Have you ever looked around and realized that you are the only overweight person in the room? I hated that feeling. These days, with about two-thirds of Americans officially overweight or obese, being the only one may not be as common a problem. However, when I was morbidly obese, I was the only person I knew who was so big that I couldn’t fit through certain doorways without turning to the side. No one I knew had to sew her own clothes because the clothes in the department stores were too small.
I remember going to school meetings with a large group of moms and dads. I always tried to arrive first so that I didn’t have to make my grand entrance with everyone looking at me. I’d get there early and grab a seat close to the door so I could be the first one to leave.
Walking into social situations as a 300-pound, morbidly obese woman was uncomfortable for me. I felt like the people who did not know me looked at me, judged me as the “fat girl,” and went back to talking to their thin, beautiful friends. I often found myself standing on the far fringes of groups, or spending lots of time in the bathroom in an attempt to avoid people.
The interesting thing is – I knew I was doing it. I understood that standing against the wall during a party wasn’t part of my natural personality. Frustration doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt. Frustrated, yes – but also mad at myself for allowing my weight to control yet another part of my life.
I already felt like my weight had robbed me of spending active time with my kids and taken some of the joy out of everyday activities because they were so difficult to complete. Now my weight was isolating me.
Often, I found myself making excuses not to go places, just so I wouldn’t be the fattest person in the room. I’d beg my husband to take the kids to birthday parties. If he hesitated, or said he did not want to be the only dad at a party, I’d sulk until he agreed. The entire time he was gone I felt guilty. But instead of trying to move my body by getting active, I sat on the couch and sulked with a big bag of candy.
Isolation and obesity is a concern. I have helped people lose weight who share similar feelings. When I began losing weight, I felt less isolated because I felt comfortable being in a room full of people who were not morbidly obese. Was it a good thing that I tried to isolate myself? No, it wasn’t. It was unfortunate that I wasn’t able to enjoy my life without worrying about my weight. I wish things had been different, but they weren’t.
If you are struggling with your weight, I encourage you to not allow your weight to isolate you. Talk to a counselor or a trusted friend about your feelings. Make small changes in your diet until the small good changes outweigh the unhealthier changes. Every time you do something healthy for yourself, you can gain confidence that you can change your life.