Thursday, December 5, 2013

It's Heating Up

In this corner we have Fit Mom, who has (I will say it) an enviable figure, and who apparently had 3 children in as many years. (I will not be snarky and say that some of them may have been borrowed for the picture). She asks what YOUR excuse is... And in the other corner, we have Chrystal Bourgon of Curvy Girl Lingerie, who encourages women of all sizes (I guess, though it's mostly plus-sized who have been stepping up) to post pictures of themselves in lingerie. Her shop specializes in plus-size lingerie. She promotes body diversity and acceptance. Fit Mom, Maria Kang, says that society, in normalizing and even applauding the acceptance of plus-sized women, even those who can be termed obese, is, put bluntly, killing itself. Chrystal Bourgon says it's okay to be larger. Large. Very large. Also, that size is not a reliable predictor of health. Also, there's the meme making the rounds on Facebook that says that (and I am paraphrasing) that protruding bones in animals is seen as a sign of neglect and abuse, whereas in women it's seen as a sign of beauty. And all this in December, when you can hardly save yourself from Christmas cookies, candy canes and buffets. So where are we in the discourse? I don't think it's a discourse any more, even if it ever was, which I feel doubtful about. It's a secondary national shouting match, following health care, gun control and the conviction that Obama is trying to turn us into a socialist state. Where we're all fat, except Michelle doesn't want that. I myself am living proof that a person can be fat and healthy, because I was. I am also living proof that it can impact your health, because my numbers (which I actually believe in) are worse than they used to be. Now....would they be there if I were thinner? That, is, of course, the question. Interestingly, a small change, really just a bit more mindfulness, in my diet, lowered my blood sugar number, so that's interesting right there. My blood pressure seems to be well-controlled with medication and I'm also not sure that has much to do with my weight, because my father had high blood pressure at a very well-accepted 165 lbs. So some of this may be genetics and I should have chosen my parents better. Or, it's me...and I should choose my food more carefully. But then we get to the whole sexy thing. Are plus-sized women supposed to feel, be perceived as, and be sexy? Is that a thing, as the kids like to say? Well...I am plus-sized and yes, I am perceived as sexy, and I feel sexy, and I enjoy sex. Not all the time, of course, or by all people, but enough to suit me. Is that bad? Of course, this brings us to the national dichotomy, of all women should look young and sexy but not engage in sex other than when a man wants her to...sometimes. Sex is such a trap! Sexuality is such a trap! I guess the real question here is, should fat women be permitted to be sexual? Should they permit themselves to be sexual? Or are women only supposed to indulge one bodily appetite, and they should choose which one, and stick to that? There's another meme that says (again I paraphrase) that the way to make a section of society tractable is to make them focus on their appearance and what they eat. Something like that. Also, and I'll throw this in, if you keep half of society borderline hungry all the time, they're not going to be thinking about all that much else. It's like needing to pee. It fills all the available space in your mind. Big is seen as powerful. Big men, big countries, big trucks...all seen as powerful. The bigger the better. (Also breasts, unless they're attached to a big woman). But big women? Oh, hell no. A woman who unapologetically takes up space? Um, not good. Big women scare society, or Society. But at the same time, being fat is seen as being lazy, out of control, self-indulgent. That every plus-sized woman spends her days on the couch watching Lifetime movies (because there are almost no more soap operas) and eating bon-bons. Or, going through the drive-through at McDonald's in her 15-year-old minivan with the sprung suspension, and buying the family sack of Big Macs and eating it herself. But there are, in fact, fat women who eat sensibly. And exercise regularly. Could they get thinner? Oh, probably. But would the degree of deprivation be worth it? I just don't know. Back to health. As I've said before, my husband's family sort of specializes in plus-sized women. (It's those good Mediterranean genes). They do NOT have blood pressure problems, because the other thing they got, other than asses, is low blood pressure. Also no diabetes...doesn't run in the family. So, yes, seen in that light, they're healthy. There are also heart issues in that family, but it hits the average-sized men. They die young. The comfortably padded women live into their 80's and 90's. Now, to get back to where I started, I think that some people, and Fit Mom is probably among them, are offended by the sight of fat. Wobbly, jiggly fat. Uncovered, unapologetic fat. And, to be honest, jiggles and rolls sort of bother me, too. I have no problem with being big, I've been big, or at least biggish, all my life. Being wobbly, jiggly, whatever, bothers me. I mind that I don't have a waist. But I don't EVER have a waist! Does it make me bad? It makes me dislike myself sometimes, when there's not an especially good reason to. But back to society and beauty--that tells us that we should not have jiggles. Soft spots. Cushions. You can call them all sorts of things, you can put a good or bad slant on it. Even though I do it too (and I try not to, but I do do it) I think that what it comes down to is that we are all too quick to judge. We judge by what we see, not by what is below the surface--literally and figuratively. Our actual physical health lurks below the surface, as does the quality of our characters and our souls.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Big Women

They bother people. They bother people in a way that I think big men don't bother people. You can think a man is a fat slob, but it doesn't offend you at your core they way a big woman does. I'm not even sure I know why this is. Of course, I've had it drilled into me that women are supposed to look a certain way, and so I can barely imagine what it's like to think that a larger woman is attractive. Right now I'm thinking about two things on this topic. One is Melissa McCarthy, who is a lightning rod in a way I think I haven't seen anyone be for a while. She got an "Elle" cover. She's got this great, tousled, big hair, and she's wearing a coat with her hands in the pockets and it's sort of scrunched up. To me, it looks like she got up to see her lover off in the early morning and the first thing she laid her hands on was this coat, to cover up her...lingerie? Nakedness? Whatever. I think it's an amazingly sexy cover and it makes me THINK in a way that Reese Witherspoon's cover doesn't. (Marion Cotillard's cover just makes me sad for the ribs that you can see from the back). I'm fine with this cover. It's flattering. It makes her look good. I think...and if anyone actually reads this, I'm going to take a ton of flak for this...that Melissa McCarthy, while beautiful and extraordinarily funny and willing to take risks, doesn't look all that good dressed up. (I said it. Please forgive me). Or at least in what she's been dressed up in. So I can see why they went with an amazing coat and amazing hair and a sultry look. Okay, so there's that. But more interesting, is, why does she piss people off so much? I think it's because she's willing to take up room. Yes, I said that, too. Women are allowed to be successful as long as they don't occupy too much space doing it. They can be rich, they can be talented, they can all sorts of things, but they can't take up space. They have to be demure in some way, and if physically is the only way we can get, well, that's what we'll take. I remember reading somewhere that the more successful and visible women become, the greater the pressure for them to be small. Petite. Narrow. They have to deny themselves in some way. Now, I understand that no one wants Henry VIII, of any sex, large, starting religions, throwing chicken legs over his shoulder, beheading wives, all because he can't have his own way (no....we just got an entire house of Congress acting that way, and if they could behead, they would), but men can still be big. They can be tall, and broad, and loud and take up room and people think they're wonderful. Everyone, in the end, has to curb his or her appetites to some degree, or not stay in the world, but woman are forced to do this more than men are. So that's what I think about Melissa McCarthy. I think she has it all and so she can't be big, too. I'm also curious to see if there is a point where she does in fact lose weight--maybe if she goes on "Dancing with the Stars" because everyone does then...but every single actress who's said she wouldn't lose weight, has in fact done so. Leah Rimini. Ginnifer Goodwin. Scarlett Johannson. The list goes on. And they were not large women to start out with, they were just not lean and chiseled in the way that's demanded of actresses. Our cathartic stand-ins must not look like us. Okay, I said all that, now I'm going to say the next thing. My daughter went to a Halloween party this weekend, hosted by her boyfriend's cousin. Said cousin is a "Big Person", and either runs or is active in a group of Big People. (Brobdingnagians?) My daughter is just over 5 feet and weighs in the area of 140 (maybe...I don't ask her, she doesn't tell, because it doesn't matter) but they referred to her as "the skinny one". She's a very non-judgmental young woman, so she was mostly describing, not passing judgments, but she said some interesting things. That most of them didn't move much. Once they were seated, they stayed. It was too much effort to move. Many of them were on disability, directly resulting from their weight. They all, she said, had fat aprons. Well, yeah, they did. Now, as I am fond of saying, I am not a small girl, by any measure, except, I guess, by the measure of the Big People, because she said, quite firmly, "You are NOT a big person." So....let's think about this. Let's think about being so big that you more or less have to sit. I was in that condition, having to sit, before my hip was replaced, because the pain was so great if I got up. I hated it, or it at least made me rather unhappy. So I feel as though if I were in a state where I just had to sit all the time, I might want to do something about it, rather than making it a point of pride and a pivotal part of my life. Now, let's think about the whole disability thing. This means, in its starkest terms, that there is a group of people so fat that they cannot earn a living and they have asked the government (because where else does disability pay come from?) to pay them to live. I understand that for some people, there are untreatable conditions that make them that big, but I can't think it's all of them. I also don't like not being productive. I will be the first to admit that I don't have a fabulous career, but I do like to be productive, in a day. Well, maybe they are. I can't say anything about that. But...they're getting PAID. Like someone who was in an accident and can't work. I don't know. I don't know if I can agree. I'll buy that some people are just meant to be that way, but I don't think all. Now...the fat aprons. I have one myself, except I call it a Caesarean flap and I do know I don't like it. I also know that it grows and shrinks with weight gain and loss, so they can be smaller. Wouldn't you hate that? Wouldn't you hate having that for no other reason than because you're fat? But then, if I say these things, I'm not fat accepting. I'm not body accepting. I'm judging. I'm imposing societal standards on people who don't want societal standards imposed on them. But if I keep my mouth shut, am I imposing them? Am I at least allowed to think it? So where's the line? Is Melissa McCarthy the line? Are the Big People the line? Am I the line? My own line keeps moving. For a long time I held tight at 16, and now I tend to think that wasn't a bad thing, either, because once you cross into plus sizes, it's hard to come back. But I think there should be good plus-sized clothes. I think it's wonderful that Isabel and Ruben Toledo are going to do a line for Lane Bryant, because we need nice clothes, too! So I'm torn. As I was at the beginning, I still am. What's fat? And does that matter? Does health even matter? Is is ANY of my business?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

