We all have to start somewhere. Even Batman started somewhere. (If you haven’t read Year One, I recommend it. You get to see a young Bruce Wayne start his adventures as Batman.)
Unfortunately, this is not where I’m starting. I didn’t start in this body, I made choices along the way that got me here. In a strange way, I’m more or less choosing to end here, to put a stop to this madness.
For 30+ years I’ve apparently treated my body like crap. I’ve fed it comfort not fuel, an emotional crutch, not sustenance. Because of those choices, MY choices, I ended up as a 400lb+ 20-something. My current “stage” in life has me weighing in at 280, and my weight as of this morning is 274.2lbs. I always make an anecdotal joke about what it’s like to lose weight as an overweight person and still be overweight. When you’re relatively thin and lose weight people say you look great. When you’re overweight and you lose weight, people say “great job/I’m so proud of you/keep going!” Something about the first two seems so…belittling, the last one is just…defeating. This is me just venting though, let’s move beyond this. The decisions that got me here have been made, let’s make new ones.
In my hubris and sure-mindedness that this is going to be the last time I’ll ever be this large of a human, I decided to go get some benchmarks, so I know exactly how bad the situation is. I would always get miffed when I’d make a self-deprecating comment about me being fat and someone would say “oh stop, you’re not fat.” Here’s the main rule for making self-deprecation your weapon of choice. Do NOT make a self-deprecating joke if you don’t truly believe it. If you say it and you’re offended when someone agrees with you, you have no right to be offended; you opened that door. So, when someone would say “you’re not fat,” I would always get upset. Why would you outright lie? I’m not looking for pity, I already know the truth. Guess what? I now have scientific data that shows that I am not only fat, I’m in pretty bad shape as far as body composition goes.
I took myself to Boise State University’s Sports Medicine clinic and signed up for two tests. The first was to find my resting metabolic rate and the second was a hydrostatic weighing. If you’re unfamiliar with what this is, check it out here. TL;DR You get weighed, then you go into a pool and you get weighed under water, they do some math wizardry, and you’re able to find out your lean muscle mass and our fat mass. More math wizardry and you get your percentage of body fat and percentage of lean muscle mass. (To be fair, that last portion of math isn’t wizardry, it’s 4th-grade math).
I have a friend who has been helping me stay accountable. When I told her I was doing this she was pretty excited for me. Honestly, I was excited for myself. This is REALLY good information to have. With this information and more math wizardry, you can get a good idea of your basal metabolic rate and your total daily energy expenditure. (Both of those numbers are helpful in finding out exactly how many calories you should be consuming to maintain, gain, and lose weight). When I saw her after the tests were done, she asked me what my results were. Shamefully I replied with “oh, I haven’t had a chance to go over them yet. I’ll let you see them once I go over them in detail.” She asked me if they were as bad as I thought or worse. She was sure it wasn’t going to be as bad as I thought. Then she rocked me with a comment that had no malice but had a more shameful impact than she could have imagined. “Oh stop, it’s not like you’re at 50% body fat.”
No, ma’am, I’m not 50% body fat, but I’m pretty sure I was just a few weeks ago.
This information is extremely sobering. Just a little less than half of my body is made up of pure fat. I’m really not sure how to put that into perspective for you, the reader. All I can do is point you to the former picture and look at the healthy/recommended body fat percentage. 8%-19%. I’m not letting this defeat me, but it makes the upcoming tasks that much more daunting. This isn’t a crutch or something I’m looking to use as an excuse, it’s just…shitty. I’ve been mulling over whether or not to share this publicly. I found solace in the fact that there is probably next to nobody reading this except my mom. HI MAMI!!!
All I can do is try to be better than I was yesterday. Hopefully, with the work I’m putting in, this percentage will go down and I’ll get in a more normal body. I do want to end sharing a thought. I’ve been going bouldering and rock climbing. I’m hauling up 45% of my body weight in pure fat, which means only 55% of my body is muscle. THINK OF HOW IMPRESSIVE THAT IS!!!!! It’s not easy hauling 275lbs of sexy up a wall when a little less than half of it is pure fat.
Next time someone says “oh you’re not fat,” I’m going to whip these papers out of my back pocket and say “No I’m not…but I WAS!”
3 thoughts on “The Shame of Body Shame”
Hi, Yes I think that`s all that people can do to keep determination, try better than yesterday and I think people are really hard on themselves if they fail. We learn from failures I think, it just makes us try again with better knowledge of what went wrong last time. I don`t like the expression people are fat, perhaps a better term is, people have fat. Once they grasp that, they realize it is not permanent and they can also loose it! 🙂
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I love this. I HAVE fat. The fat on my body doesn’t define me, it’s just something I have and can change. Thanks for that insight.
I’m reading this too, not just mami. Thankful for your humbleness to share and I’m excited to follow your journey.
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