Month: August 2010

Crazy Doctor

I think I would have been better off with Dr. Nick!

Anyone who is my facebook friend knows about the crazy experience I had last week.  On Monday I went to Provo for an appointment with an endocrinologist. My regular doctor had recommended  I see her because of my history of hormonal problems.  I don’t want to over-share but I have the following unusual symptoms:

1. Gained at least 50 lbs the year I went through puberty (the photos are striking from year to year)

2. Have been over 200 since I was 12.

3. I was an active child/teenager and yet the weight never went.  I was on the swim team in high school and a life guard but never went below 200.

4. Have been diagnosed with endometriosis when I was 17 which can effect hormone levels.

5.  Have other signs I won’t go into and recently had a bunch of blood work done and it showed some imbalances.

Given these conditions I thought perhaps hormone levels could be a piece in the weight loss puzzle.  I was not looking for an easy answer or something to blame. I know my habits are the majority of the problem but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other contributing factors.

With this positive attitude I went to the doctor expecting to be listened to and treated with respect.  Boy was I wrong.  The minute I got in with the doctor everything was rushed.  Even when they weighed me they rushed through it and didn’t wait for the scale to settle.  (it was one of those old scales where you move the weights over).  She said I was 287 but I know I am less then that!

Once I was seated she proceeded to ask me all kinds of questions that got progressively more strange.  Without taking a second to LISTEN to the points I have listed above she asked me about my upbringing, what kinds of food my mother made for me, how social I was as a child, how active I was growing up.  Then she gave me a huge lecture on the epidemic of  childhood obesity and told me my mother must have fed me bad foods and that I was an unhappy child, leading me to binge eat.  I tried to tell her this wasn’t true and that in general I was a very happy child and that my mother fed us good food.  We hardly ever went to fast food and most meals were made from scratch.  I also asked “if it is all my mother’s fault then why are my siblings twigs?”.  This received no response but more lecturing.

Then we got on to my adult life.  I told her I had lost 31 lbs and you know what she said- “I’d have to see a picture of you before?”  Can you believe that?  I was shocked that she didn’t believe me! Next she asked about my current social life- “Do your friends eat a lot of junk food?  Are they all overweight?”  I told her my friends are supportive and amazing, which produced a scoff of disbelief.  “Do you eat junk food, fast food? I bet your candy eater?  Are you a soda drinker?”  “NOOO”  I responded as adamantly as I could.  I even told her about my no fast food pledge, but she clearly thought I was just telling her what she wanted to hear.   Then she asked me about all of the diets I’d tried.  I told her weight watchers, american heart association, slim fast etc.  Her response was

“Weight watchers is the best.How long did you try it?”

“Around 6 months.  I didn’t really like it” I replied

“Oh that ‘s not long enough.  It has to be at least a year.  You should do it again.” she said

Merits of weight watchers aside, I couldn’t believe a medical professional was specifically endorsing a company.  Bizarre.  Then she became more bizarre by telling me I should watch The Biggest Loser because it would inspire me to lose weight!  I felt like saying “I have a blog talking about that show…” but she didn’t listen to a word I said.  From the moment I set in that office she had me pinned as “another fattie trying to get an easy answer”.  I’m sure she must get that a lot but in my case I was the exception to the rule.  There are valid signs that perhaps a problem exists.  And even if it doesn’t exist, I think my hormone imbalances are at least worth looking into.  No doctor should assume the worst out of his or her patients and everyone fattie or not deserves to be treated with respect.

Believe it or not the appointment got even stranger.  I have a birthmark on my head that guess what I’ve had since BIRTH!  I’ve had tons of doctors look at my head over the years and never has anyone mentioned a problem.  This doctor did about a 1 minute exam on me and then looked at my birthmark and said “Oh you should have someone look at that right away.  I would definitely have that taken care of?”  In shock I tried to ask why, what was the problem, etc and I got no response.  I’m telling you she didn’t listen to a word I said!

Finally at the end she gave me a prescription for a diabetes drug which she said “would help me lose weight.”  Of course, she also said “it has side effects like nausea and vomiting (maybe that helps with the weight loss!).   I am tested quite often for my blood sugar and insulin and have never been high or on the edge of high.  Never.  I felt she gave me this prescription because I was fat and it would be the magic pill she thought I was there for.  Of course, I have not filled this prescription!

