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

Before…

OK, my midsection looks like I'm carrying twins, but I must say...my tits look fantastic!

This is the infamous “before” picture. I begin Insanity in 2 days. Trying to make sure that I am really diligent with my vitamins, green veggies and water this weekend. Don’t want to meet Shaun T. on Monday morning dehydrated and nutrient-deprived.

I just came from lunch at Harry Carey’s. While this lunch was big, it was jam-packed with great food that was great for me: Mixed green salad with vinaigrette dressing, pan-seared tilapia with microgreens, and fresh berries with a dollop of whipped cream for dessert. I also had coffee, which I will replace with tea over the next 60 days. Tea will be one of only two beverages that I will drink during this time–water will be the other, obviously. I will also go from 10,000 to 25,000 units  of Vitamin D per day.

The only other thing on the no-no list is dairy–I have generally stopped eating dairy products anyway. I am allergic to it, which causes a disruption in my digestion making it difficult to properly absorb vitamins and minerals. I am trying to find a way to add more protein to my breakfast. I am not an egg person, but I do enjoy turkey bacon, so a piece or two of that will be added to my fruit and whatever whole grain I start the day with–usually Kashi cereal, oatmeal or Ezekial toast. Tomorrow I will go to a vitamin store and purchase more Vitamin D and look for a good multi-vitamin and some sort of recovery supplement–maybe a soy protein concoction that I can mix with water or orange juice.

So there we go. I did a little Pilates this morning. I will do a longer Pilates workout tomorrow to keep my abs strong and get a good stretch in my legs and back so that I am nice and relaxed for my first intense workout.

I’ll keep you all updated on my progress!

March 13, 2010 Posted by | Fitness, General Health, Nutrition, Weight Loss | 2 Comments

Stress and Weightloss

The reason that I have time to post today is because I cannot work. Why can’t I work? Because I work remotely from my home – my company is in Virginia and I live in Chicago – and I have been having problems connecting with my company’s server for the last 2 business days. I have spend the last 3 days dealing with this problem. One of the problems is that the IT people at my company know nothing about Apple computers and do not know how to guide me through the trouble-shooting. However, I have spoken with Apple 3 times and they all say the problem is with my company’s server and not with my computer.

I tell you this, dear readers (all 5 of you) because stress is a big issue for me. I have a long, long history of afternoon trips to CVS for ice cream and a Hershey bar after a long stressful day at work or some personal tragedy. However, I can honestly say that since I have been using these meditation techniques that I have now mastered, I have not had an instance of stress eating for about 6 months. Considering how frustrated I am with these technology issues I have been having, I should be face first in a pint of Ben & Jerry’s right now…but I’m not. I closed my eyes, took a couple of deep breaths and regrouped knowing that there is really nothing that I can do about this problem. I was able to shift my mood quickly due to the longer meditations I have been doing on a daily basis since July 2009. It’s not worth getting so stressed out that my muscles get tense, I give myself a headache, or I turn my fat programs back on. It’s just not worth it.

So folks, stress management is vital: if you want successful and sustainable weightloss and have any kind of emotional eating issues, you must find an effective way to manage your stress.
Off to deal with the IT department again! Grrrrr…..

March 1, 2010 Posted by | Emotional Eating, General Health | 4 Comments

Blinded by the Light…and Saved by Vitamin D

On Thursday February 11, 2010 I caught the worst cold I have ever had.  I suffered from such intolerable sinus pressure and watery eyes that I had to close the shades in my apartment because the sunlight was too painful to my eyes. I am a person who usually LOVES sunlight, so this is unusual for me. By Monday morning I was so sick that I almost fainted in my living room at around 3am. I went to our new doctor, Dr. Finlayson here is Chicago and told him of my symptoms. I had a fever, head congestion, cough, headache, weakness, and body aches. I had at that point taken 4 different kinds of over-the-counter cold medicine and nothing had worked. I was lucky. Dr. Finlayson practices something called “integrative medicine.” This type of practice takes the best of Western and Eastern medicine and combines them to treat the whole person. Instead of just dispensing drugs and performing surgeries, as most doctors do, integrative medicine practitioners do something truly radical: they ask you questions and determine if your lifestyle has something to do with why you feel so crappy.

I told Dr. Finlayson that I was hesitant to take antibiotics because I am currently trying to restore the good bacteria in my body in order to aid my digestion. He agreed that this was a good idea and didn’t seem like he wanted to proscribe anti0biotics. So he did three things: he took 5 vials of blood for lab tests, wrote me a prescription for some cough medicine with codeine so that my cough would not keep me up at night, and gave me a dose of 100,000 units of Vitamin D. Three hours later I felt much better, and the next day, I was back at work.

