If this is your first time reading this series, you might want to catch-up here, on my Articles page. I’ve also added a Recipe page and a page about my new blog carnival, Slightly Indulgent Mondays, which starts August 31st. I hope you’ll join in the fun!
I want to thank everyone who has shared their struggles with food and weight during this series. It’s not easy to let people (in this case, anyone with Internet access) see inside of you, especially those places that aren’t so pretty. It takes courage, and your courage is helping the next person. Also, your support of me and my journey has been incredible and quite often brings tears to my eyes.
This title is so politically incorrect. I’m sure I’ll get some flack, but then again I’m sharing my experience. You can disagree with my premise and my thoughts but you can’t argue my experience. It’s just what it was. I can’t speak for all people that have been or are overweight but I can speak for myself .
I’ve talked a lot about the physical cravings that contributed to my struggles with weight. I wish it was that simple for me – solve the physical problem and everything else disappears. But it wasn’t so. Yes, eliminating sugar and gluten stopped the food cravings. There was also a psychological component to my weight problem.
There were some big payoffs that kept me fat.
I’m going to start by defining ‘payoff.’ For my purposes here, a payoff is an outcome you get from a specific action or situation. Were the payoffs positive? Probably not. But they were what I knew, they were safe, and they were comfortable.
I didn’t want to be fat. I am not sure anyone does. The hardest lesson I learned about being grossly overweight was that I was immediately judged and then treated like a second class citizen. There is an unspoken credibility that comes with being thin. When I’m shopping, I get helped quicker and with better service. People let me go in front of them in line when before they just looked at me sideways. I don’t have to work as hard anywhere to prove myself, either.
I learned somewhere along the line that I could hide from life because I was overweight. My best guess is that I learned it as a kid. People felt sorry for me because I had so many struggles – being made fun, not having many friends, and constantly feeling bad about myself. Unintentionally, adults in my life let me off easy at times to try and help the situation. Though no one was trying to teach me this, I learned that I could play it safe, hide, and avoid disappointment – all because I was chunky.
I didn’t hide from everything. There were some things I was naturally good at – I loved to learn and excelled in school. I also loved to read and was always very creative.
But being fat let me hide from everything that didn’t guarantee success. Though I was miserable, I was comfortable that way.
Some of the ways I hid included:
- Never learning to play sport or trying out for any groups teams in high school. I wanted to be a part of what was going on so badly but I was too scared to fail. And, I was fat through many of those years. “No one wants a fat girl on the volleyball team,” I thought to myself. I never tried out and, consequently, never failed. At least not publicly.
- Declining invitations because I didn’t have anything to wear. For me, one of the worst parts of being overweight was clothes shopping. I carried the majority of my weight around my midsection. To hide my stomach I draped myself in athletic clothes and looked like a man most of the time. I’d say to myself, “I don’t have anything that will fit so I can’t go.” I could avoid the social interaction and the possibility of being uncomfortable. When I did show up, I hung around the food table and hid that way.
- I had an excuse not to date when I was overweight. And if I did date, I always chose someone who wasn’t so nice. Of course I put up with their cruel comments and rude behavior because deep down inside I believed that they were doing me a favor. When the relationship went south, it wasn’t such a big deal because I didn’t ever love him. I never let him really know me anyway. It was safe.
- I had this fantasy that when I was thin, I’d be able do IT, whatever it was. Maybe it was write a book, travel to Italy, buy and wear those stiletto shoes I’d always wanted so badly. I thought that when I was thin, I’d feel better about myself, I’d have more friends, and my problems would go away. Life would be perfect. This fantasy kept me safe and fat because I never really had the chance to fail. Instead, I waited for “someday.”
I’m thin now, but the fat mentality followed me for years. Sometimes it still creeps up. Next week, I’m going to talk about finding the courage to live fully.
Do you ever play it safe? What do you really want to do but are too afraid to try? Or, what have you had the courage to try and how has it turned out?
And, a recipe – Artichoke and Tomato Salad with Basil Vinigarette – this is how I love to eat every day.
May you find balance and freedom,