Can I Be Fat and Happy?

fat and happyMy relationship with my body is complicated.

I’ve spent most of my life hating it. I’ve hated the outside of it for being too big and too round, and I’ve hated the inside of it for being too damn fragile. I’ve hated that it needs to be pampered to function well, and I’m envious of people who seem to run through life with little thought to how their bodies look or feel.

In 2010 I completed a 12-week “Body for Life” program, and I was happy with my results.

In 2011 I lived in an RV and ate my way around the country.

In 2012 I decided I was sick of not being able to keep up with family on bike rides, and I declared it the year of better health. Then I decided that I was sick of thinking so damn much about my body and I was just done. I was done thinking about it, fighting with it, sacrificing for it, and obsessing over it. I was checking out of the game completely.

It’s now 2013, and I am perhaps the fattest and most out of shape I have ever been.

And I want very much for that not to matter.

I love who I am. I love my courage, my good intentions, my curiosity, my creativity. I love my curly hair and my ginormous smile.

I want that to be enough.

But I do not love being afraid of my body. I don’t love knowing that there are things I can’t do, bike rides I can’t take, and things I cannot wear. I don’t like knowing all the things I’m too afraid to try because I know my body will fail.

I feel like I’m not supposed to say I want to lose weight. I’m supposed to accept and love myself exactly how I am.

But then again, I think about all the changes I make on the inside without guilt. I make them because I love and accept who I am. I practice gratitude. I work to be more patient. I strive to apologize more often and argue less. And none of that is a sign of self loathing.

I hate that this is so complicated.

I hate that the way my body looks and functions has become so inextricably linked to things like self worth and self esteem that I feel like I’m cheating on happiness by admitting that I’m unhappy with my weight.

And I hate the idea of hopping on the rollercoaster again. Part of me is afraid because I have succeeded and then quit so many times before. I’m not afraid of failure as much as I’m afraid of succeeding and quitting again. I’m afraid of being a joke. I’m afraid that Jared will appreciate my success, and I’ll know then that he’s disappointed in me right now.

But mostly I’m afraid of admitting that there’s something about me that I don’t like right now. I feel like I’m breaking the code, the one that says happiness comes from acceptance and self love.

I do love me.

I just don’t love how much I weight right now.

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  1. Toni says:

    This has been the story of my life since I was 8 years old. My physical and mental happiness & confidence ALWAYS stem from how much I weigh. 7 or 8 years ago, I lost 50 lbs. Now? I’ve gained 30 of that back. I’m purely miserable. And…it’s not JUST about how I think I look (it used to be, but now I’m almost 40 and things just change.) It’s mostly about how I FEEL.

    - When you never go shopping because the only clothes that fit you correctly are NOT your style what-so-ever?
    - When you can’t physically do things you really enjoy, like bike riding or gardening without feeling wore out?
    - When you’re away from the house and all you can think about is putting on elastic waist flannel pants which prohibits you from having any fun at all?
    - Being hateful at the beach because you’re sitting there fully clothed, knowing that your bathing suit no longer fits and you refuse to buy a new one in a bigger size?
    - Sweating your rolls of while walking around the zoo and all you want to do is leave and go home?

    I can go on and on…these are simply NOT happy things. They just aren’t. My weight has held me back from SOOO many things in my life, it’s not even slightly funny.

    Sometimes, I just don’t even know what to do.
    Toni’s most recent post: Stamp Out Hunger – May 11, 2013 #SOH2013

  2. Nanna says:

    Honey, how about this. You LOVE your body. You’re grateful for what it does for you, and you want it to be strong and well cared for and loved and appreciated. I DO love my rounded soft little body, but uiwant it to be strong and healthy. I want to go through life ready to play and run and jump and not huff and puff.
    Nanna’s most recent post: Beauty From Ashes

  3. Suebob says:

    “But I do not love being afraid of my body. I don’t love knowing that there are things I can’t do, bike rides I can’t take, and things I cannot wear. I don’t like knowing all the things I’m too afraid to try because I know my body will fail.”

    This is the part to focus on, IMO, not anything else. What I believe is that if we choose to work on making our bodies CAPABLE, everything else will fall into place. Don’t think of losing weight per se. Think of feeding your body and moving your body so you can participate in activities that you either need to do (like being able to move furniture every once in a while) or want to do (like riding your bike, hiking with the family, etc).

    Your body is your tool to make a happy life. The numbers on the scale and the lumps and bumps don’t matter nearly as much as getting to do the things you want to do with those you love.

    That’s my opinion and my path.
    Suebob’s most recent post: We are all Boston. We are all Oklahoma.

  4. Vicki says:

    The weight really doesn’t matter – but being healthy does. When I was diagnosed with diabetes it turned out to be the best day of my life because it forced me to eat well and control my carb intake. I still eat what I want – just less :-)
    Vicki’s most recent post: Thoughts for Thursday…puppy, books, etc.

