Katrina and Friends

My metabolism is on vacation. Better she than I, though. She looks much better in a bikini. I, in fact, haven’t looked good in a bikini since I was sixteen. And that, my friends, was quite a few years ago. So, I’m wishing her well, bidding her adieu until she decides to return. I hope she’s got a bit of a sunburn when she comes back. Not enough for a vinegar bath, just enough to make her a little uncomfortable. Then, perhaps, she’ll think twice before jetting off on me again.

Today, I’m feeling Oprah’s pain. The weight gain, the weight loss, the weight gain, the weight loss. Blah, blah, yo-yo, blah. I’ve got a sordid history of bad eating habits and poor food choices. When I was sixteen, slim, fit, and strong — and my high school basketball coach told me I’d be much faster if I lost twenty pounds — I believed him. And as the quintessential pleaser, I did everything I could to right my twenty pound wrong. From bingeing to purging to laxatives to obsessive exercise to altogether inconvenient instances of passing out, I engaged in some pretty risky health behaviors over the next half-decade or so. And the sad and honest truth is that I was joined by so many others. I’ve known far too many girls who were in the bathroom stall next to me, who loaned me some Dexatrim when I was out. I’ll do everything in my power to ensure my daughter will not be counted among them. No girl should. No human being should.

I’ve always been a bit of an extremist… be the best, do the best, score the highest. It only seemed natural to add “run the fastest” to my list of accolades. But here’s the thing. I’m not fast. I never have been, I never will be. I’m not predispositioned to speed in any way shape or form. When a speedy friend and I used to shop together, she’d leave me in the dust. “Let’s make tracks!” she’d say as she prepped her long, skinny legs for the sprint. It used to make her crazy that I couldn’t keep up. It only took me about twenty years or so to realize that my former coach was wrong. Skinny wouldn’t make me fast. Skinny wouldn’t make me happy. Skinny wouldn’t complete me. (See, I’m even a slow learner…)

Four c-sections and about 36 pounds of baby later, I have some irreversible battle scars. My body will never be the same as it once was. But I can make it better than it is, stronger than it is. And I can embrace those scars that irrevocably changed my life. I’ll call this stretch mark Sam; I’ll name this dimple Gus. (Why is it that dimples on your face are cute? Can we not adopt that attitude about the rest of our bodily creases?)

Last November, I ran a marathon (yes, slowly). While I trained for it, I lost nearly 60 pounds. It make me feel much better to lose the weight, but it was also a full-time job. Logging 40 miles a week is not a sustainable life plan for me. (Because, yes, it takes me longer than the average bear to get those slow miles under my belt.) I mean, I have to have time to read and write and fulfill my freelance contracts and sit on my ass and haul my kids around town and watch Modern Family.

And then there are Pop-Tarts. I know they’re glorified cardboard. I understand that there’s absolutely no nutritional value to them. I get that the fruit filling resembles fruit about as much as I resemble Jennifer Aniston. BUT I LIKE THEM.

There’s something comforting about certain foods — something that conjures up warm, childhood memories. I feel that way about soggy PB&Js and slightly tepid containers of chocolate milk. Those flavors take me right back to St. Michael’s, right back to Sister Veronica Ann’s classroom, right back to the pre-recess lunch where I’d dream about driving a kickball straight into an eighth grade boy’s gut or knocking some unsuspecting soul senseless with a well-aimed dodge ball. And Twinkies? Oh, Twinkies. They take me straight down Memory Lane to the Weston Village Apartments where I’d run rampant with all the neighborhood ruffians until my mom called me in for dinner. We’d eat macaroni and tuna and wash it all down with a Twinkie or two. Then I’d rest my sweaty head on her lap while we watched “Laverne and Shirley.” Pure, heavenly, childhood bliss.

My problem is that I enjoy all foods. I do have a palate for fine food as well. I love the blend of good seasoning, the melt-in-your-mouth experience of a superior filet, the nuances of a pleasingly complicated glass of red. But I can turn around and eat a Big Mac just as easily. Don’t even get me started on the Steak and Shake chocolate/banana side-by-side.

Dieting makes me grumpy. I feel good when I lose weight, but I hate the process itself. I fall into victim-hood, complaining about everything I can’t have, longing for all those things that are on the “no” list. It makes Chris a little crazy. And my kids? They’re the South Beach Nazis. When a crouton even hints at passing my lips, they’ll all yell, “CHEATER!!” loudly enough to start the dogs howling. They’re charming that way.

