Here’s a photo of me at my thinnest, physically & emotionally:
And here’s a photo of me now, at my fattest & happiest:
So, these photos beg the question – was I unhappy because I was thin? Am I happy now because I’m fat?
Nope. Not that simple.
In fact, there are days – weeks, months even – where I long to look like that girl in the first photo. 5’10, 153lbs. She seems happy, right? Protruding collarbones & all. But I know how she, how I, really felt. Unworthy. Unloved. Insignificant & insufficient. And honestly, still fat. I never thought I was as thin as I looked. I always saw a heavier girl in the mirror, even at my thinnest. It didn’t help that I was in an unhealthy relationship at the time, where my eating & exercising habits were often monitored & critiqued, by him & his mother. Where I was told I shouldn’t wear a lovely new yellow dress because I “had too much weight.” On & on it goes.
I lost most of my weight through extremely low calorie diets (for me, at least: ~1000/day, sometimes less) and an unhealthy relationship with food. I got heavily locked into the good food/bad food paradigm and became strict about exercising. Years later, there’s a term for that – orthorexia: an unhealthy obsession with eating healthy food. Even when I relaxed on the nutritional value, I remained extremely anal retentive about the calorie content. Eventually this would become too much for me, so I’d go into periods of binge eating. For instance, when my food intake was being closely watched in the relationship I mentioned earlier, I’d sometimes stop at fast-food restaurants after our dates and go to town because I was so freaking hungry. I definitely think there was some emotional hunger there, too. I was unsatisfied and unhealthy any way you looked at it.
But life’s weird, and the world of weight loss is even weirder. Even though my lifestyle was the unhealthiest it had ever been, all I heard were compliments.
See, when you live in a fat body, people think they know all about your lifestyle. You’re lazy, you only eat unhealthy foods, you don’t exercise, you probably don’t have a sex life, etc. Your body = a negative thing. Not everyone thinks this way, thank god, but my experience as a thin person sadly confirmed that a large majority of people do feel this way about overweight people. When I was thin, my lifestyle was automatically: a) acceptable, because I was thin, and b) healthy, because I was thin. Just as a fat body garners negative assumptions, a thin body has positive associations just by virtue of thinness. I could’ve been seriously ill, or starving myself, or smoking three packs a day, or doing drugs, or any number of things. Very few people who commented on my “awesome weight loss” really knew what I was doing to lose the weight. They just knew that a fat body had become a thin body and that is automatically an ultimate good.
And it may sound like I’m excluding myself from that group, but I’m not. I’m just as guilty as anyone. You see someone who has lost weight and your kneejerk reaction is to congratulate them. And for the longest time, I received that praise, and I fed off of it. But deep down, I was repulsed. I knew what I was doing was unhealthy. And when you’ve been overweight your entire life, it is astonishing to see how differently the world treats you when you’re thin. Men were suddenly more flirtatious, sales clerks in “normal” sized stores stopped avoiding eye contact, interviewers seemed to take me more seriously. What’s that Eagles lyric? “Even your old friends treat you like you’re somethin’ new.”
It was amazing, and terrifying. Why did people treat me so differently? I didn’t care so much about the pick-up lines – far be it for me to dictate who someone is attracted to. It was just the overall feeling you got from average, everyday people. It was like you just suddenly…existed. It was fucking disgusting and enlightening and incredible and such a hard mix of emotions to process. There was also this constant echo in the back of my mind – what if you regain the weight? How will people treat you then?
Well, obviously, I did regain the weight. My weight gain was far less dramatic than my weight loss, at least in regards to the method. I’m sure most old friends I run into find it dramatic. But in terms of regaining it, I just overate. It wasn’t intentional overeating to somehow shield myself from the newfound world I was suddenly in, though that would’ve been understandable. And it was fairly gradual, over the course of a few years. I also gradually stopped working out. There was a series of unfortunate events – a difficult breakup + graduating college with no idea where to go + quitting my first job + a new birth control prescription that fucked with my mind, and that all eventually led to a lengthy period of severe depression/occasional suicidal thoughts. I had some rough years, and I eventually dropped my unhealthy “healthy” habits in favor of my old unhealthy habits – overeating & not exercising.
