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I have a confession...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

(Some of you are familiar with my 'BEFORE Pictures & Continuing PROGRESS' pictures blog... if you aren't you might want to take a peek before you read further...)

I'm 5'3" tall and I weigh over 250 pounds. Before I got to SparkPeople I really didn't know just how fat I was. Really.

As ridiculous as that may sound, it's true.
I certainly didn't think about myself as being 'morbidly obese'.

I didn't dress like a fat girl... large shapeless clothing, no bright colours. I wore shorts and sleeveless shirts in the summer. I bought pretty undies. I found stylish clothes in my size, that I liked, and that I felt pretty in. I wore vibrant colours. I kept my hair stylishly cut. I took pride in my appearance.

I didn't act like a fat girl... men flirted with me, and I flirted back. I went to dances, and never hesitated to dance (I have RHUMBA hips!)... and I had no shortage of partners when my husband felt like sitting out. I moved quickly (I tend to dart), lightly, and without thought. I fit in any chair I chose to sit in. I was capable of hard, physical work... I was strong, and took pride in that. I pranced around naked in front of my bedroom mirror... I admired certain of my curves. I never hesitated to be naked in front of my husband, or daughter.

I believed my husband when he told me I was beautiful... I preened at the desire in his eyes. I delighted in my daughter as she'd snuggle into me and say, "Mommy, you're so soft!" And we'd giggle and tickle and snuggle together, happy to share the closeness.

I was ill... A LOT... but I honestly didn't see that as necessarily a function of my weight... I've been ill ALL of my life, and (apparently) truly fat only for the last six years. I came here to get 'healthier' not thinner... I even struggled with the question when I registered on the site... was I here to lose weight, or to work on my fitness level? I chose 'lose weight' because I figured I might as well see if I could lose some weight, while I got healthier. I didn't actually believe I COULD lose weight.

I dove into the process of getting healthier and I did, in fact, lose some weight! This was GREAT! I felt BETTER lighter, and some of the chronic stuff was easier to manage. I suddenly understood that I could lose weight despite my limitations, that lighter felt healthier, and I was sold. A SPARK was born!

I joined teams. I read blogs. I visited pages. I tried to be supportive of people who were 'struggling'.... And something else started to happen just outside my awareness.

Slowly, over the course of a year, I've become aware of just how fat I really am. I mean, I have to be, and disgustingly so, don't I? Other women, many smaller than I, talk about themselves with loathing and regret. Many people here discuss how limiting are their lives because of their weight. Everyone who isn't married, isn't successful in their careers, is lonely, dissatisfied, empty, joyless, broke... it's all because they are fat. More people than not see themselves as beings in need of punishment and deprivation... creatures needing to be 'whipped into shape'... certainly if THEY are not beings sublimely created for joy and love and laughter, WHAT was *I* thinking? How did I manage to get it SO wrong? How stupid could I be? I am FAT for Pete's sake!

And yet... HOW did I manage to get some things so right, fat as I was?

This past June brought all of this to a head in my mind in ways I could not have anticipated.

I was stuck at home the five months prior to recovering from a brain injury. I was pretty much cocooned in my own little world. I actually once again forgot how fat I was. I snuggled with my wee girl a lot, and had only my husband's eyes smiling at me. I had a lot of time to think about my frustration at having to put my master fitness plan on hold, and I had a lot of time to hone my determination to eventually put it into place. Every day sharpened my hunger to JUST DO IT. I could see and feel the changes I was going to create with and in my body, and I was SPARKED to get going.

I finally left the house to resume my life.... and then I remembered I was FAT.

Several notable things happened to underscore this.

People who hadn't seen me in five months seemed startled. They, too, apparently forgot I was FAT (I'm certain I'd have noticed if they had looked at me like this before).