It’s important for me to set a good example for my pre-teen girl, to let her know that her self-worth should never be tied to her physical appearance. And I also want her to be healthy and strong and to understand the value of good nutritional choices. I don’t want her to be a nut job about food like her Mama is. And I want my boys to know good health, too. I want them to realize what it means to be strong, to choose wisely. I don’t want them to take a girl out on a first date and yell, “CHEATER!!” when she opts for a dinner roll. And trust me, George Willis will do just that.

So, as I gear up for today’s 5K and think about those damn sinful broccoli bites that await me at lunch today (thanks, Kay!), I need to remember to keep it all in perspective. Food, exercise, control, speed, right, wrong, good, bad, mistakes, victories, life.

All things in moderation.

Even Pop-Tarts.

Especially Pop-Tarts.

Share This Post

89 Responses

  1. Ahhh, but now they have “low fat” Pop Tarts.

    Cardboard … light? Sounds totally groovy.

    My wish in this world is that all processed foods would go away. Forever. Or perhaps they could just be gathered and shipped to those who need them. That would keep temptation at bay for people who find themselves craving them.

    And full disclosure: There may or may not be a box of low-fat brown sugar and cinnamon Pop Tarts in my pantry. Just sayin’.

  2. Any high school or youth coach that makes mention of weight to a player shouldn’t be a high school or youth coach…

    Teach your daughter to make smart choices rather than showing an example of a “diet” – this is the best example my mother ever did for me. She also didn’t supply chips and junk food in our home even if we asked, begged, etc. Now I don’t have it in my own home just out of habit.

    Nice work trying to set a good example for your daughter 🙂

    Congrats on being freshly pressed!

  3. Hang in there and put one foot in front of the other. That’s what keeps me going.

    I always thought I was the only one on the planet who had a severe weakness for pop-tarts. Considering that you can’t get them where I live, every time I travel to the U.S. my suitcase comes back filled with the stuff. My daughter loves them too….

    And you know, even though my sweet five year old has been blessed with her father’s build and metabolism, I know that I’ll have to remain vigilant her entire life and always try to instill good habits, not only because the tables may turn at some point, but also because her great passion is ballet, and that is one discipline that practically shuns anyone who is even slightly overweight. I am aware that if one day she comes home and tells me her teacher said she has to lose weight, I’ll have to hope that everything I’ve tried to teach her about self-image and feeling good about who she is, as she is, kicks in. That, and I’ll probably have to go and punch the teacher as well.

  4. This was so nice to hear! I also try to instill good eating habits already in my 2-year-olds……because (not that I’m blaming), but my mom did not necessarily do that for me. It wasn’t Pop-tarts and Twinkies…..more like chocolate cake for breakfast, and ice cream as a before-bed snack. But you’re right, there’s a fine line between helping someone eat right and turning them against food altogether. Everything in moderation is a good motto!

  5. So interesting that one comment made to us as teenage girls by a coach, boyfriend, parent, or another peer can trigger a unhealthy relationship with food for a LONG time. Same thing happened to me, and here I am 16 years later, still struggling! Your decision to train for marathons is very inspiring to me and I think I may follow in your shoes. Not becasue I want to look good in a bikini, but because I want to feel good about myself and that sense of accomplishment. And I want to do it on MY terms, which means slow and steady.

    Any you are right–our scars tell our life story–we should never be ashamed!

    Thank you for your thoughts!

  6. I think your coach was a jerk.
    I can relate to your body image problem. I have had my battles, (freshman 15-25 and had two kids), but found that If I dieted, I gained weight. My thing is finding some kind of exercise I enjoy. For the last ten years it has been tennis and skiing.. I am a salt gal so then when I want that handful of chips at lunchtime, I can munch away!
    30 pounds isn’t so bad anyway…I lost the baby weight and kept it off out of fear, but you would never catch me in a two piece bathing suit ever again!! Hahaha!
    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  7. Thank you for your post and for your honesty. I have found it daunting to expose my flaws before the world in this blogging world, to risk social censure/ rejection yet again. Oddly, I feel compelled to continue the exercise – a mission, really. I also use humor to buffer myself from the anticipated slap in the face or snub. I sincerely hope you find your happy place and a balance between eating for gratification and eating for wellness. It’s a struggle I suspect I will take to my grave.

