Not too long ago, I was approached about writing a book about my Super Amazing Weight-loss. You have to capitalize it like that when it's 200lbs. It's the law.
I started writing and stopped writing. I started writing again, and stopped again. I deleted the entire thing. Twice.
The reasons for this are quite complicated, but you know what they boil down to?
No one wants to hear how much it sucks.
Because, my friends, losing two hundred pounds sucks.
People get angry, almost hostile when I say this. I've written about this before and seriously every time I type these words I feel sad about it all over again. People think I'm being ridiculous. They think I'm being flippant. They think that I'm one of those people who deserve to just put all the weight back on and have that to deal with instead of what I have to deal with now. They think, they really think, that losing a huge amount of weight will make your life suddenly worth living.
I bought into some of this hype too. I wish I could say I was above all that, but I wasn't. I believed (wrongly) that losing weight would make things easier for me and make my life better.
To be honest, some things are easier. I cannot deny that it's easier to find cute clothes. It's easier to run a mile (or two, or three). It's easier to participate in certain activities. I don't dread going to the doctor (and yes, I am completely aware that you cannot judge someone's health based upon their weight, but I was someone who was "borderline Type 2 diabetes" before, and now I am not). I "fit" better into the world, or at least what the world thinks I should fit into.
The rest? It's not easier. It's the same except for the parts of it that are harder.
Because, as I said, losing two hundred pounds sucks.
I was abandoned by my first husband when I was pregnant with twins. As you can imagine, it was horrendous. Losing 200lbs was a more isolating experience than that.
I probably sound dramatic (and I mean, hello? Have we met? DRAMA), but I am completely serious when I say this. This has been the loneliest period of my entire life and one that (thankfully) very few people can understand.
I'm supposed to be happy that I'm not fat anymore. That's what people believe, right? That's what the television and the movies and the Slim-fast commercials all say. Lose the weight and the guy will fall in love with you. Lose the weight and everyone will realize how awesome you are. Lose the weight and you can dance in one of our commercials on the TEE-VEE!
There are a lot of problems with the above statements. Namely:
1) The guy was in love with me before.
2) No one that thought I was not worthy of respect when I was overweight has changed their mind.
3) I don't want to be on television for any reason, but especially not dancing like a White Girl for a diet product. You don't want that either.
Also, this may not come as a big surprise to anyone, but when you tell people that you've lost 200lbs, sometimes they look at you with a look of complete horror and disgust because they cannot believe you let yourself get to the point that you would need to lose 200lbs. Then you start feeling even worse about yourself. Then you start wondering if you should ever even tell people at all.
Unfortunately, you can't always hide it from some people. Like your new doctor? He'll take one look at your sagging stretch-marked belly, arms, and legs and say, "You've lost a lot of weight...how much?" In clothes you can hide it and look totally "normal", but once those clothes are off? Whoo-boy. No hiding there.
The people who don't see you naked don't want to hear it either. They are tired of hearing about your weight loss, especially if you (like me) took a really long time and didn't lose it in like fifteen minutes or a year or whatever. They roll their eyes at you. They sometimes send messages to other people behind your back saying you're still chubby and all you do is brag on yourself. Remember #2 above? They don't respect you and losing weight just added fuel to the fire. Sometimes they are jealous. They ask for your help and then get mad when you tell them what it takes.
You start to doubt yourself, even more than you did before.
There are long, lonely, hungry nights. Sometimes the hunger is for food. I won't lie about that and I won't be one of those people who say, "You don't have to give up anything to lose weight!" because for me, personally, that was not true. I had to give up sugar. I had to give up bread. I had to give up cake. I had to give up milkshakes and Krispy Kreme donuts. Maybe you won't, but I did and that's the truth.
Other times the hunger is for something way more complicated. Sometimes, I have so much desire for...someone. Someone to reach out a lifeline. Someone to understand what I am going through and not be judgmental or jealous or hurtful. Someone to understand how hard it all is, how very hard, to go through such a huge emotional, mental, and physical change and be expected to...just go on. Just be the same person. To not acknowledge the huge mental shift that had to take place.
