Unexpected

I had a doctor’s appointment today, and I got weighed. I’d avoided my Monday weigh-in yesterday because over the weekend I had not one, but two croissants, the frozen kind from William Sonoma. I bought them back in October for the holidays, but plans changed and I ended up going home, instead of my family coming here. So I never ate them. They’ve been sitting in the freezer since then. My intention was to make only one, but they were frozen hard and the least number I could get out was two. And you know what? They were o.k.  They were good. No, really, they were quite good, but… They weren’t the taste explosion I expected them to be. There could be several reasons for this.

  1. They’ve been in my freezer since October, so they might be a little freezer burned. Whoops.
  2. They over-rose. My kitchen was probably closer to 80 degrees than the 72 they recommend and they looked like small pale balloons Saturday morning. And finally,
  3. I think I may have built them up way too much in my head.

Deciding to even bake them was a huge deal. Because if I baked them I’d eat them. What would it do to my stomach? What would it do to my blood sugar?  And the one that never goes away: what would it do to my weight?

These things are expensive: $40 for 15, plus shipping. That’s more than $2.60 each (it’s very sad I had to figure that out on the computer calculator; my lack of math skills is embarrassing). That’s a lot of money for a croissant I have to cook myself.  I’m at the point where I’ll order a sandwich and not eat the bread, but I’m not willing to throw out Williams-Sonoma croissant kind of money. Plus, I’d wanted to order those croissant for years. And finally I’d declared myself a true foodie and done it.  I wanted to taste them, to see what all the fuss was about.

And, they were good. They could have been flakier but that was probably because they rose at least twice as much as they were supposed to. They were like mutant grocery store “crescent rolls” instead of real buttery flaky French croissants.

Saturday morning I sat with the freshly baked croissant. Just one. No TV, no music. Just me and the croissant, and the cultured butter. (I’ve decided that if I’m going to eat carbs, they need to be buttery to keep the high fat ratio going. My carb intake might have been 25% that day but it wasn’t more than that.)

I took off a piece, still warm, buttered it and put it in my mouth. It did not overwhelm me. I did not swoon. I did not roll my eyes into the back of my head in ecstasy. It simply tasted good. And from that first bite I knew I would not eat the other croissant. At least not right then. I knew it was manageable. I knew I wouldn’t bake one every day until they were all gone. I felt calm in that knowledge.  I let the other one stay out and get stale. The next night, I dunked it into an egg and milk mixture and made French toast out of it, using the big bottom half to soak up the yokes of two fried eggs. YUM!! Now that was a taste sensation! The smaller top, I dotted with maple syrup. It seemed too sweet. Not as good as the eggy buttery bread with eggs on top.

I’m not really depriving myself by eating low carb, paleo, primal, whatever religion you want to call it. I don’t want it to be a religion, is what I’m saying. The less I think of it in absolutes, the happier I’ll be. Does this mean I’m going to make this a monthly thing? Maybe. It’s kind of turning out to be an every six weeks I splurge kind of thing. Is that bad? Considering I used to get something sweet with my coffee almost everyday in the afternoon, not counting candy and chips and anything to feed the constant hunger? Hell no that’s not bad!!!

This morning at the doctor’s office, I weighed in at 202.7 (I could be wrong on the .point). That’s almost two pounds down from last week 204 (no decimals). I’m down about 10bls since mid-january, if I’m counting from 215. If I’m counting from 220, which I may well have been it’s about 15. That’s not counting the epic carb binge in San Francisco (Tartine, Humphry Slocombe), or the croissants a mere two days ago. I’m going home next weekend. I’m going to eat my mother’s cooking. And I won’t feel bad about it. I’m in this for the long haul.

April 13, 2011. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

The Year of Denial

It’s time to begin again. Or stop again. Either way, there are several reasons:

  1. The holidays, in my case September through January really didn’t help my stomach. I suddenly remembered what it was like to always have a stomach ache and always feel bloated. The Year of Denial is over; my body can’t take eating carbs anymore. If it ever could.
  2. I’d gotten back up to about 215, maybe 217, maybe 220 when I wasn’t getting on the scale. That’s just uncomfortable. The Year of Denial really started about 18 months ago with the extreme stress of buying my house and then getting a new job, and other things that brought a great deal of stress into my life. Also, knee problems which made going to yoga impossible. Also, just found out I have sever vitamin D deficiency. Which may have something to do with the knee problems. Still a sucky feel sorry for myself period of time.
  3. Gary Taubes has come out with a new book, Why We Get Fat (buy it!). I read it, the whole time thinking, ‘I remember this. Why was I in denial about this?’ Oh yeah, it was the Year of Denial.

