Today for the 100th time in my life someone asked me if I had ever considered getting a gastric sleeve. I felt like I had just been punched in the gut. As my blood began to boil and my heart rate rose I tried to hold back the anger that was welling within me.

Had I considered it in my 27 years of life, no not really. This might shock some, but the thing is, I want to do this on my own. I know some people have found success with surgery, and that is great, but I know it is not for me. My problem won’t be fixed by a smaller stomach, my problem is mental, an internal struggle that can only be fixed by will power, consistency, hard work and determination. So for the 100th time I swallowed my pride and politely said no, it’s not for me.

Then came suggestions, and reasons why it could work. Books I should read or meal plans I should try. I plastered a smile, politely said goodbye and walked to my car. Tears started to fill my eyes, not out of sadness, but anger. Why a simple questions can provoke such frustration you ask? Well let me share.

My whole life, I have been made to feel ashamed of who I am. People never let you forget that you are overweight.

My family was always very quick to offer suggestions and weight loss tips, letting me know that I did not meet their standards of beauty. When my mother and father adopted me at the age of 11, I remember sitting outback on a swing with my adoptive dad. He was telling me about a conversation he had with my social worker. He said  when the social worker asked him why he wanted to adopt me, his response was because no one else would. Then when she asked him what their biggest struggle was, he said well look at her.  Her weight. That was my introduction to this family. Already I was a disappointment and my weight was a problem. As I grew up in the home I was always reminded of my size. My mom had me go to a weight loss group, my dad told me if I would lose the weight he would buy me a car. But I never did lose the weight.  Fast forward a few years later, as an adult, there was a time in my life where I wanted to lose weight, for me, and I did a 40 day fast. After this fast I lost 40 pounds, my dad told me he was proud of me. This was the only time in my life he had said that to me, and it has never been said again.

Let’s talk about the men who have judged me my whole life. They check me out and I know what they are thinking, she has a pretty face, but she is so fat. I had a guy friend once tell me that I had a pretty face, a great personality, but that being overweight was  something a lot of men couldn’t look past. Some men look at me and look disgusted, judging me on the spot. Thinking I should join a gym or go for a run. I had a guy I was serving at a restaurant once say, as I was walking away, “Go eat another spoonful of mayo hunny.” Oh how the men at his table laughed. I don’t even like mayo, in fact I hate it.

Then there are the women, the ones who look you up and down. You simply don’t fit in if you aren’t cool and thin like them. They take notice of how your clothes fit, if they are too snug or too frumpy. They think, why can’t you just eat a salad. You go out to eat and they judge whatever you order and what you eat. They tend give you a sly look when you say you are hungry, lets clear one thing up, just because you are fat, doesn’t mean that you don’t get hungry. My stomach still growls when I go without food.

Then there are just complete strangers who judge. I experience this a lot at the gym.  People looking at me walking the track, or panting on the stair climber. I can only imagine what they are thinking.  Probably go faster, work harder. I would like to see them grab a extra 100 pound weight , put it on their back and try to do what I am doing. I constantly feel like when I am doing strength training that they are thinking I should be doing cardio, little do they know I already did. The looks you get from strangers are the worse, they don’t even know you, but they are so quick to judge you and assume you are a lazy fat slob.

The thing is…everyone’s always judging me…strangers, friends and family. They defined me long ago, and I began to see what they saw, and I started to worry about what they think. I constantly am worrying what others are thinking. Did they notice I gained weight? Did they notice I lost weight? Can they tell I have been working out? Is this outfit unflattering? Are they judging how I work out?

What people don’t know is that you could never be as disgusted with me as I am with myself. What people don’t know is that I hit the gym 5-6 days per week pushing past my ankle pain and my back pain. That I wake up everyday thinking today will be different, that today I will stick with my diet. That I actually do eat healthy, but I also mess up. No I don’t sit  on my butt eating cheetos all day. Yes I do know that being my size is unhealthy, but I am working on it. They don’t know that I beat myself up mentally everyday, because I want t to lose the weight. They don’t realize how hard I fight, how I never give up. Yes I do wish I could wear  certain clothes, but I know I can’t. Do they know that everyday I see disappointment in people’s eyes?  Yes I do know how to lose weight, don’t we all? No I don’t need your advice.  People don’t realize how much harder working out is for me, that it is physically so much harder, taxing and tolling, yet I still do it. . They dont know how guilty I feel when I have a cheat meal or over indulge, and if I didn’t feel l guilty, their judgment/look sure made me feel that way. They don’t know that if I am going to see people I havn’t seen in awhile I worry for weeks before hand, worrying that they will be judging my weight. They dont know that I am constantly sore and in pain from my neck, to my back, to my ankels…but that I chose to keep moving anyways. They don’t know that my husband thinks I am beautiful the way I am.

The point is….people don’t know. 

Like I said. People defined me long ago…..and I am so over it.

I don’t  need your sympathy, I don’t need your advice, and I sure as hell don’t need your judgment. Who I am on the inside should not be determined by what I look like on the outside.

I am sharing this because maybe it will help some of you understand what is like to be overweight. Most of us who are overweight/obese are very aware of our situation, and most of us struggle with it everyday. Many of us are also trying to change for the better. So the next time you see  a fat person walking instead or running, realize that they may be going as fast as they can. When you see a fat person eating a cheeseburger, don’t make a snap judgment, maybe they slaved away at the gym for 2 hours and earned that cheeseburger, or maybe its their cheat meal for the week. Maybe think twice before you offer unsolicted advice on weightloss, because buddy, guess what, we have tried every diet in the world. Stop looking us up and down and assuming you know us.

Stop defining us.

I more than a number on a scale.