Tag Archive | weight

The REALLY Fat Girl

A few weeks back I had to go to the clinic to have an MRI on my back. I came early per my standard operating procedure. It was a Friday and the Radiology Department was next to the Lab which was having an exceptionally busy morning.

That meant there were few isolated seats available. As in none. Everyone sat with a chair or open space one either side of them. I was going to have to choose a spot to sit that would hone in one someone’s bubble.

I chose a heavy woman. I sat next to her and instead of reading my book, we began to talk. The woman was about 40o lbs, had intense back pain and other serious health issues. Insurance was giving her trouble with the various procedures she needed to have done. It was a catch 22 for her. They couldn’t do surgery on her back until she lost weight, but she couldn’t lose weight because of her various health issues. She said she used to try to swim at the local YMCA but people would make rude comments to her. Out loud. In her presence.

I have to admit if people insulted me every time I was trying to work out . . . I would quit too. Let’s face it, when one is overweight, no matter how much, a swimming suit is never going to be flattering. For her to have gone to do the only exercise she could and then have to stop because of the abuse she suffered? Well, it made me sad. I was ashamed that these were fellow human beings and I expect none of them were Sports Illustrated Swim models either. I wish she had the courage to complain to the staff at the YMCA. Bullying in any form should never be tolerated, even there. Especially there.

I told her that I was glad I came to sit by her, that I had learned a lot and enjoyed her company. She went to get her blood work done and I was called in for my appointment and I didn’t get to see her again. I hope that maybe, somehow, a friendly, affirming, conversation, validated her worth as a human being created in the image of God.

When I hear people make fun of someone who is overweight it grieves me. Partly because of my own weight struggle. Partly because I think we overlook the fact that seeing a person at one static moment in time, does not inform us of their journey or challenges. This woman could have lost 50 pounds before I met her and I would have still seen her as overweight. She was and she knew it. But her weight does not diminish her value in the eyes of  God. Nor should it in mine.

So why do I share this story? Because over the next month many of us will be interacting more and more with strangers as we shop, attend concerts or parties and go about our business. Maybe we can set aside the lenses we often use to judge someone and instead see the heart of the person underneath. Someone who is desperate to be seen, treated with respect and honor and even to be heard.

I listened to this woman’s pain. Her loneliness. Her battles on every side. When someone weighs 400 lbs, losing weight is harder than ever. A loss of a pound, even in a week, which would be considered stellar by most, would be like nothing for her in the balance of all she had yet to lose and I still wouldn’t have known. I’ve been heavier than I am now and I’ve been thinner. I would prefer thinner. The funny thing is those insults given by strangers or even worse, by people close to us, wound deeply.

It is hard to give myself the same courtesy I gave that woman because I’ve suffered similar insults. Yes, there is a disparity in the amount of weight we have to lose, but the struggle and the emotions are the same. Frustration. Exhaustion. Defeat. Despair.

So when you go to the YMCA and see someone working out – be the person who says a good word and encourages them. Make eye contact or smile. And let us strive to be more kind. We all struggle with something after all. How would you want to be treated?

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Living Large (Part II)

BMI Monitor & tape measure

BMI Monitor & tape measure

Another beef I have against those who so blithely condemn people who are not thin, is this:

Do you know their story?

I’m guilty too of looking at people and making rash and inappropriate judgements. I had a meeting with a woman who I had never met before and she was quite large. We started talking and I found out she had LOST 60 lbs. Seriously. Wow. Now this is a woman to affirm and applaud, not put down because she’s not at some ideal spot on a scale. It was a good lesson to me.

I’ve known people (including myself) that have gained weight due to medications or hypothyroidism. See, not everyone who is overweight is a glutton.  It used to be a cop-out to say that someone had a “glandular issue” but the fact is, it is probably one of the most under-diagnosed medical problems out there. I couldn’t put on weight that fast not matter HOW much I ate as when medication messed with my metabolism and I packed on unwanted pounds.

It’s depressing and frustrating to have to deal with. It is humiliating to have to go to the store (even Goodwill) to purchase clothing in a larger size.

Yes. I have often made unhealthy eating choices, but honestly, I don’t think I could eat myself into a 40 lb weight gain in one month. Medication did that for me though. Funny how easily it goes on and how torturous it is to get it off.

