“the choice scenario”

In my previous post I wrote:

“Some could argue that there’s no choice in peeing or shitting, while eating involves myriad choices and it’s up to the individual to make the “right” choices. Don’t get me wrong, I get the idea of being “addicted” to certain foods, like say Cheetos. Not good.”

A commenter responded that “You are correct in the choice scenario of eating. Education and information at the earliest of ages may be a deterrent.”

This is a bad idea. Let me tell you why. In the current environment, education and information at the earliest of ages would create a generation of people who are unable to evaluate how their own bodies feel and make choices for themselves. That was kind of the point of the previous post, which I clearly didn’t present well.

We are already brainwashing people into ignoring their own bodies, thinking that if they’re hungry between meals there’s something wrong with them. I was reading about a doctor who encouraged his adult patients to deny their children food if they wanted to eat between meals, even if the child said she was hungry. He suggested they tell them they’re not really hungry, that they just think they are. This is insane. Again, if your child tells you she has to go potty, would you question her motives?

Another way that education and information at the earliest of ages about the choice scenario is a really bad idea is that the current nutritional advice is just wrong for millions of people, and because Americans are prone to puritanism, any deviation for that “advice” would open up fat people to all kinds of persecution. Yeah. I’m using the word “persecution”.  In my post, I chose Cheetos as an obvious “bad” choice for constant eating, forgetting that the fat nazis assume that all fat people sit around all day not moving a muscle, eating nothing but Cheetos and potato chips and drinking liters of full corn syrup soda. It’s their own fault, blah blah blah. I’m sure some people do eat that way, but millions of fat people do not.

But my real problem with “the choice scenario” in this case is that some of the “healthy” foods we fat people are constantly told to eat, like fruits, lots of whole grains, and low fat, are really unhealthy for a lot of people. If not for the majority of American’s then certainly a significant minority.

The other night I started watching the new Good Eats episode when Alton Brown explains what he did to lose 50 lbs. I’d heard that he’d cut out sweets, even cutting out milk because it goes so well with sweets. However, the first recipe of the show was a fruit smoothie. I pretty much stopped watching after that.

Here’s what fruit smoothies do for me (and just to be clear these are all fruit, no fat, etc): I drink them, feel bloated, then an hour and a half later I’m hungry again, and not a normal hungry, but really like “OMG! I’m starving” hungry. That’s what a lot of fruit does for me, it makes me bloated and/or hungry. I love fruit, love bananas, mango, pears. And sometimes I eat them anyway, but it’s just physically unsatisfying.

However because the diet nazis are so stringent they’re constantly telling fat people what to eat. Fruit is good for you! And because fat people have come to believe that they’re just awful human beings who are insane (why am I hungry if I just ate? how could I have let myself go like this?) and can’t make decisions for themselves, they try to eat whatever they’re told to eat and when they feel hungry they try to ignore it.

But ignoring your hunger is like ignoring the urge to pee or shit. You can only ignore it for so long before things get really messy.

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January 7, 2010. Tags: , , . diet. 1 comment.

Conscious Peeing

What is the line between self-acceptance/self-love and change? If I love everything about myself and accept everything, what’s my motivation to change, or put another way, what’s my motivation to do things differently? And since this is a blog about weighting, what’s my motivation to eat and move differently in order to lose weight.

No self help book that teaches self acceptance and self love has explained that adequately. Even Buddhist books just say sit with it and if they go into details, they just seem like any other seemingly compassionate, but really kind of patronizing diet book.  Even Buddhist monks can’t seem to escape the current dogma that weight is a psychological issue and not a physiological one.

In Cheri Huber’s Making a Change For Good: A Guide to Compassionate Self-Discipline, she writes  “…eating, along with every addiction we struggle with, is not about the content, it is about the process, and the process is identity maintenance” (pg 77).

The use of the word “addiction” for so many random things really annoys me. Maybe I’m wrong but I could have sworn that addiction used to mean someone had a physical dependence on something. You were addicted to heroin, just as I am addicted to coffee. Getting unaddicted caused physical pain. (Don’t smirk about the coffee addiction. I once stopped drinking coffee and I had a headache for 72 hours straight.) Now the word addiction is used to refer to behavior like an addiction to gambling.

