How to Treat The Fat Person In Your Life

Disclaimer:  Our culture has a distorted view of beauty.  That topic is for another blog.  Here I address the actual need for weight loss and how one might treat a person who is overweight.

 

This morning I slipped into some jeans I’ve not been able to wear for 3 years.  Thyroid cancer made my life miserable.  And still, with help from God and the people in my life, I figured out what I needed to do, and here I am, where I wanted to be.  It’s the most amazing feeling to wear pants that fit the structure of my body.  While soaking in the comfort of the thing, I knew I had to write.  Here are a few tips, in case you didn’t know, on how to treat the fat person in your life. 

Fat people know they are fat. 

You don’t have to tell them, remind them, or point it out. 

Fat people know the difference between good food and bad food. 

Telling them will not help. 

Fat people know that being overweight is bad on their health. 

Fat people don’t need to be made fun of behind the back or to their face. 

Fat people need acceptance.  They need to know they are adored, AS IS.  Adored in public and private.  Adored while eating.  Adored while walking.  While sitting down watching a show.  Adored.  Because fat is A WALL, FOLKS.  Fat acts as a barrier between the fat person and ALL THE DANGEROUS UNKIND JUDGMENTAL VULTURES out there.  Feelings of anxiety and feelings of hunger land in the very same spot on the body.  Each time anxiety is awakened, so is hunger, and vise versa.  Giving a fat person more anxiety gives them more hunger. Each time you point out how fat your “loved one” is, you’ve given them more reason to pack on the fat.  Did you take that in?  You might be the very reason your loved one is fat in the first place.  

Fat gives DISTANCE between the vulnerable one and yourself.   Fat prevents a whole host of activities, including love-making which by the way requires TRUST and INTIMACY.  Trust and intimacy can not be established alongside SHAME.  Not possible.  You might be blaming a lousy love life on the obese person in your life.  Lovers are made to love.  Bodies are built to heal.  The fat person has work to do, no doubt.  However if the fat person is living with an unsafe person, the fat will remain or return. 

Fat manages vulnerability.  And therefore every time you find it necessary to identify how fat he or she is (yes, it goes both ways) you are causing stress in which, even if your loved one wanted to, couldn’t release the weight.  Seriously, how many times have you known someone who found a lifestyle for healing and lost all their weight only to put it on again?  Have you ever wondered why he or she was almost driven to pack it back on, when they loved the weight loss so much?  Of course there are medical and life reasons weight returns, such as surgery, childbirth, thyroid issues etc…  When there are no good reasons and still the body reactively drives toward weight gain, that is when it’s time to start noticing how anxiety producing thinness is, and how comfortable obesity feels.  Either way, if there is weight to release, there is call for a healthy environment in which weight loss will be a good thing for all parties involved.  It’s the obese person’s job to learn to manage his or her vulnerability, however you can sure make it easier. 

Here are some things you can do and say:

Write down things you have done and said that were not safe.

Ask God to change your heart toward the heavy person in your life.

Tell her you have been an unsafe person.

Tell him you are done pointing out, criticizing, correcting and suggesting.

Tell her about your fears, that you don’t want anything to happen to her, that you are worried.  

Tell him you have decided to work on your health, including your emotional health, and want to be a safe person (please see the book Safe People by Henry Cloud and John Townsend)

Tell her often all the things you love about her, and what attracts you to her.  If you can think of nothing, you have grown a very hard heart.  Attraction is something we build  and work on, not something that hits us sideways from outer space.  No wonder she doesn’t feel safe.  Pray.  I will guarantee you, God will give you a very long list of things to desire and enjoy about the other person.  Because that’s how God sees us – our proud papa.  We are his adored children.  Prejudice, bigotry, and judgmental abuse cloaked in joking and jabs is a hard habit to break.  If not that overt, still, we our bodies are made to pick up subtle disregard and disgust.  What will change you is to have a good hard look at who you are.  You will notice what is ugly about you, and how God loves you anyway, and this will change your heart about the people in your life.

