Weight Part 3

I think it is really important for me to explore some information, thoughts and opinions about weight. I really like Iweigh– Jameela Jamil, this is an amazing community about learning and self love, knowledge and learning to be better- not physically but within ourselves. The body positivity ideology kicked off in the 1960’s, focused around the end of fat shaming and discrimination that comes with it, but it didn’t become a full fledged movement until 2012. Body positivity is meant to be about loving a body, regardless of its shape or size, whether it is deemed ‘acceptable’ by media outlets or not. This movement highlighted how much the industry profits off telling women (and men) that they are not good enough if they don’t have x, y or z. It is a multimillion dollar/pound industry. With body positivity, whilst the concept in itself is great, not everyone has the capacity to love their bodies for whatever reason, or the desire too.

Stephanie Yeboah was part of that movement, she is an inspirational woman and quite amazing! She was quoted in an artical written by the Guardian, where she explained that she felt the movement had been co-opted: “It has become a buzzword, it has alienated the very people who created it. Now, in order to be body positive, you have to be acceptably fat – size 16 and under, or white or very pretty. It’s not a movement that I feel represents me any more.” Within the same article, Rebekah Taussig, made this valuable comment: “The body positive movement doesn’t put people with disabilities and other marginalised bodies into the foreground. Body neutrality, I think, has the power to be really useful in particular to people with disabilities, especially those with chronic pain or people with diagnoses that are progressive. Those people are pretty frustrated with the demand to love their bodies when they feel betrayed by them. Being neutral could feel like a relief.” The Female Lead wrote an article about body neutrality and I felt this sentence summed it up nicely: ‘Our bodies keep us alive and we are destroying them to look a specific way’.

Stephanie Yeboah looks at one of the biggest criticisms when it comes to the movement of ‘fat acceptance’ which she moves towards, which is peoples concern around the health of a fat person. She feels this ‘concern’ is just a tool for fat phobia and is not a genuine concern at all. She speaks about the fact that the one and only time she has been admitted to hospital for being fat, it is because she was beaten up because she was fat. How shocking and awful is that? Why does anyone see a fat person and feel such hatred? I truely could have cried when I read that, I am not a bad person because I carry extra adipose tissue, I am not a threat to anyone. Our physcial beings are just a house for our insides, for our hearts and brains to be protected, the outside doesn’t say anything about the inside. I have perfect blood results, I am healthy internally, my body is incredible, I am sure there are plenty of thin people who are worse internally than I am. Stephanie Yeboah rounds off the comments about fat acceptance by clarifying: “We’re not promoting obesity, or telling people to be fat, we’re just saying, if you’re fat you don’t have to hate yourself.”

If we look at the This Girl Can campaign, it is amazing in its simplicity and inclusivity. This campaign was born due to many women not wanting to be active or get active, due to a fear of judgement. The campaign points out that the judgements can be from many different areas in life, fear of judgement over size, looks, taking time out for self, not being with children or family and a general feeling of not being good enough. I think this campaign and its use of real women, and by that I mean women of every shape, size, colour, religeon and fitness level, is inspiring. It doesn’t judge anyone, thin or fat, fit to unfit, althete to complete beginner. It is a celebration of how wonderful our bodies are and how enjoyable being active can be if we find our own thing.

So, even though I am looking at reducing my body size, it is not because I despise fat people, I follow many amazing fat women on instagram and do not judge them. If anything I am envious that they can feel so comfortable in their own skin, what a wonderful way to feel. My personal journey is to seek that, I asked the Dietician I see why I can’t be a happy, comfortable fat person. She answered, all the things that make you uncomfortable are daily experiences and that is why. That is valid and it is my personal experience, but I do not judge plus sized people, I envy them as I might envy slim people. I don’t want the steering wheel to dig into my tummy when I drive, which will happen soon if I carry on growing, plus I feel my eating is out of control. Rather than a thing I do for pure pleasure, it is a coping mechanism.

I think that this piece is valuable at this time as there are lots of derogatory and judgemental comments about weight gain during the pandemic, and of course because Christmas is coming, wouldn’t it be nice to just enjoy ourselves without judgement and the anxieties that this can bring?

Weight Part 2

So after looking around at different options, including a life coach, psychologist, counsellor etc, I decided to join the Bariatric Mind Mastery Course. I had a life coach a few years ago and whilst it was good, the work didn’t manage to get my mind on board with itself, and I didn’t lose weight. I have had a virtual gastric band via hypnotherapy, which at first was great but then I put all the weight and more back on again. I have tried all the fad diets, I have tried weight watchers so many times and slimming world slightly less, all work initially but I felt deprived and that meant it wasn’t sustainable and as soon as I got fed up/disheartened all the weight and more piled back on. I was tempted to go private to a counsellor/psychologist but it is very hard to know online who is actually going to be any good. I am under the NHS weight loss service, that pretty much shut down with Covid, except for the lovely exercise lady, Steph, she has been fantastic throughout. If I am honest, I feel very let down by the service, if it wasn’t for Steph I would have given up. I was referred to have a Psychology assessment and the Psychologist felt I needed to do some psychological work in order to move forward with my journey- this was in May 2019. This year in June they finally started virtual group sessions, on a Thursday which I have to work every week as other nurses are already off. So I was not able to attend. To say I was disheartened would be an understatement especially as I had been told they would more likely be on a Friday, which I could have worked around. I got dispondant, Covid was smashing through, stuff was going on with hubby’s job, I couldn’t see loved ones and I put on weight getting to my highest ever weight. Cue crying and self hatred going through the roof, which led to overeating to smoosh down such horrid emotions.

