Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Fat Acceptance Hypocrisy

I have to admit, I've been flirting with the idea. It would make life so much easier and lower my stress levels significantly. Gone would be the guilt, the frustration, the early mornings. Yep, the Fat Acceptance Movement seems more appealing every day. These people and their fearless leaders such as Kate Harding and Marianne Kirby appear to have made peace with their own weight loss battles and have decided they can have their cake and eat it too! They just seem so free and unfettered by societys demand that they be a size 2 and count every calorie they shove in their mouths and exercise 3 hours a day just to stay lean and fit. God I wish i could join them. Imagine the freedom of being able to enjoy a donut when buying that morning coffee, or ordering that pizza in a size larger so that you can enjoy the leftovers later or if you so choose, finish it off right then and there. To be able to go to the movies and order Combo #1, you know, the one with the refillable large popcorn and drink with candy and not think about the 4000+ calories you're about to ingest in one sitting. Or being able to stop at the chip truck and ordering some of those greasy, fresh cut fries covered in salt and vinegar, God my mouth is watering right now just thinking about it.

But, as wonderful as all that sounds, I simply cannot do it. Why? Because, in the end, I hate being fat. I hate not fitting into booths at a restaurant, I hate not fitting into regular seats on the bus, on a plane, at the movies, in amusement park rides, anywhere there are seats. And speaking of seats, I hate that creaking sound of furniture straining and groaning under the weight of my big fat arse and the rather large dip in my bed where I sleep at night. I hate not being able to buy decent looking and fitting clothes, although clothing makers are getting much better at this as they've figured out there is money to be made since more and more people are becoming obese and require larger clothing! I hate feeling tired and lazy, everything seems so much harder when you're fat: climbing stairs, walking, any type of manual labour, sports, dancing, anything that requires you to move. Then there's just how I look fat, the big round face which makes my head look more enormous than it already is, the gut hanging out over my belt, that big roll of flab that circles my abdomen, my man boobs, my thighs that appear attached at the knee, that overall pear shape that is so pleasing to the eye.

Nope, I just can't do it. I spent the first 34 years of my life as a fat person, first just fat, then morbidly obese, then just obese before finally getting a handle on it and finding my way to looking fairly average to just a few pounds overweight (well probably 20-25 or so). When I first found the will to diet and hit the gym religiously, I did it as part of a self improvement plan which included returning to college and getting my life together as a whole. I saw my weight as a detriment to success in all aspects of life: career, social, dating. I wanted to be part of life, not on the fringes of it. Being thinner, prospective employers wouldn't be distracted by my size and thus would not fall prey to the stereotypes about fat people, such as that they're lazy, undisciplined, unclean, etc. Being thinner, my social life would open up as I would happily take part in activities such as sports, dances, and other outings where people congregate and enjoy life, this would mean friends. Being thinner, my dating life would open up exponentially. No longer would I have to settle for women that were open to dating fat guys, usually fat themselves or burdened by emotional issues and looking for love wherever they may find it.

Being fat is simply not where its at. And although the supporters of the Fat Acceptance Movement would have you believe otherwise, your life, ironically, is quite a bit smaller when you're fat. I've been reading the blog entries of some of these FA people and the articles that have featured them in an attempt to understand their point of view, and to be honest, I don't get it. Despite the pronouncements that they simply don't care what other people think of them and the countless links to the few studies that seem to support their claims that you can be fat and healthy, they come off as angry, bitter, approaching middle aged bitches. Every blog post ridicules someone who disagrees with them and their philosophy, be it a doctor, the author of a study, a commenter to a blogpost (who is immediately labelled a troll), or another blogger or columnist who dares challenge them on this subject. They've even managed to turn off some of the very people who once supported them in their war on the world. Sounds kinda like the Bush Administration doesn't it? You're either with us or you're with the terrorists. Very black and white.

