First Kiss

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“Faith, I want to discuss your lab results with you. Your blood sugar levels are very elevated and as your doctor, I’m more than a little concerned about Type 2 or what we used to call ‘adult-onset’ diabetes.”

“But I’m only 26. Isn’t that something that happens to people over 50?” she asked not wanting to admit yet again she had a problem.

“I’ve been your doctor since you were three years old, and I love you like my own daughter,” the doctor told her. “I know your weight is a very sensitive issue for you, but there’s a very direct, positive correlation between obesity and Type 2 diabetes. And once you have it, there’s no known cure for it. If it happens, you’ll need medication and/or insulin therapy the rest of your life. Your late father was a Type 1 diabetic so I know you know the dangers.”

“I can’t lose weight,” Faith said knowing deep down she’d never really tried.

She’d loved to eat for as long as she could remember, and for most of her life, food had been her only comfort. That had been particularly true when her father passed away indirectly due to a lifetime of battling diabetes and its related complications. She knew full well the risks of being so overweight and the dangers associated with it.

Because blood flows to every part of one’s body, the effects of high blood sugar can result in a number of health problems. People with diabetes who have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or both, increase their risk of developing complications, like heart disease and stroke. Too much sugar in the blood wreaks havoc on the body’s capillaries, and the areas where they were concentrated like fingers, toes, the eyes, and the heart were most at risk.

“I believe you can lose weight, Faith,” the doctor told her. “We have some promising results with several new medications which can reduce appetite and coupled with diet and exercise….”

“I hate exercise,” she said not so much out of anger but rather sheer frustration.

Faith Palmer was indeed just 26 years old. She was also 5’7″ and weighed well over 200 pounds. She lived with her mother, Karen, and had only been on two dates in her life—both of them sympathy dates arranged by her mom. At 26, she was still waiting for her first kiss. No, that wasn’t true. She’d essentially given up on that first kiss or ever having a boyfriend, let alone a husband. And most of the time, she was okay with that. As long as she had her best friend to comfort her day and night.

At one time, she’d kept track of how many calories she ate each day as part of one in an endless string of new diets. She knew the daily total was often over 5,000. She was also very aware she should be eating around 1,500-1,600, the amount she typically ate per meal. Just the thought of living like that caused her tremendous fear and anxiety.

Yes, her eating…her over-eating, was an addiction, and Faith was well aware that addictions were harmful. And now, for the first time, she had actual evidence that what she was doing to herself was harming her. And yet the thought of making changes—any changes—where food was involved, scared the hell out of her.

“Your mom’s insurance will pay for portions of this, Faith, but only until you turn 27 in six months. At that point, you’ll have to have your own insurance.”

Faith had never had a job either, because the taunting followed her everywhere she went with the exception of her home. Therefore, staying home was the only place where she felt totally safe.

“That includes the medication and a dietitian and/or personal trainer to work with you. But you will have to want to be healthy more than you want to eat. I hate being so blunt with you, sweetheart, but you are truly at the crossroads. You’re such a beautiful girl and you don’t need to be thin to be any prettier. But you do need to lose weight to be healthy. So I’m going to write you a prescription for two different medications and give you a list of dietitians to work with. You can call them and ask questions before choosing the one you like the most.”

Faith stopped counting the number of times she’d been told she had a pretty face and that if she’d just lose—20, 30, 50, and now 80 or 90 pounds, she’d be beautiful. She really did have an amazing smile and beautiful eyes, but her face was so large it quite literally…swallowed…everything else inside it. In her most honest moments, she knew the size of her cheeks squished things up so tightly it wasn’t a stretch say she did almost look like a p…. She couldn’t say the word, even to herself, but she knew it was true.

“Okay, I’ll try,” she said half-heartedly knowing the only thing she wanted to do was stop and order a double cheeseburger with onion rings and a large chocolate shake to hold her over until she got home. Of course, she’d use the drive-thru to avoid being seen except for those two brief moments when she had to pay for and then take the food. It was rare for an employee to say anything, but she’d gotten plenty of looks of disgust over the years even from them.

