Monday, October 08, 2007

Radio Silence (or Internet Silence, I Guess)

After my last post, I had a lot of discussions with my boyfriend. And I've been AWOL from posting here — even from reading other fatosphere blogs — because I feel like the only acceptable reaction I could have had to him asking me (re: the future) "Are you going to get bigger?" would have been to triumphantly return and proclaim that, for my own good AND the good of fat activists everywhere, I dumped his ass!!!

But I didn't.

And, see, while I appreciate all the thoughtful comments on my last post — MORE than any of you will EVER know — I still feel like any attempts I make to explain our relationship, the length, depth, and breadth of it, all the nooks and crannies of it, will just be seen as excuses. That, because of one question, one literally unprecedented hurtful action, I should have kicked him to the curb and strode away powerfully in my Right Fit jeans. That there could be NO EXCUSE for staying with a boyfriend who asked such a question of me (even though it was, as I said, literally the first hurtful thing he had done in the course of our relationship).

Anything I say right now sounds like an excuse, and in the face of the comments urging me to ditch him and look for someone who is truly accepting, I don't think there IS any way to explain my decision to stay together, and have it not sound like a pathetic excuse. It's NOT a pathetic excuse, and it certainly wasn't a decision I made without a lot of thought.

Don't get me wrong — his question left me upset, angry, pissed, emotionally bruised, stunned, bewildered — you pick the adjective. I didn't take his question lightly (obviously, if you read my previous post). I didn't take his attitude behind it lightly. We talked. A hell of a lot. And then more. And still more.

Ultimately, we are who we are, he and I. Either you believe me or you don't when I say that this one incident — severe though it was, and not without repercussions — isn't indicative of our relationship. How we dealt with it, however, IS.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

"...are you going to get bigger?"

Backstory:
I grew up with a mother who was a model before she met my dad. She has always kept her weight low, and she has a very ectomorphic body type, in addition to being 3-4 inches taller than me.

The pursuit of thinness has always been paramount to her, and got foisted onto me as I grew up. It didn't matter that I'm built differently than she is (I'm shorter, and I put on muscle really easily, and my fat is distributed in a curvy hips-ass-boobs pattern), she was still as obsessed with my weight as she was with hers. She truly believes — and always told me so — that "the boys will line up to date you if you just lose some weight."

Meaning, my weight makes me unlovable. And I've always believed that, partly because it seemed to be true — no one ever wanted to date me. (When I was a teenager, I didn't understand the concept of the self-fulfilling prophecy, and how believing something can *make* it true.) So I've always considered my weight to be something much more than just excess fat and flesh; if it made me so damned unloveable, then it must be something horrible and disgusting.

I've been dating my boyfriend for over a year now, and we've been seriously considering moving in together. In fact, our recent vacation was somewhat of a test to see if we could tolerate each other in close quarters for an extended period of time.

I really can't over-emphasize what a good relationship this is. He is truly the kindest, most gentle person I have ever known. He's never careless with my feelings. I feel totally safe with him.

Currentstory:
My boyfriend and I talked last night about the prospect of moving in together, now that the vacation "experiment" is over. We talked about still having some fears, but that for the most part we want to do it.

And then my boyfriend said, "Okay, here comes a major question...." And he paused, and then asked, "....are you going to get bigger?"

For a split second, I just wanted to die.

You know, people can't help who they're attracted to, or what physical attributes they find attractive/unattractive. But I had just been assuming that my weight wasn't an issue with him, because he regularly demonstrates that he is *very* attracted to me. I mean, I *thought* so. You can't fake sexual arousal; or, at least, I can't fathom why anyone would fake it that frequently for such a long period of time.

So, if I go with the assumption that he *is* currently attracted to me, his question still makes me think only one thing: that there is a point — a weight — at which I would be unattractive and disgusting to him.

Just like my mom said.

I'm really thrown for such a loop right now. After he asked me that question, every old fear and old ugly belief came rushing back, and crushed any semblance of body acceptance I had developed. I cried and cried and cried and could hardly even talk, for at least an hour. Finally I calmed down a little, and we talked through it. I explained all the old shit with my mom, and my old ugly fears. He told me that he *is* attracted to me. However, he didn't address the issue of whether or not he'd find me unattractive if I gained any more weight. And I certainly wasn't going to press the issue.

He has always been so careful with my feelings, and I know that he didn't ask that question to hurt me. But I also don't know how he thought it would do anything *but* hurt.

I feel like shit right now. I feel disgusting and ugly and worthless. I woke up this morning with my head full of plans to exercise 7 days a week and go back to Weight Watchers. That's not the answer, I realize that. Accepting my body is the answer, I guess. But all I can think at this particular moment is: does it matter if *I* accept my body, when the man I love *doesn't*?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Vacation and Exercise

I was on vacation last week, in gorgeous northern California. It was the first trip that my boyfriend and I took together, and we were both privately wondering if this would sound the death knell for the relationship. (I am, without question, difficult to travel with; The Boy thinks that *he* is difficult to travel with. The result, of course, is that we got on like peas in a pod, and had an excellent time.)

These days, I don't exercise as much as I used to, due to the ever-present time crunch (and, okay, laziness). In an "active" week, I walk on the treadmill 2 or 3 times, and do yoga 1 or 2 times. I'm trying to do yoga more frequently, because I am astonishingly inflexible. Some days I feel like I'm made of stone.

