August 18, 2010

A hundred and ten percent

Following up on one of last week's entries where I talked about my support system for my success, I'd like to talk about my immediate family. I'm very close to my family, and their thoughts and opinions matter to me very much. Unfortunately, I cannot count on them for support in my weight loss journey. This really breaks my heart, because they are the most important people in my life.

My parents had very different upbringings. My mother's family was not very well off, and growing up, we heard stories of her having gravy bread for dinner. my folks at dad's 50th birthdayFor my father, the sixth of nine kids (eight of which were boys), mealtime meant grabbing as much as you could while it lasted. For both my parents, food was an expression of love and care - having lots of food on the table, delicious nourishing food, meant that they were successful and they could provide for their family.

My parents got divorced when I was in seventh grade, and although they later reconciled and forged a civil relationship, it was a very difficult few years for all of us. We became less active and our food habits worsened. Food became our comfort, and we all grew unhealthier. My father had been diagnosed with diabetes a few years earlier, and when the divorce made him severely depressed, he stopped taking care of it. dad and brother one year before his heart attackHe didn't exercise, he didn't eat right, and worst of all, he stopped taking his medications.

In 2006, a week after his mother died, my dad had a heart attack. With diabetes came neuropathy, and my dad literally couldn't feel what was happening. He spent a long time in the hospital, could barely walk (even with help from a cane), and had to retire from work. It was an unbelievably tough time for our family. My father had always been this big, strong man, and now he needed help with basic things like showering, and couldn't even go to the grocery store anymore since it would be exhausting.

My father's father is in his late 90s (as were most of his siblings before they passed away). my folks, walking in the snowBut my dad, at 52, is dying. It shouldn't have been like this. Being overweight and not taking care of himself had robbed my father of years, maybe even decades of his life. If I ever get married, I won't get to dance with my dad - even if he is alive, it's just outside his physical capabilities.

It should have been a wake up call to all of us. But now, nearly four years later, we've all gained weight and maintained a generally sedentary lifestyle. I would say that I am the most active of my family members, if only because I live in the city and they live in a Connecticut suburb - I walk to the grocery store, etc., while they drive everywhere.

Last fall, I decided to buy an exercise DVD sibs and me at MA graduationto try and get more active - that way, even if I didn't have time to make it to the gym, I could at least do something. My father, who can be very loving and supportful but not always completely tactful, made a comment about the neighbors below me and the sound of elephants stomping around upstairs. The plastic never came off the DVD. Another effort this past spring was thwarted by a series of IM conversations with my mother. An excerpt:
Mom: this healthy eating is not agreeing with me
Me: yeah it's tough - but it will be worth it
Mom: i'm not joining that bandwagon - i'm being defiant - i ate mcdonalds in secret today
Me: that's awful mom
Mom: it felt good
Me: dad's dying - we all are - this will kill us
Mom: a burger and nuggets - i know - i just rebel
Me: that's not good mom
Mom: as soon as i have to, i don't want to, ya know?
Me: we need your support - this is going to be really hard for us
Mom: i know - i'll support you 110% - i just need to get myself together - not have everyone tell me what to do
It's so hard to sit and eat chicken and vegetables while your mother brags about two of your favorite things (fast food, and eating in secret). I love her very much, but I guess 110% support means something different to each of us. None of us is perfect. My weight is the most severely out of control, but everyone could stand to lose weight. I just wish I could not only have their support in what I am undertaking, but their participation.


Allan said...

Oy, that is a tough road...Be thankful for the support..

Debbie said...

In my family only my husband and one of my sisters knows I am on Weight Watchers. I am doing this for myself and I am my own support system. My blogger buddies are my biggest support and I could not do this without them. You are doing great and if you need a friend just shoot me an email..

Anonymous said...

Just found your blog from Debbie's. You will find a treasure trove of support and help from the blogging "family"! As you go along on this journey and lose weight and become healthy, your family will see that and maybe as they see your success and progress, they will be inspired to participate with you.