“A message to everyone who has wondered or is “concerned” about my weight:

I’ve been overeating since my sophomore year of high school. For a long time I tried to stop overeating and lose weight but I always failed because the reason I overeat has nothing to do with food. Just last year I was diagnosed with a binge-eating disorder. In January of this year I enrolled in a local outpatient treatment program for individuals with eating disorders and it has helped me tremendously.

As an adolescent I experienced multiple traumatic events that have critically influenced the way I view myself and the world I live in. What I’ve struggled with the most in my life is feeling like I am enough.

When I was in high school I thought: “If I could just lose weight / be good at sports / get perfect grades / get into the best college, I’ll be enough!” When I was at Cal Poly I thought: “If I could just lose weight / get perfect grades / be involved in 5,000 activities, I’ll be enough!” Except when I didn’t live up to my (and others’) expectations, I felt like a failure as person.

Nowadays, I’m trying really hard to be okay with myself no matter what; to be proud of myself and love myself and be gentle with myself no matter what I’ve done or how I feel that day or most importantly, how much I weigh.

So for the first time in my life, I don’t give a shit about losing weight. I’m not trying to eat healthy or workout a lot. I haven’t even gotten to the step where I try to LIKE what I look like. So it really doesn’t help when it seems like everyone around me has a problem with what I look like too.

With that said, here are a few tips on what’s helpful and what’s not, or as I like to say ever so satirically:

Tips for the “fat person” in your life (moi):
– Don’t tell me I’m overweight. I can assure you, I’m already 100% aware.
– Don’t encourage me to lose weight, workout, or eat healthier.
– Don’t give me diet tips.
– Don’t scold me when you see me eating something you deem as “unhealthy” or say things like “are you sure you want to eat that?”
– You don’t need to congratulate me when I eat salad or exercise.
– Try not to be so visibly and vividly surprised when I do eat a salad or exercise.
– Avoid fat jokes and derogatory commentary about overweight individuals.

Things that I really appreciate and find supportive and encouraging in my growth as a person:
– Ask me how I’m doing with managing my binge-eating disorder.
– Treat me with the same respect you would someone of a different size.
– Offer me recipes and cooking tips. (Because I am trying to learn how to make more food that I would enjoy and feel satisfied eating.)
– Any mental health advice you have from your own experience or just in general.
I also want to note that me not currently focusing on losing weight doesn’t mean that I think I’m at a medically healthy weight. I am very overweight and I do want to lose weight. But I’m not currently at a point in my life where I can focus on that. And when I do feel ready to lose weight I’m going to do it on my own terms for once in my life.

Also keep in mind that whenever you make someone feel bad about what they’re eating or the fact that they aren’t exercising, you’re just creating guilt and shame for that person. If someone is going to change the way or how much they eat or exercise, they have to find a way that works for them and is enjoyable. Motivation stemming from guilt and sheer willpower doesn’t work. I know because I’ve tried that! It’s when you do it for yourself and your health and it’s coming from a place of love within yourself.”

Reprinted with permission from Sydney Van Hoose, 2016.

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