Fat Body, Ten Years Gone: A Love Letter

Kelly Coffey

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.

One of many uncomplicated friendships

One of many uncomplicated friendships

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,



  1. 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.
  2. To say the least.
  3. 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.
  4. I’ve had plenty of instructive ups and downs regarding weight. I’ve walked away from each experience smarter and more compassionate.
  5. 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.”
  6. Like, a U-Haul, not a truck in motion. Being fat made me strong, but it never did give me super powers.
  7. Have you ever watched a skinny woman try to lift a couch? That’s some funny shit.
  8. Friendships without fear of rivalry or judgment, with women who don’t inspire much self-consciousness are pretty sweet.
  9. Of course, all women encounter some abuse and bigotry just because they’re women, both overt and institutionalized.
  10. Back off, deep & interesting lifelong-skinny women – I’m speaking for me here.
  11. This includes allowing other people to be cruel and to hurt you.
  12. Mental as well as physical.
  13. Spiritual as well as physical.
Showing 28 comments
  • Elizabeth

    I love your posts. As hot as you are now, I am happy to report I am not intimidated by your awesomeness. Lucky for me! See you soon.

    • Coffey

      That makes one of us. I’m intimidated by the very thought of *you* 🙂
      Thanks for the feedback, Love.

  • Maureen Ledden Rossi

    You are an inspiration to me Kelly! I spent my childhood thin and my adulthood (from 27 until now 49) clinically obese although many people would not consider a sized 14 such – I am indeed. I love to exercise, always have – despite a severe bout of rheumatoid arthritis and six surgeries – I still go to the gym, kayak and bike – I will not quit. Going to be the big 50 this year and hoping to go to the NEXT level of health. Thank you for sharing your story!

    • Coffey

      Maureen! *You’re* the inspiration! Continuing to move and play despite all those obstacles!? You’re amazing. Keep at it, report back often, and keep inspiring me.

  • Sarah

    Beautiful words from a beautiful heart. Thank you for walking beside me on this journey.

    • Coffey

      It’s my pleasure, Sarah.

  • Patience Sharp

    Wow, I found your article thanks to a link on Facebook. I am so happy to be here! I can’t wait to poke around and learn from your experiences. I am just starting my journey, and am just a few Oreos short of 300 pounds, but not for long!

    • Coffey

      Hey there, Patience! I’m very glad you found me, if my writing resonates with you. Take good care of you.

  • Mic

    Great post. Am I confusing it with another one that I read, or did this used to have a part about things like how it feels differently to lie down in a fat body than in a skinny body, with cushioning and all that? That part was interesting but maybe I read it somewhere else.

    • Coffey

      Hey there! You’re right – the original did mention than piece. I took it out in an effort to tighten up the post. But if you’re asking about it, that was probably a bad move on my part. Doh. It read:
      “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. ”
      Should I put it back in?

  • JaVonna

    I am currently on an “An Adventure to Health & Happiness” and at the beginning of my journey, I said to my wife…”I’m scared. I am scared of discovering who I am without my protective layers of fat.” This post came to me right on time.

  • Charlene Jaszewski

    I found your article on mindbodygreen.com and followed it over here. While they did a good job of tightening it up and giving it subheads, I think they left out some key points. I’m sure to make the article inoffensive to anyone. But I appreciate stuff in this article, like friendships with men. And having issues being friends with thin women.
    I lost 90 lbs and I could add a few more:
    1. Never wondering if you’re getting hired for your talent or your tits.
    2. When you’re heavy, you don’t get hit on constantly by men.

  • heidi

    Thank you for your frank comments, and honesty. Your humour is refreshing.
    You put lots of love out there. It does not go unnoticed. You are definitely an inspiration. 🙂

  • Jennifir

    Wow! Is all I can say. This is so true. I have teetered from fat to comfortable. Never thin. And I find myself happiest fat for many of these reasons. But then I find myself unhappiest fat at the same time. I have restructured my approach to losing weight by focusing on the inner me and exercise. And finally dealing with each layer of fat and what it’s protecting me from.
    I am so grateful for the special compassionate insight I’ve been given because of being fat. I will always look at the the world and others with a sensitive and understanding heart because I have walked in their shoes.
    So we’ll written!

  • Tammy

    I love it when we stumble upon things as we need it. I have struggled with weight and body issues forever!! I’ve been pondering the idea of how my over eating and weight have actually benefited and helped me. It’s been difficult to comprehend as they both have caused so much pain. Your article has really shed light on these positives and have challenged me to see the beauty of what I have hated all along.
    I am so happy that I stumbled upon your inspirational words this Saturday morning. I am excited to read more. Thanks for inspiring me, and showing me ways I can better accept myself.
    With much gratitude,
    A person your words have touched

  • Mary Canada

    This resonates with me hardcore. I’m around 330 (ever notice fat girls are the only ones who say “around such-and-such” in relation to their weight? I just realized this. Anytime a skinny girl has talked to me about their weight they have a precise number) and I’m mostly ok and comfortable with it, but not always. However, it has been several years now that I have been on the fence about gastric bypass surgery. Why? If I’m honest, it’s because I’m scared, I’m scared of missing the things you listed, of not recognizing myself in the mirror, of disappearing. The last time I was 130lbs was in fifth grade, and they want me to be less than that as an adult? It’s scary. Thank you for writing this, it is reassuring to see the looking-back point of view and know that, although there are things to misses about this weight, maybe they’re worth giving up for the things to look forward to, and even if I never decide to go forward with it, there are lots of things to love now 🙂

  • Jennifer Moorhead

    I love how honest this is! Such a rare thing in the public sphere these days. Interesting perspective. Love it! Hate articles that you know what they will say before you even read them.

