Fat People Are Lazy

“Fat people are just lazy.”  hammock

Grr! How often have we heard that one? I believe that statement is one of the reasons that fat discrimination and prejudice are still acceptable in our society. I would like to think that we have evolved beyond such narrow thinking, but in a culture where we have to remind each other that “all lives matter”, that’s not the case. This happened, in one of my classes. We were discussing weight management and the effect that movement/exercise can have on obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular health. This course was about becoming a personal trainer or coach and focused mostly on exercise. The professor asked why people don’t exercise more in today’s world when we know so much about how good it is for us. The first answer he got was from a 19-20yr old guy sitting in the back. This guy clearly spends a lot of quality time in the gym – he is very fit. His off the cuff response was, “Because they are lazy and don’t want to do the work!” This is going to be a person who works to help people get fit?? I’m sad for people like me who want to get help and end up with a trainer who holds them in contempt.

But a lot of people have that view of us. We haven’t yet reached the place where we call it a “disease” like we do for alcoholism now. And I’m sure there are a fair amount of people who think having a drinking problem is not a disease but just plain undisciplined. However, it’s acceptable to view overweight people that way. Why? I think it’s because obesity is such a multi-faceted problem.

What makes a person fat?     dna person

Think about it! How many different elements or issues go into making a person fat? Genetics? Sure, there’s DNA that’s against us. Environment? Of course! Did we grow up in a fat family or a fit, active one? Personality? Yep. Are you the type of person who deals with life with addictive behavior or are you one of those (people we love to secretly hate) who needs to go for a run when life gets stressful? Ultimately though, fat comes down to, at its most basic level, what we eat and if we exercise. And that is something we control. No one but me holds the fork or makes up excuses why I can’t work out. That’s what people who think we are lazy see. They don’t have trouble controlling that so can’t see how we do.

It’s a tricky issue and hard to combat because most people who think we are lazy don’t say so to our faces. Also we have to overcome that opinion in ourselves. We’ve all heard it growing up. “If you’d just try harder and have some will power!” I think that’s where the real damage can happen. We know inside that there is some part of this problem that is about our being able to control ourselves. That’s where the shame comes in (and oh boy is there shame!). We should be able to control or fix this with just our will power. That’s one of the reasons that gastric by-pass surgery is looked at as an easy way out. We alter our body from the inside instead of conquering or controlling it through force of will.

Do you see us or just the fat?    fat women on street

The people that call us lazy don’t see us, not really. They just see the fat or that we are wasting our body. They don’t see what it takes inside us to try yet again to beat this demon. They don’t see how much work and effort it takes for us to go out in public with our biggest flaw on display for the world to see. They don’t see that of course we know there is some part of this that’s about our ability to control ourselves. They also don’t see that it’s just a small piece of the whole and that obesity is an all-encompassing pervasive problem that affects every single aspect of our existence.

So next time you hear that fat people are lazy, first, pray for the patience to coexist with idiots. Then be comforted that I see and know that lazy has very little to do with it. If you have friends or family that see it that way, send them here and have them read. They may just get a different perspective on the whole thing. And if you’re struggling right now with believing you’re lazy or don’t have enough will power, don’t panic. The more we talk about this, the stronger we get. I’m here, I see you and I know what it’s like.

Inside The Normal

INSIDE THE COOL GROUP    

We all wanted to be inside the “cool” group. Or at least the second tier “ok” group. Or maybe just NOT in the “fatty”, “nerd/geek”, “goth”, or another undesirable group. In a cosmically awesome way the “nerd/geek” group are now, if not cool, at least accepted and even praised for their abilities. To quote one of my favorite shows, “It’s the age of the Geek, baby!” Even the goths are finding more acceptance-black lipstick isn’t creepy anymore…right? The fatties, however? Nope. Not even close and in some circles its only getting worse.

YOU WANT IN, BUT YOU HATE THEM TOO

I may have desperately wanted into that cool group, but I can tell you that this fatty also hated them with a singular passion. They made my life hell just by existing inside of a seemingly effortless bubble of beauty, poise, confidence and peace with themselves. Of course, I’m sure it wasn’t that simple-those kids still had troubles and problems-it just didn’t seem it from the outside. Added to the envy of how they looked and acted was that they also usually actively made life hard for me. There was always THE LOOK, there were whispers behind my back, bursts of laughter as I walked past them in the hall, dog crap in my locker, pulled hair, etc. So even though I wanted in, I hated them too.

