Just fat

I began writing Heavy at the beginning of the summer as a column for Fiddlehead Focus. I’m really excited that the Bangor Daily News has picked it up as a blog. This particular piece is a re-print of my introductory column for Fiddlehead Focus. It should explain what this blog will cover for topic and introduce you to why I decided to start writing about life as a fat person. Being fat isn’t easy. I feel pressure every day to lose weight and to change my habits. I believe it’s in my best interest to do so, but I have yet to figure out how. These are my thoughts, my experiences, my trials, my errors. This is my journey.

I’m fat. (Not lazy, not a glutton – just fat.)

There, I said it, as if seeing it in print somehow makes it more real than it’s ever been.

I’m 37-years-old, and I’ve been fat for as long as I can remember. There are a few photos of me as a young child that suggest I have not always been this way. But for as long as it has mattered, I have exceeded the weight limits on doctors’ charts – and rides at the amusement park.

I have problems with my legs that make exercising difficult at best, and even when I try dieting to lose weight, it becomes discouraging – fast. Of course, if I could lose some weight, the problems with my legs would become less. Ironic, isn’t it?

There are other issues at play too, like time. That’s the big one – I work a ton as editor of Fiddlehead Focus, an up-and-coming online news journal with a weekly print paper in northern Maine, and I am a busy mom of three. There’s few hours (minutes even) left in a day for me to concentrate on my health. There are other factors that make losing weight for me difficult too, like embarrassment, and, if I’m being honest, FEAR. Being fat is all I know how to be.

I know, I know. These are all excuses that can be overcome. I know I need to take control of my health, etc. But let’s be real folks, it’s not as easy as it may seem for those who have never gone through the process of overcoming morbid obesity. I’ve considered surgery. I’ve yo-yo dieted my entire life. I’ve tried nearly every fad diet at least once. I’ve felt the frustration and humiliation of going to a store and having ultra-thin salesclerks tell me that maybe I should shop elsewhere because they don’t carry my size. I’m fat, and sometimes I feel like I might as well have an extremely contagious disease.

I have three daughters. Since I’ve managed to convince myself that my weight issues are a product of genetics in the nature vs. nurture scheme of things, I’ve always been terrified that they might suffer the same fate as me. Have you ever heard the awful saying that immature, sex-crazed boys use?

“If you want to know what your girl will look like when she’s older, check out her mother.”

Sometimes I wonder if my being fat might actually keep them from finding happiness one day. Talk about a guilty parent feeling. Of course, then I look at how tall and thin they are and I thank God that they seem to have inherited their body shape genes from their 6’4” father’s side of the family. Maybe there’s hope for them after all. Which is worse, that I am terrified they’ll be fat like me, or that I’m so happy that it seems the fat has skipped them?

It’s awful to feel this way, and I know I’m not alone. I mean, fat is a dirty word to a lot of people. We’re programmed from a young age that the word ranks up there with various four-letter curses. Even my husband, when I refer to myself as fat, will roll his eyes and tell me I’m not.

But I am fat.

The mirror, the scales, the doctors’ charts, they do not all lie. I am FAT. So what is wrong with acknowledging that fact and moving on with my life? I’m not looking for sympathy. I’m not saying I’m happy or even content with my fatness, either. I’m simply coming to terms with what I am so that maybe someday, I will find the strength, encouragement, magic formula(?), or whatever it is I need to be healthy – mentally as well as physically – even if I’m still heavier than others think I need to be.

It’s time to start talking about my fat. I will use this blog to break some unspoken rules, open some frank discussion forums, explore the world of being fat in a brutally honest and real way, and to hopefully be a voice for people who are fat like me.