Category Archives: Hygiene & Health

Fat-Fat, Skinny-Fat, & NonFat-Big-Fat Meanies

Thanks to Catherine Winters, you can now “Like” my blog posts & share on Facebook — which, if you like me, is a nice way of giving me somethin’ somethin’ for my work ’round these parts. Look the “like” button at the bottom of each post, where you can also “share” through many other services. Thanks!

***

Uncredited photo on NEWSONE.COM.

FIRST: This Washington Post blogger suggests “fat” as become an offensive word. Offended? Don’t read. If you’re foolish enough to give the words power, that’s your choice. Go to a tap-dancing show if you think I should dance around this topic. I’m hitting this, yo.

***

A blogger for Marie Claire online, Maura Kelly, has had a shitstorm of no compare land upon her since she decided to take on Mike & Molly, the chubby show about a couple who hook up at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting.

Long story short, she said things like:

I think I’d be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other… because I’d be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything. To be brutally honest, even in real life, I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room — just like I’d find it distressing if I saw a very drunk person stumbling across a bar or a heroine addict slumping in a chair.

People are calling for her job.

Really? Because she’s hurting people’s feelings, or…?

You’ve got to be kidding me if you think she’s alone in that thinking.

I’ve heard people say it to my face before. I’ve heard people in my company say a person has “no right” to wear a certain kind of clothing because they’re “too fat.”

Me, I’ve been about 300 pounds and a cozy size 24.

Don’t you DARE tell me that Maura Kelly is ALONE in how she thinks. Do NOT tell me people aren’t fat-phobic or disgusted by obesity.

And don’t you DARE tell me everyone’s all shocked that someone actually thinks this.

Where the hell do you people live? I’m on Planet Earth, where really fat people are still perceived as walking stereotypes by a moronic media who thinks they only roll one way.

Half the time there’s a “fatty” in the movie, they’re a messy person, they keep missing their mouth with food and wearing it. I mean, hey, scriptwriters, how do these fat people become fat if they only wear their food and not eat it? Mad science, that!

When Hollywood’s concerned, the token “fatty” is almost always a cute but bumbling idiot.

Now and then someone like Oliver Platt comes along, who’s as graceful as he is oversized, but, for the most part, you’d think fat always equaled clumsy slob with no life ambitions. Thanks, Hollywood!

What the hell’s with this sanctimony now?

It’s just ridiculous there’s SUCH a furor over Kelly’s words and not enough anger about the program itself.

And where’s the anger about magazines like FHM, who hatefully call this undercover-camera footage of a fat man eating cheese “comedy gold”? Raise your hand if you don’t think this guy’s seen this footage and ever wants to exit his home again.

Face it: People are mean. They’re cruel.

Okay, was Maura Kelly an asshat in how she worded her rant? Yes.

Was she saying what a LOT of people probably agree with? YES.

Was she likely baiting people for a reaction? Yeah.

Does that make it right? Not really.

Should she lose her job? HELL, NO.

So where’s that leave us?

Finally friggin’ talking about it.

Here’s how I see this issue, on many levels:

One, Maura Kelly’s pretty wrong but there’s some truth to what she’s saying. Obesity can’t be allowed to become normalized. We can’t sit back as a society and say that what we’re doing to our health is okay. We can’t keep eating ourselves to death because we’re too lazy to chop up some vegetables.

Two, the problem with being horrified by “fat” people making out is, they’re not the only people with bad eating habits, they’re not the only unhealthy people. Are Kelly-type people grossed out by the “fatty” lack of health or just the fat? How hypocritical is that? IN FACT, there are “fat” people who eat healthy meals and can probably haul ass further than you. Don’t judge the chubby books by their ample covers.

Three, by keeping the perception of health on how we LOOK, a lot more “skinny fat” people will keep feeling validated in their habits because they have smaller than a 34 waist — much to the chagrin of the 5’4, 125-pound type-2 diabetic I know who drank himself into the disease by way of two full-sugar Big Gulps a day over a decade, and much to my chagrin as as a very-healthy-but-chubby taxpayer.

Four, is the show really doing “fat” any favours by making it a sitcom about fat people who meet in a fat-people place and who live their life around a lot of fat-people issues? I’m not so sure we should be celebrating the program while demonizing the critic, if the show’s reinforcing stereotypes. Know what “sitcom” is short for? “Situation comedy”. This situation, for Mike and Molly? Fat man meets fat woman at a fat meeting and they go home and are fat and awkward together. Oh, win, Hollywood — just made of win. The plot development seems a little, well, thin to me.

