I remember a time in my life where I was considered by the medical community to be “morbidly obese.” I used to take offense to it every year when I had to go in for a check up and within weeks of my appointment, I would have a letter in the mail from the doctor talking about the risks of being morbidly obese. Some of which included:
– high blood pressure
– high LDL cholesterol, low HDG cholesterol, or high levels of triglycerides (dyslipidemia)
– type 2 diabetes
-coronary heart disease
Never once, did any of those “issues” make me want to lose weight. Instead, they were scary and intimidating and made me want to emotional eat my way through the words. I wasn’t always morbidly obese. My weight went up and down like a seesaw after I started having kids, which was when I was seventeen. I would gain baby weight, lose weight, get pregnant, gain weight, have a baby, lose weight, and so on. I never got back to my pre-pregnancy weight ever. I was always a little heavier and a little heavier each time.
Whenever I would pack on the pounds like a bear before hibernating, I would immediately go to the “fat and happy” excuse that fat people love to use. I think now, a lot of times it is being called “body positive.” And I tried that for a while. I tried to be “body positive.” I tried to be “fat and happy.” But what I found was that the heavier I got, the “fluffier,” the “fatter,” I actually became less and less happy. I could still find joy in things in life like brunches and time with friends, but when it came time to being alone or to moving my body, I was full of discomfort. I wasn’t comfortable being alone with my thoughts. I wasn’t comfortable moving my body because I was so heavy that everything hurt. So as long as I was around people, it was easy to be fat and happy.
There was this long stretch of time in my life where I thought I had to look a certain way in order to “fit in” with the healthy crowd. I thought I had to skip dessert and never eat chips and queso again. I thought it had to be all or nothing. And the more I tried that approach, the more I ended up on the side of nothing. Giving up. Deciding it wasn’t worth it. As I took shots of tequila at night and handfuls of excedrin the next morning, I tried harder and harder to convince myself that I was living the “good life.” I went all in on the idea of “fat and happy” being the same as “body positive.” But really, all I wanted was to be able to walk a few miles without all my joints hurting and to wake up without a headache on occasion. I thought THAT was happiness. But, you don’t know what you don’t know.
I didn’t know that being body positive didn’t mean dismissing being active and being conscious about your choices with food and alcohol. I thought if I was “body positive,” I could continue to abuse my body with food and regrettable choices because I was still “fat and happy.” What it really meant was that being body positive AND living a healthy active lifestyle can walk hand in hand. And it should!
I may never be a size six. I may never have visible 6-pack abs. But, after 2 years, I would bet donuts to dollars that I can keep up (and maybe even outwork) just about anyone in the gym. I may not look like a bodybuilder, but that’s the great thing about the human body, we are all different, but our bodies are amazing. This body of mine birthed 3 babies without drugs. It’s been broken here and there. I’ve battered it more than a cake mix. I’ve poisoned it on more than one occasion with enough vodka & tequila to serve a small bachelor party. And still, it bounced back and it lets me move every single day.
It’s gone from 128 lbs to 230+lbs to 185 lbs and everywhere in between. And it keeps letting me push it. And I do. Every single day. But I don’t do it to be “skinny” anymore. I don’t even really do it for the way my body looks anymore. I do it for the way it feels.
If that letter telling me how “morbidly obese” I was would have mentioned that moving your body more will allow you to move your body more without pain, I think I may have given it a try. If it said that moving your body more would make you feel proud of yourself and push you to do things you had been avoiding, I think I would have started sooner. If that letter would have said, it’s OK to not look like a supermodel, but losing just a few pounds will LITERALLY improve your quality of life, maybe then, I would have tried.
But then again, maybe I wasn’t ready then.
We shouldn’t have to wait until we meet some unachievable goal to start enjoying life. Hell, we shouldn’t have to wait until we reach any goal to start enjoying life. We should always be improving while at the same time always enjoying life.
By medical standards, I am still considered “obese.” I’ve dropped the “morbidly” title and now, I guess I’m just regular obese. And maybe I will stay in this range forever, but now, I truly am “body positive.” I’m positive that I am moving my body every day. I’m positive that I am trying my best every day to fuel it with healthy foods. Am I always doing things 100% the right way? That’s gonna be a big fat NO, but, my feet don’t constantly hurt, my knees don’t constantly hurt, my hips don’t hurt, my back doesn’t hurt. I find it pretty easy to find 30 minutes a day to move and I’ve learned that I actually enjoy being in the kitchen and preparing food. Basically, all the reasons I used to use to avoid trying to just get a little healthier each day, are now the reasons that fuel my fire.
I don’t ever want to go back to pretending to be fat and happy.
I don’t want to go back to eating food that forces me to have to take a nap afterwards.
I don’t want to go back to hurting when I have barely done anything.
I LOVE being able to move my body. I LOVE being 47 and knowing that if I stay on this path of “body positive” living, I will take a huge burden off my kids. They will know every day that I am trying to be the healthiest version of myself so that they don’t have to deal with the chronically sick version of me. And that, is a priceless thing to have. I will never choose to be “fat and happy” again. From now on, it’s all real “body positivity” while I try to take care of myself and keep my mental state healthy, my physical state healthy, and my food healthy.