Fat: Part I

I’m fat. I’ve always been a bigger person- I mean, size 12 feet? Come on. Even at my ideal weight, which according to “the charts” I haven’t seen since seventeen, I’m no shy violet. I’ve basically come to terms- even embraced- being bigger than the J Crew models, and never being able to order anything from Anthropologie.

Being big is one thing. Being unhealthy is entirely another. Gaining weight is like being the proverbial frog in the pot of gradually warming water- a few degrees hotter, a few pounds more, and pretty soon your legs are in some Frenchman’s mouth- or um, maybe I lost my metaphor. Either way, somewhere I went from being a big, healthy girl with strong legs and arms and slight tummy, to being just unhealthy.

The first time I realized it was walking into a Target. My reflection caught in the sliding doors, and I thought “Who is that big lady?”- Doh. It’s me. Holy crap. Ouch. It’s not a comfortable feeling. So what did I do about it? I bought a can of Pringles and checked out the sale racks. I’m already used to not being able to find shoes in regular stores, so what if I have to shop in the big-girl department? Except… except…

There’s so much more to it than that. Isn’t there always?

I’ve been on every program in the world. None of them have fixed me, even when I didn’t need fixing. Even Weight Watchers, which works, if you want to write down everything you eat and think about food every second of every day for the rest of your life. (I don’t.) But I’ve done their program. Three times. Nutrisystem. Slimfast. Suzanne Somers. Fit for Life. No carbs. Vegetarian. Vegan. Nothing white. The crazy lady in the 90’s with the shaved head… no, not Sinead O’Connor- the other one.

They all work- in the short term. But what they don’t get to is the “Why”. And that’s where I am now. A plan that will bungee-cord and whip-lash me back up after a short, exhilarating fall is not something I can stomach. Why? Because every diet out there is about the food. And I’m not fat because of the food.

I know what to eat. I’m a smart, educated woman. I know what’s healthy and what is just dumb. So why do I reach for the can of Pringles? Why have I gained 20 pounds in the last year of unemployment? Oh, there are so many “Why”s. And, that, think, is the answer to my question. Why. Not “what”. Not what , or points, or grams, or carbs, or combinations or calories or anything. It’s about WHY. And, until I solve that problem, everything else is just a Bungee-cord jump… good for a cheap thrill, but not taking me anywhere.

41 thoughts on “Fat: Part I

  1. “The crazy lady in the 90’s with the shaved head… no, not Sinead O’Connor- the other one.” Susan Powter maybe?

    So much of lots of things in life seems to be about why…

  2. Amen.
    When I “lost the weight”, I wrote a series on my blog about how I did it (everyone kept asking). The very first post was about how I was able to finally do it –the “why”. Not what I ate or how I exercised, but how I was able to finally do it.
    You’ve nailed it! Because it doesn’t matter what you do –until you figure out why you can’t get yourself healthy (and I totally agree that weight and health don’t always equal the same thing), then you won’t be able to get yourself healthy.

    Honestly? It’s those damn emotions –and food is my drug of choice. Once I figured that out, I was able to make the changes –and keep the changes going for a while. Here’s hoping after this kid is born I can do it again!

    P.S. Do you watch the Biggest Loser? Bob is always saying Jillian is dumb for getting all “into their heads” and “emotional” about “why” people are fat –but I think she’s a freakin’ genius!

  3. Well, I’m not fat, but I always “ate like I should be fat.” Does that make sense? Now I am on the healthy eating bandwagon like there is no tomorrow because well, I don’t want to go blind, or lose limbs, or have a heart attack at 35. It’s amazing how motivating a diabetes diagnosis can be. I even exercise regularly {shudder}. The risk/benefit analysis shifted dramatically.

    For me, the “why” was “because I can and nobody will know.” Also, when you get right down to it, it was due to my main issue in this life: I am deeply lazy.

    Let me tell you, eating right and exercising, is freaking EXHAUSTING. It was SO much easier popping the Dr. Pepper and brownies and waving to the runners as they passed my house. But I do feel better.

