Lately, I have been feeling very bad about myself. Bad enough to cry about it. Bad enough to cycle into the never ending catch-22 of being depressed and eating to feel better, and then getting depressed about eating, then eating to feel better, then getting depressed about eating, then eating to feel better, then getting depressed about eating… You get the idea. My entire adult life I have been overweight except for one two year long period where I was abusing my body with drugs, and even though I was thin then, I wasn’t healthy and I certainly wasn’t sober enough to pay any attention to my body at all.
You know that saying “nothing tastes as good as being thin feels”? I recently heard that phrase again, for the first time in a long time, in fact. I don’t remember where, or why, but for some reason reason it banged around in my noggin for a while and got the brain hamster running at warp speed. Now this may seem like an obvious point to some people, and of course saying it out loud now is a “duh” moment, but… I have no idea what “thin” feels like. By thin, I don’t mean skinny at the expense of all else. I am not talking about dress size and number on the scale above all else. What I am specifically thinking of is being fit, healthy, and just generally feeling good about myself. So, for the sake of this blog post, to illustrate my personal train of thought when repeating “nothing tastes as good as being thin feels” over and over again in my head, thin means healthy. Thin means self confident. Thin means everything that I do not feel about myself right now.
Phrases like that are meant to be motivational to someone when they are having cravings for food that is unhealthy and they need a reason to fight the urge and walk away. The problem with phrases like that (besides the obvious problem of defining thin to mean skinny rather than healthy) is that if you don’t know what thin feels like, they tend to lose power. If I had some frame of reference for thin, some time in my life where I felt powerful, beautiful, desirable, or self confident then I could draw from that memory and use it to gather up my willpower. I can honestly say I have never felt any of those things, at least not when it comes to my body or my vitality. The more I think about it, the more I want so badly to have that experience, to know what it feels like.
So, since I can’t draw from past experience, I will create an image of what I think it feels like by describing what being overweight, sluggish, unhealthy, and depressed feels like for me now. I will list what I want to change, and what I want to change it to. I am a classic avoider. I know when something is wrong, and in an attempt to prevent myself from focusing on all of the bad so that I don’t forget all of the good in my life (and I really do have SO much good) I avoid it. Unless I am, at that moment, dealing with whatever feeling a particular action brings up, I refuse to acknowledge that it exists. I don’t ever think about how I get out of breath going up stairs, unless I am climbing a flight of stairs… and I avoid stairs as much as possible so that I don’t have to face the fact that I get winded going up them which makes me feel like crap. See, there is that nasty catch-22 again. Time to catch that catch-22 and beat it until it runs away screaming, preferably up a flight of stairs.
So here it goes… My list of what thin feels like, or maybe more accurately, what I imagine thin feels like based on how much fat sucks. (Big thank you to the girls of MSOS and Chas for helping me to compile this list, and for talking to me about this topic to get my motivation started.) Some of these may be harsh, but they are all true.
- Getting into the bathtub with my babies for bath time without my legs falling asleep almost instantly because of the weight of my belly cutting off circulation in my legs.
- Going into my closet and grabbing a shirt to wear without having to cycle through half of my closet before I find a shirt that doesn’t feel like it is suffocating me or showing the world my belly bulge, and feeling worse and worse about myself with each one I try on.
- Being able to get comfortable in bed without tossing and turning because I am cutting off circulation in one extremity or another.
- Being able to fit on the kiddie rides at amusement parks with my girls once they are old enough to go on them.
- Being able to go into a store and actually buy off the rack.
- Being able to fit into my oversized bathtub with my husband, at the same time, and have some relaxing time together.
- Being able to touch my toes.
- My husband’s clothes being big on me, not the other way around.
- Being able to go in public without constantly wondering if someone is looking at me with disgust because of my size.
- Running with my girls.
- Fitting down the slide at the park.
- Being able to get in and out of the back seat of my car without having to plan how I am going to twist to get out without embarrassing myself.
- Being able to enjoy marital happy fun time with my husband without limiting it to a very small selection of positions and places because of my physical comfort level and ability.
- Having some slack when I put on a seat belt on an airplane, and being able to sit in the seat without having to force the arm rest down with my elbow so that no one can see that my belly fat is pushing it up.
- Being able to cross my legs above the knee without pushing my stomach so far up into my diaphragm that I can’t breathe.