You Need a Great Big Woman

That is the name of the first song I ever heard by the blues singer, Candye Kane. (Here's a link to that song ...okay, you just heard it for the first time, how great was that?) It was her mantra, I believe, because she was, at that time, a great big woman. She helped me a lot in my quest for body acceptance. I also liked the fact that she said to "work what you've got, whether it's a little, or a lot", because that, of course, is the message of body acceptance--to work what you've got and love what you've got. I loved all of her music, including the very raunchy songs. This is partly because I am, in fact, very raunchy myself, and also because she was very clear on the facts that 1. big woman can be sexy 2. big women can like sex and 3. big women deserve as much sex as anyone else. Which was always my attitude, along with, all you need to be sexy is to believe you're sexy. So I believed. And loved her music. Then something happened....around five years ago, Candye Kane was diagnosed with a form of pancreatic cancer. It's clearly not the death sentence kind, because I just saw her live last night, but one of the affects of that cancer was that she lost about half of her body weight, in what I think was a very short time. Last night when I saw her, and let me just say right now that her voice is magnificent (and even that sells it short) and her spirit is indomitable, but physically, she's just a little bit of a thing. She fits more closely into the stereotype of the attractive woman, being thin, slight, a bit fragile. But I have read things she's written and she's quite vocal about a few things that are decidedly not conventional wisdom. First thing she says is (and I paraphrase greatly here) damned good thing I was so fat. Because if I hadn't been so fat, I probably wouldn't have survived at all--I needed all the resources (fat) my body had to offer. The second thing is, I don't like being thin! I liked being fat. I liked how my body felt and I liked how my skin felt...and I was healthy then and I'm not now. So that's interesting, right? That someone who lost one half of her body weight (wow, they could put her on the cover of "People", in one of those articles, because hey, she lost half of her body weight, without surgery) can be NOT HAPPY about it. That someone who used to be FAT (like fat, fat, the water rat fat) can miss that. And that she can attribute her very survival to that fat. Interesting because NO ONE (maybe outside of Africa) is supposed to think that way. Thin is better, and hey, if it took cancer, then it took cancer. Interesting because you're not supposed to miss the fat when it's gone. As I said to my trainer, after another one of our "why aren't you losing weight" conversations (yes, we have them) I know we're all supposed to be throwing confetti and blowing up balloons when we lose weight, but...maybe not. Maybe not. I actually like the changes in my body that are coming about because of my working out. I like that I can tense up my leg and it's muscle, from the top to the bottom, almost without exception. I never minded being bigger, but I minded being jiggly and the jiggly is going away. I like the way I can feel my muscles when I move, I mean feel them under my skin, sliding away, contracting and relaxing...I like that. I like feeling stronger and I like feeling though more of what constitutes me is muscle--but my goal is not necessarily to be either light, or thin. The first notes of "Great Big Woman" settled into my soul that night, and stayed there. Her words settled into my soul and stayed there. I suppose the take-away from her music, but also her life, is that you do indeed need to love what you've got, no matter what it is, because it is there to serve you. Love yourself. Everything else flows from that.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Does size matter?

I've been away for a while. I've been working out fairly consistently, sometimes more than others. I've also been (sort of) watching my calorie intake. The result is, even if I appear not to have lost a pound, I certainly have lost some inches. This is nice...I must be honest and say that it feels better. But the size thing is baffling. Not my size, exactly, though it does interest me how I can drop whole sizes (WHOLE SIZES!!!) and not lose a pound. No, what I find more interesting is all the different sizes that I take. I'm going to get real specific here, with brand names and actual, tell-the-truth sizes. What the hell, as I always say, everyone knows what I look like. At the end of last winter I bought a Jones New York skirt. It is a wrap, denim, below-calf, full. I purposely bought a 22 so I'd be sure it would fit. To my dismay (and maybe a little horror and disgust) it didn't fit. I felt, in my mother's words, like a featherbed tied in the middle. I was also sad, because it was one of those skirts where you think, geeze, if I had this skirt, it would solve half of my what to wear issues. Ditto the Ralph Lauren black denim skirt. Exactly ditto, in fact, in all cases, including size. I put them away. I wore other things. I was depressed. Then I ordered a bunch of colored denim skirts from Jessica London. (Shoutout for Jessica London, which I never, ever hear mentioned as a plus-sized option, but I love an awful lot of their clothes. Not made for the ages, but cheap enough that you can buy them for fun and look on trend. Also, piles of leather, which is really, really hard to find lately). I got them in size 20, with one plain denim erroneously purchased in a 22. The 20's all fit fine, not to say perfectly, and the 22 was nice for hanging around the house on a hot day. I also bought some tops. I bought those in 22/24, because, frankly, they shrink, no matter how careful you are. I liked them. Sometimes biggish, then fit acceptably after the first washing. I feel like they just keep shrinking...because they are not getting bigger at the same rate as the rest of my clothing, and soon I'd look like a lollipop, if those shirts were anything to go by. But--I just bought a sweater from them. It's green. It's 2X. IT'S HUGE! I haven't quite figured out how to wear it yet, except maybe with a short skirt underneath for decency, and then tights...sort of a mini-dress/tunic? Yes? How did a 2X get so damned big? Okay, let's move on to Talbots. I love Talbots. They have lots of stuff that works really well for me, because I like to include one slutty element (well, it's true) in an outfit, which means that the whole rest of it has to be as strait-laced as can be, because there is nothing worse than a larger (and older) woman who looks like she's trying to look like a skank. So Talbots. Also, they just have pretty clothes. Things that make you feel like a girl. I seem to be wearing a 20 from them, but I haven't tried anything from there on lately. I have a 3X cardigan, but I purposely bought it big. Moving on to Jones New York. I have a skirt in an 18 that fits just fine. I have one in a 22 that I think was mis-sized that fits, too. I also have a whole bunch of jeans and capris in 20 that are now too annoying to wear, because they keep falling down. Except the burgundy pair with the rhinestones on the butt, they fit just fine. But so do the 18 black skinnies. Tops? I have on a 2X right now, that is perfect, verging on big. I have a 3X languishing in a drawer that will fit me about 40 lbs from now. Maybe. I have on a 42DDD bra by Elomi. I can now fasten it, and it fits nicely, but (and this has nothing to do with size) the hooks are skewed off center, which makes it really hard to get on. I like the fit and the uplift, though. But I also like the fit and uplift of the Soma 38DDD Hope bra! How can they both fit? Huh? HUH? My point? I don't even know, except that sizing is a little bit nuts, to put it mildly. Within brands. And the fact that I get attached to my clothes? Don't even get me started. I will be very sad when that floral pencil skirt from Talbots no longer fits, because it magically works with everything, on all days. I could wear it five days a week, with different tops and shoes and have a different look every day. I'll miss it. I'll be on a quest for one like it. (But nothing will ever quite measure up, sniff, because that's how those things work). I was right about the Jones New York denim skirt, by the way. I wore it to an outside party in Vermont. I wore it with flat boots to church yesterday. I wear it to run around shopping. But yesterday I noticed (SNIFF!) that it's already getting big. It had a really small window! And don't tell me to move the buttons, because that really doesn't work. Well, thanks for listening. And hey, don't stew about the size on the label. It doesn't mean shit.

