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Posts Tagged ‘preventative wellness’

If you’re not one of the lucky, naturally-thin folks out there who is blessed with a metabolism that leaves you actually wishing you could gain weight, then most likely some form of weight management needs to become a part of your life forever. Unless of course you want to “accept” fatness as a facet of your identity ala the Fat Acceptance Movement. That’s fine and dandy to me. I certainly have my personal issues with the movement, but if people choose and want to stay fat, that’s their choice. For those of us who don’t wish to accept a fat body and would like to maintain a healthy weight, we have to accept that there is no magic fix to weight management and that it’s going to be a lifelong process.

This is why I’ve personally chosen to embrace a life of health and fitness. It’s hard to get fat if the only reasons I miss a workout are being sick or injured, and if I watch what I eat 99% of the time. I make allowance for special occasions and times for treats, but I know that maintaining a healthy weight is within my reach. My attitude before I began this journey was one of defeat. I had sort of decided that while I knew I needed to lose weight, I loved my food too much. I also thought I was eating “healthy” most of the time and that my job was enough exercise. Then, like most of us, I had my wakeup call. The back injury and the crippling and excruciating pain that came after. I can’t remember exactly the day that I started, but there was one day that I decided I was going to eat the way I normally ate for a day, but write it all down. I was astonished to find that I was eating enough calories for 2 days – doubling up.

Some of you may not know this, but I actually managed to lose a good chunk of weight back in 2001-2002. I started out healthy, then got unhealthy as I turned essentially to drugs to help “rev my metabolism” – it’s so embarrassing to think that at one point in my youth I thought that would actually work. It did kind of work, yes, but I felt like crap and looked like crap, too. I also didn’t build any muscle – in fact I’m pretty sure a lot of the weight I lost was muscle. Either way, for some reason my old habits came back and as I got comfortable in my life situation at the time (a new relationship), I stopped watching what I ate, stopped regularly exercising, yet for some crazy reason I didn’t expect to gain back the weight I lost. But I did, with a vengeance.

I’ve vowed “never again” especially after the pain I went through. My petite frame was not meant to carry that much extra weight, especially since I tend to be “top heavy” when I put on weight – no wonder my back went out! I was carrying around the equivalent of several bulk bags of rice on my body. No way do I ever want to go back! But the key mentality to have if you ever lose weight is that unless you stick to what works for GOOD, the weight can, and most likely will, come back.

I mostly bring up this point because a lot of people see weight loss methods as only a means to an end that they’ll get to stop one day, and then just go back to normal, yet not put the weight back on. Or some people slim down quick for an event, say a wedding, then after that they decide that they no longer need to work on it. Also, a lot of these diets focus on omitting an entire food group from your diet instead of working on ways you can permanently change your habits for good health, changes you can live with for life. I’ll pick on the low-carb diets for a second…I don’t think I could live on a low-carb diet for life. I don’t think anyone really could. Also, a lot of people don’t stick with exercise for life. They see it as yet another means to an end, just like they view their diet.

The fact is, watching what you eat and daily exercise are not only good for weight loss or maintaining healthy weight for a lifetime, they are also just generally good for your health. I’m just wondering who wouldn’t want to do all they can to enhance their quality of life into old age? I’ll cite the example of my grandmother who did live a long life, but she was very unhealthy. Sure, she lived to be 86. But she was miserable and sick for the last 15 years of that life. She smoked, was an alcoholic, did not exercise and did not watch her diet – she basically lived on TV dinners from the mid-80’s until she was placed in a retirement home in the late 90’s. She wasn’t fat, but she was very unhealthy. She had emphysema, stroke, and heart disease. I’m wondering if she may have possibly also had liver problems due to her drinking, which she didn’t quit until she was checked into a retirement home. My family found her stash as they were moving her! And my family kept a close watch on her and took turns caring for her each day, she just hid the booze that well! We never found out who was buying it for her because at that point she was no longer driving. Anyway, my point is that people have this mentality for some reason that they will “die anyway, so why bother?” Well, of course we’ll all expire eventually. Healthy people die every day, too. But to me it just seems downright foolhardy not to at least try and maintain good health anyway. When I’m in old age, I want to still have my faculties about me, I want to still be able to move around and go do things. I do NOT want to be sitting on the couch watching television all day when I’m old. I want to be interacting with others. As long as I’m physically able, I’d like to do volunteer work when I’m old. I’d like to still be exercising every day. I’d still like to do a lot of fun things as well. I don’t expect to be hanging ten on a surfboard when I’m 80, but being able to walk and even possibly run at 80 sounds amazing and very doable if I were to continue taking good care of myself. Plus if I have kids, I feel like I would owe it to them to take good care of myself, to lessen the burden on them with my care when I do get really old. Other case in point, my own parents. They’re already experiencing some frailties in their 50’s. I grit my teeth at what it’s going to be like to care for them when they’re older. It’s always hard to care for elder parents even if they are very healthy, but my parents are not as healthy as they could be. The main thing is their smoking, although they’re both putting on weight as older adults.

Part of the problem I think is that for generations people were told that total decay and frailty is just a part of getting old. Losing your memory, losing your faculties, losing your ability to care for yourself, were all seen as inevitable. I think the baby boomers were also told that, which is why I think my parents never really considered their health when they were younger. Right now I’ve made a conscious decision to not repeat the same mistake. I refuse to accept health problems as inevitable things that can’t be prevented. Yes, I acknowledge that there are cases where a person was very healthy and still got sick. But I’m still not willing to gamble and just lie down and accept it. I’ll be proactive.

Which brings me back to weight loss. I’ve made a promise to myself that once I do reach my goal weight, I will remain on a maintainence plan. Part of that plan includes weighing myself once a month. If I start to creep over a certain weight, I will look into why and change my habits. I am not one of those people who has a fast metabolism – I accept that if I want to be a certain weight I’ll always have to watch it. I’d much rather do that than end up unhealthy and unhappy like I was. Plus, I’m young now and it’s easier to deal with this now than it is when a person gets older. I’d so rather get a handle on it and master the good habits now than wait until my 40’s to be proactive.

Some links that help strengthen my point: http://www.latimes.com/features/health/la-he-exercise13-2009jul13,0,6577878.story
http://www.nytimes.com/1989/11/03/us/exercise-and-longevity-a-little-goes-a-long-way.html
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/exercise/hq01676
http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=10074

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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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