Category Archives: exercise

It starts so early

Yes, I haven’t blogged since April of 2012. Let’s just call that out and then move on. Hoping to change it, but can’t promise anything because my life has been work work work since then, and I don’t see that changing for a little bit.

I have a friend who is a nanny. She is an awesome nanny. I couldn’t come close to being as awesome at it as she is. She looks after four kiddos, all girls. The oldest girl is starting to get shit from her dad about being fat. SHE IS EIGHT. And she looked in the mirror the other day and asked my friend, “Do I look fat?” When my friend told me this, my heart just broke. Broke. This sweet little peanut hears from her dad that she isn’t wonderful the way she is. She hears that there is something inherently wrong with her and that she needs to actively try and change that thing every day. What the ever loving fresh hell. I know most folks have probably read the studies (or read about the studies) , and we don’t need to be reminded, but we can’t ignore the fact that girls as young as THREE worry about being fat. When their biggest worry should be whether they’ll have enough time to color that day. Or build tree forts. Or run in sprinklers. Whatever kids do these days. Probably Facebook and snapchat?

I think part of what tore me up when I heard the story was just how familiar the story was. My own Dad asking me, “are you sure you want that second [fill in the blank]?” as he looked at me with disapproving eyes. “Let’s just run another 1/2 mile!” as we were out for a jog. I’m not saying my Dad didn’t love me. I think he loved me (and loves me still) so much that he just cannot shut up. That may sound twisted, and yes, it is. But understanding that has helped me to recognize that problems he has with my weight are just that. HIS problems.

He came for a visit a little over a week ago specifically to talk to me about things that were bothering him over the holiday break when I was home. I knew what he wanted to talk about; it was pretty clear most of the time I was home that he was a bit uncomfortable and that he wanted to say something but just couldn’t. I wasn’t particularly excited about re-hashing our problems/his concerns with my weight (we’ve had the talk before), but it turned out to be one of the best conversations we’ve ever had. And I think it was mostly due to the fact that I was 100% honest with him, which meant being vulnerable. For so long, I have refused to show him even a hint of vulnerability, for fear it would mean that “he won” (whatever that means). If I voiced my concern over my knee aches, or told him that I was hoping to move my body more this year, it would prove that he knew what was best for me all of those years. So giving that fear up was, for me, one of the toughest and most amazing things I’ve done in this fat activism journey. I’m hopeful that my pops is coming along for the journey as well.


learning to be my own advocate

I’m really good at speaking up for others. I’m still learning to speak up for myself. It helps to get super pissed. I was sad and upset at first, and while I still am both of those, I’m really starting to get pissed.

I had an appointment last week with a new ob/gyn. I’ve spoken before about my trepidation around going to the doctor, a concern that I’m afraid many fat people share. I really liked my primary care doc. The ob/gyn I saw? Not so much. I have so many words and emotions rolling through my head right now about how it all went down, and I’m not even sure how to adequately express just how awful it was.

In short, I went in because I’ve been feeling tired lately, and just a little off. I can’t explain it much more than that-  I just felt like something wasn’t right. A friend was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and her symptoms sounded similar to mine, so I thought I’d have that conversation with the gyn. I brought it up to her and then it all went to hell.

She didn’t treat me like a person who came to her with questions. She didn’t even treat me like a person. She just went straight into the “it’s because your FAAAAAT omgobesityFAAATZ” spiel and never looked back. I’m not looking to be besties with my doc, she doesn’t need to know my life story and all of my hopes and dreams or anything, but a question here and there, especially during a first visit, isn’t out of the question. In fact, it’s expected.

She didn’t listen to me. When I told her that I knew I’d gained weight the last few months but didn’t want to know the number because I’m trying to focus on a Healthy At Every Size approach to my life, three minutes later she pointed to my weight on the computer screen. Huh, thanks for that.  She also kept extolling the virtues of their nutrition program, pointing out that they have a great team that can help you (nutritionists in a group therapy setting – sweet jesus, no thank you. that may work for other folks, and rock on for them. not for me.).

