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Posts Tagged ‘obesity’

My gynecologist is a pleasant woman. She’s petite and amiable and makes the job of an annual exam less painful by bursting into the room, laptop in hand, exclaiming “Happy Pap Smear Day!”

Okay, so she’s actually kind of a wacko, but that’s not the reason I wanted to strangle her this morning.

I hadn’t seen her in three years. A lot can happen in three years.  A lot has happened in three years, but since I’m now in full on “taking care of myself” mode, I figured it was time to get this unpleasant business out of the way.

And all would have been fine if she hadn’t started to lecture me about my weight.  I saw it coming like a tornado heading for a trailer park.

“One thing I really want to discuss, because it’s so important to your overall health, is the weight.”

The weight.

It’s like it has a life of its own.

I took some time to craft my response while she babbled on about exercise and diet. Should I take the defensive, more belligerent approach and put her in an uncomfortable position by asking “What makes you think I’m not doing anything about the weight?”  Because seriously, that’s what I wanted to. The woman pissed me off.

I may still be hovering just over 300 pounds, but three years ago I was at least 20 pounds heavier. That alone should have warranted an ‘atta girl, but she was just looking at what she saw sitting in front of her on the table.

And? AND? I’ve been seeing my primary care physician in the very same office regularly since I started Weight Watchers, and since his nurse weighs me every goddam time I visit, the gynecologist should have consulted those records prior to assuming I had made no progress at all in managing my weight.

If I hadn’t been naked under a sheet I would have walked right out of the room.

So I said, “Actually, I’ve lost over 50 pounds since October.”

“That’s great!” she exclaimed and proceeded to tap tap tap away on her laptop until she brought up my weight history.

“Oh yeah, I can see you’re 50 pounds down from your heaviest weight in ’09. Great job!”

Too late. You already made me feel like shit, lady.

This wouldn’t have stung so much if I hadn’t been right in the middle of a plateau. It still would have pissed me off, but I’ve been working as hard as ever without seeing much progress.  My weight has not moved in about six weeks and the last thing I needed was some Kelli Martin look-alike coming down on me for being fat.

My old OBGYN, the woman who delivered Autumn, was wonderful if only for the fact that she never lectured me about the weight. She was a little on the heavier side herself and I’ve found most doctors who struggle with weight issues are less likely to hound you about yours.  But as great as she was, her office was poorly managed and it wasn’t unusual for me to wait upwards of an hour to see her for a routine prenatal exam.

So I chose an office closer to home and wound up with this perky little Atkins disciple who only recognized my efforts after I pointed them out to her.

I’m still seething.

So on behalf of all the fatties out there, and there are a lot of them, I have a few questions I’d like to pose to the medical community:

Do you really think we’re oblivious to what the extra weight does to our bodies?

Do you think we enjoy being fat and strive to be as unhealthy as possible?

And really, do you think your lectures make any difference at all? Do you think that by telling us how bad all that extra weight is, your words will turn on some magic switch inside of us that will get us to start exercising and eating well?

Because I have some news for you.  If anything, these lectures only serve as an excuse for us not to schedule a return visit. Why do you think it had been three years since my last exam?

Losing weight is one of those things people can only accomplish once they decide it’s something worth accomplishing. They have to want it and they have to want to work for it. No lecture from a doctor they see once a year is going to make any difference in whether they stop eating whole bags of Chex Mix and start taking the dog out for walks in the morning before work.

I’d love to be able to walk into next year’s appointment another 50 pounds down, but making that kind of resolution just to SHOW HER isn’t going to help me in the long run.

I’m not doing this for anyone but myself.

I want it and I want to work for it.

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The holidays are typically the hardest time for people to maintain their weight let alone lose it.  I thought about the holidays a lot when I decided to re-commit to Weight Watchers in October.  I thought about Halloween and all the candy Autumn would bring home and Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing and Christmas fudge and all the things that were normally staples of my holiday diet.

Oddly enough, it was to my benefit that I decided to get my ass in gear so late in the year because I was enjoying the honeymoon stages of my weight loss journey. I was diligently counting everything I ate and was losing weight every week. I hadn’t yet gotten to the point where I felt like hurling my kitchen scale across the room and had even adopted an attitude of forgiveness whenever I slipped up and ate too much Chex Mix.

That damn Chex Mix.