Saturday, August 3, 2013


To be honest, until today, I didn't think about them at all. Not at ALL. They are completely not on my radar. This may be because I don't actually shop much in brick and mortar stores--and this is because I got out of the habit before my hip was replaced, and it was so painful--or this may be because I am in fact plus-sized and there aren't all that many brick and mortar stores for me. Or, that I live in a small town, and I don't really have the opportunity to wander past one of their boutiques. Or I'm old and out of touch, that's possible, too. In any event, an article turned up today in the AOL newsfeed about them. How their sizes only go up to 12, and the size 10's and 12's are thrown in a corner so that they can't be seen. Stupid me, I read the comments. The comments made me angry. I agree completely that not every company needs to carry every size. I like it when they do...but it's their choice not to. That was not really what upset me, since besides that, what little I know of the company makes me think that it's marketed to grown-up in-crowders...the ones who liked to make everyone else miserable in high school, the exclusionist ones, the mothers who form tight little cliques you can never penetrate. I'm older now and wiser, though, so I don't care any more. If they don't want my money, I don't want to give it to them. (I would like a non-pastel wicking top and a sports bra that fits me and doesn't look like it's designed as armor for Atilla the Hun, but other than that, I'm pretty happy with Target). What stunned me was the complete hatred of fat women. Not fat men, but fat women. They were categorized as illiterate, uneducated, (I suppose that goes together), unemployed and living in trailer parks, subsisting on diets of fast foot food. The sorts of people, and this is a direct paraphrase (if that makes any sense) that it's bad enough to run into at the DMV, without having to look at them in yoga class. I was an idiot. I engaged. I shouldn't have. Someone attacked me for having my working on my health as last on my list for self-assessment (I said that I was employed, fluent in a foreign language, had a household income in six figures and my house had a basement and stood on 2.5 acres--all direct responses to his post. The health part was not a direct response). Yet someone else responded that I was illogical because I was using myself as an anecdote and that didn't mean (essentially) that there were any more like me. Well, here's the thing: even if I am the only one (and I know full well I'm not) the very fact that I exist--working, working out, speaking German, spending money, wearing (OH NO) pencil skirts...proves that not every single overweight woman is stupid and unemployed. I find this amazing. I find it totally amazing that not only do people think this, they find it acceptable to write it in an open forum. I find the level of vitriol frightening. I will say...I live in an area with plenty of un- or underemployed, ill-educated people. They come in all sizes and shapes. The women, large or small, seem to have what I uncharitably call the white trash slouch...because somewhere along the line, it became okay not to hold yourself upright...but I can assure you there are just as many stringy old broads as fat ones. And the genetically blessed, slender young ones...with a mouthful of bad teeth and a kid or two in tow. But these things come from--I'm not sure what, really. The willingness of the educational system to write off the lower middle class? The way mediocrity is expected of them? Lack of money for vegetables? And yes, I will be honest and say the sight of young women slouching down the street, with their spare tires rolling from side to side and waddling because their thighs are so big--they bother me, too. But I don't think they shouldn't be out. I think they should be encouraged to stand up straight and pull their stomachs in. Does that make me a fat hater, too? I don't know. I do know a lot about not being able to get the sizes you want, though. I remember in Germany, where I was still in straight sizes, though at the absolute upper reach, getting in an argument with a salesgirl who didn't want to bring me a size 44 in a pair of shorts, even though I owned that exact pair (in another color) in a 44. She was adamant that I needed a 46. I won. Also in Germany, I remember walking past the Escada boutique and seeing the sign that said that they only carried sizes up to 42, don't come in and ask us for anything bigger. In Germany you can discriminate openly, which I used to hate...but now I think I like it, it's at least honest. (Which brings me to a sort of funny story, and a great digression, so feel free to skip it if you like: I was in Germany, in Marburg, to be precise, 4 years ago. They were having a Grimm celebration, because the famous Brothers came from there, or at least near there. There were fairy-tale creatures all over town. Some of the store windows had decals of the tortoise and the hare, including Ulla Popken, Germany's exceedingly dreary plus-sized chain. I thought the hare was there to encourage larger women to exercise. My daughter was horrified when I said this. I said that I had heard worse things said to plus-sized women in Germany). The popular Catch-22 was once again voiced--fat people don't belong in gyms, but they need to get off their fat asses and exercise. But not be seen, and my God, why complain about not having workout clothes, because if you exercise then soon you'll be able to wear normal-sized clothing and there will be no need. Oh, and I read any number of these comments after I came back from the gym, where I put in my 50 minutes on the treadmill. And where I had a knock-me-on-my-fat-ass workout the day before. The theory was also advanced that if there were more fat-shaming, the number of fat people would decline. Well, the number of fat people in public I suppose would decline, but I think all you would accomplish would be making them stay home because they feel they're not fit to be seen. I found the level of hatred simply astonishing. And sad.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Slouching toward fitness

A few things have happened. No, I didn't wake up a size 6. But... I'm okay with that. No, I went to Pennsylvania this weekend, to teach a craft. I stayed with one of my oldest friends, a woman I've known since we were both 20 and studying abroad. We were not small then and we're not small now. In fact, one of my favorite pictures of us (taken, I might add, by my skinny boyfriend) is one where we're at the playground by the park near the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen, and we are on a teeter-totter. (I hear they've been outlawed from playgrounds now, for being too dangerous. Probably just as well, they did contribute to a lot of fat-shaming and I'm only being a little tongue in cheek here). But there we are, balanced on it, looking pretty damned pleased with ourselves. You see, in our lives, as bigger (though not BIG, I might add, not the way kids are big now) girls, we could never find anyone to join us on the see-saw. So we had each other, at the ripe old age of 20. So this friend and I, as you might have guessed, have shared many years of eating. Not frenzied gluttony, because we're not that kind of big girl (and are there any, really? Well, right now, to hear them all talk, you'd think that every single plus-sized woman ate 1200 calories a day and worked out and still stayed a size 20) but we never held back, either. She skews toward sweet and I skew toward salt, which might have contributed, as well. So we ate. We ate at increasingly good restaurants, and we ate brownies and fudge and ice cream. But we also, until I stopped being able to, walked. And walked and walked and walked, at a pace that would put many people to shame. We walked all over Germany, we walked in Scandinavia, we walked later in New York and Philadelphia and probably other places that I can't remember. And then, once I stopped being able to walk well, we just kept on eating. I go visit this friend every year the weekend before Thanksgiving, and along with many other things, that weekend has become, for me, the kick-off to the overeating. It does not let up till New Years. Ho hum, it's the truth. I was wondering what would happen this weekend. Six hours there, six back, and a day spent is not conducive to good nutrition, plus the fact that overeating, or at least indulging, is seriously connected with those trips, in my mind. A funny thing happened. I was not a saint, but I was not a sinner. I didn't stop at Burger King on the way down. I didn't nosh my way down the Garden State, the Jersey Turnpike, the Pennsylvania Turnpike. We did go to Friendly's and I did get a melt...but I got the one with the grilled chicken, not the breaded, and I certainly didn't eat all the fries. We had a Happy Ending Sundae, though. But there were no brownies, no fudge, none of that, at night. The next day, I had an okay breakfast and my usual Dunkin Donuts sandwich for lunch (the ham and cheese, because it doesn't have any mayo or stuff like that. Just....ham...and cheese. I did buy a bag of Doritos on the way home. However, this time, there were enough to give to my daughter when I finally arrived home. I ate far less of them than I normally do. Dinner was at Bertucci's, and my portion was quite reasonable. We had dessert, but again, the mini size that they now have. Not the mega-dessert. It was nice. It was just enough. Once home I had a killer workout with a different trainer and....okay, I confess that due to some other uproar in my life, I've given myself permission (I guess that's it) to go to McDonald's and NOT get the southwest salad, and I've been a bit indulgent here at home--but nothing like I would have been! So the point here is that I met a trigger and while I was sort of triggered, I didn't go on a shooting spree. Or an eating spree, for that matter. I have less taste for the other stuff now. I did not consciously set about to wean myself off it, and I still crave a good piece of toast, or a roll, or, even, a Dorito!, but it's not the way it would have been. I will not say that I've been reformed, but I will say that the reformation might be taking hold. Slouching toward fitness, that's me....

Thursday, July 25, 2013


I like their clothes. I like that they have all their clothes in all sizes, from petite to women's and that there's even a women's petite. HOWEVER: I find their straight-size models terrifyingly thin. Scary skinny. If they do anything, they keep me FROM losing weight, for fear that I might look that emaciated.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

I think my head is going to explode

Maybe literally. It's my own fault, of course, as most things in this life are (that is, we can blame ourselves, not someone else). I track my food and exercise on I stupidly also liked the page on Facebook. Also, on Facebook, I like: Voluptuous Vixens, Body Love Wellness, and I think something called Big Fat Deal. Need I say that these things are more or less in diametric opposition to each other? MFP congratulates you--sort of--for being under your calorie goal for the day. Though to be fair, if you're too far under, it tells you all the dreadful things that will happen to you if you don't eat enough. I've purposely stayed away from the message boards, because I really feel as though they would make me completely crazy. If I'm doing this crazy thing where I'm pretending I'm not really trying to lose weight, reading about people congratulating themselves and each other on losing weight would only mess me up worse. So then I go and read every post the other pages post. And, need I say, I have no idea how I feel about them, either. I honestly feel as though 300 pounds is just way too much weight, if you're 5'6". It just IS. But then, is it any of my business? It sort of is, if someone is announcing that she weighs that, and I need to respect that, dammit! And I look at the women, the ones who call themselves BBWs, or "curvy" (which to me is Marilyn Monroe, not Kate Smith), or just plain fat, and especially the ones who have fashion blogs--because I love fashion--and my head spins worse. Because here's the thing...even though I think they're dressed nice, I'm not sure I think they look good. Just to be clear, I don't think you need to hide in a sack, or be a size 2, to wear nice clothes, to do yourself up, or even to be seductive! I plain don't believe that. But....oh, forgive me....I also think that if your belly actually sticks OUT, maybe you should wear some style that doesn't exactly showcase that fact. Or if your belly--your whole belly, not just your muffin top--hangs over your pants, maybe you should buy a bigger pair of pants. Because fit is key, yes it is. Having said that, for me, it took being pregnant to stop worrying about looking fat. When I was pregnant with my first child, I worked in an office in New York. The year was 1984, not a fabulous year for fashion in any event, I feel, and in particular not for pregnant women. Society was squarely between Peter Pan collars and smocks and what they wear now, which honestly, also tells me a bit more than I want to know. So you had some decent maternity clothes, but not that much. So I sewed. Sometimes I cut out and sewed something at night and wore it the next day. I didn't spend a huge amount of time worrying about looking fat, I wore what I pleased, within the strictures of can I sew it in a couple of nights without it costing a fortune. And then one day, one of the other secretaries, a Haitian woman of the world and one of the most beautiful women I have ever known (though she would always say, no, my sister is the pretty one) said, "You are more chic now than you have ever been." And with that, I gave myself permission to wear clothes that made me happy, rather than, do I look fat in this. Because, as I said before, everyone knows what you look like anyway. So dress well, not to hide.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Back to Health

