Thin Me, Fat Me: Weight Gain and Esteem Loss

An overweight woman measures her waist with a tape measure

When I think of myself it’s as two distinct people. The me of before and the me of now.

The me of before is slim, energetic and able to wear what she likes. She chooses clothes because of how exciting they are. She is not scared of eating in public. The me of before loves exercising and runs for the sheer joy of it. Her body is a tool, a vehicle that transports her around all the fun things she wants to do.

The me of now is fat. I toyed with writing ‘overweight’ or ‘bigger’ there instead, but the truth of the matter is current me is FAT. She binge eats, a compulsion that she cannot put an end to. She wears clothes that are baggy, or that comfortably billow over rolls of pudge. She worries she smells. She feels rotten even in full make up and an expensive dress. The me of now is ashamed to enjoy food in front of others. She is sick of people explaining to her that the key to losing weight is eating less and exercising more like that piece of scientific wisdom had never been passed down to her before. She’s lethargic and full of loathing.

You see, I was a size 8 to 10 for the first half of my 20s. I liked to exercise and I enjoyed eating healthy food. I always felt fat regardless because I am a woman, but I wasn’t, not really. Then a few years ago I started a new job. It was night shift and it meant being away from home, in a hotel, for three nights a week. I ballooned. I didn’t have the energy to go to the gym, I wasn’t able to cook for myself for part of the week and for the rest of it I was too tired to make healthy choices.

I’ve quit that job since, but I can’t seem to rein it in. I go through cycles of good intentions; I eat healthily for a couple of days, or do some light exercise for a week and then it dribbles off to nothing. Eventually I find myself binge eating a multipack of hula hoops, or a loaf of bread with butter, filled with even more hatred for myself.

Here’s what I can’t understand; if I know that to lose weight I need to sustain a routine of eating healthy food and exercising regularly, then why can’t I do it? I know I need to do this, why is it so difficult to follow through? I’ve been fat for so long now that I have friends who have no idea I used to be a normal weight. I have begun to worry that this is me now, forever.

Some people say to embrace your body, whatever your size. I can’t do that. I don’t wear this weight well. I wear it like an unconvincing fat suit. I look at plus size women and they look great. When I look in the mirror I look unhealthy, slimy, ugly. And yet even armed with both my self disgust and my knowledge of how to fix it, I keep failing.

I didn’t put this up here for all the world to see in order to wallow. I put it here to say: this is me, this is my problem and it needs fixing. It might be the season of mince pies and hot chocolate but I can’t afford to wait until the New Year to get a handle on this. Starting right now (not tomorrow, not Monday) I am making a change for the better. Anyone with me?

Have you struggled with weight gain? Let me know in the comments below or by emailing hello@terriblypersonal.com