Weight loss, body image issues, and using fat as an excuse not to live

At a Detroit Pistons game in December 2008
Those of you who have been with me since the beginning of my blog know that I have struggled with weight for a very long time. As a matter of fact, the current archives here don't even include that. You'll remember I used to write about my weight issues on the "transform section" of my website. This was before the word blog was ever coined. We've been kicking it a long time here, haven't we? :) I am so grateful for that. I used to keep journals and diaries when I was younger. Now I just blog, and it's like a diary with feedback. And support.

So anyway, lately I have been watching DietTribe on Lifetime. Generally when I'm looking for weight loss inspiration, I'll flip to E! to watch Girls Next Door or maybe MTV to watch The Hills--something that's got those slim and toned girls that make me feel like it's possible to actually attain the ideal body. I haven't watched an actual weight loss show since maybe the first or second seasons of The Biggest Loser. But I figured I'd dip into DietTribe for a little bit to get some info and inspiration, because I'm making a serious effort at changing my life this time around.

But here's the problem with DietTribe: Excuses.

It's actually a beautiful problem, because it brings to light all the excuses we make in our daily lives. The ones that enable us to keep on making the same old mistakes. These potentially strong and powerful women on DietTribe suddenly reduce themselves into weak small-voiced versions of themselves, spouting excuse after excuse. "The scale is scary." "I can't work out this hard." It all amounts to saying that they are too weak to conquer these things, and let me tell you--there is no way in hell that these women should be cowering at a number on a scale or a certain workout routine. I can see that they are strong and they can do anything, but they consistently tell themselves that they can't.

For myself, my weight is the one thing that I have never made excuses for (hang in there, I'm not putting myself on a pedestal--just keep reading). I've actually been incredibly hard on myself about it. I've always taken responsibility for it. I just wasn't passionate enough about it to change it. But I never made an excuse for it.

It was the other areas in my life that I made excuses for, and generally those excuses were in fact because of my overweight. "I can't get a job right now because I'm too fat." "I can't go out on a date right now because I'm too fat." "I can't go after my dreams of singing/songwriting right now because I'm too fat." And there I stayed. Broke, alone, and unfulfilled. So I too made excuses.

I guess ultimately for me, the fat was the excuse. It was the mountain that I could hide behind whenever life got too scary. The food was an addiction that helped me to numb out the world even more, and staying lazy and inactive let me remain out of touch with my body and anything sensual whatsoever.

I realize I'm talking about this early in the game, and there will be those who doubt my ability to get the weight off and keep it off for good. But the big catalyst for me was a health scare in late 2008. I had my first, and last, bad gall bladder attack. I knew that I had minor gall bladder issues, but this time it all caught up with me.

In the last month of the year, knowing that January and those new year's resolutions were coming up, I decided to eat whatever I wanted. I ate deep fried foods, which is something that I rarely eat. I ate fatty ground beef, which is something that I've really never even liked. I ate tons and tons of salty restaurant food and fast food. And one night it all came crashing down on me.

It wasn't really pain--if it was bad pain I would have certainly gone to the emergency room. But it was extreme discomfort. My mom made me a huge pot of vegetable soup (and I do mean just vegetables) and that was all I ate for probably close to a week. I managed to feel better by Christmas, even through a light Christmas dinner still being careful, and I decided that I'd save room for one normal sized piece of pumpkin pie. Big mistake. I got sick again.

I haven't gone back to my old ways since then. My new year's resolutions started early, with healthy food and working out. I'm learning to associate pleasure with healthy things and pain with unhealthy things, because evidently losing weight is at least 95 percent a mental feat. You've got to change what's going on in your brain before you can change what's showing up on your body. I have to change who I am. The emotional eating is over. I only eat at the kitchen table, and I don't read or watch TV while I'm eating either. I focus, I relax, I enjoy, and I don't obsess over food, or believe that it's going to make me feel better or numb my emotional pain. It's just food.

There's another reason that this is so foremost in my mind right now. I recently lost a friend who had struggled with obesity for a very long time. She had gastric bypass surgery and lost a great deal of weight, but still had a long way to go. We often talked about body issues, and once she told me that we all have our crosses to bear, but she felt that hers was a visible one that she carried around on her body for the whole world to see.

Now that she's no longer with us, and with the official cause of death being cited as heart failure, I can't help but think that maybe she would have survived if she had given herself the love and attention that she needed. If she had taken good care of herself, would she still be here? I miss her so much, and I can't help but feel that she would not want me to continue on this road. All of the beautiful things that she said to me over so many years of friendship are ringing in my ears. Is she watching over me now? Is she whispering in my ear to change now before it's too late? I can't help but feel that. Whether or not you want to get that esoteric with it, I know that if she were here now, she would not want me to treat my mind and body as badly as I have for all these years.

So I am doing this for me, but also in memory of her. I miss her so bad it hurts.

So I commit to losing the weight and getting healthy, here and now. Publicly, in front of the world and my loyal readers. I have managed to keep off 15 pounds for the last two years. Now to get the rest of it off and keep it off. Here's to change. Within and without. I'll update you now and then, and if I don't, then call me out on it! Comment or email me and ask me what's happening with my weight. I'm holding myself accountable, but I invite you to hold me accountable too. I am not afraid.

Speaking of weight loss, I actually have some poems that deal with the heavy emotions that are involved with being overweight and wanting so badly not to be. I never share those, because I never talk about the weight problem. But since I'm talking about it, I think I'll share the poems. Coming up next week. So as always, stay tuned. Subscribe via RSS if you haven't already, or via email, or bookmark us, or do whatever you do to stay connected.

Poetry and the Inauguration of President Barack Obama

Lyrics: One Love to Another