Collard Green Curves: A fat girl's Journey from Childhood Obesity to Healthy Living

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The author takes the reader on an incredible, tear jerking, journey of a misguided little girl so consumed with self- hate, misinformation, and distrust that it catapulted her into a life filled with unbelievable challenges. Repeated rejections, major disappointments and misunderstandings contributed to distrust of everyone she would encounter throughout her life, including her family. In her search for love, fulfillment and acceptance, the author depicts a life turned upside down through a confusing series of ...
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Collard Green Curves: A fat girl's Journey from Childhood Obesity to Healthy Living

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The author takes the reader on an incredible, tear jerking, journey of a misguided little girl so consumed with self- hate, misinformation, and distrust that it catapulted her into a life filled with unbelievable challenges. Repeated rejections, major disappointments and misunderstandings contributed to distrust of everyone she would encounter throughout her life, including her family. In her search for love, fulfillment and acceptance, the author depicts a life turned upside down through a confusing series of curves and detours destined to destroy her and anyone in her path, until she found the right recipe for healing which comes with "forgiveness of self and others." Forgiveness is presented as the key to putting the past in perspective, finding a way to emerge from the depths of despair, then, shifting the focus to overcoming addictions, moving forward, and living a healthy, God directed, victorious life.
This book, an inspirational, lifeline for anyone trying to find themselves, quickly captures and holds the reader's attention. The author demonstrates ways for individuals to conquer their fears and fight, perhaps for the first time in their lives for well-deserved, overdue new beginnings. The book reminds us to let, no man or woman hinder us from achieving our ultimate goal(s).
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781481700740
  • Publisher: AuthorHouse
  • Publication date: 1/16/2013
  • Pages: 122
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.44 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Collard Green Curves

A fat girl's Journey from Childhood Obesity to Healthy Living
By Theresa Lou Bowick


Copyright © 2013 Theresa Lou Bowick
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4817-0075-7

Chapter One

The Tasting

Collard Greens

"These collard greens are so good. Girl you must have put your foot in the pot." This comment would acknowledge my passage into the family Kitchen Hall of Fame. An honor accepted with ambiguity, as my worth was now defined by the preparation of a $0.59 bunch of dark green leaves. Women in my family were known to throw down in the kitchen. The girls were expected to follow suit and be good cooks. Women who suffered culinary deficiencies were considered no good, and would not be able to get a man or feed her children. In my grandmother's eyes, the preparation of a good pot of collard greens was a full proof test of your womanhood.

My grandmother taught me how to cook collard greens. I paid close attention to her instructions. The first set of instructions were given at the Public Market where she taught me how to buy collard greens; look for big, strong, dark greens. Make sure they don't have bugs on them, and don't buy them if they are soft, brown or yellowish.

Now that we were in the kitchen; break the stems, place the greens on the cutting board neatly in stacks of five, roll them the long way, cut them small with a ridged edged knife about ¼ inch wide, wash them good a few times, don't want no dirt in the pot, now put them in that pot of smoked neck bones that's been cooking all morning, add a spoonful of bacon grease, just a pinch of sugar to cut the bitterness, turn the fire down low, can't cook greens fast girl.

Three hours later the perfect pot of collard greens. I passed the test and my grandmother was proud. This pot of collard greens received her highest praise. According to my grandmother this was a clear indication now at age seventeen, that I was a woman. I had proven my ability to get a man, and feed my future children. I would soon learn that this was just a taste of what was to come.

My worth as a, daughter, sister, friend, nurse, wife, mother and woman would encounter many defining taste tests. The most unlikely ingredients would be judged, and linked to my value as a woman; the girth of my waist, length of my hair, fertility, academics, religion, endurance and strength of my convictions. I pray that my journey will help you to navigate the collard green curves in your life.


Feet First

February 20, 1968 I was born feet first into a blended family drama. My mother told me that, while I was still in utero, her obstetrician tried to turn me around, but I wouldn't budge. I entered the world in an unsafe position at risk for strangulation. But, even from the womb I was determined to land on my feet.

