Tag: fat

Heroism and Weight Loss

fat-supermanI’ve been thinking about writing this post for some time.  Everyone who reads this blog is probably aware of my distaste for weight loss in the media.  I know many find shows like the Biggest Loser to be encouraging but for me they are the opposite.

What bothers me is they paint fat people as bad, and reformed fatties as good and that just isn’t true.   As I often say,  ‘a lot of people lose weight in prison’… Losing weight is hard enough without having these types of morality judgments thrown in our face.

So that’s media but this post is a slightly different take.  I would like to talk about how we as a culture often couch weight loss in heroic terms and how this is almost never helpful.

Just the other day I was watching a show and the reporter asked the man how he had ‘overcome his heroic battle with weight loss’.  This is not uncommon phraseology for our average conversation. All of us, including myself, have used such phrases when talking about weight loss.

What’s wrong with that you ask? I mean losing weight is really hard.  Why is that not heroic?

Well, let’s start with some definitions-

Over on about.philosophy.com author Kendra Cherry asked her readers How Do You Define Heroism?  Pretty much every response is something like this:

“A hero is a person who would risk life and limb just to save people or a person. these people standout as brave intelligent and loving. these people need to be recognized”

So what are the elements of being a hero:

1. They are brave

2. They are worthy of recognition

3.  They are loving

4. They risk their own safety to help other people

It is this last aspect that is the most common thread in all the responses.  Another reader says:

“Heroism is when you act out of the kindness of your heart. Whether you’re helping someone on homework, or helping someone who got hurt, the main thing is that your helping someone who is having a hard time”

So, heroism clearly involves being unselfish and serving your fellow men and women especially when doing so is difficult.

indexHow does weight loss fit such a description?  I can’t think of any other change of appearance that is lauded in such ways.  For example, if someone gets a face lift they are often derided, criticized but I’ve rarely heard that when gastric bypass is done.  Why is one surgical enhanced change heroic and another isn’t?

You could say that gastric bypass is required where a face lift is not? Well, the research from the Health at Every Size movement would strongly disagree with that assertion, but even if you accept that gastric bypass is necessary I don’t see how it is heroic?  If I break my leg and have surgery on said leg (essentially fixing a problem in my body like GB) does that make me a hero?  No, it makes me a person with a broken leg that was fixed.

I can see no part of weight loss that involves risk to help other people. You can help people get in shape or encourage them to enter a race, but that’s not really the weight loss, that’s your service in the community and amongst your loved ones.  Anyone should be lauded who serves others no matter their size.  That is worthy of the hero label.

What about athletes? Who are they serving and we call them ‘sports heroes’?  One could argue such a term is misapplied to professional athletes but I would counter that most athletes are participating in a team or cause greater than just themselves.

For example, an Olympian is certainly worthy of individual applause but also their gift of performance on behalf of their country makes it worthy of the hero label.

There are a few sports like golf that are truly individual events and then I would say they aren’t really heroes but simply exceptional.  We like them because they are good at something and we are not. Nothing wrong with that!

But I hear you saying ‘Rachel it’s so hard.  Shouldn’t we be encouraging?’.  My answer is ‘of course, we should’.  However, there are lots of hard things we do in life that aren’t really heroic.  If I am a PHD candidate and I complete my thesis am I lauded as a hero? I’m encouraged, congratulated, cheered but unless there’s a disability or something extraordinary I rarely hear the kind of language we apply to weight loss for any other ‘hard thing’ in life.

Why? Because the diet industry in America is a 20 billion dollar industry.  They want you to spend money and what better way to get someone to spend money than to either make them feel really good or really bad about themselves.  A tepid, lukewarm person never bought anything.  They have a vested interest in convincing us that we need to change and that if we make said change we can be the hero.

Now, you might suggest that I am focusing on mere semantics and poor word choice.  I would argue back that according to the Huffington Post the average American woman has dieted 61 times by the time they are 45 and that’s starting at 16 (I would start much younger- 81% of little girls in America have dieted before the age of 10).

Assuming some marginal success in most of those diets, the average woman has been the hero 61 times,  and then fallen sometimes quite speedily off of her pedestal.  Then to make matters worse 35% of women gain more than they lost on said diet.

So, now we aren’t really a weight loss villain (to use the cannon of terms) that is probably reserved for sinful foods and the companies who pedal them but we are something even worse- the fallen hero.  I mean think about what that means.  61 times the average woman not only feels let down with her own frailties but is no longer the inspirational tool for her family and friends.  I’ve felt it and I bet most of you have too.  It is devastating.

