Think about it… please?

(NB: This is a ‘response’ to a post someone close to me put on their Facebook page.)

 

I was really hurt by your status post – and even more so by your dismissal of my concern.

Look, on one hand you’re right; it isn’t any of my business, and perhaps I do lack a sense of humour about these things. I also shouldn’t have replied on your feed, it would have been better if I’d rang you up or mentioned it next time I saw you. But dammit – your post insinuated that fat people are/look disgusting and how am I meant to take that as a joke? Being me, being who I am and the size I am, how am I supposed to brush that off as harmless? Last time I saw you I was wearing a sleeveless top. Did you think me disgusting? Did you feel I should have covered up? Did you not want to look at me? Having seen what you post as a ‘joke’ I can now believe that all three of those are true. How do you think that makes me feel?

What if I were gay – would you post a status insinuating that homosexuals not be seen in public? What if I were a minority, or disabled, or having a hard time conceiving? Which if those – if any – would also be fodder for Facebook ‘laughter’?

Look, it’s your feed, you can put anything you want there. But do be aware that real people read it – and real people may be affected by what you are saying about them.

I’m not a joke.

 

The best part of the Christmas Parade!

As far as my kids were concerned it was a tie between Father Christmas and the miniature ponies 🙂

But as far as I’m concerned the highlight of today’s parade was the fat cheerleader who not only did the same flips and jumps as her comrades but also wore the exact same belly-baring, arse-skimming outfit!

In the words of the famous (in NZ) beer commercial: Good on ya, mate 🙂

Just goes to show: we still know Jack

The Man Of My Life emailed me this article today.

It’s about a professor of Human Nutrition at Kansas State University who deliberately went on a diet of junk food… and lost 27 pounds over 10 weeks. Apparently Mark Haub ate 1800 calories a day with two thirds of that coming from junk food; the rest was from vegetables (canned beans and celery stalks) a protein shake and a multivitamin. And funnily enough as well as losing weight his health indicators didn’t suffer –

“Haub’s “bad” cholesterol, or LDL, dropped 20 percent and his “good” cholesterol, or HDL, increased by 20 percent. He reduced the level of triglycerides, which are a form of fat, by 39 percent.”

Of course, the writer of the article couldn’t help but quote the usual ‘expert’ saying that diabetes, etc, are all caused by extra adipose tissue, but Haub himself seems to be less willing to make a definate stand either way. He admits that there could be other, long-term health costs of his ‘diet’ that can’t be measured (and I find it interesting that he hid his junk food eating from his kids) but he also says:

“”I wish I could say the outcomes are unhealthy. I wish I could say it’s healthy. I’m not confident enough in doing that. That frustrates a lot of people. One side says it’s irresponsible. It is unhealthy, but the data doesn’t say that.”

Haub assumes that his weight loss shows that it is the total amount of calories that a person eats that determines weight loss and perhaps health (that good ol’ ‘calories in-calories out’ theory again!) rather than what they eat. It’s an interesting idea but I don’t think that’s what his experiment shows at all. After all, Dr. Linda Bacon’s research on HAES has shown that eating more calories than a typical weight-loss diet, but with a HAES approach, improved health indicators too. And no-one yet has been able to demonstrate a way to lose weight and keep it off long term (especially large amounts of weight). My conversion chart tells me he lost about 12 kilos… which isn’t that much, really. At this point we have no idea if the weight will stay ‘lost’. And of course an experiment with 1 subject can’t be relied upon to make any conclusions.

I think Mark Haub has simply highlighted how little we know about the human body… how it handles adipose tissue and how it creates ‘health’ and whether there is any real connection between the two. I think he has simply proven that the human body is a wonderfully complex organism that acts/reacts to an infinite number of stimulae. As the Fatosphere keeps saying – you cannot tell a person’s health by looking at them and their body. We still know Jack, I think, about how it all fits together. And I find that refreshing. While a part of me likes pat answers the other part of me likes the idea that maybe – just maybe – ‘health’ (like faith) is an individual state which each of us reaches in our own way, doing our own thing.

Acceptance and baby steps

From reading around it seems that FA is one of those movements which is quite fluid; each proponent has not only their own story and own journey towards it but also their own definition of it. For me it’s about mental health and making peace with myself (conquering that critical and perfectionist side of me) and my body. I’m finding it a slow process and while sometimes I think I have a handle on things I come across days like yesterday and realise that I still have a long way to go.

It was such a small blip too. I’d gone to an oral surgeon to get a tooth taken out. I had two that needed puling but the dentist that had taken the first had made a bit of a hash of it (they were very liberal with the sedation but not so much with the painkillers… my tears and upset in the chair were mistaken for anxiety rather than agony. It’s been a week and I still have a huge black bruise on my jaw) so I’d been referred to an oral surgeon for the next one. As a new patient I was given a form to fill in which asked the standard medical questions – who was my GP, what conditions did I suffer from, what medication did I take, etc. But one question threw me:

How much do you weigh?