  • jheri

    A friend sent this post and I loved it. I’ve never been heavy – in fact I have to work to keep my weight – and I’m athletic, but being different and the perspective and empathy that it gives is a blessing I only have realized in the past few years.

    I’m very tall for a woman at 6’3 and have to deal with stares and nasty comments to me and behind my back. It was very depressing for a long time, but now I value my height and can appreciate the good. It has certainly helped me understand others who are not valued for their appearance. I found it particularly interesting that you mention friendliness once people know you. That happens with me – I guess I’m not seen as competition.

  • Sigrun

    Thank you for this. Very inspiring.

    I just want to tell you, for your own amusement, that I got here through an article in an icelandic news paper about this very post. I thought you might find it interesting and/or extemely surreal and funny 😉 http://www.mbl.is/smartland/heilsa/2014/03/24/eg_sakna_thess_stundum_ad_vera_feit_3//?fb_action_ids=10152754443954199&fb_action_types=og.recommends

    • Coffey

      Love it! Build me a following and I’ll come and visit 🙂

  • Kat

    This was so touching. I started to tear up and almost read Katy instead of Kelly at the end. Thank you for sharing. I live in NJ and I am interested in a Skype session. Please email me when you have time

    • Coffey

      Katy, send me an email and I’m happy to add you to my waitlist!
      I’m so glad, and, of course, a little sad, that my writing hit home. Take good care of you.

  • Margie Fuller


    I have just run across your ad on Facebook (god how I hate those things, but am so grateful for yours). I have been learning more about you. The key phrase that made me click through was “I was once morbidly obese,” and as I’m sure you completely understand, I felt like maybe I had finally found someone that I can follow who knows what I am experiencing in my pursuit of improved health.

    I have been working on improving my overall health since 2005 (hit and miss or miss and miss on the physical side, but most improvement here was on the emotional side). I’ve continued my journey and in 2012 had a child (at the age of FORTY–wholy moly!) Since 2012, my health pursuit has become more desperate. I honestly believe that I had somewhat given up on LIVING life, and now, I have a whole new reason which totally includes loving myself to teach my son to love himself.

    For the first 18 months, I was exhausted and just existing as a mother. I cut all processed food out of my home. It was the best health decision to make for my entire family. Making healthy decisions for my son helped my husband and I to make healthy decisions for ourselves also. I returned to work out of financial necessity and stuck to a desk nearly 8 hours a day, no major changes were happening for me. The best change I made was in July 2014 I was introduced to Whole30, and I truly learned about eating healthy. I broke a lot of my negative eating behaviors and realized a lot about myself and the foods I used to eat. Consequently, I lost about 20 or so pounds but stalled even eating perfectly healthy. I was not doing much moving because I hate feeling like I was cramming 30 minutes of exercise into my already impossibly busy day.

    I finally reached the decision that I need to focus on ME, and I needed a large portion of each day seven days a week to do it, so I gave my letter of resignation at work and September 15 will be my last day. I am going to commit a 35 hour week (approx 5 hours per day) to focusing on me. My focus will be a holistic approach. I will be focusing on healthy nutrition, consistent movement, emotional strengthening, and spiritual growth.

    I have given so much of myself to everyone else all of my life that I have neglected me in the process. Just as you mentioned, I have been mindlessly sailing through life. Yes, the biggest reason for the decision was to be around for my son, but I have since wanted to make amends with myself. The last paragraph of this post had me in tears. I have said and thought horrible things about myself–worse than anyone else has ever said or thought about me. I don’t believe that being thin or fit is going to bring that self love, but I do believe that choosing to do this for me is finally giving myself the time and effort that I had always deserved but perhaps didn’t feel that I did.

    I am going to be combing through your blog and perhaps making contact with you. I do have a desire to work with women who have been where I am. I have a group of women that I help now who have, regardless of my current size, learned to trust me and the information that I share with them. My ultimate goal is to be a personal trainer (that sounds SO weird). I really appreciate you sharing your true self here.

    I look forward to getting to know you more.


    • Kelly Coffey

      First, thank you for taking time out of your day to write. Second, I totally get how having your son kicked off the unshakeable need to be well. I have 2 preschoolers, and I have never been more driven to not self destruct. I’m so glad you found me. I’m sorry it had to be through an ad, but we get what we need when we need it, right? 🙂

  • Abigail

    A while back I came across your writing, and it was such an inspiration. You still remain one of my favorite voices speaking about what self-care and health really means. Thank you.

    • Kelly Coffey

      Thank you, Abigail! And thanks for taking a moment to write.

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