After reading some of these blogs and the articles I've found online that discuss the movement and interview Harding and others, I can't help but feel these folks are just hypocrites. They decry their treatment at the hands of others yet volley their own bombs back, and sometimes quite viciously. They refuse to take responsibility for their size, instead blaming genetics and yo-yo dieting. Well yo-yo dieting is a bad thing I'll agree, but genetics? Come on. I come from a fat family, we're all prone to weight gain but none of us eat a healthy balanced diet either. Even now, despite the fact that I eat salad and fruit regularly, don't eat junk food as a rule, nor do I eat out much, I'm still battling my weight. Why? Because I overeat the good stuff! Not to mention that when I have a bad weekend, I have a BAD WEEKEND. Even something as innocent as grapes can be bad if consumed in large quantities. I eat tons of grapes in a week, always in the evenings when sitting in front of the TV, in addition to my dinner, my lunch, whatever fruit I brought to work to munch on that day. It adds up.

To me, they just seem to have given up, and are looking for any excuse available to justify their viewpoint, even if it means bending the truth, quoting out of context or ignoring the massive number of studies that link obesity to all sorts of diseases and health issues. Somehow it makes sense that this movement would come to be and develop a zealous following. We are getting fatter for any number of reasons and we're getting pretty defensive about it at the same time. If it were simply genetics, wouldn't humans have always been fat throughout time? Why is it the obesity epidemic has only become so in the last 20 or so years? Don't think people are fatter now than before? Go to a mall, go to a bar or a club on a Saturday night, go to a beach, in fact, go anywhere there are people and just take a look around! There are more fatties walking around than ever before. And they're getting younger. Don't believe me? Check out the teenage girls walking around in their belly tops and too tight pants. Where do you think the term "muffin top" came from? I don't remember seeing that in high school back in the early 80's. Now its everywhere.

Nope, denying there is an obesity problem or blaming genetics is just like saying global warming is a fraud. Only people that refuse to take responsibility make those types of statements.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Read an article the other day by a writer who wrote a letter to his 16 year old self. It was interesting as others also wrote themselves letters, each offering encouragement and advice. I was intrigued by this idea so I decided to jump on the bandwagon and write my 16 year old self a letter, but only deal with the weight issue since this is what this blog is about. Of course I could go on about school, women, careers, friends and so forth but this is not the place.

Dear Me,

While you're not completely aware of how big you are, you will become acutely aware of it soon. This is because you are not going to shrink any time in the near future, rather, you will continue to grow and your insecurities and self esteem will shrink instead. I know you are aware you are overweight and the object of some ridicule at school, but believe me, it's only going to get worse unless you take action now.

Notice how you are dateless currently despite your best efforts to woo certains girls you like at school? No, it's not because you aren't likeable, it's because you're fat and chicks don't dig fat guys. They also don't want to be with the guy who is the butt of so many immature fat jokes made mostly by the jocks you despise so much. This issue is only going to continue for you as you make your way out of high school and into real life. Yes, there will be girls, but they won't be what you want, instead they'll be girls you'll settle for, other fatties or retards with emotional problems who just want someone to love them. And you'll do that, yes you'll provide that love and comfort, but at what price? Your happiness? Your sanity? Your soul? You will become that guy the girls like, but as a friend. Someone they can confide in and trust. And you, you will listen and support them all the while gritting your teeth and shaking your head at these girls who insist on dating these assholes hoping that maybe, just maybe, one might see that you are a better choice. Don't hold your breath.

You know how you love to drum and play in rock bands? Yes, it's fun isn't it? Well nobody who is serious about taking to the stage wants a fat drummer. You know this. You will miss out a few times, not because you didn't have the talent to play for them, but because you are fat. Look at pictures of rockers you aspire to be like, no fat guys to be seen. You are a good enough drummer to impress any of these musicians but they won't even consider you once they see you. And no amount of great auditions will change that. Trust me, I've been there. And the rejection will hurt, a lot.

