Monday, December 2, 2013

Hopeless

I learned a lot of things from the Fat Acceptance blogs I read when anyone was still posting.

I learned that it was more than possible to be fat and healthy at the same time.

I learned that so many people out in the internet wanted to support each other and see each other through.

I learned that BMI is relatively meaningless, that I could ask for a bigger blood pressure cuff and my score was normal, that I could tell a doctor I wasn't interested in discussing my weight and they would respect that.

But I learned a lot of other things.

I learned that should I choose to lose weight, it would never work. That 95% of people who lose weight re-gain it in five years or less.

I learned that if I went to a doctor to do something about my weight, I could expect them to see my number and nothing else. That if I'm scared there's something legitimately wrong, I can't even think about bringing it up until I've tried to diet and exercise first.

I learned that there's basically no hope in the world that I could change my body now that I'm starting to want to.

I have horrible stretch marks all over my belly and my arms.

I think I've gained at least 50 pounds in the last 5 years.

None of my pants fit. My shirts are getting too short. Everything is tight and awful.

I can't like this

I can't like myself like this. I can't be okay with how clumsy and chafing and uncomfortable and ugly I am.

And I spent so much time learning that there was nothing I could do to make it better.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Becoming Our Mothers

My grandmother is a very large person. For all the years I've known her, she's been big, and to the best of my knowledge (my little-kid memory not being reliable) she has at points gotten bigger. Several years ago she was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. A few years after that, I learned that she had trouble moving. She and my grandfather had a personal trainer come to try to help them, but they did very little exercise and had trouble just getting around the house sometimes. A couple of years ago, she fell very ill, and subsequently she and my grandfather moved into an assisted living facility. She needs more help than he does - these days she's in a wheelchair.

I have a memory of being very young, probably no more than six or seven, and telling my grandma that I loved her because she was so soft. When I was small enough, I could crawl into her lap and she was like a big, warm pillow, and I loved that about her.

But for as long as I can really remember, my mother has been terrified of becoming my grandmother. I remember her mentioning that as a driving force behind her big weight-loss push. She wasn't going to end up sedentary and fat and sick like her mother. She was going to get healthy, she was going to lose weight, and those things were synonymous. I can't say for sure, I'm not in my mom's head, but I sometimes get the distinct impression that she was embarrassed just to be seen with my grandmother out in public, with her walker and her difficulties. She gave her mom the space and time and accommodations she needed, of course, but I have this lingering feeling that it was unwillingly, grudgingly, maybe even with a hint of disgust.

Well, she doesn't seem likely to grow up to be my grandmother. She's a success story - the day she reached her Weight Watcher's goal, she tattooed their symbol on her wrist, and she's sure that she'll never regain. I hope for her sake that she's right.

But I noticed something the last time I saw my grandmother in person. She's not well, certainly. She has diabetes, she has trouble moving. But she's not THAT fat, not like I remembered. She's shorter, but not really appreciably fatter than many of my friends, who may not be the single fittest people in the world but don't have her mobility issues. She isn't the cartoonish, balloonish kind of fat that I think my mother imagines. And though I don't know any of the real details of her sicknesses, I get the feeling that she would have the same issues if she were lighter. I know that the diabetes runs in the family, since my grandmother's father had it.

Meanwhile, I'm looking at my mom. I think about the strict food policing, what's acceptable to eat when, and god forbid you be hungry for something substantial after the time for meals has passed. I think about the justifications, the way she seems to make sure to mention her running to the waiter when she orders; the steamed chicken with steamed vegetables and no sauce she orders when we get Chinese food; the time she called the manufacturer to get the calorie count on a single chocolate Santa Claus before she could eat it; the way my eyes opened when I realized water was better for me than the diet soda I'd been taught to drink, and that the occasional glass of orange juice or full-fat milk could be healthier than diet coke, too.

I'm afraid of becoming my mother. I want to be healthy (even if I balk at the work I still have to do, to really learn about nutrition, learn how to shop, make time to exercise). I'd still be very happy to lose weight even, if it happened as part of getting healthier. But I'm so afraid that if I make it a goal, I'll turn into her. I'll have to keep perfect track of everything, I'll obsess and make poor  choices and ignore my mental health. I've had better role-models for healthy eating, intuitive or planned, but the first model of how to diet I had was my mom, and I'm afraid of slipping back to it.

