Skinny Therese

Adventures in Shrinking My Fat Ass

When Does Fat Acceptance Become Bad For Our Health?

There is a movement of people, mostly women, who are fed up with the super-thin models, the constant media focus on dieting, and the general discrimination and scorn that fat people face everyday of their lives–they are commonly known as the Fat Acceptance Movement. Having been a fat person most of my life, I agree with this movement’s  basic principles. I am tired of being told that I am not beautiful, do not deserve a great career, or stylish clothing simply because I am fat. I also greatly respect the eating disorder (ED) community. As an undiagnosed bulimic (I purged with exercise as a pre-teen), I understand the need to be careful when discussing weight loss with young women to avoid triggering dangerous behaviors. I get it.

But I take issue with those whom I believe walk on entirely too many eggshells when discussing these issues. Back in February, when Michelle Obama announced her Let’s Move! campaign to combat childhood obesity, there was some controversy over some of the comments that she made.  Particularly with her using the word “chubby” to describe her children. A few years back, she had taken her daughters to their pediatrician, who told her that their BMIs (Body Mass Index) were getting high and that she should do something about it. (Some also questioned the First Lady involving her daughters at all.) Momania and The Los Angeles Times have “weighed in” (so to speak), among others. If you watch the video available at this link, the First Lady’s statements sound completely reasonable. Some simple changes to the girls’ diet and activity levels solved the problem. A transcript of her remarks from the official launch of the program are at the end of the LA Times article linked to above.

I firmly believe that we should accept people for who they are and that pestering and shaming a child–particularly a girl–about their weight does far more harm than good. I know this from personal experience. I had a relative in my home who did this to me constantly and I attribute it as one of the causes of my own childhood obesity problem. You cannot shame a person into losing weight. In fact, shaming them usually makes them self conscious and they will withdraw from social situations and activity and wind up gaining even more weight. I fell into deep depressions at times when I was young and then exercised excessively (and dangerously) after binging. My mother tried to keep me active, but I experienced such ridicule for being fat when I played soccer the summer after my big weight gain that my mother was faced with an impossible choice: keep me active, but watch me be miserable and cry everyday as a result of the abuse or take me out of sports, resulting in a thoroughly sedentary summer. She’s a sweet and compassionate lady–she chose the latter.

But I also believe, as I have previously discussed on this blog,  that the obesity problem in our country is getting way out of hand and something needs to be done. Which begs the question: When does “fat acceptance” become bad for our health?

I think fat acceptance is bad for our health when:

We start criticizing Michelle Obama’s very reasonable statements on childhood obesity.

We deny the obvious health problems that are associated with obesity.

We interpret any discussion of weight loss as an attack on a person’s self-esteem that will result in an eating disorder.

We accept the fatigue and disease associated with obesity as a regular part of life, as opposed to something that can be dealt with by a trip to Whole Foods and a DVD player.

Fat acceptance is good for our health when:

We find it repugnant when people refer to a talented Best Supporting Actress Nominee as “an enormous woman the size of a planet“.

We realize that strength, endurance, flexibility, sleep patterns, blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, essential nutrient consumption and blood pressure are far better indicators of a person’s health than BMI alone.

We accept that the “ideal weight” is different for everyone.

I started this blog because there were certain things that I refused to accept. I refused to accept the ankle and back pain I suffered as a result of carrying extra weight, how tired I felt because being heavy was making it difficult to sleep and walk long distances, my lack of flexibility, my bad skin that was mostly the result of poor diet…I just got sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. And while I use the title “Skinny Therese” in a somewhat tongue and cheek manor, the shrinking of my fat ass has done wonders for my alignment, allowing me to sleep on my back much more comfortably. It will also help me spend less on clothes–plus size clothing is expensive and even when things go on sale, you can rarely find your size if you are a size 14 and up.

After refusing to accept those other things, I realized that the only thing I really needed to accept was ME, not my fat. And as long as I did that, as long as I accepted my body, listened to it, studied it, gave it what it needed and stopped judging it, the rest would take care of itself. But I’ll be damned if I am going to resign myself to my body being this size forever, just because losing weight takes a long time, or is frustrating and difficult. No way. I’ve come too far to quit now.