This is all to say that we need to look at others through eyes of grace and know that we have not walked their path. Part of my most recent weight gain was due to multiple factors: a malfunctioning pituitary gland (manages metabolism), some thyroid problems, inactivity due to surgery and illness (both me and my kids) and then back pain, and then yes, some comfort food sought when struggling with the pain.

What is interesting is that I will condemn myself for all of it – even the stuff that was beyond my control. Of course there are people out there who assist in that by advising me on how to lose it. What is also interesting is that my medical doctor, physical therapist, physiatrist and chiropractor have not faulted me for the weight issue. They have been gracious and understanding and state I’m doing everything RIGHT. (okay, maybe Cheetos and Pepsi are not on any healthy eating plan, but still . . .). There is compassion and understanding of teh struggle I have faced.

I have also been blessed with sweet friends who compliment me when they see me – on how I look and dress. They don’t tell me I look fat in that outfit (I am fat and will look that way no matter what I wear anyway). I try to be that kind of person to others too. Yeah, we are to be more  than about physical beauty and appearance, but face it, we are visual people and often that’s where some of us have had our deepest wounds and struggle.

All this is to say, be careful who you judge for their weight. I knew a little old lady at one point (she’s long gone now from this world) who would look at an overweight person and say “There goes fatty boom-boom.” How sad, really. As if that woman needed that kind of label.

On the flip side – when I did lose weight I was told by my family that I was anorexic and my doctor at the time never even noticed. Hello! Celebrate the success but don’t condemn the person struggling, because chances are, they are doing enough of that themselves even if the cause of their weight is not totally under their control.

Let’s live with large hearts of love, affirmation and validation for the positive qualities we see in EVERYONE around us instead of looking for the flaws.

Living Large (Part 1)

IMG_0030I’ve had a rough year with weight loss. On the flip side, I’ve had a great year with weight gain. Between illnesses and unexplained back pain I’ll admit I’ve at times sought comfort in food that probably would not normally qualify as healthy. (gotta define that first!)

I’m back to the YMCA working out in spite of my struggles (since I’ve determined I’m not doing any damage in spite of the ongoing pain issue). The biggest workout has been in my own thinking and I’m not there yet. I wish there was an easy way to suck the bad messages that have been force-fed into my brain all my life. There’s really no lipo for that though, is there?

But the last few days I was thinking about some of my  friends that are not a size zero either. I’m not going to set a bar for weight or dress size that determines whether someone is “fat” or not.

Here’s what I realized. Some of the sweetest, most encouraging and beautiful people I know–are overweight.

What?

Yup. It’s true. I adore these people. I want to be around them because they smile and they know (I hope) that their BMI is not what God is interested in. They have won me over because of their positive attitude and the way they graciously treat and encourage others around them, including me.

A few years back I had mentioned the name of a gal who sang on a worship team. Someone else didn’t know who she was. I said “She’s on the short side and has the biggest, sweetest smile” and another person said “Oh, she’s the fat one.” Is it any wonder I didn’t really “like” the person who would make a comment like that?

I wish there was a correct way to say to my fellow ladies who tend to larger-than-normal sizes: “Hey, I don’t know if weight is an issue you struggle with, but the first thing I think of when I think of you is how much I enjoy being around you.”

I have to turn this around to look at my own self-condemnation over my weight. The number on a scale or the size on a pair of jeans is NOT the measure of my character or worth. It has little to do with the way I treat others. I am more gracious to those around me with similar issues, than I am to myself.

I’m not my own best friend but sometimes an even bigger enemy are  those around me that keep telling me I’m fat and need to lose weight.

News flash: I already know that.

I love the idea that if someone tells you you’re fat – you should eat them. Except those kind of people are not nice. The probably wouldn’t taste very good, even well seasoned. Even if they are skinny and dress well. Their character stinks. Their words pollute. I don’t want to be around them. They might even call themselves “truth-tellers” but there’s a big difference between encouraging someone and putting them down and it goes far beyond the words that come out of someone’s mouths.

I am NOT saying that all “skinny” people out there are evil. Some are delightful and I even call them friends!

So why am I writing about this here? Maybe so that if someone I know, who struggles with this issue and reads this post, they’ll know that what I see in them isn’t their size, but their attitude and smile and their love of God and other people. And maybe together we can encourage each other, not to lose weight, but to savor the value we truly have, that goes beyond the scale.

After all, the heart is what God looks at too, so why should we be any different?