Hold on to your skivvies N&Kers cuz things are about to get real. Miss Nals has a few things to say… so find a comfy chair and grab a big ass cup of coffee.
From the age of 6, I was referred to as “fat”. I would defo agree with this adjective. But news non-flash! Being “fat” does not equate to a good thing in North America (borrowing Martha Stewart’s catchphrase). It’s mind boggling how pervasive that negativity is, surrounding the word “fat”. It reminds me of the static electricity ball, where moving witchy fingers of electricity reach out and nip you when you least expect it. It shouldn’t hurt but it does.
You heard of, read about or saw a flick about… That friend who is hesitant to go to her high school reunion. Her high school sweetheart is going to be there and she doesn’t feel she looks her best. But she attends, and comes back elated, stating “He has a fat and ugly wife!” Or “That celebrity-du-jour is looking real nasty, cause she’s gained so much weight.” Or (my fave) when people say “You would be so pretty if you weren’t so fat.”
Sometimes it feels that society says it’s ok to be a mass murderer as long as the murderer is not fat. Someone’s snarky behaviour is tolerated because it comes out of the mouth of a mini skinny.
Let’s not get all negative as there are some delights of being fat:
- People (often strangers) keep you honest by telling you that you’re fat. And, yelling out-of-the-blue if you’re supes lucky. (Yes literally shouting out, “You’re fat!”)
- People have no qualms about sharing their pro-skinny opinions. As a kid, I was watching Roseanne. When my cousin walked in, she immediately said, “Why are there so many fat people on this show?”
- People love to offer up free advice, which is always unsolicited. No hello, how-do-you-do or even come-here-often-? as a segue. No way. It’s the straight up dope. “You know you should cut out ABC and then do XYZ.”
- You learn to be self-sufficient: as salespeople ignore you or people don’t engage in courteous behaviours like opening the door.
The start of something. In my 20s, I was working at a bookstore when a customer called to see if a copy of Susan Orbach’s Fat is a Feminist Issue was available. I was intrigued by the title and read it. And boom my mind was blown! I never considered “fat” as a tool of rebellion. I definitely didn’t feel rebellious but… was I?
Regardless of subconscious rebellions, “fat” as associated with “fugly”, who deems it “unacceptable” and who keeps perpetuating these ideas… I was sick of feeling shitty. I was tired (lethargic yes, and tired of letting other people’s constant fat remarks get to me). I was physically achey, had a low mood & excessive anxiety. I had gone on all sorts of diets and they didn’t stick. (The weight stuck, not the loss part.) I was just fed up, and mentioned it to me mumsey. She suggested that I speak to our family doctor*. So I did. And he said he could help but first he wanted to do a work up. I thought “C’mon man, let’s just get on with it. I’m in my 20s what on earth can go wrong?”
But they found something… After some more tests and a biopsy later, I was diagnosed with a chronic disease. I was lucky they found it early. Most don’t seek help till decades later, when it’s too late to change. So, with a weird feeling of oddly-displaced luck, I toddled off to see my newly-appointed specialist*. She told me I had to lose 115 pounds, and it would take a couple of years.
Oh holy Murphy c’mon really?!? How many times did I try to but I couldn’t even lose 10?! This left me feeling mighty frustrated and hapless.
But then there came a point where I had to choose: to sit here and pickle in my misery, or to move forward.
So, I started by educating myself on the disease. And then I made small changes.
Please consult a licensed health professional prior to making changes in your life. What is beneficial to me may not be right for your body. And, things that the media depict as healthy may not be appropriate for your needs.
And just like that Miss Nals got her groove back!
. . . I started to exercise. . .
Some of my enjoyable childhood memories were learning to dance with mumsey (including watching Arthur Murray Dance Studio videos!). As such, Zumba beckoned me but I wasn’t quite ready to join public classes. So I started pin-ponning along with YouTube videos 2x/week. It took some time to find good videos. But I eventually found Linda Edler, Sid Vicious and Shani McGraham-Shirley. (Thank you, lovely ladies!)
. . . and I paid attention to what I was putting in my body. . .
I looked at portions and nutrition labels. This can certainly be overwhelming. So, I’d suggest focussing on a couple of values at a time, not the entire label. (Your focus is decided by you and your health team, not the media or your skinny friend or me.***)
To my amazement, my weight dropped and… holy frig it kept dropping! It was exhilarating. Like a roller coaster… But uh … actually enjoyable. (Sorry Kells I know you heart the rollers.)
My specialist said that’s a great start but you need to join a gym, missy. So, I reluctantly joined one**, and got hooked on boot camp. My awesome bootcamp leader Miss Martina (now at Train on Main) knew when to push me and when to back off. I was also inspired by her weight loss story. And my fellow bootcampers, though all lifelong slim shadies, were very supportive as well. Ohhhh this was spectacular!
And so my journey continues… Stay tuned for Part Deux.
* I must give a shout-out to my fam doc, Dr. H. He was and is wonderful – always gentle, respectful and kind. And of course a shout-out to my specialist Dr. S. Both docs are slim, well-dressed and clearly smart. But never judgemental. So thank you to you both from the depths of my now-conditioned heart.
** I was reluctant to join a gym because I was anticipating judgemental attitudes. At the time, there wasn’t a huge variety of gyms. It seemed like only those who appeared in Jane Fonda videos were at the gyms that I checked out. I have also experienced people shouting out their negative comments to me while I was exercising. A good combo, these did not make.
*** What I mean by this is that we often hear about things like cutting fat or increasing fibre. However, if you have an allergy or digestive tract issue, increasing fibre may be harmful. Don’t take what you hear at face value. Find out the what-why-who-where-when before you choose to apply it to your life.
What are your experiences with weight dysphoria? Care to share? Please comment below!