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I'm ashamed of taking weight-loss drugs. It took me years to love my body, and now I worry what other people will think.

Krista Atkinson   

I'm ashamed of taking weight-loss drugs. It took me years to love my body, and now I worry what other people will think.
  • My relationship with my body and weight loss has been a rollercoaster.
  • It took a long time to learn to love my body, and I finally got there.

If you'd told me 10 years ago I'd feel ashamed of losing weight, I wouldn't have believed you.

I've been on a roller coaster of body shame and acceptance since I was 12, which, at times, led to bouts of disordered eating. The ride included highs and lows: when I was a teenager, my mom told me, "If you keep eating like that, you'll start growing wide once you stop growing tall," and finally, in my late 30s, I learned to celebrate my larger body by working with a therapist.

Losing weight was never easy for me, but in my 30s, it became increasingly more difficult. No matter how I exercised and dieted, the loss was minimal and impermanent. Yet every time I went to a doctor, I was told I needed to keep trying. Since it wasn't working, I decided to see a therapist who specializes in weight.

My therapist educated me on how to exercise and diet in a healthy way that didn't trigger my disordered eating. After working with her for around two years, I'd found a new relationship with food. But I still hadn't lost much weight and was looking to create a better relationship with my body.

I learned to love my body with the help of a therapist

My therapist switched gears and helped me learn to love and accept my body as it was, to let go of the frustration and shame I felt for not being able to lose weight. She taught me that food isn't moral, that I am not a bad person for being fat, and that the medical community had a long way to go in understanding all of this.

Over the next few years, I spent an abundance of time learning to love my body. I followed body-positive influencers on social media (and unfollowed ones who made shame-based weight posts), meditated on the gratitude I had for all my body does for me, chose exercises I actually enjoyed, and, in therapy, unearthed my unhealthy patterns of thinking and replaced them with positive affirmations.

Eventually, I spoke and wrote about this journey publicly. I wanted to do my part to remove the shame and stigma around being plus-sized, and I received many messages and comments of gratitude for doing so. I ended up building much of my identity around that platform and mindset.

While I still celebrate and love that movement, part of my personal story has changed. I contracted long COVID. After discussing things with my doctor at the long COVID clinic I attend, my primary doctor, and my therapist, we decided that losing weight could be helpful in lessening some of my symptoms, including chronic fatigue syndrome, high blood pressure, shortness of breath, and heart palpitations. But if I couldn't lose weight the traditional way before, it wasn't a possibility now, with chronic fatigue making regular exercise impossible.

I worry what people will think when they learn I'm taking weight-loss drugs

Since I started seeing doctors about my weight at 22, I've noticed a shift in the way many practitioners talk about weight. This may be partially due to the fact that recent research has shown that weight is determined by a variety of factors, such as genetics, environment, and evolution. More people are seeing that obesity is an illness and not a character flaw.

My primary doctor suggested I try a medical weight loss program, which involves seeing a nutritionist and weight loss doctor monthly, as well as prescription weight loss drugs. It took me three months to muster the courage to make the appointment and another month after that to start taking the prescribed pills. I've been feeling just as much shame about it as I did when I initially started gaining weight. In fact, despite being the ultimate oversharer, I have been so scared that I've only told my parents.

I've been scared because of the hurtful commentary and speculation I see online about others losing weight by taking medication. The underlying issue that society continues to have with weight is still one of morality. If you are fat, you must be lazy and indulgent. If you lose weight the "easy" way, you are weak and privileged.

I used to feel guilt and embarrassment for gaining weight; I now feel that way for losing it. I built an identity around loving my larger body. Now that I have realized that my obesity is an illness that can be medically treated, I'm scared to admit I am tending to it.

I am not ashamed of taking migraine or allergy medicine. However, I am conscience-stricken for taking weight loss medicine when all I am trying to do is improve my health. I have painstakingly tried the "hard" way for 20 years, and it has never worked for me. Now, in three months' time, I have lost 25 pounds, and am afraid people are going to start asking me how.

I'm fearful of being judged by thin people who don't understand and scared of backlash from fat people in the body-positive community. Mostly, I'm tired of society constantly scrutinizing the weight of others. The ultimate lesson I'm taking from this is that I've spent far too much time listening to influencers and commenters on my social media feed who don't know me or have my best interest at heart and letting them dictate what I do.

I have done the work to love myself no matter what size I am. And because I love my body, I am going to do what I see fit to take care of it. I'm not concerned about a number on the scale, but I am concerned about decreasing my chronic illness symptoms.

At the end of the day, I don't know how many pounds I will shed, but I know the most important thing I am shedding is the weight of other people's judgment. Ten years ago, I started working on discarding the shame I felt from gaining weight, and now it is time to start working on the shame I feel from losing it.

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