Getting Weighed at the Doctor’s Office, and Why I’m Going to Do It

June 12, 2008

I never get weighed at my primary-care doctor’s office, and they’re totally cool with it (I’ve mentioned before how much I love my doctor, and that’s one of the reasons why).

I have an OB/GYN appointment in 40 minutes, and I was all set to decline to be weighed, which I’ve never done there before. But then I remembered why I made the appointment: despite not getting a period for over a year (because I have a Mirena IUD, and ye gods, the Internet will get me to share EVERYTHING, won’t it?), I keep getting painful cramps throughout the month (every month, that is), on no particular schedule. That is, I can’t point to the calendar and say, “This is when I would have gotten my period, so that must be why I’m getting cramps,” because they happen at random intervals throughout the month. And have been for about a year or more.

I’ve been loving Rioiriri’s series of Fat Is A Symptom, Not A Disease, and the one that made me sit up and go “BUH?” was the one on ovarian cysts. I can’t diagnose myself, obviously. But in addition to the painful random cramps, my lower abdomen is disproportionately large. None of my pants fit right, but the problem is *only* in the belly area — the legs fit properly, but the belly area that *did* fit properly when I bought the pants is now painfully tight.

While it’s true that I could just be denying my fat, or ignoring a weight gain in just my belly area, I’m also losing some weight in my face and (oddly) shoulders, because I stopped taking Zoloft exactly 1 month ago, and because I’ve been working out more lately.

So…weight loss in my face and shoulders, but disproportionately large belly? (I’m not pregnant; believe me, I checked. More than once.) Plus painful cramps all month long? Maybe it’s a fibroid or some other ovarian cyst. I mean, on one hand, I don’t want to have a cyst, but on the other hand, I would like an explanation for the cramps. Because I’m not digging the pain.

So while I don’t want to be weighed this afternoon, I’m going to let them, because I *do* want my weight recorded so that the doctor can compare it to what I’ve weighed in the past. And then we’ll see what might be going on under the hood.


diets, again

May 11, 2008

I was going to start by saying “I don’t care if other people diet; that’s their business,” etc. But I realized that I *do* care if people diet. Why do I care? The reasons range from (what I hope is) altruism all the way to self-preservation.

(1) Dieting is not a healthy state of being, physically or mentally/emotionally. Countless studies have borne this out. I can think of many, many, many fatosphere bloggers who will stand up and attest to this. So, yeah, I care about people voluntarily hurting themselves.

(2) Diets don’t work. [Unless, of course, your dieting goal is that you want to lose X number of pounds but then don’t give a shit if you put them back on. Which is kind of insane.] Again, countless studies have borne this out. I care about people driving themselves batshit by engaging in futile behavior.

(3) I don’t want to hear about how skipping the office birthday cake means you’re “good” today, or how the latest issue of Men’s Health listed how many calories are in a Cinnabon. [True story; I went to the deli in my office building with an uber-health-conscious co-worker, and I got a cinnamon roll — not an actual Cinnabon, just a generic cinnamon roll — and co-worker immediately said “Men’s Health says that Cinnabons have 800 calories!” My response: “Huh.” And then I paid for my not-Cinnabon and happily ate it.] I care about my piece of mind, damn it.

(4) I’m well aware of at least one person in my office (oddly, NOT the co-worker in #3) who mentions her diet and her Weight Watchers POINTS, etc., in an attempt to shame other people into dieting. In fact, she gets *really* blatant about it with me, thanks to the unfortunate period I went through literally 10 years ago where I went to Weight Watchers. Ever since then, because she knows that *I* know what WW POINTS are, she’ll “casually” bust out with a comment expressing surprise that I’d eat something with so many POINTS. Like, office birthday party, everyone but her is eating ice cream, and she’ll sit next to me, drinking her water, and say, “Wow, I always find it amazing that people are okay with eating 16 POINTS in one bowl!!!”

I try to make sure I sit where there isn’t an empty seat, so she can’t do that, but when she does, I’ve gotten to the point where I just say, “Well, obviously I *am*. I think I’ll have seconds!”

I care about not being shamed for what I choose to eat while I’m sitting there being fat at my co-workers.

(5) Oh, and — hearing about your diet BORES THE SHIT OUT OF ME. I care about my boredom level, damn it.

