Losing the Incessant Weight Loss Narrative

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Sweating even before physical therapy!

I met with my physical therapist this week and was bragging to her about doing my stomach and hip exercises and actually asked for more. Can you believe I asked for more exercise? I used to hate exercise. I actually asked her for more. She told me no. She said to stay at this level for another month. She doesn’t want me to do too much too fast. With fibromyalgia, you have to work out at low impact and build up slowly. So, I can’t add exercises willy-nilly. I have to be methodical.

But I was pumped, man! She put me on the exercise bike and I was bragging about how well I am doing. I love physical therapy and I love yoga. I have been doing so well. I am forty-one and for the first time in my life I have an exercise habit. A habit.

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More sweating, out and about

The amazing part is that it’s working. I haven’t lost weight. This isn’t that blog. I’ve never in my adult life seriously put effort into losing weight. I was told over and over that I needed to lose weight for my health. I was told over and over exercise will help me lose weight. That really didn’t resonate with me because I’ve always been fabulous even plus size. I’ve seen people lose weight, it takes over their whole life and in my experience, they always gain the weight back. Somewhere in the back of my mind that always seemed fruitless.

So here I am on this exercise bike telling my physical therapist how wonderful I’m doing, like a five-year-old explaining stuff to her momma. With just six months of these exercises I have not only gotten the pain down to a measly two or three days of my cycle, I’ve also fixed my knee and can walk upstairs normally. I am freaking wolverine! I have healed myself in six freaking months. That, my friends, is astounding. I am not just being hyperbolic because I was in so much pain that I thought my life was officially a deep pit of despair.

While I am sweating on the bike talking about how awesome it is, the conversation turns (like it usually does) to how I wish I had known how all this worked before. Then I talked myself into being frustrated again. Why did I not know that this would be so easy to get the other, I feel more important, benefits of exercise.

People can’t stop talking about losing weight. Lose weight for better health. Exercise to lose weight. Oh my goodness people can’t shut up about it. In magazines, books, newspapers, on TV, in school, at home, all I have ever heard about exercise is that it helps you lose weight and it’s good for your health. That’s great but extremely, excruciatingly vague.

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Sweating while fabulous

You know what happens when I read? I learn something. It is a very specific something. If I read a book about snakes I learn about snakes.  For the fast six months, I have been walking a mile – two maybe three times a week depending on my fibromyalgia and every day I have been doing warrior pose. In just six months, I have healed a knee that has been unable to do stairs for years. The only reason I have found this out is because I had to start exercising to fix my pelvic pain. So doing these things, these small exercises fixed my knee. Do this specific exercise to strengthen where you are weak and in this much time you will have this capability? I don’t know the specifics but I am sure athletic people and physical therapists do.

Why don’t we talk more about capability based goals? Why aren’t we talking about how easy it is to build up muscle. I feel like this physical therapy is voodoo it’s so amazing. I have followed my therapist’s instruction religiously, and that is the reason it is working. It is small things. I haven’t been doing super aerobics. I am not working out two hours a day or anything. I’m not running up stadium bleachers to Chariots of Fire, or running down the road pulling an old man to Eye of the Tiger. I am just walking and doing light yoga.

Our body is an amazing thing. As a child, my ankles always turned me off exercise. Even now I have to worry about turning them if I don’t concentrate. I am working on them with my yoga. I am working on my arches too because I have some super flat feet. As a child, if I complained about my ankles I was told I was just lazy. As a chubby little fourth grader that is all people saw in me. What if someone had saw a little girl with bad ankles and taught me how to strengthen them? Could I have become that BMX trick biker I wanted to be? Probably not, but at least I might have had a regular exercise practice all these years.

If we worried more about our bodies capabilities than what they looked like on the outside, maybe someone would have helped me with my ankles. I’m not abdicating guilt in my weight. I am just saying that now that I know what I can do, I have been working very hard for the first time in my life. If it hadn’t always been about my weight, if it hadn’t always seemed so insurmountable, perhaps I could have started this earlier. Maybe I would love other types of exercise besides yoga and swimming, or maybe not. I just think this is another reason why the weight issue needs to be discussed differently.

“You are…fat?”

kidney

“You are…fat??” she said with trepidation. I replied, “Yes, yes I am,” as calmly as I could muster. This new student at my ESL class seemed to be thinking of the right words after she witnessed me taking my blood sugar. Following that horrifying moment, another student made me proud by knowing enough English to scold her, “We no say fat. We say unhealthy.” Right after I got distracted by other students asking questions about how to say something or other. I think it might have been intentional. My students are some of the most polite humans I have ever met. I don’t know this student at all because she was new. I don’t even remember her name, but I can bet she didn’t mean to insult me. I would wager she was actually concerned about me.

I am usually like Teflon when it comes to this stuff. I sizzle when it happens but then it slides right off. I usually bristle back at the asshole who thought he could comment on my health or most likely appearance, but this wasn’t an asshole. I have to say I ruminated on it all day, and four days later still thinking about it. I keep seeing her confused face, and hear her say it over and over, “You are…fat?”

I probably would have shrugged it off but I had a horrible health week. I found out I have kidney damage. My A1C was 6.5 which is barely diabetic but that puts me back in medicine territory. I told her I didn’t want to take meds because I am trying to do things more holistically and that is when the doctor told me I have kidney damage. That’s another phrase that’s been going around in my head, “KIDNEY DAMAGE.” She later called it “low grade kidney disease.”

So for those keeping score, I now have fibromyalgia, PCOS, fibroids, adenomyosis, pelvic inflammation, diabetes, and now KIDNEY DISEASE! I know she said low grade, but seriously kidney disease doesn’t sound good. I’ve been researching it and it isn’t. I can’t make this better. I can never make this better. I can’t heal my kidneys. The damage is done. This isn’t a car, it’s my body. It’s not like I lost that new car smell. I lost part of my kidney function. This is bullshit.

There are two reasons this could have happened to me – my high blood sugar, and my excessive Aleve use. Because of the pain, I have to take sometimes four Aleve a day. Now I have to stop all Aleve which so far has been the only thing keeping me sane during times of pain (other than yoga.) I also have to take some diabetic pills and I have to monitor my blood sugar closely again.

So basically I’ve damaged a part of my body, I can’t repair it, and it’s only going to get worse unless I seriously turn it around. Which should be so easy right? Since, I’ve done it before. Okay…so I haven’t done it ever. So this week has felt pretty hopeless.

After yoga yesterday I just thought. I can only do what I can do. Ya know?

Have you received bad health news in the past? How did you deal with it?

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.