At my nephew's graduation celebration I turned around to catch a slender woman about my age staring at my butt. Staring. I've never before caught anyone doing that. She noticed me noticing, but not before I fully absorbed the look of horror and relief on her face... likely horror that a butt could reach this size, and relief that this butt wasn't hers.

At my mother's-in-law birthday party, in a crowded house (same house we'd had several parties in prior to with just as many people), people actually cleared a path to let me pass... men jumped up and moved chairs to make the path bigger... even when I was pretty certain there was enough room for me to fit through. This had NEVER happened before... or did I just not notice because I didn't know I was fat?

In these moments I was acutely aware of how I moved through space and time. And I understood fully just how fat I was.

SIGH. WHAT was *I* thinking? I mean, REALLY... WHAT was *I* thinking???

I'll tell you what I'm choosing to think (even though it's now harder to do so knowing just how fat I am)...

I'm thinking that there are worse things than fat... self-loathing, negativity, joylessness, fear... and any attempts at change, rooted in all of these things, is worst of all. These things will kill the spirit much more quickly and effectively than will being fat.

I got some things SO right because I have always, and I STILL do, refuse to live, act, talk, dream, or function as though ALL I am is fat. I'm also PHAT!

I ran around this week, on city streets, jumping in puddles with my little girl in my SO 'not a fat girl' boots!
(They have written all over them, "People who say sunshine brings happiness have never danced in the rain!")

I burst out laughing (she so obviously hated getting caught in her transparency), and handed that woman staring at my butt an offering of dessert... looking her in the eye the whole time... daring her with my eyes to tell me she couldn't eat it because she was on a 'diet'. She's 'of a certain age' and single, by the way... she kept looking at my husband wondering (I imagine), "Why her and not me?" What I said to her in my head was, "Isn't it beautiful and round? Gives new meaning to the term 'moon'... it's a harvest moon... full, ripe. My husband thinks my butt is beautiful!" I continue to enjoy the fantasy of having done so! I even wiggle my butt a little as I think about it.

I teased the men as I passed through the room, thanking them for their lovely manners... after all, not many men stand anymore when a lady passes by, and here was a room full of them! They all blushed with delight (...and maybe they weren't standing up just because I'm fat).

I joyously greeted my friends, and told them how excited I was to finally be able to get back to my fitness program, and invited them to join me (one has taken me up on it... and SHE has a weight room in her house I never knew about)!

My little girl burst into the bathroom when I was drying off from my shower the other day and played 'knick knack paddy whack' on my naked behind with her little palms and we LAUGHED together at the delightful sound it made (rhumba hips!). I'm going to enjoy telling her this story when she is older, and perhaps angst-ridden about her own body, so that she can understand how the joy of unconditional acceptance can empower one to overcome anything... how she, in her little girl delight at her mom, soothed the bruises on my psyche. (I also went out and bought a new lock for the bathroom door, LOL!)

I'm choosing, despite the shadows that now lurk in my mind's eye, to still trust the look of desire in my husband's eyes, and to believe him when he tells me just how beautiful I am.

If you choose to allow it, love will heal all things.

It is in these moments that I am most acutely aware of how I move through space and time... and I also choose to honour the woman I am... the woman who has an immense capacity for passion, intimacy, love and joy and laughter... a woman who is eliminating the fat from her body one (sometimes teetering) baby step at a time. And in the meantime...

I don't dress like a fat girl...
I don't act like a fat girl...
I dance naked in front of the mirror...
I believe that I am sublimely created for all that life has to offer, and that for which I am willing to reach...
I'm diving headlong into the process of getting healthier, stronger, leaner...

I've joined teams that celebrate this journey and the process, who don't obsess about the results, and who stomp on negativity.

I read the blogs of people who have also learned that the battle you fight in your head and heart is the one that wins this for all of us.

I visit the pages of those who are true to themselves, and who refuse to be defined by weight, or the judgements of others.

I am supportive of people who are also struggling against the tide of negativity and self-loathing... people sincerely choosing something better, one new habit at a time.

