Why Was I Fat?

Let’s go beyond literal answers to this question. Yes, I was overweight because I ate too much and moved too little; but, I eat less and move more now, and that’s how one fixes symptoms without ever fixing the root issue. Why was I fat?

It was safe.

When I was larger, I was less visible. Not because I was fat, but because I believed being big meant I didn’t deserve love, attention, or to be noticed by those more worthy than myself. I made myself less visible because I was fat and ashamed of it all the while convincing myself that my size was the reason that nobody wanted me. The truth is that many people tried to love and get close to me when I was fat, but I didn’t allow myself to receive it because of my self hatred.

Being fat also made me an easy target for some people’s bullying. And, somehow, it seemed safer to be on the receiving end of that. If I was a target, then I was not a threat. If I was not a threat, maybe they would stop tearing me down. These were people who I wanted to love me but who were unable to do so because of their own issues, but I didn’t understand that at the time. All I knew was that I desperately wanted to be good enough for them, and that seemed to mean losing weight. It seemed like the only thing I had to do to finally be good enough for them was to lose weight. But it was never enough. I would starve myself down 40 pounds, and they would push for 10 more. 10 more, and I would be good enough. But, I was starving, and I hated myself for still not being good enough. Inevitably, I would gain it back and remain a target. I was never allowed to stop being fat…even when I wasn’t fat.


An assortment of theatre/drama photos from high school. Can you find me?!

I believed it was inevitable.

One side of my family has always struggled with weight; three people on that side of my family have had weight-loss surgery. In fact, when I joined Weight Watchers, I did so in order to prepare myself for weight-loss surgery. My mom had told me that Weight Watchers would “teach me how to eat,” which was a skill I would need after surgery. I fully believed that surgery was going to be my path (and know that it is a path that I do not judge – it has worked wonders in my family members’ lives).

I was shocked when I began losing weight on Weight Watchers. I thought, like with everything else I tried, it would be unmaintainable. I thought that I would fail. I thought that I’d give up. That was my real resignation: I believed that I would give up; I believed that I would fail. Attempting something while believing you will fail makes you about a hundred times more likely to quit. I’d say I was about a month or more into the program before I started believing that it might be possible for me to do this.

snarky look

“That look” hahaha

I tried to fill the void with food.

This….this is probably the biggest reason I was overweight. I still struggle with this today.

For every happy memory, special person, and celebrated occasion in my life, there is a food. There’s my Nana’s mac and cheese, my grandmother’s doughy rolls, my ex-stepmom’s Moroccan stew, my dad’s meatloaf, my mom’s spaghetti. There’s the crab soup we ate at the beach, the cold watermelon we ate all summer that my dad taught me how to pick out, the sweet tomatoes with salt we pulled from my great grandmother’s garden. There’s peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with the tang of ocean water still on my lips, there’s fried chicken before Santa shows up to pass out presents, there’s red velvet cake before we sing happy birthday. For everything, there is a food. My memories are tied to food. My emotions are tied to food.

I have a void inside of me. It comes from a desperate desire to be loved, to be good enough. Sometimes, I try to fill that void with food. I make and eat my Nana’s mac and cheese and, for a few moments, she’s alive again, and I am loved by her. I have my dad’s meatloaf and, for a little while, it’s a really special day during my childhood (he only made meatloaf on special days). I’m good enough in the past for those few short present moments. I re-create my ex-stepmom’s Moroccan stew and, for a time, that divorce never happened, and my family never fractured. I eat and eat, remember and feel, and I try to fill the void.

Only the void can’t be filled with food or memories. I can’t go back and make the people who didn’t love me in the past have loved me then. I can’t bring back my grandmother or my great grandmother; those goodbyes have been said for the final time. I can’t be a child again and get to experience all of the things I missed out on. I can’t go back; I can only go forward.

being a goof

So, how do I fill the void left by what I missed out on in the past? Not by trying to re-capture what’s gone, but by creating love now. By capturing the love around me today. Not through food but through the experience of love and those people who give it now. Through being fully present for today’s times of love, care, and being good enough. Slowly, piece by piece, the void is filled…as I let go of the old, worn-out pieces I’ve been trying to cram into it, set them aside to be valued for what they are, and allow new, solid, foundational pieces to fill the void. This will allow me to be filled by something much more permanent than food — by love.

me and misty

Becoming Visible

Wow. Just, wow. I never expected that last post to go viral. I never expected so many people to ever hear me. I never expected you all… I am honored that so many people took the time to read my blog. I read through each and every one of your comments, and so many of you brought tears to my eyes with your compassion, empathy, and support. Just, wow. Thank you.

