There is such a thing as helping wrong, or as my Mom liked to say, NOT HELPING!

I have a beautiful young friend that won’t go to the doctor because she is afraid they won’t do anything for her other than tell her she is fat.

I will let you sit with that for a minute. Yeah, truly soak that up. Because what fat person needs someone with a medical degree to point that out. As if our culture doesn’t already stigmatize us to the point of brow beating it into our heads, but now that a doctor says it…

There are so many people that claim they are doing what is right by telling fat people to lose weight. I, as an official fat person, want to stand up and speak for all fat people right now and tell you to not do that. Admittedly if anyone could talk about another’s weight it would be a doctor. However, don’t talk to anyone, not even a young person with judgment and announce that they are fat as if that is the thing causing every problem. An ear infection can’t be caused by being overweight. Believe it or not doc, there isn’t an overweight person in this universe that isn’t aware that they are overweight.

Let me assume for the moment that you are really concerned with my weight. You are desperately trying to save me and you feel that the only way you can do that is to tell me that I am overweight and need to lose weight. You feel the only way for me to be healthy is to do so. I get it. For me it is true, I need to lose weight so that my five three frame can feel better. However some fat people are still healthy. However, that still isn’t the point. There are also many reasons why someone is overweight. Unless it is a health reason, nothing you do is going to change that.  So the shaming of a patient is not necessary. Do you understand?

Maybe you believe that shaming them will cause them to lose weight. Many times and many ways that it has been expressed and studies have come out that say THAT IS JUST NOT TRUE. Shaming people doesn’t help them lose weight.

You know what sucks is, it may not even be the doctors fault. It is probably a symptom of an intolerant society that refuses to actually take the time to be empathetic.   If you have been on the internet at all you have probably seen the video from that Canadian comedian talking about fat people. I refuse to write her name because I don’t want to give her any more hits or any more publicity. Let’s be honest: I struggle to forget hateful people exist so I definitely try to forget their names.  It is intolerance such as this that encourages fat people to be ashamed. The more people act like this the less likely people will get help with their obesity. When you shame someone they hide. When you shame someone they shrink. This is your goal. You are hateful and I hope that someday you will see what you have done and you will change.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. I wish that more people had empathy. Not just for this issue but for every issue. I think that this is possibly the most important thing we should teach each other. I also think that the minute you cannot empathize with a certain part of society, you should shut the fuck up about it.  If you can’t for the life of you figure out why someone would be fat, then shut the fuck up until you do. BECAUSE YOU ARE IGNORANT! Struggle to figure out a realistic not hateful reason. If you can’t then – don’t speak – because all you are doing is making the problem worse. Stop making it worse. REALLY. STOP. Please. Stop.

I am so tired of my family and friends being ashamed or saddened by your ignorance. As a community, we are failing our fellow humans.

There is a girl who is only three years old diagnosed with type two diabetes. Her parents I am sure probably were just ignorant to how to eat healthy, and how to take care of themselves. So that poor girl has to live in a society that hates her, and makes fun of her. Some day she is going to want to change to take care of herself. Do you know how hard it is going to be for her? When all she has learned is to take solace in food, she is going to grow up in a society that is relentlessly finding fault in those who do so. Her friends will make fun of her, the media will vilify her, and doctors will chastise her.

That is just the support a young person needs to get better, right?

Now, I am going to go really radical. We need American women to have pride in their bodies, not only the ones that have your standard of beauty.  Our bodies are magnificent in all sizes. Our bodies are works of art that move. We rely on them every day. We must appreciate them; love our bodies, in order to live a healthy existence. We also need good self-esteem to be happy. There is no reason not to love our bodies. There may be things that need help, or maintenance, but it is not something to hate. Stop contributing to these young people hating their bodies. Just stop.

I Took a Mental Vacation

These are all the books I've been reading. I apologize for the blurry pictures in this post. Perhaps I was bliss-ed out.
These are all the books I’ve been reading. I apologize for the blurry pictures in this post. Perhaps I was bliss-ed out.

