My recovery from bulimia is important but accepting my current body weight has always been just as significant. I’ve carried an additional 20-30 pounds on my frame all of my life. At times, I’ve even had up to 75 extra pounds on my bones. I’m tall for a girl (6ft.) and the extra weight has made me “big”. I’m one of those rare women who towers over most people. I’ve been asked more than once to help lift items off the top shelf of grocery stores.
In 5th grade I started my first diary. This is where I documented my first New Year’s resolutions. My words state that I want to lose 30 pounds. I mourn for that child. A chubby kid who believed losing weight was the key to happiness. If only… was my life motto.
Before my recovery I set goals to lose weight just about every day. Today I’ll be better. I fantasized about finally being able to wear my first bikini, to visit Water World with friends and to wear shorts in public. I’ve daydreamt about losing a massive amount of weight and walking into a party and wowing the crowd. Look at her! What a change!
I had spent years wanting my body to be different in every possible way.
I grew up as a fat kid. I avoided trust-falls, panicked about pool parties and quietly picked on peers who seemed to have more inadequacies than me. In high school and college I transformed into an oversized girl who didn’t have much confidence with the boys. I didn’t see myself as dating material. I had what the guys were looking for as far as personality goes but visually, my shape was an eternal setback.
At my heaviest, I privately researched fat acceptance online. I knew there were thousands of people in the world appreciating their bulky bellies and dimpled thighs. If I could just figure out how to love my fat then maybe my bulimia would finally have a chance to say good-bye. I tried hard to love my overweight body. Whitney, learn to be okay with the body you’ve been given. Love the way you’re packaged. Be happy to even exist despite the harm you’ve inflicted.
As much as I wanted to be like the women who seemed not to give a damn about their size, I just couldn’t do it.
It’s hard to love something that makes me feel uncomfortable. During my many size fluctuations, I could feel the sheer weight pile on my bones. My fat made my life difficult. I was reminded of my bulging shape all day long. I had problems bending down to tie my shoes because my oxygen felt cut off from my chest. I had to place a hand on my closet door to keep myself balanced when I slipped on my pants. I had to physically move one of my legs on top of the other if I wanted to cross them while sitting down. Sitting on the floor was a preposterous idea if people were around.
I walked through my days forgetting about my weight and then unexpectedly, it would once again surprise me. It happened when I noticed myself struggling to squat in a public restroom or caught myself judging the weight capacity of questionable chairs. I couldn’t escape feeling cumbersome and weak. My body ached from holding my girth. How can I love something that is bringing me embarrassment and pain? How can I make peace with myself when I’m spewing such awful self-hatred?
I couldn’t accept my weight because I was still punishing myself through shaming, stuffing and retching.
I learned that fat acceptance doesn’t mean being content with your unhealthy state of obesity. To me, fat acceptance meant I needed to start being kind to my body so I could love myself out of the mess I had created. I had to do something different. Being mean to myself had never worked.
I asked for help from a therapist. I didn’t know how to stop berating my overweight body on my own. Before therapy, I had barely acknowledged all the mean sh!t I said to myself. Thoughts regarding my self-worth had secretly lived in a perpetual state of doom. I had to open myself up to hearing my hatred.
I needed to stop stuffing it and stop retching with it. Those were self-induced acts of hate. I could only accept myself for the weight that I was, by beginning to love myself today.
When we hear that we need to accept ourselves the way we are physically, no one tells us that this means we have to change the tone of conversations in our head.
I started to accept the weight that I was because I started to take inventory of my negative inner dialogue. I began treating myself with kindness the way I would treat a friend. I pep talked myself the way I would support a friend. Doesn’t it feel good to not have heart burn? I listened to what my body wanted for exercise today! My legs are starting to feel strong. My body is changing! It’s changing on its own time, but it’s changing! Keep going!
It’s hard to love something when we spend all of our time destroying it. Obesity can be an outcome from not letting ourselves to feel. I can diet my way into a size whatever but it’ll all come back on if I don’t straighten out my thoughts and emotions. Overeating meals, pretending not to notice my portions, sneaking food and not moving has kept me miserable for too long. Pretending like my feelings can’t be hurt or acting like I’m fine when I’m not no longer serves me. I couldn’t accept myself until I started loving myself. This meant acknowledging the loveless relationship I had with my body.
Making healthy decisions keep us moving forward in our journeys. Fat acceptance happens when we love ourselves enough to change. Keep going!