Back in 2009, when I began losing weight the first time, I didn’t have any solid reasons behind my attempt. I’d been trying to lose weight on and off for a decade at that point, since my tooth infections had started causing giant gains and losses at random moments. Before that, I’d grown up in a household that put a lot of emphasis on body weight/size/shape, not in positive ways. I’d never not been trying to improve my body in one way or another.
After a year of mostly-fruitless attempts to lose, I suddenly had a very specific motivator and reason to reach toward my goal: shame. My body-shame was so great that it even infiltrated my dreams. I wanted so badly to be able to blend in again, to be invisible or not at my own will, to look like myself again. Just existing felt humiliating from minute to minute. Shame is most definitely not the best reason to lose weight, mental-health-wise, but it was a potent motivator. And I was honest about my reasons up front, even when people protested that I should be doing this for my health or to be there for my kids or whatever. (Even while losing weight, people will complain that you’re doing it wrong, that’s how ridiculous our fat-bias is!)
Fast forward to now. I still have moments of body-shame. I’ll probably always have them. The first time I was pressed to be concerned about my body fat was when I was about four or five years old, and that continued at home, at school, in society, etc – even though I grew up as an underweight, undersized child with a massively distorted personal reality. Time and therapy and hard work can only take you so far, and this is where I am now: body-shame still taunts, and I fight every moment of it. I don’t hide anymore. I run in front of other people even if they think I look ridiculous. I post pictures that don’t hide my size. I wear clothes that don’t render me invisible. Yes, I still want to lose weight and I’m actively working toward that goal, but shame is no longer my reason.
I want to lose weight because my body gets in the way.
It sucks when the size of your belly or chest means that you can’t tie your shoes without holding your breath. Shaving is difficult. Scrubbing a bathtub is difficult. Clipping your toenails is hard. The seatbelt buckle digs into your hip. Random body parts go numb when you sleep or sit in the same position for too long. These are all things that get better as you lose weight.
Beyond just simple space or contortion moments, my body prevents me from doing as much as I like. I can’t run as many errands or do as many chores, because I get tired out and have to rest more often. When we were moving, I couldn’t lift as many boxes and I couldn’t paint as long and I had to take frequent breaks while steaming carpets or scrubbing walls. I can’t stand having these limitations. I’ve worked my butt off to get fitter, stronger, and more flexible over the last few years, but regardless of all that, I still carry 75 lbs more than a person at a normal body weight. And anyone carrying a 75-lb weight on their body will tire faster than someone who isn’t.
I want to lose weight because my current weight is killing my messed up feet.
I was born with crooked feet that were corrected with casts when I was an infant. To this day, I still have a ton of problems with them, and those problems translate upwards to ankles, knees, hips, back, and neck. Physics are physics – the more weight on my feet, the more pressure they have to bear, and the more prone they are to injuries. It’s not just my feet, either – that’s just the extra bit for me. My size affects so much in my body. My big chest gives me back and neck pain. Sleep positions cause problems with shoulders and neck. I get nerve pain like sciatica from the pressure of my weight. These things can only be alleviated by weight loss.
I want to lose weight because plus-size bras are awful.
Seriously. Can’t any company get it right?? Torrid bras are stiff and irritating, Lane Bryant bras have no support, online bras are hit-or-miss and way too expensive to take those chances. The last time I found a PS bra I liked, part of its front-clasp exploded apart one day while I was sitting in public, even though there was no strain on it. That damn bra had cost me $75! And speaking of costs, what is it about plus-size clothes being twice as expensive as other clothes? It’s just another way we tax and shame fat folks. I don’t really care if I’m ever super skinny. I just want to be out of plus-sized clothes again. I want to be able to shop in normal stores and pay normal amounts of money and to actually find stuff my size at thrift stores.
I want to lose weight so that I don’t have to worry about weight or size restrictions.
Do you know what happens if sit on a lawn chair without checking the weight limits first? It’s not fun. I’m thankful to have not experienced this myself, but the cost of this small mercy is that I’m hyper-conscious of weight restrictions. I have this cruise coming up in May, and once again, I’m going to have to choose shore excursions only after checking weight limitations. Back in 2012, Jason and I took our first cruise, and in Costa Rica, we did a zip line tour over the rain forest. That time, my weight was under any restriction for any excursion on that trip. I didn’t have to worry about it at all. Now, I do. I have to worry all the time – weight restrictions, size restrictions, space restrictions. Can I ask for a booth at a restaurant? Do their tables move or will I have to wriggle into place and have the table shove up under my ribs? Will I fit into an airline seat, and will I be able to buckle the seatbelt without an extender? Can I squeeze into a bathroom stall built so poorly that the door opens inwards and gets stopped against a toilet, or will I have to use a handicap stall? Can I get into my car if the car in the next parking spot is parked too close or will I have to climb in from the passenger side? It is not fun to worry about this crap all the time.
I want to lose weight so that my doctors will leave me alone.
Blood pressure: normal. Blood sugar: normal. Cholesterol: mostly normal, and the same as it was when I was thin. Heart rate: normal. Oxygen levels: normal. Thyroid: normal. Hormones: normal. Diet: healthy. Fitness: above average. And yet, my doctors treat me as if I’m on the cusp of dying, or like I’m lying about what I eat and how much I work out, or like I’m a hypochondriac with all my symptoms. My PCP keeps trying to get me to take Metformin even though my blood sugar, A1C, and insulin are all NORMAL. Just because I’m fat. Other doctors think that if I “just lost weight,” my other symptoms would magically disappear, even if those symptoms appeared when I was thin. And it’s not just doctors – dentists treat me like I’m bound to have crappy mouth health when I’m like the only person in the world who has never had a cavity and who flosses daily. Gym employees treat me like I’m a great target to prey on, or like they can’t believe I would possibly want to exercise. Fitness instructors ask me if I’m sure I’m up to their class before ever seeing my abilities. I even had one health professional, on hearing that I was doing walk/run intervals, say, “You’re not ready to run yet.” Like WTF, dude? How would you know?
This is all part of fat-bias in our culture, and it drives me insane. Fat does not equal unhealthy or unfit. And frankly, I don’t think this should have to be one of my weight loss motivators. In an ideal world, I wouldn’t have to worry about my doctors treating me differently because of my size. But it’s not an ideal world, and I don’t have access to weight-neutral doctors or other health-care professionals. And one of the things I despise most of all about being fat is the constant need to reassure people who are taking care of you that you’re working on losing weight.
So there you go. My top five reasons for losing weight that have nothing to do with getting healthy or getting thin/pretty/socially-acceptable.