I can’t quite get my arms around it- what fat feels like


Anna Rosenblum Palmer full body
I will stop taking shots at my full body shot.

My 25th High School Reunion looms.

1991 was the last time I loved my body unequivocally. Despite my Doc Martins I walked the halls with a light step. I let vintage silver charms dip into my perky cleavage. I could hike in Cat Rock Park with my smoker friends, and even if I had taken a drag I wouldn’t have dragged ass back uphill to campus with unde-roxygenated lungs. The only time in high school that I carried an extra 65 pounds was during winter camping trips. Then I could sit at the end of the day and wriggle out of that onerous back pack returning to the way I was without extra baggage.

Now it is time to return to the scene.

Despite the likely heat of summer I will not wear shorts. If I do my legs will reveal their strange triangular shape which now finish in thick rather than graceful ankles. I will likely wear a dress with tights to stop the worst of the chafing, but instead of my trying hard to be alternativeDoc Martins I will probably look at Frye boots and finally decide on decades old Dansko Clogs. The sound of my steps will echo up the stairs as I push my wide ass backwards to create a center of gravity that works for my mass. I won’t be able to hear that though as the blood rushes around my head to quickly redden my face from the exertion. The same stairs that I bounded up from school bookstore to dining room will just about be the death of me. It is likely that I will rest at the landing to slow my breathing.

When I reach the main level with its plate glass looking out at the quad my classmates might already be there. Who am I kidding. I will be the first, chatting uncomfortably with a fundraiser who was not on campus when I was there. At least I won’t have to hug her. I will rudely look over her shoulder, seeking a familiar face. My graduating class had 45 students so to varying degrees I knew all of them. When the first arrives it is likely we will embrace. When that happens I will hold myself slightly apart. I worry both about my feelings of claustrophobia and the sinking squishy self that will be in full frontal contact with my old friend. I will pat her back quickly to try to model how I want her to touch me. I don’t want her nimble fingers to feel the flesh that mounds around my bra.

The clogs will help with the worst of it but after a small slice of time I will shift from left foot to right trying to ease the pain of too much self on my feet. My left hip will throb and as I reach to massage it I will dig my fingers deep into my upper butt to reach the tight muscle below. It does what it can the muscle, but it is tired. Just like I am. When I realize that there won’t be a place to sit until after cocktail hour I  remind myself to draw strength from my core and reach the crown of my head to the sky. I spread my toes and feel the earth under my clogged feet. This momentary redirection will work. I will feel my spine stretching and the space that I take up will be conscious and strong. As quickly as this confidence comes it will leave me. As I am brushing a strand of hair out of my face I will realize that it is stuck in my neck fold and I am slumping again, feeling the rolls of skin on skin…sin on sin.

That last bit is the worst of it. Not the vanity. Not even way my weight exacerbates my health problems. But the self loathing. What does it mean that I can’t lose weight? That I carry around my failures in fat cells?

All of this is the way my outside effects my inside. To my husband there is nothing more false than those paragraphs. He loves me. My body and skin, my softness, my lower butt and upper butt. He can’t get enough of me. Yet this is not enough. When I am at my lowest and I talk like this to my friends they respond with denial. You are NOT obese. My son says the same thing. You are NOT fat, mama. Even my 9 year old knows how the world feels. He loves me+ fat is horrible = I can’t be fat. Being smart and appealing and fat are not mutually exclusive. Yet with the exception of Adele and Melissa McCarthy they are. So my friends think that means I can’t be fat. And I think it means I can’t be appealing.

I read the blogs, I watch the videos. I try to internalize the self love that every sized women sing about. I am both inspired by and jealous of the women who are truly comfortable in their own skin. Which includes whatever adipose might lurk beneath it.  But for me the bottom line is that I hate my bottom. I worry about how my curves effect my breathing at night, my mood, my joints  and my blood pressure. I worry that each time I change my eating and lose weight only to rebound with more it makes me hold more tightly to the idea that I am a failure. As I teach my kids how much is possible I am face to fat face with the seeming impossibility of making any sort of lasting change.

I have been in therapy. I have looked to the East with herbs and accupuncture. I have practiced yoga. I have joined weight loss studies. I have spent years eschewing the idea of diets and others carefully chewing my food. I have embraced new eating habits to temporary success and longer distress. I have engaged in loving kindness meditation and Western medication. I have read about Awareness and focused on the power of Now. I have grown my own food. I have read ridiculous numbers of studies on protein and fat and carbohydrates. I have logged my eating on apps and in diaries. I have examined my priorities.