I wonder how much of any of our fears has to do with weight and health specifically, or whether people in general just never want to be their parents. But either way, this is the issue that I've inherited.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Bites

"Okay, we'll get back in the car and figure out whose sandwich is whose, and then I get bites from everyone."

By the end of my weekend vacation with my family, I got completely and utterly tired of my mom's demands for tastes of everything anyone else ordered. I don't usually mind sharing my food, but by the end of the trip, I found the nerve to tell her to her face that I wanted her to ask me for it. Three days of "I'm going to take a bite" grated badly, the unquestionable, unarguable fact that mom will eat from our plates.

Part of this, I'm sure, is part of my mother's sense of entitlement, that as the head of her family she has the authority to make decisions on her own, from when our doctor appointments are to what movie we're seeing to when my brothers get their hair cut - which is really not the topic of this blog.

But part of it is from what I'm increasingly worried is an obsession with food since her last Weight Watchers bout. It seems to have worked for her - she's taken up running and dieting, lost a bunch of weight and kept it off for a few years. I don't want to take that away from her. I don't want her to keep asking if I want her to finance a WW subscription for me, but I really don't want to take her weight loss away from her. That's not the point of this post either.

It's the fact that I noticed her eyeing food all weekend. I recognize the look - that's the "I'm still hungry and I'm hoping you don't eat that so I can" look. I like to hope that I've been giving other peoples' plates that look less since I've tried to feel better about feeding myself enough, but I often under-order at restaurants out of some self-consciousness, and wind up still hungry at the end of the course.

I saw that look and the way my mother demanded that she get to try everything else. Not, I think, that she would admit that she was hungry, or just that she wanted it. It reminds me of a dinner last December, during which she got increasingly agitated that none of the rest of the family wanted onion rings.

"Just order them," we told her, "don't worry about it."

But she was clearly distressed at ordering something - something fatty and 'bad' - that only she wanted. She ended up eating half the basket and begging the waitress to take the rest away.

All during the trip, she made sure to order 'good' food. Broiled seafood, never fried. Talapia fish, never anything more robust. Oatmeal for breakfast, no meat. She's long since mastered the art of what you're supposed to eat, and orders the things on the menu billed as the healthiest. Then she finishes her own meal, and stares at ours.

It feels like she doesn't want to 'own' the food. She can't accept really wanting onion rings, fried shrimp, an extra meal, a muffin, whatever it is. It feels increasingly like she won't allow herself to consider getting one of her own. But if it's on our plates, if it's just a bite, it doesn't count. It doesn't have to be tracked and accounted for, it doesn't have to make her guilty. It isn't hers.

So she'll demand, or wait, or in some way find a bite.

I don't know if this is the truth. But I know I recognized something in what she was doing, at all our various meals. And it's not something healthy.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

More Things that Should be Documented

I'm not sure what there really is to say about this, but something has to be said. A facebook friend of mine recently posted a text message she'd gotten, by all accounts from a friend-of-a-friend she doesn't personally know. Photo under the cut, of a message spewing nothing but hatred, vitrol, and frankly lazy insults against fat people and women both.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Life-Long Battle


I remember the doctor who first told me to lose weight. I was eleven at the time, and growing, and I remember very little else. I don't know exactly how tall I was and what I weighed, I barely remember how I ate and whether I thought about it.

But I remember what the doctor told me. She told me I was going to have to start dieting. She told me I would have to work actively just to maintain my current weight, that I didn't have to LOSE as long as I didn't GAIN any more. She told me I was going to have to work hard about my weight for the rest of my life.

She told me I was going to face a “life-long battle” with my weight.

At age 11.

I remember being horrified. I remember protesting. I didn't want to spend my whole life fighting. I remember even that first time wondering what the point was, if I would never be able to win.

I tried dieting, I really earnestly did. I was proud of myself for making up chicken salad sandwiches in little pita breads, with celery pieces and everything. I look back and I realize I was discovering cooking, not dieting; learning how much better food is when you make it yourself and how much fun it is to explore and experiment. But my recipes came out of a diet book for preteens. I tried exercising. I promised myself 50 crunches every day! And then my belly would be smaller! When I forgot the crunches, and forgot the special meals, I soon gave up.

That's how my life has been really ever since. I try to commit every so often to a regiment. I'll eat x veggies every day. I'll go bike riding. I'll play wii sports. I'll do whatever it is on a regular basis. And then I never do. I panic myself, thinking that I can't keep it up, or I just forget and beat myself up so hard that it seems easier to quit.

