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It was with great sympathy that I read the diary of Greenmother entitled "I am fat". I would like to offer a different perspective.

I suffered from obesity for around 20 years. It started in grad school. It ballooned when I was in a very stressful secondary Masters program. It got totally uncontrollable when I had my own stressful business, a partner whose father was essentially let to die over an inheritance, parents 25000 miles away literally dying because they would not go to assisted living, then a diagnosis of diabetes. I was 70 pounds overweight and something had to give. Join me below the corsett-like squigly for more...

I don't pretend to have the story for every overweight person. I'm sure for every story there is a counter-story to be told about a person who doesn't have problems, is very happy in life, not having health issues. But I think my story will have a lot of commonality with a lot of overweight folks out there.

I HATED being overweight. It was a daily process of self-loathing. It made me less enthusiastic about life. It sapped my energy. I was tired all the time. I had to get a CPAP device, which, contrary to what the DVD said, was horrible and uncomfortable years after use. I rarely bought new clothes, the ones I had were stained and almost always some shade of black, It's slenderizing you know. I suffered from chafing during any hot weather, had foot odor, various other body odors.

The real turning point was when I was diagnosed with diabetes. I had not had a physical for 13 years, somehow always afraid of what I'd see. I was told I had type II diabetes but if I lost some weight, I could maybe get rid of it. I was also always lecturing my parents about taking care of their diabetes, so I was a hypocrite if I did nothing.

And then there were the people around me. Take my partner's nephew. He became morbidly obese like his father. Yes, we was Republican and very selfish but many of his problems stemmed from being so overweight. At age 24 now, as far as I know, he's never been on a date. His mother said once that at college he enjoyed cooking pastas because the girls would come around. I thought, yeah, cooking a carby food will really bring them in. He is a talented engineer but can't get employed at a decent job. It's sad, it's unfair, but the truth is being very overweight IS often the deciding factor on who gets a job and who does not.

Or there is my childhood friend who is quite overweight. The sad part is her daughter is now overweight too. Every week she posts some delicious dishes with some heavily sugar marinated beef or yesterday she wondered if she should use chocolate chips for her mocha coffee. The daughter is very, very smart but you wonder if she will lack opportunities in life from being overweight.  Or the other friend who laments how she is the fat chick, lacks self esteem etc.

Again, I'm sure I can get hundreds of stories on why this does not apply to individual people, but for many people who are overweight, it does apply.

So for me, the real trigger was something the doctor said, "You can't help other people until you help yourself". I was on Januvia but my insurance company put me through this process where I'd have to lay out $600 and then be reimbursed for it.
So I started looking at everything I did.

1) I looked at every ingredient I put in my mouth, primarily carbs. It meant looking at basic things, like dressings, beans, whether I put olive oil in the pan instead of Pam, what my game plan was when going to restaurant X, what to tell people when I was invited, how I ate when I was stressed. It meant substituting. I love chocolate so instead I would get cocoa power, fat free, with some Truvia and Greek yougurt. It meant eating breakfast every single day.

2) It meant taking my time at the gym seriously. Not the half-assed efforts I'd put in at my class again and again. I had to go to the gym more days. Got a trainer to help a little.

3) Many, many tweeks - What is my water consumption? Am I eating enough fiber, vegetables? Enough fish? What if I take fish oil tabs?

4) It meant facing my wardrobe, getting rid of the stuff I didn't like.

5) It meant dealing with a new dynamic in my life of people who were used to me being fat and the baggage that came with it.

And 1001 other thngs. I lost 70 pounds in around 9 months. My A1C went down from 8.0 to 5.3. I began enjoying a new wardrobe. I am sometimes on television because of my career, I felt vastly better about it. I was no longer a hypocrit to my parents. I handled stress better. I could look in the mirror.

To people like Greenmother, for whom I have great sympathy and respect, I say it's not what we let you do, it's what you let yourself do. It's looking at your life, your ability to endure, your ability to master something that has mastered you. It is a step by step process. The friend who calls herself "fat chick" had a full Facebook series on Christmas cookies. Thousands and thousands of calories. I sent her this piece how you can make snowmen with cut-outs of exotic fruits instead, with noses made of raisins.

It is all about small steps like that. Every ingredient has to be considered. And I can now say, once in a while, when I do have that piece of cake, I enjoy it more and yet I don't have huge cravings like I did before. For me, the biggest rule of all is, "It's not what you eat, it's what you don't eat". Many people who are overweight are not eating enough good things, water, fiber, vegetables, salad.

