After Living Most of My Life Fat, I’m Finally Doing Something About It
I’m about a third of the way, here’s what I’ve learnt so far.
You can accept your fatness as much as you like, but it doesn’t change the reality.
We are living in times where it is unpopular to want to improve your life by nurturing your body towards a weight that is more appropriate for your frame to carry.
Many find such desires unacceptable. Sadly we are now living in times when the tables have turned so sharply in favor of size acceptance that women who live in fat bodies, bodies they are not happy with, that limit their clothing choices, restrict their movement, impact their health and likely shorten their life, are discouraged from taking the courageous steps to do something about it.
It is seen as the fault of society that fat people come up against obstacles in life, in shopping for clothes, flying on planes, the list is endless. I too once fell into the same pattern of thought, exchanging perceived prejudice against fat people for personal responsibility.
Perhaps that’s harsh, but there has to be some middle ground. We don’t encourage other deadly behaviors, like smoking or alcoholism. Obesity isn’t any different.
I no longer see injustice in the reality that I can’t adopt whatever habits I choose, and maintain a healthy body. My body is unique and has its own way of dealing with my lifestyle, good or bad. I have stopped making excuses.
I no longer buy in to the politically correct lie and instead have sought professional help and have made real changes in my life. I finally accepted that no one besides me is responsible for the state of my body, and no one besides me can change it.
I have come to understand that owning the consequences of my own choices is a prerequisite to turning things around and permanently adopting a healthier lifestyle.
And for the last eight months, admittedly with the odd false start and detour, I’m doing that. I’m taking responsibility and making changes. I’m doing it with love, gentleness and a good measure of grace.
So what am I actually doing?
Truth is I’m not focusing on losing weight much at all. I’m not dieting, weighing myself (or my food) or keeping a food diary. Those things just trigger past trauma and for me are non-negotiable.
Instead I’m constantly tweaking my lifestyle, making subtle changes and continuing to be pleasantly surprised at the results.
I have identified the primary issue in my life that for decades stood between me and a healthy body. For me that is poor management of stress.
Notice I didn’t say stress itself is the problem. Stress is a fact of life and I don’t know any way of avoiding it. But I have learnt that for me how I manage my stress, and importantly, how I relieve it, is crucial to my success.
I was relieving stress in ineffective and unhealthy ways.
The number one way, which I have only addressed this year, is my nightly wine habit. I had fallen for the lie that I needed wine to relax after my intense work day as a commercial lawyer.
I conveniently overlooked the fact that it was robbing me of my evenings, and my sleep. I allowed myself to be fooled into believing wine was my friend.
I was wrong.
In January I read This Naked Mind and decided to stop drinking wine.
The rewards have been amazing. Not only do I sleep like a baby but I now exercise in the evening and eat less.
I relieve my stress at the end of the day by taking the time for myself that wine previously occupied. I swim, read, write and have deep conversations with my husband. My mind is alert and receptive, rather than numbed by alcohol.
Life is now so much more than work, eat, sleep, repeat.
I now know that poor stress management is by far the biggest contributing factor to my obesity. I have shifted the focus from food and calories to stress and how to relieve it regularly.
My level of stress has not changed, my methods of dealing with it could not be more different.
How much weight have I lost?
I have no idea, and that is strangely liberating. By not getting on the scales, even though I know the numbers would be amazing if I did, I take away their power.
Because I know from past experience that scales can never give a result that will help me keep me motivated. If anything, seeing a low number is likely to slacken my resolve.
So I’m not weighing myself, in fact I no longer own scales.
The information that I don’t get from scales, I instead receive from my wardrobe. I’m donating clothes that were tight late last year.
That is how I acknowledge my progress.
No going back now.
It’s a glorious thing, to let yourself off the hook, find what the issue truly is, and work with your body rather than against it.
That’s what I intend to keep doing.
For as long as it takes.
Because my body and I are in this together, and we are doing just fine.
Matilda is a writer from Australia. Find more of her work at https://medium.com/@matildafairholm