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Amy Schumer was recently called out as a woman who inspires us because she is a plus size female who still loves her body.  Amy Schumer, a female who wears a size 6 to an 8, called plus size.  I have to admit, I’m a little surprised to learn that this means I am also a plus size female, and apparently have been since high school.  Perhaps I need to go on a diet and get myself down to a respectable size 2?

The idea that a size 6 is entering plus size territory is insulting, unfair, and pretty disgusting.  I’m not knocking people who have an issue with their weight and are either obese or unhappy with their extra pounds, I simply find it horrifying that we are teaching women to believe that such a small size is “plus” and not skinny enough or socially acceptable.  I’m appalled that we’re sending a message that unless you’re a twig with a sizeable thigh gap, you’re a fat cow who will never be truly attractive but who can at least be confident “for a big girl.”

fat-slob

Body image is a serious issue, especially among women, and it’s not difficult to see why.  If we’re honestly being told that a size 6 is a plus size, what is a woman wearing a size 12 to think?  She’s a whale?  What about a woman in a size 18?  Too big to leave the house?  Mind you, these are not uncommon sizes for women in this country, and a size 12 can most certainly be a healthy size for a woman, depending on her body type and build.  I’m one of many women who are built curvy and happen to have wider hips and shoulders than the average woman.  That doesn’t mean I’m “huge” or plus size, it’s just how I was put together.  There isn’t a damn thing wrong with it.

I’m sick and tired of the unreasonable expectations that are thrust upon females to look like a magazine cover 24/7 or risk being torn apart by others.  Even celebrities get shit on when they forgo their makeup as they walk the dog or get photographed at an unfortunate angle.  We’ve all seen the various “ugly celebrity” photo montages online and in magazines, making fun of cellulite or bags under the eyes.  It’s tacky and uncalled for.  Why do we find joy in the destruction of others?  Why can’t we be content with the knowledge that we’re all different and those differences make us uniquely special?

If you consider me plus size when my pant size is in the single digits, you can kindly go fuck yourself.  You are the problem.  You are what’s wrong, not my body.  I am fantastic at my current size and I’d be as fantastic in a size 12 as I’d be in a 2.  We don’t need to conform to anyone else’s standards but our own.  Your definition of perfection is not mine.  If you’re offended by someone’s size, look away.  If you need to mock others to feel better about yourself, go get help.  We need to quit praising women for being “fat but still pretty” and accept the fact that the concept of beauty is different from person to person and no one definition is correct over others.  And for God’s sake, stop calling a size 6 “plus size.”

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Here We Go Again

Today marks the third week in a row of my new commitment to both calorie counting and adding some kind of physical activity to my day.  I have been limited my intake to no more than 1300 per day, ensuring that days I go over are followed by days I go under.  I will allow myself one cheat day per month to go out of control because calorie restrictions unfortunately do mean food restrictions as well (bye bye for now, nachos).  I hate the gym and I’m not a runner, so my physical activity has consisted of doing laps with my iPod around the 1.6 million square foot building where I work five days a week.  Inside of course; I’m not quite brave or crazy enough to go out in the frigid Indiana air.  In these three little weeks, I have no idea how much weight I’ve lost, but my clothes fit better, my hourglass figure is making a mean comeback, and my husband has taken notice on my improvements.

The last time I had to change my diet and drop some pounds was a nightmarish time when I was squeezing into a size 11 and being ashamed of myself.  Right now, I am hovering around a size 7 and nowhere near where I was before, so it’s not quite the annoyance it was back then.  My goal this time is to get back to the size I was when my husband and I got married.  I’m basing it on how I look and how my clothes fit, nothing else.  I don’t care how much I weigh now or how much I weigh when I’m done.  I’m always going to be “heavy” due to the pounds of muscle I carry, so the number is going to be higher than you’d expect as long as I stay healthy and don’t lose that muscle.  I’m making progress and happy with the results.  But damn if it isn’t hard.

food

I’ve always been a big believer that diets are not the way to go.  Diet equals restriction which equals frustration and eventually failure.  Tell someone they cannot have any pizza and they are going to want pizza. With calorie counting, I can have pizza and all the other foods I desire, just not in the quantities I may prefer.  The plus side is that my stomach quickly became used to smaller quantities and doesn’t allow me to overeat, making calorie counting much easier.  The downside is that I want to eat cakes and pies and pizzas and tacos and everything else I can get my hands on.  There has been free cake, bagels, donuts, and all sorts of junk food in my office that I want to dive into headfirst and devour until I can’t move.  It’s torture.

