I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Overweight

I've been overweight for my whole life. I'm pretty sure I came out of the womb a chubby baby and just never really got much smaller.  For obvious reasons this was an issue of concern for my parents, and I endured plenty of discussion and attempts to remedy it. Hell, they even sent me to fat camp...twice! (...which by the way was more fun than you would think.) Both my parents were overweight themselves, so they knew first hand what it was like to live in a body bigger than you needed or wanted. My Mom in particular tried to talk to me about the situation - and talking to her was always sort of amusing because English is not her first language. While her English is pretty near perfect, she has some very funny (to me) expressions which she uses - in this case, she used to call my being fat "The Overweight" - although I think she meant "being overweight" she always put the "The" there.  I put the caps there because, as a kid (and young adult), it was as though she was talking about some sort of creature which kinda just hung around. The Overweight developed it's own personality and in my head I used to think of it as some sort of entity all it's own.

So her conversations would sound like this: "You know, it's because of The Overweight that you don't enjoy clothes shopping...," or "if only you got rid of The Overweight, you might have more friends," or "The Overweight makes me so worried about you," and so on. She definitely meant well, but I grew up thinking of The Overweight as a this creature outside of myself. People who battle with depression often call it "the black dog" which follows you around, lurks in corners, and makes a nuisance of himself...and I'd venture to say The Overweight is much the same sort of beast. 

In recent years, I've gotten rid of a fairly large portion of the excess weight I was carrying around. Amazingly (to me), even with all that effort, The Overweight is still hanging around! (bastard!) The Overweight is why I eat if I'm bored or grumpy, The Overweight is why I'm not comfortable walking into "normal" clothing stores even though I easily fit into their clothes, The Overweight is what makes me socially awkward. The fact is, it's probably TRUE that being overweight is a symptom of all those things - but in reality it's the mental part of being overweight, not the ACTUAL weight, which makes those things happen in the first place. In other words it's not the weight you've got hanging on you, it's The Overweight you've got which is the problem.

One of my employees is actively in weight-loss mode at the moment, and so it's her ongoing topic of conversation. No pun intended, but the weight loss efforts totally consume her. Surprisingly (or maybe not), the topic of conversation is not the exercise and food (although that's definitely there), but the emotional experience of dealing with The Overweight.  How awful she feels when she misses a day of exercise, how hard it is to resist the treats which are around when she is out with friends, how much she'd rather be a hermit during this stage just so she doesn't have to deal with the commentary she inevitably gets. Like a lot of people dealing with some sort of monkey on their back, she believes that once she loses the weight the rest of her life will magically fall into place. She'll find a partner, be a happier person, be better able to handle social situations, won't be embarrassed to learn to surf, etc. 

Having been there and done that - I just want so much to tell her that while the excess weight does in fact curtail your life, it doesn't DEFINE your life by any means.  You can be thinner and still feel shitty about missing a day of exercise. You can be thinner and still be unhappy sometimes. You can be thinner and still be socially awkward. Just like there is no magic pill for weight loss, there is no magic pill for life satisfaction.

Ultimately, I don't have the heart to tell her that even when you lose the weight, you're still stuck with The Overweight.

1 comment:

Catherine55 said...

It's weird though. I thought I'd be stuck with "The Overweight" forever, even after I got to goal. It's been 3 or so years now, and it's become normal to me to feel good about my weight.

That's not to say I don't have sh*tty days, that I don't feel like a loser if I lame-out on my workout (especially when that means losing $32), etc. But The Overweight stopped being a cloud over my head some time ago. I think it actually stopped when I started succeeding at losing weight (with the lap band) -- while I was still technically overweight.

Weird, huh? We humans are strange creatures! :)