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Posts Tagged ‘junk food’

I recently had a discussion with someone who has tried a few times to get into an exercise routine/healthy eating pattern, and always got impatient as far as seeing results. This person also maintained that they never enjoyed it, always felt sore no matter what, and it always felt like a boring chore to them. This person also has a large appetite and gets hungry often, and tends to overeat. This person is not terribly overweight, but very out of shape.

Results don’t come overnight, and sometimes it can be several months before a person starts to see the changes in their body. I think others often notice before the individual does. When you see yourself in the mirror every single day, it can be hard to realize that your body is indeed changing. I for one never thought I’d be dysmorphic about my own body, but for months after I first started I saw the same ole’ fatty in the mirror when other people were noticing visible changes in my physiology. Even recently people are noticing things before I do (namely the fact that I’m starting to have defined hips, etc. and becoming more height-weight proportional).

I asked this person what they did, if they stretched, etc. I came to the conclusion based on their answers that they had thrown themselves into a very rigorous and intense routine too fast, that they weren’t stretching or doing anything else to help sore muscles (hot baths, ice, etc.), and choosing activities that they found inherently boring. This person also hates standing up for long periods of time and maintains that they always get sore no matter what. I had a counter-argument for every excuse this person threw at me, and the conversation got frustrating for both of us so we decided to change the subject. But I ended my points with this person by saying that there has got to be a way for them to eventually find being active enjoyable. It will help this person’s longevity, give them more energy every day, and be beneficial in a huge number of ways. To this person’s credit, they get frustrated with themselves because they know the health benefits of being active, but they feel so helpless about actually applying it to themselves.

So I guess the point of this was to say that people who are new to exercise and out of shape need to ease into a routine. Walking is a great way to start…it’s the first physical exercise most of us learned how to do as toddlers. It can start out slow and go fast. I still do it a lot, I don’t do too much running because of some leg pain I tend to get, but you can burn as many calories power-walking if you do it fast enough, without near the impact of running. Furthermore, stretching is essential. There are a ton of websites out there that can show through pictures and tell you how to properly stretch all your major muscle groups. It’s best to have a bit of a warm-up, stretch, then work out, take a stretch break in the middle (I notice a huge difference when I don’t do this), then cool down and stretch again after the workout. Once the body adapts to regular, mild physical activity, kick it up a notch gradually until you’re used to more strenuous activity.

Exercise is important, but if your diet is craptastic, it’s not going to give you enough health benefits. Some people’s taste buds are so corrupted by junk food that it’s easy to find the taste of healthy stuff “bland” at first because your taste buds are so used to being bombarded by way too much sugar, salt, and trans fats. I highly suggest for people who are having dietary challenges that are blocking them from weight-loss, health improvement, or both to read a great book called If It’s Not Food, Don’t Eat It: The No-Nonsense Guide to an Eating-for-health Lifestyle by Kelly Hayford, a clinical nutritionist. Hayford puts it all forth in a very non-threatening and straightforward way. One thing I respect about it is that she doesn’t preach any dogmatic diet-style (veganism or raw foodism for example) but more discusses the benefits of switching to mostly real, whole foods as opposed to processed stuff. She also discusses how to handle your lifestyle change around family and friends, and the psychological aspects of such a diet change. She has stories of real people and the dramatic, personal changes that happened for them from changing their diet.

To maintain a healthy body weight and good health in general, it is absolutely essential that a person is both physically active AND eats right. The end.

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So I’ve been thinking about something. Over the holidays, I went to a bar-crawl that was organized by an old high-school friend, a mini high-school reunion of sorts, a consortium of townies. Everyone noticed how much weight I’ve dropped which was amazing. I got asked an interesting question at one point.

“So, do you allow for treats, or do you deprive yourself of those?” I answered back with, “I try to exercise self-control at all times.” Bearing in mind that when I choose to be bad, I know I’m being bad and adjust for the consequences later on. Sometimes it’s not so healthy. I ate way too much over the holidays, a.k.a. Feastmas as a fellow blogger affectionately called it. But I practiced damage limitation (another phrase coined by Losing Ahundredweight) and escaped the Feastmas by not gaining any more weight (although I didn’t lose, either – that is my cross to bear and good thing my gym opens soon).

