The Biggest Loser: Couples – Meet the Enablers

January 1st, 2008

I wasn’t sure how this twist was going to play out. Parents and their kids. Brothers. Newlyweds and long-time marrieds. Friends. Even a divorced duo. They’re in it together, through thick and thin, so to speak.

The premise seems like a no-brainer, right? A trusted teammate you can count on. Someone to go through the journey with you. Someone who knows you and understands you and is in Obesity Hell, too.

But then Jillian came on the screen and said she didn’t like this approach one bit. I couldn’t figure out why, until she used a word I hadn’t thought about much:

Enablers.

She said this is going to be extra hard for her and Bob, because the people she’s training have their enablers with them. Interesting point of view, isn’t it? Instead of looking at it as having a source of motivation, she’s seeing nothing but the enemy.

Oh, but when those gigantic weight loss numbers came up on the scale – 10 lbs, 19 lbs, 26lbs lost by single people in a given week, and combined duo losses of 209, 30, and 40+ lbs – it’s hard to believe that working with one of those “better half” types is a hinderance in the battle of the bulge.

I kept thinking that the teams must’ve all pulled a Neil, which is a technique named after a guy from last season who chugged two gallons of H2O right before the weigh in, so he logged in with an unprecedented 17 lb gain. It was a good strategy, too, since the following week he got to claim the benefits of a 30 lb loss.

It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that so many people can lose so much weight in one hard-working week, even with all the “they’ve got trainers and guidance and blah blah blah” caveats. Especially when it happens to be January 1st, the day of the year when all fat people are looking down the barrel of the gun of a NEW YEAR.

“Is this THE year? The year I lose the weight, once and for all? The year I defeat whatever psychological demons I have within that possess me and convince me I’m perpetually hungry? The year I sweat so much at the gym that gallons of fat literally melt off of me, week after week?”

What a brilliant move, NBC. Get us while we’re scared and vulnerable. Kick us where it counts. Then show us that who we think are our lives allies may really be the ones we need to watch out for in the biggest way.

As if being fat didn’t suck enough! 

Terrorists are psyched we Americans are fatter than ever

July 16th, 2007

From Cal Fussman’s Milkenize Me article in the May, 2007 issue of Esquire magazine:

  • “…automakers are increasing the width of our seats so that we feel comfortable with our added weight.”

 

  • “…nearly two out of ten men and four out of ten women of recruiting age weigh too much to be eligible to join the armed forces – and that one Army nutrition expert is warning that obesity is becoming a national security issue.”

 

  • “…studies show that lean people earn more money than obese people who have the same IQ.”

When I’ve heard people say we Americans are eating ourselves to death, it never occured to me it could be because it’s affecting our nation’s security measures. How much will our taxes shoot up if we have to increase the hatches, hallways, and bucket seats of our tanks, submarines, and F-14s?

A Fat Rant on YouTube

July 2nd, 2007

Okay, Joy Nash has a few things to say about being fat that are far from the “it sucks” point of view.

So far, more than 900,000 have viewed this 7+ minute video, “Fat Rant,” on YouTube, and it’s no wonder. Strength, conviction, bold insight, confidence, and a hefty helping of humor to sweeten the rant. Solid production value, too. Well done and worth the view time.

Good luck with your message and mission, Joy!

 

Weighing in on…Fatter by Batter

March 20th, 2007

Look – I like batter.

Cookie batter. Apple bread batter. Brownie batter. Pancake batter. The whole batter family, really.

Thing is, I don’t have a wicked sweet tooth. I simply prefer the batter of a treat-in-process to the finished delight.

And this doesn’t stop at sugar or flour-based mush. I also enjoy the savory succelence found in a crock pot of chili, or tomato sauce, or fiber-rich porridge, for crying out loud. I just like to sample the mess, taste the work in progress, season as needed, experience the metamorphosis of a bunch of singular ingredients becoming something grander and more delish than they ever knew they could be.

Unfortunately, as a fat person, I’m supposed to avoid life’s batter altogether. The recommendation is always the same: Shove a stick of gum in your mouth, trust the recipe, and put dish detergent in all containers and all over the mixing tools as soon as they’ve served their pragmatic purposes.

That means no twisting my tongue around mixer spokes to lick a little mashed potato. No dragging my finger along the sides of a bowl to scoop up some buttery cookie dough. No sampling the stew, dinging the dip, or plunging into the parma rosa before it’s fulfilled its destiny as a rouge for rigatoni.

But…but…that really, really sucks!

Do skinny cooks really skip this luscious rendevous their culinary masterpieces?

