Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Stand Up

There have been a few interesting articles recently about weight loss and standing vs. sitting. The articles claim that you will burn up to 60 calories more per hour if you stand rather than sit and that it is desk work and computers that are making us overweight rather than what we eat.

Frankly, though I'd like to be encouraged by this, I'm skeptical and believe this is another in a long line of studies advocating that we wouldn't be fat with small changes in our lifestyle. The main reason I'm doubtful is that there are a lot of waitresses and nurses who are overweight, and they are in jobs where they do nothing but stand most of the day.

On a personal level, I also doubt this because I am not a "sitter". I have a lot of problems sitting for long periods of time and often get up and walk around to do things while working. I rarely sit for a long time in front of the computer screen or television. Certainly I don't sit for more than 40 minutes at a time without getting up and doing something else. Yet, I still manage to be pretty damn fat.

I think part of the issue which is not being thoroughly explained or discussed in recent studies is the fact that people rarely just stand. It is likely that those who burn 60 calories more per hour are moving around as well. I'll grant that standing almost certainly burns more calories that sitting (because holding yourself upright requires more muscle control), but I think there is more to this than the current studies claim. Chances are this is yet another example of oversimplification of the test parameters in order to make the variables measurable and have scientific validity, while having little in the way of real life applicability.

The bottom line though is that I don't think that the main issue that we should be dealing with is how to not sit all day because I see that as unavoidable in the modern world, but rather at what level we need to eat and exercise to compensate for the fact that our lives are so much more sedentary now. I think if employers are to play a role in making America healthier, we also have to consider the fact that they often want office workers essentially chained to the desk as much as possible and even count things like trips to the bathroom when the better thing to do would be to give people little exercise breaks every few hours so that they could walk around or stretch.

Of course, people are always looking for simple solutions, and I'm guessing this one might spawn a bunch of offices without chairs and with standing desks. I've noticed that most data is used to make workers more uncomfortable rather than to employ a more complex, but possibly successful solution (like company-sponsored gyms or movement breaks during the day).

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Saturday: September 24, 2009 (late posting)

Lately, Saturdays have been so packed with work and extra household activity that I can't find a moment to clear my head and blog. Fortunately, last Saturday was easily successful due to having a vegetarian day and judicious allocation of calories. I finished the day at 1405 thanks to a yogurt parfait for breakfast (yogurt layered with tiny amounts of honey and half a banana), hummus for lunch, a banana smoothie, and a chef's salad for dinner. The snack was cheese and pretzels in carefully controlled portions.

That being said, I'm starting to grow impatient with my "watch my body" change progress checking. Part of the problem with it is that progress can only be measured in noticeable hops and there are stretches of time when I note no progress. When the time comes and I suddenly note some difference (like I'm swimming in my shirts), it's very gratifying, but there are weeks when I think I should try out the scale. That being said, I'm still worried that seeing real numbers may have a more harmful effect than beneficial one. The bottom line is not knowing how far I have to go or how far I've gone tends to be more encouraging than discouraging.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Dialing It Back

One of the things that you notice about salt or sugar is that, as you consume more, you tend to get desensitized to the taste. You tend to need more and more of both of these to really experience flavor as time goes by. Lately, I've been trying to dial back my consumption of both of these things (though I actually don't eat a ton of sugar anyway).

I'm attempting to do this in a similar way to how I've slowly reduced portions. I usually put two packets of Splenda in my tea, I'm going to try and start cutting that back to 1.5 and see how it goes. I'm hoping to eventually reduce it to 1. For the record, two packets of Splenda is supposed to be as sweet as 4 tsp. of sugar, so that's pretty sweet tea. To be fair, I have large cups of tea (and tiny cups of coffee) because it's mostly water.

Similarly, with salt, I'm attempting to sample food which has already been seasoned to some small extent during cooking with salt before automatically pouring on more. If I really feel I'm not enjoying it or getting enough flavor after the first few bites, I'll add a bit more. With salt in particular, I'm finding that I don't need as much as I have been using and the taste is fine.

With sweetness, the adjustment is going to take some more time. Ultimately, I'd like to be able to enjoy something with honey or other less intense sweeteners and not have to pour it on massively to get the effect. If I can heighten my sensitivity to sweetness, I might also be able to cut back on calorie-free chemicals.

The biggest reason for doing this is to try and help my taste buds acclimate to more "plain" food. I think that we lose our sense of how delicious and acute the sweetness of fruit is once we become used to lots of external sweetening. With salt, I'm actually just concerned about the health effect, particularly with how it may contribute to the incidence of strokes and high blood pressure (though I don't suffer any issues at present, I'm old enough to start considering these possibilities).

As was the case with portion reduction though, I view this as an extended process. That is, I'm going to do this gradually over months (possibly a year) so that it doesn't feel jarringly different and I don't feel like I'm losing my sense of enjoying the food. I'll report my results here if anyone is interested.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thursday: September 24, 2009

When it comes to food, I have noticed that it's easy to find yourself in a "stretch to fit" situation. The Thursdays which felt free a few weeks ago when I upped my total from 1200 to 1400 felt very constricted today. When I got to the end of the day, I was hard pressed to avoid going over the 1458 I reached.

The main issue is that the added 200 calories was consumed easily in one fruit smoothie (no sugar - just fruit, artificial sweetener, skim milk, and ice) which I added for a snack. It really is an object lesson in how quickly one snack or beverage can send your calorie counts high, even when the food you're eating is generally seen as healthy and low calorie.

It could be that I also went overboard on overestimating the calories at lunch. I had a big salad (lots of lettuce, onions, and 1/2 a tomato) with cottage cheese, dressing, and some croutons. I aimed high on the values for everything but the vegetables, but still. By the end of the day, while I was waiting for dinner time to roll around, I was starving and having to tell myself that this is what trying to lose weight is supposed to feel like. Yes, I was very, very hungry, but that's the price I'm paying for not being so for decades leading up to this point. I also walked more yesterday than usual, so that likely played a part as well, but I resisted the urge to eat more.

On the bright side, my bra continues to require tightening up. Besides being on the furthest hook, I now have to hike up the straps to nearly the point where they cannot be pulled up any more. New bras are definitely on the horizon, and this is quite encouraging.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Healing More Slowly

When you're overweight, you live in fear of diabetes because everyone says you're supposed to develop it if you're fat. As I've mentioned before, I don't have diabetes (despite my weight). I attribute this mainly to genetic luck. I've also read that people who carry more weight in their behind (pear-shaped people) have a lower chance of developing diabetes than people who carry their weight in their midsection or up top (apple-shaped people). My fat can may have been saving me.

