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.

play

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

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61 thoughts on “Why Was I Fat?

  1. Yay! You are learning very valuable lessons as you go along. You have amazing insight! I value your blog and your experience with losing wt. I had the surgery. Now, 20 years later, I am still trying to learn the way to eat to keep my weight off and understand my connection to food is not nutrition, but lack of self-love. Yay! again.

  2. My issue was drinking (well, it was food too, but I was a restrictor so I just starved myself a lot).
    My experience has been the only was to fill the hole is to find that deep well of love for yourself inside. It doesn’t require any external approval. In allows you to be comfortable in your skin.

    Brene Browns book the gifts of imperfection really opened my eyes to this.

    I would never be happy if I didn’t love and trust myself.

    Read some of my blog. It is mostly about drinking, as that was the self destructive path I chose, but let me know if you hear anything familiar.

    I think compulsive and addictive behaviour mainly comes from the same place. We just choose different drugs.

    Anne

  3. I love the pic of you with your cat.

    So much of what you say resonates with me. Thank you for your honesty in sharing so deeply.

    I am a compulsive overeater and don’t much like the way I look but I’m slowly starting to make changes in my outlook and realising that despite what I think about myself, there are others who look at me and wish they had my figure in much the same way as I look at slimmer people and covet theirs.

    I am slowly learning to appreciate the little things, to be more positive and enjoy living life in the present rather than longing for future times and/or dwelling in the ‘if onlys’ from the past.

    • That cat is actually a foster cat. Talk about a teacher — fostering kitties who need homes has taught me more about life than I ever thought possible. Thank you for taking the time to read and respond with some of your own journey.

  4. You’re so right… It’s safer. Period. It’s safer and easier to hate ourselves than to hope someone else will love and not hate us. Thank you. Beautifully said… again.

    xo

  5. Loved it. There are issues that I am struggling too and the way to solve them is self-love. Asking God to show me the way to self-love.

    I love you, I AM LOVE.

  6. I love your posts. I know you are speaking from the heart. Food is my constant. I completely love how you put everything. I think for me, I am still on the journey of learning to love myself. I’ve always been a pretty face but heavy my entire life. I had gastric banding. Lost 90 pounds. Had it removed due to complications and now I’m back to where I started. And all I hear in my head on a daily basis is the joke my husband used to tell his friends. “If you can’t pick her up don’t pick her up.” He never says that to me but I feel like I’m not the woman he married. Although he adores me and loves me. He always makes me feel pretty. But in my head, I don’t feel good enough for him. In many ways I still have hope that I can release myself from this self made prison. It sucks and I cry about it all the time but feel like people like you show me I can do it. For now, I get to dread a cruise I won with my company because I have to figure out how to look good on a cruise by covering it up while others who are more fit get to take off their clothes and enjoy themselves. How did I get here? Ugh

    • Wear the most comfortable and colourful clothes you own, on this cruise. There are some gorgeous floaty clothes out there. Accessorise. Be beautiful. But most importantly, know that you WON this cruise. Inhabit it. Fully.

  7. You don’t need to be anything but who you are for those of us who are reading your blog. We aren’t reading because of the number of pounds you have lost. We’re not reading because of how great you look “now”. We’re not reading because we’re looking to you to show us the way. We’re reading your blog because you are so honestly and apologetically human. You are not a caricature of “successful weight loss girl.” You are a real person telling a story so many of us recognize. The rest of the story hasn’t been written yet and since you aren’t a caricature – it won’t be a fairy tale. You are accepted and appreciated no matter where your story takes you, and you are embraced because of the you have always been and will always be.

  8. I think you’re incredible. The way you can put your thoughts into words is quite extraordinary. Your voice resonates with me and I’m very glad I found your blog yesterday. I’m going to start again and look deeper.

  9. Reading your post is like seeing the thoughts in my head written down. I wish I’d realized all that you have years ago. I’m 51 now and I’m finally on the right path to a better me. It so ‘nice’ to know there are others that think like me. It wasn’t a healthy way to think but no one goes after the root problem. THANK YOU for putting your thoughts out into the world. I believe you will help many realize they’re not alone.

  10. Lisa, you are truly a remarkable writer. I love reading your posts! Lots of wisdom is packed into your young life!

  11. I found you via your viral post (yes, that one) and pinned it on my “inspirational sayings” board. Then I read a few of your older posts and a few more of your recent posts. I hear myself in your voice, and your honesty gives me hope.

  12. Thank you so much for sharing, beautifully written. I put on weight in my teens as I think I wanted to be ‘invisible’ from the bullies who made my life miserable for a time. It was safe. Bless you, you are an inspiration.

