A Destination Wedding
The beginning of my memoir about my daughter's wedding in Spain and my attempt to break out of a negative life
Chapter 1 – Getting in Shape (or not)
I don’t know why we feel we need to lose weight for weddings. We don’t sweat and starve ourselves for the family summer reunion or the Thanksgiving dinner. They say it’s all about the pictures – the photos last forever – no pressure on the wedding party. This wedding will not be just a wedding but a wedding in Spain – midsummer, when clothing is skimpy and everything shows. A chance to shine for some. For me, a chance to reduce.
I started at a goal of fifty pounds. In ten months that would be five pounds a month, not at all impossible. But then I got hooked into Halloween candy, Thanksgiving pie and Christmas cheer. Nothing, I thought, takes your self esteem down like failing at weight loss. After the holidays, I only had six months left.
“You can do it,” my friend Kathy told me.
“Yeah, you can talk,” I said.” “You’ve already lost your holiday pounds. I have three years of holiday pounds to lose.”
“But you can do it,” she insisted. “”You still have six months until shopping time.”
After the holidays, I joined the hoards of gluttons at my neighborhood gym and engaged in Atkins low carb. Atkins I could handle. My local gym – not so much. Because the gym was a county facility, it catered to the elderly and the disenfranchised. I often had to endure the stares of local homeless men whom I had never seen lift an arm or a leg. They sat at a table and leered at the women in shorts. And the elderly reminded me of what I would become one day – old. But I soldiered on, wishing I had blinders like a horse in a race - which is what I felt like.
With six months left, six pounds a month would be acceptable, I told myself. Kathy, my one loyal compatriot, joined me at the gym. By the time I actually got moving, Kathy had lost more than her goal and was just hanging out while I reached mine. I wasn’t sure I would reach my goal, but I knew we would laugh a lot.
“Do not despair,” she said. “Thirty pounds should make you look taller, get you into a stylish rather than an ugly dress, allow you to wear cute shoes, and not orthopedics. Not as good as fifty pounds but better than zero. And look how “Papa Grey Beard” over there is drooling over you.”
“I think he’s just drooling, Kathy,” I said. “Help me focus here.”
“Better than zero,” I chanted, as I strove to reach my 15th minute on the elliptical machine while Kathy gave me a running commentary on the HGTV show she was watching. “Better than zero” became my mantra and I began to slowly lose.
I had had body issues since I was fourteen, mostly because I was terrified of dating. Then my senior year in high school my parents moved away and boarded me with a German roast beef and potatoes matron who would not allow her daughter or me to leave the table until our plates were clean. By graduation, we had both gained 20 pounds. In college, I was a skinny hot babe because I had overcome my fear of dating and was in love with men with an alarming devotion. I wanted them to like me but I forgot to let myself like me. Unfortunately, that led to relationships with a subtle or not so subtle abuse component. I remember one charmer telling me, “I would never marry you. You’re just frosting.” John, on the rebound from a first wife, was full of anger at women. I ate to feel better as he struggled to like me and to even like himself.
With the birth of my children, I gained fifty pounds for each. After Jenny was born, the excess weight came off because John ridiculed me into losing it. He wanted a beauty on his arm. So I lost the fifty pounds.
Mary was born after he left us, and I had lost my motivation. John said this time, “Lose 50 lbs. and I’ll take you back.” I said, “No thank you.” So now in 2004, Mary is 24, and I weigh 180.
Kathy helped me keep on track by recording my days at the gym and minutes on the machines. She also checked in daily to see what I was eating. But by now, I was feeling the pressure and taking things seriously. I really did want to look good for Jenny’s wedding.
“March 14: twenty-five pounds lost, 2.5 inches all around,” Kathy read. You have three months left. You might make 50 after all! Good job!”
“Wow. This calls for a little heesecake, don’t you think?” I said.
“Actually, yes. You deserve it. Let’s go.”
So Kathy I had a sweet treat and long conversation over coffee about whether I should get a facial and a body spa treatment before I left. I said, “No, I don’t like strangers touching my body.” I made a note to talk to my therapist about that.
By June 1, I had lost thirty-five pounds. I was close to three inches smaller in all the vital places. I was ready to SHOP.