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I actually remember one time my sister telling me ‘you can’t gain the weight back because then you wouldn’t be this person that we admire’.  She was very little and didn’t mean to hurt my feelings but is that not what all of us go through on the roller coaster of weight loss? 2012 I was at my peak of fitness and weight loss, then I had a personal crisis, chronic pain and a herniated disk in my back.  Things changed and so did my body.

I’m not making excuses.  That’s just what happened.  I felt guilty for a long time.  Like I’d let everyone down, which is insane when you really think about it.  What had changed was something in my body.  My other actions were exactly the same.  I still swam my races, I still blogged.  I still worked.  I still held book club and spent time with my friends.  I still traveled.  All of it.  I can’t think of one thing for other people I could do in 2012 and couldn’t or didn’t do in 2013.  So why did I seemingly let them down?

Because I wasn’t the hero anymore. 

That’s why this language about our bodies is so important.  It can have devastating repercussions that can make us feel like failures, and we already feel that way because of the way we look.  The language just piles on. And sometimes it is not just language.  I have friends who’s parents were vocally disappointed in them for their weight loss struggles. Instead of sympathy and encouragement they received pity and disgust.  (Luckily my parets have always been pretty good about letting me live my own life)

What worries me most is if being the fallen weight loss hero is hard for adults, imagine what it must feel like for a child who has so little control over his or her bodies in the first place?  That I do know.  I remember vividly the feeling of disappointment after diet, after diet, not only frustrated at not looking the way I wanted to, which is hard enough for a young girl, but letting everyone down in the process.  For goodness sakes, now these kids are even letting down the President.

So, in a perfect world where everyone took all of my advice what would I suggest? How would I encourage others in this hard thing called weight loss? I would treat it like the accomplishment of any other worthy goal.  ‘that’s great’, ‘I can see you worked very hard’, ‘great job’, ‘congrats’, ‘I’d love to go jogging with you’, or any number of responses without vaulting the person up as a hero because of the way they look.

What do you guys think? Have you felt like you were letting down people when you gain weight or fail to lose?  Do you think the hero narrative is helpful or hurtful?  Please share your experience, as this is just what makes sense to me.  Love you all!

heroes03capamericapostyo8

 

 

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A Defense of Curves

Got Curves? I do!

I’ve mentioned the infamous Maura Kelly op-ed in Marie Claire many times on this blog . The one where she compares fat people to heroine addicts

“”I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room — just like I’d find it distressing if I saw a very drunk person stumbling across a bar or a heroine [sic] addict slumping in a chair.”

and

“I think I’d be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other… because I’d be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything.”

It is hate speech of the worst kind and the fact that a major fashion magazine would publish and then defend the smut is unbelievable.

Anyway, I came across an article by Josh Shahryar for the Huffington Post refuted each of Kelly’s claims and her subsequent apology.  It is so awesome!

http://huff.to/992Yrd

I was particularly moved by his last segment called The Conclusion.

I don’t normally share whole articles on this blog but I was so moved I wanted all of you to read it.  Being on a new diet this last week I think I needed to read this article.  So beautiful and moving:

5. The Conclusion

I’m not a personal issues expert. But I’m a human being living in the West who knows what’s going on. And what I see is this: there is an incredible amount of bias perpetuated against overweight people in the media. They are almost never the central character — always neatly tucked in as a secretary, the nurse or a character who’s too old to rouse romance. The last time I saw overweight people in a movie as the central character was in Paul Blart: Mall Cop and recently in Precious. Both the movies had a bit to do with weight.

When they appear on TV shows, it’s about weight. Guess who the loser in The Biggest Loser is… Guess who’s huge on Huge (by the way, a very witty show that got canceled). And when it comes to commercials, There’re always those damn ‘fatties’ that can’t seem to lose their weight without this or that new magical drug or diet.

Criminals can and do get central characters, otherwise. Druggies do. Even rapists and child abusers get more frequently featured. Fat people just aren’t good enough. (And to come to this realization right now just truly, deeply and profoundly upset me.)

The only shows, commercials or movies in which they get treated as normal people are those oriented towards the African-American population. Kudos to them for having the empathy. Only the oppressed can feel the pain of the oppressed.

