Archive for February, 2009


There is a smart and thoughtful post that I must call out today from Body Impolitic on the BBC’s young children’s channel’s new co-host, who was born with a shortened arm. 

Tantalizing snippet:

What should the BBC executives have said to Burnell? “Sorry, dear, we’d love to hire you, but you don’t have two arms?”




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Diet – not like a diet (like SlimFast or Weight Watchers) for weight loss.  I mean diet here as simply what I eat… which is whatever I want as per Intuitive Eating.

My boyfriend keeps telling me lately that I’m not eating enough food.  Not because he sees me restricting or using eating disordered behaviors, but because of how I feel sometimes – fatigued with very fast escalating urgent hunger.  It has been weird (in a good way) for me to hear this from him for many reasons: a) I have had long-term relationships with men before who were very interested in my weight – they counted my calories, they freaked out if I ate a piece of cake FOR MY BIRTHDAY (no joke), they encouraged my eating disorder.  b) I’ve been a normal weighted to overweight girl (with some forays into obesity) all my life and I’m not used to people advising me to eat more, of all things. 

However, as commentor Elizabeth was so kind to remind us in my last post, even fat people can be malnourished.  Size doesn’t dictate malnutrition.  Also, fat is an important part of a balanced diet… as I have recently relearned myself. 

In my adult-life, I haven’t had much fat in my diet for some good reasons and for some not good reasons.  My family was big into the Pritikin diet through-out my entire childhood.   It was talked about in my family as if this diet was the only virtuous things for glutonnous fatties to do.  This particular diet, among other things, had a low-fat focus.  It was ingrained me in very early how “evil” fat is and I didn’t realize how deeply these ideas still effected me.  Otherwise, I am a vegetarian.  I have been mostly pure vegetarian (which means – abstains from gelatin, meat broth, fish and other assorted things less strict veggies may include in their diets) since 2000.  I had a year or two in the midst of all this where I tried adding fish to my diet for health purposes, but I have since gone back to pure veggieness.  I am a HUGE animal lover… and it was very difficult for me to even eat shrimp.  I used to be able to get much of my daily fat from nuts and soy, but I now live with the love of my life who is deadly allergic to nuts and soy.  Sure, I eat them still, but not as often when the mere smell can cause a reaction in the boyfriend.  Preparing food with soy/nuts in it becomes this big ordeal.  I need to make sure crumbs don’t end up anywhere the bf could be exposed to them.  I clean dishes that have touched nuts/soy immediately after eating them, so if he decides to do me a favor and do the dishes, I don’t have to worry about him getting into my soy/nuts stuck to some plate and sending him to the ER.  So, frankly, often I feel that eating nuts/soy is too much a hassle to be worth messing with.  That leaves me eating a lot of fruits, veggies and grains… I haven’t been getting the fat that I need as the foods I genuinely like in these categories are generally low in fat.  I try to get in as much dairy as possible, but I am also very lactose intolerant, so unless I want excruciating stomach aches due to mucous build-up in the stomach that can last for days after eating a few bites of the wrong kind of cheese, I am very, very careful with the dairy I eat.  My dairy choices usually lean towards the low in fat, unfortunately, because these (for some reason) give me less stomach issues. 