Fast forward 10 or 15 years to after my surgery. I had an experience where the person I was with was trashing her fat sister.  I was shocked that she would talk like that about her sister right in front of me until I realized this woman never knew me back then. She had no idea she was talking to a fatty because I wasn’t anymore. I had finally made it into maybe not the “cool” group but at least the “normal person” group. I was elated. It felt unbelievable to be just accepted for the body I presented to the world because it wasn’t noteworthy. It was just there. I could now walk around in that bubble of confidence and poise and be unconcerned with how people looked at me because I now understood that I was just another person. How freeing!

I AM STILL BOTH THE FATTY AND THE NORMAL

Then I started to feel horrible, like I had completely betrayed the fat girl I had been.  I had spent so long building myself up to being ok or even proud to not be part of that “cool” crowd that it felt wrong to be happy to finally belong to any kind of even normal group. How messed up is that?! No, don’t answer-especially if you’ve never been fat. If you’ve never been fat, this must sound like the ravings of a seriously disturbed mind. It kinda is, but I’m ok with that.

 If you are obese enough to be considering this surgery just be aware you may have one or several of those insane moments and maybe this post can help you to be less freaked than I was. There will be lots of bizarre moments in this journey. I’ve been caught staring at my newfound collar bones in movie theater bathrooms. The first time a guy whistled at me I actually turned around and asked if that was meant for me! Poor guy, he probably never did that again.

Anyway, just know that when you have these random love/hate crazy/sane moments that it’s normal. I’m here, I see you and I know what it’s like!

Gastric Bypass Surgery-The Easy Way Out?

BEFORE SURGERY                                                                      hand with IV

I’m laying down on a very uncomfortable hospital bed in one of those horrible jonny’s that I swear is designed to make you feel awkward. It’s scratchy and drafty in the back. I have hot and cold chills and feel slightly queasy as I contemplate what’s about to happen. I’m going to have surgery. No, that’s not right. I’m going to have SURGERY!!! The big, life changing kind. I’m going to have someone cut my stomach apart and attach a small part of it directly to my small intestine and I’m not even sure it’ll be a good thing for my life. Something could go wrong on the table, there could be awful side effects that could last my whole life. I could be nauseous forever. That would be REALLY bad cuz I’m the biggest baby ever when I’m feeling pukey. But I weigh over 300 pounds and the alternative of staying that way forever is worse than even dying on the operating table would be. The reasons that I believed I would live out my life in the “beached whale” category are for another post, but at that time, there was no other hope.

THINK ABOUT THIS!

Think about that for a second!…. If a person has come to the point, that they believe there is no other hope for them than to have surgery to fix a weight problem….Well, what does that say about their life and state of mind? Just to get to the point where I was willing to have surgery was hard enough that I would never consider it the “easy way out!”

I don’t know if it’s still like that now (leave comments and let me know!) but when I had the surgery 11 years ago, you had to be pretty bad off. Morbidly obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control is having a BMI of 40 or above. It can also be having a BMI of 35 or higher with several other health risk factors like Diabetes or Heart Disease. (https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/adult/defining.html) That’s pretty big and there are lots of risk factors to someone’s health with that much extra weight on them.

HOW IS THIS EASY??                                                                  woman lifting wt from behind

I’ve heard it said that having surgery to lose weight is the easy way out and I’m sure whether you’ve had the surgery or you are a family member, that you’ve heard it too. Let’s just nip that notion right here and now! It doesn’t matter what the circumstances, if you had or are considering having that surgery you have already passed the “easy way out” a long while back! If you’re friend or family then you know what your person has gone through to a certain extent. If you are casual acquaintance, co-worker or even bystander understand that in no way, shape or form is the surgery option the easy way out of a lifelong problem. If you still think the weight just melts off without any side effects or problems, THINK AGAIN! It’s a honeymoon in many ways, but like I said before, I’m here to talk about ALL of it – the stuff no one tells you. So if you can’t or won’t ask your loved one or friend or co-worker, ask me. I’ll go there with you. For those of you who had the surgery, I want to know what your experiences were – and are, so …Talk to me!

