Discover more from Spoook - the Substack of James McMahon
The truth about being an obese slob
Or how I decided to get over it and get into it
Sometimes I can’t believe I allowed to let myself get so fat.
When I look back and ruminate, as a person with obsessive compulsive disorder is so prone to do, I understand exactly why I spent years shoving poison down my gullet and moving very little, and doing so very, very slowly. A mental illness, an absence of hope, a succession of lockdowns. But as I waddle around the block, stopping to lean on one of the rest stops on the circuit I’ve come to know so well, I often think to myself, “did you need to eat so much KFC? Did you? You total dick…”
I’ve always had a complicated relationship with food. I binged when I was sad. Whenever my family went out. I did it in secret, knowing it was wrong, making up excuses to tell myself it wasn’t. My mum had problems with disordered eating growing up, and like so many problems we face in adulthood, I can see exactly how mine and her childhood shaped what was to come. But I can also see how pointless it is knowing. We learn this in treatment for OCD. It’s not the content of the intrusive thoughts that matters but understanding that the process by which they arrive is distorted cognition. Identifying this is more important than understanding why we came to have OCD in the first place; it’s why talking therapies can be so harmful to people with OCD, and I’d argue, perhaps a little controversially, many who don’t.
I got here - I got fat - because I grew up thinking some foods were ‘bad’ and some were ‘good’. Quantity and regularity didn’t come into the equation, and I’d wager I know the source of how every pound that was added to my gut came to be. But that matters little when you’re gasping for breath, leaning on a garden wall, the family through the window thinking, “what’s this weird guy doing, he’s scaring the cat”.
The past happened. Bad things happened. Get over it - and get into it.
2023 is awash with dumb ideas. As a (mostly) straight white male I often feel reluctant to critique them, but as a very fat person – and while fear has dictated I haven’t weighed myself in quite some time, at the last check in I was in excess of 30 stone; I am a very fat person – I do feel qualified to say that the current discourse about body positivity is rank bollocks. Yes, nobody calling me a “fat cunt” has ever motivated me to lose weight. I know, I chafe, I sweat, my heart feels heavier every time I say to my friends, “I can’t play football with you, I will surely die”. Yes, people calling me fat makes me feel ashamed. Few of us respond to shame in a healthy way. But the idea that you’re healthy when you’re my size is nonsense. “Yes, sorry for leaning on your wall. Yes, sorry your cat is frightened. I’m moving on, as soon as I catch my breath…”
Like most progressive ideas, if you take about five paces backwards most make a lot of sense. They’re not so dumb. Body positivity? All for it. Healthy at any size? A cruel nonsense. Nothing about being my size is healthy, nobody would choose this, I simply need motivation and not judgement, especially when pushers like Uber Eats are sending me ‘delivery is free!’ notifications every hour of every day. At least drug dealers go to bed sometimes. It’s all too easy to punish myself at 3am with a chicken bucket, like an Opus Dei monk might flagellate themselves with a knotted whip.
I’ve taken drugs, I worked in the music industry for over two decades. But I took drugs because I was lonely and then I stopped being lonely and so a decade back I decided I couldn’t be arsed and stopped. Naively I never understood how someone could lose themselves to them. I almost certainly wrote in print, ‘Pete Doherty should put down the pipe for goodness sake’. It would have been funnier than that. I was a pretty fucking funny writer. And then KFC started doing home delivery, and I now absolutely understand how someone can lose themselves to drugs, or fried chicken, or anything, if their brain is hurting and they need something as a balm.
What surprised me was how quickly I lost myself to it. I could feel an incremental change; longer lunches, longer lunches on my own, odd intersections with OCD where my brain needed me to eat foods in multiples of threes, some enforced vomiting. I can overlay difficulties in my life, and the accompanying OCD, with the upward curve. Few would argue that any of the aforementioned weren’t damaging behaviours, but they were manageable, to a degree, if you’re more active than not. And then lockdown arrived. Nothing to do. No one to see. Nowhere to go. Nothing to burn the pounds off. One day I could walk, the next day I couldn’t. I was shocked at how suddenly that happened. The doctor told me I had binge eating disorder, referred me to therapy, and I told them everything I’ve told you, with a bit more mess and disfunction than I want to share with strangers. Therapy is ongoing.
But it was basic economics got me over it and then into it. If I can’t really walk, I can’t do a job, and if I can’t do a job, I can’t pay my mortgage, and if I can’t pay my mortgage then I won’t have a house, and if I don’t have a house then I’ll be a very fat person living on the streets, and that really does not sound very much fun at all. I need access to a shower; fat people smell very badly. I need someone to house my collection of enormous boxershorts; that I bought from the excellent supersized clothing company Big Dude. One day when I am not this fat I will offer my collection of enormous boxershorts to the homeless, suggesting their future usage as yurts. Because this is not only an era of dumb ideas but the absence of good grace, I feel obliged to point out that I am joking and I have great sympathy and respect for anyone not blessed to have a house. That said, I would really like Microsoft Word to stop suggesting I change ‘homeless’ to ‘unhoused’, because not a single difference is being made to a single life by them doing so, but the wavey red line under the suggested change is making my OCD peak. 2023: an age of dumb ideas.
Because I won’t be this fat forever. Something has changed. Because I must change. I simply must. I’m moving now. 3,000 steps a day. For seven days. Now 4,000. For four days. Next week I’ll up it to 5,000. And then… I’m enjoying it now. The comfort I used to find in fried chicken is being replaced with the deliciousness of endorphins and achievement. I listen to my silly podcasts about UFOs and Bigfoot. I sometimes listen to Joe Rogan talk about Bigfoot and UFOs, and because my complicated brain cannot stand a single person being misrepresented in any way whatsoever, I should say that his motivational tirades about not feeling sorry for yourself and getting over it and into it has been extremely helpful. I just zone out when he talks about geopolitics and COVID. I’m going to keep going, get over it and into it.
“Yes, I’m going, I’m going, and fuck your stupid cat…”
Until I get a job, Spoook is really the only income that I have, so please do consider becoming a paid subscriber if you can xxx