I started a blog to make sure everyone out there trying to be healthy had a source of inspiration. I called it One Fit City.
It has been my dream to change my hometown of Winnipeg for the past decade. My goal is simple, I want people to put a value on themselves, their lives, their health, and everything positive. The blog features tips from me, but more importantly, it has blogs from people recapturing their health.
This blog post from Patti is exactly why I started my blog, and will continue to tell people's story as it happens. I'm reinspired and I hope it does the same for readers everywhere. People are changing their lives, overcoming, and doing so with the support of friends and family.
About a year ago I found myself on a flight. I chose my usual seat beside a window, believing that it gave me a bit of an advantage in my quest to appear smaller, or at least to disguise my major obesity by attempting to squish my body into the wall. At just over 300 pounds this was not an easy task, and in reality it was quite futile. Who was I fooling? Probably only myself, and all it took to confirm that was to catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror as I waddled along the unending airport halls, feet, legs, back, body aching, sweat dripping, and chest pounding.
Inevitably the unthinkable would happen and I'd miss out on getting that coveted window seat. Sometimes I'd get an aisle seat which left me with a sore arm from getting smacked by the food and drink cart several times...not to mention the bruised self esteem from seeing the looks from others which ranged from pity to dismissal to outright disgust. I got really good at ignoring those looks, but sometimes I wasn't quick enough to turn my head away. The ultimate bad luck was getting stuck in the dreaded middle seat. For obvious reasons.
On one trip in particular I pulled out my iPhone and started putting my thoughts down. For the most part my travelling was thankfully uneventful, but on this particular flight, my seat mate was clearly not impressed being beside me. I know this because of her loud sigh as she yanked her leg away from mine and poked me with her elbows because my arms were overflowing over the arm rest into her space. The tone in her "excuse me please!" was unmistakable.
I knew I was taking up more than my fair share, and believe me, all I could think of was how sorry I felt. It doesn't matter in what part of life, I hate to be a bother to anyone, or cause inconvenience or problems. It's always been in my nature. Maybe it's just that "polite to a fault" Canadian thing we have going on. You know, the one where someone bumps into us and WE apologize...Couple that with my desire to not stick out, literally AND figuratively, and this is what prompted me to write down those thoughts on that particular flight.
Recently I stumbled upon that note and it made me sad. Not just for what I went through, but for every other obese person I've encountered on a flight or elsewhere. I recognize the worried, darting eyes, the sweat beading on the forehead, the constant arm crossing until your hands and fingers are numb, just because you don't want to intrude. The dread of using the airplane washroom because let's face it, they're not made for the 300-pound crowd. The reluctance to order food because you think that everyone is judging you for eating. It goes on and on, and while some of these may indeed be only manifested in our minds, they seem incredibly real to us. I know that the obese are human too, and deserve to be treated as such, but it's in our nature to want to fly under the radar.
Today I am taking a flight. Three flights actually, and it's a very emotional time for me. First of all, I notice that the seats are larger. Actually I'm guessing that MY seat is simply smaller. The seat belt has plenty of belt to spare. The tray table is a good six inches from my belly rather than sitting on an angle on TOP of my belly. I've gone to the bathroom just to hang out and revel in the fact that I could simply stand there and not have a body part touching a wall at all times. I ordered a chicken and salsa wrap because I was hungry. I put MY elbows on the arm rest. And miracle of miracles, I crossed my legs, and DIDN'T cross my arms once!
I pulled out my phone to make some notes of all of these little victories that I was experiencing and I found that old list from a year ago. Reading it again left me with such a huge feeling of gratitude that I felt I had to share. Not just to share what's inside my head now and then, but also let others know that they are not alone. I used to think I would've been mortified if someone had come up to me, put their hand on my arm and said, "I know how you feel." But while it would've shocked me, it would've also given me a feeling of support from a fellow human being.
Here is my virtual "hand on the arm" to others who may be in the shoes I was once in. Here is that note I wrote a year ago on the plane:
Dear Fellow Travellers,
I am sorry that my hips bang you on the arm as I walk to my seat. I know my arm is on your side of the seat, but I'm really trying to make up for it by pushing my shoulder in the window.
I know that my legs are fidgety but I'm also really uncomfortable from trying to move as little as possible and keep my legs from touching yours. I don't want to draw more attention to myself or inconvenience you by asking you to get up so I can stand for a few minutes.
I see you eyeing up the people walking down the aisle, wondering which of us will stop at your row. I also saw your eyebrows go up when it was me who said, "Excuse me please, I need to get to that window seat." Sorry but you just won the reverse lottery.
I'm grateful to the screaming baby behind us a few rows. Yeah, it's loud and annoying, but maybe it'll help you forget me sitting beside you.
I'm sorry I had to move my belly out of the way so you could plug in your earbuds and manoeuvre the buttons. I'm just going to pretend I'm asleep if the middle seat beside me is still open so you can get used to how I look without having to see you give me the inevitable once over.
These thoughts are the furthest thing from those of a self confident individual, just as I was the furthest thing from being a self confident individual. The confidence is slowly arriving each day and for that I am grateful. It's a touchy subject these days. Obese are often made fun of in social media, on TV, movies, and it's accepted. Hearing someone say, "Like a fat kid on a cake" makes me cringe. With this growing confidence I now find myself voicing my thoughts at others making fun of an overweight person. I delete those "friends" who post cartoons of severely obese people and poke fun. It hurts and we don't deserve to have to endure that.
This flight that I was on writing this blog a week ago was a flight to San Diego. This is where I flew to in January weighing just under 300 pounds to have weight loss surgery in Mexico. I was hugely uncomfortable on that plane. When I spent a day exploring San Diego, post-op, I fell in love the city and made a promise to myself that I'd go back after achieving some significant weight loss.
Here I am, seven and a half months and 110 pounds later, crossing my legs on that plane, going back to a city that I explored by foot, putting many miles on my new shoes. I went to the beach, wore a bathing suit, bought a LOT of much smaller clothes than I wore last time, and it was wonderful. It was a gift to myself because I don't have to apologize for being me anymore. And do you know what? I never did. THAT'S what I'm realizing now, and I only wished I had it figured out back then.