Overweight people have become marginalized by the media simply because they’re overweight. Just like African Americans were marginalized because they were black and more recently, gay people because they’re gay. I understand fully that unlike the color of someone’s skin or someone’s sexual orientation obesity is a medical condition and a problem, but obese people aren’t. That is the issue. That is the problem. That is what both overweight, “normal” weight and underweight people need to come together and fight against.

The first step towards losing weight is not putting your mind to it. It is not making a list of things you will absolutely not do. It is not locking up the fridge. It is knowing that even if you fail at losing weight, people will still love you for who you are and not the number of pounds you’re packing. That people will judge you by your character and not because you are unhealthy weight-wise (and some people are perfectly healthy even when they are overweight). It is that feeling that you are doing this for yourself not because you have to fit a mold created for you.

That cannot be accomplished as long as Western culture continues to brand people who weigh more than what it deems aesthetically pleasing as unacceptable. It’s gotten so bad that even a few people who’re skinny live in constant fear that they might add a few pounds and not look beautiful enough to not be judged by people. And since media plays a huge part in formulating our cultural perceptions, it needs to change immediately — whether people like Ms. Kelly like it or not.

To that end, I urge everyone who finds size-ism in the media as a menace to view this as a watershed moment. It’s time to come together and fight this bigotry to the bitter end. Change does not come without someone pushing for it. If we want this to change, if we want for us, overweight or not, to not be judged by our BMI, we need to not let this fire die down.

We need to stand up and demand change. Even if it means we need to force the issue daily on social networking sites. Even if it means we have to boycott media that continue to practice this bigotry. Even if it means we have to hold peaceful demonstrations for the end of this practice. If media does not change, we cannot change this culture that seems to have been forever marginalizing overweight people.

It’s not just people judging you on the street. It’s about losing job opportunities. It is about equal treatment in the health care system. It is about being able to breathe, knowing everything’s gonna be alright.

The media’s side-stepping the issue and pretending all’s well reminds me of a scene from the movie Good Luck Chuck. Chuck is hexed so any girl who sleeps with him ends up meeting the love of her life in the next few days. His overweight secretary finds out about this and like any woman, she wants to find the lover of her life. She corners him one night and begs him to have sex with her, but he won’t. It goes on for a couple of minutes. Then, finally when he’s on the ground and she’s on top of him and he refuses, she tears up and says, “It’s okay. Close your eyes and pretend I’m someone beautiful.” He looks up, visibly moved, and says, “I’ll pretend it’s you.”

Well, pretending is just not good enough anymore.

(So awesome!  I hope I can keep the discussion going and show people a different version of what a fat American can do.  I bet Maura Kelly couldn’t swim a 5k!)

It’s not just girls that need the positive body image messaging

Pain or Fat?

So recently I’ve been presented with a question- would I rather be skinny or free from pain?  The answer is undeniably free from pain.   Last year I started having chronic pain in my ribcage and chest area.  After over a year of doctors and misdiagnosis I finally found something that helped with the pain- turns out I have a low thyroid.

In February the doctor put me on levothyroxine and the results were amazing.  My pain was reduced almost immediately.  I can’t tell you what a relief this was for me.  It was like a nearly 2 year monkey was finally off of my back.  My recovery from exercise improved considerably; thereby allowing me to push harder in my sets and train more frequently.

Last week, for instance, I had 5 days of intense training, one right after another. These were no ordinary workouts and yet Sunday came around and I felt pretty good.  A little bit of pain but nothing compared to the overwhelming, almost debilitating pain I experienced last year.

This was all very exciting! On Tuesday I went in for my second follow up appointment.  My trainer had noticed I had gained weight in February but I had dismissed it as one of those things.  You can imagine my shock that I was back up to 284! I blame the medicine because its the only major change that has occurred during that time period.  I was so frustrated.  Don’t most people lose weight when taking thyroid meds?  Naturally my freakish body can never have a normal reaction to anything.  It always has to be complicated.

Basically my doctor told me that the thyroid meds mess up your metabolism in good and bad ways.  Unfortunately they make you super sensitive to bad carbs and sugar.  Now I was not eating much sugar previous to this appointment but I was trying to work it in with moderation.  Evidently with this medicine I can’t have any of it. 😦

Its frustrating because in many ways I feel like I am setting myself up for eventual failure.  Nobody is perfect all the time in a diet and clearly moderation is not good enough.  I gained nearly 15 lbs since I started taking the meds despite my careful eating and training!

