vain: without telling people back home that I have lost weight, I started posting pictures of myself on Facebook. An actual announcement and especially the explanation of how would equal defeat in my mind, an admission that they have somehow won. Also, deep down I fear that some of them would probably have said, “Oh, you’ve lost weight? I did not notice. How much did you lose?…”

I was hoping that people would get the idea.

Oh no you didn't

I hope you regret it now because I was cute before and now I am just fucking gorgeous.



What was I thinking, really?

My mom called tonight.

“So and so was showing me your pictures from Face Book. She said that you seem to have lost a lot of weight. I said, ‘Nooo. Did she? Nah.’ Did you? You didn’t right? You look the same to me.”

I shut my eyes tightly and took a deep breath.

I said nothing.



{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

dufmanno May 14, 2013 at 10:09 am

Baby you always have been and always will be a stunner.

I’ve got to lose some of my winter padding that I cleverly put on to keep me warm on those cold blustery nights:) Now I realized that when I put on my shorts and stand in the sunshine someone could park a truck in the shadow of my ass…

I adore you and even though I NEVER thought you should ever lose weight, I’ll take you any way you come at me- as long as it’s you;)
dufmanno´s last blog post…They Flew South For The Winter


Linda at Bar Mitzvahzilla May 3, 2013 at 11:38 pm

Congratulations! I’ve been on points forever (and I do mean forever – like 13 years). I love them for their flexibility and the ability to make sure of quantities. I was always very liberal with my fruit portions and never counted vegetables; so glad that WW finally got on board with me on that! And family… I know. My first few years doing this I thnk some people refused to even compliment me (on an 86 pound weight loss!) waiting for me to gain it back. Urg.


Absence Alternatives May 12, 2013 at 1:43 pm

WOW. Amazing. Congratulations!!!! And YOU should feel proud of yourself. I find it funny that yes people seem to be holding their breath, waiting for me to gain it back… It’s bizarre and makes me curious about their thought processes…


Neil April 28, 2013 at 4:28 pm

What interested me the most was your ability to lose so much using the weight watcher’s system. It doesn’t really sound very radical, and you didn’t mention anything about eating any of their special meals — so was the key the point system, that made you think about everything you ate, almost as if it was a game? Congrats on feeling good about yourself!
Neil´s last blog post…Write What You Know


Absence Alternatives May 12, 2013 at 1:41 pm

It’s really about how it helped me change my relationship with food. I learned not to binge eat. I still do. But when I feel emotional (I eat when I am sad, mad, upset, happy, frustrated etc) and need to eat, I grab a bowl of fruit (mostly grapes) or raisins instead of a whole big giant box of Gold Fish. I learn “mindful eating”: become aware of everything that goes into my mouth because one piece of cookie here, one bite of chocolate there throughout the entire day does add up. I am not suffering and that really makes it stick.

Of course, as I am typing this, I just wolfed down a whole bar of Toblerone… so…


Merrilymarylee April 26, 2013 at 3:19 pm

I’m so impressed that you stuck with this. You must give yourself an Attagirl every day because that is an awesome achievement! I’m so proud. And envious.

Have your boys noticed? They knew were WonderMom to begin with, so perhaps not.

Congratulations on living up to your self-image. (How did it ever survive your family’s remarks!?!?) I love that your photos look more like what you imagined yourself to be. Way to go!!!!

To have lost weight ON the trip…? Amazing!!! Here’s one from me: ATTAGIRL!!!

Merrilymarylee´s last blog post…Postscript from the Ledge


Absence Alternatives May 12, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Thanks! Yes, my boys noticed. In fact, on the trip, they’ve learned the Chinese word for FAT because it was said so often. (Sadly, my boys don’t speak much Chinese… but that’s for another blog…) My oldest turned to me one day and said, “Mom. I am so proud of you.” It made me start bawling in the middle of the street.


Velva April 22, 2013 at 8:07 pm

You have always been beautiful.

Weight Watchers is the best way to lose weight in a healthy and real life way. Glad it worked for you.

Velva´s last blog post…Keeping it Simple: Creamy Tomato Soup


Absence Alternatives May 12, 2013 at 1:34 pm

Thanks! *blushing* My quest for compliments totally worked! Bawhahahaha. 😉


BigLittleWolf April 22, 2013 at 2:44 pm

I don’t think you’re vain. (I’m sure you’re fucking gorgeous now!) I suspect you were pretty damn gorgeous before. But I totally get it, having been up and down and up and down and everything in between… I always feel better and when I’m closer to “down,” but without crazy eating behavior – just able to eat and be.

That’s also one of the great things with WW. You tend to internalize what you should and shouldn’t eat, how much, and it’s reasonable.

As for being vain (etcetera etcetera), I say… enjoy those pics of yourself! You worked hard to get there, presumably you’re feeling well and healthy. All that is GREAT! Revel in it!
BigLittleWolf´s last blog post…Mad Men Season 6 Episode 4: To Have and to Hold… While Letting Go


Absence Alternatives May 12, 2013 at 1:34 pm

Thanks! I know I say this probably too often, if it were not for the community of sisterhood I found on the Interwebz, my psyche would have been very very fragile. All of you have given me so much spiritual support, it’s amazing!


MotherChaos April 21, 2013 at 8:04 pm

ARGH!!!! That is so…so…Unfair. Just on all possible fronts, it is unfair. It takes a lot of dedication to get rid of that dreaded body fat once it settles in; to have the effort dismissed, to have people intentionally refuse to SEE the results…I’d probably be bawling, too.
MotherChaos´s last blog post…Randomly Thursday


Absence Alternatives May 12, 2013 at 1:32 pm

Thank you so much! Happy Mother’s Day!


TheKitchWitch April 21, 2013 at 4:05 pm

It’s so interesting, because I never knew how important “the weight thing” was in some cultures until our neighbor hired a summer au pair from Thailand. She worried the entire time that she was “getting fat” and that she would be ashamed to go home if she “was fat” and she worried that she would get teased about “American fat.” I felt so bad for her.

She went home MAYBE 5 pounds heavier. And yep. They called her fat.

((hugs)) And no worries about being narcissistic–we all are. 🙂
TheKitchWitch´s last blog post…Apologies to T.S. Eliot and Other Shizzle


Absence Alternatives May 12, 2013 at 1:32 pm

{{{{hugs}}}} back!


Naptimewriting April 21, 2013 at 2:00 am

Next book on your Kindle: “You’re Wearing THAT?” by Deborah Tannen. Subtitle something about adult daughters and their mothers. It’s a linguistic look at how they say the *worst* things and pretend they think it’s innocent. But it’s about control.

I thought you looked lovely when I saw you, but I’ll be honest and say that I notice eyes and ideas rather than bodies.

Glad you feel better. No matter how much we know we are not a size or a number, that we are a brain and feelings that need to be heeded and respected, it sometimes just feels better to be the size that makes our bodies happy. Whatever that size is.

Congratulations. Sounds like a lot of hard work, lifestyle changes, and healthful choices. How awesome is that?!
Naptimewriting´s last blog post…Boston marathon training


Absence Alternatives May 12, 2013 at 1:31 pm

Thank you so much for the encouragement! I’ve read some articles by Deborah Tannen. Sounds like I need to check out the book on mother/daughter relations. It just boggles me because she’s almost 80… you’d think that at one point in your life you’d learn to let go or whatever. (I am referring to both my mother and myself…)


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