I find the use of the word addiction to eating just bizarre. Whatever else you’re “addicted” to – cigarettes, crack, sex, bungee jumping – whether it’s physical or psychological, you don’t have to do any of them.  You do have to eat. Even if what you eat is crap you still have to eat. Eating in and of itself is not about “identity maintenance”, it’s about staying alive.

I understand the concept of conscious eating, which Cheri also talks about. Honestly I need to do it more often, because it’s a good idea to do everything with consciousness. But we don’t. And my question is why is eating so vilified?  Does anyone ever have the urge to pee, but then say to themselves “Slow down. Don’t stop to pee. I won’t pee until I can breathe and pee pee consciously.”

All babies do is eat, pee and shit. And they cry bloody murder right away if you don’t recognize. So why would you call eating an addiction? No one ever calls peeing or shitting an “addiction”.  And they’re kind of nasty. What would conscious peeing be anyway?  “Slow the stream, Grasshopper. Know that the pee is a part of you.”

Some could argue that there’s no choice in peeing or shitting, while eating involves myriad choices and it’s up to the individual to make the “right” choices. Don’t get me wrong, I get the idea of being “addicted” to certain foods, like say Cheetos. Not good. But this dogma really goes further than that. Underneath it there’s a sense that if you’re fat, you don’t really need to eat. At all. It’s the idea that eating itself is a choice, not just what or how much you eat. And hunger is an entirely psychological issue with no physiological basis. And if we continue down this road, we’re headed toward a long, long epidemic.

January 5, 2010. Tags: , , . diet. 2 comments.

New Year, Old Me

I’ve spent the last year gaining weight. It started with Holiday Season ’08, when I did my usual overeating of sweets and I stopped going to yoga 4 times a week because I got pissed at one of my teachers. I decided to branch out to other teachers, which has been awesome and enlightening, but I only went to yoga 2-3 times a week.

I haven’t gained tons of weight, just the usual 25-30 pounds, that range between 175 and 200-205 that I’ve been bouncing between for the last 25 years. I just wrote over on my other blog that I’m sick of making the same new year’s resolution to lose weight, but it’s always there whether I make it officially or not.

Dieting sucks, and it just feels like a futile act because I know I’ll be doing the same thing a year or two or three years from now, wondering how I can get even smaller if I haven’t gained back the weight, or how to lose it again if I have. Exercising for hours a day takes up too much time and exercising for 30 minutes does nothing for me. Really. I’ve tried it. I might a well just watch TV.

I made a delicious New Year’s Day dinner yesterday (yeah, I know it was January 2nd): Pork, greens, black eyed peas, rice, and cornbread, with ice cream sandwiches made with molasses cookies for dessert. Yum!! Cooking it made me happy. Eating it with friends I’d invited over made me happy. Am I supposed to ignore this happiness for some unknown, slimmer happiness? Why am I not supposed to be happy with this?

So this is my dilemma. I know I’m supposed to be all fat acceptance-y, but I don’t feel good.  I feel weak and tired a lot, just bloated. My knees will not stop hurting and my hips and lower back are starting to get into the act. My skin is all broken out. And my boobs are just huge. (I realize that some may not consider this a bad thing, but carrying 10 pounds on your chest 24/7 is exhausting).

If I’d lost the use of my legs for example, I wonder if I would understand self acceptance better and know that I would never walk again. That would suck, but I would have to deal with it as it is.  But weight is different. I can lose weight. Can’t I? I have lost weight. But it’s interesting, no matter what the diet, I can never get below about 170. Any diet I’ve ever been on just stalls there, even when I’m still on track. So maybe I should say there’s the illusion that I can lose weight and re-gain the use of my metaphoric limbs.

Where is the line between self acceptance and trying to change myself to feel better?  How do I love myself as I am, fat, yet try to lose weight so that I feel better physically. I’m damned if I do, damned if I don’t.

January 3, 2010. Tags: , , . fat acceptance. 3 comments.

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.

getting fatter, getting better

I’m in the middle of a move, so I haven’t had time to go to yoga, only stretching some at home, mostly in bed, trying to figure my way around the new place, letting go of the old.  When I finally did go to a yoga class, I was shocked that my chaturangas were solid and strong, and my Vasisthasana was two-legged instead of my usual top leg forward for support. I was amazed. Again. In terms of asana, I’m a better yogi now than when I was smaller and practiced harder.

