I've always hated the saying, “elephant in the room.” I know what it means, but it never fails to make me think someone is making a fat joke or fat reference with regards to me. It's conditioning from a lifetime of being told by society (and believing it) that I was less of a person because I carried (much) more weight. Every reference to the “obesity epidemic” with blurred out fat bodies across a television screen, on a blog I once liked, or on someone's Instagram, I think “that could be me” and yet we judge and scorn the faceless fat. This is a great article with regards to this – hat tip to Carla for sharing it on Facebook.
My elephant in the room (or rather, on this blog) is my weight. I knew as soon as I posted my Whole30 results, people would ask about it. And I am not upset or anything by it: it is what it is. It's the nature of what I've created. This started exclusively as a weight loss blog – my way of documenting my efforts to become a Biggest Loser without the television show. I totally get it – people want updated numbers.
I just wanted to take a minute to address it and explain a little bit about where I am right now.
Putting your weight and progress pictures online is scary shit, no matter what the number on the scale or your jeans says. To do it starting at over 450 pounds is effing insanity because it opens you up to so much criticism. I often think that I have lost my damn mind repeatedly to expose myself, my body, and that number on the scale that gives people major pause – even if for me it is demonstrating success.
Here's the thing: In the process of trying to display some linear form of weight loss success, I stopped listening to my body and my distorted mind took over. With each step on the scale, I thought “oh, that sucks, people are going to think I cheated this week” or “oh, this will make a great blog post” or “oh, can I really write again about not losing any weight?”
Sitting down to write gave me a deeper sense of shame when none should have existed. The shame comes from the assumption people have about fat: that it comes from being lazy, undisciplined, and from a lack of self-control and self-respect. The one or two vocal people (really, there are very few of them!) who decide to try to “call me out” stay in my head, their words branding my brain with feelings of complete inadequacy and failure. Anything good that happens or that I made happen (an important reminder I try to give myself) is washed away like a wave erasing a sandcastle. It felt that permanent.
These are verbatim thoughts that echoed in my head repeatedly when the scale didn't show me what I wanted:
- I am disgusting and not worthy of anything good.
- I am lazy and undisciplined.
- None of this will make a difference.
- None of this matters. I don't matter.
- I don't know why I even try anymore.
- What is wrong with me?
- This should be easy and I've fucked it up again.
- I am a worthless person who will never fit in.
- I will never be a success.
- What am I doing wrong?
In order to stop those thoughts, I had to go through each one and look at them logically versus emotionally. Logic tells me that none of these things are valid. They cannot be proven, and stem from fear and shame others say I should feel – not from fact. The past several months have been an exercise in doing this. I've had to invalidate these thoughts methodically and repeatedly. This meant not weighing and focusing on the distinction between health and weight. It became vital that I removed “skinny” from the blog because it didn't represent what I wanted to be. The chase for “skinny” was always about the quest for living a happy, healthy life. Not that I'd look good in smaller clothes.
I don't want to be anything other than me. Me as a person and not as a number, yet the number is part of me. My experiences and happiness should be driven by what I want rather than what I should or shouldn't do by anyone else's estimation. I will not hide or shirk because of fear of what others will think. I cannot, and will not, live that life anymore.
The past several months I've not been giving regular updates about the number on the scale while I try to stop these negative thoughts. I've gained weight, and I've lost that weight. It's continuously moving. I've been holding my 343 number in my head as that's the lowest I've gotten on this journey. Today the scale said 364. Tomorrow it might be 360, or it could be 370. All I know is I won't know what that number is because I can't let it hover over me day in and day out. I'm just working on physical and emotional health so the number won't hold such power over me anymore. I'm not stopping.
So that's that. Slaying the theoretical elephant. Thanks for being with me regardless if you know my weight week in and week out or not.