Being Fat is (mostly) a Choice We Make

I want to say some things that might be considered controversial or maybe even offensive about being fat.

I figure since I am still over 200 pounds I can say this. If average weight people say hard to hear stuff about us fat people, we jump all over them and accuse them of being bigots.

Being fat, for the vast majority of us, truly is a choice. Whether it’s a disease or not, I don’t know, but certainly it does cause diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and much, much more. But, as hard as it is to hear, most of us are fat simply because we eat too much and we don’t move enough.

The main issue, though, is that we’re not really aware of it while it’s happening. Twenty pounds overweight easily becomes 40. Forty pounds easily becomes 80. And when we do acknowledge it and begin dieting, we lose a little, gain more, lose a little, gain more, until we’re bigger than ever. We then throw in the towel and resign ourselves to it as though it is our fate. The moment we do that, whether we’re aware of it or not, we begin to dislike ourselves. Our outer shells do not reflect who we are inside and a battle ensues.

When we wake up and realize we don’t want to be that way any longer, some of us are old. Past menopause. Media tell us it’s futile to try to lose weight. Most of the before and after photos are of people under 40. We are more invisible than ever. Fat and old.

And media seems to think we all want to be model thin or expect to look good in a bikini. So that rules out the vast majority of us. What about those people who just want to be fit and active and live a more fulfilling life?

I lost a good 15 years of my life by being fat. I spent many, many nights at the psych ward despising myself. I even lost the love of my life because I hated myself so much. But I never said out loud that being fat was a horrible nightmare to me. That I felt trapped in my body. There were times when I wanted to take a knife and cut off my enormous breasts and fat thighs but I never said to my shrink, “Hey, I think much of my problem is I’m stuck in this body and I hate being fat.”

I wish my psychiatrist, psychologist, or GP had addressed the possibility that part of the reason I was depressed was because I was obese, but people are so conditioned not to address obesity face to face, for fear of what? Offending us? Please, offend us! We are killing ourselves! Besides, they were prescribing me the weight gaining anti-depressants. SSRIs cause many of us to gain a lot of weight. I am now taking Wellbutrin, which is not an SSRI.

Why doctors don’t warn us about the weight gaining factor of anti-depressants is beyond me. If becoming fat isn’t a good reason to get depressed, I don’t know what is. If you’re fat and on a known weight gaining anti-depressant, consider switching to another type.

During the late Fall and all during the Winter months I dressed in the same pair of black stretchy pants and rain coat so that no one could see my ill-fitting clothes. Finally when I lost more than 40 lbs I had to begin to buy some things. Later I began to throw out my completely worn out fat clothes.

All of my new wardrobe has been purchased at Old Navy because it’s all I can afford. I enjoy looking at my closet and deciding what to wear. I’m beginning to wear color again. I wish everyone who has struggled with obesity can know what it feels like not to be limited to shopping in what I called “fat lady stores.”

In recent years I wasn’t able to participate in fashion because nothing looked good on me. I convinced myself that it was a shallow endeavor anyway and there were more important things for me to be interested in. Now I am having fun with clothes again. It’s enjoyable and it makes me feel younger and more feminine.

I see fat women (and I was/am one of them) who would spend their money where they could, on shoes, or purses, or fake nails, or highlighted hair, but you know what? None of those things look as good as being at a normal weight does. No purse, no amount of makeup can give that to you and if you think it can, you’re in denial.

As I creep towards a more normal weight I know it’s not just my attitude that’s changed. People are looking at me differently. I feel as though I am belonging again. I’m just a fairly normal person now (especially by U.S. standards), basically, not too far off from being average weight. I don’t stand out as “fat” any longer. It’s not the first way a person would describe me now.

When I go to the used bookstore in a big old building, I climb the two long flights of stairs and I’m not winded any more.

When I began to do laps in my local pool I could not do three laps in a row. Now I swim for an hour doing over 100 laps.

I feel physically powerful.

I have energy.

How could I have ever given all that up? How can I ever give it up again?

I’m a 56 year old woman and six months ago I was 62 pounds heavier. I still have about 50 pounds to go, but I’ll be honest, just losing 15 or 20 at the beginning made me feel much better.

