“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?

If I Can Have Less Stress Please

Before last year I worked in the customer service and sales industry my entire life. There always seemed to be not much to distinguish which came first: my foul mood or my cranky customers. Did they give me a foul mood or are they cranky because I am in a horrible mood? I feel like that is representative of life in general. I want to believe that if I put out goodness I’ll get back goodness, you know, the whole Karma concept. However, I have been thinking even further that when I put out gratitude and good vibes I feel them more in my soul. Maybe, fake it til’ you make it?

With fibromyalgia and the tense pelvic issues, I am supposed to be stress free. That can be one of the most important things when dealing with chronic illness, which to me feels very ridiculous to me. Most people can’t be without stress. Life can be filled with extraneous stress that I can’t control. Also, what a luxury is it to have a disease that requires me to cut out all that is stressful in my life? I come from a long line of working people: fire fighters, truck drivers, oil field workers, and stay at home moms. These are people who had no time to complain or feel over stressed. It is a tradition of self-sacrifice mindset I am working against. Physical and spiritual toughness is something valued not just in the culture I came from but all over. It is hard not to feel shame when I need down time or to take care of myself in seemingly extravagant ways. If I didn’t have these health issues I am sure I would be just like all the other strong Oklahoma women, who soldier on through all sorts of stress and against all odds no time outs to speak of, but I do.

Thank you @gaiam for seeing all of us @ybicoalition @nataliecummingsyoga @thefeistyyogi @greentreeyogala @melmelklein

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I have no choice. See if I have too much stress or over exert my body I end up in debilitating pain. I have fibromyalgia which knots up my muscles so much my doctor called them waves, because they feel like waves to the touch. When they are knotted like that it is hard to move my limbs. Also with more stress this pelvic problem gets worse so I am doubled over in pain. So I am far more productive if I don’t take in stress. I am more productive over all if I take breaks. To that end, I have to embrace this new Oprah- Zen – hippy-fied- mindful – self-care mindset, and I don’t have the luxury of feeling guilty about it anymore. I must embrace it as if it were how I was raised. So I thought I would share some of the things I am doing to embrace my new more stress free lifestyle.

  1. I don’t talk politics with people who yell. Actually, I don’t talk to anyone who yells. I just can’t deal with that anymore. Passion can be portrayed other ways. I’m just done allowing that in my life. I’ve learned it’s not productive to talk back when people are that upset.
  2. I don’t watch the news. I know that is a horrible thing to say but I have the internet. I can read. If anything big is happening in the world I see it there. The news is always bad. I don’t want to constantly be upset about things I cannot change. So many times I take the news into my heart and it stresses me out. I know enough trust me. I get the news from places where people write thoughtful discourse. I research candidates for elections and when I have a chance to vote I know how to get informed.
  3. I cultivate my social media feeds to be stress free. If someone is spouting hateful stuff I can’t listen to it anymore. I have added a lot of people who inspire me; people who are general trying to recognize what is good in our life. Facebook is less good for this. On Facebook I am friends with everyone, but I have chosen not to have certain people’s posts go to my Facebook if they are usually political and usually mean.If you would go through my Instagram feed however, you would think I am an extremely cultured and calm relaxing person. I follow many yogi’s, body positivity advocates, and nature lovers. I also follow National Geographic, NASA, Bookriot and DailyOverview which are amazingly insightful and beautiful. I love being able to view the gorgeous pictures and read about people all over the earth trying to live better lives. Everything is beautiful on Instagram. Isn’t that the point? I don’t really get Twitter. I just try and fill my feed with funny people there.

 

  1. I’m also trying to recognize what is good. I am trying to everyday be more grateful for the life I do have. It starts with the little things. Instagram is a great place for this. I take a picture of something and write why I am grateful. It makes me feel good to look back on my feed when I am having a bad day. To remember what had me so tickled the day before.
  2. I am embracing this mindful thing everyone keeps talking about. When I am with my husband my mind is fully with him. When I am walking down the Philadelphia streets I am embracing and now fully becoming part of the crazy. I am enjoying my walks, looking at all the people and dancing at stop lights…yeah I am doing that. When I am doing yoga, I am listening to my body more deeply every time. I am also making a show of most things. I have dinner by candlelight. I sometimes even have breakfast by candlelight because it makes me feel special. Actually, I really like candles so these days I am using them a lot. I am in a dark room right now, typing by candle light and laptop screen! I am trying to make life as pretty as I can. It might sound superficial but it makes the minutes better. Why not?
  3. I’ve added meditation to my prayers, sometimes guided sometimes not. It’s helped me slow down and really feel blessed, even when I am in pain. Something I am learning with yoga, meditation, and prayer is that my body, my mind, and my breath are all interconnected. If I slow and deepen my breath then my body loosens and my mind is more clear.