The thing is that I feel great! I feel energetic and healthy.  I think I look great.  So why does the stupid scale matter?  Maybe it shouldn’t.  Its just I worked so hard to lose that weight.  Took 3 years out of my life and to see it go away was so disheartening.  Thank goodness for my music because it was the lift I needed this week.

I also get frustrated being on the extreme diets because I feel like they make me super self-critical and over-introspective.  I feel guilty for everything I do, nothing seems quite good enough.  That’s why I avoided dieting for so long because it turns me into this person I hate.  People say ‘don’t diet.  Just make small lifestyle changes’.  Well, I’m sorry but small lifestyle changes don’t work.  I gained 15lbs on moderation and lifestyle changes!

For some reason going hard core is the only thing that seems to work and I refuse to have weight loss surgery. It seems like I’m stuck. Ahhhh! And then I think of that woman on the plane who wouldn’t sit next to me and I remember that so many people still see me as a fattie who disgusts them.  The whole thing makes me crazy and feel so frustrated.  I don’t know what to do but to try with the sugar fast and not give up.

In the end, I feel like I have to chose between feeling good and pain free and losing weight.  That is a really lame decision to have to make.  At least with the sugar fast I can tell my doctor confidently that I am doing all I can to eat right and exercise.  If I can’t keep it up forever well that’s a choice for another day.  I can do my best today and if I still gain what else can you do?

I just have to keep reminding myself that I did not start this process to improve my appearance.  I really didn’t.  I started this process because I wanted to have energy, to do more, to be more active.  I think anyone would be hard pressed to say I haven’t achieved that goal.

If it was the choice between looking a certain way and feeling pain what would you pick?  Be honest! Maybe God just wants me to look like this for some reason?  He’s gotten me to a healthy point but getting below 250 (my dream) seems to be an impossible task. I’ve been working so hard for over 3 years. Maybe I need to try something else? I don’t know but I am trying my best to not feel defeated and to keep trying. That’s all I can do- keep trying.

Still, its been a bit of a downer of a week.  Thanks everyone for your support no matter my size.  Thanks for reminding me that I’m still a good person and I’ve still accomplished great things no matter my weight.  Forget the stupid scale! (or at least try to…Sigh)

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2012/02/28/body-image/

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2011/08/24/maggie-goes-on-a-diet/

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2011/07/28/skinny-skinny-skinny/

Bully / It Gets Better

This may be the post I am the most proud of. I hope it comes across the way I intend.  I hope it inspires someone.

Today for Family Home Evening I decided to see the controversial documentary Bully.   This has been something I’ve been a bit anxious for but knew I needed to do because of my own experience being bullied.  The odd part about the movie is I wasn’t that emotional while watching but then as soon as I got in my car I started to bawl. I felt all emotions of anger, frustration, despair and a little bit of hope.

Some have criticized the movie because it doesn’t go into the mindset of the bullies themselves.  My response is that every story cannot tell every story.  This is a movie about the victims and how futile the school system is in helping deal with these problems.  Granted their task is daunting but the attitude of ‘kids will be kids’ is far too present.

There is one scene in the movie where a principal actually forces a little boy to shake hands with his tormentor (a valid concept until you find out this has happened again and again with the bully feigning an apology each time).

The victim has the courage to not shake hands and the teacher says

“You’re just like him”.

The boy says “Except I don’t hurt people”.

Can you imagine if we expected such things of adults? Do we expect rape victims to shake hands with their accusers and if they don’t are they ‘just like him.”?  It made me so mad I wanted to throw something at the screen.  I actually said ‘unbelievable’ out loud and then 2 girls in the theater looked at me.

One of my favorite moments was the Mom of a boy named Alex meeting with a principal that despite proof of abuse on a bus claimed ‘I’ve ridden that bus and they are good as gold’.  The Mother says ‘When I was a child that bus would have been pulled over until the bad behavior stopped’.  That’s what we have lost.  Now I’m not advocating physical discipline for children but to pretend like adults have to sway over the behavior of children is just wrong.

Children should be safe and protected at home and school- in fact sometimes they need to be safer at school than in some homes.  I know in my case little was done to stop bullying that lasted for nearly 2 years despite repeated requests from my parents.

It is a complicated problem but a couple things I suggest:

1.  CHANGE SCHOOLS– My parents changing schools literally changed my life.  I was fortunate enough to be able to go to private school and then my family moved but there are always other options.  There are charter schools, online schools, homeschool, tutors, whatever.  Anything is better than someone being a in situation where they are tormented.  Its like sending an abused women into a closed building with their abuser 8 hours a day.  Be open-minded, pray for direction and you will find something else that works.

