Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What's the love equivalent of the Freshman 15?

Conventional wisdom states that when kids move away to college, the access to copious amounts of already paid for dormitory cafeteria food causes most new freshman to pack on a few pounds. With unlimited exposure to soft serve ice cream, all you can eat Lucky Charms, french fries at every meal and delicacies like “Turkey Americana” (a hideous concoction of processed cheese and thinly sliced ham sandwiched between two large slices of deli turkey, then battered and deep fried into Frisbee sized discs of deliciousness that I haven’t eaten in nearly 20 years but I’m fairly certain I would knock over a four year old to get to if presented with the opportunity in the next five minutes), it doesn’t surprise me that many new college students pack on the ubiquitous “Freshman 15” as a result. Not me, of course. I put on the “Freshman 32”. But hey, I’m an overachiever.
Apparently there’s another rite of passage that is notorious for packing on the pounds. Turns out they don’t call them “love handles” for nothing.

As I mentioned last week, there’s a new man in my life. As I’ve also mentioned on several occasions, I am committed to keeping this blog on-topic. Because I reveal so much of myself through what I write here about food, weight loss & obesity issues, I purposely don’t write much about the rest of my life, preferring to hold those things as private. But in this case, my weight loss and non-weight loss worlds are colliding, so a little discussion of the phenomenon seems appropriate. But if you’re expecting juicy details, you’ll be disappointed because I NEVER kiss and tell.

(Which is a lie straight from the pit of hell, because I TOTALLY kiss and tell…just not on my blog.) ;)

According to several credible sources (The New York Times, Prevention, Seventeen magazine, my friend Michelle, and a stranger I was talking to in the drug store the other night) it turns out that love can indeed make you fat. This doesn’t surprise me, particularly, since the generic date usually includes a meal of some kind, a little shared buttered popcorn and finishes with a cup of coffee or a pomegranate margarita (or two, even). Even when the butterflies that have taken up residence in your tummy won’t allow you wolf down the entire #1 combo platter while sitting across from him at your favorite Mexican restaurant, it turns out that eating even HALF of that monstrosity is more food than any normal human being should eat in one sitting (or two, even). Add in that he’s a classically trained foodie and also spends 40+ hours a week running a huge restaurant specializing in the production sauced up chicken parts in every conceivable iteration and you’ve got a foolproof recipe for packing on the pounds if you’re not careful.

But if you’re very lucky, the special someone you’ve found will share your commitment to eating well. If they’ve, say, lost 40 pounds themselves this last year and want to take off 20 more then it makes it easier to put on the brakes when the food starts getting out of control…but it’s still not as easy as it sounds. The giddy, giggly, hearts-and-flowers nature of new love often has the same kind of intoxicating effect on our decision making process as frat party keg beer has on a new freshman (for proof of which I offer the sporadically written in but nonetheless scandalous account of my 18 year old self preserved in diary form). So a little frank discussion is in order, about where you’ve been and what your goals are—and just how important not letting the food get out of control again is to you. And that, my friends, isn’t the easiest conversation on earth to have.

This little patch of the web has been the strangest of phenomena for me. It’s the place where I’m the most open I’ve ever been about my weight and what it takes to fight the fat every day. Nearly everyone I know (and countless people I don’t) knows about this site, and I’ve revealed details of my life and my experiences that are more intimate than I ever dreamed I’d share publicly. But I had to give some real thought as to when I’d be ready to share it with a new significant other. I want to share my life with someone again, and the things I write about here are a big part of that life.

So I dropped hints about it, mentioned I was a blogger and that my website was important to me. I told him that one day I’d give him the address and he could read all about me and my special brand of food-crazy. I waited to see when I’d be ready, and wondered what he’d think about what he sees here. Would he see my starting pictures and cringe? Would he read what I wrote and realize he’d bitten off more than he could chew? Would it bother him that the internet saw me in my underwear before he did? And after he saw it all, would he still like me?

I guess we’ll find out…

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Who wears the pants around here anyway?

Not me, yet. But I’m getting closer!

First, let me apologize for not posting in over a week. I do have a really, really good excuse though:

I met a boy. :)

Well, a man, really. But since I feel a lot like a teenage girl around him I think I can appropriately refer to him as a boy without sounding like a total ass. Or not. Either way, I’ve been a little preoccupied--and I’ve been recently reminded by a few readers that simply being in the throes of new love doesn’t constitute a valid excuse to ignore my blog (what a bunch of taskmasters!). And I tend to agree, thus here I sit.

Rest assured that my shrinking butt is still planted firmly on the wagon, and even through it is three days late in coming, I present you with the following photographic evidence thereof:

I feel I should take this moment to mention that for the sake of continuity I have chosen to wear the same clothing items for each two-week progress shot, including the baby blue panties that feature so heavily in this photographic series. Rest assured that all the non-pants clothing you see has been laundered regularly, so snicker and make jokes about the perceived irregularity with which I change my underwear if you must, but know that it’s all fresh as a daisy in reality.

The Christmas Clothes Challenge page has been created, but I’ve held off on posting it:

A. Until my feet touch the ground again, thus giving me the traction necessary to maneuver my laptop into a position that is conducive to that undertaking, or

B. Until I suddenly develop a talent for web publishing skills beyond those of a chimpanzee.

I hope that one or the other will happen in the next few days…

Thursday, September 16, 2010

C is for Cookie...

I had a dream last night.

Not a notable dream, particularly. It wasn’t nearly as complex or interesting as some of the nightly film-festivals my subconscious likes to host in my sleeping brain. I wasn’t cooking tableside for a group of angry Japanese business men who were insistent that I add live baby chicks to their flaming steak-diane, head-butting my way out of a locked wooden box, or trying to remember why I hadn’t bothered to put on pants before showing up for my shift as a barista at Starbucks. (And can I just add here for the record that I have those terribly upsetting “Why the hell am I naked in this random public place?” dreams all the freakin’ time. The real world interpretations seem fairly straightforward to me, but it also seems a little silly that dream nudity upsets me so much when I have no qualms about splashing this little corner of the web with pictures in which my underwear plays a starring role. Go figure.) No, this dream was remarkably mundane.

I dreamed I was eating m&m’s.

That’s it. I wasn’t eating m&m’s while riding on the back of a flying dolphin on my way to the first Calculus class I’d been to all semester even though I needed the credits to graduate and I didn’t even have the book and the final started a half hour ago. I wasn’t chasing a horde of m&m’s down the hall because they’d sprouted legs and fangs and were fleeing from me armed with a bazooka that shoots blobs of rubber cement. And I wasn’t buried up to the neck in a continuous shower of m&m’s and being forced to eat them in great gulping mouthfuls lest they pile up over my head and suffocate me (though I’d be willing to take a shot at reenacting that one!). No, In this dream I was just sitting on the couch, eating m&m’s.

It was kind of awesome.

After surviving several wrestling matches with those candy-coated little boogers over the years, I don’t eat them much any more. I know that the beauty of the Weight Watchers program is that no food is off-limits, and that I absolutely could eat some m&m’s right now if I wanted to. And I do want to. But I also believe that if you opened the door to Hell’s waiting room, walked across the carpet of burning coals and up to the demon on duty at the reception desk, that nestled between a sign that said “Welcome to your Eternal Damnation!” and a picture of a couple of horned & fork tongued children would be a big, heaping bowl of m&m’s--because every good minion knows it’s just good business to keep the candy dish stocked with the infernal creation of the CEO himself.

So today, when a friend at work casually mentioned that she’d bought some m&m cookies for her department, I just as casually mentioned to her that I’d had a dream about m&m’s last night, and then promptly forgot all about the conversation. Until I needed to refill my giant water cup, and sitting there right above the ice machine was this little beauty and a few dozen of his friends:

So I ate it. Well, it wasn’t THIS cookie, because there wasn’t time in the approximately 5 seconds between when I laid eyes on it and when it resided in my digestive tract to snap a photograph. This cookie was the second one I took with me to my desk, and planned to send to the same fate as it’s twin…right after I recorded the indulgence in my daily weight watchers food journal. As I calculated the points for two cookies (two delicious, chewy, moist, buttery, fresh baked m&m cookies), a small bit of my sanity returned and I realized that I was totally fine with spending 5 points on one cookie, but spending 10 points for two of them was just a little too rich for my blood. So instead I took a picture of it, spent a few moments of quality time gazing at it, and then put it back where I found it for someone else to enjoy.

In the end I got to eat my cookie and keep my dignity too, my m&m jones satisfied for the moment.

Dreams really do come true. :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Does my butt make these pants look small?

WARNING: The following post contains an image that shows far less swimsuit-area skin than the one that preceded it two weeks ago, but still a goodly amount of baby blue panties. My apologies to the squeamish.

As you know, there’s a gorgeous pair of white wool pants that have been hanging in my closet for over two years. They’ve been mocking me from their hanger, size 20 tags still attached, for so long that I started to believe that I’d never wear them. But all that changed on August 28th, when I posted a somewhat inappropriate picture of myself wearing (read: squeezed partly into) them, and vowed that I’d do the same thing every two weeks leading up to Christmas Eve 2010 when I would post a picture of myself wearing them to dinner that night.

Unfortunately for you, I am a woman of my word.

I fully expected this first progress shot would be more “shot” than “progress”. After all, two weeks isn’t a very long time in fat-girl years. I mean, sure, I’ve lost nearly 7 pounds in that time but that doesn’t exactly translate to much appreciable sizing movement in the plus-size fashion world. The old convention that you go down a size roughly every 10 pounds doesn’t hold true once you leave the realm of “Misses” sizes to foray into the world of “Women’s” clothing. In fact, in my experience it’s somewhere closer to about 30 pounds between sizes, and can even be more than that the higher you go.

