Friday, October 28th, 2011
Please be advised that this post may be triggering for some readers. It contains weight loss talk, talk of weight loss surgery, and talk about medical conditions and their relationship with obesity.
Earlier this year I was diagnosed with diabeties. The Type II kind. The one that the wider community assumes that all obese people will end up getting. Well, I got it and I have had a hard time trying to deal with that over the last 9 months or so. At the same time I was diagnosed with a condition where my testosterone levels are very low. I have no energy or drive to do things, I struggle to concentrate for long periods of time and I quite often just feel like shit.
I’ve recently started to notice that I feel quite disconnected from my body these days. It’s something that is there and I can feel that it is physically there, but I feel almost separated from it. I don’t feel like I have any control over it. It’s just there and a lot of the time it just gets in the way or doesn’t to the things I want it to do.
I’ve seen a specialist about my condition and their response was that the only viable solution was for me to lose weight. Apparently my condition is brought on by being obese and if I wasn’t so obese then I wouldn’t have the condition. Wow, so simple. They also strongly recommended that I have a Lap Band installed so that I could get the weight off and start to feel better, and that with my failed history of dieting and weight loss attempts that this was my only viable solution. I was gobbsmacked.
I’ve read a fair bit about Lap Bands over the few years that I’ve been apart of the Fat Aceptance movement and the last thing I wanted was one of those. I was angry that this is all I was being offered as a form of treatment. If I didn’t go down this path I would have to deal with my illness myself and that just didn’t seem right.
A couple of months have passed since then and I’m starting to feel desparate. My body feels like it is failing more and more. I have less and less energy to get up and do things. I’m almost completely disinterested in life and there are days where I would just like to switch off and come back in a couple of days or weeks when I feel a little bit better.
Nagging on my mind all this time were the words of this specialist. I must lose weight. i must get a Lap Band. But yet I know that studies show that weight loss diets and ineffective, and that there are many complications with Lap Band surgery that makes it almost not worth the risk. And yet it digs at me.
It digs at me to the point that I have now regressed so far in my thoughts of my body. I feel like it’s my fault that I’m sick and that if I just stopped eating so much and exercised more I would lose some weight and feel better. Wow. That’s so far from the FA mantra that I’ve adopted over the last few years that I feel ashamed to even write it. And yet it is how I feel right now thanks to the good work of that specialist and my brain running over all of this.
I can understand how deseparation could lead someone to get a Lap Band. This morning I almost convinced myself that it was the only way that I was ever going to feel better. I’ve managed to get myself out of that mindset at the moment but I’m sure it will be back. And I’ll have to fight it off again.
If I had some idea of what I could do to fix myself in a way that was nourishing for my body, then I would happily take it. I probably need some sort of eating therapy. I’m convinced that I have disordered eating and no amount of dieting or surgery will fix that. But that kind of thing just isn’t there in mainstream medicine.
So for now I struggle with this mental gap between where my brain is and where my body is. I feel like I’m betraying the Fat Acceptance movement by even writing this post and talking about my struggle. I think it’s important that we all recognise that it is hard to deal with this sort of stuff even if you have been fighting for fat acceptance for years.
Somehow I have to find a solution to my health problem. I don’t know what that is going to be yet. It may be that I get so desparate that I get a Lap Band. I don’t know right now. All I know right now is that I wish there were answers and I wish there were more answers than just “lose weight”.
‘Cause it’s not like I was successful al that over the last 31 years. How the heck would I be able to start now?
Tuesday, November 17th, 2009
Today I’m going to talk about Health at Every Size and what this means to me. I’m going to mention the word diet a few times along the way. Right now so that there is no confusion, I want you to interpret the word ‘diet’ as meaning “what someone (or something for that matter) eats” not “the restriction of food intake to try to lose weight”. All animals have a diet, like squirrels live on a diet of nuts and berries (or so cartoons taught me). Humans live on a varied diet depending on which region of the world they live in and how plentiful different types of food are (or conversely, what little food is available).
What is Health at Every Size? Wikipedia lists these three components:
- Self-Acceptance: Affirmation and reinforcement of human beauty and worth irrespective of differences in weight, physical size and shape.
- Physical Activity: Support for increasing social, pleasure-based movement for enjoyment and enhanced quality of life.
- Normalized Eating: Support for discarding externally-imposed rules and regimens for eating and attaining a more peaceful relationship with food by relearning to eat in response to physiological hunger and fullness cues.
The first one is what the fat acceptance movement is all about. Learning to become comfortable within your body and accepting who you are RIGHT NOW! Not in three weeks time, or in a couple of years or “when I’ve lost 10 kilos/pounds/<insert unit of measure here>” but just as you are. I think this is something that we should all be looking to achieve. I’m sure there are skinny people who don’t accept themselves either!
