The Jacksons, Week 5: Hello, Vanilla Yogurt and Old Anxieties

Filed under: Healthy Families Challenge

diedra jackson yogurt picture

I'm not crazy about yogurt, but I find joy when it's vanilla-flavored. Credit: Jackson Reid

I hate scales.

And after I was weighed two separate times on the same day, first by Emmy Parkes, my registered dietitian, who is advising me in all aspects of nutrition and meal planning, and then by Mary Amanda Haskins, the project coordinator of "New Beginnings," the University of Mississippi employee health and fitness program of which I'm a participant, I hated them even more. One weighing machine said I had lost one pound; the other said I hadn't lost any freakin' pounds.

But I know the rigmarole. Some fat will turn to muscle, and that gained muscle mass weighs more than fat. It's only when you start burning off more calories than you consume that weight loss happens. Got it.

Even though, figuratively I have thick skin, and it's only been about four weeks since we've set new personal goals for the Healthy Families Challenge, it was dispiriting -- crushing, really -- to register a mere blip on my vast weight-loss horizon. This is why scales are so dead to me. One pound lost or no pounds lost, scales judge you, revealing whether you're a (wo)man or a mouse, determining what you're really made of.

Or maybe it's just me.

However, I'm finding consolation away from the scales. Even at this early stage in the game, my clothes fit better, my physical endurance is improving and some of my love handles are disappearing. I've spent weeks exercising harder than I have for years, I'm consciously cutting out fats from my diet and I am ending routine binge eating.

For just a minute, hearing that I had lost only one pound or, ugh, none, made me wonder if all the sweating and sore muscles were worth it.

Minute over.

I know it is. With family, friends -- and strangers -- rooting for me, I'm motivated like never before. I'm really looking at the bigger picture, and telling myself that if I get serious about my health I can change my personal outlook on life and feel better about me. And this I'd rather do now instead of one day when I might have to, like after a devastating doctor's diagnosis.

Still, it's hard to shake those old demons that cling to the insecurities that come with being overweight. Finally taking steps to lose the weight, instead of simply ignoring it or pretending it isn't there, has brought some of those anxieties back to the surface.

For I am someone who rarely looks at herself in the mirror. I hate seeing my reflection in the massive walls of glass of a weight or aerobics room, as I now do several times a week. Who is this large woman standing in front of me? How did I let myself get this heavy? For me, it was easy. It happened when I resigned myself to eating whatever I wanted, despite the consequences. When I avoided looking at the scale during routine check-ups. Whenever I still dodge my own eyes in bathroom mirrors because I hate whom I see.

For me, and for lots of other folks who function daily despite feeling less than enamored of ourselves -- because, let's face it, clinically speaking, we're obese -- it's like being on that 1950s game show, Beat the Clock. How long can we continue performing our stunts, eating and drinking with abandon, really, before we run out of time?

I have faith in a higher power, but I'm human. I know I should be proud of my mirror image, but I struggle. The engine really driving me toward my new health and fitness goals is fueled by my desire to do better by my family and to be a better -- and fitter -- model mother to my son.

It's tough to own these words, but as they say, writing it down makes it real, right? As I work, physically, to be a much better me, it's a bigger struggle, mentally, to make it so along the way. Many single moms like me don't put ourselves first. We're used to putting our children, family, careers, finances, and anything else first over our own personal health cares and concerns.

Wow, life is fleeting. So, enough of that!

I deliberately didn't focus much on food in my last blog. And that was intentional, because I'm trying not to obsess. Looking back, I can see that in my many failed attempts to keep off lost weight, I spent way too much time fixated on the foods I felt I couldn't eat, without realizing it, along with the fact that the foods I was continually eating during rounds of unsuccessful dieting -- grapefruit, boiled eggs, celery, gelatin, and diluted soups made with beef bullion cubes -- weren't fulfilling.

From here on out, I'll be enjoying the food I eat, but eating much less of it. I'll also be embracing low-cal staples like vanilla yogurt, which I've learned to like, thanks to Emmy. She also laid out ideal daily calorie counts for me and my son, Jackson, to follow. For me, she recommends between 1,800 to 2,000 calories a day. For Jackson, she advises about 2,200 calories -- including some 250 calories he can use for a sweet treat or two.

And with that, I think Jackson is roasting some marshmallows on the stove top right now.

Who's the rest of the competition? Check out all the challengers' latest updates here.

How is the Jackson family doing? Check in on their progress!

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.