“Everything’s bigger and better in Texas.” This old adage refers to the size of things in Texas when compared with the size of things everywhere else in the world. Well, the first part of this old adage surely held true for me! Since I was a rather small and scrawny child in my first few years of life, ending up at 300 pounds what quite a feat. My mother tells me stories about taking me for regular doctor visits and voicing her concerns about me being too skinny and so I must be sick. The family doctor named her “The Mother Hen.”
I live in Texas and I like food
Needless to say, I like food. Some people have legitimate reasons for gaining weight. Some come from abusive homes. Some are running from problems and finding comfort in food. Still, others have severe self-esteem issues that have brought on their weight gain. I, however, did not fit into any of these categories. I, plain and simple…liked food! I remember being in junior high school and dieting to lose weight. I remember being in high school and dieting to lose weight. My college years were spent pretty much the same way – dieting to lose weight.
I started gaining weight during the summer of fifth grade. I spent that summer with my grandparents and feasted on Mexican cuisine three meals a day. When my parents came to pick me up, they were shocked at my weight. From then on I blamed my poor grandmother for my weight gain, her and her wonderful cooking. I know now that it was hormonal, and that I loved her food.
When I entered junior high school I wore a size 18 pants and an extra-large shirt. I probably weighed around 200 pounds or so. We didn’t keep a scale at home, so I really don’t know what my weight was.
Everything in my family and our Hispanic culture revolves around food. Celebrations, accomplishments, awards, sad occasions, even death is surrounded by food! If we did well on our report cards … FOOD! If we received an award at school… FOOD! Aunt Fela died… FOOD! It’s not really funny, but “ya gotta laugh.”
Talk shows, news reports, and magazine articles often focus on obesity, forever searching for the reason why people are fat. I would listen to all the shows, read all the articles, and try to discover the key. WHY was I so big? What happened to me? When I reflected on how the weight came on, I couldn’t find a seminal incident or any particular rationale for it. It was gradual. I continued to gain throughout junior high and high school, and in college, it was much the same. Accomplishment… FOOD! Boredom… FOOD! Graduation, job… FOOD! FOOD! This pattern continued throughout my adult life until at the age of 34 I weighed about 300 pounds.
“Why don’t you just go on a diet?”
Lots of people would ask, “Why don’t you just go on a diet?” Well, I did. Lots of them. Low fat, low calorie, count units, eat meat, don’t eat meat, eat fruit only, don’t eat any fruit. It seems comical now, but it really wasn’t then. After reaching 300 pounds, you just don’t care anymore because it seems hopeless. You buy clothes that are too expensive because your selection is so limited that when you find something that fits and looks decent you’re willing to pay the asking price. There aren’t a lot of options out there for those of us who are at 300 pounds or more.
Still, I was a happy, productive, married person… Or so I thought….
Then in November of l997, I was attending a three-day conference with some colleagues from work. One of the “skinny” ladies ordered from room service one evening. Her meal consisted of a burger without the bun and a salad in place of the French fries. “Well!” I thought. “That’s just plain silly! She’s going to eat all that fatty meat and salad dressing and NOT eat the low-fat bread! Hmmmmm… But then again, she’s the one who is skinny and I’m the one who weighs 300 pounds…” So I asked her about why she was eating what she was, and she explained the low carb concept to me. It made a lot of sense, and well, as they say, “the rest is history.”
When I got home from the conference that evening my husband and I ate our last high carb meal. In less than eight months I lost 80 pounds, and the weight still continued to come off! I have now lost a total of 135 pounds, and my husband has lost 95 pounds.
Needless to say, life is certainly different now.
I can shop in any store I like. I now wear a “normal” size 10/12, and I can actually find things on the sales racks! While food is still very much a part of our lives and a part of our personal reward system, we’ve found a way of life and a way of eating that fulfills our needs and still lets us be healthy.
Thanks to following a low carbohydrate lifestyle, the old adage “Everything’s bigger and better in Texas” has been changed to “Everything’s better low carbing in Texas.” Between us, my husband and I have dropped the “bigger” by a combined weight loss of 230 pounds! Life in Texas is GRAND now!!
Denise is a 37-year-old educator from Texas. She and her husband have been following a low carbohydrate lifestyle for over two years.
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