As a young girl, she always felt fat. She was teased in grade school on the playground by the boys, and none of the cool girls would play with her. She internalized her rejection and over many years, it became self-hatred. “Thunder thighs” were disgusting. Fat was something you didn’t want to be. Unfortunately, she learned very early on that what people see on the outside is how you’re categorized as a person, but there wasn’t much she could do about it. The school didn’t teach anyone how to eat healthy, her parents didn’t take issue with what was going to become the biggest battle she’d ever fight. A fight for fitness.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
The all to common “love a person for who they are” phrase is beaten into everyone’s minds now more than ever. It is now used as an excuse, that it’s okay to be fat. What you are on the outside does not make who you are on the inside, but I’m here to tell you – it absolutely does. If you can’t look in the mirror without disgust, then there’s a problem. If your spouse keeps telling you they love you exactly as you are and your lifespan is very obviously going to be cut short by at least 20 years since you can’t walk across a room without catching your breath – then there’s a problem. There’s a problem with the perception that being overweight is okay – and there’s a problem with conveying that you’re okay with seeing someone you love dearly so desperately unfit and unhealthy.
All my life, every single day, I’ve had this problem. I can recall from a young age hearing the words “if you don’t stop eating like that you’re going to look just like your Aunt …. ” the obese aunt. I remember going to bed at night and hearing the sounds of crinkling cookie wrappers – my parents downstairs having their nightly snack, which we didn’t get. That only made me want it more. I dove into buckets and packages and containers when my parents weren’t looking. I ate when I was frustrated, I ate because I was famished, I ate, and ate – and the one thing I did learn about food was that if it tastes good, eat it. If it’s really good, hide it and eat it in private – whatever you do, don’t share it.
I was without a boyfriend, of course, since thunder thighs really weren’t cool. I compensated my insecurities in high school with humor. Sarcasm gave me the opportunity to put other people down lower than I felt myself. Of course I only did that in private, because I was only privately hating everyone who looked at me the wrong way.
I grew to enjoy being on the outside, because the less involved I was with people, the less I hated them. I didn’t want to be angry all the time, especially since that just made me turn to food.
When I met my husband while I was in high school, I weighed what I weigh today. Exactly, as a matter of fact.
I wasn’t happy then, and I’m not happy now.
It’s been 19 years now, full of ups and downs. I’ve tried every diet I could tolerate. I have taken pills and successfully lost weight – and successfully gained it back. I have purchased kits and subscriptions and my eyes still drool when I see instructions or magazines that claim to be able to help you drop 10 pounds in the next 2 days. My health has suffered, my bones have suffered, and my mind is in a haze. Not one single day has ever passed when I haven’t thought about my weight and wanted to see something better when I looked in the mirror. Not one single day has ever gone by without the thought “I am fat” entering my mind. I’ve felt good – and when I feel good I do feel a little success, and those words of encouragement make me soar inside. Still, though, I see fat – and I know I have a long way to go to achieve my goals.
That photo above is an overlay of the past few years for me. When Mark left for Iraq in 2004 – I was at my absolute all time high, 233 pounds. I couldn’t walk from one side of my house to the other without panting. It took me weeks to get to the point where I could even go 2mph on my treadmill – let alone walk a full mile. The stress of his tour was a blessing and a curse – as I dropped weight like crazy, I was eating horribly and not learning a damn thing about health. All I wanted was for that fat to go away before he came home.
Thankfully – it hasn’t returned. This past winter, though, has made me feel like if I don’t get serious – and stay serious, it is most definitely going to creep its way back on, and I will turn into a miserable, unhealthy and depressed person.
I have the same problems that everyone else has.
Motivation: Forcing myself to get on the treadmill and exercise.
Time: Forcing myself to stay on for more than 10 minutes. Prepare meals from organic foods.
Desire: I do not like pain or sweat. I have to learn to look at it differently.
I also want what we all want – not to go it alone. To be one in a household of four who gives a crap about health and fitness isn’t good enough, and it is the primary reason for my bouts with failure as well as success. When other people care – I care. When they don’t, I don’t. Perhaps this is a hazard of being a woman and mother – we just want everyone else to be happy – and if that involved a giant pan of brownies with a side of ice cream, so be it.
It’s not right. It’s not healthy, and that’s not what I want to teach my children. I feel like a health-nut/Nazi sometimes with my obsession to learn about foods and try to tell/teach people. I want everyone to want better for themselves, and it’s frustrating that people just, well, don’t care enough. I’m stuck in the mud, it seems, waiting for someone to pull me out and show me how to do it. How can I do what I need to do without allowing the negative influences and temptations to pull me off course? How can anyone?
I want more. I want better. Better health than what I see and hear from my own parents and in-laws. I want longevity. Life. I am tired and frustrated when I hear that someone is sick and then seconds later how they’ve eaten a horrible meal that they perceive to be healthy. I want to know how to shut my mouth when I’m faced with that situation, and I want to know when it’s the right time to share my concerns with those people.
Most of all, though, I want to set an example for my children. I want to teach them what the school system won’t about nutrition, and I want them to think about food as fuel – and choose their fuel wisely.
It’s been a long haul. Where I am now is better than where I was, but where I want to go is still a ways off in the distance.
Hopefully, with a little help, encouragement, motivation – and maybe even knowing some of you know what I mean and will stand beside me, I’ll fight this battle a little stronger than before, and close that gap a little bit more every day.
Many thanks to Joey, for the poking and prodding.