That being said, I do watch myself for any indications of diabetes as it is sensible to do so. That is, I look for cotton mouth, frequent thirst, slow healing, etc. When I was eating a lot, I never had any problems healing relatively quickly. The strange thing is that, now that I'm losing weight, I've noticed that I heal more slowly. That is not to say that I heal too slowly (not taking a week or more), but just slower than before.

The reason for this is fairly obvious. When I was eating more, my body had bountiful nutritional resources to draw from to repair damage. Now, it's attending to other issues with less "material" to work with. In particular, your skin and any scratches, cuts or abrasions tend to heal more slowly when you're losing weight as attending to your skin is a low priority for you body. I notice this mainly with pimples (which I scratch, even though I shouldn't) or insect bites (ditto).

At first, this tendency had me fretting a little, but it's not like these things don't clear up. It's interesting to note that there are some extremely minor negative effects from not eating as much as you want. This experience is the tip of the iceberg of why not eating much at all (or severe calorie reduction) may not necessarily be a good idea.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Saturday: September 19, 2009 (late posting)

I'm starting to find it difficult to post as frequently to this blog for various reasons. One is that this account is separated from the others that I do in order to maintain anonymity from readers of my other blogs. Accessing this one requires me to sign out of one identity and log in under another. I'm hoping to make a little money (some day) off of the other blogs and I don't want fat-hating bias to influence my readership. Yes, I'm that sure there is weight-related prejudice. It's not like I haven't spent most of my life experiencing it.

Another reason is that I've gotten a lot of things off of my chest about issues already and don't have as much to say. There's still more, of course, but I'm finding it harder to find the time to say such things at the right moment. By the time I have a chance to write about them here, I've forgotten them!

Getting to the last Saturday of calorie counting though... My counts were around 1400, which was good, but I'm starting to develop an issue with chocolate, which is bad. That is, I'm not scarfing down vast quantities of it, but I am wasting up to 200 calories per day on it. Mainly, I'm a victim of eating those lovely 100 calorie York wafer bars and then nibbling on 2-3 pieces of small (Hershey's Kiss size) chocolates. I'm finding it harder to put the breaks on once I get started and have to mentally "shake" myself to stop. This is a slippery slope, and a wise person would probably get off the top of the hill and stop taking chances. I'm hoping to do better.

My bodily changes continue to be noticeable at a reasonable pace. I'd say that I'm likely losing 10 lbs. a month on average. Right now, I've noticed that my bulges are starting to resemble deflating balloons. I've noticed that my belly apron has shrunk such that more of my upper thighs are showing and all of my flabbiness is getting softer and squishier as the fat cells shrink and the skin goes slack. I sometimes wonder how long it will take for the stretched skin to retract (and if it ever will entirely), but that's not really my main concern right now.

I'm also noticing that I'm closing in on starting to swim in my current shirts. They were a bit loose to begin with, but now it's almost to the stage where it's hard to position the neckline so it doesn't sag down like some Flashdance era sweatshirt. The only difference is that I'm not Jennifer Beals and it's not sexy having my bra straps revealed by my too large shirts. All in all though, it's a good sign, but I'm going to need some new shirts soon.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Food Cues

Like many people, I've been enjoying watching "Mad Men" and it has got me thinking about advertising and the effect it has on us. However, it has also made me think about the way in which the world has changed since the early 60's (as that is the period the show is set in) and how lifestyles have changed. The combination of the show being about Madison Avenue advertisers and the time it is set in makes me thing about the combination of these two elements in a manner I don't know that I otherwise might have in terms of how they affect obesity.

In the early 60's, several things didn't happen that happen now. One is that people spent a lot less time watching television because there were fewer channels and not everyone had a T.V. That not only relates to sedentary living but food cues. Food cues are when you are reminded to eat by something other than your body. Seeing a Pizza Hut commercial with a gooey piece of a deep dish pie might spur you to crave pizza, or seeing someone eating an ice cream cone on a T.V. show might make you want some, too. In the past, people ate when their bodies told them to do so rather than when they were cued to do so by external prodding.

What is more, the type of advertising that is done these days is honed to a perfect craft. You can't say that of ads 30 or 40 years ago where there weren't experts figuring out the best way to make food look great in every picture. Cookbooks from the 40's-70's not only contained fewer color pictures (because color printing was so expensive), but they also featured fairly bad color adjustment and unappetizing looking food.

I'm not suggesting that people are mindless vessels that can't ignore advertising, but we are highly susceptible to being cued. The old saying, "out of sight, out of mind" is definitely valid. This is why we forget to do things we should do if we put the items associated with the task in some out of the way place. Seeing food everywhere increases the chances that we'll want to eat more often. It's a reminder of a sensory stimulation that we enjoy.

Personally, I've been aware of how vulnerable to food cues that I am for some time. I respond with the desire that advertisers are hoping for when I see something really tasty on T.V. Since I've been trying to implement lifestyle changes, I try to not focus on the memory of the pleasure of eating the food, but on the fact that I'm being manipulated as a consumer. I didn't want that food a moment ago, and I shouldn't want it now because I saw a picture of it.

That being said, it's only to easy to talk about talking yourself out of such things. I'm guessing that smokers who want to quit smoking may similarly be cued to pick up their bad habit by watching people seemingly enjoy a cigarette on T.V. I think most people are aware that advertising is a cue to engage in certain behaviors, but they may not be aware of the aggregate effect it has on them. You may be able to push the urge away a 100 times, but when you're exposed to commercials or programming showing food (hence the appeal of paying for product placement in popular shows) at least 25 times a day, you're going to be shaped by what you see sooner rather than later.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thursday: September 17, 2009

Today I felt rather down. I have a strong sense of the difficulties in getting along with people. In particular, I try hard to show people the respect, patience, open-mindedness and kindness I'd like them to show me, but I rarely receive it in return. People are so strident, and myopic. It makes me despair.

I took a walk to try and clear my head, but it didn't help. One thing I noticed about this walk was that, for the first time in many years, I was walking around with a strong sense of bodily awareness. That is, I didn't feel self-conscious or think about other people staring at me or talking about me. That doesn't mean I'm not still fat enough to elicit such attention, but rather that I just felt more comfortable in my own (saggy) skin than I've felt in awhile. This didn't clear my mood, but it was a curious sensation that I haven't felt since I last lost a great deal of weight.

