Saturday, February 22, 2014

Fat Talk:The End, I Hope

Dad and me on our way out to green chop 1973

 Most of you know the Rest of the Story.  I grew up, got married to Carl, and we built a house here on the farm.
First new car, 1976
Dig those plaid seats, our wedding day, 1978

 Why did I go off on this tangent about fat?  Because of my latest doctor's visit a week ago and the lunch date with my skinny girlfriends. 

Being the biggest girl in the crowd isn't pleasant, even though my friends don't say mean things to my face.  It bothered me a lot when I was in high school, though I think much of my weight obsession then had to do with the taunting I'd had at home.  Like an anorexic, I saw myself as an immensely obese person even though in reality, I was average. I never developed an eating disorder, though.  I didn't have enough willpower to become anorexic. 
Me sitting on the power box in my early 20's..   Willie the Willow is just a twig over my shoulder.

As the years went by, my weight increased slowly but surely.  I hit 200 for the first time when I was pregnant with Joel in 1986.  My weight bounced around from 200, give or take twenty pounds depending on the season, for years.

In my early 40's
 I had my battles with severe depression and fatigue which were found to be caused by my hypothyroidism, finally diagnosed when I was 32. 

2004 almost 50.
I was put on a lot of antidepressants back in those days, and sadly, my thyroid condition was mismanaged until this past summer.  High blood pressure meds, beta blockers, and, for a very short time, a statin, were prescribed.  I dropped the statin after the first month, the muscle pain was too much.  And of course, menopause arrived and along with the sluggish thyroid, so did the weight.  I dropped the antidepressants, too.   Some of them upped my weight substantially.

2011, 52 years old.  And tired.
There I was in 2011 at 240-something pounds, my highest weight ever.  Though I've since lost 40 of those something-pounds, I haven't had a posed picture taken since.  This one almost did me in.  (It has taken me forever to find the pictures for this post, like my mother,  I am horribly camera-shy.)
Summer 2013, 55 years old, playing with my new Stihl weed whacker.
I found the weed whacker picture above (Joel must have taken this out his car window) and yes, this is after losing 40 pounds.  I know, it's sad.   I do wear some really appealing outfits to garden in, don't I?  Gotta love the knee pads and the pants tucked into my socks. 

I did take a 'selfie' awhile back, who'd think I'd be silly enough to take one of those?  But since I joined the weight loss forums two years ago, I was told taking progress pics was very important to use for motivation.  As of yet, I haven't felt very motivated...
Almost 56, still 202 pounds, give or take.  I'll give them if someone wants them.

After I realized I had a major problem on New Year's Eve 2011, I began trolling the web for all things fitness-y.     I still sit down at night and type in my search terms and before I know it, an hour or four has passed while I've been totally engrossed in fascinating, often contradicting results of the health, diet and exercise worlds.   Which, ironically, is bad for my health, since I'm supposed to be sleeping.

Needless to say, many of those late-night searches have netted me some wildly varying advice.  For anyone needing to lose weight (me) just looking for advice on what to do and how to start can be mind-boggling.  For instance, a mere two years ago, I never knew there were so many ways to eat. There's clean, low-carb,no-carb, high protein, raw, Atkins, Ornish, Pollan, Paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, fat-free, no HFCS/MSG, whole foods; have I missed anything? 

 Of course I have. There's more diets out there than I can shake a stick at.  (And by the way, searching for the origin of the aforementioned term, 'shake a stick at' also yields confusing results.  No one seems to know why a stick is involved and why shaking is necessary or effective for weight loss.)

For every diet guru out there telling you their way is best, there are two more extolling the virtues of their plan and condemning the rest.  Here, in no particular order, is the gist of what I've been reading for the last few years:

Always eat breakfast.  No need to eat breakfast if you're not hungry.  Eat six small meals a day.  Never eat after 6PM.  Eat anytime, it doesn't matter. Never eat bananas.  Eat bananas.  Take vitamin supplements.  Don't take vitamin supplements.  Eat low-fat.  Eat full fat.  Eat eggs.  Eat egg whites, throw out the yolks.  Sugar is evil.  Sugar isn't all bad.  Fat is evil.  Fat is necessary.  Wheat is evil.  Wheat is great. Eat like a caveman.  Eat like a cow.  Don't eat cows. 

And that's just a partial list of the contradictory mishmash of diet information I'm sure you've all heard at one time or another.  I lost the first forty pounds by mid-2012, but ever since then, I've plateaued.  I take comfort in the fact I haven't regained anything, anyway.