I thought at my age I’d never be able to lose weight and I was wrong. I had a life changing event happen (husband cheated and left) and I woke up and vowed that I would change mentally and physically and I’ve worked really hard to do that.

At first I’m not sure what my motivation was. It may have been, “I’ll get him back” or it could have been “I’ll show him.” But eventually it became what I was doing for me. It’s been incredibly hard, and some days I feel as though I am failing, but I keep getting up and doing it and the proof is in the pudding, so to speak. The scale doesn’t lie.

My life is far from perfect. I’m losing weight much slower these days. Emotionally I have so much more work to do. But losing 62 pounds as helped me feel as though I’m back in the world of the living. I am a member of society again. Until you’ve felt like you didn’t belong anywhere, you can’t know how good that feels.

It feels good to take up less space and not bump into so much. To take the booth and not worry if my stomach will hit the table. To have so much room between my stomach and the steering wheel. To tie my coats around me. To hop out of a chair to do something. To feel powerful as I exit the pool after an hour of laps.

I was’t a particularly athletic person before I became fat but I did enjoy being active. But from now on I plan to have physical activity and exercise be at the core of my life. I’ll plan vacations around where I can walk, ride, or swim. I’ll someday have another man in my life who also wants to be active. I won’t give up my new lifestyle for anyone.

When I say most of us are fat simply because we eat too much, I’m aware that it’s not really simple at all.

I am an anxious person and I comfort myself with food. Many of us do. I have had to learn how to give up large quantities of food and not replace it with alcohol, or drugs, or sex. I have had to admit that the way I eat now is how I will always need to eat. If not, I will slowly or quickly gain it all back. My way of eating is not temporary therefore if there’s birthday cake, I will eat some, just not a lot.

I weigh myself every Sunday so that the weight does not creep back on. I dislike the scale immensely but I force myself onto it once a week. The scale is the truth.

I have had to find the way that would work for me and no one else. For me, being obsessed with food and recipes and calories, or being told what to eat would not work. As a middle aged woman who has dieted much of her life, I know a lot about weight loss, I just didn’t practice it.

I don’t deprive myself of much, I just really watch portion sizes. I limit breads. I rarely eat out. I’m not a big meat eater. The only fried food I eat is the occasional taco shell. I don’t eat ice cream or potato chips. I watch my juice consumption. And I began to like the feeling of being a bit hungry. When you begin to feel that that is your normal, then being overly full does not feel good. It really doesn’t.

But I would not dare to recommend my method to anyone. It’s what works for me and I will continue to fine tune it. My advice is to find out what works for you. To admit to yourself that being fat has affected you more than you realized. To consider that you have the power to change it. To understand that the real you is still there inside and wants to participate in life.

The last fifty pounds that I have to lose are coming off slowly. I’ve noticed that as my depression eases, my anxiety goes up, and anxiety is what I eat over. Lately when I feel the need to eat too much I try to ask myself, “What is it that you want?”

What I want is to be mobile, active, attractive, energetic, dignified, and someday, to be with a man who is the same. If I stop my weight loss and fitness journey now, I will give all that up. Now that I’ve decided that that is what I need and deserve and want, I have to strive for it even though I’m finding it difficult.

When I read about people who demand “fat acceptance” I have mixed feelings. We should not accept ourselves being fat: it is unhealthy, erodes our quality of life, and is a bad example to future generations. That does not mean, however, that fat people should be ridiculed or made fun of. Non fat people who harshly judge the obese need to understand that obesity is not just a matter of shutting one’s mouth.

Since I still have a significant amount of weight to lose some might find it ballsy of me to try to write something inspirational, but I don’t care. While this road is a hard one, the rewards are so great, that even while I’m not done yet and will probably never be done, I have to share the good news. It is possible for you to lose weight and regain your life. And it feels really good to do so.








11 responses to “Being Fat is (mostly) a Choice We Make

  1. I really enjoyed reading this post, I think that it is really well written and you make some really good points. You’ve also encouraged me to get back into a better routine – I’ve started comfort eating and don’t feel happy or comfortable in my own skin. I’m going to manage that again starting now.

