Way back in January (yes, yes…last month, I know. It’s my story, though, and I get to be melodramatic if I am so inclined) we ran out of Ramen noodles. This wasn’t a planned scarcity; we simply saw that we were running low and we let J work his way through what was left of his usual “breakfast,” and -even though there were ample opportunities to ask for more, he didn’t. On January 9th (yes, yes…not even a month ago…) he ate his last package of Ramen noodles. Every morning since then he’s had actual breakfast foods: eggs, waffles, pancakes, muffins, bagels, and so forth…
This past weekend, he wistfully made a move to get more Ramen noodles, but didn’t really get upset when we suggested plain soba noodles that I can boil and season with other things here at home. He hasn’t complained once about getting, instead, deviled eggs (with shredded carrots mixed in,) pancakes, and so forth. In fact, when I mentioned this morning that tomorrow is French Toast Day, J was very happy. The French toast recipe, as you know, uses pumpkin rather than milk. When you factor in that last night I made a mock-Florentine sauce for pasta with plain low-fat yogurt in it…well…we’ve come a long way, baby.
I apologize for what I’m about to explain, but the truth is that we can only tell J’s been losing weight when he shower or changes his clothes. We weigh him with the Wii, but for us it’s not about the number. J’s pants are currently a size 44, and they were very tight and uncomfortable for a short time (at his heaviest,) and now they fit loosely around his waist. He is now wearing XL boxer-briefs rather than XXL ones. His XL compression shirts, which he loves because they provide the squeeze that comforts him without the encumbrance of a heavy compression vest, are now not strained to the point of nearly bursting. His socks no longer dig into his ankles, and zipping up his commuter boots has ceased to be a chore. When I help him get ready in the mornings, I can tell his skin is starting to sag in places where it was very taut, and his stretch marks no longer look “angry.” Now they look, at most, “confused.”
J used to have a significant problem with his thighs rubbing together, and his arms and sides chafing. J’s abdomen was as taut as a drum, and not in a good way. He looked distended, swollen…his skin looked like it was under significant strain. Today I looked carefully at his underarms, and the skin is looser there. I looked at his abdomen and his thighs…they’re no longer as they used to be. J is big still; J, in fact, will ALWAYS be big, but J is slowly losing the highly-pressurized look he seemed to have before.
No, no, no, J isn’t skinny. J is FAR from skinny, but J isn’t “inflated Daffy Duck” anymore.
Ok, J was never THAT round. The Risperdal, we’ve read and been told repeatedly, makes for abdominal gain; that is: you gain weight all over, of course, but it seems to be concentrated in the abdomen, hips and thighs. This must be a nightmare medication for most women; I, personally, would probably hyperventilate if I had to take it. So J’s sizable belly was more like Popeye‘s Wimpy:
He is slowly approaching Fred Flintstone proportions.
Getting J to Jack-Black-in-Shallow–Hal proportions is a goal.
This all takes time, and -at least for us- the most important part is that J’s eating and exercise habits are changing significantly, continuously, and positively.
And then…THIS makes headlines:
A) I don’t watch TV that much, and I don’t really watch reality TV (I think I’m allergic to it…I get hives when exposed to it for more than a few seconds.) B) I don’t know if this show is supposed to be denigrating to people who are obese, or inspirational to those who don’t want to be obese. C) The girl on the left, yes, is big for her frame, but the girl on the right looks like she needs to be fed. Of course, I then looked at all the articles and I read what she has to say, what experts have to say, what people have to say, and read THIS on The Huffington Post website:
“…a 2013 meta-analysis of myths around weight loss and obesity research, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found no scientific evidence that supports slow and steady weight loss over rapid weight loss. In fact, there’s not even a good threshold for defining what “rapid” weight loss is, said assistant professor Krista Casazza, Ph.D., R.D., the lead author of the analysis.”
Wait! No scientific evidence that supports slow and steady weight loss over rapid weight loss? Are my eyes deceiving me? Have I been misdirected? Am I…stupid??? How is a 60% body weight loss over the course of maybe six months “ok?” I went on to read that this young lady is a maybe 5′ 4″ or 5′ 5″ former competitive swimmer; she dropped from 260 pounds (25 less than J at his heaviest, and he’s over 5′ 9″) to 105 pounds. That would put her at a 17.5 to 18 BMI which, regardless of her height, is under the recommended BMI for anyone. Her claim is that she consumed 1600 calories a day, a reasonable amount for anyone, I think. My question is…how many calories is she BURNING each day?