I was researching endometriosis for so many days that my brain was mush. I have been looking into treatments, diet, and herbal medicine. I was stressed at all the conflicting information and burnt out. I hadn’t written for fun in a while or done anything fun for weeks. So I decided I really needed to clear my mind so that I could think of something else besides that week every month I am in monster pain.

I arranged to meet with a good friend to write on Friday. It was a lovely morning at a coffee shop in Rittenhouse square called Elixir. We had a quiet table by the window but there wasn’t a plug in nearby so I got inspired by my writing partner Alice who writes in a journal and free wrote for a while. It was such a relief. I just sort of pushed out all the gunk that had been eating my brain. It was like my pen was shouting out word salad for thirty minutes. I tried to turn it into a poem. The process brought me so much joy because I hadn’t written only to enjoy the process of writing for what seems like a kazillian years. (Lately I have felt a pressure to only write what could someday bring in money.) This indulgence really seemed to liberate my mind.

The chaos in my head
The chaos in my head

Afterwards I worked on fiction and then we decided it was time for lunch. My friend and I then talked and leisurely walked over to a restaurant called Cosi. The walk there was so relaxing like all those scenes on TV when people walk and talk in the big city. I concentrated on being in the moment, listening to my companion and taking in the scenery.  At Cosi I had some delicious tomato soup and a Caprese type sandwich, talked, and people watched for a couple hours.

The weather was so nice, perfectly cool, and the corner wasn’t that busy. It was just calm and languid. I didn’t have a care in the world except for the interesting conversation with my dining companion about pain, loss, abuse, humanity and whether or not it could get better…you know the light stuff -leisurely lunch conversation. My mind was totally engrossed and delightfully challenged. I walked home in love with life and had forgotten all about my health problems momentarily.

When I got home I was so relaxed I wrote some more. I wrote two more chapters, cleaned my kitchen, and made a kick as vegetarian meal for dinner.

I was more productive and creative that day than I have been for months which made me realize I need more fun and less worry. I have been researching, writing, cooking, researching, cleaning, cooking…etc. for weeks now. I have decided to do something indulgent at least once every day this weekend. Luckily hubby got a free pass to a video game he wanted to play. So Saturday while he was tethered to the computer with his headset I took a long leisurely hot bath with some new bubbles Brad bought me. I went all in lighting candles and listening to the yoga channel on Pandora. I was in my bathtub for two hours reading blogs and meditating.

Don't tell Mom I posed for this
Don’t tell Mom I posed for this

Sunday I took a couple of hours to lie in bed, read magazines, and listen to my AC/DC channel on Pandora. It was bliss. I like the dichotomy of listening to Korn, Marilyn Manson, and AC/DC while looking at rustic décor in Country Living, or how to decorate pumpkins in the Martha Steward magazine. While bed dancing and singing at the top of my lungs, I read interviews with starlets and perused pictures in Coastal Living, Elle Décor and National Geographic.  I finished the evening doing yoga and cuddling with my very cute husband. BLISS!!!

Basically I gave myself a sorely needed mental palate cleanser. Today I am back at work, researching vegetarian recipes, looking up PCOS and Endometriosis, and writing with even more gusto than before. Except now, I am enjoying the process because I have less weight on my brain.

What I really love and am super proud of is that even though I have been frazzled and stressed, I figured out a way to work past it without a Domino’s pizza chaser. All week I have been eating fruit and veggie heavy, and no junk food. I worked through my sadness by indulging another way.

Elixir has a Chapbook dispenser! Isn't that fun!
Elixir has a Chapbook vending machine! Isn’t that fun!

Positive Peer Pressure

Sights seen while walking with my honey!
Sights seen while walking with my honey!

So most of my family is buzzing with healthy ideas. My brother Matthew and I have been talking about our progress and he referred me to a documentary called Forks over Knives. I like to always listen to my siblings because they are impressive people, so that day hubby and I decided to watch it. I am not going to review the movie here, but the gist is; by eating a healthy vegetable diet you can lower your risk for heart disease and even reverse it. The statistics they give are amazingly definitive. So we have been researching and have decided to try it.

