One friend of mine said: "That is so negative. There are more positive, life-affirming names you could have chosen for this blog."
Another friend said: "Nobody sees your weight when they look at you, Donna Gail. They see your shine."
One of my best friends who really loves me said: ""Fat lady? Oh, that's not my friend, that's not the woman I know. You deserve better than that, Donna Gail. That's not who you are."
But my favorite was: "What happens when you lose all your weight and you're not fat anymore? People will be confused by your blog title when they see a skinny woman calling herself a fat lady. You'll have to change your blog name and confuse everybody even more."
That's a problem I really hope I have one day soon.
But the one question nobody has asked me yet is the only one that concerns me: will my blog title feel like some form of shaming for all the large-size women who will see this blog online?
I hope not. I hope it draws them like light draws moths. I know they too have been called fat ladies most of their lives and hate it. I hope they gravitate to someone who will talk bluntly--nakedly, if you will--about the experience of being a plus-sized woman in this world.
The title just says who I am and what this is. The title also just happens to be unforgettable. If it turns out to be controversial, well, then probably even more people will read my blog and join me on this journey.
Alot of what I talk about in this blog, these are experiences only other fat ladies (and men) understand.
But it's especially hard for overweight women. It's the difference between how John Goodman could be a sex symbol and a movie star even at his size, even as he aged and the fat jowls hung even lower...but Roseanne Barr was never anything but a joke and never could be seen as sexual.
Look at the photo up above. What do most people notice first? The fat lady serving herself too much food. I know what it feels like to be that fat lady with all eyes on me watching what I take and how much of it I take and how many times I go back. These days, though, we're less conspicuous because so many of us in the buffet line are fat. We're all gorging ourselves. We're all diabetic. We're all having heart attacks. We're all getting cancer. We're all dying. And most of us don't know what to do about it.
Several friends of mine asked (hesitantly but with real concern): How can you write a blog about losing weight and getting healthy when...well, you're fat and unhealthy? Who wants dieting and nutrition advice from someone who is fat?
Don't you love my friends? They're mostly all as bluntly honest as I am.
Well, first of all, I explained to them, I'm no nutrition expert and don't pretend to be. Secondly, I don't hide the fact that I'm fat. It's right there at the top in the blog title. Yep, I'm a fat lady. Don't mistake me for Dr. Mercola or Dr. Axe. Let's get that clear, right off the bat.
What I am is an overweight woman with serious health concerns that have emerged in part because of my weight. My blog is a chronicling of my journey to find health and to heal my relationship with food. Along the way, I will read articles and books from people like Dr. Mercola, Mark Hyman, Michael Greger, Joel Fuhrman, Sally Fallon, Dr. Axe and countless others. I've been reading things like this all my life. I am knowledgeable and I'm smart, but I'm no expert. I'm sharing what I'm reading out there and trying to make sense of it and put the puzzle pieces together. I'm trying to achieve consensus from the various schools of thought. And my life depends on finding the answers so I'm taking it pretty seriously.
As I said above, though, I've been studying food and health all my life. I've always wanted to be thin and healthy, and I've achieved it for periods of time--sometimes years. Why haven't I overcome this struggle in my life?
The short answer: I don't know. I don't think any of us know why we can't control certain behaviors we would like to change. There are a million theories in psychology and medical texts. Hell, I have a million theories all by myself just for me. Who knows?
I could quit trying. (By the way, I've tried that too, the "quit trying" cure), If I do that, I'm definitely going to die. If I keep trying, I just might figure it out and actually transform my body, my health and my life.
Then again, I may not lose weight even if I keep trying. I may die while writing this blog and never look any different. I hope not. But that is possible, and statistically, it is likely. Why? Because even if I learn everything and find the magic cure or put the puzzle of weight loss together...everyone out there understands this fact:
THERE'S A BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN KNOWING WHAT TO DO AND ACTUALLY BEING ABLE TO DO IT
And that's not just true for overweight people; it's true for people with heart disease, people with diabetes, people with high blood pressure... Hell, it's true for gorgeous, skinny, young, energetic, healthy, brilliant college students trying to finish a term paper. They know what to do, they just don't want to do it or can't make themselves.
I was a smoker for 33 years. I didn't have to research what to do. I knew what to do. It was simple. Quit smoking. It took me 33 years to do it. I wish I could just quit eating. Forever. In fact, I have fasted on water dozens of times for as long as 35 days. Happiest times of my life. Food wasn't an issue. I was free of the obsession for a period of time. That's why I love fasting. (But that's another post.)
Unfortunately, we can't just QUIT eating permanently. We have to figure out how to do it and do it well so it becomes our sustenance and (as Hippocrates said, our medicine)--not our poison. That's what this blog is about.
Whether my readers struggle with weight issues or degenerative diseases, or both, the desire is the same. It's also the same for people who struggle with other addictions. How can we restore our bodies, restore our health, be who God intended us to be when he created us. If we can come together in this blog and, as a community of seekers, find answers, we will all be helped. Some of us may take that information and transform our lives, some may make a few beneficial changes, and some of us may learn what we need to do but be unable or unwilling to do it for whatever reason.
There is acceptance here for all. I think that's another thing my title speaks to: acceptance
I'd be embarrassed to email Dr. Axe and tell him I ate a whole fried chicken. He might even be accepting. But I would never tell that gorgeous hunk of perfect man anything like that. As far as Dr. Axe knows, I only eat watercress. (Please don't tell him otherwise. I have a serious crush.)
But anybody that reads my blog won't have to be ashamed to ask me anything. I'm the fat lady. My title says: "I am you." Or probably worse. Whatever mistakes you've made, I promise you I've made more. Whatever shame you've experienced...oh, baby, let me tell you my stories. (Don't let me forget to tell you the story one day about when my underwear fell off in public after a period of dieting).
But I digress (as usual).
I was talking to a moderately overweight woman the other day about her struggles to lose weight, and I told her that her size was my goal. People don't have to be skinny to be healthy or to be beautiful. I want to be healthy and strong and beautiful and disease-free. Whether that happens at 120 pounds or 180, I'm good with either. Restoring my health does not have to mean getting skinny.
Truth be told, though, I really hope it does. I tell my friends: I just want to wear a bikini one more time before I die. They just laugh and laugh.
But then I always used to cry at the Long & Silky commercials because I wanted long, silky hair but I was born with curly frizz. You can't always have what you want, but like the song says, you get what you need. I hope we get what we need. What we need is to be healed--at whatever size that turns out to be. What we need is self-love and acceptance wherever we end up. What we need is to try...to work hard...to do our best to be our best and to give our best. If we do that, everything else will fall into place and at the end of the road there will be...acceptance.
At the bottom of my blog (where probably no one has ever gone or ever will) there is a special note. I will post it here because it will probably never be read otherwise:
Special Note: It is not my intention to use the term "fat lady" perjoratively. I ferociously love myself and other plus-sized women even if we never lose weight. But I chose it precisely because it is a term that has been used all my life to describe me, it is unforgettable and it stings. Being overweight and being unhealthy has not been a good experience for me. If my title is brutally honest in flavor and speaks to that--so does my blog. The name of the blog, I suppose, prepares people before they start tackling my posts. But my honesty is borne of deep love for myself and other people who have suffered because of their relationship with food. It is my hope that this blog will become a collaboration with my readers--people with cancer, diabetes, heart disease, any disease impacted by healthy choices, whether they are male, female, small, or large--as we learn together how to heal our bodies and look at our eating. Please comment and interact with me as I explore issues in nutrition, psychology, medicine, fitness and...well, life. We don't all have to agree. I firmly believe healthy dialogue leads to healthy choices.