My mother, my enabler

A very interesting visit I had with the parents.   They came out to visit because the weather is better here, and they wanted to visit my dad’s aunt, who is 88, not getting any healthier nor younger.   They get here on a Saturday late morning, so I’ve at least gotten to the gym already, then we go to farmers market – not my downscale, dirty, crowded, pushy, non-English speaking regular market, but one of the fancy Oakland ones.  The mom is fixated on Chinese food for lunch (don’t they have that everywhere?) but now wants to snack.  “No, I don’t want to share a croissant, but feel free”.  I get a wistful look.  “What?  Get a croissant if you want a croissant!”  I’m not winning any popularity points so far here.  “Fine, I’ll split a damn croissant, ok?”  She gives me an irritated look, walks off.  That was strange, but I’m not pushing the issue, I don’t want a croissant.

She ends up eating crappy greasy salty Chinese food alone, while my dad and I get burritos.  He orders the same thing I do, asks me 3/4 of the way through if there’s anything “bad” in it.  He has heart disease, stent, is on meds for cholesterol.  It has cheese.  He gives me a nasty look, I tell him to read the damn menu himself next time.  I am not into low-fat.

The next day, we go to Pebble Beach to meet the aunt.  It’s about 2.5 hours away, and for some reason she wants to be there 11:30.  Absolutely that doesn’t work with me, I have another market to go to, and what about my gym?  The mom has a conniption, can’t believe I want to go to gym, we don’t have time to go to market, we must rush rush RUSH RUSH!  I give up the gym, not the market.  I call the aunt, arrange to meet at 1 pm for lunch, not noon.  She prefers that anyway, only my mom wants to eat that early.  I think my mom just likes stress and strain, enjoys arguing and ruining everybody’s mellow time.

My dad’s aunt now uses a walker.  Until her late 70s, she could out hike any of us, including my sister.   Interesting woman.  We have lunch at her club.  I order fish tacos, and she comments on them being breaded and fried.  Whatever, I’m not going to comment on the cream in your food, I’m just going to shrug.  This is the same aunt, when I saw her last summer, told me I was too fat for dessert, and women in general shouldn’t be eating that.  Thanksgiving, I was thin enough to have dessert, but not as much as I ate.  The way she asks if anybody wants dessert, she asks if anybody can afford the calories.  Just my mom, and she wants dessert, but she wants to share.  I’d have a bite.  Aunt would have a bite.  My dad never touches the stuff.   My mom is irritated, but won’t order it herself.  What she REALLY wants, is for me to order it, and not her, so she can tell me how I don’t need it, shouldn’t be eating it, she never orders shit like that, and for my own good, she’ll eat 3/4 of it for me.

My dad is surprised about the small serving size.  It doesn’t seem strange to me, it’s actually a rare meal eaten with my parents that I (and I alone) don’t take home leftovers.  My dad tells my aunt about how he does the grocery shopping.  He buys hamburgers, ice cream, cookies, cheese, and he doesn’t eat a single bite.   His aunt is surprised, maybe she doesn’t realize that there are women like that.  My mom, looking petulant, says “I’m not overweight, why shouldn’t I eat that stuff?”  I roll my eyes, walk to aunt’s house from restaurant.  Fortunately, I manage to talk my mom out of joining me, I’ve had enough of  her.  I walk an extra mile past her street, turn into a neighborhood, illegally cross a golf course, and spend an hour or two with the family.

So yes, my mom eats everything and anything, and though she pretends to eat low-fat, she eats huge amounts of sugar.  My dad eats healthy, but eats SO MUCH!  We went to a Thai food buffet, and while everyone overeats at buffets, I was kinda stunned.   Meanwhile, I hear them whispering about my full fat plain yogurt (blah blah heart disease blah blah thinks she’s invincible blah blah).   Nobody is going to convince me that her fruity HFCS sweeter than ice cream non-fat yogurt is healthier.  Not a chance.  I think my genetics is not so much against me, as bad habits learned from them, years of dieting and all that bingeing.  Maybe that’s why I still get to eat all the crap I eat, and still lose weight.  Or perhaps it’s the 1000 calories of exercise* I do on most days?  I’ve never noticed the extremeness of their eating, until now that I don’t eat anything like that anymore.

I just read this post from NYT well blog, about how eating 100 calories more or less day won’t really change your weight.  It may stop you from gaining, but to really lose requires a lifestyle change, due to body’s adaptation mechanisms.   This matches my experience, it was real easy to stabilize my weight once I learned not to binge, but to lose took long-term effort.

What’s one cookie?

Pebble Beach is rocky

Pebble Beach, kinda rocky

*Been thinking this over – there are 2-3 days week I burn >1000 calories with 2+ hours at gym.  Other days I just walk/bike around, which maybe burns a few hundred/day, or do a random gym class.  So maybe I burn 4000/week.


12 Responses to “My mother, my enabler”

  1. March 2, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    One can really see the number your parents did on you about food during your lifetime through this interaction, which I’m sure exemplifies their mixed messages and personalizing of your food choices.