I'd like to get back to walking on the treadmill (or around the neighborhood) 4 or 5 times a week. Not because I think it'll make me lose weight, but because that's always been the level of activity that makes my body feel the best — I feel alert and energized all day, and I sleep well at night, and everything just seems to function better.

But even though I get less exercise than I used to, I'm not sedentary. Walking around a city and sightseeing isn't a daunting task for me. Granted, northern California is all hills, and I cheerfully loathe walking uphill — but I have no problem doing it. Yes, walking up a big hill makes me breathe harder, but that's the point — it's *supposed* to be harder than just walking on level ground.

While we were on vacation, we returned the rental car once we got to San Francisco, preferring public transportation to the hell of trying to park in San Francisco. After we dropped off the rental car, we had to walk back to where we were staying, maybe a mile or so. Not a difficult walk.

I don't know if I looked like I was about to collapse, or if I was sweaty and red-faced, or if I was just muttering too loudly about being lazy and wanting to take a cab, but whatever the reason, after we finished our walk, my boyfriend told me, "I'm proud of you for walking back and sticking with it." I said, "It really *wasn't* difficult; I was serious about just being lazy." My boyfriend said, "Still, I'm proud of you."

And it made me think, oh my god — is that how he sees me? As a Jabba-the-Hutt-esque blob who can barely move? I mean, he was *proud* of me for walking A MILE? That isn't exactly Olympics-level. Which then (of course) launches me into all kinds of related panicky thoughts: Is he disgusted by my body? Is he embarassed by my weight? Does he want me to lose weight but just doesn't know how to say so? Was that a hint?

And then, of course, I get angry with myself for even thinking those things, and for caring about whether he thinks I'm too fat, when I should be focusing on accepting my body the way it is, and giving it the exercise it needs.

Arrrgh.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

When 12 Pounds Might as Well be 100 Pounds

Dr. Stacy, of Every Woman Has An Eating Disorder, mentioned in a recent post that she's gained some weight. Twelve pounds, to be exact, which she confirmed by stepping on a scale.

Most women I know would react to the confirmation of a 12-pound weight gain by (1) massive self-hatred, (2) excessive exercise, (3) renewed zeal to consume only lettuce and water, and (4) even more self-hatred.

I'll be honest with you: *I* would probably react that way. The excessive exercise and lettuce-and-water diet would probably last for only one day, but the extra helping of self-hatred would stick around for a long, LONG time. I'm trying to get past that mindset, but I'm *so* not there yet.

The eminently sensible Dr. Stacy, however, reacted like so:

I did nothing. I went about my shower, getting dressed, and returned to work. My exercise and eating habits didn't change a bit, and I really wasn't distressed at all. Would I like to have seen less of a weight-gain, or not one at all? Sure. I'd be lying if I said I didn't, especially because some of my favorite wardrobe items have been neglected as of late. But, I've bought some new stuff, bringing the mountain to Mohammed, and I'm really not sweating the 12 pounds at all. Because in the scope of what I do and who I am and the world I live in, 12 pounds of extra flesh amount to absolutely nothing.


DAMN. I want to be able to react that way — with perspective and balance.

Not all of Dr. Stacy's commenters felt that her reaction was sensible, however. (Interestingly, only the *anonymous* commenters thought her weight gain and subsequent reaction was bad. Seriously.)

One commenter said:

BUT....12 pounds is not a small amount of weight to gain in six months. The reasons ARE important. Because if you continue to do the same thing you're doing to gain that weight, then eventually, one should be concerned about what health effects it would have.


And by "one should be concerned," she means "I know what's healthiest for your body, even though I've never met you or looked at your medical history, and I'm not a doctor either, but listen to my anti-fat rhetoric disguised as concern, anyway!" I mean, really. Dr. Stacy is an adult. I trust that a blogger who I've never met is going to be a mature enough person to note the point at which her health is affected (IF it's affected).

Or, you know, maybe she WON'T notice it. And the thing is, SHE'S AN ADULT. She has every right to not be concerned about her health, even if she has an alien baby growing out of the back of her head. That's what being an adult human being with self-determination MEANS — you have the right to do stupid shit. (I don't think that gaining weight is "stupid shit," but even if it were, it's still up to the individual to keep on gaining, or not.)

Unless, of course, you've had the temerity to gain weight recently. Then "one should be concerned."

Another anonymous commenter said:

But it CAN amount to something- stress on your joints, increased blood pressure... 12 lbs is not "nothing". 3 lbs is nothing.


So, this is either a doctor who's concealing her medical degree, or some sort of omniscient being who KNOWS — again, even though she's never met Dr. Stacy — exactly how much extra weight is bad for her body. (Or possibly it's my mom.) But really. A stranger on the other end of the Interpipe has no idea what 3, 5, or 12 pounds means on Dr. Stacy's frame, or with her medical history. But still Anonymous #2 feels compelled to comment on it, because surely Dr. Stacy doesn't pay attention to something as silly as joint pain!

And my favorite anonymous commenter (also a crack mathematician) said:

I mean, if you gained 12lbs. in the past 6 months, that means you could potentially gain 24 in one year...48 in two years...100 in four years...


That's really the gist of the "concern," isn't it? Dear god, the fat person has just let herself go completely, and unless she's stopped, she'll gain 100 pounds! We can't have THAT!!! Gaining 12 pounds is suddenly conflated with gaining 100 pounds. Again, completely discounting Dr. Stacy's own intelligence (do you think that maybe, just MAYBE, she would notice if she gained 100 pounds???) and self-determination, AND ignoring the fact that if she DID gain 100 pounds, so the fuck WHAT??? It's Dr. Stacy's own body. Not yours, Anonymous #1, #2, and #3. Take the concern trolling elsewhere.

