The Affliction of the Naturally Thin

Before I get into this, I want to disclaim, I’m NOT judging those people who have problem putting or keeping weight on. I think those who struggle to keep their weight up are in a similar boat as those who easily keep weight off. I’m also not addressing those who easily maintain their weight without much effort but don’t say anything snarky. This post is narrowly considering those who keep a healthy weight without much effort, but tell others to “just” do some super-simplistic approach to weight loss (or gain, but I can only speak to loss).

I was a skinny kid. My parents used to worry I wasn’t eating enough. I always had good energy. And don’t remember having a favorite food beyond cheese and cola. I do remember foods I hated (mostly vegetables, but I also wasn’t fond of meat or egg yolks). I remember being excited when my mom made ice cream or brought it out to us after swimming, but I don’t remember begging for ice cream or other sweets. Food was just… Food. Those were the days, right?

I hit puberty and suddenly had hips and thighs and a little stomach pooch. But I wasn’t fat. I maintained this “not quite a thin girl” look all through high school and the first few years of college. During middle and high school I definitely started having an affliction for fast food (especially McDonald’s cheeseburgers and pizza). After a breakup, a bout of depression, finding solace in food, and unlimited freedom to eat all of my meals out, I gained weight. I haven’t looked back since. It’s been a struggle to lose the weight I gained mostly on impulse. Mostly in a fit of self-pity. Mostly over a term of several months.

And since then? I get it. I get why weight loss is this national phenomenon. I get why it’s a bajillion dollar industry.

Losing weight is hard. Maintaining my weight before I got all wonky with my emotions? That wasn’t hard. I’d eat out occasionally. I’d workout occasionally. I mostly didn’t think about it. And at the time, I’d probably be a person who said, “Just eat less, and exercise more.” It’s easy when it’s easy.

But until you struggle with the harder parts, you don’t realize what’s involved. I mostly don’t eat emotionally anymore (it has to be pretty stressful and I have to feel pretty attacked to want to stress eat). I eat out occasionally, but not frequently. I don’t over-eat until I’m miserable. I don’t hit a drive thru and binge eat like many people say they do. I just eat until I’m fully. I try to eat mostly healthfully. I workout at least three times a week. Sometimes five times a week. And yet, here I am. 40 pounds overweight (easily).

And until I was forty pounds overweight and realized I can’t “just eat less and exercise more” to make things good again, I didn’t realize that it’s not that simple. And I’m not making excuses. I’ve actually come to terms with my weight as it is. Do I wish I weighed less, yes. Am I letting it stop me from being happy, attending social events, traveling, working out? No. My body is where it’s at right now, and I’m OK with that. I know I made some bad decisions. But I could have made worse ones.

But it’s not as simple as, “Just eat less and exercise more.” Can I starve myself? You know what? I’ve tried. I tried going down to 1300 calories a day. I felt like shit. And any weight I lost came back plus more. You can’t starve yourself forever. I tried working out two times a day. After a few weeks, my body adapted and expected it. And, again, I felt like shit. A severe calorie deficit can’t be maintained for long. And when you stop, your body adapts.

So, if you’re one of the lucky ones where weight loss is easy (I was that person the first few times I lost the weight, but it also came back on really easily), good for you. Consider yourself lucky. Lose it slowly with a plan you can maintain for life.

If you’re not one of those lucky ones. The ones who can’t get more than 2-3 pounds to come off before it mysteriously comes back despite eating healthy (we all know this is a loaded term, but I mean generally make mostly good choices) and working out. If you’ve never been that person, don’t pretend you know what those who are that person need to do. There’s nothing more fucking frustrating than a person telling me I need a nutritionist or a coach or a life planner. I know what they’ll tell me to do. And eventually, they’ll either concede that I’m lying or tell me I guess I need to eat drastically less. Or they’ll assume I’m skipping workouts, or am one of the few who DOES need hours of cardio.

Screw that.

I don’t need a coach. I don’t need ANOTHER person simplifying me to a bunch of numbers. I am more than numbers. I don’t need another person assuming I don’t know how to count calories, or use a measuring cup or food scale. I don’t need someone assuming I don’t know what jogging is. Or what a half hour of strenuous work means. I know all of that. I get it, OK? Don’t assume. I’m sick of assumptions. I’m sick of the simplification of something that’s not simple.

I’m not a victim. I’m not less than because I’m overweight. And I’m not a failure or a liar. I am a human being who’s working harder than a lot of people who simplify me. Who judge me.

So when I say, “Oh, eat less! Why hadn’t I thought of that?!” That’s sarcasm.

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