It comes down to winner take all. One person is the ultimate survivor. So many times it’s a lesson on life, society, our expectations, and reality.
It should be a cooking show, because it’s a recipe for Crazy.
Take 1 large bag of mixed nuts.
Be sure to peel away any extra provisions. Shake up vigorously with healthy servings of extreme weather, sparse native food and individual serving sizes of personality. Shake in some a few change of the rules to give it flavor. Throw it in a slow cooker crockpot of an island nobody knows exists and season daily with people’s ever-changing personalities. What comes out in the end may not be tasteful, but it’s interesting and goes real well with whine!
I always find it so intriguing because my weight loss journey is like a game of Survivor. I have to “outwit, outplay, outstubborn, outlast” so many sides of ME that have been created and developed over the years. They’ve all had their place along the way and I’ve learned something from everyone of them.
Let’s look at my cast of Survivor:
This is Baby Pam. Fresh, new, naïve and innocent. A blank slate. Baby Pam has shown me there’s always a beginning. Always a “start fresh”. A huge smile and a looking forward to each new day because it’s new and exciting.
Toddler Pam has a few skinned knees from learning to walk but is undaunted. She’s learning a lot every day including some bad lessons about food = reward/comfort. I lived a lot with my grandparents during this time and according to what my parents say, it’s their fault I got fat during this time. Not sure if I’m buying that. If anything, it seems, like I learned that if I cried, needed to be distracted from ‘adult talk’, needed comforting, a nice bowl of pudding, icecream, cake, cookies or other food was put in front of me. Could be the start of where my bad romance with food has come from.
The Pam that is my “go to girl”. This pic gives me strength. The glint in her eye says graceful fire. I’ll call this one Sine Metu (remember your Latin, kids, ‘go forward without fear’) I had some things hit me psychologically after this pic was taken and it started the downward spiral that caved into emotional eating. When I remember the stories my grandparents and parents tell me about my stubbornness at that age, it shows me I have the strength to try anything regardless of how other people think I may be too young, too old, too whatever. If I want to do it, I will try to go for it! As a ‘for instance’, at this age, I got into a “why” match with my father one day. I don’t even know the initial question, but I kept getting one word answers from him and I wasn’t satisfied. I kept saying, “But, why?” And asking for further explanation. You have to understand, back in the day, my Dad had a pretty healthy temper, but I pushed. Flustered, he yelled at me, “I swear, Pam, I’m going to put you in a box and send you to the Russians to drive THEM crazy. That’s probably who sent you, the Communists, to drive us all #$@ing NUTS.” You see, back during the Cold War, everything was the Russians’ faults… apparently including me. And to further enforce the point, in his rage he yelled, “That’s it, you just want to see me go over the edge, don’t you? Is that what you want to see?” And I remember looking up with the genuine curiosity and said, “Ok.” I remember my mother whisking me away to my room and calming down my father who allowed a pre-kindergarten “Communist” send him into a blinding rage because I just wouldn’t accept short answers. This version of me teaches me so much – I question authority unafraid. I don’t accept everything I’m told. I go outside the comfort zone. I jump in the cold deep end and experience it instead of fearing it. She’s a good one to have on my Survivor team.
This Pam is awkward. It’s gotten hard for her to smile and she feels unnatural when everyone else around is having a good time. She gets distracted too easily because everyone else is having a great time, posing and laughing and all she’s thinking about is how much bigger she looks than everyone else. Why? Because she’s going to the doctor for a 1000 calorie diet and getting punished for hoarding food in her bedroom. Before I was 10, I mentally freaking out about weight, physical appearance, etc. She’s getting too hung up on what others think. Awkward Pam is a prime candidate to get voted out.
A vacation shot where I was forced to learn how to play tennis with my mother and her friends. I felt awkward, panicky and out of my element. I think I was somewhere between 9 and 11. This shot was a reference shot later to show me how big I looked compared to my Mom in the background and I was told to use it for inspiration to lose weight. It only served to bring down my self-esteem. This is Scared Pam. Scared of being made fun of, scared of trying, scared of failing, scared of looking silly while trying to do a sport I really wanted to learn.
Placating Pam. Same age, smiling and sitting on Santa’s lap and on the inside I feel horrible about myself. Holding all my emotions in. Feeling too big to sit on Santa’s lap, uncomfortable in my skin. Going through the motions and trying to make it appear natural.