Do lean and lithe gourmateers voluntarily reject the intimate and savory sampling only found in the world of BLTs? (That’s “Bites, Licks, ‘n Tastes,” for those who’ve never done Weight Watchers.)

Are there BLT Anonamous meetings for those of us who are overly fond of in-transit concoctions?

Heck, I can’t go to my son’s tee-ball game without salivating when I hear the coach yell, “Batter up!” And yet, if I want to go kayaking without having to worry about capsizing the vessel, I’m told I have to forsake any and all thick, gooey, drippy, yummy, uncooked and underappreciated edibles.

Dang, dang and triple dang.

Looks like I better stock up on some duct tape with skin-friendly adhesive.

Even my jewelry has elastic waist bands!

February 7th, 2007

necklace2.jpgA wonderful thing happened this morning.

My four-year-old son presented me with a necklace of his own design. This is a first, and it really touched my heart.

But you know what really got me jazzed?

When I realized the string was one of those elastic models, that can accommodate heads of all girths and dimensions.

Sixty pounds ago, such a ridiculous thought never would have occurred to me. In fact, the oddity of the thought was so jarring, it forced me to consider how it ever came to be in the first place. Surprisingly, I saw the route. And that’s what I’m about to share with you.

First, there were the thighs.

Ever since the days of grade school tights and leotards, I was aware my thighs were, how shall we say…thicker…than other girls’ thighs. This wasn’t a big deal way back when, because the thickness was a muscle thing, and there was a sense of pride at their rock solid bounty.

But sometime in high school, there came a slight inner-thigh “swak,” as if the very tops of my inner thighs were star-crossed lovers, and they had at long last been reuinited for a long, passionate kiss.

(These days, my thighs’ agents are negotiating spokesperson deals with the folks at Close Up toothpaste, but I digress.)

After the thighs came my booty.

Rare were the pants that could clothe my thighs and buttocks and not jut out a good seven inches from my waist. A belt does not assist with this dilemma – it just strangles the extra fabric in an awkward fashion, and no one’s fooled.

The tummy bulge was the next self-esteem culprit.

A wee littl *pop!* that no amount of lying on my back and sucking it in could hide. Still, in intimate situations, this was the hands-down alternative to sitting up and revealing the belly crease. So, I snuggled deep down under the covers at every opportunity, flat on my back, perfectly horizontal…preferably, in ill-lit rooms.

I do believe it was at this point the hips began to sprawl.

Words like “Ruben-esque,” “voluptuous,” and “bodacious” came into my vocabulary. I had to be careful on dance floors – especially if there was a hip-bumping situation, as there always is in groups of three or more female friends on a disco binge.

During this whole time, I was still somehow OK with myself, because it was just my lower body that had its issues. North of the belly button, I was doing fine. My bras were in the 34/36 range, my arms were strong, and with the right A-frame dress and a decent pair of support hose, I could still turn a few heads.

Things were going along all right – until I got bamboozled by my calves.

Never, never, NEVER did I consider that weight issues went beyond shopping for jeans and pants. Thighs, butt, waist, hips – all these were areas of great distress. But with shoes? I just chalked it up to my wide feet and got over it. I didn’t like the pointy-toe-strappy-look-pin-prick-heel thing anyway.

But one winter I thought it would be a wonderful thing to have a pair of boots.

Boots were sexy. They went with a whole array of thigh, knee, and full-length skirts. I don’t know why I never considered them before, but I was excited to get on the boot band wagon.

Unfortunately, as I was trying on pair after pair, I was sucked into the vortex of my rude awakening. My calves – my CALVES! – were not fitting into any of these standard floor-model styles.

Chunky heels, flat heels, knee-high, 3/4 high – didn’t matter. None of them zipped up past my hard, unforgiving, circumference-a-plenty mid calf.

When I saw the sales lady glance over at me with a mix of pity and disgust, I realized I was the elephant in the bikini shop, and I hadn’t even realized it.

During the next several months, I’d sneak into stores and try on their boots, hoping I had just had a bad day, or the original store had a limited selection. I finally struck gold in mid-April, when I found a pair of black boots at a a discount department store called Ross. These boots had no zipper. What they DID have was stretchy, elastic, plastic-y faux-leather. I gave the cashier my $20 and put the boots away for the next six months, for the next boot season to arrive.

After the calf incident, it’s been all downhill.

I couldn’t ignore the boob spillage anymore, and went up to a 38 bra. (I probably should’ve just gone with 40. But we Weighties have strange little rules in our heads. I don’t know where they come from, I just know they exist.)

Arms of my shirts got cinchier and cinchier. And then, of course, I realized I was a victim of “Muffin Top” – where my mid torso finds creative ways to spill over the tops of my pants. And then there’s the back fat issue…but I already went over THAT horror story.