It's about the fact that we are a culture center entertainment around food. The movement part is incidental. What if everyone went out and walked a mile pre-Super Bowl instead of having the biggest nacho plate possible? What if the plan for Saturday was for the family to go swimming or walking or whatever?

I've seen the effects of obesity on people. I saw it in my own parents who suffer immeasurable health problems from being so sedentary for a decade. I see friends who themselves and children are deprived and descriminated against. I know many people who suffer from the self-loathing and isolation I did.

One more time - I know my story doesn't apply to everyone. But it does apply, in one way or another, to many who are overweight. It's not about anyone else. It's not what people let you do. It's what you want for yourself. I know I deserved a better future and there are many who are denied a better future for obesity. Just a little "food for thought"

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks for a brave share. n/t (4+ / 0-)

    "When faced with darkness, be the light. Remembering Richard Myers"

    by Leslie Salzillo on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 01:49:06 PM PST

  •  Is this "Obesity Pie Fight Day"? (5+ / 0-)

    I must not have gotten the memo. Why the sudden outbreak of diaries on this subject? Has everyone already run out of things to say (and insults to hurl) about gun control?

  •  I have a sister who calls herself a 'food pusher'- (5+ / 0-)

    she loves to cook and eat and is very over weight. She brags about it.

    From what I've read sugar is as addictive as alcohol for some metabolisms.

    "Time is for careful people, not passionate ones." "Life without emotions is like an engine without fuel."

    by roseeriter on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 02:01:18 PM PST

    •  If I indulge... (5+ / 0-)


      I haven't specifically identified the exact limit (and I would suspect it changes over time, albeit slowly) but if I go above a certain number of carbs in a short period, I crave bigtime, and the only thing that can save me from shoveling in a whole bunch more is simply not having any handy.  It's like I'm instantly starving, and only more carbs will stop the hunger.

      Best thing for me to do if I get careless and cross that line is to grab a large mug of coffee and put physical distance between me and any food for an hour or two for the cravings to pass.  If I'm just in the next room, I'll find myself wandering in to the kitchen repeatedly and having to fight it off.  Going upstairs is enough mental and physical distance, though.

  •  While you have great points, I think that you (8+ / 0-)

    have maybe misread the diary of which you speak.

    She says in her diary that she does exercise, she does eat right, she just indulges every once in a while.

    Which is a good thing.

    Sometimes you just have that kind of body.

    Remember, "fat" and "fit" are two different things.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 02:07:29 PM PST

  •  What a wonderful story (4+ / 0-)

    Glad and proud of your weight loss.  We only have life to live.  I hate to think of people missing out on life, love and fun because they are a prisoner of their own body.  I hope you can be an inspiration to your friend's college- aged son.  

    Proud of you for staying focused on what you eat and ate.  It is hard to lose weight, what you did is a huge accomplishment.  Our son is 15 and autistic, when he was young, we rewarded him with junk food like M&Ms for any response.  Now, I wish we had used something else as a reward.  He loves candy, carbs and all things junkfood.   He is bigger than my husband, who has Diabetes I.  We are worried our son will get diabetes II, if we don't get a handle on this now.  I don't know how we would handle it since he is non-verbal.

    Doctor told me not to buy anymore junk food.  We give him tangerines, cucumbers, and strawberries whenever he wants them. He also likes sharp cheddar and triscuits as a treat.  It is hard.  Plus, I need to lose some and can't seem to lose anything.  I never stick to it long enough, but I will try now.  Being healthy is our number one priority.  

  •  Thanks for this intelligent discussion of a (8+ / 0-)

    highly sensitive issue.  Having a 30 lb weight challenge since I was 8 years old to today (62!), has been depressing and exhilarating.  If and when one overcomes this challenge, that's the exhilarating process.  I overcame mine for a full 15 years with the help of Jenny Craig.  Portion control, low carbs and fats and regularly walking a mile 3 times every week.  Ten years ago, I fell off maintaining that regimen and slowly gained the lbs back, drinking more alcohol, eating out more often, consuming too many carbs and fats again.  So, from a comfortable, healthy, happy size 7 to a miserable, uncomfortable, embarrassed size 12 AGAIN.

    I heard long ago that it's easier to quit heroin than it is to lose weight and keep it off because heroin addicts can go cold turkey and NEVER use heroin again and live, but over-eaters have to eat for the rest of their lives, so they always face the same challenge.  That's me and now, once again, I have returned to regular, 3 times a week exercise and I'm watching my carbs and fat consumption much more carefully, determined to lose 25 of this 30 lbs.  Thanks for your encouraging words!