However, I am also TRULY SAD that despite my best efforts, I now know how fat I am.... I begrudge the energy it takes to fight against the negativity this sort of thinking breeds... and I refuse to allow that negativity any sway in my life, or with respect to my experience here at Spark. I also hope that when I choose to stand up against that spirit-killing negativity in which altogether too many people are mired (and to which they, like some sort of ratty security blanket they don't realize they've outgrown, seem to cling), that my stand and my passion are seen for what they are... LOVE of SELF... and an invitation to something better. Fat is not all that any of us here are... and I, for one, refuse to encourage any other viewpoint.

Come and stand with me! Let's be PHAT together!
(Thanks, Carol!)

*Phat [ fat ] adjective
Definition: excellent - of a very high quality or standard; sexy, rich in texture, prominent (slang) or a shallow marsh found in the central valley of Manipur (REALLY!)
Acronym: 'Pretty Hot And Tempting'

(THANKS for the reminder, Lynn!)
By Carole King

You've got to get up every morning with a smile on your face
And show the world all the love in your heart...
Then people gonna treat you better
You're gonna find, yes, you will
That you're beautiful as you feel.

Waiting at the station with a workday wind a-blowing
I've got nothing to do but watch the passers-by
Mirrored in their faces I see frustration growing
And they don't see it showing, why do I?

You've got to get up every morning with a smile on your face
And show the world all the love in your heart!
Then people gonna treat you better
You're gonna find, yes, you will
That you're beautiful as you feel!

I have often asked myself the reason for sadness
In a world where tears are just a lullaby
If there's any answer, maybe love can end the madness
Maybe not, oh, but we can only try...

You've got to get up every morning with a smile on your face
And show the world all the love in your heart.
Then people gonna treat you better
You're gonna find, yes, you will
That you're beautiful as you feel.

By Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute
Or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall to their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honeybees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
The palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Here are several phenomenal people, to whom I'd like to introduce you... if you're struggling at all, these are the people who will show you a better way:

Beth: You don't have to be perfect, you have to stick with it.

CJ: Health #1, Everything Else #2

Dana: Path to Healthy Living

Jocelyn: ~Dreams so real they grow wild on the vine!~

Marit: Baby steps to health and fitness

Steph: Getting UNcomfortable in 2009!

Tony: Walking the walk..It's a State of Mind

Debbie: Topic: Self-forgiveness

And, because it can't be said enough... I REALLY appreciate all of you who read and comment... it fuels my journey and spirit in ways nothing else can!

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Great blog.
    914 days ago
  • EMILYD1952
    Thank you!
    2288 days ago
    I love your enthusiasm and you are an inspiration. Keep up the fight against negativity. It is a hard battle but one that I believe can be won. Thanks for the blog! It helped me.
    3225 days ago
    WOW! Great! I always slumped when I walked or sat because I felt fat. I would look at other heavy people wearing things I wouldn't be caught dead it and ask myself how they could be seen in public like that. My husband would tell me it was their attitude and self confidence. Just standing straight makes them look better and I didn't give myself that chance. He was right, but it is a slow process to feel it. Being short, I never had a midriff and that has always been my embarrassing area, especially when it gets bigger than the boobs! I can feel the change happening! emoticon
    3231 days ago
    You have such a great attitude!!
    3234 days ago
    This is so real. Its me. I am a big girl and I have known it since high school. Even though I was active back then. Your story is so close to my story with the difference is that I have breast that women pay thousand to have. So I find it inspiring to hear someone's story so closely related. Thanks for sharing. It provided me a boost I desperately needed.
    3235 days ago
    This my friend is the most refreshing and healing blog I have ever read!

    3236 days ago
    This is so much better a way to look at yourself than worrying about being a size 0. (Does that mean that you don't exist?) Well-said!

    My mother bore twelve children and I remember she was beautiful and her husband thought she was sexy (although I didn't realize that's what it was when I was young).