My parent's union was for them, a second chance at love. They both had children from previous marriages, who were anxiously awaiting my arrival. I was the baby, and growing up I didn't understand the dynamics of a blended family. I knew that Carl and I had the same parents. Three of my older brothers had a different dad, and my other three brothers and sister had a different mom. We were no Brady bunch. There was a lot of fussing and fighting in our home. My relationship with my brothers was strained, but loving. I always believed that my sister hated me from the start, and unfortunately not much has changed. Upon my arrival, she was no longer daddy's little girl. I don't think she ever got over that.

It seemed as though everybody was always vying for attention. Our pain and unmet needs were displayed as resentment and anger towards one another. In this blended family setting, with more than enough food to eat, I was always hungry.

My mother, whom everybody called momma was adopted, but only had minor details of the adoption. Her adopted family are the only Black folks I know who kept a secret for seven decades. Before long there will be no one around who knows the truth about my mother's paternity. This much we do know, she was raised on a farm in South Carolina by a sharecropper and his wife. Grandparents I would later adore and love. Momma struggled with her identity. She was told that her biological mother had died, and her maternal grandmother was too old to care for her and her siblings. So, she chose to give my mother up. The adoption was not formal, and to date no legal documents can be found. I now realize that momma spent her whole life grieving. She could never figure out why my biological grandmother chose to let her go.

Momma made up for this internal rejection by trying to take care of everybody and everything. She didn't say "no" much. She never walked away from anything or anyone, no matter how much it her hurt. This included, relationships, mean neighbors, friendships gone bad or stray dogs. She would even make biscuits out of spoiled milk instead of throwing it away, whether we needed them or not. I wish somebody would have shared more details about her life.

My father grew up in a step family situation in Alabama. He was the oldest of his siblings and had darker skin. I'm not sure if that made a difference or not. I do know that he felt like an outcast. Throughout his adult life he had strained relationships with his siblings. He loved his mother and would do anything in his power to make her happy. My paternal grandfather died before I was born, and my paternal grandmother lived in Alabama. I can only remember meeting her once. The first time I saw my father cry was at her funeral.

Both of my parents had migrated from the South to Rochester, New York to find better employment opportunities. After the demise of their first marriages, they found southern comfort in each other. They both loved to cook and go fishing. I hated fishing. Worms, baiting, hooking, scaling, it was animal cruelty at its worst until we got to the eating. "Pass the hot sauce, please."

Against my wishes, my father taught me how to fish, insisting that I had to know how to feed myself. He was very meticulous on the bait lesson. Choosing bait, he repeated over and over again, is the most important step in learning to fish, because the bait determines what type of fish you will catch. He emphasized that if I was not catching a type of fish that I wanted, I had to change bait. He meant business when he called me by my full name. He would end every fishing lesson with, "Listen to your Daddy, Theresa Lou Bowick, if you're not catching what you want, you got to change bait!" At the time I didn't appreciate that lesson. However, it sure came in handy, later in life when my back was up against a wall.

My parents split up when I was eight. After that, my father came around sporadically when he wasn't having, what we called a "Bowick Spell." In which he would change his phone number, not answer the door if you stopped by his house, and stay away for months at a time. He would resurface handing out hundred dollar bills, smiling like not a day had passed. These disappearing acts caused me to lose trust in my dad. Especially, when he couldn't be located on holidays and birthdays. I couldn't depend on him. No amount of money could replace daddy at Christmas.

My big brother George was my hero. He was the oldest of my mother's children, and clearly her favorite child. Although he was only eight years older than me, he was more like a father figure than a brother. George was tall, dark, thick and handsome. All the girls in the neighborhood and their mommas loved him. He taught me how to tie my shoes, roller skate, drive a car and smoke weed. He read Jet Magazines. So naturally my image of beautiful black women was the Jet Beauties. He had other favorite magazines that I was forbidden to read, but I found them under the bathroom sink where he hid them, and read them anyway. I guess that's why he spent so much time in the bathroom. I was fascinated by what I saw in those magazines, but I was too afraid to try any of those things until I was much older. Anything that was good for George was good for me.

