Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The {Long} Fat Rant

I'm on a rant... again. :o)  This seems to happen with more frequency than I would like, but it's a common theme that comes up in various places and it just bothers me to no end when I read people's comments on articles, news stories, blog posts, etc that are discussing the problem with obesity in {fill in a country, state, city, etc}. Perhaps I take it all a little too personally (okay, I know that I do), so I'll grant anyone that starting point, but I become close to enraged when I see/read about "average" size people admonishing those who are not a perfect Barbie size for being over weight, obese, and so on. This rant started specifically after reading comments on an article here, but truly, I could've picked many articles that I've come across over the course of my life, so in no way is this meant in specific response to anything in particular.

WARNING: I'm annoyed at the moment, so this may be less than kind... please do not take offense.

First of all, if you are an individual who has never been overweight in your life (and I'm not talking about 5 or 10 pounds, but rather someone who has actually struggled with weight), you have no business judging anyone else... and quite honestly, even if you have been or are currently over weight, you still shouldn't be setting goals or determining what is or isn't acceptable as far as someone else's lbs' go. Telling someone to not eat certain foods, or to "just exercise more" isn't a productive solution in my opinion. As someone who has been obese her entire life (yes, my entire life - I recall being the super chubby kid, even in kindergarten), and had to listen to other people tell me what is and isn't acceptable, I am truly and honestly fed up (Ha! No pun intended) with the situation. It's very easy to judge based on the surface, but the reality is that just looking at an individual doesn't necessarily tell you what they do or eat in their every day life.
My kindergarten school photo - Ugh!
In ninth grade (and actually far beyond the 9th grade) I had a friend named Christa. Christa weighed about 80 pounds soaking wet... after two double cheeseburgers... wearing extra clothing... and on a "fat" day. I'm sure seeing us together was quite a sight for some, as I was easily more than double her size... and that was after I'd spent some time starving myself to lose weight. Christa ate literally everything within her reach. She never ate a vegetable - ever (she always said the only vegetable she would eat was a potato... and that was only if it had been deep fried), would easily eat two to three times the amount of food of anyone else around, and yet she remained annoyingly slim.
That's me in the hot pink top, and Christa in the Hypercolor pink t-shirt (ahh, remember Hypercolor shirts?)
This was a surprise 15th b-day party for me... Yay! I was actually "thin" here.
I, on the other hand, hardly ate most days. Generally, I forgot breakfast (or woke up too late to eat it), I would perhaps eat a few bites of yogurt, a piece of fruit, and/or half a turkey sandwich for lunch. Dinner was whatever mom had cooked, or whatever I made for my little brother and me, but by no means were these meals ridiculous portions. Sure, there were days when I'd have not so great food (I mean, who are we kidding? Everyone gives in to temptation now and again), but I was always irritated that no matter what I did, I couldn't be a "normal" size. I took up running for a time, walked to the local park, even had my mom get me a gym membership so I could work out after school every day, but nothing seemed to help.
Yeah, I've always danced to the beat of my own drum...
Not sure what I was on this particular day
Okay, so a lot of people struggle with weight growing up, right? I would agree, but it never ended for me. In fact, it got worse. It seemed (and still seems) that the harder I fight to lose, the heavier I become. I finally realized a few years ago that I am fighting an endless battle that I likely won't win... and I'm honestly okay with that. However, the rest of the world seems to have issue with it. Why do the masses in general assume (and it is a big assumption) that because an individual is over the standard accepted size that s/he is constantly stuffing his/her face with never ending fast foods, constantly downing chocolaty indulgences, and never moving his/her body?
Me with my Hillborne on a long ride this past September...
I really hate this picture, but hey, it's somewhat proof that I don't sit around doing nothing all day.
My doc and I had a chat a few years back about being unable to lose weight. I went in, not seeking a pill or some magical fix, but truly wanting to know what is wrong with me. After blood work and various tests his statement to me was this: "I only wish the rest of my patients were as healthy as you." So, my obvious reply was, "Then why can't I lose weight?" He shook his head somewhat identifying with me (the doc is a bit on the chubby side too - which is probably why I love him so - he refrains from judgement) and said, "The only thing I can tell you is that your body is getting too many calories. Hey, look at it this way, if we were in a famine, you'd be one of the ones to survive!" Hardy-har-har doc. So, how can I get too many calories if I'm eating the number that all the "experts" say I should be eating, at least 99% of the time?
Maybe if I fatten up Sam, I won't look so big? Just kidding...
he is just the sampler of my baking before he takes it to work to share with others...
to fatten them up (kidding... truly kidding). I just like to bake and share.
My answer is this: It doesn't matter. I am alive and healthy now, in this moment. Sure, I would love to lose weight and not feel like a freak show standing next to the "normals" (including hubby - Hi Sam... love you!), but that isn't who I am, and while I cannot speak for every single over weight man, woman, and child on the planet, I know what I do and don't do, what I eat and don't eat, and quite honestly, I don't need someone else telling me what to do or not do because the supposed "expert" advice they provide obviously doesn't work for me. And while I do realize that there are over weight individuals who definitely do over indulge on a regular basis, this doesn't mean that every person who has extra pounds is partaking in every food item that comes his/her way, nor that they never exercise or do anything active. It all seems so never-ending.