My advice: Accept YOU, not your fat.

April 5, 2010 Posted by | Fat Shaming, General Health, Nutrition, Random Observations, Weight Loss | 2 Comments

Skinny Therese’s Favorite Fitness Bodies!

I am partial to fitness models, rather than the regular, run of the mill fashion models—they tend to be too thin. When I dream of the body that I would like to have, this is what I think of. Thoughts?

March 31, 2010 Posted by | Fitness, Random Observations | Leave a comment

Insanity Day 15: Fit Test #2

After 2 weeks of Insanity, I re-took the initial Fit Test this morning.

My “new” results are in bold below:

switch kicks:  70; 100

power jacks:  36; 52

power knees:  73; 91

power jumps:  23; 27

globe jumps:  7; 9

suicide jumps:   6; 9

push-up jacks:   12; 15

low plank obliques:   43; 69

The fitness gains are pretty good. I would have liked to see some weight loss (I am still at the exact weight that I started : 199), but I will take the fitness victories for now. The fit test was just as difficult as it was the first time. It seems that no matter how far you go in this workout, you have to keep working just as hard, but after a short while, you realize that you have done 30 more of “whatever” than you did only a few days/weeks ago.

I’m happy with my progress so far.

March 29, 2010 Posted by | Fitness, Weight Loss | Leave a comment

I Don’t Need Positive Affirmations From A Tampon

My new workout, Insanity from Beachbody, involves a great deal of jumping, running in place, and plyometric squats–it’s a lot like a pre-season sports workout (maybe the Cubs ought to do it; it might make Derek Lee a lot less lazy!). My female readers are aware that if a girl is going to take part in certain fitness routines and sports, tampons are a necessity.

Confession: I have not purchased tampons since 1997–my last season of NCAA Softball. Due to the advanced technology and design of the other options available–and my generally sedentary lifestyle over the past few years–they seemed unnecessary. So the other day I walked over to my local CVS at the corner of Clark & Division to procure a box. I wound up choosing the Playtex Sport brand. Packaged in a pink and green box, this product claims to be designed “for active lifestyles.” Cool, just what I need. There are images on the box of women playing tennis, jogging, and dancing, as if to say “The All American Woman uses this tampon! You could be that woman! You’ve Come a Long Way Baby! You’re Gonna Make It After All!” OK, whatever, I get it, advertising people. I don’t need to be convinced. The things just need to work

When I brought them home and opened the box I found something….ridiculous and downright hysterical! The tampons were packaged in plastic, of course, although an oddly textured pink and green plastic. But that wasn’t the weird part. On each wrapper was written two or three…I guess you would call them “mantras.” And all the mantras were different. They included:

“You’re a take-charge kind of girl!” (Because I bought a box of tampons?)

“Celebrate a bold attitude.” (OK, what does this have to do with tampons?)

“Reach for the finish line!” (Ah, the sports theme. Got it.)

“No distractions…just pure concentration!” (Contrary to popular belief, women can menstruate and chew gum at the same time.)

“The score doesn’t tell the whole story!” (Sports again.)

“Live fearlessly!” (Yeah, because I’ve got these really cool tampons! Sweet!)

“Go play, I’ve got your back.” (This one is obvious.)

“Go Team!” (The whole team bought the same tampons?)

I get what they are trying to do, but to the marketing geniuses over at Playtex: I don’t need positive affirmations from a tampon. Seriously, bro, this was a waste of the valuable time of some junior copywriter at an advertising agency. In the time you spent thinking up this one you could have thought up more of those annoying Axe commercials or a clever new Absolut ad. I set my own fitness goals, thank you very much. And I am inspired by…you know…actual people. Athletes like Dara Torres, Picabo Street, Venus and Serena Williams, Mia Hamm, Florence Griffin-Joyner…these are the people that inspire me.