This made me think about the concept of deprivation. To me, deprivation means that you’re going without something you need. Foregoing something you want because you know it’s bad for you or you don’t need it and could go without is not deprivation, it’s self-control. I like treats as much as the next guy, and sometimes I want them. But any time I want a treat, I have to think about whether or not I can deal with the consequences. If I can, I go ahead and have the treat. I also like my treats to be planned so I can have exactly what I want and what I deem is good, not some crappy crap. Also, when I cheat I like it to be a high-quality cheat (instead of a Snickers bar, having a small square of gourmet, dark chocolate for instance). I also like my cheats to come in a single-serving size and I do not keep the stuff in my house. If it’s here, I’ll eat it. I know myself better than anyone, so knowing how I will react to certain stimuli helps me create an ideal situation for myself. Thus, practicing self-control is good for me.

If I were truly depriving myself of anything, I would be intentionally going without food when I need it. That’s not what I do. I just choose not to partake of every piece of junkfood in the known universe because I like to control when I have it, how much of it I have, and what it is. I’m not depriving myself, I’m practicing self-control (most of the time, anyway – Thank Gods the Feastmas is over!).

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We’ve been having a discussion on My Fat Spouse about how in office and other work environments, particularly during this time of year, people feel the need to foist upon each other gratuitous amounts of various baked goods and other very decadent fare on a nearly daily basis because it’s “the Holidays!” It can be particularly challenging for those of us who are either trying to stay conscious of our health, or who are trying to lose weight. It’s not so much people offering me this stuff that bothers me, it’s the “are you sure?” questions and feeling like these people are pushing this stuff on me like crack dealers. Look, it’s not a personal affront on you if I turn down your homemade fudge. It’s just that at my own family gatherings I’ll have plenty of opportunity for such indulgences, and I’m “saving myself” for the really special stuff. This means I have to pick and choose, and on days that aren’t proper holiday celebrations, I’m abstaining and keeping to my normal dietary habits; 3 healthy meals, 2 healthy snacks, and one small, planned indulgence per week. I do believe if one is following a weight loss plan they should be able to allow for a treat here and there, but it should be controlled. This way, one gets to indulge on occasion and enjoy those treats, but they don’t go “hog wild” either. I am certainly not a “food nazi” and I see nothing wrong with a cookie once in awhile, or a piece of chocolate or whatever. But there should be a limit and these treats were not made for everyday consumption. For some reason in our culture those treats that should be limited are given out in abundance at all times, and it increases tenfold during the Holidays. It annoys me to no end, too, that people take it personally if you turn down what they offer you. I’m lucky to have most of my family members not be the kind of person to get crappy with you if you don’t want to completely stuff yourself. But for some reason some of my coworkers and other people I encounter are major food pushers. The only way a lot of these people will back off me is if one of the ingredients happens to be soy or dairy (which I’m allergic to). I mean, I AM allergic to those things, but I’m not hypersensitive and if I eat one cookie (most chocolate has soy lecithin in it), one piece of cheese, etc. I won’t break out, but I like to plan and choose when I partake of such an indulgence, not spontaneously have it foisted upon me. But the allergy thing is the only excuse people seem to respect. Being truthful about wanting to lose weight and citing that I didn’t lose what I have by eating a bunch of junk only gets me those patronizing, “one won’t hurt you,” or, “aw, you’re not as fat as SOME people, go ahead!” comments.

Holidays like Thanksgiving have the potential to be really nice and have way more meaning than the food. Thanksgiving was originally conceived as a way to, duh, give thanks about the blessings in your life, spend time with people you love, and also to celebrate Autumn and the harvest by sharing a meal with those you care about. But it seems like now it’s mostly devolved into a giant glut-fest with the primary focus being eating as much as humanly possible until you’re writhing around on the floor in pain from indigestion. It’s National Gluttony day! And for a lot of people in the U.S. it starts with Thanksgiving and ends with the half-hearted New Year’s resolution to start “hitting the gym” and “go on a diet.” If people could just practice a little restraint and indulge on just the actual holiday itself, most of us would not gain as much weight as we do during the holidays. Then again, I speak as though there’s a difference between the holidays and most Americans’ everyday habits. I think if anything, most people eat too much everyday, then just eat a sickeningly gross amount at the holidays.

