I’m not a size four, and I’m not a size 16. I happily fluctuate between eight and 10. I don’t relate to models, actresses and other stick-ish celebrities, but nor do I relate to obese models, actresses and celebrities. I know I’m not the only one, a good damn majority of the people I see daily are in the same awkward middle as me, even if they’re on the heavier end.
There are so many beautifully and/or tackily written op-eds online about body acceptance and how “happy is healthy,” but too many of them sound angry, bitter or forced. It feels more like those writing aren’t just stating that they are happy with their bodies no matter what, they are demanding everyone else to be okay with their no matter what attitude. I understand no one likes being chastised about their size, I never did, but there is a difference between body acceptance and ignoring the fact that you’re slowly killing yourself.
I’m not saying you can’t be a size 14 and be perfectly healthy, you definitely can! You cannot however, claim to be healthily obese, that ignores the facts about obesity. The top killers of men and women in the US are caused by problems associated with being overweight and the average American’s weight has increased by 15 pounds according to a 2012 Gallup poll.
I know from experience how uncomfortable it is just being overweight, almost always short of breath, being too hot most of the time (although considering the negative temperatures from this polar vortex that extra fat is probably providing some real cozy insulation for people in the Northeast right now), not fitting in chairs or narrow shops.
I’ve learned a lot, sometimes it feels like too much, about dieting, exercise and lifestyle changes in my mere 27 years of life. I grew up with a nurse for a mother who has been obsessed with weight and dieting her whole life, pretty much since puberty. I’ve written articles on healthy eating and read more than I care to list. I’ve spoken to an array of health professionals and they all say the same thing, eat better and move around more, because that is the only real truth you are ever going to hear about how to be healthy.
In my junior year of high school when I was at my heaviest, 172 pounds on a five foot three inch frame, my doctor said I was borderline diabetic and obese.
Of course I was, I was drinking sometimes four energy drinks a day, on top of countless vending machine sodas and the god-awful-for-you cafeteria food.
My mom freaked.
I was immediately thrown into a strict regimen of calorie counting, no soda, no fried foods, no pizza (my favorite thing in the world to this day). I will always remember carefully measuring a quarter cup of granola into my half cup of yogurt every morning, skipping lunch, and feverishly tallying my calories at the end of the day, praying I had stayed as much under my 1,200 calories per day limit as I could, often stopping my intake at 800 or 900, just to be safe.
I remember stepping on the scale and measuring my waistline every day, and obsessing over the tiniest fluctuation in pound or centimeter.
Denying myself so much inevitably led to moments of weakness and subsequently breaking under all the pressure that I was mostly putting on myself. I would then EAT EVERYTHING. These moments always ended at the toilet, because it very much is a control thing, and a way of shaming yourself. How dare you lose your self control like that Lisa, god, can’t you do anything?
“Get over it” may sound harsh but it is what it is, because you know what? Getting over yourself, getting over what people tell you you should be, getting over feeling bad about everything, and getting healthy are things you can actually control. Perception can be a bitch like that.
Though I’ve never been as heavy as I was that year in high school (I admit I came pretty close after one particularly hard break up in college) I have fluctuated, but that’s okay, because I’ve remained healthy and happy with myself. Truly the best I’ve ever looked is when I’ve obsessed and fought nature the least. Your body knows what it needs, and it will tell you if you listen, and always talk to your doctor, seriously, that’s what they’re intended for.
Move around, eat good food, enjoy being alive and always always go outside.
As a gift for reading, I now present to you my averageness in all its glory.