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Weighty Issues


My weight has always been an issue. I was a chubby kid, and then anorexic, and then a compulsive eater, and then on every diet known to womankind, and then mostly normal for a few years. But then, during the trials of endless medications for my body pain and neurological symptoms, we found one that really helped, but also increased hunger and slowed metabolism. And no matter how helpful the medication has been, it hasn’t increased my ability to exercise at any reasonable pace. That means that I can’t maintain the weight I want to be. I don’t overeat, by much, and I do exercise regularly, but I would have to cut or burn at least five hundred calories more per day to make a dent in my weight, and at this point, that’s not possible.

I do what I can. I’ve tried protein shakes and high fiber foods, I’ve cut out refined sugar (and added it back in), and cut almost every other kind of food at one time or another. But if I try to go below a certain number of calories a day, I feel like I’m dying, and if I try to exercise more often or more vigorously, I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck.

And I’m angry about it.

I had hoped that, at some point in my life, my relationship with food and exercise would fall into a regular pattern and stop being a problem. I’ve worked hard on the practical side of eating and exercise, and the emotional and psychological sides too. But it’s all still there, still making me feel like a stranger when I look in the mirror, or making me panic when I open the refrigerator. I want to be one of those people who doesn’t have to think about her weight: someone who exercises because it makes her feel better, or can say no to chocolate frosting without feeling the residual longing for the rest of the week. But I’m not there yet.

Both of my dogs, food obsessed as they are, have zero weight problems. Butterfly can eat kibble all day long – and she does – and it never impacts her weight. Cricket could probably eat a whole chicken without showing any signs of it, except in the stomach upset that she would inevitably pretend she was not experiencing. They exercise when they feel the urge, and then rest most of the day without guilt.


I keep a food and exercise journal. I drink bottles of water every day. I try out new, healthier recipes, and buy single portion low calorie snacks, but I don’t get anywhere with it. If I could stop taking the offending medication and still function, I’d do that. But I had to make the decision to function, at some point, rather than to maintain my weight. Most days it doesn’t feel worth it, until I try to stop the medication and find myself struggling to breathe, and struggling to walk, and then I remember why I made this decision in the first place.

But it still doesn’t feel worth it. And when I look around me, I see millions of people who believe that a woman should be willing to be sick and in pain in order to look the way she’s supposed to look, and hate herself for eating when she is hungry or resting when she is tired.


The puppies know they need their rest.

The dogs think this is insane. They believe that how they feel is everything, and how they look is only useful when it gets them more scratches or treats. And even then, they’re pretty sure that it’s their powers of persuasion that get them what they want. I don’t think they even know how cute they are; though I could be wrong about that.


“You want to give us food.”


We are not relying on our cuteness to get what we want.”


“We’d never do that.”


About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

127 responses »

  1. They love that peanut butter!

  2. love this – makes me laugh – I feel like my doggies are my petrie dish, where they only eat what I give them – can get immediate results if I want them to gain or lose weight…

  3. I loved this post. Weight is such a sensitive issue. We all have to eat and our bodies are something we were born with. I think you are doing well to eat healthful foods and exercise. Eat when you’re hungry and rest when you’re tired. The dogs know this.

    • Thank you! Unfortunately, Cricket keeps thinking we should offer three or four snacks between each meal, and she’s getting frustrated with me for not living up to her dreams.

  4. Laura McDaniel

    Thanks for sharing this Rachel, like you I’m going through similar issue (but my doctors now just categorize every ailment as part of menopause) – and yes, just like our pets, I know when I’ve eaten wrong but it’s not easy as we get older – even for the pets. 🙂
    I love seeing the boys though just enjoying being with mommy. Such cuties!

  5. Toooo cute! Keep up with your exercise and diet. I can relate. M’lady and I have struggled more than usual all winter and can barely lose a pound now and then. Just have to keep going. I like to say your health is one of your absolute top priorities.

  6. I too can relate.. I have already procrastinated away three months. I tend to lose five and lose motivation for next five and then gain the five back. I will not give up. My husband really likes to eat so it’s a challenge…

  7. The dogs have the right idea. Just enjoy life! What you look like on the outside should not even be given a second thought (although it’s easier said than done). It sounds like you are eating in a healthy way and exercising. Now wipe off your hands, take the medication that allows you to function and go take on the world! You’ve got this.

  8. We must be twins because I can totally relate to what you said. I finally figured out that my pink packet of artificial sweetener was worst than real sugar. Plus no matter how much water I drink and salads I eat the weight stays put. Now I just enjoy who I am and wear my Fitbit to remind me to move around. 😃

  9. Great blog! Love the effortless way you introduce humor too!

  10. Coming from the anorexic side of the spectrum I feel for you. The way food can take over our minds and ruin a day–or at least a moment. I can now enjoy food (sort of) but the bad feelings I have about food always lurk. I have to make sure not to try to control the eating habits of my family too much too as this seems to be something anorexics love to do.

    I think I’d be okay with a vitamin pill and coffee. 🙂 My dogs would be terribly unhappy about that since I share all my food with them.

    Hope you find peace, Rachel. At least we have our dogs to keep us sane (my dog Rosie just ate a rotten bird last night and was up until 3 am with a sick stomach, burping and panting).

    • Cricket is now jealous. She has a love hate relationship with food too. She loves to eat the foods that make her so sick that she starts to think I poisoned her and she hates me. Until she feels better.


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