I’ve been amazed at my practice in the past few months because I’ve gained about 30lbs in the last nine months (honestly, much of that weight came between November and January. The holidays were fun!). But my practice has improved, a lot, since last summer when I was practicing pretty vigorously 5-6 times a week during teacher training. And I was 30lbs lighter.

I want to make sure everyone understands this is not “muscle weight”. I gained fat. My breasts are huge, my belly doughy, my hips and thighs can’t get into favorite skirts and jeans. I always think: “My practice would be so much better if I were smaller. If I were skinnier I’d be able to wrap myself around… myself, better.”  Would binds be easier if I had less to go around? Yes. No doubt. You can’t wrap 2 feet around 3 feet.

I also seem to improve when I limit my vigorous practices to maybe 2 to 3 times a week. I always have this desire to exercise hard, all the time, truth be told hoping to lose weight, even though I know from years of experience now, I won’t.  But maybe my body just needs more time to repair itself, to grow stronger. I’m starting to think that’s not really uncommon, especially the older you get. The older I get.

According to conventional wisdom, my practice should be getting worse. I should be getting weaker not stronger, less flexible not more. But I’m not. I notice my palm finding the floor in twists, not just my finger tips, not on a block. My core is stronger than I think it is. I try to trust my breath to lift me up when I think my muscles can’t. And I can tell you for a fact that I couldn’t do more than one chaturanga last summer, but now I can. And I can push up from it too. Well a few at least.

In terms of asana, I’m a better yogi now than when I was smaller and practiced harder.

September 4, 2009. Tags: , , . yoga. Leave a comment.

Getting Past ‘No’

Diets don’t work.

But I know that I feel better physically when I cut out carbs, especially sugar. My skin is clearer, my digestion/elimination is better, my sugar crashes aren’t… aren’t, and I don’t get the wicked headaches I used to get all the time (maybe I destroyed my liver with all the ibuprofen?). I’ve learned that when I do eat too much sugar, like during the holidays, a piece of bacon will settle my stomach. Bacon!  I’m trying to eat this way, for my health, without the focus being on losing weight.

But it feels like a weight loss diet. It has the same texture and pattern, one that insists absolute fealty and obedience to the Diet God (it’s so not a goddess), or in this case maybe it’s the Health God. I feel deprived and bitter and put upon. I feel like I’m holding myself back on every level, weighting for some perfect state of health that’s not going to come. I feel trapped, torn between giving up dieting for weight loss, and eating in a way that works for my body, which is dieting!

Then I read something like this from gluten free girl:

When I found out it was celiac disease, and all I had to do was stop eating gluten to find my health again, I never thought of all the foods I had to live without. I thought only, yes. Yes to being alive. Yes to all the foods that do not contain gluten that I can eat. Yes to food and being awake and my body healing. Yes to all of this.

And I feel small, horribly, horribly small. In spirit, not size.

If I found out I had celiac disease would I be this happy? I doubt it seriously.  I would weep at the thought of never having bread again. I make awesome bread. I have a huge framed poster of bread in my kitchen. I doubt I could look forward to a life without bread and not feel I was being punished for something, I know not what. Because that’s what dieting for any reason feels like, like punishment for unknown and made-up crimes.  But not to gluten free girl. She’s just happy as a clam without bread. And not to anyone who sees a huge restriction as an opportunity to create something new.

I want to let this trapped feeling go but I’m so used to it, it’s all I know. I’m not sure what’s there without it. How do I make the switch from focusing on what I can have instead of what I can’t. How do I say YES to life, when NO has been shrieking at me constantly for so long? How do I drown NO and resuscitate YES?

If you have any ideas, let me know. Alright?

August 15, 2009. Tags: , , , , . diet. Leave a comment.

Fat Articles

Fat is the subject of the hour.  There are so many things to link to and others do a better job, because they’re deep in the folds of the obesity argument. But I want to capture these even just for myself and have reference points when the urge to diet and exercise excessively come up.

At The Atlantic Megan McArdle starts an epic battle (in blogging) with the obesity panic and what to do about it. It starts here. Old but found this link to an NPR story, Top 10 Reasons Why the BMI Is Bogus, at The Rotund.

Also at the Rotund, The Limbo, does a good job of talking about period between souring on dieting and truly being accepting being fat. I touched a little on some of these issues in my other blog, but not in terms of fat.  I’m going more in depth on this in another post because it’s so fraking important.

