A client asked me last week how I could possibly understand what it feels like to be fat. I cringe when I hear that. I hate the negative sound of it, the harshness of the word. The negative feelings it brings up. But really- what is fat.
What is fat to you is not the same as it might be to someone else. We all have fat. The healthiest person in the world has fat, needs fat, eats fat. Fat is not the problem. Unhealthy is the issue.
You can be skinny and unhealthy, you can be overweight and unhealthy, you can appear heavy but be super strong with a healthy heart. The truth is that our outer appearance is only one part of our story. You can not tell by someone’s exterior what their story is, what their struggle is, what their victories are or what pain they are in at that moment.
Just because someone is strong or not or fit or not does not mean that it was easy for them to get that way or stay that way and just because someone is overweight does not mean they are lazy or don’t care. Everyone has a story of how and why we are who we have become. Some parts of the story we control, some we do not.
Here is a small part of my story so you can know me better:
And I hated them.
I was 40-50 pounds heavier than I wanted to be. That smile was not through my soul, I was in a very unhappy place in my life. It hurt to move. I could barely pick up my small son or pour a glass of milk. My body felt pain everywhere. I was weakened I felt broken. My clothes did not fit. I was miserable, lonely, sad and did not even recognize the person I had become.
The physical pain was the worst. It started when I was pregnant with my second child, I thought it was carpal tunnel but it never got better after I had him. I already knew I had thyroid disease and ‘bad genes’ but it felt like a dark cloud had settled over me and I wanted to pull the covers up and hide. But I had two kids to take care of and giving up or giving in was not a viable option. After a long journey of doctors they diagnosed me with lupus. I did not know what it meant and all the info I read online was about miserable people who struggled to make it through each day. The support group that my Dr. recommended seemed like a place full of people whose life revolved around managing their pain, comparing test results and trying to explain to others what this invisible war inside their bodies felt like and I understood them. But truly I did not want to be a part of this club. I did not want my diagnoses to define me. I did not want to use it as a crutch or an excuse or a label. “Hi, my name is Patty and I have lupus” as though it were the most important part of who I was or an excuse for who I had become.
I decided to do anything I could. When you have an autoimmune disease there are few things you can do for yourself. Cut out processed, artificial foods
Move. Stay active.
Stay well hydrated
Don’t overdue it.
I took the first two as seriously as I could. I changed the entire way I ate, started baking my own bread, cooking from scratch, buying nothing in a box, cutting out fast food, limiting my alcohol and slowly I began the journey out of my dark pit. I had abandoned running which had been my passion and exercise of choice for years because my joints could not take it anymore and even though I barely knew how to ride a bike I moved out of my comfort zone and tried a Spinning® class. It was love at first sweat. Then I started to see a personal trainer. Even though I had worked out my whole life,played sports, been in the military, ran multiple half marathons,and lifted weights since I was a teenager I felt lost on my own because my body had changed so much. It was hard to hold 5 pounds and all the exercises I used to do did not work in this new pain filled shell I was wearing. So some outside advice and new perspective helped me find a new way to feel strong. With every bit of progress I made I could feel my dark cloud recind a little further. The fire of determination inside me was burning away they fog of pain and depression that had taken over. As I found my muscles on the outside my inner strength was growing too, I found my smile again and I know I became easier to be around for everyone in my life. I was not the old me but I was a new version of me, and I liked her.
I could have let the pain stop me, smother me, beat me, define me.
Honestly, some days it still wins, but way more days I win, I beat it, I am victorious.
I am strong.
I am the woman I dreamed of being as a little girl.
Happy, kind, strong, determined, and independent. Now when I smile I feel it in the depths of my soul.
I am proud of my progress, I am proud of myself. There are lots more chapters to my life. This is just one piece of my story, but it’s an important one.
What’s your story?
How did you get where you are?
Are you still in the middle of it, waiting for it to be written?
Every day is a chance to change the ending, nothing is predetermined and you can make your own happy ending.
I hope sharing a bit of my story helps inspire someone else to keep fighting and not give up. Let life’s challenges become obstacles you can overcome instead of barriers holding you back. You really can do it. Be your biggest fan and write the story you want others to hear.choose you. Today,tomorrow and every day after that!