How Overweight Men Can Overcome Shame
If you’re looking for a magic solution — you won’t find it here.
I’ve been overweight for most of my adult life. I’ve struggled with my weight and my clothes for more than half of my life. It wasn’t always this way.
During my High School days, I had been diagnosed with Epilepsy and had to take special pills twice every day. It turns out, those pills had some effect on me, and I’ve started gaining lots of weight. Up to that point, I was as skinny as a stick. My mom would always try to make me eat more because I was thin. All of that changed with the pills.
The years passed by. I kept on getting bigger, and I needed new clothes to reflect the new size. I loathed the skin I was wearing. I hated every minute of it. I fantasized on becoming someone else — more fit, more muscular. I didn’t want to be me. Being me was a nightmare. My brain wasn’t right and now my body too. I’m nothing. That’s was what I thought about myself.
I cried under the sheets.
I wanted to be left alone, but I needed a hug.
A few years later, I was recruited to the army. Being fat, Epileptic and also in need of glasses made the army put me in an office and in front of a computer. I was miserable in my skin, but I loved the work, and it kept me focused on something else rather than my fat cells.
In college, I was the quiet guy who felt anxious to get along with other people. I felt like every moment they would laugh at me. My mind was very imaginative of all the bad things that could happen if I got too attached to someone. I wanted to be left alone, but I needed a hug.
Over the years I was looking for different ways to change myself. I was looking for pills for weight loss, pills for improving the skin color, testosterone supplements, and so many other things that were supposed to change who I am. All of that because I couldn’t stop for a second, look at the mirror and say: “Hey, I’m sorry for the past few years. I mistreated you. Can we try to understand each other better?”
That was well over ten years ago.
I’m still fat today, but I no longer feel like I used to. I no longer hate myself. I no longer suffer every day that comes and goes.
Well, for me, the realization that I was damaging my self-image, came when I realized nobody cared about my looks. I was superbly anxious about how I would be perceived by virtually everyone. Be it potential partners, co-workers, close friends. When I stopped bathing in my cesspool and looked around, then I understood nobody is even bothering themselves with me or my body.
The first thing that changed my life more than anything else was that I had started writing.
Since then I’ve been in two romantic relationships. They didn’t soar not because of my body image but rather because it wasn’t a fit. I even got on a stage and read one of my short stories in front of a crowd.
I stopped feeling shame.
At some point, I even started lifting. It didn’t last. I wanted to devour the weights, but I was overwhelmed and weak. It turns out that muscles are built slowly but surely. I’ll get there soon.
The first thing that changed my life more than anything else was that I had started writing. I started creating something that will outlast me, and through that process, I rediscovered my love for myself. “I wrote that story? Yes, I guess I did.”
For you, it doesn’t have to be writing. Maybe you like to sing or draw? Perhaps you want to record podcasts? Every one of us has some form of a creative side. When you start to invest in it, you rediscover yourself.
The second thing that helped immensely was having loving people around me. The kind of people that look you in the eye that are there for you no matter what. The type of people who hug you tight and want to crush you into themselves. I won’t say they’re easy to find but when you do find them — hold tight and never let go.
The third thing that helped me in this journey was observing other people. Just by looking at people on the bus, at work, on TV, on the street, in class, and anywhere where people are — you understand them and their motivations better. When you look at them closely, you understand one crucial fact — the people that are inconsiderate, childish and like to laugh at other people are the exception — not the norm.
Most people either do not care how you look and what you are going through or they care and understand but keep it respectful.
The fourth thing in this journey was reading more fiction. It may be a form of escapism, but reading helped me shed my skin for just a while and become someone else. The best of those books also taught me some life lessons while letting me experience another person’s life.
I will not outright say I love myself now and that we get along very well together. That will be a lie. But I’m less anxious and more accepting than I was a few years ago. My body and I, we’re in this together. We’ll get along as we go.
So, who cares if I’m still overweight today? I am me, and no one else can create the things I made or what I experienced. Why should I lose all that by living someone else’s life?
Why should you?
Oren Cohen is a Software Development Engineer, Gamer, Geek, and Writer. He is writing in all sorts of topics on Medium, though his passion lies with Fantasy and Video Games.