  4. Oh, and you’ve totally nailed why the whole “eat less and move more” advice doesn’t work at all. The reasons people are overweight and/or unhealthy are varied and complex.

  5. Yeah, tell me about it. I’ve been diagnosed with a condition that is fatal if I don’t lose weight and I’m in my early 20s. Am I trying to lose? Um, kind of. By which I mean, one week I do great and the next week I eat like there’s no tomorrow. Anyway, I totally know what you mean.

  6. you’re feeding a hole in your life.

    go back to when the weight *really* began to come on (really go back, when were you first not a healthy size OR just plain not eating the way *you knew* was correct?) –chances are you’ll find two or three reasons why you began filling the hole- or as some put it- self punishing. some quit eating, others cut, some pull their hair out- it’s all the same. control.

    control over one thing in your life to counter balance the hole that you have no control over. think about those reasons and find the real one, the one that is truly the turning point. what is the fat covering up or protecting?

    i know why *i* am FAT, i can pin point the exact moment when control was taken from me and when the fat began. i know how unreasonable i am being, i know that self destruction the slow way won’t rid myself of the original problem, but at least i know *why*.

    after the *why* is answered, you will still need to be able to handle it, resolve it, fill it another way, to fix the hurt or abuse or damage or neglect or…. that was/is. knowing the why is great, but it wont get the weight off either.

    for *me* worrying about illness, inactivity or even limited life are not motivational enough to balance the reason for being fat in the first place. (meaning being fat is worth humiliation, denial of experiences, and death, rather than face the risks of being healthy or thin and the consequences that brings.) i fear the weight will stay on until a certain event takes place. then i will finally be free to feel safe and my weight will no longer need to protect me.

    i wish you success in conquering your goals and getting to the root of the problem.

  7. Oh man, I hear you. Boy do I hear you. Except – size 12 feet? I thought I was cursed with size 11 (and on top of that – narrow heel, wide ball – try shopping with that kind of freakishly long, triangular foot), but size 12? I can not imagine.

  8. Have you read the book “The Influencer”? It’s a great book that is all about getting to the “why” behind our actions. I just finished taking a class from the author. It gives you a way to analyze your behaviors and make small changes that cascade to big results. It’s not a “weight loss” book by any means, though they do use it as one example.

    And yes, I hear you with the emotinal eating. Each time my husband got laid off I gained weight. (And we won’t even talk about the weight gain I’ve had in the past 2 months since my 5 month old started chemo!) A key in getting the weight off was finding something that filled the hole that the food was filling. (And I’m not talking about my mouth!)

  9. I joined WWs for the 4th time last Monday. I’m a lifetime member and I still can’t figure it out.

    I have on my desk a quote from Susie Orbach, a psychotherapist, from a NYTimes article…the quote reads, ” I wish we could treat our bodies as a place we live from rather than regard it as a place to be worked on, as though it was a disagreeable old kitchen in need of repair and update.”

    I’ve reno’d my body so often I could be my own HGTV show. I wish I could figure out the “cause” of my eating problems. I’m with ya sistah!

  10. My husband’s weight problem has stemmed largely from the fact that he ate too much, all the time, and got used to eating that much, and felt hungry when he didn’t. His doctor told him to eat exactly the same stuff, but to only eat half as much. He said, you’ll have 2-3 weeks of being extremely hungry, but then you’ll get used to it. Add exercise on top of that, and he’s started finally losing weight.

    My problem is totally different. I am addicted to sugar. I love it. And I eat to make myself feel better when I’m having a hard day, and it is SO much easier to eat a sugary Granola bar or that bag of mini marshmallows or whatever than it is for me to make something healthy, filling, and tasty all at the same time. So I finally decided to just stop eating dessert (and no justifying that because I’m not eating the cake after a meal that it doesn’t count as dessert). I can still have sugar, but not in the form of cake, cookies, pies, etc. And no sugary granola bars. And no candy. And already the cravings are getting better. They still happen sometimes, and when they do I go have a glass of chocolate milk, but it’s way better than eating half a carton of ice-cream.