Today was on the mark both calorie and nutrition-wise. I incorporated a green salad and fruit into the day, as well as lean protein and a reasonable number of carbohydrates. It was helped by a leftover rice dish which had only about a half cup of rice but about 3 ounces of chicken. Being top heavy on protein is always better than too many carbohydrates. My bad habits in the past few weeks had wreaked havoc on my digestion and caused some pretty uncomfortable constipation, so I've learned my lesson (hopefully for good). The total for the day came in at around 1380.

I've finally started to notice some lower body shrinkage. I'm still the same bulbous shape, but not sticking out as much on either side. My calves, which have always been fat and (very likely) always will be, are starting to get smaller as are my ankles. My bras, which used to be tight on the last hook, are starting to just reach the point where they can't be adjusted sufficiently to fit properly even when on the first hook, so the non-scale-based method continues to provide me with sufficient feedback to make me feel that I'm making progress.

That being said, I dug out a bra (a 38C) which was in the closet that was smaller, and it's 9 inches smaller than my current one. Looking at it feels like looking at a child's training bra compared to my current one. I think I must have worn it a very long time ago, and I wonder if my breasts will ever be a C cup again. Even if I reach the 38 in chest size, the cups simply may not work out and it'll be shopping for new support. I've got some small underwear buried somewhere as well and I'm afraid to even look at them for the time being.

I'm guessing it's a good thing that I tossed out so many of my clothes from when I was smaller as seeing them is intimidating. It probably doesn't help that my current wardrobe is relatively loose and comparing my huge shirts to smaller ones makes reaching a point where I can wear those clothes several more miles away. On the other hand, I'll have to start buying new clothes at some point and I hate that.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Grocery Cart Judges

With the number of people losing their jobs and having to use food stamps, more people are getting a dose of what it is like to be judged for their food purchases. I've read many comments from people who have taken issue with the poor using their government-sponsored food purchases to buy snack cakes, potato chips, and soda. People feel that, since they pay taxes which pay for a food stamp recipient's sustenance, they have the right to decide what should be bought.

Most people believe the poor should only be given certificates for rice and beans. I guess they feel it's not bad enough being poor, but you also have to have your food choices dictated as well. My feeling about this is that I wouldn't invite someone in need into my home for a meal with the attitude that I would only feed them a particular type of food based on income level, so why should I regard food stamps any differently? I'm pretty sure anyone who I served a meal to would be offered dessert, a variety of drinks, and some interesting main meal. I guess some people would serve a poor person a different meal than a middle class one.

Of course, if you're overweight, that judgment has likely been with you during your entire shopping life. People look at your body, then swivel their eyes to your shopping cart or grocery basket. You can almost read their minds as they do this. They're trying to find out:
  1. Are you buying the sort of food that will make you even fatter?
  2. Are you buying healthy food and trying to lose weight?
  3. Is there any evidence in your cart that leads them to understand how you got so fat?
Depending on what they see, I'm sure they're reaching certain conclusions. If you have something they don't approve of in the basket, they're going to view you with increased disgust. If you have healthy food, they will either think that your attempts are in vain if you don't get off your lazy ass and exercise or that you are at least not making it any worse.

Chances are that, in the absence of any overtly sugary or fatty food in your cart, they're going to be scrutinizing the kind of food you're buying in general. Too many carbohydrates? Meat that isn't lean enough? Too much processed food? People need to find a way to blame you for your weight and the shopping cart is the best way to find incriminating evidence.

I don't think I've ever gotten a look from someone which conveyed any sort of "approval", even when the basket's contents were nothing more than fruit and vegetables. Most people tend to either give you a look of disgust if they find something objectionable or they go back to looking around the store. They either find reason to despise you or lose interest if they can't find what they need to judge you harshly. I think most of the people who judge you by your shopping cart think you shouldn't be eating at all based on your weight.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I'm not sure why, but I read the commentary that follows articles about increases in obesity levels in various countries around the world. The most recent article was about obesity and overweight numbers in Mexico skyrocketing such that they are starting to catch up to America. Though many people believe America is the fattest nation in the world, that "honor" actually belongs to Australia.

At any rate, I was shocked to learn that the number of overweight people in the U.S. is as high as 79% and obesity levels are at about 39%. I'm surprised because I generally feel pretty isolated and most of the pictures I see are not full of fat people. Of course, this is probably because fat people scatter out of camera range when one is pointed in their direction.

One of the things which I'm seeing crop up more and more in commentary is fear of fat acceptance (which I'll call "FFA" for short). A lot of the more vocal people who read these types of articles and show the most vociferous hatred and anger toward the overweight appear to be incensed by the fact that some fat people appear not to think there is anything wrong with them. Apparently, we're just not hating ourselves openly enough to satisfy their sense that we should be really unhappy with our condition.

If I go by comments, FFA seems to be a growing condition for many people, and I'd like to assure anyone who stumbles across this blog that their fears are completely unfounded. Trust me when I say that no fat person, no matter how outwardly positive they appear to be about their weight, is really sanguine about their body size on the inside. The reason they are projecting otherwise is that you're the enemy, and they're not going to betray their soft, spongy lack of self-esteem and self-loathing to someone who has already attacked them or betrayed their prejudice.

FFA is a curious mindset because I'm not sure why it is a concern to everyone else whether a fat person accepts himself or herself as is. There are some possible reasons, though all of them are pretty weak links. One is that fat people cost everyone money because their increased health problems spike insurance premiums for all. This is the most often cited reason, but it doesn't hold water since statistics show that death at an earlier age, which will happen to fat people, means they actually are cheaper for insurance companies than thinner, healthier, long-lived people. So, if the insurance premium cost is the issue, fat is a better bet in the long run for those average-weight people to save their coins on medical expenses.

Another even stupider concern is that the overweight will inherit the earth. That is, thin people will become a minority and then the fat people will be the ones making fun of them. This excuse sounds like it comes from people who saw the Twilight Zone episode where people with hideous deformities populate the earth and beautiful, normal people who don't respond to treatment which makes them deformed are shuttled off to live away from everyone else. I guess if you feel this is possible, then your FFA may be justified, but you also may want to get some medication for your paranoid thinking disorder.

