My Big Fat Five Years

fatface me on london rooftop, 70s

It’s been over 25 years now, closer to 30 really, but it had a lasting and devastating effect. For a myriad of reasons — too personal for a food blog but perhaps told one day in my “weight issue blog” — at around twenty-one years old I gained 30 pounds, seemingly overnight. My tiny frame, considered “too thin” my entire life, I now thought of as obese. Really, I did. I could not pass my reflection without falling over and sobbing. I’m not kidding. I would literally fall to the ground in the most dramatic style that an actress who had just sabotaged her career by gaining thirty pounds could. A hot surfer friend looked at my legs one day and observed, “gnarly legs, Fred,” which I wasn’t sure what to make of. Until I asked his little sister what gnarly meant, and when she said big, I cried for days over it. Fortunately, it never stopped me from having boyfriends. And the man I ended up marrying and having children with, in those early, adoring days, used to call the fat around my waist his “angel food cake”. Hey, at least he didn’t call it pound cake. And shortly after this acceptance I relaxed and lost all the extra weight, almost immediately.

Everyone owns their own story of why they end up eating too much. My heart will always and forever go out to anyone who suffers this plight. During the five years that I was out of control, I spent most of my days hunting and gathering whatever I needed to sate myself. It was a full time job. Without going further into the gory details, let me reveal why I’ve come to mention my still-haunting weight issue. I just read a book and it’s a “must read.” (Digression: Around the time that I stopped overeating, I started reading. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t read as much as I ate, I am not THAT insatiable of a reader. But I was a late bloomer when it came to food for the brain, if you will. Eventually I became a very particular reader – for me, the voice of the writer must be unique. ) I have mentioned in this blog how much I love anything written by Ruth Reichl. And now I am a huge fan of Frank Bruni, formerly the restaurant critic of the New York Times. The book is called “Born Round” and as you can probably surmise from the title, it is a memoir about his own weight issue and his relationship with food. It resonated with me for obvious reasons, but I think it’s a great book for anyone.
Enjoy a passage from Born Round written by Frank Bruni
Mom was incessantly feeding people: friends who’d dropped by for a hello, not a ham and chese omelet: whole second grade classes, to which she’d deliver four or five batches of brownies she had made, on a whim, the midnight before; people she’d hire to do work around the house. She’d carry broad trays of tuna and egg salad sandwiches, along with deep pitchers of lemonade and iced tea, to men raking leaves in the Soundview yard. She’d insist that the cleaning woman who came once a week stop what she was doing around lunchtime and sit down to a bowl of homemade clam chowder, a plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies and, if the timing worked out just right, an episode of All My Children. Food was how she showed people the amount of time she was willing to spare for them, the sorts of sacrifices she was willing to make for them.
But while it was courtesy it was also part boast. She wanted to demonstrate what she could pull off. She’d chosen full-time motherhood over a formal profession, so she channeled all of the ambitions, vanities and competitive impulses that might have been satisfied by a career into the way she raised us and ran the house. Cooking was at the center of it all.
Frank Bruni

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2 Responses to “My Big Fat Five Years”

  1. robin says:

    one memory i have of that time, and i remember it well, were the nightly trips to cafe figaro for carrot cake. of course, i could fill a novel with my own “gnarly” days…

  2. Linda says:

    Food … has a hold on me, too …

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