In fact, I'm currently avoiding a trip to our new doctor (our insurance recently changed, unfortunately) because I don't want the lecture about losing weight. I'm not stupid, and believe me rarely does a day goes by that I'm not reminded by someone that I am, indeed, obese, but even the doctor's want to make decisions based solely on just seeing a person and reading that the pounds reflected on the scale are more than they should be, given the person's height. Shouldn't there be a better way to deal with this? Perhaps they should get to know the person and their habits before making a judgement call?

I guess the bottom line for me is this: I am tired of feeling like I have to justify my right to exist in a world full of people who choose to place judgement prior to knowing anything about me. I suppose if I could say anything to these individuals it would be that 1) Your comments are sometimes hurtful, particularly when you don't know the person (These insults can often come in a form that may not seem to the person saying it to be an insult at all, but believe me, perception is key here - For example, if I have one more guy at the gym tell me "good job" while I'm running on a treadmill - which in my mind is code for "Oh, look that fat woman decided she needed to exercise... Good for her!" Not realizing that I've been running for the last several years, making their statement a huge insult to me- I'm going to scream, or possibly just take them out, right there in front of everyone at the gym - believe me, if nothing else, I can sit on you!); and 2) Please don't judge a book by its cover. Even "normal" size people have things about themselves they wish they could change. It may not be something that anyone can see, but I'm sure there's something. Think about how you'd feel if everyone you ran into on a daily basis was judging you because of your flaw, pointing it out at every opportunity. In the end, we're all just trying to live our lives the best that we can, and there's really no reason to interfere with someone else's happiness... or at least, that's my take on the situation.

8 comments:

  1. *applauds and cheers loudly*

    You know my stock answer for things like this: "Nobody asked you." http://cecily.info/2010/05/18/nobody-asked-you/

    Plus, you and that Hillborne? That's the most beautiful thing I've seen all day.

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  2. Aww, you are a sweetie! Thanks much... and, I LOVED your post!!

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  3. You're welcome. Seeing that photo has got me wondering what it might be like to ride a bike with drop bars, something I thought I'd never do.