I have another confession to make: I never expected to become this visible. And, I’m scared.

I’m afraid of writing something dumb in this next post.

I’m afraid of gaining weight and it being much more public than I could’ve anticipated.

I’m afraid of not being worthy of you all reading my words. Of being heard.

I’m afraid of losing the right to speak and be heard.

The best I can do is continue, as I always have, to write for me…whatever comes out of me…and try to just be okay with however people receive that. But, that’s so much easier to say than to do. In the last week, I’ve become visible, and that’s been an ongoing struggle for me. Being seen. Being noticed.


Sometimes, when someone notices me now, approaches me, speaks with me, I worry I’ve done something wrong. Fat was safe. Invisible was safe. Unapproachable was safe. Someone asked in the comments of my last post if people treated me differently now that I’ve lost weight. The truth is, it’s not that they treat me differently — they just “treat me” more often. Because I let them. Because I am working on feeling more worthy of being seen, of being “treated” at all.

One reader, Mary, posted a comment that hit me so hard I’ve been thinking about it all week. The comment was “I have no idea what scary demons I’d find to obsess over if the weight was not there to take the blame.” Can I just say… thank you for that comment. Somehow, in all this self awareness, I hadn’t even considered that maybe the reason it’s scary to be done losing weight is because now I’m left without the one “issue” in my life over which I have some semblance of control. Without that issue, I’m left with the rest of me…so very visible, so very hard for me to look at.


But, I have to look at me. I can’t cover myself back up with fat or thin: either would be temporary distractions — deflections from the actuality of me. Instead, I must stand in front of a mirror — not a physical one, but a mental and emotional one — and look at the me that’s underneath this skin I’m in, fat or thin. She’s been there all along. It’s time to stop hiding her, hiding from her. It’s time for her to be visible too. Even though visible is really rather scary.

I don’t know how many of you will stick around to read more of my blogs. If this is the last one you read, just know that I appreciate you more than I can say. Your comments, your insight, your seeing me. Without you, I would not have looked in the mirror. Thank you. For those who choose to keep reading, I hope that I don’t let you down, but I make no promises. This is a journey. It’s going to have its ups, downs, plateaus, hard rock walls… that’s life. So, I won’t promise that my posts will be awesome. I will only promise that I will write. For me. As my mirror that you’ve helped me look in once again. That, I can promise.


The “After” Myth



It’s here.

In my first post, Before, 3 years ago, I said “I’m not to After yet, but I’m closer to After than to Before.”

I now weigh 117 – 120 pounds (depending on the day), and standing at 5-foot 6-inches, that measurement means that After is very, very here. But, before you congratulate me, dear readers…if I have any…and dear friends and family who I know follow this blog… I have to come clean with you: I don’t feel like I’m at After. I’m terrified of being at After. And, I don’t like that After is here.

After5 2

The tagline of my blog is “uncovering myself one pound at a time.” For most of this blog, I’ve spoken strongly about how my relationship with food and myself was what caused my weight struggles. I stand by that. The thing is, the symptoms have resolved faster than I’ve been able to treat the deeper disease. I’ve lost the weight, but I’ve failed to uncover and learn to truly love myself in the process. Truthfully, I have no idea who I am without “needs to lose weight” being one of the primary parts of my identity.

This is why I have not been posting…because this blog is not about weight loss…it’s about life gain. I could not bear to post here about the beautiful things one can gain in life by learning to love yourself while, in the background, hating myself so hard while the weight melted off. Progressing on the outside while regressing internally. Because, that’s the truth, readers. The last stretch of this weight loss hasn’t been healthy OR happy: it’s been agony. It’s been sad. It’s been an exercise in mourning.