So the weight crept back up, as it is wont to do. And I won’t deny that it’s a substantial amount of weight. Today, I weigh 293 pounds. I’ve gained 147 pounds from my lowest weight. I’ve gained an entire person. Sometimes I repeat it under my breath to try & shock myself somehow: “I weigh almost 300 pounds.” There are days where it’s unbelievable and days where I feel each and every pound of that. Being this heavy is not easy. But as I said above, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been, right? So how I can be happy at almost 300lbs, even though I still want to lose weight?
It’s because I’m finally, FINALLY, learning how to love myself in spite of it all. It’s the longest, roughest road in the fucking world, but it’s definitely one worth traveling. I refuse to sit here and lie to you and say that I have it all figured out, because I don’t. Far from it. Like I said, there are weeks where I want to run into the arms of eating disorders and become that really thin unhappy girl all over again. But I’m proud of who I am, I’m proud of what I’ve survived so far in life, and I’m happy that I’m in a place where I surround myself with good people who genuinely care about me regardless of my weight.
For the first time ever, I feel like I’m ready to lose weight for me AND ONLY ME. I want to do things the right way. I want to take care of my body because I love my body, not because I hate it. I want to feed myself healthy food because I deserve it, not to punish myself. I refuse to buy into the good food/bad food paradigm. I refuse to use food or exercise as punishment for living my life. I refuse to compare myself to people with different body types or lifestyles or ways of eating or living. It’s so mentally and physically and emotionally fucking exhausting trying to live your life as, or for, someone else. I’ve been there, and I regret every second of it. I want to set realistic goals for myself. I want to get back into the 180s, maybe even the 170s again. But I wasn’t happy at 153. I didn’t like what it took for me to stay there. I didn’t like how I felt. Looking back, I don’t like how I looked. But I do remember a brief period in the 180s where I thought I looked and felt pretty good, and I do miss that. I want to get there again, but in a way that’s sustainable this time. “A lifestyle change,” everyone says. Yes, please. I’ll have one of those. Because diets really & truly do not work.
I vow to love my body as it is now, all 293lbs of it, because it has carried me this far in life. Through all the ups-and-downs, it has been here for me. Even when I’ve treated it like shit, it’s been here. I’m proud of its resiliency. I no longer need anyone else to love it or admire it for me to respect it. I’m determined to lose weight and get healthier for myself, in a way that truly makes my life better, not worse.
It’s hard. I won’t lie. It’s really fucking difficult. Old habits die hard, and those include restriction & bingeing & self loathing. And laziness. And avoidance. So I’m hoping to use this blog (and my Instagram, since microblogging is my fave) to document some of the stuff I think about & go through on this weight loss journey. I’ve been thinking about it for a while but I’ve been hesitant, partially because people on the internet can be scary & mean, and partially because I’ve had doubts about whether I can do so without entering the realm of unhealthy obsession again. I think there’s absolutely nothing wrong with striving for a healthy lifestyle and documenting every damn step of that process, but I also know that I can fall into the trap of comparison & competition and want to avoid that at all costs.
That being said, I’m ready to do this. I’ve already posted a picture of myself in a swimsuit on Instagram last year, and now everyone knows how fat I am (fat = just an adjective, y’all), so there’s not really any more fear holding me back. I plan on continuing to post random pictures of food, but along with occasional progress pictures & workout-related stuff now. I hope to eventually find myself in a community of likeminded people who can support each other. It’s hard, because so many online weight loss accounts (at least on IG) are focused on dietbets and selling shakes and wraps and all these things that either don’t matter to me or feel completely counterintuitive for how I’m trying to do this. (I don’t think they’re necessarily wrong, per se, just wrong for me.) But I’m looking forward to the process, and hopefully I’ll eventually be able to help someone else in their journey, whether that journey is to lose weight or to learn how to love themselves. Losing weight is really important to me at this stage of my life, but if I hadn’t learned to love myself first, then this wouldn’t even be a journey worth taking.