Freedom from Fatness

Freedom from Fatness - by @andiemitchell

So much of my writing about weight loss has focused on the struggles. So much so, that sometimes I feel like my posts should end with a sad trombone sound effect, like Debbie Downer. But then I think, well, maybe that’s just a reflection of my personality. I think the tough stuff—the sad, the bad, the shameful—is often times more truthful, and more interesting. And some harder aspects of the journey I feel aren’t talked about nearly enough, so I like to focus on those. But despite all of the many struggles I’ve had and share online (and all the ones I’m sure I’m yet to face), I’d still say that overall, the journey has been amazingly positive.

Of course I still have problems and struggle with emotional eating—that is just a reality—but life since my weight loss is so much better. Losing weight has been such a comfort in my day-to-day. When I reached a weight I finally felt good at, so much of my stress lifted—or at least, shifted. Now, I don’t panic every time someone takes a picture of me. Now, boarding an airplane isn’t anxiety inducing. Now, I don’t enter a complete flop-sweat the second someone invites me to an event, contemplating a juice cleanse while frantically googling which brand of shape wear has the strongest hold. Now, I can stop apologizing to strangers constantly fearing I’m taking up too much space—everywhere. Now, I feel less burdened than I ever have.

If you have never been fat, it’s impossible to imagine what goes through a fat person’s mind in every single interaction in life. Everything is colored by your size. There’s some concern that every single person you come across will be inconvenienced or offended by your fatness. It’s a burden heavier than any amount of fat, and it’s much harder to shed. Losing weight won’t solve all of your problems. Of course it won’t. But at least it will give you the freedom to finally focus on something other than your fatness.

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29 thoughts on “Freedom from Fatness

  1. Pam

    So true Andie. Your entire being is consumed by your weight. And at least for me, losing that weight has immensely improved my outlook, and thus my life. Well said!

    Reply
  2. Janabelle

    I’m still in the hopeless phase. I try. I put in the effort. I talk positive to myself, change my lifestyle, journal, plan meals, count calories and exercise. I do all the things everyone who has lost weight says worked for them. But no results. Ever. Then I get discouraged and depressed and I lose my focus, feel like a failure and a fraud and it’s harder and harder every time to pull myself out of those bad old habits.

    For the most part, I do okay living with my fatness. I live my life, I work with the public, I have friends, and I can go whole hours without thinking about my fatness. Then I catch my reflection in a window or see myself in photos…photos that were taken when I was in the throes of joy and instead of the joy, I see the fat. It’s as though I manage to forget that I’m fat until I see myself and then I remember and the remembering is painful. And shopping for clothes can send me into a weeks long bout of hopelessness, self-loathing and anger at the world for catering to thin. I start to resent my friends and family who can walking into any clothing store anytime they want and always find SOMETHING that will fit and look cute on them.

    I wish I could just find that magical formula that will just click with my body and my genetics and the fat would melt away. Or I wish that I could look at photos of myself and see the joy in them. Look past the double chin to the big ol’ smile. I wish I could find some freedom from fat. I’m happy that you did.

    Reply
    1. Laura

      Janabelle I am right there with you. I’ve done everything sensible I know how to do, including mindfulness, counseling, I eat mostly plant based and healthy, count calories, or points as now (again) I’m doing Weight Watchers. Have been losing only ounces and this morning up 1.2 pounds? Hate this roller coaster. I have so much weight to lose. So much of my adult life wasted in energy towards all of this and just want to get beyond it. Have read Andy for years and admired, even coveted, what she has found. I’m now 57 and starting to feel hopeless. I pray we both find the freedom others have found. I will persist until I hopefully find it.

      Reply
      1. S twilley

        Try intermittent fasting. Easy way to lose weight for me. Look up Eric Berg’s videos on you tube. Might be a game changer.

        Reply
      2. Sylvia

        Hi ladies, I am in the same boat. Right I’m logging with My Fitness Pal and have been going to the gym now. I did get a trainer for a couple of sessions to get a program for me. I told her that I just couldn’t lose any weight and she told me to put my scale in the closet and weigh only every 6 weeks. I haven’t done that yet but I’m going to. I get so down when I know I’ve been good didn’t have a bad day and haven’t lost.. So I’m going to put it away. She said to tell by the fit of your clothes. So I’m going to keep plugging along. Good luck and stay strong

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    2. Karen

      Andie, first, thank you so much for all you share!! You get it and we love you for that :-) Jannabelle, you truly are not alone…often feel that way. I didn’t used to until I started asking questions of: why does my body refuse to only give up 30 pounds when I am eating right, working out 3x a week with a personal trainer, and doing a cardio-belly dance class 2x a week? What is wrong with me, what I am doing wrong? Why are others so successful?