The second component is physical activity. It should be activity that you enjoy and that you do to enhance your life, not because someone says you have to do it to be a better person. Many people (me included) enjoy walking or running or jogging or cycling. Some dance and jump about, or play team sports. It’s about moving to have fun and enhance your life.
The final component involves diet. Eating food in an intuitive way and trying to determine what works for you. If you feel sick after eating a packet of chips, then you probably need to reconsider that. Does fried food give you the shits (literally)? Then perhaps abstain. Do you come out in a rash when you try and eat a salad? Don’t bother!
It isn’t “thou shalt eat 1200 calories a day, spread over 6 meals exactly 3 hours apart” like I’ve seen some at work do. It means eat when your body wants you to or needs you to. Eat what you think your body wants you to, and listen to the outcome. Work out what works for you and what doesn’t work.
Due to reflux, I don’t have chocolate, coffee, tea, tomatoes, too much oil or fat and some other things. I feel sick if I have them. I might lose weight because I’m not eating these things, but perhaps I’ll substitute them with other foods that will mean I maintain my weight. The goal is to eat as much nutrient rich food as my body requires, and it takes time to work out your own body cues.
Something that I feel that the Health at Every Size movement is trying to promote (as well as the fat acceptance movement) is that just because I’m fat doesn’t mean I should be treated differently. Therefore when I go to a doctor, the doctor should treat me for my symptoms/illness and not just go “lose weight, fatty”. It also means that when you go to your doctor and they suggest a treatment option that doesn’t work for you (like weight loss surgery) that you tell them this.
If the treatment your doctor is suggesting is proven to work for the illness in question, you should consider it carefully and probably latch onto it for all it is worth. I’m not a doctor so I’m not providing medical advice. If doctors provide the same treatment options to you as to a thin person, that’s all we can ask for.
I think it is important to remember that everyone is different, so some things will work for you and some won’t. Crap happens.
What I don’t get is this: a doctor tables treatment options for an illness such as weight loss or a change in diet or move physical activity where the same options would be suggested to others that aren’t considered fat. I think sometimes as fat people we get triggered as soon as the “weight loss” flag is waved. Perhaps the issue is the “weight loss” tag has a stigma.
I guess my point is that sometimes when you are unwell, your doctor is going to say “you need to change what you are eating’ or “you need to get some more physical activity” in order to get better. As long as it isn’t “ok, so since you are fat you are sick” but “you are sick and the best treatment options are…”, I have no issue with that.
The fat acceptance movement is not the Heath at Every Size movement. Many people who consider themselves part of the fat acceptance movement do not subscribe to the three components I’ve outlined above. The common ground we share is that first one; accepting yourself as you are.
Anyway, that’s probably quite enough for now. I would be very interested to hear your thoughts on the issue.
Monday, October 5th, 2009
Being a fat acceptance blogger doesn’t mean you won’t feel down sometimes. It doesn’t mean you will come across things that make you question what you believe. It doesn’t mean you can brush off all the hurtful words as ignorance. But that’s OK.
So over the last few weeks I’ve been feeling a bit anxious here and there when a few medical symptoms have come on. Also during the last few weeks, I’ve been really into myself about being fat yet again. I’ve equated fat as being bad and that to be healthy I need to not be fat. That doesn’t sound very fat accepting, and it isn’t. However I went there and I’m happy to admit to my flaws.
I’m fairly new to the fat acceptance concept compared to some of the other bloggers on AoF (like my wife) and so I still sometimes struggle with the idea. I still have thoughts of “well it’s not healthy to be fat, that’s why I’m sick” or “I feel so tired – if only I wasn’t so fat!” What is important to remember is that even the best of us at some stage can go back to old, more familiar habits without realising it.
When I think more clearly, the issue is clearly a health one. If I exercised more, I would be healthier. If I ate better (fresher foods; foods that don’t upset my reflux; smaller portions which is also important for reflux) then I would be healthier too. Doing these things would help me to be healthy.
“So?”, you say. That’s a weight loss program.
Yes, it is. But what if I lost no weight? You can eat the perfect diet, and do the perfect amount of exercise and still be fat and healthy. What’s so wrong with that? If I have a general level of fitness and a generally good, nutritious diet, then so what?
Weight loss isn’t the goal. Healthiness is the goal. If I aim for health and achieve it, it doesn’t matter if I’m fat or not. What matters is that you accept me no matter what shape I am, or what level of health I have.
To me, that’s fat acceptance as I understand it.
Disagree? Talk to me.
