“I don’t want to die. I’m too young to die.”
I lay awake in bed, unable to sleep. My mind wouldn’t turn off; it kept flashing images of my parents and my boyfriend standing over me in a hospital bed with a tube in my throat after having open heart surgery.
You may think I’m being a little dramatic right now, but the truth is, this is a very real possibility for me. I am 32 years old, and if I don’t get my act together, this is going to happen to me sooner rather than later. Both of my parents have had open heart surgery, and one of my brothers had it in his mid-30s.
Signs and Symptoms of Heart Disease in Women
I’m obese, have high cholesterol, a light smoker (on my way to quitting), and have a family history of heart disease, high cholesterol, and diabetes. I am positive that if I keep on doing what I’m doing, I’m going to die before I’m 50. Well, maybe. But why take the chance?
My weight has been a lifelong battle. I wasn’t overweight as a young child; I was active, outgoing, and food was an afterthought for me. But then my best friend moved away and I had no one to play with, so I turned to books and became more and more solitary and less active. Food and books were my friends when people in real life made fun of me or ostracized me. They didn't judge me, they didn't bully me, and I could be someone else for a little bit while reading.
My mom has always struggled with her weight. As a child, I remember her making something called "Skinny Stew", a vegetable soup that smelled awful and featured cabbage as the predominant ingredient. Gag. She would eat it for lunch and dinner, trying to drop the last 10 or 20 pounds that she had battled with ever since she had me. She would drink Alba shakes as a meal replacement and take me to Weight Watchers meetings in a strip mall, having me wait quietly in the back with a coloring book while she and a group of women weighed in on ancient metal doctor's scales and rejoice when they got their 10-pound ribbon.
We only drank skim milk, sugary cereals and sodas were not permitted, and candy bars and fast food were a special treat. We were encouraged to play outside, ride bikes, join sports teams, and eat our vegetables.
If that was the case, how did I get fat? What happened?
More to come in Part 2....