The First 10%

As of yesterday, I’ve lost 38 pounds, exceeding my first goal of losing 10% of my starting weight by three pounds. Since I’ve been talking about my weight loss on the blog since I started Weight Watchers back in April, I feel like I should have had a speech prepared for you folks, something that could explain what that 38 pounds means to me.

The truth is, even if I would have started writing such a speech in the beginning, I would probably have had to trash it and start over again, now that it’s really happened. I couldn’t have known what it would be like, to see numbers on the scale that I thought I would never see applied to my own body again. I hope you’ll excuse me taking a little detour from the knitting so I can at least make a feeble attempt to sort out my emotions.

I only vaguely remember ever being thin. I think I was thin sometime before kindergarten. I definitely don’t remember becoming fat, but it’s been so long ago now that it feels like I’ve been this way forever. I grew up with a family full of fat people, so fat was normal for me. It was inevitable. I’m sure that some people who aren’t fat look at my body can’t understand how I can live with myself being as fat as I am, but to me, it’s just my body the way it’s always been.

Like most women, sometimes I love my body, fat and all. Sometimes I can barely stand to look at myself. Luckily, I have a lot more love-my-body days than hate-my-body days. One of the fringe benefits of being a fat woman who has always been fat is that your brain has some kind of built in survival mechanism that won’t let you loathe yourself all the time. At some point it just says, "Yep, you’re fat and not too attractive, but since that’s unlikely to change, you might as well get over it and do whatever you want anyhow." So for the most part, I don’t let being fat keep me from enjoying myself. I know women 1/3 my size who have 3 times my self-esteem problems.

Of course, the downside to accepting my body for what it is means that I’m don’t quite have the same motivation that other women with more self-loathing might have. Since I like myself as a fat person, I’m not willing to torture myself into being thinner. Trying to make a lifestyle change means a lot of conflict, inner and outer. If I decide I want to lose weight, does that mean that I don’t like myself anymore? Am I betraying my fat body by trying to change it? Does accepting my body mean that I have to give it a donut every time it wants one?

To make matters worse, some people act like my efforts are an insult to them. Clearly, if I don’t want to be fat, and they are fat, I must think there is something wrong with fat, and therefore something wrong with them.

I’ve been lucky to have the support of my friends and co-workers, but it seems like the most common reaction I get when people notice that I’ve lost weight is, "Wow, you look really good! I can tell you’ve lost weight. I really need to go on a diet." I don’t even have to open my mouth- I’ve judged them by just existing. While I love getting the compliments, I’m uncomfortable with the implication that I am the righteous dieter and they are sinful, lazy non-dieters.

What I really think couldn’t be farther from the truth. Being fat doesn’t mean you are lazy, amoral, stupid, or apathetic- it just means you’re fat! Just like being slender doesn’t mean you are a hard working, upstanding, intelligent and caring person- it just means you’re thin. Hell, being thin doesn’t even necessarily mean that you’re healthier! I guarantee that my fat vegan body is healthier than that of an anorexic chain smoker.

In case you’re wondering exactly why I started trying to lose weight if I’m so frigging happy with myself, the reason is simple- I got to the point where I was no longer able to do things I liked to do. The deciding moment was a Saturday in April when Bob and I went to the arcade and decided to play an impromptu game of DDR (Dance Dance Revolution- you can go here if you don’t know what the heck I’m talking about.) Keep in mind, this is something we used to do at least two or three times a week. We were never great at it, but we could hold our own in Standard mode.

We got on the machine and picked one of the easiest songs, one that a year ago would have bored us to tears. After all, we figured we were out of practice and wanted to warm up. From the start I knew I was in trouble. I struggled to keep up, but I was panting and out of breath just a few seconds in. It was impossible. The song had a bit of jumping in it, but when I tried to jump I came down so hard on my right foot that it cramped up and I couldn’t even bend it back properly. I had to get off the machine and let Bob finish up the game. I was mortified. I started Weight Watchers the next day.

In the months since that day, I’ve been continually surprised that my body can change. Being fat isn’t inevitable after all! The laws of cause and effect do apply, even to me! The scary thing is, the changes I’m seeing now are just the tip of the iceberg. This was just the first 10%…. there’s still plenty to go. I can’t even imagine what I’m going to look like in three months, six months, or a year.

Everything about this process is built around faith in a body I’ve never even seen. It’s terrifying that I might lose the identity I’ve always had as a fat person. It’s thrilling that I might find a new one.

I want to thank my knitting group (and the rest of my blogging audience- that’s you Sadrine!) for all your support. It means a lot to me and I’m sure I’ll need it now more than ever!

I’m sorry for the long, boring, and probably incoherent post. I promise that next time we’ll be back to your regularly scheduled knitting blather. Here’s a picture of myself in my too-big jeans, so you can see what 38 pounds means where it really matters- in relation to my pants.

Size28

Happy knitting!

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3 Comments »

  1. Tara said

    check your email for my pep talk!

  2. Mery said

    Holly this is a beautiful post and hits so close to home in more ways than one, of course. I am so proud of you!!! And Holly will be Holly right now or a few pounds from less from now… you won’t shed your personality but I’m sure you’ll find some new things on the way, enjoy your new body =)

  3. jessie said

    holly, you’re my hero.

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