Saturday, May 9, 2009

Is Fat a Choice?

Maybe you haven't noticed, but I haven't been blogging much about eating or exercising lately. This is not a good sign. Like my Gemini self, I have been divided about this blog thing and my weight life in general since I started this. I get mad that all I do is write about not doing what I set out to do--who wants to hear that? I get frustrated that my whole fricking life has circled around my emotional crisis of not doing the same thing--exercise, eat right, give a crap. I look for other blogs to focus on so I won't be so limited in my scope. . . I end up with no one who can relate to me.

In a few weeks, I will turn 46. . . another year gone by with no personal progress. In fact, I think I'm more down than I was.

I've been really bothered by something I read on Stages of Change recently. His post says being fat is a choice. I find this hard to. . . umm. . . swallow. I am not saying that I don't I have a role in being fat. I certainly overeat and I've returned to a sedentary life. But you know, there are plenty of other people out there who overeat and are sedentary who are not obese. OK, so I have a genetic tendency--gives me all the more reason to eat right and exercise--right?

I just don't think it's all figured out yet. Everyone makes it sounds like there are basically 2 components, but I think there's an unidentified X and maybe also a Y.

I have above average intelligence. I've accomplished a lot of things in my life. By most accounts, I'm successful. I'm compassionate. I have perseverance. I've been fat since I was 7 years old. Even when I lost 60 lbs and kept it off for 6 years, and worked with a trainer 3 times a week,, and saw a counselor, I was still shopping in the plus department.

Maybe Fat is something I choose. . . I have never really believed the existing weight loss programs would work for me. So I don't have a huge history of trying diets. I've basically tried 3 things. . . a kind of Atkins when I was in high school (lost 35 lbs and started gaining it back instantly); counting calories in college (1000 a day--lost ~35 lbs and kept it off a while--was the only time I briefly shopped out of the plus sizes), and Weight Watchers, again and again and again and again.

They say the sign of insanity is trying the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Of course, I've tried to shake WW up a bit. I added exercise. I added a trainer. I added a counselor. I added antidepressants.

I never thought weight loss surgery would work for me--how would that change my brain? I never thought liquid diets or packaged food would do it for me--what would that teach me? Except I'm sure it would be easier to move my body if there were less of it to move. And I guess I've always believed that being fat is my fault enough that pills didn't appeal.

Maybe I do choose to be fat because something in my brain says fuck it.

Maybe I do choose to be Fat because even though I fear having a heart attack one day when I'm just standing still (I told my doc boss this week that if I had a heart attack I hope it took me out because I couldn't stand the humiliation), it doesn't spur me. Even though I feel like I'm just sitting waiting to be shot at with the diagnosis of diabetes, and even though I think, Will that do it for me? Will that make any difference? Would that be the click? or would I just slink away in self pity and watch myself get bigger and bigger, deeper and deeper in the muck so blue sky is unreachable?

All these articles and people talk about being healthy to live longer and I think, what is the point? I don't have children. My husband is older. I don't do anything but work. Who wants to live longer to spend the evenings to watch TV or read one more book?

I wanted to travel, but then went on a few trips and felt like it wasn't all that it was cracked up to be. Hubby isn't keen on traveling. Of course there are people I love and who love me, but no one who needs or depends on me that I need to sustain myself for. I don't believe in an after life.

Plus, as I get older, I realize more and more things I thought I wanted really aren't practical anymore--I've tried taking piano lessons (at 41), but it seems unlikely I'll ever really play. I sucked worse at trying the guitar. I've always wanted to write fiction. . . but I only have one completed short story to my name (unpublished). I think it's too late to really learn another language, and to do it, I'd need to travel (see above).

I think of myself as a friendly and outgoing person, but I basically have no friends (no one nearby or that I talk to frequently).

So maybe I do choose to be fat. Maybe being fat keeps me from trying one more thing that I realize wasn't as neat as I thought it would be. Maybe being fat gives me a reason for why people don't want to be around me instead of something more painful for me to take. (Like I'm boring and lazy and overall pathetic and too loud and outspoken and just plain out of sync with the modern world.)

I must be choosing to be fat because ever fricking morning my alarm goes off at 6 and I lie there hating myself. Saying get the fuck up and walk. And it rarely happens.

I must choose this ever single fucking day because even though I really like fresh foods--tomatoes and balsamic and portabello mushrooms and asparagus. . . I let food rot in the fridge and order pizza.

I used to have a cross stitched sign in my room that said Life is not a series of chance but a series of choices. Stages of change is probably right; I probably am choosing this.

The question is why? Why the hell would anyone choose this? And how the hell do I force myself to make another choice? Or is the easier choice to just stop letting fat be the focus on my life? Just give up and coast down hill until genetics and survival of the fittest takes its natural toll?


