How? Why? Trying to make sense of my size

140kg is alot. It’s 310lbs.

How did I get there? Why did I get there? It is important to try and make sense of it if I want to move away from it.

I am about the size I am today as I was when I left school about 18 years ago. Today I am a size 18 (AU) which is a 16UK or a 14US. In January 2011 when I started out I was a size 24. I know that the clothes I wore to school in my last year were about an 18 or 20. So, my weight is not a new problem.

I have a few memories that I think are relevant. Once when I was 5 or 6 our family went out to dinner at a friend’s house. They were Italian. I remember the ricotta in pastry. I remember eating several of them. I remember that I was physically ill after eating so much that night. I remember Dad saying something in the car about that. Already at that age I had lost the ability to know when to stop eating.

I was in WW with mum when I was 11 or 12. I know that I wasn’t allowed any lollies or chocolate at that time. I would get them, though. Nan bought up lolly bags for us three girls every week when she visited. When I stopped getting them I would sneak something from both of my sisters bags so they would not notice. And then I started shoplifting chocolate. I was never able to explain to mum why I did it when I was caught. But looking back, it was the deprivation that drove me to it.

And I remember my Grandpa asking for a slice of the fat when we had baked dinners, because ‘that was the good bit’.

I knew that I was bigger then most girls my age. I don’t remember when it started bothering me. I do know that I was always told I was loved just the way I was, that God had made me just the way I was and that I was made with purpose and design. The message my brain got was to accept my size because that was the way I was made and was supposed to be. But somewhere in my head I did not feel comfortable in my skin. I remember feeling misunderstood and I have several memories of specific situations where people did not listen, or I was laughed at for not understanding something. I did not know I could stand up for myself. I was lonely. I felt unloved. I know my family loved me then and love me now. Knowing something in your head is different to knowing it in your heart. Maybe this was all normal for a teenage girl? I don’t know. But I ate for comfort, for acceptance and fulfilment and I ate in secret.

In my last year of school, I got some award for being the nicest person in the year. I don’t remember what the award was for but that was what I joked about at the time. I was super nice and helpful and considerate. I was the fat girl and that was the only way I knew to fit in. Being fat was ok, because I was loved and accepted for who I was. And by that time I was not the only overweight one in my extended family. There were several of us cousins who had put on weight, who carried it well, who enjoyed food and alcohol, who were loved and accepted and it was never an issue.

Fitness was not a priority growing up. I played netball but as a family we did not do any health/fitness/exercise things really together. I remember mum riding on the exercise bike, night after night, going nowhere. But exercise was something I was happy not to do. So I didn’t.

So many mixed messages! So much confusion and insecurity. And I ate because I did not know any other way to cope.

I am very fortunate that I don’t have a terrible story in my past which drove me to eat. It makes it hard to understand why I did. It was just life.

So, what can I learn? That accepting myself is different from wanting to be healthy. I have done alot of work on understanding myself in the last 7 years and for the last 5 I have been happy to be me. I like who I am. This is a big change from the 18-28 year old girl that I once was. I want to respect the person that I am. I want to live long life. I want to know that I can run if I want to. I want to look after myself physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. And part of that is losing weight.

Food is not a source of comfort or acceptance. Food is just food. It can be delicious. I can enjoy it, the cooking and the sharing of it. But if I need comfort then I need to look elsewhere. If I am stressed, I need to work on resolving that stress, not just eating it away. And if I need reassurance from my man, from my family, I need to ask them and not turn to food.

Having thought about it has made it easier. I can understand how and why. But I can’t continue on that path. It would kill me. So, I am changing. I am no longer that scared, confused girl. I am a strong woman and I will make the changes I need to make. I won’t stop when I get to a healthy weight because then the focus shifts to maintaining a healthy weight. This journey needs to be about so much more than just losing weight; it is about having a healthy body, a healthy mind and being active as I grow older.

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