This phenomenon makes perfect sense to me. I think about it like blowing up a balloon. The first few puffs into a deflated balloon make a really big difference, but as the balloon inflates the increase in circumference is less noticeable with each breath of equal volume. It works the very same way in reverse—a slow, steady flow of air out of a full balloon causes it to decrease in size slowly at first until it gets small. It can be frustrating for those of us with so much to lose, and often we have to post really impressive numbers at the scale before the balloon has deflated enough for the world to take notice.

And so I wasn’t terribly hopeful that a seven-pound loss would translate into much pants related progress. But just a scant 14 days since I promised I’d do it, I gently removed those creamy, dreamy trousers from the hanger that’s been their home since I bought them, took them down to the kitchen, slipped them over my legs, up my thighs, to my hips…and up them a few inches! Check it out:


Left: 2 weeks ago, Right: Today!

It’s not like I’m going to wear them to work tomorrow or anything (though if they suddenly dump Casual Friday in favor of Almost Naked Monday, I know what I’m wearing!) but I can actually see the difference. And so could my son! Which, now that I type it, feels a little on the creepy side but I’m going to ignore that feeling in favor of one that’s more pleasant: Hope. I'm starting to really believe that I’ll be wearing these pants come Christmas Eve, and it’s a GREAT feeling.

So I’m putting out the call: Do you have something hanging in your closet that YOU want to wear by the Holidays? If so, I invite you to join me for Sara’s Christmas Clothes Challenge!

The rules are simple, and all they require is the desire to change and a tiny bit of bravery: Pick a piece of clothing that doesn’t fit you right now, power up your camera, and take a picture of yourself in it today. If you’ve got a blog, post that picture for the world to see, along with your pledge to post a new picture every two weeks and send me an email letting me know that you’re in! You can link to my site in your blog if you like, and I’ll link YOU in my bi-weekly white-pants posts. Over the next few months, we’ll have a parade of shrinking, well-dressed bodies to display for the world to see!

And even if you don’t have a blog, you can still play along. You can email me your pictures for me to post (or not to, whatever you prefer) and tell me about your progress, or you can be a silent partner and make a private pledge—but I hope you’ll share your progress with someone when you feel comfortable. I’ve already gotten a few starting pictures from some great readers, and I can’t wait to show you their progress as the weeks pass!

So what do you say, internet? Are you ready for the Christmas Clothes Challenge? Who’s with me?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Looking for the Lightning...

I love this time of year. September rolled in over the plains last week and brought with it the clear sunny days and crisp cool nights of fall, with a pleasant little shower or two thrown in wetting things down enough that I didn’t have to water my lawn (my pathetic, scorched, gasping lawn). This transition time between summer and autumn, when that perfect combination of open windows and lots of covers on the bed makes for the best sleep I’ll get all year (which is totally worth the inevitable teeth-chattering sprint into a hot shower when the alarm goes off) is my favorite season-that-isn't-technically-a-season.

When the oppressive heat of the typical mid-western summer starts to lift (Q: What did the humidity say to the heat? A: It’s not you, It’s ME.), everything around here looks a little brighter. The leaves begin to change colors, the smell of BBQ grills and wood burning fire pits fill the air at dusk, crowds gather to watch padded boys and men of all ages toss around the pigskin, and suddenly I’ve got to find another source of white noise to get to sleep because the constant hum of the air conditioner is missing from the soundtrack of the night.

It always feels like a renaissance to me, when people begin to come out of the off-season hibernation period and emerge from the cool shelter of their homes into a world that no longer threatens to melt them into the pavement if they linger too long in the merciless sun. All of a sudden we’re making excuses to leave the house, reminding each other to take a jacket just in case we need it, and things like mowing the lawn or running to the grocery store don’t feel court ordered punishment anymore. People seem happier, less grumpy, like they’re no longer weighed down by the never ending heat.

And me? I feel good too.

A good friend of mine at the office keeps a basket of candy on her desk, and when she noticed yesterday that her supplies for it were running low, she asked me what she could buy to fill it that wouldn’t tempt me too much. It was such a thoughtful question, borne out of her concern and support for my ongoing battle with the fat (and probably due in no small part to the day I had a run in with a particularly dastardly confection in that very basket). I surprised myself a little by immediately replying “Anything is fine with me, nothing tempts me that much lately.” And I wasn’t just being polite. I actually MEANT it.

Since May of this year, I’ve been back on my weight loss game with a focus and drive that continues to amaze me. It’s not so much the fact that it exists that I find fascinating, but rather that it’s a different feeling than I’ve ever had before. It’s not completely unfamiliar, but it’s not the old feeling I longed to get back for so long either. It’s something totally new, which is a bit of a surprise. I always hoped that if the chaos of the last few years finally abated (and I wasn’t always sure it would, to be honest) that I’d be able to get back where I was before, that those old fires would start to burn again and I’d pick up right where I left off. But that didn’t happen.

When I was finally able to focus on my weight loss goals again, things looked different from my new vantage point. I’d learned a few new things along the way, lessons taken from my successes and won from my failures as well. When I decided that I was ready to get back on the wagon, I took a different seat than I had the last time I’d climbed onto it. The road was the same as it had always been, the map was full of the same landmarks and symbols and the route was clearly marked…but the view wasn’t the same. It wasn’t bad, in fact it was pretty darn good. But something had changed--and eventually I realized what was different this time around:

It was ME.

Motivation is a tricky beast, and many a weight loss journey (or most, if not damn near all of them) have seen setback or two. Or seven. And inevitably when get back down to the business of losing we find ourselves longing for the way things were back when it was all fresh and new, when we felt invincible and couldn’t imagine why we waited so long to take control. We retrace our steps, stretch our arms to the heavens and beg for lightning to strike us again…and it doesn’t. It can’t.

It’s true what they say: lightning never strikes in the same place twice. But that only matters if YOU stay in the same place, and if you keep moving it can strike again. It won’t be exactly the way it was the first time, but you won’t be the same person you were the first time either. You may never forget that first strike, but take it from me--new lightning packs one hell of a jolt.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Feelin' Groovy...

If you’d have told me six months ago that by September I’d have been filling a blog post with all the good stuff that’s been happening lately, I would laughed in your face. And by “laughed in your face” I mean I would have pulled the covers back over my head and grunted something approximating “Go and peddle your optimism elsewhere and leave me to my misery”. But you’d have been right because the glass, these days, is decidedly half-full:

· I lost 3.4 pounds at my weigh in on Saturday morning, capping off another great week with an excellent showing at the scale! I’m just six-tenths of a pound shy of 35 pounds lost since I got back down to business in May, and I’m less than five pounds away from seeing a TWO as the first digit of my weight. All in all, not too shabby!

· I’m three weeks into my online dating experiment and, despite my fears, I haven’t been relegated to “last kid picked for kickball” status. There have been a few bites; some I threw back, some swam away, and few are still on the line…and there’s at least one that I’m willing to keep reeling in. So far, so good.

· My little foray into inappropriate photography in Saturday’s Christmas pants post yielded me some fantastic feedback. The response was overwhelmingly positive (though there’s always a hater or two in the bunch, and I invite those who found the sight of my panties objectionable to remove their finger from the orifice it is currently lodged in and use it to click their mouse right on off of my site), but my favorite email was from a reader who sent me a picture of herself in the pants SHE wants to wear this Christmas—which got me thinking about just how many other people might have something in their closet that’s been mocking them, and wouldn’t it be cool if we could all cheer each other on in some kind of challenge? So take a look in your closet, dust off your camera, and STAY TUNED FOR DETAILS!

· I’m happier more days than I’m sad, I feel good more than I feel bad, and I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of that silver lining they’re always saying every cloud has while I was out walking tonight, and I have the photographic evidence to prove it exists:
Against all odds, today life is GOOD. I realize that all this optimism might be inviting the universe to drop the other shoe that, even as I write this, is likely dangling precariously just overhead. But on days like this, when I begin appreciate just how long it’s been since I’ve had days like this, a potential Nike to the noggin is a risk I’m willing to take.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

One leg at a time, just like everyone else...

WARNING: This post contains a photographic image that may not be suitable for…well…anyone, really.

Every woman on earth knows that sizes in the garment industry are notoriously relative. Since there are no hard and fast standards in women’s clothing sizes, various brands can just make theirs up as they go along, and a selection of garments from different manufacturers with the same size printed on the tags will be vastly different in the way they fit. I have a pair of size 22 pants coming out of storage that fit perfectly, I have a pair of 20’s that I wore to work yesterday that are getting noticeably too big to keep wearing, and I have a pair of size 24 slacks in a drawer that I couldn’t get into with a shoehorn, a can of Crisco, and the collective directed prayer of the Baptist congregation down the street.

Two years ago, when my weight was at it’s lowest in my ongoing journey (which is now just a scant 20 pounds lower than it is right now, I might add) I was out shopping and happened upon a lovely pair of cuffed, wide leg trousers in a dreamy shade of cream that were fully lined and—because miracles do happen—were made for someone who is taller than 5’6”. Which I am. By nearly 5 inches. A glance at the tag revealed that they were a size 20, and, get this, they were ON SALE! And by “on sale” I do not mean that they were marked down from ungodly expensive to merely ridiculously expensive, because I have much higher expectations of exactly what constitutes a bargain than some people. You’ll never see me getting excited over a 15% markdown like some people do. (Yeah, Mom. I’m looking at you.) These were deeply discounted, and so I stepped into the dressing room, slipped them on, and though they were slightly too tight to wear immediately I knew that it’d only be a few more pounds before they’d look like they were made for me. So I bought them, brought them home, hung them up in the closet…and that’s where they’ve been ever since.

