5 Random observations about fat

I'm part of a research study on obese patients being screened for weight-loss surgery. This involves going through the charts, reading patient interviews that took two hours. Every day for a few hours all these lives lay open in front of me, lives that are so similar to mine in some ways.

Overweight parents? Check.
Learned to eat to soothe stress? Check.
Felt like dying on the sports field? Check.

Somewhere along the line, I learned to eat well, to count calories, to exercise. I lost weight, gained it back, lost it again. Things I learned along the way:

1. People don't always get fat because they eat too much/are lazy. Genes happen. Environments happen. Its perfectly alright to tell those who think otherwise to kiss your fat ass.

2. You can be fat and healthy. Its better than being fat and unhealthy, or being thin and unhealthy.

3. If you're serious about losing weight, find a diet and exercise that you can sustain for the rest of your life. Nothing else works.

4. Find out who your real friends are. I ditched the person who offered me french fries after I'd lost fifteen pounds. (He also told me in a half-joking tone that I looked 'weak'). Instead, I found a new friend who told me I looked good and offered to walk with me.

5. Don't hesitate to ask. Ask for healthy food, ask for time to exercise, ask for whatever you need. If you don't get it, look elsewhere.

Oh, and for the umpteenth time, its NOT okay to crib about your last five pounds in front of someone who is fifty pounds overweight.

That's all.

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About purplesque

Psychiatrist, cook, bookworm, photographer. Not necessarily in that order.
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30 Responses to 5 Random observations about fat

  1. LeendaDLL says:

    All very accurate. Especially that last note – I used to have a size 0 friend who would bitch about being too fat for size 2 clothes (which she wasn't) while I was standing there, unable to shop in the store because I was size 20-24.With the exception of my knee & GI issues, I'm one of those "healthy fat" people. I believe the GI probs are a significant contributor to the fat. And the knee is degenerative – aggravated by the extra weight but not caused by it. If you didn't know my weight and only saw my blood tests, you'd assume I'm thin and fit.

  2. Brown Suga' says:

    Amen. Especially this one: For the umpteenth time, its NOT okay to crib about your last
    five pounds in front of someone who is fifty pounds overweight.I had people doing that with me all the tim… I was never more than 10 kilos overweight, but I found it awfully hard to buy clothes. Not anymore, thankfully. I'm still slightly overweight (about 10 pounds approx) but due to my workouts, it's now more because of muscle, and I don't look fat anymore. Phew.

  3. Pk says:

    Like the last line!
    I had a size 6 friend who complained bitterly about going from a 4 to a 6. we were having a joint garage sale, while I was selling my 12's and 14's because I'd gone on prednisone and was now a size 24.
    I finally got so fed up I turned to her and said "if you don't stop complaining about

