This blog post is more than twenty years in the making. It’s raw and uncensored because that’s the way this story needs to be told. It’s about being fat- a struggle I have been fighting, silently and not so silently- since I was 8 years old.
I have been overweight since that year, the first in my 3rd grade class to get a hot pink training bra. I can trace my eating back to that summer- bowls of buttery popcorn, cracking can after can of the Dr. Pepper my dad stocked for me in the garage fridge. What could have been viewed as baby fat was something that I never grew out of- and I am finally ready to call this endless battle what it truly is- an eating disorder.
Most people have fight or flight. For me, it’s eat or flight. Sometimes my flight leads to eating. But when the baby is screaming, the boss is demanding, I’m fighting with Adam, when my anxiety is at an all time high, I look to food. And the weird thing is- that when I’ve driven through the drive thru to get a McChicken- my anxieties and my fears cease, even for just a few minutes. Food is my drug, and it’s a drug you encounter several times a day. And I’ve been an addict for over twenty years and haven’t yet cracked the code on how to break the spell.
When I encounter food in the break room, I feel like I have to eat- even if I’m not hungry. Probably because I’m stressed at work and looking for that crutch to get me through an anxious time. But it’s not just work. I think about food constantly, from breakfast to dinner, planning the next day’s meals, it’s endless and exhausting.
About a year ago, when battling the severe case of post partum depression that I’ve detailed on this blog, I was put on a new medication that helped immensely. My doctor warned me- you’ll gain weight, he said, make sure to watch your portion control. So I’m on this medication and I become a feral beast looking for food in my household- eating chocolate chips out of the bag, scouring for a late night snack when my anxiety has won’t let me sleep. And gain weight I did. 50 pounds in a year. Either sanity or a svelte figure, you choose!
I’ve tried to dissect why I feel this way and why I can’t seem to lose weight. Somewhere, in the last twenty years, I have somehow buried deep inside me the notion that I don’t deserve to be thin. Maybe that I’m uncomfortable feeling sexually attractive since I developed at age 9 and spent time trying to avoid boys snapping my bra at school. The unwanted attention I got from teenage boys later made me cover up as much as possible, then later, in college, oversexualize myself with low cut tops. I was happy being the funny fat girl, but is that because I never granted myself the opportunity to be anything more?
Maybe I don’t think I deserve the happiness or attractiveness and it’s manifesting itself in my daily struggle with food. It’s a vicious cycle when I wake up in the morning: I hate the way that my clothes look, but stress drives me into the breakroom for snacks. I come home, make dinner, but feel ravenous even though I am full. Stress at home often leads to eating takeout. The cycle circles around yet again the next morning.
I am not writing this because I need your weight loss advice. I don’t need your Plexus or your Shakeology or your 21 Day Fix. I need to lay my fears bare- that I’m not worthy of being thin- to fully face them head on. Because I have a daughter now, and I’ll be damned if she lives her childhood watching Mama going from diet to diet, Weight Watchers (I’ve been a member since age 13), to Atkins to keto to cabbage soup diet. If I can get to the root, that scared 9 year old girl not going out for soccer that year, staying at home and shoveling food in until sometimes she’d get sick, I can recover. This is an addiction, and I think I will fight it every damn day for the rest of my life. But it’s a battle- and a war- that I’ll try to win.