There is a greater and greater fat acceptance movement, which I think is probably also the same, to an extent, as a diversity acceptance movement. And I agree in large part with the fat acceptance movement, in that it is possible to be healthy at a higher weight. I'm living proof of that, or I was. Twenty years ago, or maybe a bit less, we bought life insurance for me. In those quaint days, they sent a nurse to the house to take your blood pressure and a vial of your blood. So the nurse arrived, a very large blonde woman, and I mean large in all senses of the word. The woman was a Valkyrie, minus the brass bra. She was tall, she was broad...she was fat. She was also very matter of fact. I gave my weight as 200, which I think was a little low, but she took me at my word, and we had a moment of talking about liking to eat, and then she left. A few days later, my husband informed me that it was going to cost more for my life insurance than quoted, because of my weight. I was hurt, I was angry. And then something remarkable happened...the company came back and said that because there was nothing at all wrong with any of my other numbers (those were the days) that in fact, it wasn't going to cost any more. I was slightly appeased. Now, of course, as I've written before, my numbers suck and God knows what my costs would be. But I wonder now if that would even be a possibility, that they would look at the whole picture instead of just my weight. Or if I would be subjected to more tests, because they would think the first ones were wrong. Or, and this is an interesting if, they would even employ the Wagnerian nurse. So I was fat and healthy then. Now I am fat and if you go by my other numbers, not so healthy...though striving for improving those numbers. I got weighed at the gym yesterday, by my teeny little trainer. God bless her, she never blinks at the number on the scale, just tells me how well I'm doing--and I have improved greatly since January, when we first met--and that she knows it's hard and to keep going. So I do, as I said, sort of in spite of myself. But there's so much nonsense, so much contradictory information! We're all obese! We're all diabetics! But I also have hands-on experience with the whole diabetic/not diabetic thing. My father, for many many years, was not diabetic. HIS BLOOD SUGAR NEVER CHANGED, but one day he was a diabetic, because they changed where they drew the line. Interestingly, I think that he instinctively ate in a way that was healthiest for him--fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, a snack before bed (which then kept his blood sugar from plummeting in the night). His last two years of life were full of hospitals and nursing homes and when I was asked if he was a diabetic, I would answer, "Sort of," and then get told, there is no sort of...and then I would say, well, he wasn't until they changed where they drew the line, so yeah, sort of. No one liked that answer, but interestingly, no one ever argued with me, either. And then, of course, the fat acceptance people like to say that diet and exercise make no lasting impact on your weight...which, for myself, I don't believe! I will concede that there are people who can eat 1200 calories a day and work out and never lose weight, but I truly know that while for me, it's not like it is for men (I stopped eating a Milky Way a week and lost 20 lbs, which is only a slight exaggeration) if I eat a salad a day and no junk, yeah, I lose weight! If I fudge and finagle and what-not (I'm trying really hard not to say "cheat") then, no, I don't. But yeah. I do. So are they all lying? Is there a vast reservoir of people out there who can survive famines and forced marches and never lose a pound? And why do none of them live in Ethiopia, the Sudan, or the famine-locale de jour? I'm not being mean. I'm truly just asking. I talked to my daughter about this, and we agreed that we have thrifty metabolisms, to be polite and posited it's because our ancestors survived the Potato Famine, so we have thrifty genes built in to us. So maybe that's it? I don't know. But I'll be the first to say, too, that life has to be enjoyable and good food is a help in that.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Treadmill

I'm not sure how I feel about the treadmill. (I know, what a surprise). On the one hand, yes, it's good exercise, and you can simulate, to a degree, outside conditions, but on the other...I feel like the hamster. Or that I should be generating electricity. In German, there are two different words for a treadmill that's a punishment, and the one at the gym. The first one is a Tretmuehle, literally treadmill, and with mill being in there, implies that maybe this is how grain was milled, when there was no wind or water power. The other one, the one at the gym, is a Laufband, which is a running band, or belt. Also quite literal, but without the overtones of the workhouse. A rare moment where German is more humane than English. Anyway, I decided to start concentrating on the treadmill. In about a year, I hope to go to Paris with my daughter, for her 30th birthday. I want to be able to walk everywhere I want to, once I'm there. The elliptical is lovely, and the recumbent bike will get you what you want, as well, but there's only one where you walk, and that's the treadmill. My trainer had set up a lovely program, with my hitting this heartrate for this long and that heartate for that long, and there wasn't a chance in hell I was going to do any of that. I still have trouble walking any distance without beginning to list, so that wasn't happening. But we had a discussion on Monday, when I was there and I realized that I needed to be doing something, really. So, even though I was sort of destroyed from the other workout, the one with the 10-second planks on the hard bosu, etc, I went and did 35 minutes on the treadmill. And, surprise, surprise, I actually felt good and thought about it during the week. I didn't get back until today and maybe because I wasn't all hyped up from the other workout, or maybe because it's 95 degrees most of the time right now, I didn't have the oomph to get up to 2.5, the way I did before. So I did 2.2 for 40 minutes. And I was impressed! I kept my hands on the sensors, so I could see my heartrate (and it never got above 96, which I think is actually a decent indicator that I probably won't drop dead in Paris) but I wasn't using them for support, either. It always annoys me when I see people running or walking and they're holding themselves up with their arms. Unless someone told them to do that, they're not doing any good. But anyway. So I did that. I managed a whole 40 minutes, without a break. without sitting down on a park bench, without anything. I will say that once I got outside and in my car (where I was very happy to have the iced tea I had bought before) I kept saying, "Fuck me!" but that was partly because it was so hot. And I was so hot. I have great hopes for more walking on the treadmill. I'm not killing myself and I'm actually pretty good about putting up the speed, and my goal, no matter what my trainer says, is endurance. I want to be able to walk a long distance at a measured pace, not do sprints or dashes or any of that, though I'll try those too. I want to be able to walk from Hoyt Street in Brooklyn to 44th and 6th without stopping, including climbing the steps on the Brooklyn Bridge. I want to be able to climb up to the castle in Marburg. I hear Montparnasse has a pretty good hill. While I'm at it, I'd like to climb Mount Royal once more, though probably not in a pair of 3" heels, which is what I more or less accidentally did the first and last time I climbed it. I got a lot of funny looks, too, but come on! It's PAVED! I'll do that, or maybe a half hour, tomorrow, and again on Saturday. Keep at it. Slow and steady wins the race, or so they tell me.

Friday, July 12, 2013

More Big Brother

I just read a blog about fat people being forced by their employer to wear pedometers that prove they walk 5,000 steps a day, or face higher insurance costs. ( I find this very interesting, and not a little appalling, because when I was compelled to take the fitness screening, I said the same thing to my husband. I kept saying that I wondered if our insurance premiums were going to go up because of my numbers. He kept saying, they can't, not this year. Which is probably true...but it sure seems to me as though they're gearing up for that. I have been exercising, and eating better. Just tonight, I made quinoa. I'm not quite sure if that qualifies as better, but it does dovetail with what we're all being told is eating better. This week. This month. Right now. Of course...for years we were told that margarine was far better for us than butter, to which I generally responded, anything that makes me want to throw up probably isn't good for me. Turns out I was right. So I made salmon--I made salmon because I like it--and I made cucumber salad--because I like it--and I made quinoa, because carbs are bad! White carbs are bad, anyway. No one was keeping track of me, I just did it. Because I like praise, and I'm all about the praise I hope to be getting in October, when my numbers are more in line with what medicine tells me they should be. I also like praise at the gym. And speaking of the gym, and carbs, something interesting happened to me today. Yesterday was a "bad" food day. I put it in quotes, because I hate assigning good or bad to food, but according to how I've been told I'm supposed to be eating now, yesterday was bad. I was called in to work unexpectedly. I ate a Dunkin Donuts ham and cheese sandwich for a meal for the third day in a row, which is about one day too many. I came home tired, stressed--you'd be amazed how much stress a bead shop can generate--and with no plan for dinner and no desire at all to cook it. So what did I have? (And let me add, I'm not really proud of this). I took out a bag of frozen spaghetti, thawed some of it, and had it with butter, salt, pepper, garlic and cheese. Yeah. That was it. No broccoli florets, no this, no that, just the spaghetti. And the fat, of course. And then I feel like I ate some more carbs, in some form and maybe some more. I forget, to be honest. Amazingly, I didn't go over my day's allotment of calories, because I did log it, but I went to bed feeling full and satisfied, but like a failure. I ate carbs! I'm a bad girl! Then today I went to the gym. We started a new set of exercises last week, I think. Monday was a so-so day, I didn't have a lot of wherewithal to do anything, mostly because of the dog. Today? I killed it! I did three sets of 10 10-second planks on the hard bosu, I did this, I did that. I was great. It wasn't until much later that I thought, um, maybe I did that because I gave my muscles some readily convertible fuel? Maybe not, too. I didn't change anything else, though. We'll see what my numbers say. I've lost weight, because the scale says so, and my clothes say so. I don't know what my blood will say, and I'm not going for an interim test. But maybe, just maybe, all this carb avoidance will turn out to be this decade's margarine.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Great Diets I Have Known

