This past spring, I weighed 312 pounds and I’m a complete and total head case about it.
There, I said it. (We’ll see if I publish it.)
I’ve been heavy, seriously heavy, for most of my adult life. I was overweight when we started our family and gained about 30 pounds with each of our three babies. I tried losing weight many times, but in classic yo-yo dieter’s style, I’ve always gained back more than I lost.
I’ve been doing this dance between pushing past fear and letting it hold me back for a long time. I have wanted to share my story, but haven’t because I’ve been too scared to tell my secrets. Which, I know, is totally weird because it’s not like my weight has ever been a secret to anyone who knows me or sees me. Crazy enough though, it was kind of a secret to me…
My Flawed Body Image
My weight loss mindset has followed a pattern similar to the children’s book, “If you give a mouse a cookie.” (Mmm, cookies.)
When you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to want some milk to go with it. Then he’ll want a straw, and a napkin, and mirror to make sure his face is clean. When he looks in the mirror he’ll notice his hair needs a trim so he’ll ask for scissors…
The story leads in a great big meandering circle of fun back to the mouse wanting another cookie.
My version looked like this:
I’ve convinced myself for years that I was curvy, not morbidly obese.
Until I would see myself in a photo or try to buy clothes.
And I’d start my crazy negative self talk.
Which led me to emotional eating and then denial of my problem.
Until I had convinced myself again that I was curvy, not morbidly obese.
Could there be an opposite disease from Anorexia for people who perceive themselves as smaller than they really are?
The Games We Play…
I’ve spent my adult life playing weird tricks with myself in the mirror; standing at just the right angle so I could see the curve of my breasts and my hips making it look like my waist was a little bit smaller.
I hated going to the doctor knowing I’d have to weigh in and secretly prayed for something to be wrong with me, giving me an excuse for my weight and an easy fix.
I cringed and wanted to cry when my toddler son asked why I was fat and had a big tummy.
I was angry with myself for how bad I had let myself get and I felt so overwhelmed. Digging myself out of this mess felt impossible. Although, I was always giving weight loss a half-assed try so I could say to myself that I was doing something about it.
I would play games with myself, juicing spinach, kale, apples, lemons and ginger every day in order to to play the Fat Sick and Nearly Dead game to drop some weight quickly. I actually had a timeline I’d made, tracking how much weight Joe Cross, the filmmaker of the movie, had lost at each week/month interval he mentioned in the movie.
I did the same with Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition, following along with the show and setting goals to lose 80 pounds in my “first” 90 days.
I’d be so committed for a day (or an hour) until my dieter’s ADHD set in. I can’t even count how many times I ate something I shouldn’t have only to realize it after the fact and get frustrated with myself that I’d forgotten I was dieting.
While I sucked at admitting to myself I was overweight, I was super skilled at putting myself down about it.
I hate exercise (notice that wasn’t in past tense.) Being sweaty feels icky and I worry about what I must look like while working out.
I’d avoid going to the gym even though we were paying for it because someone might see me and realize I was fat. I’d tell myself things like, “exercise will be easier after I lose ___ pounds.” Canceling the gym membership felt like giving up and I was always promising myself I’d start up again “next week.”
I also avoided exercise and getting serious about weight loss for fear that I’d be all saggy and gross if I did lose all the weight. Round and squishy is better than saggy and wrinkly, right?
I travel quite a bit for work and have always worried that people I’d meet at conferences, thought of me as that “fat girl from FatWallet.”
I hated seeing friends I hadn’t seen in a long time for fear that they’d notice how much weight I’d gained, so I avoided contact with anyone from my past.
Even doing videos for my blog, I’d position the camera at obscure angles, stacked precariously on mixing bowls and books, to best conceal my weight. Then I would cry at the “fat bitch” comments people left.
Let’s not even talk about the excuses I made and the lengths I went to in order to avoid being naked in front of my husband.
So I’m totally nuts, aren’t I?
Ignoring the Voices
I joined Weight Watchers at 307.8 pounds on May 1, 2013 and I’m down a total of 37.4 pounds from that point so far. It’s not been an easy road by any means, but being fat isn’t easy either.
Tonight I walked a 5K with a friend. It’s my 5th one since June and the voices are still there. Even 37 pounds lighter and 3 sizes smaller, I stood in the parking lot of my old high school with my eyes turned down and my back to the crowd for fear that someone I knew in high school might recognize me. The weird part is that I felt fat back then too.
I don’t know how much weight I’ll have to lose before I stop feeling so insecure.
Maybe like doing my first 5K, joining the master’s swim team at the gym (not knowing how to swim freestyle), or writing this post, the only way to get past my insecurity is to ignore the voices of fear and do it anyway.
What voices of fear are you hearing? What have they been stopping you from doing? Are you ready to join me and do something about it?