Food and Weight: An Ongoing Journey

Tech Support for Sis & Bullying of the Obese

Posted on: October 4, 2012

Over the last few weeks, I have been spending large chunks of time at my sister’s house, trying to get her computers to work together, and — in the case of the 23-year-old desktop, to work at all.

One of the challenges I have had, therefore, is eating at my sister’s.  She is an excellent cook, and has been trying to support me in losing weight.  She has made huge salads for me, measured out pasta so I have the correct portion, bought apples and cut them up or me to munch on while I worked, and generally been very thoughtful about what she offered me.

It’s been something of a major change in our relationship.  Prior to this time, her attitude has been that she was making what she was making and if it didn’t support my program that was my worry.

Now, I’m not faulting her.  Most people really don’t want to go out o their way to build a menu they are making for many people around one person’s food foibles, be they allergies, likes & dislikes, or food programs.

I am, in fact, praising her for being willing to change her habits to support my program.  It is one of the greatest feelings to know just how solidly she has my back this time around.  It is one of the most incredibly empowering feelings I have ever known around this issue.

And make no mistake about it, family support is a very powerful tool for success.

I was watching the news this morning, and heard about the case of Jennifer Livingston, a TV news anchor who some man — who admits to not even watching the show she anchors — took to task for being obese in public.  In part, the complainer said:

“Obesity is one of the worst choices a person can make and one of the most dangerous habits to maintain. I leave you this note hoping that you’ll reconsider your responsibility as a local public personality to present and promote a healthy lifestyle.”

Instead of letting this jerk shame her, she took it public, responding to his note on TV:

“The truth is I am overweight. You can call me fat and yes, even obese on a doctor’s chart. To the person who wrote me that letter, do you think I don’t know that? Your cruel words are pointing out something I don’t see? You don’t know me. You are not a friend of mine. You are not a part of my family, and you admitted that you don’t watch this show so you know nothing about me besides what you see on the outside — and I am much more than a number on a scale.”

As an obese person myself, I wanted to stand up and cheer!  For too damned long people assume that — under the guise of being helpful and concerned — they have the right to tell us how we should look, and how we should feel if we don’t look the way they think is appropriate.

Another aspect is that I know thin people who are totally sickly, and heavy people who can run marathons, or climb mountains.

What the thin fanatics do not seem to get is that people come in all shapes and sizes, as well as in all colors, and that is just fine.  Further, unless their opinion is sought (and there are people who we might ask opinions of), it is neither their business nor their place to offer them.

I do not know a single heavy person who is not acutely aware of their weight and of the stigma that this society places on them for no better reason than their size.  I have heard young women swear that they would not get pregnant because the don’t want to be fat.  And I wonder how twisted we have become, as a society, that if one carries extra poundage one is seen as lazy, stupid, oafish, undesirable, etc.

It was not so very long ago, if you remember, that extra pounds meant that you could afford to eat well, and therefore considered a good thing. One should also remember that some of the most memorable women in history had lush curves, instead of protruding bones.

Most importantly, all of us need to remember that weight does not equate to self-worth.  It is just one of a number of variables that make people what they are, and people who are intent on forcing others to conform to some set body image of their own are nothing more than bullies, no matter how politely they couch their prejudice.

So, today’s questions to look at are:  Have you ever been made to feel bad or worthless because of your weight?  Has someone tried to shame you into losing weight?  How did that feel?  Did you buy into being ashamed of yourself for being obese?  Did you ever speak back to those attempting to enforce their body stereotypes on you?  If so, how did that feel?  Even if you are trying to lose weight, would you stand up for the right of others to be who and what they are?


