(I wrote this on Mother's Day...it was a great day to write it, but a lousy day to post it. I hope you don't mind that I've saved it until today.)

My dad. He was a big, jolly, guy...a lover of food, of growing food, of cooking food, and of drinking good wine. But he also didn't like being heavy; as a poor kid and former football player, he was most likely a binge eater, although I never saw it. At some point the exercise was left behind in pursuit of work and family responsibilities, but the eating stayed the same. I remember as a child drawing a picture of him...and he asked me to draw "skinny daddy." Looking back, it's heartbreaking.

In 2004, after he had tried every diet in the world (the shakes! the prepared meals! the not-eating!), he opted for gastric bypass. He told very few people, embarrassed that we hasn't able to control his weight, but determined to get healthier and have many more years to spend with my mom. He lost a huge amount of weight, and regained the energy he had lost from carrying around what was essentially another adult on his frame. My mom said "I got the man I married back!"

He passed away in 2008, from an aneurysm. Not from diabetes or high blood pressure or cholesterol..not from anything weight related. Crazy.

And I started eating. It's true, when you feel empty, it's easy to try to fill it with food. The tricky thing is, it doesn't work. But boy, I sure tried!

My hubby is an athlete, and is disciplined when it comes to working out...he's a great role model, but it took more than 6 months to get me to even set foot in the gym. Not. My. Thing. Plus, working out would take away from the cooking and eating...and I was getting pretty darn good at both of those. I didn't step on a scale, but I'd bet that at my heaviest I weighed close to 150. And, at 5' 5", short of hair and small of chest, that was a lot of extra. I didn't feel any different, but people were posting pictures of a chubby 30-something on Facebook and tagging me! And, while I really liked her taste in clothes, I was not so hot on the number of chins she opted to carry around.

Fast forward to spring 2010: I'm still cooking and eating. But I'm also working out 3-5 times a week. I ran two 5ks in April, and will run the Race for the Cure in June. I baked muffins this morning, then took a challenging class at the gym this morning, and then ran 3.6 miles. And then made a big vat of turkey soup and picked up a loaf of sourdough for dinner.

And here's the thing: I still would rather cook and eat. It's hard to get out of bed for a jog, or to a class at the gym. There are other things that I should prioritize...my job, my marriage, my grey roots. But here's the simple truth: my dad would not want me to struggle with my weight the way he did. He would want me to care for myself, to be strong, to find balance. I'll admit, I thought that, if I did it every day for a while, it would become a habit that I could never give up. It would become easy. Well, it's not true for me...every day I wish I had the metabolism of a rabbit and Gwyneth Paltrow's gams. But, since I don't? I'll save the ice cream for special occasions and try to up my weekly mileage.

It's what my dad would want.

My five:
  1. Great memories.
  2. Shared tastes...cabernet, bleu cheese, rare steak, bourbon. Sons of the Pioneers. PBS.
  3. My health.
  4. Advil. (Vitamin I)
  5. Dad.
edited to add:hubby took me to a lovely dinner in georgetown to celebrate my birthday...great wine, fabulous food, an evening of which dad would've no doubt been proud. and it was at this restaurant, where we had our rehearsal dinner in 2003. The sommeilier took such good care of us, made us special drinks and a special cheese course! And of course, I cried in the bathroom like a schoolgirl. But only because I wished our party was one bigger. Big food, big drink, MAMMOTH memories...the tears just reinforce how lucky I really am.


    Brenda said…
    Oh, Lee Lee - what a wonderful post. I remember your Dad as pretty awesome, too, and I'm sorry he's not here anymore. XXOO
    rahree said…
    thanks, lady. he was a pretty great guy, and he loved you and rach and kat. thanks again for the note. xoxo!
    Jenn said…
    What a wonderful tribute to your Dad. I am so sorry for your loss. Your Dad was one of the greatest guys I've ever known. So many good times at the Pokego house. (Well except for that sad Sunday when we turned ourselves orange from the tops of our heads to the tips of our toes, QT and Sun In, yikes!)

    I applaud your honesty here. Like you, I lost my Mom to the very same cause very unexpectedly. Like you, I turned to cooking and food for comfort. Problem is, it really isn't good to be a chubby wellness coach. Before I knew it my 125 pound body had ballooned to 150. I hated it, hated looking in the mirror. My Mom spent her whole life hating her body. I got sick last year and couldn't exercise at all for over a year. I am just now getting on track again. I do love to workout, but trying to make that a habit again, well its been a struggle. Your words today reminded me why I need to keep going and why balance is the only place to dwell. Extremes are so temporary and well... extreme.
    Thank you for your heartfelt blog and your transparency here, it was exactly what I needed to here. I raise my glass to you and to your fabulous father. Love and blessings to you dear friend,
    rahree said…
    oh, Jenn...thanks for this - we did have fun, didn't we? (boy, i thought that we'd be orange FOREVER!) i think that it's so OK to deal with those big hurts however you can...but it was nice to finally reach a spot of strength, where i could decide the ways in which i wanted to act, rather than just reacting to the hurt. so balance is feeling pretty good nowadays!

    you can do it... and i swear that you get bonus points for doing it on the days that you REALLY don't want to. :)

    Kat said…
    This was beautiful, and brought tears. I am so glad to have known your dad, and he was so welcoming to this strange girl you brought home with you from college. The world is a smaller place without him.

    I am so proud of you.
    rahree said…
    i think so, too, Kat. thanks. xoxo

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