Two Setbacks

So updating is something that maybe I should do at times when I have a blog and all.

Lately I’ve been much more accepting of my body. Partially because it’s been shorts weather (for me, anything above 50 is shorts weather), and I’m so much more comfortable in my shorts than pants. This is because pants have to fit thighs and bellies and butts and then also preferably not extend past my feet too far. Shorts are easier. Shorts have to be baggy, have pockets and comfortably fit my waist. All the other nonsense is covered by their excess bagginess and the fact that they’re short. They’re like skirts without the chub rub (’cause my shorts are also knee length.) I guess it comes down to the fact that I know what I want with shorts but even though I’ve basically been in this body for at least five to seven years, I don’t know what I want in pants yet.

I had one really good week. Every day that week I felt more and more confident in my body. But then it got cold and I was changing in front of a full body mirror and I feel like all the body love I managed to accomplish that week managed to fall apart when I was standing in front of the mirror in those pants. While, as I’ve mentioned before, I generally fit in straight sizes due to my height and what might actually be a tenuous status as a fatty*, I feel like this setback in clothes has made me feel even more strongly about all bodies being able to find clothes that fit them. It isn’t just a question of visibility and versatility, though those are probably the two most prominent reasons. It’s the fact that accepting our naked body is one thing, it’s something only you and those you let in (and also medical professionals) are allowed to see. Accepting my clothed body seems to be a lot harder than accepting my naked one. Because clothing doesn’t always fit right. Because clothing impacts how everyone else sees me. Trousers of all sorts seem to create a roll that wasn’t there before. They seem to highlight the size of my thighs. They throw all the proportions that were fine a second ago into some sort of weird shape I don’t want. It’s not that I’m wearing the wrong size pants, I’ve considered it. It’s that I’m not comfortable with the uniformity my legs get. All the muscle and the fat just gets lumped into one casing. Or maybe that I’m just not comfortable. When I notice this happening to me when I have all the options that I do, I can’t imagine what someone who is solidly plus-sized has to go through.

My other large setback has to do with the fact that my temporary apartment is soon to become my former apartment. This means that I’m having a hard time cooking or going grocery shopping and again, limiting my calories to an unhealthy number. This is part to do with the fact that I keep odd hours and partially because I’ve eliminated meat from my diet for moral reasons and this makes finding a decent sandwich a bit more difficult. I’ve already felt the mental/emotional side effects of the self-imposed starvation** kick in this morning when I had my breakfast with me on the subway and I absolutely did not want to eat it in public. I am pretty far along in this whole body acceptance journey, I think, especially considering that my active and reflective participation has been happening for fewer than six months. That said, I would be a liar if I weren’t hoping I’d lose a few pounds and keep it off for a while if I’m going to do this silly diet*** anyway. I am far enough along though, to say that when I am back in a more permanent residence, I will stop this nonsense. Which is a huge step for me. Usually I’m promising myself that as soon as I can, I’ll halve my calories and double my exercise. It’s liberating going the other way (well, for the food anyway, I still plan on exercising more ’cause it helps me sleep better). So while this is a setback it’s one that’s let me see how far I’ve come.

*I still don’t have enough body and cultural awareness to actually make this call.
**I believe my current caloric intake is around 1,200 kcal a day. So still within “normal” diet rules and starvation might be too harsh of a word, but I’m kind of hungry right now, but nowhere is open and I don’t have any food.
***Diet in this particular instance means what I eat, not a means to lose weight.

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May 28, 2010. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Apology #3

Dear Skinny Friends,

I don’t think you should have been expressing a desire to lose weight, but I do understand that you were uncomfortable with your bodies when you said that. And I should not have said “If anything, you should gain a few pounds”. I was out of line. I just hope you understand that you made me uncomfortable. The time that comes to mind, you probably weighed thirty pounds less than I do, and the comment about needing to lose the five or seven pounds you had gained lately felt like a dig at my body, even though I know you didn’t mean it that way.

I hope you’re comfortable with your body however it is now. You don’t need to change one bit, I promise.

May 13, 2010. Tags: , , . Apologies, Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Brainwashed

As I mentioned in the previous post, I did a lot of walking this past week. And my feet were killing me. Hours of walking and my feet were screaming to the point where I had to sit down every 20 minutes or so even if my legs felt fine, I just could not handle the pain. And I thought to myself “You need to lose weight. Your feet cannot handle the pressure you’re putting on them. You need to carry a lighter bag. It’s all this weight.” And similar scoldings.

One of the many “fat issues” that constantly comes up a lot is the fact that our bodies aren’t meant to handle the fat we’ve accumulated. And therefore all fatties will end up with joint issues and foot issues and bone issues and various other issues due to the overwhelming medical problem that is fat on our bodies. And I must have taken this to heart.

It took my mother pointing out that my shoes were really, really old before it occurred to me that maybe there was another explanation. But I figured they were tennis shoes, how much pain could they cause? Then I thought, well, I bought them at least three years ago, and retired them from fencing at least a year and a half ago due to loss of grip*. And the sole’s heel was really worn. Half way through the week when I was putting them on and the heel split, did I finally concede my mother was right and it had nothing to do with my weight. And while I haven’t bought new shoes yet (I have a style I really like and two other pairs of shoes here that I should start wearing), I have added inserts, and the difference is notable.