I must tell you my Midwestern roots sort of shudder in their boots when I say it out loud. My husband and I are working towards changing our diet to dare I say it…vegetarian. I cannot believe I am going to stop eating meat but it is something we are working on slowly. We are going to phase out meat slowly. The slowly part is something we realized after searching for recipes and understanding we know nothing about being vegetarian.

My friend Emily has pointed out that learning recipes from blogs aren’t always the best ways to start out because those recipes are usually the most impressive. I need to start with the basics. So I am going to first do one veggie meal a day. It is still a challenge for someone who was raised meat and potatoes style. I don’t know if everyone else has this problem but the normal protein sources that are part of a vegetarian diet I have not put into my recipe repertoire. I am researching recipes to get us on the right path.

This change in my habits is causing some disbelief from my family. We were talking about the fact that I made a veggie sandwich for dear Bradley to take to work, and how after I told him about said sandwich he declared, “But there is chicken in the fridge.” It was meant to be a story about how brain dead I was in the early morning. I had forgotten about his plan to take said chicken, but Momma jokingly said, “Poor Brad.” As if my hummus, cheese, spinach, and red pepper sandwich was something so depressing. We both laughed and Mom asked, “Does he have cash?” I said yes, and she said “Well, he is gonna throw that sandwich away.” I insisted that he wouldn’t although I was giggling at the prospect of Brad just being like, whatever, and throwing away my sandwich. I told Mom it was Brad’s idea that we start eating mostly veggie, but she was unconvinced. I said I will have him take a picture of him eating that sandwich, she said, “Don’t do that Danielle. Don’t make that man lie! He will take that picture and then throw it in the trash and then go with the guys to the roast beef shop.” I will tell you that this conversation brought me intense joy, as did the subsequent conversation with Brad about this.

His response was, “Oh sure. I can explain this to my boss. What are you doing Brad? Oh, I am taking a sandwich selfie. It’s a thing, right? a sandwich selfie?”

Brad did take the sandwich selfie at different states of eating. I was impressed at his thoroughness. I then emailed it to my entire family.

For your pleasure, the sandwich selfie:

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That’s another change. I have been sharing all the healthy stuff we are doing with my family and hopefully they will with me. I am hoping that seeing that their oldest, chubbiest sibling is eating cut up radishes and sweating her ass off in the hot Philadelphia heat will be motivating and health affirming, but more on that later.

Right now, I am asking if you could give me any good, simple vegetarian meals they have made or any tips for becoming more veggie centric. I would love to know your opinion on a produce heavy diet.

I had no idea I was so disgusting.

When she invented "smad".
Sookie from Gilmore Girls. (Thank you Buzzfeed for the pictures)

I enjoy this new fat turn around we have been having.  Women of all shapes and sizes are starting to claim Hey, assholes, we are humans too. I didn’t really understand the depth of distain for me or my people. I mean I have dealt with teasing and the occasional conversation where people give me a certain look of embarrassment for me and my shameful fat—but hate? I haven’t experienced hatred. I am sure people do hate me, but not usually because I am fat. I am not saying it doesn’t happen. Apparently fat hate is common according to a Salon article I just read here: http://www.salon.com/2015/06/14/back_off_thinsplainers_fat_people_have_heard_it_all_before/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=socialflow

These ladies have studied fat and assumingly fat people? I don’t really know what that means. I know the hatred must be true because I have a lot of friends who have felt this weight distain. My husband has told me there is a Reddit section that had to be blocked called: r/Fatpeoplehate. I know I might have joked once or twice about beautiful thin women saying, “Don’t you just hate her,” but that was only teasing and was meant to be flattering. Do thin people really HATE fat people?

