I’m fat! I am not being cruel to myself in saying that. It is true. I am 5′-6″ and weigh 220. Medically that is obese! A few years ago I ran into a couple who attended the church I grew up in. I remember them both as being quite “stout”, when I was seventeen and running five miles a day and weighed 121 pounds. When I saw them, I was astonished at the weight they had lost. Only, they both said “no, we haven’t lost any weight”. It took me some years to actually realize what had changed so drastically was how near to their weight I had become. As a person with a profound respect and determination for living life according to what is, rather than what I wish was, I have burrowed pretty deep in denial and done so knowingly and purposely, in regards to my own body.
I was a naturally pudgy kid. Not very inclined to tree-climbing and that sort of thing. I was, for a while, the one girl, with two brothers, before we adopted my younger sister. Mom was protective. I was content to play alone as much as with others, so a summer day might just as often have seen me playing quietly with my Barbie dolls in my room, as outdoors hanging out with neighborhood kids. Almost never with my brothers, at least after my younger one got old enough to do things with the older one. When he was still the baby, he could be as content to play with either me or our older brother. When my sister was adopted, the age difference was too much for us to be playmates, and besides that, I had a best cousin nearer my age, who lived near enough that we often had time together.
My physical illness began with my first pregnancy, and never entirely let up. I would be repeating stuff I have written about elsewhere on this blog if I were to go into that stuff again here, and I get tired of rehearsing it anyway. Suffice it to say that profound sleep disorders resulting in debilitating fatigue and pain, are not conducive to weight loss. Feeling unwell was all new to me with that first pregnancy. I loved to exercise, I had pretty decent eating habits, most of the time, and when I didn’t, well, there was that love of exercise that allowed me to get by with it.
Doesn’t really matter how I got here or that I have stayed here way longer than my younger self could ever have imagined allowing. The facts on the ground at present, are that I am a good 55 pounds above the very highest “appropriate” weight for my height. And I hate to even speculate on my BMI now that it’s been an entire decade since I have maintained any semblance of regular exercise. That’s not to say there weren’t periods here and there that I tried, and even succeeded. But as someone who has never had much patience for “steps” in a process, someone who is pretty “all or nothing” in the way I go about things, I have allowed myself to get where I am. Yes, I had a lot of things going against me. But how long will I continue to let that be an excuse?
What is the hang up, anyway? I could pay a therapist to help me process this and figure it out. But I have been to enough therapy to understand the work you do is your work, you are the one who does it, the counselor merely facilitates. I have been through it enough to know what a counselor would say and do.I work it out with pen on paper. If I had money to spare, I might still go, because it is easier when someone objective speaks truth and forces you to decide whether to concur or remain in denial. It is harder to crawl back under your rock when there is someone to whom you now have admitted that you have been living under one.
Even friends can’t help much with that, at least in my case, because according to everyone that knows me, I am too intimidating. They end up backing down before they even speak up.
What am I going to do about this predicament? Right now, I don’t know. I thought that when I had processed some of the anger from stuff that has happened in our marriage, I would be ready to tackle this. Maybe I’m still working through the grieving process that we all go through when we feel betrayed. Maybe when I get finished grieving, I will find I am ready then. I hate psychology. I mean, on one hand, I think it is not inherently evil. Some Christians today want people like me to feel ashamed. I understand there are people for whom examining things, revisiting things, doesn’t work, and their way of moving forward is to let it go. I understand that letting go is the end-goal. But I can’t bring myself to believe that I can change from a person who has to process, to a person who can simply dismiss. That’s like telling a left-handed person that they have to learn how to be right-handed.
What we can change about ourselves is hotly debated. I don’t believe we have the power to change any and everything about ourselves which we might wish were different. But there are some things we can change. The trick is knowing which is which.
