The Loss of Gains (and those comments from Karl)

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Mysteriously, the blogosphere community to which I belong simultaneously fell silent along with my keyboard. It was a few days ago that the mechanical hum of my laptop and untapped keyboard started to bother me, just as ideas about weight loss and fattydom really started whipping up a storm in my mind. Gaining half a kilo last week, whilst it wasn’t entirely wretched, certainly left me feeling that way. The deafening silence from other bloggers has left me feeling there is something in the air.

This week, I lost that 500 grams plus a small fraction and therefore have neither failed nor succeeded in the past fortnight. That is of course unless you are one of those people who prophesise that all experiences in life are opportunities to learn and are therefore valuable; this woman I am not. Some situations are just darn right stub-your-toe-in-the-middle-of-the-night-tragic!

I feel at this stage that a confession of sorts would be valuable in understanding my occasional cynicism and episodic lacklustre attitude to life. Please don’t misunderstand me; I am generally a smiling woman who laughs easily. But picking myself up, pushing down the intermittent “why me?” and copping it on the chin are not things I am great at. I prefer theorising about what motivates behaviour, the elusive underlying psychological premise, and jumping on the Freudian couch.

Where all this cynicism came from is probably best explained by all sorts of experiences that will remain unsaid. I will spare you the details until A) I work up the guts, and B) feel that society won’t judge me. What I will tell you however is that even though I have never been a mere slip of a thing, I did once enjoy a curvy body that moved exactly the way I wanted it to. It went up stairs when I asked it to, it could manoeuvre behind someone’s chair in a restaurant and curled up in the corner of a couch easily.

And then one day, about this time two years ago I fell ill and it lasted over a year. As my body started to betray me and I found myself permanently in a tracksuit and unable to continue with my usual routines, I turned to food in a way that left me completely transformed within less than 6 months. What I will say next will undoubtedly leave a few people thinking, “yeah right, fatty” but I swear that one day I looked in the mirror and saw a fat person. I was so disconnected and angry that I didn’t see what was happening to my body as I indulged in anything and everything I found under my nose.

With stretchy pants and a mirror that started from the waist up, I rarely looked at myself and rarely said no. On one level, I was a person who thought they wouldn’t see the year out but instead of bungy jumping or travelling to Rome, I just ate….and didn’t move. And I didn’t care.

Now, being in a much more self aware state, I simply cannot believe what I have done to myself. I can only admit this now as I truly believe I am on the path to a better me. But I will never be the same; the striations of stretched skin will never go away and I’m terrified of what will be left once I reach my goal weight.

I. Am. 25.

I confronted my husband recently with this news, like he hadn’t been watching me from the sidelines for the past two years.

“You know that when I lose this weight I won’t be like I used to be”

“I know”

“But you know I can’t do anything about that now, right?”

“I know”

“You know I’m terrified about that don’t you”

“I know. But you know I think you’re gorgeous, right?”

“I know”

He’s rock solid that boy of mine. For a woman who shrieks in fear if the bathroom door swings ajar as I’m showering and now dresses in the dark, I’m a far cry from the girl I once was. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing to myself in those months – even when my thighs started to rub together, I was still completely unaware of the gauntlet I was about to subject myself to and the permanent scars I would leave on my body and my mind.

It would take a very special person who has never had this struggle with fat to understand my position. I am understanding of those who simply don’t get it…I am painfully aware of the common misconception that all overweight people are simply unmotivated and lazy.

A good friend revealed to me that when she told her new work colleagues that she had lost over 20 kilos, the response was “what, you’re joking, you can’t be serious”.  In truth, the reason people respond this way is because the overweight person is of course seen as purposeless, work-shy and lacks a determination and resolve that slim people naturally possess. It’s hard for some people to imagine the skinny “determined and fun” person as the “fat lazy” overweight person. It rarely occurs to people that the “determined and fun” person was just overweight.

Naturally, if asked the question, “Are fat people ineffectual?” people would reply with a stern “No”. At least the polite ones would. But I believe the words of Karl Lagerfeld (whom so many women inadvertently love and support) are felt rippling through all the tut-tuts and eye rolling of slim people, suggesting that fat women simply “do not care enough about ourselves to be skinny”. Karl famously remarked,

“No one wants to see curvy women…You’ve got fat mothers with their bags of chips sitting in front of the television and saying that thin models are ugly.”

I suppose according to this premise, I can’t really comment can I? Being an overweight woman who is quite partial to the odd chip, I don’t deserve an opinion. Is it so hard to believe that some curvy women like to look at curvy women and feel sexy as curvy women?

I digress.

What I would like to suggest is that many overweight people are very effective in their lives (I won’t go as far as to list my accomplishments here for fear of seeming like a bit of a nutter) but struggle with food and exercise. It’s one portion of life that is out of control.

Other unfortunates who have drinking problems, light gambling problems, spending problems…(the list goes on and on) are not generally referred to as lazy or disconnected. Some even go as far as to admire these people, with comments of support like “gee, they really play hard and party hard don’t they?” which is the very opposite of lazy. We might as well pat these “high achievers” on the back with a congratulatory slap.

That is of course, unless they’re overweight.

I wish someone had told me what I was getting myself into when I gained so much weight. I wish I had been aware that my whole life would change; my perceptions, my attitude, my social worth, and the way I am perceived. Naturally, I would have shredded this brave person with my bare teeth at the time but maybe, just maybe, a fellow woman who has come back from where I am could have convinced me.

Because of course, I would have seen the desperation in her eyes.

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One response »

  1. What a beautiful, honest post. Your husband is wonderful. And YOU are wonderful. And I feel your pain.

    I was always very aware of gaining… part of being a yo-yo dieter, I guess. And countless times I could not believe that once again I had done that to myself!

    25 is a great age! Figure out who you want to be and enjoying being her:) And if that means you want to be thinner… you just have to do what it takes to be thinner.

    I have seen this over and over now and love it every time: Being overweight is hard. Being on a diet is hard. Choose your hard.

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