    Best. President. Ever.

    by Little Lulu on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 02:21:58 PM PST

  •  Ah, the life of a maintainer (4+ / 0-)

    Constantly scrutinizing every bite. I know it well.

    Do you not see that it is the grossest idolatry to speak of the market as though it were the rival of God?

    by kismet on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 02:24:34 PM PST

  •  Personal choice I guess. There is something about (4+ / 0-)

    former smokers, eaters, heroin addicts, etc. that can be

    Tracy B Ann - technically that is my signature.

    by ZenTrainer on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 02:28:50 PM PST

  •  When I read your title, (5+ / 0-)

    I was shocked by the realization of how rarely I have seen those words. Losing weight is a horribly difficult thing to do, and even harder to maintain. To hear from those who have been successful is inspiring. Thank you.

    "The Democrats are the lesser evil and that has to count for something. Good and evil aren't binary states. All of us are both good and evil. Being less evil is the trajectory of morality." --SC

    by tb92 on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 02:33:00 PM PST

  •  I lost 40 pounds (10+ / 0-)

    and I've kept it off for five years now.

    But I never, ever presume to pontificate. I have no answers for other people. I don't know what goes on inside someone else's mind and body. And neither does anyone else.

    I was normal weight until I was in my mid-forties, and it did not take any effort on my part. Something happened after that - I became hungrier. I don't know why. But that is the reason I gained weight. And then after 15 years I became less hungry again, and I was able to diet and lose the weight and keep it off. Whatever it was, the same thing happened to my mother. She never had a weight problem until she was about 45, then became obese for 20 years, then lost a great deal of the weight. She didn't know why either.

    It is common for people to claim that boredom or depression or bad habits or lack of discipline are what drive people to overeat. I can't speak for anyone else, but these are not what made me do it. It was hunger. The off switch stopped working. Hunger that powerful is impossible to overcome in the long run. Much as I hated being fat, it would have been far worse to be ravenously hungry all the time. It would have been impossible.

    If I were eating for emotional reasons or due to a lack of self-control then I would not have been normal weight for forty-five years, and I would not have maintained my weight loss for five years without any great effort.

    I follow the research into obesity, and every week there is another study revealing factors associated with it: genes of all sorts, epigenetics, microbes, what your mother ate and what stress she was under when pregnant, toxins, antibiotics, length of your gut, magnetic fields, biorhythms and sleep habits, and more. Some of this plays out through the mechanisms of appetite; some through how much energy the body extracts from what we eat; some is through how much energy our bodies expend. There is not one answer for everyone.

    Let's all have humility. Other people are not us.

    We decided to move the center farther to the right by starting the whole debate from a far-right position to begin with. - Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

    by denise b on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 03:02:23 PM PST

    •  As I stated three times in the diary (4+ / 0-)

      I don't claim to have the magic "recipe" for anyone. Yes, of course, there are people out there who just gain and lose weight, perhaps due to metabolic changes, changes in appetite etc. But there are many, many who must play an active role in their weight loss.

      If I had a dollar for the "I just don't have that type of body" reason. For a small percentage, that's true. For many others, if you take a close look at what they are eating, how much, their frequency of exercise, the types of food they are eating, their stress management, you will indeed see there are some things that need to be tweeked.

      You are fortunate to be among the ones where weight loss just happened. For most, it has to be an active process to change one's habits and diet to lose the weight.

      I am only sharing my experience, not having the lock on all experience or the advise for all.

      •  I didn't say (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        the weight loss "just happened". I did diet and change my eating habits. But I was able to do it, and that in itself was an indication that something had changed in my body. A few years earlier I would not have been able to even try, and nothing in my emotional life or personality or motivation changed in the interim.

        I think there will eventually - and maybe soon - be drugs to correct the type of problem that I had - not just drugs like amphetamines that suppress appetite as a side effect, but drugs that are actually designed to work directly on the chemicals involved in appetite control that are out of balance. And there are many other avenues of research where prospects for obesity treatments look promising.

        In fact, here's a new story just released today:

        Old Drug May Point the Way to New Treatments for Diabetes and Obesity  
        I always recommend that people go to or some other research news consolidator to browse all the evidence that metabolic and other physical differences contribute to differences in body size; hopefully thin and fat mice cannot be credited with self-control or blamed for the lack of it. New discoveries are announced almost daily.

        This, not willpower, is where I think the solution will come from for many people.

        We decided to move the center farther to the right by starting the whole debate from a far-right position to begin with. - Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

        by denise b on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 07:41:42 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  hunger (4+ / 0-)

      For me also, hunger has been a problem.

