Confessions and the Start of Something Beautiful

I am fat. Or am I? No, fat doesn’t even begin to describe what I am. Overweight doesn’t either. According to my BMI I am morbidly obese.  Lets define Morbid, shall we?


  1. Characterized by or appealing to an abnormal and unhealthy interest in disturbing and unpleasant subjects, esp. death and disease.
  2. Of the nature of or indicative of disease.
Right. So I am characterized by something grotesque. Much akin to a dead body with maggots thriving on it’s rotted flesh. Morbid, right?

The sad thing here? When someone becomes my size there is a time in which you also see yourself as nothing but morbid. Simply something disturbing to look at. I couldn’t agree more. When I do see myself in the mirror I don’t see a woman all glorious sexy curves. Oh no, I see something to cover up. To hide. To pretend like it doesn’t exsist. Where is the sheet to cover up that rotted body anyway?

I am not here to ask for pity or for “Oh em gee, but you have such a PRETTY FACE!” (By the way, that is one of the worst things you can say to a fat person. At least in my humble opinion.)  I am here to talk about my journey of being someone disgusting to someone desperately trying to fix what is broken.

When I was a little girl I was tiny. There are photos of me around 3 or 4 with knobby knees and cute little pigtails. I was my thinnest probably before the age of 5 years old. Not entirely sure what happened and how I drastically changed from a healthy happy girl to a baby manatee.  I just knew that there was a time in which I was normal and average to being lovingly entitled “fattie” by my peers.

School was harsh. I know it is harsh to 98% of children out there. It makes me dealthy afraid to send my own child to school. I really don’t want to PURPOSELY crush his soul and destroy his spirit. Talk about having guilt! But I digress… when you are remotely different from others, whether it be wearing too thick of an eye glass frame, not wearing the newest fashions (yes, even in kindergarten) or you’re just a few pounds heavier or taller than anyone else in your grade… you will ultimately be picked on by someone. Someone who has not learned manners and is also missing a heart and spine (how they stand and breathe, I do not know). Some children are cruel. It just so happened I went to a school full of them, rode a bus full of them, and lived in a neighborhood full of them.

I do not remember too many particulars. I do remember crying often at school and at home about it. I remember during recess hiding behind a tree  that was close to the actual school building and looking over the hill knowing I could easily run away back home. My house wasn’t even a mile away. I could run that easy. No one would notice, not even the teacher. I was hiding out of shame of how I looked and also out of fear of what cruelties that would be thrown at me that day. Did it happen everyday? Pretty much. I blocked out a lot of what was said but in my gut and heart I feel a churning that makes me sick to think back on.

My mom was comforting and helpful. At one point she stopped me from riding the bus all together in elementary school and drove me to school instead. I remember before her making that decision the day in which I came home off the bus and walked into the living room only to fall to my knees, lay my head in her lap, and cry. She stroked my hair, cried with me, and told me everything was going to be alright. She knew how I felt and as a mother wanted to make everything alright. The only power she had was to take me away from the bus situation that made her daughter break down. I hated the days in which she couldn’t take me or pick me up. It made me sick.

In middle school it was the same old hat. Different bullies, same soul destroying words. I remember a neighborhood friend of mine once fought another boy to protect me. We were getting off the bus and a boy in the neighborhood had been poking me, cursing at me, and making fun of me the whole ride home. My friend knew he couldn’t do anything on the bus or face the consequences with the school. I did not know his plan. I did not know what he was up to. Once off the bus I tried to walk as quickly to my house as possible with my head down but my friend stopped me and asked me to hold his book bag. I did. He waited for the bully to pass us, and for the bus to be out of sight and my friend literally TACKLED the other boy to the road. He was fighting him for me. He busted his face, for me. And he was winning. Sadly this was all done in front of my friends house and his mother saw everything and stopped it. But I was proud of my friend that day. And while I do not condone violence like that, as someone who was a victim of bullying all through elementary school and on… to see someone FIGHT for ME was encouraging. My heart jumped for joy. What are friends for anyway other than to support each other and protect each other, right? A message I hope to give my son one day.  My friend got in trouble that day, but I also believe he won that day. In my heart he did.

This however did not stop the same boy later snearing at me and once more yelling at me. I do remember a time where  my parents were getting something done to the house near the porch. I was outside and the same bully walked by and screamed out at me, “Hey, fattie! Are you so hungry you had to start eating your house?!” I know it sounds stupid now. But to a little girl it was enough to make me go back inside and hide in shame the rest of the day, and probably the rest of the week.

