Tag Archives: fat

Food: The Battle That Never Ends

One of my weekly addictions now, pun intended, is Extreme Makeover: Weight Edition.

It’s exactly what it sounds like: A person is ideally supposed to go from morbidly obese to, well, much less.

The most “extreme” episode I’ve seen spent the year with a man named James who began at 651 pounds and lost 313 pounds in 12 months. The first three months, the trainer, Chris Powell, lives with the show’s focus person. After that, the “contestant” is on their own but for the equipment they’ve been left, quarterly check-ins, and emails/phonecalls.

[Spoiler ahead.]

This week’s episode had 9 months invested in one morbidly obese man, who began at 490 pounds, lost 110 in three months, then 21, then gained 60 in the third quarter.

His food addiction came back stronger than ever.

The end of the episode had him checking into rehab 70 pounds below where he started, but 60 pounds over where he was after 4 months — and emotionally broken.

This is something I wish would shut all the cynics up who see weight-loss success on TV and go “Oh, but they had professional help, of course they lost weight.”

You know what? I don’t buy that. It works for a while, sure, but a show like this, it conveys that, left to our own devices, even with all the tools and means at our disposal, failure can find us because we’re our own worst enemies. Every person goes to bed alone in their heads.

Many people regain all their weight back, and even more, when life gets hard, because we’re usually heavy through unhealthy eating addictions that involve masking emotions or failed communications.

Enough About Them, Let’s Talk About Me

I’ve always been food-addicted, but I’m considerably less so in my old age. It’s still a problem. It probably always will be.

That I’m a pretty fucking confident cook sure as hell doesn’t help, but my ability to research and learn the science, well, that does help — a lot. I educate myself from time to time as well. Being a good cook means I take control, and I do so in an often-satisfying way with foods that are ultimately less addictive than fast food and commercial preparations.

Luckily, I somewhat like being active. If I weren’t so goddamned injured so often, I’d be unstoppable, and I’d probably get to keep eating the way I love but would continually lose weight doing it. Fortunately, I eventually battle past my distractions and usually maintain.

That’s me. And I know it’ll be a lifelong struggle. Fortunately, every year I get a little smarter about it, and have done that recently in the face of times that might’ve taken me down a more personally-destructive path in the past.

An Environment Created for Failure

The thing is, food’s an incredible struggle. It’s the hardest addiction in the world to overcome. It’s everywhere. Even skinny people drool over pictures like it’s porn. We even talk about the sexual ways we satisfy our hunger, we have “food orgasms,” we celebrate every holiday around a table, we communicate over tables, we have a national bacon dependency, and now we have sharing apps for cellphones that are all pictures of high-falutin’ drool-inducing food, and everywhere we turn is advertising showing the most sinful burgers and cookies and pastas and pizza (but read this about the dirty tricks photographers use to make that food look so yummy).

In this highly food-pornified world, losing 10 pounds is a massive achievement for some. Losing 313 in a year, no matter who’s helping you, even on a TV show, that’s absolutely mind-boggling — if done through weight and healthy eating, that is.

Add In Being Affected by Life’s Demands…

And putting a few pounds on in any given month or year, well, that’s human. Failing utterly? Also sadly human.

For me of late, I’ve not really been worrying about food, exercise, or whatever. I’m rehabilitating a back injury that scared me more than anything has in years. I had a week in April that was the darkest of my life. All I care about is NOT BEING THAT, and paying my rent. I’m rehabbing, getting my life under control, and that’s all the achievement I require right now.

In saying that, the last 10 months has included enough chaos that all I want to do is get into a routine where being active truly IS my lifestyle, and eating reasonably IS my way. That’s it. I want something I can follow for the rest of my life. I lost 70 pounds in a year doing it that way, I know I can get back to it, too, once my routine’s back.

Anyone who says weight-loss is easy during unemployment isn’t a stress-eater.

During my year of being often under-employed, I had pneumonia followed by a cancer scare that turned into a “dunno what that was, but it ain’t cancer” dealio, followed by blowing out my back. That I only gained eight pounds in two years since my drastic loss is fucking awesome, given my history of overeating for emotional reasons.