    I love this passage about scars from Chris Cleave’s Little Bee, “We must see all scars as beauty. Okay? This will be our secret. Because take if from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived.”

  8. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed and congrats on the marathon!
    I have run 5ks but mostly I don’t like to run. I will run only if I’m being chased, or there’s free Manolo Blahniks somewhere.
    If stretch marks are scars then I’ve survived. A lot.
    Nice post!

  9. It’s one step at a time. Anyone who has lost major amounts of weight and has a love for food will tell you that it is NO easy feat to do what you have done. You should be extremely proud of yourself! it’s about learning your body and what works best for you. I am currently doing a cleanse (the lemonade diet – I’m sure you are familiar) to mentally and physically rid myself of a “sweets addiction”. I’m keeping track of whats going on and I will put up a blog about it at the end of the week. Running a marathon is a goal of mine. Great inspiration. Best wishes!!

  10. Loved this…I am thinking about training for a marathon and I am crazy out of shape. But like you I have a teen daughter along with three other kids to set an example for. Good luck on the 5K. Keep pressing through.

  11. LOVE pop tarts. blueberry, no frosting. i used to keep several boxes in my filing cabinet at work/school. occasionally, other teachers would come into my room and need to borrow a “book.” then they’d leave with a sleeve of tarts. one year, when i was teaching 5th grade, almost every kid gave me a box of tarts for christmas. no gift was ever more appreciated. no belt was ever more tested.

  12. Great post! I laughed loudly when you were naming stretch marks and dimples, especially because my dog’s name is Gus. He honestly looks like he should be a dimple. Thank you. I enjoyed reading this.

  13. I, like you, have a preteen girl and I admire you for wanting to be a healthy role model for your daughter. I’ve been wanting to start running again (I ran in high school, many moons ago) and your post is just the kind of motivation I need. Thanks! And congrats on being freshly pressed. 🙂

  14. Love your writing! We must have crossed paths at some point without knowing at either McDonalds or the Twinkie aisle! What marathon did you do? Who cares what your time was, you finished!!

  15. Well, this post is really hitting home for me right now. While I don’t eat fast food anymore, I do eat way too many carbs and am hooked on the sugar. I eat healthy, too. Like soy milk and granola bars, fruit smoothies and veggies. I just like my cookies and cupcakes way too much.

    I have started walking a little more, because I’ve always loved it. And this evening I did a 20 minute dance-a-thon in the privacy of my bedroom. I’m just not consistent. Ideally, I’d like to lose 20 pounds by my birthday, which is in 4 months. But if I tell myself that my goal is 5 or 10 lbs., that seems more attainable. If I can do that, I’m hoping that will motivate me to lose 10 more.

    Your post made me laugh AND think! Thanks for your honesty.

  16. Indeed,you are an exceptional woman and a woman of all jacks.I love to pick such skills and opportunities as I write too.Look here Katrina, parenting is a wonderful thing to do but proving very difficult in Africa- a lot of Rights for children leaving almost none for the parent.We shall continue to talk if you so wish.

  17. Dieting is misery and anyone who says otherwise is lying. No one wakes up in the morning craving broccoli and egg whites. No one I want to know!

    I lost about 20 lbs two years ago and regained them and now have got to peel off 40+ lbs. The whole idea makes me insane — and the dirty M (menopause) makes it worse. One thing that mean thin people completely overlook in the battle is physical disability. While I admire the grit of marathoners, 47 m American suffer arthritis and cannot pound it out athletically quite so easily…

  18. Ugh…I always seem to be the totally polar opposite of everybody else. (Apart from being male) I am thin as a plank, hate most foods and haven’t needed to diet one day in my life…all thanks to a genetic misspelling. Well, don’t go saying “Why you telling me? You trying to make me jealous?”. Quite the opposite…lol. I would give anything (even be 100 pounds over weight) just to be normal for a change. 😛

    It’s strange how most of the time, even though we don’t even realise it, the things we wish for, are the things someone else is trying to get rid of. Wish we could have a genetic “garage sale” and trade all the qualities we don’t want with our neighbours 😀

    1. This is so awesome. This is so inspirational! I am new to the blogging scene, but it would mean so much to have more followers! I craft, knit, crochet and bake and I will be posting tutorials, how to’s, and little quirks about my life there! Please check me out anyone who sees this 🙂 once again, I loved your post!