As life began to spiral downward, my weight began to inch up to fill the void. And so my brand new beautiful white pants hung there, unworn, tags still in place, as a testament to hope and a reminder of better times gone by. I’d see them almost every morning when I got dressed, and I’d often pause to run a finger down the sharp creases in the buttery material and wonder if I’d ever get to wear them. Once, I decided to try them on, but when they didn’t even clear my thighs, I hung them back up in defeat. After a while I moved them back further into the closet, where I didn’t see them as often. They were out of sight, but never out of my mind. Oh, white pants, I wish I knew how to quit you.

Then just the other day, as I was dressing for work, I realized that the pants I was currently wearing had finally gotten too large to be anything but frumpy. So I pulled them off, relegated them to the goodwill bag, and flipped through the rack of trousers I’ve been working to get back into, when a brilliant flash of white wool caught my eye. In a fit of optimism, I pulled them out of the closet, slipped my legs into them, and pulled them up….to my hips. And that’s as far as they were going to go. As I stood there, more or less trapped in trouser limbo, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and saw this:

It was in that moment I made a vow that I WOULD wear these pants. Soon. Along with all the lofty goals we want to achieve through weight loss, it’s important to have some that are more concrete, more easily measured and reported as tangible proof of our progress. And so, internet, I tell you this: I will wear these slacks to Christmas Eve dinner on December 24, 2010. I’ll try them on every two weeks, and I’ll post a new photo each time. And as the weeks go by I’ll compare that embarrassing photo to this one as a way of reminding myself that I am a work in progress, and that there are two really important words in that phrase. WORK and PROGRESS. I want to see the effects of both of them.

So stay tuned, folks. It’s time to show everyone exactly who wears the pants around here.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

And now for something completely different...

I got an email today from a long time reader who wrote to convey their disappointment in the direction my blog has taken. What once seemed interesting and inspiring was now boring and depressing, and maybe I would be better served by getting back to the grass roots of my journey instead of rehashing “what a shrink said to emphasize your non-fat self worth” and that if I did then self worth would come with reaching my goal.

Well. Ouch.

And so as I hoofed it 3.5 miles around the lake tonight, I thought about what they’d said. I admit that this blog isn’t the same as it used to be. I lost my focus for a while, and my weight loss progress suffered for it. At the time I made the decision that I would keep what I posted on this site on topic, and that what was going on in the rest of my life wasn’t germane. I have always felt that this was a place to tell MY story, but so much of that story was intertwined with one that wasn’t mine to tell, and so I didn’t. Maybe that was a mistake. Maybe a little more information would have bought me some slack. Maybe if I’d hung a sign that said “closed for repairs” and waited until I’d found and glued together all the pieces of my broken heart then I could have returned with a big smile and bypassed all the unpleasant introspection and gotten right back down to the business of finally not being so fat.

I can only tell my story. And this darkness, the one that’s finally lifting, was a part of it. But you know what? So is the light that is finally shining again, and maybe it’s time to write about that. I’m kicking the fat’s ass lately, shedding the pounds and reaping the benefits--and those are my stories to tell too.

In fact, just this morning I set a new goal combining the upcoming holiday season with a pair of winter white wool pants that have been mocking me from my closet for the better part of two years now. I’m on a quest to show those smug slacks who’s the boss around here…complete with embarrassing photos. Wanna see ‘em?

The revolution begins tomorrow. Tune in then!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

One (point two) is the loneliest number...

But I’ll take it!

The scale ponied up a 1.2 pound loss this week effectively putting an end to two weeks of involuntary maintenance, and saving me the jail time that would inevitably have ensued if I’d been forced to make good on my threat to take the weigh-in lady hostage if she told me my weight hadn’t budged yet again. (You got lucky this time, Gloria.)

In the fight against the fat, it’s tough not to get obsessed with the scale. In fact, its counter intuitive (and kind of stupid, frankly) to say that focusing on the numbers isn’t important. The goals of better health, increased mobility, rising self confidence, and improvements in quality of life are all a direct result of the steady decline of the same numbers we try and diminish the importance of. All the benefits of working to be at a healthy weight are side effects of watching the digits on the scale go down, and when they stand still even for a short period of time it can be easy to lose sight of everything we’ve gained in the wake of what we’re not losing.

As I paused for the applause at receiving another 5 pound star, I considered my answer to my leader’s standard “So tell us how your weight loss is affecting your life” that I knew would follow. I considered regaling the group with the fact that this is not my first go round with WW, and that while I’ve lost over 30 pounds since rejoining in May, my grand total is much more than that, but even just composing that speech in my head made me roll my own eyes so I refrained. When the question was posed, I decided to just go with the truth as it stands for me today:

This is another day in a lifelong struggle, and I know that they key to this whole weight loss thing isn’t dwelling on the last year, or month, or day, or weigh-in, or choice. As a very good friend of mine is fond of saying, the only thing that matters is what I do next. And that’s what I’m concentrating on today. And tomorrow. And beyond.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?

I took a personality test a few weeks ago and was rewarded with a 30 page long in-depth assessment detailing 15 different dimensions of just what this Sara person is all about.  This is not the first time I’ve been exposed to one of these personality inventory tools, and with exception, every time I’ve taken a similar test (Cosmo quizzes about your flirting style and “Which twilight character are you?” viral web tests don’t count.  But FYI, I’m a Jacob.) I find myself flabbergasted at just how accurate the findings are.  There are days when I can’t seem to take what’s pinging around my skull and form it into a coherent set of thoughts in 1000+ words (and for proof, I offer the last, oh, 90 or so entries below), but 45 minutes of yes/no answers, multiple choice questions, and rating various characteristics on a scale of “very much like me” to “not at all like me” appears to be adequate time to have me analyzed, pegged, printed, and spit out.

Flipping through the results (read: poring over the pages and highlighting particular passages in two separate colors, one for items that resonated with me for their accuracy, and another for the things that were totally true but not terribly comfortable to read—then adding a third color for things I want to bring up in therapy. Yep. Sell crazy somewhere else, we’re all stocked up here.) I found myself flattered by some things I knew to be true, enlightened by a few things I realized were true after I read them, and moved to action by a particularly accurate passage.  In the section that explores the impact that our words have on those around us, my report had this to say:

“You've learned over time to speak kindly. You find the right word to let your friends or your partner or even strangers know the best things you feel or believe about them. You have opinions, of course, and you hold strong beliefs, but the first thing out of your mouth in response to what someone says is not a contradiction to or a complaint about what they've said. You find a compliment either for what they've said or how they've said it, and you mean what you say. It may not be the whole truth but it's the truth that matters to you between you and the person in front of you.”

That rings true to me.  I believe that in nearly every situation in life we can choose to be kind, and that all too often the phrase “I’m just being honest” is code for “I can say any jackass thing I want because I deem it to be true”.  I will call a spade a spade (or a douche bag a douche bag, as the case may be) when appropriate, but I will also be truthful without being an ass about it.  For instance, I will never tell anyone they have an ugly baby.  The appropriate response to “isn’t she adorable?” is never “My God, if that showed up at my bedside in the middle of the night asking for a drink I’d fling holy water at it!”  The correct response to that question is “She’s so sweet, you must be so proud!” The choice to be kind and still be authentic is one that I’ve worked to make whenever possible in my life.  So that’s why I caught my breath a little when I went on to read this:

”Hopefully you are as kind toward yourself as you are toward others; hopefully your inner dialogue with yourself is as laced with positives as are your conversations with those you love. This may be an issue. Some people speak kindly and believe what they say about others, but their kindness toward others comes in part as a comparison with their more hostile feelings about themselves. You may want to check this out. There's an easy test: do you use the same vocabulary toward yourself that you use toward others? If not, why not?”

That was truth all right. Kindly stated, no less.  When I take that test, I fail.  Miserably.  Compassion for others is a trait that comes naturally to me, the impulse toward kindness isn’t an affectation, it is a part of who I am.  I can’t imagine meeting anyone on the street and looking them up and down and declaring them disgusting, or ugly, or unlovable, or pathetic.  But I’ve stared into the eyes of my reflection and thought all of those things and worse.  I can give just about anyone a break for behavior that makes the rest of the world cringe because I believe that it’s unfair to permanently judge otherwise good people by their worst moments, yet I will replay my own moments of shame on a giant drive-in screen in my head and judge myself harshly for them long after the moment has passed.

For most of my life, I’ve bought into those things that so much of the world still believes go hand in hand with obesity.  Fat people are undisciplined, they’re weak—and as a result they are disgusting, unattractive, and pathetic.  When I step back and look objectively, I realize that I am NONE of those things.  It’s time for me to take the golden rule, flip it on it’s ear, and start treating myself the way I treat others.  I’ve been practicing this lately, and while I’m no Stuart Smalley yet, it’s getting easier to look myself in the eye and realize that I like what I see.

Do you use the same vocabulary toward yourself that you use toward others?  If not, why not?

Do tell…

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Someone Like Me

This will probably come as a surprise to most of you, but I have a tendency to over think things sometimes.
 
(Pause for exclamations of shock. None?  Really? Ok then.)
 
This propensity toward mulling is tempered with an oddly compatible impulsive side that pops up seemingly out of nowhere to put an end to the ruminating and just make a decision already.  One day I’ll be thinking to myself “Gee, I’d sure like a new throw pillow for the chair in the living room” thus kicking off weeks (or months, or years) of looking at the pillow selection whenever I’m at the store, scanning the pages of magazines for pillow related inspiration, scoping out fabric for the purely theoretical pillows I could (read: never will) sew myself, until one day I’m walking through Target and upon seeing a pillow that looks absolutely nothing like I’ve been imagining all this time I’ll throw it in the cart, take it home, and voila! Pillow problem solved.  I sum up this particular offshoot of my crazy like this: I don’t always know what I’m looking for, but I know it when I see it.  
 
