Thursday, December 3, 2015

Salad, Salad, Salad!

The first of my diets was pretty simple. Eat salad with a touch of vinegar and oil dressing. And that's all. I found that one in some teen magazine whose name escapes me. I mean, that would have been late 1969 or early 1970 so I can't come up with a name. Sorry about that. As a young teen entering into the rat-race of teenagers and leaving behind the dolls of childhood, I was almost always immersed in some teen magazine or other. That, and music. And books.

Worrying about things like pimples (thankfully, I never had acne), shaving my legs, and trying to get rid of my fat. By then, I was pretty sure it wasn't "baby fat".

The "diet" plan (and seriously, "plan" doesn't really fit since all it involved was the same "meal") consisted of chef salad, basically 3 times a day and nothing else. No juice, no fruit, nothing more than lettuce, tomato, raw carrot, onions, and cucumber. Sprinkled lightly with a little vinaigrette.

To be perfectly frank, at 13 I pretty much hated salad to begin with. To force myself to eat it 3/7 would be the toughest thing I'd ever done in my young life.

Family meals usually consisted of meat, potatoes, and vegetables. Unless we were having pasta (my dad's family is Italian, so, we ate pasta ... lots of it). My mom was a big proponent of salad, yes indeed. She would often put salad on the table to have with our meals. I usually didn't imbibe. Not if I could avoid it.

So, when I decided all I'd eat for 7 days was salad, to say my mom was shocked would be an understatement. Still ... at every meal, a large bowl of salad hit the table. My mom was "onboard" ... and that part didn't actually surprise ME at all.

Vintage black and white photo of a chubby little girl from late 1950s.
For as long as I can remember, she was at me about my weight. Even as a little kid. The only time she was happy with what I weighed was the year I was 10. Several surgeries and a bout of nephritis, and a few months in the hospital put me at a normal weight, probably for the first time ever. My mom had to borrow clothing from some of my thin cousins, because none of my own fit.

But weight loss because of illness doesn't have lasting effects. Eventually, if your eating habits return to normal, so does your weight. And so, by the age of 13, I was ... chubby. Not enormous, or overly obese, but definitely chubby.

I mean hey, she cooked the meals. Not me. She decided what we'd eat. But it was me, apparently, who was at fault for what I weighed.

Granted, as you get older, you are responsible for what you put in your mouth, but at 2 or 3, or even 7 or 8, you eat what your family puts on the table. There were times my mother wouldn't let us leave the table until we'd "cleaned the plate".

I remember my little sister sitting at the table for hours, in tears, because that night, dinner included scrambled eggs, which made her gag (I mean, really, physically gag.) My mother insisted that she would not leave that table until she ate those eggs. She was not a big fan of wasting food.

(And before you condemn my mom, you should know that there were times when we didn't have enough food to eat. My dad was out of work, my mom stuck at home with a 3 year old and pregnant ... I remember that time. I remember eating potatoes for a week. That was all we had.)

Without knowing it, she contributed in part to my weight problems, but I'm honest enough to say it wasn't all her fault.

The year I turned 13, I started to take more control over what I ate. Or at least, that was what I thought I was doing.

What I was really doing was turning my future into a living hell of fad diets and yo-yo weight.

Combined photo of a baby and a woman.
Me as a baby, and as I am now.