Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Realities of Being Fat

Ok, so I promised some pictures and measurements, which are below (I'm placing them lower so that if you don't want to see them, you don't have to.....but I need to post them in order to be open about this process).

However, before I do that, I wanted to say a couple other things that have occurred to me over the course of the last few days, about being fat and issues that come with my experience of it.

A lot of skinny people wonder (or I hear they do....) how in the world someone allows themselves to get this way. I think it's safe to say that even we, those who are this way, are equally perplexed. There are definitely contributing factors (diet, activity, genes, etc), but if one isn't pay attention, it just seems to happen.

As I said in my first post, I've been fat since I knew what being fat was. (FYI: just in case you're wondering, I'm intentionally using the word fat here....I hate it, but I hate obese more and heavy and overweight just don't seem to cut it.) Sadly, a lot of the memories of my childhood and my relationship with my family are bound up in the issue of my weight. While my parents were not toothpicks themselves, I remember diets of beets, turkey bacon and eggs (no carbs), dry tuna out of the can, grapefruit, cottage cheese, and various types of tablets or pills; doctor's visits where I felt humiliated and out of control; and attempts by my parents to bribe me to lose weight, which probably taught me that I could control the situation by not giving in (even though I so badly wanted to) from as early as probably 6 or 7 years old. My most memorable bribe was my dad's promise to buy me the best horse for barrel racing he could find if only I lost xx amount of weight (I don't remember if there was a figure). That was when I was about 15 or 16 years old (and, obviously, during my rodeo days...haha).

I am aware that there are emotional issues regarding control that are lurking here.....I will continue to explore them and let you know what I find.

Another factor was that, over the years, I convinced myself I was both fat and healthy. I'd say, "I'm not trying to lose weight; I'm just trying to be healthy." To some extent, that's still true but when I said that, I was hiding and in denial. My blood sugar was fine, my cholesterol was fine, my blood pressure was a little high in times of stress but was otherwise fine, and so on. The whole "you're a ticking time bomb" never really got to me (and to be honest, still doesn't really in the big scheme of things). But recently I've noticed other indications of poor health/living that make life more difficult, and that has been what made me decide: depression, exacerbated by weight gain, self-criticism and self-perception; achy joints, particularly on my hips, knees and ankles; lower back pain, made worse by an injury in 2003 but a persistent companion probably caused by the amount of strain carrying around my belly has on my back; feeling tired and run-down all the time (although I'm still trying to figure out how much sleep I personally need), which I guess is reasonable considering I'm lugging around about 160lbs worth of extra baggage everywhere I go. You'd be tired all the time too.

And then, I suspect that there are questions from those who don't have these issues, wondering what it's like to be fat. Let me tell you - the behavior of Monica on Friends in her earlier "fat" days or Gwyneth Paltrow's fat ("real") persona in Shallow Hal are not accurate depictions of what it's like. They're skinny people's perceptions or attempts to get a laugh, but not reality. They depict someone who isn't aware of how big they are. I have never found that to be true with myself or with others I know.

So, what's it like?

For starters, you know that sexy look a woman can have by crossing her legs? Yeah, I can't do that. I've never have been able to. And since I can't cross my legs, I'm always sitting like a man. A total turn-on, let me tell ya.

And do you know how embarrassing it is to get stuck in chair because your ass is too big and you've gotten wedged? You get to where you decide on where to go by what kind of seats they have in order to avoid this problem, or you figure out how to get in and out of the seat without (hopefully) getting stuck (sliding in & out from the front, rather than sitting down from the top helps). My most recent time in Sarajevo found me looking for cafes with benches rather than flimsy aluminum chairs that cut into my hips, or even recently identifying the movie theaters here in Belfast that have seat dividers that raise up to allow more space in the seat.

Related to that is the ever-humiliating airplane experience. Not only are the seats really narrow (causing severe pain on any flight longer than 2 hours and contributing to my feelings of claustrophobia), but once you get to a certain size, you have to ask for an extension for the seatbelt. Most attendants are discreet about it, but some aren't. And there's the whole experience of seeing people's eyes roll with disgust or dismay when they discover I'm assigned to sit beside them. It makes me want to say, "You know what? I'd rather not be sitting beside your skinny ass either...but we're both going to have to suck it up because this plane is full, so back off." Of course, I don't. I'm a nice person.