And this is how, in a rare burst of self-esteem, I decided that I was ready to start dating again.  Never mind that I haven’t been “out there” in over a decade, or that I’ve rarely even been “out of the house” for a significant portion of the tail end of that same period.  Never mind that 39 year old neurotic fat girls aren’t exactly in high demand in the marketplace, or that I don’t have the foggiest idea what the young people consider “dating” these days.  These were thoughts I’d spent months mulling over, imagining the consequences to, weighing the pros and cons of, and putting off for consideration later.  Then one night about two weeks ago, a switch clicked in my mind and I sat down with my laptop and credit card and signed up for a major internet dating service (I’m not going to name names, but I’ll give you a hint: It rhymes with “Bee Flarmony”).  
 
As soon as I made the decision to give this whole dating thing a go, it was like an enormous weight was lifted off my shoulders.  About ten minutes into filling out the (LONG) personality questionnaire and contemplating what to write on my profile and which pictures I would upload, that same weight came crashing right back down with a vengeance.  Why had I thought that this was a good idea, again?  Did I really believe that with thousands of pretty girls in the metro area looking for love that anyone would give me a second glance? Would it be a better use of my $300 to pay a random guy on the street to take me to a movie, or would $300 even be enough to convince him to do so? What the HELL was I thinking?
 
It was then that the rational part of my brain, the one that so often gets slapped down by the emotional whirlwind it shares my skull with, spoke up and told me to get a hold of myself.  I’m not exactly a troll, after all.  In fact, on paper I’m almost a catch.  I’m raising a terrific kid, I own a home, I have a job I love, I’m smarter than the average tree stump, I have a good sense of humor, I am kind and articulate and have all my teeth. All those things combined are part of a decent package…it’s the wrapping paper that makes me doubt that anyone will ever want to open it.
 
There’s not much about myself that I really dislike.  I am confident in my abilities and talents, I know my strengths, and I can even make a list of attributes that I am proud of without having to pause too many times to think about it.  There is only one issue that causes me to doubt all the other things I know to be true.  Whatever hand I’ve been dealt, the Queen of Fat is always in play, and when I lay my cards on the table it trumps them all.  It always has.
 
It’s not impossible to find love when you’re overweight.  I’ve done it before, and statistically I tend to believe that I’ll do it again.  But I know that, despite all the feel-good rhetoric to the contrary, it can be a speed bump in the process.  Fat can be a deal breaker for some people, and even when you do click with someone and you start to believe that maybe the weight isn’t an issue, it can still be the unspoken barrier to full fledged romance.  Or the spoken one, for that matter.
 
Case in point: Years ago I was dating a guy that was a heck of a catch.  He was smart, funny, mentally stable, and I liked him a lot.  And, because wonders never cease, he liked ME.  We’d only been dating a short time when, while we were out to dinner one night, we were discussing what a good time we’d been having with each other over the few weeks since we’d met.  He said some very complimentary things to me, and then followed it up with the fact that in the past he’d always dated really pretty girls, so when he first met me, it was—and I quote—“hard getting used to someone like you”.
 
I remember that moment so vividly that even recalling it now 14 years later my chest gets tight and my mouth goes dry, and I’m right back there sitting across the table from a man that had basically told me that I was OK for a fat chick.  The difference is that the woman I am now probably wouldn’t have smiled brightly while she died a little inside, she wouldn’t have nodded like she totally understood what he meant and could see how he felt that way, and she certainly wouldn’t have thanked him for giving a “girl like her” a chance and made pleasant conversation for the rest of the meal before going home and bursting into tears and never returning his phone call again.  At least I’d like to think she wouldn’t.
 
But the truth is that, in some respects, I’m still that girl at the table that night hoping that it’s not too late to find someone willing to take a chance on “someone like her”.  The difference is that this version of me is a little older, and a whole lot wiser.  Or at least a little wiser, anyway.  I know now that I have a lot to offer the right person, and that the key word in that phrase is “right”.  As I look through the profiles of men who have been deemed to be compatible with me, and of the men who have made contact to learn more about me, I realize that I have developed some pretty high standards in my old age.  I require more from a partner than their mere ability to take a chance on “someone like me”.  I want to find a man who is looking for someone just like me.  He’s out there somewhere.
 
I hope.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Pete and Repeat were sitting in a boat, Pete fell out and who was left?

A reading from the book of Scales, Chapter 8, Verse 14:

"Blessed is she who is faithful in the counting of her points and does move her larger than average booty over the land on a regular basis. She is secure in the knowledge that for her faithfulness she shall have the promise of numbers that diminish with each week she endures. And lo, on the seventh day, Sara didst step upon the scale to claim the fruits of her labor, and did see a number not smaller, nor larger than the one she had seen seven days hence. What a kicketh in the groin."

Seriously, universe?

I'd tell you in great detail exactly how I feel about this week's non-event at the scale, but it turns out I already did that about 4 inches south of here, so I'll wait while you read my last blog entry again. Go ahead, scroll down and feel the frustration all over again. Done? Ok then.

I've had a great run since that May morning when Weight Watchers welcomed back the prodigal daughter with open arms (but no feasting, because have you SEEN the nutritional information for fatted calf? CRAZY!), and I suppose that statistically I was due for a week or two of tribulation. I'll keep the faith, and my nose the grindstone, secure in the knowledge that this too shall pass.

Into every weight loss journey, a few maintains must fall. Can we declare these my "few" and get on with it already?

Whine over. Resolve rebooted. Game on.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The scale, she is a cruel mistress...

Seven days ago, after a solid week of Points counting and daily bouts of vigorous activity (which I performed in temperatures akin to those at the bottom of an active volcano, I’ll have you know. It’s been so hot I haven’t taken my dog out walking with me because it’s just too dangerous to expose her to that kind of heat what with her inability to sweat and all. My safety, however, isn’t an issue as I happen to be a gifted perspirer and maintaining a protective layer of sweat at all times has prevented me from bursting into flames. So far. Stupid global warming.), I stepped on the scale with a positive attitude and a smile for the Weight Watchers employee behind the counter and was rewarded with the following sentence:
“You stayed exactly the same as last week.”

To which I shrugged and replied: “Bummer. Well, whattaya gonna do, huh?”

That’s what I said out loud, anyway. My internal dialogue was somewhat less philosophical. While my face was all “Hey, those are the breaks!” my brain was sneering, stomping it’s imaginary feet into the dirt, and cussing like a longshoreman. Nothing? At all? I bet if I’d stopped to use the bathroom before weighing in I could have eked out* at least a tenth of a pound. I had JUST weighed myself at home before I left (Yes. I weigh myself occasionally during the week, and I know some people don’t do that and have many, many opinions as to why it’s a bad idea that range from sensible to holier than thou. I’ve heard ‘em. I get it. Don’t judge me!) and according to my scale I was down nearly 2 pounds and the two scales in my life are generally 100% in sync. And while we’re at it, I should mention that even my expected 1.whatever loss wasn’t exactly making me jump for joy in the first place, so ending up with a big fat goose egg for the week left me a little on the bitter side.

I know this is a silly attitude. I know that the five seconds we step up on the scale each week is just a snapshot in time, a single frame in the thousands—millions, really—that make up the rest of our lives. I know that my weight in that same five seconds isn’t always a reflection of the work I put in the seven days that preceded it. I know that sometimes the scale doesn’t cooperate no matter how well your week has gone, or how much you deserve to see a payoff when you step on it. I even know that there is one week every month when that most blessed gift of womanhood wreaks havoc on my system in ways too numerous to mention (but not too numerous to track on the iPeriod app!) and that last week was that very week for me. I know all of that. But right that second, when the sting of unearned disappointment was fresh, I just didn’t care.

I slipped on my flip flops, stepped away from the scale, and started toward the chairs in the meeting area when the thought entered my petulant little brain that I shouldn’t stay for the meeting that day. Since I hadn’t gotten the validation I deserved from the scale, surely the best way to retaliate would be to refuse to sit down and participate in a conversation about a program that clearly didn’t work like it’s supposed to, stomp off in a huff and let them watch my big behind sashay right out the door thank you very much while I rolled my eyes because THAT WOULD SHOW THEM!

So I began digging through my purse for my keys, my sunglasses slipping down off my head while I juggled that week’s meeting materials and my water bottle in one hand, while using my other hand to plumb the depths of my handbag for the keys that I suddenly realized weren’t there because I’d left them on the counter in my haste to run away from that hateful little bucket of bolts that had taken a pin to my good mood balloon seconds before. So I walked over, slid the keys toward me, and the lady behind the counter asked cheerfully “You’re staying for the meeting, aren’t you Sara?”

And just like that, I was.

I’ve been doing this for a long time. And the truth is that I’ve learned to accept that I’ll be doing it forever. And as such, with forever being such a long time and all, it’s probably likely that not every day is going to be hearts and flowers and slow-motion romps through fragrant meadows. Some days are going to be harder than others, and I’m going to have to let the rational, mature Weight Watcher inside me grapple with the holy terror of an inner child who still believes that not being able to eat all her points each day in Hostess cupcakes is like so, TOTALLY unfair. On that morning, that particular battle ended with a stern look and a whispered threat to the little girl who took over my body temporarily instead of me having to take her whiny self outside and pop her on her ample bottom.

They say in Weight Watchers circles that sometimes you need the meeting and sometimes the meeting needs you. I needed the meeting that day. I needed to remember that I really believe all those platitudes about the scale only being one measure of our success, and that in the end the number it reads doesn’t matter as much as we think it does. I had a really good week last week. I had another one this week. If I’m doing what I should, then the scale will pony up the goods. Eventually.

