Sunday, July 22, 2007

Fat, Broke, and Lonely

Someone was telling me about a book called Fat, Broke & Lonely No More!. Amazon has the following description about it:

Do you ever obsess about whether to order dessert, buy those pricey sandals, or be totally honest on a third date?

If so, then you are already acquainted with the fear of being fat, broke & lonely. If only we could eat less, get paid better, and be more outgoing.

Only it's not that simple. Our endless quest to be fit, flush, and partnered (no matter where we fall on the scale) inevitably makes us feel fat, broke & lonely. The symptoms are anxiety, shame, and fear, and the diagnosis is feeling miserable about ourselves. We have two choices: give up, convinced that this is just a lifelong, losing battle, or go toe-to-toe with our negative self-image and take back our lives.

Real-life anecdotes, practical strategies, and a touch of sass make this revolutionary five-step plan a must-read. First, Moran helps us discover the root of the symptoms. Then we learn how to break up with fat, broke & lonely for good. And finally, we learn how to hook up with the life of our dreams—and who doesn't want that?

I havent read this book yet but I am very interested in it. I am curious at what her solutions might be. I hope it is something more that a glorified instruction manual for losing weight, earning more money, and gettin' hitched. Nevertheless, just the title got me thinking. I have to admit that I think it is interesting that the author of this book is addressing all of these things together in one book. At first, I thought it was odd but when I stopped to think about it, it all makes a kind of sense because those things are all connected in a way.

I mean, I am fat. And like it or not, being fat makes it MUCH harder to find a mate. Being single increases loneliness. But it also has financial implications since single women tend to be poorer than married women. In my own case, I have a household income that is just slightly below the mean household income in the USA. But if I were married to someone with the same income, the two of us would have an income in the top 20% of household incomes. That is a difference between having a middle class income and an upper middle class income.

So...Fat, Broke, and Lonely. Here are my thoughts on each of those things.

Re: Fat.

Well, since I *am* fat, I pretty much always feel fat. What I have learned is that being fat is probably outside of my control. Or rather, what it would take for me to be not fat is more than I can do and still be sane and happy. I have also learned that doesnt mean that I am a bad person. Being fat also doesnt mean that I necessarily have to be terribly unhealthy. So I changed my goal away from losing weight and have made new goals that are more attainable. e.g. walking several times a week is a goal. Making sure I eat enough fruits and veggies is a goal. Reducing my sugar intake is a goal. Those are all good things but are not things that cause me to lose a significant amount of weight.

I have put a lot of focus on not internalizing the messages our culture has about fat, especially those messages that arent based in fact. For instance, it isnt laziness on my part that keeps me fat. It isnt a complete lack of willpower that keeps me fat. It is a constant battle though because our culture tends to shame people for being fat. A lot of people consider it a moral failing.

Basically my solution to feeling fat has been to change my outlook on what fat means. It doesnt mean I am unhealthy although since it is a risk factor for certain things, it does mean that I need to monitor my health more closely than others might need to. It doesnt mean that I am a bad person. It doesnt mean that I am ugly. It just means that I have a body shape that is different than most people's.

Re: Broke

I am often broke. Some of that is due to some bad financial management on my part but ironicly some it that is due to good financial management on my part, i.e. I feel broke when I dont have enough money to buy things that I want but not buying them anyways on credit is good financial management.

Lately though, I have been under more financial stress than usual. If I were to lose my job, I dont know what I'll do. Unemployment benefits would not be enough for meto live on. I might need to sell my house in such a situation if I couldnt find a job within a month or so. Almost all of my savings are in my retirement account which I could access but with penalties. I would hate to do that but if push came to shove, I guess I would have to.

What this has taught me more than anything is that I *really* need to work more on getting my financial house in order. I need to spend even less than I am spending now. I might need to try to find a roommate or something. I need to save more money so I can have that six months of salary that everyone recommends saved up so that if I ever find myself in a situation where I might lose my job, I wont be stressed out about it.

Re: Lonely.

I guess there are different types of loneliness.

There is what I consider real lonliness where one finds oneself cut off from the rest of the world. Sometimes in the winter I experience this because I tend to get depressed in the winter. It is a vicious cycle. I get depressed enough that just going to work sucks up most of my energy so I dont make an effort to socialize. Then the lack of social interaction means that I start to feel lonely, which makes me more depressed, which in turn, makes me even less likely to do social things. I often have to make a real effort to socialize even if it is only talking to someone on the phone for a half hour.

Being social and making the emotional connections that prevent loneliness are hard work. But important work. When I feel lonely, I call people and make an effort to see them. I tell people I love them. I hug my friends.

There is also the loneliness of being single. Some of that, though, isnt real loneliness on my part, but rather a response to cultural expectations that people, and especially women, be partnered up. Mostly, I have decided that I am going to be single for the rest of my life and I have come to terms with that. I honestly believe that it is better to be single than to be with the wrong person. If the right person should happen to come along, that is great.

Being single and feeling that particular kind of loneliness is still hard though. I dont meet very many men that I am interested in but when I do, they have (so far) pretty much always rejected me at some point or another. Well, all the men have rejected me except for the ones I rejected first! haha. Seriously though, that is a mind set I fall into occasionally. I will think, "Every man in the world has rejected me" but really that isnt true because there have been men who havent but whom I felt were lacking in one way or another so I actually was the one who rejected them. I guess it is easier to forget the people one rejects as romantic partners than the other ones. And ok, while I am not beating my many suiters off with a stick (although I did recently have a guy camped out on my front lawn), I do have some men who are interested. It just hasnt been anyone in whom I am also interested.

In conclusion, I guess I have to say that I am fat, broke, and lonely at least by many other people's definitions and I dont think it is all that bad really. There are worse things certainly and my life is generally pretty good!


Victoria said...

Hey, Lynne -- I'm the author of Fat, Broke & Lonely No More and liked reading what you wrote. Very thoughtful comments. If you'd like a copy of the book, send me your snail mail. Best wishes, Victoria Moran

Lynne said...

Thanks for the offer, Victoria! As it happens, I work for company that sells books so I'll be able to pick it up anyways. But thanks. :)