Since I was feeling so empowered, I decided to participate in the university’s “Hold It for the Holidays” challenge.  Every year HR sets up the challenge as a way to encourage faculty and staff to maintain healthy habits from Thanksgiving to the New Year, the period where most of us wind up being rolled away from the dinner table by Oompa Loompas.  All you had to do was weigh in before Thanksgiving and again after the New Year. There was a $20 deposit required at weigh-in, which would be refunded if you managed to stay within two pounds of your initial weight and tracked a set of pre-determined healthy habits for six weeks.

A no brainer seeing as I was doing those things already.

Weigh-in was on my birthday, of all days, and I woke up feeling wonderful. Thirty-eight can suck it, I thought. I had a coupon for a free coffee from Biggby and another for free spaghetti from Fazolis and the entire day in front of me to spend as I wished.  All that freedom made me giddy as I left the house with $20 in my pocket and my daughter in the back seat of the car.

But since this story features yours truly, you can probably guess things did not go as planned.

I dropped Autumn off at school and headed over to the HR office on campus. The receptionist was not at all prepared for the weigh-in when I told her why I was there. Then another lady showed up wanting to weigh in, which flustered the receptionist even more, but finally she got her shit together and was ready to take my name and my money.  “We’ll be all set as soon as I find out where they put the scale,” she said.

Excuse me?

Finding the scale meant it was a small scale and not the scale I had imagine I’d be stepping on. I thought I’d be weighing in on a fairly accurate doctor-type scale that involved moving weights from one side to the other and maybe even a ruler thingy to measure height.  But why would HR need a scale like that for a once-a-year challenge?  They didn’t.  And apparently somebody somewhere stowed the scale in a cupboard and I had a good idea it wasn’t the kind of scale I wanted to step on.

Sure enough, I was ushered into a back room and introduced to the most wretched-looking run-of-the-mill horrible little bathroom scale I’d ever seen.  It was flat and it was dirty and worst of all I knew it would not register my weight.  Most wretched run-of-the mill horrible little bathroom scales only register up to a certain weight and I had surpassed that threshold by many pounds.

“Um, I don’t think this is going to work,” I said to the receptionist.

She shot me a puzzled glance and I explained my situation.  “Well let’s give it a try anyway,” she said.

And so I stepped on and was not at all surprised when the scale displayed an obnoxious ERROR message in all caps, bolded and underlined with an asterisk at the end, the corresponding footnote for which was displayed on my face. FUUUUCK!

“I didn’t think so,” I said.

I was embarrassed and the receptionist was embarrassed, but God bless her she suggested I try again. And God bless me I did.

Scale fail.

We went back out to the front desk where the receptionist refunded my money.  As I walked back to my car, I put in a call to Nathan to tell him how humiliated I was.  Happy birthday to me, indeed.  There were no tears, just a burning indignation which, fueled by my free cup of coffee, prompted me to send an email to the HR wellness director.  She sent me an apologetic reply and suggested I send her my weight in an e-mail since many others who couldn’t make the weigh-in were doing the same.

Screw that. I spent my $20 at Barnes and Noble and had a fabulous birthday anyway.

But you know what? I still lost nine pounds between Thanksgiving and the New Year. That’s with turkey and stuffing and making bon bons and cookies for Santa and more turkey and more stuffing at Meg’s house and four whole slices of Chicago deep dish pizza from Savastano’s in Tulsa, two of which I ate for lunch the next day,  mind you.

No one was as surprised as I was to see such a loss. I wasn’t perfect by any means, but I must have made some good choices along the line, the most significant of which was turning my back on that wretched-looking run-of-the-mill horrible little bathroom scale and not looking back.

But I’ll be seeing you again next year, bub.

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A couple of months ago I downloaded a silly little app for my iPod Touch called Period Tracker and it does just what the title implies. My cycles were never regular before I went on The Pill and they haven’t been regular since I went off it three years ago.  The irregularity has made for some unpleasant surprises over the years, the most memorable of which was walking up and down the Vegas strip and returning to our room at the Tropicana, expecting to take advantage of the mirror over the bed and instead heading back down the strip to Walgreens for some tampons.

As surprises go, that one served a very important purpose in the months to come because I was able to tell my OB with absolute certainty the start date of the last period before I got pregnant.

