Diet & Nutrition

Michelle Bridges hit a nerve: I was obese and unhappy

Michelle Bridges doesn't speak for all obese people, but for me, there is some truth behind her controversial comment.

By Cat Rodie
When Michelle Bridges said that she has never met “someone who is morbidly obese and happy” she sparked a fierce social media backlash that labelled her a 'fattist' and blasted her for fat shaming.
Bridges certainly doesn't speak for all overweight people, and high profile women such as Chrissie Swan and Meshel Laurie have vehemently waved the flag for body positivity.
But for me, Bridges hit a raw nerve. For me, there is some truth behind her controversial comment.
Twelve months ago I was obese.
I wasn't unhappy. In fact I felt strongly that being overweight wasn't a reason to be unhappy. I wanted to be a positive influence for my daughters and show them that bodies come in all different shapes and sizes.
I didn't avoid swimming pools or beaches. I even wore a bikini, there was nothing to be ashamed of. ‘It’s just my body’ I reasoned. ‘It’s not me.’
But despite my sunny outlook the weight was dragging me down.
I was sluggish, lethargic and fond of sitting on my rotund arse. It was hard to get up in the morning. I was living in a fog.
I wasn't unhappy – but I wasn't exactly happy either.On holiday with my family I let my kids pull me in to the sea for a swim and a splash. My husband took some photos (later he said that there was a danger that I’d never be in our family pictures, I was always behind the camera).
When I saw the photos I got a bit of a shock. It wasn't just the weight (rolls of fat cascading over my hips) it was the air of apathy that hung around me. I looked like someone who didn't care.
Something started to shift. I embarked on a health kick. This time it will be different I told myself. And it was.
I embraced exercise in a new way. I started working with a personal trainer who inspired me to push myself harder than I ever had before. I ran round the park, red faced and sweating profusely. I was determined to enjoy it – even when I felt like puking.
I found myself living in the moment – ‘here I am’ I told myself during every spin class, run and PT session.
I made other changes too. I gave up alcohol (at first to give my health kick an extra boost and then because I enjoyed sobriety. No one was more surprised than me) I weighed my food and re-learned what it meant to be full.
I’d like to say that I did all this because I wanted to be fit and active and that the inevitable weight loss didn't matter. But, it did matter. And while it wasn't my main motivation in the beginning my resolve grew with every kilo shed.
I replaced my wardrobe with a smaller size. Then I replaced that wardrobe with a smaller size and that wardrobe too. I became a tiny bit addicted to shopping – the thrill of getting into smaller clothes was a new type of high.
They say that old habits die hard, but I was working harder than ever. My new lifestyle became my new normal.
A friend told me that I was like a different person – and she wasn't referring to my smaller figure. “You just seem really happy,” she said.
It’s been a year. I am 24 kilograms lighter. I am the fittest I've ever been. I have more energy to run after my children (sometimes literally, they scoot and I run, exercise and family time rolled into a fast paced game of tag) and I'm rarely grumpy.
Perhaps the strident body positive outlook that I strived so hard to maintain was just a clever disguise. Maybe I was in denial.
But when I look back on myself, overweight and perpetually harassed I see a woman in knots.
And now, untangled from the shackles of my own obesity, I really am happy.

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