This is my own rant; it's not meant to fight Dr. Stacy's battles for her. She does that just fine all on her own, anyway, and more power to her.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Fruits (or Cookies) of Demand Feeding

I just keep on blogging about demand feeding, don't I? I do actually have other things on my mind that I intend to blog about, such as the hairy, scary beast called Exercise, but right now I'm going to talk about demand feeding and my rejection of wafer cookies.

Remember wafer cookies?

They came in packages of vanilla, chocolate, and pink (which I think were strawberry). I loved them as a kid, though in truth, I loved just about anything made out of sugar.

Since I started paying closer attention to what my body wants to eat — and then actually eating the food my body requests — I've been slowly wending my way through the foods that I wasn't allowed to eat as a kid. What I'm finding is that, after I eat a moderate-to-large amount of whatever the food is (c.f., Little Debbie Creme pies), it doesn't actually taste that good to me.

My memory of the food is, it seems, not very accurate. Or, possibly, it IS accurate, but my taste buds have matured past the age at which snacky cakes and wafer cookies were forbidden. After all, when I was 8, if I had known about sushi, I would have run screaming from anyone who tried to get me to eat unagi, but NOW — well, I don't exaggerate when I say that I could probably eat sushi every night and not get sick of it.

So my 36-year-old taste buds are not impressed with the foods that my 8-year-old self was banned from eating. This shouldn't be as surprising as it is, particularly when I remember the Great Cereal Rebellion that took place in my first post-college apartment. The only cereal that I ate for about 6 months during that first heady rush of "My own place! My own place!" was Frankenberry. Because, of course, I wasn't allowed to eat it as a kid.

The thing was, I got tired of Frankenberry after those 6 months, and, in fact, am not terribly fond of super-sugary breakfast cereals now. I guess I was actually engaging in demand feeding back then, without knowing it had a name or a purpose. (Of course, all other forbidden foods were still forbidden.)

And that's what I'm seeing now — I don't want the wafer cookies (they have a weird bitterness under all the sugar), and the oatmeal creme pies left my tongue with a waxy coating.

I wonder what I'll discover I actually *enjoy* eating, as this process continues? Other than sushi, of course; my love for that continues unabated.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Cult of Right Fit jeans

Oh. My. God.

You know what recently released product lives up to its hype, and more? It's not the iPhone (okay, I don't have one, so I can't say that for sure, but come on — nothing could live up to the hype the iPhone got pre-release, not even if it baked muffins). It's not Spider-Man 3 (God, no).

Lane Bryant's Right Fit jeans. Remember what it was like when jeans started being made with just a tiny bit of *stretch* fabric? How, even if they fit in your hips but were tight in the waist, the tightness wasn't *quite* as bad as it was when jeans were made of 100% non-stretchy denim (plus, as I suspect, just a hint of steel)? How jeans with some stretch were a godsend? (And they SO were, compared to what came before.)

Right Fit jeans are like that, only lightyears better. They are the fucking HOLY GRAIL of jeans. Not only are they made with stretch, and not only are they actually cut for large women's bodies (versus other stores' "plus-size" clothing that's just regular-size but made bigger all over, instead of made bigger specifically where plus-sized bodies are bigger) — they're available in 3 different shapes, based on the waist-to-hip ratio. So women with a small ratio (i.e., waist and hips just a few inches different in size) get a straighter jean, that doesn't bag and sag in weird places, and women with a large ratio (i.e., with hips that are 10 inches larger than their waist; yes, that would be ME) get a jean that's cut for those curves, so that both the waist and the hips actually fit.

Let me repeat myself: Oh. My. GOD. I had to try on a few different sizes and styles to see what would work best with my big ol' peasant hips, but when I buttoned the winning pair, I actually yelled (in the dressing room) "Oh my God! I LOVE THESE!!!" They just....FIT. All over. My waist, my hips, my ass, my thighs — everything fits the way it should.

I would have cried out of sheer joy, except I was grinning like a deranged chimpanzee and clapping my hands. The sales associate was grinning, too — it must be fantastic to be able to help women find clothing that makes them yell (in excitement) in the dressing room.

An article in St. Louis Today describes how these marvels of clothing came about:

Albert Charpentier is still amazed at the difference he made. In the before pictures, he says, none of the women looked that great. In the afters, they looked so much better he could hardly believe they were the same people: Had they lost weight or something?

Nope. They were exactly the same women — professional models hired by Lane Bryant to test modifications to its sizing system. In the first set of photos, the models were wearing clothes made the old-fashioned way: from patterns graded up and down from a sample size by adding so much to the waist, so much to the hips, etc. In the second set of photos, the same models were wearing the same styles — only produced from patterns developed from the actual measurements of real Lane Bryant customers.

The clothes made to fit the real measurements of real women fit so much better, and the models looked so much better in them, that Charpentier could barely believe his eyes.


. . . .

The publicity photo for Right Fit shows three gorgeous women — but which is which? I couldn't tell which was "straight," which "moderately curvy" and which "curvy." None of them looked "hippy" or out of proportion. They all looked fine — and I think there's a lesson there. Looking good isn't just a question of how ideal your body is; it's also about how well your clothes fit the body you have.


What's revolutionary here is the fact that fat women are finally able to get clothes that DO, in fact, fit the bodies that we have. It's almost like we deserve to be treated like real human beings, or something.

Amazing.