When the appointment was mercifully over I left and noticed the doctor left with another doctor talking about “the surgery they  had”.  Clearly she was rushed and maybe that is part of her bad behavior, but I don’t think it explains all.  This woman took one look at me and made her medical judgments right then and there.  She refused to listen, she lectured, and she treated me with disdain.  Thank goodness I am at a strong point because in previous years an experience like that would have sent me into tears.  I felt so judged by her.  I’ve never felt so uncomfortable in a doctors office, or so marginalized by anyone in my life.

The entire experience had one positive effect.  Earlier in the day I had been with my trainer and my swim coach.  They were both so encouraging. My swim coach thinks if I keep up my current physical activity I could participate in a triathlon in May!  I told him “I feel like I have just as good a chance of having a baby in May as running a triathlon!  I can’t even run a lap”.  Nevertheless, he believes I can do it.

My swim coach, trainer, family, friends blogging community, acquaintances, everyone, has been nothing but super encouraging as I’ve been working to change my life.  They have all been the opposite of this mean old witch of a doctor.  I immediately told my referring doctor to not use her anymore and explained what had happened.  I also told my insurance company and got a different doctor to try.

Finally I called the office to get my records sent and complain.  I still can’t believe the receptionists response to my complaint:

“We get that a lot” and then she added “She’s from the East Coast.

I told her that I’m from Maryland and folks there still expect to be treated with respect and be listened to.  I can handle blunt, even rude but to be treated with disdain is not appropriate ANYWHERE!  I don’t care where you live a doctor should never pre-diagnose a person based on his or her appearance.   That is wrong and as an East Coaster I am offended  by such a lame excuse! East Coast my foot!

Anyway, it was a challenging experience that made me feel uncomfortable, angry, sad and judged but it also reminded me of all the support and love I have every day.  Thank you to all of you for everything.  I couldn’t do it alone.  (I’ve tried and it doesn’t work!).

Ps.  Enter my recipe contest.  I hope my list of comfort foods hasn’t dissuaded anyone.  You can send me any recipe you think is tasty.  It can be gluten free, vegetarian, vegan.  Whatever.  As long as it is good I will give it a try!  Send to smilingldsgirl@yahoo.com.

Summer Recital

Today was the summer recital for my voice lessons and it was another success.  There were about 12 performers plus both of the Hale teachers Amanda and Dave.  Everyone did great!  We have 3 recitals a year and it is neat to see how each girl or boy improves during the intermittent months.

For this recital I sang “I Don’t Know How to Love Him”  by Andrew Lloyd Webber.  Like always, it wasn’t perfect but it showed improvement.  I think it was one of my best performances of the Broadway belty style of singing.  I can’t say enough about how thrilling it is to see my voice get better and better.  It’s a childhood dream coming true. I hope you enjoy the video.  It is a bit tough to hear in points, so turn up your computer!

ps.  I was wearing practically the same outfit in May and you can definitely see the weight loss!  Wahoo!

Smilingldsgirl Mentioned on KSL

So my cousin Anne Tuttle Brown was on the radio this morning for the program “A Woman’s View” with Amanda Dixon.  Eventually they started talking about plastic surgery and the desire to change our bodies.  It was during this discussion that Anne mentioned my post The Only happy FAT woman in America.

She said my motivation to change my body was not because I hate myself but because I love who I am and want to be healthy.  She talked about how I can look in the mirror and see a beautiful woman despite being overweight.  Amanda Dixon asked for the name of the blog and Anne told her.  Amanda then said the blog sounded like “genius!”.

It was an exciting moment! (I know it is just Utah radio but it made me feel like a celebrity for a couple seconds!) It is especially exciting because I love Amanda Dixon and ate up her book called “Wake Up to a  Happier Life”.  I related to it because it is about her journey from her unhappy legal career to a fulfilling job in radio.  As all you loyal blog readers know, I faced a similar career challenge several years ago. Making the decision to jump into the unknown, searching for happiness, has made all the difference.

Anyway, they mentioned the blog and spoke highly of it.  Thanks Anne for paying me such a compliment!  I love writing this blog and it is my hope that it inspires just a few people, or at least makes them laugh.  If it does so for one person then it is well worth the effort!

This is an mp3 file of the entire program ads and all.  My part is in the last 13 minutes.