Since I was going to be traveling again, I decided to be proactive and download P Tracker (as it is so discretely displayed on my Touch) to help me get a handle on what my body does and when.  And according to that little program, I was due to start my most recent cycle the day we returned from our trip to Oklahoma.

The thing about the app is that even though its purpose is to track your cycles, you already should have a good idea how far apart they are in order to project your start date as accurately as possible.  Since I did not, I used the default setting of 28 days.

So my projected start date came and went. No big deal since I thought it was pretty early in the month for things to commence anyway. Even though I didn’t have the actual number of days between cycles nailed down, I did know it usually happened closer to the middle of the month and not the beginning.

But then a week passed and Nathan started asking questions.  He is, perhaps, more vigilant about tracking my cycles than I am and paid close attention to what P Tracker was telling us.  He asked if I was worried, which I was not.

Then ten days went by. Then twelve.

And then I started thinking about babies and how Marla’s sister has a friend whose husband had a vasectomy and still managed to knock her up. It happens.  It’s rare, but it does happen.

And I actually told Nathan it wouldn’t be bad if we have another child now, especially since Autumn might be starting kindergarten in the fall leaving us able to pay for daycare for a second child.  And sure, we’ve sold every bit of baby gear we ever owned, but we could be more conservative this time and not buy half the crap we bought for Autumn.

I had it all sorted out in my head, but as I was entertaining fantasies of a surprise pregnancy, my body had its own plans and I could feel it was only a matter of time before the floodgates opened. And sure enough, on day 13 I was back to being just another cranky woman on the rag.

I was relieved. I didn’t really want to be pregnant again.  Not right now. I’ve been doing very well on Weight Watchers, but I’m still heavier than I was the day I gave birth to Autumn.

But if the weight wasn’t an issue, I don’t think I would have minded being pregnant at all.

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A rude awakening

About a year ago I re-joined Weight Watchers. Actually I think I just resumed meetings after having farted around for several months. It’s very easy to fart around on Weight Watchers, especially if you pay for a monthly pass and decide not to weigh in for weeks at a time. Weight Watchers will happily take your money whether you’re following the program or not, and for most of 2008 and 2009 I was not.

Then in mid-October of last year I had a dream that prompted me to turn things around.  In the dream I was sitting in a brightly lit doctor’s office being told I’d been approved for bariatric surgery. That’s all I remember about the dream. That and the crushing disappointment I felt upon waking up in my own dark bedroom.

The thing is I didn’t even want bariatric surgery.  I’d looked into the option in late 2008 and actually initiated the pre-approval stages of the process, but after a few months and a few bills from my doctor (because my insurance does not cover weight loss initiatives of any kind), I decided to scrap that plan. I’d just had knee surgery a few months before and wasn’t looking forward to going into the hospital again any time soon.

So I woke up and felt disappointed, not because I wasn’t getting the surgery but because I had lost that euphoric sense of relief and hope I’d gained from hearing my obesity would finally be addressed.  Gone was the feeling of a huge albatross being flung away after so many years.  The weight wasn’t going to come off in my dreams and it appeared as though it wasn’t going to come off in reality, either.

Thankfully I decided to tell that pessimistic little voice to piss off.  A week and a half later I was back at my local Weight Watchers center because I wanted to feel that hope again.  Surgery wasn’t my only option and in spite of so many false starts throughout the year, I did feel hope as I stepped on the scale again.  I hadn’t weighed myself in eight weeks and was prepared for an introduction to my highest. weight. ever.  And while I did hit that unpleasant milestone, I was only two pounds heavier than I was at my last weigh-in.

Getting started again was hard. It’s always hard to look at your problems and decide to deal with them.  I take comfort in food.  I eat my stress and my anxiety and I enjoy a very sedentary lifestyle.  I hate being accountable for everything I eat and my body is no longer a vessel built for physical activity.  I have arthritic knees, a sore back when I stand for more than five minutes and I can’t find a pair of jeans that fit to save my life.

But I do have the hope, and I’d take that over a good pair of jeans any day.

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Recently the internet had a coming out day or delurking day or something like that. I was alerted to the fact via Twitter and decided to do nothing about it because apathy was so much easier than sitting in a cold basement trying to think of a clever post that would elicit comments.  I like comments, but I don’t live for them and if you feel safer on the other side of your browser or feed reader who am I to say you have to make yourself known? Do you know how many blogs I read but never comment on?  Yeah, either do I, but it’s a lot.