Is there something in your life that you have changed in order to take the stress off yourself? These are just a few of the things I am doing. Is there something you do that makes you feel better about yourself and the world? Please share. I need all the help I can get. I am guessing we all do.

You Can Take the Girl out of Oklahoma…

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This was how Oklahoma welcomed me. 

 

About a month ago I went to visit my family in my native state of Oklahoma. I was inspired by my family to move more and to enjoy the simpler things that I sometimes ignore. My family is extraordinary and every time I am around them it is as if I have been given new life. Sometimes it reaffirms who I am. Being away from my home state for so long sometimes allows me to forget what I have inherited and how deep those Okie roots run: the laid back sense of humor, master story telling, and the vein of gumption that runs through all of us.

It’s that tenacity and live wire like energy that is contagious. Inspiration to move and accomplish the physical is everywhere.

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Going to the grocery store with Mom is like an aerobics work out. I was still getting out of the car and she had a cart inside already. 

In the mornings Mom and I would do our perspective exercises. She does a video by Gilad, a very handsome, bulging, swarthy man. She’s done various videos of his for years. I don’t enjoy the aerobic videos so I went over to the corner and played my Pandora music channel and did yoga. This concurrent clashing music didn’t even bother us. At one point we discussed how this could be a metaphor for our relationship.  I said it is funny how we clearly like different things but still hang out because we love each other so much.

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We are so proud of my beautiful, smart, strong sis.

I was encouraged to walk by my sister Katie because she walks everywhere. We trekked all over the OSU campus before I had to take my shoes off and sit until someone brought the car to me. My feet were done but she was still going. I feel after 40 you shouldn’t have to suck it up.

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Yep, we even fed a horse! These people live super special lives.

My brother and his wife have a handsome five year old son named Caleb and he inspired everyone to get physical. Katie and I even risked and failed at cartwheels. That family spends most evenings outside in the sun after dinner riding bikes or watching Caleb ride his big wheels up and down the driveway. I got to ride bikes, slide down slides, fight imaginary wolves and run through the park. Caleb and I even had a session of yoga together. That was so fun. There are these children’s yoga videos on YouTube, and he loves them. A fifteen minute video story of going to an amusement park with a Hispanic penguin had me sweating!

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First time on a bike in years, can you tell?

 

While some of these attempts didn’t work out so well (one slide left me with a swollen and bruised thumb, another with two skinned knees, the cartwheel left me with a slightly sprained ankle, and I also got kicked in the head more than once while rough housing,) the fun that I had was more than worth it. I will never forget this trip because I learned I miss being playful. It is absolutely the best exercise. I miss that idea that my body is here so I might as well see what it can do. Seeing what my body is capable of is an activity I have neglected and it is actually fun. My new fitness goals are: being able to perform a cartwheel, AND get enough arm strength to walk only on my hands while someone holds my feet by the time I go back to Oklahoma. We tried it this time. While I could hold my brothers legs while he walked the living room, I couldn’t quite walk on my hands. I will though mark my words. I am doing planks every day.  If I can walk on my hands then maybe there is even a handstand in my future! Now that is exciting! Won’t my nephew be so proud of Aunt Danielle?

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I felt like this was the appropriate image for a mic drop…

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.

Everybody in my Apartment is Relieved!

One of the good days
One of the good days

I danced this morning to music in my head. I woke up and started singing to my husband. He had a slightly relieved but also amused look on his face while I started pumping my arms over my head and shaking my chest at breakfast saying, “Mocha, mocha, mocha, mocha!”

See, for the past three days I have been experiencing fantastical headaches to go with my endometriosis pain and sinus infection. What a boon! Right?