My saving grace in the office has come in two forms.  The first is sometimes tiring but very therapeutic; long walks around the square-shaped building, including hikes up and down the ramps.  With my iPod on shuffle and helping me drown out all the noise around me, I get a break from the day while breaking a bit of a sweat.  It also allows me to get away from whatever temptation is being put in front of me, reducing the chances of me cracking under pressure and grabbing some junk food.  The second is a little mean but it works.  All I have to do is get a good look at one of the very out of shape people in this building and the desire to eat junk food vanishes.  The fact that the woman who sits behind me has a habit of ordering multiple lunches per day and having Doritos for breakfast ends up being a powerful motivator for me to eat less and eat healthy.

big-fat-woman

This is not the most difficult time I’ve had with a plan to drop a few pounds, nor is it the most extreme thing I’ve done, but for some reason it’s been annoying me more than all the other diets, exercise plans, food restrictions, and various other paths I’ve ventured down.  If not for the fact that I’m seeing results, I think I would have quit.  I imagine that is why many people throw in the towel early on.  But my goal is in mind and it’s a goal that isn’t a year or more down the road, but mere months away.  Milestone One will be March 11th when the husband and I go to WWE Raw, as I want to look good in the shirt I altered for the event.  Milestone Two will be my birthday, where I hope to be at the point where nothing in my closet is off-limits, but the real goal is Milestone Three when I will go bikini shopping.  It doesn’t matter if it’s the right time of year or not; whenever I’m at the point where I get excited to go try on bikinis, I’ll know I’ve reached my ultimate goal.

Struggling with weight is one of the most frustrating and annoying struggles that the average person has to deal with.  It’s also one of the most easy fixes out there.  Unless you’re one of the very few who have a medical condition that causes extreme weight gain or prevents weight loss, it’s simply a matter of burning more than you consume.  Doing that isn’t the impossible feat that many make it out to be.  Yes, it’s frustrating being surrounded by donuts and having to take a pass, but it’s worth it when you can look at yourself in the mirror after a shower without cringing in disgust.  Have some self-control and self-respect, choose reasonable goals, and stick to a plan that works for you.  Easy.

Spaghetti

There are always going to be people out there who tell you you’re doing it wrong.  Eat more carbs and less dairy.  Eat no carbs and drink green tea.  Drink only black coffee and eat lots of carrots.  Plan X worked for me; you should try it.  Workout video Y is amazing; want to borrow it?  Receive their advice with a smile and get right back to your own plan.  If something works for you and is giving you results, be them big or small, it’s in your best interest to shrug off the unwanted advice.  But don’t be afraid to talk about what you’re doing just because you want to avoid advice.  Speaking up doesn’t just keep people informed, it can connect you with others who are also trying to get in shape or lose their Christmas weight.

At the end of the day, it’s about you and only you.  What you want for yourself.  Where you see yourself in the future.  How happy you want to be with who you are.  How comfortable you wish to be in your own skin.  With weight loss or with any type of self-improvement, you have to be doing it for you and no one else.  If my husband had been the one to encourage this weight loss, I wouldn’t be as motivated as I currently am.  I’m the one in this body and I have to do it for me.  I have to know that I can succeed and I have to be willing to make sacrifices to get there.  And most important for me, I have to find ways to cope when it feels like it’s too hard.  Like writing this entry, for example, as it kept me from searching for candy.  Thanks for listening.

OM NOM NOM COOKIES

Fat is not a disease.  Dr Pattie Thomas states that “there is no evidence that fatness, in and of itself,  is a disease, a disorder or a symptom.”  Dr Pieter Cohen, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and general internist at Cambridge Health Alliance says “if we call obesity a disease, it would mean automatically, a third of Americans are in a diseased state or sick.”  The Center of Consumer Freedom Executive Director, Richard Berman, states that “obesity is not a ‘disease’ if it can be cured by taking regular walks and eating less.  We need to be careful not to dumb down the definition of the term disease at the expense of taxpayers.”  Paul Handel, MD, and vice president of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas says that “if we consider obesity a disease, it implies that individuals have no control over what’s happening, and as a nation and as a culture, we need to commit more of our resources to treating the complications of the weight and obesity problem rather than saying it’s a preventable event that really demands a societal response.”  The list of examples goes on and on.

This morning, I was listening to my coworker describe her rough morning of trying to enter through the handicap entrance to use the shorter line meant for people with physical disabilities, only to find that the door was not working and she was forced to physically open the door herself.  This same woman scored a temporary handicap tag at this building for her knee; thankfully it expired after 4 months because the space needed to be open for people with real disabilities, not for people who have knee problems solely because they refuse to lose weight.  She is one person among many in the building I work in, and in this world, who think being obese means they have a disease and a handicap which entitles them to special treatment.

I fully acknowledge that medical conditions exist that cause a person to gain weight and enter the category of obesity; I am not talking about those people and I sympathize with their struggle.  The problem stems from lazy people who don’t care about their bodies.  They gain weight, gain some more, and then want to say it’s a disease and want better health care, better accommodations in public, and all the rights and special treatments that are afforded to those with actual disabilities.  I find it insulting that a person who can’t resist McDonald’s thinks they are just as disabled as a paraplegic or amputee.  Diet and exercise can fix fat, it can’t cure paralysis.