    Thank you for such a good post xx

  2. mylittledreamworld1, that’s kind of you to say it was well written because I just went all over the place in that post. I am so honored that anything I might say could help you help yourself. I know you can do it. I know I can do it. I’d love to hear how you progress!

  3. Reblogged this on Banded Carolina Girl and commented:
    i came across this powerful blog post and started reading this strong as fuck woman and i enjoyed it so much, i wanted to share…blogger is right, we are fat because we ea too much……doesnt get any simpler than that

  4. Continue to be ballsy! Too many people have reserved themselves to their fate and it does not have to be that way. There are 2 reasons fat acceptance is growing

    1. it allows people to be lazy which is what fat people want.
    2. no body has the balls to push back on fat acceptors.

    It is not okay to be unhealthy. Focus on that nutrition and fitness equal halth.

    Clifford Mitchem
    Advocare Distributor
    Nutrition + Fitness = Health

    • I’ll be honest, losing this 67 pounds is the hardest thing I’ve ever done and I still have 50 to go. But it’s given me pride that I have really missed in my life.

      Losing weight is extremely difficult. Keeping weight off can be even harder. But we have to make a choice for health and realize no one can do this but us.

      But I do have to disagree with you about fat people wanting to be lazy. I never wanted to be lazy. But I had no idea how lose a significant amount of weight.

  5. An incredibly honest post. I’ve shared many of your experiences and feelings. Thank you for sharing. I am 54 and when I was 50, I weighed almost 300 lbs. I relate so much to what you posted. Good luck on your journey to become a healthier person.

  6. Well, when my husband cheated and left me I looked at myself and hated what I saw. I felt suicidal and I was right on the brink of becoming completely immobile and had lots of problems with my joints and feet. I knew that it was probably a “now or never” situation, so I decided I simply couldn’t be that way any longer. I know it sounds simplistic, but I realized life was too short to spend one more minute in that condition, or god forbid, even worse condition. I changed because I refused to keep being that person. There is no food that tastes as good as being healthy feels. Thanks for asking, Clifford.

  7. One of the best posts I have read- straight from the heart, honest and so so helpful for where I am at. I find it incredibly difficult to be disciplined with weightloss when I am surrounded by thin or average weight people who can eat what they want and not care. Hearing all this from someone who knows and has travelled the hard road is so powerful and I hope will be just the motivation I need.

    • Thank you so much, Merryn. It is difficult, but we have no choice. There are worse things we could be saddled with, I suppose. It will need to be a lifelong journey for us, but that’s okay, we can handle it. It’s better than ill health, poor quality of life, and early death due to obesity. I wish you the best. You are far from alone.

  8. Yeah, it’s a choice – to be fat or hungry on a non-stop basis. That’s why so many people fail and regain the weight plus interest. I’ve gone down that road myself and wished to lose the weight thereafter. Ever heard of the old saying “be careful what you wish for, because you just might GET IT”?

    Well, I “GOT IT” all right. Last fall, I was at a doctor to get a prescription reload (for high blood pressure, helped along with being fat of course) and got a flu shot. He also told me to lose some weight of course. (see above!) A few days I got what felt like a flu and my appetite was reduced a lot. As you could imagine I was delighted with the newly reduced appetite as it now allowed me to accomplish weight loss. 6 months later I went in for the reload again, but 40 pounds lighter and delighted. So, I get the adjusted script and a blood test was done as usual.

    The next day I found out why I lost the weight. and it wasn’t good. My blood sugar went ballistic as apparently my pancreas got nuked by that flu shot. I saw him the next monday with a bag of diabetic supplies including insulin “dial a fix” pens like a new Type 1 diabetic. The visit was to show me how to do the sugar gauge and to shoot up the insulin.

    Note that garden variety Type 2 diabetes is slow onset unlike autoimmune caused Type 1 which can be triggered by an antigen. Pancreases do not normally fail all of a sudden like a car’s alternator does or like my pancreas apparently did.

    That’s the bad news. Now, for the silver lining in this superstorm cloud: I now effectively have a controllable appetite. If only my car was as good on gas like my body is on food…

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