I have been or felt fat my entire life. I developed a binge eating disorder when I was 10 (that is at least the first time I remember looking forward to everyone being gone from the house so I could eat whatever I wanted) and by the time I was 16 I was a size 20 and weighed 250 pounds. I thought I was a big, fat piece of sh*t. I am being candid here. I fantasized about what it would be like to be thin. About the person I would be, the things I would do, the people who would be inextricably drawn to me. Whenever anything in my life would go wrong it was clearly my body’s fault. Clearly.
Three years ago, I started Weight Watchers. I lost 60 lbs. and all of the sudden I was available to the world. Every one told me how great I looked. I could shop in normal stores. I tried running. I did Yoga 6 days a week. Did I mention everybody kept telling me how good I looked? Cause they did. Over and over again. My weight loss was even a rather common topic of conversation. I am not saying this judgmentally towards those with whom I had the conversations but factually. I and everyone else talked about it. A lot.
But here’s the thing I want everyone to know. Even when I was thin I wanted to be thinner. It wasn’t enough. Even when I was thin I would binge eat. Even when I was thin I was worried no one would ever be attracted to me. Even when I was thin boys didn’t ask me on dates. I went to Yoga, and yes, I did/still do love doing Yoga, but I would freak out when I would miss a class because I was worried I had somehow lost that all the important muscle mass that would keep me from getting fat again. I was obsessed with not getting fat again. OBSESSED. I read Health at Every Size for the first time when I was at my thinnest and the book made me terrified that my set point weight was above my current weight. Anxiety-attack terrified. Couldn’t-sleep-at-night terrified.
And then I hurt myself. I fell up an escalator and dislocated my shoulder, an injury I still deal with today. I couldn’t do Yoga, at least not how I wanted anymore. So then I started gaining weight. It was slow. But over the course of the past two years I have gained back every pound I lost. This is while trying different dietary eliminations to keep the weight off, and trying Weight Watchers again. And then I read Health at Every Size for the second time, once again a 250 pound woman wearing a size 20, and I actually got it.
This is what I got:
My weight has no bearing on my health, IF (and only if) my habits are healthy.
If I am eating the foods my body wants in the amounts she wants them, if I am moving consistently, if I am dancing and riding my bike and experiencing love and joy and good things then my weight has no bearing on my health.
Being thin will not get me the things I want.
And this is contrary to everything you will probably ever hear from the media. To be honest I have more of the things I want now that I am fat again because I don’t have to wait for my body to look a certain way to have them.
Being thin will NOT HEAL DISORDERED EATING.
Not every fat person has an eating disorder, but I know a fair number who do. Restricting your caloric intake and upping your exercise, even if it results in temporary weight loss, will never heal an eating disorder. Ever. My binge eating was worse than it had ever been when I was thinnest because I was so obsessed with the amount of calories I was eating as they pertained to how I looked.
Loving my body has brought me an incredible amount of joy.
I love my body. I love what she can do. I love what she looks like. I LOVE how wide my hips are, and how strong my legs are. And apart from what she looks like I love that she houses me so well. I love that she reflects the largeness and delicacy of my spirit and of my heart. I am proud of her.
Why do we all want to lose weight so badly? We want to be enough. We want to be loved or admired or beautiful or healthy or whatever other words our diet obsessed culture tells us we can be if we are just thin enough. But what if we could be all those things right now? Wouldn’t that be worth transferring all the effort we have been putting into wishing our bodies were different into enjoying our bodies for what they are?
I think it would be.
It was for me.