I know this a shorter post for me, but I felt this was a short (and well, maybe not sweet, how about a little acerbic? LOL) message to send out on the weekend. I truly believe that changing everything about how you eat and move your body and think about yourself is NEVER the easy way out. Doesn’t matter if you do it naturally or have a surgical intervention, it’s ALWAYS hard day-to-day work. And if you have people in your life that think you copped-out, send them here! Until next time, I’m here, I see you and I know what it’s like.

HEY FATTY!

fat lady“Look at those thunder thighs “How can she look at herself in the mirror?” “That’s just gross! Why would she even put on a bathing suit? There’s no cover-up that can hide that.”

Or we could go with the more juvenile versions of verbal abuse a lot of us grew up with. How about, “Lard ass! C’mon over, we have cake!” “Don’t send her over for Red Rover! She’ll land on someone and they will suffocate!” “Hey Tubs!” “Fatso! Have another one!”

Oh wait!  I forgot about THE LOOK. That was always a really great way to make me feel like I had just crawled from under a rock. That slow look that someone (usually the most popular girl, right?) gives you that surveys you from your feet to your head with an expression of disgust or pity or contempt or, worse, smugness that clearly said, “You are gross.”

I also heard “Hey fat-ass!” Which was, looking back, kinda funny, since for a fat person I have a pretty flat, non-existent butt. “Wide load, comin’ through!” were pretty common for me to hear during any average week. This was during the middle/high school years. Can there be a worse set of years??

finger pointed

Why is it so acceptable to make fun of fat? In this uber politically correct world, where saying the slightest wrong thing can ruin a person’s career, how is it possible the ridiculing of fat and obese people is still mostly ok? Even as adults we are subjected to it. We still get THE LOOK, but we also get studied when out to dinner to see what we eat and how much. At the grocery store, our carts are always openly scrutinized and then if what we have is mostly deemed unhealthy we get THE LOOK.

Aside from a select few, it’s still cool to make fat jokes and seems to me to be increasing. As I said, last post, since race, religion, politics, and gender are no longer considered fair game, there has to be some outlet for the underlying angst/frustration people have. Fat is so complicated in it’s origin and there are so many different theories for solving it that it’s impossible to make generalizations about it. The opinions about fat people still range from “it’s a disease”, to “it’s a mental health issue”, to “it’s all about will power”, to “it’s as simple as calories in, calories out”, to “they are just lazy, weak people.” From my own personal experience, apart from laziness, I can tell you that it is ALL of those and many more!

I think there are two major reasons it’s still mostly acceptable to ridicule fat people. I believe instinct plays a major role in both.

First, I think there is a major revulsion factor in a hugely obese person because, back in the day, the just couldn’t keep up. I mean, waaay back in the day. When people were tribal and moved around a lot more than they do now, the fat ones would, of course, slow everyone else down. They would eat more of the supply, they would be just more unhealthy and unable to contribute as much to the community. They would cost more to maintain than the rest of the healthy aggressive dog

members and could possibly cost lives. This is all completely my own take on it, not based in any science that I have studied. It just makes sense to me.

Watching people (particularly toddlers and the very young) react to a very fat person is quite informative. You can see their reaction is almost instantaneous and seems instinctive to me. There is clearly no thought process behind their revulsion and disgust, it’s just there, immediately. That fat person is a threat to the tribe on some elemental gut level that we probably don’t even realize is there-like the natural born reaction to run from a big scary, growling dog.

I’m not saying this reaction is right nor am I defending it on any level. I just think it’s there, a throwback to a time when the weak ones were a problem because they weakened the whole tribe. Next time, we’ll get into the other reaction that I feel is almost as strong and instant. Until then, I’m here, I see you and I know what it’s like.

