Thursday, March 8, 2012
I'm going to get a little personal (eep, this idea sounded so much better at 2am).
The biggest challenge in my life has been (still is) my weight. I used to be an average-sized kid until age ten when I ballooned.
(Disclaimer: Jewel is not fat, but I won't hold it against her)
Despite playing sports (hockey), riding my bike for miles, climbing trees, hiking, canoeing, etc, I was put on one diet after another. I remember having to weigh out portions of food for myself and giving up pepperoni on my salad along with the zesty Italian dressing (tragic!). But mostly I remember the days after school where I would come home and eat an entire bag of Doritos. And nothing else. Food was the thing. I thought about food all the time.
When I was twelve, I decided to sign up for Adventurer camp, which warned that I would have to walk a few miles each day to prepare for a twelve mile hike on the Appalachian Trail. In my imagination, I was ready. Then reality hit somewhere mile marker nine when I was pouring with sweat, my lungs were on fire, and I said to the nurse--who stayed back with me while the group buzzed by on the trail--"I can't do it."
I did finish the twelve miles that day. Later the park rangers picked me up in a Jeep and took me back down the mountain. I was dehydrated and my legs were jelly. I couldn't stand up until somewhere around noon the next day. It was humiliating that my body didn't do what I thought in my mind that it was capable of doing.
After that I let my mind and body live separate lives. They're much happier that way. No more arguments. No tears being shed or things said in the heat of the moment. It's amicable.
Of course there are always reminders of what I actually look like: When I see a picture of myself. When someone says, "You have such a pretty face." (I try not to think of the implication being that the rest of me is ugly...because I have some seriously cute toes). Each and every time someone asks me "Have you lost weight?"
I always think, "Nope. You just remember me fatter."
But here's the thing--at some point I found a way past my tragic flaw. Okay, I was built for farming, but I eat healthy now (have done for fifteen years). I could do better with the exercise (farming would help). I have a really beautiful family that loves me and a "Cameron Quick" who sees the real me and thinks I'm adorable--not my toes, though. We've agreed to disagree.
I'm always going to struggle with my weight, try harder to lose, give up, try again, etc. But being fat is not everything there is about me. It's taken me a while to come to this conclusion. Recently, I read some books that I wish I had as a teenager. It would have made things so much easier.
In SWEETHEARTS, Jennifer (Fattifer) actually invents a whole new persona for herself to escape her unhealthy past. She finds an "out" until Cameron Quick--the boy who knows her best and loves her anyway--comes back into her life.
In IF A TREE FALLS..., Kirsten has put on thirty pounds in three months. Her parents are fighting all the time and she copes with food. Later, she sneaks into her garage to her mom's stash of junk food and overhears a conversation that changes everyone's lives.
But let's not forget THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS, (GOFAT) which also has a character who is lacking in self esteem, not realizing her importance, struggling to look past her weight problem, eats some really decadent food to cope...and after enormous trials has the strength to come into her own.
All of these stories show the possibility for change and success. The main characters are seriously strong despite their weaknesses. Man, I needed this message at thirteen! As a fat girl, I'm thankful for these characters/stories. For seeing a way through. For self-acceptance. For perseverance. For Cameron Quick.
Okay, being fat is not as tragic as losing your parents in a car crash or teen suicide or drug addiction or sparkly vampire love. But as a teen, it was everything I thought about. It was tragic enough to take up residence in my psyche and burrow in there until I made my mind and my body share custody. Sometimes divorce can be messy. But most of the time I don't like to involve mediation. My body accepts the limitations, and my mind lords it over.
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