This is part 2 of a 4-part series on body image–how I used to hate my body, learned to love my body eventually, and how you can achieve a positive body image. If you are new to this series, read Part 1: My Deep Hatred for My Body first.
A Problem I Could Not Hide From
Life presents itself with countless potential issues. Weight is simply one of the many issues one can face in life.
However, unlike most issues which can be stashed to the back of our minds, hidden from public view, and dealt with when we are ready to, weight can’t.
For weight has a very visual component to it. For every second which I was awake and not shrouded by darkness, I would be reminded of my hateable body, from my fat thighs, to my huge hips, to my fat face, to my slabs of fat. As I mentioned in part one, the mirror was one of my biggest enemies as it would reflect my non-thin, non-ideal body back at me.
Personally I didn’t care much about what others thought about my body nor me. My biggest issue was that I wasn’t able to conquer my weight loss goal despite my persisting efforts, hence leaving it as an unresolved intention in my mind. I felt like a failure; a loser.
The fact that I would be reminded of my failure every time I looked down at my body or looked into the mirror didn’t help. My weight was a problem I could not escape from no matter how hard I tried.
Attempts to relieve my pain through binge eating only worsened the situation, for overeating would only result in excess calorie consumption which would in turn result in extra weight being packed onto my body. This would make me hate my body even more, which would result in more binge eating, hence perpetuating the situation. It was the epitome of a catch-22 situation—a problem in which the factors leading to its occurrence are the very reasons why the problem is not resolvable.
Being Caught in the Cycle of Weight Loss and Weight Regain
Clearly, something was wrong.
Why would I keep facing difficulty in losing weight, or rather, in sustaining my lower weight? It is not as if losing weight is some profound problem like cancer or AIDs; it is simply a matter of eating lesser and working out more. Theoretically I understood this; logically I comprehended it; physically I had even achieved the goal numerous times. So why did I keep losing and regaining weight I had lost?
This was a question, a problem, which I would keep hacking at over time. From addressing my emotional eating problems, to employing my best goal achievement strategies, to working on my self-discipline, to educating myself on weight loss strategies and healthy living tips, to experimenting on different diets including fasting, I kept addressing the barriers that were preventing me from achieving a lower weight for good.
Each time I resolved one barrier, I would be successful in losing the weight… initially. I would then face a new blockade in the goal where I would gradually regain the weight after a while. It seemed that there was a deeper factor driving my weight regain… a deeper factor which I was unable to pinpoint at that point.
Arriving at the Root of the Problem
After years of barrier resolution and issue-processing, there came a point a few months ago where I had cleared all the barriers I knew were blocking me from sustaining my weight loss.
And yet, I still continued to face the problem of being unable to sustain my weight losses. I continued to overeat, though this time consciously rather than unconsciously. Unconscious overeating would be akin to the eating sessions I had when I was still suffering from emotional eating — which I have since overcome — where I would overeat in an uncontrollable manner, only to regret after the binges. Conscious overeating would be akin to me overeating with full awareness of the folly of my actions but still doing it anyway.
I was absolutely baffled. Perhaps my body was haunted. Perhaps this (being fat, not being thin) was my path in life and there was no way I was ever going to escape from this issue in this lifetime. Perhaps the only way I was ever going to be thin was if I was reborn. Perhaps this was my fate, my destiny, and this was what I had to live with for as long as I was alive in this lifetime.
Imagine my exasperation one fine night when I reached out for food again—large quantities of food, and the worst possible kinds of food such as junk food—after already having my dinner. I should rightfully be full and in a way I was indeed filled, but yet I still reached out for food, junk food, like a soul possessed.
As I ate away in sorrow and pain, I knew there was no way this eating episode would go down but in hell as I thought about the countless overeating sessions I had before and how they ended—with me feeling intense guilt and anger at myself. In fact, as I bit into the food, I could already feel deep regret. I wished that I could stop right there and then.
In between my bites, I began to mentally talk to myself:
- Myself: Celes, why? Why am I eating… yet again?
- Inner self: Because you want to.
- Myself: But why? I just had dinner. I just ate something. Clearly I shouldn’t be hungry. So why am I eating again?
- Inner self: Because you are using food to feed yourself.
- Myself: But we’ve been through this before. I have already overcome my emotional eating. I have unchained my emotions from food and eating since a year ago. I know that; I can feel it. Technically I should not be under the influence of emotional eating anymore. Why am I still overeating?
- Inner self: Because… you secretly want to be fat.
…The Secret Desire To Be Fat
No wonder I could never lose the weight. No wonder I would regain the weight every time I lost some weight, including the various times when I achieved my ideal weight (such as during my 21-day fast, or in 2008 after I embarked on a year-long healthy eating regime).
It was because I secretly wanted myself to be fat.
