Monday, April 10, 2006

On Being Fat

Kat, Aunt B, and Winston have been talking about being fat - the struggles, the issues, the realities of it all.

As you all may recall, I have been on a weight loss program (and am now almost at the -50 lbs mark. So you all have some reference - that's a 6 year old.) Over the last few weeks as the constantly monitoring my calories wore on me, I stopped and ate what I wanted to, when I wanted to for about 2 weeks. I wanted chips? I had chips. I wanted the bean and cheese burrito at SATCO? I had two. McDonald's hamburger here I come! Pizza Perfect, you were next. The chocolate chocolate biscotti left over from the morning meeting? Mmmmmmmmmm....

I gained a 1/2 lb. To you that may not seem like much. It might have been more if I weren't walking/dancing/using the elliptical machine so very often. To me, it was a smack upside the head. It said "PK, to get where you want to be, you are going to have to treat this seriously. Elena has to monitor her blood sugar every day and take insulin. She will have to do that every day for the rest of her life. You are going to have to treat your weight like Elena treats her diabetes."

So, I went back to the food journal. Counting the calories. Adding everything up. And when I went for my weigh in last week, I lost 5 lbs for the month of March. The relief washed over me like a wave. I did it. I fell off. I got back on the wagon.

People have been noticing.

**My belly dance teacher: "You look amazing! I can really see the difference. Just be aware that as you lose the weight, you will have to re-learn some of this stuff because your center of gravity will change."

**Other instructors at the dance studio: "I can really tell that you have lost weight. You look great. Do you feel better?" (But not the one who sees me every week. Hrmph. But he may be trying to be polite - one never ever discusses a woman's weight unless she brings it up.. but he did say he loved the new practice skirt I've been wearing. Miss O'Hara found it for me online. I didn't think it would fit because it's almost a non-XL size but - yes! It fit!)

**My boss: "Your complexion is so much better."

**My former boss: "You look great!" "Thanks." "No thank you. I get to look at you!" She even sent me an encouraging note when she saw me walking around the campus the other day.

Friday, I took a look at this picture from October, shortly before I started this program but still down 15 lbs from my heaviest. I became physically ill. I felt a churning in my stomach like I was going to throw up. Elena sent me a very encouraging email that helped me to re-gain perspective. The last time I weighed what I weigh today was when I was a freshman in high school. That was 15 years ago. Half my life ago.

I agree with Kat and Aunt B - people offer suggestions thinking they are trying to help. Or the snide remarks will somehow shame us into better habits. How often do you tell a smoker that what they will doing could ultimately kill them? Do you think the smoker isn't fully aware of that? It's right there on the side of the pack.

There isn't a warning on the side of the Big Mac box "WARNING: This hamburger is full of fat and cholesterol. In 20 years, you may die of a heart attack. Don't eat this. Eat carrots instead." Or some such non-sense. But I'm pretty sure we all know that a fried hamburger isn't as good for you as a salad. Honestly, do we need a label to tell us that? Though some study released this week said that people don't know they are obese. So they may not call themselves obese. They probably know they are overweight. I am in the extreme obese category. Do you think I actually *want* to know that? No. But do I know that? Yeah - I see it every time I look in the mirror. I don't need my Dr. or a government sign politely informing me.

For the record - the fried hamburger probably tastes better than the salad.

One of the things I'm worried about as I lose the weight is that I will become a weight-loss nazi. You know those people that whatever change they have made in their life (yoga, quitting smoking, running, dance -- yeah, I'm one of those people!), they become convinced that you should make it, too.

I pray that I don't because being a libertarian, I believe everyone has the right to choose whatever personal behaviors they want to... just don't go asking me to support it - morally or financially. You have to be willing to accept the personal responsibility for your actions. If that means you die from fatty arteries, lung cancer, reckless driving, or dehydration... whatever - that was your choice. The minute your personal choices start affecting me - we have a problem. I don't want to pay for anti-smoking ads or "eat 5 a day" commercials in just the same way I don't want to pay for studies that analyze the emissions from cows or the Department of Education. It isn't (shouldn't be) a function of government. See? Everything is the fault of the government. ;) Heh.

Back to the story at hand.... reaching this point and what I read on the blogs this morning caused me to think about why I was making these changes.

- Health. Both of my parents died before they were 60 from largely preventable causes. I'm not done - I don't think God has called me home yet. So if I don't want to leave prematurely, there are changes I need to make.

Elena put this in a very poetic way (as only the Poetess could do):
Just think of it as shedding physically all the stuff that you've been shedding spiritually, mentally, and emotionally! AND God had long ago set you free from your body being a prison, and now you're living out that reality. Your body is becoming a temple indeed. Your stewardship of it is improving and improving. And no longer will you be seeing your size as what you yourself and other people use to define you.
Some of you might be concerned that I will be/am a slave to food journals and calories. Believe me, I thought of that too. But... to expound on what Elena said - why would I want to trade one prison for another? I know what I should be eating. I know how many calories are in my lunch when I pack it. I don't write every blipping thing down anymore. If I watch my snacks - particularly at work and when I get home from dance - it's all good. I don't feel enslaved by it. More than anything, I'm incredibly annoyed (as I told my nutritionist) but... it is a part of my life. If I want to get to point B, I have to walk the road. One day at a time.

- Emotional well-being. Plain and simple: I'm tired of being fat. I've been fat my entire life. I know the odds are against me, but, I've never felt better in my entire life. I'm healthier and happier than I've ever been. I don't want to lose that.

- Appearance. I won't lie about it. I want to look better in my clothes. Though right now, I look like I'm hiding in a tent in some of my shirts that are 2 sizes too big and I hate - HATE - everything that is out for this Spring. Which is it: being in clothes that are too big for me or clothes that fit but I dislike?

Several weeks ago, I went into Charlotte Russe for the first time. I never went in there because I knew they wouldn't have anything that fit me. They had this little red halter dress in the window. Every time I did my walking at the mall, I would see it. I would stop and drool. It would scream "PK! You need me for salsa dancing!!!" For a month, I would walk by this dress, whimper and keep going. Finally, I went in. They had it in a large. Ohh.. it's stretchy... in a few more months, it might fit. It's $20!!!!! OH YEAH - you are coming home with me!

I get home, hang it on my closet door and stare at it. Well... let me see how much more I need to lose before it fits. I pull it on.. and it goes on. All the way on. Now, it doesn't look good and I wouldn't wear it out right now... but by the end of the summer? You bet baby. I am wearing that dress out. I jumped up and down. WHOO-HOO! I am wearing a LARGE!!!!! Not an XL. Not an XXL. Not a 1X. A LARGE! Hot ****! Talk about your positive reinforcement.

That chocolate biscotti can't hold a candle to this red dress. I need to remember that the next time they bring that tray of goodies down.

I don't know where else I was going but... there ya go.