Five, when Maura Kelly likens seeing fatness to that of seeing a heroin junkie or an alcoholic, is she that far off the mark? Most weight situations are insanely difficult to be reversed, like a lot of addictions are, but they can indeed be reversed. Not all cases of obesity are caused by poor lifestyle choices, but many are. For me, she would NOT have been off the mark. Food is, and always has been, my primary choice of drug — be it my undying love for butter or passion for anything cooked well — and it would have led me to an early grave if I’d continued as I had from 1999-2003, as surely as an overdose or alcohol poisoning could have.

Six, by being a complete asshat in how she positioned some of her argument, Maura Kelly has shown us just how hateful most people’s speech is when it slips out in seemingly-harmless little chunks here and there — whether it’s a snide little “Oh, lord” about a morbidly obese man on the next corner, or a quiet chuckle as they see a heavy woman trying to squeeze into a too-small chair on a food court. Hypocrites.

You have no idea the jokes that are made to my overweight father’s face. To his FACE. He’s the kindest man I know, and he’s fat, and he knows it, and yet even his “friends” and “family” make remarks that break my heart. To his FACE.

Because he’s “fat,” it’s somehow all right.

People are often ASSHOLES, even “nice” people, and it’s about time they know these comments cut and they cut deeply. At least Maura Kelly had the balls to sign her name to her words.

This conversation needs to be had. Accepting people who are 35% obese and greater as just something we have to get used to is dangerous to our health as a society. But skinny-fat people who scarf down their fast food with no regard for sodium, heart health, or diabetes, they aren’t doing society any favours either, and the hypocrisy is glaring.

Ultimately, the conversation has to shift from what healthy LOOKS LIKE to what healthy IS.

Judging overweight people by their exteriors is stupid and foolish, but being permissive of an ever-enlarging population to just keep getting bigger, while chuckling at it and making it part of our entertainment, well… that’s not solving the problem either — and actually hurts those it purports to include in “Hollywood”.

Is there an easy solution?

Yes. As a society, we regulate food like we do anything that can kill people. We must stop legally catering to commercial food producers who see it as “product” and not our health. We tax those foods that can lead to obesity, diabetes, and other diseases so that it pays for the medical care it will surely one day demand.

We ditch shit food, we celebrate farmers, we learn to cook, we eat in moderation, and we exercise.

All of us.

Because most of us are killing ourselves — fat and thin. And it’s really not okay anymore — especially not when, in countries like Canada, the rest of the population picks up the tab for it.

You may hate Maura Kelly for her ideas and her attitude, but she should keep her job, because she’s done what she was hired to do — she got us all talking.

Better-Faster-Stronger Steff, Day 1

If ever someone’s mentality was built for Kicking Ass and Taking Names, it’s mine.

On the outside, however, I’m more of a tribute to the StayPuft Marshmallow Man.

Inside, I’m G.I. Jane (with better writing).

Starting now, it’s onto Mission: Outside-Matching-In.

Found on MediaBistro.com, taken at a marathon.

I’ve managed to snooker a personal trainer who’s willing to make me into G.I. Jane-Librarian.  (But Imma be the Baby-Still-Gonna-Have-Back/Librarian Model, however. We likes a tushy.)

She works my ass out, I write about the whole experience, in short.

Meet Nik Yamanaka, my kicking-ass-and-taking-names trainer-extraordinaire from the Vancouver personal training firm Le Physique, located on the waterfront between Vancouver’s amazing Athlete’s Village and Granville Island.

Le Physique looks like a boutique gym, but it’s a place you go to be guided into a fitness program that is all about you. There’s a big difference between some quickie-certified “trainer” and a licensed kinesiologist like Nik, and I’m really thrilled to have the opportunity to work with her.

Someone like me, coming from a history of injuries, is right to be really scared (ergo cautious) about starting off a program of fitness. There’re a lot of little road-bumps I expect to crash-land into along the way — and that doesn’t mean I’ll have to stop the program; it means tweaking the program.

I’ve done it myself before, but it’s a lot more graceful (and less painful) when done with professional guidance.

There. That’s the deal, okay?

As this experiment goes on, I’ll be writing the real-deal experience from my side of the getting-trained situation.

Where are we at? Well…

Later I’ll measure myself, and those are numbers I’ll keep to myself, but for now I’m about a size 14-18, depending on who’s making the clothing and what it is, but usually a 16/14.