There’s probably many more reasons that, yeah, I *do* care if people diet, but those are the general reasons. Now, I acknowledge that any mentally competent adult can choose to diet. I’m not going to stop you. I just don’t think it’s a good idea.

Can you diet and be a fat acceptance activist? You tell me. The cognitive dissonance, for me, is too great.

The first word in HAES is Health

April 30, 2008

Good with Cheese reminded me at exactly the right time that the “health” part of HAES means a lot more than just eating well and moving my body regularly.

See, I came down with a nasty cold Monday. One of those where you feel fine all day, and then suddenly, after dinner, WHAMMO! Sore throat, stuffy head, general ick. I’ve been coughing, blowing my nose nonstop, have a fever on and off, have been trying to come up with a way to make the insides of my ears stop itching, and generally being a sickie.

Here’s the thing: having this cold has been making me have long, INSANE conversations with myself (no, the conversations aren’t insane just by virtue of the fact that I’m talking to myself; THAT’S completely normal) about how I need to get to the gym to keep up my pattern of exercising 3x a week (sometimes even 4x a week, if the dogs can con me into a W-A-L-K).

I feel strong and clearheaded when I exercise regularly, and I love the endorphin rush. And since I couldn’t work out for most of November, all of December, and all of January because of a sprained ankle, when I got back to the gym in February, I vowed to make it a regular part of my schedule. Not to lose weight, but because it makes me FEEL GOOD.

After not working out for almost 3 months, and then getting back into the habit of regular exercise for the past 3 months, my lizard brain keeps zipping around, yelling “Must…work…out!!! Get to the gym!!! Go go go!!! Can’t miss a week!!!” I even said in my comment to Good with Cheese’s post that I’ve “been good” by working out 3x a week for the past 3 months.

Yup. I fell into the trap of the good/bad mindset, where exercise = good and not exercising = bad. I didn’t mean to, but I think that’s the whole point — it’s still ingrained in me that some behavior is “good” and other behavior is “bad,” and if I don’t stop once in a while to check my brain, I can be hip-deep in self-congratulation for my exercise streak.

You know what IS “bad”? Pushing myself to work out when I can hardly breathe because I have an icky cough. Convincing myself that I can go to the gym and “just walk around the track slowly” when I hardly have the energy to read a book.

I said in my comment to Good with Cheese’s post that my “row of gold stars” is broken. But, hell, who deserves a gold star for pushing herself too hard and maybe getting sicker, for exposing lots of other people to her cold, for NOT listening to her body? No gold star there.

I needed the reminder in Good with Cheese’s post that the “health” part of HAES comes from listening to my body to find out what it truly needs, and then giving that to my body. Some days my body does need to move, and I try to honor that. But this week, today? My body just needs to rest and get better. Anything else doesn’t qualify as “health” and damn well doesn’t earn me a gold star.

Why is the US in a recession? Because of all the fat people, that’s why!

April 25, 2008

I was reading the beautiful Love Letter to a Fat Man at Men in Full, and clicked on the link that inspired it — an MSN Finance article titled “What if No One Were Fat?”

It doesn’t use the kind of vile sentiments that many fat-hating articles do, but make no mistake, the author of this article hates fat people. She must, given the fact that she blames all of society’s financial problems on The Fat People. No, seriously.

“The estimates below assume the average American adult is at least 20 pounds overweight, a figure nutritionists see as fair.”

“Savings on fuel for cars and airlines due to their lighter loads would top $5 billion, according to industry studies. Researchers say each overweight driver burns about 18 additional gallons (70 litres) of gas a year, or just under a billion gallons (3.89 billion litres) altogether.”

What about all the trucks/SUVs/Hummers that are, in and of themselves, significantly heavier than sedans, economy cars, and the much-loved Prius? I drive a Toyota Echo, which weighs literally less than a ton — FAR lighter than most of the other vehicles on the road. I think that MORE than makes up for my “extra 20 pounds.”

“Savings in the air are far greater: The jet-fuel savings alone could double North American airlines’ forecast 2008 profits to $3.8 billion and maybe persuade them to stop stranding passengers because they can’t afford the fuel for flights.”

Yes, you read that correctly: fat people are responsible for airlines’ bankruptcy, and, worse than that, for all the Skinny Folk getting stranded at the airport. Because it has nothing to do with fuel prices, or airlines’ fiscal planning. Your fat ass is why Delta and Northwest just merged.

