*explicit language warning*
More and more I am becoming aware of how growing up fat has shaped who I am today and how I experience the world around me. I know, what a sad thought, that my life has been lived through this filter, that I would experience things differently had I not been overweight.
First, let me say that I didn’t always know I was fat, and I think before then, life was lived on the same plane as my siblings.
However, at some point in my childhood, it was made very clear to me that:
1- I was fat.
2- It’s not a good thing.
Now, let’s call that what it is, bullshit. Because a persons size isn’t good or bad, it just is and if said person is happy and thriving it’s none of our damn business what they eat or how they look.
However, as a child, this was my reality. I was fat, fat wasn’t good, I was less than. This sensation of not being good enough was the theme of my life. I talked too much, I took up too much space, I wasn’t worthy of the real estate.
The details of how I became to believe these things is fuzzy. Could it have been TV, telling me that fat is bad? Could it have been a kid in school making fun of me? Could it have been an observation? Comparing my body to my sister’s and seeing the difference, noticing the small, subconscious behavior of those around us?
This is important for people to understand, yes, you are treated differently when you are fat. Not all the time, but often enough and it’s very apparent when it happens. It always leaves a little mark on you. Like an invisible scar.
Growing up fat, as a kid, I wasn’t picked first to be on anyone’s team. I couldn’t borrow or share clothes with my sisters or girlfriends. I didn’t want to go shopping with them as it was hard to find my size in most of the stores they went to.
Growing up fat meant not having a boyfriend in the 5th grade or a crush. It meant acting uninterested in the boys in my class because I knew they were not interested in me. It was being guarded because the rejection was imminent. Growing up fat meant limitation, can’t wear that, can’t do that, shouldn’t eat that.
It was being a friend and not the girlfriend. It was overhearing conversations about you and not identifying with the person being described. It was being heartbroken a million times. It was being left out. It was being publicly humiliated or even worse, being invisible.
How does someone who grew up hurting, someone who still holds on to those scars, how do we move forward? How do we heal? How do you begin to love a body the world has taught you to hate?This is important for people to understand, yes, you are treated differently when you are fat. Not all the time, but often enough and it’s very apparent when it happens. It always leaves a little mark on you. Like an invisible scar.
This is where shit gets weird, but stay with me… you don’t have to love your body to be happy. You don’t have to love all of your body to be happy. You can appreciate it, honor it, be thankful you are alive.
But the pressure to love yourself, that’s just it…MORE PRESSURE FROM AN OUTSIDE SOURCE. Keyword: OUTSIDE.
Every article about calorie deficits screams at you that you eat too much. Every picture of a very fit, and conventionally attractive woman telling you to love your body subliminally saying… but only if you look like me. Every study on obese people, and chart and doctor and well-meaning health guru saying that you’re wrong, a mistake, that you will die young because of your weight.
Your inner dialogue needs to change. If you repeat what others have told you about yourself you are going to believe the bad part. Make up your own mind about who you are.
What? Like I’ve never not been fat, so I’m this walking talking poster child for disease and death?!?!?! GTFOOOOOOO!!! Nope. All that crap, it’s all making you buy into diet dogma. It’s all part of that big money-making machine that keeps you buying books, and products and programs so you can “fix yourself.” Goal number one: get to a place where you feel confident enough to walk away, to tune it out, to say…. You’re not talking to me. Not today Satan, not today! So… how do we get there…?
How do I learn to love myself (even if that doesn’t include loving my figure)?
That is the kicker. It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not a line you cross and never go back. It’s a muscle, you have to grow it, flex it, work it out. Sometimes you forget how and you need to re-learn.
Hate is like a drug, you need to wean off and sometimes you will relapse. Self-hate likes to control you. It’s seductive. It lets you give up on yourself. It lets you listen to the messages you are constantly flooded with. It taps into your need to fit in, your need to be part of the tribe, your need to survive. That doubt, the knot in the back of your throat, it’s addicting.
We love to torture ourselves with the what ifs, the one days the if only.
This is the thing, that space, the self-loathing, doubting, hypothetical space, it thrives off of your fear. It keeps you picking yourself apart because staying there is safer… safer than going out and living the life you want.
Dreaming but never going after it, that’s the safe space. Because if you don’t try, you don’t fail. But if you don’t fail you don’t learn and if you don’t learn you don’t evolve.
Listen, it’s not easy and it’s not painless and it sure as hell isn’t a straight line, cut and dry or even tangible… but LIVING YOUR LIFE with integrity, with self-love with self-worth…WE ALL DESERVE THAT. WE ARE ALL CAPABLE OF IT.
So going back to your body… because after all, we do live in these vessels right? I have a theory! Once you really flex those Zen muscles. You work on just being happier because hot damn, you are ALIVE today. Because you CHOSE to give ZERO FUCKS about social media, the Kardashian’s and whoever else makes you feel like you are not good enough. That is a choice.
Start by clearing up your feed. I only follow people who make me feel good.
And if I have to unfollow that one account with the really cute girl who is always posting self-love messages from the gym with her perfect hair, and makeup and outfit and it’s all a little too glamour shots to be real and omg it triggers some shit… .…. then unfollow!!!!
Just because an account is a self-described #selflove #bodypositive guru or whatever, doesn’t mean that they SPEAK TO YOU. Find your people. Surround yourself with messages that give you the warm and fuzzies, that put some pep in your step.
Now… if once you get your ish in order. You’re feeling pretty good about life. You fully appreciate this body of yours even if you don’t love it. Like you’re cool, you’re on speaking terms. Great. You have compassion and all that. Now, and only now are you truly ready to take on the tremendous commitment to lifestyle changes that may result in body composition changes.
Note: LIFESTYLE CHANGES THAT MAY RESULT IN BODY COMPOSITION CHANGES.