The bottom line though is that this is really about validation. Hating on fat people is one of the few politically correct forms of prejudice and if loathing the overweight isn't validated by external agreement, then you're going to have a harder time hanging on to your prejudice. I've read that people like being angry about things because it makes them feel powerful and being mad at people for being fat is such a nice target because no one is going to think you're the bad person for having such a prejudice.

FFA is really just a manifestation of insecurity that one's prejudice will lose society's blessing as more people suffer weight issues and come to empathize with the problem rather than respond with hostility. For now though, there seems to be very little risk of that happening.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Fat Girl Pants

Most of my life, I've worn fat girl pants. These are essentially polyester (blend) stretch pants which, unfortunately, seem to highlight every bulge. You have to choose them mainly because things like blue jeans rarely fit right, and then you're squeezing your bulges in very uncomfortable ways. Also, frankly, you don't look any better in non-fat-girl pants than the stretchy kind anyway, and there are more sizes of stretch pants than other types.

When I was growing up, I hated shopping for clothes because fat girl pants were always unfashionable. My mother also loved to buy a variety rather than allow me to try and mask some of my unsightly body with black, black and more black. She'd come home with light blue, red, or, even worse, pink. There's nothing like being fat in pink polyester stretch pants to make you feel like a million bucks. :-p

The good point of fat girl pants is that they stretch so that, if you gain more weight, you don't need new clothes. This is also, coincidentally, the bad point. You can be putting on weight and not realize it until they start to crawl lower down your belly and back as your expanse fills more of the available space.

The main problem with fat girl pants and my approach to checking on my weight loss progress at this point (which is by look and feel rather than using the scale), is that stretchy pants aren't likely to change much with weight loss. Right now, my pants mainly show my weight loss by getting longer as the bulk that held them up to ankle length disappears and they get slacker. Come winter, I'm going to have to hem all of my pants. That being said, even my stretchy fat girl pants are starting to bag a bit in spots so I see that as a good sign.

I've got one pair of non-stretchy pants from when I lost about 50 lbs. about a decade ago. Before I started on this journey, they couldn't be pulled over my thighs. Now, I can actually get them on, but they are tight and I'm sure they'd split a seam if I tried to sit in them. Nonetheless, the fact that they can be put on at all is a sign of progress. Once I lose a fair amount of weight, I'm thinking that I should not buy fat girl pants anymore as they actually may contribute to weight gain by being able to easily accommodate increased girth.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Drill Sergeant Approach

I used to follow a low carb dieters on-line support group. The group was not moderated, so you'd get a large variety of people posting who clearly had no interest in supporting anything except their own perspective on low carb dieting.

I rarely posted to the group because it was such an unsupportive support group. Many of the people were arguing against the exclusion of fruit in particular, but some just seemed to hang out there so that they could bully all of the dieters into "confessing" that they were a bunch of lazy pigs who needed to take responsibility for their problems. One in particular, who I'll call "J.", took every chance to needle people and had a signature at the bottom of every post which was something like, 'stop eating and move, you fat f*ck'.

This is what I call the "drill sergeant" approach to getting people to lose weight. Some people think that the only way to get people to do something about their problem is to push them hard and make them hate themselves. The interesting thing is that some of the people in the low carb on-line group thought this was a good thing and expressed the opinion that J. was helpful to them. I should note that most of them had already had some success in their dieting so they probably already had some confidence in their capability to control their eating habits and lose weight. The more fragile members who were struggling to get a toehold on their problems were very discouraged and upset by J.'s comments and approach.

For me, being bullied and insulted has never lead to anything besides binge eating, and I have serious doubts that such a method is good for anyone unless they're already fired up inside about tackling their issues and want to add their attackers fire to their weight-loss fighting engines. The bottom line though is that I don't think any sort of negative mantra will ultimately be a good thing for anyone. If you're told by others that you're so weak and pathetic, and you embrace that idea, you're just going to give up because you'll have no faith in your ability to ever overcome your issues.

I've also found that telling yourself simply to "stop" something when you don't even know why you started or can't stop isn't a very effective approach in the long run. Wanting to eat all of the time (or too much) is a bit like a dog that is tied up on a short rope in front of his dog house straining to break free. The problem isn't that the dog is straining at his rope all of the time and telling him to simply stop won't help. The problem is that the leash is too short and the dog's nature is to run free. Put the dog in a large open pen and the problem is solved. Telling yourself simply not to eat (and calling yourself a 'fat f*ck') is just saying, "don't strain at the leash, stupid." The real solution is finding out how to set yourself free so you don't want to strain anymore.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Saturday: September 12, 2009

This was my first calorie-counting Saturday on the new plan where I count two days at 1400 instead of one at 1200, and it went pretty smoothly. I did notice, again, that I did a pretty poor job of getting fruit and vegetables into the day, though I did make a rice and chicken dish which was loaded up with green peppers, onions, and tomatoes for dinner. That wasn't much, but it was something. Though my total number for the day was 1345 (which was good as I only felt seriously hungry and taxed to avoid eating once), I'm not happy that that included a whole wheat scone, whole wheat pasta, rice, and rice crackers. I have to do better on these days for nutritional balance. I should note that none of this is processed food. All of it is made by me so at least I'm not consuming Lean Cuisine out of plastic trays.

I've noticed lately that I can feel my collarbones much more easily than before and generally the top of my chest is less spongy. This is continuing the trend where I lose weight much more rapidly above the waist than below. When I'm not retaining water, I've also notice my wrists are getting even smaller. These are encouraging signs, but the road ahead is still long and I have to be patient. I continue to be discouraged about weight loss in my belly and behind, but since those have always been with me, I have to have low expectations.

I've noticed that the more "solid" the fat in an area feels, the longer it takes to dissipate. I'm guessing these are the oldest and most concentrated areas with fat cells, and the areas the least likely to ever disappear entirely. This is something I'm reconciling myself to, and I'm never going to be some super shapely woman, at least not without the use of girdles to reshape certain areas. I'm okay with that. I just want to feel better and not be disadvantaged or feel socially anxious because of my weight.

One thing I do feel good about is that I have no sense of "waiting out" a diet and wanting to "start eating for real" when I'm "done". I am impatient to feel healthier and more confident. I would like to reach my goal in months instead of years, but I'm becoming acclimated to the idea that this is what life is going to be like from now on - small portions, fighting my impulses and desires to eat, and failing sometimes. Right now, "failure" is measured on a very small scale though. It's essentially becoming so ravenous that I eat about 200-400 calories of a snack (usually cheese, rice crackers, or fruit) that I wish I hadn't given in on. Such "failures" are less frequent now than they used to be, and also smaller.