It's a pattern I haven't been able to break 11 years later.

I bet she thought she was just giving me realistic expectations. Don't try to lose 50 pounds in a month, don't expect to be able to maintain by doing nothing. But she told me it would be a life-long battle against my body to tame it into the proper size.

I think so far, it's been a battle to accept myself in case I can't be changed. It's been a battle to find value in healthy food and regular exercise if it doesn't mean I'll get smaller. To find clothes that fit me instead of shamefully buying one size down and never wearing the clothes I should fit into. To actually get healthy and break out of my many ruts, instead of defeating myself at every turn with the idea that I can never rest, can never break, can never stop fighting or I'll lose. To see my body as my ally, not my enemy.

It really is a life-long battle.

The Fantasy


Post under the cut for negativity. Negative self-talk, possibly disturbing imagery. Just things that won't leave my head and have to get out. Just because I write about fat acceptance doesn't mean I believe it all the time 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

This Past Week

So I've been having the one of the most annoying maladies I've ever seen. I don't know if I was even actually sick, and it's tapering off, but for a good week and a half, I've been having the same issue - I can't get full.

As of now, it's more likely that I'm actually not eating enough, and my hunger cues might be returning to normal.

But take Sunday for an example. This seemed to be the worst of the deal, and it was already a few days into the weirdness. I had woken up early to meet my parents for brunch, since my mom was running a race nearby. I don't usually eat in the mornings, and I was feeling my normal level of instability and undecided stomach. Until I found a banana at the race, and started to eat.

You know that feeling when you take your first bite, and your body wakes up and says "Yeah, we were really hungry, we were just being polite and not whining about it"? It was like that, but to such an extreme that I actually doubled over a little with the pain of the hunger pang. Each bite I swallowed, I got another pang like that. I still didn't feel hungry per se, but I had to be if I was feeling like that right?

And then the same sensation happened when I drank some lemon water back at their hotel, while we prepared for brunch. The same painful hunger pangs when I swallowed, feeling like it wanted ALL THE FOOD and NO MORE FOOD both at once.

I settled myself down as best I could, and eventually we got to brunch. I ordered a nice sandwich, dug in when it arrived. And maybe halfway through the meal, I was still panging. My body still reacted like this was the first food I had all day, and yet at the same time I was getting full, and feeling stuffed. A few hours after brunch, I was so weakly hungry that I choked down a granola bar, with similar results.

Even if it's getting better,  I think I'm kinda paranoid now. I'd been doing so much better about trusting my cues, about assuming I do in fact need to eat if I'm hungry and not stressing overly-much about it. But for a good week I've been unable to trust, and been trying to objectively go over my food to figure out how much more I reasonably need, and how much of the "hunger" is just something wrong with my stomach. It's driving me batty, and it's really not stopping.

Maybe it's a good thing that I try to be aware of what I've actually taken in during the day, maybe it's something that's gone by the wayside as I tried out intuitive eating. But it's so very annoying to be stuck knowing, for a fact, I've eaten plenty, recently, and to have my body still whine for more. If I were actually sick maybe I wouldn't be worried, but the weird appetite has been my only symptom. So I don't know.

It just feels like such a step backward from the place I hoped I'd gotten myself to.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Food Diaries

I've been trying for a good few months now, if not longer, to acclimate my head to the idea of keeping a food diary. Write down everything I eat for a week or so, to get a sense of what kind of nutrition I'm getting, what I might be missing, and whether I'm actually eating ENOUGH food.

But although I really am trying to think differently, I can't shake the association of the food diary with the diet.

I can't remember now whether this was something I was actually taught, or something I learned inadvertently. But I was introduced to the idea when the doctor sent me to a nutritionist, for what were never diagnosed as binge-eating behaviors. The nutritionist never mentioned Binge Eating Disorder, if she'd ever heard of it, and focused on putting me on a diet. I remember being asked to keep the food diary so we knew what we were looking at, and where to make changes.

But I remember learning that the diary was a tool to keep me on the 'right' track. It was going to be shared with the doctor and my parents, so I knew I'd be in trouble in some way or another if I admitted to either the binges or the snacks I bought at school with my own money. Most of the time, I let the act of keeping the diary affect my choices, and didn't eat those things I would be ashamed to show. Sometimes, I just lied in the diary.

