Here’s the thing.

I have always struggled with my weight.  I have been on a diet since I was, oh, nine or ten.  I remember going to Weight Watchers and being the only kid there.  I did a liquid protein diet the summer between freshman and sophomore year of high school and lost about 60 pounds.   I did some other Big Diets like Nutri-System and Diet Center.  I did some more esoteric diets like: I spent my senior year of high school on black beauties and Tab, and just a few years ago I lost ten pounds by drinking a liter of sugar water several times a day.  I have weighed as much as 250 pounds, then gradually lost about 90 of that over ten years (my thirties).  I became a healthy eater, a marathon runner, and a bit of a nazi after that.  I went to Overeaters Anonymous and gave up sugar for several years.  The healthy eating knowledge and some of the habits stuck, as did the regular exercising, thank God.  The abstinence from sugar, the extreme control over what goes in my mouth, and the weight loss did not stay.

I have the genes for overweight which includes the body type – quick to add muscle, quick to add fat – and I have the love-of-sugar gene (I have read that there is one).  I also have the food obsession, which may or may not be genetic.  I am halfway through Frank Bruni’s “I Was a Baby Bulimic” from last Sunday’s NY Times Magazine and boy do I know what he’s talking about.  I don’t remember much about my childhood but I remember the food in living, intimate detail.  I know that my overeating is always at the root of my fat – I’m not blaming mysterious metabolic issues or genes – but I also have some serious physical and emotional pathologies to deal with.  I’m not one of those people who put on a few pounds in college, took them off after making a few “lifestyle changes” and lived slim and happy ever after.  Those people love to give me advice and I wish they would stop.it.right.now.

Anyway.  I have dieted and dieted and agonized and worried and dieted some more.  When I was a kid I used to fantasize about cutting the fat from my body with a knife.  People, I am done.

I have had my consciousness raised and the revolution has come.  I have read “Intuitive Eating” (Tribole and Resch).  I have read all of Geneen Roth, particularly “Why Weight,” and “When Food is Love.”  I am now reading “When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies” (Munter and Hirschmann) which is the basis for their “Overcoming Overeating” program.

These books are amazing to me.  I was raised to hate and fear fat, food, and (sadly) myself.  I was taught that fat is ugly and disgusting.  When I was 14 years old my father sat me down and told me “you need to keep in mind that the boys won’t like you because you’re fat.”  I have never understood until now, more than 30 years later, why if being fat was the worst thing that could happen to me, I continued to eat in a way to make sure that it does.

“When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies” is the most revolutionary book of them all.  In addition to illustrating the failure of diets, this book makes it clear that hating and fearing fat is a choice that I do not have to make.

I have heard this before.  We all have.  How to wear a pretty scarf to “draw the eye” away from my huge ass.  How to look in the mirror and “find something” to like, as if saying “I have pretty hair” makes up for all the real estate from the neck down.  How to “dress for my body type.”  It’s all about camouflage, finding something that “flatters,” accentuating the positive because there is so much that is negative.

Forget that.

I weight 224 pounds today.  (I think).  I’m not getting on the scale very much these days.  I am about a size 18 except in the area of my belly which is always a size ahead of the rest of me.  After putting on more than 20 pounds since my baby was born, which is only six months ago, I’m not crazy about being this size.  My feet hurt and my back hurts and I notice the extra pounds many times a day.  But I am done hating myself.  I am trying to learn to stem the rush of self-hate, shame and disgust that rises like bile in the back of my throat every time I see myself in the mirror.  It’s hard but I am getting somewhere.

I am angry about this.  Who says that being fat, and not just fat like me but fatter than model-skinny, is so bad?  Not me.  People are pulling the strings somewhere about what I should look like and it’s designed to be impossible and out of reach for most of us.  One body type rules us, regardless of our genes, regardless of the real unique beauty each of us brings.  Why do we put up with it?  Because make no mistake, we do.   We women are self-policing.  Most men don’t hate our fat nearly as much as we do.  We tell ourselves that men aren’t attracted to us when our bodies aren’t perfect, but look around you.  There are big fat women going home with men who can’t wait to jump their bones regardless of (because of?) the jiggle.

So: I am done.  I am done dieting.  I am done hating myself.  I am done wearing black, unless it’s what I feel like wearing.  I am done letting other people violate my boundaries by telling me what’s wrong with my body, what’s wrong with the way I look, what I should eat, what I should not eat.

And by the way, even though I am probably fifty pounds over a “healthy weight,” my blood pressure as of yesterday is 112/70.  My resting pulse is 70.  My aerobic and strength assessments are in the “fit” category.  My cholesterol and triglycerides are in the healthy range.  I have never had an abnormal blood sugar reading, pregnant or not.  I don’t love being this weight and I hope it changes, in due time.  But I am healthier than a lot of people who are a “healthy weight,” right this minute.  There are legitimate health concerns that accompany obesity for some, but one size (as usual) does not fit all.

None of this is easy.  “Dare” to be fat is the right word, because it’s a huge, risky step for me.  There is a ton of emotional drama that accompanies leaving myself alone, accepting myself today, and letting go of the “when I am thin” dreams.  The idea of eating what I want, legalizing all foods, and learning to stop when I am full, is terrifying.  The conventional wisdom says I will eat and never stop, gain and never stop, and that my loss of control will somehow drown me and devour the world.

But I keep hearing the gravelly voice of Judd Hirsch as Dr. Berger in “Ordinary People:”

“Control is a tough nut.”

Indeed it is.  I have little to lose (gain) since I have lost zero pounds on every diet I have tried for the last four years.  I have been to Weight Watchers three times and gained weight each time.  Like Dr. Berger, I am no longer a big fan of control.  Controlling my eating, controlling the shape of my body in the ways we have been taught to do since we picked up our first copy of “Seventeen” magazine, controlling the ways the world sees me.  It does not work and I am done.

Yesterday I saw a skirt, one of those crinkly hippie skirts.  The colors called to me across the store.  It starts out orange and then becomes pink, and then purple.  The darkest color is at the bottom, while the bright orange hits me right across the belly.  It probably will not camouflage my “figure flaws.”

I bought it.  I am done apologizing.

And guess what?  This eating what I want, wearing what I want, and “losing control”  is what’s going to save me, body and soul.  It’s going to restore me.  My weight is already stabilizing and will eventually return to a healthy level.

The revolution is here and I like it.

Next time: I’ll talk about the food part.

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