Unless you have previously had to hear the news that your weight and height put you in a category called Super Morbidly Obese III, you may not be able to appreciate the fact that this is a victory.
This is big.
There should be a parade. The President should send me a telegram. I should be turning down movie deals and paparazzi should be stationed outside my house to see me going for my morning run.
Yes. It’s that big.
|30.0–34.9||class I obesity|
|35.0–39.9||class II obesity|
|≥ 40.0||class III obesity|
Some modifications to the WHO definitions have been made by particular bodies. The surgical literature breaks down “class III” obesity into further categories whose exact values are still disputed.
- Any BMI ≥ 35 or 40 is severe obesity
- A BMI of ≥ 40–44.9 is morbid obesity
- A BMI of ≥ 45 is super obese
At 321 pounds, my BMI was around 54. Not that I’m focused on NUMBERS or anything.
<insert big belly laugh here>
Yes, I’m way too focused on metrics. It’s partly my job, sure, but mostly, how I’m wired. I need to measure things to see how they are changing. Particularly when it’s me that’s doing the changing. I just can’t SEE it or FEEL it. I’ve got to measure it.
Well, by any measurement, I’ve made it back from the edge. I’ve pulled back from certain death and the hideous embarrassment that was my life. I no longer have to suffer the torturous daily struggle as I try to live in a body that is double the size it should be.
Waking up with a headache because you’re so fat your neck tries to strangle you as you sleep.
Moving slowly because every joint is screaming their grievance as they strain to support and not break as you try to get yourself up and to the bathroom. I won’t go there, but if you are obese, you KNOW that going to the bathroom stops being a natural, biological process and becomes instead a contortionist’s nightmare.
Many obese people spend their lives in bathrobes and sweatpants because the fatter you become, the more challenging it becomes to find clothes that fit. If you can find anything, it will be more expensive but poorer quality than regular clothes. And forget about being attractive. Our goal is to cover and camouflage the worst and try to hide our sins in yards of black and navy blue fabric.
Every bite we eat is painful. We want it. We crave it. We can’t NOT eat it, but every single bite feels guilt ridden and criminal. How can we continue to abuse ourselves with every bite? How dare we enjoy it? We eat in private, and in public we nibble and taste and maintain our completely unbelievable pose that it must be thyroid or hormones or genetics or something. SOMETHING other than the pint of ice cream, basket of french fries and 3 dozen chicken wings we snarfed down as soon as the delivery man dropped them off last night. We go through the drive-thru and order three meals, complete with drinks and dessert to maintain the fiction that our children or spouses will be eating it by saying and add one Diet Coke for me at the end. The only one who believes this is us.
Our doctors try to tell us, but we cannot hear it. We continue to look for some reason, some cure, some pill or program or cure that will magically make us want to eat broccoli and poached fish instead of Big Macs and french fries. We inject our insulin and take our blood pressure pills with a glass of sweet ice tea and tell ourselves that it isn’t our fault.
Our spouses and family, if they are kind, try to gently suggest changes. If they are not kind, they ridicule or abuse us. Our friends, for the most part, support us, because they love us and most people do not equate that love with anything other than tolerance for what we are.
It is strangers through whom we really see the truth. That look in their eyes as they see you coming down the aisle of the airplane or theater. First there is the shock of your size and then the fear that you are coming towards them. Then the resignation or ANGER that you are going to sit next to them. And why not? They have paid for a whole seat. I should have paid for two because no matter how hard I tried to hold it in and suck it up, my thighs were going to overflow the seat and into the seats on either side of me. I would squeeze up against my husband or son on the other side, if I could. I would look anxiously around for an empty seat so I could try and trade with someone. I often traveled on inconvenient flights in the middle of the night or really early in the morning so that I could be on a mostly empty flight. Then I would get on last and waddle my way to an empty row of seats and ask for my lap belt extender.
Every area of my life was affected by my weight. Even my career. As a consultant, I really felt that I spent most of my time in interviews and first interactions convincing people that I was a lot smarter than I looked. How smart can a 321 pound woman look? It’s not SMART to be that fat, that unhealthy. Am I really going to pay this person for her opinion, her expertise if she can’t even take care of herself? And forget about longevity. No one wants to make a consultant permanent if they are going to be a drain on the employee benefits or be out sick all the time.
This is not my life anymore. I finally got smart. I finally got strong. And today I get to celebrate that I’m overweight.
I’ve earned my parade.