I’m 5’7 and I weigh 212. I was, at one time, more than 280 pounds. I say “more than” because there were several years I went without weighing myself and wearing a whooooole lot of Spandex-y leggings and muu-muu-y tops, back in my size-24 days.

The 68-pounds-at-least-lost is poundage I lost by myself, mostly without gym passes or trainers. During that time, however, I blew out my back and had to rehab my way through 10 months of oodles of pain, which taught me how to at least eat within my daily calorie limit and still lose weight without the endless cardio to compensate.

It wasn’t until I graduated from physiotherapy and started saw an ass-kicking kinesiologist for 4 sessions that my pain finally subsided and I regained strength of old.

Then I burned out on training, because I’d been doing 6-12 hours a week of working out for EIGHTEEN MONTHS. I’d been dumping cash I couldn’t afford into expensive rehabbing costs, chiropractic care that wasn’t effective, et cetera, for all that time, too, due to the high level of fitness I was pursuing.

What I never “got right”, though, was the food. Or the stretching. Or the precise technique.

Hmm. All I really got right was having the will to get it done. I worked through phenomenal pain. I screwed up a lot, sure, but I got it done, I proved a lot to myself.

The experience was really hard, though. Really, really, really hard. In every way.

It’s difficult to rectify why you’ve made so many grueling life-changes when all you keep being rewarded with are sports-related injuries, inflammation, and denied foods.

Then, it’s hard to get past the burden of being an emotional eater, like I often am, when this “healthier” lifestyle you’ve chosen cuts into enjoyment as much as the inactive life led before did — back when you got to eat at Dairy Queen.

Emotionally, starting this new journey with Nik has me coming from a place of fear. I think everyone knows what it’s like to worry that they won’t be able to measure up with what they once were — or, worse, that all their fears about how obsolete they are will be confirmed.

It’s the severity of that fear that changes for each of us. Me, it’s almost crippling at times.

Add to it the fact that I’ve  just gotten over six weeks of pneumonia, and, kapow! Scaredy-Steff right here, buddy. But here we go.

Fortunately, I have first-hand knowledge of everything I’ve been through and what it took to surpass.

I have the confidence of knowing that my trainer went to school for a good long time and understands not only the bio-mechanics behind working out, but the science behind sports eating (like, everything from portion-sizing for performance to what timely consumption of foods can do for us).

And, me, I have the eagerness to soak it all in. I want to learn why and how I paid so heavy a price as I bumbled through the loss of 70 pounds without any professional help.

In the end, I want to lose 50 pounds with Nik. The first goal is 35 pounds. I don’t remember the deadline we set for that, but, there you go: Numbers, since that’s all everyone cares about.

Get far enough on the journey and you realize numbers don’t mean jack when you’ve got the emotional issues kicking around still, so it has to be more than numbers.

So, for me, most importantly than the weight loss, I want to change my attitude about everything from what I’m capable of all the way through to how I feel about truly “healthy” food. I want to find the confidence and self-admiration I know I deserve to have, but that which the fat face in the mirror keeps me from really buying into.

In short, yeah, it’s about being better, faster, and stronger. It’s about saying I don’t want to experience crippling injuries or illnesses like pneumonia ever again. It’s about believing I deserve better than a life lacking energy or enthusiasm or a healthy body.

It was a baby workout yesterday, more for talking about process and where we’ll go with things. I’ll be a little less hands-on for Nik because I don’t need the motivation or constant overseeing others might require, and I do work really well alone — I’ve just done it kinda wrong and need to be righted upon my path.

Therefore:

I’ve been prescribed a cardio goal, a weight-lifting/plyometrics routine, and have been requested to resume my old rehab routine (which is about 30 minutes for a set) six days a week. I said I could handle it, and I know I can. I’ve also been asked to keep a food/activity journal that isn’t just a log of what I’ve consumed/burned, but also about the feeling that came as a result of each entry. I’ve done calorie-counting often, but I’ve never recorded how things made me feel before, and I’m curious if it changes the logging experience for me.

So, that’s where we’ve started.

Let’s see where the heck it all goes, shall we? Stay tuned. I’ll be doing weekly updates right here.

Le Physique is in Leg-And-Boot Square, in Vancouver’s False Creek. Nik Yamanaka is co-owner, and was the BCRPA Personal Trainer of the Year for 2008. Le Physique tailors a program to meet your abilities, goals, and lifestyle. They can’t do the work for you, but they can tell you the tweaks that will help you meet your best performance and give you the mental tools and simple practices that might help you attain the success you need. You can listen to Nik talking about training in this radio interview here. You can follow them on Twitter, too, by clicking here.