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I take issue with fat acceptance for many reasons. It’s one thing to say, “hey, I’m fat, please don’t discriminate against me or make fun of me.” That I have no problem with. I’m certainly not all about humiliating or demoralizing people for any reason. But I take issue with the “facts” that are presented about fatness and human biology, and the made-up issues that “people of size” face. See, most issues that these people face are brought upon by themselves through their choices, not by other people. I’m sure there are fat people who’ve been teased in a mean way, and I don’t condone that. But all this “discrimination” and “humiliation” stuff smacks of paranoia to me. I feel like a lot of these people almost look for things to get upset and offended by. If you go looking for trouble, you’ll most likely find it. I’m just sayin’…

A lot of bloggers in the “movement” cherry-pick facts to “prove” that obesity is not unhealthy. Most of the really active fat acceptance bloggers do not appear to be more than maybe 50 or so pounds overweight, thus they may still be able to do a lot of physical activities and be more able-bodied than people who are 100 or more pounds overweight. What bothers me is that a lot of people who are in the 100+ category often feel helpless and hopeless, and when fat acceptance comes along and says that it’s just fine and dandy to be fat, it gives them false hope that they can be as big as they are and remain healthy through quackish principles like, “Health at Every Size” and “Intuitive Eating.” To me, this is very dangerous. Another thing I take issue with is the myth that it’s predetermined by genetics and that we all have a “natural set-point” that no matter what, we’re all meant to be. By this logic, your “set point” could be morbidly obese and bedridden, unable to wipe your own butt and having to use a special “device” for wiping yourself after doing #2…I affectionately refer to it as a “buttwand,” but all joking aside I would be really sad if I let myself get so huge that I couldn’t reach my own ass. That’s not “natural” at all.

Many in the movement have limited scientific knowledge, yet talk as if they are experts on topics regarding weight management. They stick their fingers in their ears and say, “la la la, I’m not listening!” to the sound science that says extra fat is unhealthy. Many of them react emotionally rather than rationally to dissenting points of view, calling anyone who disagrees with them a troll, or other derogatory name (like “douchehound” – what the hell does that even mean???). A lot of them use gratuitous swearing. Now, I’ve been called a sailor by people in my family because I can throw the F-bombs around if I’m in the right mood, but I feel like if you’re trying to make a point you should limit your swearing and focus on the topic at hand. Too much swearing can make you look like you have a stunted vocabulary. There’s a place for swearwords, sure. They can shock enough to drive home a big point, or they can just be funny. But if every other word you type is “fuck” you’re going to lose a lot of your audience and credibility.

There is a mentality in fat acceptance that it’s okay to care about your appearance to the point of wearing make-up, maintaining good hygiene, and having nice clothes. But if you ever want to lose weight to enhance your appearance, that is a big “no-no!” It is often said that it’s immoral and shallow to enjoy a vanity aspect of weight loss, it should be for health and health only. Of course in the long run, health is always tantamount. Your body should be your temple, yada yada. But if you also happen to like being able to fit into smaller clothes, if you like having a certain figure and wish to maintain it, suddenly it’s a crime to care about your looks. I take huge issue with that. It suggests that if you want to maintain your appearance by way of losing weight, that means you have an eating disorder and you hate yourself. Also, I have always admired natural beauty more than artificial beauty. What I mean by this is that someone who maintains a fit and healthy body and has good hygiene but doesn’t wear makeup or designer clothes is more appealing to me than someone who is very fat but spends a lot of money on make-up and clothes.

I don’t like the whole, “if you aren’t fat, you aren’t a real woman” mentality that some display on their blogs. It disturbs me because it fails to mention men. Are fat men more real than thin men? What exactly is a real woman? Is a woman who is thin not real? I know that some of my buddies on other blogs have covered this topic, but it continues to make me *facepalm* repeatedly. It touches me because one of my favorite people in the world is a woman who’s just built very tall and lanky, and she has trouble keeping weight on. She eats quite heartily and yet she’s got a very gaunt physique. She gets a lot of snarky comments from a lot of people about it. It’s not just fat people who get teased about their bodies. In fact, I will say as a fattie that no one has ever *teased* me about my weight. Most people would actually comment, if I brought it up, that I’m not fat (which I knew they were just saying to be nice, because you’d have to be blind to think I’m not fat). But people would never be so tactful with my thin friend. She had people constantly accusing her of having an eating disorder her whole life, and not even trying to be tactful about it! They would usually be so blatant and mean about it that she got really self conscious and depressed about it at one point. If anyone is a candidate for needing body acceptance, it would be her! She even used to say that she sometimes wished she were fat so people would leave her alone about her body. Her character is strong, she’s smart, funny, and in my opinion adorable. She has her own kind of beauty, and honestly I think the fatter women who’ve bashed her are jealous. If fat acceptance really believed in all kinds of beauty, they would not bash thin women. I’m glad my friend recently has found more acceptance. She made the move with her husband to the West coast, and she says there are less fat people out there than here in the midwest, and she doesn’t get nearly as many snarky comments about her body anymore. Go figure!