Her: “It’s expensive but really worth it. I had a patient who lost 100 pounds on it.”
Me: “I’m not interested in losing 100 pounds. As I mentioned before, I’m more interested in keeping my health front and center, not my weight.”
Her: “You need to go on a diet.”
Me: “Diets don’t work; I’ve been dieting almost my entire life.”
Her: “But it depends upon the type of diet. What I’m talking about is healthy foods and exercise.”
Me (in my head after I left and got my bearings again): “Oh my god! You mean I should be eating healthy? Like, fruits and vegetables?? This is brand new information to me! You are CHANGING my LIFE!”
Me (in reality): “…”

It felt like she was tolerating me. Like I was an imposition and she needed to just get me over with and be on her way. Maybe she was having a bad day, but I’m not feeling that magnanimous, quite frankly.

Active listening, lady. Try it sometime. “I hear you and understand that you’re wary of dieting and all that the word implies, but what I’m talking about is …”

So then as we’re finishing up I have to remind her again that I’m interested in learning more about a PCOS diagnosis. I read that one test is a fasting glucose, so I hadn’t eaten just in case she suggested that. She did, so off I went to the lab (after having to find it myself, she didn’t even point me in the right direction), blah blah blood test, moving on.

I got the results the same day and then finally heard from her today. This is when the getting pissed off part starts to really take its shape. She writes (in short), “your blood tests are normal except for low ‘good cholesterol’ and an elevated fasting glucose, which probably means you have diabetes. See your primary care physician.” I freak out and email back, asking if this means PCOS is off the table. Her response, “you probably had PCOS as a pre-diabetic condition. You now have diabetes.” Literally. You. Now. Have. Diabetes. Now I don’t know about you, but getting that news in a one sentence email from a doctor who treated like me like total shit was not the kind of afternoon I had hoped to have.

I email my primary care physician and explain the situation, and bless her heart she responds back in under 10 minutes, saying, essentially, “um, yeah, you’re fine. Make sure to do cardio. We’ll test again in a couple months.”


Ok, so the problems here are hopefully very evident. Namely, perhaps an ob/gyn shouldn’t be diagnosing someone about something that isn’t in their own field house of expertise, so to speak?

Two notes about all of this: 1., it doesn’t matter if I had the most beautiful numbers on the planet, or if my glucose levels were sky-high, we all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of our weight OR health. Which are, of course, two different things. And 2., I’m not denying that diet and exercise don’t have implications on our health. And as I’ve said before, I want to feel better, and I know that part of that means moving my body more and paying more attention to what foods I put in it.

Generally, I’m not the kind to share all of my medical-y business in such a public way, but I feel like these kinds of stories need to get told so that when someone else gets treated like an inconvenience, a bother, a non-person, she or he won’t need to feel like the piece of shit I felt like.

Now I’m off to write a strongly-worded email to the doctor and her supervisor.

reason # 323496349872 I don’t watch The Biggest Loser

I’m watching Top Chef Masters right now (pirated, I don’t have tv so I gots ta get it via the interwebs) and the challenge for this episode is to re-work the favorite meals of contestants from The Biggest Loser into three meals (plus dessert) that don’t go over 1,500 calories total. Of course the favorite meals that they trot out are calorie-laden monster plates of deep dish pizza, bacon cheeseburgers, and the like. NOW, I am not judging the fact that those are someone’s favorite meal. Shit, a bacon cheeseburger? Essentially perfection on a plate. And even if I didn’t like the food someone chooses as her favorite, who the hell am I to say anything about it? Rock on with your food choices! My beef has more to do with the producers. Of course they only choose the foods that most folks would label as “bad.” Listen, I’m fat. Like, super fat. And my favorite meal is probably a caprese salad and some sort of California-style phroofy thin-crust pizza. I know other fat people who would kill someone over the perfect roast chicken. Did I see a plate of roast chicken with asparagus and fingerling potatoes in the show? I’ll give you seven guesses. Again, I’m not interested in getting into a good fatty/bad fatty discussion – of course people should be treated with dignity and respect regardless of what they choose to eat – I’m interested in the narrative that the producers wish to share with us. There is ONE fat person in this world, and she is lazy and eats everything in sight and that’s the reason she’s fat. One chef even says something like “jesus, I could feed my family for an entire week with what’s just on that one plate.” You, sir, should shut up.