Isn’t this the stuff of middle school drama? Aren’t we all supposed to be grown? Media? Society? I don’t really understand it. Aren’t your mothers, daughters, sons, fathers, brothers, sisters fat? I mean I can’t imagine when sixty plus percent of the American public is fat that there is anyone who doesn’t know and love a fat person. However, these things are as illogical and apparently as prevalent as racism, sexism, and homophobia. All of them stem from fear and pain. There is no logic in hating a section of humans.

On the other hand, the resulting body positive movement has been good for me, even though I haven’t felt this blatant hatred. I have been following Instagram ladies that are plus sized like me and it has been a revelation. I am really loving seeing women who are my size wearing beautiful clothes, made up faces, and in yoga poses I aspire too. It is amazing to me that at thirty nine, I have never seen this before. I have never had anyone in the media whose beauty I felt was attainable.

The beautiful Tess Holliday

Also, now we finally have plus size models. Before the store Torrid came on the scene, we used to be relegated to trying to figure out what a garment would look like on our bodies. We would flip through catalogues looking at women a size two modeling a size twenty four. It would look like a shapeless tent, even if the clothes were tailored. Torrid was established and that was the first time I saw women my size selling clothes my size. It seems logical now, but back then it was amazing. Now we can even look on certain web sites and see normal women wearing the clothes. Things have changed slowly, but it is still astonishing for me to see women like Tess Holiday creating beautiful tableaux’s in fashion magazines. When I do it makes me feel more beautiful than ever.

Between those pictures and my favorite actresses Melissa McCartney and Rebel Wilson I am finding it amazingly comforting to see someone who looks a little like me in the media. I was surprised to have been affected so much just by seeing Sookie on Gilmore Girls in those cute clothes and the story line that never addressed her weight. It was like a dream. When Lorelai asked her how long had it been since Sookie had been in a relationship, it wasn’t even implied that Sookie should lose weight to have a more successful love life. As she taste tested cookies and whipped cream, no one said, Hey, you shouldn’t eat that… Sookie was treated like a human, a fully formed person who was loved. It wasn’t that she was loved in spite of her weight. She was loved in her totality. I already loved that series but loved it even more because of Sookie’s portrayal.

When she was super cool.
Sookie played by the wonderful, beautiful Melissa McCarthy

It is only in recent years that we have gotten persons of size on TV and movies in more than a supporting role, and Sookie is the only one I can think of that didn’t draw direct attention to it. I just want to be a human. I want all my plus sized loved ones to be considered human, complete. As I write this I am pleading for myself, but also my family and friends. In my heart I feel a desperation. As that desperation hits me in a wave, I recognize the words. I just want to be a human. I have seen that in my Facebook feed before, I am sure of it. It is the thread underneath every call for equal rights. Why do we look for so many reasons to dehumanize each other?

Yes, being overweight is a health issue, but seriously do I discuss anyone else’s health? Do I point out all the other health issues or waste any time at all thinking about any of the preventable diseases out there? Truly, I don’t think anyone is concerned about my health at all, unless they are a friend or relative. Those people who have posted on a hate filled Reddit, or have made my friends and family feel less than. I can only say, mind your own business, because if I ever stop being socially oblivious and notice someone doing that to a person I love. I don’t know what I’d do, but I am pretty sure you’ll be embarrassed.

So Far it’s Working!

One of those meals I would be ashamed to write down.
One of those meals I would be ashamed to write down.

I am very pleased with myself, because I of my new daily goal system. I may not be a morning person. Heck, I may never be a morning person, but I may have figured out a way to get things accomplished anyway. When I am productive in the morning it makes me feel good the rest of the day. Last post I told you that I have started to make lists at night. I write down what meals I am going to make, and what goals I have. The purpose of making the list at night, when I have the most brain power, is so in the morning I don’t have to think about tasks or the order of those tasks. I don’t get overwhelmed anymore by my hazy morning brain. It has been giving me just enough clarity to get me by. So when I finally fully wake up around eleven a.m. I have some tasks already done, which is encouraging.