Do I eat perfectly?  No.  I do weigh, measure and count all of my calories, though.  Yeah, I'm one of Those People, great fun to be around.   I haven't committed to one diet or another, it's still everything in moderation for the most part.  In January I joined a new calorie-counting website, Eat More To Weigh Less, and was surprised to see I may well be under eating quite a bit.  I set my activity level to 'sedentary' and once my exercise calories were accounted for I found I haven't been eating enough to be netting my base metabolic rate.  I don't believe I'm in 'starvation mode' because I still have a lot of weight to lose, but since I've raised my calories and probably more importantly, kept an eye on my macronutrients, the scale has started to lean to the left again.  Not much, and could be water weight, but it is promising.  I'm going to give this approach a month or three and see what happens. 

As for exercise, well, Leslie or some of my other video exercise gurus and I walk around for an hour a day, and then there's the skiing at least an hour or more, and weight lifting two to three times a week.  I have no problem with exercise, in fact, if weight loss were all about exercise, I'd be Twiggy by now.    I still wear my pedometer and do my best to walk around 11,000 to 12,000+ steps a day. 

So, that's the gist of it.  There's another fifty to go to get to 150, though the doctor said 165-170 wouldn't be too bad, either.  As far as the exercises go, strength training is, I believe, key to me getting leaner.  For almost ten months I have had to cut way back on the heavy lifting.  When my thyroid medication was messed up, I couldn't recover from the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) for days.  My entire body was extremely sore, even my hair hurt.  I started back on the weights slowly as of the first of February, and so far, so good.  I went way down in the weight in all the exercises because I'm going to have to build back up to the heavier lifts. 

Why didn't I ever join gym, you may ask?   I have several friends who did, and one friend who lost an amazing amount of weight, going down to a Size 4/6 with the aid of a personal trainer and an exercise regimen of 4 1/2 hours a day while working a full-time job.  That's dedication.  

I don't have that much dedication.  Or money. 

Back in 2004, the movie 'Dodgeball' came out.  If you aren't familiar with the film, I'm not surprised. It was very silly.  The storyline was about the rivalry between two gym owners, White Goodman of Globo Gym and Peter LaFleur, owner of Average Joe's. 

White Goodman's Globo Gym was very prestigious and White was despicable, a character you love to hate.

Here's a few lines from the movie that never fail to amuse me and pretty much summed up my feelings as pertains to gyms in general:

"Here at Globo Gym, we're better than you. And we know it."

"At Globo Gym we understand that "ugliness" and "fatness" are genetic disorders, much like baldness or necrophilia, and it's only your fault if you don't hate yourself enough to do something about it."

That last line gets me every time, 'It's only your fault if you don't hate yourself enough to do something about it.'   

There you have it, blame, shame and guilt.  The top three reasons I've felt like a loser all my life.

  This is the part of the post where I'm supposed to crow, "But I'm not a Loser any more, no sirree!  I am not going to quit until I hit Size-Onderland!"

Ah, no, that's not me.  I'm not a cheerleader-y type. 

 I do admire people who have lost weight and changed their lives for the better, but I have one request for a few of them. 

Stop rubbing my face in it.  Yes, you did it, and I know, if you did it, anyone can do it.  I heard you the first time.  And the thirtieth. 

"Obsessed is just a word the lazy use to describe the dedicated."

I read the above quote on an exercise forum when I first started this weight loss journey. (I'm not sure why it is referred to as a journey, since there really is no end to this lifestyle change.  Ack.  Lifestyle change; that sounds scary, too.)  

My first thought was, "Well, now, that's kinda harsh."  I don't think I'd label folks who aren't crazy about excessive exercise as 'lazy'.  If fitness is our goal, why the hate?

I have never watched the Biggest Loser (bad name, in my opinion) because I don't believe in the ridiculous diet and exercise regimens.  I can't stand to see people hollered at and made to work out until they are physically ill.  I know it's TV, but it's painful for me to watch.

How is watching people be tortured into weight loss supposed to be 'inspiring'?  I guess it hits too close to my childhood, I don't believe shame should be part of the equation.  I've looked at the 'Where are they now?' sites for some of the past winners and many of them haven't kept it off.  Maintaining a massive weight loss is very difficult. 

Anyway, to get back to the reason for these posts on fat talk; when I went to see my doctor last week, I started to ask him about my recent discovery of possibly undereating my metabolism and whether he had any opinion on whether too low of calorie intake may have slowed down my weight loss progress.  (I should add, this doctor hasn't been harping on me about my weight and he has every intention of getting my thyroid running optimally.  I've had another slight raise in dose again, and we'll see if that helps any.) 

