Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Fat Thoughts, a paragraph at a time. Thursday 13.

Dear Diary...

13.  Friday morning, while I was waiting to check in at the airlines, I observed a woman who was at the ticket counter for a really long time this morning.  She easily took up two seats.  Easily.  Possible three.  She didn't even fit into the extra-large wheelchair that she was in; she kind of sat forward in it, on the edge, because she was so wide that she couldn't sit back in it.  I don't know if I've ever seen a wheelchair big enough to accommodate someone that large.

12. I felt sad for her.  Sad, and well, kind of fascinated.  In a "oh, my, there's a wreck, I shouldn't look, but..." kind of way.  What was the rest of her life like?  When I sat in my airplane seat, there was room on either side of me between the arm rests.  I was drinking a sugar-free red bull. And half of a 7-layer bar. This time last year, I was drinking a full carmel machiato with whipped cream and the entire bar.

11. Could she walk up stairs at all?  Could she walk?  How DID she get so big? It was nearly six years ago when I started this blog, and back then I wore a size 16 (it was tight, but I wore it).  On a day in January in 2005, I walked up a flight of stairs at work, and had to pause, at the top, and catch my breath.  I wasn't running, I wasn't carrying anything--I was just trying to get 200 pounds of me up a single flight of stairs, not much more stairs than people have in their homes.  It was at that moment that I realized how bad things had gotten.  I mean, I was never particularly fit, but this was a flight of stairs, for christ's sake. It was the impetus I needed to act.

10. Now I go up stairs with ease.  Sometimes I bound up the stairs at work, taking 2 or 3 at a time.  I make the trip up and down the stairs a minimum of six times per day. When escalators are out, I walk up the stairs, and sometimes, I walk up the escalators too, to speed up my journey.  What about the woman in the airport?  Could she even move from the wheelchair to the bed?  How did she bathe?  When I sit in the tub for a nice relaxing soak, it's just a regular tub.  And now there's room on either side of me in the tub.  I can even sit cross legged, sidewards, and do a sudoku puzzle.

And it occurs to me now that maybe there's another reason garden tubs have become so popular.

9. This past week I had a family in my office, and one of the members was similarly large and in a wheelchair, and was so large that this person was nearly unable to get through the wide, wheel-chair accessible door into my office.  I had a moment of panic that we would not be able to fit her in there, because I didn't have any idea where we would conduct the interview. And, I felt bad for her. I don't know what it's like to be that big. I don't know what there experience is.  I don't know how they got that big.  I just feel bad for them, as bad as I'd feel for someone with some other kind of handicap that results in being stared at.  I know it's not PC to think of something like weight as a handicap, but I figure that anything that makes it harder to live your life is, in some way, a handicap.

8.  That last time I saw the woman at the ticket counter she was sitting with her family at a different gate.  I don't know how they got her on the plane.  Just getting onto our small Southwest plane it was salient to me how cramped it was.  The turn into the isle was tight.  Yet, when I walked down them, though, there was room on either side of me to move past the people who weren't quite in their row yet.

7. A man sat next to me the last time we flew.  He quietly asked the flight attendant for a seatbelt extender.  I nudged Sweet Baboo, but only becuase he had recent asked me what one is.  The man sitting next to me was really large, and sitting next to the window as he was, he took up nearly 1/4 of my space, and it was lucky that I had the space to spare.  I felt bad for him, too.  When I sat in my airplane seat last Friday, I noticed that the seat belt had been adjusted all the way to the end, to accommodate someone who was large . 

6. There's no real purpose in this post. It's mostly just me thinking out loud.  I don't know what the experience is of someone that large is, just as I don't know what the experience is of someone who has never been large.  I'm aware that it might not occur to people who see me, and don't know me, that I was once much larger, and filled with self-loathing and anguish at how large I'd become. I'm aware that they may assume that I've always been this size, and hate me, or assume that my genetics keeps me this size. So I try to be extra nice.  

