Sunday, October 31, 2010

When Fears Become Reality

Things continue to be, well, interesting in regards to that Marie Claire post. At first, I thought that the author's apology added at the end of the piece was a load of bs that she was forced to write, but it turns out that Maura Kelly really has had a long, documented history of anorexia. She was even hospitalized at one point at 70 pounds. Yikes.

That said, I'm still angry with the magazine for encouraging her to write the piece -- apparently her boss assigned it to Kelly after seeing an article on CNN about MIKE & MOLLY -- and am feeling sorry for Kelly. For one thing, what kind of crappy boss assigns an article fat prejudice to a recovering anorexic? And how much must Kelly b going through personally, if she got herself to the point where she was hospitalized for her weight issues? No wonder why overweight people disgust her -- she's seeing her greatest fear come alive right in front of her face!

I still don't agree with a word she said in her editorial, but I can at least understand what prompted her to write such a thing. Your world view can be extremely twisted when you fear something so much -- and fear that you can become said thing. It was definitely like that for me when I battled anorexia and bulimia (though I never got down to 70 pounds). I was definitely prejudiced against the overweight.

I still regret the fact that I made fat jokes against this chubby girl on our bus. To be fair, she was a total bitch and made Jewish jokes against me, but two wrongs didn't make a right here. But then there were the times I treated perfectly nice overweight people like crap. There was this girl in junior high -- let's just call her Evelyn -- who always wanted to sit with us at lunch and we'd let her; but my friends and I would make snide comments about her when she was out of earshot. She knew it, too, and was always trying to diet. All she wanted was for us to be her friends.

Part of this had to do with me being a stupid kid, but I know that a lot had to do with my own fears of gaining weight and being fat. I'd weigh myself obsessively and my mood would be predicated on what number appeared. No matter how good I looked in an outfit, I always noticed the "fat rolls" that popped out (which was ridiculous because I didn't have any!). Back then, I had the same stereotypes as everyone else -- that overweight people are lazy and ignorant. I wish I could go back in time and bitch slap the 13-year-old me!

The thing is, I didn't even like myself then. I HATED myself. I hesitate to share this, but I was 14 when I seriously considered committing suicide. So yeah, I wasn't fat, but I kinda thought I was anyway, and I was miserable with my own existence. What kind of life was that? No wonder I had so much prejudice -- it's difficult to feel love and compassion for others when you're dealing with your own shit.

What's interesting is that one of my best friends is gay and admits that when he was younger, he thought being gay was "disgusting." He's been out for 10 years now and has obviously changed his world view, but it was a similar thing in that he "hated" the thing that he feared himself being.

There are many things that I don't like about being obese, but in some ways, gaining weight has been good for me. I don't hate myself these days and think that I'm more compassionate toward others. I'm definitely less selfish than I was when I was younger and don't care quite as much about being perfect. Yes, I want to lose weight for health purposes, but I don't think that thinner equals better. For a one-time anorexic, that's a big deal.

It's pretty ironic that it took me becoming obese to become my best self so far. Hopefully, I'll take everything that I've learned during this time and continue to be who I am as the pounds come off.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A More Intelligent Response

Yikes! After rereading my last post, I can see how ANGRY I was about the Marie Claire debacle. That's me -- I generally don't blow up at things, but when I do, I get really, really pissed and let it all out. That's the great thing about having this blog; I can let it out here and not take it out on some poor, unsuspecting person.

Anyway, before I attempt to craft a more intelligent response about that article, let me give a brief update on myself. Things are going pretty well here. I'm finding it easier to walk and have been working on my eating. My big thing this past week has been to eat more vegetables, so I've been maing a point to have veggies and fruits each day. For lunch, I've been ordering in salads with spinach, carrots, eggs, onions, olives and cheese --and then having low-fat dressing on the side. Last night, I went to Jackson Hole in the city with Karen and ordered the veggie burrito, which was filled with broccoli, peppers, mushrooms, black beans, avocado and potatoes. It was seriously one of the best burritos I've ever had -- I was ready to marry this thing! But I figured that if I can stick with this one goal -- to eat more veggies -- than I can get back into doing other things I'm supposed to be doing: more exercise, drinking more water, doing a better job counting Points; losing more weight. Yes, there have been a lot of stops and starts on this journey, and I imagine that for my 10 or so followers of this blog that this is frustrating to read about, but I am trying and I'd rather keep TRYING than just giving up. I've been making an honest effort of losing serious weight for the past 10 years -- with some successes and A LOT of setbacks -- but that's better than doing nothing. I really do want to lose the weight. It's definitely the hardest thing I've ever had to do, so far.