1981, I was 16 and we vacationed at Daytona Beach. This was my beach attire and I refused to wear shorts. I remember looking around at other girls my age who were a third of my size wearing bikinis and quite frankly… it made me feel suicidal. I hated the beach from that time forward. I started hated anyone who looked better, prettier and all that stuff I really wanted. I started becoming Emo Pam whose dark and emotional moods clouded judgement, impaired friendships and threw me even more into food. I started really disliking anyone that I felt was better, thinner, prettier, etc.
Always hated this shot because my Mom bragged how much smaller she was than her teenage daughter. I was told to, again, hang this pic up to “inspire me to lose weight”. She’s lucky I didn’t rip it up and so am I. I’m glad I still have it. I was graduating high school and was excited about life and what was beyond high school, yet terrified at the same time. I had a lot of decisions thrown at me during that time. Graduation Pam taught me to keep looking forward. Doors are meant to be opened, stay excited, keep looking at the future and tomorrow.
Life after school was challenging and demanding. Pressure to have a boyfriend, be “husband material” and devote my life to having a family took its toll in eating. I ended up making bad decisions. I clouded love, acceptance and affection with other people’s lust and living in the moment. I became a devoted single mom and learned along the way. However, threw myself deeper into eating for comfort and handling stress and was 260 lbs after I had my son.
This is Denial Pam. In 1989, my siblings and I did a portrait as a gift to our parents. I was engaged and feeling good even though I was almost at my heaviest. I remember the hard time I had trying to find clothes for the picture and I attributed it to the the fashion industry just didn’t want to accommodate “people of size”. It’s always someone else’s fault, I couldn’t be THAT big, I reasoned. After this portrait came back from the studio, I remember standing there stunned. Did they computer enhance my size? I *couldn’t* be that big. It showed in, in no uncertain terms, how big I really was compared to my siblings. My eyes looked so squinted and little. My face seemed so round. This picture above all was my nemesis of photography. My parents have it hanging in their living room and I avoided eye contact with it since that time. I hate it. But it’s a stark reality of what I had become. Denial Pam has GOT to get voted off the island, she really serves no purpose. I believe in thinking positively of ourselves but in a realistic and practical light.
My wedding in 1990, I was at my heaviest weight 315 lbs. I could barely fit into the size 26/28 dress from J C Penney and I had to let out sideseams to make it wearable. I had to wear slippers to be able to stand throughout the whole affair because my feet ached all the time. It should have been the happiest day of my life and I felt a spectacle and couldn’t wait for it to be over. Other people said they had a blast at our reception, I just couldn’t wait for it to end. I couldn’t stop thinking “Hey, I’m fat but I’m getting married, so it doesn’t matter what I look like, right? See, World, I got a man.” Now I look back on that thought and wonder how my marriage lasted 15 years before it fell apart. Wedding Pam has taught me some things… A relationship/marriage does not put any more or any less value on who YOU are. It is not a trophy or some big accomplishment, it’s a sharing of yourself and your life with someone very special and it will crumble either sooner or later as long as you can’t love yourself. You need to truly love and appreciate YOURSELF before someone else can get the best you can offer.
Mid 90s and one of the last pictures at holidays I allowed to be taken of myself. This picure epitomized what I pictured my weight problem to be as its own entity. I was miserable at life, myself, my marriage…I felt horrible with no future. Knowing that it’s me in the picture, I can see the pain, the lack of wanting to live anymore, wanting to try anymore. It represents Not Caring Anymore. Apathy. And that is someone you have to vote off your island first. The Apathy Queen.
Between 1996 to 1998, I wanted another child so bad. I battled infertility and — long story short — I knew I had to lose weight. I did Atkins and went super low carb, even had a website and wrote a cookbook that sold Internet-wide (Pam’s Little Black Book of Low Carb Recipes) and I was featured in a couple low carb books. I lost over 80 lbs on low carb and my crowning gem in the whole prize…I became pregnant. I knew that lowcarbing and pregnancy wasn’t advised…so I totally went off-diet, ate what I wanted and gained that whole 80 lbs back. I didn’t care. I was so happy to be pregnant. I made the statement that I’d gain all my weight back if I could conceive and bear another child, it was that important to me. And that’s what I did. I also hit a bad post-partum depression and gained even more weight. Mama Pam taught me a couple valuable lessons. First – I knew I could lose weight if I put my mind to it. Second – As a mother, I had to learn to nurture my own body as well as my kids. You don’t have to bargain or sacrifice your own needs because you have other people depending on you. Third – weight consciousness never ends. I didn’t allow myself to get to goal. I couldn’t get back on track and I felt like a failure. A failure to the ones who had followed my website, bought my cookbook and still email me. Now I know, the Mama inside me knows, I need to mother myself from now on.