Healthy Recipe Contest

Yesterday I went to my free trainer session at my gym.  Fortunately my trainer is awesome, thoughtful and understanding (she is a former overweight girl herself).  I felt great about our session until today when my entire body hurt- and when I say entire, I mean just that.  Unfortunately for me she gave me an assignment to replicate the work out every day except Sunday and then meet and report on Monday.  I’m not exaggerating when I say every muscle in my body revolted against mere movement today, let alone exercise.   However, knowing my body lies, I forced myself to the gym and did the routine.  Then I suffered 2o minutes on the exercise bike.  My face was red, my body ached like it was being tortured and I felt ready to pass out but I made it through.  Now I am writing this post full of ibuprofen and smelling strongly of bengay but I’m proud of myself.  I did it and it was really hard.

In an effort to NOT think about tomorrow’s exercise I have an exciting proposition.  Since I started to change my life, I have been trying different cookbooks on healthy eating from the library with limited success.  I did find one that had a cool recipe for pork chops with roasted grapes (sounds weird but it was great!) Most of the recipes have been either stuffed with lame substitutes (cool whip is no whip cream), or are completely lacking in flavor.

Here’s my idea…I am going to have a healthy recipe contest.  Anyone can enter by sending me a healthy recipe via email to smilingldsgirl@yahoo.com.  This can be baking, cooking, grilling whatever but please make it a recipe you have actually tried.  Do not simply google “healthy fried chicken recipe”.  I would particularly love recipes that mimic or satisfy cravings for comfort foods.  These recipes do not have to be “quick cooking foods”.  In fact the more ambitious the better! Some examples of healthy recipes I would love are:

fried chicken or chicken fingers

pancakes

spaghetti and meatballs (I would love a great healthy meatball recipe)

meatloaf

pizza/calzones

french toast (breakfast food in general is a real craving)

snack foods

fettuccine alfredo (Italian food would be great)

thanksgiving food (turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing etc)

chicken and noodles

chili and cornbread

grilled cheese and soup

thai food

lemon chicken

wheat bread/rolls

quesedilla (or other interesting latin food)

gourmet salads

homemade ice cream

cookies (chocolate chip are a favorite)

casseroles

curry

indian food

sushi

gourmet sandwiches

biscuits

pies (especially lemon meringue would be a thrill)

The recipes you send can be variations of traditional dishes.  (Such as lemon mirengue pudding instead of pie).  Please include the source for recipe if received from a cookbook or magazine (also add the nutritional information if it comes with).  I have a traditionally stocked kitchen with stick blender, blender, kitchenaid mixer,  food processor and george foreman grill.  I do not currently have a waffle iron or souffle pan.

Once I have tested the recipes (might take a while- sorry) I will declare a winner and he/she will receive:

$20 gift card to Williams Sonoma. (that’s right!  If there are 2 great recipes I may have a second place prize).

Instant fame with the recipe publication on my blog (I know its a big prize!)  🙂

Consider your efforts to send recipes as your piece in my eventual fitness puzzle.  Just think of it-  someday you can see the stunning skinny me and think “thank you, I had a part in that gorgeous woman!”  Seriously, it would be a big help and I am keenly grateful in advance.  Happy cooking!

My Dad: Comfortable in His Own Skin

I know I’ve been posting like crazy lately, but I’ve been going through a lot of changes and it helps to blog about them.  This weekend I was talking to  a friend of mine about my posting “The Only Happy FAT Woman in America“.  What surprised me is that she didn’t seem to buy my positive attitude toward my body- like I was just putting on a happy face but deep down inside I hated my body.    Nothing I said convinced her, so I dropped the subject.

Why is it so hard to believe that a fat woman could be happy with her body?  I don’t know the answer, but I do know I have not always felt this way.  In fact, one of my great stumbling blocks in life is worrying about what other people think of me.  I used to get torn up inside because I wasn’t as pretty, classy or smart as other girls.  Even worse than that, sometimes I would hold myself up against this imaginary picture of what I felt a “classy businesswoman should be like”.  Trust me- nothing does more damage than trying to live up to an illusion.

What changed, you ask? As you all know 3 years ago I decided to do something crazy and quit my job.  I quit a stable job in a family-owned company- a job I was good at and had been with for 3 years.  I had wanted to quit for over a year and finally I couldn’t take it any more.  For years I knew I was not behaving in an authentic way- I was not living the life I was meant to live.  Instead of following these impressions I ignored them as “crazy talk”.  I said to myself, “How can I quit my job without something to fall back on?” and yet I knew it was the right thing to do.  Following that prompting was one of the hardest and most thrilling things I have ever done.  It meant stepping into the unknown.  It meant doing something crazy and scary.  It meant not giving a “hoot and holler” about what anybody thought about my choice.  I was petrified but also at peace, and it turned out to be one of the happiest times of my life.  I knew I had done the right thing.  I had followed my inner-voice, the spirit, and I knew it would take care of me.  Ever since then I have seen door-after-door open.  I honestly believe that when you are being your authentic self miracles happen.  It was a long lesson to learn, but one I will never forget.