10 Responses to "Tech Support for Sis & Bullying of the Obese"

A couple of people have tried to shame me.
I have NO issue telling them off – loudly – because THEY should be embarrassed for being rude. And because I think fast on my feet.
The GYN pushing bariatric surgery (bright and cheery “so when are we scheduling your gastric bypass?”) I told off AND made him write in my chart that he was not to discuss my weight further. That’s not what I pay him to look at. If he tries again, I take my business elsewhere, immediately.
At another office, the nurse got read the riot act.
The mind boggling thing was both of these people in the medical profession seemed to think I was blissfully unaware of my weight, and that I hadn’t made a bit of effort to do anything about it.
I’ve never been skinny – not since puberty. But even at my “right weight”, I’d be considered morbidly obese by the doctor’s precious “charts”. When I say “right weight” I mean “I’m comfortable in my own skin, entirely happy with how I feel, and my activity levels aren’t affected by my weight”. I assure you, it is significantly higher than what the “charts” demand.

Hi Jenna!

I’d’ve paid good money to see that!

I am lucky with my doctor. He and I have discussed my weight, determined that it is not stemming from a medical issue, and that was it. He has never tried to offer bariatric surgery, diet pills, or even a food program, but has totally supported me when I decided to do Weight Watchers, both this time and last time. One reason I value him so much is that he is savvy enough to realize that any impetus to change my weight needs to come from me, not him.

And you make an excellent point about those weight charts. Most people don’t realize that those charts are not medically developed, but developed by insurance companies and based on “statistical risk” rather than actual data. It is amazing to me just how much control over our medical systems has been ceded to the insurance companies, who are more concerned with the bottom line than with anyone’s health.

Yep, that’s me: intimidating idiots who so richly deserve it, scourge of the medical profession, and terrorizing automotive mechanics. I’m such a wench I never bothered to join the guild.

Unfortunately, part of my issue IS medical, and if they can’t be bothered to read my chart and ask *intelligent* questions, they deserve to be blasted.
By “intelligent” I mean things like “What have you tried to lose weight?” as opposed to “Why don’t you join a gym?”, implying that I had certainly NOT thought of that gem of wisdom myself!

Those charts should be burned. My “right weight” is 60 lbs above what is considered “ideal” for my height, 40lbs above the designated number for “obese”. No allowances for frame, breasts/hips, or muscle. Because gods forbid a woman should be muscular. The fact that I could at my “right weight” lift 100lbs dead weight without thinking about it, and 200# with a bit of effort meant nothing.

Yep, that’s me: intimidating idiots who so richly deserve it, scourge of the medical profession, and terrorizing automotive mechanics. I’m such a wench I never bothered to join the guild.

Yep, that’s you !

Yeah, I know that part of your issue is medical, and the the idiot in question didn’t bother to read your chart. (That’s why I said I’d’ve paid to see you tell that doctor off.) As I said, I know I am exceedingly lucky in having the doctor I have, which is why I fought to get on a Medicaid insurance that he accepts.

Yep. Those charts should be burned. Nor should proper weight be determined solely by BMI (Body Mass Index). BMI does not take into account muscle at all. Nor does it recognize that certain parts of females are made up largely of fatty tissues, supported by muscles.

According to the charts, my “ideal weight” should be 117-120 lbs. I would look like a concentration camp victim at that weight, and I well know it. For me, the bottom range of my goal would be no less than 140 lbs., and the top would be 150-160 lbs.

This time around, I have said to hell with the charts. I’m going to go to the weight that is right for me, and the way I judge will not be the number on the scale. It will be how I feel, how my energy is, and how clothing fits me. Nor will it be a specific clothing size because clothing sizes for women are one of the most arbitrary measurements around, with every manufacturer having a somewhat different idea of what constitutes any particular size.