But just for the record: Grrr.

*Editing note: I originally used the phrase “squeezed out” in this sentence but it skeeved me out when I read it back.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Little boxes on the hillside, little boxes made of ticky tacky...

I believe that we are all essentially the product of our experiences, and that as our lives progress the memories of where we’ve been and what we’ve learned combine to form the core of who we are and help to steer where we’ll go next. In my nearly 40 years on this earth, experience has let me to believe in a few fundamental truths:

Number 1: If there is someone or something in your life that your family doesn’t like (assuming that your family is functional and good for you), then you can be assured that in nearly every case, they are usually 100% right.

Number 2: If you’re going to accidentally wear your shirt home inside out after a night involving activities of a questionable nature, it’s best to make sure that it isn’t one with shoulder pads sewn into it.

Number 3: There’s something wrong with me.

I was talking to my therapist the other day (which is good, since that’s what I pay her for and all. I suppose I could sit in her office and silently crochet for an hour, but that seems like a waste of $120 and since I only know how to crochet one thing I don’t know what I’d do with all the resulting pot holders), and she was grilling me about my childhood. And by “grilling” I mean she was asking me pointed questions in a polite tone. And by “pointed” I mean normal questions a therapist might ask when presented with a patient who says she had a good childhood but still manages to be moderately bat-shit crazy in spite of that fact. And by “moderately bat-shit crazy” I mean that despite all evidence to the contrary, it turns out she doesn’t think very much of herself. Where, she wants to know, does this stem from?

The truth is that I did have a normal childhood. I had two parents who loved and supported me, very little in the way of chaos (unless you count that ten pound bundle of joy they brought home from the hospital when I was six and have always liked better than me), and certainly no abuse or trauma in my past that might have been the sparks that lit the fire of self-doubt. There are a lot of reasons people grow up with an impaired sense of self-esteem, but none of them seem to apply to me. I was not berated tirelessly for my faults, my family situation didn’t force me to assume responsibilities far beyond my age, and I didn’t suffer indignities at the hands of those who were supposed to love me and protect me. I got good grades, I won recognition for my talents, and I managed to eventually grow into a responsible adult in charge of raising another human being who happens to be a pretty great kid. There just isn’t any reason for me to doubt my value as a person. Except one.

It always comes back to the fat, doesn’t it?

I’ve spent about 35 of the last 39 years struggling with my weight. I’ve written before about some of my experiences as an overweight kid and all the ways that my parents tried to help me shed the pounds. I am adamant in my insistence that there was no malice in their efforts, and that every attempt to help me slim down was made out of a desire to make my life better. But it turns out that even my sincere belief in the purity of their intentions doesn’t change the fact that, from a very early age, I knew that there was something wrong with me. Something that needed fixing. Something that was so bad that they’d do nearly anything to change it. Something that I could fix if I just wanted it badly enough and worked hard enough that I could give it to them…and I never could.

Somewhere along the line, the knowledge that no matter what else I was or how much I achieved, the fact that I did it in a body larger than anyone else I knew became the mitigating factor to every achievement (or failure) I racked up. The fat became the cornerstone of my self worth, the broad and wobbly foundation upon which all the other things I am have been laid. My weight has been a defining force in my life, a barometer of my greater success over the years. It’s how I’ve judged who I am, and what I deserve…and I didn’t even realize it until recently.

Do not mistake this revelation as an indictment of my parents in any way. They are wonderful people who continue lovingly support me as they have my whole life. There are millions of people with legitimate parental grievances to air and I won’t pretend that I am among them. The truth is that my feelings about my weight and how it’s defined my life are much less about them than they are about ME. I am a muller, a thinker, a dweller of thoughts. Plant a seed in my brain and I’ll nurture and fertilize it until it grows in to a sturdy plant with deep roots and an impressive canopy of branches…but I just might look up and realize that I’ve been fostering a weed. I’ve been mulching and pruning and watering this sucker for decades, it seems. What a colossal waste of time.

Its time tend to the rest of the garden, to see what else might be hiding under that big fat weed’s leaves just waiting for a chance in the sun. I think I’m ready to find out.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Good News, Bad News

Ok, internet—let’s play a game of Good News, Bad News. Which do you want to hear first? I always want to get the bad news out of the way so that the good news is like a little present you get for sitting through the stuff that sucks, so away we go!

Bad News: I’ve had a ridiculously stressful week since my last post. Know what you get when you combine family health issues, work stress, and a little revisited relationship drama for garnish? Crazy Casserole, that’s what.

Good News: I’m still 100% on my weight loss game. SERIOUSLY! Turns out a heaping helping of Crazy Casserole daily doesn’t have as many calories as you’d think. Looking over my emotional balance sheet, it turns out that I’ve freed up enough margin to handle everything life’s tossed at me lately. So far.

Bad News: I have been slacking in the workout department. Digging around in my big bag of excuses yields the following:
  1. My walking partner is my dog who is terrified of both thunder and fireworks, so she’s spent most of July hiding in my closet instead of at the end of her leash.
  2. The average ambient temperature the last few weeks has been just a degree or two below that of the surface of the sun, so one could theorize that I haven’t been slacking so much as avoiding heat stroke.
  3. I don’t have a gym membership, so I can’t exercise indoors. (Which happens to be a lie straight from the pit of hell, because I totally DO have a gym membership but lately I’ve preferred outdoor exercise and thus have to consider the $34.99 I pay each month as less a membership fee than a voluntary fat tax.)
Good News: I recognize that my excuses are crap. Turns out I really miss working out (well, I miss the part after the first 10 minutes of repeating “God I hate this” over and over in my head) and am making a concerted effort to get out for a walk every day—even if it’s a little treadmill time at the gym or a 15 minute jaunt around the neighborhood, with our without canine companionship.

Bad News: I’m still fat.

Good News: I never got as fat as I once was, and I’m not as fat as I was just a few months ago. I am down a full size from where I was in May, and these clothes are starting to get a little big so I predict it won’t be long before they’re relegated to the goodwill box and replaced with the next smallest batch of garments in my closet.

Bad News: I’ve been avoiding owning up to the numbers on the scale, purposely talking around them and hinting at my current weight here in the vaguest of terms (example: the BN/GN that immediately precedes this paragraph) in a vain attempt to maintain some semblance of my dignity.

Good News: That ends today. I’ve spent countless breaths and bytes extolling the virtues of honesty in this weight loss game, and everything I know deep down in my fat-girl soul tells me that it’s easier to fight the good fight out in the open, so in my continuing effort to suck it up and keep it real, I present you with the following photographic evidence:


Bad News: Posting that wasn’t very much fun.

Good News: It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. In fact, it was kind of liberating. Yes, weigh 313.3 pounds, but I don’t weigh 383.6 pounds anymore. Yes, I used to see a number that started with a 2 just that many years ago, but I am confident I’ll see that number again soon enough. Yes, I wear a size 22, but I don’t wear a size 24 like I did in April, or a size 28 like I did way back at the beginning of my weight loss journey. I’m still learning that the number that hateful little bucket of bolts coughs up each week isn’t who I am, it’s just a snapshot of five seconds of my life on 1 day out of thousands. It’s simply data, one tiny piece of information that is part of a larger picture, and it exists whether I shout it to the world or not. So, world, consider yourself shouted at.

Bad News: I’m ending this post because I’ve got no more bad news to report.

Good News: See “Bad News” above.

Monday, July 19, 2010

What's Hunger Got to Do With It?

One of the very best things about Weight Watchers is that there truly is no food that is off limits.  Since the program is centered around the POINTS system where each food is evaluated by their calorie, fat & fiber content, literally any food you can name can be worked into the plan.  And it’s not even cheating!  
 
This flexibility is the reason that WW is the only plan that has ever made sense to me.  You see, I refuse to live in a world where a burrito the size of a Chihuahua or a cheeseburger on a grilled buttered bun isn’t an occasional option in my life (the operative word being “occasional”, of course.  If anyone tries to sell you a magic pill that allows you to eat these kinds of things every day and still lose weight, prepare for disappointment.  Or explosive diarrhea.  Probably both!).  
 
The ability to still eat the foods that the typical diet declares forbidden makes Weight Watchers the only plan that I have even a hope of following for a lifetime.  If, every once in a while, I want to eat a grilled sourdough melt sandwich, crinkle cut french fries, a couple of fried cheese curds, and then indulge in the world’s finest Turtle Sundae, I CAN.  And that’s how I ended up in a booth at Culver’s on Saturday night, wiping ketchup off of my chin with a greasy napkin and engaging in the following exchange with my 15 year old son:
 
Me: That was delicious.  Are you ready to order ice cream?
 
Son: Nah, I’m not hungry enough.
 
Me: I didn’t ask if you were hungry, I asked if you wanted ice cream.
 
Son: What’s the difference?
 
Me: What’s the diff…who are you, anyway?
 
Son: I’m your son, Mom.
 
Me: I HAVE NO SON!
 
And that isn’t even the first time we’ve had nearly that exact same conversation.  It boggles the mind that any child of mine could reject food (especially ICE CREAM) on the basis that he “isn’t hungry”.  In my world, whether or not one is hungry has very little (or nothing, even) to do with the decision to eat.  
 
Hunger isn’t a feeling I’ve been terribly well acquainted with in my life.  I don’t know if I’m just missing the synapses that appropriately fire the “I’m hungry” message from the stomach to the brain, or if I have too many of them so I always think I’m starving.  It could be that for most of my life I just never stopped eating long enough to really BE hungry.  
 
