For as long as I can remember, I have been “the fat one.”
The fat friend, the fat sister, the fat daughter, the fat ____ (insert role/title here). Three or four times in my life, I have managed to lose an amount of weight equal to that of a kindergartner, but still only just enough to be a slightly less fat version of me. A few months into any healthy eating attempt, I would dive off the diet wagon and land head first into several large Dairy Queen Blizzards. For good measure, I’d burn that darn wagon to the ground with a lighter fluid made from pizza, burgers, and french fries. What can I say? When I go, I go BIG.
I would always give myself some sort of deadline as to when I would try to start losing weight again. I promised myself that when I moved into size 18 jeans or when I had to fit into a wedding dress or before I got pregnant that I would finally shed ALL the pounds I needed to, not just the same few I had lost and gained back so many times before. Every deadline came and went, and I failed to meet all of them.
Rationally, I know beauty is not equated with size.
There are some gorgeous plus-size women. Ashley Graham, the first plus-size woman in Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit edition, is stunning. There are lots of big girls out there who truly believe they are beautiful and that they don’t need to lose weight to love themselves. Trust me, I would LOVE to have even half the confidence these women have. But I’ve never felt comfortable in my own skin. I’ve never been able to be the big girl who could shout, “I love ALL of me, and I don’t care if you do.” It’s hard to accept your large size when there are so many problems that come with it.
I have been on blood pressure medication since I was 19. I was diagnosed with sleep apnea and Type 2 diabetes last year. I developed gestational diabetes at 20 weeks during my pregnancy, leading to twice-weekly doctor appointments from 32 weeks on, a failed induction at 39 weeks, and an urgent C-section to make sure my son didn’t fall further into distress as labor wore on. I have a basket on my nightstand full of meds and a beautiful CPAP machine coming my way. I’m really looking forward to my son asking why I sound like Darth Vader.
Being the fat mom is holding me back.
My son gets more energetic as he gets older. I have only gotten heavier, more unhealthy, and more tired. I can’t keep up with him most of the time. Even just watching him is exhausting. Tiredness aside, simple physics holds me back from activities with him. I’m really big. He’s really little. Things made for him and the average-size parent are not suitable for my much-greater-than-average size. Swings, slides, and amusement park rides are all so much more difficult or even impossible because of how much I weigh and how much space I take up. My son LOVES adventure, and right now I feel like I’m stopping him from having as much of it as he deserves.
But the worst part about being the fat mom? I worry that someday my son is going to be ashamed and embarrassed by me. I am full of sarcasm and sass (in the best ways possible), but that’s not what gets noticed across the baseball field or playground. My son doesn’t see my weight or size right now. He’s 3. He sees me as the snack getter, kiss giver, and snuggle partner. As he gets older, though, and becomes more aware of the world and all the ways people judge others, there’s a big chance that could change. And I can’t handle it.
For years, I’ve convinced myself that even though I’ve never truly been successful I was totally capable of losing weight all on my own — despite the fact that 98% of people with a high amount of excess weight fail to lose the necessary amount of weight and keep it off. That’s nearly 100%! I have debated weight-loss surgery several times. Every time the passing thought popped into my head, I pushed it out just as quickly. I talked a lot of smack about the surgery. Admittedly, I’m 99% sure it was a defense mechanism to make myself feel better about still being so heavy and feeling like a failure about it.
Finally, though, I am taking the leap I should have taken years ago. I am having 80% of my stomach removed during a procedure called a sleeve gastrectomy. I started the weight-loss surgery process in August 2016 and have encountered some self-inflicted roadblocks and obstacles along the way. But, all fingers crossed, all wood knocked, the procedure is happening in a few weeks.
I am very much aware that this surgery is not a guaranteed success or a quick fix.
But I can’t be the fat mom anymore.
Or the fat daughter. Or the fat anything. I have to try to take control, and I have only shown to be incapable of that on my own. This is it. I really and truly hope that being this big and heavy is over — and that the fat mom has sung her final number.