As much as losing weight is a success, the greater one right now feels like the psychological acclimation to the process and the overall "feel" I'm developing for how to eat properly (both in portion and food choice). I'm convinced that this is the best path for me both now and in the future.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Water, Everywhere

When people are trying to lose weight, everyone tells them to drink water. Drink lots of water. There are good reasons for this. Water helps your body processes including metabolizing fat, hydrating tissues, and carrying nutrients to where they're needed. It's calorie-free, and doesn't cost anything as long as you aren't buying bottled water.

The problem, and everyone knows this, is that water is boring to drink. In fact, if it's not ice cold, it can even make you feel queasy or sick if you're drinking it and don't really want to, but are forcing it down to fill the gnawing pit in your belly. Filling up on water is great in theory, but works poorly in practice.

For people with an eating disorder, who are particularly consumed with the effect of things on their taste buds, recommending they drink water is bordering on the inane. You're already avoiding a load of sensory pleasure from the food you aren't eating and adding a limitation on the things you drink is only making things harder, particularly when there are so many calorie-free or low calorie possibilities for beverages.

The reason most people don't drink diet sodas or calorie-free bottled drinks like teas, coffees or, flavored waters is that they're told its bad for them. It's true. Food that contains chemicals or artificial sweeteners are bad for you, and caffeine affects insulin levels and can have the potential for diet-sabotaging effects as well. That being said, failing at your diet because you are not addressing one of your core issues as a person with an eating disorder is likely going to have even worse consequences than drinking things which aren't good for you. Is it better to fail and stay greatly overweight because you went the water route and ended up eating out of boredom or to drink those chemicals and reduce the chances of overeating?

In my case, I drink a fair amount of water everyday. In fact, it is the first thing I turn to about two or three hours after breakfast when I start to get hungry. I'll usually drink about 16 oz. of ice water at that point. Later in the day, I often drink about another 16 oz. between lunch and dinner, and I drink about another 8 oz. later at night around bed-time. Between those, I'm usually going for a diet soda (1 or 2 per day) or hot or ice tea with sweetener and a splash or two of low fat milk. I love Diet Coke. I know it's not good for me, but it's a guilty pleasure that is very low on guilt. It may be a "crutch" or a stand-in for the sensory stimulation of food, but I'll use it because it is a small part in the larger picture.

I think it's important to know where you're weak and to deal with those weaknesses in the least destructive way rather than to attempt to be "perfect". It's a bit like exercising when you're out of shape. If you have to stop often and rest because you lack the strength or stamina, you can choose to not try anymore because you can't do it properly or you can just stop and rest until you get strong enough to carry on without the rest stops. If I need some diet soda or calorie-free drinks to help me eat less, then I'm going to have them.

Thursday: September 10, 2009

I'm a bit late with this Thursday's results because I've been so swamped with work that I haven't had time to blog. It's unfortunate because I feel like the blogging helps motivate me to stay on track and remain thoughtful about how I approach my eating and thinking in regards to food.

About a week ago, I decided to alter my calorie counting habits to incorporate a second day of counting, but also decided to increase the number from 1200 to 1400. I'm pleased to have done 1200 for over a month of Thursdays because now that 200 extra calories feels like pure luxury. It makes the added day, which will be Saturdays, seem more doable. I have a sense that this is a bit like the old saying about hitting yourself with a hammer and feeling so good when it stops.

Having had relatively severe restriction for awhile makes a little less restriction feel much easier. It also provides valuable insight into how I feel about the non-counting days. Ideally, I'd like to settle in around 1600 a day every day until I have lost all of the weight I want. The way in which I'm doing this seems to be imprinting the "feel" of how much food is right to eat each day in a way that I'm pleased about. I feel like I'm paving a road toward knowing how much I can eat on a regular basis and stay at a healthy weight in the future. My notions of how much I should be eating are so distorted based on portions being served in restaurants as well as the propensity my mother had for over-feeding her family at every meal.

Thursday's total was 1425, which is quite satisfactory for my new goal. I'm pretty sure that is an inflated number anyway since I always have to guess and try to guess high on the calorie counts. Having a lunch which was little more than a piece of wheat bread with a thin layer of peanut butter (due to having no time to eat) probably made it even easier to squeeze in gnocchi with a bit of cheese for dinner. This sort of eating is really not ideal for me, and I'd prefer to be doing better, but at least all of the food I ate was relatively healthy (whole grains and such). I can't help but feel a bit chagrined that there is so little in the way of vegetables and only one small banana for fruit. This is part of the price I pay when time is tight and I can't prepare proper balanced meals, and I hope to do better on busy days in the future.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Devaluing Food

One of my former coworkers once showed me a video of a birthday party for one of her adult siblings at her home. In the video, her family was serving up a chocolate cake and her sister was asked if she wanted a piece and said, "just a very tiny one." I asked my coworker if her sister said that because she was on a diet or being careful about her weight. The reply was that her sister simply had no serious interest in food and this had been the case for the sister's entire life.

I remember thinking that it was inconceivable to me that someone could have so little interest in food, particularly in chocolate and cake. I think this is yet another factor which influences people with weight problems to overeat. The pleasure they extract from food is higher than that of an average or underweight person. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if the pleasure centers in a fat person's brain were lit up like a Christmas tree by the consumption of various foods and the bulbs quite a bit dimmer for those areas of an average weight person's brain.

This is an aspect of how I consider food which I have been working with for myself for quite some time. There's a fine balance to be reached between not exposing yourself to food which you find so good that it triggers a complete loss of control, and denying yourself pleasurable food entirely. If you eat foods which cause you to lose control, you fail. If you deprive yourself completely, you're all that more likely to fail because the denial will cause you to over-value the experience of having your pleasure centers stimulated by food you actually enjoy.

One of the reasons people are keen to start a diet after the holidays is that all of the copious consumption of treats during the season has resulted in a devaluation of such foods. They've had it for a long time and have lost their taste for it. After they diet for awhile, the deprivation makes the food seem more and more appealing.

That balance is different for each person because the "trigger" foods for each person vary, and everyone responds uniquely to denial. That being said, there is no doubt that not having something makes one feel that it is of greater value. That applies to everything, not just food. One of the reasons that some teenagers are so obsessed with sex is that they aren't having it. One of the reasons old married couples aren't as preoccupied with it (on average) is that they have had a lot of it and can have it any time they want.