I will agree that there is an obesity epidemic in this nation, but it’s hardly a disease, as it’s easy to avoid with knowledge, self-awareness and self-control.  Although late to the party, Cheesecake Factory has finally gotten on board and posted their nutrition facts for their rich and delicious dishes.  With the exception of small specialty eateries that are sprinkled here and there, restaurants (sit down and fast food) are very up front with the calorie counts of their dishes, with some like Panera going as far as posting it directly on their large menu board behind the cash registers.  With the basic understanding that the average person requires 2000 calories per day, it is clear that consuming more will result in weight gain and consuming less will result in weight loss.  You can’t cure cancer this way, yet we are meant to consider obesity as much of a disease as cancer is?

When the argument is made that obesity is not a disease because it is preventable, it obviously doesn’t mean that it is comparable to something serious like HIV, where prevention can mean safe sex and no drug use.  The action of unsafe sex leads to contracting a disease, while the action of eating pizza does not lead to obesity.  The effect comes from excess; eating two slices and eating an entire pie are very different.  It is a gamble to have unprotected sex with an HIV positive person, but there is no gamble in attending a neighborhood cookout, as people do it all the time and aren’t breaking any scales.  Food doesn’t equal fat, it is the actions of the individual that result in fat.

This is not about our culture’s definition of beauty and the fact that skinny is what society accepts as a thing of beauty, not cellulite and rolls.  It’s not about trying to look like the airbrushed people on magazine covers.  This is about the simple fact that being obese is not healthy and that obesity results from a lifestyle choice, not from a disease that is contracted, inherited, or developed.  This is about the fact that this country would rather be coddled to and have their surroundings expand along with their waistline rather than get out of their recliner and take steps to become healthy.  This is about people looking for an easy fix, a pill to pop or a surgery to request, and the desire to have those things covered by their insurance company due to their “disease.”

Obesity is a mess the individual gets themselves into.  When I gained weight after starting work in this building, due to the lack of activity that comes with a desk job and my own lack of care, it was because I got lazy and not because I contracted the fat disease.  I controlled my intake and lost weight.  When I get careless, I gain weight.  Had I given up, I’d be a tub of lard right now and it would be entirely my fault.  To blame a fictional disease is to take the responsibility off of myself and to make myself look like a victim.  This attitude is one of the many reasons there are so many overweight people in this world; we want to eat and enjoy a leisurely life without taking responsibility for our actions and accepting that we are in control of our physical well being.

The woman I previously mentioned (who has also mentioned getting a scooter so she doesn’t have to walk the hallways) is one of many people I see on a daily basis treating their XXL shirt size as an honest handicap and disease.  They use the diabetes and heart conditions they develop as proof that obesity is a disease that brings on other diseases.  They wish to be coddled in the same way a truly sick person is coddled, and it needs to stop.  There are people out there who have honest and real medical problems that do cause obesity; to say that obesity itself is a disease is doing a disservice to these people who need more help than a reduced diet and a walk around the block.

Even if, for argument’s sake, we say that obesity is truly a disease, it’s still one that is completely preventable and avoidable, curable without medical intervention, and easy to control.  If you’re having a Whopper with fries, grab a diet coke instead of a 300 calorie regular soda and make sure your next meal is a salad with lite dressing and minimal toppings.  Get off your ass and walk around a bit, be it around your office or a stroll through your neighborhood.  No one is wasting time on the guy who smoked three packs a day and now has throat cancer, trying to say his choice to smoke was due to a disease.  Why should anyone feel bad for the guy who ate himself into a 48 inch waistline?

Tubberpottimus Strikes Again

I love Jimmy Johns.  Their subs are amazingly tasty, they are super speedy in preparation and delivery, and their employees are always friendly and pleasant.  My husband and I have one about 15 minutes from our home and one right down the street from the building where we work.  I love their online ordering system, which allows me to check nutritional information and perfectly customize my sub to my specifications.  Always extra avocado spread.  You can set your delivery to come now or at a future time for either delivery or pick-up.  It also allows you to name your sub whatever you want, which is just fun.

On Tuesday afternoon, as I wrapped up my lunch, my tubby coworker hopped on the phone to call in an order to Jimmy Johns.  If you’re familiar with me, she’s the one that I routinely comment on, due to the fact that she is a socially inept gossip with a mean streak and a huge appetite.  Tubbs phoned in her order and ten minutes later, went out front to retrieve it.  As I walked over to the copier to scan a few documents in, I noticed she was chowing down on two subs.  Normal for her, but it still struck me as a bit odd.

As Tubbs wrapped up her super sized lunch, my husband dropped into my office so we could walk down to the ID card office together and then hit the store for some freshly popped popcorn.  When I returned, I settled back at my desk ready for a peaceful popcorn break.  Sadly, the peaceful part was out of the question because Tubbs was on the phone and she was livid.  It turned out, she was on the phone with Jimmy Johns, claiming her order never came and she had been waiting for over an hour for her and her husband’s lunches.

