There are a lot of misconceptions out there about WHY people are overweight or why people continue to eat when they know they are unhealthy. How many times have we heard this insensitive question “Why are you fat?” It’s not rocket science folks, let’s face it, we are fat because we overeat, plain and simple. However blunt that may be, we all understand the reason we are fat. We eat and we gain weight. What should be focused upon are not the reasons we are fat, but rather what are the reasons we are eating. The question needs to be changed into something understandable and identifiable. Fat is the outcome of us overeating. WHY Do We Eat?
I know why I eat. I also know why others eat; as testimonies have echoed in my heart from spending a lifetime at weight loss organizations and with hundreds of others in the trenches. A few of my friends who have been battling the battle, have generously contributed to this article. Through their quotes, stories, words of wisdom, words of pain, anguish, hope, and redemption, we have uncovered some of those answers. I asked them for reasons they are or have been overweight, successes they have had in weight loss, reasons behind them still having a big behind, reasons that they have missed the boat, reasons why they may have sunk the boat, things that motivate them, things that don’t inspire them, hurtful things said to them, and all things pertaining to the WHY. I thank each of them for sharing their stories!
I would say that the main reason that I am overweight is because of my lack of time. I am so busy being a wife, a mom, and employee that I just don’t have time to be healthy. Not enough time to cook properly and not enough time to exercise. But perhaps the “real” reason is that I am unorganized. I probably COULD make the time to be more in shape and healthier but I am too unorganized to get focused! I have tried so many diets and supplements but nothing works. It all comes down to making a lifestyle change which means eating well and being more conscientious about what is being consumed and MAKING the time to get the proper amount of exercise.
I feel that I have used food throughout my life as a cushion. People have always told me that I am strong because I manage to muddle through life’s stresses without a scrape and have overcome major hurdles without a straight jacket. But behind the scene, what people did not see is that I used stimulants (caffeine – particularly chocolate) to calm me down, and although more psychological than physiological, I also indulged in potato chips and chocolate and mashed potatoes and fried foods to comfort myself. But then I used food for just about any emotion. If I was celebrating – I ate! If I was sad or depressed – I ate. If I was stressed I ate. I have always felt because I have so many obligations and responsibilities in my life and because so many other people are dependent on me for almost everything, I had no control of my life. The only thing I felt I had any control over was my eating. I could control how little or how much went into my mouth. All this Is the reason why I feel I am fat.
The most hurtful thing I can recall, although there were many over the years, was when I was 17 and I was getting ready to go on a date to a party and I had spent a couple of hours getting ready – styling my hair, applying my makeup, and I put on a pretty blue dress and thought I looked really nice. When I came out and asked my mother how I looked, she said “You look okay but you would look better if you weren’t so fat!” It was like a knife in my chest and from that moment I never felt I ever measured up. I have always said I was this terrific woman trapped inside this body that I wish I could just peel off.
I competed with two very thin beautiful sisters. I was not fat as a child but the weight gain started when my husband became a workaholic and was never home. 5 very quick pregnancies and three babies later I was fat. My last child was critically ill and I fed him on the hour, every hour. I fed myself too. My refrigerator became my psychiatrist. I have dealt with yo-yo weight loss and several other health issues. The most hurtful comment came from my mother-in-law announcing in Pennington’s, in front of the sales lady. “If you were not so fat you could buy real clothes in a nice store.”