So, after hearing my bf comment on my seeming need for more food night after night… I decided to give his idea a shot.  In particular, I have been focusing on getting more fat in my diet.  It is truly the one area of my diet where I know I am lacking… otherwise my diet is pretty balanced.  I have been going the extra mile and eating nuts and soy more often.  I am worth the effort and I’m not holding back!  I just make sure I prepare and eat it before the bf gets home from work.  I am also adding in lots of eggs to my diet.  The truth is, I love eggs.  Always have.  Life has just been so stressful the last four years that I got out of the habit of cooking them.  Things have changed now… whoooooo hoooooooooooo for quitting that sickening job… so, I am finally feeling ready, willing and able to actually take decent care of myself.  I have been experimenting with different ways to get fat into my diet… buttery toast, heavy cookies, eggs in all forms, cereal with whole milk, cheese on pasta for dinner, etc.  I am learning what makes me feel less malnourished.  Frankly, I am picky with food and don’t particularly like to eat, so most of these experiments have been busts.  But, I have discovered that organic whole milk doesn’t make set-off my stomach, but doesn’t make me feel like I’ve eaten enough fat.  I’ve never really liked butter, except on potatoes, waffles, pancakes and a few other exceptions… so that wasn’t great.  What I have discovered that really helps is olive oil (with anything), eggs and large servings of low-fat cheese has helped me feel SO MUCH BETTER physically and mentally – beyond the nuts and soy I am eating again when the bf isn’t home.  I have also learned that I feel best physically when I enjoy my desert-type food in the morning or in the afternoon.  Too much sugar before bed seems to aggravate the waking up at 2am bit.  However, as an intuitive eater, I will tell ya right now that my diet does not lack in fun foods like fresh bakery cookies, coffee cake and those drumstick ice cream things that are just HEAVENLY. 

What has changed?

I sleep so much better!!!!!  I have spent at least a year (maybe more) waking up almost every night between 1-3am so hungry that I was in serious physical pain.  It was really messing with my quality of sleep and who likes to wake up in the middle of the night in pain and desperately hungry?  Ick.  I tried eating dinner later.  I tried eating more through-out the day.  I tried eating an extra and large bowl of cereal before I went to bed.  Nothing worked, until I tried eating more fat.  Heh.  Apparently I really needed it.  Neat, huh? 

Otherwise, another benefit of adding more fat to my diet is that my hunger is more stable through-out the day.  When I get hungry, it doesn’t become urgent hunger nearly as quickly as it used to.  I have more time to notice the hunger and think about what I’d like to eat before I hit the point where I’m OMG SO HUNGRY I COULD EAT THE COFFEE TABLE.  I have more time to ask myself what my body really wants and what might really satisfy my hunger… it’s just beautiful to have more space to do this! 

Have I lost weight or gained weight?  Who knows.  I don’t particularly care.  I feel healthier and happier… that is the important bit. 

So far, any weight loss or gain hasn’t been significant anyway… except that my boobs got bigger and look nicer (no, I’m not pregnant – I checked).  Maybe fat is having some lovely effect on them.  Who knows.  Maybe it’s hormones. 

Yay for fatz and the courage to add them back into a diet sorely lacking in them.  😀


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Commentor Tara had the following feed-back regarding my last post:

I am confused. Your body probrably has hundreds of thousands of Calories stored as fat, so why would it keep telling you that it needs more and doesn’t have enough? Is your body broken. One would assume that if your body was in need of calories it would simply take them from its reserves. Your argument is that your body has stored tons of calories it has no intention of ever using. Why is that? A “smart” body wouldn’t expend energy hauling around the extra mass that it never intends to make use of? It would be like a car having 10 full fuel tanks but only ever using 1 and then, instead of tapping the other 9, requireing you to fill up that one tank over and over again. 

 Rather than leaving it to the comments section, I am giving this its own post, because this is a common question that I am sure many people (who are not vets of the fatosphere) have.  Plus, I love conversation.  As long as challenges, questions, etc… stay respectful and as long as I have the energy for it, I’m good with writing some Fatosphere and/or HAES 101 stuff, as the topics arise. 

Tara, I will try to answer your questions. 

Is my body broken?  Well, that depends on how you look at it.  😉  Years of constant dieting has injured it in many ways.  My body has been through so many famines (created by me) that it is trying to protect itself from future food shortages.  You see, our bodies were not designed for the world many of us are used to in the US.  Evolution is a very, very, very slow process.  Our bodies evolved to survive an environment where food shortages were far more common.  Lack of technology as a caveman, midieval person or even Victorian brit created a much more difficult life.  In those environments, it was beneficial for a body to be able to hold onto fat for the sake of survival.  The advances that have allowed for the food glut that most of us experience today is a very recent development in terms of evolution.  Sure, I was born into a food glut.  There was never a shortage in my home and I am 30-years-old.  However, my grandparents and great-grandparents did experience food shortages – that is how recent they were happening in my family.  However, even today there are still food shortages in some parts of the world, so that metabolisms that slow in response to famine (real or created) and hence a body that holds onto fat is still valuable for survival today.  

