So, I wanted to flesh out my goals here a little further, and hopefully give anyone who is reading a little better insight into who I am and what I’m like. This should also help you determine whether you want to continue reading me in the future. Here goes:
What I anticipate I’ll be posting about:
Fat Acceptance. Weight is an issue that is near to my heart, as I have lived as a fat person for all of my 31 years. I am a proponent of fat acceptance (see sites like Big Fat Blog and Shapely Prose for discussion on what this means). There is a lot of debate about what has caused or is causing the so-called “Obesity Epidemic.” Setting aside all of my opinions on that topic for now–because the cause of the so-called “Obesity Epidemic” is 100% beside this point–fundamentally, I believe that fat people have the right to be treated the same as other human beings, and not to face discrimination. This means, among other things, that fat people have equal rights to access effective health care and not to be discriminated against in matters of employment, family life, or everyday activities. If you think this isn’t happening, here are examples of discrimination faced by fat people in each of these areas: Health care, employment–the proposed policy in this case, interestingly, is not legal in Michigan only because we have an anti-size-discrimination law; family life (via Shapely Prose), everyday activities. And these are only the ones I know about, that occur to me off the top of my head.
Fat people deserve just as much basic human respect as thin people regardless of their habits or your perception of their habits. And although it is outside the scope of this post, and although I believe very strongly that basic rights should not be predicated on whether you are “good” health-wise, I still want to underline that most fat people do not fit the donut-eating, couch-potato stereotype that you may have in your head as you read this. Fat people eat similarly to thin people. Whether it’s about weight or anything else (pet peeve alert), we all REALLY need to stop assuming that we can know anything about someone’s lifestyle just by looking at them.
Food and my weight. All that being said, I have very complicated feelings about my own weight. In a nutshell, since I was 16 or so I have weighed anywhere between 169 lbs. (when I was on the Fit for Life food-combining diet in high school) and 276 lbs. (two jobs ago when I was at about my lowest point as far as hating my job and my career). I also have a lot of past history of compulsive/disordered eating, which I believe probably arose from my mother’s well-meaning attempts to keep my brother and I from getting fat. No, she didn’t starve us–she just did what parents are advised to do now, which is to keep pretty much all junk food out of the house, and put kids on calorie-controlled diets if they start to get fat. Later I started sneaking lots of food when my parents weren’t home and bingeing to the point of discomfort on a regular basis. My relationship with food is screwed up to this day, and I don’t think the fact that my food was restricted and I was taught to diet at such a young age is unrelated to this.
I have lost and regained weight several times as an adult through various cycles of dieting, attempting to eat intuitively, disordered eating, dieting again, etc. Most recently, my best friend lost a significant amount of weight a few years back on a commercial diet program, at a point when I was at my highest weight ever, and after observing her for a while and determining that she seemed to be eating fairly sanely, I decided maybe I would try it too. The day after my 30th birthday, I attended my first meeting, and have since lost 97 pounds.
So, this would normally be the point where I talk about how I’m a “completely different person,” and vow that I’ll never be that fat again. To be blunt about it, I view that entire outlook as a load of crap. I believe the statistics that say that 95-98% of dieters regain their weight (and anecdotally, we have all seen really dedicated dieters regain–it’s obviously not just a matter of trying really really hard), so every time I see someone vow never to regain weight, I think “Yeah, good luck with that, and trust me, you’re gonna need it” and I put myself in that same category. It also enrages me both personally and as a feminist to think that I’m supposed to consider weight loss such a huge milestone or accomplishment in my life. Finally, I don’t disgust myself, whether we’re talking about the fattest or the thinnest version of me. I am me and although my weight is a huge part of who I am, because how could it not be in our society, the way it influences me may not be quite what you think.
Oh, and incidentally I don’t believe in the hairsplitting that goes on between “dieting” and “lifestyle changes” or whatever the current euphemism is, even though the diet program I’m on is IMO dishonestly trying to split that very hair in their current ad campaign. I don’t really believe this company is completely evil, and my meeting leader is actually a wonderful person, but call a spade a spade. If you are controlling your food intake and exercise level for the purpose of losing weight or controlling your weight, you are on a reducing diet or what is known in current vernacular as “a diet.” Therefore, as much as I would like to weasel out of it and say I’m not, I am on a diet–and if you are currently deliberately losing or trying to lose weight, so are you. I have a lot more to say about this, but I’ll leave it at that for now.