2. Teach your children about differences and expose them to a variety of people.  Talk to them about bullying and what they can do if they see someone who is being treated unkindly or most importantly being ignored.  Teach them to look for people that seem a little different and try to befriend them.  When they don’t like someone try to discuss what it is and how if possible they can learn to love that person.  I’m not saying they have to be friends with everyone, that isn’t realistic but each kid that tries is one less bully.

One of the Mom’s who lost her son to a bullying related suicide said ‘He cried and then it got to the point where he didn’t cry and then it became difficult to know what’s going on’.  Watch for those early tears…

3. Find something your child is good at and nourish that skill.  Everyone is good at something (or at least enjoys something) and usually you can find someone else who shares that interest.

4. Make sure your children have one person in their life who is an uncompromising cheerleader.  Parents have to discipline their children and say things they may not like but I was immeasurably benefited by several people who loved me unfailingly including my Grandpa Richards and my young women’s leader Sister Potter.  They never gave me ‘constructive criticism’.  I was always beautiful and perfect.  Everyone needs that kind of cheerleader.  Whether its a boys or girls club or a mentor look for that for your children.

5.  Speak out about your history being bullied.  Each of us that speaks adds another voice to the world, one more voice that says ‘It gets better’.  ‘It will be OK’.  ‘Don’t give up’. ‘God loves you’.

6. This is just my opinion but I think rough housing and mean joking should be avoided.  A lot of the bullying in the movie starts out as rough housing and honestly may be viewed by the bullies as just fun but it turns so fast.  One of the kids in the movie has a sister that teases him a little bit. At one point she says ‘LOSER spells Alex’.  Things like this are not helpful and should be disciplined when possible.  Again, I’m not a Mom so its just my opinion as an observer.

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2011/04/23/memories/

Here’s my voice:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

 

(Just to be clear when I talk about my accomplishments its not to brag but just to say ‘you can do whatever you want in your life’)

Fat Stigma- Biggest Loser

(Spoiler…this will be probably be the most controversial post I’ve ever done. Oh well.  Hopefully it will make you think)

Find this barbaric? horrible? demeaning?  Think we’ve come so far? Think we are so much more civilized now?

Don’t be too sure…

Barely clothed fat people on display for all to gawk at and criticize…look familiar? At least the fat lady wasn’t criticized for losing 22 lbs instead of 32…

Put all the glossy tags on it you want, exploitation is still exploitation.   People on the Biggest Loser are treated as a loser if they are heavy and they are not being set up for life-long HEALTH but only quick, 10 week weight loss success.

One example is “Kai Hibbard who lost 118 pounds on the show. She later blogged that she ate only asparagus, endured colonics and went through 6-hour stretches in a sauna to dehydrate herself enough to lose 19 pounds for the season finale. She jokingly said the entire weight rebounded to her rear end almost immediately.

“I left with a very poor mental body image, I found myself loathing what I looked like the more weight I dropped because of the pressure on me. And I found myself doing things like considering coffee a meal. And because of the mentality that I was surrounded with, and the pressure that was given at that show, it was considered acceptable to behave that way.”

Hibbard claims that contestants on the show were pressured to exercise even when severely injured, and to diet by dehydration. She says they were also told to ignore the advice of nutritionists and listen to the show’s trainers.”

Feel so inspired anymore? Let’s watch people starve themselves, fun!

I agree with this blog by Pat Barone CPCC, PCC entitled Why I Hate the Biggest Loser

“The contestants are being used. Yes, they might make a little money (Did not the world’s fatest mother make money? Does that somehow make it right?). They might rent some weight loss on the scale. But I’m already seeing a lot of them on Twitter talking about regain. I’m sure they didn’t know the truth before they started.

They let their desperation get to them. And nothing good is ever created out of desperation. The big winners here are the show’s producers and network. They’re making big bucks. Why should they care about the legacy of regained weight and broken bodies they leave behind them?”

I also agree with Barone about the negative effects of competition on weight loss:

“The truth is, contests can bring out the competitive streak in people but it cannot be maintained for very long. If you are a competitive type, use it elsewhere in life. When it comes to your body, be simple and healthy and keep moving.”