When it comes to food, devaluing it is tricky. You can't have as much as you want or you won't lose weight, but if you completely deny yourself, you become obsessed with it and find it that much harder to succeed. This is why I talked about allowing indulgences in a former post. The mistake a lot of people make though is that they only indulge when in despair or after long periods of deprivation, or they choose to indulge in trigger foods where they lose all control.

For me, the balancing act comes from several sources, but the biggest one is to focus heavily on the experience of eating instead of cramming the food in my mouth and swallowing so that I can cram in the next one. The first bite of food is the best. Your taste buds aren't acclimated and the flavors or the most satisfying and intense. After that first bite, you are going to have seriously diminishing returns on the pleasure of subsequent bites.

A lot of overeating comes from mindless consumption. This is because eating is a compulsion for fat people rather than a conscious activity. Every bite of a treat or indulgence should be a fully conscience one. If you're not concentrating on the taste, texture, and smell of the food, then you're not really having an indulgence for the experience of the food. You're acting on your compulsion. I try to close my eyes when I have something I am eating for pleasure and really experience it, and I try not to eat more than 3 bites at a time. If I want more, I can go back later. The food isn't going anywhere and I may get another new burst of flavor after giving it a rest, or I may find that I don't need the experience again on that particular day.

I don't rule out eating anything I want to eat, but I don't eat everything I might want to eat. It may be a type of psychological trickery, but knowing that I can having anything I want any time I want rather than putting up walls between myself and desirable food stops me from obsessing on it and assigning it greater value. This may not work for everyone, but it is working for me.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

If We Were Only Cro Magnon

In the age we currently live in where food is plentiful for many people (though certainly not all), it probably seems like 2000 calories isn't all that much to eat. The reason we need about that much food to survive is that our ancestors who required no more than that were the ones who could survive on what food they scrounged, acquired, or found. If they had not started to store fat when they consumed more than about 2000 calories, they would have died out.

I learned awhile ago that Cro Magnon, who were a different branch of human, had much bigger bodies and needed 3000 calories to survive. That means they had to spend significantly more time finding food and had to find more of it. That being the case, they probably didn't have the time to develop culture and tools because they spent so much time finding food.

At any rate, when I learned that Cro Magnon could eat up to 3000 calories per day without gaining weight, I felt a twinge of regret that we didn't develop with big bony foreheads and barrel-chested upper bodies. It's quite a testimonial to my food addiction that such a thought would even occur to me. Nonetheless, we'd all be a lot thinner if we had descended from Cro Magnon, though we certainly would be uglier and dumber.

Monday, September 7, 2009


The other night, I had a total breakdown over something small. On another blog of mine, some readers willfully misinterpreted something I wrote and wrote some attacks. This was so upsetting to me that I cried. In fact, I cried for much of the night over a few angry strangers who didn't know me at all attacking me. Though I knew that what they said of me was not true, and that their response was to an imagined intent on my part, I still wanted to delete my blog and hide.

Rationally, I knew that my response was incredibly disproportional to the potential pain inflicted by the situation. Yet, I sobbed into my husband's chest several times and told him that I was angry with myself for letting something so trivial upset me so much. I also remarked that I felt incredibly empty inside and that I didn't know who I was anymore.

The second part is likely part of a Freudian utterance. That is, in a moment of distress, the manner in which I've changed my lifestyle and how it is affecting me came tumbling out. It was an issue that I hadn't really considered until the feeling was there. I felt empty and I didn't know who I was. This feeling is almost certainly a response to the fact that I can't comfort myself with food anymore and I don't know who I am without food as my sympathetic friend. I'm defined by my weight so much so that even I don't know who I will be if I am no longer controlled by my appetite.

Getting back on track to the main point though, and that is that I reacted so strongly to small provocations from strangers, my husband said that he feels this is a form of post traumatic stress. He said that I spent so many years being attacked and hurt and building up a defensive system where I am always looking for potential harm that I can't distinguish between real threats and harm and unreal ones. He said it's like a soldier who saw a bomb explode a bridge near him who can't drive under a bridge without feeling anxiety because of that.

My husband said that my desire to delete the blog and hide is a throwback to all of the times that I was tormented for my weight and just wanted to run away and be safe from the pain. Even though the problem with the comments wasn't related to my weight or even anything tangible, it didn't matter. My fat-related PTS kicked in and told me everything that it usually does when I feel attacked. That feeling is that I must get away.

I also told him that I feared that, after those attacks, I would lose all of my readers, but he said that was also a part of my sense that no one would love me anymore and that I would be abandoned. If you're the fat kid, you don't take revenge on your tormentors because no one likes you for being fat and the few who feel sorry enough for you to be your friend will abandon you at the drop of a hat if you act badly. My husband is quite the insightful man and I am grateful that he both comforts me and guides me out of my torment.

In the end, I think a lot of people who have grown up overweight and have been tormented have similar responses. I want to keep in mind that, even if I lose weight and reach a point where I am average, I will almost certainly still suffer this form of "fat PTS" and that it's another stage in the recovery from being overweight to deal with.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Deprivation/Compensation Cycle

People grow accustomed to the level that they live at no matter what that level is. This includes things like material comforts as well as food. That's why things like saving money and dieting are so hard. Changing our lifestyle level such that we reduce our frequency of pleasurable experiences or acquisitions is difficult and we tend to unconsciously compensate if we harshly alter our habits.

If I'm used to buying a new piece of clothing every month, I may feel deprived if I don't have the money to buy one in a given month. If I decided that I needed to save money and would only buy a new item every other month, I'd feel bad about it for awhile. Chances are that I'd spend the first several months buying things other than clothes to compensate for the lack of enjoyment during the month when I'm not buying something. This is why some people who want to save money go to dollar stores or raid bargain bins after vowing not to shop so much. They're looking to restore the balance without paying as high a price.

The same type of thinking operates with weight loss as well. A lot of people feel they've "been good" with exercise or eating healthily so they have earned an indulgence or an amplified portion of a healthy food. People tend to exaggerate the value of their sacrifice and underestimate the value of their "reward" such that they sabotage their progress to a great extent.

This sort of attempt to compensate isn't something which should be seen as stupid or self-deluding. It should be seen as a response to be expected in accord with human nature. We get used to a certain balance and it's hard to simply force ourselves into a new situation. It takes time to gradually reach a point of comfort with a reduction in consumption of anything, be it food or new items that we shop for.