Which brings me back to my lovely new necklace.

You know Jeff Foxworthy’s “You know you’re a redneck when” jokes?

necklace1.jpgWell, you know you’re a Fattie when your four-year-old son gives you a beautiful homemade necklace, and the thing that makes you happiest about it is the elastic string. Because you know, no matter how much weight you may gain – even in your skull – it’ll always fit you.

Now if only my wedding band had been designed with such sweet forgiveness.

(Oh BOY, does being fat SUCK!!!)

Torn

February 5th, 2007

Here’s the good news: I’m six weeks pregnant!

Here’s the bad news: There’s no where to go but up, up, UP in weight!

For the Weightie who’s in her child-bearing prime (or edging a bit past it), getting a positive result on the home pregnancy pee stick stirs up a tsunami of emotions.

bodyparts_tummy.jpgThere’s an undeniable wave of gratitude: “Yes! My body is working! My uterus is safe, sound, and functioning! My eggs still got it!”

And then there’s the other flood of feelings: “Crap, I never did lose the weight I swore I’d lose before I got pregnant…again. Will I balloon even bigger than before? Will my body be able to handle another 10 20, 30, 40, or more pounds?”

The last time I was pregnant, I was 5-10 pounds less than I am now. I had a good, healthy pregnancy, and I was able to lose all the pregnancy weight and then some by just six weeks after I gave birth.

However, I DID gain 37 pounds.

If you’ve ever read the recommendations of weight gain during pregnancy, you’d know the following:

  • “Normal” weight women should gain between 25-35 lbs.
  • Underweight women should gain between 28-40 lbs.
  • Overweight women should gain between 15-25 lbs.

I’ve got a little issue with this. We’re told in no uncertain terms that when we get pregnant, we are absolutely NOT supposed to diet or lose weight – that we could harm to fetus, deprive the growing baby of important nutrients, etc.

Got it.

What I don’t understand is how I’m supposed to be able to gain less weight during my pregnancy than a “normal” or underweight woman is supposed to gain during her pregnancy. Regardless of weight, blood volume doubles, a human being is growing within us, placentas pump up, boobs overflow…all of this has nothing to do with our weight.

So how am I supposed to gain less weight than my size 6 sister? Where, exactly, is this 10-20 lb. wiggle room?

No one addresses this question. They just say the equivilent of:

“Hey Fattie – you’re already fat. Too bad you didn’t take our advice and lose that fat before you got knocked up, huh? Well, you better not get much fatter during your pregnancy, or else. You’re at risk for high blood pressure and gestational diabetes, not to mention the pain you’ll feel with the extra strain on your joints and such. And you want to make sure none of this stresses you out, because stress can harm the baby. Oh, and you’re not allowed to diet, either. Good luck – and have fun finding maternity clothes that fit over your @$$!”

So every day, I thank God I have what I know will be a beautiful, healthy baby growing in my lower belly, beneath the layers of extra cushion. Every day, I am thrilled when I think of the fact that my little boy will have a sibling, and our family is going to grow by one wonderful human being.

And every day, I do my best to ignore the worries that come with the miracle inside of me – what that means for my body, my comfort, my health.

Of course, it would have been nice to solve the mystery of my weight problem once and for all BEFORE I brought another human being into this world.

But I didn’t. And if I waited until I finally figured out how to get this extra load off of me, I might have waited straight through to the barren years of menapause. I’ve been struggling for a decade and have gotten no closer to a solution for my expanding girth. I’d be foolish to put off life and ignore the very real ticking clock until I found the skinny cure.

So I have no choice but to stay positive, accept what is, and get ready for that lovely part of pregnancy that involves constant stepping on and off of scales, bloating, swelling, waddling, and seeing numbers that identify me as a woman who is way out of balance with what she consumes and what she actually needs to consume to stay healthy and satisfied.

Little Growing Baby, you’ll be fine, I promise. It’s Jabba the Mommy I’m a little worried about.

Don’t see THIS very often, huh?

January 21st, 2007

skinnychick.JPG

Who DARE doth mock the skinny chicks of the world? I’ve never seen it happen before. Wow. I don’t know what to make of it. Maybe being a little fleshy ain’t such a bad thing after all?

(Ha! At least she gets to shop in stores that don’t carry pants with elastic waist bands!)

Size angst is NOT exclusive to the “XLs & Beyond” of the world

January 16th, 2007

For any Girl of Girth, it can be a challenge to hear skinny gals – whether they’re long-term leanies or recently svelt – complain about how tough it is to find clothes that fit when they’re shopping.