After2 2

I’ve gotten so good at putting on the happy face. At “smile, nod, yes, thank you, I have lost a lot. No, I’m not trying to lose any more; you don’t need to worry.” I’m very good at this script, but it’s been such a lie, readers. The truth is my body melted away, and I stared at myself in the mirror not understanding why I couldn’t love the skin I’m in. Why? I thought After was the goal!

But I made a mistake.

A crucial mistake.

I forgot that the number on the scale is only a number. Only just a number. It’s not a before. It’s not an after. Getting that number to a certain set of digits is not my After.

I’m not at After. There is no After – happily ever or otherwise. There is only today. Just today – During.

After1 2

I tell you this now not to discourage you but to hopefully prevent someone from making the mistake that I did and associating After with a number. I weigh 120 pounds and still struggle with my weight. Losing weight does not mean you no longer struggle with your weight; I wish I had truly understood that. I still struggle with food. I still struggle with me.

Looking at the picture I put first in this post, I have to pause. I look at me … past vs. present. That is me. All of those pictures are of me. People say they do not recognize the girl in the other pictures. I’m here to say: that girl is me.

Don’t look at her as an abomination, because enough people, myself included, did that already.

Don’t congratulate me on no longer being her; I still am her. And doesn’t she deserve to be?

Don’t tell me I look better; I don’t. I look different.

Don’t speak of her as if she is a poor, piteous person. She’s not.

She’s me.

She’s standing right here, and she is fucking strong.

After3 2

There. Is. No. After.

There’s no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow of weight loss because the rainbow has no end.

There is today. There is now. There is during. There is life.

I uncovered myself one pound at a time; now, I must REcover myself…I must DIScover myself. And that…that is the new goal. Not numbers. Not sizes. Not inches.

Me. I am the goal. Finding. Loving. Being.

Can anybody hear me?

After6 2

Dear Self, You don’t know it yet, but you’re going to be ok.


7 years and 105 pounds ago

Hello, self.

I just wanted to tell you, it’s going to be ok.

You don’t know it self, but, one day, you will lose the weight. But, of course, that won’t fix everything. You don’t know that yet though. You don’t know that there’s more to it yet. That’s ok.

You don’t know it, self, but, one day, you’ll find someone who would and will love you yesterday, today, and tomorrow. You don’t know it, self, but you’re already worth loving.

You don’t know it, self, but you’re going to be successful. You’re going to have a career, and you’re going to be good at it. You don’t know it, self, but you’re going to fight so hard. You don’t know it, self, but you’re going to do great things.

You don’t know it, self, but one day, that smile will be real. Then, you’ll struggle to find it again, but that’s ok. You don’t know it, self, but life is both more beautiful and more difficult than you know. You don’t know it, self, but you’ll be glad you woke up tomorrow morning.

You don’t know it, self, but tomorrow comes. Things change in ways you don’t know, self. You change in ways you don’t know. You don’t know it, self, but you don’t know yourself. I wish I could tell you who you are, but I still don’t know you, self. I still struggle to love you, self. I’m sorry for that.

You don’t know it, self, but you’re already beautiful. You don’t know it, self, but those are still just words to me even now. You don’t know it, self, but you have a voice. You don’t know it, self, but you’ll find that voice. I believe.

You don’t know it, self, but you’ve been lied to. You don’t know it, self, but you’ve lied to yourself as well. You don’t know it, self, but you’re going to need help figuring all of this out. You don’t know it, self, but it’s OK to ask for this help. You don’t know it, self, but you deserve help even now. You don’t know it, self, but someone else believes you deserve help too.

I worry for you, self. I cry for you, self. I am angry at you, self. I am angry for you, self. Because you, frozen image self…you will never know these things. You, self caught in time, will never know love, joy, self respect, passion, drive. You, past self, will never know yourself. But, I want to know you, self. I want to love you, self. I want to be you, self.

We don’t know it, self, but we will be best friends. We don’t know it, self, but we will be the most important person to ourself forever; we touch our life more than any other. We don’t know it, self, but we need one another.

