Archive for December 15, 2008

Fat is not body armor

This post has long been gestating in my head.   As a kid, I was skinny.  People wondered if I even ate at all or remarked that I “ate like a bird” (even though it’s well known that birds eat quite a bit for their weight).  I ate, all the time.  I remember 6th grade particularly. I would come home from school and it seemed I ate the entire time until it was time for dinner and ate that too. That is how I was all through high school too.  Yes, I was still a stick.  When Ethiopian jokes were popular (I know, shudder the thought now), instead of saying the Ethiopian in the joke, my name would get substituted.

When I went off to college, everyone said I’d gain the freshmen 15.  I never did.  My entire undergrad career was filled with so much walking around campus, intramural sports, jobs involving walking, etc. that my weight remained unchanged throughout college.  And yes, I hate particularly poorly then (pizza at 3am, tons of carbs, etc.).

Then came after college.  This is when you begin your life as a drone and spend all day sitting in an office and butt spread creeps in. If you get married and don’t have kids, then all you do is eat out, go to movies, drink, go to football/basketball/hockey games, tailgate, etc.   I think those couples with kids sometimes have an advantage in that they have built in exercise (i.e. running around after the kids). This is not a foolproof plan but still what I used to think.

Honestly though, it has nothing to do with whether you have an office job or not; or whether you have kids or not.  Gaining weight of any significance (beyond the 5-10 one gains and loses due to seasonal changes each year) has to do with your mind.  I am not referring to willpower!  I am referring to how you view yourself, how you view the world, the stressors in your life, the strain you may be under personally or professionally.  These factors, depending on how small or great they are, impact your relationship to food, alcohol, drugs, etc.  In this case, I will only talk about food.

As many have read and witnessed, Oprah gained 40 pounds and is telling about it in the January issue of O, at bookstores now.  This is a woman who is a grand figure of self care, power, entertainment, success, and fulfillment. But she has not mastered the weight issue.  I believe it is because she did what so many do (what I have done at two different times in my life) – she is using food as a way to nourish her soul which in turn is creating a fatty body armor of protection.  But fat is not body armor.

Eating (or drinking or taking drugs excessively) does not soothe your soul for any length of time, nor does it solve the inner turmoils you have.  Whatever is bothering you is just getting stuffed aside until you believe being fat will create some sort of cocoon for yourself that no one can pierce. This protection is false and we all know it.  Why do I know? Because I, like you, have looked in the mirror and said that I was not happy with myself or how I looked. I wasn’t thinking about how others saw me, only how I saw me. I was ashamed of what I looked like knowing how it happened and that is what prevents people from making new friendships, trying new things, and being their “old self”. It has everything to do with what we feel inside of ourselves about ourselves.  The fear comes from knowing that others may see you and feel the same way you do about yourself.

So, as Oprah starts a new year trying to live her best life, I will start a new year for a new me. Because fat is not body armor.  Here’s to reclaiming our lives and having the life we want to have, not the one we wish to have. Join me will you.

December 15, 2008 at 7:02 pm 2 comments

December 2008