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A Fat Heart

This week has felt like one giant lesson in focusing on what I can control–and letting the rest go.

[And coming from a control freak, this is a really hard thing to do.]

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I have spent the last twenty-seven years more or less on some sort of a diet.

And like someone who escapes a job they don’t need or a toxic relationship – getting my sh*t straight with health and food has that same cathartic and healthy result as leaving something or someone that doesn’t serve you. Like my escape from alcohol, my escape from the insanity of the self-sabotage and food has been a helluva a journey.

I was chatting with a friend at the gym this AM, and she said, “I am going to work, but I really deep down just want a quick fix.”  (And she was kidding, but not kidding, and I applaud the honesty.)

And, ohhhhh, I totally get this desire.  Yeah, I want to “get thin” and “look great” overnight, and quickly. Where do I sign up for that?!

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And I have seen people doing it – most notably and popularly now with weight loss surgery (WLS), though not always the case. There are plenty of crash diets out there without surgery.  Still, I watch people who were my size (or larger) a few years ago, get WLS and just shrink in half in like 5 days and I think “Um. That’s really not fair.”  But I ALSO don’t want a stomach the size of a walnut, because I would BLOW THAT THING TO PIECES with one binge–because food, for me, is not about FOOD.

Food has, and may always be a source of emotions and blame and regret and sabotage.

So I’d get WLS, eat a whole pizza, and then die a brutal and fat heart death from stomach explosion. Weight-loss surgery would be irrelevant for me in the long run.

And I am not attacking the choice to get WLS, please know that. I have plenty of WLS friends.  Trust me, I know allll the arguments in defense of WLS–that’s not my point. I am saying that for some folks, WLS or quick results we see from extreme dieting, no matter how it happens feels unfair.

It’s just like “always the bridesmaid, never the bride” type stuff… oh, you had surgery and now you’re thin, and here I sit… sitting just like me, counting my WW points and drinking grapefruit juice and cabbage soup dieting, or whatever the next “hot” diet is…

WAAAAA!  Not fair! I “can’t” lose weight!

Yes, I know what that feels like.  Story of my life.  Yo-yo central. I get it.

Seeing someone’s drastic change (for the better), well, I would go through wide ranges of emotions. Happy for them, but couldn’t help but feel bitter or jealous about it.  All the while, knowing that WLS was never an option for me, and that diet pills, starvation and crash dieting is dumb and dangerous. #thingsweknowbutdoanyway

On the flip side, I found myself inspired by the folks on Instagram who had two and three year health and weight loss journeys…  who lost weight slowly. And they were effing patient to extremes. Those people made me think:  There is something else and more out there, and I am MISSING it. They are doing this, and doing it without a quick fix. How do they do it??? 

Fast forward a bit more, I realized that NOTHING WAS GOING TO GO MY WAY until these things happened:

  • I faced the truth about my “situation” – which meant looking at ALL the things in my life, not just food
  • I stopped blaming everyone else for whatever they did to me or didn’t do for me
  • I stopped lying to myself, and started holding myself accountable – no more BS, no more excuses

In other words, in the never-ending quest to shrink myself, I learned that it wasn’t even about my size and weight.

Fast-forward one more time, to now, almost two raw and riveting and tough years later.

I am down who knows how much weight and fat.  I really didn’t weigh that often when I was “up there” two years ago because it was depressing.  But I estimate that I am down about 50 pounds from my worst–and probably 35 pounds of fat since 2015.

Meredith Atwood in May 2015 (left) and in February 2017 (right)

May 2015 (left) and in February 2017 (right)

And it’s weird.  Because to me, all these pictures show are two years of dealing with the three bullet-points above.

Failing. Succeeding. Starting again. Journaling. Getting mad and eating a cake. Yes, a WHOLE CAKE. A small one, but a whole effing cake.

It’s been a process, and frankly, this whole deal has felt like the patience of biblical dude, Job.

SO I told my friend this morning, in response to her quick fix comment:  “No. This process is about pain and grit and working through so much. This isn’t even about the food. It’s hard.”

Here’s the thing:

We, especially as women, THINK “all of this” (whatever it is) is about food.

But food (whether overeating, undereating or manically controlling it or counting it)…that is just a guise for other stuff going on.  For me, it was alcohol addiction, being in a profession I loathed, regrets with so many things—that the masked with FOOD FOOD FOOD and BOOZE.

I addressed those things, simultaneously, while eating well and FEEDING myself (not trashing myself)… and I got healthier. Health FIRST. Then this weight loss happened.  Then I was a size 10 when I used to squeeeeeeze into a 16.  And it was surprising.  True, genuine surprise–even though I had been working hard, consistently (not perfectly), for the span of quite a while.

