I Hate Being Fat

So I’m trying something new.  Picking a subject at random that I seem to obsess about or fixate on, something that grips my imagination in compulsive and ugly ways, (Yes, I’m starting with one of my secret obsessions) I’ll write honestly without self editing or controlling “the message” to see what comes out.  No answers. No over spiritualizing.  Just the real, gritty, sometimes awkward me. I’m trying to push myself in my style to loosen up a little. Have you noticed that I take myself a bit too seriously? Perhaps I can learn to have a little fun?  This my first excursion into a different kind of real. It’s supposed to be casual.  We’ll see. It may be my last.
It’s not fun yet.

It’s true. I hate being fat.

No, I don’t glory in my magnitude and mass.  I don’t recognize myself and constantly avoid mirrors, but that is not why I don’t recognize myself. In my mind’s eye I have remained twenty, even thirty years old –  a skinny sometimes cute girl. (Okay the truth is that I was never skinny exactly, but  this is my dreamy memory, so I’ve perhaps fudged a little.)

was a healthy 5’6” and 130 lbs most of my life. That has been true since I was fifteen years old — until about a decade ago. I am now 45. That old adage about gaining five pounds a year after forty if you’re sedentary, the thing they try to scare you with when you’re young, it is true!  Yes, I am now whining profusely but it’s absolutely so unfair to find out now that it is true.

I was warned.  I didn’t believe.

I never worked out and I could eat and drink anything I wanted. I just didn’t over indulge with food because I figured that if I did, then I would never be able lose it.  You see, my mamma has been a food binger all my life — yo-yo diets, juicing, fasting, starving, giving up entire food groups, … You name it she has tried it.  And lost her body’s weight more than once. And gained it too.

I have never believed it was possible to actually maintain a healthy weight. So the key was to never get fat.  Yeah you see where this is going.

You were either thin or fat. And I had no respect for fat people. I know, I’m horrible.

Now I’m that fat person.

And I think about being fat all the time – with a sense of loathing, dread and failure — and it brings with it a “wanna slit my wrists” depth of misery, because dieting never worked for my mother.  Driving around town I watch people out walking the dog, or running, and wonder is my butt bigger or smaller than hers?

I cannot take “selfies” any more for fear of the dreaded double or triple chins, which I  honestly forget are there, (remember I’m 20 and skinny in my mind’s eye?)  Most of the time.  Until I take another picture and then POW, the fact that I’m fat is right there in front of me. Delete.

I’m fat. I’m. just. b.i.g. Overweight. I am a portly, tubby, middle-aged, large, woman of girth. I actually had a fitness person at the Y tell me I am obese.  Bitch.  That’s supposed to motivate?  I never went back. (To be fair, I signed up for a fitness assessment.  I guess I really didn’t want the truth. Or I just despaired of changing it is more like it.)

I’m as big as I was after I popped out each of my three kids. (I lost all the baby weight each time, except ten pounds. And at that time, blowing up from my 135 pounds to 170 lbs, I thought I was huuuuuuge.  And I was.  And I am. Sigh.

I am fat.

I hate being fat because it makes me hate clothes and I used to love everything about clothes.  The outfits, the not too matchy matching, the edgy pushing of style that you just can’t do when you’re fat, without looking like an idiot.  Or perhaps you can but I refuse to try.  Now I dress in full-camouflage-mode, dress to hide, to cover up, to disguise the tummy, and the ass and the white, pasty legs.  I don’t even like wearing sandals when I’m fat, because my feet are too much like two little sausages. Yuck, it’s just gross.

My face is round.  Nothing looks good on me. Everything is buttoned up and covered up.  Now I look for sweaters and scarves to hide my bulbous boobs that used to be a quite average sized 36B, normal and cute.

When you are fat you have to worry about bras.  You think about eating in groups and you never snack (the verb) in front of other people, at least I don’t because I don’t like people to see me eat.  I’m sure they are thinking “She should stop.”

When you are fat you worry and fret about seasons changing because a) you don’t have clothes that fit. And b) you don’t want to buy new clothes.  Oh my gosh, I have become my mother.

When you’re fat you have no style.  You can never be cool, even with cool glasses.  Even with cool hair.  You have no respect.  People look down on fat people.

Now, perhaps we have come to the truth, I am fat phobic.  I think being fat is gross and now I am that person who clearly lacks self-control or they wouldn’t be that large.

But actually, this fat person evolved over time.  This fat person came to life from sitting too much, from a lazy lifestyle. Lack of energy from being fat, only contributes to lack of action!  Fat people don’t go to the gym!  We have nothing to wear (to cover up the fat.) Do you know how many times I have told myself I cannot go for a walk because I don’t have any comfortable tennis shoes? Ackh. Hundreds, at least.  And people might be analyzing the width of my ass.

