Love Warrior, Glennon Doyle Melton
I weigh 321 pounds.
Oh my god.
Do you mean 312? 213? 123? 231?
You don’t look that heavy.
Sounds about right. You’ve gotten… ya know…. fat.
How does one get to weigh that much?
How did you get to weigh that much?
I question your ability to help others, run a business, be a human being when you can’t even control what you put in your mouth.
I’m so glad I’m not you.
Did you really just share that?
Why did you share that?
I would never share that.
Did I include your reaction? Those are all the places I envision people going when they hear my weight.
What’s the thing you’d never share with anyone, let alone anyones?
- your age?
- your salary?
- your debt?
- how much alcohol you drink?
- how many cigarettes you smoke?
- that you eat pints of ice cream or entire frozen pizzas in one sitting?
- that you’re unhappy in your marriage?
- how many times you’ve been married?
- how many times you’ve been divorced?
- that you’ve had suicidal thoughts?
- your bulimia or anorexia?
- your miscarriage?
- your abortion?
- the messiness of your home?
- the dirtiness of your home?
- your hoarding?
- how long it’s been since you’ve been on a date?
- how long it’s been since you’ve had sex?
- the age you lost your virginity?
- if you’ve lost your virginity?
- that you were bullied?
- that you’ve bullied?
- that you’re gay?
- that you’re trans?
- how many real friends you have?
- that you don’t have any friends?
- that you’re adopted?
- that you’re in therapy?
- your stance on immunizations?
- a photo of you in a swimsuit?
- your stretch marks?
- your depression?
- your social anxiety?
- your loneliness?
- that you’ve stained your underwear?
- your firing?
- how often you watch porn?
- that you were dumped?
- how many people you’ve slept with?
- how long you’ve been trying to get pregnant?
- whom you voted for?
- if you believe in God?
- your rape?
- that relatives of yours are sexist, racist, homophobic?
- that you’ve been discriminated against?
- that you’ve discriminated?
- that you cheated?
- that you’ve been cheated on?
- how you truly feel about your mom, dad, siblings?
- who your ancestors are?
- your physical illness?
- your mental illness?
- physical, mental, or sexual abuse suffered?
“Nevers”, like deal-breakers and petpeeves, are fascinating in that what so impacts and effects one person has absolutely no impact or effect on another person. Some of above, you probably shrugged and thought, “I’d share that.” Some of above, you probably shook your head and thought, “Hell no am I sharing that.”
Age for me is one of the shrugs. I’m 38. I’m 38! I’m 38!!! That came easily. I didn’t think about it, I didn’t think about the consequences, I don’t think there will be consequences. But I know there are people who’d experience great angst if they did the same. Many wouldn’t do the same. And I admit, not proudly, when I first interacted with people who had age as their Never, annoyance and incredulousness best describe my reaction.
In the Fear Experiment℠ (FE) show I produced, as a way for the audience of 700 to get to know the forty something performers and to show their incredible diversity in a quick, easy way, I created a segment where I’d read a category, like “Was born in…” or “Is a…” and read off answers like “Chicago” “New York” “Michigan” “A vet” “A teacher” “A realtor”, and when the performer heard a category that he/she fit, they’d step forward and then step back, sometimes by themselves, sometimes with a few others, sometimes with a gaggle. There were about fifteen categories, one of which was age. I’d read “Is in their 20s…” “Their 30s…” etc. up to “Their 60s…” Over the six years of doing FE, over 360 participated as performers. Three of them had serious anxiety about stepping forward in their age category. After numerous discussions, two decided to not step forward at all and one decided to step forward in an age category that wasn’t hers. It’s a wonky space to be in, one where you’re encouraging people to face fears and get out of the comfort zone but one where you’re also trying to be sensitive and respectful. How much can you push? How much should you push? I don’t know the answer. But as soon as I put myself in their shoes, at least I gained understanding, sensitivity, and compassion where there was none before.
I imagined if weight had been a category. “Those who weigh 130 and less…” “Those who weigh 150 to 180…” “Those who weigh over 300…” Oh my god, no. My heart is starting to race at this hypothetical scenario. I would’ve stressed out about the show for weeks. I don’t know if I would’ve lied or participated at all. I know I would’ve vacillated between anger, mortification, and shame.
All this is to say, one man’s age is another man’s weight, and because we don’t know the path others have walked to be where they stand today, we should strive for grace and empathy when it comes to Nevers.
My weight is the thing I’d never share.* With anyone.