It is an addiction, and this has been the hardest year for fighting it. Have I won? No, but if this were a fairytale and the Big Bad Wolf was trying to get into grandma’s house, then I’ve been fighting that fucker back with a big-ass stick. He hasn’t gotten in, but I haven’t gotten around to doing much else with my time, either, time-consuming as fighting wolves tends to be, and all.

It Doesn’t Need to Stay That Way: Ebb & Flow

I’ve noticed in the last couple of weeks, as my stress has gone down, as my back injury has finally gotten to a livable place, that my tendency to eat excessively, and too often, has just naturally slowed down, as have my cravings. I’ve not been eating GREAT all the time, but I’ve really not had too much on the average day, either. I also find myself avoiding sweets or feeling compelled for pastries.

The effort now is to simply be more active in my food choices– making more effort in cooking it so I’m not just eating food but, if I overeat, I’m wasting my time and money. Instead of buying bread, the plan now is to make my own for a while instead of buying huge baguettes to indulge in. Every meal needs some kind of veggies with it, preferably more than half the meal being veggies. Using less fat again, I’ve cut back on cheeses, there’s no cheddar in my house (fact: “cheddar” is Canadian for “crack”). I had chocolate during my “girl time” but haven’t felt cravings outside of that.

I don’t care who might think I could’ve done more or I’ve somehow failed myself because I put a little weight back on instead of continually taking it off. I don’t think of it like that. I think of it as “success interrupted.”

What I know about myself today is, I can get through everything that’s happened in the last year (and that short “pneumonia-blah-blah” point there barely skims the surface, as we all know life’s more complicated than big talking points), and gain back only 12% of the weight I’d lost up till 2009, well, that’s not too shabby for an emotional-eating food addict when the odds are better that I should have gained it all back. I kept 88% off, yo!

I’ve been more aware, even in my failings. Now I need greater awareness. Thankfully, it seems to be rising in me, and the stressors seem to be falling.

That’s the ebb-and-flow of life. Like Rocky Balboa says, it’s about getting hit and knocked down, but keepin’ on moving forward.

When I see a man, in life or even a show like that, reduced to tears in his failures, knowing he’s let down his beautiful little girl and wife, checking into rehab and facing all those demons… well, for me, being knocked down but moving forward feels like it’s as good an accomplishment as I need.

We should all remember that. Setbacks are great, if we learn from them and treat them as practice against being defeated in the future. Welcome to life, where we don’t always get it right, but we almost always get a second shot.

Failure photo from Mindthis.ca.
Hand photo from Haley Bell Photography.

Nowhere to Run, Nowhere to Hide

When “fat” is your body issue, and I’m talking F-A-T here, there are three places you cannot help but be confronted with your bigness.

The changing room in retail stores, in pay-for-space seating (like amusement parks, theatres, planes), and in your own bathtub.

For several years there, I wasn’t having baths. Continue reading

From Poutine to Self-Love, Baby!

I should not be writing.

Another probably painfully tiring day awaits me tomorrow, before what is liable to be a mockery of a weekend, on which I believe I need to work Sunday, but the verdict is not yet in. (No, not real work. Taking a bunch of kids to a space museum. Yeah, who’s your sex goddess NOW, huh?)

I should not be writing, but I am.

You see, I took a terribly sinful break earlier today on what has been a gruelling couple headtrip days, and I acquiesced to the evil that lurks within: I submitted to my craving for poutine. If you’ve never had poutine, then you’re probably not Canadian. A pity for you, you poor fuckers. You’ll hear about it, and you’ll think, “Ew, ick!” but really, that’s just your ignorance talking, or perhaps it’s the silly little granola-loving freak you nurture deep within. Either way, it’s all about the fat. Mm, fat!

Poutine’s french fries smothered in cheese curd and gravy. In other words, it’s potatoes that died tremendously worthwhile deaths. And I salute them! So do my lovehandles. But I do digress.

There, there was a paper lying about. I shouldn’t be so brash as to call the Province a newspaper, because it’s hardly a good newspaper at all. It’s a tabloid. It’s the McDonald’s of news for people who are news-tritiously challenged. Or chronologically challenged, and I was the latter. Oh, and apparently the former. How convenient.

Dammit, again with the digressions!

Lemme get to my fucking point, shall I? They had a story today about seven Vancouver chicks (you go, girls) who’ve opted to get married to themselves.

Yep.