      Up to when I was 22, I was hungry at meal times and then fine after eating.

      Subsequently, I ate more just because I was hungry more.

      Stress may be part of the picture but I need to work and who is to say that the next job will be better.

      I wish I knew the answer

      Blake: I am an enemy of the Federation but it is corrupt and oppressive. I will destroy it if I can

      by GideonAB on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 03:30:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Right, denise b -- thanks! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      greengemini, LaraJones

      I'm always amazed when people tell me that "after 3 days you won't be hungry at all...."  I've followed various diets faithfully for weeks on end and NEVER stopped being hungry.  So hungry that I'd wake up night after night with hunger pangs gnawing at my stomach.  Living with constant hunger is possible only if you are anorexic, and that's a "solution" far worse than the problem.

      On the other hand, there have been several times in my life when the hunger just wasn't there and I lost weight without effort.  Clearly there's more to maintaining a good weight than simple calories/carbs/sugar etc; that's just one facet of it.

  •  Nice that you lost weight (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    worldlotus, mcronan

    I'm glad that losing weight really was the solution to your health issues, that you followed through with what you chose to do, that it worked for you.

    It would have been an inspiring diary if you hadn't told us you take snipes at those who aren't the weight you think they should be or eating the way you think they should:

    The friend who calls herself "fat chick" had a full Facebook series on Christmas cookies. Thousands and thousands of calories. I sent her this piece how you can make snowmen with cut-outs of exotic fruits instead, with noses made of raisins.
    You claim
    It's what you want for yourself.
    but you tell others what you think they should want, as in the example above or in suggesting that they not watch the pre-Superbowl build-up (a really Big Deal) and go swimming or walking instead. Perhaps if you'd suggested a different snack for the pre-game build-up I might have let it go. Added to what you said you did to your FB friend, I no longer think your diary is as impressive or laud-worthy as I started out thinking.

    I'm not tipping or rec'ing your diary for the passive aggressive "I did it, and if you do what I did, you can too!" message that came through in spite of your "what you want for yourself" words.

    All knowledge is worth having. Check out OctopodiCon to support steampunk learning and fun. Also, on DKos, check out the Itzl Alert Network.

    by Noddy on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 03:34:59 PM PST

    •  You are certainly entitled to your opinion (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nzanne, kaliope, mumtaznepal

      What you interpret as snipes, I see as reaching out to a friend who at other times greatly laments being overweight. For starters, it may interest you to know I didn't write to her saying, "Here's the alternative to the fatty cookies you are making" but "Look at these adorable snowmen, looks fun!"  She wrote back, "My kids would love these"

      It's not telling others what they should or should not want. It is becoming a national epidemic. I take Super Bowl as a recent example. THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of calories are consumed on a day when people are being idle. You hear a hell of a lot more talk about what nachos people can make than getting exercise. As I said in the comments, we are a food-centered culture when it comes to it.

      Tip or don't tip. I don't see it as passive/aggressive. I see it as a person who also said, "I have that kind of body" when there were things I could indeed do to improve the situation. There are very real cases of people who suffer every day from being overweight.

      I just shared my experience. But the rule for virtually everyone who loses weight is they have to radically examine the way and settings they consume food and the way they see movement.

      •  That's not how you chose to (0+ / 0-)

        come across.  

        All knowledge is worth having. Check out OctopodiCon to support steampunk learning and fun. Also, on DKos, check out the Itzl Alert Network.

        by Noddy on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 04:19:33 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Letting our lives revolve around the sedentary... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gladkov, exlrrp, RiveroftheWest

          ...stuff like TeeVee football is a key contributing factor in America's pudginess.
          I love nothing so much as putting on music and reading for hours, every day. At some point I discovered that I had to close the laptop and get my fat ass on my bicycle, a whole lot more than I was doing.
          Yeah, I cherish my reading, and it's such a noble-seeming pursuit, it can make you more fun and maybe a smidgen smarter. But I had to change my perception of the importance of reading time in order to correct other stuff.

          I'm the plowman in the valley - with my face full of mud

          by labradog on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 04:40:30 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  That is how you chose (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          to interpret it, including, apparently, psychic visions of how I addressed the issue with my friend.

          Yes, if we as a nation want to address obesity, we have to address issues like "I have to make 4 dozen Xmas cookies", "Gotta have a huge calorie-laden spread for Superbowl", "Oh, fuck it, I'm fat, so I'll have 3000 calories in brownie..."