I guess it is a common thing for overweight people (or people with anything they wish to overcome) to believe there is some key thing that must happen first, then the time will be right and the desired result will then become easy to attain. I guess I am having trouble placing myself in that category because of the fact that all other times in my life I have been able to just set my mind to something and do it. That’s why the people who preach that very concept to me, make me want to punch them in the face. Because I was them once! I mean, not that I preached that at people, but that at one time I WAS capable of that, and so I think how smug that person is who is saying that to me. I was like that until….Until the day I encountered the thing that was bigger than my determination. Or the day my determination had shrunk so that something I had conquered previously was now not so conquerable. The truth is, what strengths God gives us, are not guaranteed for life. The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord, right? Where does this sense of entitlement come from? I cling to my “me-ness” (as well as my meanness), as if it’s my right. As Christians, we are not our own. But I have been arm wrestling with God over that. I don’t like it. I look around at others who get to do as they please, whether or not it is technically right, or moral, or kind, or fair, or just, and I’ll admit, sometimes I get to envying and resenting their liberty. I have heard women with jobs, families, hobbies, talk about how full their plate is, and think: “I remember when I had a plate!
I feel that I have had a greater desire to live as God would want me to live, than a lot of Christians I know. (not saying I am always successful in that endeavor). I realize that it is only by the grace of God, and yet I still feel as if I ought to get some “credit” for this, or like it ought to count for something in my favor when I am up against troubles in life that I am praying for God to deliver me from, and instead He continues to require that I endure them. I guess that is what I get for praying for God to make me what I ought to be. ( *rueful smile)
Gosh, I looked with envy on the world’s liberties when I was a young adult, and with horrible repercussions, yet I still want that latitude? Yeah, sometimes I do. Sorry to say, the Christian life doesn’t get easier. The longer we walk with the Lord and learn of Him, the greater our accountability, and more He expects of us. He doesn’t let us skate like He once may have, and we don’t get to point to a babe in Christ and say, “but why can she get by with that but when I do it, there are these consequences?” We especially don’t get to look at the unredeemed and ask that. We know the answer.
The thing is, that while we are working on one aspect of our “Pilgrim’s Progress” through this life as aliens and strangers here, we lose sight of some other aspect inevitably. What I have lost sight of is being a good steward of my physical body. As I have lived with fatigue, and depression, and pain, over time even as I was striving to accept these things with grace, there was this part of me that was secretly harboring self-loathing and anger at myself. Anger at others too, for some of the circumstances of life, but anger at myself for yielding. For actually doing the things God tells us to do. Submit one to another, not demanding our own way, not keeping account of wrongs, forgiving, forbearing. Still too much of that wounded warrior woman in me, I suppose. Double-mindedness never bodes well. Inner division doesn’t lend itself to stability. I would never have conceived of having this capacity for denial. But we all split and compartmentalize internally in some ways. Some do it in healthy ways. Men are particularly designed for that. Women, not so much, although we do foster our own version of this capacity. Like any counterfeit, it does not serve or pass as the legitimate version for long.
I am convinced women were designed by God with this internal “open floor plan” while men were designed like your local storage facility, with multiple divided units and compartments. Yet we live in a world where the differences between men and women, are increasingly vilified and denigrated.
Even when we are consciously trying to live according to God’s design, we are bombarded ceaselessly with the opposing indoctrination. It takes a toll.
I know I am far from alone in obesity. Western civilization, America in particular, promotes this, and anyone who may already have a genetic predisposition toward fatness, already had an uphill battle. Plus, the American food industry puts sugar in everything!
The inherent danger in our modern lives is not conducive to being outdoors and exercising. Fear should not rule, but where danger is real, healthy fear is only rational! The neighborhood we live in, is the same one I grew up in. Back then, it was a safe area where kids could roam and parents didn’t generally have to worry about them being kidnapped into human trafficking. The average person back then, still would have intervened if they witnessed a threat to a child or even another adult. But that is no longer true.
It didn’t start out as denial, when my weight started to go up. I was very aware of it. I tried to mitigate against it. I really did! I have real medical reasons why it is harder for me to exercise. The fatigue and pain. BUT! Just because it is harder for me, doesn’t release me from the obligation to take care of myself. I just have to accept that it is going to be harder and do it in realistic and manageable ways. I think many of us literally are kind of blind to obesity. We look around and it has become so prevalent, we feel we are average. So combine the extra hurdles I had, with the increasing prevalence of overweight bodies that surround us, add to that clothes that stretch, convenience foods laden with fat and sugar, and there you have it.
