I’m the fat girl!
I’ve been the fat girl with acne my entire adult life. As a child, I was the skinny kid who was a fussy eater. It was so bad that when I was eight, Amma and Appa enrolled me in Judo classes with the hope that the sport would help me build my stamina and appetite.
It did! Through most of middle school, I was the Judo girl who, along with a few others, competed in state-level competitions. By the 8th standard, I had graduated to a Blue Belt (two levels from a Black) and was leading the Karnataka team in the Sub-junior National Championship. And then, the day before my bout at the Nationals, I started my period for the first time! It was the first time I was wearing a sanitary napkin, the first time experiencing menstrual cramps, all while wearing white and competing in an extremely rigorous sport.
In high school, grades became more important and I quit Judo. The combination of puberty, lack of exercise, and board exam stress led to me putting on massive amounts of weight in the 10th standard. It has never really gone since then.
Over the past decade, I have tried to lose weight to varying degrees of success. I dieted, joined gyms, and even went back to Judo in 2016. Doing Judo as an adult was liberating, mostly because I went back to my original sensei. He knows me and pushed me to do my best despite me being the only woman in the room and having come back to it after more than a decade. It strengthened me physically and mentally, at a time when I was in the depths of depression. When I moved back to Delhi in 2017, I had to quit again.
Through this all, regardless of how strong I was or what my health checkups said, I just heard one thing – lose weight. I have even experienced gaslighting from doctors where they have refused to recognise other health issues because they thought it was a ‘weight problem’. Last year, I tore the ligament in my right knee and a doctor told me that I had knee pain because of my weight. It got so bad that I was unable to walk and an MRI scan revealed what was really wrong.
Like many others, I stress-ate through the lockdown and put on massive amounts of weight. I was eating junk for every meal and drinking alcohol like it was going to prevent coronavirus! By June, I was the heaviest I’ve ever been. I was struggling to climb up a flight of stairs without getting breathless and, like most people, got no exercise. Anxiety, obviously, did not help either.
Being the fat girl, I have never been comfortable exercising in front of others. The smirks of gym trainers, the mocking smiles of buff dudes and the ogling of men if I jogged outdoors have deepened my discomfort. After Judo, I also never found any activity that felt like ‘me’. Nothing that felt natural and actually made me feel connected to my body.
In July, thanks to my sister, I stumbled upon Yoga. I had done Yoga off and on as a kid but had never tried it as an adult. I had misconceptions about it and honestly, thought it would be boring. But, I needed to do something while stuck at home and figured I’d give it a shot.
IT HAS BEEN AWESOME! I am now in my third month of doing Yoga and I am loving it. I’m probably the least conventional practitioner because I can’t remember half the asanas’ names, but I can definitely feel them. I started doing it with the idea that it would help be lose weight, and it did. But now, I am watching my body change, regardless of what the weighing scale says. My arms are stronger and, dare I say, I can see biceps and triceps developing. On the days that I don’t have Yoga class, I spend an hour practicing asanas I have been taught by my amazing instructor.
Yoga feels like ‘me’. It is the first time in years that I feel connected to my body. It is also helping me unseed that stupid, unscientific thought that losing massive amounts of weight will automatically make me healthier. I can feel my fat reducing and my muscles getting stronger. I feel healthier and know that my stamina is better.
I don’t have those ‘before and after’ body transformation pictures because I personally don’t feel comfortable with them. I feel that, in some sense, they are subtle reiterations of our internalised fatphobia. I also don’t want to compare because I know that it will affect my mental health if I do put back some of the weight in the future. My body is going to keep changing as I get older and I am going to allow for it to take its course. I will, however, try and stay more in control of the trajectory because I like how I feel today.
Here’s a picture of my ‘post-Yoga’ glow – sweaty, messy hair and all!
Article by Roshini Suparna Diwakar