Its amazing I didn’t learn this lesson sooner because growing up I had a terrific example of a man who follows his heart in my father.  When talking of self-acceptance, ambition and a genuinely positive attitude my Dad is the first person who comes to mind.  Sometimes it would drive me crazy growing up, but now I recognize  the value in his example.

His very life story shows an independence and strong spirit.  To begin with, my Dad completed all but one class in law school but never finished.  He knew inside that he was done and was not going to practice law.  He didn’t care what others thought about this decision back then, and he doesn’t care now.  I have never heard him utter a moment of regret about his choice.

Moving from there, Dad, became an entrepreneur.  Over the years he has tried his hand at a framing store, computer program designer, small business owner, ESL computer lab consultant, chairman of the board at JWA, landlord, and president of Grabber Inc.  A number of these businesses were not successful, however, I never recall my Dad being depressed or discouraged.  In fact, he frequently extols with pride the great people he met, lessons he learned and experiences that enriched his life with each enterprise.  I’m sure he must have felt some negative emotions, but he kept a positive face for his children.  I certainly don’t think I could take disappointment and discouragement as well as Dad does.

While flawed like anyone else, my father is a great example of someone who accepts his life and finds the good in himself and others.  He is simply comfortable in his own skin and doesn’t need validation from others. Without ever preaching about it, he taught me to accept and love myself.     Even now as we work together, he is constantly praising me and helping me be confident in my decisions.  This despite the fact that I have definitely given him reasons to ream me out on occasion.  He is kind, loving, understanding and has an unfailing belief in my abilities.

When I couldn’t get a job he was the only one who saw my potential.  The other day when I was watching that horrible TLC program the parents of the overweight girl said they “were disappointed they had an obese daughter”.  I have never felt anything like that from my Dad (or my mom- who is also wonderfully supportive and nurturing).  Both my parents knew- when I was ready I’d conquer it.  In fact, he was the one who encouraged me to join the swim team in high school.  Again- he saw my potential long before I did. Now that I’m ready for this big challenge, he is cheering me on!

My Dad accepts himself, flaws and all, and he does the same for me (and all his children).  I’m so grateful for his example and love him very much.

Drop Dead Diva

Since I’ve been doing a lot of complaining lately about television I thought I’d profile a show I like- a show that portrays a confident beautiful woman, who just happens to be plus size.  The show is called Drop Dead Diva and it is just wrapping up its second season on the Lifetime Network.   I admit that the premise for the show is silly, but once you get beyond that hurdle the acting, writing and stories are thoroughly charming.  The set up for the show is that a silly, selfish model named Deb dies in an accident.  At the same time an unhappy, overweight, intelligent lawyer named Jane is shot.  After riding the escalator in the sky Deb decides she’s not ready to die, hits the return button and ends up in Jane’s body.  This leaves a model-diva type in a plus size body with the brains of a top-notch lawyer.

Basically the show is kind of like Legally Blonde: Plus Size Edition.  In fact, Elle Woods and the new Jane Bingham are cut from the same cloth- weaving knowledge from fashion and modeling into the courtroom in funny, if completely ridiculous ways.   The realism in the court doesn’t matter in this type of show because it is all about the writing and the characters.   The dialogue is funny but also tender and engaging (although there may be one to many episodes using Jane’s weight as a point of conflict- would it really come into play that often in court!).   Just as Elle Woods managed to underplay all the silliness with a real heart, the Drop Dead Diva plots always bring the flirty playfulness back to real and touching human emotion.  It is not just a fluffy show.  It deals with death, after-life, self-esteem issues, body issues, dieting, family drama and more.

The acting is also great with Brooke Elliott doing a marvelous job as Jane.  She manages to play both Deb and Jane in the same performance.  Even when she is suppose to be the serious lawyer you can see the twinkle in her eyes from Deb.  I relate to Jane in so many ways.  Like her, I am a workaholic who loves intellectually stimulating conversation, but I also have a side of me that loves painting my nails and throwing parties for my friends. I like to think I have the same twinkle in my eye that Jane has!  🙂

Brooke is also kind of a role model for me.  She’s a Broadway star, has an amazing voice and is now a lead in a great television show.  She hasn’t let her weight stop her.  I actually think she is beautiful- in a way more beautiful and unique then the actress playing Deb in flashback.  She makes the show.