(I'm a Blue 4 Petite — dig that, a *petite,* even! — stretch bootcut, by the way.)

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Holy crap! Women order real food on dates! The apocalypse must be nigh.

An article in today's New York Times, "Be Yourselves, Girls, Order the Rib-Eye," is about how it's apparently socially acceptable for women to order beef on a date, as opposed to Ye Olden Times, when a gal had to eat at home before a date so that she wouldn't perish of starvation when she ordered the chopped salad and water.

No, really:

Salad, it seems, is out. Gusto, medium rare, is in.

Restaurateurs and veterans of the dating scene say that for many women, meat is no longer murder. Instead, meat is strategy. “I’ve been shocked at the number of women actually ordering steak,” said Michael Stillman, vice president of concept development for the Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group, which opened the restaurant Quality Meats in April 2006 on West 58th Street. He said Quality Meats’ contemporary design and menu, including extensive seafood offerings, were designed to attract more women than a traditional steakhouse. “But the meat is appealing to them, much more than what I saw two or three years ago at our other restaurants,” Mr. Stillman said. “They are going for our bone-in sirloin and our cowboy-cut rib steak.”

In an earlier era, conventional dating wisdom for women was to eat something at home alone before a date, and then in company order a light dinner to portray oneself as dainty and ladylike.


Translated: holy crap! Women have the audacity to eat whatever the hell they want....in front of a man!!!

Apprently, the article says, this gusto for the cow-flesh impresses the modern menfolk:

Saehee Hwang, 30, a production director at Artnet.com, found herself out with friends at DuMont restaurant in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, when she started feeling attracted to a new guy in the group. She said she had wanted to order a burger, but started having second thoughts. “I didn’t want to appear too much of a carnivore,” she said. “It might be off-putting.”

But then she decided she should not change her order to fit a preconceived idea of what a man might want. She ordered the house specialty, a half-pound of beef on a toasted brioche bun with Gruy√®re cheese. “We started dating afterward,” Ms. Hwang said. “And he told me he liked the fact that I ordered the burger.”


Holy crap! You mean a man might actually like me if I act like a real human being, with actual physiological needs as well as the right and self-determination to eat whatever the hell I want? Say it ain't so!

Well...maybe not. You see, the article ALSO mentions — twice — that ordering meat on a date is much more acceptable if you're a thin woman:

Red meat sent a message that she was “unpretentious and down to earth and unneurotic,” she said, “that I’m not obsessed with my weight even though I’m thin, and I don’t have any food issues.”

and:

But others, especially those who are thin, say ordering a salad displays an unappealing mousiness.

Well, shit. What if you're a fat woman? Will your date scream and flee into the night, emerging much later on the internet to tell the tale of My Date Ordered A Whole Cow To Pad Her Already-Ample Rump? I guess I'm back to ordering lettuce and water with lemon when I want to impress the menfolk.

Oh, wait — my boyfriend doesn't give a shit what I eat (and because he's a vegetarian, I know he won't steal my burger, which is a bonus).

Thank god! Garcon, bring on the seared cow-flesh!!!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Demand Feeding in Real Life

My last post, which contained many references to Little Debbie oatmeal cream pies, actually created a craving for them. So on the way home from work Friday, I stopped at the grocery store and got sushi (supermarket sushi isn't the best sushi ever, obviously, but it's fresh and tasty and convenient), along with a quart of sherbet and a pint of Ben & Jerry's Vermonty Python (it's been in the mid-90s here all week, and ice cream just sounded SO good), and 2 boxes of Little Debbie oatmeal cream pies.

It's Sunday afternoon, and the oatmeal cream pies are GONE. Both boxes. All 24 pies. And...I feel a little sick (physically, that is; as in nauseated). And annoyed with myself — NOT because I ate them all, but because it takes eating enough to make myself nauseated to get it through my brain that maybe, just *maybe*, snarfing them all down isn't what I want. I don't *like* feeling nauseated and sort of sugar-hungover.

My inner 10-year-old wanted to know she could have all the oatmeal cream pies. So she did. Unfortunately, my physical 36-year-old is paying the consequences.

It's like I have to *prove* to my inner 10-year-old, or my stomach, or something, that (1) there's always more food, (2) I can have whatever I want, and as much of it as I want, and (3) nothing bad will happen if I *do* have 2 boxes of oatmeal cream pies (other than the nausea).

But then again — and it's an extreme way to learn, I grant you that — if it takes making myself nauseated to realize that I can have snacky cakes whenever I want, and I don't have to eat them all just in case they get taken away, then I can live with the nausea.

The 2 cartons of ice cream? Untouched. (By my lips, that is; the boyfriend dug into the Ben & Jerry's with true glee. One of the many reasons I love him so.)

And today I'm eating scrambled eggs over cooked bulgur, and it tastes fantastic. I don't even want anything sugary.

I'd like to hit a balance in my eating and in what I'm hungry for, although I know it takes time. Possibly a lot of time. And I'm okay with that. I just hope it happens before I cause the stock prices of Little Debbie Inc. to shoot through the roof.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Demand Feeding

I've been reading When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies, on the recommendation of Good with Cheese. I can only read a little bit at a time, because the issues it brings up are such powerful ones for me, and they either make me put the book down to think things through, or they make me put the book down because I'm so shaken, emotionally, by what I've just read.

