95. The Milkshake Diet

95. The Milkshake Diet

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Curvy & Confident

The Milkshake Diet

Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.

~Malcolm S. Forbes

I wasn’t overweight as a teenager. In fact, the other kids would call me “skinny,” “bony,” and “toothpick.” They made fun of me for having no figure at all. When I was the fragile age of fourteen and still undeveloped, a boy stood up in class and demonstrated my flat as a board, shapeless figure to all the kids in my class. Everyone roared with laughter. I felt like sinking through the floor.

My mother became so concerned about my abnormal, underweight physique that she brought me to the doctor, who took a look at me and prescribed daily milkshakes. I followed his instructions but still didn’t gain much weight. How could I since I never ate a compete meal? I picked at the chicken or pasta or vegetables on my plate, because I had no real interest in healthy, nourishing food. I lived on a diet of doctor-ordered milkshakes, soda, chocolate cookies, and the occasional can of soup thrown in for nutrition.

That all changed when I met my husband. In our second year of marriage we lived with his family, who had healthy appetites. My sister-in-law was an amazing cook and prepared fabulous meals. I soon learned to appreciate the taste of real food. I ate entire juicy chuck steaks, eggs with buttered toast, seasoned roasted chicken, fluffy rice, and baked potatoes slathered in sour cream and butter. We devoured rich desserts every night — apple pies, frosted cakes, cookies, cannolis, and a freezer loaded with every flavor of ice cream. Second helpings were encouraged. There were no scales at their house, and I started to put on weight. Soon, I looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize my reflection.

My friends told me about their diets. My mom was upset with me and told me I needed to watch my weight. My husband teased me about my expanding body. I didn’t feel pretty. But that was no surprise; I never felt pretty when I was skinny, either.

I gave birth to four beautiful children, and with each child I put on more weight. I’d bake them treats, and take some for myself. I made pies from scratch. When they didn’t finish their meals, I finished for them. After all, I couldn’t let good food go to waste.

My marriage ended in divorce and I began eating from the stress of being a single parent. Whenever I’d get angry or upset, I’d reach for the potato chips and eat half a bag before I realized what I was doing.

That is, until one day, I had heart palpitations and my cardiologist told me I was obese. I was shocked. He warned me that if I didn’t start developing healthier food and exercise habits, I would develop serious health issues.

I began dieting in earnest and working out on the treadmill three times a week. I lost 38 pounds and I looked amazing . . . for a year. But I still didn’t feel pretty.

When my mother became seriously ill, food became my best friend again. Within a year, I’d gained all the weight back.

I felt horrible. I was disappointed in myself and I stopped caring about my appearance. I wore old, dark clothes and it was an effort every single day to get up and dressed.

Then one evening, I had a defining moment.

I was out with some friends and saw a curvy, confident woman dancing with her husband, laughing with him on the dance floor. They were clearly in love, and I discovered they had been happily married for years. She was wearing gorgeous, bright clothes, while I sat in the corner shrinking out of sight in my black outfit, a desperate attempt to hide my extra pounds.

After that, something really cool happened. I started seeing them everywhere, these gorgeous, curvy, beautiful women who danced at parties and worked out at gyms and ate healthy diets, indulging in reasonable portions of scrumptious desserts. And they had partners who loved them unconditionally — just as they were.

Wait. Weren’t we supposed to be thin? But these women were living amazing lives full of love and all of them were carrying extra pounds. They had the lives that I craved.

I started seeing them everywhere, these gorgeous, curvy, beautiful women who danced at parties and worked out at gyms and ate healthy diets.

As women, we are assaulted daily by magazines spewing out diet plans and magic weight loss pills, claiming they will transform our lives. We gaze at airbrushed models who make us feel inferior. It’s time to ignore these negative messages, and love ourselves the way we were made.

One day, I looked at myself in the mirror, with all my curves and all the extra pounds, and I felt love for myself — for the first time. I looked straight into my own eyes. “You’re beautiful,” I said, “Exactly the way you are.”

And when I began to love my body, I began to love myself.

~L.A. Strucke

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