I wasn’t always like this. When I got married at 23 I weighed 128 pounds and had a 28-inch waist. Now I weigh 228 and have a 38-inch waist, pushing 40. Three times I’ve lost between 36-40 pounds. But I always pile the weight back on. Why does this happen? Because I don’t eat properly or workout consistently. But there are other reasons why this happens.
I don’t feel fat.
Does that sound odd? Actually, it’s kind of simple. Whether I stand or sit I just feel like me. I don’t feel or perceive myself as overweight or too large, unless I get in an airplane seat or see a picture of myself with skinny friends. If I’m standing with a group of men, talking, I don’t feel any larger than them. I feel just like them. If I don’t feel physically fat, then how can I motivate myself to lose the weight?
Food looks small.
I try to be conscientious about what I order in a restaurant. I really don’t want to be a glutton. But often, when the plate is set before me the helping looks small. Do you know what the size of an average slice of pizza is? It’s only a few inches. That’s small. So why can’t I have five; they are all small! Do you see the trap?
Working out is boring, a drudgery.
Some people like to work out. I hate it. It’s boring. It’s a chore. I try to make it more enjoyable by bringing along something to read while I’m on the elliptical, but you know what that does? It reduces the effort I put into working out; which is boring without it. I’d rather read a boring book than do a boring work out.
I feel loved and accepted.
This might be strange to add to my list, but it’s true. My parents, my siblings, my wife, and my daughters accept me for who I am. They would prefer I lose weight, but I’ve never felt rejected or shamed by them for my weight. Therefore, because I am loved and accepted I am not motivated to drop the weight. Of course, if they criticized me for my weight I’d be angry at their shallow attitude, and that would make me feel justified in not losing the weight.
Here’s something else that some fat people struggle with, and I struggle with it too: being fat means I’m a bad person. As someone who wants to be a godly man, nothing hurts me more. I think this when I abandon my diet or give up on going to the gym that day. I take that little failure and add it to my others and wind up with Bad Person Syndrome (BPS).
I promised my daughter I’d walk her down the isle as a skinny man. It didn’t happen. BPS. I promised a dear friend I’d drop the weight by the next time I saw him. It didn’t happen. BPS. When I dropped 36 pounds I promised my family I’d keep the weight off. Then I gained 36 pounds. BPS. I know I need to lose the weight but don’t feel motivated enough to actually do it. BPS.
People judge me by my weight.
Maybe you don’t think this is so, but it’s true. In fact, you may have done this but don’t recognize it. And for a Christian I cannot help but feel that my weight makes me a poor witness, and a bad example to other Christians. BPS. How many times have I met someone, reached out to shake a hand, and their eyes dart to my stomach. Then for the rest of the conversation I can tell how hard they are struggling not to look down. The whole time I feel ashamed because the way I look causes them struggle. BPS. I wanted to schedule a ministry event at a supporter’s home but didn’t do it because I feared what they might think of me. BPS.
I know what it takes to lose weight. I’ve done it before. It has nothing to do with diet shakes, fat burner pills, or rotating diet plans. Actually, it’s really simple: diet and exercise. Everything in terms of what I do goes down to those basics. But all of those other feelings destroy my motivation, so I remain fat. As long as I’m loved and feel accepted, what can motivate me to change? The catch is that if I feel unloved and unaccepted I become too angry or depressed to do anything about it. Catch-22. I remain fat.
Physically, being fat is simple. But psychologically, being fat is extraordinarily complicated. I’m trapped and I sometimes feel there’s no way out of this prison of my own making.