If I started the story of me and my weight issue from the beginning, we would be here all night. Suffice to say that I have struggled with being overweight (lately, seriously obese) all my life. I’ve always been a big girl and usually with a big personality to match. You get kind of defensive when all you hear most of your life is negative comments and pressure surrounding your weight.
My mum batters me about it constantly, and I even recall when I told my family about my PCOS diagnosis; my grandmother piping up “well, I always thought there was something wrong with you, you know because you’re so big”. I can’t say it didn’t hurt or that I wasn’t so embarrassed. I wanted a swift exit out of there. But to be honest, I was also mighty pissed off. As far as I was concerned, there was nothing wrong with me! Other than being the largest of the family…
I’ve been described using various offensive adjectives so many times I couldn’t begin to count… and I’m here to tell you: I am not: Gross, Disgusting, Sick, Minging, or Lazy. What I am is FAT. I’m not claiming to be big boned or to have some kind of fat genes to excuse it. I’m overweight and largely it’s my fault.
Yes, it’s true I have PCOS and perhaps a bit of an underactive thyroid, which makes losing weight harder than is should be, but the simple facts are I eat too much and I exercise too little.
It’s unhealthy. It affects my life probably in lots of ways I don’t even know yet, but like many other things about me its only one facet of the person that makes Ali, and If you think you have the right to comment or make assumptions about me because of it, then I’m first in the queue to tell you you’re either an insulting A$$ or you’re too stupid to realise the damage your words can cause and in both cases this fat chick feels sorry for you.
It makes me even more angry in the work that I do when I hear women with a “raised BMI” described using all those same offensive adjectives that are partly responsible for my low self esteem. Sadly, I have heard them being used by both professionals and lay people. I have even heard comments that “women that big shouldn’t be having children”. I have news for you: it’s not your call! You are there to provide care, and it seems to me that if you’re caring and compassionate while in the room with a woman and then slating her with your dumb ass judgmental comments behind her back, you’re two faced and untrustworthy.
I would venture that as most women with raised BMI, we could open the whole “BMI is not always a great indicator of a person’s health, anyway” debate… but really, i’m just using the term commonly used by the NHS. As I was saying, women with a raised BMI, myself included: WE KNOW WE’RE FAT. It’s not a revelation.
It’s a bad habit. It’s a lack of information. At worst, it’s an addiction. All in all, it’s a problem with food surrounding food. Unlike other forms of addiction, you can’t really hide this. It’s visible for all to see, but next time you’re harshly judging a fat person. it’s worth thinking about your own faults. What would people think of you if your failings were likewise as visible? Imagine if a smoker’s tumors were growing on the outside of their body, if money visibly constantly poured away from the pockets of those with a gambling problem, or alcoholics began their downward spiral by turning bright yellow from their damaged liver. It’s amazing the secrets the most judgmental people hide – they could really do with a look in a mirror before they begin throwing stones.
Also, like other forms of addiction, you can’t help someone who doesn’t want your help. Each must decide in their own time when they are ready to confront the issue, but chipping away at someone’s self esteem is going to push them further away from the help your offering. The next time you find yourself commenting on a my weight or what I’m eating, ask yourself first: are you close enough to me, or do you have a duty of care to me which makes my problem your business and second: are you REALLY approaching the issue in a way that encourages me to open up and be honest with you? If you’re the one metaphorically beating me up it’s not going to be you that I ask for help.
Cigarettes, alcohol, gambling… these vices defeat many and are extremely hard to overcome, I grant you, but with each of them your basic strategy is to find a workable way to cut the thing your find yourself addicted to out of your life. You can’t give up food and there’s no patch for it either, it’s all about reeducation and that’s a slow process that takes time.
Going back to my journey, I think I’m finally ready to confront this issue in my life. For a number of reasons:
I feel like a hypocrite at work advising women about healthy eating and the risks of being overweight. I’m not exactly practicing what I preach.
I’m really sick of shopping in the fat girl stores.
I actually would like to avoid diabetes and other nasties in later life.
I have excellent motivation to lose a little weight before my wedding.
About a year ago I actually was on weight watchers for a couple of months and though short and with limited success for the time I was on the program, I actually felt the best I have in a long time and I’d like to get back to feeling that way.
To that end, 2 weeks ago I went along to my first Slimming World meeting. I chose Slimming World over Weight Watchers – a couple of ladies in my class at Uni seem to be doing this program and we have been supporting each other. It really has been helping.
In the last 2 weeks I’ve lost 5lbs. It’s a start, and I know I’m at the beginning of a very long journey, but hopefully this time I will keep walking down this road.
Today, at group, I was given the slimmer of the week award and a sparkly sticker and I was all but speechless. I must have looked kind of silly, but to be honest I was trying very hard not to shed a tear because, well… it was the first time I can remember hearing positive comments and feeling good about my weight issue. Plus, you know you can always win me over with sparkles.