After the “AHA” Moment…

light bulb

There was an “AHA” moment for me. It was about 3 ½ years after my GBS (Gastric Bypass Surgery). My new baby girl was roughly a year old and I can remember very clearly coming home from a morning grocery shopping trip and realizing that after all I had been through the past two years, my standards had changed. There had been a lot of changes in how I thought about myself and my life. I hadn’t even realized how much I had changed inside but I had gained a lot of confidence in myself and my views and opinions. I, suddenly, was no longer willing to second guess myself or my decisions. I had proved myself TO MYSELF many times over in the past two years and that newfound self-trust allowed me to look inside myself in that moment and realize that I didn’t need to feel ashamed. In fact, that I had been feeling ashamed about one thing or another for the better part of 20 years. Since I was about 12yrs old and started putting weight on. The specific incident that I had been thinking about is irrelevant, I don’t even remember what it was now. But this realization that I didn’t need to live my life from a shamed perspective was HUGE.

SO MUCH SHAME!

There is a lot of shame in the obese/morbidly obese person’s life. Whether it comes from themselves, media, family, friends or, like last post, some random Walmart shopper, it’s always there. If you are overweight (even a lot overweight) and have never been made to feel shameful, that’s pretty cool and I wish I had been as strong. But most of us fat people feel ashamed a lot of the time.

Everything around us tells us we should feel bad that we aren’t fit and healthy. The media constantly tells us what we should eat – low fat, low carbs, high protein, low sugar, high complex carbs, gluten free, paleo, Atkins, plant based, etc. Most of those diets even contradict each other! And then that same, oh so helpful media shows us commercials with beautiful people – slim, tanned, happy, and sexy- eating boatloads of chips, pizza, beer, wine, ice cream, pasta, and candy!!! Never mind the doctors who, if they talk about it at all to us, give us a pamphlet on “healthy eating” and tell us to google diets and try one. Oh! And did I mention that these doctors usually are slim and healthy and have not been overweight, never mind morbidly obese!

So, because we haven’t been able to decipher all these mixed messages, not to mention our own messed up psyches and get skinny and healthy, we are shamed. It not only happens, but is even encouraged sometimes. People need some outlet, right? I mean, it’s so sad nowadays…its not ok to shame someone for the color of their skin, religion, sexual preference, gender preference, acne, learning disability, developmental delay, blindness, number of random piercings or level of geekiness….but fat? Well, Hell! THAT’S STILL FAIR GAME!

SO FIX IT ALREADY!

So once I had my “AHA” moment did it all just change overnight? What about when the weight started to come back on? In the movies, when a person has that moment of clarity, they experience a whole change in perspective that stays with them from then on and allows them to change everything about their life. In real life? Not so much. Because life creeps back in.

I kept seeing those same news reports on the latest and greatest diet followed by those same ridiculous commercials. Once the weight started coming back on, I still got those looks. People who knew I had the surgery would watch what I ate, or comment on how tight a shirt was getting. So even though I KNEW how much had changed on the inside and that I wasn’t ashamed anymore, I’d still find my self-talk going down that path again.

JUST CHANGE YOUR MIND…  brain background

So how do we fight that constant barrage of negative? How do we not let them shame us? It’s that self-talk. I had to train myself to stop midstream and think about all I had accomplished even if the outside world can’t see it. I still do. It’s not easy, but it is very simple. A friend of mine once said to me, “It’s simple! You have to just CHANGE YOUR MIND and not do that anymore.” (Thank you Katie!) She was right. It is simple. But it is NOT easy. It takes a lot of practice to even catch those thoughts before they spiral downward. But once you’ve had that moment where you realize you are so much more than what they can see, it gets easier to push the shame away.

Its something I have to do every day. When I have that second bowl of chips and I know I shouldn’t have had the first one, it’s easy to let myself feel ashamed. It’s hard to just let myself make a mistake and then move on with acceptance. But I know I wasn’t put here to curl up in a corner and feel ashamed! It’s what they would love for us to do because then we wouldn’t be out there challenging their views, then we would sit at home and DO NOTHING. Let’s not do that anymore.

Why do they think it’s still ok to treat obese people that way? Why, in the sooo politically correct world is it still alright to humiliate and hurt fat people? I have a few ideas on that score, so let’s press into that next time. Until then – I’m here, I see you and I know what it’s like!