Which brings me back to Maura Kelly's article and why it upset me so much. While I don't disagree with her about obesity being unhealthy, I feel like when people comment about the state of overweight people that many -- Kelly for certain -- consider fat people to be "less than." That our obesity isn't just a health issue for us, that the very idea of us being fat means that we're lazy, undisciplined, slovenly, undeserving of love, gross ... fill in the blank. That she's so disgusted by the idea of fat people being intimate -- or by them merely WALKING ACROSS A ROOM -- is hurtful and humiliating. I mean, was everyone disgusted when I, who was a fat bride, kissed my husband at our wedding? Should I not kiss my husband in a public place because it's too yucky for the skinny folks out there? Should I just hide until I become thin enough for her because the mere act of me walking, EXISTING, grosses her out? THIS is why what she wrote about angered me so much.

There's also the idea that she and many others have, that fat people aren't allowed to be happy. Because we have this health condition, our happiness means that we're PROMOTING obesity -- and if, God forbid, a smiling "fatty" is shown on TV in some kind of venue other than a weight-loss program, it's "bad" because people will think that being overweight is a pleasurable state of mind and follow suit. That's ridiculous. Yes, I am overweight, but I am not defined by it. And, in a well-written show, neither are the characters. One of my favorite sitcoms ever, ROSEANNE, involved two overweight characters, Roseanne and Dan, but the show wasn't about their size (though it did come up from time to time). It was about a typical blue-collar couple raising their kids. MIKE & MOLLY isn't as good a show, but it's about a couple embarking in a new relationship. And fat people do have relationships. We kiss. We have sex. We walk. We LIVE. Some overweight people are content with being large, which is fine; it's their prerogative. I'm not thrilled with being fat, but in the meantime, I don't want to hide -- and I don't want to have to explain away my happiness by adding the addendum each time, "But don't be happy like me because being fat is bad, folks!"

What also angered me about her article were the simplistic diet tips that she added in the middle of it (to eat less and exercise more; no SHIT, Sherlock) with the patronizing all-caps, YOU CAN DO IT! Uh, that's nice ... er, I guess ... but let me debunk a myth about most fat people. We've tried. Most of us have tried losing weight over and over and over again. Most of us can probably write books on the subject. We KNOW the basics and have sometimes even done extreme things to lose weight, but because obesity is such a pyschological thing in addition to being physiological, it sometimes doesn't work out.

Many, unfortunately, still equate obesity with laziness, and have this idea that we sit around eating all day. For me, that's definitely not true. In the past few years, I've completed several long-distance walks, included that 20 miler, I recorded an album, I've done a lot of traveling and am now making jewelry. I always like to have some kind of project going on and am rarely just sitting around. And guess what? Even when I did the 20-miler, I was obese. But I trained for it and did it. Kelly may be disgusted with the idea of me, a fat person, walking, but I managed to drag my jiggly ass 20 miles around the city!

Which brings me to my final point in this very long post. You never know WHAT an obese person is going through at any particular moment. To a person who saw me sweating and limping on the day I did my long walk, they may have just thought that I was some "fatty" struggling to make my way around Manhattan. The overweight woman on the corner could be recovering from an injury or a thyroid problem, or some kind of personal trauma that led her to eat her emotions away. The fat guy in the store perhaps has already lost 100 pounds, but still has 150 to go -- but is still obese as he continues his journey. Again, YOU JUST NEVER KNOW.