    3236 days ago
  • SUZY6281

    You are my idol. :)

    3236 days ago
    Oh, Ramona, you are just phenomenal and so beautiful! I love this blog! Fat isn't all that we are, we are so much more and I love you for focusing on that. Keep being you! Enjoy yourself and cherish your inner spirit, play and splash in the puddles, believe in your husbands eyes, not the sidelong glances of bitter people. I believe you've found a recipe for success! And thank you for the shout-out, I'm so honored!
    3236 days ago
    Love it! Keep up the spirit. Nobody says you have to think of yourself as "fat" except you (or in your case - not you!) Good for you! Don't let other people put you down.
    3236 days ago
  • JGMK55
    You are amazing! Thank you! Janice
    3237 days ago
    I truly enjoyed this blog... Thank you
    3237 days ago
    Your blog is very inspiring! I have been dealing with my weight and my thoughts of myself for years. Although I am not obese, the mirror often tries to trick my mind into thinking so. You gave me some things to think about! THANK YOU!!
    3237 days ago
  • KNH771
    Glad to find you again...
    3237 days ago
    Well said. Keep staying positive and realistic!! Keep surrounding yourself in virtual and real life with only positive people. (see my friend Happy-Destiny!) I tried to list his page link but couldn't - you can link from mine!! He rocks.

    God Bless and stay FIRED UP!!!


    3237 days ago
    B R A V O!

    I'm sending a link to this blog to everyone on my "Special Ed Teachers Lounge" team. Thank you, Ramona.
    3237 days ago
    WOW....Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
    3237 days ago
    this is a very empowering and thought provoking blog. Thank you for putting your thoughts out there to share. I hope others will read this and be inspired to change their perspectives of themselves and others. You are awesome!!
    3237 days ago
    emoticon Thank you!!!
    3238 days ago
    I really envy your attitude. I also admire your courage to post your BEFORE pics. Anyway, I think attitude is so important. Not to bury your head in the sand and deny that you're fat but to live joyously in spite of that. I think you're doing great! I, too, am fat. But I tend to loathe mself for it. Yet at the same time I am stuck here and have lost motivation to change myself. I just don't care anymore. It seems so hopeless. Most of that is because of the stress in my personal life right now. My hubby is unemployed and we have 4 kids. The money is running out and I'm finding it real easy to slack off on eating right and getting in shape. *sigh* I'm sorry - I didn't mean to dump on you. I applaud your efforts to get healthy and live life to the fullest.
    3238 days ago
    Wow...Thank you for this blog!!!
    3238 days ago
    What a wonderful, inspiring blog. You are a beautiful person and a wonderful lady, not to mention a good friend! All the best you wonderful lady.
    3238 days ago
    Lord Ramona.. you are so ON TARGET! I love the times I forget I'm fat and act like I'm PHAT. Does it serve us to loath ourselves, go around with a sad face or demeaning words about who we are?? Absolutely not!! I can (and should) love myself no matter what the scale says, no matter what the tag on my jeans says.. Is there some law that says because I'm fat I have to be joyless, negative?? A VICTIM of my fatness? NO NO NO

    Your post reminded me of a quote from The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button that I'm going to blog about this week...
    “For what it’s worth, it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit…start whenever you want…you can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that stop you. I hope you feel things that you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life that you’re proud of and if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.”
    - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

    Battle on sister... you are PHAT!

    3238 days ago
  • _BECA_
    Romona you really amaze me with your strong out look on things just amaze me! I remember when I was my heaviest I was in a sort of denial I guess it is really hard to except ones self as overweight I didn't have the confidence that you had I wish that I did, but looking back even when I was in my early twenties and thin weighing in at 125-130 keep in mind I am 5"9 so this was very slender but I lacked self confidence.I love the poem
    Carole King :
    You've got to get up every morning with a smile on your face
    And show the world all the love in your heart...
    Then people gonna treat you better
    You're gonna find, yes, you will
    That you're beautiful as you feel.
    WOW!!!!! it is so true and who really defines beauty? I am so proud of YOU and I have NO doubt that YOU will reach your goals thank you for ALWAYS inspiring others your AWESOME!!!