Again, this is recycled from a previous blog. Not sure quite how much it has to do with the topic at hand, other than to emphasize that....oh, I don't know, maybe diets don't work? Because here I am again, trying to lose weight. But then again, if I had stuck with the changes, they would have worked. Strangely enough, for someone who's been occupied with her weight (I'm not going to say struggled, because I don't always struggle with it) almost all of her life, I haven't been on that many diets. I think that may be because for the most part, I think they're nonsense. I started gaining weight, or not looking like society's norm, in about 2nd grade. Not a clue why, really, I was as active as the other kids, rode my bike, lived with my skate key around my neck, all of it. My daughter began to gain at about the same time, so I'm going with genetic predisposition. Whatever, that's when it started. My mother was slender. Not skinny, but slender. I don't look like her, not one little bit. I'm my father all over. This drove her crazy, and either because of her own inner demons, or society's pressures or something I don't know about, she equated slenderness of body with purity of character. This isn't true, of course, but she thought so, and so that made it so. So I heard quite a bit about it over the years. Some nice, some not so...let's just say that a lot of the time my self-esteem took a beating, but I didn't lose any weight because of it. I began to lose weight the last two marking periods of my senior year. I think the gym teacher was getting bored with us--she had been our gym teacher since we were in 7th grade, and we had done just about everything possible to do in a gym. (This was in the days when you had gym--I want to say every single day, unfailingly). So, for the last part of our senior year, she let us do gym projects. They could be nearly anything, as I recall, and losing weight was one of them. For whatever reason, I chose that one. I weighted 150 pounds, and I lost 15 pounds, to weigh 135. I looked good. My classmates said things like "No one could call you chubby any more." I didn't lose it very healthily--I skipped lunch, and other things teenage girls do. I didn't go to the prom, in spite of it, but I enjoyed short skirts and platform shoes, and all that stuff. It was good. I kept the weight off through the summer, too, but fall arrived and with it college, and maybe the freshman 15, maybe more--I have never been very big on weighing myself, so I didn't. The next time I lost weight was in the spring of my junior year, as I was in the second semester of my junior year abroad. I had a schedule of classes that dragged me all over the city I studied in. The layout of the town made bus service nearly impossible, so I walked. I figured out at one point, that I was walking nearly 5 miles a day, what with one thing and another, and this is a town with big steep hills (imagine a steep hill. Now imagine one twice as steep as that, and you've probably got it. I lived at the top of one, so every trip out ended with a trudge up the hill. I do know how to conserve my energy when climbing steep hills, though--!) so the workouts were twice what they would have been. I didn't have a scale there, but I dropped about a clothing size. I bought a white denim skirt in size 42, (German) which is about a 12. Not bad for me. Various things happened to me when I came home, including a pregnancy....I gained weight. The pregnancy never came to fruition, but the weight stayed. The next time was when I moved to New York. This was absolutely not a diet, but I think New York is the world's greatest free gym. I walked everywhere in Manhattan, being way too cheap to pay $0.50 to go 10 blocks, and then the subways elevators, no escalators, long, long platforms--I lost weight. I don't know how much. I had a bunch of size 13 skirts, I remember, and I looked pretty delectable. I was 22. Of course I looked delectable. My weight bounced around during my time in New York, but another great diet arrived in the spring (do we sense a trend here?) of 1980. I decided to lose weight. I didn't own a scale, and didn't buy one. I went exclusively on how my clothes fit me. I probably dropped twenty pounds, at a guess, because I went down two sizes. It helped that the New York City Transit Authority went on strike, and I began walking to and from work--two hours each way. It was quite nice, actually; my route took me over the Brooklyn Bridge. That ended when I got a separated tendon in my foot from all that walking, but the strike ended not long after that. I know what I weighed at the end, though, because I went to the doctor for my foot. He weighed me and the result was 165. He couldn't believe it--I didn't look like whatever his conception of 165 was. He told me I needed to lose 30 pounds. I shrugged. I was pretty damned happy with my home-made diet and my undefined weight loss. I lost weight after my first daughter was born. I was nursing; it was fairly easy. Also, I walked every night. Huh, funny how that works. I gained and lost, gained and lost, but not a lot. Then we moved to Germany, where the tyranny of thinness is truly alarming. It's different than here. Men openly say that they won't date a woman who weighs more than 50 kilos. (110 pounds). Men follow their women into dressing rooms and tell them what to buy. Fat people are sometimes openly mocked on the street. One of the biggest women's magazines has a diet that they run every January--they give you a total of four weeks of menus, shopping lists, before and after stories, the whole nine yards. I did the Brigitte Diet one year. I lost weight, quite a bit of it--I want to say about 16 kilos--better than 35 pounds. It was a restrictive diet, though, and very much, "If this is a chicory salad, it must be Tuesday." To this day, there are some vegetables I only know the names of in German, because I only bought them for the diet. The best thing was that someone else had made up the menus, so there were no leftovers. The worst things were the boredom, the brownness of the food (LOTS of whole grains) and the gas. The diet ended one Saturday morning, in town, when I ate an apricot Danish. I had followed it to the letter for more than two months, but there was no margin for error--and with the Danish, it was done. I held on to that weight loss for a while, I forget how long. Then, nearly 10 years ago, I guess, I went to Weight Watchers. It was pretty good. I lost a bunch of weight, but due to the fact that, honest, I don't obsess over my weight, I don't remember where I started, where I ended, or how much I lost. I think just shy of 40 pounds, though, because I remember buying a 40 pound bag of grass seed and thinking I used to weigh that much more. I'm not sure why I stopped, other than that I hit a plateau, got bored and very tired of counting points. Time has passed and while I've retained a lot of what I learned at WW (eat lots of fruits and vegetables, the world won't end if you eat food you like a couple of days a week) I've found that all it really inspires me to do is try to cheat the system. And that's really counter-productive, so I stopped doing WW.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

What's Thin Enough?

And who decides? I have a friend who is merciless with herself. I bought her a skirt for Christmas from a flash sale site and got a European 34, which anyone can tell you is itsy, and she not only fit into it, but she said it was a little big. I believe her, because she wouldn't lie about that. But to herself, she's fat. She's a blob, she shouldn't be able to go out and enjoy the things she does, because she looks so awful. She literally feels, at a European size 34, that she should not be permitted to enjoy life. That she should keep herself behind closed doors for the good of the general population. Okay, she only thinks that sometimes, but the fact that she ever thinks it is not a reflection on her, but on us. She freely admits she has an eating disorder. She tells me what she eats and, frankly, I'd be cranky and light-headed and probably unable to drive, forced to subsist on her diet. I'm reasonably certain that the only things keeping her alive are avocados, cheese and her great love of ice cream. Other than that--I feel as though her diet is woefully low in protein. She is of Eastern European descent, with small bones, but in spite of that, a solid build. She makes me sad. She makes me sad because when she was 12 and taking dance lessons (and loving them) the teacher told her she was a "fatty little ballerina". She believed him and stayed away from dancing for oh, the next 30 years. One man's casual words caused her to deprive herself of joy for three decades. She makes me sad because she falls in love with emotionally unavailable men and then thinks that if she were thinner, they would love her. (I tell her that if only thin people deserved love, there would be no plus-size wedding dresses, but that seems not to make much of an impression). She makes me sad, because sometimes when it's hectic and I don't get a chance to eat, I see how my outlook darkens and my nature worsens and I think that if she just gave herself permission to feed herself adequately, things would look so much better to her. Not to be fat, not to be overweight....but to eat three meals a day. One day while she was lamenting about not being able to find a man, she listed as one of her virtues, "I don't eat much." That's SAD! It's sad not just that she thinks it, but that she learned to think it. No one comes up with that on their own, as a virtue. No child will tell you, I don't eat a lot and that's a good thing. And food is good. Now, clearly, I have a somewhat distorted relationship with it myself, but one problem I don't have, and that's not believing that I deserve to eat. So here we have someone who is thin. Trust me, she's thin. In fact, because she now goes ballroom dancing several nights a week, she nearly has what is considered the ideal body--flat stomach, strong, slender legs and a nice, rounded ass. (Which she hates. HATES.) And the ironic thing is, she adores ME. In an okay way, we both like boys. But me, in my 250-lb glory, she loves me and my confidence and the fashion risks I take. I wonder sometimes why she's willing to be seen with me, but it's clearly not the case. She would probably like me to be thinner for my health...but she loves me just as I am. I would like her to love herself as much. So then we get back to fat acceptance, and body acceptance and body confidence and all that stuff. AGAIN. Because it goes around and around and around. used to be that men weren't that way, they looked in the mirror and said, "Damn, I look good!" no matter what, but they're doing it now too! My daughter (27) personally knows 2 manorexics. So instead of women leaning from men, and learning to love themselves and be more secure, men are learning from women and learning to hate themselves, and be more insecure. Cool.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Early Body (or something) Confidence

Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away....that would be New York in the summer of 1980, specifically at Maxwell's Plum. For those of you who did not have the good fortune to live in New York in the late '70's and early '80's, Maxwell's Plum was an upscale pickup joint on the upper East Side of Manhattan. It was decorated in a hyper-thyroid Victorian theme, it served over-priced drinks and it probably kept the antibiotic companies in business. In those days...there wasn't anything that couldn't be cured with a couple of doses of penicillin. Anyway, on a hot summer night, I was there with a girlfriend. We probably were just doing a pub crawl...I don't even remember. I do remember that I had just lost a fairly significant amount of weight. I don't know how much, because I embarked on a weight loss program (my own, by the way--it was eat less, walk a lot) without owning a scale. I figure I lost 20 pounds, but who knows? So, it was crowded at Maxwell's Plum, which it nearly always was. My girlfriend and I were at the bar, and it was so crowded that we were sharing a bar stool. Is that strange? I feel like that was fairly normal in those days. After a while, the guy next to me finished his beer and got up and left. I looked one was lunging for it, so I sat in his place. A short while later he came back. He said, to the woman who had been next to him, but was now next to me, "You have to be fast around here. Oh, well, she had enough to put there, anyway." I saw red. No, "Excuse me, that was my seat, I just went to the men's room," in which case I would have said, "Oh, sorry, I didn't realize," and gone back to squeezing onto the bar stool with my friend. had to be, passive-aggressively, "You're rude and have a big ass.' To the other woman, so he could look like a big man to her. I realized there was nothing I could say that would not come out sounding ridiculous, but I also didn't want him to get away with it. At that moment, the bartender brought him a fresh beer, in a glass mug, and I saw a fresh, unopened pack of cigarettes on the bar next to it. ( those days you could smoke in bars, too). So I said to my friend, "Drink up and get ready to go when I tell you to," and she obediently chugged her glass of wine. .....and then I picked up the pack of cigarettes, and opened them. I shook out half the cigarettes and stuffed them in the glass of beer, and then shook out the other half and stuffed them in too. They looked very pretty, with little bubbles rising up around them. No one said a word. Not the man, not the woman. The bartender poured a fresh beer and whisked that one away, and I said, "Let's go," and we walked out, granted, at speed. Was that body confidence, or just confidence, or just stupidity? I will grant that there is no one-to-one comparison between insulting the size of someone's ass and having your cigarettes stuffed in your beer, but it felt right. I was angry because he chose to insult me rather than talking to me. He chose to insult me for something that for one thing I didn't even think was true (if anything, in those days, I had a lamentably flat ass) and he chose to insult me in a stereotypical way. So I showed him he wasn't the big man he thought he was.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


I lost more weight. Yippee! Alas and alack! I don't even know what I feel. I feel better. I feel, wait for it, more comfortable. (Well, I do). I feel as though I've betrayed someone, some group, some people, I don't even know. I now weigh 250 pounds. This is the maximum weight where I feel decent. I know this from diets of the past....from other times. I feel as though my body can support (probably not easily, but it can support) that much weight, but above that, it's simply above its load limit. I find losing weight profoundly weird. I've said this before, to other people, and in other places. I don't find it empowering at least, I find it peculiar and as though I'm morphing. Sorry, but I do. This may be part of what makes me such so strange about losing weight. On the other hand, there are aspects I like. I specifically like feeling the muscles under my skin, which this time I have in plentitude, thanks to my workouts. Lying in bed at night, the contours of my body feel different. On my back, my stomach is flatter. When I cross my ankles, it feels different. It all feels different. Tell me that's not strange! So okay. So my little trainer (she really is little) is on one side of me, typing, "Good job!" on MFP, and giving me hugs for losing weight when she sees me. But is it really awesome? I don't know. The Nobel prize is awesome. Losing weight? Is putting less (or even just a normal) amount of food in your mouth really "awesome", in that people should be in awe of it. Awe, like standing around with their mouths open. But then, on the other side, are the body acceptance people. You were fine before, they're saying, so why change? Why not eat that hot fudge sundae? And the Big Mac, except for me it's a Quarter Pounder, which, by the way, I haven't had since I've started journaling. Enjoy life! Enjoy food! Except...except, except, except....oh God....if you enjoy too much food, then that's all of life you can enjoy because other enjoyable things become impossible. I understand that I'm not breaking new ground here. I understand that this is old news. I do feel as though it's new, though, that there's such a vocal contingent saying that losing weight is unnecessary. (Like i haven't got troubles enough). So my solution, stupid though it may be, is sort of to lose weight blindly. To do the things I'm supposed to be doing, but not think about them as having a cumulative effect. Sort of doing the stuff, but pretending it will have no result on my outer being. Every once in a while, when I feel particularly thinner, I climb on the scale. But I don't obsess about that, either, remarkably enough. I didn't even calculate how much weight I have to lose, when I joined MFP. So it came as a surprise to me that it is 118 pounds, which shows up on the little picture on your profile. It even has the halfway point marked. So I may just turn out to be the woman who accidentally lost 118 lbs. You never know. And, even at 145 (and no, I don't know what my BMI would be there) I will still be conflicted about it.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Oh, and by the way?

(That was Eat real food! I'm using as a food tracker, and I keep seeing all these ads for what has turned into a great weight loss tyrant--Special K! For God's sake, eat real food. Don't eat bars. Have an egg. Have two, if you're really hungry. I don't claim to make the best food choices on earth, but I do try to eat real stuff if I can. I've found that gelato pops (sea salt caramel, yum!) only have, in some cases, 10 or 20 more calories than our good friend, Skinny Cow and they are infinitely more satisfying. Have a real hamburger once in a while. If you've been eating well, it'll be really filling and really satisfying. But this ties back to the whole acceptance thing. I'm not sure that every single woman is meant to be a reed, in fact, I know not. Women should be allowed to eat, too, and it should be societally acceptable. On this topic, I love Miss Platnum (a Rumanian-German hip-hop singer...sort of....) and her song and video, "Give me the Food". I feel that way. Sort of! Sometimes. Sometimes not. But whatever. Eat real food. Other than gelato pops...try to avoid anything that comes out of a wrapper. And again, there's the test: would your grandmother have known what this thing was? If not, don't eat it. Which pretty much leaves out Taco Bell....

Still wondering

So where is the line? I still don't know where the line is. I mean the line between trying to improve yourself and just accepting yourself. I'm standing squarely on that line myself, by the way. I'm doing all this stuff at the gym, I'm journaling and "making good food choices" (because I stoutly--stoutly, get it? Oh, I'm a riot--maintain that every single grown woman in the western hemisphere knows how to lose weight) and yes, I'm losing weight. Because how can I not? Even after all these years of yo-yo dieting, even being 57 years old, when my metabolism is meant to have slowed to a crawl, even with a bad knee and a hip that still pulls, I can do it. A few weeks ago, I went to a family party. This party had some very large women at it. None of them, by the way, were related to me by blood. Some were from my husband's side of the family, and some were from the other side of my husband's side of the family (ie, unrelated to my husband) and some were just friends. Of all the women there, all the grown women that is, I can only think of three who were not at least overweight. Some were on the chubby side, some were, frankly, floridly obese. They were also all shapes...that is, they carried their weight differently. I'm fairly sure that if you had talked to each one of them, they would have had their own reasons as to why they were overweight. Genetics. Job. Health issues. A combo! One of them told me what was clearly (at least to me) a carefully constructed rationale and excuse at once, for being overweight: her premise was that in order to take care of yourself, to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, you have to be selfish, and those who aren't selfish, who care for others, can't be expected to care for themselves, too, to the level they need to in order to maintain a lower weight. It's slick, I'll say that, and it's got virtue and a degree of morality wound up in it, too. And I'll even say it's a little bit true, because if you're the primary caregiver for someone aging or with a disability, then, yes, it is damned hard, both practically and from an emotional standpoint, to take time for yourself. And from purely personal experience, I can say that a pint of Ben & Jerry's a night is a lot easier (and gives more immediate satisfaction) than the gym. And I know that it's considered being a concern troll (nice phrase there, by the way) to say that someone would be more comfortable at a lower weight....but there were some cases where I absolutely thought that. Does that make me a troll for just thinking it? Or do I have to say it out loud? And does it count that I said it here? But who wouldn't think that, other than a feeder, seeing a 30-year-old woman with fat to the ankles, fat on fat on her thighs.... And I'll can carry more weight when you're young. But I'm not sure anyone ever bargained on the amount of weight that Americans are now carrying. I suppose we all have to decide where the line is, for ourselves, and ideally, stop judging other people for where they are. (And the day we stop judging is the day we can burn every single religious book that there is, not out of disrespect but because we won't need them anymore because everyone will have reached a collective state of enlightenment and we'll probably all levitate, they way we used to try to at slumber parties). For myself, I seem to have committed to going to the gym and doing increasingly more difficult workouts, while keeping a food journal and trying to make food choices that are generally considered to be "good". I know, that for myself, this will result in a lower body weight and a trimmer body all over. I honestly can't say what it will do for my medical numbers because I steadfastly avoided doctors for many, many years. What I find most difficult, I have to say, is accepting myself as I change, since accepting the changed self as good seems to imply that the old one was bad. And the old one, while not perfect, was reasonably serviceable, and I hate betraying her that way. Stay tuned....

