January 6, 2011


I was really moved by the comments on my post from yesterday - thank you everyone for sharing your experiences. Quite a few comments mentioned smoking, something else I would like to touch on. Both of my grandmothers died of problems directly related to being life-long smokers, lisa, chicago, summer 2010and so it always perplexed me why my sister Lisa would become one. Besides the fact that smoking is an expensive and dirty habit, I just can't understand how she could choose to be a smoker after having seen how they suffered - struggling to breathe, becoming dependent on machines. There's a great quote (by Maya Angelou, I believe) that says that when we know better, we ought to do better; with these two examples before us, how is she able to justify this habit to herself?

I've been quite vocal about my feelings to Lisa, because I love her very much, and therefore I am fearful that she'll end up the same as Grammy and Nana. They were both relatively young, and their conditions were avoidable. At the same time, though, I've been hypocritical. I could see what a life of poor eating and inactivity had done to my father, yet I still chose to adapt the same lifestyle. Binge eating is also an expensive habit - and a dirty one, although in a different way than cigarette smoke.

I can't speak for Lisa and her life choices - nor can I speak for my father and his decisions. I can only speak for myself, and in terms of my own weight loss journey, I'm finding that continuing to do the right thing every day is not nearly as difficult as it was choosing to do the right thing the first day. Don't get me wrong - it's very tough. But for me, getting started was the hardest part. Once I had my revelatory moment when I realized that I knew better, I decided to start doing better - but it was not an easy decision. Facing hundreds of pounds to lose is unbelievably overwhelming, and that made it suprisingly easy to justify my unhealthy habits. Sara received a great comment a few months ago that sums it up pretty perfectly:
Losing weight is hard.
Being fat is hard.
Choose your hard.
I wrote out on a Post-it to keep on my desk, and I'm thinking about sending it in a card to my father. I can't force him to eat better or try to get active, just like I can't make Lisa quit smoking. But maybe a simply-stated but effective comment like this might offer an interesting perspective that he hadn't considered before.


Amy said...

I love that quote - writing it on a post-it as I type this (okay right after). I would add an I love you at the end to your dad though! :)

The smoking versus weight loss thing is so close to home for me... they are both addictions.

I have also been repulsed by smoking - it's gross and I'm definitely allergic to it. Never had a single drag in my life. My dad smoked in the house growing up...before it was taboo to smoke. I would beg him to smoke outside as I felt like I was dying... but he came from a generation where the kid is always wrong, the adult is always right and if you want clean air you can go outside.

In 2001 he quit - FINALLY! I have never been more relieved, but then he started smoking cigars regularly (outside). Then he quit those and I thought he was done for good.

My mom is a closet smoker. There are times she admitted it growing up but I've never seen her smoke a cigarette. A couple years ago she told me that both her and my Dad were quitting because they wanted to live to see their grandchildren... I was taken aback by that because, woh what? Dad smokes?

So it turns out they are both closet smokers now. She quit for a long time after that talk but stopped reporting her progress, so I'll just assume she still smokes, and I know my Dad does because he goes outside all the time when I'm home and I can smell it on him. It kills me.

The smoking has the potential to kill my dad and the guilt from smoking and stress it causes on my mom will eventually get to her.

On the whole other side of this - there is the fact that I vowed to NEVER date a smoker. But what's a girl to do when you fall in love with one?

Stewart smokes. He doesn't smoke much and will probably go through a pack in a week or two but he does. He's quit twice somewhat successfully since we've been together, but will somehow end up smoking again after like 3 months of nothing.

He doesn't understand my struggles with food, and I've always told him that it's very similar to smoking - it's an addiction just the same, but arguably harder to quit because unlike smoking, you can't just stop eating. You have to fuel yourself, and it's so easy to choose the quick meal when you're in a rush... or eat too much. When you quit smoking you can avoid it and never go near it again.

I'll never forget the Grey's Anatomy episode where this girl comes in with her boyfriend and she has a busted ankle that is blue and huge. She is obsessing about going to meet her trainer at the gym that night. She said she tried taking IB Profen and it didn't help. Long story short - her boyfriend and her made a deal that they wouldn't move in with each other unless she lost 40 pounds and he quit smoking. She ended up needing surgery on the ankle but because she was starving herself and over training - and taking like 8 IB profens a day to stop the pain - she ended up dying during surgery because of it. When they went to tell the boyfriend she was dead - he was outside smoking.

It's a nasty world we live in - it seems everyone has an addiction they're always chasing to lose...

Sorry for the novel!

Ann (-50 lbs in -60 lb challenge) said...

Love the post "choose your hard" - I'm going to have to write that one down.

Unknown said...

I love that quote. And it is dead-on true. Choose your hard. And everyone does make their own choices, or the choices are made for them.

Shannie (akaSolidice242) said...

I know exactly what you mean sometimes I hate giving advice about making the right choices when I don't do a good job at it myself. I hope your family gives up smoking though there is always hope! It's amazing that you were able to avoid getting into it though.

Tim said...

I've got a similar view with smoking. My dad and my gran used to smoke a silly amount per day and it obviously gave them health problems so when my sister started smoking, I couldn't believe it.

Thankfully one day my dad decided to stop and he hasn't touched one since and that was 4 years ago. I can only hope my sister decides to do the same!

Life as a Caterpillar said...

Mary, i just read your last couple of posts. I just want to say I admire you so very much and i can only hope that your strength and determination can inspire those around you.

*bug hugs*