I am overweight. I have been for as long as I can remember. And everything I eat, everything I drink, everything I do, I am acutely aware of everyone’s eyes on me. But it’s not real, is it? It’s all in my head..
I feel resentful of the thin people, because I feel like they are free from this level of scrutiny. I know it’s not logical. What it really is, is self-loathing pointed outward, and I know that.
Knowing it, however, does not mitigate its effect on me. Every bite I eat around people, whether healthy or not, I can feel the judgements being formed. Everyone is making comments to themselves, their taunting me, they’re snickering.
So I focus on every bite. I tell myself to slow down, to chew more, be less of a pig. I feel guilty for daring to eat. Then, when I’m by myself, I bury this shame the only way I know how: stuffing my gut to beyond the feeling of fullness. I expect it will bring me comfort, but it only brings self-loathing; my own voice filling in for the imaginary voices of the world.
I can never, no matter how I try, drown the shame with food. The healthier alternative is to exercise more, which is to say, at all.
I have gone through brief periods of ecstatic, exuberant, energetic, exercise. I have weights at home, an elliptical machine at my mother-in-law’s house, and a beautiful park across the street seemingly made for jogging. I also have access to seemingly endless lists of exercises I can do in the privacy of my home, thanks to the Internet.
Jogging is right out. People will see me. People will judge me. Children will throw stones, and “real” joggers will knock me to the ground. It’s for the best, I tell myself, my knees are in bad shape anyway.
So I use the weights, and I do push-ups, sit-ups, burpees, planks, etc in the quiet, privacy of my own home. And the weight starts to fall off. 5lbs, 10lbs, 20lbs! People start to notice. I get compliments on the loss:
“Oh wow, you lost weight!”
“You’re looking good!”
“Congrats on losing that weight!”
But between the lines, I hear:
“You’re still a fat ass.”
Then come the questions about what I’m doing. What am I eating different? What exercise am I doing? How often? I want to crawl inside myself. I can’t discuss these things with these thin, healthy people. I am an outsider to their club. To me, it would be akin to trying to discuss physics with Stephen Hawking. I’ll only end up looking the fool.
Anyone who’s lost a good deal of weight will tell you, as I’ve learned, the first 20lbs are easy. After that, progress slows, sometimes you even move backwards. This is the point where I start to break. The next week is a 2lb loss, not at all like the great leaps of the first few weeks. The week after that, I put on another 1-2lbs. Now I can feel the eyes upon me, I know what everyone is thinking:
“What a failure.”
“Oh, here we go, back to being a fat ass.”
And then I hate myself, I let myself slip back into all my old habits.
This weekend, in fact, I plan to start back on a healthy track. I’m hoping it lasts more than a month this time. I know all of this fear is a product of my imagination. There is no jury of my peers waiting to judge my every move. My ego, apparently, is quite healthy.
Whether I succeed or fail is entirely up to me. My first step toward that success is to put these thoughts out into the world, to no longer keep them bottles up, allowing them to eat away at my will to succeed.
I thank you for reading this, and for letting me vent. I know I usually implore you all to comment, and I still invite you to. But I ask that you keep your advice and weight-loss tips out of the comments. I know what I have to do; and when the time comes that I do hit a wall, I will hopefully be strong enough to come to you all for help.