    Everybody’s reasons are different. I had a similar (but not food-related) problem when I was struggling with depression. My reasons for spiralling into those depressing dark days were different than my friends. People threw solutions at me. Nothing really worked until I figured out for myself what was going on, and why, and what I could actually do about it. I couldn’t just “be happy” or “pull up my bootstraps” and soldier on, or any of the other stupid advice I got. But I could recognize when those thoughts, that led to the other thoughts, that led to the days doing nothing but crying, I could recognize when those first thoughts came, and promptly distract myself, or even just sit there and force myself to think about something else.

    Anyway, best of luck figuring out your why’s, and I hope you’re able to find a healthier way of dealing with them.

  11. Melissa MC- I love that quote!

    Tracy. I don’t ever want to do anything to discourage anyone from doing something to be healthy. DO IT! But be realistic. Being healthy costs more than not. Mac and cheese is cheap. Organic apples, not so much. Gym membership, not cheap. Stroller losing a wheel, not cheap. Quality walking shoes that don’t make blisters, not cheap. I’m not saying to not do something, just go into it with your eyes wide open. Getting healthy is stressful and takes alot of attention on yourself. With your DH being out of work and Bean’s issues and all of it, is now the time to start this journey?

    What would be great to help, is to have a buddy. A walking buddy to get you out there on the days you don’t want to go. A buddy who will ask about your eating when you really don’t want anyone to report to.

    Being healthy is a great way to love yourself. Do it for that, because you love yourself, or because you want to love yourself more- not because you hate what you see in the mirror.

  12. I went through a lot of the same until about three and a half years ago. I was 265, dieted down to 245 and stuck there. Then I started up with the Shangri la Diet (you can read everything about it free on the web). I’ve been at 189 for about three years (well, I’m actually in the 170s, and have been for some time, but I claim my rest weight at the 189 success point).

    Wish you luck. About 50% of the people I know who are really overweight have carb/sugar issues, but about 50% just eat. SLD worked for me, but what is interesting is the people who lose weight with it and then decide that they have other issues and can do without losing the weight.

  13. I was talking to a girlfriend of mine the other day who is twice your size and she was “coming out” to me about her financial issues. She and her husband are being consulted about their choices all across the board in their lives and what they had come to the conclusion of is they ate the pringles because they could afford it. To go to a nice restaurant and make great choices off of the menu is expensive and to go out to a fattier type place was cheaper and it was something they could buy and reason with buying because it is “essential”. They could always justify a food purchase, but not put the same amount into a monthly gym membership instead.

    The why is the hardest part of the matter. Absolutely wondering what is behind the decision making takes a lot of digging into areas we may or may not want to know about ourselves. After that daunting task, then you can go with the phrase eat less, exercise more. That is actually the easy part!

  14. I know my why. Knowing doesn’t really take care of the issues though. I really need to work on the whole kit and caboodle–emotions, choices, carbs, cola, lionsandtigersandbears. Oh my.

    I wish you well in your journey to health.

  15. I’m really loving the health aspect here, because you get plenty of the “appearance” aspect thrown at you, which is part of the problem, not the solution. There are parts of you that certainly aren’t being fed, and our immediate response is just to try and make it go away somehow, so Pringles it is. Lately I’m lucky and my new shopping methods leave us with more fresh foods in the fridge. So now I go for a snack late at night and decide that I’m not really hungry enough to eat that stuff. If it’s bed or carrots I’ll take sleep every time! This may not last forever so I guess I’ll enjoy it while I’ve got it.
    Everything fits together, even when we don’t realize it. Much like a good spring cleaning usually makes a bigger mess before you start to see the clean, a total person work through is gonna seem a lot more cumbersome in the beginning. Maybe that’s why plans work well for many people, it takes the thought out of that one section so you can focus on the rest. Unless you just ignore the rest…aw heck, now I’m just rambling…

  16. I’m fat too. I’m healthy though, and it helps.. but I am SICK of weighing more than 200, much more, and being careful, and good, and not having a darn thing work.