So, is my body really broken?  No.  It is doing what it was designed to do – survive famine, so it socks away whatever it can, if it “thinks” there may be a famine (read: diet). 

Beyond all this, scientific data backs me up.  95-99% of people who diet gain all the weight back within five years.  Many (if not most) gain back more than they lost – hence the phrase I throw around a lot – dieting to obesity. 

In addition, while I have been running around in a cat vetrinary emergency, FillyJonk read the study and posted some very interesting details… to fatosphere vets, it is the same old science stuff we always read that says diets don’t work.  For newbies, this could be an eye-opener. 

  Some bits and bobs that I paricularly found interesting about this study, originally posted by FillyJonk at Shapely Prose:

 – About half the study participants of the study weighed MORE at the end of the study than they did at the beginning of the study.  Yes, even when it’s a scientific study, diets cause weight gain in many cases.

– “Participants in every group were on average eating FEWER calories at the two-year mark, when they were regaining, than they were at the six-month mark, when they were still losing weight.”

– Some of the participating docs were being paid consulting feels by pharma companies that sell diet drugs – hence, conflict of interest. 

 In other words… as I read this, the famine response kicked in and you know the rest of the story. 

Yes, some people’s bodies don’t hord fuel like some other peoples’ do.  The human race is diverse and perhaps that kind of metabolism will become more common, if in the future food remains plentiful.  If there is some disaster or something and food is not plentiful for forever in the future, I think those folks who have metabolisms like mine will be thankful for them. 


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bulb_vector_by_trashherinkMSNBC has a health article claiming that weight loss is most effectively achieved via calorie restriction.  The dreaded “calories in – calories out” phrase is peppered through-out. 

Eight hundred and eleven participants were put on four different diets to see if low-fat or high-protein, etc. even matter in weight loss.  This study says the type of diet doesn’t matter so much as calorie restriction. 

For Pete’s sake… if it was THIS easy, would anyone still be fat?  Calorie restriction is a very old idea.  It has at least been around since the 80’s, when I recieved my dieting learner’s permit and was taking my first calorie restriction out for a spin.  Did it cause weight loss?  Sure!  Was the weight loss sustainable?  Nope.  In my heaps of dieting experience, I’ve found that cutting calories is the most effective way to cause a famine response (sorry, folks… couldn’t find a link that described the famine response experience better that didn’t also circle back to dieting… sigh) from the body.  Ya know… that bit when your body decides there must be a famine and starts you obsessing about food, feeling extreme hunger, the metabolism slows and the only way to lose weight is to continually accelerate calorie cutting until you are eventually eating nothing and still plateauing or even gaining weight.   *headdesk*

What really makes me laugh (in frustration and anger) is that the most common advice for dealing with plateaus is to stick through it.  Keep exercising more and eating less.  Uh huh, so, we can deepen the famine response, gain more weight and buy more diet gimmicks?  What a neat-o trick to make billions of dollars!

What I really don’t like about (any diet really, but… in this case, I’ll say…) calorie restriction is that it is imposing external measures for food intake, when our bodies are far more able to deal with this kinda thing in a healthy way.  You see, we have this thing called “hunger”.  It is a signal that our bodies need more fuel and/or nutrients.  Some days a body will need more calories than others – a calorie restriction regime cannot take this into account – which can exacerbate the famine response.  Nevermind that is has been known since forever that 95-99% of diets don’t work and that most people gain all the weight back with interest.  Yes, calorie restriction is a diet –  95-99% likely to  fail before five years are up.  Of course, this study only followed participants for two years.  *headdesk*


Other experts were bothered that the dieters couldn’t keep the weight off even with close monitoring and a support system.

“Even these highly motivated, intelligent participants who were coached by expert professionals could not achieve the weight losses needed to reverse the obesity epidemic,” Martijn Katan of Amsterdam’s Free University wrote in an accompanying editorial.

