bookishgeek: (comics - h&ah - fattie)
[personal profile] bookishgeek
My name is Patricia, I am 25 years old, and I am obese.

There are many things wrong with the above sentence, though in all practicality they fall into the second two-thirds of it. (While my first name is not the most perfect, I've grown into it). Obese at 25? Obese at all? These are both truths, and - sad to say - it's taken me a long time to come to terms with this.

I've eaten my feelings most of my life from puberty on, but while my classmates shed the baby weight they packed on in their pre-adolescent years, mine never did go away. My mother gave birth to my sister when I was almost ten years old, and I went from spending most days at my grandparents' house running around and eating whole, clean foods to staying at home with "the baby," taking care of her and eating whatever prepackaged crap was in the pantry.

Then of course you go to school, notice how much bigger than all the other kids you are, feel poorly, and go home where there is a big box of macaroni and cheese with your name on it. Food becomes a source of comfort, and a surrogate parent. Carbohydrates and sodium make you feel warm and sleepy, safe. It's easy to keep shoveling food in your mouth when it's a constant, and a reward: good report card, birthday - society celebrates it all with a meal out, a cake or with treats and sweets.

Going away to college, most students pack on the Freshman 15. However, my nutrition habits from high school were not what everyone else's were, and so I put on the Freshman 15 and kept adding the pounds on. The allure of a college cafeteria with a buffet full of pizza and burgers was simply too much for someone with no self control and depression, and it started to show. I'm not sure how much weight I put on in college, but I know it was at least 50-80 pounds between 2007 and 2011.  Then my fiance and I broke up and I packed on some more weight, living alone. See, no matter how many good nutritional options you're shown as a twenty-something, what's imprinted on you from your youth is going to be what sticks out when you're in the grocery store and not thinking, blindly shopping.

Bad day at work? Bag of chips. A typical drive-through order? 2 double cheeseburgers, an apple pie, a medium fry and some Diet Coke. (my father has diabetes, so the one thing I've got going for me is an ingrained dislike of regular soda). And that was a late night snack, not even a meal. I'd become disgusted quickly as if awakening from a trance and realizing what I had just eaten, like a spooked horse, and rebel against the emotions welling in me by stuffing them down with more food. Let's go get a Taco Bell box as an appetizer, eat an entire medium pizza for dinner.

And then, after graduate school, little things began to pop up in my day-to-day life as I began a career at 23.

Can't quite fit into the booth at the restaurant?

Newspapers.

Have a child ask you about the baby in your tummy?

Dry wood chips.

Notice that you can't see your feet any more, even if you kind of lean back?

Dryer lint.

Being nothing but ashamed and chastened that you can only wear this bedazzled, sequin-encrusted cardigan from Wal-Mart because it's all that will fit over your breasts?

Flint and steel.

And then people in my life started to move, to change: friends online and off began to diet, to calorie count - Weight Watchers, pilates, Zumba, P90X. It's vogue now to work out and post about it on your Instagram account. And then one day last week, my father emailed me an offer, clearly wanting so badly for me to not wind up in the same shape as himself and my mother: $5 per pound lost by Christmas.

A heaping gallon of lighter fluid.

At the end of the day, you can walk down the road, parallel to the store window displays and avoid looking at your reflection, too caught up in other things. At some point, though, there is going to be a crosswalk where you can either stop and look down at yourself, or you can keep walking into traffic and wonder why the cars continue to ram you.

I have chosen to finally stop walking into traffic.

Boom.

I know this is not an easy undertaking, and in fact I've stopped and started diets so many times it's unreal. However what I've noticed, what I've read and seen and felt and somehow managed to innately grasp, is that this is not a diet - it's a lifestyle change. It's less about kale smoothies and yoga and more about being aware of what my body wants and needs, knowing that it is hungry or thirsty and probably not in the mood for another damn cheeseburger. It's about finding things to do that aren't stuffing your face in order to find peace, and I think that's the hardest thing for me. Alone at night in bed, all you want sometimes is comfort and if you can't get that from another person ... well, you can get it from your friends Ben & Jerry.

But here's the thing: cottage cheese and blueberries are delicious. An entire sweet potato? Negligible calories compared to a salty, fried mound of french fries. Bananas and yogurt? Way more filling than two sausage biscuits (my usual breakfast order). My body craves salads, craves big bottles of water and a rainbow of fruits. I packed it so full of things that, for so long, were comforting that I had forgotten a cardinal rule: food can be addictive, too. But I can change - we all can change.

My name is Patricia, I am 25 years old, I am obese, and I am on fire.

(I have a MyFitnessPal account and a Tumblr I am chronicling my weight loss with if anyone would like to be friends! Thank you for reading, this is probably the hardest LJ Idol entry I've ever had to write.)
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