Do me a favor–just wrap the damn tampons in the plain ol’ regular plastic and leave the inspiration to real people, not inanimate objects.

March 28, 2010 Posted by | Exercise, Random Observations | Leave a comment

This Just In: Fast Food Will Kill You

You gotta love the government. They do their best.

The new healthcare reform legislation signed by the President yesterday includes a provision that requires restaurants to post the calorie counts of the food on their menus.  The law applies only to restaurants with 20 or more locations. Clearly this legislation is aimed at the fast food industry (and other family chain restaurants). I could not help but laugh when the AP News Article noted that the purpose of the new law was to “make sure that customers process the calorie information as they are ordering.” Translation: to make sure that people are aware that the cheap, processed, chemicalized food-like substances they are about to shovel down their gullet are bad for them. Well….Duh.

Is there anyone alive in America today who does not know that fast food is bad for you? If you find someone, let me know…After all, it was fast food that took me from 210 pounds to 238 pounds over a three month period back in 2008.

Apparently policy makers think that if they just educated people more about food then they would magically start eating better and everything would be fine! The Jews and the Palestinians would be at peace, global warming would be taken care of and we’d all join hands and sing Kumbaya! It doesn’t work that way, folks.

The food they sell at McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Taco Bell is not intended to be healthy, it’s intended to make you feel good while you are consuming it and keep you coming back for more—just like nicotine and blow. The fast food industry has essentially the same business model as the tobacco industry. They have a dangerous and addictive product they advertise aggressively (especially to children) that consumers enjoy by the millions. Meanwhile they spend millions of dollars in research and development trying to figure out ways to make the product even more addictive while pretending to be concerned about their customers health.

The federal government is not innocent in this department. They don’t really care about your health either because members of Congress receive obscene campaign donations from the food industry, so they allow them to keep poisoning Americans…but it’s getting real now. We’ve got diabetic toddlers with sleep apnea and 25 year olds with high blood pressure who can’t climb a flight of stairs. So they have to do something. Correction: they have to make it look like they are doing something.

The cover story in the current issue of Newsweek is about Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to fight childhood obesity. I am sure the program will “raise awareness.” Yes, it will try to assist parents in making healthier choices for their kids. I think the First Lady’s intentions are good and that she is genuine in her concern for the health of America’s children. You can have all the “initiatives” you want, but at the end of the day it comes down to this simple truth: you have to stop eating at these restaurants. Unless the First Lady stands behind a podium (with her gorgeous, shiny hair and awesomely fit arms) and says “Stop eating fast food”, this program will have zero net effect. We all know that she will never say that because the food lobby in Washington is far too powerful.

Even the so-called “healthy options” at fast food restaurants are not healthy at all. Yes, these options may be lower in calories, but they are still so chemical-laden that they cause just as much damage to your system in the long run. Consumption of unnatural chemicals and toxins over a period of time contributes to weight gain. Furthermore, merely eating less of the chemically-laden food instead of none at all will prove quite difficult—it’s damn near impossible. Eating this food on a regular basis puts your body into what is called nutritional famine. The food is so devoid of essential nutrients that it will only make you hungrier in order to compensate for the vitamins and minerals you are not getting. In the long run you will end up consuming more calories overall because your body is not getting what it needs from the food that you are eating. You will be hungry ALL THE TIME!!! Yeah, try dieting when you feel like that.

The solution: STOP.

Stop eating food that barely resembles food. Load up on all the healthy organic, chemical-free food you can find. Yeah, it’s expensive….but so is a quadruple bypass.

Eat high quality food–fruits, vegetables, meat, nuts and seeds, even chocolate and ice cream if you want (my faves are organic dark chocolate covered almonds and coconut milk ice cream). Eat as much as you want. Over time you will notice something amazing: you won’t want as much.