My mom has always, always had a problem with my weight, and to this day, she keeps trying to get me to get a gastric bypass, no matter that my nutriologist (An adorable woman who, when I told her I just wanted to be more healthy, lose a bit of weight and not worry about the numbers in the chart, she said ‘Ok, so, I won’t tell you the numbers, you won’t have to look at them, and I’ll only tell you ‘you’re doing good’ or ‘I think we need to cut a bit on this or on that’) told her flat out that it was a terrible idea.
However, for me the worst experience (And, ironically, the best) was when my younger brother, about six Christmases ago, flat out told me that he didn’t want to hug me because ‘fat people were gross’ and ‘he wanted to vomit when he saw me’. My brother, who is a fitness trainer who is *supposed* to have tact with overweight people who want to lose weight. And my mom tore him up a new one for that, as, as misguided as she is sometimes, she still loves me.
But what made it also the best thing was that, well, the one who changed their outlook on life after that was my brother. I refused to talk to him after that, flat out ignoring him even if he talked to me (As I told my mom “I don’t want him to barf,so I’ll remove myself from his sight), and he was so hurt, that he actually started researching on fatphobia and fat discrimination. Three years later, when he was going to get married, he called me, asked for my forgiveness, and now, he’s my other biggest defender when I tell my mom that no, I don’t want to get a gastric bypass. Not only that, but he also started a program in his gym for healthy heavy people, who don’t want to lose weight, just have a good condition. So yeah, now I’m pretty proud of my baby brother.

Wow, Adalisa! That’s a pretty big turnaround your brother made! I am totally impressed, especially since so much of society agrees (however silently) with his former attitude.

And, while I would never dream of telling anyone what to do about their weight unless asked, I must admit that I’m glad you turned down the gastric bypass. My sister had one and notes that a lot of the problems she had that related back to it didn’t appear or twenty years, but once they did, they were fairly horrible. I’ve had other friends, however, that have had good results, and several of them have kept off all the weight they lost as a result. I’m guessing that the results are partly determined by how strictly a person is willing to follow the doctor’s instructions, as well as how good a candidate he/she really is.

And, if any of my readers have had experience with gastric bypass, I would love for them to comment here, or to contact me about possibly doing a guest post, since I would like this journal to have information on more than just the method of weight control I adhere to.

Yeah, every single time that my brother talks to me about my weight, I’m amazed. I’m starting to think my sister in law is a saint, since she also was the one who insisted he contacted me before the wedding. And when I told him I was seeing a new nutriologist, his first question was “You’re not letting mum pressure you into this, are you? Because you know you don’t need to lose weight if you don’t want to.” I’s like talking to a different person, but it makes me want to hug him even if he’s in Switzerland. He still oversees my physical activity from there, and that’s how I knew about his ‘don’t lose weight if you don’t want to, but stay healthy and fit’ program. For example, he forbade me from running, but not from walking, and things like that.
I have heard great stories about gastric bypasses, but they all boil to: follow the doctor instructions to a T, and keep a number of eating restrictions in order not too get secondary effects. I know myself, I know that I am not good at following diets that are restrictive, so… Why would I subject myself to that kind of problems? Mom doesn’t get it, but well, she has always been the most obsessed about weight in the family.

I’m kind of sorry to hear that your mom is weight-obsessed. But I know that there were whole generations of women who were raised to equate being thin with being attractive, and being attractive with self-worth. And as these women get older, they try more and more desperately to remain thin and — in their minds — attractive.

I think that knowing yourself is the most important aspect of true self-worth, and that you know yourself well enough to know that gastric bypass would not be the method of choice for you is a great thing.

I would be interested in hearing more about what exercises your brother recommends for those of us who are large, especially if he has any hints for getting one’s walking range back after a severe illness. Do you think he might be interested in writing a post for this blog about exercises for heavy people? I would be happy to publicize his services in return.

I’ll ask my brother about the post writing, but I can tell you what he told me about walking. HE told me to start walking in short intervals, like, 5 minutes at a time the first week, then 10 minutes the next week, and so on. I did that, and now I can walk up to an hour and a half. Always at walking speed, never running.

He also suggested to me to sit on a chair, raise my arms and bend them as if to grab the back of your head, then stretch as if to try to touch your back. Repetitions of five times each. That helps to get strength in your arms but it’s very low-impact.

Thanks for the information, Adalisa!

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