Friday, June 28, 2013

Body Confidence

I think that's what they call it when fat girls pose seductively. And yes, indeed, that does show body confidence, and God bless them. Let me also say, that I love the way they look...sometimes....and wish I could find a photographer who would make me look less like a lump and more like a lovely. (I think I look just fine. The camera, however, has other ideas, and it's not just the extra ten pounds, or whatever. I want someone to take a picture that shows what I see in the mirror). The thing I wonder about is this: all these fat girls, posing, they're all done up in lace undies, and they're all kittenish and coy and I can't think of another alliterative word, but I'm sure there is one. So let me get this straight: all fat girls really want is a chance to be objectified, just like their thinner sisters? Because....oh, sigh....that's what it boils down to. The language of seductive pictures is fairly strict, it has a fairly small vocabulary. The woman must be scantily dressed. She must be making her breasts have cleavage, whether they have it or not. Ideally, her rear pokes out a bit. Her toes are pointed. She may be pouting. Quite often, she's in some situation where she seems a bit flustered or helpless. People who think about this way more than I do have written whole treastises on this, entire college classes are taught on this, and yet, here we go--adding one more group of women to the already rather large group in those pictures. REALLY, ladies? That's ALL you want? Now, don't get me wrong. I have nothing against sexy clothes. I like sexy clothes. I have a skirt with a big long exposed zipper in the front, so I can set the amount of leg I'm showing according to my mood. I have lots of low-cut tops. I love to show a bit of lace, or even better, a little cleavage behind lacING. I own fuck me shoes, in many colors and fabrications. I have been known to wear fishnet stockings at 8 in the morning. And I wasn't all that young when I did it, either. But if you only use your body confidence for perpetuating stereotypes, what's the point? Is it a step ahead to do that? Are the skinny girls posing that way doing anyone any favors? Yes, I have body confidence. I have it to spare, in fact. Want some of mine? Here ya go. Wear it in good health. My latest favorite outfit is a coral denim skirt--I guess it's a mini-skirt, I think it's a bit above my knees--and a gold scoop-neck t-shirt. I get a lot of attention when I wear it. I'm not sure quite why. I think partly because a lot of women are afraid of intense color, and especially fat women. They'll look bigger! News flash: you look the size you look. No one is fooled. The only people who fool anyone are really skinny women who wear tons of layers, but they only fool people for a little while. Otherwise--people know what your shape is. So anyway, the color. I got asked yesterday if I always wear a lot of color. Well, five years ago, I only wore black and white, but I was in a different place in my life then. I guess, though, it's considered an aspect of body confidence not to hide behind black clothes. So here's a suggestion. Take your body confidence, and if you want to pose for pictures, go right ahead. But also...don't be afraid to take up room. Gesture when you talk. Stand with your hand on your hip. Or try this test: the next time you're in the mall, walking, make the guy coming at you move out of the way, because most of the time, women step out of the way for men, particularly young men. It takes guts to do that, by the way. It is very deeply ingrained in us, to be subservient in that way. Meet peoples' eyes when you talk to them. Don't uptalk (put a question mark at the end of every sentence). Don't giggle to make your words seem less important. Pitch your voice a bit deeper. Show actual confidence, not just the confidence to have pictures taken in your small clothes.

The Other Numbers

Yesterday I went for a health screening. My husband's company is changing health insurance providers and the era of benign neglect is apparently over. Big Brother is now watching. A few days ago, I filled out an online questionnaire. I realized that I could have written anything in it, anything at all. So, this is probably why they make you go have a disinterested party size you up, too. This morning, the results were in my email. If I were an alarmist (and I were not trying to make healthy changes, myself) I would say it was a good thing I was lying down at the time, checking my email in bed, on my phone. So, my cholesterol is passable, but I'm also taking a statin. Okay...I suppose I can live with that. My blood sugar, as measured by the A1C, is on the high side, 5.7, which would alarm me terribly, except for the fact that I've changed that dramatically, when I try, with diet. They weighed me, and that was a large number, and then right after that, they took my blood pressure. The first one was so high I had to sign a waiver, the second and third (three times is standard practice) were on the high side of normal. My BMI, of course, was off the charts. What does all this mean? I'm not sure. I'm going to the gym twice (at least) a week, and my trainer seems happy with my progress. I know that some of those things run in my family. My grandmother, paternal, had diabetes, which is why I'm concerned about that number. I don't want to end up like her, in a pair of men's shoes with the sides cut out. I don't want to end up like her....dying (as far as anyone can remember, my father was unclear on it, too) because she refused to have a gangrenous leg amputated. My father had a heart by-pass at 75, my aunt dropped dead at 72, the whole family died sort of young. So those things perforce matter to me. What I suppose mattered less was my BMI, since I'm not sure I completely believe in that. I mean, I believe it's a system of calculation, but I'm not sure I believe it means a great deal, other than that you might have a low center of gravity. I look at my weight, I think about the weights I've been, I think about how I would measure up on the BMI. In fact, I just went and looked. When I graduated from high school, I weighed 135 pounds, and that gave me a BMI of 23.9. That's in the normal range. That's also the least I've ever weighed as anything approaching a grownup. Then, later, about 7 years later, in fact, after a fair amount of dieting (and walking 4 hours a day during the New York transit strike of 1980)I weighed 165 pounds. That put my BMI as 29.2, just about the top end of overweight, just .8 away from obesity. I took a size 12. As I said, I walked 4 hours a day (until I got a separated tendon) and I was probably in the best shape of my life. Certainly living the healthiest, since all I did was walk to work, work, and then walk back home. I didn't go out, I didn't drink--or if I did, I walked to get there! So...I'm going with it doesn't necessarily mean much. I understand that I will be doing my joints a favor, with less weight, but here's something interesting. I had a hip replaced, because arthritis had destroyed it. (I have some theories about why that happened, but they're better left to conspiracy theory blogs). That hip is doing fine, as is the other one...which took all the weight while I was toughing it out, mentally preparing for the replacement. My right knee is trashed, the opposite knee to the hip, but I got kicked in that knee in 6th grade and I vaguely remember the doctor telling my parents I'd probably have trouble with it down the line. The other knee? Just peachy, thank you. And my feet? Other than the separated tendon, which will still hurt me if I'm on my feet a lot, they don't bother me at all. Unless, you know, I wear crazy high heels that give me blisters. Which I'm far to old to do anymore. Fazit, as they say in German? Duh, I dunno. If I had to sum it up, I'd say, the blood stuff would probably kill me, but I bet more dietary changes and more exercise will help that. As for weighing less? I'm never seeing 135 again, that's for sure. I'd throw a party at 165, the high end of overweight. But I'll be really interested to know what the insurance company is going to do, other than continue sending me the harassing emails that they've already started.

