I’m obese. There I said it. That dreaded five-letter word. No matter how many times I look at the word, it doesn’t seem mine. It seems alien. And something I’m not in a hurry to claim. That’s probably because I’ve chosen to skirt around the issue since I was 21 years old. Now I’m middle-aged. In the intervening years, I’ve tried so hard to go down a few dress sizes or become that elusive thing: a non-plus-sized woman. I’ve succeeded thrice in losing twenty-five kilos. Yup! I’ve lost twenty-five kilos on three different occasions in life after careful diet and exercise. But you know what’s happened all three times? I’ve regained all the weight I’ve lost. And now, unwilling as I may have been to listen to the universe, I think it was trying to tell me something. I just might remain a plus-sized woman all my life.
These are my meditations on my weight. And I’m fine with them since I have a right to say something about myself. But you know what’s not been fine? Some random colleague commenting on my weight or an extended family member expressing shock at my weight gain. Or friends telling me what I already know. “If you lost weight, you would look so good.”
I’m sick of never getting clothes in my size. Even with options for plus-sized clothes seemingly on the rise, I have to choose from ugly designs I wouldn’t have bought had I been slim or svelte. And clothes for plus-sized women cost an arm and a leg. It’s not like they are using meters and meters of cloth; they just want to fleece the outliers. Any piece of clothing is more than Rs. 1000 and undergarments (really good ones) can be Rs. 2000. And let’s not forget the cost of a treadmill (Rs. 29000), membership to numerous gyms, body slimming clinics, online weight-loss coaches, etc. I may have been able to buy a fancy car with all this money. It’s not like I’m a millionaire or a celebrity kid with a trust fund that I can afford to splurge on clothes and weight loss like this without feeling a pinch in my pocket.
There’s so much discontentment with the way things are; To think I’ve taken part in fashion shows in school. Now, I can’t imagine modeling unless it were for a plus-sized brand, which I’m not dying to do. Back in school, I used to take part in sports activities, too. I threw the shot-put, discus, and javelin for inter-school competitions and even won a rolling shield for the best outgoing athlete. When I entered college, all this came to a screeching halt and the kilograms piled on rather fast.
In a world skewed against the obese, how have I survived the last twenty-five years? I don’t really want to relive the past. But the next twenty-five years (if I live that long) look like more of the last twenty-five years. And I carry it around my heart like a stone.
Especially in India, every neighbor and classmate thinks they get to give you “advice”. In some cases, I’ve been tempted to ask the offender to take a look in the mirror before commenting on others, but politeness prevents me from it. So, I say it mentally and don’t address these comments in real life. Thankfully, in this age of social media, one can literally block out people from one’s life at the click of a button and anyone who drags you down or pulls you back can be expunged from one’s life.
What can’t be expunged from one’s life however is food. We need food to live! And to be quite honest, I love tasty and good food. I don’t think blocking out major food groups is the way to go. Nor is standing on the weighing scale first thing in the morning every single day only to be disappointed with the number staring back at you. Healthy eating habits and being active around the house seem doable until a crisis of some sort hits you and you resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms like eating too much or lying in bed too much. It’s a vicious cycle. You lie in bed because you are too tired to move. You put on more weight because you are being less active.
Your body’s metabolism changed years ago and refuses to change back to what it was regardless of what you do. And no, this is not an invitation to more weight loss coaches to populate my social media and bombard me with their messages. Thank you very much. Hormonal imbalances are common among middle-aged people and I’m no exception. Hopefully, getting the right medical help can fix the issue and regulate my body’s metabolism, too.
What keeps me going is that no matter what things are like at present, “I will rise,” and “I will survive,” to quote two black legends who by their poetry and music have been an anchor of hope for generations. For the first time, I’m trying to taste the word ‘OBESE’ and swirl it around in my mouth like a good chardonnay; Imbibe it instead of burying my head in the sand like an ostrich. And it begins to feel like acceptance.