Monday, September 21st, 2009
In my moments of drifting off to sleep, I like to imagine that I’m running. I run all over my neighbourhood, up the hills and through the streets without regard for any body looking at me. In my reality, I am faced with many Australians who not only wish ill on me, simply because I’m fat, but wish not to see me. On nights like tonight my imaginings turn to anxiety and I am kept awake with panic, so I’m turning to blogging to express a few things on this particular topic. Hear my rage internet, indeed!
Any online news story on fat issues, or the “OMGbesity crisis” (thanks Fat Nutritionist for that one) will have a herd of representatives from the hive mind piling crap on fat people. “What about your health?” “What about my health care premiums?!!” “TRY A DIET, FATTY!” (As if we HAVEN’T!) This abuse extends beyond the URL into the IRL – many of my fat friends have experienced abuse hurled at them from automobiles while they are literally treading the footpath. Uh, hello… is there a supplement for irony deficiency?
Right now, the issue of exercise is something I’m battling with. I can’t afford a gym membership (nor am I sure I want one), home exercise equipment is too bulky for my unit, but worst of all I’m developing a severe phobia of exercising outside by myself. If I’m honest with myself, I can admit that I have never been abused while out exercising. I’ve had beeps and yells of appreciation (at least, that’s what my self esteem registered them as!) but I’ve never experienced the horrid displays of abuse that some of my friends have experienced. Yet… I fear them.
When I was trialling the services of a personal trainer (something I don’t have access to any more, much to my sadness) I felt like it was totally ok for me to be running in public. Because someone was there instructing me, someone I trusted to back me up if I did encounter that special brand of arsehole who doesn’t want people to focus on themselves and their fitness. Now and then when my husband and I can match up schedules we’ll go out together and have a clandestine run… through patches of footpath that are heavily shaded from view of the very busy main road.
But wait – that isn’t fair. It’s not fair that, in the act of doing something perfectly normal and healthy, I feel I have to shield myself from public view. It’s not fair that I’m afraid of exercising for fear of abuse. It’s not fair that making fun of fatties is acceptable, and it’s completely screwed up that people feel they are justified in making fun of a fat person when they are exercising.
Beth Ditto is on the cover of Italian Rolling Stone this month, licking her toes in a pose that requires an incredible amount of flexibility. Regardless, the Perez Hilton post is full of half-wits bleating on about how fat people are disgusting (as well as how unladylike the pose is – which is ANOTHER rant for me!) If you are honestly offended by someone exercising, stretching or using their body in any matter of ways – please GTFO off my planet. What kind of sensitive snowflake are you that you feel another person’s body should modify itself to fit your worldview?
I want to reclaim my world, my body and my health. I want to trot down the main street wearing skins (i.e: tights) and not give a shit. I know my body can do amazing things, but somehow… sometimes… I feel the world doesn’t want to see me doing them. And that’s really unfair and harmful to my mental and physical wellbeing.
Thursday, July 23rd, 2009
Health is something that I take to be very important. I am happy with being fat as long as I know I am healthy. Just like skinny Joe will want to go walking or running to improve his fitness, I have these wants too. Wanting to be fit and healthy isn’t a fat man’s problem, it’s a human problem. So why am I telling you this? Because I want to admit right now that I’m not very fit and therefore probably not as healthy as I could be.
“Woah, Nick! But you all for fat acceptance! You CAN’T say that‽” Of course I can.
My acceptance of my fatness has nothing to do with my acceptance of being fit and healthy, or my realisation that I’m not. They are not linked like the tides and the moon, or whatever metaphor you would like to go with. I can be fat and not be happy with my fitness. I don’t want to you misunderstand though and think I’m wanting to lose weight.
Exercise is important to me, even if I don’t make enough time or effort at the moment. I’m not motivated by weight loss, but by the wish to live a happy and healthy life. I’m thinking that I’ll end up losing a kilo or two while I walk my way to fitness. I’ll also gain cardiovascular fitness, stronger bones and muscles, better stamina and energy levels and a whole lot of other positive benefits.
Last night I read this short article about back pain and core strength. I thought the idea of strengthening my core muscles by sitting on an exercise ball was an interesting concept. So while on my computer last night and while watching Le Tour de France (One day I’m going to do some long distance cycling) I sat on the ball. I didn’t feel too much pain and it wasn’t uncomfortable. I couldn’t lay back and relax, but then I don’t really need to.
I noticed the difference this morning though. Slight tinges of “oh, you worked me out you bastard” were being felt in the back and side region as I wandered around first thing this morning.
Regardless of how much exercise (fun, incidental or otherwise) I do I’ll still be fat, but I’ll be healthy too. That’s my goal, not some unobtainable weight as listed in the Weight Watchers Guide to Self-Flagellation. Starting with my core strength seems like an easy one, and will kill off one of my real fun killers – my back pain and weakness.