One of the reasons I don't count calories all of the time and that I don't rule out certain foods for good is that I'm aware of the deprivation/compensation cycle and that I want to slowly change my situation such that I don't fail or compensate to the point where my efforts are pointless. I want to slowly whittle away at portion sizes and frequency of unhealthy food consumption such that there isn't a psychological (or biological) rebellion.

One example of this is my coffee consumption. I'm not one of those people who drinks black coffee and I never will be. I always cut my coffee with full fat milk (while my husband uses cream). I started out having a pretty big mug of coffee every morning which required about a half cup of fatty milk to cut it to a strength I could enjoy and throughout several months cut down to smaller and smaller cups such that I'm using an itty bitty cup now with about half as much milk as before. Since I did this reduction slowly, I don't feel deprived despite drinking about 1/2 as much coffee as before. In fact, I feel like it's just about the right amount and that I don't need more.

Similarly, I've been slowly cutting back on carbohydrate portions with evening meals in particular. Going from one day to the next from about a cup of rice to a half cup would have felt like I was starving myself. Now, it feels just fine because I've been adjusting to smaller and smaller portions through time.

If you're going to be successful in controlling any lifestyle change whether it be portion sizes or shopping too much, the chances for success will be vastly improved if you don't try and drop your levels of consumption too rapidly and set off a deprivation/compensation response. Granted, your start toward your goal will be slower, but hopefully the new levels you adjust to will have a greater sense of permanence and pave the way for lasting change.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Counting Emotionally Instead of Numerically

Several times when I tried to "diet", I had problems with a tendency to feel that the entire day was a failure if I made one mistake. That is, if I screwed up and ate something I shouldn't have which would throw the whole day's calorie count out of whack, I'd become depressed, demoralized, and feel guilty because there was no way to "fix" the days total so that I could view it as a success.

On those days, I would tell myself that I'd just indulge even more because I'd already blown the day. In essence, I'd figure that, if I was going to feel bad about messing up, I might as well get more food pleasure for the guilt I was feeling. It was an excuse to just blow the entire day eating the crap I was denying myself. Instead of coming out at 2500 calories for the day and feeling bad, I'd come out at 4000 and feel equally bad.

While there is certainly something to be said for the illogical nature of making a bad situation worse, from an emotional point of view, this made sense. I wasn't thinking about how much more damage I was doing. I was counting food emotionally rather than counting the number of calories. This is part of the essence of the problem with overweight people. It is comfort and pleasure or guilt and pain. We don't have a logical relationship with food. If we did, we wouldn't be in the predicament we're in.

Part of the process for me in getting to the point where I am able to work on doing something about my problem is coming to terms with these issues. Yesterday, I had what I'd consider a "bad food day". While I didn't overeat, I did act on the desire to eat for emotional rather than physical reasons a few times. This is actually a more critical failure than eating too much because this is the path away from controlling my relationship with food. For me, it is crucial that I recognize and avoid situations where I eat because I want the pleasure, am bored, nervous, or sad.

If you're not fat, but you've ever smoked (cigarettes or pot), drank alcohol, had sex, taken a tranquilizer, or even exercised as a behavioral response to an emotional need, then you can begin to see what I'm talking about. What I'm talking about is the psychology of an addiction, but it's a more insidious and complex addiction because food is everywhere, perfectly legal, socially acceptable, and necessary to survive.

So, I had a bad day with a few lapses yesterday. The important part now is not to have another, then another. Sometimes battling my emotions, fatigue, and desires for food becomes so tiring that I will give in, but at least I didn't give in completely or write off the whole day and go crazy overeating. That's a stepping stone on the path out of my situation.

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Rucksack Full of Emotional Baggage

I'm going to go on the record with the fact that I hate the way people use the word "willpower". The reason is that this word is used to essentially deride the inability of people to implement certain changes in their lives. It's also used as a pat explanation for success. The term is not only ambiguous, but doesn't describe anything meaningful which can be used to change behavior. It is used as a cover word for the idea that one is too weak to overcome one's impulses.

Let me tell you a little story which should illustrate why I hate the word willpower. Let's say that you and your friend are each of average build and athletic capability. You are trekking through the woods and you come to a stream with a steep, muddy drop-off which is connected to another little cliff by a sturdy bridge about three feet wide with no handrail or rope support. If you fall off the bridge, there's a little stream with rocks about five feet below. You won't get killed if you fall, but you will get dirty and bruised. There's also a small chance of some sort of more serious injury if the fall is especially bad.

The span of the bridge is about 10 feet. It's not too far, and most average people can manage to cross it with no problem. Your friend walks across the bridge exercising minimal caution and waits for you on the other side. You are reluctant to cross because, unlike your unencumbered friend, you're carrying a heavy rucksack which makes it harder to balance yourself. You also hurt your right foot and are unable to walk normally, and the sun has just come out from behind a cloud and is shining right in your eyes.

Your friend, who effortlessly traversed the bridge, is getting impatient and can't understand why you're being such a weak baby about crossing. You tell him about your various problems and he scoffs at you, saying that he would be able to manage even if he had your burdens. You attempt to cross, and you lose your balance and fall off. Your friend calls you a klutz.

This story is my little metaphor about willpower. Your friend has no emotional problems with food and you do (that's your rucksack). He doesn't have a body which is making it difficult for him to resist eating (that's your hurt foot). He doesn't have your inability to ignore food cues or resist a rumbling stomach (that's the sun in your eyes). Ignoring food and hunger is far less of a challenge for him than for you so he can summon up the "will" to manage as easily as he crossed that bridge, and the chances he will fail are very low. Since he knows he can do it, he isn't reluctant to try because it doesn't even represent a milestone or substantial hurdle for him. You find the task very daunting and the prospect of failing is all too real. When you do fail, as you are very likely to do with your problems, you are mocked and judged, and you lose confidence in your capacity to ever succeed. Racking up one failure after another demoralizes you, and the fact that your friend keeps succeeding just makes you hate yourself all the more. What is more, his insistence that it's easy and you're clumsy or weak makes you feel even worse as you internalize the notion that you are deficient.

Talking about using willpower to deal with weight problems is essentially telling people to just cross the damn bridge already. It ignores the burdens and problems that make them reluctant to even try and the fact that those factors will almost certainly cause them to fail which will in turn result in more reluctance to try.