I know that if I keep a diary now, it'd be for my eyes only. But when I sat down yesterday to make an effort, just the act of writing it down still made me second-guess everything I was eating in that mean little voice.

 "You had a bag of potato chips? I guess fries wouldn't have been better but still." "Really, storebought crackers? Don't you have anything else to snack on? It's only been two hours since lunch, I know you started writing me because you're having GI problems that affect your appetite, but still."

aaargh. I made it through exactly two entries before I (well, forgot about the existence of the new diary and) stopped.

This should be a useful tool for me to track my eating, and to see how well I'm progressing on getting what I need. This should be a great way to be mindful and healthy and find any potential issues that are making me unhealthier. Instead I just know that "I'd have to write it in my food diary" would become a reason not to have dessert.

Has anyone had luck re-framing anything like this?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Emotional Eating

(Hi new Blogger. You're lucky I like Googledocs or I might be more annoyed.

Re-post of a comment I made over at Katja's latest post The Feeding Doctor. There were a lot of things wrong with the website she critiques, and a lot of people rightly tore it apart, but i went on a tangent so I figure I'll throw it here. A couple of  quoted comments from the site were clear on their stance against Emotional Eating - "TIP: If you’re not hungry, PUT DOWN THE FOOD.” 


You know what I used to do when I was a kid on a diet and food outside of mealtimes/one allotted sweet snack was prohibited? I binged. I waited till I was alone in the house and ate everything I wanted, long past the point that I actually wanted to eat it.

You know what stopped my binging? Giving myself permission to have a few chocolates or cookies whenever I had a craving for them.

You know what helps me eat more protein, vegetables, and complex carbs, and less dessert-y food? I never eat dessert when I’m hungry. I’ve found that if I do, I eat too fast, don’t enjoy it and end up eating more, because I’m trying to fill up and it’s harder to do on pure sugar. If dessert is purely an “emotional” experience, I have less of it and take so much more joy.

You know what else I struggle with? Depression and self-injury(TW ahead). I’d love one of these people to look me in the eye and tell me that eating a bowl of ice cream when I’m upset is more unhealthy than biting and scratching my own skin. And the thing that really pisses me off is that I know plenty of them actually would.

Food is more than nutrition. Communal, celebratory, self-soothing, self-medicating and yes, Emotional eating is part of the good things in life. So yes, it can be an issue if you find yourself constantly eating without paying attention. But a blanket stance against ever eating for any reason other than hunger isn't the answer.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Ramble

I had a dream the other night where I stood up in a health class of some sort and tried to explain the problem with fat-shaming and such. Dream-me said, "Some think that fat people are just thin people who eat too much, instead of being fat people who eat fine." I can't tell whether it makes sense, or is right, but I'm surprised sometimes by what dream-me has the courage to say.

I feel like there's something to be said about some of what I'm hearing working at the chocolate store, but I'm not sure what there is. I already posted about "It must be dangerous to work here!"

With people making easter baskets, I'm getting a lot of policing language lately. "I don't want her to have THAT many." "I have to watch how much he gets." "I'd love a sample but I'm being good." It's not that I think anyone shouldn't have the right to all that -obviously it's up to parents to make decisions for their kids. But to get it over and over again.

I'm also getting a lot of "they say dark chocolate is good for you" lately, a weird upswing out of nowhere. People always say it like they're desperate to justify themselves. I had one or two "I'm trying to eat more dark chocolate because it's better" from people who prefer milk chocolate. I've also gotten the health benefits from the people who just like dark better, and think that makes them better than plebeian milk-chocolate eaters. (And you have no idea how many people I get who literally recoil from their free sample when I tell them it's milk chocolate.)

I have to ask about the loyalty program my store does to every customer. In response to the question, I had one guy burst out laughing. "You'd have to have a real problem to be a loyalty member at a chocolate store!"

There's also this widespread feeling of impossibility at the thought of a bag of chocolates lasting a little while.  I suggest to people that they can just get a bag and make it last and they laugh, it'd never make it, they'd eat the whole bag, it's a funny suggestion. It feels like it's so normal in the world to deny, to treat treats as this volatile substance, to binge at any opportunity to have a lot. It's funny to people when I tell them they could just have a couple at a time.

I just wish I could say something to the people who come in trying to justify themselves, who assure me they don't shop here that often, who make sure they only get a few, who wouldn't dream of buying a whole bag, to make them feel better.