There is no such thing as fat and happy. I know. I’ve been there. There is fat and content with parts of your life. There is fat and putting on a happy face. There is fat and lots of good times in your life. But fat AND happy with your weight. I doubt it.
I am not saying anyone who is fat does not have a great life. Or can’t be happy in their job, or with their family. And I am not saying there aren’t people who embrace their weight and just go with it, enjoying life and not seeming to worry about it. And I certainly embrace the “no fat shaming” movement because no one should ever be the victim of bullying or shame as a result of their weight.
But, I do know from experience that being fat is difficult. And I know from having spent a year changing my life with 15 other fat friends, that at the end of the day when there is no one around, and you are left alone with your thoughts, your weight wears on you. It is a mental strain to be fat.
Being obese or, as I was, morbidly obese, does not equate to happiness. Obesity is defined as being more than 20% over your ideal weight. Mildly obese is being between 20-40% over your ideal weight and morbid obesity is 40-100% overweight. I was on the highest end of morbid obesity when I began my weight loss journey. I was 100% overweight. Meaning I weighed double what I should have. I weighed almost exactly double what I did when I was in high school. And it took much more than a physical toll on me.
From the outside I looked pretty happy. Just by browsing my Facebook page you would find vacation pictures, pictures of my kids, glimpses of the glossy, happy life I liked to share. I am a positive person, so my posts were all positive and happy. But, deep down, I was not happy. I was very frustrated with myself, unsure if I could ever change. Mad at myself for having let me become so overweight. I was overwhelmed at the thought of losing all the weight I needed to. I was not happy. I was fat and scared.
I worried about my health. I had panic attacks, worried that my children would wake up and find me dead of a heart attack. I had sore joints. My feet were swollen. Being obese is not easy.
Let me walk you through the mind of an obese person. Just in day-to-day life. Putting shoes on, a difficult task. It’s not easy to reach down and just get your shoes on when your belly is in the way. Going out to lunch or dinner with friends? Let’s hope we can squeeze past the other diners who are sitting when we are walked to our table. And let’s pray that if it’s a booth that we will fit in it.
Going to a volleyball match at an arena that has chair seating? Let me smash myself into the chair, sit uncomfortably for hours and then go home with bruises on my hips from the chair digging into me. Then do it again tomorrow, with the bruises already hurting. And chat with the other moms and my husband and pretend all is ok.
Traveling? Please, let’s not take my husband’s jeep, because the seat belt “just” fits and I have zero room to move or be comfortable. I can’t even reach down to change the channel or adjust the heat because my belt has no slack. Flying? Let’s pray we fit into one seat and then feel the shame because you know the other people on your row are annoyed that you are oozing into their space. When I flew to Denver for boot camp, I could just get the belt fastened, as loose as it would go, squeezed within an inch of it’s life around me. Talking to my cast mates, many of them would just pretend the belt was fastened, too ashamed to ask for an extender.
Being fat is not a happy place. It’s tough. It’s a mental drain. It is the little things all day that make you aware that you are not like others or you don’t fit into the world’s size of things. I am not telling you this for sympathy, but to give you an idea of what it is like to be fat. And to let you know that obese people are hurting. They are aware that they don’t look like most other people. They are aware that they are probably not that healthy, and more than likely are desperate to change but don’t know how.
Just imagine: Glances from other people. Walking into stores to shop for your daughters and getting “the look”. The look that says, “What are you doing in our store? You don’t fit into our clothes”. Avoiding doctors because you are embarrassed to be weighed and to be told again that you need to lose weight, but not being given any real direction on how to do so. It takes so much more than being told, “Eat less, move more”. We all know the science of weight loss. It’s not a science issue; it’s an emotional issue.
So, fat and happy? I don’t believe it. When I see an obese person it hurts my heart. I know what it’s like and it’s not easy. I don’t look at them and think, “Why don’t they just eat less?” or “They really should do something.” I look at them and think I want to go hug them and tell them that it’s possible to change. I want to tell them that I know they are hurting and that if they begin to make small changes that it can add up. I want to tell them that even though losing weight and getting healthy seem overwhelming, that they CAN do it!
I am a living, breathing example of that possibility. I had had enough of not being happy. I was tired of being fat and depressed, fat and anxious, fat and scared. If you or someone you know is obese, don’t give up! I spent 20 years stuck, afraid to try, overwhelmed with not knowing how to change. It is never too late to stop being fat and sad. It’s never too late to become happy and healthy.