My CPAP mask has been leaking. When it leaks I don’t sleep so well. When I gasp for air I lunge with my neck and that causes my neck to seize up. When I wake up I feel like someone has been wrapping a rubber band around my neck all night and all the blood in my body is stuck up there. I used the alien head massager, ice, heating pad, and my husband gave me hour long massages. Nothing helped to relieve the headache until my mask got fixed. Brad got me a caramel mocha at the Starbucks across the street as a reward for my ingenuity, fixing my mask and helping myself feel better.

I am not telling you this to make you feel sorry for me. I am just struck by how wonderful I feel this morning. I want to explain how glorious it is when I don’t am not in pain. I am so happy this morning that the pain is gone, I am dancing. The thing is: I don’t know when the cramps will come back so that means that since I am feeling good, I have a long list of things to do today. I will be cleaning the kitchen, writing blogs, editing my book, emailing my new friends, writing letters, and cooking three meals.

I will try to do more if I get that done. I am excited to do things. I love getting things done. I have to pace myself though because if I don’t I will be in pain again tomorrow. So I mix sedimentary things with active things. It is a trick I have learned after ruining my good health streaks. I think sometimes these bad health streaks are there to remind me to take care of myself.

I just read an email from Myfitnesspal with a quote from a woman who lost over one hundred pounds. She said, “You need to take care of yourself like your life depends on it.” That really makes sense, because our lives do depend on it. It is a simple saying, almost like a “duh” moment, but I have never thought of it like that. I would go even further for myself to say, I have to take care of myself like my next week depends on it.  I can really mess up my week if I don’t eat right, get exercise, and sleep deeply.

These horrible times are fewer and farther between which is all I can hope for. I am slowly making things better through research and my resources. I am taking better care of myself and that is a win in itself, but the product of that is less pain. The other benefit is that I am able to listen to my body better. When I first had sleep apnea it took me years to realize why I was having the headaches. I figured out my mask was leaking the first day this time.  I am listening to my body closely now, and that is a benefit I didn’t see coming.

While I am working on my health I am going to relish the days I do feel good. I am going to live life to the fullest while I can. So today I am gonna get as much done as possible, but I will be singing and dancing while I do it.

Trying To Break Out Of Gloom Soup

Pick me up in the city - Find the closest park
Pick me up in the city – Find the closest park

I’ve been depressed trying to recover from this ear infection. I am still having intermittent pain and hearing issues. This one was a really bad one. It has made me depressed. There are several reasons for me being down: the solitude, still getting used to a new city and being away from my family and friends, the lack of progress on my goals.

I have never been shy about the fact that I am not a morning person. I think I hate mornings even more when I have been putting off all my responsibilities. It is so overwhelming when they pile up on me. I get up and look around at the dirty apartment, and remember how long it’s been since I exercised, and how many meals I haven’t cooked.  It just adds to the depression, thinking about how I haven’t done anything. Looking around the apartment at dirty dishes, in my pajamas, right after my husband leaves for work, I usually end up on the couch nursing my coffee watching TV. Sadly, from that position it is easy to just not do anything at all. Hour after hour turns into just one more and then I will start writing, exercising or cleaning. It doesn’t help that I am still getting over being sick, that’s a real good excuse. I realize how pathetic this sounds.

I think that I am depressed and lethargic, but I need to get my gumption moving. I have been feeling very sorry for myself. I have been in this place before. The marinating phase, where feelings lead to more feelings. It is similar to the relationship phenomenon where you are fighting about something small and then all the things you have ever fought about start coming out. The “marination” is when I am feeling bad about myself about one thing and then “ALL the things” I have ever failed at collect in a soup at my feet for me to soak in. I have to say it is so easy to marinate in those feelings. I don’t know why it is so easy. Maybe it is easier than continuing to try and continuing to fail.

I could re-site all those quotes I’ve found on Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter. You know, how you should keep failing in order to succeed, or any of those quotes. I do try to always be positive in my soul and on this site. Those quotes are so inspirational, and sometimes they work when I hear them. Sometimes, however, they really piss me off because they make light of how bad failure feels. When I am sitting around in stinky pajamas, watching Farscape and crying, I don’t want to be told to keep failing until I succeed. Failing hurts.

