A journey in words...

Welcome to my journey in words! A story about health, exercise, weight loss, food addiction, humor, size discrimination, sarcasm, social commentary and all the rest that’s rattling around inside my head...

I now twit, er... or tweet. Anyway, you can follow me on twitter @Aeon1202

Friday, January 30, 2015

Documentary: Fat and Back - Part 2

Since I watched and reported on part one, I figured I would go the rest of the way and check out what Katie Hopkins was up to in part two of this documentary as well.  I’m sad (but unsurprised) to report that she remains an ignorant bigot when it comes to body weight.

When I first wrote about part one, an insightful friend of mine pointed out how completely meaningless her experiment is in the first place.  It takes years for bodies to adjust to the size that they are, but once they are adjusted to that size they will fight tooth and nail to stay the same.  So a body that has been slender for life (such as Katie’s) will  tend to boomerang back to its original shape just as a body that’s been overweight for years will try very hard to remain (or return to) being fat.  Most overweight people do not become overweight in two or three months, they do it over the course of years or even decades.  Additionally, since new fat cells can be formed but not removed without surgical intervention, a body that has been fat will always be prepped and ready to become fat again.  All the extra shrunken fat cells are just sitting around, waiting and ready for the slightest hint of excess fuel in the system they can latch onto and fill up with again.  This is probably why most people (95% from most studies I have read) who have lost a significant amount of weight will return to their original size within a five year period.  After that point, a body will start to acclimate to its new shape and size and supposedly it becomes easier to remain that way instead.

This is why once I've reached my goal weight my own journey will have just begun.  I will then start a new (and possibly more difficult) challenge to maintain my new size through the five year danger zone and beat the odds.  I’m planning to open a new blog at that point and call it, “The Five Year Mission”.  Mostly because I am a Star Trek geek.

I digress…

The documentarian didn't follow a restricted diet plan to lose weight, she simply ate per her average appetite and walked a few hours a day (because yeah, most of us have a few extra hours per day available to us to spend wandering our neighborhoods) as well as returning to regular running and other forms of exercise.  Unsurprisingly, her body returned to its previous shape.  She kept on an additional 11 pounds or so, which pleased her Doctor because she’d been slightly underweight to begin with.

Through it all, she continued to bash and demean fat people as well as holding them personally responsible for “making her” do this.

I find two things here primarily frustrating.  The first is the repeated assumption on the part of people like this that fat people need to be told they are fat and unacceptable.  Allow me to illuminate folks who may not be aware of this: we already know.

Having slurs screamed at us by strangers on the street, rocks, bottles, and other trash violently thrown at us from passing cars, not fitting into seats in public spaces, being unable to find clothing in our size (let alone anything flattering or pretty), being passed over for jobs and promotions based on appearance rather than skills – those things clue us in daily.  They do not inspire us to change so as to be more acceptable to the eyes of our tormentors, they inspire us only to hide and to turn to things that comfort us, which in many cases is food.  They make us feel helpless to change something that the rest of the world finds completely unacceptable and blames us for entirely.  They encourage self-hatred, depression, and despair.

Accepting ourselves as human beings worthy of love and respect is a daunting daily struggle already.  My husband deserves at least 50% of the credit for my successful changes.  You know why?  Because he loves and accepts me and finds me beautiful at any size.  He encourages me to change because it’s what I want, and ferociously defends me against the entire world if need be.  He wants me to be happy with me, and to heck with what anybody else (including himself) thinks of it.

He has loved me into success.  Love helps.  Love works.

Body shaming and fat hatred has inspired and assisted absolutely no one ever.

People who body shame and humiliate do so under the guise of being helpful, but in reality their motivation is the feeling of smug superiority they get because what is easy for them is extremely difficult for other people.  Because (here’s another news flash) people are different.  Weight bigots do not actually want fat people to be thin anyway, because if all fat people were thin they would have to find another group to demean and think themselves superior to.

The other thing that frustrates me is the tired old trope that fat people are a drain on the health care system and thin people shouldn't have to pay for their care – be it assistance to lose weight or a weight related health complication.  By this logic, people who don’t suffer from cancer shouldn't have to pay for the cancer treatments of people who do.  People who don’t have epilepsy (which Katie has) shouldn't have to pay for the health care of people who do.

If there’s evidence that moderately fat people get sick more than thin people I haven’t seen it.  I have seen compelling evidence that repeated weight loss and gain (yo-yo dieting) is extremely hard on the body to the point of being deadly, but being a consistent body weight, even if the BMI insists you’re “overweight” is statistically the healthiest thing to be.  Bodies.  Hate.  Change.

However let’s throw science out the window and assume that being overweight will make everyone who is overweight sick.  The justification for this one is then that fat people are choosing to be fat, it’s their own fault, so denying them health care (clothing/seats on buses/human dignity/etc.) is perfectly justified.

