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Athena Scalzi

I’m Over Being Overweight

Athena ScalziI’ve been wanting to write this post for a while, but I wasn’t sure how to without making it sound like I’m fishing for compliments or throwing myself a pity party. But I think I finally am able to express this in a way that’s kind of just matter-of-fact, rather than being a sad sack about it.

I am, and for most of my life have been, overweight. If you go through photos of me as a kid, you can pretty much see exactly where it happens. I go from being a regular sized kid, to the chubby kid. I never really noticed it until junior high, because I didn’t have many friends until then, so when I started hanging out with more people in larger groups, I started to realize I was the biggest one.

I remember in seventh grade, I joined the powerlifting team. For competitions, they divide you up by weight class. While a lot of my friends were in the 100 or 110 weight class, I was in the 120 or 130 class, and it felt… not very good. The average weight of a 12 year old is about 100 pounds, but I didn’t need to know that to know I was tubby. It’s just something that has always been painfully evident.

That trend continued for as long as I did powerlifting (I stopped after sophomore year). I was just always one up from the rest of my friends. Always the biggest.

It’s something you get used to, being the fat friend. Though, sometimes it’s harder than others. Like when your friend that’s only 120 insists they’re so fat and you think how you’d kill to look like her. Or when your friend wants you to spend the night and you say you don’t have any pajamas, and they insist you can just wear something of theirs, but you know you’d burst through the seams of their clothes, and you end up wearing something their boyfriend left behind because the only thing that’ll fit you is a six foot tall man’s clothes.

I know I’ve talked about the issues that come with being plus sized before, in my post about women’s fashion. But that post (while it did mention me being a marshmallow and my issues regarding bouncing between regular sizes and plus sizes), focused more on the faults in the women’s fashion industry, whereas this one is more about how I feel about being someone who is fat.

I have seen significant change in the past few years regarding how clothing companies advertise and portray different body types. When I was younger, the only bodies shown were the thin ones, but now I see curvy, thick folks everywhere! Mainstream clothing companies are starting to accommodate towards people who don’t have Barbie-like bodies, and that’s great (not that Barbie-esque bodies are bad!).

I am someone who always tries to be body positive. I ascribe to all of the classic body positivity sayings like, “How to get a bikini body: put a bikini on your body!” I agree with all the sentiments of “it’s okay to have rolls!” and “don’t be ashamed of your cellulite!” and “all bodies are good bodies!” I really do agree with all these things! Except when it comes to me.

In my head, I am the exception to all of these. It’s not okay I have thick thighs, it’s not okay I have a muffin top, it’s not okay I have a double chin.

It’s weird, because any time someone has a reason for gaining weight, it makes perfect sense to me. Like if someone told me, “Oh, quarantine was really rough, I gained like twenty pounds.” Of course you did, that makes perfect sense, and that’s okay! 2020 was really hard and stressful, it’s okay if you gained a little bit. What’s important is that you’re alive and healthy!

But I can’t apply that same logic to myself. I gained about fifteen pounds throughout the last year, and I’m so terribly unhappy about it, as if I wasn’t tubby enough already. Wasn’t quarantine supposed to be my chance to workout at home and get in shape? Wasn’t quarantine the perfect opportunity to stop eating takeout and just cook at home? But did I do any of that? No.

It felt like the world was ending, all the time. Everything was on fire, hundreds of thousands of people were dying, how could I bring myself to care if I was eating too much ice cream or think about how I should be eating broccoli instead? How can I focus on my health when the world is crumbling around me?

Of course, the counter argument there is that my body and what I put in it is the one thing in life I can control. When it feels like there is no order in the world, and everything is just constant chaos, wouldn’t it make sense to try to control the things that are within your power and no one else’s? Like your weight and your diet?

I’ve been a bit of a nihilist for a very long time, and I think it affects how I view my health and diet. It’s hard for me to see anything long term, or imagine the future, because I’m constantly filled with thoughts like “what if I died today?” or “what if nuclear war started tomorrow?” So it’s hard for me to meal plan for the week, because who knows if I’ll live to see it? It’s hard for me to choose not to eat a piece of cake, because what if the world ends tomorrow?

The future is never guaranteed, so I’d rather enjoy every moment of the present and not think about the consequences that will come around eventually.

This Tumblr post accurately represents my mentality:

Again, there’s nothing wrong with being fat! And fat people shouldn’t be discriminated against, ESPECIALLY considering how poverty and obesity go hand in hand, but that’s a whole other topic entirely.

So while there is nothing wrong with being fat, I don’t want to be anymore. I have wanted to be thin for what feels like forever. It’s hard to hate the way you look every single day of your life, yet feel like you can’t do anything about it. Some days, I just feel resigned to the fact that I am fat and I will forever be fat and I should just accept that that’s what I am. Other days, I can feel the motivation boiling inside of me, so desperate to change, but it simmers down just as quickly as it arises.

The worst part of being fat and wanting to not be, is knowing how easy it is on paper. Count your calories, exercise, don’t eat like complete fucking shit. So easy. Yet so incredibly hard. So hard that I feel like I can never accomplish it. Though I see people accomplishing it everyday. I see so many weight loss journeys, stories of how people went from life-threateningly obese, to fit and “normal.” I’m simultaneously so happy for these people and resent them at the same time. If they can do it, why can’t I? And the truth is, I can! There’s nothing stopping me from exercising or eating right, other than myself.