I’m inclined to believe that there’s some truth in that last theory, to be honest.  I vividly remember one day early on in my weight loss journey when I was busily working toward a deadline on a work project and I started to feel strange.  My stomach began to ache, and as I continued to push on I found myself rubbing at a pain in my temples and getting a little light headed when I went to stand.  I worried that I was coming down with something and began to panic, when I glanced over at the clock and realized that it was nearly 2PM and I’d worked straight through lunch.  It dawned on me that I wasn’t sick, I was HUNGRY.  I took a few minutes to eat the lunch I’d packed, and a la peanut butter sandwiches--I was cured!  
 
There is a school of thought that holds that they key to fighting the obesity epidemic is to learn to eat more intuitively, to let our bodies tell us that we need to eat, and to recognize the clues that reveal when we should stop eating.  I’m told that people without food issues do this instinctively, that they listen to their bodies.  I listen to my body too, and if you put your ear up to the screen and remain very, very still I bet you can hear it right now saying:
 
“FEED ME!  I WANT CHEETOHS!  HEY, GOT ANY MORE STRAWBERRIES?  WHAT ARE WE HAVING FOR DINNER?  REMEMBER THAT ONE TIME WE HAD CHICKEN FRIED STEAK IN THAT TRUCKSTOP IN ALABAMA?  THAT WAS AWESOME.  LUNCH WAS LIKE TWO HOURS AGO, IS IT TIME FOR A SNACK YET?  CAN I HAVE THE WATERMELON NOW?  PLEEEEASE?  HELLO UP THERE, PAY ATTENTION TO ME!”
 
And that’s pretty much what I hear every day.  All day.  Oh, it changes up the material now and then, sometimes it’s not quite that loud and every once in a while it throws in some stuff about how well I’m controlling myself and how much better life is now.  And then there are the days when it speaks in hushed tones, when it hisses that I can try to ignore it, but sooner or later I’ll give it what it wants, that the food will make things right again.  The yelling is a pain, but the whispering feels louder sometimes.
 
I wish that my body was trustworthy enough to listen to.  I wish that it was easy for me to instinctively eat just as much as my body needs to function well, and no more.  But if wishes were fishes, well let’s face it, I’d eat ‘em.  But wishing my obesity away hasn’t been a particularly affective technique for weight loss in the past.  I’m not sure my relationship with food will ever be easy or that my instincts where it’s concerned will ever be normal.  My body may always speak to me the way it does now, so maybe instead of learning how to listen to it, I need to learn how to talk to it.  To reason with it, to cajole and guide it in the direction I need to go to really honor it.  How to ignore it if necessary.  To give it what it needs instead of what it thinks it wants.
 
Like a Culver’s turtle sundae, for instance.  My body REALLY wanted one the other night.  It told me all about the reasons it should have one, it quoted my remaining points for the week and did the math and gave me it’s best “come on, you know you want it!” speech, it pouted and frowned and whined about how I never let it do ANYTHING fun…so I told it to hush.  And you know what?  It DID.  And it turns out that self-control tasted just as good as that sundae might have.  
 
Maybe even better.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Every time a bell rings...

It’s no secret that I hit a bit of a rough patch in the last few years. It seems perfectly logical to me that we refer to difficult times as “rough” because it does feel a lot like someone is forcibly dragging you, barefoot, over sandpaper. It smarts at first, becomes excruciating quickly, and the longer it goes on the more it wears you down. And that’s why getting to say the following sentence feels like an amazing gift, a privilege in fact:

Life, my friends, is good.

I’m smiling again. Writing again. Wearing color again. I’m LIVING again—and it feels great. Just the other day I was telling a friend that it’s like I looked up one day and the little storm cloud that’s been following me around was gone. They smiled and said “It’s time for you try out your wings.” So that’s what I decided to do. Literally.

Last night I faced down a fear that has plagued me for the better part of 20 years. It was a step so bold that the decision to finally do it had taken on mystical significance in my mind. I have suffered for my resistance to cross that line and agonized over the possibility of finally taking the plunge.

Janeane Garafolo once said that there are two kinds of women in the world: those with shapely upper arms, and those with matronly upper arms…and never the twain shall meet. At my highest weight, I fell firmly in the matronly category, add in some weight loss (and gain, and loss) and an already touchy underarm situation went from bad to worse. Skin that was once stretched tight with fat has been slowly morphing into a wing like structure (affectionately termed “bat wings” by the fat-fighting community) that keeps on waving even when I stop. I’ve become a devotee of the ¾ length sleeve, and acquired an impressive collection of shrugs and sweaters and wraps and shawls to drape over anything that has less than adequate sleeve coverage. But yesterday afternoon, when the mercury topped out at 111 degrees in the shade, I threw caution to the wind, and....

I went SLEEVELESS!

Well, perhaps “threw caution to the wind” is an overstatement of my zeal. The decision was easy to make, but the execution required a little moral support. I called my sister in law for some cheerleading and minor commiseration (because she has lovely upper arms, no matter what she says) complete with a few texted photographs of the offending arm flappage. We decided that if I felt more comfortable keeping my upper arms at my side that I could totally get away with just moving them from the elbows down, kind of like T-Rex. I then quizzed my 15 year old son about whether or not my uncovered arms would be embarrassing to him, which earned me eye rolling and several variations of “of course not!” (note to self: raise his allowance). I took a few pictures to commemorate the event:


This one wasn’t so bad, really. I mean, I’m certainly larger than I’d like to eventually be, and my hair hadn’t been styled since 7:30 AM, but from a purely arm-focused perspective I don’t look deformed or anything. As long as I don’t start enthusiastically flapping my arms and pretending I’m an airplane, no one will have to see this:


I was understandably less thrilled with this photo. I told myself that I didn’t HAVE to post this one here, but it didn’t take long before I decided that I would. My arms are getting flappy for sure, but striking that exact pose is probably only going to happen if I’m held up at gunpoint or spontaneously break out into “the robot”, and the chance of either of those things occurring at a Wednesday night marching band show seemed somewhat unlikely. Plus, in the event that there was an emergency that required us to evacuate the area, I could spread my arms and coast off the bleachers to safety a la a flying squirrel! But at the end of the day, those are my upper arms. And they’re only going to get worse.

I have spent most of my life disliking my body. I have scrutinized its glaring imperfections in the mirror, and averted my eyes to that same reflection just as often. I have wished it was leaner, longer, less lumpy, or more attractive. I’ve liked how I look, only to have that feeling stolen by photographic evidence to the contrary. I’ve bemoaned the negative aesthetic consequences the positive changes my weight loss has earned me. And you know what? I’m tired of it. My ever increasing bat wings aren’t terribly attractive, but that same skin wasn’t exactly fetching when it was stuffed tighter with fat either. Pick your ugly, I say.

I don’t want to spend the rest of my life hating my body. I don’t want to have every good change I’ve made be mitigated by new insecurities. And I certainly don’t want to spend even one more scorching hot summer under long sleeves because I’m worried that my upper arms might offend the world at large.

And so it happened that at 6:15 PM, on July 14, 2010, I left the house with my arms on display for the world to see in all their naked glory. It was a little scary at first, but that fear was quickly replaced with a feeling of liberation. Turns out it WAS time for me to try my wings. I did it, you know what? I’m probably going to do it again. Soon.

And if anyone has a problem with that, they can kiss my big, fat, white ARMS!


So who else is ready to fly? If you’re up for the challenge then bare those arms, smile for the camera, and tell me ALL about it at skinnysara@cox.net

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

52

52 is a strangely random number to have cultural significance, don’t you think? It’s the number of cards in a deck, the number of weeks in a year, and how many white keys there are on a piano. Add a “B” and it turns into a mighty war plane (or a kooky but bitchin’ Atlanta based house band). Exhaustive research (a.k.a. 5 minutes of exercising my master googling skills) reveals that 52 is the atomic weight of Chromium, and the name of the only fully licensed bathhouse in Newcastle’s vibrant “Gay Quarter”. It’s the 66th & 67th (and 172nd and 173rd) digits of pi, the percentage of marriages that will eventually end in divorce, and the Psalm where David uses the simile “like a green olive tree in the house of God” to describe himself (I don’t know what it means either). The number 52 even has its own Facebook page, is the title of a comic book, and is the numerological value of the word “INFINITY”.

52 also happens to be the number of days that I’ve been back on my game. IN A ROW! Which, given that for nearly 14 times that number of days that came before I couldn’t seem to stay 100% on program for even two days (heck, sometimes two HOURS), makes that whole “infinity” numerology reference seem pretty accurate.
It was 52 days ago that I woke up ready to get back down to business, and it’s been 52 continuous days of practicing the mechanics of weight loss. 52 days of journaling everything I’ve eaten, increasing my activity level, and making mindful choices. 52 days of being back in control. And it feels good. Really, really good.

It turns out that 52 days is long enough to see some real progress. On day 7, I saw my first payoff at the scale. On day 18 I graciously accepted the premise that pizza is an entrĂ©e and not a full meal and enjoyed one slice for dinner. On day 20 I realized I was already using my inhaler less than I had been just a few weeks before. On day 36 I didn’t break a sweat while hooking my workout bra (resistance bands have NOTHING on that lycra monster!), and on day 51 I was comfortable enough with how things were going to change the status of this recent leg of my weight loss journey from “fluke” to “status quo”.

From day 1, I’ve been enjoying a level of commitment that has been what my battle with the fat rarely is: EASY. I’ve spent 52 days back on program without having to wrestle my natural inclinations to the ground. I’m not sure just who to thank for the relative peace of the last 52 days, but I’m not sure it matters why the sailing has been so smooth thus far.

