On October 22, 2017, I decided I no longer wanted to weigh 188 pounds at 5'5"— a reality that put me, medically, in the obese range of the BMI scale. When I last weighed myself on September 5, 2018, I weighed 184 pounds. It is almost a full year later, and I am still obese.
I am a fat person.
I know this about myself. I know that obesity is only one data point about who I am as a person and that by being obese, I have an increased risk of developing chronic conditions and diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, and a number of other consequences. No, I am not comfortable with these consequences, and no, I am not obese because I am consciously choosing to be.
I know that losing fat is as simple as eating fewer calories than I burn, regardless of any trendy diet. I know there are a plethora of tools online to help me track this, like Fitbit and MyFitnessPal. I know that even if I absolutely hate physical activity, I can still lose weight without increasing or changing my current frequency of exercise just by decreasing the amount of food I consume.
I have been 90 pounds at 5'5". I have been 130 pounds at 5'5". I have been over 200 pounds at 5'5".
Trust me. I know.
But humans aren’t simple math equations. I know why I am fat; I ate more calories than I burned, and I ate more calories than I burned because I abused my relationship with food. I didn’t treat it as simple fuel. When I had a stressful day, when I was sad, when I was anxious, when I was bored— I would ignore satiety signals in my body and comfort myself by eating whatever I craved.
I want to pause and clarify: I’m not distressed in saying these things, though I might have been a year ago. These are facts, regardless of how I feel about them. It took me a long time to look at this information about myself objectively, to acknowledge it and understand that it makes me no less worthy of love and existence.
I do have my good days and bad days, of course. I can look in the mirror and think I’m beautiful and don’t need to change, but the next day wake up and feel like I’m drowning in myself— look in the mirror and see nothing but the emotional turmoil I’ve been trying to stuff down with food. And then there are the days (which are my favorite days, actually) that I grab my excess fat and recognize that it is not me, it is extra protection that I can carve away over time to let the real me shine.
My bad habits are fixable. My actions are under my control. It will only take time and patience to continue to work through the mental patterns and self-sabotage that kept me from success.
When I say I am fat or obese, people like to deny it on my behalf. I’m obviously not skinny, but people don’t like it when I tell them honestly that I am medically obese. I don’t look like what most of the world thinks of when they hear the word, but that doesn't change the fact that I am currently obese.
Please, let me identify and own it. Let me recognize and acknowledge that I am obese and that I can also be active and beautiful. My obesity is a problem— it comes with health risks that scare me and that I don’t want for myself— but I need to be able to stare it in the face, without fear or shame, so that I can confront it and change it.
That’s what body positivity means to me. I can love myself and want to change my appearance at the same time. I can love myself now; I don’t have to wait until numbers fit into a specific box of a specific scale or chart.
And by loving myself and my body now, I can celebrate what my body is capable of. I can start destroying the limiting beliefs and negative stories I’ve learned to associate with words like “fat” and “obese”. I can treat my obesity with the same mental approach I would take towards treating any other physical illness.
“Day One” starts tomorrow. This time, for the last time.