Legitimate question. Rude and hurtful, but honest.
I weighed 392 pounds at my heaviest. I’m 5’7.
How did I get that fat?
The 5-second answer is embarrassingly simple. I ate too much and I hated to sweat.
The layered, nuanced answer requires you to peek inside my flawed thinking. And yes, I am nervous about opening this particular set of doors, thank you for asking. But it’s time to be honest.
Here is the how I got to be 392 pounds before I chose to do anything about it:
- I had a life-long, seriously screwed up relationship with food. It controlled me. I thought about food from the time I woke up, to the time I went to bed. I was addicted to food and the comfort it gave. I would make or change plans based on food. My happiest moments growing up are centered around food. You can’t not eat. You have to have SOME kind of relationship with food. Food owned me.
- I had given up hope and was flirting non-stop with apathy. I knew I weighed a ridiculous amount. I had been overweight my entire life. Diets had failed me. Why bother? I was just destined to be fat. If society was hung up on looks — screw ’em. I knew I was a good person, the packaging should not matter
- T2 diabetes could easily be managed with drugs. I didn’t need to do the work. And how serious was it really? Plenty of people lived long lives with T2. Giving myself shots? There were worse things.
- To reverse this train wreck would take serious work. I knew it would be unbearably hard work. Work you could never, ever stop doing.
- I had failed every single ‘diet’ I had ever tried. Every. Single. One. Fen-phen. Nutrisystems. Weight Watchers. Alli. Medi-fast. South Beach. Atkins. Jenny Craig. Cabbage soup. You name it… I tried and failed at it.
- I was hiding. Wait.. What? Those who know anything about me know that I am an unabashed extrovert. I am a genuinely happy person and in most cases – a totally open book. I also happen to have severe self-confidence issues about my body. Staying fat kept me well protected from dealing with unwanted attention. I have always been uncertain and nervous around men. Being fat kept me padded from comments or attention and was the perfect solution. I was not the pretty friend, I was the funny, kind friend who was the trustworthy side-kick. I could be happy and work hard and be confident about everything else in my life and yet successfully hide from the world in plain sight as a fat woman.
Getting to be grossly overweight is like the analogy of how to boil a frog. If you boiled a pot of water and then threw a frog in, it would immediately hop back out to safety. BUT if you took the same frog and placed him in a cold pot of water and turned up the heat gradually… You would wind up with perfectly boiled frogs’ legs. They don’t realize what’s happening. They don’t feel a need to jump to safety. They accept each passing moment as their new reality. It eventually kills them.
You get to be 392 pounds because you very slowly adapt and change to your increasing bulk. It never alarms you in the day to day. You just wake up one day and realize you weigh 392 pounds. And it’s killing you.
It has taken years and miles of running and some blessedly patient friends with good listening skills to help me understand exactly how best to begin to answer this tough question…
*Work in progress. Stay tuned.*