On to the challenge itself. “1500 calories?” i thought. that doesn’t seem like much. Apparently the suggested caloric intake for women, according to the FDA, is 1500-2000. Ok, cool. So it’s not like The Biggest Loser is in the habit of starving people, right? But then I get to thinking about someone who weighs what I do trying to get by on 1500 calories. Wouldn’t my body think it’s starving and go into survival mode? And how is that sustainable? when I plug in my height and weight and indicate that I am active for 30 minutes about three times a week, i’m told that I need to take in about 2550 calories a day. This comes from the Mayo Clinic, it’s not some super random website. The difference between 1500 and 2550 is a lot. What about folks who weigh more than I do?

I don’t have any amazing epiphanies or anything, it just frustrates me to no end that there isn’t any further discussion. CUT and DRIED, people. Fat folks eat gross food, they should severely restrict their diet (and exercise 3+ hours a day like they do during taping of the show), and voila! they will be happy, healthy (read: less fat), and ready to be introduced to the world with confetti and bells and whistles in front of a live studio audience!

Wow, I’m feeling snark-tastic tonight. Love it.

Update: So now (sidebar: I feel like I’m live-blogging this damn thing), the chefs are talking to each Biggest Loser contestant about the food that will get a makeover, and one of the chefs is trying to convince the college student who loves her a bacon cheeseburger that a veggie patty is the way to go because meat is so bad for you. I’ve had some positively amazing veggie burgers in my life, so that doesn’t concern me. what concerns me is his statement later to the camera in which he says, “I do this for a living. I work in this industry with nutritionists and I have great respect for [the contestant], so shame on me if I present anything but a veggie burger.” Ummm, what dude? SHAME on you if you DARE to serve her anything but a veggie burger? What a hero, coming to rescue the fat maiden from her life of beef and hideousness. My hat’s off to you.

Update II: Now some of the chefs are crowing about how all three of their meals were under 1000 calories. See, this is where the shit hits the fan for me. This hasn’t become an exercise in mindful eating anymore, it’s a game to see how low you can go (calories, weight watchers).

Update III: Ok, there is some justice in the world! The preachy chef got sent home because, as one critic put it, he served them a “lecture on a plate.” Awesomesauce.

the big visit to my new doctor

Yesterday I had my first doctor’s appointment since diving into the big fatty awesome world of FA. I’ve written before about my nervousness/concern/sheer and total panic about going to a doctor because I know what much of the medical community thinks of fat people.

I made an appointment because I’ve been having some serious pain in both knees for the last week or so. As in, it’s difficult for me to get up and down stairs without being a whiny whinerson. As someone who has been an active person her whole life, and played varsity sports, and never broken a bone, I gotta say this is not good for my poor little soul. I want to recognize that I am still very able-bodied and that I in don’t want to seem ungrateful for the mobility that I do have. However, for me this is some hard-ass shit. I held off on making the appointment for a few days because I thought it would go away, and frankly because I didn’t want to pay someone to take one look at me and tell me to hit the treadmill, tubbo. But it got bad enough, so off I went. I should say, without this FA community, this experience most likely would have been eleventy squillion times worse. In comments to my last post about the doctor, someone directed me to this oh so fabulous resource and I ended up choosing a doctor on the list.