There has been a really great side effect of writing down all I have to do, and what I have done. I have been journaling how I feel every day because I wanted to know how this was working. It was like a science experiment. I have realized so many things as a result.

The first one is that I realized I have more good days than bad. When I feel bad, groggy, lethargic, it is like thinking through a haze. Lately I have been thinking that my life is filled with those days. Between the fibromyalgia and the soreness from exercising, I thought pain was what my life would be like now.

I had about four days in a row that I felt pretty amazing when I started keeping track. I was feeling energetic and thinking clearly. It was pretty good and I thought it might be because I was really paying attention to my feelings. Also I was eating well, and getting exercise because it was on my list. I was really happy that my list was successful too.

I don’t know why but slicing words in half is so rewarding! Seriously when I cross stuff off my list I get a real high. Does that make me a weirdo? Maybe. However, it is also making me very happy so..

Something else I noticed is how awful I felt when I ate something horrible. I was craving some junk food and when I ate some “not so good for me” Mexican food one night, the next day not only was I bloated, I was lethargic and my body ached. I don’t think I would have even noticed that was the cause had I not been writing down everything I ate and how I felt.  I always understood that fast food could give me indigestion or that extra bloat, but I didn’t realize that because of one bad meal, I slept badly and so the next day I was seriously off my game.

I think that is part of the reason that I am so horrible at losing weight sometimes, because I don’t notice how bad food makes me feel. I don’t know if others are as oblivious as I am, but I think that not only writing down what I eat but how I feel is helping me see what I have been missing for years. I think I am different in that I don’t really notice what food is doing to my body. I am teaching myself to be more in tune with how I feel and what I need to do to fix it.

This is making food choices and exercise easier because I understand the repercussions a little better. I am excited that I am making a little more progress on my road to being healthy. I guess it is super healthy to at least know how I feel.

I am oblivious about how my body feels so often. If I have a goal, I can work through pain and hunger without feeling it. I have eaten crappy food before and I know it must have made me feel sluggish over and over but I didn’t notice it. At least, with my new plan I can get on top of that now.

Not only that, I have been writing myself encouraging things. I know that sounds corny but I am really liking having this way of checking up on myself. It is both an efficient way to keep track of how I am feeling and what affects my feelings, but also a way of encouraging my efforts in all areas. At this point, I have to be excited about anything that is working and providing more stability in my life.

Treats for Me!

I bought the one in the upper right hand corner. I took this picture from their facebook. I hope they don’t mind.

My emotional attachment to food sometimes hits me in the smallest and most rare ways sometimes. I live only about three blocks from Reading Terminal Market. It is filled with delicacies and some of the best food in Philadelphia. If I stayed there a week- eating all day- I couldn’t eat all of the deliciousness there. It is number four on trip advisors best restaurants, and one of the restaurants – a donut shop – is number one. That shop, Beiler’s Bakery, is the first place I went Thursday.

“Oh, no Danielle! Don’t eat donuts,” you say.

I give you a discerning look.

“Donut’s are fattening and you are trying to lose weight,” you gently remind me.

If anyone said that to me a year ago, I would have said, “Whatever.” Then I would have gone back to Beiler’s and eaten a box of twelve in self deluded retaliation. However, I understand certain things about myself that I didn’t before. Losing weight can’t be about deprivation for me, more like allocation. I need to be able to eat a donut if I want, especially the apparent best donuts on the planet. In other words, if I say no donuts to myself eventually I will be down at that counter ordering up as many as I can afford. Last time I bought donuts a couple of months ago, I bought at least three for myself. Thursday I went to Beiler’s and ordered one, only one. I took it and a coffee and sat down at a metal table and took about thirty minutes enjoying it. Bite by bite I savored it and my surroundings. The fact that I didn’t go back and order two more is the success. I also remember it’s richness as well, and don’t believe I will need another one any time soon.

