Friday, April 1, 2011

How Obesity Stole my Legs

I have realized that spending my life as first an obese child, then an obese teenager, and finally an obese adult has robbed me of living. Now that I have started really losing weight and finally breaking through to a size smaller than I've been in almost two decades, I understand just how much I've limited myself over the past 15-20 years.

The best way I can explain it is this: I have been in a wheelchair of my own design and I have just finally discovered that I can actually walk.* At some point during my childhood I was convinced, by someone else or myself, that I was simple unable to do anything simply due to being fat.

First I couldn't play sports, because it meant a lot of running. Fat little girls can't run for a long time. That's when the "wheelchair" got introduced. Somehow it went from not being able to do anything physically, to more of a whole-person judgment. I can't get good grades, because I'm fat. I can't make friends, because I'm fat. I can't find someone to love me, because I'm fat. I can't succeed in my career, because I'm fat. My excuse for not being a functional human being was because I am fat.

Until just recently (within the past year) I had gotten as far as believing my legs no longer existed because I'd been in this chair so long. I had gone from "I can't because I'm fat" to "I'm a horrible person and don't deserve happiness because I'm fat." Which, believe it or not, wasn't exactly a difficult transition.

Taken in 2007 - While I was at my heaviest.
Being obese had taken every bit of self-confidence away from me. Not just my appearance, but my self-worth, my ability to do anything at all. I was fat, therefore I was a completely worthless waste of space.

Recently, however, there has been a shift in my mental paradigm. As I'm losing weight, my image is changing. My body is getting smaller, but my personality, my intelligence, my creativity.... all the things that are inherently "me" and make up who I really am, haven't changed at all. I had simply chosen not to see anything positive about myself because of what I saw in the mirror every day.

Not only have I begun to realize that I may not be this terrible monster of a woman, but that I may never have been at all. I had chosen this disability. I was the one responsible for putting myself in this place of having given up on everything. I was just waiting to die.

Instead, now, I wonder about what I can do. I wonder what my body is capable of now that I've stood up on my legs again and am learning to walk.Can I run? Can I jump? What are the muscles and bones of this body, so long forgotten, able to accomplish? And what will I be able to do when I get even smaller?

And please, don't misunderstand me here. I have still not made it to a place where confidence and I are best buddies. I still have days when I fear I'm becoming invisible and disposable to those who matter most to me. There are days when I hate what I see and days when I feel that wheelchair creeping up behind me again. But where those days used to be the norm, they are but sporadic and fleeting now.

Being overweight... being fat stole my legs from under me. Only now, at 30 years old, am I stealing them back. They're mine. And I want to know what they can do!

*I am not saying being obese is a disability or anything as difficult or challenging as actually being in a wheelchair. This is simply for the sake of metaphor to explain where I am, mentally.


  1. I'm so happy that you have this. You crawled until you could walk. Now you're walking until you can run. You will run until you learn to fly.

    You are inherently strong, beautiful and determined. You will get everything you want. I've no doubt about it. I'll see you at the finish line of your first 5K and marathon

  2. I can't say it any better than Tonja. You are so much stronger and capable than you give yourself credit for. You can and will accomplish whatever you set your mind to. You are awesome. I am so very happy that you are breaking through the haze and seeing the things that we have seen all along.

  3. This was a beautiful post, just like its author

  4. When Health is the goal you will learn that your body is your friend. And you will be amazed at how powerful you can feel.
    Enjoy this journey