  19. Great piece! It made me think of this quote I always say. “Never change your originality for the sake of others, no one can play your role better than you, so be yourself and win the world.”

    If you have time read this inspirational piece about a very inspirational lawyer who has been fighting Cancer for years with dignity, self pride and lots of love for herself. http://worldlylivingnow.wordpress.com/stories/

  20. I’m there with you on the love of food… and I don’t even try to feel bad about it. Moderation is the key… pop tarts not so much for me. Ice cold chocolate milk and mini donuts are another story! Thanks for sharing, it’s nice to know there are other people out there that actually enjoy food! 🙂

  21. Great post… and I love poptarts! So much so that I get a box of 12 at the market each week (strawberry) and eat a pack (over toasted) each night with cold milk! 🙂

    And I absolutely love this:: It’s important for me to set a good example for my pre-teen girl, to let her know that her self-worth should never be tied to her physical appearance. And I also want her to be healthy and strong and to understand the value of good nutritional choices.

  22. Weight loss has been a constant battle of mine in the 9 years. Either I am on a diet or I have taking a break from dieting. In the last three years, I have managed to reach my goal weight twice and then put on weight back. My problem is once I am at my goal weight, I quit exercise and start eating loads of carb (white rice and pasta). Now I am in the process of getting back on the wagon again with Bikram Yoga!

    p.s: Oreos are my “pop-tart”!

  23. Dear Katrina,
    While your acts of completing a marathon, being a super conscious Mom and taking care of your health/weight have inspired many of the commenters here, it is your writing and your success in doing so that is a constant inspiration to me. Congrats on getting “pressed.”

  24. I was chubby as a teenager, much less so in my 20s, and in my 30s got very slim and had an easy time keeping the weight off until I quit smoking. In fact, I had to accept that I would gain weight in order to quit smoking, or I’d always go back to it. I put on a few pounds then, not a lot, but over the years my weight kept creeping up. I worked for 6 months in a factory and lost a pound a week, which was great, but as soon as I left that (grossly underpaid) job for something better but sedentary, the pounds came back inexorably. I mean, if I ate anything at all, I gained weight, yet I was still doing a lot of walking when not at work. Since then, it’s been more slow creep. I’ve just begun losing again (a tiny, tiny bit), more because I’m nearing 60 and don’t want to lose any more function than I have to. So I’m moving around more, stretching, etc. It would be nice to look better, but imperative to have good balance and flexibility. Thanks for your honesty. Great post! I’ll check back.

  25. Love your down-to-earth writing style! As one who is finally making progress on his own slightly-obese battle, I can appreciate your own story of struggle. At least your outlook on food, body and self are much healthier than your younger years. It’s a sin how we allow “them” to define what we should look like. You express that so very well.

    Damn the Pop Tarts! Full speed ahead!

  26. You said so well what I have thought a thousand times. I don’t want my offspring to have a wacky relationship with food, or to think their self-worth is measured by their weight / appearance. Thanks for this! And for admitting you like Poptarts (so do I). 🙂

  27. My personal favorites were Toaster Strudels while I was pregnant with my first child. I swear, I can’t get that little frosting to come out like they do on the commercials, but they are soooooo tasty. My second child brought with him a never-ending love affair with ice cream. I figure, I could go back to smoking to lose weight, but I figure it’s not nearly as tasty!!!

  28. Love how you seemed to write the story of many of our lives. Can’t say I’ve done or tried the marathon or the kids but definitely am an expert at yo-yo!
    Congrats on the many feats.

  29. That was such an enjoyable read! I worry when I struggle with things that I would like my children to learn. But I guess it’s seeing our honest struggle to be better that helps them in the end. Hopefully. (My husband LOVES Pop Tarts. I love ALL starch.)

  30. I could so relate to your post because ever since I turned 11 years old I pretty much hit puberty and went from a skinny, tall girl, and filled out a ton. It’s so hard with women and our weight and we beat ourselves up a lot. And, those foods that we love are just hard to resist. Oh, and good luck with your 5k!

  31. We all crave a sugar rush at times. Good luck with quitting the Pop Tarts – having declared this online you know it’s time to stop buying them. You can find something better, you deserve it.