I don’t know you, self. But someday, I hope I will.

Love (someday soon),



Note: I am intentionally not including any current pictures in this letter tonight because the picture included here is of the girl who deserves to be seen. She is deserving of love. She deserves to hold her head high. If either of “us” inspires anyone, she should be that one. If you want to be proud of someone involved in this journey here, then, please… be proud of her then, not me now. 

The Power of Acknowledgement

Forewarning: this is an oddly philosophical, floaty post. And, it has little to do with my currently plateau-ed weight loss journey. You have been warned :)

You know that feeling you get when someone simply acknowledges your presence? Maybe it’s a stranger in a coffee shop who gives you a smile and a nod, or maybe it’s a friend who greets you after a long time apart. Maybe the act doesn’t even come from a human: I’ve seen dementia temporarily cured and muteness lifted for a little while by the simple act of acknowledgement from a little dog in a nursing home ward. I can’t speak for everyone, but I can speak for myself: when I am acknowledged, it feels like a nod to my existence. I feel like I am worthy, right then, to be in the right place at the right time for whatever is right for that moment. The act of acknowledging and being acknowledged is a profound and important one; at least, it’s that way for me.


There was a time when I didn’t really feel I was worthy of being seen or acknowledged. I desperately wanted to be seen; but, I also wanted to be invisible. Self hatred and reliance on external sources to provide meaning to your life and definition to your sense of “self” will do that to you. This time in my life is in the past, and it is not where I am anymore; nevertheless, it’s something I’ve been reminded of lately — the power of acknowledgement.

This week, I have found myself genuinely touched by moments when someone else acknowledges me…when they see me and take a moment to say hello, smile, share a laugh, like a Facebook post, really any little thing. And, I have felt compelled to acknowledge others more — not just people I know, but also the people I encounter wherever I am in the moment. It’s important to know and make known when someone is seen because there are many people out there who feel invisible. Choosing to see someone in any given moment could, for all you know, give them a breath to get through the next moment. Even a simple act of connection can remind someone “you exist; I see you,” and I believe that is an important message to send to those around you.

There’s little point to this post except to encourage you to make eye contact with someone today. Acknowledge someone. See someone you might not typically notice. Let’s all remind one another that we exist and are worthy to do so.

Learning to Be Me

This blog post isn’t really just about weight loss; it’s about me — all of me — and I sure as heck am a lot more than just my weight.

It has come to my attention that I have absolutely no idea how to “just be.” I am always doing something. I am always going somewhere. The concept of being … well, that’s a lot harder for me to grasp.

When I first began my weight loss, self love, get-out-of-depression journey a few years ago, I realized that I had no idea who I was. My identity comprised other peoples’ opinions (real or self-perceived) of me, numbers on a scale, societal definitions, expectations from external sources, a whole heck of a lot of self hatred — I could go on. My point is — I didn’t really know who I was. The essential Me. I didn’t know what made me tick, what I loved, what got me out of bed in the morning, what would make my heart race, what could make me split into a grin, what might make me cry… I didn’t know myself at all.

So, I decided to try and get to know myself; and, I started with 2 things that I did know:

knew that I wanted to lose weight — I joined weight watchers.

knew that horseback riding was something I loved in my childhood — I started taking horseback riding lessons.

As I have gotten to know myself, I have started to do more and more:

I know I love cats and have a passion for rescue — I started fostering cats and volunteering at events/doing adoption interviews.

I know I love baking — I started baking cakes for all occasions.

I know I love God — I joined a church.

I know I love to sing — I joined my church’s worship team.

I met a man, I met the man, I got married, I bought a house, I joined a zillion meetup groups, I made friends, I began running a meetup group out of my own home, I started blogging, I joined a bible study, I started a bible study, I joined a meditation group, I began taking spiritual healing workshops, I started leasing a horse on top of taking lessons… the list goes on.

I am really really good at doing.

All this time, I thought that all of this stuff I was doing was because I finally knew who I was.

I was wrong. What I do is not all of who I am. I still don’t really know all of who I am.

Sure, I know what I love to do. I’ve figured part of this equation out: I know what makes me tick, I know where my passions lie, and I know what I believe in.

