Insanity is relative.
Insanity is MY relatives. Let's talk about the teen.
Ry is 16 years old now. She is amazing, awesome, beautiful, and also miserably infuriating, and capable of making me want to rage, weep, despair, and implode with love, within any 15 minute time-span.
My parenting sucks. I need to work on being much more disciplined with her; she is horribly inconsiderate of me in so many ways, that 'entitlement psychology' that drives me mad.
A lot of it really IS 'energy' issues on my part. When you barely have the energy to get up and pee, never mind take a shower or drive to the store, then having the energy to fight with your teenager (and constantly get up and stalk them to make sure they do stuff and nag them for the 1.2 billion things they screw up or half-ass do) is easier said than done. But, I know it is what it is. My not feeling particularly up to it most of the time does not excuse me from being responsible for it.
Sometimes I get so angry and everything about her behavior just seems so wrong. One day, in the middle of ranting at her about something I can't even recall, I remembered the lyrics to a Linkin Park song I like -- archetypal teenage angst. The lyrics, made succinct here:
Tired of being what you want me to be
Feeling so faithless, lost under the surface
Don't know what you're expecting of me
Put under the pressure of walking in your shoes
Every step that I take is another mistake to you
Can't you see that you're smothering me
Holding too tightly afraid to lose control
Cause everything that you thought I would be
Has fallen apart right in front of you
Every step that I take is another mistake to you
And every second I waste is more than I can take
Caught in the undertow just caught in the undertow
And I know I may end up failing too
But I know you were just like me
With someone disappointed in you
I've become so numb I can't feel you there
Become so tired so much more aware
I'm becoming this all I want to do
Is be more like me and be less like you
-- 'Numb' by Linkin Park
And I realized that what I really wanted to do was shake her while yelling, "Be more like ME dammit!"
At that point, I realized the black humor of it all.
Teenage Fat and Self Esteem
She has fought obesity, eventually to morbid obesity. I can't take back the past and my own ignorance and thinking that a lot of stuff was "not a big deal," and thinking that my inability to lose weight in the areas that turn out to define 'Lipoedema' and my inability to handle carbs without weight gain was unique to me. Like I was some alien circus creature and surely "everyone else" wasn't that way. After all, I was surrounded by people who ate 10x worse than I did and they were normal, or at least much smaller. So much for that logic. Some of them are now huge.
I didn't get fat until my early 20s. I had a little chub that hit hard and fast at 13, but it fell off me when I hit 15, 'baby fat' they called it. And she seemed to have more her father's body shape and coloring than mine. So I never expected it of her. By the time it was overwhelmingly obvious that something had gone wildly wrong in her metabolism, she was a pre-teen and the damage was done.
Our house was already mostly low-carb and mostly gluten-free by then. At that point it was more a matter of wanting to support her and let food focus be her own decision. Wanting to NOT be like mothers of my friends, who told me that their own mom's response to their weight when young was far more horrifying than the weight itself. I told her everything I could about low-carb but how too much of that for me had been an issue so maybe it should be moderated; about emphasis on fresh foods, good fats like coconut oil, and lifting weights. Basically, the things I was reading about at any given time.
That doesn't mean that she has been able to do something successfully before now. Or be willing to do something even 'with me', even when I was willing just for the sake of helping her. It has to come from her, I have learned that the hard way.
To say that the effects of fat on her self esteem are radical is an understatement.
It has been hard for me to understand. By comparison, I was a fairly confident, slightly intellectual, barely-starting martial arts enthusiast, a manager in my workplaces from the time I began working, and a performing artist since I was a child. It turns out I am more an introvert than I realized (when I got to know myself, my psych rating changed from ENTJ to INTP/J). But she is none of that.
She really is nothing like me in many ways.
When I was around 24 and suddenly the social world of strangers began treating me like some especially gross gum on the bottom of their shoe, I was at first perplexed (how could anybody not know that I was cool?), and then enraged (how could they have the gall to look down on me?) and then mortified (if I stand behind the column in this shopping mall for another 10 minutes, those women I used to know in high school will leave). That is to say... I dealt with it poorly.
But, once I got over nearly putting a bullet in my head about it, I was ok. I just focused on work. That's what dad said he did when his (now on #5) marriages went to hell. If you work enough, you don't have time to focus on, think about, anything else. And everyone you are around defines you primarily by your work, not by your weight, at least to some degree. So I became a workaholic.
I'm working normal hours now. Probably temporary. But I'm trying to focus on fiction writing which 'feeds my soul' in some fashion, in my personal time. Still, it's true I'm affected by my weight, psychologically and socially, but except in rare moments of angst, it's more in the background for me.
Not for her. It is up front and center for her.
I didn't deal with fat nearly as poorly as she did, in her own way, though. She got it when self-esteem was still developing. Fat has had an emotional and psychological impact on her that it never had on me, because I had long grown past formative years (including response from boys) when it arrived.