When I followed the nurse to get my vitals taken, I turned around when getting weighed so as to not look at the number, explaining that I didn’t want to know my weight because it can be triggering. The nurse just could not have cared less. “Sure! I love your scarf, where did you get it?” Wait, what? I’m not going to get read the riot act for refusing to participate fully in what almost every single person who goes to the doctor does? Huh, ok. I can work with this. It was actually kind of weird to purposefully not find out my weight. As anyone who has dieted (so…99.9991 percent of the population?) will tell you, when on a diet, the scale becomes a part of your routine (daily, weekly, whatever). Weight Watchers? Shit, the damn meetings START with a weigh in! Curves fitness? Weigh in AND body measurements every month (also an anti-choice organization, but that’s not the immediate point). I have lived with a scale in my bathroom for most of my life. I learned when I would weigh less in the day, what days of the week I would weigh less, which specific reading on the compass to turn and face to weigh less (ok, not that last one, but you get the point). That number was burned into my retinas until the next time I weighed in, crossing my fingers, saying little prayers (to whom exactly, I don’t know, as I’m an atheist…but what do they say? There are no atheists in foxholes. Or on scales, apparently.), already making excuses to whomever was weighing me (“these shoes are heavy.” “I just had a big lunch”) or talking shit to myself (“seriously? You couldn’t lay off that burrito? Lardass. You have SO far to go.”), making promises to be “better this week” and to really focus on harnessing my willpower. Christ, I get tired now just thinking about it.

ANYWAY, I digress. Not knowing my weight – it’s weird. How else am I going to know how much love I deserve, how happy I get to be? Seriously though, we put an incredible amount of emphasis on that number. We memorize it. We lie about it. Hell, I won’t state right here what I think I weigh, and I think I’ve come a damn long way. But maybe I haven’t? Makes me feel like a FA failure (a FAilure?) That’s another post.

So the doctor comes in and I’m pretty nervous. Do I go straight into the whole “I know I’m fat, you don’t have to point it out. I believe we can be healthy at every size. I want to make sure that we’re doing this together and that you’re not making rampant assumptions…” or do I just sit back and see where it goes? I opted for the second. Perhaps out of sheer wussy-ness. Perhaps because I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt. Either way, it doesn’t matter. She listened to me respectfully. I told her I started running a few months ago and did a 5K, and then got sick about a month ago and pretty much stopped running, hell, stopped moving because I was tired as fuck all the time and felt like hammered dog shit (not in those exact words, but I think she got my point). She then proceeded to basically say “look, you were moving around a lot. Then you stopped. Your body essentially experienced a light trauma and your knees are now all ‘what the fuck?’ and so they’ve gone a little haywire.” (again, not in those exact words, but I got her point) Along with everything else she said, she mentioned “and you have weight pressing down on these joints, and on your hips…” and you know? it absolutely did not feel like she was telling me my weight was the problem. She didn’t say “you have your HUGE ASS weight” or “your overweight body” or anything. She said “your weight.” As in, I have weight! Imagine that. Basically, I’m supposed to take it easy, do a little walking, the recumbent bike when i can, and take ibuprofen. It’s still very frustrating, because I feel like some of my agency has been taken away. I’m now at the mercy of these damn knees and I am all stoked to do the Bay to Breakers in SF in a few weeks and now that’s up in the air. I’m just super pissed and frustrated. Le sigh. But! The doctor’s appointment went well, and for that I am very, very happy.

I’d love to hear your happy doctor stories! The last post I focused on things that make me tired, and while it was extremely important to go there (and to read everyone’s thought provoking and awesome comments!), I’m feeling the need for some positivity. Adipositivity, perhaps? (NSFW! for those not familiar with her work!)

