I Wish I Was Fat Again

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I WISH I WAS FAT AGAIN.  The other night, I found myself admitting just that to my trainer in between grunts and groans.  It’s not the first time I’ve thought it, just the first time I was brave enough to say it out loud.  His astonishment at my admission was followed by the inevitable question “Why would you want to be fat again?”  There are many reasons but the central one is that I thought, dreamed, and fantasized that everything would be better, would fall into some perfect order and that couldn’t be further from the truth.

The whole purpose in writing this blog has been to let people into my journey with as much honesty as I can muster so this is the most naked, raw, realistic view of what this transformation has done to me.  That fat girl in the picture was happy…she knew who she was…she didn’t give a shit what people thought of her…the people who loved her, loved her because of who she was inside…she had morals and values and never questioned her priorities.  Losing 60 pounds has changed all of that.

People are superficial…me too.  When you’re fat, you are for the most part invisible.  The people who want to talk to you, to be your friend, to date you, do so as part of a conscious choice they make, because despite what you look like, they value who you are as a person.   That was always a beautiful natural filter that I used to my full advantage…it allowed the right people to sift through and kept the wrong ones out.  I knew the people I shared my life with were there for the right reasons.  Losing the weight, removed that filter and allowed the wrong people into my life for the wrong reasons. And you suddenly become hyper aware that you are being seen and while it is kind of hypnotizing in its effect, it really serves no valuable purpose if they are only there because of the way you look in a pair of tight jeans.

Thin is a lifetime sentence that comes with a desire to be more physically perfect than you were the day before.  The feedback you get from people is intoxicating and it drives you to keep pushing your boundaries to continue to receive it.  I’m exerting a whole lot of energy into something that personally isn’t that important to me.  When I was fat, I just accepted my physical shape as a part of who I was, not as a defining feature.  Losing the weight made me reassess myself as a composite of multiple factors that I hadn’t previously used in my assessment of self.  Despite being more aesthetically pleasing, I’m never satisfied.  I’m constantly trying to make one part or another of my body more pleasing…not to myself…but others.  When I was fat, I saw myself holistically, now every part detracts from the whole.  I could be channeling all of this time and energy into being a better wife, mother, or teacher (or maybe even ,GASP, making the world a better place) but instead I’m at the gym obsessing over something that really has a nominal value.

I know what started me on this path and that has been the only positive in this whole sweaty, hungry, emotional mess.  I wanted to feel in control again.  I had slowly relinquished all my power.  I had denied that I could solve problems myself, instead relying on others. Controlling what I put into my body and the shape that that body subsequently took made me feel powerful and that is the only thing that continues to propel me forward and doesn’t send me running back to embrace that flabby former self.

There is no happy ending here…the fantasy that losing weight will make everything perfect is bullshit.  Being fat is NOT the worst thing that you can be.  If you look around at your life and it’s full of laughter, love, and small pleasures then don’t think those things will be multiplied by a significant weight loss because in all honestly, they will probably be diminished.  I’m not saying this to discourage people from starting their own personal weight loss journey but I just want you to be prepared and to go into it with eyes wide open.  Know what your driving force is and promise me that it just isn’t to look hot for that guy in high school who didn’t pay you enough attention because you won’t find happiness with that focus (although you will most definitely find out that he was a loser anyways).  Begin your journey with a reason that is great enough to put your whole world into a tailspin because losing weight will mean losing a great deal more than pounds.

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Don’t Be Afraid to Redefine Your Perimeter

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In my math class we recently finished our unit of study on perimeter.  Perimeter is the lines that provide definition to a shape and it got me thinking about the perimeters that I’ve established in my life and how they serve to define the life I live.  Certainly the perimeters that I’ve set up around my free time, my relationships with others, and the ones around my belief system have changed as I’ve become a wife and a mother but as I’ve journeyed down the path of weight loss, I’ve found it critically important to frequently reevaluate and redefine them and you should too.  If you’re unhappy with the shape of your body, the shape of your relationship or your career, don’t be afraid to switch up those perimeters and see what change it brings.

We recently had to evict our children from the use of our bathroom because they were trashing our space.  We bought our first house about 5 years ago but prior to that our children had always lived in small little apartments where we were forced to share the space.  And I always loved that they wanted to be close to us and to each other, opting to sleep in the same room and bathe in the same space despite having a large house to spread out in.  We decided when we had children that we were going to use the attachment parenting style where you co-sleep  (family bed until they were each 5), nurse for extended periods of time (2 years for each child), carry your children everywhere in those back breaking slings, etc. because we wanted them to develop an intimate closeness to their parents and to each other.  From the time that they were born until they went to kindergarten, they slept in our bed, they bathed with us , they ate sitting in my lap, and we pretty much spent every moment in close physical contact.  This attachment style served its purpose but as the children have gotten older, we have had to take a hard stance on redefining our perimeters to carve out some personal space for ourselves, our marriage, and for our children to develop some Independence.  Our marriage was starting to suffer from the lack of personal space and time.  My identity was suffering too.  Hard decisions had to be made but once the perimeters were redefined; our family burgeoned with these more restrictive perimeters.

When it came to my weight loss journey, more perimeter shifts were necessary.  If you know me, you know that there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do to please my children or my husband but I found myself drowning in an ocean of service to others.  My mother often reminds me when she can see that I’m overwhelmed that when you get on an airplane, that the first thing they say in the safety sermon is that parents must put on the oxygen masks first before helping their children…which of course makes complete sense- if you can’t breathe, you can’t help someone else.  But somewhere along the line, we’ve forgotten that and wanting to breathe feels selfish.  The time I spent working out was the only time in my day when children (both my genetic and my students) weren’t demanding something from me.  It was my time to breathe.  Now, it sounds easy to carve an hour out of your day to exercise but I quickly found that outside forces were whittling into that time (“Mom, I need new cleats for my game”, “Mrs. Sutton can you call me back about my child”, “Bec can you pick up my dry cleaning”)….I had to fight to keep that perimeter wide and sometimes that feels like being a bad mom or teacher or wife but that is the price you need to pay to be able to breathe in your space.

Another perimeter i had to reset was the food in our house.  While I was able to exert some self control when I was at work or in the car, the amount of temptation at home was too much to bear.  All the kids school snacks and the crappy dinners with their favorite carby creations were making us all sick.  So we evicted most of the snacks (I only get the ones I don’t like now and I buy just enough to last the 5 days that I pack lunch for them) and I started refocusing on nutritious meals (without a lot of carbs).  In tightening up this perimeter, I was able to make better, more precise and well thought out choices for myself and my family.

Examine your perimeters, make changes, broaden some and tighten others.  Refine the boundaries that define you and make your life take the shape that feels right for you.