No one knows my number save for my doctor who, to heap the worst on top of already the worst, forces me to put on a human-sized napkin, step on the scale, and then emits through her tiny doctor mouth, “We should think about losing some weight…”
We have been thinking about losing some weight for seemingly our entire life.
I started growing up in third grade and out in fifth grade. Perfect timing. Too tall and too fat just as
hell middle-school began. I shopped at the Downtown Evanston Lane Bryant, always making sure to bring a bag to put my bag in; running into kids from school on Sherman Avenue or on the 203 while holding an “attempt to look feminine” bag was not an option. I’m not sure how much I weighed as a pre-teen and teen but I do remember buying sizes 18, 22, 24. I remember parents of our opponents snickering at “the big girl” when I lumbered onto the basketball court. I remember the raised eyebrows of a family member when she took me to the Museum of Science & Industry and insisted, though I really really didn’t want to, I get on a scale in one of the exhibits. I remember another family member saying, “Saya, that’s enough cream cheese,” as I embarrassedly lowered my eyes and my bagel. I remember Grandma lightly tapping my knee after one of our yearly back-to-school shopping excursions and quietly grandmothering, “Maybe you should think about losing some weight” before turning up WFMT and humming Mozart the rest of the ride home.
In college, surrounded by a multitude of already made healthy food choices and a multitude of reasons to no longer be best friends with the TV, the freshman fifteen was actually the freshman twenty-five or thirty for me but in pounds lost not gained. My first few years post-graduation I maintained relative health. I headed to the gym after work, I ran three marathons, I Hustle Up the Hancock’ed. I had my “entire pizza” moments but not enough to push me past my size 14ish frame.
Until slowly, suddenly, zippers were harder to zip.
I’m 6”. I’ve never been skinny.
I’ve been athletic, chubby, and when I was a kid, fat. I didn’t want to return to fat. So I took action. I fearfully went to my first yoga class and hid in the back, next to the wall. I stairclimbed at a molasses speed for ten minutes. I bought The Supermarket Diet and Eat This, Not That, through which I learned I was consuming sugar-yogurt, sugar-cereal, and sugar-lattes, what a serving size is, and of the existence of ground flax seed. Healthy days turned into weeks turned into months, and not only did the pounds disappear but muscles appeared. I confidently moved my mat to the front of the studio and was able to hold bird of paradise and half moon longer than most of my classmates (yoga is competitive, right?). Twenty, forty, sixty minutes climbing stairs at a good pace became nothing.
Eight years ago, I was in the best shape of my adult life. I lost seventy-something pounds. I weighed 181. I bought a few size 10s, knowing just around the corner, I’d fit. I was a warrior.
I managed to maintain warrior’ness, which they always say is the hardest to do. A year, three years.
Then my business changed. The things that had me leave the house and active were no longer fulfilling and so I walked away from them. The things that had me at my computer planning, creating, and managing, sometimes for hours without a break, transformed into my main bread and butter. (Why I recently grew two new branches of the business, one of them directly correlating with my desire to be healthy again.) Funny in a not-funny at all way that us folks with the most flexibility to take care of ourselves — work from homes, self-employeds, childfree — often get a big red “F” when it comes to self-care and self-love. Let’s be better, y’all. We’ve only got one body, one mind, one life.
At the same time that the chain to my computer manifested, I met Best Friend. We laughed and explored and got to know one another through burgers and fries. Perhaps as it became evident that he was the one, subconsciously I “let myself go.” Three times a week yoga became one then none. Stair climbing ceased. Now we enable one another with our “Wanna get pizza?” inquiries.
Slowly, suddenly zippers were harder to zip. Didn’t zip. Broke. Those size 10s got pushed to the back of the closet. I couldn’t even get a leg in the pants.
I don’t know what the opposite of warrior is — Roly Poly? Weakling? Sloth? That’s what I am these days. I don’t recognize myself in the mirror. I am embarrassed by the woman in the mirror. Her stomach gets in the way of a forward fold. She misses clothes, ironically, as she has a dresser and closet full of them. But 97% of them no longer fit. Shopping when healthy was such a delightful experience; there’s little more disheartening than buying fat clothes. She misses bras that fit and boobs that aren’t out to kill her with their suffocating tendencies when practicing stomach yoga. She misses not having to worry if she’ll fit in a chair at a restaurant or an event. She misses not being asked if she’s pregnant.
I am a fairly open book.