It's just a number, repeat

A disclaimer: This is a slightly altered entry from an old blog of mine. I still believe every word I wrote. I just changed a few things, like my current weight. The idea, however, remains the same. Women, me among them, spend an uncommon amount of time torturing themselves over numbers. Not the ones in their bank accounts or their checkbooks, either. They torture themselves over two particular numbers: dress size, and weight. Let's address dress size first. It is a designation that enables you to pick out a piece of mass-produced clothing that will more or less fit you, on the first try. Note the more or less part. Dress sizes are not absolutes. They vary from maker to maker, from store to store, from design to design. We have to have sizes because not every one of us has her own personal dressmaker, who has a set of slopers made just for us, as well as a little notebook, where she notes our changing measurements, as well as any little physical abnormalities that affect fit, like maybe one hip is a little higher than the other, or you have a truly magnificent ass, but it lifts the hems of your skirts in the back. We have to be able to make a rough guess, so as not to try on every item in the store. Note the rough guess part. Women put such importance on these numbers. They either bandy them about with pride ("I'm a 6, not an 8. No matter what, I'm just not an 8") or hide them guiltily, like scarlet letters. (Men don't get branded as a 42 long, by the way, their clothing has no size designations that are visible every time they take off their jackets). But they're just numbers. A more expensive piece of clothing will allow you to take a smaller size, for two reasons. One is something called vanity sizing, which means that Ralph Lauren twigged on to the fact that more ladies will buy his somehwhat overpriced clothing if they can take a smaller number. So, he cuts them bigger, a woman says, oh, I'm a 2 in Lauren, I'm buying that, and presto, he's sold another piece of clothes. Also, a manufacturer who is at a less exalted level might be wanting to get a few more pieces out of his bolt of fabric, so he'll instruct his cutters to crumple up the pattern pieces before they cut. They take up less room, he can get more garments out of a bolt, and you take an 8 instead of a 6. (Oh, I forgot, you're just not an 8. I'll try to keep that in mind). Then there's whatever the hell manufacturers did to sizes over the course of my lifetime. I weighed 135 pounds when I graduated from high school. I was pretty cute, if I say so myself. I had this pair of jeans that I embroidered all over, as was the fashion of the day. (Class of '73, what can I say?) I saved them, probably because of all the embroidery, which was pretty hard work. I pulled them out a couple of months ago, to show my daughters. They looked tiny. I was dying to know what size I had taken, back then, at 135 pounds. They are size 11. They aren't even in the single digits. My daughters have taken every size jeans from 14 to 2, so I've seen all the sizes, and these didn't look like anything I recognized as an 11, not now. I held them up. "What size do you think these would be now?" I asked. The consensus was a 7, maybe a 5. So...three full sizes (possibly) smaller than the tag inside of them. How can we know what size we really are, when they keep changing them on us? Back when those jeans were made, there WAS no size 0. The skinniest, cheerleaderiest girl I knew, probably only took a 5 in those days. Or a 7, more likely. So size means nothing. NOTHING. It just aims you in the right direction. Now, on to weight. Weight, although it can be high, or low, is also relative. I weigh a lot. I don't just weigh a lot right now, I always weigh a lot for how I look. Remember the doctor, who couldn't believe what the scale was telling him? It's always been that way. I know someone who is, frankly, a mess. (Those who know me know I so seldom say that, but she is, truly). I would be willing to bet that she weighs less than I do right now. For me, it's that I'm a good solid peasant girl--like a Mullingar heifer, beef to the heels, to quote "Circle of Friends". So I weigh a lot. It's humbling; it teaches you not to get hung up on the number on the scale. It's all relative, as I said above. There is no point in beating ourselves up for who we are, what we weigh, saying we should weigh this, we should weigh that. The only should I seriously believe in is that we should embrace ourselves as we are. That's the only way we can get through our days, first of all, loving ourselves now, today, not next week, or in ten pounds or three sizes. Look. I have weighed more and I have weighed less, but no matter what I weighed, I did my best. I got my hair done, I did my nails, I wore flattering shoes. I didn't so much try to cover up the bad stuff--because people can see it anyway, they're not idiots--but I did try to distract from it. So I was the best I could be at the moment. Self-assuredness is the best accessory ever invented. It beats EVERYTHING. If all else fails, there are the old saws to fall back on. Look at what the body that you so malign can do, or has done. I've produced two daughters. I hiked in the New Mexico desert in what my friend refers to as high heels. (Not quite, but I was wearing stockings and a skirt, lol!) I can carry wood and shovel the driveway. I once dragged the better part of a tree that was blocking the road out of the way. I can carry my husband's tool box, which may not sound like much, but you've never lifted it. I may not be a waif or a willow, but I'm pretty good as I am. I might get better, you never know. But if I died tonight (God forbid) I would go out being fairly pleased with who I am. And there would be good-looking clothes that fit to bury me in!

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Opening Salvo

I've been reading a lot lately about what I've decided to call the Great Debate for Our Time. It's the one about what constitutes health, and healthy, and how much we should or are allowed to weigh. I feel as though I need to write about it because I can't come to any decision or conclusion. We all know how it goes. One side says that America (and the world, or the bits of it that America has gotten to) is in the grips of an Obesity Epidemic. I capitalize this because it's being couched in nearly Victorian terms of good and evil. We are killing ourselves! (The End is Near!) We are costing, someone....trillions of dollars! Fat is evil. Eating is the new smoking. Sitting is the new smoking. God help you if you sit and eat and smoke. And then there's the other side, that says, fat is not a four-letter word, fat is fine, we can be fat and healthy. Let's all accept ourselves! Give up the fight! Self-love (no, not that kind, though that kind is fine too) is the most important thing. Love yourself, no matter what, and everything will be fine. Well, yes. To both of them. Yeah, fat is a significant factor--for some people. Yes, you can be fat and healthy. Some people. You can love yourself at any size. Some people can do that. You're much happier when you're thinner. Yeah, some people are. Losing weight only makes you weigh less. Well....yes. Gaining weight only makes you buy bigger clothes. Well....yes. I just don't know. I know I'll never be small. But I can be smaller. And then I feel better. Is that bad? Is it okay to admit that? Because what if I don't love myself to bits right now? But I sort of do. So what am I doing at the gym? And how did my trips to the gym shanghai me into joining How did that happen? Well, I can tell you how that gym changed hands and what was a nice little thing with a personal trainer turned into an all-out assault. I still want the personal trainer, so I sort of agreed to go along with the rest of it. But I'm not sure. I'm sure that I need to be in better shape...but I'm not sure that I need to work toward a size 4. I'm sure that I am, in fact more comfortable at a lower weight. You also can't argue with your bloodwork, with your blood pressure, with your blood sugar, with your cholesterol. You can't argue with your family history--with my average-weight aunt dropping dead at 72. I also know that I'm built on a bigger scale, that's all. I have wide feet and broad hands and broad shoulders and I'm strong. So the pursuit of size 4 would be nonsense. But I could pursue a size 12. But then the body acceptance people start yelling that no, I'm fine the way I am, it's no one's business about my health, no one has the right to tell me anything! That any suggestions about improving my health are simply tyranny! I should do what I want! If I want to live on....God, I don't know, chocolate ice cream and deep-fried whatevers, or deep-fried chocolate ice cream, that's fine. If that's what I want to do. Then, last Wednesday, I had the same conversation in the space of 4 hours, once with my trainer and once with the physician's assistant I saw for my check-up. They gently suggested that I eat more healthily and gave me suggestions on how to do that. I was nice. I did NOT say, "Do you seriously think that I don't know how to lose weight?" I did NOT say, "I've lost your aggregate weight at least twice in my life." I nodded my head, I said, yes, I'll certainly try sugar snap peas (and I bought them, I just haven't gotten to them yet) and I said, yes, pulsed cauliflower instead of rice is a splendid idea. And spaghetti squash. While I was thinking, the day may indeed come when I'll try those, but I'm not so stupid I'll ever not know they're cauliflower and squash. So in my own way, I've knuckled under. I'm the proud owner of a myfitnesspal account, and I've been dutifully entering my foods, for a whole week now. I ate light all week so I could (sort of) cut loose this weekend, at a family party, and that worked well, so all things considered, I'm doing well. And the PA doesn't think I'm going to die if she doesn't see me in a month, so I have till October to get myself on track, which is nice. And it's much easier to lose weight in the summertime when all you want is a salad anyway. Because, news flash, I've done that. But the body acceptance people are in a ring out there, saying, no, really, no need. Just buy a bigger size, boost up those supersize boobs and revel in your cleavage and your confidence. Oh, and then you have those Slim-Fast ads where they're saying, it's okay to want to lose weight so you can look super-hot and get a super-hot guy. Plain and simple. And they might even have been the people who said that for summer we should all try for a thigh gap. No, not try. We should all achieve a thigh gap, because it will be more comfortable. On Huffpost, pages of comments went on and on about Melissa McCarthy's weight. Pro and con. She says she's comfortable with herself, she must be lying. She said such and such and that proves she's not. Her legs will be amputated before she's 50, but not before she's had both hips and knees replaced. She's fine the way she is! Whose business is it anyway? One thing she is, is a lightning rod. Why don't we talk about her co-star on "Mike and Molly", Billy Gardell, because for my money, it truly takes poetic license to the limit to assume that he's a cop in a major city. Or why don't we talk about her cousin, Jenny McCarthy (yes, they're first cousins, and you know what? They even look it) and debate why she's so slutty on TV on New Year's Eve and if she'd be more comfortable if she acted more like a lady. I don't know. I don't know what to say. I know that it was nice today when I put on a t-shirt and didn't think to myself, damned thing shrunk in the wash again. In fact, it was sort of roomy. That was nice. Why was that nice? Uh....I don't know. Because esthetically I like a more stream-lined figure? Is that possible? Because of all the places a woman can carry fat, I like the place I carry it (spare tire) the least? Because I think it's depressing to take a 3x, because what happens after that? But am I letting down the side? I had another blog, devoted to losing weight, and I'll be re-using some of what I wrote there, here, because a lot of it still has value. But I think I might be a little further down the road than I was at that point. So again: fit vs fat. Discuss among yourselves.