Hey there, Hot Stuff –
It’s been a long time. Over ten years. Time flies. I’m married now and have two tiny daughters, a two-year-old and a one-year-old. Believe it or not, I’m a personal trainer. I know, I know – how the hell did that happen, right? I’ll spare you the details, but after you and I finally connected, 1 things changed. 2 things changed. I lost half my body weight, and then I started to get healthy, and the getting healthy gave me my first real shot at happiness. 3
I’ve spent the last ten years trying to turn healthy, loving behaviors into habits. 4 I’ve got muscles now, and some loose skin, but all in all, I’m thin. It turns out that consistently doing the things that make me healthy and happy also keep my weight healthy and stable. But that’s not the whole story. Despite all these things going well, I miss you. As I become more mindful 5 it gets easier to appreciate the pleasures and advantages I enjoyed when I was fat. Time isn’t slowing down, and I don’t want to forget.
I lie down in bed at night in a sea of pillows. My husband jokes about it, but I need all those pillows because I spent most of my life in a large, soft body. The sensation of knee-bone-on-knee-bone when I’m lying on my side is enough to keep me up all night. And with no stomach to rest my arm on, I feel like I have an extra limb. When I lie on my belly, my spine bows in the middle for want of a soft, round stomach to occupy the space between it and the bed. I haven’t sleep on my belly in over a decade, and it blows. Also, I could write a whole post about how much it sucks to sit on a hard surface with a boney ass. Tail bones and hard seats: never the two should meet.
When I was over 300 pounds, going up another size hardly seemed significant. Ten years ago, ten pounds lost or ten pounds gained, it really didn’t matter. My clothes were big enough to accommodate that kind of variation anyway. Maddeningly, going from a size 8 to a 10 today can feel stressful in a way that going from a size 26 to a 28 never was. My nit-picking went up as the number on the scale went down. I’m just grateful that I know how insignificant and how fleeting most weight gains and losses really are.
I’m nowhere near as strong today as I was when I was fat, despite being a weightlifter. Ten years ago I could confidently lift a couch into and out of a moving truck. 6 Today, despite almost daily strength training, I labor under the weight of heavy things. 7 Natural, organic strength was something I always took for granted when I was fat, something I developed by moving under resistance all day every day. Being fat made me naturally powerful. I miss that power.
I miss the relationships I had when I was fat. Back then, my friendships were simpler, loving, and genuine. I believe my fatness made it easier for my peers to let their guard down; it made other women feel safer and more relaxed 8 It’s more of a challenge to initiate and maintain relationships as a thin woman, especially – dare I say it? – with other thin women. For reasons of character, depth, humor and humility, I gravitate to fat women and to women who have endured bigotry and abuse on account of other traits that set them apart from the ideal. 9 And friendships with men? Sometimes difficult when I was fat, but thin? Often impossible.
Finally, there’s the weird disconnect between the size of me in my mind and the size of me in the world. The “me” in my brain is large. My voice is large and my feelings are large and my attitude is large. Ten years ago, all that bigness was reflected in my body – fat, round, impossible to miss. Now, my personality and my body feel mismatched, like my mind is walking around in shoes several sizes too small.
I enjoy so many blessings: Terrific health, healthy babies, a supportive husband and a career I adore. That I grew up fat and was a fat adult is a blessing, too. As a morbidly obese woman I experienced the world in a body that was regularly undervalued, demonized, mocked, feared, despised, and avoided. Those horrendous experiences gave me more empathy, more character, more personality, and a broader, richer, and more inclusive perspective than lifelong thinness ever could have. 10 I also have a much more meaningful appreciation for my health and the body I inhabit today, and an inoculation against ever taking it for granted.
Others benefit from my having been fat, too. My daughters will grow up with a mother who values self-love, compassion, and humor above all else, one who has first-hand experience to relay when other kids act mean or judgmental. I’m more useful to my personal training clients, most of whom come to me to get thin, but who come to prioritize healthy behavior over the number on the scale.
Fat body, 10 years gone, I learned to love you back then, I love you now, and I love you more every day. I’m sorry for every stupid thing I said and every way I was ever cruel and hurt you. 11 Please forgive me. Please accept the way I treat my body today as an ongoing amends for past wrongs. And finally, please give me your blessing as I use our time together to inspire me to new levels of health, 12 strength, 13 and usefulness.
With love and a strengthened memory,
- After I finally came to love and accept you just the way you were, all 300+ pounds of you, all your quirks, perfections, and imperfections. ↩
- To say the least. ↩
- I’m still dealing with depression, so the happiness isn’t a constant, but it is something I appreciate when it’s happening. A lot. ↩
- I’ve had plenty of instructive ups and downs regarding weight. I’ve walked away from each experience smarter and more compassionate. ↩
- Mindful of my addiction to sugar and starch, of the impact both of movement and stillness on my mind and body, of the way my default response to almost all stimuli is to want to hurt myself in a host of different ways, some of which I even try to mask as “self-care.” ↩
- Like, a U-Haul, not a truck in motion. Being fat made me strong, but it never did give me super powers. ↩
- Have you ever watched a skinny woman try to lift a couch? That’s some funny shit. ↩
- Friendships without fear of rivalry or judgment, with women who don’t inspire much self-consciousness are pretty sweet. ↩
- Of course, all women encounter some abuse and bigotry just because they’re women, both overt and institutionalized. ↩
- Back off, deep & interesting lifelong-skinny women – I’m speaking for me here. ↩
- This includes allowing other people to be cruel and to hurt you. ↩
- Mental as well as physical. ↩
- Spiritual as well as physical. ↩