I think that the biggest mistake we can make in this whole weight loss thing is buying into the idea that it’s finite in nature. If we believe that we’re working toward a magical finish line off in the distance that marks the and the beginning of a new life, then our weight loss efforts are a temporary discomfort that buys our admission into the fabulous life that the fat’s been denying us. It seems so simple: be good, get to heaven. Conventional weight loss terminology encourages this mindset: Follow a set of rules, reach your “goal” and then sail on into “maintenance”. We throw in a little lip service about the key to weight loss being permanent lifestyle change, but deep down we’re pretty sure once we shed the weight that we can kiss this weight loss thing goodbye and finally start to LIVE again.

For me, giving up the idea of the imaginary finish line was the death of a dream I’d had since my very first diet attempt way back in the second grade. It took me nearly 30 years to realize that if I kept waiting for three magic numbers on the scale to appear before living my life, that same life was going to pass me by. It occurs to me that maybe the prize isn’t at the end of the road, but at every stop along it. I don’t know what waits for me at day 60, or 420, or 6,932. But I know that day 52 feels a lot like success to me, and that it’s the first day of the rest of this journey. 52=Infinity indeed.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Elephants never forget either...Coincidence?

I have this theory that 90% of being smart is simply having a really, really good memory. Intelligence is essentially the ability to retain information, be able to recall it at a moment’s notice, and then to see how it relates to all the other things you know. It’s being able to connect those random facts into meaningful chains of information and then relaying those connections to the world that makes someone sound so gosh darn smart.

Now, I’m not the smartest girl on earth but judging by my “smart=keen memory” theory alone, I just might be smarter than your average bear (and for proof, I offer our shared affinity for all things that come in pick-a-nick baskets!). Genetics blessed me with a brain that stores copious amounts of information away for future reference. Those same genetics did not, however, provide me with a particularly reliable system for cataloging and classifying that data. It seems to me that the space in my noggin that stores to the lyrics to every song I’ve ever heard, the position on the page of pivotal sections of various novels and textbooks, and every line uttered in Monty Python movies might be put to better use for things that are potentially lucrative. Like, say, physics equations or blackjack card counting. Or where my car keys are.

So it should not come as a surprise that there is a substantial percentage of my brain that is devoted to foods gone by. I went out for lunch the other day with a friend and she hesitated while placing her order, unable to remember what ingredient it was that she wished them to leave off her pizza. At her pause, I chimed in “She’d like you to hold the mushrooms, and bring her a side of ranch dressing too, please.” When the waiter left she laughed about how I knew how she liked her pizza better than she did, and wondered how I remembered that. Easy, I told her. It involved FOOD, and I never forget a meal. She shook her head at what she recognized as another manifestation of what I call my “food-crazy”, and told me that she couldn’t think of a single pivotal moment in her life that she associated with the food she’d eaten that day. I told her that my food memories could fill volumes.

I don’t recall anything specific of a childhood trip to Baltimore other than it was the first time I had freshly steamed shell-on shrimp at a stand by the harbor. I don’t remember a thing about the Phillies game we took in one summer other than that the hot dogs came pre-dressed with mustard and were a soggy-bunned disappointment. I assume that New York’s Grand Central Station was an impressive sight to behold, but I was too busy enjoying the bagel & cream cheese I’d gotten on the way in to notice. The reason for a business trip to Chicago years back escapes me, but I do remember that I had the best Caesar Salad I’ve ever eaten. The meal I had at an Alabama truck stop in college remains the standard by which I’ve measured every other Chicken Fried Steak since, and I could rank from memory the cake at every wedding I’ve ever attended from best to worst (or just “not best” because, come on, there’s no such thing as bad cake). And once, I ordered a baked crab pasta dish at a restaurant in New England that my 13 year old self turned her nose up at when it arrived, and I fervently wish that I could have that moment back as an adult because I just KNOW I’d love every bite of it now. I vividly remember the first time I consciously overate, and I clearly remember countless times I’ve fought NOT to eat whatever was in front of me. I could fill scrapbooks with anecdotes about what I ate, when I ate it, and how I’d like to (or not to) eat it again.

This leads me to believe that there’s an extraordinary amount of my grey matter that’s sole purpose is remembering what I’ve put in my mouth over the years. Extraordinary in the most literal sense of the word: More than is ordinary. My brain, it would seem, is hard wired toward a food obsession that I’ve struggled with for most of my life. And this could be a pretty depressing revelation for me. Except that it isn’t.

I believe that fighting the good fight against the fat each day is a noble and never ending pursuit. But I also believe that there is a lot of power in the concept of surrendering to the forces that drive my food issues as well. If I accept that, on some level, my relationship with food is inherently a little on the crazy side, then I can also accept that it will probably always be that way. And that means I can stop wishing it wasn’t that way, and start learning how to work toward being healthier and slimmer with the full knowledge that my brain will never be “normal”. If it is what it is, then I am what I am, and I don’t have to hate myself for it, for being ME.

I’m learning that accepting the nature of my relationship with food doesn’t mean that I have to accept the obesity fostered by it. I can work against my nature on a daily basis, and I can also work with it. I can channel my laser focus on all things food toward my weight loss goals, try new strategies for shifting that obsessive energy away from behaviors that keep me fat and into new habits that honor my body and spirit.

So that’s what I’m going to keep doing. One day at a time, one meal at a time. I’m meeting a friend for conversation with a side order of my all time favorite tuna salad sandwich today for lunch. And if you ask me later how it went, I’ll be able to tell you ALL about it…well, all about the sandwich anyway.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

How Sara Got Her Groove Back

So I’m an accountant, and believe me, no one is more surprised at this than I am. It was never on my list of things I wanted to be when I grew up, but when I stumbled upon my aptitude for the field it turned out to be a happy accident. I look back on the circumstances that sent me down this career path and I’m satisfied that no matter how I got here, it turns out that I am exactly where I should be.

The basic principles of Accounting are simple and finite. Debits equal credits. Revenue minus expenses equals profit. Even when the details get complicated and confusing, at the end of the day the rules still apply, and everything makes sense. I’m attracted to the order of it all, the way that messy piles of data can be sorted and categorized until they create the certainty of the bottom line. Being able to find the patterns in the chaos is comforting to me, reminds me that there is nothing so complicated that I can’t eventually untangle it.

Sort of like life, really.

The longer I live, the more I’ve come to believe that the same basic principles of accounting apply to life at large. It’s a little theory I call “Emotional Finance”. I think that each of us has a finite amount of mental energy to spend, and we’ve got to use it to deal with all the everyday (and extraordinary) crises and obligations that life sends our way. Whatever energy we have left after the emotional bills are paid is our profit, our “emotional margin” that we can spend however we like. And until recently, I just didn’t have any.

One of the first costs I cut when my margin ran in the red was my focus on weight loss. Don’t let the diet commercial testimonials fool you; this weight loss stuff isn’t effortless. It takes concentration and an extraordinary level of dedication to fight against your very nature on a daily basis. It can be as rewarding as it is exhausting, but make no mistake about it: the daily fight against the fat is HARD WORK. And it’s never-ending. Some days are easier than others, but I firmly believe that there is no cure for obesity at this time, there is only the constant, vigilant management of the condition. And constant vigilance comes at a price, one I just couldn’t afford to pay for a while.

Then a few months ago, things began to change. Life eased up a bit, and my emotional balance sheet started to look different than it had for a long time. I found my emotional margin steadily increasing, and while I watched the balance in my energy account increasing I started to think about all the ways I wanted to spend it. I thought about the things that made me happy and I told myself that when I had enough saved up to feel comfortable that I’d turn my attention back to those pursuits. And one day, I checked the balance, made a withdrawal, and bought back my life.

It was six weeks ago when I walked back into Weight Watchers, stepped on the scale, saw the number on it, and got back down to business. I’ve spent the last six weeks back in control, and remembering just how good that feels. I’ve watched weight decrease each week, and I’ve felt my confidence and resolve increase proportionately. I’ve celebrated my new successes, and forgiven myself for the failures of the past.

So I’m back on my game. And believe me, no one is more surprised about that than I am. I look back on the circumstances that got me to this point on my weight loss path and I’m satisfied that no matter how I got here, it turns out that I am exactly where I should be.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hello, by way of 5 things:

1. I’m alive. And let me tell you, folks, all things considered that feels like a victory of gigantic proportions. (Note: The previous comparison was not a veiled comment on my current measurements. We’ll get to those later.)

2. I’m starting to feel like myself again. Or maybe I’m starting to feel like some new version of myself, one that hasn’t been around in a long time, or ever before. I can listen to music again. I can read a book without realizing that I’m not paying attention to the words on the fifth try through a paragraph. I can get out of bed each morning and not spend every minute thereafter waiting until I can crawl back into it. I feel better, just like everyone said I would eventually. Stupid everyone and their being right and stuff. ;)

3. I don’t really want to talk about it here. Yet.

4. I’m back on the Weight Watchers band wagon, and tearing up the road. Seriously. After the chaos of the last few years abated, it turns out that all that energy I’d been diverting to just keeping myself from exploding into a million little pieces could be channeled back into working toward my weight loss goals. I’m feeling stronger, remembering how nice it feels to be in control, and…

5. I DO want to talk about that. Here. Now. If anyone’s still out there, I’ve missed you. I’ve missed me. So…Hello. Again.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Silver Lining

Hello friends.

So it’s been a while. I’ve got a pretty solid excuse for my lack of attention to my little patch of cyberspace here, but since this is (in theory anyway) a weight-loss blog and not a talk-about-my-crazy-and-sordid-little-life blog, you’re just going to have to trust me that my energy and focus was needed elsewhere for a while. In my quest to get my life back (or just get one, period) I’ve been thinking about the things that make me happy, that define who I am and what’s important to me. On the list of places I’d like to divert my newly freed up time and attention to, it turns out that I’m still surprisingly passionate about this whole weight loss thing, and to putting that passion into print. So away we go!