    Have a blessed day friend♥
    3238 days ago

    Comment edited on: 7/12/2009 1:21:38 PM
    Oh Ramona, you made me cry!

    I love Maya Angelou. She's a special lady, and so are you! I agree that this journey is one in the mind and soul. You said, "[T]he battle you fight in your head and heart is the one that wins this for all of us."

    It took me my lifetime practically to get to this point. Self hatred is easy to come by if a person has been mocked and teased since childhood as I have been. Most children are not really equipped with that kind of skill to not believe what they're told oe to fight against it. Even when I wasn't really fat, I thought I was. Now that I am fat, I'm constantly learning about who I am, and fat does NOT define me. Sure I have my moments where I'm a bit weak, but it is a learning process. And for this reason, I am going to win the battle in my head and heart.

    They say that for every negative thing said to a person requires 10 positive comments to cancel it out. For some reason, humans seem to take to heart the negatives rather than the positives. I've learned that we have to be good to ourselves. We have to love ourselves. Each person was created specially :) It really starts within. I have nothing but empathy for the person who loathes him or herself. I have been there, totally broken hearted, feeling like a waste of a life. I know what that feels like. But it's a personal journey and sometimes the first step is the most difficult. I choose to move on, and be happy, and feel grateful for all my blessings. And pay it forward as a sign of my gratefulness.

    Thanks Ramona. You are one very special lady :)

    3238 days ago
  • LUCKY-13
    Awesome as always!
    3238 days ago
    Wow!! I don't even know what to say after reading this blog. It brought out so many emotions, pride in you for not being afraid to be YOU, a beautiful Child of God, tears because of your feelings and realization of others thoughts about your weight. This has to be one of the best entries I have read in a long time from anyone. I may have to print it off and keep it to look at regularly.
    Sweetie, you ROCK!! Your spirit, your attitude, your drive. Immeasurable. I am so proud of you and that all of us that love you will embrace you freely for the beautiful woman you are.
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    3238 days ago

    Comment edited on: 7/12/2009 11:02:57 AM
    THANK YOU SO MUCH for this blog!!!! And not just because you gave me a shout-out. ;) NO! You're right! You had everything RIGHT and you know what you're body is not as healthy as it can be, but you can still rejoice in all of those wonderful things about yourself, YOUR BODY and about your wonderful husband, and your beautiful daughter, and ALL OF THAT. People do seem to equat extra fat with "my life, meaning ME, my BODY, and EVERYTHING AROND ME" being undesirable and worthless and it's SO not true. So many things are easier when you're light and fit -- this is true -- and the health benefits cannot be denied -- so this is in no way a fat girl manifesto! But there is no reason to let those current downsides to your physical state infect your entire being and I'm glad you didn't let it!
    3238 days ago
  • SUZANNE3018
    What you wrote rings so true with me. I too never really thought I was fat. I knew I carried a few extra pounds, but never thought of myself as obese.

    "The beauty of a woman isn't in the clothes she wears,
    The figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair.
    The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes;
    Because that's the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides."

    Thank you for making me laugh, cry, and rejoice in who I am.

    3238 days ago
    Oh lady! So many comments... If only we could sit and chat! :D

    So, I guess the first is what I immediately recognized because of my own experience. SOMETIMES it's difficult to read the blogs and postings of people so obviously dissatisfied with themselves. If I don't keep a balance, I feel a pull, a slight twist in my own thoughts that dip dangerously in the direction of the blogger.