  4. Wonderful!I'm glad that there's an evaluation process for that surgery (or that there's supposed to be one; I guess the unscrupulous practitioners out there don't bother and just hack away). Are you studying the screening process itself (how effective it is) or the patients' outcome success? Am I being too nosy?My perspective on weight is all over the place. I was far too thin as a very young child, chubbed-up in adolescence, looked like a walking stick in my teen years, fluffed up again a couple of times, lost again: all due to health issues and emotional responses to life events. I never tried to lose weight or gain it. But people often had something to say about my size, whatever it was. I feel for the very big and the very small, when it comes to how society reacts to apparent "aberrations." But the "mean" or new "normal" has become significantly larger in this country, and I find that troubling from a health and environmental standpoint.It's possible to be big and healthy, but many people don't do what they should to make that happen and they're just big. And unhealthy. Same goes for being too thin, of course, since some foks who are too thin are that way because they don't eat well, drink, take drugs etc.I don't think human beings need as much food as society prompts us to take, you know? And I'm including myself here. I don't NEED candy. I'd fare well wthout it. And be lighter. People who are morbidly obese didn't need (for survival of their "internal combustion engine") all of food they ate on their path to that size. And it's very sad that many of those people are nutritionally lacking (not to mention at grave risk for death).One of the many reasons I don't like to eat out is the portion sizes and the waste! We don't NEED a one pound hamburger and a pile of cheese-covered French fries the size of Cleveland and a pint of moosetracks ice cream for lunch. Unless it's our only meal for a day or so. And even then it's not healthy eating. No one needs a half pound of bacon, six pancakes, three sausages and two eggs scrambled with cheese for breakfast, unless he's climbing the Alps, and his sherpas are on strike. But from the time we're tiny we see this as the way things should be, and our taste buds LOVE it. The food is all around us and all we have to do it grab it, to spackle over whatever holes we have in our lives, real or otherwise.Here's a funny thing: when I stopped bothering with a lot of the "unhealthy" stuff (not all) like salt, I discovered that many foods are perfeclty lovely in their "natural" (sort of) state. Some are sufficiently salty all by themselves! Celery is salty enough now, to me. But I USED to salt it. A teaspoon of mayonnaise is salty enough for a pot of potato salad; I don't even cook the potatoes with salt. But I used to salt the boiling potatoes and the salad! Cheese — like cheddar? –is almost too salty. My taste buds were being tricked al those years, inundated and overwhelmed by unnecessary stimuli. I've come to trust them again. And my diet has evolved into something very healthy and satisfying. And when I DO have candy or a cracker-y snack, it's VERY special. I TRY to behave the way the "gatherers and grazers" did in our distant past…to eat a little frequently, to consume mostly vegetables and grains, not to add unnecssary things to my food…like that. I eat the same things (in type) each day. My weight fluctuates only as my exercise does. I'm overweight and muscularly-challengd now, because I haven't been able to move around much. But I'm getting back to walking again and things are turning around. IF I didn't eat candy and frozen yogurt and snack crackers that I love, I'd probably lose the 20 pounds (ok, 30) that I don't need. It would take time but it would happen. But then I'd never have any "parties in my mouth " (I think Oprah Winfrey said that??) and I don't want to give that up. They're the only parties I like.Heh…Anyway, I have a friend who is VERY large (and very tall, too) and has had knee surgery and has been treated badly by airlines and strangers and her company, and her husband just left her. She just lost her job (she was told to retire). She's struggling mightily with "points" and calories and is depressed to the point where she avoids her children. That's a situation that's hard to untangle. She's seeing some kind of therapist and is on anti-depressants (I don't know which). I'm SO glad that there's a process thourgh which people are evaluated for bariatric surgery, because I know that if she were able to have something surgical done, she would, but all of the problems that surround her would still be there, including her genes (her parents and most of her relatives are all very large).Wow. TMI?? I'm tempted to dlete this long comment and just say: Wonderful post!But I'll leave it here, in case you don't have enough goofy stuff to read.

  5. LOL…oooops! No wonder the sherpas would be on strike: they wouldn't want to traverse the Alps! They're more likely found working in the Himalayas, i think. *slides back down the mountain, yodeling all the way*

  6. Pk says:

    My goodness! where did it the rest of my message go?
    Anyway, I finally got fed up with her complaining and told her
    "If you don't stop complaining about a weight problem, I'm going to sit on you and you're going to find out what a *real* weight problem feels like!"

    As far as the first …meds like prednisone happen too.

  7. Well said! I totally agree. I am going through the losing-gaining-losing-gaining game. So now I'm content with being happy first, and worrying about losing 5 pounds later. Thanks for sharing your observations! It's an uplifting post.

  8. jaklumen says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.I know you know where I'm coming from. I can't blame psychiatric meds alone, but I know the day I started them was the day I started having troubles. When the diagnosis was ADD and it was stimulant medication (I was 18-19 years old), I got very thin. When the diagnosis changed and it was mood stabilizers, I got fat. OBESE fat. Oh yeah, I hit most of the checkpoints. I didn't have overweight parents (although they worry about being overweight now), but I did grow up with VERY unhealthy attitudes about food. "Comfort eating"? Absolutely. One of my p-docs discussed this with me a few times. "Dying on the sports field?" No, I did okay when I grew out of my clumsiness, but there were a lot of assumptions that I *had* to be athletic in high school, standing just above 6" and being a "big guy" (no, not fat at that point, just large in stature).Please keep saying what you're saying. I don't know why society hasn't kept it in check, but people seem so free to lecture fat people about their weight, as if we hadn't literally heard it at least a dozen times before.

  9. Purplesque says:

    Looking through the comments- almost everyone has faced the offensive thinner person some time or the other. Recently, in a group of doctors talking about the importance of weighing patients, someone made a comment about not having weighing machines for people over 300 pounds, and some people actually snickered. These are educated adults, professionals in the mental health field.(Sometimes I'm just disgusted by us as a species.)

  10. Purplesque says:

    šŸ™‚ Good for you! Its a funny thing..body image and fat are two entirely different things. Even at my thinnest, the fat kid inside never leaves. I don't think I'm heavier than I am, but my blood still boils at people being just plain insensitive.

  11. Purplesque says:

    šŸ˜€ I wish I knew these lines when I was 10 and very, very insecure.