One of the main topics of the book is demand feeding, where you eat what you want when you're hungry for it, and eat as much of it as you want, and stop when you're full. Legalizing all foods and responding to your stomach hunger is supposed to lead to the increased ability to really listen to what your body wants/needs to eat AND reduces frantic binges of "forbidden" foods, because nothing is forbidden. If you can have whatever you want, then you're not viewing food from a position of deprivation, and the previously forbidden foods will eventually lose their power over you, because you know you can have them any time you want. It's actually pretty fucking revolutionary of an idea in the face of Atkins and South Beach and Weight Watchers and the Zone and Eat Right For Your Blood Type and Sugar Busters and countless other diets that tell you what you can eat, how much of it you can eat, when you can eat it, and what you cannot, ever, eat, lest you flip out and eat your weight in Chips Ahoy cookies.

My initial response to demand feeding is, "Eat what I want? But I don't KNOW what I want!" That's the twisted beauty of a diet like Weight Watchers (although their schtick is "there are no forbidden foods!") or Atkins — they tell you what you're allowed to eat. You have a list of choices, and you have to pick from the list. It doesn't matter what you want; what matters is sticking to the list. On a diet, I know what I'm *allowed* to have, but I don't know what I actually *want.*

Then when I think about what I want, it's all foods that have been forbidden in the past (because although Weight Watchers says that there are no forbidden foods, you can't actually eat half a bag of Doritos and still be following the POINTS plan). Cheetos, Doritos, cookie-dough ice cream, Oreos, those wafer cookies that have the cream in the middle that come in brown (chocolate), tan (vanilla), and pink (I have no idea what flavor they were supposed to be). McDonald's hash browns and a sausage and egg mcmuffin (my love of which dates back to a high-school job at McDonad's). Little Debbie oatmeal cream pies (did you know there's a double-decker version? sweet sugary mother of god, it's snack food nirvana).

So I bought Doritos, and I ate them when I wanted them. And now I don't have the urge for Doritos. I got the McDonald's breakfast last weekend, and it was as full of fatty, tasty goodness as I remembered. And now I don't have the urge for it. (Well, I don't have the urge for a McMuffin. I *always* want hash browns.)

I've always had this fear, which has been encouraged and strengthened by the many diets I've been on, that if I ate what I actually wanted, then I would devour the WORLD. Well, I already wrote about this. But to really embrace demand feeding, I have to face that fear. I know, intellectually, that my fear is unfounded. I cannot possibly eat my own weight in Little Debbie oatmeal cream pies. I *know* it, but I still don't *believe* it.

I haven't gained weight, despite eating Doritos and McDonald's. I think it's possible that I've merely adjusted the rest of my food intake around the addition of the previously forbidden foods. And I don't mean adjusted in the sense of "Oh, since I ate this McMuffin, I'll have to fast on celery juice for the next 2 days!" I mean adjusted in the sense that eating what I wanted actually filled me up (imagine that — eating fat does what fat is supposed to do — satiate your hunger!), and so I didn't get hungry again as soon as I normally do. If that makes sense.

I'm still afraid that I'll devour the whole WORLD, but I'm going to stick with demand feeding for now, and really try to listen to what my body wants and needs.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Social Networks and Transmission of The Fat

I edit for a scientific journal, and I've been doing it for over 11 years (see previous entry). I can pick apart epidemiological studies with the best of them, so I pulled up the New England Journal of Medicine article about how social networks facilitate the spread of obesity to see how the authors reached this conclusion.

(Note: that link is to the full-text version, so anyone can read the whole damn article themselves.)

The article tells us nothing. I mean that. NOTHING.

The only data in the article tell us this: friends of fat people have a greater tendency to become fat themselves than do the friends of thin people. It doesn't tell us WHY. Essentially, the article says, "Look, here's a connection!" That's normally the starting point for a study. Scientist sees a connection, and then tries to figure out what causes the connection. "Figure out," in a scientific setting, does NOT mean "guess." It does not mean "assume." It means "generate reproducible facts and data."

This article did NOT generate reproducible facts and data to explain this connection. Basically, the upshot of the entire article is that the authors think that, merely by being fat, fat people make their friends believe it's okay to be fat. I mean, seriously. Unless there's a significant portion of the article not present on NEJM's Web site, that's the only conclusion the article makes.

That's NOT evidence; it's merely reporting of a correlation. CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION. And I know that NEJM knows damn well that that's so.

And it pisses me off mightily that the mainstream media grabbed this utterly specious piece of crap and ran with it, just to fan the flames of fat hatred. That's just WEAK.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

"Boss? I can't come in to work today. Yeah, I've got The Fat, and I don't want everyone to catch it...."

What? Isn't that the next logical step from the news that OMG fat is contagious!!!?

I have, for the record, worked at the same job for over 11 years, and of the people who have also worked here for those 11 years, none of them have caught The Fat from me. A couple actually have lost weight, to what they say is their "true weight," and since they haven't gained it back, either that IS their natural weight, or they've been exercising/starving very, VERY hard for the past few years.

My boyfriend is a lean guy, with a 30-inch waist and corresponding lean measurements all over. We've been together for over a year, and he hasn't caught The Fat from me, despite the fact that he eats enough ice cream to ensure that neither Ben nor Jerry will ever have to worry about going broke.

To echo what the eminently wise Kate Harding says here, my not-fat friends from high school are still not fat. My not-fat friends from college are still not fat. My not-fat co-workers and assorted friends have stayed not-fat despite knowing me, sharing meals with me, and breathing my fat air.

My fat co-workers and assorted friends were already fat when I met them and still are, for the most part, fat. This is despite many Weight Watchers cycles, low-carb evangelism, and the Spinning craze. I'm pretty damned sure that their fat has NOTHING to do with me.