What kind of journalist doesn’t dig more when you get this information?  The dieters couldn’t keep the weight off?  How many?  What percentage?  Did MSNBC even ask? 

Beyond that, even this “key to weight-loss” (quoted straight from the bolded line further detailing the headline) cannot reverse the epidemic (that does not exist)

As usual, the last few blurbs in the article shread the 95% of the story that came before it.  LOL  It is ridiculous to me that these “news pieces” are so popular and that too many folks are going to read this thing and cut calories because of it. 

Our bodies are so much wiser than most people given them credit for.  Real willpower in this society is listening to your body (or re-learning to do so, if you have forgotten – using the Intuitive Eating approach, for example) and not doing things that are likely to cause weight cycling (yo-yo weight loss) to the great detriment of your health


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There is a beautiful post at WellRounded today about happiness and our cultural ideal of unattainable perfection. 

A teaser tidbit:

No diet will slim you into that perfect body to allow you to do all those things you wish you could do.  No amount of wishing you were something else; of looking for something more, will somehow drop satisfaction into your lap.  Stop looking for MORE and see what IS.

The rest is here.  It is definitely worth a read!


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(Many thanks to Rita Loyd for allowing me to use her artwork for this post.  Love this piece!)  

In August of last year I decided to join a local gym with my husband.  I decided I wanted more movement in my life and I had heard some really good things about a local gym so we checked it out.  Sure enough, it is an awesome gym.  So I don’t know a whole lot about gyms but this one fit what we were looking for.  It’s within 10 to 15 minutes of our house.  It’s open 24 hours 7 days a week.  It has all the equipment we could want and the treadmills, elipticals, etc…have tv’s on them.  We met with the owner and liked him and I got a discount because of where I work.  We signed up that day.

I took advantage of their offer to meet with their personal trainer one time and after that I decided to sign up with her and I worked with her for about a month and a half.  I really liked her as a trainer but I especially liked the fact that she listened to me.  I’m not going to her currently but may go back at some point.

We’ve been going to the gym and when I go regularly (sometimes you just can’t make it because of illness) I noticed my sciatica easing up and my bunion on my foot hurting less and less.  My brain even seemed less foggy most of the time.  I’ve really enjoyed the fact that I joined the gym.  It’s not a chore, it’s an act of self-love for me.  And the most amazing thing for me is…I miss working out when I don’t get to do it.  Being active and working out makes me want to be active and work out more. 

I say that to say this…

This past week I was feeling really blah.  You know, those days where you just really don’t care what happens in your life.  Go to work, do your job only because you have to and not because you enjoy it, go home and maybe do something for yourself but maybe not.  It just seemed things weren’t feeling right for me and that meant I didn’t feel “right”.  Something was askew.

Thankfully my co-author here picked up on it pretty quickly.  She questioned me about a couple of times but was patient enough with me and knows me well enough to know that when I was ready to spill it, I would spill it indeed.  Friday I spilled it.

I need a vacation or at least a break from work.  I need some self-love.  I need to voice more what I need from my husband.  I need to see me as a priority in my life.  I need to get back to taking hot foamy soaking baths and lathering up with lotion from head to toe.  I need to get back to going to bed early and catching up on reading what I like to read.

On top of just the general “working too hard and not getting paid enough” is the fact that one of my bosses started Weight Watchers last week and another co-worker is “gearing up” to start his diet on March 1.  Both of them are driving us all crazy with tips on how to lose weight.  (see AGRs blog below)  So not only do I need to get away from work, the job, but I also need to get away from work, the people.

AngryGrayRainbow asked me Friday what I was planning to do about all of this but more specifically, what was I going to do to show myself more self-care and attention.  At the time I didn’t know but I started working on it right then and there.

When I left work, I went home and told my husband I was going out for supper because I wasn’t going to cook and I didn’t want anything we had in the house.  He gladly joined me and we went to our local club where we saw and visited with some friends, ate good food and even had a couple delicious drinks.  Saturday we did absolutely nothing.  We lounged around all day long.  It was dark, dreary and cold, in other words, a perfect day to do nothing.  I took a 2 hour nap at one point and we just watched TV the rest of the day.