She claims shyness, and "a degree of social anxiety." I don't know what to believe, since the latter often seems to overlap with her not wanting to go anywhere or do anything and seems like a lazy-excuse. All I know is that she has been seriously harmed up by the situation, via more than just her figure.
Teenage Self-Imposed Dieting, Exercising, Intermittent Fasting
On her own, since she is in that "never comes out of her room" phase, she has shifted to a 'fairly low-carb' eating plan on her own, lifts weights, and works hard on practicing IF, or Intermittent Fasting.
Of course, she is 16. She is an artist (impressively so), which to my Virgo x4 logical mind appears to translate in our lives as "never does anything properly, won't study anything thoroughly, makes a mess of every environment, and is the laziest human alive." I think work and study are The Answer(tm). Clearly, she doesn't. So, getting her to "do these things right" and "truly understand them" is a lost cause.
She does "something" and she's not particularly consistent and she's not particularly severe about it.
But, I'm one of those people who was consistent and severe and ended up with seemingly new problems thanks to 'overdoing' VLC and 'underdoing' rich-nutrition, I suspect. So, it's possible that her doing it "mostly" and screwing it up "to a degree and sometimes" is actually the far-healthier approach!
- She eats lowish carb. Except when she doesn't. Mostly she tries to keep her carbs to vegetables, legumes, and rarely fruits, and what comes in certain dairy.
- She eats high fat. That is to say she eats to satiation, and is directly responsible for increasing stock prices in the Daisy Dairy company for their cottage cheese and sour cream products.
- She eats meat as the base of any meal.
- She tries to eat once a day, as much as she can, until she is totally full. She may blow it and have a protein shake or something else very LC in the middle of that sometimes. Once a week, she tries to fast for 30 hours instead of 24.
- When she can gather up the gumption, she does the lifts I have insisted are the foundation of fitness: we don't have a bench and she's using only dumbbells, so: deadlifts, squats, arnold press, and then some messing-around things (e.g. side bends, shoulder shrugs, calf raises).
At least, she tells me she is doing this, and that this is why my weights are not in the living room where I want them to be. Since she is holed up in her room like a train robber evading the posse, I will have to take her word on it.
She has lost from around 283# to 240#. (She is 5'6".) She's excited about that, but it's been a bit slow going, probably because she probably has too many calories when lowcarb, and too many carbs when normal on calories, and she is likely seldom if ever truly ketogenic, due to not retaining the <35g carbs daily for long enough to get there more than the tiny dip during sleep or something.
Still, it is a very visible improvement all over her body, and she's so hopeful. The more I read about how weight regain is nearly inevitable and so on, the more when I think of her I feel an incredible rage. I want her to have a life and be proud of herself and feel good. She is young. Surely if there is hope for anybody truly losing it and being able to keep it off, it ought to be her.
Food and Stuff
I had cans of white meat chicken that I store for emergencies, quick protein and kitty treat. Now I can't keep the stuff. She's discovered if she drains it, and fries it with spices, it becomes a diced/flaked chicken she can mix with lots of other things, eat plain, put in salads, whatever. It's surprisingly good.
It's this stuff. At amazon if you buy the 10oz can, 12pk, on subscribe with prime, it's basically the same price as Super Walmart. Except they deliver it to your door.
Initially I thought, I'm not fond of this as her primary food, since I am prejudiced against canned food, and it's expensive as hell for me as a 'primary' food, and surely fresh chicken is better. But she doesn't want to cook quite that much if she doesn't have to. So she's living on canned chicken, ground (organic) turkey burger, and (factory) chuck-burger, along with enough 'soft-dairy' for a Vermont advertising model.
She's fond of the Greek seasoning I get her from Penzey's, and herbed crumbled feta cheese. She likes basic italian seasonings, and Montreal steak seasoning. She still doesn't like eggs, but she doesn't mind them "in" things. She uses canned diced green chilis, and sliced black olives, both in large quantity. And shredded mild cheddar cheese... and she never met anything that cream cheese didn't make better. Sometimes turkey pastrami sliced at the grocer deli. She's getting more courageous experimenting with spices.
She drinks only water, since she says she can guarantee a facial zit for every few drinks of any soda, almost predictably. She eats salads with ranch dressing sometimes. That's about all I can think to say about her eating since I don't actually SEE most of it. I have to work 9-10 hours a day, and sleep, and some computer stuff, which means the only time I might actually be sharing her life in the early evening, she is usually locked away in her room, playing WoW or SIMS or drawing.
But it's working for her...
She's losing weight. She's measurably smaller. She feels optimistic about it.
And if she does every individual thing not so well to begin with, and blows it entirely off and on, well it might be that this actually does her more help than harm in the end.
Because what she's doing is working. She had almost given up hope. She felt desperate and demoralized. She felt like she had nothing left to lose. Now she feels better.
I consider this a great thing.