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When was promoting my book “The Fat Girl’s Guide to Life” a few years ago, I was very proud of my fat. It had taken me years to get to a place where I felt good about my body: a fat body, but a healthy body.
I exercised, ate nutritious food, and turned off the nonstop, nasty inner monologue telling me that I was a bad person because I wasn’t thin enough. I weighed around 220 and felt stable and strong. The problem was that not all my fat was fat fat. Some of it was sick fat.
You see, a couple months before the book came out, I became extremely sick with a rare vascular autoimmune disease called Wegener’s granulomatosis.
I was put daily oral chemotherapy and huge doses of steroids to reduce inflammation in my blood vessels that was cutting off blood supply to my organs.
The irony was that the internal inflammation may have been relieved, but externally I was blowing up like a Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. On steroids, you retain fluids and your body swells in places where you usually don’t carry fat cells (giving you a hump on the back of your neck, a swollen middle body, and the charmingly titled “moon face.”).
I was clocking in at around 260 pounds. Plus, my hair was falling out, my skin was shredding…not a good time to be promoting a book. Still, I went on TV and did interviews and smiled and said, “Yes, I think I’m beautiful!” even though the “beautiful” had a giant mental asterisks next to it.
I didn’t want anyone to know I was sick. The message was you could be overweight and healthy. Problem was I wasn’t healthy (even though the weight was not the issue), and forty extra pounds over the overweight was due to drugs.
With help from doctors and healers, I finally got the Wegener’s under control. My hair started growing back in. I had enough energy to start a little bit of exercise.
Five minutes on a treadmill at 2.0 mph was a very, very good day.
The weight started coming off. And off. And off. The forty pounds of marshmallow fluff disappears in less than a couple months. But the pounds keep going. My eyes turned yellow and I was sick to my stomach. I was getting compliments up the hizzy but FREAKING OUT because I was pretty sure I had liver cancer and now I was dying.
After a series of medical screw-ups I was finally diagnosed with hepatitis C, which we believe I contracted from a medical procedure. I couldn’t treat the hep because of the autoimmune issues, but luckily everything seems to have stabilized.
The Wegener’s is in remission.
I’m down to about 180 pounds. Exercising, eating right, taking my vitamins, doing my meditation and bodywork, living what I consider to be a well-balanced life excludes maximum stress and includes occasional ice cream sundaes.
I wrote a new book, “Are You My Guru? How Medicine, Mediation & Madonna Saved My Life.”
(MizFit note: Wendy’s new book, Are You My Guru?, goes on sale tomorrow. Ive read it. I loved it.)
The only problem is that when I tell people my first book was called “The Fat Girls Guide to Life,” sometimes they look at me quizzically and ask, “Why?”
It’s not like I’m a bone, people. I’m still wearing a size 14/16 on bottom and a size 18 on top.
I may look like a Liz Lemon-style supermodel in Cleveland, but I’m regular old fat in L.A. and New York. My BMI is just one point off from “obesity.
” I’m still fat; I’m just less fat.
Mostly, I’m grateful that my fat is fat fat again, and not sick fat.
Still, I don’t feel right in this smaller body.
I know it’s easier on my joints to carry less weight. I know that cardiovascularly my body has an easier time at 180 than 220. But just as I did at 220, and attempted and failed to do at 260, I am trying to make peace and find love for my body at 180.
I thank my organs for working so hard to keep me strong under an onslaught of toxic medication, a liver virus, and an autoimmune system charged up to fight for no reason.
The body is different but the lesson is the same: I determine what’s beautiful about me. I decide what number I’m comfortable with (or not) on the scale. I find values other than my weight to determine whether or not I’m healthy. I find strength not just in how much I can lift, but in how much I can handle.
In my new book I searched for a guru to help fix myself when I was broken.
Now I know that in some ways, I am my own guru.
I’m the one with the answers.
Now I’ll just keep doing my best to ask the right questions.