Kind of makes you feel powerful, doesn’t it? I’m getting a headrush from all my Fat Power! Let’s see what other financial woes I’m responsible for!

“Plus-sized clothing costs 10% to 15% more, so shoppers would save $10 billion on shirts, pants and dresses. And clothes might fit better too. Cynthia Istook, an associate professor in textile apparel at North Carolina State University, says the economies of making fewer sizes would be tremendous. Clothing makers could then afford to offer more variety in hip and bust sizes, rather than asking every woman to squeeze into an hourglass shape.”

God, if you FAT PEOPLE would stop being so selfishly fat and demanding clothes that actually fit properly and look good, why, the rest of the Skinny Folk would have more clothing options! My skinny mom is going to be forced to go to work in a POTATO SACK because I just won’t stop being fat!

“Because 3,500 calories translates into a pound of fat, somewhere along the way, America’s 227 million adults have eaten 16 trillion calories too many. That’s 14 billion Big Mac meals, with fries and a soda.”

Do I even need to address this one? I’m so tired of hearing that “3,500 calories” line, along with the implication that my body is a laboratory-calibrated calorimeter.

Besides, lots of Skinny Folk eat Big Macs, too. Surely at least one or two of those 14 billion Big Mac meals were consumed by a non-fat person.

“The medical costs of obesity-related problems such as diabetes, stroke and heart disease run near $140 billion, or more than 6% of all health-care costs.”

(Sigh.) Say it with me: CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION. Oh, but wait. Skinny Folk ever get diabetes, strokes, or heart disease. (Except, for example, my Dad’s ENTIRE FAMILY.)

“Productivity in the workplace would jump as people took fewer sick days and spent less time at work feeling unwell. Ross DeVol, the director of health economics at the Milken Institute, says the loss of productivity due to people showing up at work sick is “immense.” Using a recent Milken report on the subject, he calculates that if no one were obese, the added output from workers and their caregivers would give the country a $257 billion boost.”

This, however, is the biggest crock of shit in the entire article. (And that’s hard to do, given how utterly ignorant the rest of the article is.) Can anyone find for me where in that paragraph “being sick” is caused by obesity? How does being overweight give me the flu? Or migraines?

Ignorant, ignorant, ignorant. That paragraph is based on the utterly incorrect assumption that fat = unhealthy. I know as a matter of goddamn fact that I don’t take any more sick days than my non-fat co-workers. Seriously, now. Are we to assume that more fat people call in sick to work because they’re pinned to their bed by the sheer gravitational pull of their ASSES?!?

You tell me. Because I can’t think of any other reason.

” ‘Jenny Craig would be very unhappy’ if everyone were slim, says Rand’s Sturm. And so she would, along with the rest of the $55 billion weight-loss industry.”

I certainly can’t argue with this, but I have a more realistic way to put Jenny Craig out of business: JUST STOP DIETING.

“Manufacturers and builders wouldn’t have to make doorways bigger, car seats wider, furniture stouter.”

Because of all those selfish goddamn fat people who have the nerve to demand that they be treated like human beings!

“Some even argue that global warming would slow a mite, as consumption of gas, energy, fertilizer and methane-producing cattle decreased.”

Ahahahahahaha!!!!! I’m actually PERSONALLY RESPONSIBLE for global warming!!!!!

The POWER!!! I’m drunk on the sheer force of my AWESOME FAT POWER!!!!

“…the net effect on the economy of a slimmer population would be a lot of reshuffled resources, with a nice rise in productivity that should take living standards up a notch.”

And back to the main point of the article (well, one of the main points; the other being ignorant fat hatred): You Big Fat Fatties Have Put America In A Recession — Are You Happy Now???

I didn’t know I had it in me.

skewed perception

March 31, 2008

The other night, I was looking through the photo galleries at The Judgment of Paris. My boyfriend, as he often does, plopped down on the couch next to me to see what I was doing and if he could do it with me (sometimes he’s very high-maintenance).

“What are you doing?”

“Looking at pictures of plus-sized models.”

“Can I look, too?” (Pause.) “Wow…she’s HOT!”

As we looked through the photo galleries, I commented that most of the pictures don’t look “plus-sized” to me. They look normal size. Not big, not small — normal. For instance, this cover from the dearly departed, sorely missed MODE absolutely doesn’t look “plus-size” to me. I mean, what would make it “plus-size”? Her boobs? There’s nothing about Natalie Laughlin on that cover that — to me — looks larger than normal.