Whenever I write, I am preaching to myself first and foremost. I don’t see myself as a guru or fount of wisdom. Believe me, I am muddling through best I can, just like you are. This blog has served as a nice means of human interaction and engaging that excludes the visual aspect. It’s nice. Nice for that not to be a factor in a world where appearances are held in very, very high regard. But where it enables unhealthiness, maybe it’s not so great, huh?
I keep waiting for motivation to hit me. Motivation is a lie, though. It really is. What “motivates” you? Some people will try guilt. That doesn’t actually work, and mostly results in giving up. Some people think competition motivates. Maybe some people are motivated by it, but I’d wager the ones who are “motivated” by competition are not the people like me who have taken lots of knocks and blows in life, and been taken down several notches, but the people who are at the top of their game and know it. The thing about that is, it won’t stay that way forever. We don’t like to think we are a product of our circumstances and experiences, and we especially hear a lot of “preaching” that says we are not limited by those things. But those things actually are a factor. They are! If you think they are not, then you just haven’t been in the ring long enough yet. You are only in the first or second round in life. Your day is coming. Not to be fatalistic, just telling you the truth! I warned ya, is what I did!
Except there are those few we like to call “the lucky ones” that seem never to hit a wall. EVER! Be it due to charm, or money, or good looks, or obliviousness, or over-endownment of endorphins, there are people in this life who are like that stupid blow-up clown punching bag we used to play with as kids. Shaped like a Weeble. You punch it, and right back up it comes. Sometimes it even knocks YOU down, it bounces back with such fierce velocity! Like Cheerios, can’t keep ’em down, those kinds of people. I hate those people. Grrrrr!
For the rest of us, old-fashioned tenacity is all we have to work with.
I’m not discounting the Lord, our Helper. It’s just that the longer I know Him, the less “helpful” He tends to be. He actually does seem to expect us to have gained some degree of self-mastery and solidity and Christian maturity. Else why would He continue sending the challenges. Someone once said to me, “the Lord must think you are awfully strong to give you all of that to carry”. I don’t know whether she was being sarcastic or serious. Whether she was saying “poor you” or parroting something she had heard other Christians say to her, or whether she was truly admiring how well I held up in the face of those things. Doesn’t really matter which it was, I suppose. I don’t know what conclusion to come to myself, as to how God is going to grade me on the way I handled things in this life. Sometimes I am hopeful of hearing some expression of approval, other times I feel like not only a colossal failure as a human being, but also as a Christian. I had a non-believer say “it just doesn’t seem fair for one person to go through so much”. I never saw it as unfair on God’s part, never since my 20’s at least. I know sin is the culprit. I do wonder at times why it catches up to me, and others seem to stay ahead of the consequences and negative ramifications of life. They go through a disaster, but people step up from out of the woodwork to restore what they lost and support them. They lose a job, but end up in such a better one. That’s all so arbitrary, though. We are looking at isolated events, not the entire context of that person’s life. The grass is always greener when we are looking at it from across the way. We don’t see the barren brown spots from that angle. And besides, we have had things like that happen to us, an unexpected check in the mail, just in time to pay a bill, and a couple of times we found really great used cars that the seller is asking a more than reasonable price that we could afford!
It’s been a long haul, though. I am at a place where some heavy lifting and hard hoeing are perhaps finished for a while, and I haven’t yet fully realized it. I might be more capable than I realize now that the load is lightened, but I do need time to assimilate this fact. Right now I still feel pretty tired and in need of rest. Like when a tornado sweeps through a town, and the adrenaline allows you to work non-stop for days to clean up the mess, even help others tackle theirs, until there is finally some sense of restored order, at which time you realize just how tired you are. It’s like when you work sixty hours a week, and never take a sick day, because you really don’t have time to be sick, and then when you finally take a vacation, you get sick!
At least I think that’s what it’s like. Perhaps it is just more excuses. I don’t really know at this juncture. All I do know is that I can’t visualize changes coming. I still feel really tired and done in! Don’t you have to be able to conceive of something before you can achieve it, or is that just empty rhetoric?
I think I’ll sleep on it. Maybe an angel will wake me up with some victuals and tell me to eat up and go back to sleep a while.
Next entry: I am a Rare Phenomenon