I remember the moment that I realized I was overweight. I mean, as a kid, you know you are overweight, but for me there was a specific moment. I was 11 years old, I was in school, and a boy in my grade called me “fatty” as he passed me in the hall., and kicked me. It wasn’t a surprise to me that this boy saw me as overweight, what was a surprise was that he decided to say something, and that he decided that I deserved to be hurt because of it. This began what would be many years of being made fun of and bullied because of my weight.
Now, admittedly I was not a normal kid and my way to combat it all was to rise above it all, no matter what, and to (in some cases) be friends with the person who was bullying me.
It all becomes tiresome though. Nearly 25 years later, I still battle bullies. Comments are made, sometimes blatant and to my face. Recently I was in a store and a woman came up to me and asked pointedly “Do you know that you don’t have to be fat?”
I looked at her, not knowing really what to say. I mean, I’ve been approached by strangers offering everything from diet advice to pills. It’s always strange. I stood there and finally said “you don’t have to be a bully, but yet here we are.”
She was not very happy and said “excuse me?”
“A bully. People who think they know something about a complete stranger, and feel the need to put that person down, just because they can. This all goes back a while, more than you could ever want to understand. You think you know something about me, when you know nothing about me. You don’t know if I have a medical problem, or if I might have weighed 450 pounds at one point in my life and you are looking at 200 pounds of weight loss. You don’t know if I work harder than you could ever imagine every single day. You don’t know the hours and hours I’ve spent crying over stupid and hurtful comments. And you don’t know if I just am ok with being fat. It goes back a while, you are not the first, nor will you be the last, and I hope that someday you understand in even the smallest way that you and your opinion mean absolutely nothing to me. I will leave, you will leave and I will be no better for this discussion, but I hope that one day YOU will be better for it.”
You have to know about me, I rarely say anything back to people who make comments. But on this day, I did. I don’t know what it was, I don’t know why it just came out.
She looked at me, in silence. I told her “It’s best that we leave it at that, because you have already taken too much of my time.” and I walked away.
Another woman came up behind me and said to me “You don’t know me, I only caught the end of what you just said to that woman, and I’d like to hug you, because I have wanted to say the same thing to so many people.”
You also should know about me, I’m not really the person who hugs strangers. But there we were, in a grocery store, hugging.
I wish I did not live in a world that I can say that I just expect people to be mean. People who have made disparaging comments about my weight, people who should not take any real-estate in my mind, but sadly (and unfortunately) they do. 25 years later, and still I have that fear of what a person might say or do, just because they do not like that I’m overweight.
I’ve said it before, but it stands to be repeated. Life as an overweight person can be difficult. I’m not saying that to invoke sympathy at all, I’m saying that because it is a reality that many have a hard time grasping. There are a lot of things that go into being overweight and then losing weight.
The journey from here to there is one that we often don’t talk about. There are before and after photos, but rarely a depiction of “during”. I feel as though my “during” is this life long part of me. I don’t know if I’ll ever be “there” or if my life will always be in the “during”. No matter, I’m thankful for the journey. I’m thankful for how much I’ve grown as a person, I’m thankful that for the first time in my life, after years of not saying something, I did. I’m thankful for the position I am that has allowed me to be in the “during”.
During is a wonderful place to be. I know that it is tough. I know that it can be difficult because we are constantly reminded in someway that we are not “there”. But what is there? What does the end of the journey look like? I am starting to suspect that we’re always in the “during”. Maybe that is the entire point.
And it’s not for any reasons of self loathing that I desire to lose weight. This is a complete turn around for me. For years, and years my desire to lose weight was only based on hating myself. I wanted to be thin because I didn’t want to be fat. Now, I want to be healthy. I don’t know if that means “thin”. It just means healthy. I want to wake up and feel good, I want to feel alive. I want to not be in any pain that is caused by being overweight, I want to keep T2 diabetes far, far away. I want to keep complications from things like T2 diabetes even further away.
But for once, my desire to become healthy has nothing to do with this sense of self loathing or even impatience. It has a lot more to do with that I have this incredible feeling to want to experience the most out of life for the longest time that I can. For years I was so depressed, stuck in this endless spiral. As I’ve become healthier, I’ve had a glimpse of the future, a glimpse of the way in which I want to experience my life. This was a more recent realization on my part, that I wanted to do this, I wanted to work so hard because I wanted to live.
Perhaps I’m sharing too much, but there have been times in my life where the thought of living was not all that appealing to me. There were years that I wished that the illness that I had would just end things for me. It wasn’t until I got those beginning glimpses of what it felt, or rather what it could feel like that things started to drastically change in my life.
And so for me the goal continues to be to become healthy. The goal is to experience and love life in the “during”. And for me that is finding this beautifully orchestrated way of living that includes choosing foods that compliment how I now feel about myself. In my prior years, I ate the way I felt. The foods that I decided to eat said a lot about what I wanted out of my life. I didn’t choose food that added to my health and wellness, I chose foods that took from that.
That is not a part of me anymore. I choose foods that add to my life, that give, not take, because I have this overwhelming desire to LIVE life to its fullest. It took me a very long to get to that point. It took me a while to not resent the way that I eat. When I started I was angry that I “had” to eat this way. Now the tides have changed drastically. Now I am beyond thankful that there is this fairly simple way of eating that gives me more hope, more years, more life than I thought possible. The difference now? I want that.
You might be in the during for a while. Be content in that forward direction. Be joyfully overwhelmed of the abundance of food that gives rather than takes.
No matter how many years of hurtful words, no matter the struggles before, decide that your life is worth living to the fullest, each and every day, and decide on fueling your body in a way that adds to your life, rather than takes away.