My issue is not one of self-esteem or any outside negative forces. Mine is strictly physical – and the loss of a beloved pet. Being disabled all my life, I have had a constant struggle with weight because I cannot move or exercise like able-bodied people do. I can’t play sports. I was able to horseback ride and did show jumping. I couldn’t keep it up, however, because I was thrown once and cracked 4 ribs which ended that sport. I had great success with the Atkins weight loss program and lost 34 pounds and felt great. I went from a size 1X to a Medium – never been that low since my teens. Then I fell and hurt my shoulder and retired from work on medical grounds. In 2007 my beloved dog died and the grief I felt over losing him was breathtaking. Shortly after Boomer died, I fell and broke my leg. Being already handicapped and needing to use leg braces and crutches to get around, I became frightened to walk on the braces again because if I fell again and broke my arm or wrist, then I’d be done. That, plus the doctors warned me it would take a very long time, if ever, for me to be able to walk on the braces again like I did before. So, I resorted to using a wheelchair and a scooter to get around. I quickly gained weight from changing to a sedentary lifestyle. Boomer weighed 32 pounds. How much weight did I gain while dealing with my grief? 32 pounds! It is often said that people gain the weight of the person or thing that they lost because they want to feel that weight around them again. Thankfully, I am coming out my grief and am now starting to lose weight – very, very slowly – and am doing chair aerobics as a form of exercise. I will never walk like I used to but that’s okay. I just want to get the 32 pounds off and be healthy. I’m not looking to be a size medium. A size large will be fine by me. I’m lucky in that I like who I am and am comfortable in my own skin. I just would like to get this extra weight off because it does not look nice and it is not needed anymore. I feel Boomer’s spirit around me now – I no longer need to feel his weight as well – and that’s a good thing.
From the time I was very young until I was 13, I was sexually abused by my father. The whole time that was going on I dealt with my mothers rage over it all. Both my parents always said I would always be fat, ugly, I’d always be nobody, never achieve, and no one would love me. I stayed fat, until I finally moved out of my house at the age 18 years old. I lost the weight, went from 200 pounds to 120 pounds. I put myself through College but never once did they acknowledge the good in me. I met a wonderful man and after getting married the weight slowly crept back on. Still, I never felt I deserved my husband. By the time I had my first baby; I was back up to 275 pounds and stayed heavy for 15 years. When we moved to Brantford, I had gastric bypass, which was a disaster and I gained all the weight back. I was then diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and other health issues. Nothing in my life comes easy, yet I love life, so I decided to take back my control. I deserve the best and made a life style change through healthy eating and exercising. It was slow at first, and limited due to the MS, but the smaller I got the better I felt. I know I will do it this time, and keep it off, because my whole mindset has changed. I still suffer from lack of self-esteem, but through the love of my family and close friends I am doing it. I deserve success. I am A SURVIVOR NOW, not a victim!!!
As For Me
Mine is no different from any other. I have faced years of rejection from men and past relationships have left me dejected. As one person hurt me, another whack of pounds would creep up. I’d end up feeling worse about myself and sought out validation in a bag of Doritos. Years turned into decades and the only life I knew was being an overweight large-sized person. I had a great professional life but my personal life tanked and my body became a tank. I was a successful public figure with a VERY public figure.
As a lifetime of hurt was sitting on my shoulders, I got used to it and I became accustomed to being abused and in turn abusing myself. It was the norm. I ate to kill the pain. I ate out of loneliness, frustration, anxiety, stress and the overwhelming feeling of abandonment. The last few years of my life have left me shaken up and horribly wounded. I felt like I did not matter and was treated as such. I have had my heart pulled through the eye of a needle.
Finally, one day, I just said, “Joan, you can either be a doormat or get up and be the door and slam it”. I had been far too victimized, by far too many, and the biggest coping skill I had was stuffing my face. Every heartache, every let down, every disappointment was perpetrated upon my body, and my skin. Time for me was running out and I knew it was it was time to grow some balls, take back my life and take back control.
Every person has a story. There is an overwhelming underlying cause about why folks eat. It is not about food, it never has been. It’s about our life story. Each of us has a vice and a coping mechanism to deal with our story. Whether it’s through smoking, taking drugs, drinking alcohol, acting out, or abusing our bodies through gorging; we all do something to deal with our own demons. We could take 100 overweight people in a room and ask them all the same question and each one of them would have a similar story. Food is NOT the cause; it’s the foundation of losing control and getting in our own way as we have had to deal with our story.
We are the authors of our stories. We have a simple choice to make. Will you write a sob story or a success story? If you want to win that Pulitzer you MUST get out of your own way!