Why I’d rather be fat, part 2.

As my husband and I walked through Chapters one night, I saw a book in the bargain section that caught my eye. It was called Losing It: America’s Obsession With Weight and the Industry That Feeds on It by Laura Fraser. I laughed a little to myself, and picked it up, smugly thinking, “What is this woman going on and on about?” But it was only $4, and I figured it would give me a good laugh, and I thought it was always good to at least hear out the other side’s point of view.

I had no idea this book would undermine everything I was doing and, subsequently, change my life. I am always wary of people who say something Changed Their Life…it was rather unsettling when I found myself in that situation.

I read the book, and thought for a few weeks. I turned things over in my head. I thought long and hard. I looked at my life, and what I was doing. I realized that my entire waking life had been consumed by my goal of losing weight. My interests had been swept aside so I could devote all my energy to this one thing. I was exercising between two and three hours a day. The only reason I was able to sustain this incredible burden was because I had no job and nothing else in my life to keep me busy. Once I started working and going to school, as I planned, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to keep up. Also, I realized that I was putting my life on hold until the day I weighed 120 lbs. I needed new clothes NOW…not 60 lbs. from now. And I needed to like myself NOW. Not when I was finally a socially-acceptable weight.

I looked at the boots in my closet, and promptly sent them back to Sears. Instead, I ordered a pair of shorter, lace-up boots that I knew would fit. My dream had ended.

It took me a long time to feel normal again after my stint logging all of my food. Reading How to Get Your Kid to Eat…But Not Too Much by Ellyn Satter helped a lot. But it took time for my compulsions and the guilt I felt for eating until I was full to subside. I stopped exercising for a while, because it was too related to weight-loss for me still, though I had learned to love it.

Also, as I have mentioned, I had to face the very scary possibility that I would gain back lots and lots of weight. I had to accept the fact that I might weigh 300 lbs. or more, but I still had to love myself, and I had to keep my promise never to ‘diet’ again. Because although I told myself it was a lifestyle change, that’s really what I was doing. I was not listening to my body, and eating when I was hungry. Effectively, I was denying myself food (though I met all of the nutritional requirements of the food pyramid, and ostensibly consumed an adequate amount of calories) and my body would not forgive me for that. That is why, I think, I felt so horrible about myself although I was looking ‘better and better.’ My body felt neglected and betrayed, like a child I was punishing for no good reason.

And now I can honestly, with all my heart say, I’d rather be fat. I’m happier when I respect myself (and show that respect by allowing my body to dictate what and how much I eat), and I love myself. I don’t feel strange in my body, like an ill-fitting garment, anymore. And I haven’t had a relapse of pneumonia.

There are times I see pictures and think, “Oh my God I’m huge!” but I’d much rather think that about pictures occasionally, than feel that way constantly and have to look in the mirror to confirm my self-worth. I’d rather be fat and deal with other people thinking, “She could be so pretty if she just lost some weight…” than think that way myself.

I don’t know everything there is to know about nutrition. No one, not even an expert, does. No one can say, irrefutably, that being fat or ‘obese’ is unhealthy. For myself, I’m willing to bet on what my body naturally wants to do, with mild guidance (I eat lots of fruit everyday, drink water, and I get a bit of exercise walking on my way to work. If I want a chocolate bar, or even a whole box of chocolates, I eat it. I trust myself.) I’d bet on my body’s natural hunger signals and the weight it seems to want to cling to before I bet on what anyone else tells me…a fashion magazine, a diet guru, the women at my office, or even a doctor.

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