After Tubbs concluded her verbal assault, including accusations of the driver showing up but not bothering to call her, no one taking down her order, and laziness, she slammed the phone down in the cradle and triumphantly stated “Well, my food should be here in five!”  Like clockwork, her phone beeped five minutes later and she walked out to retrieve her food.  According to her, the delivery driver called her a liar, stating that he was in fact there prior and did call.  She claims she put him in his place and she received her food for free after he threw away the receipt, thus destroying all evidence.  Tubbs then gets back on the phone.  She dials Jimmy Johns and tells them that she was called a liar by their employee.  She then phones her husband who comes down to retrieve his meal.  All things taken care of, she digs into her second lunch.

I wish I was making this up, and I wish I could still be somewhat surprised by her behavior, but two years of this woman has numbed me a bit.  After some thought, I retreated to a quiet corner of the building and called Jimmy Johns to defend the driver since I saw the first delivery and could confirm the person’s name and number who placed the order.  It may have been a waste of time, but it may have also saved someone from getting in trouble over someone’s lies in their awful attempt to get a free meal.  I would hate to think that someone would be fired because their manager thinks they called a customer a liar and gave away food for free after botching the original delivery an hour prior.

I find it disgusting when people take advantage of companies with excellent customer service in order to get freebies, discounts, or other special offers.  People who eat their entire meal, then complain of the taste of temperature when there is only a bite remaining on their plate.  People who rub their own makeup or deodorant on clothing in stores to try to get a discount on “damaged goods.”  People who claim a polite employee talked down to them in order to be spiteful and get a deal from a manager.  It’s horrible, it hurts employees and businesses, and it’s an underhanded thing to do.

Jimmy Johns didn’t lose much money due to Tubby’s behavior and the delivery guy likely wasn’t reprimanded, but that doesn’t make it any less wrong.  If there is a legitimate problem with services received or with customer service, by all means complain!  You just don’t get to create your own problems where none exist.  Your behavior tarnishes great companies and gets innocent employees in trouble for imagined mistakes.  That aside, it’s just plain wrong.  Sure, she got a couple free subs for her second lunch break, but she also revealed herself as even more of a horrible human being with her actions, and that kind of behavior always comes back to bite you in the ass.

Teeny Tiny Sodas

I’m sure by now, most of you have heard about New York’s new ban on soda sizes above 16 ounces in an effort to help with America’s growing obesity problem.  The ban will apply in fast food restaurants, movie theaters, Broadway theaters, sports stadiums, delis, cafeterias at work, and most other places selling prepared food.  It will not cover beverages sold in supermarkets and most convenience stores.  The rule would not apply to lower or zero calorie beverages, such as water or diet soda, or to alcoholic beverages or drinks that are more than half milk or at least 70% juice.

I may be in the minority, but I am a huge fan of this.  Throughout the years, I’ve seen fast food cups morph in size; the drink that was a large years ago is now a small or medium in most establishments, with grossly large cups taking the large and super sizes spots.  When I lived in Connecticut, I gained about fifteen pounds in a short amount of time by drinking regular sodas rather than a low or zero calorie substitute.  I’ve watched children (whose parents I was acquainted with) become overweight at early ages because mom and dad didn’t mind if they had a Coke or Mt Dew with their meals and snacks.  We are a fat and sloppy country and I appreciate efforts such as this one to try to assist our citizens.

The majority of businesses that will be affected by the ban are establishments that offer free refills, either by self-serve or by asking a cashier.  This ban is not saying “You are NOT allowed to consume more than 16 ounces of regular Dr. Pepper with this meal!”  It’s simply making it more difficult for you to access those empty calories and damage your health.  When eating fast food, you’re packing on the calories as it is with a burger (300 to 600 calories on average, although it can often push 1000) and fries (anywhere from 250 to 600 on average) or onion rings (400 on average), plus any dipping sauces you choose to use with your side (15 calories per tablespoon of ketchup, but zesty onion ring sauce nets you 150 calories per serving).  It makes sense to try to cut out the empty calories by attempting to get consumers to take it easy on the soda.  In no way is the ban stopping you from getting refill after refill; the trips to the counter will burn some of those unnecessary calories anyway.

At the movie theater, if you are like me and never willing to step out until the movie wraps, perhaps this will push you to order a different beverage at the counter.  I prefer the 20 ounce Dasani bottled water at the AMC theater to accompany my popcorn.  If I’m in the mood for a soda, I’ll spring for a diet, but both my husband and I are always sure to avoid the regular sugary sodas.  A small buttered popcorn at Regal Movie Theater will net you 670 calories (unbuttered is 485) while a large at AMC with a reasonable amount of butter puts you just over 1000.  If you must have a regular Coke, it makes sense to give you a smaller size, limiting the amount of calories you pack on while sitting immobile for two to three hours.  I’m also not above bringing in my own drink if I must; a Vitamin Water Zero is a nice way to cut through all that popcorn butter and salt without giving me thunder thighs.

