Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Chapter 4, Part 4 - MY TRANSFORMATION

I want to interject something that took me years to figure out and I am certain many readers struggle with. It is a well known fact that it is extremely difficult to lose weight. (Unfortunately, gaining weight is a breeze)! Perhaps what I have learned will help someone else.

In my case, I have come to the enlightenment that dieting is all mental….totally. If you are motivated to really want to lose weight, then nothing can stop you. If you don’t have a deep motivation and a strong desire, then it is easy to keep coming up with excuses as to why you can’t seem to lose weight. I know because I have done that too.

You must have a goal…a specific reason why you want to lose weight…with a reward in the end that comes when you reach your goal. I already told you that both of my brothers weighed over 400 pounds each. Weight problems ran throughout my whole family. It is one of those unfortunate bad genes we all inherited. When you have a specific goal to achieve, you become like a missile….you head straight toward your target and nothing diverts you or makes you waver from heading in that direction.

In my lifetime, I have gained and lost weight many times and it took me a long time to finally figure out that “dieting” wasn’t the answer…motivation is the answer. Your mind controls your body. At about age sixteen, I started thinking that I might like to be a model. I didn’t realize until much later that I was just not born with a model’s body. I am five feet two and don’t have long legs and I have never been as thin as models need to be. You have to be born with a certain body type which you have no control over. It’s a gift from God.

I convinced my father to send me to modeling school. I figured whatever I learned, couldn’t hurt. I would learn beneficial things like how to walk and carry myself. Also important was to learn how to put on make-up and create diverse hair styles. The Model Agency (Patricia Vance) also said they try to get the students modeling jobs after they completed modeling school….but only if they were selected to sign a contract with the Model Agency. (The school and the Agency were two separate entities). So, I started taking classes. Somehow, I don’t remember how, I worked it into my daily or weekly schedule. I do recall taking the “L” into Chicago where it let me off right in front of the modeling school.

Upon completion of the course, they did ask me to sign up with their model agency! They explained to me that I was not the “high fashion” model type, but I could do some things such as Catalogs or Commercials and live modeling in some of the large Department Stores in Chicago. One of my first jobs was with the Chicago Tribune Newspaper. They had a fashion section in the newspaper that was printed once a week. I modeled clothing for the newspaper and as a result even appeared on a couple of local TV shows modeling some of the latest fashions.

I really loved it! I was beginning to feel like a celebrity of sorts. The girls and nuns at Marywood saw my pictures in the paper and watched me on the TV shows. On week-ends many times I modeled at the Department stores. They would put me in an outfit and I would walk throughout the store for the customers to see the clothes on an actual live person. I carried a card with all the information about everything I was wearing. In the course of one day I would change into about five different outfits. This all took place in the last half of my junior year in high school plus the following summer. The stores I modeled at were Saks Fifth Avenue, Marshall Fields, Carson Pirie Scott and Bergdorf & Goodman.

Another thing I did that year was enter the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade Queen contest. That Parade is a huge event in Chicago every year and it was quite an honor to be chosen the Queen. The Model Agency recommended that I try out. I didn’t win, but I came in second, which was still pretty good considering how many girls entered the contest. I don’t remember how many but there were at least a hundred in the beginning and there were gradual eliminations over several weeks.

During the years at Marywood, I spent the summers with my sister in Fort Lee, Virginia, where her husband, Jack, was a Lieutenant in the military. We would spend the hot summer days at the Pool at the Officers Club on the Military Base. The first summer I was there I was still quite chubby and no one paid much attention to me. The following summer, I had grown taller and lost about 40 pounds. My brother-in-law always teases me saying he had to fight off all of the soldiers that wanted to take me out (I was 16). He did let me go out once with a soldier that was under his command but gave him a set of rules with lots of “don’ts”. Naturally it had to be kept a secret from my father because he didn’t let my sister date until she was 18 and he wasn’t going to let me date until then either. The Army Base even had a picture of me in a bathing suit by the pool, holding a very large thermometer that read 104 degrees. The picture was in the newspaper published at the Base.

It was while staying with my sister in Virginia when I was 16 that we learned that our mother had passed away from a second stroke. She died in Seattle, WA and we couldn’t go to her funeral. My sister was too pregnant to fly and our two brothers were there taking care of everything.

A funny story I have told for years is about my sister. Beverly was pregnant the second summer I went to Virginia and had to have regular visits to the Obstetrician. On one visit they told her to bring a urine sample with her on her next visit. When we got to the doctor’s office a couple of weeks later, the receptionist told Bev to put her urine sample on the table that was there with all of the other women’s samples. There were at least 20 other “samples” on the table, and they were all in tiny little bottles like the ones you get a prescription in. She brought out this large Mayonnaise jar from a paper bag that must have had a quart of her urine in it! She looked at me, shrugged, and said: “how was I supposed to know? They didn’t tell me how much urine!!” Nowadays they probably supply you will a container to take home. I couldn’t stop laughing every time I saw that huge jar on that table with all the tiny little bottles.

Also at the beginning of 1960, or perhaps the latter part of 1959, I remember reading a large ad in the Chicago Tribune about a new Club that was opening in Chicago. It was called “The Playboy Club” and the ad read something like this: “If you consider yourself one of the most beautiful girls in Chicago, come down and apply for a job working as a Bunny at the Playboy Club”. Included in the ad was a silhouette of a girl in a Bunny costume. You had to be 18 to apply so I wasn’t old enough, and besides, I did not consider myself to be one of the “most beautiful” girls in Chicago! However, it made me curious and intrigued me.

My senior year in high school was a time when two very bad things happened to me. The first one was partly my own doing….but the second was not. Everything was going so well for me. I was looking forward to and felt I was headed towards such a bright future full of hopes, dreams and success.

Unfortunately, my life took a drastic turn that year…..for the worse…. a turn that would have a lasting effect on me forever.