The Sugarmonster

I just read this remarkable post, and it has me floored.

I've been overweight most of my life. My dad has this weird food=love thing and I was a fat kid because of it (we used to come home from the weekly grocery shopping with boxes and boxes of snack cakes and he was always encouraging me to eat, eat, eat). There were kids worse off than me, but I always felt like a fat kid and occasionally was treated like one, too. When I finally moved away from home and went to college, I lost about 80 lbs. and looked and felt better than any other time of my life. That's also, ironically, the point at which I met my wife. She also had always been a little chunky and had just shed her excess pounds, as well. We celebrated our newfound love by immediately getting pregnant. That was ok. I was ready to take a break from school so I started working and we got an apartment together and she stayed in school to finish her degree.

Pregnancy put pounds on the both of us. By the time our first son was born, we were both a little chubby, again, though not serious. Then we moved to Chicago so she could do her post-grad work and internship (Registered Dietician), and I got a job at an ad agency doing web work. She was already pregnant again, but we'd take walks with our son in the stroller, and I'd also go bike riding on my own. One bit of exercise that I got most every weekday was I spent my lunch break at a park near my work walking for about 45 minutes, or so. I was still a bit chunky, but in reasonable shape. She gave birth to our daughter, finished her school and got her license and a job at a big Hospital down in the city. We signed a mortgage on a nice townhouse in a good suburb and got pregnant a third time. Things were going well.

Then my wife died in a car accident. I was laid so low and so out of sorts that I started smoking again and basically sat down for two and a half years. No more exercising - hell, hardly even any walking. I was convinced by my family to leave the suburbs and use the life-insurance money to buy a house down in my hometown in Arkansas where the cost of living was about a quarter of what it is in the Chicago suburbs and I could more easily afford to be a single parent. Except Illinois is flat and the Chicago suburbs are full of sidewalks and parks and paved walking paths. In Arkansas, not so much. There are some walking paths, but they're relatively rare and not usually flat. With the hills it can be very difficult to walk very far unless you're already moderately healthy - and I was no longer even moderately healthy. Bike riding is worse - you have to be pretty damn fit to bike in the Ozarks. Not an entry-level area. So the weight packed on, though to be honest I really wasn't paying much attention to it. I was busy mourning my wife and an unknown son and trying to learn how to be a single parent (and discovering that my little girl was low-functioning autistic).

Just as a side note to all the assholes who cry in horror when they hear about somebody obese and shout, "But how could you let yourself get so fat?! Don't you just want to curl up in shame that you're so lazy?!" The answer is that sometimes there's so much other shit going on that you don't even realize it's happening.

So the weight was building up and somewhere after about 3 years I decided it's time to quit smoking. It's bad for me and it's just damn expensive, anymore. So I quit. It's not too hard once you get up the courage to actually do it. Except the pounds really started piling on once I wasn't smoking. I was already pretty fat by this time, but suddenly I got huge.

Now I started noticing. By the time I finally got my life in enough order that I could focus on figuring out my weight, I was tipping the scales at about 420 pounds. Some of the horrible, humiliating things she describes in her post were starting to happen to me, and, frankly, it scared me. My kids are already shy one parent, I didn't want them to be totally orphaned.

Thankfully, things are a little better, now
*. I'm still fat, but I'm mobile and capable.

That's not the point, though. The point is that I empathized with this young woman, not just because I empathize with everybody, but because I've been a ways down the road she went down, and it's a bleak place to be. Also, I feel just a burning rage at jerks who've never had to cope with a serious, debilitating problem like this, yet feel perfectly free to offer the harshest criticism and the cruelest taunts. To them a I give a righteous "Fuck You." 3 hankies

* (I eat a little better, now, that I've learned to cook at home more instead of always just taking the kids out for fast food. Also, one of the best things I've done for my health is to replace my office chair with an exercise ball. I've seen videos and posts making fun of it, but after just 3 weeks of sitting on a bouncy ball instead of puddling in an overstuffed office chair, I lost 30 pounds and felt far, far more energetic. I'm still working towards getting healthier, but thankfully I'm no longer at the point where the smallest tasks completely drain me. I'm feeling mostly pretty normal, now. This fall I'm going to start walking my kids to school instead of driving them. That should help quite a bit, too.)