“Fat” is a noun

A few years ago, my husband and I were getting ready to shower. This was before I was pregnant with my daughter, and long enough after having my son that I had started my journey to accepting my new mom bod. I looked at myself in the mirror, and I said to my husband, “I’m fat.”

He immediately responded, “you’re not fat,” as all good men are taught to say.

I climbed on my soap box, and prepared to teach him a lesson.

“I am fat,” I said, “fat doesn’t have to be a bad word. I can admit that I’m fat without it being shameful. Fat can be beautiful.”

I was regurgitating something I had heard in a TED talk, and thought I was pretty wise.

But Max just shook his head, “You are not fat. You have fat. But you are you.”

I’d been schooled –taken down a few pegs.

Sure my idea was healthier than where I had started, but Max’s perspective was the healthiest.

Why should we let a single adjective define us, why do we label ourselves with something as trivial as having an excess of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen molecules on our bodies?

Why not let fat be exactly what it is, a noun, a substance made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, something that insulates and is kept around for emergencies.

Why not have fat instead of be fat?

I think this can make the journey to healthy living much more emotionally healthy as well. If we want to lose weight, if we think of fat as a noun, as some excess molecules, we can focus on eliminating those excess molecules as we move more and eat smart, not on trying to “change our body.” You’re not really changing your body, you’re simply strengthening the muscles you already have. And converting fat molecules into water and carbon dioxide.

I’ve always struggled with weight loss. And for awhile I decided weight loss wasn’t important, as long as I could do the things I wanted to without tiring out. And I still believe this. Weight loss isn’t necessarily equivalent to health. Health can be achieved at any size. But with this past year, I’ve discovered a real and concrete reason I need to shed some pounds.

Having arthritis means that all that excess fat on my body puts more pressure on my joints. Furthermore, daily movement and exercise is vital to joint health especially when you have arthritis, and the foods you eat can effect the inflammation in your body.

Being diagnosed with RA gave me a different reason to change my lifestyle. Instead of  the “casual health” I had been practicing, I needed to be more deliberate. I was terrified that this would send me into another relapse of my eating disorder. In the past, whenever I have tried to count calories or limit my food choices it has pushed me into binges of self punishment followed by days of eating 500 or less calories to make up for the binging.

But it didn’t. Because this time the motivation is different. I’m not trying to change my body. I’m not trying to fit in the standards of society. This time my body dysmorphia isn’t calling the shots. Instead, I’m trying to take care of my joints. To avoid flares and reduce pain. To strengthen my muscles and reduce the pressure on my body. My motivation is to never have RA hold me back from doing the things I love.

I think when we look at fat as a noun, it loses it’s power. Suddenly it’s just the thing that puts pressure on my joints. It doesn’t define me. It doesn’t effect my worth. And reducing it is 100% for my own body’s benefit, not to fit in a mold or alter my appearance.


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