    Personally, I’m convinced that the single biggest contributor to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer is modern-day stress. Stress stimulates a lot of chemical responses in the body that cause problems. Human evolution didn’t design us for the sort of protracted stress that we experience in our current lifestyle. We’re designed for short-term, acute stress, not chronic low-level stress. Fretting about the fat you eat is likely worse than simply eating it. Besides, fat is good for you. It feeds your brain, makes you feel full, and provides essential nutrients. The vilification of fat about 20 years ago did nothing to stop obesity, and, in fact, may have done a lot toward causing the obesity epidemic.

    I’m guessing the best thing you can do with your parents is try to view their scrutiny, judgment and game-playing as a challenge to your character, and try to view it as trivial nonsense to be ignored. I know; it is easier said than done.

  2. 2 Jonathan
    March 3, 2010 at 1:00 am

    Sheesh. Great post though – it made me laugh.

    About 10 years ago my Mum – after a life time of cooking full fat – embraced the low fat lifestyle. Now whenever I go to visit the food doesnt taste of much. I end up each meal always wanting second helpings! So I’m right with you on the full fat message 🙂

  3. March 3, 2010 at 7:59 am

    Maybe you should just have it out with your mom. Tell her that when you guys are together, food may not be discussed, and that if she wants to eat something, then she can go ahead – that you are done “sharing” her “problem”.

  4. March 3, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    I can empathize so much with this post. It’s so hard to deal with family issues – especially where food/weight/size are concerned. You’d shudder if I told you some of the things I heard growing up.

    I’m just so happy that you stood up for yourself and ate what you wanted without allowing yourself to be swayed/influenced by their unhealthy habits.

  5. 5 RA
    March 3, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    Oh my…I’d be lucky to make it through such a visit. Obviously you’re doing something right whether or not they choose to acknowledge it.

  6. March 3, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    Screaming Fat Girl – I agree with you on stress, also smoking. My dad’s doctor thinks his heart disease comes from smoking, there’s none else in his family, and he’s eaten pretty healthy all his life. Seems odd, but smoking is all kinds of toxic.

    Jonathan – I hear you, whenever I visit parents, I have to eat out at least one meal a day or I’m always hungry.

    Bobbie – It’s been done over and over. My dad will shut her up, if I don’t do it first. She doesn’t like my temper, so stops. This is actually very good behavior on her part, though I’ve never noticed how she wants me to join her crap-food fest. Odd, since she’s been on my ass about weight my whole life-usually by critiquing everything I ate. Whatever suits her mood. She destroyed me enough, I no longer pay attention. I’m starting to think all of it is just to make her feel better, the woman is just not sane.

    Diane – Thanks for the encouragement. I’d guess most of us have horror stories, past and present.

    RA – They acknowledge it, which is why they mostly left me alone, though they are very confused by the full fat yogurt, and what they perceive as lack of dietary restraint, and I view as normal eating. All I’m saying is I’m glad the weed is so strong out here, and I exercise so much, even though it’s REALLY hard for me not to lose my temper after a day or two regardless of how much mood assistance I have.

  7. March 4, 2010 at 5:42 am

    Oh my. I think I need to swing by my mother’s house today and give her a big thank you hug. 🙂 My parent’s worst offense is asking, “Is there anything you can have there?” when we go out to dinner. After three years, they still don’t get that I can make any menu work. but they really do mean well.

    Good for you for dealing with the family issues without blowing a gasket. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have made it through successfully.

  8. March 7, 2010 at 8:20 am

    Hello! Just found your blog and I must say…..so enjoyable! You seem a wee bit snarky – not unlike myself. I look forward to reading more. Keep it coming!

  9. March 9, 2010 at 6:08 am

    Well, I’ve certainly had some issues with family gatherings 🙂 Everyone has their own agenda and schedule, and trying to mesh all of that selfish energy can be taxing!

    I remember years ago when I was watching the movie, Being There. I was depressed and thought it was very serious. A good friend, psychologist, came over and watched it again with me and changed my perspective and helped me see the humor in it all. Change your perspective Julie.

  10. March 15, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    GAH. I feel for you.

    Sometimes my family has a similar affect… people in general want other people to eat unhealthy with them so that they don’t feel guilty, I think. But it’s really unfortunate that we can’t try to all eat HEALTHY together, instead.

  11. March 17, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    Cammy – We can thank strong CA buds and way too much exercise for me not losing my temper, which I almost did anyway. This was well behaved for them.

    Learning to be less – Thanks! Sorry I don’t post very often.

    Dr. J – Changing perspective is difficult, especially with parents. I will look into this movie you mentioned, never heard of it. thanks.

    Sagan – In general I agree, in my mom’s case, I really think she’s batshit crazy.

  12. March 18, 2010 at 11:24 am

    the best part of all this is definitely recognizing the enablers and/or sabbatuers in your life. sometimes they are the people closest to us, or helped shape the bad habits we now are trying so desperately to break.

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