  17. I have a lot of issues with eating, too. Then I found out that diabetics not only don’t produce insulin, they don’t produce another hormone that regulates how fast your body absorbs food AND suppresses your appetite. So I went on this new drug—another one that has to be injected—and my appetite was drastically reduced. Actually, it made me nauseous. But it was so nice not to get SO hungry all the time. Suddenly eating was like a whole different thing. I lost a lot of weight. I went off of it though because it made my blood sugars yo yo and that just drives me nuts.

  18. Also, you could check to see if you have polycystic ovarian syndrome. A surprising amount of women have this and don’t know it. It can cause weight gain and make it literally impossible for you to burn it – you don’t produce the hormone required for the burning. I ate right and exercised and no change at all. Then I was diagnosed with PCOS and started some meds for it. That made all the difference. Suddenly my body could actually produce the hormone to burn fat and boom, my good eating and exercising paid off. I don’t lose weight unless I diet and exercise, but at least now they are effective when I do them. (Assuming I remember to take the darn meds. For some reason that’s the hardest part.)

  19. I’m going to have to echo Emily. When you get insurance again, get checked for PCOS, it’s a lot more common than people think.

    OT – Susan M, I don’t feel hungry all the time. Do you think it’s possible I’m still making that hormone for now (sort of like how you’re still producing a tiny amount of insulin when you first get diagnosed)? Are you talking about Amylin?

  20. I think that’s what it’s called. The med I was taking was something new called Symlin. (new a year or two ago)

    And it’s not that I feel hungry all the time, just that when I am hungry I feel *starving.*

  21. Yes but there are other things that can too. I was originally diagnossed with having PCOS but after I started looking online some of my things didn’t match. The biggest one being that I have NO problem getting pregnant, most of the women I was reading about had serious problems getting pregnant. I finally went to a endocrinoligist(sp??) and she said that what I had shared some of the same symptoms. But the dr. said I had a metabolic disorder (my weight, hormones, cholestral, sugars, etc were all out of wack) the treatment was actually the same as the midewife had given me for PCOS, metformin and yasim bc along with fish oil for my cholestral and a mutlvitamin. But that as I lose weight and eat better then I could eventaully go off my meds (the midwife said that pcos is something you’ll always have). But apperiantly that hasn’t been a big enough motivation for me, it’s been 3 yrs since I was diagnosed and while I did lose some weight (15 lbs) it’s come back. I currently trying alli, we’ll see.

  22. PCOS is what I have, T. Now along with it, I am hypothyroid too. Neither are good in the fight against weight gain. It isn’t a bad idea to have a full work up when you have ins. again either way.

  23. MY why is that I am a friggin emotional eater. Eat when I’m happy. Eat when I’m sad. Eat especially when I’m stressed out. I have a special needs kiddo and seems when she has issues, I eat also. 🙂 Thinking about money makes me wanna eat, too, even if I’m not hungry.

    A few months ago, a family member took their own life, left behind a spouse and very young children. I’ve been dealing with that and just the looming threat of poor health makes me fear for my own kids if I were to croak due to my health. So… I’m working on self-restraint with regard to my eating habits, making a few better food choices, and then a little exercise.

  24. Tracy, “wackadoodle periods” can also be due to early stages of peri-menopause. For me the greater the stress, the greater the wacked-out periods and PMS… and the greater the need to eat. Good luck as you figure out your “whys” and strive to become healthier!

  25. Um. Did someone call today? Do I need to kick some butt on your behalf? I eat real food, not this tomato and cucumber stuff….so I really could, you know, if you want me too. No pansy here! Okay, I realate to where you’re coming from. Just in the mood for a little sarcasm tonight!

  26. Crap!
    I wrote this long comment about how eating healthy is actually budget-friendly (it is!) and it didn’t get published. Sigh.

  27. Tracy,

    I’ve never commented here, but I wanted to let you know there are many who can totally relate.