Technically, I’ve been doing it (not eating carbs), or not doing it (eating carbs), since mid-to-late January. This does not include however, an epic carb binge on a trip to San Francisco around my birthday in February. My belly was so bloated, someone could have easily  mistaken me for pregnant. I wasn’t. It was the carbs. And they were delicious. And I don’t really regret it.

I’m not exercising that much now. I’ve got about a 20 minute walk both ways from the garage to the office, and I still practice yoga, though it’s yin yoga, because the knee prevents me from doing anything too rigorous.  That’s enough for now. I’ll crank it up when I’m under 200 again, in a couple of months I hope.

I’m down to about 206. I was 208 last week. It looks to be about a pound a week when I’m on it. And I’m on it. How long will I be on it? I honestly don’t know, but there won’t be another year(s) long detour from it. I’m too old and too damaged and there are still so many things I want to do. And I need this body to do them.

March 23, 2011. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

may you have a lifetime of hunger

Note: the Dr in this article is Judith Beck, not Martha Beck. Sorry for the mistake.

Is that a curse or a blessing? This is the kind of thing that drives me absolutely out of my mind: How to think like a thin person.

It’s absolute bullshit!

This was in my Oprah’s Spirit Newsletter today under the headline Top 10 Ways to Kick-Start Change. This is particularly disgusting since it’s in a “Spirit” newsletter. What does starving yourself have to do with your “spirit”, the thing that is you, and will be you even when you no longer even have a body? Let me explain.

Martha [correction: Judith] Beck is an O Magazine “expert”, and her ideas are everywhere on Oprah’s website.  In this article written by some poor sap desperately trying to lose weight, Beck says, “I’ve discovered that to some degree almost every thin person restricts what she eats.”

Really? How did she discover this? Did she conduct a study? Was it double blind with a random sample? No. No she did not. She’s just saying shit that she believes because that’s her experience. She lost 15 (15, ohh ahhh) pounds years ago and now she thinks she’s got the answer to everyone’s weight loss “problem”.

My experience is just the opposite. To my great annoyance, I meet naturally thin people all the fucking time! And most of them are aware enough to know that it’s just their metabolism. They’re constantly annoyed when people say to them, “Oh you’re so thin, you must not eat anything.”  One of my thin friends drinks Dr. Pepper all the time. That’s soda with high fructose corn syrup. And she’s bone thin. I drink maybe 6 sodas a year and when I do I make sure they’re made with pure cane sugar, not HFCS. What do I get for that? Not a damn thing!

OK. So, so we’ve established now that her entire premise is based on a personal anecdote. Great.

The poor sap tries to explain, “… mostly I eat only when I’m hungry, which is fairly often, because of my hypoglycemia.” But…

Judy wasn’t buying it. “If you’re trying to lose weight, you can’t go by hunger; you have to go by a plan. I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to figure out that I can stand being hungry no matter what,” she said, beaming. “Before I was able to keep weight off, I always worried about being hungry.”

Beck goes on:

And most people who struggle with weight loss tend to feel hunger pangs intensely and often eat to avoid those feelings. But the point is, hunger comes and goes. Thin people know this and don’t worry about being hungry.

OH. MY. GOD!

Martha Beck is anorexic. Not only is she anorexic, but she’s claiming that most thin people are anorexic. And she’s actively encouraging fat people to adopt the behavior of anorexics. Let me restate the above so it’s clear what she’s really saying:

In order to be thin, you have to ignore your hunger no matter how intense it is or how it affects you physically. Once you learn to ignore your body, one of your body’s most basic signals, I can’t tell you how wonderful your life will be!