To her horror, illegal bahis the pharmacy’s drive-thru service was out of order, and that meant going inside—something she truly dreaded. As she stood in line at the pharmacy, she could feel it. Every eye was either looking or staring at her, and it was only a matter of time until someone said something.

Faith had heard it all over the years from calls of ‘sooey’ to things as awful as, “Check out that blimp with feet, man!” or “Yo! Save a whale, harpoon a fat chick!” Those were just a few from the hall-of-shame taunts she’d heard from boys in school or other public places.

But it wasn’t the boys who were the worst. It was the girls by far. They weren’t direct like the boys. They just tore her apart one tiny piece at a time through neglect by omitting her from every party or plan they made. So once again, food had been there for her. No mocking. No teasing. Just delicious, tasty, scrumptious…food.

Somehow, she managed to make it out of the pharmacy with both prescriptions without hearing a single negative comment.

“Thank God for small favors,” she said as she squeezed in behind the wheel and stretched the seat belt to its maximum length to get it around her.

She opened the bottles and took one of each as directed washing them down with the rest of a two-liter bottle of soda sitting in the car. It was warm and disgusting, but Faith never let food or sugary soft drinks go to waste.

Somehow, and it had taken every bit of willpower she had, she drove right by three of her favorite fast food restaurants on her way home. Those who’d never suffered the agony of an addiction to food—the one thing we can’t completely quit consuming and live—couldn’t possibly understand the sadness she felt at not stopping to buy herself something to eat. It was as though she was denying herself the most enjoyable thing on earth. To most people, it was just a cheeseburger. To Faith, it was…life itself. She was ignoring her best friend, and the sadness she felt was as real as the enormous amount of fat that girdled her body.

As she pulled into the garage, she turned off the engine, then sat there and started to cry. She was so sick of it all. At some level, she just wanted to lower the garage door, turn the car back on, and go to sleep.

On another, she was becoming angry. Really, really angry. Angry at herself for letting this happen and angry at the world for being so cruel to people who were overweight. People like her—fat people—the morbidly obese.

As she sat there and sobbed, she recalled a particularly cruel comment from a boy in high school. “Faith doesn’t have an eating problem. Uh-uh. Oh, no. Not her. She sees food, she picks it up, she shovels it into her pie hole, and swallows it—no problem!”

The other kids roared with laughter and even now, some 10 years later, it hurt just as much as it had back then.

“Fuck them and fuck THIS!” she swore out loud, something she rarely ever did.

She looked at her round face in the mirror, dried her eyes, grabbed her medication and the empty soda bottle, and went inside. She tossed the bottle in the recycle bin, put the medication in the cupboard, then started looking at names on the list of approved dietitians. With each passing minute, her anger grew and with the anger came something completely new to her. Something she couldn’t name but felt in an overpowering way.

When her mother got home from work, Faith shared everything that had happened starting with the lab results and ending with the list of dietitians. Her mom tried to be supportive, but like her daughter, she was battling an addiction of her own. Karen Palmer rarely ate anything, but she never went more than a few hours without her best friend—alcohol. Or more specifically, vodka.

After looking through the list of names, they settled on a woman named RoseAnna and gave her a call.

For the first time she could ever remember, Faith didn’t feel like eating. It wasn’t the medication. That took time to work. It was the anger and the disgust and something else she couldn’t yet name. She forced herself to eat a piece of fruit and drink part of a bottle of water as she looked at articles about the right way to start an exercise program. Satisfied she had some minimal idea of what to do, she watched several You Tube videos, one of which blew her mind.

She watched a girl who’d kept track of her progress using a camcorder go from 253 pounds to 125 in a year and nine months—without gastric bypass or any other surgical procedure. The before and after pictures initially made her cry as she told herself that could never happen to her.

And then she got angry again. Angry enough that she said out loud, “Why not me? Why can’t that be me? What’s so special about her anyway?” At the very end of the video one word filled the screen and it stuck with Faith like nothing ever had. It read: DETERMINATION!

In spite of what she’d read and watched, Faith realized she had no idea how to do what this other girl had illegal bahis siteleri done. But now, between the medications and the dietitian, she had the necessary tools to try. It was painfully clear to her that she and she alone would have to provide the determination. As she fell asleep her greatest fear was that her determination wouldn’t outlast the next morning, and that fear only strengthened her determination even more.