          These are things that people have to look at. Imagine if the diarist had said, "My husband and I took a nice 1 1/2 mile walk, then we shared a few ginger snaps"  - think that would be a better place to start with then consuming 3000 calories? I know from experience, the worst thing you can ever do is make large quantities of something fatty at home. Go to a restaurant and get one portion, not 12.

          •  No, I read exactly what you wrote (0+ / 0-)

            If I were psychic, I'd have known what you meant, instead of relying on your written words.

            All knowledge is worth having. Check out OctopodiCon to support steampunk learning and fun. Also, on DKos, check out the Itzl Alert Network.

            by Noddy on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 06:15:28 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Funny, I completely disagree with your assessment (0+ / 0-)

              of how the diarist "came across".

              No passive - aggressive there in the least, that I see.

              Your actual mileage varies.

              "Privatize to Profitize" explains every single Republican economic, social and governing philosophy. Take every taxpayer dollar from defense, education, health care, public lands, retirement - privatize it, and profit from it.

              by mumtaznepal on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 06:25:26 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  small quibble, or perhaps it's a typographical (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mother Shipper


    The Earth is only 24,901 miles in circumference.

    Unless your family or you were in living in high earth orbit, it is just not possible to be that far away, and still be on the earth's surface.

    Perhaps  you meant 2500 miles.

  •  I've been struggling with weight as well. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mumtaznepal, RiveroftheWest

    And I will say that, while I enjoy a So Beach diet (or better yet, and Atkins bacon 'n' butter diet!), I suddenly "got it" when I worked briefly with a nutritionist on portions.

    I was just eating way too much for my body size - something ever so easy to do today when seeing meals around us. I had thought I was being oh-so-good by eating half my dinner and taking home the other half. But no. Alas. Now (assuming I'm being good), I eat about a quarter and take home the rest.

    And wine. I love my wine in the evenings, and take it quite personally that it just turns to fat. Want to lose weight? Lose the booze.

    The other thing every single 'diet' has in common is water. Drink so damned much of it every day you want to puke and guess what - a/ I'll lose weight and b/ I'll want more and more. Quite addictive, water is.

    Personally, I appreciate the honest of this diary. Haven't read all the others, assuming they were pushbacks on the Christie thing.

    "I can't do it by myself. No president can. Remember: Change doesn't happen from the top. It happens because of you." B Obama, 2008

    by nzanne on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 03:42:44 PM PST

  •  anyone know what obesity is? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    worldlotus, nzanne, RiveroftheWest

    it's a high body fat content.  It is not "BMI".  when my doctor (back before I was diagnosed with a rare disease that affected by electrolytes, my energy, my glands, and my metabolism) took my weight on a scale he diagnosed "morbid obesity."  Yet a body mass calculation that takes into account actual body dimensions at the joints, neck, wrist, knee, hip, belly, etc revealed a body fat percentage of 31%.  A female of my age and size should have a body fat percentage of less than 29%, so I was 2% obese.  six months of intense exercise later, I was 27%, in the normal range.  My scale weight was 285.  Fortunately my doctor understood that I had a very high muscle mass - not simply from having been very active and exercising heavily, but from the effect of the rare disease which produces high testosterone and other androgens, and packs on muscle - not fat.  I am still able to lift more than my weight in the gym, which should statistically be impossible, but that's why I have a statisical anomaly.  But 'morbid obesity' is still on my chart.  GO FIGURE.

    "Kossacks are held to a higher standard. Like Hebrew National hot dogs." - blueaardvark

    by louisev on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 03:54:07 PM PST

    •  Everyone says (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest, louisev

      I'm the perfect weight, including my doctor. But I'm like 8 pounds away from BMI on the charts. I think the best we can do is try the best we can and always be open to trying new strategies.

      •  there is no 'perfect weight' (0+ / 0-)

        there is how you feel about your own body and your own life.  Back 100 years ago nobody would hop on a scale and have the doctor decide if you are fat or not.  It just didn't happen.

        Interestingly enough, when I lived in Europe with a regular care primary doctor, I never was weighed at the office - because I didn't go to the doctor for a 'size problem.'  He did prescribe cardio exercise for my asthma and to go to a Gesundort (a health town) where the air is pure, about 50 km from my house in the Odenwald.  The prescription was "walk around in the air in Fuerth for 15-20 minutes."  And I did regular exercise at my own home.  Different approach, eh...!

        "Kossacks are held to a higher standard. Like Hebrew National hot dogs." - blueaardvark

        by louisev on Mon Feb 11, 2013 at 12:06:18 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

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