Everybody Has Reversals

One of my favourite movies is the little-known David Mamet skewering of Hollywood, the filmmaking parody called State and Main.

In it, supposed screenwriter Phillip Seymour Hoffman laments being kicked off his first movie.

The bookstore owner, played by Rebecca Pidgeon, says to him, “Well…  Everybody has reversals. If you were never down, how would you know when you were up?”

It’s a pretty universally held-belief espoused by everyone from Rumi and Kahlil Gibran to my neighbour Bob down the street.

Graffiti I love from Vancouver's Granville Island. Unfinished on purpose or interrupted? No idea. Love it.

I think we get it, right? Gotta be sad to know happy, poor to know rich, fat to know thin.

I’m identifying with the latter as I acknowledge I’ve been backpedalling against my own reversals of late.

I had set myself a weight goal in May and I’ve moved the opposite direction. I’ve been kind of mentally lost at sea as I’ve been screwing up the courage to make the journey to where I need to go: self-employment, et cetera.

That means I delved into emotional eating while I’d been on edge and in fear.

Failure is something I’m really scared of. So scared, in fact, I’d rather not try at all and have the excuse that I’ve yet to get around to it, than to do it and face-plant.

I’m getting past that in my (cough) old age now, and starting to have the “feel the fear and do it anyways” ’90s mantra pumping through my head, but it’s been taking a while.

I know what I want now, and that means the emotional eating has begun to become more obvious to me — I’m realizing what I’ve been doing, I’m conscious of the shame that has come with it, and the depression that comes with realizing I’ve been failing myself for a while now.

I’ve been trying to hide it.

But there’s only so much you can hide when you’re carrying around the evidence on your ass.

Seriously, right? That’s what it boils down to: Who the fuck do you think you’re kidding, there, tubbo?

Granted, I’ve only gained 2 pounds more than I started the summer with, but I’m still pissed off about it, because I know HOW to defeat it, and because I’ve fucking cycled more than 1,100 kilometres this summer — all for naught! All that sweat and pain and endurance so I could barely maintain my weight? Fuck!

This week some things are coming into play — I’ll be talking to a professional trainer to see what we can maybe do for each other. I finally made a connection last week with someone and we’ll see if it’s a promising venture toward the weekend. Here’s hoping.

As a result of getting a “yeah, let’s talk!” from the trainer, I realized “Well, I’d love to get the help, but you know what? I’ve done this all by myself before — I cut out butter, I ate better, I worked out 6-8 hours a week… I didn’t need a trainer then, and I don’t need one now.”

So, I decided I’d get real. I celebrated with a cheeseburger, but then I knuckled down and chucked out the butter, made some mental commitments as to what I’m willing to do, where I’m willing to go, and grocery-shopped accordingly.

I also decided that I don’t need a trainer, no, but I want one.

Sooner or later we all have to realize that we can only get ourselves so far on our own. There’s only so much we can consider inside our little brains and only so many experiences we can have first-hand. There’s only so much we can excel at in life without others’ help.

Eventually, help really is something we all need to accept.

I honestly believe the last five years of my life have been specifically about teaching me that it’s okay to ask for help and that it’s okay to turn to others. You can’t possibly know how far I’ve come, but I still have far to go.

Times like these are when I’m proud to say at least I’ve learned how to make the first move.

It’s been a very difficult lesson, gaining the humility that is needed to admit help is required.

The two lessons I’m most proud I’ve taken from the last 10 years are: 1) That I know I’m strong enough to overcome everything that gets put in my path, and on my own, and 2) That I’m finally comfortable asking others for help and admitting that I just can’t do everything, and that it’s given me a tremendous amount in life.

Where I’ve gotten myself is this:

  • I’m more than half-way to the body and the health that I’ve wanted all my life.
  • I’ve overcome most of my injuries to the point where my days seldom get clouded with the thoughts of pain and discomfort that used to swirl like blackness around me.
  • I no longer feel my goals are hopeless but instead feel anger that I’ve been letting them slip by because I know in my heart I should be all over ’em like Oprah on a ham.
  • I’m ready.

Yes, I said the big word: Anger.

I’m fucking pissed, buddy. I’m mad. I’m bitter. I’m choked. I’m gonna kick some ass. MINE.

It’s all MY fault. It ain’t about the media or the government, life beating up on me or any of that shit. This weight I’ve regained is ALL MY FAULT and I FUCKING KNOW IT.