  13. I eat my emotions – feel sad, eat – feel happy, eat. It’s a hard road back from that. But I’m doing it. You are an inspiration. Nothing is easy, there’s no magic cure. There’s just life. Xx

  14. Thank you for taking your precious time to write and share. I know it helps you too and lets me know I am not alone in my journey. I’m sad for the woman that won the cruise – it breaks my heart. Prayers to her for self love and the ability to live in the moment and count blessings.
    Peace & love!
    Denise

  15. Hi I have only just started following your blog and it resonates so clearly with me. I was that person who lost 13 Stones and 5 lbs but once I got there I didn’t know how to ‘be’. Food was my life either gorging on it or restricting it but there was no normal in my relationship with food. I didn’t and still don’t know how to have that healthy relationship with food and myself but I continue to seek answers. I have gained 7 of the 13 Stones that I lost and am once again on that journey of weight loss. I have a daughter who has a disfunctional relationship with food and suffers from very low self esteem. She has been at very low weights and unwell and cannot accept the beautiful girl she is. It is so good to find a blog from someone who actually knows what it’s like to lose a huge amount of weight and yet still battles. I believe that this will resolve if we seek Gods guidance and support. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your honesty.

  16. Food never tells me no…that I am wrong…that I am not good enough. But I am tired of paying the price of using food as a best friend. Thank you for being a brave person and putting yourself out there. We tend to forget when we are at war with ourselves that there are others out there to point us in the right direction that can help us win a battle.

  17. I saw your After myth post on fitocracy a day ago and then read your entire blog. It is wonderful! I even read some to my husband. You articulate so well the feelings of inadequacy and self loathing that I have struggled with and continue to manage through sheer stubborn determination to be better than I feel I can be. Thank you! Sharing at this level must feel scary and unnatural but it is so uplifting to find a kindred spirit in the digital noise. Sometimes excess weight is a symptom of my issue but the way I treat myself is the real center of it. I feel like you really get that. Keep writing!

  18. Thank you for your authenticity and empowering words. Sharing your struggle and your success reflects a very real element of our common human nature. Feeling connected to others and realizing we are not alone in our struggles makes such a difference. You can’t “fail” by just being you, with ups, downs, and whatever comes up next. I’m hooked reading your blog now. Thanks!

  19. Found your blog when somebody posted it on my Facebook page. I liked what you had to say so much that I went back and started from the beginning and read all your posts. I assumed that somebody that I knew was somebody that you knew personally, and that’s how it wound up on my page, until I got back to that first post I’d read and found that you now had thousands of comments. It doesn’t surprise me. You write really well, and take on very important topics. I’ve been trying to lose weight for several years, and I’ve had some successes as well as a lot of failures. I think that probably comes from never going at the root causes underneath the weight, the binging and splurging, and so forth. Thanks to reading what you had to say, I’m going to go back and take a look at myself, and the causes behind why I do what I do, to see if I can manage to love myself, and do more than just (temporarily) change my eating habits. So, thanks. And keep it up. I’m excited to see that you are posting more often now that you’re a star!

  20. Lisa,

    I can’t begin to tell you how much this hits home with me. I’ve lost 100+lbs myself and have never found the words to tell people how it feels “after”. Physically, I know I’ve lost the weight and know how to keep it off. After two and a half years of running on my own, I ran my first 5k today and the entire time I doubted my ability to complete the race. Mentally, I’m still stuck in my “old body”. I have my moments of knowing how strong I am and that I should be proud of the work that I’ve done. But, for 99.9% of the time, I’m still stuck in “pre-weight loss” me. Thank you for sharing your journey with the world. It makes me feel like I’m not the only one out there dealing with the “after”. Many wishes for all the happiness you deserve!!

  21. I am very impressed by your blog and your thoughts. Your mind is so far ahead, you understand and analyze so precisely, with a surgeon’s knife. Now your heart and feelings (mostly for yourself) have to follow and you are struggling to do so in such a humorous, very serious at the same time, charming and modest way (and you could be showing off with what you already achieved if you were that kind of “world-champion-person” who there are so many of!). Unfortunately, understanding something does not automatically enable one to change it especially issues like this. However, you definitely are on an excellent way there – as you said, not to any specific outcome, result or “after” but to a happy life feeling comfortable with yourself, knowing you are ok (and much more than that – important, inspiring, beautiful – to some people) just exactly the way you are, full stop. You are struggling in a powerful and inspiring way by sharing this. I can only congratulate you.
    And talking about food – I think there is nothing wrong whatsoever to have food make you remember and bring you back to beautiful past moments or people. Food is such a great thing, cooking, enjoying, sharing it – one of the best things in life I think. Only if it becomes too important, a substitute for something else or if the aim is to make up for sad things, then that does not work and the whole thing becomes sad instead of a joy. Just like you said – a birthday cake eaten with your loved ones is a great thing and anyone who starts counting calories or feels bad for having had some did not understand what happiness is about (ok ok, noone said understanding happiness or being happy would be easy, but as a kid it seemed easy, we just forgot or lost the lightness…). Again, I think you are exceptional and inspiring even for those like me who do not have the food issue (but there is noone with no issues…), Keep going, be happy, enjoy food and all the great feedback you are getting, you deserve all of it and have worked hard (not for the feedback but for yourself, big difference). Once the pain ceases, wisdom is taking its place, you show this impressively. Warmest regards from Germany

  22. Hi Lisa, I’m writing an article about life after weight loss for a well-known website and I was hoping you’d be available to speak on the subject. I’d love to set up a phone conversation for Monday or Tuesday. Please let me know if you’re interested. Thank you.

