Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Heavy Burden

I know what it feels like to carry a lot of weight in a society that's very image-conscious. It's a thin person's world, and we try to navigate within it without being made fun of.

I grew up a heavy child.  Once a white nutritionist told me that I was big-boned.  I thought that was something that only black people called each other, but apparently it is a real thing!  You know when you are younger a chubby/chunky little girl with big pinchable cheeks is cute right?  Well chubby/chunky on an adult is fat/obese and is definitely not cute.  All through my childhood the doctors told my parents that I needed to lose weight.  I know that I was slightly heftier than the other kids.  I especially knew this when I had to be fitted for basketball uniforms or band uniforms.  In fact those were the days I dreaded.  I was always scared that I wouldn't be able to participate because they wouldn't be able to find something that could fit me.  In fact, I think that is part of the reason that I never auditioned for a play, even when I always thought it would be a fun thing to do.  Yet in high school I wasn't made fun of, which I was always surprised about.  I had always wondered why I wasn't the target of the cruel kid's humor.  I guess it is because I tried to be as funny and as personable as possible so everyone would ignore the fact that I had some front and side chub.

So my weight issues followed me into college.  Although instead of just carrying weight around I was now carrying asthma.  I was so used to wheezing and coughing that I had stopped noticing I was doing it.  Imagine walking 20 minutes across campus while coughing and wheezing.  It was tiring and it was embarrassing.  Sometimes I would stop breathing to see if was my breathing that I heard or something else in my environment.

Then it was law school.  You think being the poorest I had ever been would slow down my weight gain.  Nope.  I was in Louisiana, where the food was good and the men did most of the best cooking!  By the end of law school I was sure that I was going to die from my weight and its complications.  I begged God to get me through my last few weeks in school so I could go back home and start over.  Well, as I am writing, you can tell that I survived.  I enrolled in Weight Watchers and starting going to the gym regularly.  I lost 70 lbs!

Well that was a few years ago.  I have managed not to get back to my heaviest weight of 265, but the scales have been slowly tipping upwards.  Gaining weight is such an embarrassment, especially after having lost such a big amount.  In fact, instead of using your previous accomplishment as a motivator, it actually can just make you kind of ashamed and depressed.  But I definitely know I am not alone.  My friends have the same issues.  We go up and down together as if it were a club, Weight Gainers R Us.  Yeah, that is the worst club in the world!

The thing is, I don't want to go up and down anymore.  In the back of my mind I keep thinking that my body is a temple, yet I am treating it so poorly.  Part of me thinks that maybe if I weren't so big that I would get that job that I am looking for.  Or maybe I would be married by now.  Or perhaps I would be overall happier.

While all of that may be true, the truth is I just want to be healthy.  I want to feel better.  There is nothing like the feeling after a good workout.  For me it makes me happy and it makes me want to eat healthier.  But  the problem is starting and maintaining.  I guess when you know you have a lot to lose it can be so overwhelming and it seems almost impossible.  But I am not going to give up.  My dad is my motivation.  He died at 41 and I always wonder if maybe he hadn't been overweight his life could have been different.

So by writing all of this I will try to keep myself accountable.  Maybe you need someone to hold you accountable as well?  We can do this, together.

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