You should be ashamed…

PEOPLE OF WALMART…   fat women on street

When you see that hugely fat person walking around Walmart, more like lumbering actually, is your reaction empathetic? If you’re like most people, probably not. Our instinctive reaction is to either stare in horror or look away quickly as if it’s “catching.” But what are we thinking? After the first “Oh gross” would probably come “What are they doing to themselves?!” and “How can they do that” Both of those are versions of “They should be ashamed of themselves for abusing the body they were given.” There are several posts within this issue of shame but for today we will just stick with the question of does fat shaming work?

SHAMEFUL!

Picture this: I am morbidly obese. I am exhausted from carrying around 100 extra pounds. None of my clothes fit well so I’m generally uncomfortable all the time. I don’t think doing makeup and hair would make a difference to my appearance, after all it can’t hide that extra 100 pounds or make it pretty to look at, so why bother? It physically hurts me to walk the length of Walmart and if I’m really, really fat I’m probably sweating by the time I get to a register to check out. It has taken me a good hour’s pep talk to get myself out in public in the first place and I’m really just wishing I could have all my interactions with the world inside Harry’s Invisibility Cloak. But no –  you see me. You give me THE LOOK (you know that up and down look that tells you exactly how repulsive you are?) and end up staring at me as I make my progress by you. I can FEEL what you are thinking as if you have spoken out loud. I feel ashamed for existing. I feel ashamed for treating my body this way even when I don’t know why I do. I feel ashamed for not having solved the problem since so many people think it’s as simple as “calories in, calories out.” I just feel shame. I want to curl up-if that was physically possible for me- and be invisible.

FAT SHAMING IS HELPFUL, RIGHT?  head down ashamed girl

I’ve read that there are people who actually believe “fat shaming” is a good thing because it’ll give the fat person the proper motivation to change and get healthy. These people watch waaay too many movies. I think they really expect the fat person in question to all of a sudden affect an enlightened radiant demeanor and exclaim for all to hear,

“Oh Thank you! You have made me feel so bad about myself that I can no longer live like that. You have made me hate myself so much that I will now love myself back to health. Where is the nearest salad bar? Quick! I cannot control my newfound craving for health food!” Then we should be able to see a 40 second montage of the fat person eating healthy, working out (with a smile of course!) on a treadmill, jogging on a picturesque path and doing Pilates. Then will come the big reveal where the former fatty walks into the room and everyone is stunned by how beautiful and attractive they are. That’s how it’s done, right?

What actually happens is that fat person goes home, sits down and numbs the horror of that Walmart trip by escaping into the food that is killing them, but making them feel better. On top of that, there is almost nothing worse than feeling ashamed. It eats at a person’s soul. Feeling guilty is one thing. That means you feel bad about something you have done. Feeling ashamed means you ARE bad. (Thank you, Brene Brown, for showing me the difference!) People who are morbidly obese have plenty of shame heaped on them by themselves. Having it come from outside sources just makes it all worse, makes that downward spiral even more attractive.

CAN WE FIX THIS?   head in hands/ outstreched

So how do we fix this one?  I have some ideas, stick with me! Weight does have that element of self-control (nobody forces me to eat and be sedentary) it seems inevitable that it will somehow be wrapped up in shame and guilt. Talking about it will help. But talking about it isn’t something we do..yet. I have ideas though, so stick with me! That exchange in Walmart was completely without words. No fat person is actually going to stop and address the person giving THE LOOK. And no person giving THE LOOK, wants to even be seen talking to the morbidly obese person that has trouble just walking the length of the store. Maybe writing it out will help. If we can begin to talk about it in general, maybe that will eventually lead to talking about it when it’s actually happening.

I have learned to not live from a shamed perspective anymore. I refuse to let myself feel that I AM bad when really it’s that I feel bad. I refuse to let other’s views of me shape me anymore. Shame and guilt are not places I am willing to operate from nowadays.

TELL ME HOW!!!

But that is NOT an easy attitude to accomplish or maintain. Next post we can get into the daily nitty gritty of not letting shame overtake us. In the meantime, I’m here and I see you and I know what it’s like.

ALWAYS A NEW YEAR, A NEW YOU?