I had to answer. There had been talk of possibly putting me under to get out the second tooth (everyone was still working from the assumption that I was a nervous wreck, even I hadn’t yet clicked to the real issue with the previous extraction) and of course if I needed a GA they’d need to know my weight. And I did know what it was – while I don’t usually weigh myself I had seen my GP about a month prior and she’d had to weigh me to calculate a medication dosage. So it was relatively straightforward.

But I didn’t want to answer. And not because I felt they didn’t need to know it; but because I felt – and I hate to admit this – a bit of a sense of shame at the number. I was worried they’d treat me differently when they knew, that perhaps they would look at me with contempt or disgust. But at the same time I knew that there was no real reason to not own up to it; they could see I was deathfat, and besides – what does a number matter?

I wrote it down. And no-one mentioned it or seemed to even notice it. But I was discouraged by my reaction to that question and I felt that I hadn’t come very far along the FA path. I beat myself up for it a little. And that lead to thoughts of the Fantasy of Being Thin… how much easier life would be in a ‘normal’ body with a ‘normal’ mindset (no second chocolate for me! I’m on a diet) living a ‘normal’ life. But I had to remind myself that I am not and will never be ‘normal’. I was a fat teen despite walking 6 kilometres a day, playing sport and going to the gym. When I starved myself  (literally – I ate next to nothing) I never managed to get below 63 kilos on a 5 foot 6 frame (which at the time I saw as a personal failure). And I know that there are plenty of people out there who will not believe me, who feel that if I was just dedicated enough/strong enough/*woman* enough I could ‘tame’ this body of mine and be ‘normal’. But I can’t. And for my own health (and it really is a health issue) I have to let that fantasy go. Weight loss is not the answer – even if it were possible.

So I am still on the FA path, but I’ve gone back a little ways. This morning though I have decided that that’s OK: I will continue to take baby steps and hopefully I will one day get to the end goal. But even if I don’t ever ‘arrive’ at true acceptance at least I’ve given it a shot and hopefully – this is one of my main concerns, and one of the main reasons why I am determined to continue on my acceptance journey – I will have shown my daughters a positive role model who did not require outside validation of her body and her existence.

One day.

(Oh, and in case you were wondering – the oral surgeon got the second tooth out in just a few minutes! He gave me two pain injections and no sedation whatsoever and I didn’t feel any pain 🙂  Not yet, anyway… I’ll wait ’til I get the bill in the mail).

ETA: Here’s the war wound (and this is a week later!):

Sometimes… I wonder why I bother :(

Hi – long time no write! I’ve been terribly slack, but I’m blaming the babies for that – they’re 17 months old now and running in opposite directions most of the time 🙂 Meanwhile I’ve finished up my graduate diploma and am now at a bit of a loose end. The trouble is I’ve been using some of my spare time to argue FA with the ‘unwashed’ (but thin!) masses… and it’s cost me so many sanity points I don’t know whether I want to continue.

There is a message board I tend to frequent, a parenting board on a New Zealand auction website. I’ve gotten some great advice from posters there (I’d never heard of nursing strike, for example) and while (like most boards) it tends to cycle through sane then bitchy and then back to a semblance of normality it’s still been, overall, fairly entertaining.

But lately it’s changed. I’ve gotten a reputation as an unstable nutter and online ‘friends’ are avoiding me (which hurts more than I thought it would). And it’s all because I’ve been arguing FA.

I’m not an arse about it. I don’t go and troll the ‘weight loss support’ threads, for example. But if someone asks what to do about their fat kid, or which diet to try, or how to lose weight in order to help their sore knees  then yeah, I do comment. I tell them about HAES and continually point out the orthogonal relationship between weight and health (ie. there is no direct relationship). Of course, this is all met by cries of how stupid I am to think that obesity is healthy, that I am not objective on this subject (I freely admit I am not, and I hold that they aren’t either), and that I and all fat-kind are killing ourselves and the planet. The worst thing now is that whenever anyone mentions weight in a thread it becomes “Oh know, watch out for (my name)… she thinks fat is *healthy*!” and all debate goes down the toilet. I can’t even comment on a thread where the OP was belitting a dress as being “horrible on fat people” without being called stupid, etc. And of course every link I post in support is derided – because it’s from the interwebz it can’t be true. Now, sure, I agree with being cautious – but how about reading the article/study first and then making up your own mind? (And why will no-one every give me an answer when I ask where their information comes from… apparently “everyone knows” is trumps as far as information sources are concerned).

The lack of common sense frustrates me. Am I really to believe that not one of them knows a fat person? Am I really supposed to accept that not one of them knows a fat person who a) eats ‘well’ and b) is physically active? Are they really so dense that they can’t accept that just as some thin people can eat like horses and not gain weight so to can the opposite be true (fat people exist who eat ‘normally’ or sparingly and yet don’t lose any?) These people still ‘believe’ in the BMI for crying out loud! And when I give information showing how ridiculous it is… I might as well have not spoken. Because I’m just *wrong* and fat people are all unhealthy, ugly and about to die.