Restaurants have slowly begun to put calorie counts in clear areas on their in-store menus or on display elsewhere on site rather than just on their website or in a forgotten pamphlet in the corner.  They are not tweaking their items (for the most part, although some have tried cutting down on the size of items) but simply making sure the consumer is aware of what they are about to eat.  It makes the intelligent consumer see that if they have the 1/3rd pound Hardee’s burger with fries, they are consuming half of the calories they are meant to eat per day.  They may be pushed to substitute a salad for the fries, skip the mayo on the burger (one tablespoon nets you 90 calories, lite mayo nets about 35) or make sure to eat very lightly for the rest of the day.  This soda size restriction is a bolder tool to educate consumers, but a tool nonetheless to reduce the amount of obese people and to show people how many calories they are sucking down blindly with their already calorie laden meals.  It puts up a tiny barrier between the consumer and an increase in pant size, but it’s not a barrier they cannot easily step over.

If you are a stubborn person who absolutely has to have 36 ounces of Mt Dew in front of you as you tear into your meal, then order two drinks.  If you are going to ignore all the health risks involved in overeating and consuming more calories than your body is built to handle, why not have it hurt your wallet?  Health care costs are up, in part, because of the expanding number of obese people in this country and the many health issues that come with carrying around pounds of fat your body is not built to carry.  We make smokers pay more for cigarettes that will most likely give them health problems in their future, so why not do the same with people who play Russian Roulette with their health?

I understand that I’m being extreme here, but underneath the surface, they are both the same exact thing.  If a person wishes to damage their health, after receiving the education to fully understand what kind of damage their doing, then they should definitely be inconvenienced in life and in their wallets.  How many frequent fliers have been annoyed by an obese seat mate and had their space encroached on for the entire flight?  How many people have had to deal with a rude smoker going through cigarette after cigarette at the table close by while trying to enjoy a meal?  Why is it wrong to be concerned with the rights of people living healthy rather than the “rights” of people treating their bodies like trash?

I do understand that there is a lot of upset because it feels as though the government is sticking their hands where they shouldn’t in controlling what we can drink.  But they are not controlling what we can drink.  Sodas aren’t all being switched over to diet.  Establishments aren’t getting rid of all regular sodas, Icees, and other non-diet options.  You can still go to the grocery store and get a case of regular Fanta and drink it all in one night if you wish.  All this ban is doing is making it more difficult for the general (and sometimes uneducated) public to blindly damage their health and bodies.  Is that so wrong?

Bloomberg spokeswoman, Samantha Levine, stated “we’ve heard these claims of pending apocalypse before when we proposed bold public health initiatives, and they have been proven false.  Critics predicted the end of tourism and that businesses would sink when we banned smoking in bars and restaurants, yet we’ve grown tourism to record levels and the restaurant and bar industry continues to grow.”  Some will hate the ban, some will frequent food joints less, some will just buy two drinks, and some will declare it all a failure.  Some businesses will see a slump, some will see an increase, and some will notice no change.  Life, as always, will take this ban and treat it as the small speed bump it is; we will learn to take a tiny bit of effort and just roll over it, finding that we’re just as good on the other side.

I’m Not Fat, I’m Big Boned!

According to CNN, Georgia has paid nearly 31 million dollars on various weight loss surgeries for 1,577 people under the state’s insurance plan.  After spending that large chunk of money over 2 1/2 years, the state decided to eliminate the surgical weight loss benefits for all members starting next year.  The cuts are part of an attempt to balance the state budget and seems to me to make more sense than cutting things such as dental or vision coverage.  CNN’s article highlighted the story of Alice McCormack, who failed every diet out there and now carried 305 pounds on her 5 foot 2 frame.  She now plans to wait for Medicare to kick in for her in 4 years so they will cover the $25,000 cost of surgery and hopes that it will rid her of her asthma, arthritis, sleep apnea, high blood pressure and gastric reflux, conditions that are either caused or made worse by obesity.

It’s no secret that this country is struggling with the issue of obesity in people of all ages and walks of life.  Restaurants like the Cheesecake Factory encourage overeating with their name alone; I’ve never been without hearing someone say “you HAVE to get cheesecake, look where we are!”  Places like McDonald’s make it easy to pack on the pounds with their quick and cheap food that is heavy in calories.  At work, we have pitch-ins and birthday cakes and all sorts of celebrations centered around food; you often feel obligated to participate so you don’t offend coworkers.  I can’t tell you how much food I’ve dropped into the trash can after having people insist I have some cake or fudge or a meatball sub.  At home, we’ve become more sedentary; online gaming and social networking decreases the time our ass has to leave the couch to interact with the world and it’s easy to go through an entire bag of Doritos while lost in the world of Modern Warfare or Farmville.  We’ve reconditioned ourselves to expect larger meals than our body actually needs, and as a result we begin to look a bit fluffier than normal.

