The why behind weight gain

Last night, I read something that bothered me.  I won’t go into the details, but basically, it implied that people are fat because they eat too much.  It annoyed me enough that I went off about it to my husband, who said “Then blog about it.”

So that’s what I’m doing – blogging about it.  Why it annoyed me so much.

Now, I’m not ignorant – food can make you fat.  Lots of wrong food choices will make you put on weight.  I can get behind that.

But at the same time, it’s not food that makes you gain weight.  In many ways, it’s life that does it to you.

Case in point – I’m a good 50 pounds overweight.  According to the BMI, I’m Obese.  I hate the BMI by the way.  I think it’s a lousy scale, as it also tells me that my idea weight would start at like 100 pounds.

Now, how did I get to be 50 pounds over my ideal weight?  Not from stuffing Twinkies in my face morning, noon and night.  Nor was it from getting super-sized fast food meals every other day.

No, my weight gain was caused by depression and having learned the fine art of emotional eating and self-medicating with food. Throw four pregnancies with postpartum depression to help fill me out.  I didn’t gain the weight overnight.  It slowly crept on with the pregnancies, then exploded at the end with the depression.

This is someone who’s never dealt with depression or dealt with weight gain doesn’t get.  It doesn’t happen overnight.  It’s not always because of bad food choices at every meal.  It’s those moments in life, when you can barely keep breathing, and you stuff a candy bar in your mouth because for one moment, that candy bar makes you feel good. And then you go, try on clothes, have nothing fit, feel bad…so you soothe yourself with a bowl of ice cream.

It may not make sense to the naturally skinny, to those who’ve never struggled with depression.  But I’m also betting a lot of you are nodding your head and saying “Oh yeah, been there, done that.”

And there are times, when you’re shoving that cookie in your mouth, you think to yourself “You know, I don’t even want this cookie.”  But you eat it anyway.  Because you’ve been taught so well how to emotionally eat.  To have food make you feel better.

Only it doesn’t.

And then someone naturally skinny person comes along and says they must have an “inner fat girl” because they love food so much.

Let me tell you – that’s just bullshit.  I didn’t get fat because I love food so much, and the same goes for so many others in the same boat.  It happens because there’s something bigger going on in their lives that they can’t control.  So they eat.  Sometimes, they don’t even like what they’re eating, but they eat it anyway.

It’s not always about poor food choices.  It’s not always about portion size.  It’s not always about over-eating.  Sometimes, weight gain is a symptom of a bigger issue, one that isn’t well seen.  Anxiety.  Depression.  Shame. Abuse. Medical issues.

All around me these days, I see these really skinny women, walking out of the coffee shop with a tall skinny latte and a muffin or something that just by looking at it, I will gain a pound.  But obviously it doesn’t affect them.  And I wonder, where did I go wrong?  What choices did I make that put me over here, in the Obese end of the BMI scale?

And then I think of those days, when Maura was just diagnosed with “something”, no one able to tell me what was wrong with my child, learning that I may never know…and those times I sat around, staring at the tv, shoving a bag of chips in my mouth because I just couldn’t deal with life.  Rewarding myself after a bad day with some ice cream.  Then realizing that I put on ten pounds in ice cream alone in a month, and feeling badly over it.

A constant vicious cycle of not feeling good.

And the funny thing is – I don’t let my kids eat like that.  It’s just myself I’m shooting in the foot.

But at this point, I’m done with being overweight.  I’m learning different ways of perking up my mood.  I’ve figured out the “why” behind I eat, and I’m trying to do better.  So that someday, I can be that skinny gal with the tall latte and muffin.  Well, maybe not skinny.  I’ve never been skinny, not since puberty.  But fitter, healthier, less lumpy, more curvy.

I’m still going to like my food, I’m just not going to listen to the lies it tells me, and call it a damn dirty liar when it tells me it’ll make me feel better.  I’ve learned a lot about myself over the past few years – and this is one of the things.

Maybe you’ve learned something too by reading this.