What’s the first step to start taking control of a serious weight problem? Figure out what you’re going to eat? Make an exercise plan? That’s the simple answer. There’s something else you need to do and I think it’s the key.
Forgive yourself for being fat.
Last week I wrote about how often I find those weight-focused blogs that document the misfortunes and disadvantages, trials and tribulations of the blogger’s life. I came upon more this week, they’re very common.
The paradigm is for a person who has struggled with a serious weight problem to connect any issues they have in their life to their weight and their eating. The assumption is that these issues have driven overeating and “caused” the weight problem. It’s the ever-popular cliche “I turned to food for comfort.” To follow that logic, we’d have to believe that if the issues are resolved, the weight problem would also be resolved and the person would lose weight, perhaps naturally and easily. We could go further with this logic and assume that when a person’s worries and anxiety are not top of mind, the person is not troubled by food cravings and does not feel driven to the behaviors that cause weight gain. If we are to agree with this we’d have to believe that people with 100lbs or more to lose are apparently feeling stress and anxiety and pain so often, day after day, that just about everything they put in their mouths is some form of self-medication.
So if causal emotion is the real driver behind serious obesity problems, is there an obesity epidemic in our nation or an “emotional issues” epidemic? Has America’s weight problem worsened because our intensely obesogenic culture has exacerbated the traits and tendencies of some people to be larger and to eat more or because people are more screwed up than they used to be?
I’m not a medical professional; I have no credentials of any kind in psychology. But I have been a fat girl my whole life and through the wonders of the blogosphere I have been reading the confessions of countless other fat girls for almost a decade now. One common thread that’s very obvious—people deal with a lot of shame and assign themselves all the blame.
If you feel this shame and blame, I urge you to reject it! I believe that our society has projected all this shame and blame UPON YOU, holding you responsible for violating oppressive beauty standards. Our culture puts such value on physical attractiveness and thinness, that it’s assumed there must be something wrong with you if you’re fat. It’s assumed you’re so weak and care so little about yourself that you make poor choices and suffer the consequences. Our society tells you that if you had any strength, you’d simply “eat less and move more” and conform to the beauty standards you’re being held to. If you don’t do that, ergo, there’s got to be something “wrong” with you.
Stop buying into it.
I believe that many of us are so desperate to find some measure of sympathy for our “transgressions” that we’ll take all the blame upon ourselves. We’ll drink the Kool Aid and go along with the idea that fat people are weak and broken and filled with self-loathing.
Reject the shame.
Our society readily accepts that some people are naturally thin with a naturally low interest in eating. Well, every bell curve has two ends. You can’t have naturally thin people without some people also being heavier by their nature. I could write 20 more blog posts to support this. It’s a FACT. The only difference is society does not make value judgments and impose character attacks against thin people. In fact, we’re told if we want to lose weight, we should “think like a thin person.” Why? Because they have all the answers? Their lives are perfect?
We all deal with something. Each and every one of us. Yes, even thin people! There are a LOT of reasons why some of us deal with larger bodies and stronger cravings for food. It’s not a character flaw. It’s not a weakness. You didn’t stress eat and “seek comfort” all the way to 100lbs or more overweight. Our food-focused culture has messed with your natural tendencies and made it much harder for you to keep your habits and cravings under control. Food is its own driver. Weight is its own stressor. Food today is engineered to be addictive. Gaining weight messes with your head. Society says it’s your own weakness and you’ve bought into the shame. If whatever your personal issues were to be wiped from your memory, I assure you, you’d still have your weight problem to deal with. You’d still be a person whose body is naturally larger and whose brain naturally craves more food.
Forgive yourself for being fat.
Start from a new square one. If you’ve got issues to work on, work on them. If you’ve got a weight problem to take under control, see it for what it is. Stop shaming and blaming yourself right now, this minute. You don’t need to beg for sympathy from a society that traps you in its own misaligned priorities. You owe “society” nothing. You owe yourself peace.