Almost every photo we came to, I said, “In what world is THAT ‘plus-sized’? I don’t get it!”

Finally, T. said to me, “You don’t read fashion magazines, do you? I mean, I’ve never seen you reading anything other than Health and Macworld.”

I said that no, I don’t read fashion magazines, because I’m not terribly interested in them, and they generally feature clothes that I could never afford anyway.

“Well,” T. said, “I think that’s why these models don’t seem ‘plus-size’ to you — you just aren’t used to seeing the very skinny models in fashion magazines these days.”

Huh. I hadn’t even thought about that. He’s right, though. The models in Vogue, et al., aren’t on my radar these days. I used to read fashion magazines like Glamour and Mademoiselle years ago, but I haven’t for a long time. And when I see photos of plus-size models, who are my size (or smaller), they look normal to me, because they look like what I see in the mirror every day.

And even though I have my own struggles with accepting my body, I’m glad — I’m THRILLED — that I’ve internalized a standard for “normal” beauty that truly IS closer to the average woman than most advertisers would have me believe.

Non-Specific Intuitive Eating

March 25, 2008

I tend to make things harder than they should be. (Never, EVER ask me to give you directions. I write paragraphs just to get someone 2 miles in a straight line. I feel more detail is always better.) Apparently, I’ve been doing the same thing with intuitive eating.

I’ve been walking around thinking that intuitive eating means that, whenever I’m hungry, I’ll know PRECISELY what I want to eat. Like, Trader Joe’s chicken-and-apple sausage cut up into scrambled eggs with finely shredded asiago cheese, with a hunk of toasted sourdough bread from the tiny indie bakery down the street.

And sometimes my stomach DOES get that specific, and I honor that request to the best of my ability. (The best Thai food I ever had was in London, at Thai on the Thames in Richmond. Since I live right smack in midwestern America, I seriously doubt that my stomach will ever get Thai on the Thames again, so when it craves Pad See Ew, it’s got to be from the Thai place around the corner.)

But sometimes my stomach just says, “Hey, I’m hungry. Do we have any protein?” Or, even more vaguely, “Hey, I’m hungry. Put something in me soon, or there’s going to be fallout.” I had assumed that “real” intuitive eating involved honoring the craving for specific foods, not just honoring your hunger in general.

That’s silly, isn’t it? At its most basic level, intuitive eating starts with the non-specific idea that if you’re hungry, EAT! And from there, if your stomach requests something that’s within your power to provide, you eat that instead of a substitute that will inevitably be less satisfying.

But since I make things harder than they need to be, I’ve been stubborn and not eating when I’m hungry UNLESS I know specifically what it is that I want to eat. This has led, unsurprisingly, to low blood sugar, headaches, crankiness, and, ultimately, eating way past full because I waited too long to eat and my hunger became overwhelming.

Yesterday, it was 11:30-ish in the morning. And I was undeniably, stomach-growling HUNGRY. I kept looking at the clock and telling myself to just hold on and wait until noon. Why? Because noon is when you’re “supposed” to eat lunch. (For the record, no one at my company has to follow a rigid time schedule, so some people eat lunch at 2:30, some eat at noon — basically, we can eat whenever we want.)

After about 5 minutes of telling my stomach to stop growling, the sheer absurdity of it suddenly hit me. What the HELL? I’m an adult with a flexible schedule and a turkey sandwich in the refrigerator. There was no reason I couldn’t eat my lunch at 11:30 instead of noon.

My hunger wasn’t for a specific food; it was just general mealtime hunger. And that’s when it hit me that the foundation of intuitive eating is the simple act of eating when you’re hungry; from there, it can be more specific, but it doesn’t have to be. The Rotund talks about this in a recent post, saying, “The day I realized that I felt better and was happier and far more pleasant to be around when I actually, you know, ate food instead of ignoring my hunger cues, was a hugely important day.”

The best part was that, because I finally came to my senses and ate when I was hungry instead of forcing myself to wait, I stopped obsessing over how soon I’d be “allowed” to eat, and just got on with my day. Non-intuitive eating just creates an obsession — when you’re allowed to eat, what you’re allowed to eat, the amount you’re allowed to eat of the approved foods…and then when you’ll be allowed to eat AGAIN.