    I remind myself that for those people that are drowning in the depths of their own misery, some of them smaller but complaining about the pain and difficulties of their life, there is an explanation.... Being out of shape has many of the same symptoms (physically), despite how small one might be. Now, beyond that, I know the pain that you're referring to, and doubt about your own (different) feelings of your own body. But beyond that, when I come across the self-hatred, I say what I can and then keep moving. It's not always easy, but there needs to be some self-preservation there.

    And as for not being aware of how you appear to others - You appear as you feel. You act as you are. Therefore, you need only to behave the way you have always felt and you will radiate.

    By the way, how sweet of you to mention me! I'm honored.

    3239 days ago
  • MTER67
    "I'm thinking that there are worse things than fat... self-loathing, negativity, joylessness, fear... and any attempts at change rooted in all of these things. These things will kill the spirit much more quickly and effectively than will being fat."

    Just wow. No matter what your goals are--to lose weight or to improve your overall health--your success will depend on your ability to love yourself through the process. Much continued success to you. Bravo!
    3239 days ago
    Ah my beautiful, beautiful friend. I do hope you will excuse my spelling errors when I write to you. I often forget, in my haste, to spell check and I have a horrible spelling issue. Partly brought on by my dislexia. But I am more than that and you show this to me, everytime I meet you here in the words. You make me smile!
    3239 days ago

    You got it sister!
    3239 days ago
    Thank you for writing this. As I have lost weight I have also begun to notice how "fat" I am too. Thanks for helping me to see that it is possible to regain perspective.
    3239 days ago
    I believe we see what we want to see in the mirror. Whether it is our true image remains debatable. That's why some people have self image problems.

    This is a wonderful blog. So candid and heart felt. I see at lot of me in your words. Keep up the positive thinking and keep sharing your wonderful blogs. emoticon
    3239 days ago
    Thank you so much for the invitation to something better. By finding your blogs I have done just that. Just amazing!

    3239 days ago
    *wipes tear from eye*

    You so rock... you know that?!

    And I love the comment from OMELYN about fatheads... so so so true... it's sort of like some of the most educated people being the dumbest about life... somehow I missed the 'progress picture' post but I squeeled with delight to see you in your "Jump for joy" pose... Julee & I were both talking about that today and how we love it.

    That is how I see you - jumping around filled with joy for life. No matter the package, you are HUGE of spirit, compassion, joy and beauty. That's all that really matters in my book. :)
    3239 days ago
  • _VALEO_
    Thanks for this blog. I truly love it.
    Positive, awesome, you're phenomenal!
    3239 days ago
    Puts me in mind of a Carole King song...
    "You're as beautiful as you feel!"

    The fattest people I know are the "Fat heads" who are too busy with cultural aesthetics to know beauty when they meet it.

    Loved this as usual! Missed the reasoning behind the name change, I'm sure it's "spot on" as usual!
    3239 days ago

    Comment edited on: 7/11/2009 4:53:05 PM
    yes...there is way more to us than just being fat...we are PHAT!!

    I like this blog and I like your positive attitude!
    3239 days ago
    Thank you for your inspiring words! What a great thing to read first thing in the morning. Phenomenal women, me? Yes, indeed!
    3239 days ago
    You are phenomenal. You really do have a wonderful attitude and I applaud you for it. Keep it up. You really are an inspiration.
    3239 days ago
    Phenomenal indeed! Thank you for the reminder!
    3239 days ago
    you have found the secret to life. to love yourself as you are in this day and time. i loved your blog, your poem and especially your attitude you are an inspiration to us all. i hope more women head your lessons no matter what there size. you rock. emoticon emoticon emoticon
    3239 days ago
    Wonderful, inspiring blog, loved the poem. You are an awesome person.

    Keeping it positive
    3239 days ago
    Wohoo!!! you go girl :)
    3239 days ago
    Thanks for this. I needed to hear this 15 years ago. I all I have ever known is that I was fat and that was it. Thanks for putting a different spend on it and making me see it from a different angle. Thanks
    3239 days ago
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