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  4. I will tell you, Cecily, the drop bar thing scared me to death. First, because I have hand/wrist issues, so I wasn't sure it would even work, and secondly because it terrified me to be in that position {I had visions of me just falling over for no apparent reason, or trying to stop somewhere and falling - I think my personal klutz factor came into play there though}. Finding a frame with more relaxed geometry helped, I think, and also getting a handlebar stem with some length to it so I could have the bars higher was a godsend. I found, actually, that older touring bicycles were a good fit - when I could find the right size. My problem is that I'm definitely not tall, but local shops kept wanting to put me on frames that were too small {which I hear is quite common}, which made me feel strangely close to the handlebars and awkward. When my husband picked up an old bicycle for me to try out {that was too large by the way}, I realized that it was possible for me to enjoy the ride with drop bars. If you have a shop you like and trust, I'd say go and ride a few to see how you like it, keeping in mind that it does take a bit of adjustment, especially when we're used to a more upright ride. I also rode a Surly Long Haul Trucker and really liked the feel of it as well. I would have bought that one {and saved myself a load of $$} except that I was in between sizes and couldn't decide if it was better to hit my knees on the shifters of the smaller one, or feel a bit stretched on the larger {plus, I was obsessing about getting the Hillborne frame and building it up the way I wanted it}. The Salsa Casseroll I tried was nice, but it felt too racy for my liking, but I think it's worth a try if you're considering something with drop bars. There are so many models and brands out there though, I'm sure your local bike shop could definitely make suggestions, or, browsing local second hand bikes for sale is a great option as well. I know costs can definitely play a roll in what we can actually afford... and in saying that, I should never have purchased the Hillborne, but honestly, I think it's the best purchase I've made in a long time, and I know it's built to last. Plus, I was able to pick out the components I wanted. Anyway, all that rambling to simply say "go for it!" And don't give up if the first few don't seem quite right. I'm sure you can find something you'd enjoy. :o)

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  5. I'm actually thinking of building a Betty Foy with drop bars, like this one: http://www.flickr.com/photos/renaissance-bicycles/5129024779/ - but maybe with a longer stem. My bad knee won't let me make the move to a diamond frame, sadly. I could never get a leg over.

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  6. So pretty! I think that would be a great option. I love the Betty Foy and sometimes wonder if I should've opted for her instead of the Hillborne. I always say if we ever win the lottery {or if I can somehow pay off student loans miraculously fast}, I'm getting her too! *shaking head* I know I don't need it, but dreaming can be fun. Plus, if you build one, I can just drool over your pictures. :o)

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  7. I don't blame you for ranting at all. I think people always have a need to find things about others that make them feel better about themselves - I agree with Cecily - no one asked them for an opinion of any kind though! For example, I used to be like the friend of yours you described. Everyone hated me when I was eating anything and everything I wanted and was stick thin. However, I also had to deal with doctors asking if I was anorexic or bulimic (and giving me funny looks like "sure you're not" when I said that I ate normally, but couldn't gain weight). And total strangers thought nothing about stopping me to ask "how much do you weigh - like 80 lbs?" The worst part was that I wasn't exactly petite, and at approx. 5 ft. 5 in. tall and 90-95 lbs., I really was extremely thin, but there seemed to be nothing I could do about it. I was called all sorts of nicknames, from Twiggy to beanpole, etc. and got so tired of it that I wanted to literally scream. I'm now a pretty average weight, but probably only due to getting older, and finally having a slower metabolism or something - I eat about the same. Anyway, not to say that being extremely thin is like being overweight (and while people are rude to those who are really thin, they can be downright nasty to those who are overweight), but it seems that society always wants to place people in neat little boxes. People really just need to mind their own business!

    And like you said, everyone, including those of average size, has something they'd like to change. Sheesh, there are a million things that I'd like to change about myself. Even though I'm not stick thin anymore, I still have that horrible self-concept developed by being awkward and gawky, with nosy people always staring and asking what I weighed, etc! Just goes to show that people never know how what they say (or even don't say, but looks imply) impact others and they should just follow the old saying "If you can't say something nice, then don't say anything at all." :)

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  8. Hi Traci...I don't think anyone has it easy, and others just seem to say whatever they are thinking, sometimes without really deciding whether or not it's necessary. I know my friend (like you) used to hear the same kinds of comments about being anorexic, etc. I definitely felt bad for her because she was at the opposite end of the spectrum. I suppose we each have our cross to bear... I just wish sometimes people wouldn't feel the need to point out others' qualities that they see as "abnormal." {sigh} Someday, I'll find my ideal world. :o) Okay, probably not.

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