Oh, sure, you want to do the “Hey, love yourself” or “Embrace yourself and be gentle” la-la-love-in bullshit? KNOCK YOURSELF OUT. Ain’t my cuppa, honey.

It was THIS MOOD that launched me on the path that saw me losing 70 pounds, saying NO MORE, and going hard after what I wanted. It was THIS MOOD that said I’m entitled to better but only if I earn it first.

I’m not being mean to myself, I’m saying I’m better than this. I’m saying I know I can do this. I’m saying I have this in me. That’s love, man. I know I’m built for this. That’s love.

I don’t need to light candles, run a bath, and sing “Kumbaya” to myself, okay?

I need to put the fucking butter down, pay attention to when my belly is full, stop living the college dorm “HEY, LET’S GET BEER” life of excess that my summer has been. That’s love, man.

Am I pissed off at myself? Sure.

Am I gonna hold a grudge about it? Fuck, no.

By this time next week, I want my attitude to be “Hey, I’ve done well this past week. Let’s go windsurfing!” ‘Cause that’s scheduled for then, you know. That’s how we say “ENOUGH” in my world.

Kumbaya, motherfucker. Reverse this!

Aging: Becoming My Mother’s Daughter

Next month is my birthday. I have about 6 weeks of being 36 left.

I’m told I look younger. This is good news, I like it.

Truth be told, I really don’t care about looking “36”. Not yet. I probably will. Likely when it starts to show. When I’m 42. Heh, heh.

But you know what?

A shot taken of me by my friend Rick Rake at an event on July 28th, 2010.

I’ve worked for that age. The sun damage my skin shows now is in stark contrast to the pasty-white well-hidden tubby non-outdoors girl I was for the majority of my life. When I was a kid, I was the fat kid who whined and lied about pretend injuries to get out of sports. Every hike I was supposed to do, I got out of.

I was so not a joiner. I was pudgy, pudgy, wheezy girl.

Not so much these days. I’m not where I need to be, but I’m better than I’ve been since I was 18, and there aren’t a lot of 36-year-olds who can attest to being healthier than they’ve ever been — than they’ve literally EVER been.

Despite that health, I’m caught with fatigue a lot of the time. I just deal with it. My friend who’s 42 tells me she was always tired for a few years in her 30s. I’m assuming that’s where I’m at. I eat fairly well, exercise 6 or more hours a week. What more can you ask, right?

Honestly? My newly-appearing wrinkles give me pause. I’m not sure I’m wild about them just yet. I do, however, like the “character” they give my grin these days and the way they highlight the twinkle in my eyes.

I think I wear the few wrinkles I have well. I know my mother wore her age fantastically, like a perfect-fitting pair of jeans.

People were devastated when my mother died. She was a sexy-as-hell redhead at 57 when cancer took her 11 years ago this week. She looked fantastic. Dead? How ironic.

I’m thinking a lot about her this week. Maybe it’s part of my reclusiveness of late. 11 years. Wow. Mind-boggling. Can’t help but reflect on anniversaries, and I’m not thinking so much about the loss of her this year as I am about the woman I’m becoming on my own life journey, and if it parallels my mother’s. Wish I could ask.

I think a woman’s 36th year is pretty pivotal in who she is. She’s now out of the “targeted demographic” most coveted by marketers, she’s starting to pay attention to wrinkle creams and thinking biological-clock type thoughts if she’s not already a mother. It’s the beginning of the transition from “breeder” to “matriarch”, a different kind of role that women seem to play when they hit early middle ages.

One day we’re the chick next door that the guy wants to hang out with and tries to sleep with, the next we’ve become Mrs. Robinson and anyone we chase under our age begets us a label of “cougar”. It’s a quicker transition than you might think.

I’m not sure if I’ve hit that stage yet, since friends still think I look 28, so I might be able to get away with more.

That youthful appearance may not linger a lot longer, as the greys and wrinkles begin to mount.

I both like and loathe the greys I have now, even if few in number. They multiply.

Today, I’m thinking about getting a punk-rock haircut again and embracing the salt-n-pepper look that’s coming on. There’s something tasty about edgy prematurely-greying people. Very, very tasty. I can pull that off. Not like I’ll be all grey tomorrow anyhow.

Age, I guess, really is a state of mind. I know some folks at 36 who look like they’re in their 40s. How you live really starts to show through in a hurry, and it’s your choice. This is the age that your lifestyle becomes visibly apparent to everyone.

Because of that, getting older doesn’t scare me. It’s probably to do with decent genetics (that come with a ticking time bomb but sure look pretty) and probably because I feel like I’ve been through enough in life already that whatever’s coming down the pipes is something I know I’ll just handle. Scared? Who’s scared?

