I weigh about 450 lbs. I’m not exactly sure of the amount because it’s hard to find scales that will weigh me.
I have a nice scale because I lost two hundred pounds a few years ago, but I cannot weigh on it now. I gained the two hundred back, plus about 25 pounds more. Still, I weighed over 400 already when I graduated from high school and was gaining about thirty pounds each year, so if I had never broken that pattern, which I did as soon as I left for college, I would almost certainly have gotten much bigger than I am now before my thirties, ending up dead before reaching my current age of 45. Old photographs show I was already huge, not just chubby, by age three. I have been morbidly obese from my earliest memories.
I think food became a way to comfort myself, and fat became a way to protect myself very early. Being this huge does make me feel somehow safer. I am roughly the size of a grisley bear. The last time I lost weight I decided at around 270 that I wanted to build big muscle. I think I wanted to still feel big. This is one reason my goal is to get down to about 280. Another reason is that, since my body grew up morbidly obese, my heart and bones adjusted to it, and I feel great at that size, so energetic that I feel almost like I’m walking on the moon, almost floating effortlessly.
But I don’t feel like that now. This is the heaviest I’ve ever been, and every movement feels so heavy, awkward, and unbalanced. I get in my own way, my thighs and stomach making it hard to walk. Standing out of a chair takes a lot of effort. Walking short distances and cleaning my house take too much energy. And I’ve spent enough time eating healthy and exercising to know I can feel so much better, a little better after one healthy meal or activity, a lot better after a month of that. Even a five pound weight loss makes my feet hurt less and my movements feel easier. I’ve spent too much time feeling uncomfortable. I want to feel better and live longer. I also want to live with joy and know from experience that eating healthier brings me much more joy than bingeing.
As a child I ate too much and too often, and it was almost all sugary, but I did not become a binge eater until after the first big diet, which I began at age twenty-two, losing 160 pounds. I will be forever grateful to my therapist at that time, and to Weight Watchers for teaching me how to enjoy vegetables and recognize hunger and healthy portions. When I started that first weight loss I hated all vegetables and had to learn how to eat all over again because my habits were so unhealthy. I was at my unhealthiest then, at age twenty-two. I was prediabetic and couldn’t even walk a quarter of the distance I can now walk before becoming breathless. My feet were perpetually painfully swollen, even on first waking. I have never been that unhealthy again – not even now, twenty-three years older and about sixty-five pounds heavier. Since that diet I have always enjoyed fruits and vegetables and even preferred drinking water rather than soda. Though I gained the weight back, twice, the healthy habits were also gained, and a little of their benefits lingers still.
Both times in my life that I lost down to 250 pounds, first in my twenties and again in my late thirties, I began having flashbacks and ended up having nervous breakdowns. I have a good psychiatrist now, who has diagnosed me with PTSD, and who has assured me he will watch over me as I lose weight this time. The last breakdown was horrible, indescribable. I cannot go back there. That is why I have set my goal weight at 280.
So that’s a short answer to how I got to be so huge. It is complex. I hope I have at least explained there is more depth to my problem than bad habits, poor self-esteem, or low will power. People don’t become this size for simple reasons, and simply telling someone like me to eat less and move more, though of course that’s the gist of it, isn’t very helpful. Losing weight for me is more about courage than will. But luckily I choose to use both.
Me on 1/28/17