And then there's the other issue of clothes. Larger people are only able to shop for clothes in a select group of stores that carry our size. There's no running into Primark or Old Navy (although they do have bigger sizes online now) to pick up a cheap top for the weekend's festivities. Smaller people take for granted how lucky they are that practically every store has something that they can wear, if they wanted or had to. In addition, plus-size clothing stores for women are full of what I call "hoochy-mamma" clothes - sequins, awful prints, polyesters, really low cut necklines, etc...not really my personal style - and usually they're pretty poor quality as well, but still charge outlandish prices for them because of demand.

So, yeah....the realities of being fat. There's more, but I'll spare you further details. For now.

And speaking of realities, let me now post "beginning" pictures and measurements, so that they are recorded for posterity and for later comparison to mark progress. I need to do this because looking at myself in the mirror is caught up in my own self-perceptions and illusions, and isn't necessarily a reliable judge of change. It's much easier to see myself as I am through a photograph (which is why I usually hate having my photograph taken). All being well, this will be the last time these numbers are used and these pictures will quickly become the "what I used to look like" pictures.

And measurements this morning were as follows:
Height: 5'7"
Neck: 18.75 in
Chest: 50 in
Waist: 56 in
Hips: 62 in (Can we say "perfect pear-shaped body" here?)
Left Upper Arm: 15 in
Right Upper Arm: 15.5 in (I'm right-side dominant, so all my right side measurements reflect this)
Left Thigh: 31 in
Right Thigh: 31.5 in
Left Calf: 19.75 in
Right Calf: 20 in

So this information will also be added to the "Progress" tab and we shall see what the future weeks/months/years bring!


  1. Jayme, good luck on beginning this journey! As someone who's lost over 60 lbs myself, I can offer all kinds of advice, but the best one is that there's a fine line between honesty/accountability and being good to you. See this as an opportunity to learn about yourself and take care of yourself, and be careful not to fall into the trap of being cruel to yourself.
    BTW, I'm looking forward to following you, and maybe it'll help me shed the last 30 lbs...
    Good luck!

  2. alicia, definitely. i posted a couple days ago about that line and i want to be careful. quietening the self-critic is something i want to work on, but i recognize that she's helpful at times, so i don't want to lose her completely. but admonitions for gentleness are always appreciated, whenever they may be necessary. and thanks!! feel free to join me! :o)

  3. you have inspired me to keep visual and numerical track of my journey for myself. i can't do it until sunday when i get to my sister's house, tho.

    by the way, what you're wearing is really cute. me like!

  4. amy, i wanted to keep track this way so i would have hard evidence when celebration is called for! otherwise, i think i'd just get frustrated and give up. and what i'm wearing is cute, you think? well, thanks! it's just my yoga top and bottoms from target. it's comfortable - what else can i say? :o)

  5. Thank you for sharing this Jamye, rooting for you over here in Italia x Michelle

  6. Wow Jayme, you got big brass ones girl! I thoroughly impressed. Good luck on your journey. I will subscribe.



  7. Ana sent me your post, Jayme, and I'm so impressed with what you're doing and how you're doing it. I really resonate with the word "gentleness" - because in my quest to lose almost 100lbs (20 down), I need far more of that and far less of the hateful self-criticism I've generated for most of my life. Best to you! I'll check in and let you know how I'm doing and I'll be sending gobs of energy your way.

  8. Jayme,
    I stumbled onto your blog tonight and want you to know that even though you are doing this for yourself you are helping others in the process! I, too, have struggled with my weight all my life (I recall us commiserating over this at some point in Bosnia). I have heard a gazillon times "you have such a pretty face!" which I have interpreted as "every other part of you needs to change!" Lately I have really been thinking about this and how I DO need to change. I don't have energy to play with my kids and I want to be around long enough to see them accomplish great things and experience all God has in store for them! Not to mention being able to comfortably sit in a booth at a restaurant, buy cute clothes and dislike someone just because they have a body I've always wanted!!! My goal is to lose 35 pounds by Christmas and another 25 after that. So thank you for adding fuel to this little flame! I will be praying and cheering for you along the way :) Much Love, Beth

  9. I am so with you on this Jayme! I miss you dearly, friend - but know that I am with you on this journey! Sheila

  10. thanks, guys!! sean, you know it!! :o) lori, beth and sheila, feel free to join me! thanks so much for your words and sharing your own struggles, desires and goals. it's great to have company and people who know where i'm coming from. this blog thing has been really good for me and looking at other blogs and joining in with them has been really motivating. so check out the links and see what you think.