I sympathize with Alice McCormack and others like her.  I understand that some people struggle with weight loss and some have issues genetically that make them susceptible to weight gain.  I also know that the reason a person gains weight and the reason they lose it is usually very simple.  I fully support Georgia’s decision to cut coverage on weight loss surgeries because in general, it’s preventable nearly all of the time.  Obesity has become such a big problem because society as a whole has done little else but make overeating the norm.  The human body isn’t meant to process over 600 calories per meal for an adult, yet my favorite chicken dish at Applebee’s is pushing 1200 calories, the equivalent of 2 meals and nearly 2/3rds of what I should eat for the entire day.  We might be gaining new intelligence and technology as the years pass, but we’re also gaining a lot of fat.

http://win.niddk.nih.gov/statistics/

For over a year now, my husband and I have been counting calories.  It resulted in losing 10 pounds a month for 3 months myself and my husband losing almost 80 pounds within the same time period.  We gained weight because we consumed more than our bodies needed to function and we lose weight because we consumed less, causing our bodies to burn off the fat we’d stored away.  You can’t eat 2,500 calories unless you’re putting your body through 2,500 calories worth of work for the day.  It’s amazingly simple!  The problem is, people don’t want to do the work.  When I lost the first 15 pounds or so, I was approached by a coworker who had a daughter trying to lose weight.  He kept trying to get me to recommend a pill she should take, I kept telling him “vitamins and restrict calories,” to which he would respond “that is too hard for her.”  I gave up pretty quickly after that.

Counting calories is tough in the beginning, but so is Weight Watchers or hitting the gym twice a week.  It’s definitely not tougher than surgery and I would think that any sane person would want to avoid invasive surgery if at all possible.  It seems to me that the appeal of surgery is so high because it takes the least amount of effort from the person seeking it.  Counting calories means I need to look up nutrition facts before eating out, read facts while grocery shopping, and track my intake every day.  Weight Watchers does it with points.  Working out is exactly that:  work.  Surgery on the other hand is done by a medical team, who hold your hand before and after to ensure you’re taking care of.  The rapid weight loss people experience is greater than what can be achieved with other weight loss methods.  People have even gone so far as to gain more weight so they qualify for the surgery.

I believe Ricky Gervais said it best:  “Well, it’s their fault they’re fat. They ate too much. Those are the rules. I got fat because I ate too much. I knew why I was getting fat. I didn’t think I had a tumour up my backside. I thought it was because I ate cheese and pizza every fucking night.  I knew what I was doing. So there’s no point going round feeling sorry for them.”  In a separate interview, he said:  “I really don’t know why a doctor under a Hippocratic oath takes the risk of something going badly wrong, sometimes with general anaesthetic, because someone can’t be bothered to go for a fucking run.  They have bits sliced off and tied up and sucked out. I want to say to them, You lazy fucking fat pig. Just go for a run and stop eating burgers. You might fucking die.”

Harsh words, sure, but he’s right.  You don’t accidentally get fat, it happens because you eat more than your body needs and you do so for an extended amount of time.  Medications can cause some weight gain, sure, but they’re not going to make you morbidly obese if you’re eating properly.  It doesn’t make sense for so many people to be getting various weight loss surgeries when it isn’t truly medically necessary.  If you’re 1000 pounds and bedridden and physically unable to exercise and control the food that comes to your home, then I can see you qualifying.  If you’re like Alice McCormick and obese but still able to be active and function, you shouldn’t qualify.  The reason diets don’t work for people is because they don’t allow them to.  They want instant results and they want to achieve those results with ease.  When it doesn’t happen, they give up.  Temptation is also a huge factor; it’s hard to say no to that piece of triple chocolate layer cake, especially when everyone else is having a slice.  Self-sabotage is a huge reason people fail at their weight loss programs.

Call me judgmental if you will, but I’ve seen the difference first hand between obesity issues requiring medical intervention and those requiring some salad and power walking.  Too many people are getting fat because life is just easier to live when you don’t have to be so careful about what you consume.  The fatter we get, the more medical issues come up.  We use these medical issues, such as diabetes or heart problems, to justify getting surgery to assist us in losing weight.  The thing is, the heart problem comes from the strain you put on it with all those extra pounds; you did this to yourself and now you want someone else to clean up your mess for you.  No one sits around feeling sorry for the meth addict who caused all his teeth to rot away, yet we feel sorry for the obese population.  And why, because they couldn’t say no to a triple Whopper?  Because they made the conscious decision to eat Kit Kats and ice cream rather than crackers and yogurt?  Obesity is not a sickness, it’s not a medical condition that people contract or inherit, it’s something you do you yourself, a way you damage your own body.

I view obesity the same way I view alcoholics and drug addicts.  These are people hooked on food, unable to turn down tasty treats, unwilling to change because they like their lives the way they are.  They don’t need surgery, they need assistance.  AA gives sponsors to recovering alcoholics, why don’t doctor’s give an obese patient a sponsor to assist them in dieting and exercise?  Why is surgery the go-to option?  Hard work to accomplish a goal, such as weight loss, shouldn’t become a thing of the past.  Just because we have the technology to easily change a person’s body to facilitate weight loss doesn’t mean it’s the right decision to be making, especially not as much as we do.

Childhood Obesity Month? Really?

