Not Very Jolly

I don’t know who said that fat people should be jolly, but I’d like to have a little chat with them – especially this time of year, when so many people seem jolly. I wasn’t a jolly fat person at any time during the year, especially not at Christmas. Not by any stretch of the imagination. I wasn’t happy go-lucky laughing my way through the embarrassing situations that often accompany morbid obesity. No, getting stuck in restaurant booths wasn’t enough to send me into gales of laughter. Nor was feeling self-conscious whenever I checked out of the grocery store, and felt the clerk and the people behind me mentally tallying up the calories in my cart. None of that made me laugh and draw attention to my big self.

I don’t know who said that fat people should be jolly, but I’d like to have a little chat with them – especially this time of year, when so many people seem jolly. I wasn’t a jolly fat person at any time during the year, especially not at Christmas. Not by any stretch of the imagination. I wasn’t happy go-lucky laughing my way through the embarrassing situations that often accompany morbid obesity. No, getting stuck in restaurant booths wasn’t enough to send me into gales of laughter. Nor was feeling self-conscious whenever I checked out of the grocery store, and felt the clerk and the people behind me mentally tallying up the calories in my cart. None of that made me laugh and draw attention to my big self.


I did know a few jolly fat people back then. Or at least they seemed jolly. They would laugh at their situations, make fun of their waist size, and eat with abandon like they didn’t care what people thought about them as they ate their 5th piece of pepperoni pizza. I always wondered if they were really as happy and jolly as they seemed. I just couldn’t imagine that they were because I certainly was not. I often wondered if their apparent glee over their size situation was a defense mechanism.



For me though:

  • I wasn’t happy that I had to shop in the men’s department for shirts.
  • I wasn’t happy that some car’s seat belts were too small
  • I wasn’t happy when little kids pointed to me and said, “That lady’s fat.”
  •  And I certainly wasn’t jolly as I moved further and further into myself.
  •  It didn’t make me happy to not be able to walk around for more than a few minutes without having to sit down.

No – I wasn’t jolly. Truthfully, I found life as an obese woman difficult. Perhaps some of those feelings stemmed from the fact that I’m not the most extroverted person in the world, and some of my “jolly” heavy acquaintances were. So perhaps their natural personalities just couldn’t be squashed no matter what their weight. I often wished I had been able to embrace my size more, even while trying to improve my health and fitness levels – but I didn’t.


As I lost the weight I became more “jolly.” I participated in other people’s conversations more freely and felt comfortable joining groups for the first time in years. When I laughed at something dumb I had said it was because I wanted to laugh at myself, not because I felt like I should because all overweight people should be jolly.


I felt like I rebirthed my sense of humor and it felt good.

Q: I end up overeating because it makes me feel better and I never really get full. I'd like to lose weight but this makes it hard. Any suggestions?

A: Being persistently hungry can cause big trouble. So can overeating for comfort/pleasure. These two behaviors, say researchers from Baylor University's Children's Nutrition Research Center, are controlled deep within your brain by serotonin-producing neurons, but operate separately from each other — one in the hypothalamus, the other in the midbrain. They both can, however, end up fueling poor nutritional choices and obesity.

Eating for Hunger

When hunger is your motive for eating, the question is: "Does your body know when you've had enough?" Well, if you are overweight, obese or have diabetes you may develop leptin resistance and your "I am full" hormone, leptin, can't do its job. The hormone's signal to your hypothalamus is dampened, and you keep eating.

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