In 2006, my husband asked for a divorce and asked me to leave our house. I was devastated, floored and felt like the world crashed down around me. I spent 2 weeks crying in my old bedroom at my parents’ home and then formed a plan. My father owned a piece of property down the street with an old cottage that was dilapidated almost beyond repair. It need everything from a roof to all new drywall inside. With his permission, with help from some family and friends but a lot of my own sweat, blood and plenty of tears, I set out to make that old cottage my new home for myself and my kids. I needed to rebuild it from inside out, just like my life. With all the work, I started losing some weight, but it wasn’t my focus at the time. It was then I got my signature tattoo of the fleur de lis with the words Sine Metu on either side. Then in the final stages of the project, I was diagnosed with uterine cancer. I didn’t care. I told my stunned kids and parents that I had too much to do to die. I swore that it was going to take a hell of a lot more than cancer to take me down. My doctor was confident that surgery alone would help me and he was right. A week after the surgery of a total hysterectomy I was back in the house and getting the living room drywalled and ordering carpet to put in the house…we had Christmas 2006 to celebrate and by God, we were going to do it on schedule…and I did. 2006 Pam taught me Never Say Die and that pure Bitch Motivation can work through so many issues. I realized I could bring real change in my life but I had to want it more than ANYTHING. I transformed my spirit as I transformed my new house into a home. My major lesson also was, “Cry and get it out and then form a PLAN and get into action!” It was a hint of what was to come. Oh yeah, check out my braids, I had worn them for about a decade, they were about to become history…
My weight issue in itself, has become its own personality in there. It’s become the monkey on the back, the uninvited friend that won’t go away because they have no other friends, the “fat friend” that doesn’t have a name, just known as “the fat chick”. She doesn’t have a name, but I call her Bad Pam. The negative, whining, self-indulgent, dark entity of self-doubt that really doesn’t want to change or evolve. She’s fighting me tooth and nail on my transformation. Nope, she doesn’t like it one bit! Why, because the weight can’t be used as an excuse anymore in her life. Living life will be a matter of her own courage, attitude and personality. It’s like a teenager that doesn’t want to grow up because there’s accountability and responsibility. Here’s some for instances,
- The decision to fly in an airplane may not be a size issue anymore but may be a fear of flying, agoraphobia or just so scared because she’s never done it before.
- A break up with a boyfriend can’t always be blamed on size issues anymore and may be a matter of personality issues. Maybe you’re just a bitch with a bad personality! Put that in your low fat shake and choke on it.
- The decision to change careers can’t be focused so much on “I’m too fat to go on job interviews” rather than “I’m a bit nervous to change my job of 20 years and take this leap”
- The decisions whether to date or stay home can’t be blamed so much on our size, than our fear of dealing with new people, situations and change.
- If you can’t blame lack of tidiness on your inability to get around the house anymore, then you need to get organized, get cleaning and straighten up!
- …. There’s a whole list of things I’ve heard people complain they couldn’t do because they’re fat and then when they lose weight…they have to accept the fact THAT hurdle is out of way now. And there’s no more excuses!
My weight issue doesn’t really have a name, but it feels like an entity all to herself. I’m taking certain parts of my bad past and putting them in Tribal Council and assessing them. Some have good attributes and some have bad. Very few are all bad. All have taught me lessons. Once the lesson is truly learned, the past is then a bittersweet memory. Honestly, I’ve pulled out these pictures for the first time in DECADES and it’s like looking at another person. One by one, I am pulling up some of these characters and cartoons of former self
and as Jeff Probst would say on Survivor:
“The tribe has spoken, it’s time to leave.”
“All will play… who will be left?”
That remains to be seen on Pam’s Survivor, what version of New Pam will ultimately win this challenge?
The above pic is how I look now after losing well over 100 pounds using Xchanges, a low fat, low calorie program by Kim Bensen. You can read more on her program through her website at kimbensen.com