Right at 7:30am, the doorbell rang and the dietitian, a woman of around 45 named RoseAnna Gooden, entered Faith’s life. The first thing she asked was had she had anything for breakfast.

“No, just a cup of coffee. I feel too sick to eat.”

“Sick sick or…sick of being heavy sick or exactly what kind of sick are we talking about?” Mrs. Gooden asked politely.

“Not sick sick. I’m not coming down with anything. But all of the other stuff and more,” Faith told her truthfully.

RoseAnna made her two slices of whole wheat toast, two scrambled egg whites, and poured her 6 ounces of orange juice as she probed for details on what it was Faith hoped to accomplish.

“Eat slowly, Faith. Take small bites and set your fork down after each one. Do the same with whatever you drink. Remember, you’ve developed your current habits over many years. Breaking them will take time and we have to replace them with new and better habits.”

After breakfast, Faith had to put all traces of the meal away. Food, condiments, dishes—everything. The cruel reality was that food was everywhere. When she opened the refrigerator it was there. The cupboards were fully stocked with her favorite things. How could she possibly do this?

They spent the next two hours discussing how the body metabolizes food, the kinds of food it needs, and the differences between proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.

“Fats have 9 calories per gram while proteins and carbs have just 4 and alcohol was 5—all of which are empty calories. So you can see right off the bat how fats can affect our weight. Any food we don’t need gets stored in the liver as glycogen for future use. Any excess beyond that gets turned into fat and stored in the body. In order to turn fat back into glucose so the body can use it requires aerobic exercise. Just not eating will help, but the body can and will start eating muscle so without some form of aerobic exercise, it is very, very hard to lose the weight stored in our bodies as fat. It’s possible, it’s just very difficult.”

Mrs. Gooden then explained the role of proper diet and exercise and how they work synergistically toward reducing fat. Faith was shocked to learn that resistance training—even lifting light weights—made things like walking even better and more effective. Dieting was okay. Dieting and walking or swimming was very good. But doing those two things and lifting weights—even very low amounts of weight—was fantastic.

“We don’t want to overwhelm you early on. But we do want to see progress to keep you motivated. Also, we have to remember this is a process. There’s no magic pill, Faith. It’s about changing your lifestyle one step at a time and being consistent.”

By lunchtime, Faith had a list of meals and the calories in each one. For two weeks, RoseAnna would shop and cook for her, but Faith would have to help so she could do it herself after that. Also, she had an exercise program which started with walking a quarter mile a day working up to a five-mile walk several months down the road. She would also make use of the sets of dumbbells which ranged from 2-10 pounds RoseAnna brought with her and gradually increase the amount of weight and number of repetitions. “Low weight and high reps is what a woman wants. This isn’t power lifting where we lift heavy weights a few times. Just the opposite is what we’re looking for, okay?” she explained.

“Above all, have a vision of yourself a year from now, Faith. See yourself the way you want to look. Whether that means wearing something you’d like to be able to wear or weighing a certain amount or something else. Find and keep that vision in your mind at all times. If you fall off the wagon, do not quit! Get right back on and keep going.”

For the first time in many years, Faith imagined herself wearing something she’d long since given up on ever being able to wear. She closed her eyes and saw herself in a beautiful white wedding dress standing next to someone who loved her as much as she loved herself.

She didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when she thought, “No, a man who loves me as much as I’ve loved food all my life.”

She had no image of what he’d look like because she no longer cared. If he could love her without judgment and be kind to her, she could love him back. Short, tall, black, white, fat or thin, all she wanted was the love of a decent, caring man. And yes, a baby.

RoseAnna saw a tear fall from Faith’s eye and asked if she was okay.

Faith blinked several times and said, “I think I am. Or at least I believe I will be.”

She didn’t share the reason why, but canlı bahis siteleri the image of that wedding dress, currently just generic and white, took center stage in her mind. Once she got to a certain point, she’d start looking at actual dresses and replace this image with a more specific mental picture. For now though, the thought of being able to wear a gorgeous wedding dress gave her the determination she needed to get started.