They’ve all got the gowns and they’re doing a public ceremony down on Vancouver’s Jericho Beach, and when it comes to the “Do you take this…” part of the ceremony, I think it’s going to be changed to, “Do you take yourself, to have and to hold, to love and to cherish, until your dying days?” or something like that.

I wanted to fucking stand and cheer then and there.

It ain’t some feminazi gig or anything, boys, so don’t get your panties in a bunch. It’s about saying, “Hey, I don’t need no man for happiness. I can provide that to myself.” None of us really needs anyone… it’s just nice to have them.

Like Margaret Atwood once said, “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” I happen to believe that goes both ways, but too many women are too fucking obsessed with getting a ring on the finger and being validated by having some studmuffin by her side. It’s a sad state of things, and I would have thought we’d be farther along by now, but here we are: same shit, different story.

I made a brief comment about the “How to Get the Guy” show the other night, a show that still pisses me off on premise, even though the things it’s saying are sort of on the money. Yes, good ways to get a guy. Just bad ways to keep them.

If you’re not yourself when you snag a guy, it’s gonna be pretty fucking hard to keep yourself in that hyper-perfect state. And when you’re not that woman anymore, is he still going to be interested? Or are you just the dating equivalent of spam – building up an average product into something extraordinary, only to have it fall flat? Only you can know.

These chicks, they have the right idea. They might be being weird about it and taking it a bit far, but hey. Whatever gets you through the night, baby. You want to embrace yourself, love yourself, and make a commitment to yourself, then I say more power to you.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking this week, wondering what all my stress and frustration about this job search is coming off as for the masses. I mean, you all look to me for whatever the hell it is you want to find here on these pages – mantras about your body type, tips on hand-jobs, profundity on being single, scathing commentary on whatever the hell the flavour of my day is… Honestly, I have NO idea what you’re here for, but I’m thrilled you tumble onto my doorstep, and I thank you for it.

But here I am, in all my flawed glory: Stuck in a financial conundrum that I know will end, but I’m terrified won’t end on schedule, my fears and my horrors hanging out for all to see, and the fact that I’m brutally, completely human. I’m as fucked up as anyone, man. I don’t have it all together, and I probably never will. Do any of us? No, probably not. We just play the roles well.

It’s that old, “I’m not a doctor; I just play one on TV” schtick. I ain’t no guru, baby, I just play one on the ‘net. I hurt, I get vulnerable, and, baby, I get scaredy-scared some days.

In the face of all that, I found myself there on Commercial Drive, strolling around in the mid-afternoon sun, a few minutes to kill, when my cellphone rang. Yes, yet another job interview call. (I’ve sent resumes around for just under two weeks, and by Monday’s end I’ll have had eight interviews, all for “real” jobs, so let that tell you what it will.) The funny thing was, this was an agency, and I responded to an ad of theirs earlier this week. I got The Big Rejection Letter. And there she was, calling me now, about an ad I responded to earlier today, knowing full well they’d already rejected me once this week.

She goes, “Your name sounds familiar!”

“It should, I applied earlier this week and got The Big Rejection Letter. But I’m stubborn, and it sounds like a great job for me.”

“Well, it’s a new posting, and I’m glad you’re persistent! I’d like to have a chat with you and see if you’re a good fit for our client!”

I got off the phone (the appointment’s at 9:00am, for an advertising co., one of two interviews tomorrow) and felt SO FUCKING SMUG.

The thing is, keeping your head together and being strong and loving yourself in the face of adversity’s the hardest thing in the world to do. When you’re single, it’s even harder. And that’s why I love hearing about women like this, the ones who say, “You know what? Fuck convention. This is about me.”

Oscar Wilde said my all-time fave quote that I keep citing here and should finally just put in my fucking sidebar, that loving yourself is the beginning of a lifelong romance. It’s times like these when I need to consciously try to love myself. It doesn’t come with ease. It’s work. Every damned day right now, it’s work. Every employer I talk to, every resume I send, my first thing I tell myself is, “I fucking ROCK. I can DO this.”

I don’t really believe it… but I play a guru on the ‘net, you know, so it’s convincing.

Some Thoughts on Self-Image

I got an email last night that made me ecstatic. A reader wrote to let me know that I’ve played a big part in her rediscovering her self-worth after an emotionally abusive and cruel relationship (because he was an abuser, honey, and don’t ever think less of him). These kinds of emails make me feel like all the grief I go through to try and generate something reasonably fresh on a daily basis is worth it.