Hockey's been fun, you're known as a good goaltender among the coaches and players. But you're carrying too much weight and getting equipment that fits you properly is hard on mom. She doesn't have the money to buy new so finding used equipment that is large enough is almost impossible. And you're too slow to move and react to the play, not only are you carting around 50 or more pounds of equipment on your frame, you're carrying all that fat! No wonder you can't move well. Your size does help you in stopping pucks at times, but you're limited and you can be better.

You need to get it together and lose the weight while you're still young and able to. Your metabolism is faster, you've got youth and energy on your side, and your body will shrink down properly as you lose the weight. You've been to the gym, you know what its about. But you need to focus on what you're doing there. Those aerobic classes are a good source of exercise but you need to do more in the gym. Find an elliptical or run on the treadmill, burn those calories!

As for your diet, you need to change a few things. Stop having a couple of sandwiches for a snack in the evening, in fact, cut back on the bread altogether. Learn to like diet pop, you just need to adjust your taste buds. Avoid chips and other salty snacks, they are only helping to bring you down. Get off the juice and enjoy real fruit, you will develop a taste for it and it will happen fast. Eat salad, find a low calorie dressing and enjoy that. Discover roasted veggies, green, red and yellow peppers with mushrooms and zuchinni, this will become a passion for you but you should try it now, not later. Stop the pizza!! It has to be the worst thing you're eating and it will become a nasty habit. If you get a handle on it now, this won't be an issue.

Learn moderation, enough with the all or nothing thinking. There will be pizza tomorrow, same with hamburgers, bread, chips, etc. You can enjoy things in smaller quantities, I know it tastes so good and one is never enough, but you have to find a way of portioning out the foods you love and crave so that you don't continue to battle your weight over the remainder of your lifetime. You're seeking refuge in food, looking for comfort in eating. But I assure you, if you get it together now, you'll be happier and your self esteem will grow. You won't need artificial comfort, you will have friends and women. Your social circle will grow because you won't feel like an outsider anymore and you're young enough to make these changes easier.

I've suffered the pain of being overweight, the rejections, the humiliations, the loneliness, the insecurity, the ridicule. You think you have it bad now? Just wait a little longer. It does get worse. Your life will come to a standstill both personally and professionally. You will suffer throught many weight loss programs and a surgery you will come to regret. It will almost cost you your life eventually. But you can avoid all that and give both of us a chance at a happier existence. Your remaining teenage years and your 20's don't have to be wasted. You can make it happen. I know that light bulb hasn't gone off in your head yet, in fact it won't until you're in your early 30's and by that time, much damage will have been done. Damage that cannot be undone despite the best intentions of those who love you, in particular one who you will come to love like no other.

No, the change must be made now and it must be made by you. No doctor, family member or friend will make the change for you. It will be hard, I won't lie. Working out daily is tough, dieting is tougher. But don't think of it as a diet, it's not a diet. It's a lifestyle change, a lifestyle that healthy, fit people live. And healthy fit people have better lives than fat ones do. You want to be accepted, being fit will help in that. People like you, but you're introverted and quiet. You know its only because you don't want people to notice you, because you know they'll notice the fat. It doesn't have to be that way. There is a better way and a better life waiting for you. Reach deep within yourself and find that spark. Use whatever motivation you need, be it social acceptance, women, a desire to just look good, health, whatever it takes. Do this and I promise your life will get infinitely better. It has to.

Good luck.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Overheard an interesting conversation the other day at they gym between two middle aged guys in the cardio area. They were talking about whether it's easier to work out in the mornings or later in the day. They both agreed that working out later in the day was easier, but one preferred getting his workout done in the mornings to "get it out of the way".

I have to agree. I find getting up in the morning and heading to the gym first thing to be a labourious chore; you're not awake yet, you're clumsy and foggy and barely operating in first gear. I think many people feel this way when heading to work in the mornings, they don't really find their stride until maybe an hour or more into the day. This isn't too much of an issue in the workplace, but at the gym, it's death. Finding the will to exert yourself and work through your routine first thing in the morning requires true commitment, and even then, something more.