Breaking through the hurt is hard. For me I have to marinate until I get sick of myself, so disgusted that I do something about it. It is just a ping in the brain that ignites action. I think that I am lucky that it comes. I worry someday that it won’t. It might be the shame, or the chicken chow mein scent coming of my body, but I always have come out of it.

Trying to cheer myself up by getting silly in the flowers.
Trying to cheer myself up by getting silly in the flowers.

So the other day I decided to take the bull by the horns and start making plans so that I wake up with a mission. At night I have more energy than in the morning. I decided to put that to use and start by making a list of tasks I wanted to accomplish the next day. I really do love lists and love checking things off. When I write something down it isn’t nagging my brain over and over, and then when I check things off I feel like I have really done something. Keeping track of my accomplishments reminds me I have done things, and I am capable. So, I am planning out all the food I am going to prepare the next day and all the tasks I am going to accomplish.

So far this week it is working out. I am writing, and cooking and cleaning. I am also paying more attention to my diet so that I can have more energy. I am journaling how I feel after each meal. I don’t know why it is working, but it may be because writing helps me with everything. I am immersing myself in the inertia of every day. I can’t say that I am all smiles and puppies now, but I am working my way back to healthy, at least the almost healthy I normally am.

We Need A Different Way Of Seeing Things

These two pictures were taken within two weeks of each other, neither photo shopped.  I was the same weight in both.
These two pictures were taken within two weeks of each other, neither photo shopped. I was the same weight in both.

I started this blog because I got tired of hearing how easy losing weight is. I got sick of hearing, “I lost weight like this and you can too!” This is typically accompanied by a picture of the happy smaller person in some sort of tight clothing, next to one when they weighed their worst. The worst picture is always of the person wearing something unfortunate and usually sitting down so their rolls are perfectly blatant or chin down, double chin emphasized. A picture like that could bring one to their senses and start a weight loss journey.

However, what really upsets me is the myth that is perpetrated by the media that weight loss is easy. If I did it this way– you can too. This is not true. In the most basic sense, yes, it is possible to lose weight a myriad of ways. It’s possible, but highly unlikely. It is even more unlikely that I will lose the weight the exact way anyone else has lost it. Everything I do, from waking up in the morning, to talking to my husband is different from anyone else. The most essential and basic relationship is the one with sustenance, and it’s a personal one. Not even my siblings like the same things or eat the same things I do and we are essentially genetically as close to one another as can be. We each have different emotional responses to food, exercise and will power. My own mother approaches food differently than I do, yet, the one stop shop method of weight loss is peddled from every media outlet possible.

One thing sadly missing from most weight loss programs or ideas is the emotional component. It seems blatantly ignored. If you look at other programs for addiction they deal with the emotional component. They ask questions like: How do you deal with stress, how can you get support, why do you use this addiction to cope, and how does your addiction affect the ones you love?

Here is the support food addicts get, jewels like: calories in/ calories out, eat less / exercise more, and nothing tastes better than skinny feels. The simplicity galls me.

What is worse is that over simplification can make failure all the more disappointing. By making weight loss seem easy then it makes it even harder not to internalize self hatred and pain. The fallacy perpetrated by most weight loss companies, that anyone can do their programs, does more harm than good.

For me, I didn’t realize how hard it could be until I had failed many times.  Each time I failed at a diet attempt or exercise venture, I would go into a deep guilt and binge for days. I am sure I am not the only one who didn’t realize that weight loss is a lifelong goal, and a very difficult one. No one admits they were deluded into believing that they could lose weight easily. I would say we are all patsy’s of the weight loss community. If you look at the statistics, you can see two thirds of Americans are overweight, I think that something is wrong with the system. There is a multimillion dollar industry out there, and it isn’t helping as much as we’d think. I believe the problem is the misconception that it is easy.

I want to show that losing weight and getting healthy is not easy. To weight loss professionals and to companies who provide weight loss assistance, I would like to offer this advice: don’t trivialize weight loss. If you want to be helpful, acknowledge the struggle it takes to change an entire lifestyle. Let those people, who do accomplish this great thing for their bodies, be even more proud because society could finally realize the difficulty. Even more, allow people who are having trouble losing weight be kinder to themselves so that it is easier to get back on a healthier path. Studies I’ve read show confidence and self esteem is an important factor in weight loss. It is time that as a society we started to work towards that goal instead of against it.