  12. Purplesque says:

    I'm glad you left the comment where it was. You make good points about where we are going as a community- the health risks are huge when more than half of the country's population is overweight. I'd never argue with that, or with the fact that most restaurants serve Insane portions. Whether you consider excess weight just a bad habit or a serious disease, there is no excuse for being rude.

  13. Purplesque says:

    šŸ™‚ Thank you, Lav.

  14. Purplesque says:

    I read somewhere that teasing fat people is the last acceptable rude behavior in our society still standing.(Years ago at a public dinner, after learning I was vegetarian, the thinnest female on the table declared, 'If I were vegetarian I'd drop twenty pounds immediately!' Sadly, at that time, I didn't know what to say or do.)

  15. Purplesque says:

    Oh, and about the study..you're not being nosy at all. The study looks at body image variables in obese patients who present for surgery. Body image depends on factors other than the actual weight, and can be a deciding factor in the post surgical outcomes.

  16. jaklumen says:

    Yeah, I think some people have some very engrained misconceptions about dietary practices. I've heard it said that most "diets" ultimately boil down to calorie reduction; you eat what works for you, within reason. Everything I'm reading seems to suggest that diet and exercise go very much hand in hand, which you articulated quite clearly in #3.I think most people speak rudely out of ignorance or insecurity, and often without full awareness of what they are saying. They repeat what their family (especially parents) or close friends tell them, and sometimes very unconsciously. Then there are those that are very aware and say it very purposefully– of course those kind of people you flee from.

  17. there is no excuse for being rude. No, there isn't…And it's hurtful in so many ways. I hope I haven't been. Thank you about the study info.I'm still very close to the time when I watched my mother starve to death, basically. She was always too thin and her illness made it so much worse. In her life she was hurt over and over again by people who said nasty things about her thinness. Some were large people, some weren't. Everyone had something to say about it, though. I don't think any of us has the right (from a kindness standpoint) to make other people feel bad because of their bodies. It's just wrong.

  18. bee says:

    great post. rock on, sistah. and ask the losers to kiss ya fat ass.

  19. jaklumen says:

    It's too bad no one stood up and said, "For those of you laughing– you should be ashamed of yourselves!" Or better yet, that the patients of those doctors might see them laughing so they could tell them they wouldn't be coming back.

  20. Purplesque says:

    Just re-read my comment- sorry if it sounded like I was saying you were rude- I was not!! I was referring to the post- that people being rude is not acceptable. I completely agree with what you said- kindness is a big deal with me, whether in this context or any other.

  21. Purplesque says:

    Thank God for Meghan McCain- I don't have a fat ass anymore, but would just Love to go back in time and say it to all those snide people!

  22. Purplesque says:

    Yes. And in the interest of complete disclosure- I didn't stand up and say that either. Maybe some day I'll have the courage.

  23. jaklumen says:

    This is at least a start.

  24. LeendaDLL says:

    It's not your job to fix the entire world. It's okay to pick your battles and sit others out. Took me 40+ years to figure that out.

  25. You didn't sound that way at all…I read it wrong…*blushes*

  26. Emjay says:

    After years & years of yo-yo-ing between sizes I am now just aiming to be healthy. In fact, I feel much healthier when I am a little on the heavier side. I totally agree with everyone else's remarks about the skinny woman complaing – we have a size 0 here who complains! It makes me wonder how the rest of us, even normal sized people, look to her eyes. (does she feel disgust at having to associate with "blobs"?).

  27. Lakshmi says:

    "Genes happen. Environments happen."Thank you P. I have a hard time convincing myself that all that strategic padding is not something I brought on myself, despite the fact that no amount of exercise seems to dissolve it too much. I just have a typical "Indian" hourglass figure, small waist, large hips, not considered fashionable anymore, but hey, I AM genetically Indian, how can I have the-woman-has-no-butt-to-speak-off figure of the far East?Or am I rambling?

  28. Purplesque says:

    Exactly. When you are complaining about your size to someone who is much bigger than you, isn't there an obvious implication that you are condemning them even more than yourself? Sure, we all complain about our weights, but I only crib in front of those who are skinnier than I am. Its that simple.

  29. Purplesque says:

    Oh, Lakshmi. The hourglass figure is always fashionable. (And no, you are not rambling.)One thing that I am beginning to realize is that size/figure is only a small part of the whole package. We all judge others by appearances, but so many things go into appearance. The most beautiful people I think of are always the ones who smile easily and are a pleasure to be with. So what reason do I have to believe that others don't do the same? Back home, I always felt fat. Here in the US, people are always stopping me with a compliment- mostly because they are not judging me with the pre-determined standard of beauty. It is liberating in a way. (This is what rambling is. lol)

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