Our Health Journey and Why ‘You’ve Lost Weight!’ Isn’t Really a Compliment

So I’m on the latest leg of a weight loss journey that began when I was 8 or 9 years old. My grandmother, and then by example my mother, were weight obsessed. And I was a chunky kid. It was about this age that phrases like ‘Slim Fast’ and ‘counting calories’ and ‘aerobic exercise’ found their ways into my vocabulary. I didn’t know that I was fat, I just knew that I wanted to please my mother and grandmother, and that I wasn’t doing so. So I had to change what I was doing. I had to be better somehow.

Fast forward to around 10 and 11 when my grandmother started buying me cases of Slim Fast whether I was on a diet or not. I didn’t know what that meant, just that I still wasn’t pleasing her for some reason.

Fast forward to 14 when I had a devastating breakup with my first real boyfriend. It was implied, not too gently, that my weight was the reason we had broken up. I wasn’t that big, really. But I took the message to heart. And I drank all that Slim Fast. And I watched every thing I put into my mouth. And I ate the Ex Lax that was conveniently left in the bathroom drawer for me to find. And I started using my allowance to buy my own when that ran out. I walked every single day to the corner store where I would buy myself candy, scarf it, and then feel like a complete failure of a person.

I hated myself. But the pounds were coming off, at least. I got down to a size 10, 135 lbs, and I had never felt prouder of myself, or more miserable. All I knew was that my worth could be measured in direct proportion to my weight, and that I was finally worth something.

Fast forward to ages 18 and 19. I was working hard and going to school. But I had some free time. And in that free time, I was learning about feminism and Paganism and the Goddess. I finally started to feel empowered. I learned that the Goddess was curvy and beautiful, and she didn’t feel horrible about every dimple, every fat roll. I told my then boyfriend that I was planning on putting on some weight. He was a solid good guy who loved me no matter what. He said “OK” and meant it.

And I did it. I went off all the diets, decided never again to do exercise unless I wanted to, and found the nerve to stand up to my disappointed family members when they made well-meaning but hurtful comments about my weight. I just suddenly didn’t care what they said anymore.

I felt fabulous. I felt like I was in control of my body again. ME. I didn’t try to eat a lot, I just didn’t feel guilt over every little morsel that found its way into my mouth. I would eat pizza and not cry afterwards. I would grab something quick from the vending machine when I was running to class and didn’t have money or time for a salad at the cafeteria. I just stopped caring.

And my weight went up and up. I didn’t care. I felt so good. Like every pound was me taking control again. I embraced the fact that I’m naturally just big. The dieting, miserable, skinny Amie is not in her natural state. The big, buxom, happy Amie is enjoying her life the way she was meant to.

Fast forward to 32. My partner was 100 lbs heavier than I was and having some medical problems. So she decided to have gastric bypass surgery. I fully supported her, and even intended to try and shed some pounds with her. I tried Weight Watchers, which didn’t really take the first few times, and I exercised with her. As expected, she lost lots of weight with her surgery, and I fell off. She left me a year or two later as she was training for her triathlon, and I was still happy, big Amie. We had other problems. I knew it wasn’t just the weight, but that contributed.

A couple years later, I met the husbear. He truly loves me just the way I am. He’s also a big guy, and together we enjoy eating. But he has some health problems.

When I was 37, and he was 28, he had his first heart attack. This was the first time I felt like I could lose him. And so I became diet obsessed again out of fear. I even started a webpage called ‘Health Fetish’ that was supposed to inspire us and inspire our friends to get healthier. As always, the momentum ended up fizzling out, and we got back to the mindset that we would live forever, no matter what the doctors said.

A few weeks ago, he went into heart failure. We got him to the hospital where he had a heart cath. And the doctor said there wasn’t anything he could do. Years of diabetes, high blood pressure, and eating junk had caught up with him. So there’s no surgery that can help him right now, it’s basically up to medicine and diet/exercise. That’s what we have to do to keep him alive.

Now if you know me, you know that there’s nothing in the world that I love as much as my husbear. Not cats, not tarot, not witchcraft. (Though I HAVE done some related witchcraft to get us healthier.) The idea of living life without him is just beyond my grasp.

So I’m dieting again. I’m dieting because I’m not going to let my husbear go through this all alone. I’m dieting to keep him with me. If I could make us both lose weight and get healthier by strength of will alone, I would. But I can’t just wish us healthy. We’re having to actually take action and act right. It’s been a little rough, but I’m hoping it will all be worth it when we celebrate our 20th and 30th wedding anniversaries. Fuck it, let’s shoot for a 40th too, even though I may be too old to enjoy it.

So if you see us out in the world, and you think to say “You’ve lost weight!”, maybe think twice. I’ve heard that my whole life, because it’s the only compliment that family members have been able to come up with regardless of whether I lost weight or not. I just honestly don’t want to hear it. I’m not doing it to be cute, I’m not doing it so I can run races, and I’m certainly not doing it so that I can fit into a size 10 again. I’m doing it to support husbear and keep him around.

And PLEASE don’t tell me that this is a good thing. Yes, I realize that it may help my degenerative discs, may help my hips and knees, and may help me feel better overall, but no, this isn’t a GOOD thing. It sucks, actually. I’m really tired of hearing how positive this all is. I’M DOING THIS TO KEEP HUSBEAR ALIVE. THE END.

So thanks to friends and family who have invited us to their homes and made sure we had healthy things to eat. Thanks to friends who have given an ear when I needed to talk about what was going on with us. And thanks to people who don’t mention our weight at all. It means the world to me. Seriously.

Hold onto those you love. Nothing is promised, and life is fleeting. Blessed be. <3