Through 20 years of effort I am a little fatter every year. 

With my aches and my sadness, with my judgement and my trudging steps I realize I have reached the final stage of grief. I have traveled through denial, anger and bargaining. I am ready for acceptance.I am laying down my sword. I don’t want to fight anymore. I can’t want to cut away a huge piece of myself and love myself at the same time.Even if I never lose a pound I am going to lighten my load.  I can let go of diets and tracking and eat for literal and figurative nourishment. I can see what my kids see. I can feel what Steve feels.

And I can hug my high school friends. I’m sure they will be feeling nostalgia, not back fat.

Published by

Anna Palmer

Anna Rosenblum Palmer is a freelance writer based in Denver, CO. She writes about sex, parenting, cat pee, bi-polar disorder and the NFL; all things inextricably intertwined with her mental health. In her free time she teaches her boys creative swear words, seeks the last missing puzzle piece and thinks deeply about how she is not exercising. Her writing can be found on Babble, Parent.co, Great Moments in Parenting, Ravishly, Good Men Project, Sammiches and Psych Meds, Playpen, Crazy Good Parent, and YourTango. She also does a fair amount of navel gazing on her own blog at annarosenblumpalmer.com.

43 thoughts on “I can’t quite get my arms around it- what fat feels like”

  1. You are way to hard on yourself! I like your honesty actually love it, but don’t beat yourself down, something will click for you eventually and it sounds like you have your family’s support so use that positive energy to work for you.

    1. Writing the post helps get the negative thoughts out of my head. We are all too hard on ourselves sometimes…its what we do next that counts, even if it takes 20 years. Thanks for reading…and writing. I love Skipah’s realm.

  2. “I try to internalize the self love that every sized women sing about” : Singing about it and having it are not always the same thing. If they have to tell you they have it, then they, like you are probably just searching to find their beautiful selves. Time to celebrate this special occasion and dress up and go out to a coffee shop and leisurely enjoy liquid sunshine in a cup. 🙂

  3. This might seem rather odd. But I suffer from identical passions of the fat. And what helped me was a professional nude photo shoot. Long story short, it happened. And yes some of the pictures were me sitting with my fat rolls that no living person should ever see. BUT some of them were beautiful.
    After initial shock, I felt comfortable. Even just walking around naked, which initially felt like a torture.
    I’ve seen it. I’ve seen my body at it’s worst and best from all angles. It was enlightening and somehow therapeutic.
    So there 🙂

  4. Anna! You are, just as some of us are, our own worst enemies. You are so tough on yourself. What would you say to a friend who was saying all these things about herself to you? I understand you because I do this to myself all the time. I am learning to speak positive affirmations to myself. For every one positive thing I say to myself, my brain adds an additional ten negative things but I fight off those thoughts everyday. You are beautiful and strong – definitely not fat and obese! Your strength alone and courage to write this post and make yourself vulnerable to all your readers shows how wonderful you are. Please try to see yourself more the way your family sees you. I for one think you are awesome just the way you are!

    1. I completely agree. I often use that test…what would I say to a friend…to check what I am telling myself. That said it benefits me to air my worst thought and my worst messages. It takes away their power.

  5. Nice, Anna. Good luck with that self-acceptance business. I wonder sometimes which feels less appealing: back fat or tight Spanx sausage casing. It sounds like Steve knows which he prefers. Go, Steve.

  6. I love your vulnerability, it’s so refreshing and inspiring to read this and other posts you’ve written. Thanks for sharing, sadly I’m sure you’re not the only one with some concern about the reunion. I’m glad you’ve worked it through. I love where you landed. Have a great time and share your wonderful self!! xoxo

  7. Great post. I went to my 40th in great shape but when it came to 45, I’d put on some weight after quitting smoking. I’m sure they were all talking behind my back. But I don’t care. I love me even if no one else does…and I know there are people who do.

  8. I love, LOVE this post – you’ve captured so much of what I feel about myself, so often. And you’re so right – it has relatively little to do with our physical shape and far more to do with our mental self-image, our self-confidence, our meagre levels of self-love.

