The best way for a newly widowed spouse to show their bereft state is by withdrawing from life, but of course only in ways that are tastefully genteel. Losing weight is a perfect strategy to gain credential as a widow. It works on so many levels. Loss of appetite is a subtle metaphor that you are no longer enjoying any of the physical pleasures of life, and abstaining from cooking and dining out reinforces your new status of being alone and a social outcast. Of course, when you do lose weight, make sure to keep wearing the same clothes. Do not, and I cannot stress this enough, go out and buy a new pair of skin-tight jeans to show off the weight you just dropped.
Preparing and consuming food is enjoyable. That is why it is so important to lose weight. As a newly widowed individual, you should not experience any of the sensuous side of life, and that includes food. Scarfing down a hot fudge sundae really makes it hard to keep up the image of the grief-stricken widow no longer able to find any pleasure in life.
Helpful tip: if you’re not losing weight, go out and buy dowdy clothes that are a size larger than you wear. Choose unattractive styles and colors.
Sadly, this is not happening for me. During those periods of life when most people lose weight, I gain. Years ago in college my skinnier girl friends were “too busy to remember to eat” during finals, a concept I found as incomprehensible as the statistics course I took and ended up dropping. I interwove food with study, parsing out a set number of Oreos for each term paper page and using a trip to the vending machines as a study break. At the end of each semester, I crammed in both food and knowledge during finals. One stuck with me longer. A few years later, pregnant at the same time as my best friend, I watched her spend the first trimester desperately ill and trying not to lose weight. Me? I was never so hungry in my life. I would actually wake up at 2:00am and eat a big bowl of cereal to hold me until breakfast.
I lost weight the month Rick was in the hospital, when my days were spent drinking coffee and waiting. When he died and I went home to a dark and lonely house, I filled it with frozen pizza and ice cream. By the time winter hit I still couldn’t cook but I was baking: sweet rolls, pies, and popcorn. Now, I realize popcorn is a not a high-calorie item, but I’ve been making maple-bacon, honey-ginger, and chipotle-chocolate popcorn. Lately I’ve been obsessed with developing a hot fudge sauce recipe, testing batch after batch. Of course, there’s only one way to test fudge sauce – ice cream.
The weight I lost last summer was gained back, and then some.
Warning number one came at the end of April. Last fall I started wearing Rick’s jeans instead of my own. It was nice to have a part of him close to me, and they were comfortable. There were 2 pairs I really liked, one loose and comfy, the other just tight enough to look good. One day, wearing the tight pair, I decided to switch to the looser pair. Turns out I was already wearing the looser pair. Uh oh.
Warning number two happened at the end of May. It was a cold spring here in Wisconsin, so I waited until Memorial Day weekend to swap clothes. There’s no betterfeeling than pulling those bulky sweaters out of the dresser and replacing them with tanks and Tees. At least, it seemed great until I decided to try on a few things. Those capris that fit so comfortably last year no longer buttoned. Cute little tops didn’t look that cute when they were stretched out across my new girth.
It was time to get serious, and that meant establishing a starting metric for my weight. Now, many people use scales but I’ve never seen the value in a number that pops up between my toes.
For many years, I’ve used a wide selection of jeans as my personal weight guide. Arranged in order, my jeans span every possible weight level from “Damn I look good” to “What the hell happened.” Last week it was time for the denim scale of fate. I took out 4 pairs and ceremoniously laid in them in order: Lucky peanut jeans, the loose pair from Rick, a newer pair of denim stretch skinny legs, and an old pair of Mom jeans. I took a deep breath and then tried on each pair in front of a mirror, with a hand mirror to check the back view.
Turned out I was at the denim stretch level, but not that far from the Mom jeans. Which means that pretzels at lunch have been replaced with carrot sticks, I’m going to 4 exercise classes a week instead of 2, I’m cutting ice cream down to twice a week, and salads are replacing french fries. I’ll try the jeans again in a month and see what progress has been made. Stay tuned…