The Unbearable Heaviness of Being

I am fat. There I said it. It's out there. Talk amongst yourselves.

Most people are probably terrified to talk about this. Why would she write that? Isn't she embarrassed?

No, I'm not.

In fact, I feel slightly empowered. Let me try it again, slowly this time:

I.

Am.

Fat.

Like a majority of hefty Americans, I work too much, eat too much and move too little. It began before my son was born, when I quit my full-time job to start a graphic design/marketing business, which isn't exactly an active occupation. At the same time, I bought a house and got married. Suddenly, my hourlong workouts three or four times a week were non-existent. I found myself behind a computer screen and eating whatever was around. (I should own stock in Fiesta Fresh and Starbucks).

Just as I was settling into a routine with work, I got pregnant. I had to work even more to help prepare for the impending medical bills and baby expenses. When I was eight months pregnant, I was working 14 hours a day — sometimes until the wee hours of the morning; my husband begged me to take it easy.

Then, I had the baby. I took two weeks for maternity before I started back into a grueling work schedule, this time balancing breast feeding and dirty diapers. As my son grew (he's now 16 months), life got a little easier. I tried using the elliptical machine only to be interrupted by baby crying, phone ringing or an enormous workload looming. I tried workout videos from "The Biggest Loser" only to have my exercise routines interrupted by every random illness in Beaufort County — bronchitis, strep throat, stomach flu.

I threw my arms in the air.

I waved the white flag.

I gave up.

I may not be embarrassed to say I am fat. But that doesn't mean I'm not bothered by it. I care about how I look, but mostly how I feel, physically and emotionally.

Last week, as Mike and Griffin were suffering through another bout of allergies or flu or colds or whatever illness Griff picked up from the Moms' Morning Out program, I got angry. I was so tired of being tired. I was through of the Fat taking up so much of my mental energy. No amount of success with work or parenting usurped the bad self-esteem I felt from being overweight.

But, then, something happened.

On my first day at the new gym, I met with a personal trainer (one session free with membership). She checked my BMI. Without even looking at me, she recited from her sales script, "You are considered obese. You are at risk for diabetes, high blood pressure … "

I was annoyed. Really? I had no idea.

"Well, that's why I'm here. I want to get healthy, lose some weight," I said.

"What's your diet like?"

"I became vegetarian a month ago."

She rolled her eyes. "Why did you become a vegetarian?"

"The idea of eating chicken and beef grosses me out," I explained. "It's something I thought about for a long time and thought 'I'll do it. I'm actually eating healthier now than I ever have."

"How do you get your protein?" she interrupted.

"Beans. Certain vegetables. Quinoa."

Cue the crickets.

Unfortunately, the conversation didn't improve. She was pushy and didn't maintain eye contact.

"I can help you get a six pack with the food in your refrigerator," she said.

"I'm not interested in a six pack at this time," I quickly said. "Right now, my goal is to lose weight and get healthy."

Just as I felt insecurity creep in, flashes of the last year and a half began appearing — the months of sleepless nights, the infection I endured after my c-section and the amount of work I have had to put in just to make ends meet.

"Listen," I interrupted her. "I don't know how much this will mean to you. But in a matter of three years, I started a business, got married and got pregnant. It's a big deal for me to be here right now. I don't have any time for myself. To get a shower this morning, I had to take it with my 15-month-old."

Her eyes widened.

"Is it mandatory that I meet with a personal trainer as part of my membership?" I asked.

"Ummm … No," she said.

I stood up from the table and grabbed my water bottle.

"OK … Well, I'm going to work out."

Before I became a mom, standing up for myself with a stranger regarding perhaps my biggest insecurity was inconceivable. I never thought it would take motherhood to make me more comfortable with who I am.

I may not be a size eight. I may not ever wear a bikini in this lifetime. But I will be damned if anyone is going to make me feel bad about myself ever again.

Does this mean I am going to be complacent? No.

It means for the first time in my life, I'm going to lose weight and get healthy for the right reason. For me.

It's difficult enough to be a woman in a society where skeletal models are considered the ideal body image, but add on the pressures of being a work-at-home mom and it's impossible. I'm unlocking the shackles of guilt and shame. I'm ready to tie up my sneakers (yes, I say 'sneakers') and hit the treadmill.

Come join me.