That’s the other thing I hate about being fat. I did it to myself. And I will never forgive myself for letting myself get this way. So how do I stand for it everyday? How do I let myself continue being this way?

Every day I tell myself I’ll change. I wake up and tell myself I’ll completely 180 flip my diet and my fitness habits and I will change. And every day I fail.

Every day I tell myself the same excuses as to why I can’t change. I ask myself the same questions; “how can I exercise when I don’t even know which exercises to do? What if I’m doing something wrong, like my squat form is wrong, and I hurt my knees or something? What if I get shin splints from running?” All these silly little fears keep me sedentary.

I remember my senior year of high school, I gained forty pounds. I went from overweight to obese in one semester. It seemed like it happened overnight. I don’t remember it happening, I only remember waking up and realizing I was 200 pounds. I had to buy an entire new wardrobe, nothing fit me anymore. Suddenly my waistbands were elastic and my tags had an X on them. I graduated high school and entered college, obese.

Looking at my graduation photos should bring me happiness, but it only makes me think of how bad I looked in front of alllll those people. My prom photos could make me cry.

Is this how my peers I graduated with remember me looking? I spent my last year of high school looking like this? I just can’t believe it sometimes. I never even thought that I really that big when I was a freshman in college. I just didn’t really notice it, despite being at an all-time heaviest.

Then, the middle of sophomore year of college, it seemed to vanish just as quickly as it had appeared. I woke up and was 170. And I felt so fucking good. I was enthralled. I could fit into a large instead of a double XL, I could wear a 12 instead of a 16! It was incredulous.

Wow, look at that! Photos I’m not entirely disgusted by!

I was still overweight, but I finally felt like I looked almost normal.

So, I thought my troubles were over. I went through a fat phase, but that’s all it was, right? The weight was gone now, magically, sure, but it was gone and that was all I cared about.

I foolishly believed it would just, stay off, forever. I had done nothing in the ways of changing my diet or exercise habits when I lost it, so why would it come back if I continued doing what I’ve always done? I told myself I’d never get even close to 200 again, I couldn’t stand to be that big again.

Alas, here I am, 190 and fucking miserable.

Part of me is just waiting and hoping that the weight will magically come off again, it did before so why wouldn’t it again? But I’m so tired of waiting. As much as I desperately just want to wake up and have it be gone, part of me feels like that’ll never happen, and it’s silly to wait around for it, when I could be out there actively making a difference in my body. I don’t have to wait around for it to change, I could make it change.

I wouldn’t even have to exercise, really, I would just need to count calories or something of the like. Just eat a little less and a little better, and I’d surely make slow and steady progress, right?

But I’ve found that every time I try to count calories, I just… don’t eat. You’re basically given a certain amount of calories you can spend on food throughout the day, but I don’t spend them. I hoard them. I am afraid to spend 200 calories on breakfast because what if I want something later in the day that costs those 200 and I don’t have those 200 because I spent it on breakfast? But then I just do that nonstop until I’ve reached bedtime and only eaten 300 calories for the day.

So, I figure it’s better to be a black hole and not look at the numbers, than to starve. Which means I eat way, way more than I’m supposed to in a day.

I wouldn’t say I have an eating disorder, but I would say I have disordered eating. There’s a difference.

Living day to day life as someone who is fat can present challenges in ways you would’ve never thought about before. The fact that I barely fit into a plane seat makes me feel so bad I could straight up die. Same goes for rollercoasters. And movie theater seats. Basically anywhere I have to squeeze into that is designed around the dimensions of someone who is “normal” sized is a recipe for self-hatred and craving death.

You’d think that my unhappiness would drive me to change, to finally diet and finally exercise, but instead I just live in misery, and I’m not sure why.

Why do I do this to myself? Why don’t I just cut out sweets, or carbs, or just go for a jog? Why don’t I do these things that I know will make me happier in the long run?

Sure, running and dieting would totally suck right now, but wouldn’t it pay off? But what if it doesn’t? What if I break a sweat and vow to never eat cake again, and nothing changes? But what’s the harm in trying, right? It’s not even like I have to lose hundreds of pounds, just thirty or so, that’s not so hard, right? It can’t be that hard, if only I’d try.

Maybe this is all TMI, maybe this did come across as me throwing myself a pity party. Poor girl can’t stop shoving sweets in her face then cries when it all goes to her thighs. Pathetic girl can barely button her jeans but orders dessert with her meal.

I don’t want sympathy. I don’t want to be told it’s okay that I look like a busted can of biscuits. I don’t want reassured that weight is just a number, and in a thousand years my existence will be forgotten entirely, and no one will remember I was ever overweight. I just want to be thin.

Recently I stopped eating fast food. And I stopped eating candy. And now I only drink water and like, one diet soda a day. And I still do Zumba at the Y! No changes in my weight yet, but these count for something, right? Small steps, right?

For now, though, I’ll keep trying to be better, slowly but surely. All I can do is my best. And this is my best right now. Maybe my best will be better further down the line. Maybe I’ll cut out sweets entirely instead of just candy, or exercise everyday instead of a couple times a week.

For now, this is my best. And that’s okay.

-AMS

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