No, I ultimately like my age. I’d rather be turning 37 than 22 again. You couldn’t give me enough money in the world to relive my 20s. My 30s ain’t been no walk in the park, either, but from 35 on? Yeah. I like it. Liking it more all the time, the further I get from my past and the more progress I make on this vision of who I always cheated myself out of being.

Some of us SURVIVED our 20s. Some of us kind of defied an awful lot of odds to get past where we were. Some of us really fucking love coming into our older, more comfortable selves.

I wish the media could understand that. I wish marketers got it. My age is almost like a battle-wound scar. Like that scene in the movie Jaws, where Quint, Brody, and Hooper are shooting the shit about old scars:

Brody[pointing at Quint’s tattoo scar] What’s that one?
Quint: Oh, that’s a tattoo. I got that removed.
Hooper: Let me guess. “Mother!” [laughs]
Quint: Hooper, that’s the U.S.S. Indianapolis.
[Hooper’s face drops]
Hooper: You were on the Indianapolis?
Brody: What happened?
Quint: Japanese submarine slammed two torpedoes into our side, Chief. We was comin’ back from the island of Tinian to Leyte. We’d just delivered the bomb. The Hiroshima bomb. Eleven hundred men went into the water. Vessel went down in 12 minutes. Didn’t see the first shark for about a half-hour. Tiger. 13-footer. You know how you know that in the water, Chief? You can tell by lookin’ from the dorsal to the tail.

As far as some of us are concerned, we probably shouldn’t even be alive. Enough’s gone on that, y’know, our survival’s really by the grace of God or whoever else was in the kitchen. Signs of age, to some of us, are like proof of getting to The Other Side.

At this point, I don’t see myself changing my hair to hide the greys. I’ll never be slowly salt-and-peppering again in my life, I want to enjoy the awkward and cute transition.

I also don’t see myself trying to hide wrinkles with Botox, ‘cos I never thought my face would be thin enough to have wrinkles — I thought it’d be unhealthily fat and smooth for decades yet. Wrinkles? SERIOUSLY? Okay, bring ’em.

There’s something satisfying about slowly becoming my mother’s daughter. I’m one size away from being the same size as her before her death, even if I’m 40-50 pounds heavier. Muscle tone!

Every now and then, I look in the mirror, and a woman who sort of reflects the mother I had as a wee little lass is the woman staring back at me. I still can’t believe that’s who I’m becoming. When I was 5 going on 6, Mom was the age I am now.

I never saw myself being here, now, looking more and more like her as she was then, every day.

But I’m starting to really, really like it.

Why I Won’t Weigh Myself

Anyone in my life kinda knows I’ve kinda gone cardio-crazy.

With anywhere from 6 to 12 hours of moderate-plus activity in any given week,  I’m working on it. Most of it’s because I’m cycling for commuting. Dialing in between 100 to 150 km of cycling per week on average, yeah, it’s becoming a “lifestyle” and not just exercise.

At first, it sucked, but then I started to feel Strong and Powerful, almost feeling like a “Jock” for the first time in my life, and I feel like that’s kinda hot for a girl who used to push the 300-pound mark.

It’s kinda awesome, actually, just from an inside-my-head perspective, never mind what others may think.

But I have food issues. I always have. I still do. I have this “thing” for bread. And, have we talked about butter? Oh, sweet baby. Buttah. Mm, butter it. Indeed.

So there’s that. There’s those, even. I’ve been off the charts with bread lately, so it’s a mindset I’m battling.

And it’s 25-plus years of habit-forming issues. Bad shit, man. Like a voodoo thang.

But I’m working on it and I keep improving, and my knowledge keeps growing, but the emotional issues reside. They’re there. It’s just my reality. I’ll probably always have a difficult time negotiating The World of Food without danger. Especially when life’s forcing my hand, or sure feels like it.

So, you know, shit happens. Not a lot of shit happens now, not as often. Maybe that’s just age, and the “been-there-done-that” mentality that comes from going around the block way too often.

This isn’t really about size or anything. It’s not about weight. It’s about me having an idea of the diet I want to be eating, just because I define it as truly “healthy”, and I’m not eating it. I’m eating better than I have for 90%+ of my life, and yet. Not quite there. Maybe I never will be, since, as a foodie, I refuse to give up some passions. Moderation. But indulgence follows close behind moderation, you know. Like a shadow, always looming. One step too far, you get swallowed up in it.

