One of the things I hate the most about being a compulsive overeater is the public nature of the condition.
When a person gains fifty pounds in six months, as I just have, it's pretty noticeable. People generally don't say anything when they see you gaining weight. They may whisper behind your back. And of course, if I were a celebrity (THANK GOD I'M NOT!) unflattering beach photos would be the talk of the town. But for the most part, people don't really say anything honest to someone when she's gaining wait. Nobody has ever said to me, for instance, "OMG! You're busting out of those jeans!" Nobody's ever said,"Keep eating that cake, Patty, you can sign up for the Diabetic Support Group next week."
No, people don't talk like that to compulsive eaters when we're getting fat -- possibly because most people eat compulsively at one time or another during their lives and because hardly anybody's ever at exactly the weight they want to be at. I was for about ten minutes one day. It was GLORIOUS. Did I ever look like a hottie! Someone even told me I was modelesque. Modelesque. Now that's a sweet sounding word to hear -- especially when you're pushing forty.
But let's face it, my modelesque moment is gone. I'm forty-four. And I'm fat! Seriously. I am SOOOOO fat, it's unbelievable to me. I was this fat before for awhile. But I haven't been anywhere near this fat in a decade. I'd forgotten what fat feels like. I'd been in denial of what fat feels like. It feels TERRIBLE. I hate fat. Hate it.
Here's the thing, though. Even though I know I'm really fat (Seriously, this much fat is a health risk), people won't agree with me that I'm fat. They tell me I look good (OK, so I admit, I photo shopped some recent photos a bit and it might not totally be their fault). But the fact is, people don't like to tell other people they look fat. I suppose that's fair enough. I mean, I can't really imagine myself going up to someone and saying, "Wow, you've really gained a hell of a lot of weight. You're enormous." You know, stuff like that, it just ISN'T NICE.
But here's the thing I hate the most: People won't tell you you're fat when you're fat. They tell you, you "look good!" They say, "I hadn't noticed." They say, "Oh, there's no way you've gained that much weight. The scale must be broken."
But the moment I lose ten pounds, the comments begin -- and they won't end! Everybody and their seventy-nine closest friends and neighbors has SOMETHING to say about a person's weight loss. I hate it. I wish people would just shut up. I've been down this road before. I know what I have to do. It takes commitment. It takes support. It takes planning. It takes exercise. But really, it's not all that difficult once I've become miserable enough with the consequences of eating cookies. And I'm pretty miserable. So the weight will come off.
And the comments will start in about two weeks:
"You're looking so good!"
"You're doing a great job!"
"You're being so good!"
"You have so much willpower!"
This sort of nonsense. I hate it. I don't like hearing it. It bugs me. Why does it bug me? It bugs me because of the way in which people in our culture associate thinness with goodness and fatness with badness, I suppose. It bugs me because of the way in which people associate fatness with ugliness and thinness with prettiness.
It bugs me because I get irritable when I give up sugar. It bugs me because I feel watched. It bugs me because everybody tells me their tips on weight loss when I haven't asked for them. It bugs me because all of a sudden my personal medical business has become everybody in the world's business.
Compulsive overeating, like alcoholism and diabetes and lupus and muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis and cancer -- is a medical condition. It's an illness. I don't overeat because I am a weak person. And I don't lose weight and get fit because I'm a good person or a strong person or an admirable person.
It just is what it is.
And I'm grouchy!