Unless....I helped "make" (keep) them fat by having the attitude that it's OKAY to be whatever size your body naturally wants to be, even if that's what society calls "fat." Because it IS okay. And I want people to know I believe that.

If THAT'S contagious, well, then, call me Typhoid Teppy.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Panic

This is what panic feels like: a frenetic fluttery feeling at the base of my throat, all my nerves wound too tight — like I have to get out of my skin before I explode from being trapped in it, and the realization that I'm holding my breath.

Kind of like Martin Sheen in the hotel room at the beginning of Apocalypse Now.

This panic is from my increasing conviction that I have to de-criminalize foods, take away the moral connotations of ice cream and Cheetos, and let them back in my house. And make sure that I have quantities enough that I won't feel like they're about to be taken away because they're forbidden.

Whenever I buy ice cream, I eat it in 2 days. Not a pint, mind you — whatever that size is that Edy's/Dreyer's comes in. Two days. I do the same thing with cookies, with almonds, with peanut butter, with snacky treats of any sort (c.f., Cheetos).

And I start to eat them the first day or 2 after buying them. I can't let them just sit there until I actually want those specific foods. Here's an example: this past Saturday, I did my weekly grocery shopping, and one of the things I bought was Edy's chocolate-with-peanut-butter-cup ice cream. (This stuff? SO GOOD.) Saturday afternoon I made myself exactly the lunch/dinner I had been craving — a liverwurst sandwich with juicy ripe tomato, swiss cheese, and mayo. Man, was that good! As a side dish I had a bulgur-tomato-black bean-corn concoction I devised.

I was full, I was happy, I had eaten exactly what I wanted.

And 5 minutes later, while I was still (obviously) full, the savage pig animal part of my brain started chanting. "Hey, we have ice cream. There's ice cream in the freezer. We have ice cream. Let's have that ice cream! Now! Let's have that ice cream now! Ice cream NOW! Ice cream NOW! NOWNOWNOWNOW!!!!"

I managed to make the savage pig animal shut up, by talking over its litany. I was full, I was satisfied, I had eaten exactly what I wanted, and, whenever I *did* get around to wanting the ice cream — truly being hungry for specifically the ice cream — I would eat it. Triumph! I did not eat the ice cream, because I didn't want it.

Midnight-ish, I woke up, checked to make sure the BF was sound asleep, and went out to the kitchen, took the whole carton of ice cream to the couch, and ate my way through half of it.

I hadn't wanted the ice cream, specifically. But I had to had to had to HAD TO eat it. The savage pig animal gets the better of me in the middle of the night. I'm too sleep-addled to talk over its litany. So I eat. And eat and eat and eat.

The issue here isn't that I'm eating a "forbidden" food; it's that I'm eating something — anything — when I don't actually want it. And the issue is also that I still view any food as "forbidden." Because THAT is exactly what drives me to eat it, and eat it all, as fast as I can. Because if I don't eat it right now now NOW, maybe it'll be taken away. Because it's BAD.

I recognize all this. I understand, too, that identifying your disordered relationship with food and its whys and wherefores is a GOOD thing.

I still view foods as having moral connotations. Broccoli = virtuous, ice cream = SIN. That comes from years and years (and YEARS) of dieting. And the years of dieting created the mindset of constant deprivation, which makes me devour "forbidden" foods at the speed of light.

Which is why, now that I'm making a concerted effort to love my body exactly the way it is, and take care of myself by eating what my body needs to be well-nourished and by engaging in "exercise" activity that feels good and is fun, I'm also trying very hard to de-criminalize food. To make nothing forbidden. Cheetos might not be optimum nutrition, but I will crave and crave and crave them because I've told myself I can't have them. And when I cave in and do get them, I eat the whole bag.

Cheetos are neither good nor bad. But I can't make myself believe that, not really.

At least, not yet.

I read an essay in — I think — one of Geneen Roth's books about a little girl who was gaining weight and who had issues with foods that were deemed "forbidden" to her. The therapist (or it might have been Geneen Roth; I can't remember and I'm at work and not near my books) told the parents to buy pounds and pounds and pounds of M&Ms, because they were the little girl's favorite food. Buy enough M&Ms that they would not run out, take a pillowcase, fill it with M&Ms, and let the little girl have the pillowcase to carry around and eat M&Ms whenever she damn well pleased.

The parents were petrified that this would lead to the little girl gaining massive amounts of weight, but they did it anyway. And the little girl did eat huge amounts of M&Ms...for about a week (possibly less). And then the parents realized that the pillowcase — which still had M&Ms in it — was lying abandoned on the floor, and the little girl wasn't frantically eating them. Because she KNEW THEY WERE THERE if she wanted more.

Why didn't that work with me and the ice cream the other night?

Well, I seriously think that I need to buy 2, or even 3, cartons of ice cream at a time. That way I'll have visual evidence that I won't run out, that it'll be there if I want it.

And THAT, to go all the way back to the topic of this post, is why I'm gripped with panic. Because I utterly, utterly fear that if I have 3 cartons of ice cream in my freezer, I'll devour all 3 within 2 days. Which will lead to the dreaded F-A-T.

I know that I need to (1) trust myself to eat what I want, when (and IF) I truly want it, (2) realize that no food is forbidden, and (3) realize that the possibility of gaining weight is NOT something to dread.

I know if I can feed myself what my body needs — and wants, TRULY wants — and engage in fun, joyful physical activity on a regular basis, my body will settle at the weight it's supposed to be. I've been reading the archives at Good with Cheese, because she's been going through a similar process, and — most importantly, realizing that she's happier this way. Infinitely happier.