August 5, 2009. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

A theory

I’ve been thinking about fat and why it has a tendency not to go away for good once someone has packed it on. (You know, other than the obvious we’re all just greedy lazy gluttons who sit around all day eating sweet, fatty, salty Doritos.)

When I read Elizabeth Kolberts article, Why Are We So Fat in the New Yorker, I was reminded once again that fat is not longer considered a symptom of disease (or even a side effect) as it once was.  Every single book, author and study she mentions says it’s all about the calories we consume, not the kind and/or quality of the food we eat, or non-food factors that my have affected the American populace as a whole.  Disease is a byproduct of being fat, which is caused solely by our overeating/underexercising (it might as well be a word).

But let’s say fat is a symptom or side effect, which never goes away, even when the body has healed itself of the disease that caused it.  Emphasis mine, of course.  The assumption is always that we now eat more calories, so that’s why we’re fat.  What if we assumed that we eat more calories now because we got fat as a side effect, and we need those extra calories to maintain our higher weight.

Think about it this way:  If you have breast cancer and you have mastectomy, after your treatment, the cancer, the disease is gone. But you’re not going to grow your breast back. It’s kind of that way with fat. There’s some hormonal imbalance for whatever reason (puberty, pregnancy, high sugar diet), you gain the weight.  You change your diet or go on or off birth control pills or stop using hairspray, so your hormones are balanced again. But you don’t lose the weight, because it’s not important or your overall health.

Emphasis mine, again.

July 15, 2009. Tags: , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

New Theory

I know I’m a bit late on this but this Nick Kristof column is scary on many levels.  Lady pee (as Stephen Colbert called it) is going to turn everyone female!!! Forget about marriage only being between a man and a woman. There won’t be any men! No more babies!  It’s going to be all Children of Men!  But that’s just the half of it. It turns out I could be fat ’cause I drink tap:

This month, the Endocrine Society, an organization of scientists specializing in this field, issued a landmark 50-page statement. It should be a wake-up call.

“We present the evidence that endocrine disruptors have effects on male and female reproduction, breast development and cancer, prostate cancer, neuroendocrinology, thyroid, metabolism and obesity, and cardiovascular endocrinology,” the society declared.

“The rise in the incidence in obesity,” it added, “matches the rise in the use and distribution of industrial chemicals that may be playing a role in generation of obesity.”

Emphisis mine. There are only two theories really about the so-called obesity epidemic: calories or hormones.  But both of these theories are firmly rooted in food. In both camps there’s at base the idea that you can control your weight: it’s either how much or what you eat that’s causing you to be fat.  It’s your choice.

Kristof’s column goes way beyond food.  If you’ve read other posts you probably know I’m with the endocrinology people, I’m in the hormones crowd.  It’s all about how foods affect hormones that regulate fat accumulation and burning. But it’s still about food. It’s always about food.

This isn’t about food. Could obesity really be caused by water and hairspray?  Holy shit. Really? It’s not the processed foods? Or butter and eggs? It’s not the commuting to work by car and sitting at your desk all day? Really? Can I quit the gym if I just stop drinking tap water?  (You know how many diets insist that you drink 8 glasses of water a day. Oops! Psych!) And hairspray? Where did that come from? Who still uses hairspray?

It’s fascinating and it may be a conversation changer, if it turns out the science is strong behind this (although it looked like the science was strong behind low fat diets so really what does that prove?).

Let’s be honest: what to eat may be an ever popular topic in America, but nothing gets the attention faster than phrases like “undescended testicles” and “genital deformities.”

July 8, 2009. Tags: , , , , . Uncategorized. 1 comment.

fat is where it’s at

Yes!! Finally, people are catching on. From Ode Magazine:

Even the American Heart Association (AHA), a leader in the campaign against dietary fat, recently revised its nutritional guidelines, increasing the daily recommendations for fat. “The science just wasn’t there,” acknowledges Robert Eckel, president of the AHA and a professor of endocrinology, metabolism and diabetes at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.

Fat is delicious. I also really want to get this book: Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes. I hope it has recipes with lard and suet.

Why am I fat? It’s not the fat in food that’s for sure. Is it the HFCS? Maybe. Right now I’m feeling like I don’t really know and I don’t really care. I just want to enjoy my food.

And Bonus! My stomach has stopped hurting!! Just magically after what 2, 3 years I can eat and not be in pain!! It’s so exciting!

June 23, 2009. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

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