On the drive to work this morning, my husband and I passed a health clinic that had a sign up proclaiming this month to be Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.  According to the Healthier Kids, Brighter Future web site, “more than 23 million children and teenagers in the U.S. are obese or overweight, a statistic that health and medical experts consider an epidemic. Childhood obesity puts nearly one third of America’s children at early risk for Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and even stroke – conditions usually associated with adulthood.  We need your help to spread the word to encourage children to be active and eat healthy.”

Before the days of having a 9 – 5 job during the week, I had time during the early afternoon to murder my brain cells watching Maury.  While he wasn’t telling guys that they’re not the father, he would invite an animal expert on to make the audience go AWWW or he would focus on another part of society nearly as terrible as the woman with 8 baby daddies.  I can recall quite a few shows about morbidly obese toddlers and their ghetto fabulous mothers of all shapes and colors proudly proclaiming that their baby loves fried chicken and ice cream, gets spaghetti for breakfast and 3 Big Macs for dessert.  Back then, and this wasn’t all that long ago, obese children were the minority, an oddity that most of us weren’t exposed to in our daily lives.  Sure, there were some chubby children here and there, but they were always active and rarely did you see a little boy sporting a pair of man boobs.  The most important distinction was that the majority of “fat” children were in the overweight category, which is unhealthy but they were nowhere near obese.

Over 40% of Mexican-American male children are too heavy, and 37% of kids between 10 and 17 are overweight in Georgia, according to Good’s site.  It goes on to discuss a couple of cases where children have been removed from their homes due to their weight; one girl was 400 pounds at age 12, which is more than my entire family combined, and one boy was taken from his mother to lose weight only to be returned and later die due to complications from his extreme weight.  Childhood obesity is now being viewed as a form of child abuse.  Due to a combination of numerous activities such as video games that keep the child stationary, poor food choices, and laziness on the part of the parent of guardian, cutely chubby kids of the past have become the morbidly obese children of today.

I feel that I have the authority to speak out on this because I am a mother to a 6-year-old healthy child and I have battled with my weight and came out victorious.  Fat happens when you consume more than your body needs.  That’s it.  There’s no great mystery behind how it happens and there’s no suddenly becoming fat the way you can suddenly become ill with various diseases.  You don’t catch fat from other fat people.  It doesn’t happen to you or to your family without you being perfectly aware that it’s going on.  When I gained enough weight to consider myself a hippo, going from a size 5 to a size 11, I knew it was happening and I understood it was happening because I was overeating and doing too much couch surfing.  It didn’t surprise me, I was simply too lazy to stop it when I should have.  I lost the weight by counting and restricting calories and by getting active, losing nearly 10 pounds a month for the first 3 months.  Simple.

If my son had his way, he would eat nothing but pizza and candy, chicken nuggets and macaroni in cheese doused with honey mustard (I do NOT allow this on his mac and cheese, but he does request it), and gallons of sugary chocolate milk.  That’s what kids want, delicious sugar and grease and fat.  Hell, it’s what I want if I’m being perfectly honest.  But unlike some parents out there, I care more about my child’s future happiness than I do his present happiness.  I don’t make him happy NOW by honoring his request for cookies at 10pm or McDonald’s for dinner, but I am making him happy LATER by controlling his diet and ensuring he remains healthy while still being able to enjoy the food he loves.  For example, rather than buy sugar-filled chocolate milk mix, I buy a low-calorie and low-fat soy chocolate milk and mix that half and half with regular milk.  Tons of less sugar, plus the benefits of soy without sacrificing the benefits of regular cow’s milk.  The best part is that he never noticed the change, as I did so gradually, and he now prefers the soy blend over other chocolate milks.

Parents need to remember that they are the parent, not the friend, and not be afraid to tell their kid that they need to eat their veggies and NOT a second bag of Doritos.  They should lead by example and ensure that they are in good shape and in good health.  Don’t fall victim to the appeal of the Fat Acceptance Movement and use it as an excuse to let your child be obese.  Some folk are built larger than others, yes, but no one is meant to have multiple chins and rolls upon rolls.  It’s nothing to be ashamed of if you had a few months of carelessness and your family gained a bit of weight.  It IS, however, a point of shame if you see the problem and do nothing to solve it, even more so if you work to make the problem worse by continuing to provide unhealthy food.  Children are under the care and control of the parent and there is no way a 5-year-old is going to get their hands on an entire bucket of KFC plus 6 biscuits unless the parent allows it.

