- The Weight I Just Can’t Lose
I have always been a “fat person”. According to the medical definition though, I have not always been obese. I have spent most of my life on a journey from chubby to obese, finally ending at my current “overweight” status. After years of struggling with obesity I had gastric bypass surgery, finally losing enough weight to be “normal.” However, regardless of the number on the scale or the BMI category into which I fell, I was still “fat”. I may have lost weight but I did not lose the experience and memories of life as an obese person. I was a fat girl on the inside.
My earliest memories of childhood consist of feeling fat and awkward. I was the kid reading a book, watching other little girls practice their cartwheels and boys play tag. I was the kid who also hated gym class, especially the days we practiced tumbling or had to climb ropes. I heard the other kids laugh when I had difficulty doing these things. It’s no surprise that I was last or next to last when we had to choose teams for sports. At least when we played flag football I could play center and use my weight as an asset, blocking players from the other team.
Certainly, taunts about my weight and even my own intrusive condemning thoughts were not constant, but they were frequent. Admittedly, I probably berated myself much more often than my peers did. I hated being different. What saddens me to this very day are promises I would make to God if I only I could be “like everyone else”. Oh the things that I would change, or give up for the gift of being a normal size. Even my good qualities, such as academic achievement, became another characteristic that made me stand out when all I wanted to do was hide amongst the crowd. I would have happily traded the high GPA for a lower number on the scale. [End Page E4]
Some memories from that era seem to be forever etched into my mind. It has been more than thirty years since I was in the seventh grade, but I remember one particular incident very clearly. I went to my first school dance and was thrilled that I actually slow danced with a boy that I had liked since the fourth grade, Jeff1*. We danced to “How Much I Feel” by Ambrosia. Jeff wore a plaid flannel shirt, and I remember how soft it felt when I put my arms around his neck. The puppy love joy I felt that night was short-lived. At school the next day I read a note written by a female classmate. She wrote about the dance, saying that she had wanted to dance with Jeff, but “he was dancing with that fat pig”. She included my name as well, so there was no mistaking to whom she was referring. I felt nauseous. I decided that happiness was just a set-up for disappointment.
Even though I thinned out somewhat during high school, I was still larger than most of my friends and saw myself as fat. I received few actual comments about my weight but I just knew they were thinking it. My best friends were exceptionally thin (one, I would later find out had an eating disorder), which added to my distorted body image. I also was the “friend”, rather than the “girlfriend”, with boys asking me to introduce them to my skinny friends. I was ecstatic when I had a horrible case of the flu and lost a lot of weight due to vomiting and the inability to keep food down. I remember hoping that I could get the flu every couple of months.
I read fashion magazines and studied the latest, greatest ways to lose weight. Diet pills, fad soup diets and low calorie frozen dinners were popular and I tried most of them. Sadly, the very methods I tried to “get skinny” likely put me on the path to obesity. Starving myself just led to unhealthy eating, cravings and quite possibly, a metabolism that had no...