      The worst though is was when I started having issues working out…after 4 years of working out with a trainer and doing the belly dance class, my arms started fatiguing, got to the point it dangerous to myself–laying on a swiss ball doing arm presses and nearly dropping a 30 pound weight on my face because my arms gave out or in belly dance class almost passing out from having my arms in position after 10 minutes….that was devastating, I loved working out!

      But that is not the worst of it–seeking medical attention because all of a sudden my biceps, triceps, pecs, traps, and sternomastoids would fatigue out for no reason–that was the most demoralizing!! I mean felt like I had worked out for 2 days kinda fatigue. Washing my hair, getting dressed, pushing a grocery cart, loading/unloading the washer, and good grief just mowing the yard left me bad off for a couple days…but the doctors didn’t take me seriously, that my calorie count was 800-1200/daily (of course, occasionally out for dinner it’s higher, or the times where I’m not especially hungry or am too busy and don’t eat) and I had been working out for 4 or 5 years. They ignored the fact that when I showed them food journals, my worst eating flaw was either not eating enough or not including enough protein in my diet. They said lose weight, then all will be ok. They judged me as unworthy of their expertise because I obviously have no self control and chose to do this to myself. In their heads I sat on my ass and gorged myself as I watched tv. No way could they consider working out or the fact that I walk a lot on terrain that is hilly, rocky, unpaved….

      The doctors had a large role in changing my psyche about myself. Got fed up and changed primary care at the urging of my ob-gyn (which they were the ONLY ones who insisted there was more going on and told me I deserved appropriate medical care). My first visit, he and I had a heart to heart and everything came out that I was tired of being judged and not worthy of basic health care. He was shocked with my forwardness and assessment of medical professionals. And, he got teary eyed with me when I said I did not choose this body. Of course, he is not perfect, but he is receptive if I feel he’s getting a little judgey or dismissive I can tell him how he made me feel.

      As it turns out, fat was not the cause of my arms–I have an autoimmune disease or a couple. That’s a whole nother ball type of demoralization to learn your body attacks itself in such a manner. The anxiety of being judged for being fat because, obviously I there could not be anything invisible going on since i am fat and chose to be lazy…the having to hide it because people don’t understand what they can’t see. The anxiety of flares or triggers and just having to suck it up….

      I have days where due to a culmination of things, I just hate my body for betraying me in such a manner. I have had self-depreciating moments where I stood in front of a mirror naked with a Sharpie and drawn weight loss via lipo suction lines to sculpt. And moments wishing to be able to turn back time even just to the 90s where I still had my old self perception. I have had crys of frustration remembering how things used to be and how I now feel about my body betraying me like this–this is not my life, and I really don’t like whom evers life I am muddling through!! Sometimes I am just so tired of all of this baggage.

      What I wouldn’t give to have freedom from fat–it truly does affect things in so unexpected ways! I miss feeling how I used to feel about myself and I hate circumstances and people that have encroached on that! I generally try to eat well–all of my produce comes direct from farm, and is organic. That challenges me to plan meals based on crops–kinda fun actually. (Tonight I am having garlic scape-Egyptian Walking Onion-basil pesto over yellow squash and zucchini and peppers with a salad that includes butter lettuce, raspberries, cabbage and preserved limes. Ok, yes and I see my flaw in that dinner–no protein, so will have to add some toasted walnuts in there…) I have bought myself a Cubii–an under the desk elliptical, that is set on 7 and depending on what is happening at work I do 1-4 miles at 80-180 RPM which means I roughly burn 100 calories per mile. The fat thinking is a major work in progress!!! (Would be so much easier if the fat weren’t really there…)

      Andie, I love your blogs! I didn’t realize what was going to come out– You and Janebelle touched me and thank you both for that

      Reply
      1. Kelly

        Karen, have you looked at the Autoimmune Diet protocols out there to help stave off the autoimmunity issues? Food you are eating might not be nourishing you but causing autoimmune responses and cellular inflammation that are making it impossible for you to lose weight.
        Dr Amy Myers has an Autoimmune Protocol book – she recommends a 4 or 6 week period where you pull anything that might be causing you harm out of your diet, then you can challenge & reintroduce to see if those items are problematic.
        After being 150 lbs overweight for decades, I finally found a doctor who listened to me. I started by pulling major inflammatory foods out of my diet, and got inflammation/autoimmune responses under control, and I’m finally losing weight for the first time in a long time.

        Reply
    3. SMMS

      Wow thank you for writing this…you expressed perfectly the way I think and feel every day of my life.

