Is there really anywhere to hide?

I’m a large woman.  I didn’t get this way by eating lots of salads and running marathons – I realize this.  I got this way because, for years, I would eat large meals, snack often, and move very little.

If you know me in real life, you may have never seen me eat a lot.  When I’m with other people, I tend to make my meals a bit smaller.  I don’t snack nearly as much – if at all.  I make healthier choices.  I don’t know if this is just a quirky thing that I believe or if fat people every where believe this, but when I’m with other people or out in public, I believe wholeheartedly that everyone around me is watching what I eat and judging me for it.  In the small part of my brain that functions on logic, I understand that this is untrue for the vast majority of people, but I know from personal experience that there are people out there who judge obese individuals harshly – especially when they are eating.  Do you see a large person eating his second piece of pizza, and think to yourself that he should put it down?  Do you see a fat woman having a salad during lunchtime at the mall, and secretly congratulate her for going on a diet?  It happens, and it’s not always kept quiet.  This post can quickly turn into a very long essay on how America’s new unhidden hate for fatties is just another civil rights issue, but I don’t want to digress.

Because I believe I am being watched by harsh critics, I have always tended to do my worst eating alone.  The TV is the danger zone for me.  Another danger zone is the car.  If we’re driving a good distance (which happens frequently now that we live in a rural area and I work 50+ miles from home), I like to have a snack in the car.  Something about the snacking keeps me focused and awake and not bored.  (I understand this is a problem.  There is no need to e-mail me or comment about how much of a problem this is.)  I have noticed in the past that, if I was snacking in the car and we pulled up next to another vehicle, I would try to hide the fact that I was eating.  It’s just another opportunity when I believed I would be judged.  Sad, but true.

I don’t know why it never occurred to me until recently, but a few weeks ago I had an epiphany about this.  I can hide my eating habits from others, but I can’t hide them from myself (or from Dr. Wilk, thankyouverymuch). My jeans KNOW that I eat too much.  One look at the high numbers on the tags in my closet will tell you that I eat too much.  I may feel like a skinny girl on the inside (which I do), but I am indeed fat on the outside.  There’s no hiding it.  I can wear black and vertical stripes and Spanx all day, but you’re not stupid – neither am I.  I have bad habits.  I’m sure you do too.  Perhaps your bad habits wreak havoc on your lungs, on your liver, on your bank account, etc.  My bad habits show up as pounds for all the world to see and judge.  There is nowhere for my bad decisions to hide.

These past few months I have made some successful strides in eating less, eating better, and moving more, but I would be lying if I told you that my poor eating habits are totally erased.  Matt can tell you that I have a serious weakness for Culver’s french fries.  He can also tell you about how easy it is for me to eat way too much of anything whenever we’re lounging around watching TV.  It’s going to take some time for me to get exactly where I need to be – if it ever happens at all!  Things are slowly changing, and I think that’s okay.

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Heavy Butt – Heavy Heart…

My heart is really heavy this morning. It’s making me really irritable and depressed, and I just want to crawl back in bed and wallow in my self-pity for a while.

Being the wife of a pastor can be difficult sometimes. More often than not, it is a blessed life. I enjoy being in ministry with my husband, and I enjoy learning to love the people on our churches. But days like these leave me feeling battered and broken and bruised to the point of wanting to quit. I feel like throwing in the towel, quitting the things I am involved in, removing myself from the community of faith I have tried to become a part of. The truth is that no matter how much you are loved by the church you serve, you are still an outsider. Most of the people in our pews have grown up in the towns where our churches are located. They know all the history and all the people. No matter how hard you try, it’s really hard to become a part of a community like that.