My business partner Ansley brought over our new line of tri kits for me to try on. She did the photographs and grabbed the top of my kit and said, “What SIZE is this?”

I shrugged, and said, “An Extra Large.”

She said, “Mere. It’s a LARGE.” Oh.

Then I was like, “WHAT?!? I wear a LARGE in a TRIATHLON TOP!?”

(And the herd of pigs flew by!)

But that’s when I knew that this time was different. This weight loss thing. My size (even in my own tri line clothing) didn’t matter to me. It was NICE.  But it has not been the goal.

I have, all this time, just tried to be healthy. To feel like a human. To feel beautiful, in my skin – whatever size it was. To just be me – a version that I didn’t want to murder or hate or blame.

Really.

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I don’t know where I was going with this whole post.

It started out with a story about how I did burpees at the gym and farted twice and how my stomach jiggled so hard I thought I would puke, but then I forgot about that story. But often these are the blogs that matter the most – to who, I don’t know – but maybe me. 🙂

I want to say this, and then I will go:  If you feel like you hate yourself, you are lost or sad or can’t envision a day when you don’t think about your thighs or your every bite of food (or the opposite, you just shove food in and don’t think) I can tell you – it can and will get better with the right framework.  Society and dieting culture has SCREWED us up in our heads. There are better ways.  And it starts with the simplest of things and lessons and people and support.

It’s a long life, if we’re very lucky. But life can be hard. Oftentimes we just make it harder on ourselves. We might as well do what we NEED and WANT, and do it for OURSELVES… because no one is going to give us what WE need. Only we can do that.  But even when we do the right things, we will be judged.  When we do the wrong things, people laugh and say “told ya so.”

SO I say, do what you want.

But do it FOR YOU.  Take care of yourself.  Because you’re worth it.  Life is better when we start moving in that direction.

Love to you all, from the bottom of my fat heart.
Meredith

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10 Comments

  • Julie

    March 16, 2017 at 4:06 pm

    Love this post. Thank you for not attacking the choice to get WLS, I know its not for everyone. I totally get the unfair feeling. I used to feel the same way before my WLS. However, for many they just don’t stay thin, they regain cause old habits come back. WLS is just a tool and yes, at least for me, losing the weight was easy, keeping it off is hard. The effects of the surgery wont last forever and I do find myself eating more than I did right after my surgery when I could eat a cracker and I was full. Thankfully through triathlon I found SBM and then signed up for SBF. Which has helped me change my relationship with food and as an added bonus has made me a better athlete.
    Also, if anyone is thinking about WLS please consider a program like SBF/Healthy Happy Hardworking U first. At the end of the day its about understanding your relationship with food that will make you successful.

    Reply
  • Sarah Hall

    March 16, 2017 at 4:57 pm

    Darn you. I didn’t cry until you said “It’s a long life, if we’re very lucky. But life can be hard. Oftentimes we just make it harder on ourselves. We might as well do what we NEED and WANT, and do it for OURSELVES… because no one is going to give us what WE need. Only we can do that.” As always, thanks for being so honest with us, and thanks for being with us on this journey. HUGS

    Reply
  • Emily Worth

    March 16, 2017 at 6:11 pm

    Goodness! This is exactly what I needed to read, exactly when I needed to read it. I feel like I’m in the middle of a slow-burn epiphany. I stopped drinking and now I’m ready to tackle overeating. But for the first time (ever?) I want to do it from the core, not just promise myself “I’ll start this diet tomorrow.” Change me. Change my habits. So thank you

    Reply
  • Doreen Donohue

    March 16, 2017 at 6:38 pm

    You and MV are so the bomb!!! I loved SBF this past January and plan on joining hopefully with my sister who like me has been there with you. Thanks for being so honest and offering hope to those who really need it!!!

    Reply
  • Kathy Bruinooge

    March 19, 2017 at 11:12 am

    This is the topic I struggle with the most even after 2 RoUNDS of SBF. I LOVE LOVE THE PROGRAM but need to understand my upper limits. You and MV are in my head and that’s a great thing. I’m a “lifer” from the other program and LOVED how you want to take that on. I see the world through new eyes and am eTing veggies I NEVER thought I would eat!! BRUSSELS SProuts FTW!! Thank you for finding each other and sharing the very best and worst of yourselves so we can know we aren’t alone. LOVE TO YOU AND MV!!! My heros!!

    Reply
  • Robyn Hollas

    March 23, 2017 at 2:06 pm

    I love this! The past year my husband & I have been working towards a healthy life. He’s lost over 70 lbs & I’ve lost 25. The journey for me has been like yours up & down previously with the latest & greatest diet. This time has been about health. The weight loss is a by product. So happy to have found you through Nicole Deboom’s podcast.

    Reply

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