Really, I get no money out of this blog yet and I’m trying to figure out a way to do so, and I’m sure it’ll happen sooner or later, but right now? Nada. Screwing up the energy to write every day sometimes seems futile… and then I get those occasional emails that blow my mind. “Me? I did that for you? WICKED.”

Self-esteem, self-worth, self-love… my god, how furtive they seem. One would think that loving oneself would be an easy thing to do. Sadly, the opposite is more true.

You know, I have a hearing problem. I wear two hearing aids, they’re small, they aren’t always perceptible, and while I’m having some issues with hearing right now, normally I’m pretty good with it, despite fucking hating it. But I was just thinking a bit ago about being deaf. Could you imagine? Probably not. I can. I’m pretty much deaf (25% – 50% hearing) when I roll out of bed in the morning, and to tell you the truth, I enjoy the silence while I can. I’ll often wait an hour or so to put in my buds – I’ll write in quiet and ignore the world. I wonder sometimes what being deaf all the time would be – living in your head, never breaking free of those wheels turning constantly in the corners of your mind.

You wouldn’t be able to escape yourself, for good or for ill. Sounds, I’ve come to learn, provide ample distraction from who and what we are; that bus rumbling down the street, birds chirping, a dripping faucet, an asthmatic wheezing nearby. I sometimes wonder if my lack of hearing is part of why I’m such a contemplative individual. Perhaps.

There was a time when my contemplation led to self-loathing. Nowadays it’s a coping mechanism, and a cottage industry, it seems.

I find that a lot of people I know are often a little daunted at the prospect of being alone too long, as if being alone means being lonely; the two, however, are not related.

I honestly think it’s impossible to be a well-balanced person if you can’t handle being alone, but maybe that’s me reading too much into my lifestyle. Self-love, self-worth, it comes from knowing you’re good company. It comes from being able to realistically see yourself as others see you, not through your hyper-judgmental eyes. After all, how accepting are we of average people streetside? Much moreso than we are about ourselves.

Thanks to the media, we’re surrounded by beautiful people who are airbrushed for magazine covers or filmed in soft light, and then we spend our days walking into shitty fluorescent bathrooms, staring in dirty mirrors, and we wonder why we’re not the sex gods the rest of the world seems filled with. It’d almost be funny, if it wasn’t so sad.

Becoming realistic about what each of us has to offer is one of the hardest things to ever learn. Becoming secure when naked is a difficult task to accomplish. It’s not something that occurs overnight, and god knows I’m still on my journey. In this relationship I’m in now, I’m comfortable with him naked. It doesn’t sound huge, but it really is. Lying around naked with your lover is a great way to get past insecurities and to focus on matters at hand. It has taken me my whole life to get to this point.

I’m a bonus-lover gal. My ass has got some grip room, if you know what I’m saying. I’m fit, I’m active, but I’m, well, chubby. Cute, but chubby. My weight has been something I’ve hated my entire life – and the hatred is one of the things my mother is to blame for, as she always reminded me to watch my food and things like that. The food’s always been a minor issue, but it was exercise that was my bane. These days, I’m getting pretty active and I’m liking the toning I’ve got. Sixty pounds down, another forty or so to go.

I noticed something incredible a couple weeks back – I went swimming. I’ve gone swimming off and on for the last year and a half, after not setting foot in a pool for about 15 years, thanks to insecurities. When I first re-entered the pool after all those years, I felt like I’d just come home again. I forgot how much I loved the pool. I wasn’t happy about being in a swimsuit, but I did it again anyhow. Two weeks ago, I put the suit on and strutted – not walked, not strolled, but strutted – out to the swimming pool, my towel dangling at my side instead of being held like a security blanket in front of me. After, I got nekkid and showered with the ladies. I used to shower with my suit on and change in the bathroom. Not anymore.

(After all, go to the pool and really, really look at the other people. What in the hell do you have to be ashamed of?)

And it felt fucking awesome. It dawned on me that sometimes insecurity is just a bad habit, something we get so accustomed to being that we simply don’t change, when the reality is we can. It’s not easy, but it’s doable. I’m proof positive. (Thank heavens.)