BLOG 149 HUNGER BY ROXANE GAY
A client recommended a great read to me, Hunger, by Roxane Gay, and I’m so thankful she shared this book. It is her personal story of her past forever haunting her and a life of food to hide herself. As a trainer, this story of her BODY, was both powerful and moving. Sadly, it’s not the first time I have read/heard/or even helped clients with similar memoirs. The odds seemed to be lined up against her, but Roxane lives today as a feminist, successful writer, and woman with an incredible message.
Roxane said, “I was broken, and to numb the pain of brokenness, I ate and ate and ate, and then I was not just overweight or fat. Less than a decade later, I was morbidly obese and then I was super morbidly obese” (pg. 22). At the age of 12, she was gang raped by a boy she thought she was in love with along with his friends in a cabin in the woods. Today, she can still smell and taste the trauma, and she used food to suppress this horrible moment of her life that she kept a secret until this book. At her highest, she was 577 pounds. Her outlook on relationships, sex, and her personal sense of self-worth, were forever changed when this happened to her.
Food offered her comfort and she was able to make herself unattractive the larger she became (at least in her mind). Contrary to what one might assume, she had an amazing, loving, family and support system. She was Haitian, and her family was a tight knit unit. She grew up with parents who paid the utmost attention to their kids and provided very well for them. But that didn’t mean she felt it was okay to share her secret with them. In fact, she separated herself from them and isolated herself in books and writing. She is a great writer.
Of course, her weight was a concern to her family and self, and she did try every diet known. But every time she lost weight, she regained it, again hiding inside the cage she created for herself but could still see out of. She lived her life always saying to herself, “Tomorrow, I will make good choices. I am always holding on to the hope of tomorrow” (pg. 139).
Obesity isn’t just about food. Although society has created the notion that overweight people are lazy and eat too much, they rarely stop to ask WHY?? Food is a drug for many people and it can be the high one needs to not feel emotionally. The temporary satisfaction becomes an impulse and just like a drug, one can never have enough as tolerance is built. To binge is to numb whatever emotion is taunting. Food isn’t nourishment; it’s comfort. And yet, society passes judgement, even doctors do too. A client might think I don’t know what it is like or I can never relate, but food is a crazy, messy, mind game for most of us. Professional natural bodybuilding has taught me that lesson all too well. It isn’t just calories in and calories out, oh there is so much more to being healthy than that.
I thank Roxane Gay for sharing her story and I thank the client her recommended this book. Our fitness journeys are unique to ever BODY, and every BODY is worthy of health and happiness. Sometimes the worst moments give credit to who we are today. But they don’t define us. You can turn the page and I will help you.
Hunger, Gay, Roxane. (2017). Harper Collins Publishing.