I have watched and listened as people have judged my husband’s performance on everything from visitation to bulletin design. Positive comments get made, but people are so quick to pass on the negative ones. I have heard through the grapevine that comments have been made about things like my attire at church (admittedly on the more casual side, but that’s just me – and my generation!), my hair, my makeup, my jewelry, my attendance habits in the pews, my attendance at UMW meetings, my involvement (or lack thereof) in every little program of the church, etc. It’s as if people expected Matt to show up with a pretty, proper, piano-playing, preschool-teaching, UMW-loving little wife who fit exactly into the mold that had been created for me. Little effort has been made to learn about me and what I’m passionate about. Few people seem to love me for who I am (though there are some – and I am grateful for them!). More effort seems to be made into trying to shape me and suggest that I be who THEY expect me to be. When I have finally felt as though it were time to speak up for my beliefs, I have been shushed in very condescending ways that further infuriate me. On top of all this, a very hurtful comment about my weight was passed on to me last night. It’s like the straw that broke my back…

Come on – I’m not stupid…or blind. I see myself in the mirror. I know what size my clothes are. I know I am overweight. Beyond chubby – I have been the “fat” category for many years now. I could go on and on about what got me to this state, but the real point is that I am trying desperately to learn what it means to feel and be beautiful regardless of my weight, and how to be healthy at the same time. In the past year, Matt and I have changed our eating habits quite a bit to where we’re eating more organic, local, fresh, kind food. We are trying to watch portion sizes, fiber intake, protein, etc. We are getting more active – we joined a gym, and have been learning how to weave workouts into our regular schedules. At this point and size in my life, I am proud to say that I usually feel beautiful. I am married to a man who loves me for who I am on the inside, regardless of how much flesh surrounds my insides. I frequently leave the house feeling pretty. And every day I remind myself that I would rather be this fat, happy person than a thinner, bitter, unhappy person.

So why is it that one comment about possibly breaking someone’s patio furniture sends me into a tailspin of self-pity and loathing?

I have been struggling with what to do next. Right now (with some careful guiding on my husband’s part) I am contemplating moving ahead as if the comment were never made. As though I had no clue that there was worry about me crushing a chair with my fat butt. My gut reaction was to stay away – immediately disconnect. But the wisdom of the Lord and my husband makes me think otherwise. I’m not the first pastor’s wife that has been talked about in such demeaning ways. I’m certainly not going to be the last. If we want to get really spiritual about it, didn’t Jesus carry that cross all the way to death, suffering hateful comments from onlookers every step of the way? This pain and gossip is much less invasive and hurtful. Perhaps I should just suck it up and keep my eyes on the one who really matters…

>Updates? Meh…

>So, I’m realizing that I haven’t updated my blog since the Ice Age…so sorry about that. Obviously it hasn’t been a big priority for me lately, and I apologize for that. I doubt many folks actually read my blog, so I guess I’m not disappointing too many people after all. Still – I feel a little bad.

When we left off, I had said that Matt and I were taking part in a weigh-down of epic proportions. Sorry to say that we have lost all momentum on that as well. So now I feel like a big, fat failure…literally! Why is it so dang hard for me to find some discipline in my life? The good news about our weigh down is that we did lose some weight, and we haven’t gained it back yet! Hopefully now that warmer weather is coming around, we’ll make it outside for some exercise. We did get a Wii recently, and although it has kept us in the house, it has kept us pretty active! I’m fairly certain that I’m suffering from tennis elbow…

Church is good. Work is good. Family is good. Oh – Matt’s sister is having another baby, so we’re going to have a new little addition to our family! We’re so excited to have another neice or nephew. Personally, I hope it’s a boy. It’s always awkward to say “neices and nephew” instead of “neices and nephews.” Is that the most stupid and selfish reason to hope for a boy or what? 🙂

I promise I’ll be blogging more. I keep finding some neato websites that I might direct you towards. Maybe it will become a weekly feature or something. We’ll just have to see. Until then, here’s one website you must check out: www.cozi.com. Matt and I have been using Cozi for about a month or so now, and we love it! It’s a great place to keep our calendars, shopping lists, etc. So useful…

Love you all, and we’ll chat soon. Later!