As astute reader, Skippy, pointed out in the comments last week, I’d posted several entries recalling dessert pizzas and old binging habits lately. S/he was wondering what was up with that. I pawned off something in response about giving up my favorite yogurt this week, but after some thought I realized it’s probably because I’ve been working on the beginning of my book lately. This has been by far the hardest part of the book to write, not only because it’s got the miserable fat stories in it, but because it happened so long ago that it’s hard to remember what the hell was going on back then. There are also a lot of questions that I think readers will want to know the answers to, like, “How’d you get so fat anyway?” and “What were you eating?” and “Why didn’t you just stop chowing on so many cookies, gosh darn it?” which are very good questions that I wish I had the answers to. I’ve never really analyzed that part of my life in detail.
It’s hard to sort through old memories. I can’t simply search for everything tagged “food” or “binging” and get an alphabetized list of results from my brain. My memories are usually triggered by events in my current life that remind me of things that happened back then. Someone mentions a self-serve ice cream machine and I suddenly remember that I went back for seconds and thirds at the Sizzler. I read a story about someone going out for pizza to celebrate, and suddenly I remember all my trips to Mr. Gatti’s. Analysis of my old memories takes time because I have to wait for triggers, take note of the memories, and eventually accumulate enough to look for patterns.
Even when I get all the memories together, I think self-analysis is shaky at best. People like to explain things, come up for reasons why things happen, but I don’t know if there always is a reason. There’s an ancient folktale that says the reason the sun rises and sets is because a dragon pulls a flaming chariot across the sky. While that would be pretty cool and sounds perfectly plausible if you don’t know that dragons are fictional, it doesn’t mean it’s true. Was I an emotional eater? Or do I just have to say I was one because that’s what everyone expects of a fat girl?
However, that doesn’t mean certain things aren’t true either, even if there’s always a level of uncertainty in the analysis of memories. For the past couple of weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about how I used to eat and how I got so fat and why I didn’t do anything about it and basically I’ve come to one conclusion:
I was a lazy fat person who ate too much.
I gave fat girls a bad name. That’s why it’s so hard to admit. I’ve read blogs by people who count every calorie and track every step with their pedometers and they still don’t lose weight. I’ve read blogs by people who’ve tried every diet published and unpublished and are still fat. I really feel for these people and I think they’re examples of why the world is terribly unfair indeed, but I have to admit – I was not one of those people.
I watched 40 hours of television a week. I saw the last piece of pie in the fridge that was saved for my brother and I ate it anyway. I drove to my graphic design class that was only half a mile away from my dorm because I didn’t want to walk. I made a batch of brownies and I wanted to eat it all myself. I never went on a diet.
There were reasons for this, ranging from general ignorance to my environment to the difficulty of behavior modification to broken exercise equipment and my sprained ankle. But when it comes down to it, I used to eat like a maniac and I didn’t move much. This is probably something that was so obvious to everyone else that I am the last person to realize it. I weighed almost 400 pounds. Of course I ate too much!
I suppose I have always known this. I just feel bad admitting it because it is so stereotypical and it is so clichéd and it is exactly what you would think of a fat person. I hate being predictable and ordinary. I hate that people discriminate against the obese and call them couch potatoes who eat too many cookies. It’s not true of all fat people, and there are some thin people who do the exact same thing. However, it was true for me. I used to know the titles of all the episodes of The X-Files and I loved eating an entire stack of Girl Scout Cookies. It was me! The fat girl! I stole your brownies and, mmmmm, they were good!
I hate admitting it because then my weight loss gives an opening to fat-haters to say, “See! Just stop eating like a pig and do some walking and you too can be thin. Stupid fat people!” It sounds so easy. But it’s not that easy. I would not have spent over a decade of my life overweight if it was easy. Even when you know what your problem is, that doesn’t automatically fix it. Knowing you are schizophrenic does not make you stop hearing voices. Maintaining a life of healthy eating and exercise is very, very hard.
I think I’m very fortunate that I was able to get myself to stop doing these things and that when I did I lost weight. I do think it’s possible to be somewhat fat and fit, but I have to admit that when I started getting fit I started getting less fat as well. However, I don’t think it made me a “bad” person or someone worthy of scorn and disapproval even when I was stuffing my face with marshmallows and sitting around all day. I ate too much. I didn’t exercise. How is that anyone’s problem other than mine and my HMO? And my life wasn’t a 24-hour food orgy either. I did eat fruits and vegetables and I took my Flintstones vitamins.
So that’s why I’ve been writing about my old food habits lately. It’s because I’m finally accepting that I was cliché – a big, fat cliché. And while diet and exercise don’t seem to make everyone as thin as a stick of spaghetti, it did make me a lot thinner. I’d like to apologize to all the fat girls of the world who run 30 minutes a day and have never eaten an entire box of Papa Johns cheesesticks. I was dragging you down. Next time the pizza’s on me.