But before I could finish my question on not enough calories and metabolism, he said, "You could go on the HCG diet.  It consists of injections of HCG (human chorionic gonadatropin, derived from the placenta of pregnant women) for forty days, during which you only consume 500 calories.  The hormone tricks your body into burning fat and not muscle and also curbs your appetite, so you don't suffer hunger pangs. Most patients lose one half to one pound a day.  In 40 days, you could be 40 pounds lighter.  You can repeat the cycles up to four times if you don't have good results at first." 

I sat there on the couch with Carl next to me, and stared at him.  To be fair to the doctor, he wasn't insisting I go on the diet, but he was offering me the option.  Let's see, if I went four rounds with this diet, I would lose 160 pounds....hmmmmm....202 - 160 = 42.  Wow. I'd be thin then.  

I told him my reason for wanting to lose weight wasn't entirely due to vanity, though, yeah, it plays a part.  

"Certainly, I understand.  It's your health.  Being fifty pounds overweight is like carrying two twenty-five pound dumbbells on the end of your arms all day long.  It is very hard on your joints.  The HCG diet would give you the boost you need to succeed.  You don't have to make any decisions on that today, but just think about it, ok?  It's an option."

You all know what I did, I went back to the internet, researching HCG.  Before I even did any research though, I knew it wasn't for me.  I'm disturbed by the thought of injecting myself with hormones and going down to 500 calories a day.  Some reports stated that control groups given either HCG or saltwater injections and put on the restricted calorie diet lost the same amount of weight.  Placebo effect?  I have no idea.  

But 500 calories a day is far below my BMR of 1600, so I guess he answered my question in a roundabout way.  Increasing my calories shouldn't work in this scenario, but time will tell.   

I had a good time with my friends at lunch the other day, but I'm still the Big Girl.  In my heart, I know I'm healthier, stronger and better now than I've been in years, but my Size 14/16 self-esteem falters when I'm surrounded by Size 2/4's.  Especially when it's time to order lunch.  They all know I've been working on this weight loss thing, which doesn't make it easier on me.  I have to order the 'right' thing so I won't look gluttonous. 

 Going out to eat since I've become calorie-conscious is always a challenge; we don't do it very often because restaurant food can be tricky.  I ordered a cup of soup and a small barbecue beef sandwich that I guesstimated to be within my calorie goals.  At home I usually have a large vegetable salad and a piece of fruit along with whatever I choose for a meal, but there wasn't an option at the restaurant.    I ate my sandwich and soup far too quickly and was slightly hungry when I was done eating.   One of the girls asked for a carton to take her uneaten stir-fry home. 

The talk was mostly about weight loss and exercise for awhile, and I felt silly chiming in.  Yes, I had skied over to Gloria's that morning and tossed weights around, but looking at me compared to them, well, it doesn't show much.  I'm not even close to my goal weight which if I ever reach it,  is still at least thirty pounds heavier than my friends.  

But I have to remember something: 

Comparison is the Thief of Joy.

I have no business comparing myself to them, just as they have no business comparing themselves to me.  

I dislike hearing rude comments about people who are overweight.  Ironically, some of the worst 'fat haters' I know personally are people who have lost the most weight.  Sort of like how some folks who quit smoking sometimes become the biggest critics of those still addicted, it's a strange, sad turn of events.  

I can't understand how newly thin people can be so disparaging and nasty.  Where is their compassion?  After all, they know the struggle to 'get skinny'.  I suspect the vitriol comes from a deep-seated fear that one day they might slip and regain the weight, or maybe it's simply because they are starving themselves and their blood sugar is low.  

I will admit, I enjoyed life a lot more two years ago.  I know it wasn't healthy, but being able to eat what I wanted was freeing.  Chocolate chip cookies?  Sure, pass me a half dozen.  Damn, they were good.  

  Fat discrimination is still flourishing and obese people are easily stereotyped as lazy losers who don't care about their health.  And I'm to blame, too, since I Fat Talk about myself all the time.  I don't need to put myself down, there's plenty of folks waiting in line for the chance.  Time for a change. 

Years ago, I came across this video from 2008.  I think it's fantastic.

I overheard a conversation the other day in the grocery store.  Two skinny women were dissing a 'fat lady' while they waited in line. The poor 'fat lady' was being character-assassinated right in front of me. 

 "She's sooooo lazy, we call her Thunderbutt behind her back.  You should SEE the clothes she wears to work!  She has a plumber's crack showing all the time.  It's disgusting.  She says she's dieting, yeah, right, I saw her eat a candy bar the other day.  And her kids are fat, too.  Her idea of exercise is shoveling the food with her hand to her mouth."

