Losing 20 Pounds in 30 Days: Part 2 — Earliest Indicators of Weight Gain to Come: Intense Hunger
Continued from: Losing 20 Poundsin 30 Days: Part 1 — Overview of my Detox Diet
That’s me in the picture. Maybe 21, if that. With the hat, gloves, and heels, I may have topped the scales at 105 pounds but it’s doubtful. I confess: football players in college used to ask me to walk on their backs in my stocking feet because I was just the right weight for everything to crunch pleasantly for them. But even back then when I was anorexically thin, there were early indicators of weight gain to come.
I know that when my daughters were in their early teens, I really hurt their feelings without meaning to. They would try on clothes I wore in college and through my mid-20’s and…the clothes wouldn’t fit. My out-of-college, newly-married, and owning my own home clothes that I’d saved out of sentiment were too little to fit two slender, healthy teens. They took it as a defect but I never meant it that way–I could see only that sudden realization of just how thin I was in my teens and 20’s, even though I often worried back then about being overweight. And yes, that includes how I felt about myself in this photo.
But as for the early indicators of weight gain that would catch up with me later–and that something was amiss–they fall into two categories
- “Feed me now or I’m going to kill something and eat it raw!”
I’ve come to understand over the last decade that it’s a product of uneven blood sugar, but it’s important to note for soooo many reasons. I was tested a number of times in my 20’s and 30’s and told, often with annoyance by my physician, that no, you do not have diabetes and all your numbers are in the normal range. True–they were in normal range. In fact they are still in the normal range for this test, even though I now realize I’ve always had problems with my blood sugar.
More than anything, the indicator was the insane hunger than no one around me seemed to understand and–usually–intentionally made worse thinking I was being a either a rebel or a brat.
It’s hard to explain the hunger but when my blood sugar drops to a certain point, I can’t focus on anything but food. Finding food, getting food, eating food, NOW. It’s a little touchy to haul something to eat into a meeting with a bunch of Colonels and Generals and sit there and munch away because you are five hours into the meeting without a break and someone in charge has just decided that it’s more efficient to work right through lunch. The last thing you want is an angry VIP asking you if you brought enough for everyone, so you sit patiently–no longer thinking of the subject of the meeting but only of when you’re going to get to EAT–until the entire day has passed without food and you are shaking all over and nauseated to the point you’re not sure you can drive somewhere and get food. Sure, there may be vending machines nearby–sugary drinks and loaded candy bars for those of you who had no idea a short meeting would turn into an all-day affair–but that only makes the problem worse.
I didn’t notice this so much in my 20’s and early 30’s but that was mainly because of where I was working at the time. We rarely had meetings that lasted more than a few hours and I had a lot more control over demanding breaks where I could wolf down something fast before reconvening. Though an all-day-with-no-lunch-break meeting was rare, it was the norm when I moved to my new assignment…and the extreme hunger became more noticeable. In that job, every Monday–and frequently other days that weren’t announced–started with a 7:30 AM meeting that was supposed to be over by 8:30 but never was. It dovetailed into the 9:15 AM meeting, which was supposed to be over by 11:00 AM but rarely was. Often enough, the VIP in charge of the meetings would send a lieutenant out to bring her a sandwich while the rest of us stared at powerpoint briefings. Well, except for me. I was staring at her food. The 9:15 meeting would over run over into the 1:00 PM briefing, which would last until 4:00 PM or so. Our VIP took bathroom breaks and lunch breaks while the meetings continued, and for those of us who were required to attend all 3 meetings, it was miserable. But that was when my blood sugar drops became pronounced and my hunger so strong that I would yelp at anyone who spoke to me. I didn’t mean to be impolite or unprofessional–it was just a survival instinct of focusing on nothing but food, food, food, food, food.
Normally, I could control my hunger away from work without any problems…except on family vacations or outings. Then, my hunger became the subject of huge marital disputes. We would have a good breakfast as a family and hit the road. Around 10:30 or so, I’d tell my spouse, who was almost always the driver, that I was starting to get hungry and that we’d need to look for a place to eat in the next town but definitely within the hour. It became a battle of wills somehow–him thinking I was unreasonable and dictating the choice of restaurants when he didn’t want to stop at a particular chain that happened to be the only restaurant in the next town and me thinking he was being an ass for waiting until after 1 PM and 8 towns later to stop at a chain restaurant he preferred. Usually by the time we stopped, I was too nauseated and shaky to eat much and was car sick the rest of the day. Since I was usually to the point of opening the passenger door of a moving car and leaping out to raid a convenience store’s shelves, I eventually started carrying protein bars or small ice chests with me on family trips so that I would never be at anyone’s mercy again.
Since the people “in charge” of holding me captive in meetings or cars had no inkling of what it was like to feel the hunger I was feeling and the desperation of the survival instinct to eat as soon as possible or DIE, I endured some miserable experiences that–as least in my husband’s case–could not be explained. If you haven’t lived it, then you’re likely to think the person bringing crackers into a very staid and serious briefing is a rebel and that the passenger who’d rather leap out of your moving car than wait another hour is obviously just being a drama queen. No one else around me seemed to be having this problem but, in looking back, I now see that it was a big indicator that something was amiss and that I needed to take better care of myself when my body said I needed to eat–and not vending machine junk food either.
It was an indicator for two reasons:
- Since I wasn’t allowed breaks for meals or to have food in the meeting areas, my initial weight gain (that I later lost through exercise and better eating at my next assignment) was the result of grabbing something from a badly stocked vending machine. It usually came down to a choice of Pepsi vs Coke and Peanut M&Ms vs a Snickers bar. Seriously. Those were the healthiest choices we had, short of cannibalism. My blood sugar was all over the place all day long.
- It was an early warning sign that something was amiss with my blood sugar–even though this was years prior to my parents’ being diagnosed with diabetes late in life. Maybe I could have been more insistent that my physician run additional tests or talked to nutritionist back then about my food sensitivities.