  1. I thought hard about how to comment and what to say because I'm there as well. I will be 46 in July...oh my gosh, that sounds scary to even type. But, somehow, you've got to figure out what it is that is worth you fighting for. It may be for your marriage or for someone else that needs you (like your husband). It may be because without the will to fight, you will give up and lose hope. There's nothing wrong with make up your mind to take little steps. I believe you'll get there. I really do.

  2. Maybe fat acceptance is a better choice for you? If you are not getting a high out of losing weight and excersise then just be happy on your couch with a good book and hubby. Is there something so awful about that?

  3. Okay, I'll play...

    I think fat is a choice that doesn't feel like a choice at all.

    Losing a lot of weight takes time, and society has wired us for instant gratification. The kay to weight-loss success, I've found, is to just take it one step, one day, one success at a time.

    I've lost (and gained) large amounts of weight a couple of times in my life. In each of the weight loss cases, something clicked in my head and failure simply wasn't an option. I think I'm back on that path today, hopefully with a little more wisdom not to slide back down that slippery slope again.

    As for age, well... that's just a number, as they say. My wife took up Spanish two years ago (in her mid-40's). This week, she's down in Costa Rica with my youngest daughter staying with a family that speaks no English). Please don't use age as an excuse; it just doesn't fly.

    You can do this. This is your life, and there's really something better out there than the pain I feel in your post. Keep going, one day at a time, and celebrate the journey. Make tomorrow a brand new day.

  4. I do think that fat is a choice and honestly, it is a choice that I made for many years (and sometimes still do today). It is not necessarily in thr fore front of your mind, but the fat is there for a reason. For me, it keeps people at arms length, it keeps me from having to be good all the time, it keeps me safe. I know the reasons, but it took a lot of hard work to get there. I found the right people to help, the right way of thinking and the right kinds of food to eat.

    I have to make a commitment each day to put the right foods in my mouth and workout. I, too, find it unfair that others (my sister and my mother) can seemlying eat whatever in the hell they want and NOT gain weight. What we don't see are the times that they are not eating everything under the sun, the way they deal with their emotions. I eat, they stop eating. It isn't about the times you see them eat, it is about all the other times as well.

    I learned this at a very young age. It is in me, it is who I became, it takes work to get out of it and trust me it isn't pleasant most of the time.

    Good luck to you and your quest. It is a hard journey, I know I walk it with you everyday.

  5. I've put a response to your post on my blog.

  6. I identified with so many things you wrote about here. I'm 51 for a few more months and feel like I totally wasted my 40s just waiting for my life to show up. I finally realized upon turning 50 that unlike the first part of my life that was very neatly charted out for me - family, school, career - part 2 came with no road map and I've felt SO lost for so long. I started asking myself some questions that I wish I'd thought of years ago: what do I want to do with my life? What do I want to be remembered for? What is the part of me I like best?

    I do think in my case my weight has been my choice. I've had to seriously rearrange my life in terms of how I thought it would be versus how it really is - and this sucked!!! Through it all I've had countless panic attacks and am not through the woods yet. I finally figured out that I deserve better in my life but I haven't demanded better of myself. And so at age 51 I am going about reinventing myself because I've been living way below my potential and the disappointment of that has finally caught up with me.

    Please don't give up on yourself. Everyone hits a bad patch in their lives. We all are here for you and will help you through it.

  7. I really don't know how to answer this post. When I read your weight loss choices before (i.e. Atkins and Low Calorie) those are not sustainable choices.

    Food is supposed to be fuel, but it can also be delicious! I eat cheese every day - I drink wine occassionally, but I also exercise 60 minutes most days, which is helping me get to where I need to be!

    I lost my weight on WW. In 1999, I was 211 pounds and one year later I was 137. I maintained that for 7 years until I was put on insulin, and then all of a sudden all the things that I stayed away from for my diabetes, now all I had to do was take a bit more insulin and I was good to go!

    In two years I've gained 30 pounds, and in April of this year really go serious. I take it day by day. In April I lost 5 pounds and 5 INCHES!

    I haven't said to myself, "I want to be xx amount of weight by xx date" like I've done in the past. I am consistently eating well and exercising and when those two things are aligned, the weight will come off.

    Sending big hugs your way!

  8. "My Grandpa, the Blacksmith!"

    My grandfather worked in a blacksmith shop when he was a boy, and he used to tell me, when I was a little boy myself, how he had toughened himself up so he could stand the rigors of blacksmithing.

    One story was how he had developed his arm and shoulder muscles. He
    said he would stand outside behind the house and, with a 5 pound
    potato sack in each hand, extend his arms straight out from his sides and hold them there as long as he could.

    After awhile he tried 10 pound potato sacks, then 50 pound potato
    sacks and finally he got to where he could lift a 100 pound potato
    sack in each hand and hold his arms straight out for more than a full minute!

    Next, he started putting potatoes in the sacks.

    You have definitely reached so many high goals, so I know you can do whatever you put your mind to! Just know that you are loved just the way you are! xoxo


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