 Did I say anything to stop this tirade?  No, because technically, I shouldn't have been listening.  And because I am a coward.  But I felt so bad for the 'fat lady', whoever she was.  Who knows, maybe they were talking about me, stranger things have happened.

I can't change other people, Heaven knows that's the truth.  I'm having a hard time changing myself.  Rebuilding self-esteem is the hardest thing I've had to face and I fail at it miserably many times.

My poor father, this series of posts did not honor his memory.  I am ashamed, he did the best he could with the tools he'd been given.  I remember him telling me his father had literally nailed his pet dog  to the barn door alive because somehow the dog had made him angry.  This happened over 90 years ago, and it still tears at my heart.  His childhood never existed, he was born into a house of horrors.  

Compared to what he endured and survived, my experience was a walk in the park.  I forgave Dad years ago, long before he passed away in 2001.  

But the effects of mental abuse still linger, and probably always will. 

There is an article written by Andrew Vachss: You Carry the Cure In Your Own Heart which was originally printed in Parade magazine in 1994.  I still have the yellowed, dog-eared copy in my hope chest.  (Yes, I still have hopes.)

Here is the excerpt that I cherish:
 " Adult survivors of emotional child abuse have only two life-choices: learn to self-reference or remain a victim. When your self-concept has been shredded, when you have been deeply injured and made to feel the injury was all your fault, when you look for approval to those who can not or will not provide it—you play the role assigned to you by your abusers. 

It's time to stop playing that role, time to write your own script. Victims of emotional abuse carry the cure in their own hearts and souls. Salvation means learning self-respect, earning the respect of others and making that respect the absolutely irreducible minimum requirement for all intimate relationships. For the emotionally abused child, healing does come down to "forgiveness"—forgiveness of yourself.

How you forgive yourself is as individual as you are. But knowing you deserve to be loved and respected and empowering yourself with a commitment to try is more than half the battle. Much more.
And it is never too soon—or too late—to start."

I wish my father would have had the opportunity.  

May he Rest in Peace.



Alison said...

I love the picture of you in 2011, at 240-something pounds. Yes, you look uncomfortable in front of the camera, but you know what? You truly don't look obese to me. And your long curly hair is beautiful. I have photos of myself when I was that weight, and I look like a beachball.

It's so hard to figure out an eating regimen that works for you, with all that conflicting advice. We're all different, and what works for one person often doesn't work for another. That said, have you read Death by Food Pyramid? I found some good info there.

I think you're right in avoiding the weight loss by hormone shot. And I don't watch stuff like The Biggest Loser either. I don't understand most of reality TV, how is it entertaining to watch people being rejected?

Dandelion and Daisy said...

We all seem to have these "odd concepts" of how we look. I am tall, my mother was 5'2" and so was my sister but they made me feel good about tall by telling me models were tall. They did not, however, tell me I was skinny so I always thought I was fat, tall and fat. I had a teacher in high school tell me "you would be such a pretty girl if you would hold your stomach in"'s true! She, also, flunked me in Spanish and dismissed my art! Not a teacher I have fond memories of.

You really do not look fat! I'm big boned, I will never look skinny....never have, never will. You are working harder than most at living a healthy life style....that is what is important. Weight is just a number, I would try to treat it as such.

The amount of physical work you do, plus the exercise, you are probably all muscle and muscle weighs more that fat and you are not going to lose those pounds with diet.

You're a beautiful and gifted lady, embrace it!

Karen said...

Alison, I will see if I can get a copy of the book, I'd like to read it. Yes, the weight loss by hormone plan isn't for me, I was kinda sad my doctor suggested it. And it is very expensive, $800-$1000 for one round. Thank you for your kindness about how I look, I think once I learn to silence the old fat talk in my head, I won't measure my self-worth by a number.

Karen said...

Dandelion and Daisy, Thank you. I'm sorry you had to encounter a teacher who was more than likely intimidated by your artistic ability and looked for some way to undermine your confidence. I am so glad you didn't let her discourage you, where would we be without your talent?

It never fails to amaze me how our culture reveres the gaunt, waif-like looks the models all sport. Sure, they can strut down a catwalk, but can they toss rocks around? You are right, I need to embrace my health.

sharon malueg said...

Hugs!! I agree with Dandelion & Daisy, weight is just a number. You look truly amazing and should be so proud of yourself! Stay warm, the nineties are just a few months away.

PS Skinny girls have bigger problems, they just don't tell you about them.