I want you to know that I’m trying. My niece keeps posting exercise related status updates on Facebook:
“Workout till it hurts!”
“You have to put the hard work in to get results!”
“I’m sick of people whining about being fat – if you’d work out as hard as I do, you wouldn’t be fat!”
That last one was my favorite.
My 23 year old niece, who is married but has no children, has never been overweight. Never. But hey, I’m just overweight because I’m lazy, right? I was never overweight before I had kids. I was a scrawny little kid and a perfectly healthy teenager. And then I got pregnant and BOOM! 40 pounds heavier. And that was it – 14 years of trying to lose it and failing.
I was finally diagnosed with poly-cystic ovarian syndrome two years ago, when a long summer of walking/running 2-3 hours a day through my neighborhood pushing a stroller and eating 1500 calories a day didn’t lead to any weight loss. I ran races. I counted calories. I had workout buddies (all of whom lost weight – one lost 40 pounds that summer!). Something was wrong with me and a case of plantar fasciitis sidelined my running for a couple months. I headed to the doctor when just a couple months without running caused me to gain 30 pounds in addition to the 40 I was still packing. All that summer did was stop me from gaining.
The PCOS diagnosis still feels like a cop-out. Sheesh, everyone is diagnosed with PCOS! The diagnosis also felt like a brick wall was placed before me. How do you deal with PCOS? By losing weight. One of the symptoms? It’s really hard to lose weight. Magic pill Metformin? Doesn’t help everyone, like me.
I want you to know the frustration I have now. I would like to say that I am more accepting of my body after having kids and seeing what amazing things it can do, after finding out there’s more to my weight gain than just overeating … but I’m not. I hate the way I look, even more than Michael Jeffries would if I dared set foot in his beloved stores. I feel betrayed by my body. There are ads and articles that tell you to focus on one body part that you are happy with to help you feel better about yourself. What do you do when you do not have a single body part you are happy with?
I do not have unreasonable goals. I want to lose 50 pounds. For my height and frame, this would put me at the high end of a healthy weight. I don’t expect to look like I did before I had kids – I just want to feel like me.
My sister-in-law lost weight a year ago after struggling for a while. We had commiserated with each other, sharing our frustrations at our inability to lose weight. She talked to me after losing the weight, sharing the reasons for her success. It involved special food, gym memberships, doctor appointments, surgery to repair what pregnancies had done to her midsection … Hundreds of dollars a month on food and exercise classes, thousands of dollars on surgery …
Am I happy she looks and feels better? Yes. Can I do what she did? Hell no. She spent more on food per month for just herself than I do for my whole family of five. Time is at a premium and a gym membership is a luxury I can’t afford. Her “anyone can do it” attitude needs to come with a loan application for those who can’t swing the monthly bill for skinnier thighs. And I know she and the rest of my family thinks I’m lazy, too. I’m the one they hide in the back in family portraits. I’m the one who almost never appears in photos taken at the zoo, at theme parks, at the beach. I’m the one taking photos because I’m not going to put on a bathing suit and go in the ocean no matter what, so I’m safe holding the camera.
I want you to know that I am well aware of how I look. I know you are surprised that I am able to run after my kids, even in my size 18 jeans (hey, fat people can exercise, too!). I know you think I am lazy because I have rolls. I get it. I also want you to know that I am not happy. I am not like this because I want to be. I have been trying for 14 years and failing. I have not lost any weight in that time – I can’t even yoyo diet! I want you to know that I want to give up. I want you to know that having a wonderful husband does not change the fact that I never want to be naked or touched (makes sex a little hard to come by- whatever, it makes it nonexistant) and having great kids doesn’t ease the pain of never wanting to appear in another photo, of never wanting to be seen by my kids’ friends so I don’t embarrass my kids.
I want you to look at people who look like me and understand that you have no idea what they are going through. Maybe they are trying, too.