That said, what the heck is wrong with celebrating the accomplishments of obese people? Showing fat people who are successful at finding good jobs or love? People of all shapes and sizes deserve to be happy and we deserve to be represented.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Walk A Mile In My Shoes

Sorry for the long period between posting. I was knocked out with a bad cold last weekend and had some long days this week.

Things are improving here, though. I've been using the BowFlex and all of a sudden, my walking has gotten easier. I don't know if it's because my muscles are healing or because the weather has been less humid, but my limp has become a lot less pronounced and I'm able to go for longer distances. The other day, I met up with friends to attend the Sound Of Music sing-along. The theater is about a mile from my office and I'd planned to take a cab, but my leg was feeling so good that I decided to walk it! It took me 45 minutes and I had to stop a few times, but I did it and got to the movie right on time. I love that I can now count my distance in miles instead of blocks. I'll be trilled when I can do a mile without stopping.

As for my eating, well, it's been weird. I haven't been eating much, but because of the cold, I've found myself dining on very small portions of strange things. The other night, for example, I have two slices of cheddar cheese and a half cup of low-fat frozen yogurt. Yesterday, I had a veggie omelet with salsa, but only ended up eating about half. Tonight, I met up with Karen and had sangria and three chicken fingers. So while my food hasn't been the healthiest, I definitely haven't been overeating. In fact, I don't have much of an appetite -- and I hope it stays that way (minus the congestion, of course).

Still, Karen and I made a pact tonight that we'd both start eating better and hold each other accountable (which is why I'm blogging about this, K). I'm going to the Jersey Shore this weekend, but the people we're staying with are health nuts so there will be plenty of fruits, veggies and grains around (all organic, natch). It'll be nice to walk in the ocean air, too. The weather is supposed to be cool, but not cold -- perfect for fall. I think that getting out of the city for a couple of days will do me good.

I'd like to start walking more, too, now that I'm feeling up to it. Tomorrow, I plan to walk the mile to the rental car place after work. Then I'm going to walk to a further bus stop or subway station. It's been so nice out that I'd like to take advantage of the weather, especially since I've been feeling so cooped up.

There are some days where I want to beat myself up for not being able to lose weight, for constantly sabotaging myself. Lately, though, I've been making a point to remind myself of the things I have accomplished: writing, music, singing, jewelry making. And now I can say that I'm once again able to walk a mile. That's something to be proud of.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Things Are Getting Better

I think it's pretty obvious from my last few posts that I've been depressed lately. I get this way sometimes and definitely think that it's weather-related. No longer having a window at work is adding to it because I barely see daylight. That said, I need to make a point to go outside for a few minutes each day, even if it's just to sit on the bench in front of my office building.

I've been making an effort to get back on plan after having so much food this weekend. So far, I'm doing pretty well. My biggest goal has been to eat more vegetables, so I've been finding ways to sneak them in. Today's lunch was half a mini thin-crust pizza with broccoli, spinach and tomato sauce and then for dinner, I had a half cup of aloo gobi, an Indian dish made with cauliflower, potatoes and tomatoes. I enjoyed both, got in some veggies and have to say that I'm already feeling a little less depressed.

I actually wasn't that hungry when I came home today. My new order of artistic wire arrived so I was eager to get to work on a necklace that I'd had an idea for. It's going to be made completely out of wire and is extremely intricate, so I spent hours making the various components -- and I'm not even halfway finished yet. But I got so involved that I almost forgot to eat! Finally, my stomach growled loudly so I made a point to stop and have some food. Wish I could forget to eat more often -- maybe the jewelry making hobby will be beneficial in more ways than one.

Even though my eating has improved, I know that I need to work on exercise. I was doing so well when I had PT and now I've been slacking off. Scott suggested to me that I plan ahead and say that I'm going to do the activity no matter what, so I'm going to plan to do 20 minutes on the BowFlex tomorrow. I want to start doing back exercises so I can strengthen that and stop having as much pain.