    BRAVO to you, for writing this, and for your resolution. I hope it brings about the peace you want.

      1. Mine varies, but it’s all very egocentric. I use it in so many ways, but I’m glad to know you enjoy it 🙂 Thank you.

        P.S. the “skin on skin, sin on sin” line – CHILLS!

  9. I love to see women singing about self love… but I think it’s something that every single one of us struggles with. I have a neighbor who is very petite and toned. To the rest of us she has the body we all strive for. One day she was talking to me and a friend about how she was struggling and was trying to get motivated to go back to the gym. That she felt her clothes getting tighter. After she left my friend looked at me and said “WHAT? Her body is perfect!” But, she picks herself apart like the rest of us. She sees her flaws more than her attributes. It’s sad and frustrating and infuriating. And you already know this, but your friends will not look at you and see what you see. We are our own worst enemies.

      1. I completely agree with Gretchen. I am definitely the same way with myself. I think we, as people, have to decide what makes us feel happy and who we really want to be (disregarding what anyone else wants/expects form us, including our well intentioned spouses), write those things down. Then read them to ourselves every day throughout the day, and keep working towards them like our life depends on it (because it literally does). Then one day you will wake up and will be surprised that your body and your love for it will finally be in tune. I don’t know if that makes sense Anna. 🙂 Hugs and Love from Panama!

  10. I am a bit speechless and would like to send you some motivating hugs . If your health suffers , that IS a problem . I can’t tell you what to do about as I don’t know you . But all the other aspects , stop comparing yourself , start loving yourself . It is probably good to be critical about ourselves and ‘keep an eye’ on ourself , but you are really too tough on yourself ! Wishing you all the best , good luck and most of all good health !

  11. Oh my dear, you are beautiful. We all are, but I understand the concerns about health. I have the same concerns for myself. I care more about how I breathe than how I jiggle.

    1. Agreed. I walk miles a day in mile high air but then my family is late for a train and we have to break out into a sprint and I honestly reported that it felt like I ran for a mile and my husband tells me it was a quarter mile. That is my goal now. To have a quarter mile feel like a quarter mile.

  12. What a brave and vulnerable post! ALTHOUGH – I think you are being wayy too hard on yourself. But who am I to talk? I have just had my third baby in four years, at mid life, and am also bemoaning the extra pounds I’m carrying around. I know we’re supposed to love ourselves the way we are and all that jazz… But it can be tough.

  13. There is a real risk that I am going to fail to explain what I’m trying to say here properly, and this all going to come out horrendously wrong, but I will give it a go. I think trying to accept yourself is the only way to go, because feeling like this is so often not really connected to the actual weight. I know that because I am not overweight, I never have been (though I’ve been far, far too thin), and I know that. But I also deny and cannot accept what other people see in me that has any appeal. It’s not enough that they see it, because I don’t. I also feel like people will be judging me, seeing something negative, I don’t like people to have much physical contact.

    There was a strange thing with the anorexia where there was a long period after I accepted that there was something wrong, and I knew that I really was emaciated, and I said that wanted to get better, and I thought that I meant it, and that I was trying…but really, I wasn’t. I was protecting and perpetuating the way that I was because I believed it was protecting me. I was hiding behind it, and if I got my weight to a healthy level I would have nothing to hide behind, nothing to distract – I would then have to face that my weight was actually irrelevant to the way I felt about myself. That was a much bigger issue within me to solve. So in a way, I actually didn’t want change my weight and move onto dealing with the real issue of how I felt about myself.

    And I think that’s the key – that’s why there are women of all sizes who are happy and comfortable with themselves, and there are women of all sizes who are not. It’s just not about the weight. It’s something within us. & learning to accept that is what makes the difference, not the diets and the exercise programmes and the yo-yoing. Hope you achieve the acceptance and see what everyone else loves about you!

  14. I’m right there with you. I am at the 34 year mark since I left high school and never once has a reunion been easy due to my feelings toward myself. I too have a husband that adores me, all of me. My mother recently said to me, “I have been fighting my weight for 40 years now and I’m tired of it”. Maybe that’s where we need to get to. Thanks for your honesty Anna!

    1. Yes. Probably most of all it is tiring…thank you so much for reading and commenting! It means so much when I show the feelings that I wish I never had and find other people who can relate to them.

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