In spite of my non-participation during National Delurking Day, I did realize, after it had passed, that it provided an excellent way for me to broach a subject I’ve been wanting to write about for weeks but have avoided because:

a)     I’m lazy.
b)    I’m a busy person (like you’re not, right?).
c)     Believe it or not there are some things I don’t like to share.
d)    It has the potential to change the direction of this blog.

We’re talking about my weight here.  Wait, you all know I’m fat, right?  I just wanted to put that out there so we’re on the same page because there’s only so much you can see in that smokin’ head shot in the sidebar.  I am fat and I’ve struggled with my weight for most of my life.  It’s not a subject I write about much because this space started out as a parenting blog and there never seemed to be much room for discussion about obesity.  Or rather, I didn’t want to make room for it.

So no, I didn’t like to write about obesity here, but I figured at some point I might want to start writing about it somewhere and set up a blog last summer for that purpose. Remember when I said I was going to quit this blog?  Well the new blog was where I was going to go until I decided I didn’t want to take the time to figure out a brand new blog design and cultivate a brand new blog audience.

Did I mention I’m lazy?  And busy?

But what does this have to do with delurking, you say?  Well let me introduce you to someone who’s been hiding for many, many years:

Pose-1992

This is Heather circa 1992.  This 20 year-old is a bright, cheery young woman who knows nothing about mortgage payments, unfulfilled dreams or feeling like a shitty mother. She thinks she knows what it’s like to be trapped in an unsatisfying job, but she’s a fool.  This Heather is an optimist and is certain something FABULOUS is waiting for her right around the corner.  This Heather, in spite of her unfortunate perm and early ‘90s fashion sense, is beautiful and happy.  And she has only one chin.

I miss this Heather, mostly because I know I’ll never see her again.  This photo was taken the year she lost 50 pounds, quit school and caught the eye of a certain alcoholic co-worker (you go, girl!).  The person she was back then saw potential and possibilities everywhere, but she was also insecure and horribly lost.  She’d also been known to crush on gay men obsessed with Madonna.

I also miss her because she’s half the size of this Heather:

DSC_0001_au

This is Heather circa 2009 and she’s only slightly more put together than her 1992 counterpart.  She’s not unhappy, but she still doesn’t know where she’s going and is certainly not the optimist she was when Clinton took office. She’s been hurt, both physically and emotionally, and has labored in an unrewarding job for eight years.  She’s known depression, unrelenting stress and insecurity when it comes to her parenting skills.  But time has given her as much as it’s taken away and she has developed an honest, outspoken nature that serves her well as much as it gets her into trouble.  This Heather does not care so much about looking good as she does about feeling good.   Makeup be damned, she’ll go to the grocery store wearing purple velour stretch pants with a hole in the butt if that’s the more comfortable option.  And it usually is.

I know for a fact 1992 Heather would have been horrified to meet her 2009 self.  Everything about 2009 Heather would have repulsed her; that she was still living in the same town, that she was working in some clerical job instead of being a writer and that she had gained so much weight she didn’t even look like the same person anymore.  She would have run away as fast as possible screaming, “That’s not me! That can’t be me!”

The thing 1992 Heather wouldn’t know is that 2009 Heather is pretty awesome. She’s funny and has a quick wit.  She graduated from college in 2001 while married and working full-time at a factory.  A few years after that she had a beautiful, perfect little baby.  She’s a wife, a mother and an aunt and has found friends in unexpected places.  But like so many other people, 1992 Heather wouldn’t take the time to know any of these things about 2009 Heather because she wouldn’t be able to see past the fat.

And you know what?  I’m really tired of the fat being my defining characteristic.

So in a move that’s ironic considering the above statement, I’m going to start writing about the fat.  I’m going to start writing about what it was like growing up as a large child, what it was like being an overweight teenager and what it’s now like as an obese parent.  I’m going to discuss all of this while I try to take off the weight.  As fabulous as I am, I’d still like to be able to buy clothes off the rack.

I hope those of you who read this blog will continue to do so. I’ll still write about what I’ve always written about, but I’m tired of pretending the weight doesn’t matter. It has always mattered and it will always matter.

It’s 2010. I turn 40 in less than two years and I’d really like to see if there’s any part of that 20 year-old left in me.