5. When I was nearly 200 pounds, When I woke up in the morning, my ankles and feet hurt.  I passed it off to osteoarthritis, but I can't help but notice that since losing thes last 25 pounds, my feet don't hurt in the morning any more. So I can't imagine how painful it would be to be even larger.  

4.  My mother was up to about 250, I think, and I don't know what size she got to because she started cutting the tags out of her clothes.  I know that she spent at least a decade and a half not able to shop regular sizes.  

3.  My sister, now, who was the athletic one in the family, is around 220 or more,  I think.  She was up to 200 when her daughter graduated from high school, and I crossed my fingers that she would now start taking time for herself and get healthy.  However, she's gained even more weight. She is easily as large as our mother was. 

2.  My only daughter has recently lost weight, she told me proudly, and is down to 230. She tells me she weighs 230 no matter whether she's gained or lost weight.  No matter what she's done, she always weighs 230.  And, I had an Aunt who was over 250 at one time, and by the time she died, she was walking with a cane because her knees and ankles were wearing out.  

1.  I've never been that big, but I've been big.  All I can do is feel bad for them, and hope that they find some way to be happy.  I can be thankful that I've dodged that bullet, the one that causes people to stare, and wonder, and pity.



  1. Anonymous6:51 PM

    I've been as heavy as 306 and as light as 130 in the last ten years. The scars, both physical and mental, are reminders of where I've been and where I'm going. Like you, I hold these things lightly, cautiously, tentatively in my thoughts- finding my way through the middle places like an athlete on a highwire.

    There is a fragile peace-treaty with present health and fitness, a daily commitment to making each moment count. Watching others struggle in various stages of their life-journeys (friends and family members), I find that I'm holding my breath. For them, for me.

    Life is short. Too short.

    "Start where you are."

    It's advice that saved my life.

  2. There but for the grace of dog go we... (or is it "us")?

  3. Thanks for sharing!

  4. As someone just starting the wight loss journey the "fat" feelings and thoughts are still a major part of my self talk every day! I do know many of the things you talked about above are on my list of reasons to lose weight. If there is anything I have realized in the last 16 weeks is everyone carries their weight for a reason and that I am the only one responsible for my weight. Once I took responsibility for my weight and stopped blaming and did the work the weight started to come off. Thanks for asad but great post!

  5. Anonymous12:31 PM

    As the daughter of pretty large parents, I thank you for your compassion toward heavier folks, not disgust or hatred. I'm no delicate, petite flower myself (more of the sturdy variety), but I am also thankfully not hinderingly (yeah, not a word, I know) large. From the daily suffering of my parents that I witness constantly, I strive to keep my weight in check. Plus, through them, I've witnessed long term effects of being that weight and it is not a road I want to travel. So instead I stay active, play sports, do triathlons and try to watch what I eat. They are super people who I strive to be like in every other way. But again, thanks for your compassion. There is always more to the story than meets the eye.

  6. Anonymous7:30 PM

    I was close to 280 lbs when my father died at the age of 57 from complications of diabetes and heart disease. I took a look at my kids and decided I had to change my own life so that I would be around for them. I've read your blog for a long time now and you have really helped me to get healthy. I am almost below 200 lbs now and I compete in triathlons, road races, and crazy 2 day long bike rides. I've never been this healthy in my life and I'm not stopping now!

  7. I'm someone who has to fully extend the seatbelt on some airplanes. Life for me, at my size, is just life. I ride my bike to work, I take care of a house, I go dancing, I have friends over for dinner. I hike, and have no health problems other than cedar trees exist and pollinate. Some people are hindered by weight and size, some are not.

    There's no need to pity me because of my body size. Maybe, just maybe, a lot of big people feel the same way.

    I appreciate that you are compassionate and gentle, and I understand that you have struggled a great deal with body image issues. I am happy. I have very much enjoyed reading about your journey, and I have been for quite a while. I would just like to voice a reminder that, as someone who is big (5'11" and about 280, if it matters) that the assumption of equivalence between size and health and activity levels is not a true one. It's way too general, though it is mightily supported by a lot of social and cultural prejudice.


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