When did being hungry become an abnormality or a sign of mental illness? Hunger is a basic, and I mean basic instinct. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if an expert said “Don’t pee when you feel you have to. That’s emotional peeing. You can hold it in. Ignore it. You’ll feel so much better about yourself,” would you do that? Only at your peril! You’d just end up peeing on yourself! And then how would that make you feel?

This article also has something else that I hate about diet “experts”. Fat people are constantly given mixed messages. At the beginning Beck is all, “Almost everybody has the idea that once they stop dieting, they’ll be able to eat whatever they want, but that is absolutely false,” and “I had to accept that for the rest of my life, I would have to eat differently from how I used to eat.” But then later she says “Rigidity is essential right now, but it’s only temporary.”

Huh? But before, and I mean just before, didn’t she say that we desperate to be thin people needed to eat this way for the rest of our lives?  “You have to do this for the rest of your life. But it’s only temporary.”  So no matter what we do we’ve done something wrong and if we don’t lose weight, or we gain weight (god forbid such a fucking tragedy how will I be able to accomplish anything in my whole entire life if I’m fat), it’s all our fault and has nothing to do with the so-called “experts” fucked up advice.  Because anyone who’s ever lost 10 lbs (and kept it off!) gets to say they’re an expert no matter how uninformed and insane they are.

For so long I thought I was insane because I was fat. But it’s believing in shit like that’s insane.

March 15, 2010. Tags: , , , . Uncategorized. 3 comments.

science love

I love that Tierney quotes Gary Taubes extensively.  He clearly loves the hard science the man doles out.

January 27, 2010. Tags: , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

numbers game

Where do scientists get the numbers they use to try to scare us into doing what they believe is the best for us? Especially when it comes to nutrition?  When I read this article in the NYTimes, I was immediately suspicious about some of the information:

If everyone consumed half a teaspoon less salt per day, there would be between 54,000 and 99,000 fewer heart attacks each year and between 44,000 and 92,000 fewer deaths, according to the study, …

The study involved a computerized model that analyzed previous studies to estimate the benefits of salt reduction on lowering blood pressure and the lowered blood pressure’s effect on decreasing heart disease, stroke and heart attacks.

The researchers found that everyone would benefit from less salt, but people at higher risk for heart problems — blacks, people with hypertension and people over 65 — would benefit most.

(emphasis mine)

So, here’s the logic: if hypertension can be reduced by decreasing salt intake, then eating too much salt must cause the hypertension, so if everyone reduces their salt intake, there will be no hypertension and all these lives will be saved.

But there’s a huge problem with this logic. Salt intake is not the only cause of hypertension. What about stress? I would argue that a lot more of the population has high blood pressure because of stress than salt. Do these scientists seriously think that stress alone won’t cause hypertension and therefore heart disease and stroke?  Why would you focus solely on limiting a necessary dietary mineral instead of dealing with stress?

I can tell you right now, with all certainty, that black people don’t have hypertension because we eat “too much” salt. Black people have high blood pressure because being black in American is stressful.   Reducing salt does nothing about the root cause of the hypertension, which is stress.  It would be far more effective to prescribe meditation and yoga. But the nutrition industry in American is all about creating “bogeyfoods” that are going to kill you. Right now!

All of these nutritional bogeyfoods are about the intense desire to want to control your health, it’s all about the foods you choose and nothing else. “If you make all the right choices,” they imply “You’ll live forever.”

No you won’t. You will die. You will age and die and there’s nothing you can do about it.  Salt your food.

Couple this article in the Times with this post in the Huffington Post and you can’t blame a person for being suspicious. The semantics of death means Dr. Gayatri Devi can’t put down that her patient died of Alzheimer’s disease, that her patient forgot how to breath.  She has to put some made-up heart disease, because we as the general public, members of the departments of health included, don’t believe you can have a “natural” death from anything other than heart attacks, cancer and strokes. How skewed are these numbers?

January 22, 2010. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

The Weight Watchers Experiment

I joined Weight Watchers last night. In my last post, which I just put up, I said that I was tired of dieting, and that I was just going to cut back on sugar and bread, carbs essentially. In the meantime I started trying to write writing a novel and one of the main characters is a life long dieter. I was trying to write dialogue for her weight watchers meeting and I realized I couldn’t. I didn’t remember what the meetings were like or what people talked about, the kinds of words and phrases they used, basically the atmosphere. I also couldn’t remember what it really felt like to be on this diet.