Remember, if your loved one has been harmed by you over and over throughout the years, he or she will have a hard time believing you are for real.  Allow time for distance, anger and sadness.  Yes, anger, and lots of it, toward you.  Grief takes time.  Trust comes along much later.  Time.  Let this healing take time. 

My family and the family I married into who are the worst about this issue.  I somehow managed to marry a man who, though not perfect, gets it.  He often tells me I need to eat more, that the reason I’m heavy is because my body is starving.  When I’m eating something not great for me, he tells me to enjoy it.  When I work hard at getting healthy, he tells me I look just as beautiful to him as I did before.  I’ve been obese (see picture) and thin ( now about 12 sizes smaller), and loved both ways.  I would have never lost weight if he had rejected me as a heavy woman.  He made it safe for me to get healthy and strong.  And I won’t ever take that for granted, because I know my situation is not the norm.

By the way, the body gravitates towards thin.  Make a safe-haven.  Learn to love the one you’re with.  Making these changes will make you both stronger and more healthy.  I guarantee it.  

 

 

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The Abusive Treatment of Body and Narcissism

The way we treat our bodies in this culture is the way a Narcissist treats everyone. Like something to use.  Narcissistic people are motivated by one thing.  Will this benefit me?

Let’s say I’m a Narc and I’m deciding whether I should say hello to you or not.  The thought process is simple. 

Will talking to you benefit me? 

Will talking to you make me look better? 

Will talking to you give me more power, or make me look smarter?

Will taking my time with you give me an edge in any way? 

Of course there are spiritualized versions of this. 

Will talking to you be worthy of my time?  My time really belongs to God, and after all, you didn’t listen the last time I told you what to do.

When relationally oriented (non-narc) types makes a decision, ‘Will this benefit me?’ is one of the considerations, but it is generally only one of many. What primarily motivates a relationally oriented person is, you guessed it – relationship.  Relationship to ourselves, to others and the world around us, which leads us to ask different questions.

Will talking to you make us both grow in our understanding of an idea?

Will talking to you make me late, which might harm another relationship?

Will talking to you honor you, honor myself, and honor God?

Will talking to you give you the feeling of belonging?

Now consider the way we treat our bodies.  Very fickle, and Narc-like, I say.  Body sometimes offers something that benefits me.  There have been times Body has been strong, and brown, cute, and just the right and shape and size for fitting into a nice pair of jeans.   There are times Body has made me look beautiful, brought me a bit of power, and given me advantages.  These are the times I’ve treated Body nice.  I’ve regarded it.  I’ve rested it.  I’ve attended to it’s needs, dress it up, stretched it and ran tracks and stairs and mountain trails with it, all friendly like.

And then something happens.  Body breaks.  It can’t do what it once did.  Just looking at Body makes me sick.  The swollen face, thinning hair, pasty and hunched.  Body that doesn’t benefit me the way I’ve wanted it to.  In fact it’s an embarrassment.  Total rejection and repulsion is what I feel toward a body that once benefitted me. 

Such narcissism.  Such objectification.  What if I treated my body relationally?  What if I sought to let my body know it’s value?  What if I attempted to receive the kindness my not perfect body has attempted to extend to me day after day?  Might I learn to speak blessings to my body?  Wouldn’t Body feel more beautiful if I made an attempt to welcome its presence?  Would the things I think and say to myself allow me to be more comfortable in my own skin? 

Some confuse narcissism as obsession with self rather than what it actually is, an obsession with a fantasy of self.  Because the true self is made up of a real human being.  A human whose body sometimes gives and sometimes needs to be given to.  Using another for my benefit is a terribly ugly thing.  So is using my own body, and distancing myself from it when it can’t be for me what I expect.  Body has value – it’s value stands alone despite not always being what I’ve wanted.  It’s time I treat it that way. 

The Day I Said Grace And Meant It

Ya, I’m one of those who says Grace. 

In private. 

In public. 

In the cafeteria. 

In a fancy restaurant. 

And when I’m eating food alone. 

