Essay: Fat

So I am fat. Not even fat, really.  I am not sitting solidly in the “overweight” category I’ve spent most of my adult life.  Those days spent miserably overweight seem like a thing to strive for now that I have completely living in the obese segment of the BMI chart.  And man, there’s a difference.  It used to be, when I looked down and saw my stomach pooching out I could suck in and still have a waist.  Now, I look down, suck in and only reach the “before sucking stage” of before.

How did this happen?  I blame two things.  One is that I have really let myself go. The “let yourself go” phrase is usually lobbed against women balancing children/husband/home/work but I’ve managed to do it without the children or the husband.  In the last year I just gave up taking care of myself.  The exercise fell to minimal levels and I ate what I wanted when I wanted and damn the consequences.  The other factor is that for the first six months of 2011 I went on a diet and lost 20 pounds.  This was in combination with following a naturopath’s plan to avoid gluten and dairy.  The combined restrictions of the diet and naturopath were at first comforting, but then started to chafe.  The whole thing went down last summer and I threw off all restrictions, eating sandwiches and macaroni and cheese with abandon and packed on 30 pounds, regaining the 20 I lost and adding 10 more.
So now I’m fat and I hate it.  My skin has folds to it, I don’t like the way I look in any clothing, I feel slow and slovenly and kind of disgusting.  A class at the gym the other day involved a backward lunge.  My hand rested on my waist and I could feel my stomach fat fold over my thumb as I performed the exercise.  It was frustrating and no amount of sucking in my stomach could fix the problem, believe me, I tried.
Here’s the worst thing. My disgust with myself and my fat frame has spilled over to others.  I’ve noticed that I continually evaluate women’s body types as they move in and out of my frame of reference and I feel the same disgust of women who are as fat, or fatter than me as I do me.  Why can’t they take care of themselves?  What has brought them to this point?  These are all questions I would do better asking myself then applying them to anonymous women. (It’s always women I judge, never men.)
I’ve sworn off diets forever.  This swearing joins the pledge I made about five years ago: to never again pay someone to tell me how to lose weight. I’ve read the figures, I know how much money the diet industry makes each year.  I know that, except for a few people for whom diets work, diets don’t work.  So why should I pay someone to tell me what to do when that thing they are going to tell me most likely won’t work? The diet I went on last year I didn’t pay for, I got around that restriction by checking out a book from the library.  That worked until it didn’t and I’ve accepted that following someone’s plan is not the way for me to lose weight.
Here is the other thing I know.  I’ve had moments of normal weight in my life and I wasn’t following a diet.  I ate right—and I think we all have a good idea of what this means—and exercised—I think we all know how to do this, too—and lost weight.  Why could I do that then and not now?  Where did this amazing source of willpower come from?  How could I meet this astonishing feat?
It wasn’t willpower or some magical combination of elements, I lost weight during those times because I knew who I was and my place in the world and was reasonably happy.  I felt secure, I lived in the present, not worrying about the future, and I took care of myself.  I haven’t been in that place in a very long time.  So now, I’m working on getting there.  I’m not sure I know who I am—certainly the harsh taskmistress who can put me through the paces so I lose weight isn’t me.  But I’m pretty sure this lazy, whiny, “don’t wanna” person isn’t me either. 
I’m working on eating less.  Eating right hasn’t really been a problem, I’m good with the vegetable/fruit/protein/carb balance and can prepare all of those things for myself.  I’m not very good with leaving the table just at the full mark, or even leaving the table a little bit over full. I’ll work on that too.  But also I need to live in the present, avoiding worry about the future, regrets about the past.  I also need to keep my present as comfortable as possible.  This means cleaning the house when I don’t really feel like it and cooking when I would rather collapse on the couch with a book and do nothing. It also means backing off on the judgment of my overweight self and my similarly overweight brethren.
So the conclusion of this post will not have me forswearing off sugar, or carbs or meat or dairy or gluten or any of the things that supposedly will save me from my weight.  I’ve actually sworn off all of those at one time or another in my life.  When I have, I have not seen a miraculous change in me.  Eliminating things from my diet only makes me want them more.  I’ll conclude this post by committing to be my authentic self and take care of myself, with food, with exercise and with psyche.   It’s no promise to lose two pounds per week, but I have put in my time with those promises and I know they don’t come true.

2 thoughts on “Essay: Fat”

  1. Good luck! I think you have a really healthy attitude about this. My observation has been that the people I know who lose weight and keep it off tend to be those who eat healthily and in moderation while also getting regular exercise. I know that you can get to a body weight with which you are comfortable!

  2. Thank you for a very courageous essay. It resonates with me on so many levels. In the past year my metabolism has changed a lot (I recognize that I have had many years of eating whatever I wanted with relatively no consequences and so I know that it is a fair change). Many of my once comfortable clothes, especially pants, no longer fit in a way that is appealing. I went on a morning exercise routine. Getting up and working out before getting ready for school. I felt pretty good about that until I noticed NO SIGNIFICANT weight change or slimming and my muscles got bigger in places that made my clothing fit even worse. I know that people look at me and see me as pretty small, but I also know what my scale and clothing are telling me. I also know that I have never liked my body and always thought that I was too big. Its sad that the times I liked my body the most was when I wasn't eating a lot and looked pretty gaunt in my pictures. I also look at other women. In fact, I always look to see if I am smaller/bigger than them. I know its bad, but it has long been my way. I've also come to realize that I am quite a bit sizist in some ways and that is really awful. I have started using an app on my iphone, my fitness pal, just to help me watch my daily calorie intake. You set a goal, it sets a daily calorie mark for you. you enter your foods and your exercise and it keeps track. Its not a diet at all, but it helps me to be aware. I'm not too crazy if I go over, but at least I know and make a choice based on some criteria. We could be fitness pal friends, if that would be of any help. My biggest problem is that I need a real fitness pal to exercise with (when did I become so needy?). Wish we could do that together.

    I also know that you are a very determined person and you can make this happen! It would be fun if we trained for a run/race somewhere in the US and met there. That is probably a pipe dream, but I will put it out there. Cheering for you!

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