I hadn’t been to a Weight Watchers meeting in maybe 7 years. (I signed up online a few years ago, but that lasted for a month at the most. Well I paid for a month. The dieting part lasted days.) I’d decided not to diet (which to me was Weight Watchers; I hadn’t read Good Calories Bad Calories yet) because I always gained the weight back after a few years. I decided that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result was indeed insanity, and I needed to not be insane, at least on some level.

However. I need to write dialogue. I need to describe how this woman feels on this diet. How she’s been doing this for 20 years and she’s just in her early 30s. She doesn’t even know how not to think about it. What it’s like for her to go through her day doing this. The best way to do that is to go on the diet, go to the meetings, participate in the world actively as this constantly dieting woman (I probably shouldn’t write about a murderer). So last night I joined.

At first I felt a little dishonest. I felt like I was using them. And I am. I’m essentially easedropping on people who very earnestly lead and attend these meetings. They have remarkable stories about weight loss and weight gain, but more remarkable they have stories about themselves that are revealed in their struggles with weight.

I thought I would be able to maintain an objective distance, but I couldn’t. If you’ve been to a Weight Watchers meeting you know there’s a lot of applause. Maybe you know. I didn’t. I’d completely forgotten about that.  The meeting started with a little applause, the leader waking us up. I thought “oh dear”. I wanted to be jaded. I wanted to see these people as deluded about weight loss (“you do know that most of you aren’t going to ever get to goal and only 2% of you who do will keep the weight off”).  But by the end, when a woman reported that she’d lost 74 pounds and was about to finish up a running series that would total 88 miles over the past few months, my applause was spontaneous and genuine. The phrase “I never thought I would ever be able to ___”  fill in the blank is just inspiring no matter what your own goals are.

I also noticed that I’m really competitive. While I was sitting there, listening, watching, observing, I kept thinking “I have to do this. When I get on the scale I want to see results! I can lose more than anyone else! This totally makes sense, it will totally work,” I kept thinking. It’s like something clicked and I really really believed this was the way and I had to do it better than anyone else. I had to be successful at this.

The leaders parting words were “Dance as if nobody is watching. Eat as if everyone is.”  I almost gasped when I heard those words. Really? Eat as if everyone is watching me, judging me?  So I’m doing this so I don’t look bad to other people? I take other people’s judgments of me seriously and I let that influence choices in my life?  When I eat, I’m supposed to feel shame if I’m not eating so-called “healthy” food or if I’m eating “too much”? There are so many sad things about statement. The spell was broken.

January 21, 2010. Tags: . Uncategorized, Weight Watchers Experiment. Leave a comment.

start and stop

I wrote this last week. Last week sucked so I got back to it to actually post it. Here it is. A lot has happened since then.

This week I decided not to eat any sugar and much less bread, to lower the amount of sugar and starches that I’ve been eating from the high of the holidays.  My skin has been looking awful and I ‘m feeling bloated and I just wanted a clean slate.

I was not crazy with it. If a little slice of bread came with the soup I ate it (if it was good).  I ate dark chocolate. I do feel better, even though I ate dessert at a True Blood watching last night and I got high on sugar and caffeine this morning because I didn’t get to bed until 1am and I still woke up at 5:30.  I’ll eat dessert and bread tomorrow as well (have friends coming over for dinner) and maybe even Sunday.

My goal is to not eat sugar and bread every single day. This is doable. I’m not sure how I didn’t eat any sugar or bread for two whole months when I first tried a low carb diet.  I was so entranced with how much I was losing that I just didn’t, I guess. But I have to admit, the second I stopped losing I stopped the diet. We’re so trained to think of diets for weight loss that if we go on a diet and we don’t lose weight, we stop it even though we feel much better, and in my case, my skin was so flawless. (I didn’t realize how much I wanted flawless skin until I had it for a couple of months.)

But dieting to lose weight is just no longer an option.  Now I’m at a place where I think, life is too short not to enjoy the lovely bread I make or dessert or anything else (non-food) for that matter.  If I’m fat, I’m fat. For those who say, I’m shortening my life by eating this way… you’re morons.  I could get hit by a bus tomorrow.

