A funny thing happened to me this year: I got fat. Not in the “I gained a little weight” vanity 5 to 10 pounds way. Nope. I got good and plump. I’m pushing nearly 200 pounds. On a 5-foot-6-inch frame, that’s not cute. But before you eat me alive for hating on the belly rolls, hear me out.
I don’t care how we say it: fat, overweight, out of shape, chubby, big-boned, a little cushioning, round. For me, it’s not an insult to myself to be honest about my body. I am about 45 to 50 pounds heavier than is healthy for me. At this weight, I have fat weighing on and gathering around my internal organs. I’ve also developed other symptoms like carpal tunnel, and I get unreasonably exhausted when doing normal activities. That can’t be good for me. If I keep this up, I know I have a one-way ticket to diabetes, heart disease, or worse. So I’m not exactly doing myself any favors by continuing on in my usual ways.
Don’t be confused: I am not body-shaming anyone. I do not care what choices other people make. More than that, I don’t judge the choices other people make. A person’s weight does not inform my opinion of her. It doesn’t influence how much I love or care for someone. I do not assign shame to anyone or make negative assumptions about anyone based on their dress size. For me, it’s about how I feel and what works and doesn’t work for me.
What isn’t working for me right now is this whole physical reality I’m facing. I can say without an ounce of hesitation that I am not comfortable at this weight. I don’t like that I can’t bend over to tie my shoes without my gut getting in the way. I don’t like that I can hardly see my naughty bits beyond my protruding belly. I don’t like that my pants pull and squeeze me or how the zipper on my jacket barely closes. I don’t like how tops are tight in my shoulders and chest and how a bra is nearly unbearable by the end of the day.
I don’t like how my closet doesn’t seem to have anything left that fits me or that makes me feel pretty. I don’t like constantly and unsuccessfully searching for something to wear that I might feel comfortable in (much less confident). I don’t like having to turn over my wardrobe to pull out the “fat clothes.”
I don’t like that I am afraid to be seen in public and have started avoiding things because of my appearance. I don’t like that my body isn’t working for me, that I’m not in harmony with the vessel that carries me through this life. I know I haven’t respected my physical self, and I’m not okay with that.
I know how I got here, and I am ready to be accountable for that. I put things in my mouth to dull the pain and stress I’ve experienced this year. I ate doughnuts and candy and baked goods to fill the hole in my heart and to numb my insecurities. I ate to distract myself from the worry and thinking about what could go wrong next and what was already falling apart. I ate when I wasn’t hungry just to have a constant hum in the back of my brain that was soothing the anxious part of me.
It bears mentioning, however, that no matter how much I have eaten, that endless pit has never been satisfied. It’s like a black hole. It’s always craving more and more no matter how many carbohydrates I throw at it.
It’s safe to say, then, that this isn’t working. Every time I think about dieting, I get nervous. I am scared not to have something to help ease the pain. I am afraid of what will happen if the hurt isn’t muted. I worry that I don’t have the skills to manage my emotions at full volume.
Looking back, however, I can see that food isn’t curing me. Worse than not helping, it’s hurting me. I need to actually turn to this big mess of emotions, like a giant broken-down machine, and examine it. I need to take it apart, piece by piece, and figure out what is broken or rusted or disconnected. I have to dive into the mess and face it head-on. I’ll then either have to repair or improve it. Either way, I have some work to do.
So this is my goal for now: I’m going to commit to myself and give that fat girl a little love. I’m going to unearth the strong, capable girl beneath her layers of plump and start living again. When I get scared, I’m going to get to work. You see, it’s not skinny that I’m after. It’s healed. And that is a goal I can live with. That is a life that works.