Being fat had its obvious rewards. Writing with an open box of Sugar Pops next to my thick thigh had always been a comfort. When I lacked ideas, chewing on a mouthful of pretzels helped stimulate my brain. A Dairy Queen Blizzard or an Entenmann’s Pound Cake helped steady my nerves when I became anxious about exceeding a word count. Food helped me write. Food helped me be funny. But when the scale topped 225 pounds and my doctor started screaming things at me about killing myself a little more every time I chomped down another super-sized portion of French fries or inhaling a pizza by myself, I knew it was time to repair my body and, as an unexpected side effect, put a little spice in my creative spirit.
On a rampage, I started throwing out all the food in my house. That is how I always address things. For me, it’s all or nothing. However, I was going to lick this thing by putting an end to the licking, chewing, and swallowing processes. No more fattening food. No more in-between meal snacks. No more munching while I typed through the night. If I was going to see success, I had to get back in control.
What was odd about my weight gain was that I had always been so in control of every other aspect of my life. I was organized and ambitious. Being out-of-control in my eating habits was out-of-character. In addition to my “real” job as an educational therapist and my unpaid volunteer work at MomCanYouRightNowINeedItYesterday, I was able to pump out more writing than some full-time authors. I was just out-of-control with my personal appearance and eating habits.
The truth is, and this may be hard for a person who has never had a weight problem to comprehend, I just didn’t see it. My creative imagination was both a blessing and a curse. I would see skinny staring back at me in the mirror when what was really there was an overweight, large, and sloppy body on my five foot, two inch frame. I saw sexy when the mirror was really reflecting a jumbo-sized walking meatball. I had convinced myself and had even sold articles about how sizing of garments in America has changed over the last twenty years.
Yet, I became determined, for the first time in my life since six months before my wedding day 25 years earlier (which had something to do with buying an expensive dress which was too small in the first place), to be the healthiest-looking kid on the block. I read and researched, and I became the obnoxious resident-expert on protein, carbohydrates, fat, and all aspects of vitamins and nutrition. When the scale showed that I had lost 70 pounds, I even told one second grade ADHD student I work with that, in weight, I had lost two of her! She didn’t understand, but that was irrelevant.
As far as writing, dieting has had its ups and downs – an intentional cliche. At first, sans Milky Ways, Milk Duds, and Whoppers, I couldn’t write. I had convinced myself that there was nothing stimulating in vegetables disguised as finger foods. A writer needed fist foods! Nibbling was for people who write with pens or have time for manicures; broken-nailed computer authors needed to gulp, chomp, and burp their way to each deadline. Before the diet, a creative break was a visit to inspect the inside of my refrigerator. A post-fatty writing break has become swimming 50 laps in my pool or a brisk walk through Suburbia.
Weight loss has brought a new category to my resume of writing credits. I now write about health, dieting, and nutrition. I have read enough information and asked enough experts specific questions during my own weight-loss quest to make me extremely well-informed. I also know first-hand about the struggles and difficulties that come with both being overweight and with losing large quantities of weight — I can relate to the joy of fitting into junior-sized Capri pants. The best part is that I can approach this with wit and wisdom, and I can share this with others who are where I used to be.
To date, besides losing weight, I have gained five new clips and a new selection of places to submit my work. That’s not to say I still don’t dream in shades of hot fudge, but, as a writer, losing has become winning when those checks from new markets arrive.
Felice Prager is a freelance author from Scottsdale, Arizona. Her work has been published locally, nationally, and internationally. In addition to writing, she is also a multi-sensory educational therapist which is a fancy way of saying she works with adults and children who have moderate to severe learning disabilities. For a sampling of her published essays, please visit her website (which she never updates anymore because some guy from Pakistan keeps copying her work without her permission and never responds to her nasty emails) Write Funny! (If you sign up for her newsletters, she will alert you to places where you can find her more recent publications.) Email Felice at: writefunnydotcom (at) yahoo.com