  23. You are amazing! As someone who has lost weight then gained it back, I really relate to your journey. Thank you for your inspiration to focus on the present and to love ourselves as we are. Your blogs really touch my heart.

  24. I do OA [over eaters autonomous],talk about uncovering myself.i had no idea how scared i really was of people and to let them in….I had a real 1st meeting with my sponsor last night and i almost cancelled because i was SO tired.but made myself go.She was so caring and loving and has a difficult husband like i do and it felt so good not to be alone.When i got in my car last I sensed God say…”See how you would of missed out? I had this lovely surprise for you in a new friend and you almost didn’t show up for your surprise…” It feels so good to not be alone and I am starting already to feel the chains of overeating drop off of me…Thanks for listening.

  25. Have you had a chance to check out http://www.weighdown.com? They promote eating whenever you’re hungry, and whatever you’re hungry for, the way God designed it for your body and still lose/maintain your weight. Best wishes!

  26. Pingback: Quilpie Woman Loses Nearly 50 Kilograms Eating Traditional Aboriginal Food | Nicole Thomason's Blog

  27. I can’t believe how much I relate to you! This has been my life and it is so validating to read about someone else who has had the same struggles that I have. I read your posts and just cry and cry. Thank-you so much for sharing!

  28. You have been heard! The message of this blog, the way it is written, and you of course are all beautiful…. Before and after! I am on the same journey and I am so happy to have read your after myth blog before I once again tortured myself into losing some weight only to gain it and start the agonizing cycle over again. The choice of being obese and all the health conditions that go with it is sometimes so much easier than the miserable process of weight loss and the slap in the face realization of the after myth. I am on my own personal journey, part of which includes a new job at a healthier workplace. I am so lucky to work for a company who’s goal is to spread the health (get it?instead of spread the wealth…? Ha). Anyway I wanted to let you know that we have shared your inspirational blog through all our social media sites and recently included you in our monthly perfectly interesting news blog. My company’s site is http://www.perfectsupplements.com Feel free to check it out the blog and our site, and from time to time check in on my own pursuit of whole body wellness. 🙂

  29. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. This validated me on so many levels. I am so happy, and so thankful that I found your blog today. Please don’t stop sharing, I need and value your clarity. I am at the midpoint of my struggle with addiction to food. I am searching for clarity and closure, your blog is heaven sent to my heart.

  30. Pingback: 9 Most Weird Yet Amazing Weight Loss Researches That Would Make Any Lazy Person’s Day | David E. Conway Blog

  31. Hi….so identify with what you said about still being you….just a slimmer you.I know exactly what you mean…Wondering how you are doing now

    • Hi Lynne,
      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. I am doing well! I’m just very busy at work. I plan to write again soon – I even have a topic picked out – but I’m a bit anxious about this topic as it is pretty personal (the topic is “My REAL ‘After’ Body”). I just need to get up the courage to do it – the pictures are hard for me to consider posting.

  32. Pingback: Weight Loss Surgery May Alter Gut Microbes To Help Keep Fighting Obesity | Raymond Jimison's Blog

  33. Just found your blog today and wow – its so powerful! I think that so many of us should take what you have said in your posts and have them as little mantras. In all seriousness you should write a book!

  34. I am currently a before. I think the reason I’ve never become an after successfully is because I am trying to erase the before and keep the “during” private. Thank you for writing about filling up with love, because I haven’t tried that. It sounds scary, but in a doable way.

  35. I love this post alot! I am going to share it. I am and most possibly will be in your position cuz I am never able to lose weight and I find myself to be ugly! I don’t care what people think of me and if they even try to bully me they know what’s coming their way so they stay away! I am happy to have little confidence in myself! I love ur post! Gives me lots and lots and lots of inspiration!

  36. Pingback: Shoo away your self-consciousness…🐦  – EDMonGOVN

  37. These are such important things to realize when striving for living a healthy life. I battle with food being tied to celebration and my emotions. So many of us do. Plus, it doesn’t help that it tastes so dang good. But I appreciate hearing these discoveries spoken aloud. It’s a battle to live a healthy life, and at some points it’ll feel like you’re losing, but you need to remember you’re still fighting.

  38. I’m impressed, I must say. Genuinely rarely will i encounter a weblog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you could have hit the nail about the head. Your concept is outstanding; the catch is something that not enough folks are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy which i found this at my seek out some thing concerning this.

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