However, on her “Perfuncto” blog, Salma Gundi presented a compelling enough scenario to garner sympathy from me. Even if she is a “long limbed small.” (I think she had me with the “…abdominal fat deposits and shrinking boobs…”)

Here’s an excerpt:

The world is apparently made for mediums. The world of Marshall’s, at least, is made for mediums. I am not a medium. I am also not a 5 foot tall 15 year old. Where the hell am I supposed to shop for 10 dollar pants without looking like a Baby Phat ghetto princess or a polyester typing pool matron? Did the other long limbed smalls with abdominal fat deposits and shrinking boobs get there before me and take all the goodies? Damn them. I bet they got up early, too.

I feel your pain, Salma. I may feel it while standing next to a different rack, clinging desperately to the XLs and avoiding that abyss of wretched fabric over in the Women’s section. But I feel it, nonetheless.

Funny stuff.

My Fat History: 1977 – 1997

January 15th, 2007

It’s January, 2007. I’ve got decades of struggling with weight under my straining belt. Since the start of a new year is a time for reflecting on the past and pondering the future, allow me to take a jaunt down my fat’s memory lane.

 

There’s this really cute picture from 1977. It was summertime, and I was playing in the backyard with my neighbor and one-year-old brother. I had a two-piece bathing suit on. I’m five years old. One of my parents snapped a sweet picture of the three of us, all smiles, dripping wet from our idyllic frolicking.

 

When I saw the picture, I crinkled my freckled nose. Hmm. I didn’t know my thighs touched, or that my belly was a bit round. Of course, this was a normal five-year-old’s body, and the two other kids in the picture had their own “imperfections.” But it was the first time I saw my bodily flaws right there in front of me. Ick.

 

In second grade, I started taking ballet. As I stood next to the barre in my black leotard and pink tights with eight other ballerinas, it was clear I wasn’t one of those “little” girls. Those girls had knobby knees and pointy elbows. Their bodies were straight up and down. They were light on their feet, and the teacher complimented them on their form. Me? I was practically Marilyn Monroe without the boobs. According to my teacher, I had “a great arch, and nice muscle tone” – the latter of which broadcast itself to the world through my thick-ish thighs. All of this is hard to miss when there are full-length, wall-sized mirrors surrounding you. None of this seems like a good thing to a seven year old.

 

Flash forward to sixth grade, when I made a point to write in my diary that I weighed 95 lbs., which seemed QUITE monstrous, as I happen to know the “cool” chick in our grade weighed a whopping 80 lbs., if she weighted a deuce.

 

In junior high school, I recall being privately humiliated when I had to buy pants in size 6-8, when all my friends bee-bopped happily in their size 0-5 apparel.

 

Then came high school, when I weighed in each year for my varsity sports physical. I remember the number going from 125 my freshman year, to 128 my sophomore year, to 132 my junior year, then hitting a nauseating 136 my senior year. I was all muscle back then with a nice, tight bod, but since it’s common knowledge from the world that no woman worth anything was supposed to weigh more than 125, I KNEW I was a total Fattie.

 

Soon, college was upon me. Thanks to my new relationship with late-night pizzas and all-you-can-eat cafeteria meal plans, I gained the freshman 15 in a blink of an eye, going from 139 to 154 in the first semester. (Boy, I thought I was a butterball at 154. To think that’s a pie-in-the-sky goal weight now!)

 

I got down to 143 a year or two later. How? By banishing fat from my diet, stairmastering for an hour every night between 10-11pm while reading stuff by and about Milton Friedman, Sigmund Freud, and John Updike, and dancing my butt off at clubs for a few hours after that. (The calories consumed in alcoholic beverages didn’t stand a chance during those vibrant years!) Still, I was absolutely PI**ED OFF that the scale would not get below the 140s, no matter what I did. In my head, I was still officially way above what I was supposed to weigh.

 

Then the post-college bomb known as Real Life hit.
 

Soon, 145 became 150. 150 climbed to 155. Then, two years after I graduated, I’m bawling, BAWLING, because I just waddled into Jenny Craig to find I was up to a ginormous 159. Oh my GAWWWD, that’s nearly 160!!! Yipes!

 

After two months of eating these itty, bitty plastic containers of indiscernible mush with no significant weight loss to show for it, I gave Jenny the boot.

 

It’s at this point I knew I had to change my life.

 

I quit my job in a major US city to work at a resort outside of Yellowstone National Park. Fresh air, antlers, and Wrangler patches as far as the eye could see. Lots of opportunities to get active, breathe, remember what’s important, write, think, regroup, etc. I was 24.

