When people complain, my usual response is that we always have a choice. The choices that we make lead us to where we are and if there’s anyone we ought to thank and blame, it’s ourselves. In the case of my weight problem, I can't say the same thing. I don't even know where to begin but let’s go with the facts.
First of all, it’s not a medical problem. My OB wants me down 15lbs lighter to a flat 100lbs but at my age and height, I’m well within the 105 to 130lbs range, extreme ranges but who am I to argue with calculator.net. It never was this much of a problem in the beginning. It was a gradual understanding that certain weights aren’t acceptable to most. I was raised to think that how I look will always outweigh my abilities. It wasn’t difficult to understand, it was everywhere and I had so many experiences of my own where I was at my best but they only remember how I look. I would sit in front of class, sharp as I am and outdo everyone else, but when I leave they talk about how pitiful my smarts were because I was fat. I would attend a meeting about how our international training went and be told by one of the officers how much I gained while I was there.
In the same way, I have been praised for losing weight. The more drastic my weight loss, the higher the praises. Women would want to know how I did it. Men would tell me that I look much better thinner and I should keep it that way. It doesn’t matter what you were going through and why, as long as you’re skinny. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that a change is positive or a symptom of something worse. But I remember each of those insults and praises because they always brought the same feeling and reaction. The time would always stop and the words would repeat in my head and I would wonder if I should say something smart, something to let them know how their mindless words bear more meaning to some. But in the end I just smile, laugh, say “of course” then walk away… isn’t that what fat kids do?
Second fact, my choices haven’t exactly been the best ones, even when it comes to food. Before your raise your hand and say “oh well there you go,” have you ever thought about the cost of living and eating healthy. I’m talking about money, time and energy. All of which we don’t have much. When you buy everything fresh from the market, it’s good for your health and budget, but never time and energy friendly to make everything from scratch. When you buy high in omega and high in protein, they’re easier and faster to prepare, but they’ll take most of what little salary you earn. So most of the time I choose budget and convenience – fact.
Third fact, my biology isn’t cooperative either. My digestive tract is no Lightning McQueen. If I change my diet, it forgets to function. If I eat as much as doctors would recommend with proper meals and all that, I gain 2 to 5lbs in a week. But that also means if I minimize consumption, I lose pounds within a week too. I realized that in my early teens and I’ve tried all sorts of extreme dieting to adapt to my changing body:
Fourth fact, I tell people that now I’m down to carb counting and doing cardio when I can. This isn’t a lie really but most days, what really happens is I feel guilty when I eat even when I need to eat. When I can, I bring small portions at work then eat over late lunch or while driving home. If I know I’m having dinner then I won’t eat much the whole day because I don’t want to spoil the dinner for anyone I’m with. It’s terrible for my body, energy and mood but it comforts me that I’m not letting myself go. I check my weight the minute I get up and several times after I get home. I recount all the food I ate and liquids I took then blame myself for having taken them if I gain even half a pound. I’m relieved in the morning when that half a pound goes away, as it naturally does. Some nights I go to bed starving, looking at food flat lay in IG and search about what restaurant I can visit the next day. Somehow that fills me. I rarely go to whatever restaurant I found online because I will feel guilty that I made the conscious effort to eat. Sometimes I reward myself by trying out something new, an actual dish, but just sometimes.
Fifth fact, I have a problem and it’s clear by now that it was never a weight problem. It stopped becoming a weight problem two decades ago but everything and everyone else seemed to make it so and now I can’t overcome it. I have a very strong ability to get over and learn from personal and professional troubles and I always come out a much better person. But this, this is really pulling me back.
Final fact, what I learned in everything that I have gone through is that you are never alone. To those who do and can, keep on talking about positive body image and living healthy lives. It helps to know that there those like you to counter those like us who only see and quip about what they see. I will consciously choose to read your thoughts. But for now, I'm going to choose to have two cups of coffee because I’m having dinner tonight; I’ll weigh myself and feel guilty about it but at least I won’t have to starve before I sleep.
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