I have seen this over the past 2 years time and time again.  I work hard and have success but somehow it still feels like failure because it doesn’t match up with somebody else I know who has lost double, in half the time.  Particularly when I used to watch any diet themed show instead of feeling motivated I felt terrible. What  a horrible person I must be to still be over weight?  I must have to starve myself because pushing to the point of exhaustion obviously isn’t working…

But it is working.  I have made huge strides even though I have not lost much weight this year.  If I was going on scale alone I would be off the show darn quick; however, I am no longer a diabetic risk, my measurements have all improved, my self confidence and energy have gotten better and I have created a whole new life of swimming.

In my opinion shows like the Biggest Loser help to reinforce idiot opinions like the infamous Maura Kelly from Marie Claire (who I have quoted several times on this blog) who believes that if only fat people would “psych themselves up for the long process of slimming down” this pesky problem of obesity would go away.

Maura Kelly was just obnoxious enough to say what many people believe- that weight loss is purely a matter of will power and that those who fail are ‘boob tube’ watchers who are in the same league with heroine addicts and meth users:

“I’d be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything. To be brutally honest, even in real life, I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room — just like I’d find it distressing if I saw a very drunk person stumbling across a bar or a heroine addict slumping in a chair.”

To the Maura Kelly’s out there how would you like to give up every minute of your free time, feel pain on a daily basis, be ostracized from social situations and parties, all the while defending yourself as a vibrant worthwhile person, and finally to be outright mocked because of a health struggle you face?

Someone I love used to think it was funny to video tape fat people at public events and laugh at the way they ‘waddled around’. Is this not the same as those who gawked at the world’s fattest mother?  Is gawking in the safety of our home somehow better than purchasing a ticket to view in person?

Thankfully I have tons of support as well but it is a tough road. Make no mistake about it- while my life expectancy may have been shorter a few years ago, it certainly has not gotten easier or less challenging.

Overweight people have many good qualities.  Why not help them to overcome a health challenge like we would any other disease or difficulty?  Why? Because that can’t be done in a 10 week film schedule.

Can’t you see that diet shows like the Biggest Loser fan the flame fat stigma and prejudice? Idiots like Maura Kelly are allowed to perpetuate their bigotry but even worse they are lauded for their benevolence to these poor fat people.  At least Kelly was so outright in her views that she received backlash.  Most people carefully couch their condescension in the guise of ‘the battle against obesity’. Really dig down deep there is a disgust of fatness and fat people at the core.

In the 1800’s there was a woman named Sara Baartman who was dragged around as a literal freak show because of her large behind (as well as other female anatomy).  (today she’d be a Kardashian…just saying). People gawked and mocked and even came to view her preserved remains because of their large size (she died at only 25).

Again, we think we are so much more civilized today and perhaps we don’t go so far but the motivations can often be the same…There can be a perverse human pleasure in seeing others fail but this  is not reality (and I say that being a reality TV fan in some cases- for instance,Amazing Race) and it is certainly not sympathetic.  I’m so tired of weight being used as a judge of someone’s character.  Its not!

On the Biggest Loser we see:

“the on-screen manipulation of them, which is sometimes brutal to watch (like our fascination with watching a train wreck) – but you don’t see the offscreen “revving up” process that happens right before they shoot. Manipulation is cheap, dirty and disrespectful. I don’t like to witness it. “

Barone says it well

“Losing weight just means the number on the scale changes.(What I would give if the world understood this, especially men) And that can be extremely unhealthy. Millions of people have mastered losing weight. They just haven’t mastered the regain phase that comes right on the heels of “losing weight.”

Obviously, I have no problem with people losing fat, but the American focus on losing weight is out of control and causing weight regain with ever increasing speed. (New studies report yo-yoing is more dangerous to overall health than staying heavy.)”

I agree.  This has been something I’ve wanted to say for some time but because of my many friends who love the show I have been hesitant.  With this season starting once again I just couldn’t hold my tongue any longer. I’m tired of having to defend myself because of my weight and feeling guilt for what seems to be such slow success.

I’m tired of living up to some image shown on TV- both the false success and the shameful beginning.  I am tired of feeling ashamed of my weight.  I am where I am and if that makes me a loser in the minds of NBC or Maura Kelly so be it. Good riddens!

I HATE Athletic Wear

athletic wear- the haven for the skinny

Hello fashion world- I would just like to vent to you for 5 seconds.  In your eyes all women are exactly the same and need to look exactly the same.  (or if they’re different.  It is the same way of looking different).  Want some fashion advice? Check out this post.