 

Only problem was, the place where I worked was a resort for guests, and a veritable commune for employees. I got my room and board for a pittance, but the staff kitchen was run by a 75 year old woman who did all her cooking with gravy, butter, lard, potatoes, cheese, and sides of fatty, oily beef. Anything green was doused in a glaze of slippery sauce. Biscuits were aplenty. Pies and ice cream were the side dishes.
 

During the next five months, I gained 40 pounds.

 

Yes. You read that right.

 

So there I was, standing in the doctor’s office, crying my eyes out. I just found out I weighed an impossible 195. Five more pounds, and I’m officially a TWO HUNDRED POUND WOMAN. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror. Everything sagged and drooped. It was painful to smile, cuz I could feel my cheeks and neck looking for a place to go.

 

It’s at this time the good nurse practitioner slipped me a prescription for some diet drug that was all the rage in the outside world. The drug was called Phen-Fen. Or Fen-Phen. Or “that glorious little pill that gave me headaches, sucked the saliva out of my gums, left me sleepless, but totally, ABSOLUTELY took my hunger away.”

I called a friend in Los Angeles, asked her if she wanted a roommate, packed my bags and drove my little car 1000 miles to my new life. Warm weather, sunshine, skinny people everywhere. I was determined to reinvent my life and body.

Two weeks after I arrived, and less than two months after popping this amazing little pill, and I was down to 167. Life was starting to look up…

Until the drug was recalled. Something about heart attacks, and killing people.

Crap.

It’s 1997. Ten years ago. And the last time I’ve seen the 160s.

The ascent begins in earnest.

Weighing in on…Monday Mornings

January 8th, 2007

Okay, so there’s New Year’s Day, the annual blip of hope and new beginnings for Fatties the world over.

Then we have the seasonal anniversaries of resolve and renewal, like “Yikes! Bathingsuit Season’s Just Around the Corner!” Day (May), and “Help! I’m the Size of a Woman in Labor!” Day (September).

Then we have the most universal and ubiquitous collective conscious experience for Fatties, hands down:

Mondays.

Fifty-two times every year. No exceptions.

The food oopsies of the weekend have come and gone. The party’s over. It’s a new week. Either the kids are back at school, the work week has begun, the regular primetime TV schedule is back in full swing, or some combination of the three.

Whatever the individual triggers are, the outcome’s the same. A nausea-like wave of realization slaps us in the flub and tells us it’s time to buckle down, get serious, and shed some pounds.

Ambitious exercise regimens course through some of our brains. Weekly meal planning is the go-to rite of passage for others.

Details aren’t as important as understanding this:

Every female - and I do mean EVERY female - with any unwanted chub on her skeletal structure whatsoever, considers some kind of diet or weight loss regimen on Monday mornings.

There’s a theatrical sweep of the psychological slate. Inner monologues are channeled as drill sergeants, knuckle-whipping nuns, and broad-shouldered, square-jawed women named Helga.

“That’s it. I’m serious this time.”

“No more messing around. Let’s do this thing.”

“I am never eating anything but cabbage, celery, and fiber-infused cereal, ever again.”

“Two hours a day – 1000 crunches, five miles on the treadmill, full-circuit free weights, and a good 30 minutes on the bike, elliptical, or stairmaster, depending on my mood. No excuses.”

“How bad IS bulimia on my tooth enamel, really?”

Cookies are sworn off. Fast food is noted as the Devil’s poison, never to be touched. Gym memberships are recalled fondly.

The plan’s in place. The strategy is bulletproof. Fate as a skinny Minnie is signed, sealed, and just waiting to be delivered.

Breakfast’s are skipped. Fat clothes are scowled at and told they’re not long for their closets.

For those first few hours on Monday morning, women are proud and happy of themselves. There have been no slip-ups – no binges, no skipped workouts, no surrender to fried, salty lard sticks.

From 6am to 11am on Monday, Weighties everywhere are thinking, “This very well could be the first day of the rest of my flat-stomached life.”

And it could. Except for one, small thing.

Tuesday.

And even if Tuesday keeps the same rules and momentum as a flawless, faithful, perfectly executed Monday – a feat of grand proportions! – then Wednesday has to come and go. And Thursday has that after-work networking thing. And Friday there’s dinner with the Swinsons, then brunch on Saturday, and your in-laws are coming over for dinner on Sunday, and they ALWAYS want bread, dessert, and wine, at the VERY least…

But thank heavens for Monday.

Monday – the day all diets and weight loss plans are possible, if only for one fabulous, fleeting jiffy.

(I’d write more, but it’s 11:10am right now. I have to go eat something before I pass out.)