It angers and frustrates me because I know I am right. It worries me because these people are bringing up children and at least some of those kids are genetically destined to be fat. And it hurts me because of the anger and hate and derision. I don’t know why it hurts so much – I don’t know these people IRL – but it does (a throwback to being bullied as a kid/teen perhaps?) And it hurts me because of what they’re teaching these poor (potentially) fat kids that they supposedly love. And it hurts because I am sure people I know/see everyday think these exact same things about me… but what one can say online is usually harder to express face to face.

I want to keep going. I want to keep challenging them. I hope that I can get through to just 1 person and help make the world just that little bit better. But – for me FA is almost more about my mental health than it is my physical health. And I’m not sure that mentally I can continue to go to these kinds of places and take this stuff on. I’m feeling so down at the moment and I don’t know why… but I am not in the bullish headspace I need to be in order to attack the huge brick wall that is Ignorance and Fear.

So I’m going to pull away. No ‘goodbye cruel forum’ post; I got into an argument yesterday which I had to pull out of early and I haven’t even gone back to see what responses it got. I’m just not going back.

Trouble is, though, now I feel like a coward.

What really matters

(Note: This is a post I’ve been mulling over since Tuesday night (NZST) but an internet outage meant I wasn’t able to post it until today. I’d also like to take a moment to thank, on behalf of my fellow Kiwis, those around the world who have lent us their support and given us their good wishes. Christchurch is a beautiful city… and she always will be.)

By now you’ve probably heard about the major earthquake that struck Christchurch, New Zealand’s second largest city, at 12:51 pm Tuesday. The city was already weakened by another large earthquake (7.1 on the Richter scale) on September 4th last year. That quake was followed by hundred of aftershocks and many were dismayed at the level of damage it caused but in hindsight it wasn’t a bad quake at all. Firstly there were no deaths, only one serious injury, and secondly while there was some damage to property and infrastructure most essential services were back up and running within 48 hours.

Tuesday’s earthquake was worse. Far worse. For one, it struck a busy vibrant city right in the middle of a weekday. It was shallower than the September quake and the epicentre was much closer to Christchurch city itself. The damage it caused to buildings already slightly weakened was immense. I have lived in Christchurch twice, both times for several years, and I’d say I know the CBD pretty well; but watching the TV coverage I was struck by how little was familiar now the majority of the beautiful old buildings that give the city it’s sense of grace and history are gone… including the spire of the famous Cathedral which gives the city it’s name. Eighty percent of the city has no water, 40% has no power. All reticulated gas has been switched off.

But buildings are unimportant alongside the human cost. As I write this (late Thursday evening NZST) the death toll stands at 98 confirmed dead with 226 missing. We – me, my partner and our children – are personally very lucky; our friends and family members who live in Christchurch are safe. But there are people, adults and children, waiting for loved ones who will never return home.

It is moments like these that bring us face to face with our mortality. It is events like this that remind us that we are, metaphorically speaking, just one step away from the dust from whence we came. And it is surely moments like this that remind us that life is ours for the living, for the enjoying, for joy and love and thrill; it is precious, too ephemeral by far.

And that is true no matter what we weigh.

 

Invisible fatties

I’m always amazed by how strongly people’s minds can hold on to an idea in the face of all available evidence. Even when their own eyes tell them it ain’t so they cling to what they’ve been told with all the desperation of a canny shopper in a mega sale.

Here in New Zealand – just like the rest of the Western World – we are constantly being told of the rise of the Flabby Horde. The obese are out to get us, apparently; they lurk around every corner (probably squishing out a bit, though) and they skulk around malls, supermarkets, and schools. These days, we are told, half of us live on takeaways alone and in playgrounds children don’t fall – they bounce. It is serious, darn it… most of us are fat and most of us are dying.

Oh won’t someone please think of the poor bouncing children!!

I’m being flippant but I do think it is a laughing matter. Because the Advance of the Fat Army is a product of people’s collective imagination. I’m obese, about 130 kilos of woman. I have lived in one of the country’s largest cities, one of our top tourist destinations, small towns, bigger towns, and even our capital. But I rarely see other people my size, or even approaching my size. And believe me I am looking out for them. It’s kind of like gaydar, but for fatties 🙂  Trouble is there are few of them out there. The kids started back at school this week, and while making conversation with the other parents waiting outside the class I began chatting to another mother who was about my size.

She’s the only person this size I’ve seen in the last month.

Now sure, I am not a social butterfly and there is a slight chance the rest of the fatties are hiding somewhere I don’t get to go – like KFC. But I doubt it. I haven’t seen them in the malls buying school stationery and new lunchboxes. I haven’t seen them buying groceries at the supermarket. And despite an extensive summertime tour of the local playgrounds I have yet to see any bouncing children. And even if my observations were to be dismissed out of hand the questions still begs itself – how exactly does the Government (as it is always some official body bolstering this nonsense) know what we weigh? I’ve heard/seen references to being routinely weighed in American books and movies at school and in regular GP checks but these are not things that happen here. And our weights are not listed on our drivers licences either.

So when someone makes a comment about the obesity crisis I just want to tell them to open their eyes. Because either they’re wrong… or the fatties are invisible.