- Getting to have a cute, obvious pregnant belly instead of being forced to wear a shirt announcing that I am in fact pregnant in public to avoid people staring at me wondering if I am pregnant or just have a lot of belly fat in front.
- Being able to scoot past people in the movie theater without bumping them.
- Going in for my next c-section without there needing to be extra people to move me from the operating table to the bed after the surgery, and without the fear that they will drop me because I am too big.
- Having my babies cut out of me without the aid of a ton of adhesive tape attached my my belly to lift up my fat so that my doctor can cut underneath it to make the incision in the proper place.
- Being able to recover from surgery without needing to stuff a wash cloth under my belly to prevent my extra fat from rubbing my incision site and opening it back up again.
- Having thighs that are the same color as the rest of my legs instead of a few shades darker because of them rubbing together causing skin issues.
- Being able to wear a dress without bike shorts or legging underneath to prevent excess sweating and chafing.
- Bracelets and rings that fit.
- Eating what everyone else is eating at a restaurant without feeling like you are the one being stared at with looks of “that explains why she is so big” on their faces.
- Having a healthy, natural glow instead of a ruddy, splotchy complexion.
- Loving to shop instead of dreading the mere thought of stepping foot into a clothing store, grocery store, or restaurant.
- Looking forward to doing active outdoorsy activities instead of worrying if you will be able to keep up or if people will be staring at you the whole time you do them.
- Being able to pick out a cute bra from Victoria’s Secret.
- Having energy without shoveling caffeine down my gullet to get it.
- Feeling light on my feet.
- Having an actual waist line, not just two fat rolls meeting in the middle of my abdomen.
- Planning a tattoo without thinking about which body part to put it on that won’t expose a fat roll to the tattoo artist.
- Feeling in control instead of spiraling out of it.
- Walking, running, even sitting without feeling my stomach touching the top of my legs.
- Laying down on my back on a flat (not inclined) surface without my boobs touching my neck.
- Never having to hear my daughters describe me as fat.
- Being the funny sister, or the smart sister, or the pretty sister, or the older sister instead of the fat sister.
- Wearing the brands I love instead of admiring it on other people because they don’t carry my size.
- Dressing up for Halloween for the first time in over a decade because I can find a costume that both fits me and doesn’t make me feel exposed and embarrassed.
- Feeling good about myself without the exorbitant amount of effort it take to merely TRY To feel good about myself now, and sustaining that feeling without it crashing down because of the simple glance of a stranger.
- Knowing that people are looking at me because I look good instead of because I look bad.
- My outsides matching my insides.
- Going through life without the thought of dying early from a preventable obesity related disease and missing out on watching my amazing girls, who deserve their mother to be around for all of their big life achievements, grow up.
- Looking at myself in the mirror. I can’t tell you the last time I actually stopped and looked at myself.
- Seeing more than just a double chin in every picture of myself.
- Sitting in folding and plastic chairs without wondering if I exceed the weight limit or if the chair legs will buckle under me and send me crashing to the floor in front of everyone.
- Wearing a pair of jeans all day without getting a raw red line around my belly from them rubbing every time I move.
- Dressing without contraptions under my clothes to avoid mushroom top or back fat exposure.
- Going an entire day without my knees, hips, ankles, or back hurting.
- Going an entire day without feeling like I am being controlled by food.
- Getting up from the couch without groaning like an 80 year old.
- Being able to have a photo take of me with my girls. I have a small handful of photos of me with them, and those all make me cringe. The way things are going, they will have no photos of themselves with their own mom to look at when they are older, and I won’t have any to look back on of me with them when they were babies. This, especially, makes me so sad.
The more that I add to this list, the more that I think of. I have always executed all of my lofty life changing goals in secret because I was too ashamed to admit that I felt like all of that ^. Obviously, that hasn’t worked for me, and my family deserves more out of my life than for me to shame spiral in secret any longer. So, I am putting this all out there. I am tired of feeling like this. I am tired of living in this skin that I have treated so carelessly, and under the shadow of the hole I have dug for myself. My hope is that if I put it all out there, I will not only be forced to face it with nowhere to hide, but that maybe someone somewhere will be able to relate and we can lift each other up and help each other through.
So, here it is. I want to see what “thin” feels like.