“You are…fat?”

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“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?

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…

Back Baby Steppin’

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This is me socializing in the park. Even my lunch dates require exercise now!

There so many exciting things are happening in my life right now. I am volunteering at the library, getting to know new people, writing more and exercising more. I have not had an episode of pain in two weeks. I am delighted. My husband is relaxed and I am making very small progress on all areas of my life. I am cooking, walking, and stretching a lot more. I am in the zone.

Something that is helping me besides being pain free for two weeks is this new deal I have with myself. If I do not write at least an hour a day, then I have to forgo my modem and give it to my husband to take with him to work. Without the router I have no internet and no TV because we have no cable. So I have nothing to research with while writing or entertain me while I clean. This is an even bigger motivator to jump start myself than the writing I am already doing. Once I get writing I get more excited about the writing. So this is just a jump start to get the fingers moving! It has worked. This week I have written every day.

I have also met my pedometer goal every day and done yoga three times. I even tried to do a yoga video called Power Yoga with Rodney Yee. Rodney Yee is a yoga instructor born in my native state of Oklahoma. (I just found that out!) He is a very handsome man who apparently only owns pants. These pants are made of spandex and are usually neon colors. I like his calm voice and dulcet tones, but I think I want to branch out. I think that I need something called Half Power because I had a lot of trouble doing those yoga moves so quickly. Downward dog –Upward dog — Downward dog –Upward dog —  Downward dog –Upward dog — Downward dog –Upward dog — Downward dog –Upward dog…sweaty sweaty sweaty sweaty but I was done when he got to Half-moon pose and fell over because my knee didn’t like it very much.  So I stopped but was proud of myself for attempting and making it about half way through. It’s been a long time since I even put in an exercise DVD. Actually I think last time I put a video in it was a VHS tape.

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Lynne my library lunch date!

I am also cooking more so my husband and I are eating fresh vegetables and fruits. I got back into making smoothies and eggs with veggies for breakfast. Leftovers for lunch and for dinner I am cooking fresh salads, veggie filled pastas and I make delicious veggie tacos.  I am not saying I haven’t had weird pizza roll dinners once or twice but I have been making great strides to getting my healthy habits back.

It feels like I am just bragging in this post but I feel as if I must after what I have been through lately. I am now looking forward to progressing but more importantly, the most encouraging development is coming back to the program feels inevitable. If I have to put my exercise plan on hold for a month because of pain and there be no doubt I will get back to it when I feel better, then that means I am officially a person who works out. It am not a poser. I am the real deal.

 

The Ocean is Worth It

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We were right there in the sea! 

Have you ever gotten off the wagon? It’s not easy getting back on. Hubby and I went to Cozumel, Mexico for our honeymoon. While there we enjoyed the snorkeling. It was the most beautiful, serene, exiting time of my life. If you have never been, what you do is basically float with your head in the water and have a tube in which you breathe into the open air. The minute I put my mask into the water, I was in another world. A world with no sound, beautiful shades of muted blue and sand, and exotic fish I would have never had the chance to see: It was akin, in reverence, to walking on the moon. Had I the capability to talk I would probably have gasped audibly but I had no medium to express my awe.

We floated all the way out to the buoy before we came up out of the water and then swam slowly back. When we both popped up near the ladder to go back up to our hotel my husband said, “I think we were made for this!”

I giggled and said, “Two chubby people floating in the ocean, who would have thought!” The only downfall from this blissful foray into the ocean was climbing out of the water onto dry land.

I had the flippers still on, and I had to climb up this steel ladder, much like a ladder out of one of those above ground pools. Except, this ladder is halfway in the ocean and covered with slime.  It took several attempts to get up the three steps to finally reach the platform. My legs were a particular form of Jello that made it gut wrenchingly hard to get out of the water at all. My feet kept sliding off and I would plop down into the ocean time and time again. I would then have to collect my breath and then lift myself out of the ocean again and again.

The platform was half out of the ocean. The waves hit the large cement platform most of the time, so it too was covered in slime, but this didn’t stop me from laying down like a beached whale to catch my breath from the physical exertion of pulling myself out of the ocean.

That is how getting back on the wagon feels. The exertion of overcoming the doubt in my belly, the stiffness in my muscles and the weakness in my pallet can sometimes leave me beached on my bed with doubts of my success. I came back from vacation and was sick so my eating habits were atrocious and I didn’t exercise for two weeks because I was extremely sick.

Last week I was getting back to my yoga, walking and veggies. Before my fall off the wagon I had only been vegetarian for about two months. Grocery buying and recipes weren’t cemented in my mind so I again had to reacquaint myself with what to buy and how to cook it. I only walked a mile that first day, and I was up to three miles before. So my one mile left me aching and sore like someone had beaten me with a baseball bat. I was a whining wimp.

I was disheartened but Brad pointed out that I was just getting over being sick and having my “Aunt Irma.” These assurances made me feel better, but I also realized that I had gotten back on the wagon almost like it was second nature. I didn’t think about it as if it were a choice. I just did it. I never stopped doing yoga except when I was sick, and even then I did it once. After I got better, I got the right groceries, and I started walking. Done. No hemming or hawing. I didn’t have to think about whether or not I was going to exercise or eat right. I just did it.

I guess I am just gonna have to remind my body that this is the way life is now. I am a healthy person, who does healthy things. That is who I am now. I climb up the ladder. I will probably be climbing that ladder my whole life, but more time in the ocean is worth it.

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.

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.

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.