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that a fat woman does not enjoy shopping for clothes.  If she does enjoy shopping for clothes, you can bet she’s buying the kind of clothes you really don’t want to see on a fat woman anyway.  Tube tops, spaghetti-strap camis, short skirts and halter dresses.  They all exist in plus sizes and it’s only the very brave or the very stupid who buy them.

My style is pretty casual and I’ll be the first to admit a few items in my closet are so worn out they’re downright dumpy.  I keep things.  I keep things forever.  Long after they’ve shrunk or I’ve grown, long after holes and rips and stains have forced me to designate a piece as part of a “home only” ensemble, I keep them.  I don’t get rid of things willy nilly because it’s so damn hard to find clothes that fit in the first place.

This year, however, I find myself at my highest weight ever and this also happens to be the year I decided to haul my butt to Chicago for BlogHer.  I’ve already written about my wardrobe freakout so we don’t need to go there again, but finding things that will flatter my shape without having the advantage of trying them on has been a challenge.  It has always been challenging because there are very few brick and mortar stores that cater to the big ladies.

If you are a large woman, you will never feel as marginalized as you will when shopping for a wedding dress or a maternity wardrobe.  Fat women get married and they go on to have babies and yet no one seems to realize this.  Just try to find an acceptable dress to try on at a chi chi bridal boutique or maternity wear in sizes above an XL at the mall.  They don’t exist.

I found wedding dress shopping to be a nightmarish experience.  Like every other bride-to-be, I invested in the magazines and paged through them until I found the dress I knew I wanted.  It had to be that dress or something like it because it was simple.  It had the right shape and the right neckline and I knew it would look great on me, but finding that dress or anything remotely similar in the local boutiques was impossible.  All they had for me to try on were horribly stiff creations made of yards and yards of lace.  I hated them all.

Then, about five months before the wedding, I found it.  I had stopped off at a local JC Penney on a whim and picked up their bridal catalog.  There, on one of the very first pages, was my dress.  It was an exact replica of the designer dress I had ripped out of the bridal magazine months ago and there it was in my size.  The best part of all was that JC Penney’s liberal return policy made it possible for me to feel safe buying the dress without trying it on.

Right now my BlogHer wardrobe shopping is feeling very similar to buying my maternity wardrobe four years ago.  I’m shopping online, looking at pictures and trying to imagine what will cling and what will pinch.  I’m buying things I’m not entirely sure will fit and will be opening boxes with some hesitation once they are delivered.  Thankfully I finally found Old Navy’s plus-size store online and was able to buy several things for a reasonable price.  If they fit, I think I’ll finally have the BlogHer wardrobe nailed down.

If they don’t’ fit, I will be meeting you all in Chicago sans pants.

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Big lady

Seriously, is anyone else still recovering from the DST switch? I know I complain about it EVERY YEAR, but it’s amazing how much an hour can throw you off. For example when I just typed the word “throw” I first typed “through” as if that made any kind of sense. English major, indeed.

Autumn is handling the time change well, but my God she is such a dawdler in the morning. I did not know procrastination was a trait one could pass down to her offspring, but it seems the mornings we’re most rushed are the mornings she is most interested in her Lincoln Logs. Drives us crazy.

This morning as I was dressing, Autumn looked at me and asked, “Is daddy taller?” We’ve been talking about different body types and she’s starting to recognize differences in different people. I nodded and said, “Yes, daddy is tall.” She processed that for a nanosecond and then said, “And mommy’s a big lady?” I nodded again. “Yes, mommy is a big lady.”

I will most likely be hearing the “big lady” riff for awhile because that’s how toddlers are. They fixate on a certain idea and repeat it over and over until you think you may go mad. But that’s how they learn, and I’m not going to ask her to stop calling me a big lady if that’s exactly what I am. I am, in fact, the one who taught her to call me a big lady.

At some point I will have to intervene and explain that not all big ladies appreciate being called big ladies. Heaven forbid she very loudly observes some random big lady in the grocery store. Still, I’m not about to teach her that one’s physical appearance should be a source of shame, so I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

I’m doing my best to insulate Autumn from the self-flagellating reality of being a woman. She doesn’t know how much I dislike my large body, my bum knees and the recurring acne that flares just before my period. She doesn’t know that big ladies aren’t the ideal because I’m her mom and I’m a big lady and she loves me regardless of what I look like. That kind of innocence doesn’t last forever, but wouldn’t it be nice if it did?

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