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I am a fat man. I am not a thin man inside a fat body struggling to get out. I am not waiting to emerge into a new life as a thin person. I am a fat man. I have been so all my life, and I shall be so until I die.

Being a fat man does not mean I am weak, or stupid, or gluttonous, or greedy, or thoughtless, or any of the negative aspects that the bigots assign to me. My fat is like my brown (now graying) hair, my blue eyes (well, eye), my right-handedness, my pinkish skin, my slightly overlarge ears, or other physical descriptors of my body.

I have spent over four decades believing that fatness was something terrible that I had to fix, that nothing in my life mattered unless the focus of my life was becoming thin, that the only success of any importance and my only value to society revolved around my weight and my shape and as a fat person I was an utter failure and deserved the abuse and approbation that came with it. And so I spent those four decades on diet after diet that failed. Optimist, weight watchers, OA, and more. When each diet failed to give me the weight loss or made me so miserable I abandoned it, I hated myself more, wondering why I alone was so stupid, so weak, such an utter failure and waste of a life. It was a terrible way to live.

Several years ago, I threw all that away. 95% of everyone who tries to lose weight fails. It’s not just me, it’s everyone. Oh, weight is lost, for a while. Then after a few years, the weight comes back and more. I decided to accept myself and my body as I am. Since then, I’ve been happier and healthier than ever before.

Yes, I said healthier. Because the definition of health does NOT begin and end with “how much do you weigh.” Weight as a measurement of health or fitness is really a pretty lousy standard in many ways. My body, and yours, evolved through periods of feast and famine, and has mechanisms to help us survive through the famine time. It uses less energy, it sends urgent messages to the brain to work harder at finding it more food, and when the famine ends it stores as much as it can to prepare for the famine’s return. So when you starve your body trying to make it lose weight, your body is fighting against you, and given a chance will do the opposite of what you want because it can’t conceive of starvation by choice rather than forced by environment.

So I’m working to adopt habits that support my body, make it better as the wonderful fat body it is. I am feeding it better food, and being more active with it. This is a work in progress, bad habits built up over a lifetime of yo-yo dieting are hard to break, but I’m making progress.

My greatest regret is that I can’t give this message to my 20 year old self, accept yourself as the fat man you are and revel in it and be the best fat man you can be. Three decades less of yo-yo dieting and instead of healthy habits would have certainly given me a happier life. (And, irony of ironies, would have likely meant I’d have stayed closer to my then low 200s weight rather than my current one.)

It’s not easy, of course. Talking about this on forums has led to some significant abuse and name calling, challenging my right to make my decisions about myself when I take a stand so far out of normal belief. I suspect I’ll get plenty more when this hits twitter (along with endless spam on weight loss methods). And every message sent by the general media is that as a fat person I’m worthless, that I can’t even allowed to be shown to succeed and be a role-model to others of my side or else that’s “encouraging obesity”.

I'll be coming back to this again, I suspect. But for now, I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam - and that's wonderful.

Posted on March 24, 2015, 2:46 am

Donald Brown

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