Anyway, the other actors are all great including Margaret Cho (definitely doing her most tame role in years) who is very funny as Jane’s tough talking assistant.   Also, need I mention the terrific cameos throughout the first season?  (They must have gone through their rolodex because season 2 has not had as many).  In season 1 they had Tim Gunn, Liza Minnelli, Delta Burke, Rosie O’Donnell, Paul Abdul, Faith Prince (another Broadway veteran- her and Brooke sing an amazing version of Love is a Battlefield!)  and more.

There isn’t much more to say, but if I had a teenage daughter, Drop Dead Diva is the kind of show I would want her to watch- and not only because it has a plus size woman in the lead.  Its more than that- it shows a woman like Jane who is spunky, loves to laugh, and is learning to love her body.   It promotes the right type of image for women of any size- an image that life should be exciting no matter our weight.

The first season is available on DVD so I encourage all the girls out there to check Drop Dead Diva out.  (It is a pretty girly show.  I’d be surprised if any guys found it tolerable but you never know).  I have the first season if anyone wants to borrow.

The Only Happy FAT Woman in America

This is kind of a continuation on the last post but I was so angry  I just had to write about it.  Today I went to the gym and worked extra hard to burn off some of 2 pieces of pizza and a breadstick I ate for lunch. (Did I mention pizza/Italian food is my weakness?). Anyway, I decided to do 35 minutes on the exercise bike and then my usual swimming (ended up doing 25 min in the pool- 1 hour total one of my longest exercise sessions!).  As I was pushing myself on the bike I started to watch the Oprah show.  She was doing an episode profiling extreme weight loss with fitness guru Bob Greene (who I might add has a promotions deal with McDonalds….Strange?).  As I watched the program I found myself wanting to throw a shoe at the screen.  Once again the people were portrayed in the “before” section as practically less than human. One woman was so depressed she ordered a two tiered wedding cake and ate it all over 2 days.  Really? That hardly seems like an example most overweight women can relate to.  Most of us feel guilty for eating one piece of cake and work hard at frustratingly slow results.

Maybe these types of examples encourage  some people but it leaves me feeling depressed and angry.  All people have divine worth, fat or not, and just because you lose weight does not mean you will automatically feel better about yourself.  Why do no shows seem to get this? Why is great weight loss always proceeded by self-loathing and despair?  Why can’t we celebrate the accomplishment of great weight loss on its own without downgrading the original overweight person? Just once I’d like to see someone that found the inner strength to get healthy without all of the misery.   I guess this is why I’ve never responded to the show Biggest Loser.  I know many find it motivating but it always frustrates me.  I feel like they take the tough love concept too far and are overly-critical, degrading and even hateful. If you talked about other aspects of a persons appearance or personality  in the same manner that people talk about weight it would never be tolerated and would be labeled as hate speech.

I guess this is motivating for some people but not me.  In fact, when I was depressed and full of self-loathing at my old job I gained more weight than ever.  It wasn’t until I completed 3 years of healing (yes healing) that I decided I was happy enough to make a change.  The only show on TV that shows a little bit of this type of weight loss is Ruby on the Style Network.  While definitely having her issues, at least Ruby has some spunk and seems to be a happy person.  I haven’t watched it much but those are my initial impressions.

To all you network executives I’ve got a great idea for a show.  Take a happy over weight woman like me who is trying to lose weight and pair her with an unhappy teenage girl trying to lose weight and let them take the journey together.  Maybe that teenager will actually learn to love herself and not just get a makeover?  I think it would be great TV but what do I know.  I clearly have a very different personality than all the people inspired by Oprah’s program this afternoon.  Its tough to argue with Oprah’s success, but you think she would be more sympathetic to overweight individuals given her public struggles? (By the way, anyone considering having me on a TV show know this- I will not wear only a sports bra with shorts, or a 2 piece bathing suit on national television- glad that’s out there! :))

Oh well.  I suppose this is one more example of my exasperated cry- “Why won’t everyone behave the way I want them too!”.  Until that happens I think I’m going to stop watching these types of programs even if I have to find a new piece of equipment at the gym.   Otherwise, I might actually throw a shoe, which would be very bad!