  5. Lisa says:

    I tried really hard to love my body no matter what but I couldn’t. While I like how I look now, I absolutely love what I can do – run 3 miles every day if I want, squat down on the floor and get right back up, paint my own toe nails, roll around with the granddude, and on and on. For me it’s so much more about being engaged in my life because my body can handle it than hating the mirror.
    Lisa’s most recent post: This Isn’t Pink Floyd’s Wall

  6. I could have written this, myself. I’m so unbelievably stressed out at work, and have been for the past year-plus, and my weight just keeps ballooning. I feel like I’m succeeding in many parts of my life, but I don’t feel comfortable in my body right now. And although I’ve been trying to lose ten pounds since JULY, I haven’t made any headway at all. It’s enough to make a girl want to give up and just miserably accept this as her lot in life. (I don’t want that, either.)

    Blah. Just blah.
    Abby – Bright Yellow World’s most recent post: H is for Home

  7. angi says:

    What if, you didn’t focus on your weight. I think the defining thing for you would be to do more of those things you want to be able to enjoy. Make bike rides a regular thing, getting longer and longer as you go.

    I think you can be happy and be “fat”…but you can be happier, if you’re healthy enough to do the things that your heart wants more of.

    You’re amazing. Weight isn’t a part of that, big or little…and without knowing him, I know that Jared would agree.
    angi’s most recent post: Parenting…the defining moment

  8. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to improve certain aspects of yourself. I don’t trust people who think everything about them is perfect.
    Father Muskrat’s most recent post: the rise and fall of lola the muskrat

  9. Jen Anderson says:

    It sucks that there’s no easy answer. Another blogger (and I wish I could remember who) recently wrote about deciding to take care of herself like she took care of her car. Taking it to the mechanic/doctor and all that.

    Can you focus on improving what your body can do via exercise and maybe not eating certain things that make you feel lousy afterwards? Without falling into the misery-inducing trap of thinking about weight and clothes and judging your food intake and daily exercise in terms of failure and success?

    It’s your body, so you’re allowed to do whatever you want with it, including diet. But it sounds like you want to increase your activity level and fitness more than you want to decrease your size.
    Jen Anderson’s most recent post: How To Knit a Sweater, Part Two

  10. sandra says:

    I totally understand; I have struggled with feeling good about my body for as long as I can remember. A few years ago, I decided I was just going to stop thinking about it for a while and try to love myself as-is. And my gosh, I gained a lot of weight while trying to do that (see: love food, drinks). :-)

    And then I took a vacation that involved a lot of walking at super-high altitude. And it was hard — not because of my weight, but because of the altitude — but it changed my mindset completely. What I realized is that although *that* situation wasn’t my fault, my choices were going to make me sick someday…whether that meant putting strain on my joints and becoming less mobile, or putting too much stress on my heart, etc. So I looked at the scale, decided that was the absolute last time I’d see that particular number on it, and set about making good choices 90% of the time. Working regular exercise into my live 5 days/week (like it was a job), eating healthy as much as possible, and watching my portions. It has made everything in my life better. Seriously. And it’s not always easy, still, but it’s worth it. Self-acceptance is great, and important — but it’s not wrong to try to be your best self, no matter what form that takes.

  11. Carly says:

    Oh my gosh, Britt, don’t beat yourself up for not liking your body right now. Think about what you are saying…which sounds to me like you’re saying you can’t be “really” happy unless you accept your body as is. To that I say hogwash. You can be happy without being perfect and your happy doesn’t have to be “perfect happy” or “100% happy” or “Flawless happy.” Nomesay? You are totally allowed to say you want to lose weight. We are all so different and have different aesthetic values. You can say that you want to lose weight and legitimately appreciate the beauty of someone else, who may be bigger than you. I think that is totally valid, in fact…I practice those very thoughts myself. I don’t think it’s hypocritical because you just can’t compare apples to oranges. Likewise you (or I rather) cannot escape the insidious social programming about self body image. I like to pat myself on the back though that I can at least appreciate OTHER people’s natural fabulousness, even though my execution of it upon myself is sometimes…lacking.

    Girl I have also been at war with my body, at the very least, parts of my body for almost as long as I can remember. So sad to see it written out like that. I’ve come to decide that I will just let it be as well. BUT. Biiiiig BUT(T) ;) I’ve also decided that my body is indeed a temple and that I should really try to take care of it. Part of that is my mortal fear of mor..tal…i…ty. O_o Of course all of that is WAY easier said than done. Habits and routines, breaks in routines, it all thwarts even my most desperate efforts. But I have a vision. My vision is that I will honor my body by taking care of it in a way that pleases me. Nothing is allowed if it’s un-fun for me. I think that is the key. Would that I lived in a ski town! But anyway…I hope some of that is coherent. And helpful.

  12. Megan says:

    I understand. When I hit menopause, I gained 15 pounds. Not because I was eating more or exercising less, but because of hormones. And I’ve been struggling with it ever since – it won’t budge no matter what I do. I want to cry when I see pictures of my body; my solution has been to simply avoid that, but I read somewhere that pictures are for others, not us, so I suck it up.

