I may not be a doctor, but I’m an expert at being fat.

I went to a doctor today, one specializing in weight management. It was a referral and I think this will be one of the most difficult posts I’ll ever write so I might as well jump right in.

At the start of the year, I figured I’m not getting any younger and should establish a primary care physician for the first time in my adult life. That chick was cool and I’m glad I did the research to find the perfect PCP for me. From that appointment, I received a couple of referrals for additional avenues I wanted to go down; reproductive medicine and weight management. We’re focusing on the latter here.

Prior to today’s appointment it may help anyone bothering reading to know the thousand-foot-view of my history. I’ve been overweight in some capacity most of my life. It wasn’t a post-high school/freshmen-15 type of weight gain. Nicknames like “Oreo Fat” started circulating circa 1997 aka the 1st grade. Kids are great, aren’t they?

I grew up in a world full of blonde Barbie dolls and mom’s to match. Not only was it a severe character flaw to be red-headed and freckle-faced, but it was even worse to be fat.

Time passed, bully’s (even though I hate that term. Little assholes is a better one but I digress) came and went. While I didn’t think so in the moment, I did thin out at certain periods of time growing up; 6th grade rings a bell for some reason. I think that’s when I hit my peak height, 5’8″.

Even though my past self at age 16, for example would be considered normal size now, it wasn’t then. The societal image of beauty was defined as rail thin bones; think Paris Hilton and Mischa Barton on the red carpet. Anything other than that in my small northern Minnesotan town (or otherwise) was deemed unacceptable.


The first time I was put on a diet was the summer after 5th grade. I stayed a good chunk of the summer, if I remember correctly, at my aunt’s house a few hours away. She was a Weight Watchers leader at the time and drilled WW into my 11 year old little skull the same as if I was a 35 year old woman. Diet #1: Age ELEVEN.

It worked, obviously. I lost weight that summer. I was a thinner version of myself come fall when school started. More self-confident? No. Happier? No. More friends? No. But I had collarbones.

The rotating door of diets began so young that it scares me to think I’ve been conditioned to be mindful of everything I put in my mouth and what I look like for decades. I’m only 31 for fuck’s sake. And since then, I’ve tried all the things. WW, Jenny Craig, juice cleanses, intermittent fasting, exercise, pills, starvation. You name it, your girl has tried it. And they all work, for about 30 pounds of trying, give or take.

I sometimes think people see me and think I’m lazy or don’t believe me when I say I’ve been trying [insert diet or routine here] for awhile now. I might not look it but I do know what I need to do. It’s more math than it is science to me, I get it. And while I’m fat, I’m not blind. I can see the “oh really” and “you poor thing” sparkle in your eyes.


The really awesome thing about a blip of culture today is the #BoPo aka body positivity movement taking off. For the first time in the history of my life, I see people all over the internet flaunting what their mama’s gave ’em. I see women (and men) of all sizes not giving a damn F what society thinks. Living, dressing, acting, however they please in the bodies they were blessed with, take it or leave it. And I’m here for it! I LOVE seeing people unapologetically embrace who they are, how they are, and what they are. I want to know whatever magical fairy dust they found to garnish that kind of confidence! Seriously, please share.

However, while any improvement is leaps and bounds beyond what I had growing up, some of it stings worse than the ghosts of past and present.

I do genuinely believe people of all body types go through bouts of insecurities. The #BoPo movement sometimes, like 40% of the time, is so full of shit though. I said it. So often, it’s just another filter to pretend behind. Showing a before and after photo of you sitting in two different poses proves that your biggest fear on earth is to be fat. Well, try actually being fat.

  • Pose 1: You’re slouching, your bikini bottom is cutting into your hips, your hair is a mess, and you’re making a gross face. You look sluggish and tired, obviously.
  • Pose 2: You’re sitting straight, sucking in, and positioning your body at some perfect angle and the sun hits your jawline like it’s a diamond. You hiked up your bottoms to accentuate your curves, plumped up your boobs, let your hair down and threw your head back laughing. You look hot AF. No shit.

You think you’re telling your followers that it all has to do with an angle. You’re not fat, you’re just posing wrong. The thing is, girlfriend, you weren’t fat to begin with. You can pose the shit out of me and I’d never look like that.

Now, this is just one example of many where thin or average size people want to insert themselves into a movement meant to build people up, not tear them down even further. But by pointing out this example, I’m the asshole. I’m the one body-shaming. It’s so far from that though.

I recognize that thinner people can have body dysmorphia just as severely as someone who is fat. Mid-size bodies can feel groggy and bloated just as much as any other body type. Super duper thin or super duper tall people can have a hard time shopping for clothes. People of all shapes and ethnicities can have stretch marks.

But if you’ve never legitimately struggled with weight, it’s simply not even in the same ballpark; it never has been and it never will be. I just wish there was some sort of universal definitive distinction between being skinny-fat and the actuality of being fat-fat.