Speaking of which, when Scott and I were talking today, he wondered what my back pain feels like and why I can't just push through it. I'll try to describe it best I can. It's not like workout pain, where you're sore, but you can still make the movement. It kind of feels like someone is grabbing my back and twisting it downward so that all of my weight is on it. The longer I stand, the more it hurts and I end up standing at a weird angle with my stomach jutting out to shift the weight. My knees end up hurting, too, and it eventually reaches a point where I start to go numb from the pain. If I sit down, even for a minute, that helps. Then I'm able to stand or walk for another couple of blocks before I need to sit down again. But if I put weight on my back for too long, it's uncomfortable. I don't know if a brace would help, but I do know that losing weight does. Right now, I feel a little stuck because I want to move more, but I can't do much ... and I need to move in order to lose weight -- which will help me move more (did that make any sense?). That's why I like the BowFlex, because I can get in a good workout and keep the pressure off of my back. When my leg was broken, I'd also looked at some chair aerobics videos -- perhaps I should try one of those again, especially since I now have two legs to work with again.

I don't even care that much about what I look like anymore, but I do miss being able to do whatever I want. The other night when we were out, I was feeling envious of one of Scott's friends because the guy had so much energy. He kept getting up and dancing around and was obviously having a blast -- and I wished I could just move and have fun and go crazy like that. I even mentioned him to my counselor when I saw her this week.

Well, it turns out that the guy has lost over 100 pounds! That's pretty incredible, especially since he's even shorter than I am. Knowing this puts things into perspective; I'm now less envious of him and am looking to him more as an inspiration.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Out of Control

Despite my fears, thing went well last night at my friend's get together. I didn't drink much, as usual, but I still felt as if I were part of the conversation at dinner and we had fun hanging out at the piano bar. My friend Lani stayed over and I taught her how to make jewelry today; all in all, it was a nice weekend.

Unfortunately, my leg and back were really bothering me and my eating was less than stellar. Last night, I could barely walk a block without experiencing excruciating back pain. It hurt like hell when I walked and it even hurt when I was sitting. I hate to say it, but I found myself missing the wheelchair. When I was in the chair, I didn't have to deal with my back hurting; I could relax and enjoy the world around me, and I was pain free.

Of course, I want to be mobile, but I'm not really there yet as my world is still very small. That said, I did not walk the half mile from the restaurant to the bar last night and ended up taking a cab. Honestly, I didn't have a choice. At one point, I considered just going home so I wouldn't have to deal with moving, but I'm glad I stuck it out.

I know that I can't really use my leg as an excuse for my back pain anymore, and that my weight is the culprit. It's what caused the pain before I broke my leg and now I'm hurting again. And my eating's been crap lately. I've been having more and more carbs and I really overindulged today. Jon made a homemade dinner from a Spanish cookbook and served us chicken with safron sauce, almond soup and Spanish potatoes. Everything was delicious, but I kept having potatoes. I also ate almost the whole cake and had three glasses of orange juice.

I don't know what's wrong with me and why I keep sabotaging myself. I mean, it's just food. All I have to do is eat less of it and I'll lose weight, and my back pain will go away. But I can't seem to be able to stay on a plan; as soon as I start doing well, I fall apart. Even worse, I find it's like a vicious circle; when I start gaining weight, I want to move less, then I'm like, "Who cares?", feel depressed and eat more. I know it makes no sense, but that's sort of how I feel right now. I honestly wish I don't have to move again and that I can just stay in bed -- or that I can take pills that put me to sleep until I lose enough weight so that my back pain goes away. It's easy for people who are not in my situation to say I'm lazy, but it's not laziness that's stopping me; it's the fact that when I walk more than a few feet or stand for more than about five minutes, I feel as if someone is sticking a knife in my back. It's hard to find the motivation to walk or exercise when your whole body hurts. I've done hard workouts before where my muscles ached, but it was a "good" pain -- it let me know that I'd done a good job. This is different, where it's keeping me from functioning.

