I've been 300lbs (+/-20lbs or so) since I was 12 years old. I've been very overweight my whole life. I have a hormonal imbalance that medication hasn't been able to control that leads to, along with extremely painful bursting ovarian cysts and infertility, weight gain and an inability to lose weight like normal people.
I exercise regularly, eat healthier than anyone I know, and don't lose weight.
I've consulted with numerous physicians and specialists over the years, and the consensus has always been that I'll never see any significant weight loss without lap band surgery or gastric bypass surgery. Even then, they said, there's a chance the surgery could be unsuccessful for me.
Many overweight people complain about their joints hurting, generalized and persistent fatigue, and of having no endurance physically. I don't seem to really have those problems. I can walk up 3-4 flights of stairs before feeling winded, I can jog a mile without stopping, and I don't have any noticeable weight-related aches or pains. My blood pressure is perfect, my cholesterol levels are perfect, and I have perfect blood sugar; my doctors are always shocked by just how healthy I am on paper; I'm just 'morbidly obese with an increased Body Mass Index'.
I've struggled my whole life with being fat. My earliest childhood memories are of schoolmates calling me names and making fun of my weight. Before I hit puberty at 9 and subsequently found out about my hormonal imbalance, my parents took to me to dietitians and nutritionists to figure out how to make me lose weight. Nothing worked. My mom bought me every diet pill and supplement she could get her hands on that promised miraculous results that never came. Being sent to a camp for overweight kids to lose weight ("fat camp") was brought up every year, but I didn't want to go and socialize with other kids, even if they were fatties too.
I was miserable to the point of being suicidal. I used to daydream of having liposuction done, and would beg my parents for some sort of surgery to force my body to look differently.
Doctors started suggesting that I consider Gastric Bypass surgery when I was in middle school, and though I was terrified of surgery, I begged my parents for it. I hated my chubby stomach. I hated my fat arms, my touching thighs, my enormous ass and huge breasts. My little double chin and chubby cheeks made me want to cry whenever I looked in a mirror, so I avoided mirrors almost at all costs. I didn't wear makeup regularly until my junior year in high school simply because I didn't want to look in the mirror long enough to try to improve my appearance because I was so disgusted by what I saw. I wanted to be flat, normal- I wanted nothing more in the world than just to blend in and be like everyone else.
Finally, when I was 23 years old, I decided to have serious conversations with my OBGYN, psychiatrist and physician about having some sort of lap band or gastric bypass surgery done. They all encouraged me to, saying it was my only option.
I wanted to be thinner SO BADLY, but something didn't sit well with me: I'm healthy. I don't feel tired or like I'm unable to do things because I'm overweight. I hike. I kayak. I have cardio and leg days. It struck me then that I couldn't think of a single thing that my fat was physically preventing me from doing, except for going on certain rides at amusement parks, but being able to go on rickety amusement park rides with weight limits somehow didn't seem like a good enough reason to go through invasive and dangerous weight-loss surgery. I remember taking out my most current documented extensive blood work results and seeing that everything indicated that I was in above average health. I sat on my bed and stared at it for a while then had an epiphany: I realized my body isn't stopping me from being happy. I am.
My negative perception of my body was harming me more than being 300lbs was. The big problem wasn't with my weight, but with the way I saw myself.
I decided then that I didn't want to have invasive, risky surgery with an uncertain outcome; I took weight-loss surgeries off the table that day, and instead felt angry at all the professionals who'd told me that going under the knife was my only option for ever being happy.
A journey lay before me, and I wanted help to figure out how to go about becoming more positive about my body and loving it as-is. I excitedly told my psychiatrist about my newly-discovered revelation, and all he did was repeat that I needed to have weight-loss surgery. I was so disappointed and angry, but I wasn't discouraged. Learning to love my body felt like the right thing to do; I could feel deep in my bones that it was the way to go for me.
I decided to start out by making a list of all the things I liked about myself physically. It looked something like:
-white, straightish teeth
-okay eye color
It was pathetic. I stood naked in front of my dreaded full-length mirror and tried to see myself from every angle, searching for something to find pretty or attractive. I remember hating my fat, squishy stomach, the light flecks of cellulite all over my thighs, the roundness of my upper arms.
-nice butt, but too big
I added to the list. Then I crossed off the 'but too big' part, and decided that that's where I'd start: cutting out negative self-talk. No longer would I look in the mirror and think, "God, I'm ugly today" or "I'd be pretty if only I could lose some of this fat on my arms" or "I wish more than anything I didn't look like this." I vowed to compliment myself instead whenever I slipped up and mentally bullied myself.
"Ugh I hate how round and big my forearms are... but... my ass looks great in these jeans," basically became my inner monologue. It felt stupid and cheesy at first, but it felt more natural after a while.
Eventually, I started to see my beauty. I started experimenting with fashion and wearing clothes I actually wanted to wear, rather than what I felt was most flattering on me.
I realized that I don't owe anyone "flattering"; I owe myself happiness.
It's been about a year since my big revelation, and I'm the happiest I've ever been in my life, even though- you guessed it- I'm still 300lbs. I have a husband who adores me, I'm hit on constantly out in public, I have thousands of followers on IG and Tumblr and people tell me all the time how inspirational my self-confidence is. I went from a sad, fat, little kid who regularly considered suicide because I hated the way my body looked, to this body-positive, confident fat babe. I am so proud of myself for finally becoming body-positive and realizing that my physical body wasn't preventing me from being happy- my negative self-image was. I'll continue to eat well and exercise, but I'm done obsessing about things I dislike about my body. My fat is here to stay, and I am who I am. Anyone who doesn't like it can go lick a cactus.