Repeated failure at any task results in something called "learned helplessness". That is where you fail so many times that you stop trying even when there is the prospect of success. This is why some overweight people simply give up and eat as much as they want, drowning their pain in food because they can't face the failure anymore. Before getting people to try, it's important to first remove the emotional baggage and find a way to deal with the physical problems before expecting that bridge to be successfully crossed. The less often they fail, the more likely they will be to keep trying.

So, I don't like the word "willpower" because it assumes we're all working with equal capacity to succeed or fail in our life's challenges. It's just another way for those who are blessed with an average capacity to cope to judge those with a less than average capacity to do so and has nothing to do with strength of character or even the motivation to overcome one's problems. Focusing on "willpower" only increases the chances of defeat and relapse.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Thursday: September 4, 2009

This was a pretty busy day work-wise and socially speaking, and I wasn't as "tight" about eating as I sometimes am, but didn't go over 1300 calories (at least by my rough calculations - it was 1270). I started the day with something which felt indulgent, but ended up being pretty good at seeing me through. I made dry French toast with one egg, one piece of white bread, two packets of Splenda, vanilla, and cinnamon which I cooked in reduced-calorie margarine. I was worried about the white bread, but it seems the egg balanced the blood sugar issues I have when eating white bread and I felt sated for about 4 hours.

I'll definitely make this French toast again because it was sweet, crispy, and filling (even without syrup or butter), but next time I'll throw a few more calories into the mix and cook with real butter. The reduced calorie stuff was so watery that it added no taste at all and the bread stuck to the pan while cooking. Given how little fat it takes to cook in a non-stick pan, I figure it's worth a bit more to have the flavor of butter.

In the evening, as is often the case, I had some problems which I dealt with by having 1/2 a pear, some crackers and some soup. Even though my count crept up near 1300 on a day when I want to do 1200, I was relatively pleased as I didn't eat at any time when I wasn't hungry and felt largely in control when I ate. That's often the bigger indicator of my sense of success than the actual counting as it influences my confidence in having such control throughout the week and in the distant future.

I read a bit about the New York City advertisement against drinking sugary sodas. That's the one where a hand pours a Coca-Cola-style bottle into a glass and the soda turns into human fat. The whole notion is to shock people. Personally, I don't know if the ad will work, but I haven't drank sugar-based sodas for a long time. I always drink diet sodas. I doubt most weight problems are based on soda consumption in large part, particular when you hear so many fat bashers mocking overweight people for ordering diet drinks with their super-size burgers and fries. The poster is just another simple solution to a complicated problem, and I expect it to generate more talk than good results.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Why Humiliation Doesn't Work

I've written a lot about how people go out of their way to judge and humiliate overweight people. One might wonder why, if it is so embarrassing and awful to be fat in this world, people don't just lose weight to escape the suffering they have to endure. The only people that wonder that are the same people who think the obesity problem can be solved by simple solutions. Their thinking about the issue is extremely shallow so they can't see the obvious.

What is the obvious? Here it is: people who are emotionally dependent on food to the extent that they develop an eating disorder are damaged. You don't make someone who is damaged better by beating up on them more. You damage them even more and send them further into their destructive coping mechanisms and make it all that much harder for them to find the capacity to change.

While certainly there will be a small number of people who can adopt an "I'll show everybody" attitude and pull themselves out of their lifestyle patterns, such people are rare, and it's even rarer that they don't eventually find themselves slowly slipping back to where they were. This is one of the reasons people so frequently regain their excess weight (and more). If you don't deal with the underlying biological and psychological issues, you're usually doomed to fall back into the patterns that made you fat in the first place.

If ostracizing, mocking, and judging fat people worked, we wouldn't have a growing obesity problem. If the world would figure out that hurting hurt people is unproductive and would try and support them, we could get started on dealing with the problem productively. Unfortunately, the trend appears to be to treat fat people more and more punitively rather than to attempt to create circumstances that will support any efforts to improve.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Fat Myth #4 - fat people are lazy

The general thinking about fat people is that they got that way because they were too lazy to move. I don't think that we can blame The Simpsons depiction of Homer as someone who spends his free time lazing on the sofa watching T.V. eating pork rinds or chips, but it sure isn't helping.

I can't speak for everyone who is overweight, but I rarely watch T.V., let alone do so while snacking on salty treats. Personally, I've known far more thin people who act like couch potatoes than fat ones. In terms of sloth, I have never witnessed a clear difference between people based on body weight. In fact, my husband is unabashedly a lazy person, and I rarely rest. That doesn't mean my activity is aerobic, but I'm always working on something. How can I be "lazy" if I never stop working?

The difference tends to come in when one looks at structured exercise. A lot of overweight people don't go out and jog, attend gyms, etc. Many people believe this is an indication of innate laziness and a lack of concern for one's well-being. That's a pat judgment which I believe rarely reflects reality. Most people who are overweight and sit around snacking at night have boring jobs that wear them out, kids to look after who tax their free time and energy, or, and this has been an issue for me, have a fear of going out in front of others and moving.

I've wanted for quite some time to just go out and walk for as long as I can everyday as a form of exercise which I can manage at this stage in my weight loss plan, but I had to work up a lot of courage to do so. If you can't guess why, then I'll tell you a little story from my youth that sums it up pretty well. One of my friends was a year or so younger than I and reported a situation that occurred in her class one day. They were in English class and my gym class was playing softball outside their window. When I came up to bat, the kids in her class had a high time making fun of me and how I was fat, slow, and not very good at playing. To his credit, her teacher defended me as someone who was smarter and harder studying than the lot that were mocking me (bless his heart and soul).

The point here is that any time a fat person tries to exercise in public, he or she has to face public judgment and mockery. Instead of people looking at the fat man out there trying to jog so he can lose weight and improve his health, they're tittering, whispering behind their hands or out and out making fun of him. If you knew that you were going to be belittled and humiliated every time you tried to engage in a physical activity, would you be out there engaging in it? In the end, one can exercise at home, but that requires a different sort of motivation. It isn't as healthy or enervating to jump on an exercise bike or elliptical trainer in your basement. Leaving the house is a cue for movement and gets you out of the environment which you are usually distracted in. Staying in it is a situation which requires you to cope with whatever else may interrupt your exercise like other people's demands, the phone, the doorbell, or nagging notions of what needs to be done around the house.

Fat people are not slothful. They work plenty and move plenty. If you don't see them exercising, then it probably has to do with society's attitudes toward watching them move. It's hard enough when your body is large and ungainly to exercise without the added notion that you're some sort of comedy floor show for the world.