To be honest with you, it’s always been a struggle for me to make it more than just something I rush through.  I’ve tried to remember I’m talking to God when I rattle off “Dear Jesus, thank you for this food, Amen”.  For a long time I’ve tried, rather unsuccessfully.  Until just the other day….

There I stood, cart and I, far isle of Super Supplements.  I had reached out to a number of fitness guru’s, asking their best advice on how to get well.  A friend had told me about a product.  There it was.  I stood before it, silent but shouting a prayer out to God.  “God, do I buy this stuff?  Do you hear me?  I need your help.  You know if You don’t act, I’ll have another anaphylactic reaction.  You know I can hardly eat a thing already, and now it’s reactions to grains, nuts, nightshades.  Please, I’m down to greens and berries… had an anaphylactic to bone broth.  God, don’t let this collagen cause a reaction.”  As I stood there shaking and shouting in the silence, Peace showed up.  And I knew.  Almighty God, He is the only one who can make what I put in my mouth a blessing to me. With peace about it, I placed the product in my cart and headed for check out.

The Blessing, for me, has always been about thanking God for the food I eat.  Thankfulness is good.  I guess I just missed the part about the prayer being a request, asking God to bless what I’m eating.  I realize this idea might be taken too far.  “Lord, bless this Mega Big Gulp Red Bull and Onion Rings to the nourishment of my body.”  On the other hand, some of us react to cashews and oatmeal.  Prayers aren’t magic words that give us what we want.  Prayers are heart cries.  Laying out the case before God who already knows about the reactivity in a body, and knows what might help.   

Saying Grace..

… asking God for what I don’t have

… asking for what I can’t get

… asking for what I don’t necessarily deserve

… asking for what I don’t know how to fix. 

I’ll continue to eat my spinach, cabbage, my blueberries and collagen.  I am fully aware I might become allergic to these at any time.  And I ask that God’s Grace might alter the contents of every bite, making what I take in a blessing to my body.  It’s no chore, to Say Grace.  It’s life. 

Bless the Lord, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless his holy name. 

Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all his benefits. 

Blessed be God, eternal king, for these and all his good gifts to us.

Psalms 103: 1,2

 

Listening Church.

My church.  I could spend a blogs worth listing the strange and unchristianly practices under roof called ‘church’, as power does corrupt absolutely amongst human types, this truth is consistent.  There is one practice, however, in my church, that I believe is the therapy and growth of some who decide to grasp on.  That of devoting a Sunday now and again to listening.  Church members telling their story while we the parishioners sit quietly and take it in.

The hour sometimes drags a bit.  We are not a generation of listeners.  The details of another persons life might escape us.  We can barely tolerate a 3 part sermon with a few overhead movie clips thrown in.  And still in that hour, if we allow for it, we learn to care.  Caring has gone out with front porches.  With Sunday afternoon lunches after church.  With aluminum kitchen table legs and oatmeal mush.  And with it, we’ve hardened our hearts to each others details.  We become irritated if the other hasn’t gotten to the microwaved point.  We judge when a person tells ‘dirt’.  “TMI, TMI!!”, we set each other straight.  We shame, and throw sideways glances.  We shift in our seats.  The discomfort of it all. 

Unless a quieting of our spirits… 

Unless we really listen to what is being shared… 

Underneath our shouting defenses, if we hush and be still, we find a current of life that resembles someone very much like ourselves.  Rather than noting all the ways I am far removed from this show-and-tell, I choose to feel the rawness of what we have in common.  I notice the way the teller’s story parallels my own and many I love.  I experience the saving of a life. The saving of a soul.  Of mine and yours.  The face seen from a distance is now known.  In the telling, it’s evident she knows more of my story than I ever imagined.   

Kitchen table worship, that’s what I call it.  Worshiping a grand God who knows all of my story and yours and stays near in the knowing. 

Kitchen table

Sat with you

The morning sun came shining

I told it all

The hard part too

Is hard to speak dark truth

Checkered cloth

A few toast crumbs

A cup of tea and salty tears

They run through me

And now you know

And so does God

Both still quite near.

Kitchen table

Sat with you

The morning sun came shining

I told it all

The hard part too

Less hard to speak dark truth.