Exercise, I’ve got mostly down, and YAY me for doing so, ‘cos it ain’t no walk in the park. So, it’s part of the journey.

For me, it’s about achieving both. It’s not about “size 4” or 6 or 8 . It’s not about appeasing the fashion gods or being off-the-rack-approved.

Fuck hot. Fuck cool. Fuck role model. Fuck it all.

THIS is about being healthy. This is about me doing this just for me, about how I feel 3 minutes after I’ve woken up, or the satisfaction I have when I hit the bed at night.

It’s about not having heart disease or diabetes, like my dad, or dying of cancer, like my mom and other family. It’s about not rolling over and playing dead for all my past injuries & fuck-ups. Not now, not at age 36. Not yet. Not soon. Not.

It’s about feeling strong, powerful, and healthy. It’s about me, not media, not conformity. Not you.

I can do better, and I will.

Until I’ve got BOTH in the same direction, a weigh-in isn’t happening. Because if I have success today, when I feel like I’m eating badly, it will permissively encourage me to eat just as badly in the future.

I don’t want to be skinny-fat and die anyways. What’s the fucking point of all this work, then?

Cholesterol counts. Qi counts. And a million other things all count.

I’ll weigh myself when I know food’s on page. Why? Because I know I’ve lost weight. I feel it everywhere I touch myself. My belly’s never had this kind of tone before. My thighs? Yowza.

Soon, everything will be on page. Soon, I can say I truly believe I’ve accomplished something great.

But right now I’m phoning it in and lucking out.

That’s not good enough.

My lifespan depends on it.

Mental Health: In Which Steff Calls a Spade a Spade

A couple months ago, I proposed to talk about writing for therapy, how to kinda “go there”, via blogging.

The conference was yesterday. It was an “unconference” put on by end-patients and people who work on the peripheries of mental care.

Why did I want to get involved?

For a million reasons. I’ll get to most of them shortly.

But, first: I proposed my talk without knowing the conference’s “reputation” or anything like that. I just wanted a forum to talk about depression.

Unbeknownst to me, I stepped into the thick of a controversial “unconference.” It wasn’t until Friday that I really realized just how controversial it was. Whether it’s because ballsy speakers like Steven Schwartz speak in dismissive vernacular, saying edgy-yet-funny adjectives a lot of boring people object to, or because of who was organizing it, or even the press some of us speakers were getting, the reactions were ridiculously sharp and pointed.

Late Friday night, I saw comments some anonymous dumb fuck left on the Mental Health Camp’s website, and I got pretty riled up. Since then, all the comments were deleted, which I take serious issue with.

Me, I never would have deleted the comments. We convened the camp to fight stigma against the “idea” of mental illness, so why would you delete, and not fight, that stigma when it stands up and attacks you? Deleting and silencing the attack does nothing to neutralize it. But that’s where I stand and it’s not my blog. So, yeah. Moving on.

The asshat’s comments varied, but the most offensive of them all were that a number of those involved in the Mental Health Camp were doing so only to propel their image and get their allotted moments of Warholian fame. Media whores, basically, all faking their interest to get noticed.

Heh. Yeah, okay. Fucking shrewd, that.

A line in the comment made me wonder if I was one of the people they alluded to, just because I had the audacity to do an interview with CBC about the conference.

Here’s the deal, all right?

I’ll be the first to admit there were organizational issues with the conference. That’s what happens with not-for-profit amateur/volunteer organizers, people who have organized a conference just to have discussion and don’t have experience organizing them.

Oh, well. That’s life. It happens. But it’s not about the organizing.

It’s about the messages explored — mental health, stigma, and the fact the lives are destroyed by mental illness every moment of every day, and the fact that EVERYONE in their lifetime will experience mental illness at some point, and YET we don’t talk about it.

Well, I do, and I have for years.

I’ve been writing about depression, weight issues, self-esteem, lack of confidence, and everything else I’ve battled in life since 2005, and blogging since 2004. I’ve been getting real fuckin’ raw and honest since 2006.

There are a whole lot of things I’m willing to do to have success as a writer. Do you know what the least smart of them would be?

Letting myself in any way be any kind of poster girl for any mental illness.

Let’s see, when was the last time a Hollywood publicist suggested their celebrity client embrace their mental illness for the public as a means of netting better starpower in the press? Um, never.

Know why?

No one wants to be thought of as “nuts”.

Why?

Because people who are strong, intelligent, articulate, engaging, and well-liked don’t come out and admit their mental illnesses. They don’t talk about them. So stigma exists because all we see are the nutty fucks you try to avoid in hallways, or the whackjobs they put on television shows.

