Monday, September 6, 2010


Yesterday, I did something that I haven't done in a long time. I bought a piece of clothing from a local store in the "normal" section. The shirt is probably the biggest you can get at that shop. It's sold as a "3L". I bought the shirt because it said something goofy on it, and because it is actually rare to find a "3L". The truth is that most of the time there are only S, M, and L sizes at my local shops.

I didn't try the shirt on, but I was pretty sure it would fit, and it did. In fact, it is currently the only piece of clothing I own which "fits properly". It's neither too tight, nor too lose. This was another reason I bought it.

Today, I realized that this is supposed to be a milestone, and I should be excited to have this newfound "freedom" to buy something in a casual and easy way which I wouldn't have been able to manage before at a higher weight (I always used mail order before). I read all of the time about how excited people get because they can buy clothes in the "regular sizes" section instead of the "plus sizes" sections or stores. The truth is that I'm not excited at all. It gave me no pleasure to cross a threshold like this. This isn't some sort of sad, depressed indifference, but honestly not having an emotional response to a trivial experience that other fat people get pretty worked up about.

Lately, I've been reading a lot about weight and regret. There are women who have been succeeding for awhile with their diets and they talk about how "easy" it is and how hard they wish they'd made those changes before. Personally, I have no regrets about how I have lived much of my adult life over 300 lbs. It's not that I didn't spend every day wishing I was thinner for various reasons (health, mobility, lack of social censure), but rather that I don't look back on those years and think somehow it would have been lived significantly differently (or "better") had my weight been lower.

The truth is that I lived my life very well and in a manner which suited my nature regardless of weight then as I do now. I spent a lot of time with my husband, talked with old friends and made new ones, worked, enjoyed food, improved my character through psychological techniques, improved my mind through study, and did creative things. I didn't care then about where I bought my clothes or how big my panties were. I didn't care about whether or not random men found me sexy or appealing. I didn't even particularly care about sitting or fitting in a booth in a restaurant. I didn't care about going on amusement park rides. I didn't care about any of these sorts of things then, and I don't care now.

There is only one thing which I do now which I couldn't do then due to crippling back pain and poor mobility, and that's spend time walking around with my husband. I don't necessarily "regret" that I couldn't do that before because I don't see that time as representing much of our lives' total time, and we were together almost every minute otherwise. I do, however, enjoy doing this with him now. It's really the only truly meaningful threshold that I've walked over at this point. It's the only thing that my weight and my weight alone held me back from doing which I really like doing now but couldn't do before.

I wonder why I don't care about all of the things people get elated about as they lose weight like being able to paint you toenails without being a contortionist or going on airplanes. I've reached several conclusions. One is that having the nature of a highly sensitive person has made seclusion and avoiding external stimuli so much more appealing than going out and around that I don't feel I've missed anything I seriously wanted anyway. Another is that I have never been connected to my physicality in a strong manner and have been mind-centered all of my life. The mind can be cultivated regardless of weight.

The biggest reason, though, is probably that I am not caught up in the materialistic, surface-oriented lifestyle that many people are focused upon. I do not say that as a critical statement of those who derive pleasure from such things, but merely as an assertion of fact. I have zero interest in judging people's lifestyles and personal choices in order to elevate mine. In fact, sometimes I wish that buying a bauble or a widget would bring me the sort of pleasure others get. It's such a simple thing, and I used to experience it when I was younger. It asks for nothing more than a little money, and gives such joy, and I can see the value in such a focus. However, I no longer have that feeling 99.9% of the time, and I don't really desire to cultivate it or revive it in myself because it can bring pain as well as delight (particularly if you are poor or lose control of your spending).

I realized that the fact that my character is different in this regard does change how the little things which many people see as a thrilling side effect of weight loss are things which I regard with complete apathy. I'm a pragmatic and intellectual person. This is not something which weight has held me back on. It is possible that weight has helped shape such a focus or character, and if that's the case, I'm good with that. In fact, it could be said that this is something that being fat has done for me which could be regarded as positive, at least from my viewpoint. I'd rather be me than someone else because it doesn't require me to keep spending money to be happy or feel better about my life, and it requires far less in the way of external validation to make me continue to be satisfied with my life. I don't care if other people think I'm "fat and ugly" (though I don't think I'm ugly, nor do I think being fat means one is ugly), as long as they keep their opinions to themselves and don't feel it necessary to inflict them on me.

One of the things I've come to realize is that the whole process of losing weight so far for me is very unique because I'm only gratified with improved movement, accessibility, and health. I'm not particularly excited about my appearance, though I do track changes as a means of noting progress. I am, however, extremely gratified with the leaps ahead that have occurred psychologically for me and the control I have established over an area of my life which controlled me for so long.

It's one thing to be fat because being fat can occur for many reasons. You can be in control of your eating and still be fat if your genetics or medical condition create such an inevitability for you. It's another thing to have no control over your eating because you are psychologically compelled to turn to food. I'm immensely, tremendously, and joyously gratified to have a more balanced and productive relationship with food. This is the milestone that matters to me, not buying a shirt in a regular section of a regular store.


Blubeari said...

Everybody has their own personal reasons for losing weight- I honestly think whatever most motivates you is a good reason! I definitely agree with the part about not regretting the overweight part of your life. Honestly, some of the more superficial reasons are part of the reason I want to lose weight. But I still don't necessarily feel like my life would be better if I had never gained weight. But try to live regret free, generally. :-)

Anonymous said...

I love this post. I can relate to so much of it. At my age and situation in life--I just became a grandmother this week!--I can't get excited about improved appearance, clothes, and other things that seem to thrill some weight loss bloggers. I've always been more of an intellectual type, anyway, and part of me would love to get excited about fashion but it seems so unimportant to me in the big scope of things (high unemployment, problematic health care access and quality, deteriorating social safety nets, etc). I have very egalitarian and social-democratic ideals...painting my toenails simply does nothing for my psyche. :)

However, sometimes I cannot believe how much denial I was experiencing (at my heaviest) in terms of the physical and emotional pain I was trying to cope with, the amount of food I ate, and the psychological impact of excess weight and compulsive eating (especially in response to stress). Much of the emotional pain was from the social stigma connected with obesity. I too feel deep gratitude to be free of the psychological burdens linked to excessive eating.