      Reply
  3. Isabelle

    Yep! When I was thinner I felt “free”. Not thinking about my body so much, not getting bugged by people looking at me, not being scared to break certain chairs, being able to wear long sleeves without dying of heat stroke,not feeling like I am killing myself every day…. Now that I am back into the “fatness prison” (+80 pounds), all this is also back. But I am NOT giving up. I will NEVER GIVE UP!! So I’ve booked counselling sessions and am starting a new food plan tommorow. Because I want to break free and FEEL FREE!!

    Reply
  4. Carly

    Thank you for your very thoughtful and realistic portrait of what it feels like to be fat and the liberating feeling one has after losing a significant amount of weight. I am going through that journey now, having had gastric surgery (sleeve) end January of this year. I have lost 57 pounds so far and have 22 more to go to reach my goal weight. Although gastric surgery is not the remedy for everyone and it is not a magic pill, it has worked very effectively for me by giving me the impetus to change my lifestyle and habits. Looking in the mirror, going shopping, going to the gym, almost everything in my life has been transformed into a positive experience since I’ve lost weight. I feel sunnier, happier and more stable as a result.

    Reply
  5. Landslide

    So true. So sadly true. I think about my weight ALL the time. I don’t judge others, I just constantly compare myself to them wondering how much I am bothering them or impeding on their comfort.

    Reply
  6. Jen

    This was very touching to me today. I have been on the weight loss journey for what seems like my entire life. I read everything I can get my hands on for motivation, inspiration, ideas, how to accept where I am now, etc… But recently, I have been so overwhelmed with failure and lack of motivation. My 7 year old daughter took a couple of videos of me recently and when she showed them to me, I wanted to break down in tears but I am so aware of making sure that she is confident and comfortable in her body that I don’t want her to see me so upset over how I think I look. She loves me now matter what but I am not setting a good example for her by not being as healthy as I can be. I have been feeling so much jealously over other friends and people being successful in their weight loss and then I feel guilty for feeling that way. It’s a vicious cycle and I’m not sure how to get out of it and get out of my own way.

    Reply
  7. Tara Alterman

    This is so honest. I applaud you on reaching your goal. I was thinking that all of the feelings that you get when you are over weight, also plague people with eating disorders. I suffer from anorexia (in recovery for 17 years) but still have the same body dysmorphic thoughts. It’s an everyday struggle. I look in the mirror and see a completely different person looking back. I wish that I could see what everyone else sees.

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  8. Kim

    Yes. Yes. Yes. A thousand times yes. I see all of the media about body acceptance and I just can’t be happy when I’m fat. I am constantly aware of exactly how much space my body is taking up. I don’t feel good in plus sized clothes. I am uncomfortable in my own skin. I could stand to lose 90lbs to get back to my college weight, but realistically, just 40 and I’ll be back in a place where I’m at least comfortable with myself again.

    Thank you for voicing these thoughts so many fat people feel.

    Reply
  9. Adrienne

    Jannabelle, I could have written your comment myself. I was thinking exactly the same thing when I was reading the article. So times I am extremely aware that I am the fattest person in the room, other times, I forget until I see a picture or my reflection and am almost shocked that I could let it get this bad. So I eat because what’s the point of trying. Then other times, I do everything right and lose five pounds so I have that extra slice of pizza, because I’m doing really well and deserve a break. Before I know it I’ve gained the five pounds back and I’m right back where I started. I have been losing the same weight over and over again for two years. I can’t seem to get my weight loss going and keep it going. You are so right Andie, the stree of being fat in a social setting is the worst. Praying I fit in the seat on the ride at the amusement park or hoping the person in the seat next to me has enough room, really good times.

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  10. estrand

    I would echo those who say you describe our feelings to a ‘T’ because it’s true. I just finished reading your memoir and I loved it, it was great. I’m in the middle of my journey. I started out about 100lbs overweight. I lost 50lbs (yeah!) and I plateaued. The good news of that is that I’ve maintained for more than a year and a half now, but the bad news is I’m no closer to losing that second fifty. My problem is I’ve just never liked vegetables but reading your book helped me realize that I’ve got to knuckle down and work on getting to know vegetables and really incorporate them in my diet in more than a half-hearted way.

    More related to this topic though, I feel like with where I’m at, I’m seeing both sides of this. When I lost all the weight it was great, it was this sense of freedom, of feeling so much more confident, everything you’re talking about. At the same time, I’m still a long way from the healthy body I want to have, and sometimes when I see myself all of sudden I see how far I have to go and it is not a happy sight. And while society and vanity definitely plays a part, that’s not all it’s about. It’s about wanting to be able to live a long healthy life, run around, do whatever I want and not be winded or uncomfortable.