A Sunday listen, even for the masses, is a good kitchen table’s worth of worship.  Good to know and be known.  Living the Gospel, really.  Good news that we are a mess, God knows it and moves near just the same.    

Medical Prejudice Against Fat Women

Today I went to the Dr. and I realized for the first time how different I was being treated, and believe it is due to my current state of obesity.  In the past two years I’ve gained 30 lbs, mostly in my belly.  Since thyroid cancer I am heavy and tired and look the part of a frump. 

My husband went to the exact same walk-in day before.  He had same symptoms as I, completely drained of energy, weak, struggling to sleep and breathe.  I gave him the bug he was being evaluated for.  He’s 6’3”, a solid assuming sort.  With identical symptoms he returned home without ever having been given a chest x-ray, without the doctor hearing anything in his chest, no sign of the infection in his ears or face with the antibiotics needed to feel better within a few hours.  The inhaler, and another breathing aid. 

Next day hardly able to walk about the house, canceling my appointments as I couldn’t keep my eyes open and breathing shallow, Ted decided to take me to the doctor.  When I got there, they could see in a walking test that my breathing went down to 94.  The Dr. suggested an X-ray to my chest which I hesitated to have done as I have been through two cancers already and thought if we could do without another dose of radiation, I’d appreciate it. 

I left with a suggestion to return in a week if things don’t improve.  Its been 3 weeks already with two relapses.  I realized on way home that I was not taken seriously.  I’m think it’s because of my giant belly.  The fat on my body due to thyroid issues.  I walk 20 to 30 miles a week, and still have 30 lbs extra weight as my missing thyroid has messed with my life.  The prejudice was the first I’d felt in years. 

The last time I felt dismissed for being me was during a time we were building our house.  Hanging out at paint stores, places where trusses are designed, bolts are purchased, siding is ordered, a man’s world at that time had little space for a woman who was doing 90% of the buying for a housebuilding project.  Guys daily cut in front of me, the guy at the desk would look past me and ask to help the guy behind me.  When I finally got to the desk, I’d be ignored when asking for a part and was given what they thought I needed, only to have me hand back the part and ask once again for the correct part they said didn’t exist, only for them to find it and ring it up indignantly. 

I don’t like the feeling of prejudice.  To be a female in some places is uncomfortable.  To be a fat woman is almost unbearable.  Portly men, they are thought to be powerful and strong.  Not women.  I hope to shed this weight once I figure out how to be healthy without my thyroid, but I’m glad I’ve had a chance at experiencing what it’s like to be minimized and disrespected inside a body that won’t cooperate.  I don’t want to ever forget for the sake of others who are stuck in a body they can’t alter.

There was zero reason today why I was not treated and my husband was.  There is zero reason to take one person more seriously than another.  Except for prejudice.  It’s time to ask, when do I take others less seriously for no good reason?  I’m sure I do.  Growing curve, teach me more.  I want to be kinder and more respectful. 

Weight Loss

Summer and Fall 2013 179
The writer and butterfly.

I use to be who I am now

Fat and covered in cellulite

Always hiding sloppy me

I didn’t the match the girl inside

And as I prayed and struggled on

Appeared, one day, just what to do

A friend I’d make

The one I hate

And over time

The change it came

Inch by inch

and

Size by size

I finally matched the girl inside

The years went by

most all was well

And then a cancer came to tare

And ripped the breast from off my chest

And choked my trust

And froze my bounce

And once again the hiding came

I didn’t match the girl inside

And still I prayed and struggled on

Appeared one day just what to do

A friend I’d make

The one I hate

And over time

The change it came

I grew to love

the one breast me

18 months of

all is well

And then a cancer came again

This time to claim

my thyroid gland

And spill around throughout my nodes

And throw my body balance off

I use to be who I am now

Fat and covered in cellulite

And now I know just what to do

A friend I’ll make

The one I hate

And over time

The change it comes

I grow to love

the one breast girl

fat and covered in cellulite

And as I friend away the shame

The outside me

it starts to

match

the girl I’ve always been