What worse reason could you ever get for not being able to achieve a goal, other than a self-sabotaging one? To have your subconsciousness go against you in your personal wish, then openly betray you by counteracting all your very actions to realize that wish in your life—this was the most heartbreaking thing I could ever experience.
As I heard those words “Because you secretly want to be fat” echo throughout the walls of my mind, and as the message of those words sank into my heart, I could not help but weep in the quiet space of my room—silently, and softly.
Unraveling the Reasons Behind My Desire to be Fat
While I was upset by the revelation of my self-sabotaging intent, I knew that it was fruitless to hate on myself for it.
By hating myself for this self-sabotaging intent… I would only be worsening the situation. No matter how ridiculous it might have seemed, I was sure that my inner self had a genuine reason—a genuine, well-intended reason—for harboring the intent to be fat. I knew that I was not born to suffer, and my inner self have always had nothing but the best intents for me in my life. If it was wishing for me to become fat… I was sure that it had valid reasons for wishing so.
It was thus my job to discover the root cause behind this seemingly outrageous desire.
So I opened a dialogue with my inner self, asking the central question of “Why do I want to be fat?” Low and behold, I uncovered the following answers:
Firstly, a Fear of Being with Others
“Because you are afraid of being with others.”
I realized that one of the reasons driving my secret desire to be fat was that I was trying to keep all my romantic prospects at bay.
I realized that I was absolutely petrified to be with other people; I probably had been since young but just never had the chance to explore this fear. Being “fat” (or rather, not being thin, since I was never truly overweight) meant that I would (theoretically) repel guys away, since fatness is largely seen as being unattractive in today’s world. This would mean that guys would naturally not like me and not try to pursue me.
I’m not sure how well it worked for I still had guys who would express interest in me from time to time and semi-often pick up encounters, but I’m sure that the number of guys interested would have been more if I was model skinny, had sharp angular features, and was always dressed up. I was never the former two (save for after my 21-day fast) and only at times dressed up.
My “fatness” was thus my “shield” to protect myself from guys out there. By being “fat”, I would not have to deal with unwanted male attention, and I would not deal with the potential pain and hurt that would come from being in a relationship. My “fat” was my solace, my comfort, and my grace from having to deal with my innermost fears.
Secondly, Anger at Myself for Constantly Berating My Own Body
“…Because you don’t deserve to be thin.”
On another level, my subconscious self was absolutely angry at myself for constantly berating my body. Rather than appreciate my body for all that it had done for me throughout my life, all I had been doing over and over again was berate it for not matching my idealized body image.
The funny thing was that I had been the very reason why my body did not conform to that mental image all this while, for I had been the one overeating and causing my ensuing weight gain. My body was merely reacting to my actions, and my larger body weight, largely the result of my overeating habits.
As such, my subconscious self became absolutely peeved at myself for my ridiculous, self-contradicting behavior. It felt that I did not deserve to be thin, since I had obviously never been appreciative of what my body had done for me all these years. Hence, to “punish” myself, it harbored the intent for me to be fat, such that I could suffer and never be truly as thin as I would want to be.
Lastly… A Deep Level of Self-Hate
“Because… you hate yourself.”
Last but not least, I realized that I hated myself. I really hated myself a lot.
From constantly pressurizing myself to do things that I didn’t want, to putting my life on hold for other people, to doing things at the expense of things I believed in, my subconscious self was angry at how I had been living my life all this while. I had never been fully conscious of this anger though; it had only been brewing underneath the surface, deep in the recesses of my soul.
So what better way was there to make my life miserable and a pain to live in, than to sabotage the very personal goal I had yet to realize—to be thin? In fact, the fatter I was, the more miserable I would be. It was the perfect way to kill myself spiritually
This hatred for myself thus branched into the secret desire to be fat. The more I abused myself through the “reckless” way I led my life, the angrier my subconsciousness would get at myself, the stronger my secret desire to be fat. This would then fuel my surface-level behavior, where I would do anything from eating a lot, to eating poor quality food, to procrastinating on my exercises, just so that I would speed up the “fattening” process.
Moving into Resolution
Uncovering these three main reasons driving my secret desire to be fat was extremely revealing. This would be the start to my recovery of my negative body image and my natural resolution of my excess body weight issue, which I share in Part 3: Overcoming My Negative Body Image.
This is part 2 of a 4-part series on body image–how I used to hate my body, learned to love my body eventually, and how you can achieve a positive body image.
- Part 1: How I Began to Love My Body, Part 1: My Deep Hatred for My Body
- Part 2: How I Began to Love My Body, Part 2: Unraveling My Weight Issues
- Part 3: How I Began to Love My Body, Part 3: Overcoming My Body Hate
- Part 4: Body Image: Your Gentle Guide to Loving Your Body