There seems to be a double standard that’s emerging about fat vs. thin. It’s okay for fat people to be mean and catty to thin people, because somehow thin people don’t have feelings? I don’t get it. Also, it seems that chubby is the new normal, and thin is the new anorexic, and that morbid obesity doesn’t really exist (booga booga!) and people who are 400+ pounds are “strawmen.” Look, anorexia is usually pretty obvious. A person’s skin is typically lacks color, their hair thinning and falling out with a scraggly appearance, hollow features, and a skeletal frame. A thin person that has muscle tone, color in their skin, shiny hair, and bright eyes is not starving or emaciated, they are healthy! If you look around you, healthily thin people are a vast minority compared to the overweight these days.

Our food culture is sickening to me. It’s disproportionate – we have more food than we’ll ever need, yet billions of people the world over still have trouble getting enough of it to live optimally. There’s a crazy juxtaposition between the U.S. and countries like Zimbabwe and the Sudan. Seeing the pictures of obese children and comparing them to the malnourished, starving children breaks my heart. Is it fair that our kids get too much to eat and others have to go without? Also, most of our people, children included, are overfed but undernourished. They lack essential nutrients in their daily diet, but they get to have overly full bellies. Our bodies haven’t evolved past the point of being able to store fat for times of famine. The thing is, most of us never experience true famine in the U.S. We have constant food abundance, and most of us live relatively sedentary lifestyles. Most of us work desk jobs, then come home and sit on the computer or in front of the TV for several hours. If that’s your lifestyle, a walk around the block or an aquatic fitness class once a week isn’t going to burn enough calories to keep your body at a healthy weight. Especially if you’re like most people and get fast food or use convenience foods regularly. People want to eat the farmer’s portions without doing the farmer’s work! No wonder so many of us are overweight and obese!

Another problem I have is when people start associating being fat with their identity as a person. I’m not saying it doesn’t help shape who you are to be fat and deal with it, but your fat isn’t you. When people get told by their doctor that their health problems are associated with their weight, they take it as being “shamed.” They take it as a personal assault on their character and personal worth. A doctor’s job is to guard your health, but since so many people complain that their doctors tell them they’re fat, doctors get fed up and now default to their prescription pad instead. So instead of preventative wellness to stave off things like type II diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, muscle and joint problems, etc. by keeping a healthy weight, people are now put on drugs for these things instead, and it’s considered “normal” to be on a bunch of meds in your early 30’s now. With all due respect, what the hell?!! Look, a doctor is not a “fat hater” if they tell you that your health could be improved by losing weight, OK? They are a professional trying to do their job. Quite frankly, I think it’s refreshing when a doctor decides not to just default to giving out pills like candy and try to help a person with overall wellness instead. They are not saying, “look, you cow, you’re a fatass and you suck!” They are simply pointing out that your weight reflects some poor health habits and that you should cut it out and get healthy. Why is it so hard for people to make that distinction and why do they take it as an attack on their personality?

One thing I want to know about is when FA people claim they’ve been humiliated at the doctor’s office when they check your weight on the scales. Any doctor’s office I’ve been to has the scale in the back where only the nurse and you can see it, and I’ve never had a nurse yell my weight out so loud that others besides him/her and myself can hear it. I’m not embarrassed for a medical professional to know my weight. I kind of always figure that there’s someone fatter than me that they’ve seen, so they’re not going to be shocked. The thing about doctors and nurses is that they’ve “seen it all” so my problems are not going to stand out to them that much, they are simply doing their jobs. I want to know, seriously, where these FA people are going to be seen by a doctor where the scale is in public view and the nurses and doctors are announcing their patients’ weights to the whole office and waiting room. I think these stories are exaggerated, and these people are way too insecure if they get mad that their weight is checked. It seems like a standard procedure at the doctor’s office, really. Nothing personal or humiliating in any way. What doctor’s office are these people going to where the nurse runs into the waiting room yelling, “hey everyone, there’s one hell of a heifer back here, he/she weighs x amount of weight, can you believe what a fatty-fatty boom-boom they are? hahahaha!” Because if these doctor’s offices do exist, that kind of behavior is highly unprofessional and those places should be shut down, or restaffed with more professional people. But I’m skeptical that such places actually exist. Also, if these fat acceptance types were so proud of their weight, why would they have a problem with others knowing it?

I think fat acceptance is mostly an upper-middle class issue. People of privilege have more time to bitch and whine about how no one “accepts” them and that this is an issue of civil rights. Most of the people who complain the most vocally seem to be people who are highly educated and have had advantages that a lot of other people go without. Again, just sayin’…

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