My parents were both short. My father was always quite slim, probably due to a combination of genetics and being a Holocaust survivor who was parcimonious about everything he used or ate. He was a truly ascetic man--as was his brother, whom I came to know very well in his later years.
My mother, who came to Canada long before the Holocaust, was always on the "round" side, though she was pretty cute in her younger years. In her teenage and early adult years, she ice skated and rode her bike some seriously long distances. Unfortunately, by her forties, she was suffering from severe osteo-arthritis, which made any kind of exercise impossible. She could barely walk down the steps from the front door to the driveway, never mind go for a nice stroll. Throughout her life, she was interested in good nutrition and practised what she preached, eschewing processed foods and sugary treats. Although she "sat on her duff" (because it was so hard to move), she was not the stereotypical fat person who spent all day watching TV and eating Twinkies.
I was their only child.
As the years have gone by, it has become apparent that in all the ways that really count that I take after my mother: excellent fertility (she was 43 when I--her first and only child--was born and I had my children in my late 30s without "trying" for more than a month in both cases), a strong tendency to gain weight easily, early onset osteo-arthritis, thyroid problems. All I seem to have inherited from my father is my delicate skin that never tans and always burns (my mom apparently tanned really easily). I know I carry my dad's genes, of course, because I see them in my children, both physically and intellectually.
I have never, ever, been slim. And despite the fact that I have always stayed away eating a poor or excessively calorie-laden diet, I have always had trouble keeping my "over-weight" from going even further over. I have also never, ever been athletic. My only claim to fame, athletically speaking, is a vague recollection of having been able to do a handstand on my friend's feet when I was about five years old (she would lie on her back with her feet in the air and I held onto to her feet and did a handstand--pretty amazing if I do say so myself!). My athletic abilities were all downhill after that.
I was a chubby child and ever since I was a teenager, I have fought the battle of the bulge. I have had some periods of relative success, though again, even at my "slimmest", I was by no means slim. This weekend at my cousin's house, I saw a picture of myself from when I was about 30. I did look really quite yummy, though my face was still rather chubby, but what was most interesting was what my cousin told me about that picture. She remembered that at the time I was on an extremely strict diet, with many limitations on what and how much I ate. Those were the days. Not!
Some twenty-odd years later, age, gender, heredity, childbirth and no doubt other factors have left me with the body I have today. Yes, I am overweight by dreaded the BMI standards, but that's the body I was given. I cannot just lose weight and go back to a body that I never had in the first place. I am quite sure of one thing though: all my late mother's "nattering" about healthy foods did pay off. I'm quite sure that if I'd been raised in a fast-food loving family, my weight would be significantly higher today than it actually is, as high as it may seem to some.
When You Feel Terrible About Your Body
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