And yet, if you were to take away all of my doings… what would be left? That would be me — a part of me that I’m afraid I don’t know.

I’m at a point in my life where I am bouncing all around trying to find fulfillment and wholeness in all of my doings. But, the truth is, none of my doings are ever going to truly fulfill me until I really, truly, from the bottom of my heart love myself. And, I can’t really truly love myself until I know myself.

So, here’s to the next step in my journey — learning to be. Learning the part of being that lies outside of doing.

And not just learning to be… but learning to be me.


What if I Gain it All Back?

1075733_10100397218966953_471783710_nI haven’t forgotten this blog, and I haven’t really been too busy to write an entry (though, I have been busy). I haven’t written in months because I have felt less than inspirational; actually, I’ve been downright discouraged.

My wedding is in less than 2 months, and I have gained 5 pounds. Some of you will say “5 pounds is nothing!” and others might feel that 5 pounds is significant. I feel both ways, really. On one hand, 5 pounds when you’ve lost 70 seems small. There was a time when I could lose 5 pounds in a week if I just followed Weight Watchers 100%.

On the other hand, 5 pounds takes forever for me to lose these days…even when I do follow Weight Watchers completely.

5 pounds.

That’s how this all began in the first place.

That’s how gaining weight always begins: 1 pound at a time. It creeps up on you; you can ignore it and lie to yourself for only so long before 5 pounds becomes 20…and those 20 start inviting friends.

Last night, I tossed and turned in bed, disappointed in myself for once again failing to stay on track and worrying about the one fear that, I believe, plagues pretty much everyone who has ever lost weight:

What if I gain it all back?

What will people think of me? What will I think of me?

What hope will there be fore me then?

I’ve been on Weight Watchers for 3 years, and I weigh as much today as I did in August 2012. I’ve basically maintained for an entire year now (that in and of itself is an accomplishment, but it’s not satisfying to me right now).


3 years of commitment is a lot for me.

I lasted 1 month on a no-sugar diet…

1 week on SlimFast…

24 hours on Atkins…

That I’ve managed to at least mostly follow Weight Watchers for 3 whole years is an astounding thing to me. And yet all I can think about right now is…

What if I gain it all back?

Oh sure, I’ve said it here before:

If you’ve ever lost weight and gained it all back PLUS some, you have not failed!

And gosh that’s a whole lot easier to say to YOU than it is to say to myself right now. Especially with an upcoming big event where I must wear a dress that fit me in October 2012.

What if I gain it all back?

Will I be an ugly bride?

Will I gain even more?

Will I ever be able to lose it again?

Will I have to start all over? CAN I start all over?

Will it mean that I failed? That this blog – all the things I’ve written here – that all of the thoughts that I’ve shared with friends and family about this journey – are meaningless?

Who wants to read or hear inspirational weight loss thoughts from someone who has gained it all back??

But, if there’s one thing that I’ve learned over the past 3 years it’s that fear of gaining it all back is the worst motivation.

I didn’t start down this path out of fear, and I know that fear is not going to get me through to the end. Fear inspires quick and temporary results that do more damage than good; losing weight out of fear is not an act of motivation…it is an avoidance tactic.

Fear keeps me from looking inside to find whatever it is that is holding me back. Fear keeps my motivation external when the only thing that could possibly get me through this journey is inside of me.

What if I gain it all back?

If I gain it all back, I will still not be exactly where I was before. There is no returning to before. Something far more permanent than my weight has changed in me: I have changed.

If I gain it all back, I will start all over again …this time with the knowledge that I am fully capable of losing the weight because I have been there.

If I gain it all back, I will be human and fallible and imperfect. And anyone who thinks that that makes my thoughts and feelings unimportant is not worth keeping in my life.

If I gain it all back, I will still be loved. I will still be beautiful. I will still marry the man of my dreams surrounded by my amazing family and friends.

But, I have not gained it all back, and I hope that I never will. So, 5 pounds… it all began and begins with you. I am not afraid of you; I will not be afraid of you. You can take nothing from me; you are a part of me. For now.