I’ve seen the look of horror on your face at the  fashion shows when you meet a plus size women.  How can you possibly be expected to design for such an atrocious creature? On Project Runway the designers panic and run for the exits when given a ‘real woman’ challenge.  It makes me wonder what type of woman are they designing for- the fake woman?  They might as well be for how many women fit into their clothes.

In a great article in the Los Angeles Times Emili Vesilind calls plus size women “Fashion’s invisible woman”.   Despite 14 being the AVERAGE size for women in America most designers would rather cater to their ideal woman, deluding themselves that they are somehow encouraging those fatties to get in line. Here is a quote:

“ When Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld, who spent most of his adult life battling a serious weight problem, created a capsule collection for H&M in 2004, the newly svelte designer was incensed that the retailer manufactured the collection in larger sizes. “What I designed was fashion for slender and slim people,” he said. And in an interview in the March issue of Harper’s Bazaar, he sniffed, “The body has to be impeccable . . . if it’s not, buy small sizes and less food.”

Another ‘fashion editor’ from Australia criticized the use of plus size models because they encouraged such laziness and disgusting body-types.

“While these women might make us feel better about our bulging butts and guts, the truth is, few women over a size 14 are in a healthy weight range.
And many need encouragement to lose weight instead of being told to feel good about being overweight.
Seeing big girls might give us healthier self-esteem, but it might not encourage us to lead healthier lives.”

Did it ever cross your mind that maybe these women need both- they need to feel good about their body and be encouraged?  Why are the two mutually exclusive?  It truly makes me crazy.
Some may counter that the market speaks and plus size doesn’t sell.  I find that hard to believe when again it is the AVERAGE size of women in America.  Surely there is a market to tap into there but the fashion industry doesn’t want to pander to fatties?  How do you explain the huge success of plus size chains such as Lane Bryant and Torrid?  I think the fashion industry wants to promote a particular type of woman and those that don’t fit can be left with their mumu’s and fast food at home.
Even if you buy their idiotic views- here’s the rub- try to find athletic gear in plus sizes and you will have a tough road on your hand.  Think you can roll into Big 5, Sports Authority, Cabellas and find plus size active wear- not so much.  What about target or Lane Bryant- nope.  It is practically impossible to find active wear for plus size women.
The only way is to turn to the internet and even that, on occasion, fails me.  In order to find something as simple as a sports bra I had to dig through websites until finally I found one on Old Navy.com.  Sometimes I am forced to buy men’s active wear (not with teh sports bra, of course!) but that is usually very unsatisfying and like a cloud around my body.
After much digging I finally found a plus size active wear bathing suit on Lands End and even though it was expensive I bought it because there was no other choice.  Socks, running shirts, yoga pants, workout tanks, anything ‘gym chic’, are all nearly impossible to find in plus size.
Which leads me to my next question- how do you, fashion designer, expect us to ‘lead healthier lives’ if nobody sells clothing to help us do just that?  Are we supposed to stay in hiding until we magically come out of the cocoon of fatness?  Then you will adorn us with your precious athletic wear.  It really makes me crazy!
triathlon wetsuits are my enemy. I hate them!
What has gotten me particularly fumed about this topic is I have been working for weeks trying to swim in the 1 mile open water race at Deer Creek Reservoir.  My swim times are good, my training has been intense but you know what could stop me from swimming- clothing!  That’s right stupid clothing.  Normally beginning swimmers use a triathlon wetsuit which is slick on the outside and breaths more than a traditional wetsuit.  The water is pretty cold and having a wetsuit helps your legs from freezing up and your arms from feeling heavy.
Unfortunately the stupid wetsuit manufacturers only make a woman’s size up to 160 lbs.  160 lbs!!  I still can’t believe that is their biggest.  It will probably take me 2-3 more years before I am close to 160 lbs.  I have to admit the whole incident was very discouraging.  Its one thing to not be able to do something because you are out of shape, but I’m in shape.  I can do the stupid race!  To be stopped by something as dumb as clothing makes me nuts.  I cried and cried when I first found out.
Even the man’s size was too small (particularly for my bust, there’s a shocker!).  So, my friends I am going to attempt to swim the race without a wetsuit.  We will see how my trial run goes tomorrow.  Its going to be hard but all I can do is my best.  I can’t control the stupid wetsuit situation but I can give it my all in that cold water.
Hear is my plea- PLEASE put out some athletic wear that we can actually use to help us lose the weight you find so unsettling.  PLEASE  put out socks that fit, running shirts, sports bras that support, high performance products and even a few cute gym outfits.  I know I would buy it- what about all of you? For goodness sakes I was willing to spend over $300 for my wetsuit but no.  Nobody makes one even close to what I need.  Nobody wants my money!
Maybe if enough of us could show interest we could do some type of petition to the major athletic wear labels?  It would certainly be nice to be able to compete when we’ve actually done the training and not be thwarted due to improper clothes!  So please make a comment, send this post to friends, twitter it and let’s see if we can get something done.
I will let you know how my trial run goes tomorrow. Let’s hope I can brave the cold!
Here are 2 sites that are pretty good:

