Being a writer isn’t exactly conducive to engaging in any kind of fitness. Your job pretty much consists of sitting on your ass and thinking. At most, you might type so much you develop carpal tunnel syndrome.
Thing is, I can’t blame my weight on my job. While I’ve been writing stories from the time I was three, I’ve only been a professional writer for three years. I’ve been fat forever. Blame it on the enormous servings of rice and beans with which I grew up. Blame it on using food to escape family troubles when I was a kid. Blame it on the self-sustaining cycle of being made fun of for being fat, which made me sad, which made me eat, which made me fat, which got me made fun of, which made me sad, which made me eat, which made me fat…
Point is, my being fat isn’t new. What is new is how I feel about myself and how much I, as a woman in her early thirties, think I’m worth. (Answer: a lot) This has a lot to do with my mother.
My mom passed away due to complications caused by diabetes on April 5th, 2006, and I think a big reason why I love myself a little more these days is both because of things she taught me, and because when she passed away, I had to figure out who I was as a woman without her. I was in my mid-twenties, and I wouldn’t have her to guide me through my adult milestones, so I had to figure out what those milestones were gonna look like. I had to figure out what I wanted and who I was and after a couple of years of soul-searching (and screwing up) after losing my mom, I realized I was pretty awesome. I feel more comfortable in my skin than I ever have before.
Remember that. That is important.
Every year, I commemorate the anniversary of my mother’s death somehow. It started with a short story I wrote called “Talking About William,” which is featured in my short fiction chapbook, On the Ground Floor. Then there was a series of introspective blog posts about her . Then, I did a video reading of “Talking About William” on YouTube. This year, the seventh anniversary of my mother’s death, I wanted to something bigger than I ever have before. I wanted to do something not only to commemorate the date, but to do something that would make my mom proud if she happens to be looking down on me and isn’t distracted by all the chocolate and massages and hot dudes in Heaven.
And here it is! The Pound by Pound Pledge Drive to benefit the American Diabetes Association. I lose as much weight as possible in the next year, donors pledge money per pound I lose, that money benefits the American Diabetes Association, and the ADA and I both win!
Remember when I said that I feel more comfortable in my skin than I ever have before? I think that’s the key and, ultimately, what will allow me to succeed this time when I’ve failed at weight loss so many times before. Now, keep in mind that there are many different reasons why people are fat. It’s not always to do with what one eats, and it isn’t even always an indicator of poor health. I’m speaking to a very specific experience. My overeating is a compulsive behavior that has its roots in all sorts of awesome muck, and I know that. But like I said, I feel more equipped to tackle this than I ever have before, because I’ve gotten to a place where I genuinely like myself. That wasn’t always the case.
You have to love the skin you’re in before you can change it. Otherwise, your emotions are all But I need that fat! It was keeping me safe from the world! and you shove a cupcake in your face. You have to deem yourself Worth Saving, or no amount of workout DVDs or books or dietary supplements are going to help. It has to come from you first. I’m finally at a point where I’m not losing weight because I want to land a boyfriend (got one!), or I want people to like me (I have the best friends and family ever!), or because it will make me more successful in my career (currently published in three anthologies with three more due out next year!). I’m already an Awesome Person, and I want to protect that Awesome Person by making her healthier and giving her a body that’s strong enough to lead the kind of adventurous life she wants to live!
I’m also doing this for my mother. I know she was always concerned about my weight because of our family history of diabetes and heart disease, and if she’s looking down on me between massages and bites of fondue, I hope she’ll know I’m going to be just fine.
It’s not going to be easy. My fat and I go way back. However, I think we’ve reached the point in our relationship where we have nothing else to learn from each other, and it’s best to part ways. I’ll be talking about my progress here at Ms. in the Biz, hopefully inspiring you to pledge, pledge, pledge! After all, your pledges won’t just help the ADA; they’ll keep me motivated to meet my ultimate goal.
I look forward to sharing my journey with you!