High school was different. At this point I was fatter than anyone I knew. I was probably the fattest student of Manchester High School at the time. I know I was the fattest in Manchester Middle and Jacobs Road Elementary. In High School the students however were different. I think some people started to “mature” and instead of saying cruel things to your face they simply snickered and said things behind your back. Sneaky sneaky, but mean just the same. Throughout high school I kept my head down. Much like middle school I wore baggy jeans, two or three sizes too big sweatshirts and t-shirts, and never spoke up lest getting to much attention put on me. Just like the other times, I was always driven to school and never rode the bus unless I had to. I think toward my senior year in High School I started to change a little with confidence thanks to a friend of mine who encouraged me to dress better (too baggy clothes make you look worse! Who knew!), to put makeup on, to actually do something with my hair. (Because prior to that, I cared sure, but knew nothing would really do anything to make it better…) I did miss out a lot in high school because of my weight and insecurities from it. I wish I had had the confidence to be part of drama for instance. Many if not all my friends were part of it. The drama teacher even tried encouraging me to join multiple times. For a girl who was used to hiding and not being seen, being on stage was the last place on earth I could be. If not Drama, then be in choir which I loved being part of in middle school. But the girls in High School Choir had to wear sleeveless dresses and dresses that were too short. I could NEVER show off my legs or arms like that! (As a 29 year old, I still feel the same.) I wish I had gone to the Senior Luncheon but they had a rule that girls had to wear white. I thought someone as large as me should NEVER wear white. I refused to wear white (not to mention it is hard to find white in plus size clothing) and did not go. I even refused to wear white under my white very see through graduation robe. Yes, you can definitely see what I was wearing thanks to it being so stark white and thin. At least I can say I WENT to graduation.

College was of course the best years of school. Everyone was much more mature, different in all sizes and shapes, color, and creed. Many people had tattoos, smelled of clove and sported multiple piercings. College, at least the art department of VCU, was a place of solitude for many like me. A misfit. The enemy in college was not peers, but the reflection in the mirror. At this point I have had a lifelong destruction of my confidence and spirit. So while others may have enjoyed my company, thought I was “cool”, pretty, etc. I did not believe them. To this day it is hard for me believe any compliment. So I simply smile, look away bashfully, say thank you and most often then not change the topic. I was my lightest weight in college. I look back at photos taken of me in college and I PINE to be that size again. Sure, I was still considered morbidly obese then but not nearly as much as I am now.

So. If I hate myself so much, when or what am I going to do to change that? It has taken me until March 2011 to finally say “I am fed up!”. Prior to having Xander I was at my heaviest of heaviests. While I was pregnant I actually LOST nearly 35 pounds in total which is the opposite of what most women do when pregnant. I kept getting compliments from people while I was pregnant “You look good! Have you LOST weight?!” Why yes, I have, and thank you. Oh, and by the by, I didn’t look good before? Thanks for reminding me! Once I had Xander I was only 10 or 15 pounds shy of my college weight. Sadly though within 9 months after Xander was born I gained back the 35lbs I had lost. I was so sick of myself. My husband of course thought I was beautiful and sexy. But to me I was the true definition of morbid. I could not stand looking like that and feeling like my personality and soul was trapped in  some horrible disgusting terrible mistake.

March 2011 I started to move. I bought nearly all of Jillian Michaels videos. I started out doing 5 times a week doing some of her videos while Xander napped. I joined to try to log in calories. (I apparently was eating a horrendous amount!) Within the first month of counting calories, cutting out all sugary drinks, and getting my butt moving I lost ten pounds. Since March I have lost 25 pounds (give or take depending on the day). It isn’t NEARLY as much as I need to lose but it is a beginning. At least I am closer to 200lbs now other than 300lbs which I was before I started. (Yes, I may not share my actual weight here… but that gives you an idea of how morbid I am!) The last half of my exercise journey has lead me to fall in love with Kettlebells. I strongly believe these are an amazing workout. It is cardio, strength, core… EVERYTHING a person needs. (Please do not follow along with Jillian Michaels Kettlebells, fyi… her form is off.Form is EVERYTHING with Kettlebells. Check out Lauren Brooks DVDs for real instruction.) I also just joined a gym which is crazy for me to even fathom. I am in the camp of “Once I lose X amount of weight, THEN I will go.” I am so shy and so ashamed of my body that going to the gym makes me nervous. The idea is mind boggling to me that I would ever go to a gym. Yesterday I had my heart rate monitor on during the drive to the gym and it showed me how  nervous I was before walking into the gym. My heart rate went up before I even left the car! Thankfully this gym has no contracts and if I decide I do not want to go to it I can quit. (My ultimate dream gym is the Richmond Kettlebell Club in Richmond… I just do not have the confidence yet to go there. It is too much one on one instruction. You are SEEN more. At a regular gym, you can easily put on headphones and zone out the world. Or, since I am going to Golds… run in the dark in the Cardio Fitness area. Great hiding, but great cardio!)