http://www.junonia.com/home.htm

http://oldnavy.gap.com/browse/category.do?cid=5647

Skinny, Skinny, Skinny

Today I have a bit of an upset stomach so I am not going to the gym but never fear I will be right back at it tomorrow!  The last 2 weeks have been some of my most consistent and hard working during this fitness quest.   It really helps to have a goal and getting ready for this open water swim is a huge challenge.  At least I read yesterday that the water is warmer than usual-70 degrees, oh la la!

Currently I am working on the most boring project for work.  It involves looking at a spreadsheet with 27,000 items and identifying what branch the item belongs to.  Sometimes this requires my looking up the monument or national park to see what area it is in.  (On the plus side, I am now somewhat of an expert on the national parks, even obscure ones!).

To keep from falling asleep I have a movie on as background noise.  Today I’m watching Brigadoon with Gene Kelly and and Cyd Cherise.  Its not the greatest musical but I enjoy it. It has beautiful dancing and a few of the songs are catchy.

The thing that shocked me while watching is how insanely skinny Cherise is.  In fact, all the women are uber-skinny- made more so by restrictive corsets. It reminds me of the famous scene from Gone with the Wind when Scarlet is upset over not being able to corset her waist at 18 inches after having a baby!

so skinny!

Does anyone else think she looks ridiculous with such a tiny waist and large bust?  Maybe that seems like the cliched response of a fat girl but honestly! The only thing I can think in her defense is that she was a ballet dancer and they are always very skinny.

The sad part is we still set such insane standards.  For instance, the other day I was watching Big Bang Theory and Kaley Cuoco’s character Penny is upset when Sheldon guesses that she weighs 120 lbs.  Let’s say she is 5 ft 7, 120 would still be well under the body mass index produced by the insurance industry.

By all competent medical diagnosis 120 should be considered skinny, even underweight, but on the show she is horrified to be labeled as a fat 120. I even read some articles that listed Kaley as a ‘curvy’ member of Hollywood young.  Please!  If she is curvy than no wonder so many people are turning to eating disorders. What do we all have to be below 100 lbs to be considered skinny? Crazy!

To see the clip go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJ2pG8fNH9s.  They won’t let me embed it.

Hollywood doesn't think this is skinny

The problem with words like ‘skinny’ is they have no real diagnostic value.  They can mean whatever you want and so using such a vague term as a goal for change is dangerous.  If skinny is your goal it will literally never be good enough.  You will never be skinny enough.

I would love to say that the images and skinny messaging promoted by Hollywood doesn’t affect me- that I am strong and know it is garbage.  I do see the flaws but I am not invulnerable to the feelings of longing for a body I will never have and an image that will never happen.  I don’t know anybody that is perfectly confident all the time and doesn’t on occasion wish for a seemingly better, more attractive body.  When those moments come, the images sent out by Hollywood can do damage to my self-esteem and confidence.  I am not immune to such feelings. Are you? Luckily, I am wise enough and strong enough to pick myself up and start telling myself the right kind of messages.

Perhaps I am thinking of this topic because I have been exercising like a maniac and yet my bi-weekly weigh-in yesterday I had lost no weight.  Obviously this was a disappointment but I know that I have become healthier in the last 20 days.  My swim times are faster, my weight repetitions and amounts are more, and I feel enthusiastic and happy.   The skinniness may not come along but I have to remember that being skinny is a mirage of a goal.  Being healthy is real.  Finishing my race on the 13th is a real goal, and I know I can do it- skinny or not!

What do you think about the illusion of getting skinny?  What are your goals for fitness and weight loss and how does the images presented by Hollywood or fashion impact you?