I'm going to try to eat better tomorrow and see if I can knock some more pounds off. I wish that just 20 or so would magically disappear, just so that I can walk comfortably and find the energy to do other things. Unfortunately, that's not going to happen, so I'm going to have to deal with another week of commuting and walking and standing while waiting for the bus ... and yet more back pain. I can't stand this.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Future Plans

This Thursday, I saw my orthopedist for the last time! He says that my bone is 100 percent healed, and now all I have to do is continue to build muscle. This was good news.

Still, in a way, this makes me nervous. For the past few months, I've been able to blame my not being very active on my leg. When I could only walk a block and had to stop, it was because my leg was weak. I took a lot of cabs, even to go short distances, because again, had to watch my leg.

Now I have fewer excuses. Last night, for example, I went out with Jon and my parents for dinner. We walked to a restaurant that was four blocks from their apartment and I managed to do it without stopping -- but my back was KILLING me. Ordinarily, I would've stopped to sit once or twice, but I was embarrassed, so I forced myself to keep going ... and I ended up being in pain. I don't know if it's because my leg is still a bit weak (I still have a limp) or because my weight is causing my back to hurt, as it did in the past. Or maybe it's both. I don't know, but I felt pathetic that walking just four blocks at once was so damn hard. My dad reminded me how only a couple of months ago, I could barely make it to the front door without having to stop, so I guess I have improved. But I feel like I'm about at the same level as I was before I broke my leg, where I could walk a few blocks and then had to stop because of my back. I was hoping to surpass that with all of the physical therapy, but I have a ways to go.

Tonight, I have my biggest challenge to date since I broke my leg; we're meeting friends at a restaurant for dinner and are then going to a nearby piano bar. They're .41 miles apart -- not far for the average person, but far for me, and I'm anxious about doing the walk. Jon says that we'll take as long as we have to and that he'll make sure I get a seat at the bar.

I'll admit, I'm also kind of anxious about the party itself. I don't know why exactly, but I've been in a bad mood since I woke up this morning. I slept well, the sun is out, I'm going to be seeing friends ... I SHOULD be feeling okay, but I'm not.

I think some of it is due to fearing that I'm going to feel like an outsider. I've hung out with this crowd before and don't feel as if we have much in common. These friends of my friend are lovely people -- all very nice -- but for starters, many of them know each other through a hiking organization and see each other on a regular basis. So when I show up, it's like, "Oh, hi, Mrs. Thighs, great to see you!" but then they have their in-jokes and stories about trips that they've taken together that no matter how many questions I ask, I can't really be a part of. Then there's the fact that many of them like to drink heavily. There's no moral judgment on my part, but I'm not a heavy drinker. I've tried. I drank in college and after two or three drinks, I'd be sick to my stomach. My dad can't drink, either, so I guess it's a genetic thing. But I like to have one or two drinks, tops, and that's it ... and they all like to get drunk. So I feel like a party pooper or that everyone thinks I'm boring or something.

I guess it's not good to worry about stuff that hasn't happened yet. I'm going to shower and clean the bathroom, and maybe make some jewelry. This way, I can get these bad thoughts out of my head...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Full Of &*%$

When I first started this blog, I made a promise to myself that I would be honest about having any major slip-ups, so here goes: I did not do so well with my eating this weekend. I'm not sure why -- maybe because my mom angered me or because I have PMS, or hell, maybe I've just been hungry -- but I ate a lot of junk that I shouldn't have.

Yesterday, was the worst. We went to see The Social Network (which was a fantastic movie, but I digress) and I got Reese's Pieces at the candy counter. Truthfully, I wasn't even that hungry at the time, but it was a long movie and I felt like doing *something* other than just sitting there for 2 1/2 hours.

We then went to one of our favorite restaurants, Santa Fe, which is a Tex Mex place. Usually, I get the veggie fajitas, but this time, I ordered the veggie burrito. What's the difference? The burrito has cheese and sauce on it, and comes with beans, while the fajitas are a lot more plain. After, Jon and I shared their huge cookie sundae.

By the time, we left, I had a bad stomach ache and even worse, I didn't sleep well last night. I awoke in the middle of the night to one of my sleep apnea episodes -- and I haven't had one of those in MONTHS. If there was anything telling me to get the hell back on track, it was that.