I loved going to the store with George because he always bought me lots of penny candy. At age 10, I was old enough to walk to the store alone. George would give me two dollars and send me to buy a $0.75 pack of Kool Cigarettes. I could keep all the change. I would stretch that dollar and a quarter like it was a million bucks, and bought potato chips, ice cream, Now & Later candy, Chico Sticks, Lemon Heads and pop.

During my teenage years, I learned a lot about women and dating from my brothers. I guess they were hungry too, because they all had more than one female companion. When I learned to drive I served as chauffeur for my brothers to embrace other men's girlfriends and wives. I was paid ten dollars to keep my mouth shut and drive. This low paying gig came with a huge cost. It skewed my image of relationships, men and marriage for life. I watched my brothers cheat and beat these women, give them bloody noses followed by money and roses. A mystery remains, how and why they were allowed to have sex with so many women within the same families. At the time, I never blamed my brothers, just the women who showed no respect for themselves or their daughters, sisters, aunts and nieces.

Momma did not condone the behavior of my brothers. However, she worked all the time. My grandmother lived with us, and took care of us when momma was at work. Even though grandma was home all the time, we found a way to get into mischief.

When momma was home, she was always chasing girls away from our house. If she caught them doing something that she didn't approve of, she would whump my brothers and the girls right on the spot, with anything she could get her hands on, a belt, a broom or a switch. Afterwards she would always go to the girl's house and tell their mothers what happened.

My brother Willie's bedroom was in the attic. His girlfriend Debra would climb onto our back porch roof, into a second story window in Carl and Mark's room, then up to the attic to get to Willie. One day Momma just knew that Debra was in Willie's room, but she couldn't find her. Willie had momma-proofed his room. My brothers are some of the most clever and creative people on earth. Willie built a secret compartment into the back of his gigantic stereo. Debra was tiny and fit perfectly into the space. Momma did not think to look in the stereo.

The next day, momma went to Debra's house. Momma told Debra, right in front of her mother, "The day my son can freely have you, he is not going to want you. He is just fascinated, that you will do anything. Stop climbing on roofs and into windows to get to my son." Sure enough, the same day that Willie moved into his apartment. Debra met his new girlfriend.

Funny thing about family is that you don't get to choose your place. You land where you land, and pray that you can stand. I was told that, African American mothers love their sons and raise their daughters. My mother taught me to be a leader. She taught my brothers not to be led astray. She was so hurt, when George died, she cried out to the Lord, "Why did you take my favorite child? Why didn't you take one of the others?"

George had died too early. He was only thirty when he succumbed to liver cancer. My hero was dead.

Although I was 22 years old at the time, the sting of those words is never far. I vowed then never to have a favorite child. Malpractice and a miscarriage ensured that I wouldn't. I always wondered which one of us she would have chosen to take George's place in the grave.

Based on genetics, you probably have guessed that my path was destined to be full of curves. Thank God my drug of choice was food.

Pretty Plus

"Theresa do you like this dress?" I wanted to scream, "No grandma, I don't like this dress or any of the tablecloths posing for clothes in the pretty plus section of Sears." I can't even figure out why they call the fat girl clothing section pretty plus. For me, there is nothing pretty about being plus. I hated shopping for clothes. I was always hoping that fat girl would not be staring at me in the mirror, when I tried on jeans that I knew I couldn't fit. I hated her. Why couldn't she fit into normal size clothes? Why did they make a special section just for fat girls?

I didn't even know that I was fat until my brother Carl told me, and started calling me "Fatty." My brother Mark confirmed the diagnosis that indeed I was fat. However, he assured me that there was a skinny girl inside of me waiting to get out.