I’ve shared about shitting on the side of the road. My neck-beard. Stealing from the homeless. Getting stood up after he saw me and told me over the phone, “You’re too fat to date.” That I’m struggling to write a book because I lack appropriate self-discipline. Yet there are some shares I’ve never shared. Like my weight. But I’m so tired of being uncomfortable. Being Warrior-Opposite. I need to shake up normal. Every few months or weeks, Best Friend and I will be healthy. We’ll buy kale, grains, and fake bacon bits. We’ll send each other recipes. We’ll ride bikes. Until beer or Pizza Hut or cake derails us and we’ll stay derailed till the next attempt. “We need to get healthy for Belize” was our mantra this winter. Um yeah, Belize came and went two months ago.
So. I’m sharing my weight. Though this seems like the worst possible idea ever after that Kendall Jenner Pepsi commercial, I’m 321 pounds.
Now what? Well, the fact that I clicked publish and that you’re reading this and that I’m not dead, my bank account hasn’t been drained, and I’m not being lambasted on talk shows is something. The big, scary gahhh! is still big and scary but it’s lost some of its power. The power of what if? What if people know how much I weigh? The power of fear. I’m fearful of talking about being fat on this level. You know my number and while I can’t say that writing this is a walk amongst daisies, the angst has dissipated, a wee bit. That’s a start.
Here’s a continuation.
About a month ago, I got an email from “Brandon”
Lose weight, earn cash
Um, you’d be stupid to click on that, it’s obviously spam. I clicked. Turns out Brandon is a real-live person who works at my gym. He outlined a way to get in shape that seemed kinda not horrible and potentially doable —
- Get weighed and have your BMI taken three times over a month and a half
- Visit the gym three times a week
- Have your picture taken at the start and end
- Pay $25
- The female and male with the highest percentage of weight lost win $1000 each
I’ve seen other contests like this at health clubs and have never been interested because they always require stupid requirements like buy $100 worth of protein-powder crap or sign up for personal training sessions or the contest lasts for three months or pay $100 to enter. But these parameters? Even if you make me weigh-in in front of others (which they did, the fuckers!), I can do this. So before I chickened out, I paid the $25. I’m stingy, frugal, and cheap so if the promise of being able to hold down-dog for more than a minute isn’t enough of a carrot, losing $25, not to mention the $1000 prize, hopefully will keep me going.
Another fear is sharing this at the start of the journey.
I’ve noticed that I and many others share our vulnerability and triumph stories post-journey. When we know the outcome. When we can say, “Getting fired was the best thing that ever happened to me! Look at my thriving business.” “I used to be 287 pounds. Look at my six-pack!” “If my husband hadn’t cheated on me, I never would’ve met the love of my life!” It’s oodles safer that way. We share our ick because we know we climbed out of it. We were successful. To share your ick while you’re sitting in it? Yeah, this could go wrong. Failure, disappointment. Publicly. But again, what’s been tried in the past where health is concerned has not worked. So here I am, at the start of the contest, telling you I’ve entered this contest, I weigh a lot, and quite frankly, I’m nervous, fearful, and could use a Go Team Go!
I’ll be posting my progress over the next month and a half in hopes that being public will keep me away from pop and entire pizzas and in orbit with Fage, water, and physical activity. I mean, if Subaru is going to have me as their Life of Yes℠ Ambassador, driving the Outback they give me across country supporting Subie drivers in discovering their superpowers and in living fulfilled lives, I need to look and feel the adventurous, healthy, self-loving warrior that I once was, right? (Also, who can make Subaru happen?!)
Perhaps an additional goodness in me sharing that which I’d never share is that you may decide to strip the power from the thing you’d never share. Your debt, your miscarriage, your depression. If it’s gnawing your insides, if it’s a source of shame, if it invites stress into your life, ask yourself — how can you climb out from your ick?
As encouragement, I can’t yet claim, “Sharing that I weigh 321 pounds got me back to warrior-shape and netted me $1000, it was the best decision ever!”
But I’m hopeful.
Because in my thirteen years of running a business based on being vulnerable and encouraging others to be vulnerable, I have witnessed the strength of the ripples of microphoning your voice and the ensuing “Me too’s!”
When you live out loud, you realize you’re not alone, you’re worthy of goodness, and you have gifts to gift regardless of any ick puddles in your past.
*There are a few other “never shares” of mine but let’s rip off the band-aid of one wound before pulling others, shall we?
UPDATE: I had planned to post this Day One, but ya know, life. This is Day Three. 60 minutes of exercise daily. Lots of water daily. Good food choices daily. Down eleven pounds. So I actually weigh 310.
Subscribe to the blog so posts will be delivered straight to ya!