I'm committed to hitting the gym every morning Monday to Friday, but many days I just want to stay in bed. When I arrive, I don't have the drive to push myself, and I'm doing cardio! All I have to do is climb up onto the elliptical and start pedalling. But why is this so hard? Resentment over having to get up out of my nice, warm, comfy bed? Maybe. I resent rising to an alarm clock anyway so doing so just to go to the gym doesn't help. Exhaustion? No, I get roughly 8 hrs sleep a night give or take. And I sit down for a living, which while that does create a tendency to doze off due to inactivity, isn't physically strenuous. Just not awake yet? Probably. Like I said, you just aren't yourself at that hour, I know I'm still clumsy and foggy and I'm definitely not a morning person. I prefer to get up (on my own), and just sit and wake up slowly, preferably with a cup of coffee and something to read.

Last Wednesday I attended the gym after work as Red had an Ab Attack class she attends and I figured it was an opportunity to get some weight lifting in, plus my morning workout had been lacklustre as a result of feeling tired and foggy and I felt an need to do a bit more despite also having been participating in cardio classes most evenings as well. This was also when I overheard the gentlemen discussing the pros and cons of morning/afternoon workouts.

I have to admit, I felt great on the elliptical, burned through two 25 minute sessions and another 20 minutes on the bike. Nothing like my morning experiences. I also lifted a few weights before meeting up with Red after her class. What a difference a few hours makes! I was awake, alert and had energy, just like when I attend those cardio classes. But my schedule makes it hard for me to give up those morning routines. The reason I attend in the mornings is because Red works at 7 am so she's up at 5:30 and in bed around 9pm. I work at 9am so I don't have to be in bed before 11pm if I don't want to. In order to square up our schedules, I chose to get up early and hit the gym so that we could spend our evenings together. And it's been a good choice overall, I go most days which was a problem when I was going in the evenings, too many other options at that time. At least with the mornings, I'm consistent even if I'm struggling most mornings with the workout. And it allows us to attend those cardio classes together which I love. Plus, there's fewer people there in the mornings so you can always get the equipment or machines you want without delay whereas in the evenings, it's much busier and you can spend a lot of time waiting.

I didn't go this morning as Red had been up most of the night sick and felt the need to see a doctor finally. I had woken up a couple of hours before my normal time and couldn't get back to sleep knowing she wasn't well until she left for the emergency department. I figured I'd just grab some breakfast before heading to the gym, but then decided to just go back to bed since I knew I'd be at the gym tonight and could catch up on what I missed. I guess going twice a day has this benefit. If I miss one workout, I can still make it up later that day.

I'm a bit worried though that I'm taking advantage of this situation. Not so much in missing my morning workouts as I haven't yet, but of allowing myself to eat more because I am at the gym more often. In addition to going in the mornings Monday thru Friday, I'm also taking cardio classes Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and spending another hour and a half on Wednesday evening while Red is in her ab class. That's 9 visits a week and that doesn't include any visits we might make on the weekend. This abundance of gym attendance has given me the notion that I can eat more since I burning more. It isn't much more, a sandwich from the cafeteria at lunch along with my salad or soup, or an indulgence in the evenings, say a Drumstick ice cream cone. Normally I don't do this, but lately I have been and I'm worried about it.