Rather than have a month dedicated to solving the problem of childhood obesity, I propose that we have 12 months a year dedicated to all parents out there acting like responsible parents.  Children can have the food they love, but in MODERATION!  Buy single bags of chips and let your child have that rather than let them eat out of the bag.  Read the calorie content of food prior to purchase and choose lower options; Meijer brand nacho lunchables are 200 calories LESS than the actual Lunchable brand and the taste is the same.  Practice portion control at mealtime, use measuring cups in the beginning before you learn to eyeball sizes, and ensure that your child isn’t eating three servings of mashed potatoes at one sitting.  Step outside your comfort zone to find new foods that are both tasty and healthy; had my husband and I never started calorie counting, I wouldn’t have ever tried the grilled chicken at Burger King (delicious!) or discovered how amazingly delicious and filling mini bacon wrapped filets of steak can be at only 230 calories.  Don’t make it a chore or a hassle, just DO IT.  Kids like fun, right?  Involve them in cooking and Google some healthy snack recipes to make together.  Don’t ban eating out, but look up calorie counts and ban certain items when dining.  Most importantly, care enough about your child to ensure they are healthy now and know how to be healthy once they have a family of their own to look after.

Update:  Article posted October 29th, 2011 posted this graph:

Diagnosis: Fat

When the thyroid gland is underactive, improperly formed, removed, or incapable of producing enough thyroid hormone, a person is hypothyroid.  Symptoms of hypothyroidism are a slowdown in metabolism and can include fatigue, weight gain, and depression.  – About.com

Cortisol is the “stress hormone” because excess cortisol is secreted during times of physical or psychological stress. This disruption of cortisol secretion may not only promote weight gain, but it can affect where you put on the weight.MedicineNet.com

Polycystic ovarian syndrome, also called PCOS, occurs due to a dysfunction of a woman’s ovaries, leading to a hormonal imbalance.  Women with PCOS develop a hormonal imbalance leading to weight gain, or difficulty losing weight. – Livestrong.com

Well, it’s their fault they’re fat. They ate too much. Those are the rules. I got fat because I ate too much. I knew why I was getting fat. I didn’t think I had a tumour up my backside. I thought it was because I ate cheese and pizza every fucking night.Ricky Gervais

I work in a building where the obese get to cut to the front of the security line so they have a shorter distance to walk, after they mash the button for the automatic handicap door.  A building that has a room full of electric scooters so the obese can roll up and down the halls, only having to use their legs in the restroom or to get in and out of their office chair.  A building where temporary handicap parking permits are issued to the obese so they can save a few hundred feet of walking distance from their car to the doors.  The same thing happens outside this building, really everywhere you look.  I’m not sure when it happened, but at some point during my life, being obese became a disease and a handicap.

Before you get angry with me, let me acknowledge that there are a few diseases out there that cause fatty deposits, generally tumor like or concentrated in certain areas of the body.  Those diseases, however, don’t explain the 34% of Americans who are obese, having a BMI (body mass index) of 30 or higher.  People are fat because of how they eat, not because of some disease. Using a medical condition to explain away obesity is just a cop out.  It’s used because it sounds a hell of a lot better saying “I have a thyroid problem” than it does saying “I love Big Macs and milkshakes, I eat them for breakfast!”  Fat happens when you eat poorly and don’t exercise or try to stay active at work and/or home.

Need proof?  Start writing down everything you eat, just what kind of food and where it’s from or who it’s made by.  Do that for a couple of days.  After you have at least two days of food recorded, go back and look up the caloric values for everything you ate and drank.  It’s potentially frightening.  I never realized how quickly you can get to 2000 calories until my husband and I began counting calories to lose weight.  The Fiesta Lime Chicken I love at Applebee’s weighs in at 1160 calories, while the Santa Fe Salad I adore is 1240.  A delicious Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha from Starbucks is 470 calories, and the Caramel Mocha from Dunkin Donuts isn’t much better at 340.  A shot of vodka is about 65 calories.  A typical serving of chips is about 11 for 160 calories, but I don’t know many people who rip open a big bag of Doritos and count out 11 chips while they’re playing on XBox Live.  IT ADDS UP.  When you exceed the amount of calories your body needs to function and you don’t exercise or move around enough to burn it off, you gain weight, plain and simple.

Does anyone really feel too bad for the guy who chain smoked for 20 years and then gets diagnosed with throat and lung cancer?  Probably not; he chose to smoke like a chimney and now he is paying for the damage he did to his body, damage that could have easily been prevented had he quit smoking.  But unlike cancer, which can affect people who live healthy, you can’t just catch FAT from breathing in second-hand fatness or simply from being unlucky.  Fat happens when you can’t quit the large order of fries and the regular sodas, when you would rather get dropped off at the door than walk a couple hundred feet from a far off parking space, when you slip in too many snacks or put extra butter or dressing on everything.  Fat happens because pizza tastes better than salad and you can’t resist the temptation.  Fat happens due to poor personal decisions and a lack of willpower or desire to change.  It’s not a disease and I’m tired of seeing the world cater to those people out there who are simply too damn lazy to do the work to lose the weight.

Save the scooters and handicap parking tags for people who have actual disabilities.  Quit taking short cuts, the few extra steps could do some good.  Have enough pride and respect to stop trying to pass off your enormous backside as a medical condition, start doing something about it, and I guarantee you’ll feel a hell of a lot better and live a whole lot longer.  What’s more important, having a Double Whopper with cheese for lunch or being able to walk more than 10 steps without having to stop and catch your breath?

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