Apparently, most people are seriously Vitamin D deficient. If you are lacking certain Vitamins and minerals, your body is not able to function properly. Because the only good source of Vitamin D is sunlight and I live in Chicago and it’s winter, I have zero Vitamin D in my system. My immune system was seriously compromised by my lack of Vitamin D and it was unable to fight off this infection. Once my body was re-infused with Vitamin D, my immune system kicked in and I was back to work the next day! Amazing. By the way, Vitamin D is cheap, has no weird side effects and is available without a prescription so you don’t need health insurance to get it, which is cool since 50,000,000 people (roughly 17% of the US population) doesn’t have health insurance. (Of course, most people don’t have access to the 50,000 unit Vitamin D pills that my doctor has, but if you take the regular 5,000 units per day, you won’t need that mega dose, because you will not be as sick.)

So three nice clean, plant-based meals, 30 minutes of exercise, lots of water and one Vitamin D soft gel per day should lead to excellent health. Get on that people, because disease is expensive and neither the United States Government, nor Pfizer gives a rat’s ass about your health. It’s all you.

February 19, 2010 Posted by | General Health, Nutrition | 1 Comment

Sarpino’s Pizza and Other Stories

Part One:

On Thursday, I had a ridiculous pizza craving, which is unusual for me because when I have “cravings” they are usually for sweet things. Anyway, I indulged my craving with no apologies. Why not? Once I know that any craving that I am having is genuine, i.e. not stress or depression induced, I always indulge it. Usually it amounts to an extra snack – a handful of nuts or a glass of soy milk. I ordered this fantastic pesto pizza with sun dried tomatoes and fresh garlic and spinach. It was delicious and I have no regrets. I skipped my evening snack and then went right back on program on Friday. Then Saturday we got a call from a friend of my husband’s who wanted to have dinner. We love her and hadn’t seen her in forever, so of course we couldn’t refuse. We went to the greatest Mexican restaurant (Adobo; it’s up near Second City, for those familiar with Chicago) and while I managed to resist a Mojito and most of the chips ( I stopped at 2), I ate half of an appetizer, but only ate half of my entree – veggie butternut squash enchiladas with black beans. It felt really heavy and I literally thought that my pants were going to burst open when I stood up to go to the bathroom.

I accepted that I was not going to lose weight this week and was even certain that I would gain so – I had accepted it and didn’t feel bad about it at all. However, when I stepped on the scale this morning at the JC center, to may astonishment I had lost 3.2 pounds! I am at 201.2, a stones throw away from my Valentine’s Day goal of getting under 200 pounds! If I hit 198.5 pound next week, I will have lost a total of 40 pounds. My husband was sure that I would be down today due to the fact that he has noticed my rapid loss of inches over the last few weeks (he monitors this through the use of a very accurate scientific measuring device – his own hands). I have been mired in a series of mini-plateaus for the last 2 months. Two weeks with no or minimal loss followed by a 2-3 pound loss the third week. A pair of jeans that fit me perfectly on New Year’s Day are now so loose that I will soon have to give them away. In fact, one of my projects this week will be to go through my entire closet and try on each and every item to see what still fits and what is so loose that it is not even worth keeping. I’ll find a Good Will that will pick all the stuff up. This will also help with my visualization. For those who are familiar with the Law of Attraction (which has been working pretty well for me weight loss-wise), it’s good to prepare your environment for the inevitable receipt of whatever it is that you want. If you want to be thinner, you have to start acting like and feeling like a thin person. For me that means no more shopping in Plus Size stores and getting rid of clothes that are too big for me. Next month I will replenish a few necessary items – bras, jeans, etc – but hold off on replacing my wardrobe completely as my total 100 pound weight loss will likely require several shopping trips over the next few months and I just don’t have the kind of cash required to go shopping every month.

For this week, I will do some really intense cardio and Pilates everyday. Also, I will really focus on the visualization techniques that I have learned over the last few months.

Part Two:

I think it was Marilu Henner who said that there are two kinds of people in the world: those who can talk about their poop and those who cannot. I fall into the first category. I am lactose intolerant and I do not digest cheese well. The problem is this: all of the most delicious Jenny Craig food had cheese in it. So, lets just say that I am having…a problem. But the one dairy item I have never had a problem digesting is yogurt. So Scream Queen Jamie Lee Curtis has convinced me. I will take the 14-Day Activia Challenge! Basically the claim is that if you eat Activia Yogurt everyday for 2 weeks, like magic, you’ll  be regular once again! The thing is, this yogurt is filled with probiotics. These are live microorganisms that help your digestive system break down food. Probiotics occur naturally in your small intestine, but because we are so unhealthy these days and because antibiotics are over-proscribed, we have successfully killed off many of the essential microorganisms needed to properly digest our food! According to the best medical authorities, probiotics can be very helful for lactose intolerant people. Because lactic acid bacteria actively converts lactose into lactic acid, ingesting probiotics may help the lactose intolerant folks comfortably digest dairy products.

So we’ll see. I started this yesterday. By the way, their low-fat Cherry yogurt is sublime!

So aside for the fact that I had to sit through that really gay Super Bowl Pre-Game Show on Sunday, I had a pretty good weekend!

February 8, 2010 Posted by | General Health, Nutrition, Weight Loss | 2 Comments