Friday, 7 October 2011

Weighing on My Mind...

Photo Credit: Tobyotter
Not a day goes by that I don't think about being fat. In fact, hardly an hour passes without some self-deprecating thought coming into my head regarding my weight.

You would probably never guess I feel this way. A friend once told me I was the most confident person she ever met. I appear to be cheerful, helpful, funny. I have a wonderful family and good friends and some influence in my small corner of the world.

But in spite of all of it, I continue to feel worthless.

I was 'the fat one' of my two siblings. Though the diet we grew up on (mostly entirely processed foods) was the same, though our level of activity (relatively high) was the same, they maintained 'normal' bodies while I packed on the pounds.

My mom was always going on one diet or another. As I grew into my teens, she and my dad tried different ways to 'help' me lose weight...my mom suggesting that we diet together or promising gifts if I were to lose a certain number of pounds; my dad lecturing me on how I just needed to have more willpower.

I was both shamed and mortified, especially by my dad, and my teen years were when the constant thoughts began circling through my head...worthless, ugly, fat, disgusting. Every time a boy I liked didn't like me back, I knew it was because I was fat. Every time I saw a girl wearing a crop top, I seethed with jealousy that I could never wear something like that.

After I left home at 18, I began to develop more confidence, but the self-hatred continued, a constant background noise that I accepted as normal. I occasionally shared my feelings with a friend, but never really felt anyone understood.

For the most part, I did not feel loved by anyone - not my parents, not God, and particularly not by the boys I befriended and then fantasized over...I wanted so badly to be part of a couple, and believed my body was what held me back. I didn't know if I wanted to lose weight so I could get a man, or if I wanted a man to love me as I was. It was a constant debate in my mind.

At 24, for various reasons, I finally began to value myself a bit more. I came to a point that I knew I did not need a boyfriend or husband to complete myself - I really knew and understood it and became OK with the possibility of never marrying.

Of course, it was not long after that that my husband and I started dating - a cosmic 'accident' that was in no way orchestrated by me - something that gave me a huge boost of security. My husband was the first person in my life who made me feel truly beautiful. He not only loved my personality; he loved my body. He loved my face. He made me feel beloved.

It was not long, though, before the thoughts came back. My husband has never made me feel bad about my weight, but I can't keep from doing it to myself. He has supported me in various dieting and exercise crusades. I've lost weight many times, only to gain it back.

I've come to believe it's my relationship with food that is the problem. I've always been active and never had any issues with exercising, but food - instead of being a pleasurable, healthful experience - is my nemesis.

I can eat amazingly well for weeks at a time, make everything at home, control portions...and then something clicks and I'm back to filling up on junk. I turn to food when I feel particularly stressed. I've tried to change these habits for so many years that it has started to feel impossible.

I know what I need to do. I have studied and educated myself. I know that fad diets aren't the answer; I know how to maintain a healthy, well-rounded diet.

But I just can't do it. 

And in the meantime, I am OBSESSED with providing a healthy foundation of eating for my child. It's not an issue that I would care whether my child is fat or thin - I would not judge them or love them any less either way. But I want so to equip my little one with the right tools for eating well...the ones I was never given and struggle so badly now to learn.

My parents raised us on crap, fake food; we rarely ate fruits or vegetables,  and it has taken me years to learn how to expand my palate. In one way, I  know and trust that they really didn't know any better; in another way, I  hate them for it (especially because they are the ones - outside myself -  who continue to judge me the most for my weight).

I have never told anyone all of this - to this extent - before. I have been shaking throughout the writing of this entire post. In a way, it helps to get it out...but I still don't see any answers. For so many years I have tried and tried and tried to do better...it's getting to the point where it just seems hopeless.

I guess what I would like to hear is that there is one person who felt the same way as me - and who managed to pull themselves out of this cycle. That there is a way to beat this wretchedness.

I am 5'5". I weigh 260 pounds. In spite of all the good things I know and believe about myself, this is what stands out to me every day, every hour.

Will I ever do better?

11 comments:

  1. I always feel inept when I try to discuss weight with friends because I grew up as a skinny girl. I've only thickened to a more average weight through having babies.

    That said, I also fret over giving my children a healthy attitude and taste for food. One of my children is heavy and I find it especially difficult to help her. It was her father's department (she got his figure), but he passed away this year. I am a bit paranoid about being TOO obsessed with it, too. Food is one area in which it is all too easy to give a child a complex (as you know). So I try to give her healthy options... not much more I can do. I occasionally get onto her about portion control, but I try not to.

    Sigh. I doubt my comment has been helpful at all, but I mean it with respect. I can, at least, commiserate about worrying over the attitudes and tastes my children have for food.

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  2. Hugs. :( I wish we could live in a world that accepted beauty in all it's shapes and forms and it truly grieves me that we don't.

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  3. I got teary reading this one. I am, by many definitions "thin," or at least average today, but I was the chubby one among my sisters growing up and still struggle with my own body image today. I lost a fair amount of weight, but the feelings of disdain when I look at my "problem areas" (such a ridiculous term!) never go away completely.

    I was also raised on processed crap, and have struggled with resenting that, too. I can also eat incredibly well for a time, and then one day decide to eat half a cake, because, you know, cake is delicious. So if it helps, you are by no means alone.

    Food issues are persistent, and body image issues even more so. I love that you mention building a healthy foundation for your daughter - it sounds like that's really important to you and you are putting a lot of effort into it. I'm hoping that as I cook and eat with my daughter over the years, and work to model healthy eating habits myself, I will end up healing from a lot of my own issues and building healthier habits. It sounds like that's very likely for you, and I do wish you healing and gobs of self-love.

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