Part Four of Let’s Talk About Fat
I’ve been writing as if there is a dichotomy between being obese and being thin. There isn’t of course. There are lots of in between people who are technically overweight. I say technically because the most popular way to determine if you’re overweight is to calculate your body mass index. You can calculate your BMI here if you want.
This is a notoriously crude measurement resulting in the muscular being categorized as obese. You might find it helpful in figuring out where you are. Or not. Don’t bother if you are a wide receiver.
One thing about weight loss surgery you may not know is that most people do not lose all of their excess weight. It’s also normal to gain a bit back before you reach an equilibrium, and from there, or at least this is my expectation, you struggle to keep the pounds off as you age like everyone else. My nutritionist has set a goal weight for me of 170 pounds based on average weight loss for people of my age and starting weight. When I reach this goal (he says it will take 14 months), I will still have a BMI of 28.3 which means I will be overweight. I may very well never hit a normal weight. One surgeon I talked to said that the people who did better than average were those who were more “compliant to the program.” In other words, I can lose those extra 25 pounds if I just try hard enough. Where have I heard that before? I just hope I’m average. I have failed at weight loss so very many times. Really. I’ll take the C.
Internet medical advice (this is where you get your medical advice, right?) also tends to lump obesity and overweight into the same category, chastising those that are a couple pounds over and citing statistics that really apply to people carrying many pounds more. So how overweight is too overweight? And if it isn’t causing health problems, why do we call it overweight at all? Just because you don’t look like a supermodel is your health truly at risk? Actually, if you do look like a supermodel you might be in trouble. A recent Danish study of 3000 models found that a whopping 75 of them were of normal weight. That’s 75 individual women, not 75%. The rest of them were underweight, and the average model was actually in a category the World Health Organization considers malnourished. No wonder our perspectives are skewed. Maybe it’s not all that hard to understand that for some of us who look at media images we know we can never emulate, our gut reaction is to give up and have another cookie.
You may be glad to know I have given up cookies permanently. Rest in Peace, cookies. And I’m still going to be overweight. I think I’m going to be ok with being overweight. Counting what I lost before surgery, I’m already 2/3 of my way to goal. That’s a noticeable amount of weight loss. My cpap is in the back of my closet, I bought a whole new wardrobe, and my blood sugar is getting close to normal. I am undoubtedly healthier, so for all those charts that say that’s not good enough, I’m here to say, it’s good enough. I am good enough.
In fact, I’m feeling so sassy in my new retro-inspired vintage (read thrift-shop) wardrobe, I’m even starting to have revenge fantasies. Look at me now! ’m talking to you, the man I refused to sleep with who said I could attract a better class of men if just pushed myself away from the table once in a while. And I’m talking to you, husband who said he was worried about my health but was adverse to actual lifestyle changes that involved vegetables. And I’m talking to you, saleslady who said I couldn’t expect to find cute clothes in my size. And I’m talking to all of you who said nothing but judged me silently. I was always good enough. Maybe I didn’t say so then. Maybe I was afraid you were right. But you were wrong. I’ve always been good enough.
So let me let go of the revenge body fantasies for a moment and just shout out to the people who accepted me the way I was. I’d like to thank the man I was casually dating that thoughtfully bought a seatbelt extender for his Buick so I would be more comfortable. I’d like to high five the Zumba instructor that welcomed me when I walked in with a whole extra person’s worth of weight on my frame. I’d like to express my gratitude to the thin coworkers who brought fruit to the breakroom instead of donuts because none of us need donuts.
Do you know what unconditional love is? It’s when your parents accommodate whatever diet you’re on every time you come home even though one time it’s no meat and the next time its bacon and eggs and the next time its cabbage soup. And when you finally decide you’ve tried everything but surgery, they ask how they can help. Love is when your kid hides all bread products in his bedroom and won’t give them up even when you beg and puts up with late dinners because you went to the gym and collects menus in his college dorm so you can figure out where you can eat when you visit. And there is also my current and final boyfriend. Do you know what I want you to know about him? I met him when I was close to my highest weight. He thinks I’m pretty. Now he weighs my food for me and buys me protein shakes when they go on sale. And that’s it really. That’s how you treat someone when they are good enough, even if they have a fat problem. I am in recovery. I will not be cured. And I am good enough.
To read part one of this series, Let’s Talk about Fat, click here
To read part two of this series, What’s Your Trigger, click here
To read part three of this series, Loving the Fat that Weighs you Down click here
You might also like: An Open Letter on Dating While Fat