Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Thoughts on Shame

One of the blogs I read regularly, Chubbysuperbiker, has a celebratory post. The author is celebrating losing 300 pounds since he began changing his life in 2005. Please read his post, and come back. I'll wait.

http://www.chubbysuperbiker.com/2013/06/a-big-goal-new-beginning.html

On reading his celebration, I was struck by this statement:

"I haven't blogged a lot because I've struggled with in my head what to blog about.  There's a lot of stuff I want to, but it's deeply personal, deeply revealing, and deeply the stuff that people struggle with but will never talk about.  Varicose veins.  What it's really like to live when you're morbidly obese.  Clothes.  Hygiene.  Pain, the biggest one of all, pain.  All the stuff I wish someone would have told me 15 or 20 years ago, but that I never would have listened to."

I'll say here some of the stuff Chubbysuperbiker is shying away from: Being super obese sucks. There is no such thing as a happy super obese person. Even keeping clean is a struggle. Clothes look horrible on you, even if they are attractive in themselves, which isn't often. The health problems associated with obesity are so well known I won't repeat them here, but there are a lot of them aside from diabetes. 

I personally have no shame in saying I was once over 400 pounds. I lost 160 of them over 18 months in 2006 and 2007, maintained more or less successfully for 2007 and 2008, struggled with keeping my weight down in 2009 and 2010 as my knee troubles worsened, and ballooned to 350 as I recovered from having both knees replaced in 2012. I'm down to 310, and dropping. We all make mistakes, and we all have unexpected problems to overcome. The point is to overcome them. Part of losing weight is accepting responsibility for what you've done to yourself and others. Yes, I built myself to over 400 pounds and unable to walk a city block, and I don't mind saying so. I'm not proud of it, but I'm not ashamed of it either, because I'm not the person I was. 

It sounds to me from the paragraph I quoted that Chubbysuperbiker is struggling with shame. Shame he reached 567 pounds. Shame for the life he led. That's not an uncommon reaction to massive weight loss. I've struggled with it. I know other former super obese people who had to get over it; one friend once wrote he couldn't understand "why I hated myself so much." What I would say to Chubbysuperbiker were we in the same room, or riding together, is - that was then. This is now. You aren't the same man, because you can't be after the transformation you were through. Think of the old fat guy as the distant past, and move on. You can talk about him and what he faced because you aren't him anymore. 

And celebrate not being him anymore. One of the best moments in my life was after a 50 mile ride. I came home, showered, had dinner, and began reading a book. Then it struck me. I'd done a 50 mile ride and the experience was normal to me. And that kind of normal is worth celebrating. 

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1 Comments:

At July 5, 2013 at 4:23 PM , Blogger goldfinch said...

I am convinced that there should be no shame in obesity. But even if shame is undeserved I felt the shame. Likely most who are obese feel similarly. I try now to look back and say that I did the best I could at the time and despite all my issues I managed to lose weight and become active. And I did it when I was in my late 50s, instead of giving up. I am proud of myself, but not too proud. I never know where I will be next week. Or next year.

 

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Thoughts on Shame