On Black, Fat, Femme Positivity: Why I'm at My Heaviest, My Most Confident, and Don't Need Your Approval to Exist
"If I breathe in public for five seconds, it’s also common that someone will feel the need to tell me, “YASSSSS!” in an attempt to ch...
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Hi, my name is Mirakol.
I have a confession to make...
I LOVE food.
Okay, that probably wasn't the biggest of secrets. However, the fact remains. I absolutely LOVE food. I love cooking and baking it, smelling and tasting it, providing it for people and watching the joy on their face and hearing their kind words regarding something I put love and care in to nourish them. For me, food is a way to cope and heal--be it by cooking/baking it or eating it. I put great effort into the things I make. I even cried over a cake that didn't turn out of the pan once and a batch of biscuits that I put too much baking soda in. For me, food isn't just something to fill my stomach, it helps to clear the mind and fill the soul and heart. Now, one would assume that my love for food may be a guise for my dependence on food. That I bake, cook and subsequently eat my feelings. That I stifle my thoughts with deliciousness. This is only partially true. Food can quickly become an enemy of mine. It begins as something beautiful and can morph into ravenous force inside of me that wants nothing more for me to sabotage myself. For me to hate and detest my being--how I look, how I think others see me, what I eat and how much of it...
These are the two forces at war here:
The love and the loathing
These two matters play great roles in, not simply why I'm overweight, but why I can't seem to be successful in my weight loss endeavors. I've struggled with my weight and how I look since I was about 6 years old. I was constantly bullied in school and even came home to damaging words. From grade school through high school and even my first couple years of college, I was teased or mocked. My freshman and sophomore year of undergrad, I began changing how I understood food and how I ate. I started with the little knowledge I had. Eat brown food--whole wheat bread in place of white, brown rice in place of white rice--sweet potatoes instead of russets, turkey instead of pork, low-fat or soy milk instead of whole milk, baked instead of fried, etc. I was able to maintain my high school senior weight (257) save for a few pounds. I prided myself on maintenance, but my heart's desire was to see true change. I tried a couple "cleanses," workout videos and yoga DVDs, help from friends who seem to have it together, I even considered starving myself, non-spiritual water fasting, living off beans and rice (that one was more out of me being a broke college student). But none sounded as appealing as old-fashioned exercise and good food. By the time my junior year came, I worked out a bit more and ate a bit better, but I remained unhappy in my skin. My resolve was that I would always be fat and there was no changing it.
That thought right there...I will always be fat...is what has followed me for SO long.
Every time I would try a new exercise routine or regimented eating, I would feel it futile. I saw no change, I felt inadequate, tired, out of oxygen (dying!) and useless. I would wonder to myself if people ever questioned what this fat girl was doing in the gym. I avoided the gym mirrors for fear of seeing how stupid I looked trying to work out. I quit (again) and continued to eat relatively healthy, but with no real intentions of losing weight.
I graduated college and found myself about 3 months into my post-undergrad, sedentary desk job at my heaviest weight of 276 pounds.
It scared the crap out of me. How could I have let myself get so heavy?! Granted, it's not much more than my high school weight, but it definitely served as a wakeup call. I called myself buying books and workout programs on DVD, considered juice cleansing and diet pills. None of which provided lasting results or change in my mind and heart.
Around November of last year, I began getting more serious as time progressed at my new job. I, along with my roommate, started going to the gym and being more serious about healthy eating. I managed to lose 10 pounds in about 2 months. 10 POUNDS, Y'ALL! I saw that this was possible. That I can change my body--that I can completely recreate this body that I used to hate but grew to be 'okay' with, this body I've learned to groom, clean, care for, look at in the mirror and not cry about (every time)...this body I've known for so long. A dream I'd always had scared me more than getting to my heaviest weight did.
This sounds bizarre, right?! I mean, anyone else would be thrilled to see weight come off in such a way and elated to see more change.
Well, it scared me because that would mean that I have to get to know a whole new body. Will it treat as well as my old body? Will it comfort me like my old body did? What it mean for me mentally, emotionally, sexually? Will it provide the same security and hiding my old body did?
It was too much. So, I quit.
I stopped going to the gym regularly and I ate--not the good, nourishing food that quieted my mind and steadied my heart. The food that wreaked havoc on my body and mind. The energy, the restful sleep, the peace I felt in treating my body with grace and discipline waned quickly--and I didn't care. Part of me felt like I deserved it. Like I was supposed to be fat and unhealthy. Like death was more appealing than the painstaking healing process of my mind, heart and body. Lies. All lies. And I knew it. But believing these fallacies seemed easier than walking in the freedom I know God has and wants for me...the freedom He's commissioned me to receive.
Now, I've been tired before. But I'm realizing each time I go through these motions, my discipline, growth, healing, success is not about me so much as it is about all the lives God wants to touch through mine. On Friday, October 17, 2014, I got tired (TIIIIEEEEDDD!). Tired of being fat, tired of being a failure, tired of willfully letting the Enemy of my soul take my joy, and tired of pushing away the Lover of my soul through my disobedience to Him and holding on to shattered pieces He's already promised to discard or mend completely.