In August of 2010, I weighed 260 pounds. I had miscarried and Gail’s little girl had died in the last year. I was starting graduate school and working two jobs even then. I had a husband who wouldn’t get a job and constantly stole from me, refusing to get the hell out of my house even though I’d asked him to leave a hundred times. I couldn’t afford to buy healthy food, when I could afford to buy food at all, I didn’t have time to work out, and it wasn’t really a huge concern of mine considering the debilitating depression I experienced as my life crumbled around me and I kept it from everyone. While I’d been overweight most of my life, I was officially morbidly obese.
Today, I weigh 172 pounds, up from 160, the lowest I got before I wrecked my back in February. I’d like to get down to 150, but I’m still pretty danged content. I don’t know if I mean for this to be motivating for people trying to lose weight this New Year (my weight loss was not a New Year’s resolution) or if this is just me being grateful that my whole world is different, but here are my favorite things about being “average”.
I own fucking jeggings. I’m wearing them right now. They’re a size medium, but when I wear my normal jeans, they’re an 8. At 160, I comfortably wore a 6. A 6! That’s fat Anne Hathaway according to The Devil Wears Prada! You know what looks good on me now? An electric blue zebra print tankini. I own that! I also own several adorable sundresses and sweater dresses and I wear them all the time. Dresses rock! They’re like nightgowns, but sexy.
I should probably take down the Christmas tree, though.
The Cheap Clothes
These jeggings cost me $20. Lane Bryant jeans cost $60. My size 6 skirt from Goodwill cost $3 and looks brand new. The last plus-sized skirt I had was $50. It’s impossibly easy to find super cheap clothes that look adorable on me, because I’m tiny by comparison to my 260 pounds self. I can even find cute Wal-Mart outfits. When I was bigger, Wal-Mart clothes looked terrible on me. They aren’t shaped, they’re just large. Now I can buy $9 jean shorts and they look great. Since my thighs don’t rub together like those of a cricket in spring, they last forever, too. Since my boobs aren’t enormous, I can wear $20 36C bras. My 40DD bra cost me $40. It was on sale.
The Food and Drinks
Thanksgiving Day of 2010, I tearfully told Gail how bad things had gotten in my marriage and that he was finally leaving the next day. Then I drank 8 Long Island Ice Teas, her drink, and our friend’s drink and ate a full meal. The bar tab was $75. Today, after 3 Long Island Ice Teas, I’m too drunk to want another, even if I’m crying. I can’t even imagine racking up a $75 bar tab at my current size. Meals that would have once been satisfying are now to-go box material. I spend $50 a week on my groceries and it’s plenty. In fact, I’m quite the food hoarder, because I once couldn’t afford it, and have about 6 pounds of meat in my freezer right now.
The Way I Move
Alright. No one who hasn’t been overweight is going to get this one at all. When you’re big, you can’t do that thing where you pull your legs up into the chair and put your chin on them. It’s not an option, because your belly gets in the way. You can’t cross your legs, because you have too much thigh. Running up the stairs or bolting to the mailbox because it’s cold and you were too lazy to put on shoes, causes dry heaving because you can’t breathe. It is physically uncomfortable to be heavy. One of the best parts of being smaller is that I can actually curl up. I bought a papasan chair for myself for my birthday and I spend most hours at home curled up in that chair like a fucking embryo. It. Is. Awesome. They should put that in the Jenny Craig commercial.
I Can Look At Myself Naked
I used to stand in front of the mirror and think the most degrading things. They were usually funny, but still incredibly negative.
“I look like a shaved gorilla.”
Sometimes, they were just depressing.
“I don’t even feel like a woman anymore. If I leave him, no one will want me again.”
I’ve taken 3 baths this week. If you’ve ever been unhappy with your body, you know that taking a bath isn’t relaxing at all. It’s staring at your wet body, thinking “ew” and calculating how much weight you have to lose to no longer be obese. It’s picturing what you look like sitting in said bathtub and analyzing the water level compared to your weight. I actually do things naked now. I mean, I’m not joining a nudist colony, but it’s not humiliating to be alone in a room without clothes on any longer. If I want to do the dishes naked, so I don’t get water on my clothes, I’m okay with doing that. I don’t remember why but I once vacuumed my whole apartment naked. Seriously, not a nudist.
Guess what. I am almost never the fattest person in the room anymore. It’s so rare that I am, that I don’t even check now. It used to be automatic. The hits to my self-esteem still occur, of course. Did he not call me because I’m fat? But now I actually question that. It’s not just a given. When I substitute, the students call me Velma, because I have short hair and sometimes wear my black-rimmed glasses. Occasionally, it’s meant as an insult. You know what, though? They never call me the fat sub. Ever. And that’s terrific.
The Sleep Shirts
At 260, I wore a size 2xl t-shirt. So, working at the movie theater, I had to take the adult large Ice Age promotional shirt and stretch it out and wear an undershirt beneath it. It was humiliating. Today, that is my favorite sleep shirt and one of many.
I Know Who Loves Me
When you’re fat, you think people treat you differently because of it. You’re in line at the grocery store, they open a new register, and there’s a choice between you and a thinner person. They motion for the thinner person. People who’ve never been there would say you’re being paranoid. You’re not. They did subconsciously choose the more attractive person. People are friendlier to me than they ever were when I was 90 pounds larger. That sucks, but that’s the way it is. That’s why the people who loved me at 260 get so much credit for it.
When I met my guys, I was married, miserable, 250 or so pounds, had hair halfway down my back I only wore in a ponytail or pigtails, never wore makeup, and didn’t own anything that wasn’t a t-shirt and jeans. It was at this weight that I became “not a girl, Belle”, invited out to dinner and New Year’s Eve with “just the guys.” They never cared that I was bigger and didn’t dress like a girl. They liked my sense of humor and loyalty. At 160 pounds, they didn’t treat me any different. I got the same jokes and inclusion. Additionally, Gail’s seen me fluctuate from my high school 190 to my college 260 to my lowest 160 and my present 172 and has never treated me any different in ten years. When someone checks me out, I know they wouldn’t have been interested 2 years ago and that’s okay. But it’s always comforting to know that there are people who feel the same no matter your appearance.
So… maybe I was just broken and damaged and never ate or slept when I lost that first 30 pounds and insanely determined when I lost the next 60, but it’s been so awesome to be normal sized for the first time in my life. Just thinking about it encourages me to stay this way, because even in hindsight, being overweight sucked. Happy Resolutioning!