I got in touch with a company which specialises in gastric balloons, they offer one for a year and it has an 18month support program after which I felt would be beneficial and necessary. I clearly could not get into the right headspace, I was frustrated with people who said they had gotten fat during lock down, maybe putting on a stone or two. That added to my self loathing, if they hated two stone they must think I am disgusting and awful. My head wasn’t a nice place to be.

I am a member of two bariatric support pages on facebook, and have been for a while, these are for people who have bariatric surgery which I have been toying with for a couple of years now. One of my biggest fears, was getting surgery, it being life altering, yet I put all the weight back on because it is a tool and won’t fix my brain. The NHS weightloss group are clear that I wouldn’t be a candidate until I could prove I could lose weight on my own- ironic as the reason I was part of the group is because that is my problem! Emotional me finds that upsetting and frustrating, rationale me understands that to make this tool work I have to think differently. There is very clear evidence that says that people who are morbidly obese will find it extraordinarily difficult to lose more than a stone or two without drastic steps, such as surgery. There are many reasons for this, including that our bodies will have stopped producing the I’m full hormone, so even if we eat less we won’t get that full signal, our gut bacteria is often full of unhelpful bacteria which craves sugary food, and because we are used to huge portions etc it is just so hard to manage. There is more about this that I will waffle about at some other time!

So anyway, one of the facebook groups I am in, is ran by Debbie- The Shrink on Your Couch. I have seen her advertise her Bariatric Mind Mastery courses several times and toyed with it. She uses DBT (Dialectical Behavioural Therapy) as a cornerstone to the course, DBT focuses on emotional regulation and understanding behaviours. I have used it in my professional role on a small scale with people who self harm and suffer with suicidal impulses, and it has worked well when implemented as it taught them how to understand themselves and work on other ways to cope. So I decided, fuck it, its £473 (500$), I am worth that small investment and worst case it won’t bankrupt me if it doesn’t work- I am so optimistic!

I love this course, I love it. Debbie had a gastric sleeve, she was obese, she struggled with her mind like I am, she gets it. Other’s think they get it, but they don’t. I said to my dad, I know you think everyone is the same, but they can’t be, or else they would all be morbidly obese like me! It felt so validating to read someone else felt similar, and the first week of the course was eye opening. A new chapter is released weekly over eight weeks and I have just worked though week 3. I don’t feel like I am dieting, I feel like I am just thinking it through, if I want cake or chocolate, that is fine, if I want wine, that is fine. But think about it, examine any feelings and emotions that are showing up, do I want it, or am I suppressing a feeling? Its a wonderful, complex topic and I would like to share some of the things I have learnt going forward, I feel this could be it, whether I will still need the assistance of a balloon or surgery in the future or if I can do it alone, I don’t mind.

This fat girl can:

I thought I would do a little post about some of the misconceptions of being fat people have. I am fully aware that as a morbidly obese person I am much more at risk of many horrible diseases and illnesses, I am aware that I could in theory be a big drain on the NHS- this isn’t a given, lots of fat people have minimal contact with health services, though we are aware we are more at risk. I also think that we are judged harshly by ourselves and others, there are many people who are disgusted by the fact I take up more space than others, and I myself can also feel disgusted and try and fold myself up into the tiniest space I can. So here are some things that this fat girl can do!

  1. I can walk really far, before lock down I walked 12.5miles with my dad, made good time and though I was tired the next day I could get up and walk again if I wanted. Some thin people would find that hard.
  2. Last year I walked 15miles for charity, it was a 20mile walk, but despite training I ended up with blisters and still managed 15miles
  3. My blood test results are perfect-I am not borderline Diabetic, my cholesterol is great, the GP has no concerns about internal health, and neither should anyone else
  4. I can work 12hour shifts as a nurse, carrying out personal care and doing general duties as expected, my weight may make this more difficult on a personal level, I assume, as I have never been slim so have nothing to compare it to. But I am a damn good worker and do not slack off because of my weight
  5. I am a good nurse who is compassionate and caring, I am a good team leader and share mutual respect with my wonderful care team. My weight has no bearing on this
  6. I can be a lot crueler to myself than any other person can be, I don’t need trolls to tell me awful things about myself, I have probably said worse- and am working on this!
  7. I am not restricted, I can dress myself fully, cut my toe nails, clean the house, etc etc
  8. I can spend hours thinking about my mortgage and overpayments, checking we have good deals and working out where I want to go on holiday!
  9. I am trying to know my worth, I am more valuable than my weight alone, my weight is one part of me and in fact, not very important in the grand scheme of me!

This was a small exercise in reminding myself of how much more I am than my weight, that my skills and value as a person are not encompassed in my looks. I follow Iweigh which was started by Jameela Jamil on instagram, she started it as fat people are more likely to be undiagnosed with serious illnesses/diseases, as it will be put down to being fat and not explored. The world can be a cruel place, and so can my brain, so I am working hard on not being ashamed as I take up more space, as what I have to offer is much more than my weight. Within that, I am on a journey to feel more comfortable in my skin, which for me would include being physically smaller, but shouldn’t be defined by weight itself. 🙂