Battle of the Bulge

My grandmother was a formidable Southern woman. She was the kind of woman who would rise well before dawn (she was a farmer’s daughter, after all) and get to work, put in a full day of driving, entertaining, cooking, baking, running the family business, and what have you, then repair to her room to freshen and change before my grandfather strolled in. After he retired from his salesman’s job, she kept much the same schedule, substituting work at the the church for some of the salesman’s wife niceties. She wasn’t tall. She had lovely clothes and beautiful, capable hands and the prettiest skin I’ve ever seen. She was, in every sense of the word, womanly.

We all know what “womanly” is code for, right? Rounded. Mrs. Bero was no tiny bird of a woman. She had curves. She was also one of the best cooks I’ve ever met (her lemon pound cake is THE FOOD OF THE GODS), so keeping those curves under control was a constant struggle. I, on the other hand, grew up sticklike and flat-chested and sure I’d never look anything like her.

A couple of decades, a couple of kids, and a lot of hours in the kitchen later, there I was, enough like her to be her double, minus the sensible shoes and the foundation garments. So I did something about how I looked and joined Weight Watchers. And after a year of dedicated work, I was wearing single-digit sizes and had shed the equivalent of a large-sized bag of dog food. Go me! And then my school was assigned the worst administrator I’ve ever had the displeasure of working under and the stress pounds piled on and after a while, I was back to my previous rounded self. And I’ve been round ever since, the single-digits dusty in the back of my closet, mocking me.

So, after a ten-year absence, I am back at Weight Watchers. The program’s a bit different. I have to remind myself that succeeding once doesn’t give me a pass to guesstimate portion sizes or forget to write down that Dr Pepper that I drank with my burrito. I have a large-sized bag of dog food and about a case of Milk-Bones I need to shed this go-round. It’s work, this weight management thing, something my grandmother knew and I took the long, slow road to realize for myself.

So it’s no surprise that taped inside my cabinet door is the small slip of paper that was always taped inside her cabinet door: it’s a long-ago eating plan for Weight Watchers. The protein and bread and milk portions of her era have given way to points, but it’s all the same principles. Control what you put in your mouth. Move. Be sensible.

It’s a battle, this bulge, but if there’s one thing I hope I inherited from Mrs. Bero, it’s this: no matter what the setback, be formidable.

And follow the plan.


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