old habits die very very hard

**possible triggering re: disordered eating

The other day I bought pita chips and hummus to bring to a potluck. The cashier was friendly enough, making comments about my purchases in that sort of non-confrontational, pleasant way. Things like, “mmm, pita chips, yum. hummus with pine nuts, looks healthy.” Without batting an eye, I said “yeah, it’s a potluck so there is always a crap shoot with the kinds of food there.” I kind of trailed off but it was very clear to me what I had just done. i justified my food purchase to a total stranger, hoping that she would “get” how healthy I was being. “look! even though i’m fat I eat ‘good’ foods!” I haven’t done this in a while and it completely caught me off guard. It’s not a mystery where this behavior comes from, most likely for any of us who have a history of disordered eating. Talking about food with other people, or eating around other people…it becomes this bizarre ritual wherein you try and tamp down any craving you have and ignore your body and what its trying to tell you. Instead, you eat “appropriate” foods in “appropriate” amounts. And it’s a constant game, this eating thing. You have to make sure at all times that you’re making it very clear that you’re a “good fatty.” Sure, you’re fat, but you’re not taking up more than your fair share of the world’s food, you’re exercising every day, you’re appreciative when someone tells you “but you have such a pretty face,” you’re apologizing for taking up too much space, and on and on.

Working to better my relationship with food (read: refusing to apologize for being hungry, eating what I want when I feel like eating it, paying attention to what my body is telling me it wants, enjoying food and not giving it moral value like “good” and “bad,” etc) has been one of the most difficult things for me in this FA journey, and I know I’m not alone. I’m trying to combat 20 years of a shitty relationship so it’s no wonder i go into apologizing mode. I just haven’t done that in a while and it kicked me in the gut a bit.

Old habit number two: I’ve been sick for the past week and a half or so. It started out as a cold or something, and turned quickly into a nasty cough and laryngitis. I sounded like death warmed over at first, but I think now I’ve cultivated the sexy phone operator voice. Anyway, I’ve been really really tired and this past week, while on vacation up in Seattle, I’ve been sleeping like it’s my job. As in, one day I didn’t get out of bed until noon. I have never slept until noon before and I gotta say, it’s not awful! And even when i sleep in that late, I need a nap after a few hours. I’ve been having real trouble not beating myself up about sleeping so much. Thoughts like “god, lazy slob” and “if you weren’t fat you’d likely be able to beat this cold by now” are constantly creeping in around the edges of my brain, and I have to beat them back with a very stiff “get the fuck out! you have no business here! also, you’re wrong!” every couple of hours. It’s actually exhausting and making me more tired – see how much unhealthier we are when we’re mean to ourselves? Hey, maybe that whole “shaming fat people into losing weight” thing doesn’t actually work! (end sarcasm)

So anyway, I want to make sure I’m not only documenting the a-ha and “I’m awesome” moments on this here space of mine. It’s important to get into the uncomfortable and ugly stuff. Old habits die hard, this is true. And they come swirling back into your world when you’re not expecting them.

Other habits that are hard to break? Lemme hear ’em! Maybe if we put them out into the universe, they’ll stay away forever?

new years intention

i hate resolutions. i’ve never really made them for a variety of reasons: i certainly like the idea of self-assessment, but feel that it needs to happen more than once a year for me and focusing on setting resolutions on a set day seems a little disingenuous; my relationship with food and dieting has been all-consuming for much of my life and setting up resolutions to then not meet them is very triggering to me, it feels like yet another weight loss goal that i set for myself and fail to meet; i feel like i’m taking part in The Great Lose Weight/Look “Better” Challenge that most folks set up for themselves through new years resolutions. For a lot of people (and certainly showcased in the media through commercials, advertisements, gym specials, etc), new years resolutions are about looking “better” through weight loss. Inherent in this resolution is the idea that we look like crap if we’re fat. You can see where I’m going with this. Not a fan.

Instead, i’ve spend the last couple days reflecting upon my FA journey. Many days it’s all I want to do. I want to read books voraciously, engage in fantastic conversations with other FA bloggers, educate my loved ones, and spend hours getting inspired by the countless fatshionistas out there. And some days it’s exhausting. I get tired of squeezing into small spaces, of going straight to the accessory and handbag section of most straight-sized stores when i shop with friends, of needing to be the cultural ambassador for fatties when talking to my family, of defending my size, of of of.

Don’t get me wrong. Choosing to do this work and to blog about it has been the best decision I’ve made in my 30 years.