OK, so do I prefer being thinner? Sure. It’s a lot easier to grab a size 12 off the rack in any store I like than it is to try and find something that looks decent on me (and doesn’t cost $60.00) in Lane Bryant. The thinner I am, the easier it is for me to run, which I enjoy, and I feel better physically–though honestly, for me this has not been nearly as huge an improvement as other dieters say it is. I also feel better about how I look when I’m thinner. Duh, I live in society, it’s kind of hard not to feel that way. So, because of these things, I’m still on the diet and I’m still attending meetings and weighing in weekly, because for now I find it relatively low-stress and am at a kind of equilibrium where I am neither starving nor stuffing myself, which is physically and mentally comfortable for me.
Realistically, however, this is probably going to change (remember, I’ve been fat all my life–I’ve been dieting since I was like 8 years old, so I’m not exactly blind to the predictable end that most diets come to), so I think a lot about things like Intuitive Eating, and how I can transition away from the parts of the diet that I feel are destructive while still maintaining the parts that I feel are healthy for me (this may be confusing since I’ve just more or less said that diets suck, but again, it’s complicated for me), and maintaining a focus on health without freaking out if and when I do regain weight. I have made some modifications to the “program” that make it more suitable for me, and I’ll probably get into that also because there are connections there to Intuitive Eating and my own eating history, but again I don’t consider the diet any more likely to “work” because of this. It’s still a diet.
So, all of these things will probably come up. I think I’ll enjoy having my own space to be honest about my own feelings about all of these issues, and hopefully be able to work through some things in the process.
Health and exercise. I enjoy running, weightlifting, and generally getting stronger and more fit, and I’ll probably talk about that stuff. I love the focus that I seem to see among fitness bloggers over the past few years on actually improving women’s strength (as opposed to strength training just to look better or “spot reduce” or “tone up”) and I enthusiastically support that approach, relatively clueless though I might be; at the moment I’m trying to figure out ways to mix up my strength training routine and although there is lots of amazing information out there to take advantage of, my immediate reaction is usually “too hard, too complicated” so I’m not exactly a poster child. But I do enjoy kicking ass and taking names.
On the downside, it’s hard for me to divorce exercise from “burning calories,” and eventually I want to learn to keep the part where I enjoy activity on its own merits and for the health benefits, without obsessing about whether I earned 9 Activity Points or only 4.
Boring events in my life. See also, overwrought personal angst. I am currently in what might politely be called a “career transition.” Basically, I quit my job as an engineer last November (a career that I was never really suited for, despite getting a bachelor’s, a master’s, and a P.E. license; OK, I’m a slow learner) and am looking for a new direction. You might say I was crazy to voluntarily leave a good job with a good company, which as far as I know I could have kept for as long as I wanted it, in a state where the economy is famously bad right now. You would probably be right. I hope this works out, because I’m getting to a point in my life where I need to either shit or get off the pot as regards both my career and the possibility of having children. In either case, I’m very lucky that my husband has a job he enjoys and is capable of supporting both of us while I figure this out.
Personal loyalties. Speaking of the above… nobody was probably surprised to hear me say that the State of Michigan is in big economic trouble right now. However, in the press and the popular imagination, that often gets translated to mean that Michigan is a horrible place to live. In my opinion, nothing could be further from the truth. I absolutely love it here and although I certainly can’t argue with anyone who is leaving the state because of an inability to find work, I won’t hear any of the usual arguments about how “nobody” wants to live here partially because the weather “sucks,” or exaggerated dumping on the City of Detroit (much of which takes a very racist tone). I love the climate here, and although I’m a rural/suburban girl by upbringing, Detroit is a great American city. The scenery is amazing and the Great Lakes kick ass and I’m so fortunate we were able to move back here. I’m also one of those people who will jump down your throat if you refer to “flyover states.” On a related note, I am also a Michigan State grad and a huge fan of MSU sports (I’ve shelled out for season football tickets for the past several years, and if you are from around here, you know that only a true fan would voluntarily endure that). These things are a big part of who I am and I’m sure I’ll be writing about them. In short, the Upper Midwest: Woo!
What this blog is not about:
It will be a cold day in hell before you catch me posting food logs, point counts, or assessments of whether I was “bad” or “good” with regard to food. Also, I don’t really condone dieting even though I am doing it myself (I know–I am a weird, inconsistent person) so I don’t really want to talk about it that much, except if I’m using the discussion to sort out some kind of larger issue or come to terms with my own feelings about it. I don’t mean “I can talk about diets but you can’t,” but it’s more like I’m going to have to take such discussions one at a time–I mean, if they occur, since nobody is even reading this right now –and curtail them if they get too “rah-rah dieting.”
I guess that’s pretty much it.
For anyone who made it this far, hello and welcome!