Still, I've been forcing myself to find some good in all this. For starters, there were only three servings of candy in the bag I got at the movies. Not great, but not the end of the world, either. It wasn't like I ate one of those one-pound bags of M&Ms (which I probably could finish, if I really wanted). As for dinner, no, the burrito was not the healthiest choice, but it wasn't entirely UNHEALTHY, either: it was stuffed with zucchini, broccoli, mushrooms and tomatoes, so I was getting some vegetables into my meal. And no, ordering a sundae was not smart, either, but together, Jon and I only ate about a third and he points out that I mostly had the whipped cream.

The good news is, I got back on track today. My in-laws surprised us with a visit to the city and took us out to lunch. But we went to a diner so I was able to get a Spanish omelet, filled with tomatoes, peppers, onions and carrots. I then had a small dinner of cheese, fruit and a roll with low-fat cream cheese. We did some walking today when we went out, so I got some exercise and I spent the rest of my day making jewelry. I brushed my teeth early so that I'd force myself to stop eating around 7 p.m.

I guess all I can do is learn from my mistakes and plan better the next time we go out. Instead of getting candy at the movie counter (which is expensive, anyway), I'll bring some mints or string cheese to nosh on. And when we go out, I'll allow myself ONE indulgence; if I'm going to order something that's pretty fattening like a burrito covered in cheese, I won't get dessert -- even if it's shared. If I'm craving a dessert, I'll stick with a lower-fat dinner option. This way, I won't feel like I'm depriving myself, but won't go overboard, either.

I can't turn back time and fix yesterday, but I can "fix" tomorrow, and am already anticipating what I'll do to take care of myself. I'm hardly the first person -- fat OR thin -- to have a not-so-healthy eating day. All I can do is try again tomorrow.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Annoying Conversations

I've written at length about how glad I am that my relationship with my parents seemed to improve so much during my recovery. Well, today there was a minor backslide.

A few months ago, my mom asked if I'd see a different endicronologist. I said I would when I was done dealing with doctors, and that it would probably be in October. She was all excited because she basically believes that an endo is a "magic fat doctor." She's certain that he or she will be able to give me a pill that will magically "cure" whatever is making me fat and that I'll be thin! Yippy skippy! Of course, I could have thyroid problems, but this has never come up in tests, including the two very thorough blood tests that I had back in April. I'm fat because I ate too much for years and years, and have a fucked up metabolism from a lifetime of eating disorders. Yes, I do want to get checked out -- that's important, I agree -- but not with the *hope* that there's actually something wrong with me. If I have a thyroid condition, okay, I'll take the ncessary meds to fix it. But more likely than not, I don't and my mom is just going to have to accept that.

ANYWAY; my mom and I were chatting for a while and then she asks if I'm going to see an endo. I said that I would, but first I have two more doctors appointments this month. Plus, I JUST finished PT last week. I want a break! I missed four months of work; I can't keep taking time out to see doctors. I think it's perfectly reasonable to want a month off.

But she kept going on, "It's October now, I thought you were going to see someone," blah, blah, blah, STFU! I realize that most of you probably think I'm overreacting to a simple question, especially since she obviously means well, but you have to understand our history. We've both said very hurtful things to each other in the war over my weight and I'd just prefer that my parents stay out of it. I don't
want to go back to that period in college where I was afraid to come home during breaks for fear that I'd get a lecture, nor do I want to return to that place where I'm afraid to be with my parents alone and sans a buffer (usually my husband). I liked that we could spend time together for the past few months, have nice conversations and that I didn't have to worry about a lecture approaching. Now I feel as if we're going backwards and this is going to start again. Her nagging me on October-freakin-1st because I gave a vague date of October for a doctor's appt is a bad sign.

For the record, I'm not in denial. I know I have serious weight issues that could turn into serious health issues. But I'm 36 years old and think that I've earned the right to fight my own battles -- and if I don't want parental involvement, they need to respect that, ESPECIALLY my mom. Let's hope that this small setback doesn't turn into something bigger...