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The Magic Elixer

Small decadent treats I believe are going to be my secret weapon in the battle of the bulge. In this spirit I bought another treat on my shopping trip. Along with the wise vegetables and meats in my cooler, a very special honey rolled home with me. When I was little, my Grandma used to serve this type of honey with breakfast. It is the raw light honey that you can spread over toast. I have bought it since, and time and time again it has turned out not to be the honey I remembered. Either it wasn’t sweet in the right way or it was so hard I couldn’t spread it. Finally at the market I found it. This morning for breakfast I tried it finally. I had made a frittata and cut up fruit (very healthy.) Then to add the finishing touches on our leisurely Saturday morning, we had a nice whole wheat toast with the holy grail of honey. As I bit into the pale golden elixir, I was transported back to the round hard table in my grandma’s kitchen, looking at her sweet rosy face and kind blue eyes. The electric coffee pot is gurgling in the corner, when I remember watching my Grandpa break up his poached eggs with his fork. Each bite solidified those memories down to the smell of the bacon left over on the stove.

This honey, while not great for my waist line, has brought me back to one of the most pleasant memories I have. While not probably the most scientific of theories, I believe a small treat now and again will really go a long way towards not feeling like I am depriving myself. I also believe it will provide normalcy to this new life where I am eating differently and overhauling my entire life. A spoon full of sugar…

I have some good news.

These are my non-skinny jeans.
These are my non-skinny jeans.
  1. Things are going slow but they are going in the right direction. I bought a size down in pants about six months ago and they were tight but now I am able to wear them loose. Brad and I accidently left our scale in Boise so I haven’t been able to weigh myself, but this tells me I am losing inches. Also, I went down two inches in my bra size which reaffirms that. I practically skipped out of Lane Bryant after finding that out!
  2. I am walking up to two miles without having to do nothing the next day.
  3. I bought boots!!! I finally got my calves small enough to buy a two pair of knee high boots! This has been a lifelong goal. I know it sounds shallow to have a goal for a pair of boots, but I have always had large calves. Even when I was in the single digit sizes my calves were abnormally huge. I am built like a tree and I have shied away from shorts, boots, or ankle bracelets. Moving to Philly was like the last straw. I have been living in Boise, Idaho and, while some people wear boots there, sneakers, Tevas, and Birkenstocks are common place. It is a land of exclusiveness and mountain people. Here I have only run into one person on the street wearing tennis shoes. It only intensified my need for boots. I felt like the only one who didn’t have them. So I finally had the guts to measure my calves and they finally allowed me to order boots from Torrid! Thank you Torrid!
  4. With that ballsy move, I also order a pair of “skinny” jeans. I confessed to my long time best friend Brandi, who is also plus size, how nervous I was to try them on. I didn’t want to look like humpty dumpty. She didn’t know if they would look good. She too had never bought any because she figured they would look bad on her. So we both thought skinny jeans were only for skinny people. If you look me in my regular boot cut and my new skinny jeans I think that I look just as good in them. I would go even further to say that I look slimmer in the skinny jeans.
  5. I am getting back into my yoga practice which is good for my muscles. I have been having headaches and when I wake up my right arm has been going numb when I wake up. These things I am hoping to fix these problems with the yoga practice. I am just proud to keep it up, even though I am not feeling so well.
Me, in my skinny jeans.
Me, in my skinny jeans.

Because I met some of these goals I have to set new ones now.

  1. Get down to the next size at Lane Bryant and Torrid.
  2. Cook at least all our weeknight meals. Brad and I have been eating out too much due to the excitement of being in a new city with new tastes.
  3. Double my yoga practice, right now I am only doing it about twice a week. Slow and steady is the way I am choosing to go.
  4. Get up to three miles of walking.
  5. Eat more consistently during the day, with protein and carbohydrates. I have had a couple of close calls with low blood sugar, which means I need to be testing more.

Reaching a few of my short term goals has made me feel more confident. When I think about losing inches in my bra size I get giddy with pride. Things don’t work that way normally for me. This is the first time I have ever lost a size. I hope this sense of accomplishment will push me forward into more accomplishments and more weight loss.