This brings me to today: referral day. I’d waited nearly 3 months for this referral appointment. In the meantime, I started (kinda) working with a trainer. She provided me with an exercise a week and I committed to working out 2-3 times per week on my own. I’ve stuck to that and found consistency which is pretty damn awesome and worth a pat on the back if I do say so myself.

She also started to work with me on some healthy eating habits. That’s been going okay-ish. I’d say my weeks are 75% successful. But I struggle with binge-eating on the weekends because I end up making up for being so “good” during the week by overindulging on Saturday. How fucked up is that?

I’ve lost a little weight since then, nothing noticeable or really worth celebrating but I am feeling good with the lifestyle choices I’d been making on my own in preparation for today. I was really looking forward to sitting down with a professional to talk about everything. My history, my issues, my binging, my sleep habits, my progress, all the things. Right?

Wrong.

Before we dove into anything, she suggested surgery as the only route for me to lead a thinner life and I backed that train way the fuck up because #cuewaterworks.

Surgery is not new information to me but it’s a non-starter. I won’t get into the nitty gritty today but it’s a “no for me, dog” for a multitude of reasons. Not only is it in my file but I told the nurse less than 5 minutes prior that I’m not currently considering it. I want to have a healthy and constructive conversation about my health, about ALL my options; not the one you are going to pressure me into. I want to discuss sustainable ways to survive, I want to be mindful of the choices I make. I do not want a “fix” without resolving the underlying issues. I shouldn’t have to explain that to a medical professional. But I did.

To top it off, I have no desire to “be thin” and she’d learn to know that had she bothered asking what my health-related goals are. Just because I’m in a weight-management clinic does not confirm that I have the desire to look like a Hollywood actress. And how much more of a confirmation of how unrealistic and disgusting my body is than by a doctor suggesting gastric bypass before even asking what I’m doing right now to better my health?

Sure, I do want to lose weight but not because I have an ideal figure in mind. I want to be healthy, live a healthy life. I don’t want my weight or health to limit me in any capacity or adventure that life has to offer. I want to carry babies safely; I want to love the body I have been blessed with, regardless of the number on the scale. Surgery alone simply will not do that, medical degree or not.

What this doctor failed to understand is that it took me YEARS to even convince myself to seek and ask for a referral to be professionally evaluated. Between tears, I tried to explain how embarrassing it is to have to deal with this. Have to think about it every day. How painful it is to compare myself to every other woman walking this earth.

Her response: If you had high blood pressure, you wouldn’t be embarassed.

You’re fucking right, I wouldn’t be. Because high blood pressure is not mocked and taunted in the hallways between class. High blood pressure isn’t a make or break to being asked out on a date. High blood pressure isn’t the reason you hate what you see in the mirror. High blood pressure cannot, in any world, be compared to being fat in the modern age.

Not only did it take me years to get myself to the doctor, but she doctor-splained to me about how fat people are fat. It’s all science.

Bullshit on all of that, respectively.

I may not be a doctor, but I’m an expert at being fat. And you cannot tell me that the mental aspect to the “chronic disease” I suffer from is not relevant or valid. Yes, it is science. But it’s also math. It’s also psychology. It’s awareness. It’s so much more than being predisposed.

Why do you think so many people who have elected to get surgery have gained the weight back? (More power to you if you did and kudo’s, this is not a diss on the choice. I know many people personally that have gone this route.) Because the underlying issue was NOT addressed. The emotional aspect, the trauma, the reason why you eat or binge or throw up.. It was not addressed.

And it needs to be.

I need it to be.

Maybe I sought guidance in the wrong avenue. I was under the impression that this was going to be a comprehensive consultation keeping in mind that holistic lifestyle change approaches were preferred and medical intervention was a last resort. I was wrong and that’s on me for assuming.

The resolution to today’s appointment was a prescription to two medications; a hunger suppressant and a craving suppressant. I think it was her way of meeting me in the middle. I don’t doubt that this medication could help with the hunger and cravings but it’s not tackling what’s going on at the root and I struggle with the lack of empathy I experienced today.

“Here, take these pills. You’ll lose weight. And we’ll talk about surgery again next time.”

“Cool, thanks.”

I hope I can look back at this a year from now with a big “FU” to the gal who told me today that the only way to a thin life is by cutting my stomach in half, literally. I hope that someone who actually can relate to some of this finds this and doesn’t feel as alone. Because even with all the really awesome body acceptance stuff going on, I still find it incredibly difficult to sort through and actually find women that “get it.”