    I have always said strong and healthy is the goal, strong and healthy is what’s important. I stand by that, but I really would like to like a picture of myself again.
    Megan’s most recent post: Cherry Forever

  13. i can be fat and happy. sure, i want to walk down into the grand canyon and be remotely close to keeping up, but if i am not, it ain’t gonna stop me from walking down into / up out of the grand canyon with a big fat sweaty smile on my face.
    i really like dawn brister’s comment. what she said.
    hello haha harf’s most recent post: Adventure in Tahn

  14. Poppy says:

    I don’t know if you can be fat and happy. I weigh the most I have ever weighed and I am the happiest I can remember being on a daily basis since I was 14.
    Poppy’s most recent post: coating

    • Poppy says:

      PS (a reply to Britt, not myself) I bought a whole new wardrobe of colorful clothing and pants that fit me and bras that fit me and underwear that fit me and that makes me even happier to go through my closet and find fun things to wear each day.
      Poppy’s most recent post: coating

  15. Pat Godkin says:

    Hi Britt: First of all I think you are delightful just the ways you are. Anyway, long time reader, first time commenter.

    Not sure why but when I read this today on a blog I thought of you:

    There is a lot of wisdom in the old AA adage “expectations are preconceived resentments.” It recognizes the problem of judgment, that our judgments are based on our expectations and that we seldom own our own expectations.

    I knew that but I needed the reminder. Life is much easier when I remember this. On the other hand, it seems a bit sad/cynical that to be happy we shouldn’t expect anything from ourselves or anyone else. I need to ponder this a bit more:)

    If your travels ever bring you to Ecuador I would love to have a beer with you:)

  16. Elisabeth says:

    Dearest Britt,
    You are so right. It is terribly complicated. It’s like being in a fun house at a carnival. Everywhere you turn, you see something distorted! I always hated fun houses because nothing was real in there and it so freaked me out.

    Inside you it’s not like that. Inside you there is real truth. Truth about who you really are. Truth about what really matters. Truth about what you really want.

    Who are you when there is no good/bad, love/hate, skinny/fat, etc/etc?

    You are perfectly/imperfect Britt. I love you for that.

    Thank you for being real and truthful for all of us and everyone else out there, too!

  17. Sheila says:

    I have a love/hate relationship with my body.

    Technically speaking, I’m not overweight by any means. What I am is unhealthy and out of shape. I can’t run half a block without feeling like I’m going to die.

    I’m also a stress non-eater. When life is really kicking my ass, I will go days without being able to force a single bite down my throat. This is obviously really bad for you and it turns into a vicious cycle.

    I started exercising about a month ago and I felt awesome for two days. Then my heart started going crazy and I wound up in the hospital. It turned out to be nothing serious but now I’m terrified to work out again because my hypochondriac self is worried that my family history is catching up with me and my heart is going to explode.

    So, for now, I just take the kids for a walk twice a day (weather permitting) and focus on eating healthier. Some days it works, others it doesn’t but I try not to beat myself up about it. I have way too many other things messing around with my crazy brain to add more stress to it.
    Sheila’s most recent post: FAIL

  18. Jeromey says:

    Hey Britt, a powerful thing has happened here. The realize that you are not happy with this situation. Then next thing to do is to take right action. But i guess you know all this already. for me when i not happy with a given situation i know for some reason my thinking mind has taken over. This is why we all need to find a place to be still. Be vigilant of the mind and you will see the true. All the best.
    Jeromey’s most recent post: Two Simple Meditation Techniques For Increased Concentration and Focus

  19. I hope you can find the strength to figure this issue out. Have you tried finding exercise that you enjoy? Something that motivates you because it can be difficult to go running or go to the gym just for that. I suggest a workout buddy who you can take a class with or something. I hope it works out for you. Thank you for opening up.
    Sebastian Aiden Daniels’s most recent post: Am I gay, straight or bi?

  20. Courtney says:

    totally relate, this baby weight is taking over a year to come off…ok, can’t blame baby anymore, i’m just lazy and like chocolate way too much! also, i’m from Cedar Rapids and my family is all from New Hartford. we went to Parkersburg all the time and its cool to hear someone not related to me talk about it. even cooler for someone famous to claim it and mention it. love your blog, thanks for being so honest and brave!

  21. Loyd D. Ball says:

    I am afraid of failing. I am afraid of failing alone. But I feel that just knowing that I am not alone is such a huge step for me. The fear of being alone is still there, but it’s diminishing each time I reach out of my comfort zone and ask for help–both higher power and people. For that destruction of isolation, I am grateful. That attempt to reach out and to be willing to be willing and to be open to love and support… that is not failure.
    Loyd D. Ball’s most recent post: No last blog posts to return.

  22. Cindy says:

    I would have resounded to this post differently 5 years ago. Then, I would have said what is important is what you can do and how you feel now. If you feel happy, all good.

    Today, at age 46, I want to suggest that you will be best off making daily vigorous activity a priority as soon as you can.

    You have kids, so this is probably already in your routine in a way it isn’t in mine.

    For me, the difference in what I can do this year compared to last is huge. I now feel that every day’s activity is a strong investment to tomorrow.

    Get off your couch and move!!!

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