And I know, believe, even fear that being fat is a terrible example — to my kids, to other people, this temple I’ve been given is being frittered away because I am too lazy, too fearful, too disgusted  with myself to do something, anything about it.  And I imagine to myself s o m e d a y, when I am thin again…. I will…

what?  Be cool, how dumb is that?

I know this is entirely my fault.  I think about it every day, dozens of time a day, hundreds even, that I know how to change this.  I know how to lose the weight.

I must not want to change, no matter how much I hate being fat.

What keeps you from changing something about yourself when you really, really want to?

I’m fat. You’re fat. The first lady is not fat. Hey what’s up with that!?

According to the Mayo Clinic I am overweight.  (Thank you very much.)  And I have a sneaking suspicion that my kids are not doing so well either.  But it turns out most parents do not even realize that their children are over weight.  Even our First Lady, Michelle Obama, was caught off guard by a recent pediatrician’s warning.

12.5 million children in America are overweight.

By now we all know obesity is having an excessive amount of body fat.  (check)  Especially around the waist.  (check) And  you know that doctors use a formula based on your height and weight — called the body mass index (BMI) — to determine if you are obese.  Find yours here.  Almost one-third of kids are at least overweight; about 17 percent are obese.

At his most recent checkup, our pediatrician measured one of our kid’s height and weight.  She talked with us about her concern over his BMI.  He has grown out a bit more than up over the last year.  But she seemed reticent to say anything that was too harsh though his weight is on the high side for his height.  I agree that we don’t want to mess with kids’ perceptions of themselves.  They are at very vulnerable age.

Even the First Lady’s girls got a warning recently.  The interesting thing I thought was that within just a few months she made some small changes that got her daughters back on track.  This is the kind of thing you or I can do.

  • No more weekday TV. (Oops)
  • More attention to portion sizes. (Okay)
  • Low-fat milk.  (Check)
  • Water bottles in the lunch boxes. (Rather  than milk or chocolate milk which comes in school lunches?)
  • Grapes on the breakfast table. (Fine)
  • Apple slices at lunch. (Don’t they go brown?)
  • Colorful vegetables on the dinner table. (I’m in agreement in theory.)

And then I got to thinking — this isn’t just about my kids. Or even the First kids.  All of whom eat organic apples, have their own garden and can visit the farmer’s market.  And they have plenty of opportunity to eat three healthy meals a day.

What about inner city kids?  What about low income kids?  What about kids who eat two meals at school.  Or the kids whose parents have to work three jobs and are not around as much to cook for them?

What about kids who do not have a grocery store in their neighborhood?  Last week, the First Lady addressed the U.S. Conference of Mayors about cities creating healthier citizens because obesity is a particular problem in some minority communities without easy access to supermarkets, much less farmers markets.

I knew the grocery store over on Verona road had closed down a few years ago (turns out it is more like eight, and that was the third that closed down in that area.)  So I started hunting for information or articles online about that area of Madison, the Verona Road/Allied Drive area of town.

One of the things that Mrs. Obama wants to see happen is increasing access to healthy foods. She says parents tell her they want to feed their kids fresh produce but it is difficult “if you don’t live anywhere near a place that sells fresh produce.”  She also wants to make good food cheaper.  (Ahem, pardon my skepticism on that one.)

In Madison, the poor do not always have access to healthy food?  That should be a headline.

Last year, the Wisconsin State Journal reported that Cub Foods was closing its store on Verona Road.  It’s a compelling story:

As snow fell around her Monday, Melissa Orr set off on the five-block walk from her home on Madison’s Allied Drive to the Cub Foods store where she shops two or three times a week.  She does not own a car, so the store, 4716 Verona Road, is her only option for grocery shopping unless she takes a bus. At the store, Orr learned it will close by mid March, leaving her and many other residents of one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods without a supermarket within walking distance.   … Ryan Estrella, a Dane County social worker based on Allied Drive, said numerous residents lack vehicles and that the store’s closing will be a hardship. Many neighborhood families are headed by single parents, so taking a bus is a major undertaking when children and bags of groceries are figured in. In the future when people need only a few staples such as milk and baby formula, they will probably end up at a gas station, where costs add up quickly, he said.  “I think this will be devastating to the neighborhood,” Estrella said.

As of writing there still isn’t a grocery store near the Allied Drive neighborhood.  I’ve sent a few emails around trying to find out what the plans are for 2010.

Working together, we can ensure our children’s health—and their future.  But this goes for all children.