It is terribly hard work to try to lose weight (understatement) and I am losing weight at an impossibly slow pace but at least I am doing something other than seeing the scale continue to creep up. I do have more endurance and more energy (which is good with a 1year old mover!). I guess a motivational line for me is “At least I am lapping all those still sitting on the couch!” My family is encouraging me too, which is great. The hard part is that I rely on Xander napping or someone to babysit him which my mom has taken upon herself to do so many times. I just hope I do not over use her and abuse her kindness!

Some people would be humble and say that their main goal is to be healthy. True, I want that, but I will honestly be blunt here and say: I also want to feel beautiful and dress in beautiful clothes. Oh dear Lord how I want to be able to fit into clothing from Anthropologie! I LOVE their style! My husband has a friend whose wife dresses in cute dresses all the time and pretty tops etc. and I want that! I could never pull that off at my current weight. I will be selfish and say it. I never have once felt beautiful in my life for any length of time, and if and when I did, the feeling only has lasted for a moment. Even as I look back upon my wedding day and the photos of the day that should have made me feel like the proverbial princess I find things wrong. My arms are too fat for one. My back too wide. How many chins is that? I look at myself as see so much wrong and not a whole lot of right. I want to fix this. It isn’t just a physical change though and I do understand that. It is also an emotional and spiritual change that needs to happen as well. I have a fear that even if I get down to a size 12 one day I will still see the old morbid me. For that not to happen I need to grow and mature and heal my mental and emotional hurts just as much as lose weight.

I have so many reasons why to lose weight, not just shallow silly reasons like wearing a pretty dress. I also want to set an example for my son. To show him a healthy lifestyle. I want to LIVE long enough to see my son grow older, have his own children, and maybe be a great grandmother one day. We also have heart disease in my family. While it is hereditary and I may still get it later I can still be proactive with preventative measures of a healthy lifestyle change with good choices. I want to grow old and keep up with my husband. Go hiking without being winded. I want to treat my body right as it is a temple. I was given this body as a gift from God and boy do I mistreat it! I could go on and on with my reasons behind this. I have had them before but I think it took my son to really get me moving. He was given to me by God to protect, teach, love and so much more… but here I am not even protecting myself. And doing so I am truly shortening my life. I want to be strong, healthy, mentally sharp, and energetic for many years to come. I don’t believe I could honestly do that with the path I was taking.

I have people in my life that will feel sad and maybe a little hurt when reading this. They may feel as if they haven’t told me I am beautiful enough but I want them to know that what they have done HAS helped. They have encouraged me by loving me to be a better person. I hope that they know that the issues are within ME and my heart. My mom and dad were there in the very start loving me, encouraging me, protecting me and calling be beautiful. I also never thought it was possible for someone to fall in love with me and then have the guts to marry me, but someone did AND he calls me sexy, beautiful, and stunning. And most of all he LOVES me for me. That just gives my heart such a wonderful warm overflowing feeling that I cannot begin to describe. It gives me courage to do something good for my body and soul. To not give up. My husband is my rock. My source of so much love and devotion. I am blessed.

I may not be the healthiest or thinnest but by the grace of God I pray that I have the strength to better myself physically and spiritually. That perhaps one day I will he healthy and strong in all areas of my life. This is my ultimate goal right now with this lifestyle change journey. That’s right… it isn’t just about losing weight, but losing fat and changing the way I live and make choices.

So there it is… my heart on the table. My desperation. I ask only for support and encouragement through this long road ahead of me. And for those who call me beautiful? Yea, you know who you are… I love you. And thank you for being there. Always. (Ps. Don’t stop calling me beautiful… even if might be hard for me to take, I still hold onto it in my heart!)

****** As a side note! I do not know who made the illustration above. I AM aware of the painting the girl is looking at and I wish the illustrator chose a different painting. I know the context of the original painting and believe it to be incorrectly used. That being said, if you didn’t understand the original meaning I see that the girl is admiring the painting in the way of how I would admire the media or tv if they blantanly showed an overweight woman as something to be admired. I think the girl in observing the painting is wishing that the norm of acceptance would be of a curvy body as many artists accepted and admired in history. Instead today we are looked upon in disgust.


One thought on “Confessions and the Start of Something Beautiful

  1. Dena! You ARE beautiful! But I understand the need to FEEL beautiful and to want to be beautiful by the majority’s standards. These aren’t crazy desires and I support you as best I can from here. I know your ultimate goal is to be healthy (not skin-and-bones) and that is one of the best goals you can have in your life! This is a life decision that will affect you for the fest of your life. I love you so much and admire your drive and determination but also your vulnerability. As long as you’re aware that this won’t be a short or easy road then you’re good to go.
    Christ’s strength is YOUR strength and your strength is a testament to those around you; especially to your family. Stay in Him. Stay focused. Stay strong!
    I love you!

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