I am 55 and overweight and kinda angry

You read the headline. You may feel my pain. (If you can’t relate, please email me and let me know how you are doing it!)

To be clear: I am not pushing maximum density—yet. But my BMI is high (still not convinced that is a legit concern) and my jeans are becoming tighter at the waist. I’ve been gaining about 2-5 pounds a year which, my doctor assures me, is “no big deal.”

NO BIG DEAL? My gosh, if I gain 5 pounds every year for the rest of my life, I won’t be able to move and then how will I keep up with the grandkids?!

It’s a big deal to me.

I’ve been told, “It’s just menopause.” But weight issues aren’t new, I’ve always felt I was too fat. Looking back at photos, I really wasn’t overweight, but I am only 5’3”, so any extra pounds show up. Plus, if I ate exactly what I wanted to, it would be hamburgers, French fries, milkshakes,  hoagies and Cherry Pepsi every.single.day. Oh, and donuts. I’m a sucker for a DD strawberry-frosted.

I’m Andrea and I’m a carboholic.

I used to put a half cup of hot tea into my half cup of white sugar and about a quarter-cup of white sugar onto my bowl of Rice Krispies. But I kicked the sugar habit when I was diagnosed with breast cancer 9 years ago. I call it progress.

I blame it on my upbringing. I’m from small-town, rural Pennsylvania where if a meal doesn’t include meat, potatoes and gravy or dough, it’s not on the table.

Add to that when I was a kid, I was forced to stay at the table until I ate everything on my plate. (I think that was my mother’s attempt to thwart picky eating, but it ended up making it worse. There were mealtimes when I would smuggle half-chewed food in napkins to the trashcan when she wasn’t looking).

But that’s just historical background that provides clues to my issue with food and weight. I’ve had several defining moments when I’ve gotten serious about my diet.

When my daughter was 2, I remember my doctor asking if I exercised. I told him, “You bet, I chase around a 2-year-old all day.”

But he was not amused or satisfied and informed me that is not exercise—especially if I’m finishing up the chicken nuggets and mac n’ cheese she left on her plate.

So, I made a half-hearted attempt to take more walks, but then, well, winter … and summer … and … winter. If it’s not between 68 and 72, I’m miserable.

When my daughter was about 10, I realized I still had not lost most of my pregnancy weight—not the least of which is the ugly tummy pouch leftover from a C-section.

I got serious and joined Weight Watchers. The problem was I found I could keep within my points every day by choosing the most tasty—but unhealthy—stuff I could find points assigned to and, surprise!, I lost no weight.

Then, I joined another weight loss program where I had a coach and a weekly weigh-in and I bought their protein bars and shakes. The weight dropped off and I kept it off for a couple years but, well, I got lazy and the donuts came a-calling.

I repeated the pattern with another program a couple years ago. I’ve learned the rules of healthy eating. I know what I’m supposed to do—sort of.

Dieticians always ask you, “What foods do you enjoy eating? What do you like?”

And they laugh when I name burgers and donuts and then usually narrow their question to which fruits and vegetables do I enjoy?

Then, they always follow-up with a long list of fruits, vegetables, etc. that I can choose from to “add variety to your diet.”

This is where I lose patience, thinking, “Listen, if I could do that on my own, I wouldn’t need you to help me!”

Well, here I am again, chasing around a 2-year-old granddaughter and thinking about how I’m carrying around a few extra pounds. I need a REAL solution.

They say identifying your problem is half the solution. I know what my problem is. I don’t enjoy food. I don’t enjoy preparing it and I don’t enjoy eating it.

When I was a about 4 or 5, my mother took me to the doctor because I wasn’t eating. He determined I was a lazy chewer. Sounds crazy, but the guy was a genius! I really don’t like to chew. I’ve always said if I could eat baby food or drink my meals, I’d be A-OK.

When I choose a restaurant, I couldn’t care less about the food. It’s all about atmosphere. I would eat McDonald’s food if it was served in a quaint café along a body of water.

When I’m handed a list of foods to choose from, I literally look at the list and think, “Yuck.” It’s always been this way.

Now when I was a mom with kids at home, I enjoyed preparing nutritious meals. Notice I didn’t say I enjoyed cooking. I have never enjoyed cooking, I just hated it less than I do now.

Years ago, preparing a meal was a service I could provide my family and I was proud of my ability to provide.

Now that it’s just me and the husband (who is like a stray dog and will eat anything put under his nose), I derive no pleasure from meal preparation.

Typically, after smelling the food cook, I no longer even want to eat it once it hits my plate, but I choke it down because that’s what I’m supposed to do.

I’m jealous of my soft-coated wheaten terrier. I put food in her bowl and she eats it. Now and then, she joneses for a bit of whatever I’m eating and I may share. But she knows what she is gonna eat every day. I want that!

As I’ve told my current dietician, just tell me what to eat—make it simple to prepare—but just tell me. I will follow whatever you say, so long as I don’t have to think about it.

I don’t need variety. I don’t need to tailor to my likes, since I really have none.

Make me a week or 2-week meal plan and I will duplicate it for the rest of my life and won’t complain. I promise!

Tell me what are the healthiest alternatives at a few common restaurants and that’s what I’ll pick when I go out.

This shouldn’t be rocket science for someone who loves and understands food. Why does no one who can help me seem to listen to me? They all seem to think I will find pleasure and satisfaction in trying new things. They are wrong.

I am motivated to lose 10-20 pounds. I am committed to doing what I need to do. But darn it, I don’t know what to eat.

I sat at my dining room table for two hours this morning trying to come up with a meal plan for ONE WEEK and I still have no idea what to make. It’s no wonder people don’t stick to healthy eating plans when it’s this difficult. It’s no wonder why most women over 55 are overweight.

I am exhausted and frustrated and ready to swing by DD for a coffee and a donut to take the edge off. Are you with me? Or have you found some magic unicorn dust that has solved your problems? Let me know!

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