I want that. But getting there? Well, THAT scares the crap out of me, because I'm afraid it won't "work" for me. And I don't know how to make it through the panic.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Diane Rehm Misses by a Mile

I listen to NPR all morning at work, and the Diane Rehm show rarely fails to entertain/edify me. I particularly admire (and, okay, LOVE) the way she firmly smacks down guests who get belligerent and try to talk over other guests who have opposing viewpoints. She kicks ass.

However, she really let me down today. The first hour of her show today was about stress and obesity, specifically if/how stress can lead to accumulation of belly fat. Her guests were all university instructors, in the areas of: (1) Physiology and Biophysics; (2) Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Neuroscience; and (3) Psychiatry; #3 is ALSO the director of research of the UCSF Obesity Center.

Some of the program was interesting in a biochemistry sense; stress DOES make the body do really weird things. But some of it, sadly, was the same old crap about fat people: at the end of the first hour, Diane asked her guests, "Will we ever get to a point where everyone wants to be slim?"

Gee, Diane, we probably won't, because I know that, as a big fat fattie, I want to be fat. I love being the object of bigotry and derision and discrimination. Why, don't you know I wake up every morning and make the decision to KEEP BEING FAT? (Which is similar to a point that Kate Harding makes about how anti-fat bigots sound an awful lot like gay-bashers: being gay/fat is, apparently, a CHOICE. Uh, yeah. Talk to Matthew Shepard about that. Oh, wait — you can't.)

Diane Rehm is normally so incisive and scary smart. I admit I'm extremely disappointed that she got this so wrong.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go KEEP BEING FAT.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Am I a Hypocrite?

I'm pretty sure that, yeah, I qualify as a hypocrite.

I read these amazing, kick-ass blogs by people like Kate Harding, The Rotund, and mo pie at Big Fat Deal (to name just a few), and they make me want to run down the street waving a fat acceptance banner. I want to spread the word that you can be fat and healthy. And beautiful, and smart, and kind, and powerful.

Hell, I jumped on the blog bandwagon so that I could talk more about fat and health and beauty.

But I'm a hypocrite, because I catch myself thinking, "Oh, if/when I do xyz, I'll lose weight....", probably 50 times a day.

You see, losing weight has been my number one life goal for probably 25 years of my 36 years on the planet. (Which is so fucking sad to see the numbers just staring back at me like that — a quarter of a century in which the size of my body has trumped every other concern, bar none.) I know that I'm far from the only person who can say that. I realize that the fat-hating that has been inculcated in me doesn't make me unique.

I started dieting when I was 11 or 12, because I was tall for my age and therefore larger than the other girls in my class. I wasn't fat. I wasn't even overweight by the weight/height charts of the 1980s. But I had the misfortune of reaching my maximum height by the time I was 13 or 14, which made me a beast next to my classmates who weren't finished growing.

I started dieting when I was 11 or 12 because my mom was a model before she met my dad, and she never "lost" her model's figure. She worked absurdly hard to keep that slender frame, actually, and put a very high value on attaining and maintaining thinness.

Of course, I'm built like my dad, rather than like my mom — she's 5' 9", flat-chested, and not prone to building muscle, even with hard work. I, on the other hand, am 5' 6", have always had a generous bosom, and I build muscle literally within days. She and I are built completely differently.

The problem is, her frame is the one our society values. So telling myself that I was just built differently didn't really help my outlook. I figured I'd just have to try as hard as I could to be as thin as my build would allow. (And, when I couldn't lose weight past a certain point even when I fasted, I can see now that that was all my body would allow.) And my mom encouraged my pursuit of weight-loss, instead of promoting body acceptance. But then, how could she promote accepting a heavy body, when all her energies went into preventing her own body from gaining even an ounce?

(I have friends who talk about their overweight mothers, and I wonder what it would have been like to grow up with a female role model whose physical shape was one that wasn't literally impossible for me to achieve. How different would I be now?)

This is the part of the post where someone will tell me I'm blaming my fat on my mother. And I did do that, for a long time. Face it, parents lay down the psychological foundation — good AND bad — for their children. Growing up with a mother who valued thinness did affect how I viewed — and still view — my never-thin body.

But I'm an adult, and I'm responsible for my own well-being now, both psychological and physical. My mom may have laid the foundation, but (to continue the metaphor), I can build something new over it. Or, hell, I can just move somewhere else, where I can lay my own damn foundation. It's not a perfect metaphor, but I think my point is clear: I don't blame anyone for my fat these days.

....except I still blame me. Which brings me back to the subject of this post, which is that I feel like a hypocrite for promoting fat acceptance when I still think about things in terms of weight loss or gain. When I think that, if only I weren't so lazy, if I walked on the treadmill for an hour a day, I'd lose weight.

Yeah, that's blaming myself. And demonstrates a mindset that preaches fat acceptance while still hoping to lose weight. Blaming AND hypocrisy.

But I want to get to a point where I accept my fat self exactly as I am, and stop viewing things in terms of how they'll impact my weight. I watched Joy Nash's amazing Fat Rant for the first time tonight, and I so so SO want to be that self-assured and self-accepting.

I'm not there yet. Not even close. But I'm trying very hard to get there. And I hope that counts for something.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

(Sort of) Inaugural Post

I created this blog a while ago, with the idea that I had Deep And Important Thoughts that the world should know. But my intrinsic laziness, combined with the idea that there are already so many bloggers out there who are talking about the same Deep And Important Thoughts, led to me abandoning the idea after a few posts.