I will exercise moderately (well actually I love vigorous workouts) 3-4 times a week but that’s all I can promise. And when I say promise I mean promise myself. I’m tired of lying to myself so I can make someone else feel better about me.

Would I like to drop 50lbs? Sure. Is that likely to happen? No. Am I going to beat myself up when it doesn’t? Probably. That’s being honest.

January 21, 2010. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

fat yogi

I’m coming late to this article, but as a fat yogini I feel I have to comment. It’s a post by Sadie Nardini referring to another post by a 300 lbs yogini who doesn’t feel like she fits in but keeps trying anyway.

I am always the fattest person in the yoga studio. I didn’t say biggest, because some of the men are bigger. Some. But whenever I go to a new yoga studio, I always assume I’ll be the fattest person there, and I always assume any new teacher is thinking either “what is she doing here?” or “oh she’s finally going to get some exercise!”  It’s the latter attitude that pisses me off the most. “Training for triathlons and biking 50 miles a week and doing Cathe videos is a lot more strenuous than your little yoga class,” I want to yell. “I’ve been exercising my ass off for 20 years. And oh yeah.  I’m a yoga teacher!” Of course I never say this. I keep it all in. And maybe that’s why I’m fat. Not.

I’m a big fan of Sadie Nardini’s core yoga, but her post just confirmed what I’d suspected for most:

“And, I have to admit, I do view obesity (I’m not talking about a healthy, curvy woman, mind you, but clinical obesity) as an imbalance that that originates in the ego’s shadow looming too large in front of the spirit’s light, but ultimately reflects in avoidable heart attacks, cancer, and strokes.

To be fair, I also see imbalances in myself and my students that manifest in other ways.”

The whole idea of fat people having issues, but thin people are somehow issue free drives me insane, and to be fair, Sadie explicitly recognizes that. However the idea that you can define what’s “wrong” with a person simply by the way they look is absolutely ridiculous. “The ego’s shadow looming too large in front of the spirit’s light.” Whahhh?  When feel they can say something like that for everyone who some other physical characteristic, then I’ll, maybe, consider it.

So let me be clear: There’s absolutely no issue that fat people has that thin people don’t have. Stop pretending they do.

January 11, 2010. Tags: , , , . Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Daybreakers, or the vampire in all of us

I saw Daybreakers last night. I’d read it’s supposed to be a metaphor for Big Pharm, Big Agriculture, and/or Big Oil, depending on how you look at it. But the movie is about hunger more than anything else, and not even metaphorically, but actually.

The vampire-ruled world is running out of humans, and therefore the human blood they need to survive (Big Oil, Big Ag). The vampire rulers, headed by an always delicious Sam Neill, are desperately searching for a blood substitute (Big Pharm). When vampires don’t eat, they turn into completely inhuman monsters, bald, winged, super strong, terrifying, disgusting, and deadly, to the general vampire population.

Poor things are just hungry.

While I say that jokingly, the movie really does paint them in a sympathetic light, maybe even more sympathetic than the Fightin’ Humans. When the government rounds up some of these creatures and soldiers are dragging them into the light of day to kill them, the scene is played as a tragedy with soaring music, and one of the characters looking on as if to say “This is not right!” Some of the poor beasts are wearing nice suits and jewelry for crying out loud. These were once decent law abiding vampires! Nearby witnesses look on with fear, showing the first signs of turning, knowing they could be next. It could happen to any vampire, poor or rich, because the supply (Oil, Ag) is running out and no amount of money will get it for you.

Vampires are all about an overpowering hunger. Hunger is physically painful and debilitating for them (and us?). Even if they love torturing humans for fun, they’d never kill a human without feeding (as Bill the Vampire so sexily explained in a season one-episode of True Blood).  Any evil they do is always in pursuit of a good meal.  They’re really my kind of people.

January 9, 2010. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

on so many levels

Read this: Ta-Nehisi Coates, Shame.  It hits all the levels. Being fat is different from being fat and black is different from being fat, black and female.  You can barely move from the weight of it even if you’re physically fit, even if you can run or float. You can spend all of your time fighting what people think you are without really having a chance to figure it out for yourself.

October 20, 2009. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

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