Sunday I slept in late and then we went shopping.  I bought new underwear!  5 new pairs of spiffy comfy panties and 2 new bras!  We went to Costco and had a blast trying all the samples and going through every aisle.  Last night we topped it off with a great workout at the gym and a great night’s sleep.

The act of self-love begets acts of self-love.  On Friday when I decided I needed some stuff and started putting it all into action, it just snowballed as if that was just the way it was supposed to be.  The acts of self-love on Friday, led me to the self-love on Saturday and then to Sunday.  Once you get the hang of it, you see where you really miss those little acts of self-love.

As far as a vacation…we’re both doing our research and seeing what we can do to remedy that.   Until it gets planned, I will be doing other things that make me happy.  I’m planning a retreat to the zoo soon and maybe a picnic!  The jaccuzi will be getting a good cleaning and I’m going to stock up on some moisturizers!


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 Something neat from the BBC

[Research] suggests that experience in childhood when the brain is developing, can have a long-term impact on how someone responds to stressful situations.

But study leader Professor Michael Meaney said they believe these biochemical effects could also occur later in life.

“If you’re a public health individual or a child psychologist you could say this shows you nothing you didn’t already know.

“But until you show the biological process, many people in government and policy-makers are reluctant to believe it’s real.

“Beyond that, you could ask whether a drug could reverse these effects and that’s a possibility.”

Beyond this research being super interesting and cool progress in the realm of information for child-abuse survivors: Oh my… how amazingly validating to my experience with child abuse!!  That bit about if you’re a public or mental health professional that this is something you already knew – makes me a bit misty.  Like many abuse survivors, it feels like I’ve been invalidated my whole life.  In some ways, this is probably even literally true. 

I personally struggle with stress.  My team thinks it’s a combo of PTSD and ADD that causes my special mix of anxiety at even things that I KNOW are not important (like getting scared that I will get hit, because I dropped a glass on the floor and it shattered).  I work very hard at trying to deconstruct the thinking that can cause these reactions.  I try to relax.  Deep breathing.  Meditation.  I just have never seemed to be able to get away from this anxiety and it is not always predictable when I will be hit with some giant, stress reaction. 

It is just so relieving to read more evidence that I am NOT just making this up.  My family would much rather I believe I’m just some drama-queen, loser who just can’t get anything right.  Grrrr.  That really makes me mad, since I make it a point to steer clear of unnecessary drama.  God forbid I am jumpy if I didn’t hear someone walk up behind me and they touch my shoulder and I jump or scream… that is all it takes to make one a drama queen in my family.  In fact, once when my mother did just that, I ended up getting a lecture about how I am a dangerous person, because I am startled by people tip toeing (which is exactly what she did) up behind me while I was taking a nap under a tree.  She told me that my being startled made her feel bad and therefore I had abused her.  Right.  I’m responsible for her feelings.  Silly of me to forget.  *headdesk*

The nice bit is that I’m on ritalin now, which has me reacting pretty much normally to most things.  Since ritalin, no one has made that face at me that tells me they think I just reacted fairly big about something relatively “small”.  It’s a relif.  But, what really makes me mad is that I internalized the message that I was stupid and crazy for being how I was pre-ritalin.  In recent years, I could get myself cooling off and coming back from the land of panic in seconds or minutes, but even that didn’t seem to stop the faces.  My guess is that folks saw my reaction on my face and were startled by it themselves, because most of my freaking out happened quietly inside my mind, where I tried very hard to keep it from showing.  Ack… I’ve just felt so judged.  I’ve judged myself.  I’ve let other people judge me.  I’m starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s causing some reflection on how it used to be…

I wish I had been more brave.  I wish I had laughed off the teasing of friends and co-workers, when they said I was tightly wound or something like that.  I wish I hadn’t swallowed the idea down and let it thrive in me and break my heart for years and years.  How sad. 

The silver-lining would be my learning a lesson from this not to internalize the teasing or superficial judgements of others…

Yeah, I think I’m going to chew on that for a while. 


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