Eat when you’re hungry. It’s the simplest damn thing in the world. So then WHY is it so hard for so many people?

Medication-Related Weight Gain and Loss

March 17, 2008

Seeworthy has a recent post about an article discussing the possibility that medications are making us fat. Specifically, medications for psychiatric conditions.

Speaking for my own fat self, I’ve gained about 50-60 pounds since I started Zoloft about 10 years ago. And just googling “zoloft + weight gain” leads to a hell of a lot of anecdotal stories about people who, after starting Zoloft (or other SSRI antidepressants), began to gain weight even though their diet and level of activity was unchanged.

My whole adult life, I’ve been overweight by all external measures. Through college I was a size 14, and after college I settled at a size 16 for years. And no matter how much exercise I engaged in, no matter how little fat I ate (remember the 1990s, when fat was the demon and carbs were good? Mmmmm….pasta!), I always stayed at a size 16.

(Of course, it never occurred to me, back then, that maybe the fact that nothing made my weight budge might be an indication that that was the size my body wanted to be. I was still in the mindset that losing weight, being the smallest size possible, was a goal worth achieving at all costs.)

Then I started taking Zoloft, and despite exercise, despite Weight Watchers, despite fervently embracing low-carb when it came around (bye-bye, low-fat diet beliefs of the 1990s!), my weight crept up. And oh, how I hated myself. It had to be *me,* didn’t it? I just wasn’t exercising hard enough, or long enough, or maybe it was the oatmeal I had for breakfast instead of eggs and turkey bacon.

Truly, it didn’t make sense. And, 10 years ago, all the information available about Zoloft and other SSRIs was that they could actually cause weight *loss.* The fact that it didn’t, for me, made me hate myself even more — it was like my body couldn’t even get the side effects right!

Now, I don’t exaggerate when I say that Zoloft literally saved my life. Even if I had known back then that it was causing me to gain weight, I wouldn’t have stopped taking it. And now I’m up to a size 20-22.

I’ve been tapering down my Zoloft dose since last summer — but before I made that decision, I had NO idea that Zoloft can cause weight gain. I made that decision based on a lot of reasons, all of which had to do with my mental health, not my weight. That never entered into it.

But the tapering of my dose caused withdrawal (which I expected) bad enough that I started researching ways to deal with the withdrawal, and THAT led me to tons of the aforementioned anecdotal stories about people gaining weight on SSRIs.

I admit that I’m extremely curious to see what happens to my weight once I’m totally off of the Zoloft. Anecdotal evidence is not clinical evidence, certainly, but anecdotal evidence CAN lead to clinical studies, which can then verify or disprove the anecdotal evidence. In any case, if I don’t lose weight, I won’t be disappointed, and if I *do* lose weight, I’m not going to view it as some praise-worthy accomplishment on my part. Let me offer an example:

I was at a party over the weekend, and one of the women there was crowing about how she’d lost about 3 or 4 sizes after stopping some medication she was on. And the thing is, I get that. Medication can do weird things to your body, in terms of hormones and metabolism and all kinds of other processes.

It’s just — she was SO fucking proud of her weight loss. It was all she could talk about, in a fake-self-effacing way: “The biggest pain about LOSING ALL THIS WEIGHT is that I totally have to buy all new clothes! My old ones just literally FALL OFF ME! Look at this waistband!” Here she pulled her skirt away from her waist, to demonstrate her incredible shrinking midsection. “I bought this after I started LOSING WEIGHT, because I never dreamed I’d LOSE THIS MUCH MORE! Now I have to get rid of this skirt, too!”

People were praising her, and congratulating her, and telling her how tight her butt looked, etc. And I just wanted to say, “You didn’t DO anything! You stopped taking a medication — that doesn’t mean you starved yourself or jogged holes in your Nikes!” (Not that *those* are praise-worthy, either; my point is that people were treating her like she worked SO hard to lose weight, when all she did was stop taking one medication.)

When people tell me I have pretty eyes, I don’t think “Thank you” is the appropriate response, because I didn’t DO anything to get them, you know? But I’ll pass the compliment on to my parents and their good DNA. And losing weight because I stop a medication falls in the same category.

Sure, stopping a medication can, obviously, lead to weight loss. But don’t expect me to fall at your skinny feet with admiration.