Baby Steps to Self Acceptance

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After spending a couple hours crafting a very emotionally charged post last night the night wore on and my mind grew fuzzy with incoherence. I discovered it may take me awhile to get back into the blogging groove. Once upon a time, about 9-10 years ago, I kept a semi-private blog on LiveJournal, which was actually quite good. Seriously, last year I spent a few nights reading entries — they were poignant, poised, artistic, emotional, and captivating. I had admirers. I’d love to capture that again…but part of me hesitates before revealing my innermost to the great big open. It’s one thing to have a small group of people that you let into your head, but this blog is not a secret club, it’s not a notebook with a lock and key, it’s my heart on my sleeve where anyone can trample on it. I need to prepare myself for that.

So we’ll start smaller. Baby steps. I won’t give you my entire background in one post, it will be brief glimpses over time. After all, when you first meet someone, wouldn’t it be awkward if they sat and told you their entire life story? Every good or bad thing (especially the bad) that ever happened to them? Although even as I say that, there have been people that I barely knew that I shared a lot of intimate details of my life, but it was part of a conversation where we both learned about one another. Sometimes those intense spur of the moment heart-to-hearts are like medicine for the soul, and your realize things about yourself that you never saw before, and writing can do the same thing. But still, even in those situations, I don’t blurt out everything, there is still restraint.

My first attempt that this post was just that. Facts. Numbers. X + Y = Z. I hope you can understand, but I just can’t do it like that.

We’ll start with: I’m fat, like REALLY fat, and I’m okay with it.

Let that sink in a little bit.

For some people, this will make you squirm a little. In person, you might laugh nervously, avoid eye contact or even deny it, when we both know that’s not the case.

Listen, I appreciate the gesture, the attempt at “making me feel better” with a lie that you don’t really mean, but the truth is that I don’t need anyone to make any comments about it either way. I make no apologies for being fat, and I don’t need to justify my existence with some other redeeming quality. If I have good qualities, then great, those things will certainly help me in life, but it’s not a license to live. What I’d really like is a non-reaction. Do people console a thin person if they mention that they are thin? It’s just a description, a body type, and is not offensive. I mention I’m fat because I don’t want to pretend like I’m not any longer.

Well, the cat’s out of the bag. I know I’m fat. Let’s all take a huge sigh of relief and go about our business.

Next, let’s cover how fat does not equal unhealthy. I know that it’s a hard concept to grasp when every major media outlet known to man is telling everyone that obesity is a disease. Fun fact: obesity is not a disease. In fact, I see a ton of people on Facebook who worship in the religion of science, and bow down before what they proclaim are Real Science Facts. To be honest, Science and Mathematics and such are not really my forte, but if they were, you better believe I would actually research things instead of just sharing major media news articles and pass myself off as some kind of authority on the subject. However, being that I am what you might call a skeptic, I have a healthy distrust of authority including the state, media, and “conventional wisdom.”

When I heard of the concept that not all fat people are unhealthy, it clicked. As I said before, I am not the most scientific person at all, so I don’t get very far attempting to read medical journals, but I’ve read some blogs commenting on them, explaining the study, what the results mean, etc, and found that there’s still a lot that we don’t know about… just about everything, and one of the most important things to consider: correlation is not causation. There are many different factors at play, and fat people are all over the map. If “obesity” (the word makes me cringe, so air quotes it is) is truly a disease, why aren’t ALL fat people diabetic or something?

I was so worried that I was unhealthy because of my weight. I went to the doctor for a physical for the first time in over 10 years and got all of my bloodwork done. And you know what? I’m fine. I am REALLY fat and I am fine. For all of these years, I’ve assumed that there’s something wrong with me. I’ve gained so much weight and never seemed to notice, never seeing anything but a fat person in the mirror that I was blind to my body. I wanted to pretend that it didn’t exist. I avoided all types of physical activity because I was ashamed of myself and I thought that I couldn’t do it. So the depression came and the weight piled on year after year.

It wasn’t until I took the blinders off that I realized there was a problem here. At first I thought the answer was to diet and exercise like crazy. I was only half right. The real answer is to actually learn to listen to my body. I am capable of it, but it’s been so long that I literally have to relearn how to eat, how to move, how to be. Obsessing over calories in VS calories out isn’t normal. It used to depress me so much that I was incapable of providing my body what it needed. But how could I do that if I wasn’t LISTENING to it?

That’s where the Health at Every Size approach comes in. The idea is that no matter what size you are, whether you are thin or fat, you can be healthy NOW. You don’t have to wait to lose 20, 50 or 100+ pounds to be healthy and start your life. Live NOW. I used to get depressed just thinking about all the weight I’ve gained, and think about things I wanted to do once I got my weight down, like have kids. All that did was freak me out because I thought “what if I never lose the weight? then I will never have children?” Meanwhile, contrary to what the media wants you to believe, fat people have kids all the time and for most it’s a non-event. For those who have problems, some are legitimate, while others are simply because the doctor had a bias against them because of their weight, and not because there was an actual problem.

It has been a struggle, but I strongly believe that before I can settle into the weight my body naturally wants to be at, I have to accept myself, and stop ignoring my body’s signals to eat or not eat, move or sit still. And it’s HARD, because all I’ve ever heard my whole life is that being fat is a terrible thing. Did you notice how before I said that I was OKAY with being fat? Okay is not a strong affirmation. Honestly, I’m not completely there yet; but I’m working on it.

Like I said before: baby steps.

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