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

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

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


OK, my midsection looks like I'm carrying twins, but I must 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

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