About That Weight Loss (Part 2/6)

Why It Doesn’t Work and What It Means

Thanks for tuning into Part 2 of About That Weight Loss. In Part 1, I shared some of my own life-long struggle with weight loss and dysmorphic body image and started to connect that to the burden of shame and self-loathing that I have always carried right along with the weight.

We left off where I was at the top of my game, working as a Personal Trainer at a Toronto chain of gyms, training for a triathlon, and helping clients through their own weight loss journey.

While all of that was happening, the weight started to creep back on. Ever so slowly. 

I wasn’t as tight with my eating. I wasn’t working out as much.

And that client who won the award for weight loss?

His weight started to creep – and then pile – back on.

Bring On the Boys!

I also dated him a few times.

(which is a HUGE no-no. Never EVER date your clients. But I did. And it never got serious. Because, even though I hoped it would, he told me quite bluntly that he was ‘planning to marry a rich woman’ for which I clearly did not qualify.

So, I wasn’t good enough for that. And it never even dawned on me to question the feasibility of his plan of finding this rich woman to marry. Or to feel offended. Or amused.)

I just accepted that he had plans for someone ‘better’ than me.

We Begin Caregiver Hell and Burnout

Then, as some of you know, in 2004 my mom got sick.

When I say, ‘got sick’, what I really mean is ‘over the course of 2 months, she started to lose her cognitive abilities’ and we couldn’t figure out what was going on and I vaguely remember conversations with my brother where we hypothesized that she was having strokes and where her extremely unhelpful family Dr. kept ‘poo pooing’ what was happening and pushing her off.

Until one day a very dear family friend went with my mom to the Dr.’s appointment and insisted that he take it seriously so he referred her to a neuro specialist down at Sunnybrook who made an appointment for several weeks out.

Until one day, a few days

(weeks? it all gets so blurred)

after that, I stood in the kitchen, about to leave for my day’s Personal Training appointments and I was frozen by HOW. WRONG. IT. WAS. and how scared I was and how SOMETHING had to happen… NOW.

I muscle checked because I didn’t know what else to do.

I packed my mom up with reassuring, cheery words something along the lines of, ‘we’re going on a drive’ and took her down to Sunnybrook to the specialist’s office to get seen.

At this point, my mom’s language skills had deteriorated so badly that she had developed aphasia

(a delightful condition where the words you want are nowhere to be found)

and she was happily substituting ‘tart’ and ‘coal’ for many of her nouns, verbs, adjectives, all of them, without even realizing it. Every time she did it, my fear increased and the pit in my stomach deepened.

Well, Hello Mr. Tumour!

We got to Sunnybrook, I put her in a chair and we wheeled into the specialist’s office. Who, it turns out was on vacation but just ‘happened’ to be there that morning and agreed to see us for two minutes.

(oh! the synchronicity)

After listening to my mom for less than 2 minutes, he said this:

“Here’s what you’re going to do. Take her to Emergency. Right now. Say that there is cognitive impairment and you don’t know what is happening. Do NOT tell them that you’ve seen me or they will make you wait. Do you understand?”

I did. And we did.

24 hours later we knew that she had a brain tumour the size of a plumin her left frontal lobe.

(there isn’t a lot of extra space in the cranium so just think about that for a minute… a PLUM)

48 hours after that it was gone.

And so was the mother I knew.

In her place was a brain-damaged, very confused, very scared, no short-term memory, can’t see very well because of the brain swelling, woman who didn’t know who I was.

And that’s how our 2 years of caregiving started.

It almost killed me.

Bearing the Burden and Falling So Very Short

The shock of it. The weightof it.

Why am I telling you all this? 

(wasn’t this about WEIGHT LOSS, you might be saying)

Because my response to all of this trauma was, sadly, typical and dysfunctional.

(I just didn’t know that, yet)

I shut down.


I stopped caring about what I ate.

Except that I made sure I was eating enough simple carbs to keep myself numb.

(I remember, once, standing in the kitchen and STUFFING my mouth full of bread – and KNOWING that I was doing it to self-medicate! – to keep from screaming at my mother who was doing the best she could – as do we all – with the cognitive function she had left but who was also driving me crazy with her demands)

I stopped teaching yoga.

I stopped doing ANYTHING that would connect my brain to my body.

(except singing once per week. I started doing that and it was a life-saver… until I developed chronic laryngitis)

My Body and Soul Crack Under the Pressure

Every now and then, someone would say something kind and I wouldconnect to my body and two things would happen:

1) I would see an image of myself in a very dark room, curled up tightly in a fetal position, being kicked and pummelled by unseen foes, and

2) I would burst into tears.

It was not healthy. I didn’t handle it well. I could have done better.

I wasn’t grieving. I was not treasuring the moments. I wasn’t surrendered. I wasn’t soft.

I didn’t know any of that then.

(see why I’m so passionate about self-care now? about being a healthy caregiver?)

This isn’t the place to share all of what happened during those years – the gift of singing, the trip to Sedona, getting gently, lovingly smacked awake by Jesus, how I had my best year as a Personal Trainer during that time because I did everything I could to stay out of the house – but know that, on the other side of that experience, I was broken and would never be the same.

I was also heavier than I had ever been and all the good habits I had developed were just a distant memory.

But wabi-sabi is a beautiful thing and it wasn’t the end of my story, just a new beginning…

Stay tuned for Part 3.