March 24, 2010 Posted by | Nutrition | 2 Comments

No Time for Constant Blogging

I will not be blogging daily about Insanity anymore. It takes up too much of my morning and I have other blogs, two jobs and you know, eating and sleeping to tend to. I will however provide updates when I hit milestones–probably the next time I take the fit test. But fear not, I will continue to blog on other topics…

March 24, 2010 Posted by | Exercise, Fitness, Weight Loss | Leave a comment

Kirstie Alley’s Big Life

OK, I really like her. She’s funny, she’s smart and she’s talented. After losing weight and gaining it all back, Kirstie is trying her hand at losing it again–this time with millions of viewers there to witness it all on her new reality show, Kirstie Alley’s Big Life, which premiered last night at 10pm Eastern on A & E. She has also recently launched a weight loss company to coincide with her show: Organic Liaison.

I must admit that I was a bit perturbed when she stepped on the scale, after not having weighed herself in a while, only to find that she weighed 230 pounds. She reacted with horror and disgust. This disturbed me a bit because I started out on my weight loss journey at 238 pounds. Part of me wanted to say “Suck it up and get on the treadmill, bitch, things are tough all over!” Furthermore, being fat is not “disgusting” it is just one particular state of being. Some people are fat and some people are thin. It is what it is.

Anyway, the show was OK. A bit of a let down–I expected it to be funnier. Perhaps it will get better.  The best part was watching Kirstie and her stylist, Traci, giggle like teenagers while calling back the hot personal trainer Kirstie had interviewed earlier in the episode to tell him that he got the job. The catharsis that we as viewers get from these shows is that it is nice to see someone who is rich and fabulous struggle with the same problem that we all have: shrinking our fat asses.

I wish Kirstie the best of luck and I’ll stay tuned to see how she does. Although I would like to see her rid herself of some of her fat shame and be a bit more proud of herself and her body.

March 22, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Insanity Day 8: Cardio Power and Resistance

What makes this DVD so hard is the arm work–push-ups, floor sprints, traveling push-ups, V push-ups….after about a minute and a half my arms give out. I suppose I will build more strength as time goes on. I checked my heart rate during the most difficult portion–right after the intense jumping–it was 168. I felt tired but a heart rate in the 160s is OK. It’s actually in the perfect zone. When I took it at the beginning of last week at the same time in the workout–it was in the 180s (unsafe). In only a week, I have made phenomenal fitness gains. I have actually gained 2.5 pounds (likely muscle and maybe a little water retention, as Aunt Flo is scheduled for a visit this week), but a pair of exercise pants that are fitted but are a size large are loose already after only a week. Glad the other two I purchased are mediums! My husband says that my lower back looks tighter and slimmer. You use the spinal erector muscles alot in this workout, so that is not surprising.

Time for my protein shake. Happy Monday everyone!

March 22, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“And on the Seventh Day…Therese rested…”

No Insanity today. Ahhh…

March 21, 2010 Posted by | Exercise, Fitness, Weight Loss | 1 Comment

Insanity Day 6: More Plyometric and Cardio Circuit

God, I hate this video!!! There is just so much jumping, suicide drills, push-ups….I am confident it is good for me and will get me great results, but Jesus! I am officially due for a 30-day (actually 28-day) weigh-in on April 11, 2010. I may weigh myself first thing in the morning tomorrow just to see if I have lost any weight this week.

I will also adjust my diet a little this week. I have sort of been giving myself a break because I figured that since my body is working so hard,  I should be able to go with my natural appetites. If I was hungry this week, I ate. Period. After doing such a difficult workout, I guess I felt sort of entitled. This week, however, I will have REAL carbs only: oatmeal, Ezekial Bread, fruits and veggies. I was considering purchasing that Beachbody Recover Drink, but I looked at the ingredients and discovered that it has an awful lot of weird chemicals in it. As I am trying my best to live as chemically-free as possible, I instead found a post-workout protein powder on Peapod, where I order my regular groceries online, which has a lot less of the scary ingredients in it. I can mix it with orange juice, soy milk, non-dairy ice cream, or water. I also may blend fruit with it as well. I chose vanilla instead of chocolate–thought it would be more versatile. I’ll let you know how that works out.

March 20, 2010 Posted by | Exercise, Fitness, Nutrition, Weight Loss | Leave a comment