Not everyone can admit that you have to fight this every single day of your life. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one. Sometimes I read blogs and look at Instagram and these people work out every day, in really cute clothes, and have perfect make-up. They post perfect meals, all balanced out and just right. Perfect macros! I don't even understand macros and I'm certain mine are all wrong. I'm sitting over here struggling to get 10,000 steps a day in. I never think, oh! Yay! I want to for a run! I am terrible at running. No matter how hard I try I never seem to get any better and it makes me feel like a huge loser. I cannot fathom having any desire to wake up at 4am so I can work-out. My food and eating are alternately painfully boring and an exercise in demon-fighting. I have struggled with binge-eating disorder for many years, although it actually took me until recently to 1) realize this 2) accept this and 3) admit this. Sometimes I still eat my food without really tasting it, especially when things are particularly hard or painful at work or at home. I tell Jason I sometimes have "hungry days". He thinks it's all about food. It's not.
And let's talk about Jason.
He tries. He tries so hard. He loved me when I was 200lbs heavier than I am now, and he loves me still. He thinks I'm hot. He thinks I'm smart and pretty and kind and all the other things he wants. He is endlessly supportive of my body, my clothes, and the vast majority of the day-to-day choices I make in life. In short, I couldn't ask for a better husband and I mean that with every bit of my heart. But he doesn't understand.
He doesn't understand why I sometimes burst into tears when I'm standing in my closet because my clothes aren't my clothes anymore. He doesn't understand how I'm afraid, actually afraid, he's not going to like the way I look anymore. That he's not going to like me anymore. He doesn't understand why I hurt the way I hurt, why I stand in the corner willing people to just not talk to me sometimes. He tries. I know he tries. He still doesn't understand.
"You're so hard on yourself," he'll say and he's right when he says it. I just can't figure out how to change it.
It's not all bad, although I guess it sounds that way so far. I don't really mean to focus only on the negative, only on the hard. It's just that's what I'm feeling right now. I keep trying to put on a positive face and it's just not always easy.
I know I am stronger. My God, this body can do things that five years ago I could only dream about. Box jumps. Huge heavy weights. Running miles without stopping. Those things make me incredibly proud. My clean bill of health makes me proud, and so very relieved. I don't have headaches anymore, which is amazing. Most of all, I worked for this. I worked and I didn't give up. Even when it was so hard and felt so fruitless. Even when I was hungry and tired and over it. Even when I went weeks and months without losing a pound, no matter how hard I tried. I didn't give up. I don't give up. I take a lot of pride in my tenacity. Or stubborness. Whatever it is. I am thankful for every hard day, every hard choice, every mile, every pair of worn out shoes, every sweat rash, every bit of loose skin, and every. single. pound.
It's hard, folks. It's hard and it hurts and it's wonderful and it's weird. There are moments that it absolutely is the worst thing you've ever thought of and in the same moment the best thing you've ever done.
The only advice I can give anyone, and truly, this is the only thing:
You have to be okay with yourself either way.
Because it is hard. Because you might be hungry and tired and over it and want carbs. Because it won't happen overnight and when it does happen you'll stand there bewildered even though, in theory, you've had plenty of time to deal with it. Because people will have something to say, no matter what your weight is. Because you will be exactly the same and yet somehow entirely different.
You have to love yourself. You have to believe you are amazing either way. You have to be happy in the skin you are in, the body you are in, and with the heart that you have. Please, if you listen to nothing else I say here trust me on this.
Just...love yourself. That's all that really matters.
From a person who had 200 pounds to lose, and now has 143 pounds to lose~thank you. Just, thank you~for writing this, for being honest, and for sharing it, even though it must have been scary and hard to think of sharing it.
Vicki Shipman Templeton
You know what? I lost 100 pounds. And then gained it all back and more. A couple times. And I can totally relate to this. So much. xox
Thank you so much for this post. It was inspiring, insightful and personal. I can so relate to your demons. I have a 'protective cover of fat' that although is very pretty insulating when no one looks at you and is safe, it also creates monsters of its own, like health issues and a broken spirit. This protection allowed me to eat my way out of weight loss surgery. I risked my life and the wellbeing of my 18 month old son to have this. What I needed was brain surgery.
I am so excited for you, your brain maybe needs some time to catch up with your progress. I know it is silly to compare losing weight to giving up drugs or alcohol, but it is very real to me. I don't know how to function without my cloak of invisibility or my drug of choice. I applaud you for being brave.
You may not think this blog is important but it is a lifeline for me.
Jean - Canada
I don't have that much to lose (maybe about 70), but the weirdest thing to me is how trying to lose weight feels like a betrayal. Even if I know all the health reasons, it still feels like every day I have to say "you aren't good enough at this weight, let's get to a smaller number".
So it sort of beats me down to feel like for all I think I'm content and okay, I'm not. I have to admit to the world and myself (even if not verbally) that I recognize this isn't an okay way for me to be in this world. Does that make sense?
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