“Okay, how about we go for our first walk?” RoseAnna suggested.

It was early June in the Seattle area, and the weather was still cool and often rainy. Today, the high was supposed to be about 67 degrees with the weather clear and dry. Right then it was just 54 degrees, and that was just fine with Faith as the thought of wearing anything other than sweats was more than she could bear.

Doing a quarter mile was safe. Not just that it was a short distance, but because it would barely take her off the street she’d lived on all her life. Nearly everyone who lived on it with her knew her, and although she still felt uncomfortable, she didn’t have that sick feeling that always accompanied any thought of being seen by total strangers.

Having RoseAnna with her gave her confidence and a feeling of ‘cover’ knowing she wouldn’t be all alone. The thought of having to do this by herself just two weeks from now scared her to death, so she focused on the present and would worry about tomorrow when it came.

When they finished, Faith was winded but not tired. “Let’s do that again,” she said.

“Okay. That’s the spirit!” RoseAnna said as they turned around and made it a half mile. Faith was getting tired by the end of the second ‘lap’, but she also felt really good about having accomplished something so significant. A kind of first step, as it were. A half-mile-long first step, at that.

RoseAnna made her a nutritious, healthy lunch, then around three o’clock told her it was time to do her resistance training. It seemed ridiculous to pick up 2-pound dumbbells and curl or lift them over her head, but that’s exactly what she did. Faith curled the tiny weights 25 times with each arm, then had to get down on her hands and knees, lift the dumbbell up and extend it backward, an exercise called triceps kickbacks. She finished by doing military presses in which she held the weights at shoulder level then pushed them straight up. Faith had no idea how badly her body would hurt the next do from ‘doing nothing.’

RoseAnna praised her throughout the initial workout, then made her a very healthy, low-calorie dinner which had a lot more flavor than Faith anticipated during its preparation. RoseAnna also made sure Faith stayed mentally busy throughout the day giving her no time to think about the food that had filled all of her waking moments for most of her life.

As she fell asleep after that first day, Faith resolved she could do the same thing for one more day. Not a year, not a month, not even a week. But if she could do this today, she could do it tomorrow. DETERMINATION was the last image she saw before falling asleep. Right below it though, was a beautiful, white wedding dress. It didn’t have a specific size yet, but if Faith could ever wear even a 14 and shop in anything other than the ‘plus-size’ section for the first time, that would be amazing. Anything smaller would be…every ending to the sentence she could think of was related to food from ‘gravy’ to ‘icing on the cake’ so she left it open-ended.

“You lose, food,” she said to herself as she drifted off to sleep.

The following morning, Faith’s arms, legs, and shoulders ached with every movement. Not so terribly she couldn’t stand it, but it felt like someone had injected something into her arms not knowing her body had created the lactic acid in them. And until RoseAnna assured her it would, she also didn’t know that feeling would go away if she’d just stick with it. As bad as her upper body hurt, the pain in her legs from walking was much worse. Her entire body hurt, and physical pain was something Faith avoided at all costs.

In addition, her appetite returned with a vengeance. She was starving and wanted to eat an entire box of sugary cereal with whole milk or fry up a dozen eggs with bacon and several slices of warm, buttery toast.

RoseAnna however, had other plans.

“Good morning,” she said cheerfully as Faith gingerly walked into the kitchen. “How are you feeling today? Are you sore at all from our walk?”

“It feels like my arms and legs are on fire,” she complained as she looked to see what RoseAnna was preparing.

“That’s normal,” RoseAnna explained. “That feeling will go away in a few days. Okay, let’s get breakfast going, shall we?”

Faith looked at the tiny bowl of Special K cereal and skim milk with half an apple and a glass of water. That was 3-4 bites in the past and not even a warm up. She sat down and slowly took a small bite of cereal then set her spoon down. Even the image of a wedding dress wasn’t helping. But the thought of the girl in the video and that one word in capital letters at the end drove her on until she’d slowly eaten the last bite of apple and finished the 8-ounce glass of water. RoseAnna didn’t say a word when Faith picked up the bowl in order to get every soggy flake and drop of milk.

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