Again.

If there is a silver lining to this little storm cloud that’s been following me around, it’s that it’s given a real boost to my weight loss. I’m not recommending crushing depression as a reliable diet plan, nor do I endorse panic attacks as a particularly effective form of cardio, but it’s hard to look at a 13-pound net loss this month and feel like it’s a bad thing.

The phenomenon of “emotional eating” is something that is bandied about in weight loss circles, and the concept that we cannot hope to control what we’re eating until we define just what’s eating us has become conventional fat fighting wisdom. I think that there’s a lot of truth in the idea that there are a myriad of reasons people overeat that have nothing to do with actual hunger. I’ve engaged in a few (read: a zillion) of them myself. So it’s somewhat strange to me that this most recent round of emotional distress has all but extinguished my desire to eat. Anything. At all. And on the off chance that there is something that the thought of chewing and swallowing doesn’t sound abhorrent to me, it turns out that I’m not terribly interested in more than the first few bites.

I know this probably isn’t going to last. And if the cost of a severely diminished appetite is abject sorrow, then I’m not willing to pay that price long term. I’ll take fat and marginally happy over slightly less fat with a side of massive despair any day. I figure that when I start to feel like myself again I’ll probably have to accept that my intrinsic set of food issues is part and parcel with the deal and get back to the business of beating them back with a whip and chair.

But just for today, I’m going to stop asking the gift horse to open up and say “ahh!” and be thankful that I’m not chasing down my problems with peanut butter brownies, chili cheese dogs and #25 enchilada platters…yet.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Which "one" are you?

I sometimes think my life is a great big study in contradictions.

For instance, I am a relatively emotionally intuitive person. I read a room, and the people in it, pretty well (if I do say so myself). Even when there is every appearance of contentment I can usually sense if something’s not quite right and alter my approach to the situation given the mood of the other players involved. It’s a trait that served me well in my life (and one that, as I read it back now, I suppose can either be seen as a useful instinctive gift or an indicator of sociopathic tendencies, but that’s a pretty fine line of distinction, don’t you think?) and that basic intuition helps me to see how I can best fit into the world around me.

But when it comes to judging the physical nature of that same world, it’s a totally different story. Let’s just say that if I decided to ditch my life and become a carnie that they’d better not let me man the “Guess Your Weight!” booth unless their goal was to give away big inflatable hammers, plush sponge-bob toys, and decorative mirrors etched with AC/DC album covers to just anyone who happened to pass by. I’m notoriously incapable of accurately judging things like height, or weight, or even age in other people. I can’t count how many times I’ve judged someone to be a certain size only to find that I’m WAY off in my estimation—in either direction. I find myself consistently surprised when other people reveal their weight, finding that my own estimation of that number is usually wildly off from reality. I also suffer from the delusion that everyone on earth is the same height I am, and am often amazed when I look at the person standing next to me and realize that I can clearly view the top of their head or when I see my own shoulders standing well above the crowd in photographs. It can be a little disorienting.

I’ve often said that I suffer from fat-blindness, a condition characterized by an astonishing inability to see myself as I appear to others, but as my body has changed (in both directions) over the last few years I’m getting better at seeing myself more accurately. Yet there are still times when I’m unprepared for cold hard reality.

For example, I have a friend I’ll call Jennifer (because that’s her name, and all) who is about as big as minute. She’s an adorable little pixie of a thing that stands all of about 5’2” (And you can trust me on that since I just verified that via the source—though she did try to get me to say she was 5’5”. We all want to be something we’re not, don’t we?) and I could carry her around in my pocket if I was so inclined. A few months ago, Jennifer and I were out running a few errands over our lunch hour in her sparkly little mint green Prius (which she’s named “Julep” how cute is that?). Apparently a friend of Jennifer’s told her that they’d seen her out and about that day and asked “Who was that gigantic person in the car with you?” She went on to tell me how they thought it was funny to see the contrast between Teeny-Tiny-Jenny and the Big Broad Giantess in the seat next to her. She did not tell me this to hurt my feelings, and I suspect that the contrast between us was striking to see…but I confess that it’s been rattling around in my brain like a BB ever since she told me.

Intellectually, I’m not unaware of my stature. At 5’11” in bare feet (and given my propensity for wearing heels most days) I’m already going to stand out from the crowd. Add a lifetime of being overweight and a strong personality to the mix and I can imagine that many people (and some Japanese cities) could be startled by my approach. And yet I forget that because my size is the single most identifiable thing about me that it’s naturally the first thing people notice about me, and that’s totally normal. I do the same thing, and I bet you do too. In just the last 24 hours I’ve described other people as the “tall guy in IS” and the “pretty curly red-head in legal” and that “little blond kid in your class” without hesitation. All that hooey we pass around about how we’re not defined by our bodies is more or less touchy feely BS, really. It’s just that some descriptive traits are more emotionally charged than others, being the “fat one” (or any less obvious derivative thereof) is one that—true or not—stings a little.

As I look over the last few years and why I am still committed to continuing the life-long battle against the fat, I am reminded that the holy grail of weight watchers everywhere is not the desire to someday be something that we’re not, but to finally be seen for all the things that we are. If we can take the fat out of the mix, then we just might get the chance to be the “tall one”, or the “blond one”, or the “one with the green-eyes”, or smart, or pretty, or anything but the “fat one”.

Which one are you? Which one do you want to be?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

F'ing Skinnies! (or: I love the smell of hatred in the morning...)

What the hell is with all the anorexic people in this world?

I see them sometimes when I’m out and about. I watch their frail bodies stagger uncertainly through aisles, watch them strain while pushing shopping carts that probably weigh more than they do. I see their sharp elbows poking through the sleeves of their shirts, their size zero pants hanging off of emaciated pelvises, their withered cheeks hollow and gaunt. I watch them stand in front of the frozen food cases in the supermarket, see them obsessively checking the calorie content of one low calorie item against another and I can’t help but roll my eyes and think “Yeah, like you are really going to eat either one of those, you bony freak!”

I even see them on TV, crying to Oprah or Dr. Phil about how hard their lives are. Some of them even say they have a disease that makes them starve themselves, and I want to scream at the screen “Here, I’ve got a cure for your ‘disease’, it’s called a SANDWICH. Try one, you skeleton-headed witch!” They sit there and talk about how hard it is for them to eat, how they think they’re fat, when the truth is that they’re just stupid. Everyone knows if you actually EAT food, you don’t end up weighing 88 pounds and dying of malnutrition. I mean, they KNOW they should eat, and yet they don’t do it. It’s not that hard, moron. Open your mouth, insert food, chew, swallow. For Christ’s sake, babies and farm animals can do it without being taught. I, for one, have never had any problem eating food so I don’t see why they can’t do it like everyone else.

I think they should round up all the people with this so called “disease” and put them on an island where they’re all chained to a 24 hour buffet so then maybe they’d be forced to eat something for a change. Then we wouldn’t have to look at their disgusting wasted bodies or listen to how we should feel sorry for them because they can’t seem to get their shit together already. Why don’t you quit your whining, get your head out of your non-existent asses, and GAIN SOME WEIGHT, you skinny freaks!

(Cue the angry mob with the torches and pitchforks.)

Ridiculous, right?  Who in their right mind would ever say that and think it was appropriate?  Anorexia is a serious, debilitating, life altering eating disorder.  Rewrite it to rail against obesity, though, and that's A-OK.

(I know, I know. Understated, I’m not. But I’ve never claimed subtlety as a strong point.)

I was doing a bit of research early this morning for the blog entry I meant to write today, when I happened upon a web page that’s been burned into my retinas ever since. I hesitated at first to even post the link, but in the end I decided that when you have the choice between ignoring hate and looking it in the face, it’s always better to know your enemy than not. There are some very angry people out there, and I'm pretty sure they’re just the tip of the iceberg. These are just the folks who took the time to put fingers to their keyboards and post their deep thoughts for the world to see, and for every one of them there are thousands of others who are thinking exactly what these people said out loud. I bet that there are more sites out there (like, say, hundreds) that are full of exactly the same kind of sentiment.

At least I assume there are, but the truth is that I just couldn’t bring myself to actively search for them. I didn’t read every entry on that page. I didn’t even read a tenth of them, but I suspect I didn’t really need to. Despite my general stance that I am rubber and they are glue, the hate behind the words (atrocious grammar and spelling aside) clings to my skin with a sticky familiarity, and as hard as I’ve been trying to brush it off all day I just can’t.

I’ve been fat my whole life. I have also been smart my whole life, too. I am not ignorant of how the world sees obesity any more than I’m unaware of the conventional formula of “eat less + move more = smaller ass” for weight loss. But since fat is my reality, and one that I’ve been both fighting against and examining closely over the last few years, it’s hard for me to fathom how a world that has found so much compassion and understanding for nearly every other behavior-related affliction on earth can still muster up the kind of CAPS LOCK HATRED that sites like that one encourage.

Obesity threatens people in a way that few things in this world do. Our extra bulk reminds people of their darkest fear that self control is tenuous at best, and that we are what happens when weakness of character is allowed to run rampant. Believing that the fat is a simple foe that strong people can keep at bay helps to remind the people who hate us that, whatever else they might be, at least they’re not fat. It must be a comforting thought.

I believe that my obesity is complex in nature—and that for every logical and simple factor that contributes to it there is something that defies easy explanation at play as well. I also believe that, for the time being, they world at large doesn’t believe that…yet. So I won’t let those people be the only voices that break the silence surrounding obesity. Will you?