    I’ve always been a big girl, but very healthy. I actually peeked at my OB/GYN files once and the doctor had noted, “In spite of being obese, patient enjoys exceptional health.” The past few years it has gotten a little out of control; my oldest was diagnosed with autism, then my youngest, my sister died, my two nieces came to live with us, my alcoholic brother tried to commit suicide, my parents lost most of their retirement and now we find ourselves trying to support them as well, I could go on and on…now I’m not quite sure how I got here or what to do about it. Eat less and exercise more, ummm yeah right.

    I think of it like this. Suppose your knee was destroyed in a car accident, totally ripped up. You’re going to physical therapy, using pain meds to get by and then one day someone tells you that you HAVE to run a marathon. You HAVE to, there is NO other option, the world will stop turning if you don’t…period. So what do you do?

    You take the pain meds and a few more, trying to numb the pain enough to be able to run the darn race. At the end of the day you barely make it through the race on your hands and knees only to find out, great now you can do it again tomorrow and the next day and they next. Dear God, HOW?

    One foot in front of the other one pill after another with no end in sight. Such is the battle with addiction (food, pills, alcohol, whatever) when you have no other options, no end in sight.

    How can you just stop, when stopping is NOT an option? You have to finish the race, every day. Your pain and anguish is indescribable. You have no choice, you have to keep going and in order to keep going you have to take the pills. It is NOT physically possible for you to make it without them. Such is life at times. What to do?

    The ironic part? One day you wake up to find out, you didn’t need to ‘run’ the race after all…Look over there, there are crutches you could have used, or a wheelchair and friends to help push you or a car to ride in and yet every day you were suffering in excruciating pain and trying in vain to numb it with pills, when you never had to ‘run’ the darn thing to begin with.

    Such is my relationship with food. I am still waiting for the day when I will walk over to the car to get to the finish line and stop trying to run the race. Knowing and doing are two very different creatures.

    Good luck with your race.

    P.S. Three is several, as a matter of fact one might say it is a considerable number. ;~)

  28. Definately get checked out for things like hypothyroid, depression, perimenopause, PCOS and etc. first! If you haven’t been to the doctor in a while that is the first step of any weight loss plan. Because you could do your very best at eating and exercising only to have your body sabotage your efforts because of certain physical conditions.

    If your body doesn’t feel “right”, don’t chalk it up to being fat. Feeling yucky isn’t karma for being fat. “Fat” people feel good. Sometimes the being fat and feeling yucky is because you are sick. I hope I’m making sense. Sometimes we, especially women, sit around feeling horrible for no good reason – chalking it up to hormones, or over eating, or lack of control, or whatever. Smack your doctor up side the head, or find a new one, and tell them to help you! It is not like a ecclesistical leader where their word is what goes, challenge them, ask questions, make them tell you why. Watch The DRs, read books, search the internet. Be in charge of your care! (Especially if money is limited and every office visit counts.)

    I will now step down from my soapbox 🙂

  29. PCOS stinks!! I hate metformin (does anyone on here actually not have side effects from it?) and my hubby who takes it because he is diabetic has a hard time remembering why I take it and he does is totally different.

    Here is a site to get some good info: http://www.soulcysters.com/

    My move to MT has given me grief in that none of the doc’s I have know much about it. Going to Boise to see my old one isn’t something we can do very often- just IVF times, which we’ve now decided to stop.

  30. Melzie, what side effects do you get from metformin? sorry that may be too personal, I haven’t noticed any side effects and was wondering what problems others might have from it.

  31. welcome to the wonderful world of addiction! I quit drinking 9 years ago, quit smoking 3 1/2 years ago, gave up my beloved chai (which I will be trying to rekindle sans tea leaves from your recipe thank you) a year ago, but food? Food is my drug of choice these days, I eat for the same reason I drank, which is the same reason I smoked. I am a fan of a certain 12 step program for my alcoholism, but the 12 steps can work for anything. There is actually a fellow Mo who adapted them to work with scripture, the book is called “He did deliver me from bondage” it is pretty good. I am currently trying to lose the baby weight now that I am weaning my almost one year old, but I binge, and binge… and binge. Progress not perfection, that is the name of the game. Love your blog!

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