Like a gay man who went and married a woman to be socially acceptable, I’ve been living in denial. If I just keep trying, I can be different. I can be OK.
But I’m fat. I’ve been fat since the third grade when my weight began to creep up. Over the last thirty some odd years, I’ve probably lost and gained back the equivalent weight of a full grown adult, but the end result is still the same. I’m fat.
Over the last few years, I’ve gone through much self-discovery and eventually got that there is absolutely nothing wrong with me. That might sound like a giant “DUH” to some of you but most people go through life with the deep-rooted belief that they are inherently flawed in one way or another. And because of this, they need to be saved or fixed.
Well, looks like I missed something. In all this self-acceptance there was one part of me that I hadn’t accepted and still believed was “wrong”. My body.
I don’t hate my body and my appearance like I once did but I’ve still been trying to fix and change it. I’ve still been behaving like it shouldn’t be this way and I know better. There’s nothing wrong with me.
I want to be healthy and active but not because it’s wrong to be otherwise. I just like the feeling of wellness. And if none of my actions result in weight loss ever again, so be it.
I’m not here to tell anyone else what to do, or not do, but I would remind you that you don’t get to say how it goes for anyone else. You can play all kinds of cards you like but you still only get to use the hand you’re dealt. If you think you’re being helpful by saying anything to a fat person about being fat, read this link (you’ll have to copy/paste into your browser):
Then watch this video. Bob Newhart has the answer to anything you have to say.
I, like many overweight people, have at one time or another been bullied or shamed into trying to lose weight. I’ve been on countless diets, done exercises that I don’t enjoy (even hurt my foot once) and spent years wanting nothing more than for it all to disappear.
If I’m being really honest, I’ve only been close to a “normal” weight about three times in my life and none of those were good situations. I lost weight in college when I had to support myself and was living on mostly oatmeal, Top Ramen and Taco Bell. I got to my lowest weight (138 pounds) just before I had my gall bladder surgically removed for being infected and full of gallstones. And finally, I managed to drop about 45 pounds when my first long-term boyfriend left me for another woman.
Never once have I managed to lose and maintain weight loss through diet and exercise alone. I’ve had abject poverty, extreme illness and emotional distress to thank.
And then when things improved, my weight returned. Perhaps I lack the desire or willpower. Or maybe it’s something in my physical make up. Regardless, there’s nothing wrong with me. There has never been anything wrong with me.
Fat was once a symbol of health and wealth. Thin and frail meant you were poor or ill but now we celebrate thin above all other body types. Fat now represents lazy and unhealthy. What if neither point of view was correct?
There is something about all of this that reminds me of the Buddha’s words regarding the middle path.
As a youth, Prince Siddhartha enjoyed the indulgent life of pleasure in his father’s palace. Later, when he renounced the worldly life and became an ascetic, he experienced the hardship of torturing his mind and body. Finally, not long before attaining Enlightenment, he realized the fruitlessness of these two extreme ways of life. He realized that the way to happiness and Enlightenment was to lead a life that avoids these extremes. He described this life as the Middle Path. These three ways of life may be compared to the strings of different tensions on a lute. The loose string, which is like a life of indulgence, produces a poor sound when struck. The overly tight string, which is like a life of extreme asceticism, similarly produces a poor sound when struck and is moreover, likely to break at any moment. Only the middle string which is neither too loose nor too tight, and is like the Middle Path, produces a pleasant and harmonious sound when stuck. So these who follow the Middle Path which avoid the extreme of indulging one’s desires and opposite extreme of torturing one’s mind and body unreasonably, will find happiness, peace of mind and Enlightenment.
And sometimes the things we do to our body to make it lose weight can do more harm than those extra 20 or 30 pounds ever could. To quote the Beatles, “Let It Be.” Now that’s some radical self-acceptance.
You may not agree with me but that’s okay. All I want to be is healthy and happy. Being at peace about everything contributes to both of those. I have a healthy body that serves me well. That’s all I need.
There’s really nothing wrong here.