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  11. Brittney

    Very well-written and a true statement of exactly how I feel. I’ve lost the weight and put it back on – and then some. I constantly think about how awful I feel and how hideous I am and wonder how anyone could ever like me. I can’t bring myself to look in a mirror, and when I do, I am disgusted with myself – it’s not me staring back at myself, rather some ogre-looking, monster-like creature. Sadly, I am almost 32 years old. My fatness leaves me feeling like a sad and hurt little girl and I am so over it, but am obviously not, as I cannot bring myself to do anything about it. I have lost all motivation. So, if anything, your blogs make me feel like I am not the only one that is going through or has gone through these feelings. And, for that, I am grateful to have your book and blog as a sort of refuge. Thank you.

    Reply
    1. estrand

      Umm…you are not too old! I’m 34 now, I was 31-32 when I lost my 50lbs (see comment above) and I’d been through many, many ups and downs with dieting. I can tell you something that worked for me, although I don’t know if it’ll work for you. The year before I tried to lose any weight, I decided to get moving. Working purely on the exercise. Most people try to work on diet and exercise at the same time but for me every time I tried to do that it fell apart, it was too much to try to change everything in my life all at once. So I didn’t. For a whole year I didn’t try to change anything in my diet at all. But I worked my butt off at exercising. I won’t go into the details, because there are a lot of details, but at the end of the year I was exercising 4-6 times a week for 1/2 hour to 1 1/2 hours and loving it. It became part of my life that I didn’t have to work on, something that I missed if I didn’t get to do it. And it took a year to get there. And I didn’t lose any weight. But I got a lot more toned and lost inches. It also built my confidence a lot, because I’d finally made a really positive change to my health that had stuck. It was after that that I started to work with a nutritionist and really made changes to my eating and lost the 50lbs. But for me it was so much easier because I already had the exercise part down. There’s no one way to get there, but that’s what helped me. I’m still only halfway there though.

      I think lots of people would agree with me when I say being 32 isn’t going to hold you back. You are much more powerful than you realize.

      Reply
  12. Amanda

    This morning I met a friend for a run. When I got there, I realized I was not quite dressed for the wet rainy weather. She offered to run into her house and grab me a sweatshirt. I panicked and said no – I’m sure nothing she has fits me. We started on our way and I realized I would not make it, so I decided to borrow a shirt. She gave me a zip-up athletic-type shirt and it was…too big! I’ve been struggling with my weight lately, we are selling and buying a house and I am just struggling with emotional eating. That was a wake-up call that I am doing just fine. Yes, I need to do better. And I will. I used to wear a 2X or even 3X and size 24 or 26. This sweatshirt was a large. I almost didn’t look when I got home. I didn’t want to know. I am doing fine, and will be fine :)

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  13. Lynne

    Weight is a struggle that no thin person will ever understand. It’s a constant reminder of being unacceptable. We judge ourselves and we feel judged by others. We are so much more than our package… Losing weight is definitely like shedding a winter snowsuit in a room with a blazing wood stove. Regaining weight is like waking up with a lead blanket on strapped to your body — you know the one from the dentist office ?

    I have regained all of my weight and I’m struggling. I want that free feeling back! Thanks for affirming the struggle and highlighting the most important reason of all for losing fat – regaining the ability to focus on living and using our time on this earth for better things.

    Reply
  14. skb

    I’m very touched by people’s responses to this, starting with Janelle. I’ve lost about 100lbs and have “kept if off” (I hate that phrase) over many years. One thing I was remembering as I read some of these responses was that part of my process has included needing to recognize what being fat did FOR me. That might sound insane — when you’re fat, you think it’s not only not doing anything for you, it feels like the root of most if not all of one’s pain. But when I got really honest I realized that fat was a really safe place to be. It was a barrier between me and the world that held anger, fear, jealousy, neediness, pettiness, “big-ness”….all of those feelings that were so shameful for me even to admit to myself that I had. It gave me an “excuse” (I also hate that word) to opt-out.
    Here’s the great news I’ve had to discover over a lot of years: I don’t need it. It’s a very false safe place. I needed it, I believe this now, to get through a lot of stuff that was happening in my household (alcoholism comes to mind), the terror of adolescence, other things I won’t name here. We all have the things.
    I also see now that the biggest thing that propelled my weight loss didn’t turn out to be what I was eating/not eating. ANYONE who is fat and has tried to lose weight could probably write a book on nutrition and “diet”. I have a theory that the best way to really let go of weight is to stop people-pleasing….which is a cunning and baffling thing, at least for me. To say no to people. To show my anger, admit my fear, talk about my jealousies and longings and judgments. Concentrating on that (and needing and getting a lot of help for it!) was the inner foundation I needed to build in order to finally get rid of the weight.
    Anyway, we’re all doing our best. And I send everyone here (starting with Andie!!) so much love as we keep walking on this journey.
    -Sarah

    Reply

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