Clearly, J is on the way-opposite, right-over-the-hills-and-down-the-valley side of the BMI spectrum. That’s the gist of the issue here…we are walking back over those hills, and through that valley, and once in a while stopping along the way to look at the map. I thought, and it seems I was mistaken according to assistant professor Krista Casazza, Ph.D., R.D. that there’s no reason why I shouldn’t speed things up and make J skinny by hook or crook.
Somehow, I find this notion disturbing. I cannot believe that more fodder has been given to the “what’s your excuse?” crowd led by Maria Kang, and supported by the selfie-publishing hordes of weight-loss success stories that seem to be flooding the media lately. Rachel Frederickson lost (if we go with the low-ball calculation) 9 pounds more than she needed to for being in the “healthy range” for her height, and that’s factoring in a “small frame.” Ms. Frederickson is directly quoted as saying: ‘I just continued to follow the support system that I had from The Biggest Loser my trainer [Dolvett Quince]’s plan, Doctor Cheryl’s great nutritional advice, and I worked out a ton. So I just worked out, worked part-time, continued to eat super healthy, and now that I’m at maintenance, it’s trying new things.‘ I can’t help but feel that, in the spirit of competition, she didn’t balance things as well as she could have, and now -because a study said so- she (and this show) are justified in putting this idea out there: you, too, can lose 60% of your body weight in less than six months, and your loved ones, friends, doctors cannot stop you because there’s no scientific evidence that supports this being a stupid, stupid, unhealthy idea.
That, my dear friends, is one bandwagon that we are letting pass by, and we’re not even waving at it. We are taking bits from here and there. The bandwagon we’re on goes slowly, and takes in the sights along the way. We are taking Marco Polo’s route, NOT the Concorde… The changes we have made are sincere (you know, like Linus’ pumpkin patch!) The changes we have made are significant. The changes we have made are slowly working. Slowly being the operative word there…
J has vegetables and fruit EVERY…SINGLE…DAY! Unless you’ve been in the mac-and-cheese-ramen-noodle-pasta-cheese merry go-round, you can’t understand how HUGE this is. In the past I’d seen J gag and make as if to hurl simply because I put a fork with some peas near his face, and in a non-threatening way, too.
I was never the kind of parent who says “you MUST eat your vegetables, or you won’t get dessert.” I was the person who persuaded TGG to try peas because they were “really” lizard eyes, or fish sticks because they were “really” scorpion legs. A lot of the time I felt like I was trying to feed Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes.
So, after careful consideration, I decided to take my “feed the kid” cues from Chicken Lips & Lizard Hips by John and Nancy Cassidy; TGG used to love the Bruce Springsteen version when he was little. You can check that out here:
In hindsight, I should’ve been a lot more firm with the boys, but because they were physically healthy I decided (quite stupidly) to pick my battles. When J’s eating patterns started following the “I will only eat THIS color today” (blue was always a lulu,) I should’ve been braver about redirecting him. J’s obesity (morbid obesity according to the doctors) is the result of lazy, scared parenting, and medication we had to surrender to because behavioral problems were, at the time, overwhelming.
Seventy-two days ago, J’s primary care physician called and told me giving him Metformin didn’t seem like a good alternative to treat J’s weight, and that we should change his diet. I agreed with her, and I got to work. I got to work and I was all in, buying books, reassessing strategies, taking a long, hard look at all the mistakes I’ve made out of fear of confrontation with J and his Dark Side. Watching him move now, smiling as he power walks to the tune of Steve Miller Band’s The Joker, and doing sit-ups while giggling, and tucking into a dish that is heavy on the veggies and no longer hiding that it is heavy on the veggies…well…it’s a very cool feeling.
Ultimately, what matters is that we’re no longer sitting on our asses waiting for the med reduction to have an effect on J’s weight and girth. There’s no “prize money” in it for us; the scale is something we visit casually; the produce aisle is a place we stop at on every single trip to the store; slow and steady may have no supporting scientific evidence, but it’s working around here. What works for us will work for us in its own time, at its own pace.
The kid, as I said, is slowly, slowly shrinking in size…and his already-good health is getting even better. What more can a (middle-aged) girl ask for????