Sleeping Lady w/coffee

Finally! The “new year, new you” craze has settled down! While I am all for the attitude of fresh start every January, I was getting tired of so many posts and pics about “starting fresh” or “new you” or “leave 2017 behind.” Don’t get me wrong! I believe in having resolutions and/or goals for the new year. But I have a hard time with the concept of starting totally over.

So..What? We just wasted 2017?

No matter what came at me the previous year, I’ve always felt that starting completely over was kind of like wasting that whole year. Sure, some years have brought horrible losses like death of a marriage, death of a family member, sickness, financial loss but I like to think I learned a lot from those things-even if it was only that I can keep getting up the next day. It feels to me that if I were to start totally over and not take any of 2017 with me, then maybe I didn’t learn anything from what I went through.

Or maybe I’m just superstitious and REALLY don’t want a repeat of the “lessons” I learned in 2017!

New Year…Another Chance Maybe?     

Either way, I think it should be New Year, Another Chance! This blog is mostly about post op gastric bypass surgery, being obese in America, and that fat is the last acceptable prejudice. But it’s also about how we overcome those things, so considering that, combined with my New Year’s goals, you’ll also be hearing about my health/weight goals and what I am doing to achieve them. I am fully committed to accepting myself as I am (finally!) and sharing how I go about doing that, but I am also aware of the need for improvement in my health.

What is it REALLY like??

I think if I can share what it’s REALLY like to try to be accepting and loving of self while also admitting to the fact that I need to improve my health and lose weight, maybe more of us can do it together. I mean, we don’t want to talk about the days when nothing goes right, and we just make grilled cheese for supper, or pick at the chocolate all day until we have eaten the whole bag, do we? Usually what we see is the talk about transitioning to healthy eating and living and two weeks later the kids LOVE kale chips and ride their bikes for an hour every day…Oh! And they have given up their tablets, devices and game consoles with happy smiles!

yoga feet w/hands

Well, that is magical thinking for sure!!

How about REAL change?                                  

I believe it’s possible to make real change, not overnight change and still accept and give yourself a pass for the bad days. The more we talk about these sticky issues the more likely we can make real progress. So, I’ll be posting about my health goals, changing my eating habits, how I go about doing that. I’ll also be posting the trials and (I hope) triumphs of changing eating habits of two very picky kids. My first goal is to get them to understand that Mommy isn’t trying to kill them when I put something different or (GASP!!) green on their plates! Wish me luck, pray for me, do an interpretive dance, but most of all, check in here and leave me any feedback, ideas and/or tips you may have.  Should be an interesting ride!

So you had Gastric Bypass surgery?

Scale with apple & tapeSo you had Gastric Bypass surgery?

If you’re lucky it went well and you lost a lot of weight. You looked incredible and felt even better. When you looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize the person there, you told yourself that was a good thing. You wanted to be different person, new person, shiny and energetic and SLIM! You could shop anywhere and did. Everything in your life got way better disproving that silly old notion that it’s not all about the weight.

But…

But then something happened. There was a major death or illness in the family. Finances went downhill very fast, maybe you even lost where you live. Your marriage fell apart, seemingly all of a sudden and out of nowhere.

Uh-oh..

Now, you’ve gained a lot of weight back, maybe all of it. Maybe you never lost as much as “they” thought you would. Now you live in a cocoon of shame every day. No one ever actually talks about that though do they? All most people talk about is the supposed success stories, the ones who DON’T gain anything back. Maybe you or they are starting to think you made a mistake…That it wasn’t worth all the risk you took.

Did you make a mistake??

I’m here to tell you it was worth it. I’m here to talk about it ALL! All the nitty gritty stuff no one wants to talk about. I had GBS in 2006 at 300lbs, went down to 150 – maintained that thru a pregnancy- and now in 2017 I weigh 214lbs. Do I live in shame? HELL NO! Do I think it was worth it? HELL YES! The things I have learned are invaluable and I wouldn’t trade that knowledge for anything. I don’t have to be steady at 150lbs or 130lbs or even at 200lbs to know I did the right thing. So let’s get into it! Let’s “go there.” What do you want to talk about? It’s all fair game here.