Personally, I prefer running around barefoot, but I’m in a city and ew. Hopefully this has taught me that my weight might not be (and probably isn’t) the cause of any sort of body problem I’m having. Especially considering my thought last week where I realised I’m more of an inbetween, and if people much larger aren’t having this Obviously Caused by Fat problem, I should look for other explanations and it’s not as Really Common as the media wants me to think. I also need to stop convincing myself I’m diabetic and that my arteries are clogged and I’ll need some sort of heart surgery soon, which while related probably has to do with my tendency to worry over things that don’t matter and inability to apply logic to myself.

The Rotund’s post about stairs was something of an inspiration for me to post this as well as another good reminder about mental/physical disconnects.

*While this is important in any sport, it’s super important in fencing, as shoes that have no traction cause surprise splits.

May 3, 2010. Tags: , , , . Reflection. 3 comments.

Walking Doesn’t Burn Calories

My mother came to visit me last week and we did the touristy thing. The touristy thing here involves an insane amount of walking (Her: “Do you want to take a cab? Are you sure you don’t want to take a cab?”) and lots of stairs (Her: “So this country doesn’t believe in elevators?”). Also, eating delicious food. Which prompted the following conversation*.

Mother: If I lived here, I would be so fat.
Me: But think of all the walking we’ve done.
Mother: Well, walking doesn’t do anything for me. I mean, I can walk and not burn any calories.

Now, I’m not sure if I managed, but I certainly tried to convince her that walking does actually burn calories. Just like being alive does. Really, everyone needs calories so that our bodies can do their things. I know that I have, in the past, fallen into the train of thought where in order for me to burn more calories than I consume, I need to burn them with exercise. As in, if I decide to DDR for a half hour and burn 300 kcal** and then assume that a relatively inactive day added onto that would only burn 100 additional kcals so I would have to eat under 400 kcals to lose any weight.*** That was just wrong on so many levels. I’ve heard that the old diet advice “If you want to be 120 pounds eat 1200 kcals” is more like “If you are 120 pounds, you need 1200 kcals to function on the most minimal level, and then eat more if you actually plan on moving.”

And I didn’t come up with these ideas in a vacuum. My mother was a large contributor (she’s really a great mother, but still human, which is where this comes in) and she had to have heard these ideas somewhere as well. I’ve heard a lot of what she’s said about weight said elsewhere. So I’m going to try and unpack some of what she said to me this week. This time without any of the quotes.

1. Exercise is not magic. Someone who goes from being fairly sedentary to any level of activity is not going to magically drop the weight s/he always wanted to lose. Especially if this exercise is something like “walking a mile a day”. While the increase in activity will probably**** be beneficial to this person’s health this benefit will not always show up as a lower number on the scale or even a smaller pants size. This goes doubly so for anyone who assumes that an increase in activity is permission to eat what they want. Sure, you don’t need permission to eat what you want. No one does, but if the goal is to be healthy (and/or lose weight*****) exercise is only one component.

2. Eating like a normal person. My mother said something like that and I had no idea what she meant. I don’t even know if she knew what she meant. I don’t know if I know a “normal person”. I certainly couldn’t tell you what s/he eats. There are people of varying heights, weights, metabolic rates, food allergies/intolerances, able-bodyness and activity levels. Probably other things I forgot. Someone who has IBS can’t eat like someone who has no colon who can’t eat like a lactose intolerant athlete who can’t eat like a cubical worker with really fast metabolism who chooses not to eat like a vegan. Any and all of those people can be fat. Or skinny. Or somewhere in the middle. And I still can’t figure out who a normal person.

3. Gaining a pound. Anyone who has ever had an obsession with their scale can tell you that they weigh differently in the morning when they first wake up than they do before they go to bed. Before and after they go to the bathroom. Depending on how much water they drink and food they’ve eaten. If and what clothes they’re wearing. Even the spot in their cycle if they’re female. Or at least I can tell you that due to my few month obsession with a scale (I no longer own). I can also say that my pants size and my weight don’t always correlate as nicely as scale numbers gaining means pants tightening. Sometimes it can mean pants falling off. So I can’t understand why people flip out over a single pound, especially after they mention how much better their clothes are fitting. The disconnect astounds me.

The crazy thing about these three things is that while I can sit here and type the “right answers”, it doesn’t mean that I won’t say, increase my exercise when I get back to my home country and then wonder why I can’t eat like a normal person and freak out about a pound I’ve gained. The disconnect is just as strong in me as it seems to be in the people I talk to. Hopefully just being able to return to here and see that no, I’m not being logical, will be enough. It’s harder to argue with yourself than it is with someone else, I’ve found.

*My memory recall is not so great as for this to be word for word, obviously.
**I’m really good at DDR. Not like, those crazy kids at the arcade good, but good enough not to be totally embarrassed doing DDR in public.
***Pre FA days when I was “dieting”
****I’m not a doctor, I can’t say for sure. And people are individuals and who knows what which exercises might trigger especially if someone’s doing something incorrectly, etc. etc.
*****I like asterisks way too much. Also I know FA is not an advocate of dieting but I’m not going to judge. Also, in the context of my mother, this is her goal.

May 1, 2010. Tags: , , , , . Reflection. Leave a comment.