Monday, July 30, 2007

Confessions of a Fat Lady

Like others who have posted on this topic, I used to be skinny. I kept my weight between 110 and 125 pounds for many years. And I ate whatever I wanted. The sad thing is, I didn't think I was skinny. I would look down at my thighs and think, "Oh how gross! Thunder thighs!" I would look in the mirror and wish that I were as skinny as my reflection. I would watch other women and wish I were as lean as they were. I wasted all of my skinny years thinking I was overweight. I probably would have been anorexic, but I like to eat too much!

After my second daughter was born, at first I lost all my baby weight, but then, inexplicably started gaining weight. Because we didn't have much money, I went several years without seeing a doctor, until finally about twelve years ago I made an appointment- but not because of my weight. I went because after a blood test at my gynecologist's office my thyroid levels came back low. So I went to see my family doctor about my thyroid.

After a multitude of tests and discussion, we discovered that my thyroid gland was completely non-functional. The working theory is that when I was pregnant with my younger daughter, I caught some kind of virus that killed my thyroid gland. Everyone around me was strangely happy when I was diagnosed because they assumed that once I went on the thyroid medication, my weight would drop.

Sadly, it didn't work that way. My weight problems may have started because of a thyroid problem, but I exacerbated them by developing bad eating habits. See, the thing is, when I'm depressed, I eat. And I was depressed because I gained weight no matter what I did. I remember when the Rotation Diet came out. My husband and I went on the diet and followed it to the letter. In three weeks he had lost about 20 pounds. In three weeks I GAINED five pounds. So I adopted the philosophy of, if I'm going to gain weight anyway, I might as well enjoy myself. It was an excuse, and I know it. But there's a difference between knowing something rationally and being able to deal with it emotionally.

So even though I was on thyroid medication, I didn't lose weight because I wasn't changing my eating habits. I comforted myself with the thought that even though I was overweight, I was physically fit-- and I was. I walked regularly, lifted weights, did flexibility exercises, and maintained a hectic work schedule at a job that required me to be on my feet and dashing from one spot to another most of the day.

Then a few years ago I was diagnosed with chronic depression and panic attacks. At first the medication I was given made me nauseous, so that was kind of nice because I didn't feel like eating. But after a while my body adapted. One thing about anti-depressants, they cause one to gain weight.

About two years after I was diagnosed with depression, I found out that I have Type II Diabetes. For many people when they receive this diagnosis it acts as a wake up call. They go on the diabetic diet and lose lots of weight. I lost about 40 pounds when I was first diagnosed. I was still very overweight, but there was some progress.

Sadly in the last year and a half, I've gained back all the weight I lost. There are a lot of reasons-- I lost my job and was off work for more than a year- which caused my depression to get worse. My new job is largely a "sit at my desk" job so I am not as physically active as I used to be. And I have fallen back into some bad eating habits.

So that is where I am at right now. I am obese. When push comes to shove, I know that it is up to me to find the time to exercise and to improve my eating habits. I would love to come back in a year and announce to everyone that I have lost 100 pounds. Realistically, I hope I can once again lose the 40 pounds I lost when my diabetes was first diagnosed. And, realistically, I hope I can work on my physical fitness again.

So as far as advice on losing weight, I really don't have any. But I do have advice about accepting yourself. I wasted ten years of my life thinking I was overweight when I wasn't. If you are overweight, don't let it consume your life. You are so much more than your body. The more you obsess about your weight, the harder it will be for you to develop healthy eating habits. If you are, for whatever reason, unable to lose weight at this point in your life, find other ways to take care of yourself. Take a little walk every day, even if it's only for 5 minutes. Develop good grooming habits so you will look nice. Get a nice haircut. Wear comfortable shoes. Buy nice clothes that FIT (not clothes a size or two too small so you'll be able to wear them when you lose weight.) Smile. Smile a lot. Accept that you may never lose the weight, and move on. Life is too short to waste time worrying about your fat cells. The more time you spend worrying about them, the more likely you are to create more of the pesky little buggers.

1 comment:

Mary Andrews said...


I'm twice the woman I used to be.