(This kind of an introduction isn't going to make people inclined to read me, I realize. But I believe in giving fair warning, so consider this my own caveat lector.)

I've been reading a lot lately about weight, and weight-vs.-health, and fat acceptance, and the whack-ass things that doctors/the government/other talking heads have been saying about being overweight. As in, "Don't you know being fat will KILL YOU OH MY GOD?!?!?" And, you know, I'm a fat chick who's tired of being treated like a leper/puppy molester/dimwit just because my body size doesn't fit into a slot on a chart. So, although the blogosphere already has a cornucopia of excellent fat-acceptance bloggers, well, I feel the egotistical need to add my voice to the chorus.

One of the blogs I am LOVING is Kate Harding's Shapely Prose. She's wicked smart and a fantastic writer, and I'd happily read even her grocery list, if she posted it. Her most recent post, "Despite Being Obese, My 'Chances of Suffering from Obesity are Very Slim' ", is what moved me to drag this blog out of the mothballs.

Actually, I was motivated *specifically* by one of the comments in that post, in which the commenter talked about a shortsighted doctor who disregarded good cholesterol test results and still advised her to eat better and exercise in order to lose weight, without ever asking her about whether she already did so.

Goddamn doctors.

I have a primary-care doctor who I've been seeing for 15 years, and he has always told me that he doesn't care whether my weight fits into a slot on a chart; what he cares about is my actual health, as demonstrated by cholesterol/blood sugar/blood pressure/activity level, etc. He is OUTSTANDING. I don't know what I'll do if he ever moves away or retires. He just GETS it, you know?

A few years ago, I was seeing a psychiatrist because my insurance required that I do so if I wanted them to cover my Zoloft. So, 4 times a year, I checked in with the psychiatrist, we concurred that it's all good, he wrote me a prescription for Zoloft, and I went on my merry way. Then he left the practice, so I got handed off to another shrink in that practice, but I figured that since I would have to see her only 4 times a year, it would be no big deal.

(Obviously, there was a VERY big deal, or else this is a lame-ass post.)

On my second visit to her, literally the only thing that she asked me about my mental health was: "How was your summer?" When I said, "It was good," she didn't bother to ask further if it was good in the sense of going on vacation, or falling in love with a lifeguard, or if it was good in the sense of not wanting to jump in a running shower with a plugged-in hairdryer.

She, however, looked in my chart, and followed up on my blood pressure. (I had started taking BP meds about 6 months prior.) I told her that my BP was good, and my primary-care doctor said that if my BP stayed stable, I could go off the meds.

So then she asked, "What are you doing to try to lose weight?"

The sad thing is, that question didn't seem inappropriate. (Let me emphasize: THAT question didn't seem inappropriate.) It's just so commonplace for anyone and everyone to have an opinion on others' extra weight, that my *mental* health doctor asking me about my weight — a *physical* state of being — didn't even raise a red flag.

I told her I was exercising and keeping an eye on my diet. She asked, "How's that going?" I thought she meant how was keeping an eye on my diet going, so I said, "Well, I have a sweet tooth, but it's not too hard to keep under control."

She said, "No, I meant how much weight have you lost so far?"

Huh? Okay. I told her 10 pounds, even though I had no idea if it was true.

Then she asked me what I weighed. Finally, this was where I started to wonder how this related to my mental health. But because I had gone along with this line of questions so far, I figured I had to keep going along with it, and I thought that if I was resistant to the idea, she'd label me with some horrible psychological term (she was, after all, my shrink, and I had no idea what her analysis of me might mean in terms of my medical record), so I told her my weight. She asked me how tall I was, and calculated my BMI right then and there, and told me what my BMI *must* be if I wanted to be healthy.

HUH? The HELL?

Then she told me, "Well, try to lose weight on your own for now, and when you see me in 3 months, if you haven't made good progress I'll put you on a weight-loss drug." She got up, and bopped over to her desk, wrote the refill for my Zoloft, and a thought struck her! Did I know about Pilates? I should do Pilates! Pilates would be very good for getting rid of the fat around my waist!

All I could do was stare at her and wonder how many of her patients killed themselves.

As she walked me out, she said, "Now, 10 pounds in 3 months is pretty good, so really stick to your goals!"

This happened just about 3 years ago, and after that appointment, I never went back. The next time I saw my primary-care doctor, I asked him if he could prescribe my Zoloft, and he checked with my insurance, and said that he absolutely could. And he said that she was full of crap on the weight-loss drug plan. He has always been very opposed to weight-loss drugs, because he actually reads the results of drug studies, and he tends to think that a 5- to 10-pound weight loss (at most) isn't worth the side effects and potential drug interactions. (Not to mention the Alli poopy-pants.)

I *know* that I should have told that shrink as soon as she asked about my weight that I already HAD a doctor taking care of my physical problems and that she was there to take care of my insanity. I *should* have told her "Lady, I *know* I'm fat. I see myself naked every day. But I will not take diet drugs. And by the way, the BMI is pretty flawed, and I will never, not in a million years and no matter how much Pilates I take, have a BMI of 24. But I didn't. ask. you. Go fuck yourself."

I didn't say that, though, because I was a different person 3 years ago. A lot more conflict-avoidant, and believing that You Don't Contradict Authority (even when they're wrong).

But now? Well, I'm different now, and like I said above, I'm sick and tired of the bullshit.

Welcome to my blog.