Four final notes:

  • The last thing I want to do is offend anyone who is or has ever tried to contribute to the #BoPo movement by sharing their experiences. I believe in woman building woman up and know that insecurities, trauma, and self-loathing comes in all shapes and sizes. Your thoughts and feelings are just as valid and relevant as my responses to examples I provided are.
  • While they are sometimes difficult to find, there are some really badass woman on Insta that I follow and genuinely love. I encourage you to look ’em up (and plz share in the comments who else we need to know about!): @brenzaart, @sassyconfetti, @tessholliday, @thefatsextherapist, @swipefat, @lizzobeeating, @ashleygraham, @niccinunez, @visiontwins (guys not gals but still great).
  • Loving thyself is a lifelong journey. This post isn’t a cry for help or even a pity party. However, I don’t have a single person in my everyday life that can specifically relate to the issues I have run into with fatphobia and fat-shaming. From a childhood of mean girls to finding clothes that fit the fashionista you are; from the realization that men either like what they see but are embarrassed of you in public to not being attracted to us all together. I hope this reaches at least one person that can be like: PREACH GIRL.
  • Lastly, I know the doctor I saw today was “just doing her job” but quite frankly it was done without tact, consideration, or proper evaluation for my circumstances. Fat people have been treated unfairly and had problems minimalized in both society and in medical offices for decades. It’s getting old.

Anyway, thanks for coming to my TED Talk.

My Motivation.

Don’t roll your eyes or anything but I’ve been thinking about joining a gym again. I don’t have any master plan other than a potential regular schedule in compared to my unorganized life that I’ve accepted over the last year and a half or so.

Since my other half will be starting his new job soon and we’ll still be carpooling; we’ll both have the opportunity to have a little more consistency than we are used to. The only “downfall” I foresee is that his starting time is 5:00 AM. Holy shit right? But instead of taking that as a negative; I’d like to pull a 360 and consider it a positive. It’s not like I’ll have the option to sleep in since we share a vehicle. I’ll already have to be up and driven across town before the sun is up. By the time I get home; I can’t really see myself going back to bed for another hour. Once I’m up, I usually stay up so why not take advantage of it? We’ll probably be going to bed earlier considering the job change so it shouldn’t be difficult to make a routine of dropping him off, going to the gym, and starting my day. By the time work starts at 8; I would have gotten the “not so fun” stuff out of the way already and I probably would actually make time for breakfast.

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Camping In Warroad.

All that sounds like a wonderful idea but can I do it? Thanks to the go-getting motivating people that I’ve come across, I know that the answer is yes as long as you make a point to do it. Make a point to be motivated and go to the gym. Make a point of exercising and eating breakfast. I’ll call Anytime Fitness tomorrow and we’ll go from there. I already re-ordered my Shakelogy last week so that should be coming soon. I have a few things in the near future that if I think about them, can give me motivation:

My brothers graduation in May. For the 3rd time in 6 years have some extended family coming up. I’ll also be going to my old high school where I know I’ll see some people that I graduated with. I’m over half way to my 10 year reunion and don’t want to be the person that already went downhill and doesn’t have getting married or having kids to blame. I want to look good, damnit.

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The Brewster Clan.

Family vacation in June. We’ll be going on a camping vacation at the end of June with my family, aunts, uncles, and cousins. We’ll be swimming and walking, canoeing, and sunbathing. I don’t want to let how I feel about myself prevent me from enjoying my time. I want to be a part of the photographic memories and not just the person taking the pictures to avoid the other side of the camera. I want to feel fit so that I don’t get winded walking on trails.

 

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Our anniversary in July. We’ll be coming up on 6 years and even though I know my other half loves me no matter what; I do want him to have some beautiful arm candy on the celebration of 72 months. So often couples fall into a boring ol’ routine after being together for a long time and we never dress up or go out much anymore. One of the hidden reasons that I don’t actively offer fun nights out is because I don’t feel comfortable in my own skin.

School. I’ve been thinking about it as mentioned in a previous post and although I might gear myself more towards the online studies to begin with; I would like to attend night school and not that I have to look good for anyone; I still want to feel good about myself and look nice. I want to feel comfortable sitting next to anyone in class or choosing a partner for a project. I want to know that I can confidently walk up to someone and strike a conversation. This whole “no friends” thing is caused by me feeling like a gross giant next to anyone that I’m around so I pull the shy quiet card rather than the fun, talkative person that I know I’ve lost touch with.

So, it might not seem much but I’m going to use those to give me motivation. To help me drive the extra block to the gym and make my shake in the mornings. I’m going to use that to pack my lunch instead of grabbing McDonalds durning the noon hour. I’m going to do this and I’m going to do this right.

What gets you motivated? I would love to hear from someone that has been overweight and overcome it. How they found motivation or what clicked inside their heads to get them going? Although I appreciate and accept any and all motivating words; I often find it difficult to take advice from someone that had always been thin but wasn’t happy with the lack of muscle they had or something. It’s difficult for me to relate when they haven’t gone through the same pain and disappointment in myself that I have. So, are you out there? I’d love to hear from you!