No matter how much torment I faced in the dressing room at Sears, grandma would make it better with a big meal at the end of every shopping trip. She didn't care how much I ate, just as long as I ate everything on my plate. Grandma said I should not waste food because there were starving kids in Africa. I was not about to let grandma or those starving kids down. One hamburger for me, and one for the motherland.

Growing up money was tight for my mother. With so many mouths to feed my mother, unlike my grandmother couldn't afford to shop at an upscale place like Sears. She shopped at K-Mart. Shopping at K-Mart was far more entertaining for me. They had a Pin-Ball machine and snack area with hot dogs, giant pretzels, cotton candy and an Icee machine. While my mother was checking out the blue light specials, I was scoping out the snacks, and praying, "Please Lord don't let the Icee machine be broken." I always knew when to call on the Lord. I didn't like their plus size clothes either, but it was nothing that a giant pretzel and large cherry Icee couldn't fix.

Shopping was not the only thing I hated. If it was not against New York State law, and the commandments of my missionary mother I would have eliminated school and church the first decade of my life. They are the most segregated, prejudiced places on earth. The principles never lined up with the practices. Neither is safe for the developing brain in a fat body.

My first memories of church are dreadful. Our religion was defined as Holiness. Before my mother started working so much, she took us to church almost every day. It was not all bad. We kneeled down to pray so long that I could finish a whole pack of Now and Later candy before reaching Amen. I didn't learn much about God during those years. I still don't know what it means to be holiness, but I knew all the church gossip. The Prison Ministry served as Women in the church married the men whom they were sent to the prison to share the gospel with. I also recall the first lady of the church always had a bruise. I overheard that the pastor was an alcoholic who laid hands on her often. One day the pastor came to our house obviously wasted, staggering and slurring his words. I asked him, "Pastor Roberts are you intoxicated?" He answered, "Intoxicated, no Theresa I'm not intoxicated, I'm drunk." That was it for my mother. She decided that we would be better off Baptist.

School is a war zone for a fat girl. My best friend Sheila and I were the brunt of the fat jokes in elementary school. We were both fat so we got along just fine. By the end of sixth grade we had learned to swallow our pain of being out casted with large ham and cheese submarines, potato chips, candy and pop. Junior High School would be challenging because we would be going to different schools. I would lose my safety net in Sheila.

"How come she is not jumping up, doesn't she have any feelings?" Although my butt was burning like hell, I refused to let this group of jerks see me cry. They were waiting for my reaction to the thumb tacks that they had strategically placed on my school bus seat. I just sat there like a champ until the bus came to my stop. I walked off the bus like nothing ever happened. After that, I convinced my mother that I wasn't learning anything at that school and begged to be transferred to another school near home. Sheila attended the school that I chose to be transferred to. Momma was so impressed with my desire for a better education that she complied with my request. I didn't care about academics, I was tired of the name calling, and those tacks.

Today it would be called bullying and somebody would be in jail. It didn't really matter what you called it, bullying, teasing, kids being kids, the psychological damage would have an everlasting impact on my life. I still struggle with displaying my true feelings, especially pain. Just like I walked off that bus, I learned to escape pain by walking away, followed by an ice cream chaser. I never dealt with the source.


Excerpted from Collard Green Curves by Theresa Lou Bowick Copyright © 2013 by Theresa Lou Bowick. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


Collard Greens....................3
Feet First....................9
Pretty Plus....................17
Teenage Bride....................23
Child Support....................31
Step-Monster Bitch....................45
Divorce Diet....................53
Momma Please....................59
From Buffets to Bikinis....................65
Not Just Baby Fat....................77
Grace & Gravy....................85
Nobody Exercises In This Neighborhood....................95
Curves Digested....................105
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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2013

    This book is a must read for any individual or organization foc

    This book is a must read for any individual or organization focused on childhood obesity. The author illustrates how many entities, including school, church, community, family and poverty influence childhood obesity.

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