An Open Letter to My Fat

File this under “if I don’t laugh about it, I’m going to cry about it.” I rarely get on the scale because it’s just an evil creature, but since the one-year anniversary of me starting a disciplined exercise and diet regimen is this week, I figured I ought to check my results. And in doing so, I discovered I’d hit an unhappy weight “milestone” that I never wanted to hit again. I wanted to sit down and cry my eyes out, but instead I let loose a few swear words and a few tears. And then decided that I’d turn to my usual “therapist”—the blog—to express my frustration. Please recognize that this is not some sort of narcissistic plea to be told “but you are beautiful.” Honestly, I wouldn’t believe you even if you said that. Rather, I’m writing it because I have a hunch there are other women who feel like me, and they might find a bit of solace in knowing they’re not alone. I know I would.

Dear Fat,

I’m supposed to make my peace with you. I’m supposed to be able to say, “I’m a proud, beautiful, fat woman. Love me as I am, because I love myself the way I am!”

As it turns out, that would be a bald-faced lie. I can’t do it. I can do it for other people—I see women on the street every day who are overweight, beautiful, confident women. I recognize their beauty and the fact that their fat doesn’t define them. But for some reason, I can’t do that for myself. I do not love myself the way I am. I don’t feel remotely proud or beautiful.

Part of that is my own self-doubt. I’ve never felt beautiful, not even when I was thin. But at least I felt thin when I was thin, even if not beautiful. And thin is something. It’s a baby step toward feeling confident in my appearance. Right now, thanks to you, my dear friend Fat, I don’t even have that.

You’re a sneaky friend, Fat. You crept up on me in my early twenties, when I ballooned to that Awful Number. And in my mid- to late-twenties, I worked my ass off (literally) to get rid of you. And I did it! I spent fifteen months seeing no results of my efforts, but then in the sixteenth month, my clothes were suddenly a size too big. By the time I’d hit my late twenties, I’d shed all of you—in fact, a bit too much, though I can’t say I minded being too thin. Which is a sick mentality, I know. But still, I didn’t mind.

I kept most of you at bay for roughly ten years. At that point, it almost feels like remission from a serious illness: If you can go ten years without putting the weight back on, you’re in the clear! You’ve made a life change and succeeded. You will no longer fight the bulge! Sure, you’ll always be careful, but you’ve succeeded in changing your habits and your lifestyle such that you’re now healthy.

Not exactly. Life crept in, with its perimenopause and migraines, and you, my good friend Fat, came back with a vengeance. Fifty pounds of you packed on in short order. At least I wasn’t having migraines…but I was miserable about the changes in my body.

So I stopped the migraine medication and figured I would fight hard to get rid of you yet again. I did it once, so surely I could do it again! I sort of halfheartedly embarked on an exercise program and healthier eating, but saw no results.

And then came September 1, 2015, when I made a vow to myself to wipe you out once and for all. And for the past 362 days, I have stuck to that vow. I have exercised at least six days a week, sometimes seven. Most days I spend an hour at the gym on the elliptical machine, doing the clearly misnamed Fat Burner setting. (Why aren’t you burning, Fat? Why??) Some days, I walk instead—anywhere from two to five miles. But regardless of which method I choose, I’ve stuck to it religiously six days a week, sometimes seven.

And that’s not even counting the fact that I walk my boys to and from school, which gets me a couple of extra miles of walking a day. No sitting in the car, waiting in the drop-off line for me! No sir, I’ll walk instead, and burn that fat!

Yeah, apparently that doesn’t work either. Though I do enjoy the walks, at least. They’re far preferable to driving. But they sure don’t seem to do anything to banish you, Fat.

And it’s not counting the fact that my everyday activities are pretty active. Gardening! Cleaning the house! Taking care of active young boys! My friend FitBit (who is much nicer than my evil friend Fat) tells me that out of my fourteen “active” hours a day, I regularly take at least 250 steps during eleven of those hours. In other words, I’m rarely sitting on my ample butt.

And still, my friend Fat doesn’t leave me.

Shall we talk diet? Mine is pretty limited because so much makes me sick. Dear sweet hubby makes me homemade granola, which is my go-to for breakfast and many lunches. Half a cup of granola for breakfast, three-quarters of a cup for lunch. Unsweetened plain almond or soy milk on top. And then a portion-controlled, veggie-heavy dinner, thanks to my beloved meal-delivery services. For snacks, it’s generally a handful of salted almonds. And my one luxury treat: iced mochas. Yes, I recognize those are loaded with sugar, but I at least minimize the damage by getting them without whipped cream and no full-fat milk. And yes, I could give that up, but honestly, it’s one treat I can enjoy and not feel sick to my stomach, and it’s not as damaging as, say, eating ice cream frequently. (I do eat ice cream now and then, but it’s a special treat.) And I’m a firm believer that everyone needs something they enjoy, or else a healthy eating plan is unsustainable.

So tell me, Fat, how do I have so much of you, even after a full year of this? Because let me tell you what happened when I got on the scale. Not only had a full year not shed any of you, it had packed on four more pounds…bringing me to a dreaded number I had never wanted to see again.

Clearly, I need to make my peace with you, Fat. Clearly, you are the most devoted “friend” I’ve ever had, and you are here to stay. Clearly, I need to be at peace with the fact that my son grabs my hand and shakes it just so he can enjoy watching the fat jiggle on my arms, which makes me want to just go sit in a closet and cry my eyes out. Clearly, I just need to get over this. Because clearly you’re here to stay.

I’ll do it eventually, Fat. I’ll come to terms with you. But for now, can I just give you a great big F*** you? Because that’s really, really what I want to say to you.

Your Unhappy Host

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