The nice advantage to Red joining the gym and us attending cardio classes was that it was extra time in the gym for me to burn off what I normally ate and help me with my weight loss struggles (or battles) since I've been up and down the scale with alarming frequency the last few months. But my inner fat guy is seeing this as an opportunity to enjoy a few things I don't usually allow myself. For instance, when I was up this morning, I enjoyed a bowl of Corn Flakes and some grapes, something I never do during the week. For lunch I decided to have a can of Chunky soup and my salad along with my apples for snacks. Well leave it to me to decide that since I won't be home after work, instead going straight to the gym, I won't be eating anything substantial to get me through both the day and a workout so I should get something more filling. And what did I choose to do? I headed over to Subway for a turkey sub. Not the worst thing a person could do, but certainly something I didn't need to do. So at this writing, I've eaten all 4 of the apples and the sub, not to mention the Corn Flakes and grapes from 5:30am. My soup remains on my desk unopened and my salad sits in the fridge. I'm not hungry so I doubt I'll eat anything else, but I do suffer from that mid afternoon hunger, is it really hunger or just boredom? So I might just eat that salad then. I don't think I'll touch the soup. Once I'm home tonight, probably close to 7, I'll need to figure out dinner. It can't be something heavy since I've eaten a bowl of cereal and a full sub, but it'll need to be something substantial. We do have some roasted veggies and a meat patty leftover from last night plus there's still some stir fry left from the weekend so I think I'll be alright. But Red chose to stay home from work so I don't know what she might be planning. Either way, I need to be smart here.

Friday, May 1, 2009

So we got the weight and measurements done last Saturday. I came in at 214lb and my measurements were not a surprise. I had Red take some pictures of me from the front, side and back, just to have a reference point later on when I'm wondering if there's a difference visually. I figure i'll have pics done every month but I'm not completely sold on that idea yet. When I saw the pics, I saw a totally different me than the one I see in the mirror every day. I don't know if it was the lighting or the way cameras take pictures, but I looked terrible, all flabby and gross looking. My man boobs seemed to jut out even worse than I thought, the roll around my waist seemed more pronounced and sickening than I perceived. Red said they didn't reflect how i actually looked and that they are not how people see me. But how does she know that? Nobody but her, and the beach goers in Cuba, know what I look like without a shirt on. A couple of summers ago, we spent the day up at her parents pool and I was terribly self conscious of how i looked. Thankfully there was only her parents there, I don't think I would have felt comfortable had any of her siblings been around.

Anyway, I downloaded the pics into a folder on her computer and immediately deleted the pics from the camera lest somebody accidentally come across them. The last thing I need is for someone to be glancing at pics and come across this mishapen John Merrick looking abomination in his red underwear. Talk about losing your lunch! There is definitely a difference in how i look in the mirror and how I look in those pics. Maybe the digital camera causes your imperfections to be more pronounced....then again maybe I really do look like that and I just think I look differently. Either way, it made me never want to take my shirt off again.

We're just over 2 weeks into our new regimen and neither of us are seeing a weightloss on the scale, although Red said her pants felt better. I would take that as a positive as the scale isn't always true about what is actually going on with your body. I'm thinking the cardio classes are building some lean muscle tissue and that is offsetting any scale losses right now. My own body feels tighter, even if it doesn't look it. I had hoped to see at least a couple of pounds or more off by now as I've been getting in about 9 visits to the gym per week since this began. I'm going to need to see something soon or I really am going to lose my shit.

Another thing I'm finding besides the physical exhaustion is that I'm hungrier in the day now. This has led me into our workplace cafe for toasted turkey sandwiches in the mornings. Not every morning, but a few. Added up, they aren't bad calorie wise, but in the context of a full day, they are an extra 400 calories give or take i could do without. Maybe this is where my weightloss is? I don't feel like i'm eating more than before other than the sandwich. I need to get that under control, but what to do about this hunger? I think with the extra workout, my body is just needing more. But at what cost? I'll have to see what the scale brings tomorrow and maybe rethink what i'm doing.

Still no real cravings, which is nice, but I'm still munching when I'm not hungry in the evenings. It's mostly fruit but one of the things I enjoy is a banana smoothie and sometimes when i make one, I'm not even hungry. I just want it. Why is that? Its not a bad thing to drink, couple of bananas, cup or 2 of 1% milk and some splenda with ice. I could probably cut down to 1 banana and cup of milk, but I'm not known for my portion control. This is my biggest problem. Need to get a handle on it.