I have never been on a diet. I don’t say this to brag, just stating a fact. I have no idea how many calories are in anything. I have never read a diet book or listened to a diet guru. I eat whatever I want to, and stop when I feel full. Yet I have never been overweight.
Over the years I have been stuck in many conversations about Weight Watchers, or Atkins, or South Beach, or whatever diet is currently in vogue. Unless it’s the Scarsdale Diet (which was interesting for a while because the doctor who wrote the book was killed by his lover), I never have anything to say. I usually try to change the subject or find someone else to talk to.
When I was very young, I was so skinny that people would come up to my mother and ask her “why are you starving that child?” Hard to believe anyone could be that rude, but apparently it happened enough times to make it into the family lore. I don’t think I actually looked emaciated, I think these people were just used to chubby children.
In seventh grade, I was already 5’5″ tall and weighed 88 pounds. I have always remembered that because of the double digits — 55, 88, and I was 11 years old.
My junior year of college, I had a roommate who was always struggling with her weight. Finally she decided that since I was so thin, she would just eat whatever I ate and then she would get thin too. She gained six pounds in the first week of this program, and decided maybe it wasn’t such a good idea. With my metabolism it didn’t matter what I ate, I never gained any weight, but that was obviously not the case for her.
Fast forward almost fifteen years to my first pregnancy. In that nine-month period I gained 65 pounds. I’m told that one shouldn’t gain that much weight. It was all in my middle though, my face, arms, and legs didn’t look any different. I basically just looked like I had swallowed a watermelon. The baby turned out to be almost ten pounds of that weight. And within a week of her birth I had lost virtually all of the rest.
After each of my pregnancies I battled my bulging abdomen, and I had less success each time. But it wasn’t a question of weight, it was a question of muscle. My abdominal muscles had been way too stretched out. I should have joined a gym, or used Jane Fonda’s workout tapes, but in addition to not dieting, I also don’t work out.
It does make me sad that I don’t still have the flat stomach I always had before motherhood. They don’t tell you before you get pregnant — or at least nobody told me — what havoc it is going to wreak on your body. But here’s my solution: I just wear tight pants to keep my middle flat when I want to look good. It’s the same concept as the girdles that our mothers’ generation wore.
The Featured Image is a dinner I was involved in cooking and eating when my sisters and I went to Rancho La Puerta, a fabulous spa in Mexico, to regroup after our mother died. We took a cooking class one day where we picked some of the ingredients for our dinner from the garden, cooked under the direction of the professional chefs, and then ate the sumptuous banquet we had all helped prepare. It was one of the best meals I have ever eaten. On that occasion, even in a large group of women (and a few men) of a certain age, all the food was devoured, and there was NO talk of dieting.
I somehow got past the enormous envy created by your first sentence and really savored — I think that’s a good word here — this story. In fact, that first sentence is a classically great first sentence. At the risk of an obvious metaphor, it really sets the table for your whole story. As does your title; I now have an earworm for that catchy tune.
Then the story delivers so nicely on all aspects of the diet-free life well examined. I particularly enjoyed the part about your roommate — whom, of course, I know — and her sad efforts to emulate your diet; I had never heard about that before and found it both amusing and poignant.
And that last paragraph about the Mexican banquet is just delicious (sorry; your story has that effect on my choice of words). What a great way to tie up a narrative all about non-dieting. And the photo is pure food porn, in the best sense of the term. Yummy!
Thanks for your scrumptious comments. 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the story, and sorry to make you envious, that was not my intent. When I found the photo, that gave me my last paragraph – I was looking at stock photos of food online, then realized I had this great shot from Rancho La Puerta.
Nice to be tall and thin! I was rotund with each pregnancy too (my father-in-law said, with wide-eyes, “You are pregnant EVERYWHERE,” but it was mostly around my middle). I found nursing helped to take off the weight quickly, and walking and chasing the kids helped me to regain my shape. But, as I mentioned in my essay, these last few years, I’ve worked to KEEP my shape. Good for you being at peace with who you are!
“At peace with who I am” sounds like I am fat or frumpy and have accepted it. Since you have met me, you know (I hope) that this is not the case. I certainly care about my appearance, I just don’t feel the need to diet or work out to maintain it. I do walk a lot, but that’s for general health reasons, not to lose weight.
I did not mean that at all, Suzy! I only meant that you don’t diet, or need to diet and good for you being able to maintain your weight and not have to worry about diets. I suspect you are in the minority on this one.
Wow! That photo. . . I have been drooling (sorry) over the idea of going to Rancho La Puerta for years! Maybe I can finally make it happen. And not just for the food, which, from the look of it, I couldn’t eat much of–but there are other valid reasons. My sister was like you: loved food, loved to eat, always thin. We went on that grapefruit diet decades ago–remember that one? I think she lost and I gained. So it goes!
Risa, you should definitely go to Rancho La Puerta. They are so great about working with any kind of dietary restrictions. One of my sisters has a lot of food issues and almost never eats out for that reason. She even brought her own food to RLP and was delighted to find she didn’t need it, because at every meal they were able to provide her with something that worked for her (and was delicious)!
A great personal description of a much-discussed topic. It’s amazing how health-conscious we can be and have been, and how much information about health and weight gain is available. It’s great to have all this food/health/nutrition/ exercise information (for those fortunate to have access to it) but we can become obsessive about it. So nice to hear from an individual who doesn’t pay attention to diet or exercise. Bravo, Suzy!
Thanks for your comment, Charlie. But saying I don’t pay attention to diet or exercise misinterprets my story. While I don’t pay attention to dietING, I do eat healthily and pay attention to my diet in that sense of the word. I also pay attention to exercise, and generally walk every day. I just didn’t choose to “work out” to try to strengthen my abdominal muscles after childbirth.
You’re fortunate to have a metabolism that keeps you naturally trim. I suspect that, while your friends and family drove you crazy by talking incessantly about their diets, you drove THEM crazy by never dieting yet maintaining your weight! I wonder, did you feel the same obsession with weight that the rest of us did, or did your metabolism lift you above it?
I don’t think I ever felt an obsession about weight. I obsessed about other things . . . like my hair!