These words are chosen very carefully. Here’s why: DIETS DON’T WORK. Also, if you have been overweight since forever, or a really long time, you may diet and see results and then you will gain all the ish back and earn yourself some metabolic damage too. So!
You buckle in for the long haul. Commit to starting by making healthy choices that work for you, that make you feel your best. Wanting to change the way you look isn’t a bad thing. You’re not a shitty person and you aren’t failing at self-love.
But you know what IS SHITTY? Constantly complaining or wishing or expecting something to change without actually changing anything! I tell people this all the time, NOTHING WILL CHANGE IF YOU DON’T CHANGE.
Y’all… clear as day: YOUR BEHAVIOR, your actions, YOUR CHOICES are everything.
So on that note: EPIGENETICS. Gene expression. With how we live, eat and think we are telling our genes how to express. While humans haven’t evolved in 10,000 years, we have turned on or off some switches. Moral of the story: we all have some rad DNA that wants to be healthy, that wants to thrive, we just have to act in a way that lets our genes express that optimally.
And here is where I go from woo-woo to actionable.
- Treat yo self right. That includes eating right. And eating right means eating whole foods, unaltered ingredients, properly prepared. Eat enough to fuel your body. Move your body. Walk, stretch, yoga, cross fit, ride your bike, swim… move however you can. Fuel your body enough to balance hormones, to repair, to give you energy.
- Don’t overeat. No binging. No starving. Fuel your body properly. The message to not overeat is not a pass to under eat. It’s really not that complicated. But we need to kick binge eating habits. Make sure you get sufficient calories in your body. Eating whole foods and avoiding hyperpalatable processed foods will eventually get your hunger signals working properly again. Aim to eat satisfying meals so you can go 3-5 hours between them, ideally. So load up your plate baby.
- Quality matters. I’m sorry, drive-thru free pass here. I call it like it is. Crap food is crap food and you can make all the excuses you want for the reasons “YOU NEED TO EAT IT SOMETIMES” but that’s exactly what they are, excuses. Plus, this high calorie, low nutrient food messes with hunger signals. Leaves you nutritionally starving. No one, ever, needs McDonald’s. You will invest time in cooking and shopping. You will have to learn to cook. Facts. It doesn’t work without that, unless you can afford a private chef.
Feeling good about your choices, how you are living your life. Honoring your body by nourishing it can really heal a lot of the wounds of the past. I used to binge eat when I left like shit about being fat. Smart right? But that was it, food was my comfort, but it was also a form of self-harm. I spent so much time feeling ashamed of food, ashamed of what I hate, how much I hate. A vicious cycle of shame, guilt and punishment. So when I wanted to lose weight I would starve myself. I would do these crazy diets. Take pill, wraps, teas. People….I TRIED IT ALL.
What I learned about myself and learned about a lot of people in this community… Food is only the beginning.
So with this post, I hope to inspire you to look inward first. To come from a place of compassion with yourself. To mend some of those wounds of the past before you jump into weight loss goal-oriented lifestyle changes. No matter how I look some days, I still feel like a fat little girl. Inside, I often still hurt and doubt, I work really hard to overcome that, and it’s an ongoing process. But along the way, with a healthy lifestyle, by having energy and balanced hormones that help stabilize my mood on a chemical level I am better equipped to deal with the emotional baggage that I carry.
I get it. I am you. I have felt every pang, every hit, every time someone made you feel less than because of how you looked. I carry those memories with me still, they are etched in my brain. I used to think that when I got healthy, that when I lost weight they would magically go away, or not bother me anymore. They’re still there. But you know what, those memories don’t define me and I feel stronger. I know that if was in the same situation I would stand up for myself. Although we don’t get re-dos in life, we do get chances, and I urge you to take this chance to live the life you want.
Taking responsibility for my own actions vs. deflecting all blame and letting life happen to me.
Committing to educating myself, putting in the work, reading the labels, Googling shit, truly taking ownership of my own body and what I put in it. Not expecting handouts, free rides, passes or for any of this to be easy, because it’s not. Knowing that if you have made it this far, that if you have survived the trauma, the bullying, the emotional abuse from peers and family members that you are strong AF and you can do this. Your scars don’t make you broken, they make you bulletproof.
My body has changed, slowly, but it has gotten strong and lean and healthy and the lumps and bumps I used to see when I looked in the mirror… hey, some of them are still there… But I also see a tall, curvy, sexy figure with (omg totally new to me) muscle definition. It’s like seeing my body for the first time, emerging from this physical and psychological baggage I have carried with my entire life.
I stopped comparing my body to other bodies because my body is unique to me. NO one out there has “my dream body” because no one out there has my body. No more comparison. No more looking at magazines and sighing. Know that when you make healthy changes that will sustain your emotional well being, as well as your physical well being you will evolve to have an even deeper appreciation for that miracle that is your body. Thousands of chemical responses, electricity and regeneration, an ongoing eco-system with one purpose, to keep you alive!
The magic here is that whether the changes happening are physical or emotional or a little bit of both… I see myself with new eyes.
So think of how you see yourself. Think of why you see yourself that way? Has the world hurt you? Do you feel vulnerable, unwanted, scared? I get it. And wanting to change to not feel that way is normal. Remember YOU HAVE THE POWER. How you experience the world is a choice. Choose to fill your life with those who support you and honor you. Find a place of self-love and body neutrality. From there, from a place of peace and compassion, that is when you are primed to make lasting lifestyle changes.
You can design the life you want to live and who you want to be. That’s the beauty of this world, there is only ONE YOU, and you decide how you get to live! Take up space, be loud, speak up, wear the red lipstick, by the dress.
You are worthy. You are enough. You are beautiful.