I’ve blogged quite candidly about my body in the past. The horrific world of plus sized fashion, body image issues, and bullying because of my body are all topics I’ve touched on. I’ve played the Humorous Fat Girl. I’ve mostly made peace with my body’s shape and size and embraced my worthiness for love and romance. But the day has come to write about something I’ve never been able to before.
The fat acceptance movement and the increasing destigmatization and representation of fat bodies have done wonders for me and my self-esteem. It has also brought me to a place where I can have a healthy, gentle, love, and most importantly honest conversation with myself about helping my body function better. I am finally ready to examine my habits, relationships with food and exercise, and the skeletons in my closet that hold me back from living healthfully and respectfully. I’ve decided to choose the hard and scary thing: weight loss.
See, I’ve fantasized about weight loss since about third grade. I became self-aware about my fatness the year previous, but the social consequences really shone when I was around 10 years old. I remember talking to my mom about it and she asked me if I wanted her to help me make the changes to reach a healthy weight. I said no, because at 10, that was the hard and scary thing. The images of dieting and weight loss flickered in and out of my mind. The TV commercials I remember the most clearly were for Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Hydroxycut (which I’m pretty sure is an amphetamine…), and that other one with Marie Osmond. Fashion and women’s health magazines stared at me in the grocery store. When I was older, heavily photoshopped images on the internet took that place. I took out a gym membership in 9th grade but had no real goals or motivation because, at 15, weight loss was still the hard and scary thing. It still was when I quit the gym last year at 22.
The concept of weight loss was scary because I’ve been fat my whole life. On one hand, I wanted to do it because then I could be considered “normal” or even “conventionally attractive”. Shopping for clothes would be a dream and also waaaaaay more affordable. I wouldn’t feel self conscious standing beside my husband. On the other hand, I worried was terrified of what weight loss meant. It meant that I would have to talk to my doctor and others about habits that I found shameful. I would have to be weighed on a scale, which I still find scary. I’d have to adjust to a new reality. Would I be different? What is the experience of the world like for thin people? These are frightening questions when you don’t have or have ever had the frame of reference of a thin person.
Fat acceptance gave me the gift of valuing my body as it is. Marvelling at what it does for me, how it supports me, and how neat it is outside of the designation of ‘fat’ helped reorient me in my own body, where I had previously felt a degree of dissociation. Believing, truly believing, that my thin and handsome husband found my entire being beautiful, without judgment or feeling like that was “in-spite-of” helped me realize that I didn’t need to apologize or change to have value. I am in my body and my body contains me. We are inseparable, so we’d better start being nicer to each other. Well at least, I need to start being nicer to it.
I’m choosing weight loss and lifestyle change because it is, now that the psychological baggage is mostly dealt with, the nicest thing I can do for my body, myself, and my future. Having aches and back pain at 22 isn’t ideal. Shrugging my shoulders about nutrition wasn’t loving. Late night binging wasn’t okay. Resisting physical activity and chalking it up to “but I’m not athletically gifted” was a terrible cop-out. Careful, responsible nutrition, not harsh and restrictive dieting is loving. Gentle, yet challenging daily physical activity is a conduit for me to continue to love and appreciate my great body.
I’m publishing this because 1) I need accountability/support/pep talks from people who love me and 2) to say that sometimes, the best thing a fat girl can do for her self-love is to choose the hard and scary thing. I have to figure this out with my doctor still, but my plan is to lose between 80 and 100 pounds. I plan to do this through keeping a balanced, diverse diet and lean into intuitive eating (that is, not punishing myself, being restrictive, or assigning morality to food). I have taken up a daily yoga practice, which really helps me feel embodied and self-loving. When I’m ready, I’d love to check out roller derby, mostly because it seems really fun. I’m also monitoring things like sleep hygiene and water intake, which will help me feel energized and fresh.
It’s happening. I’m doing it. I’m choosing the hard and scary thing. I am. And I will succeed.