But those are extremes.

When assholes like that anonymous commenter attack a conference whose only purpose is to bring the overly-shamed and constantly-silenced issue of mental health to the forefront only because they dislike the people behind it, and they use that opportunity to suggest it’s basically Starfucking by those involved, it’s an insult to the seriousness of the issue.

It also suggests they have no fucking idea what it’s like to have been, in my case, an otherwise strong and intelligent person who took the wrong medication and considered suicide before spending the next year-plus trying to claw my way out of the depths.

It suggests they have no idea what it’s like to live under the clutches of your mind, body, and chemistry’s whimsy on a day-in, day-out, year-by-year basis, never being able to rise above a sick world of fear, chaos, and hopelessness that can’t manifest outwardly, that you hear inside your head every time you wake or lie down to sleep.

It suggests they don’t fathom that mental illness is the most costly and insidious of sicknesses in society — it destroys the fabric of life, of all the lives around the sufferer, not just the body of the afflicted. It ends relationships, destroys marriages, causes debt, and is the largest reason for employee leaves of absence in the modern workforce.

I don’t WANT to talk about depression.

But I need to.

Because what happened to me can happen to anyone.

Because it happened to my mother, and, as a 17-year-old girl, I walked in on her attempting suicide with the very pills that caused her chemically-induced depression — one like I myself would experience 17 years later.

Because doctors will tell you birth control pills don’t cause depression.

Because I know my birth control made me want to kill myself and feel like life could never have hope again.

I need to talk about depression because I’m tired of bi-polars, schizophrenics, and other more acute or rare mental health concerns having the limelight in “mental illness,” when it’s depression that’s most likely to touch, and destroy, the average life.

I feel like their more “stereotyped” afflictions make it less likely for seemingly average Jolenes like myself to come out and say, “I’m not that afflicted, but it still really fucked me up, too, and no one saw any big signs…”

I am a good writer. I’m a really, really good writer. I’m a passionate speaker who will not mince her ideas. I don’t back down from a fight. I’m engaging, funny, and even self-deprecating. I’m a great communicator with friends, family, everyone.

And yet depression almost took me out of the game of life.

But I survived.

I made it to the other side. I’m stronger than I’ve ever been. I’m happy most of the time.

Still, I’m surrounded by people I see who are skating through life with the cool indifference of someone struggling with depression. I see it everywhere. And we’re NOT TALKING ABOUT IT.

You want to attack my IDEAS? Go for it.

But don’t fucking attack ME or any of those people who’ve had the STRENGTH to write about all the things YOU make fun of, that YOU won’t trust, or YOU can’t admit about yourself.

We’re out there only for the reason that we can’t be silent anymore. Society can’t AFFORD our silence anymore. We need to hear our thoughts expressed on the page, we believe our experiences are real and representative of the whole, yet largely ignored by the mainstream.

And we’re not going to be quiet about it.

Not anymore.

Until you’ve lost your job — like I once did — for writing in the public eye about your darker self, until you’ve had the courage to write without tempering your weaker thoughts and fears, until you’ve been able to admit you have an affliction the majority of society can’t understand and doesn’t know how to act around, you have no right to criticize us for the moments of acknowledgement we might finally receive after years of having the courage to tell our stories no matter what the prices have been.

Now it’s easier for me. But where the fuck were you in 2006 when I wanted to commit suicide only 9 days after writing the most harrowing things I’ve ever published? Where were you when my traffic dropped to nothing as I used my blogs to work through my depression? Where were you when I lost a job and nearly my home for having a voice on less acceptable topics? Where were you when I struggled to maintain faith in speaking out? Where were you when I constantly had to lower my voice when I said what I wrote about?

Sure, now you know about me, but I’ve been doing this for a long fucking time and I’ve paid a LOT of steep prices for my honesty.

But I’ve paid ’em and now you can’t shut me up. Just try it, honey. You’ll only wind me up more.

If I finally have an audience and a wider means of getting my message out, you’d have to be a fucking moron to think I’d walk away from that opportunity.

Oh, and being single and getting press for having gone nuts, been suicidal, and longterm depressed? Yeah, that’ll be a fucking brilliant way for me to get laid. I hear men are wild about that shit.

Marketing GENIUS, clearly.

Whoever you were, you anonymous spineless motherfucking commenter: Grow up. You’re a fucking idiot. Open your eyes. See that some battles need to be waged with faces on them.

At least I have the guts to show mine.