Enter one of my intentions for this year. WordPress has introduced a challenge called The Daily Post. It’s pretty much what it sounds like – one post a day for the year. That seems a bit on the daunting side to this new blogger, so instead I will be partaking in their “post a week” challenge throughout the year. For the last couple months of 2010 I posted about once a week and I like the idea of carrying that practice through this entire year. To a wonderful, challenging, inspiring, and intention-setting year!

fa and haes

Intellectually, I’m down with both. Played out in real life, it’s a bit of a different story. I should probably define HAES. “Healthy At Every Size” is a phrase coined by Dr. Linda Bacon, a researcher and nutritionist out of UC Davis (I think? Maybe someone else came up with it before and her book brought it to the mainstream, I don’t know). She wrote “Healthy at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight.” Some of the main HAES points can be found here in the HAES manifesto; it focuses on debunking the myriad myths out there (fat people die sooner than non-fat people, being fat makes you more susceptible to various health problems, etc). I haven’t read the book (it’s on the way to my apartment right now, yay!), but from what I can gather, HAES is a philosophy/way of life (cringe, i don’t like that. makes it sounds new age-y and self help-y, but there you go. Dr. Bacon may not define it as such.) that encourages us to listen more to our bodies, to honor them, and to focus on eating things that we love (not to label foods as “good” or “bad”) and finding joy in movement. Bottom line is, according to HAES, most health indicators can be changed through changing health behaviors, regardless of whether weight is lost. Not too shabby, right?

However, as i’ve said earlier, eating has become something of a political statement for me. but it’s getting bigger than that. It’s almost like NOT working out has also become a political statement; being fat in and of itself is a political statement. Losing weight is not a goal of HAES, being healthy is (and keep in mind that fat doesn’t equal unhealthy). However, I feel such a charge around even the word “healthy,” for it has been used to mask fat-hating and fat-bashing in my life. “I’m just concerned about your health.” “It doesn’t matter that she works out, she can’t be healthy and weigh that much.” “Fat people are X times more likely to get diabetes, die of a heart attack, [insert other medical issues here.]”

Sometimes I feel that if I embrace HAES wholeheartedly, I will somehow become a traitor to my activist self. I guess that presupposes that living a HAES lifestyle will cause me to lose weight? And that I can’t both love myself now and work on FA and lose weight? It’s definitely a matter of taking the word “healthy” back. Yes, I can be fat and healthy. And in fact, I’ve been fat and healthy my entire life. It’s more than that. I don’t FEEL healthy right now, and THAT scares the shit out of me because I’ve always been healthy. Well, feeling healthy and being healthy can be two different things, however. And I am technically healthy (insofar as regular health indicators are concerned, blood pressure, glucose level, etc). It just doesn’t feel like it. I feel slower and have less energy. And some would say that carrying extra weight is the cause. I’m not sure I agree. Or maybe I don’t want to agree? I know what I don’t want – I don’t want my weight to be the readily-available scapegoat for anything that’s wrong. Can’t sleep well? Lose weight. Knee hurts? Lose weight, fatty! Lack of sleep could be due to stress. Or loud neighbors. My knee was hurting when i first moved, and I didn’t go to the doctor because I was fairly certain I would be told to be less of a fattie and then magically my knee would get better. Want to know what i did instead? Got a memory foam pad for my bed and the knee pain went away! It’s true, I didn’t actually go to the doctor and hear her tell me that my weight is the reason my knee was hurting, so it’s a little unfair to assume that would be the case. But only a little unfair. (i’m brewing a post on being fat and going to the doctor, stay tuned)

Separating FA and HAES is important as well. I can remain true to my FA self and demand that I be treated with the respect and dignity that everyone deserves, regardless of their body size, AND I can work on being healthier. It also feels like it could be triggering around my food issues. Is the word “healthy” just replacing “good” foods? If I eat something “unhealthy” is that a failure. This smacks of diet talk to me, and diets do not work. I’ve gained and lost I don’t even know how many pounds in my life (hundreds?), and I refuse to go back to that “good” v “bad” food place (more on food policing later, but fabulous blog posts on that topic found here and here).