  32. Well as soon I saw you were a drinker of red wine I instantly liked your blog.
    I’m also an extremist. I don’t believe in half-measures. I’m either completely committed or it’s a case of I can’t be bothered. But I think like you I also need to learn how to compromise because doing something to the extreme, to the exclusion of everything else, isn’t a recipe for success in the long run.

  33. I am 16 years old and I simply love food!
    Haha right now all my friends are going up side down about how they should eat less and diet. But my reason to their answer of loosing weight is : why starve when you can lose it by jogging or something?
    Hehe I loved your post and seriously, I think that enjoying food is one of our reasons to live this life! Why should we stay in a corner and feel guilty about eating McChicken?

    This is my site (: and hopefully you will have the time to go through it!

  34. You write well, the piece was interesting and well thought out. You also photograph nicely, man-man, it seems you have it made.

    I enjoyed it immensely, nice break from my routine day.



  35. I enjoyed your post… I’m a personal fan of Twinkies although its been ages since I had one the thought of them still brings a smile to my face. 🙂 The news of Hostess going out of business almost made me cry, not because I’ll miss their cakes but it’s products significance in my memories are priceless and the thought that they won’t be there for my children. But there will be other memories…

    Congrats on the marathon and good luck with the upcoming 5K!!! You’re doing fine, as long as you’re moving you’ll continue on good health! CHEERS!!!

  36. I am very happy for you being so considerate of the self image your children have and realizing that the issues you had do not have to be theirs, you can help them not make your mistake, by example.
    I want to know what person that was born from 1955 through 1980 does not LOVE poptarts and twinkies, and would still eat them if they had Metty Abolism at their side! :o)
    This post is SO womderfully fun and real!!! Perfect FP choice, congrats! Overall health, emotional, physical and spirit is more important than measuring up to comparisions that have no real life value.
    The coach reminds me of a teacher I once had who told me I would never amout to anything b/c I was too muchof a dreamer. Eistein oughta come back and knock the snot out of that guy! Adults can be such insensitive and/or purposfully sabotaging mean people to kids who take their guidance to heart.
    I am proud of you for wanting to change that for your kids! I am going to share you blog on mine too! Have a great day and weekend! AmberLena

  37. Relating to your pain, gain and refrain……….
    I used to be skinny mini……
    I showed no mercy to those pop tarts and twinkies
    Then one day, it seemed they all came back to take revenge!
    Your blog is sweetly inspirational yet light and good for the heart!
    You are a wonderful writer. I smiled the whole time I read it 🙂

  38. What a wonderful blog! And yes, everything you say makes sense. I had Bulimia when I was a teenager and I saw eating disorders affect many other girls my age as well. Fifteen years later, I no longer stress about my body, and I TRY to do the whole moderation thing 😉 I have just started a journey/blog about 2012 being a Year of Wonderful Weekends for me. As well as the small things I will be doing on weekends I am thinking about starting a few big projects as well, like photography. And now I’m thinking I could pick a marathon (or maybe a half…) later in the year and start training for it? I used to be very active, and I always enjoyed running when I was younger. Thanks for getting me thinking 🙂


  39. Thanks for this post! I too am a very serious extremist and have spent years trying to train myself to accept middle ground. All things in moderation was a term my husband introduced me to years ago (he is the only person I know who it comes easy to – what a guy). It’s coming slowly! Thanks for the affirmation 🙂 Glad to find your blog!

  40. Great post, thank-you for sharing this with us. You are an inspiration as a lot of us feel exactly the same…I must admit I am a bit of an extremist aswell 🙂 sometimes it helps us and sometimes it hinders us.

  41. Thanks for the great read! I love how you honestly evaluate yourself and understand your strengths and weaknesses. You’ve done some amazing things(running a marathon, no matter how fast). Good luck!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up for my mailing list

More To Explore

A Father’s Day Story

Father’s Day is tricky. My biological dad never wanted much to do with me. He was a handsome dreamer who didn’t know how to stay.

The Suggestion of a Memory

While going through storage recently (gah, still so many boxes to sort and purge!), I leafed through pictures from my kids’ childhood—birthday parties, camping trips,

Pride and Anger

I’m angry. I don’t like being angry. It’s not my natural state. Normally, I’m pretty happy-go-lucky. I’m go-with-the-flow. I’m every-stranger-gets-a-smile. I’m “easy like Sunday morning.”