Here’s another news flash: no, the overwhelming majority of fat people are not choosing it.  They are not choosing to have an eating disorder, or to feel ravenously hungry all the damned time, or to have genetically inherited metabolisms that strive to protect them in the event of starvation conditions, or PCOS, or any of the hundreds of reasons why individual people become overweight.

Even in the event that yes, some people simply want to be fat (I will concede that a small minority of folk like that do exist), so what?  Teenagers still start smoking these days knowing full well that putting that cigarette in their mouths may lead to painful addiction and an early death.  And you know what?  If they get sick they still deserve compassion and help.  We are not a herd of antelope that leaves our slowest members behind to die when they go lame, we’re human beings.  Our self-awareness and compassion for one another is what elevates us.  But it can only elevate us if we are willing to open our eyes, let go of the base desire to feel superior because of mental and physical biology that none of us earned or chose, and rise to that occasion.

Katie Hopkins' choice was not to rise, but instead to smugly wallow like a pig in traits that she was arbitrarily born with.

What will you choose?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Documentary: Fat and Back - Part 1

I watched part one of TLC’s special ‘Fat and Back’ last night.  It’s a documentary where a fat-hating media personality from Britain named Katie Hopkins decides to gain and lose about fifty pounds in a few months to prove how effortless weight loss is, and how the huge number of overweight people in the United States and Britain are all simply lazy and need to put their cheese burgers down.  (Thank God someone finally pointed that out, I had NO idea I just had to put down the burger I perpetually carry around.  My work is finished!)

For the sake of your sanity, if you are sensitive to weight bigotry and unrestrained ignorance about how different bodies work differently, I do not actually recommend you watch the documentary.  However, I admit I found it fascinating.  Also, sometimes unintentionally hilarious.

This person’s opinions are nothing new.  They are also probably not going to change very much as a result of her experiment.  I've found that ignorant, bigoted people will remain inclined to stay that way whether they are racist, homophobic, intolerant of other religions, fat haters, etc.  These days I tend to ignore them rather than argue with them because I got very tired of wasting my breath.  As Ted likes to remind me: you can't teach a pig to sing, it wastes your time and annoys the pig.

The fascinating part for me is this:  I truly had no idea how extremely difficult it is for naturally slim people to put on weight.  I mean, I knew it in a vague way because I live with one.  I've watched in fascination as my husband ate like a Hobbit (a solid six meals per day, plus snacks) and never gained an ounce.  But since I never kept track of his caloric intake I truly had no idea just how much people with poor metabolisms could take in and then just dump out the next day without storing anything.

As a guideline, physicians recommend that a woman of my height and frame take in about 2,000 calories per day.  I know from personal trial and error that consuming 2,000 calories per day with my metabolism will result in a steady 1-2 pound per week weight gain.  Around 1,700 is what I need for maintenance, and weight loss occurs between 1,200 – 1,500 depending on my activity level.

In Fat and Back, Katie doubled her normal caloric intake of 2,000 calories to 4,000 – and for two solid weeks did not gain a pound.  Let me repeat that: she gained NOTHING eating 4,000 calories per day every day for two weeks.  In the end, she had to up her calorie intake to between 6,000 – 8,000 calories per day in order to put weight on.  Having never eaten that many calories a day in my life, I have to imagine it was quite a chore.  It also completely blew my mind watching her struggle with the process.  Without meaning to, she provided fascinating evidence that it is as difficult for some people to be fat as it is for others to be thin.

Sadly, Katie failed to reach much enlightenment from this experiment as of part one.  Although she did manage to understand that there is an emotional coping component to eating she had previously been unaware of, the moment when she tearfully sobs out, “I hate fat people for making me do this!” was the unintentionally hilarious part.  In between laughing my head off I commented to Ted that, “the only thing making her do this is her desire for notoriety and cash.”  I doubt any fat people were on her doorstep begging her to show them how easily they should be able to conquer their eating disorder/illness/injury/naturally occurring metabolic rate.  By and large most fat people really just want to be left alone.

She seems to have decided that all overweight people must be consuming the 6,000 or more calories per day that she had to in order to put on weight.  If that were the case I doubt many of us would be able to hold down jobs, as eating that much looks like a full time chore.  I don’t know for sure though, since I've never tried it.  Even on days when I slip up and binge, I might approach 3,000 calories maximum - but in my five years of tracking my calorie intake I've never gone higher than that.

We shall see if part two provides her with any added insights, though I expect that her body will return to its genetically predisposed slim shape as easily as mine would balloon back up to 275 if I stopped paying attention.   She may not have learned much, but she did prove the point to me that body shape; fat OR thin, is an outstandingly difficult thing to shift.  At the very least, I appreciate having seen such a graphic demonstration of that.

Saturday, January 17, 2015


It’s that time of year again, time for our annual physicals.  My Doc now works with a health care network that lists all of a patient’s blood work numbers on a website so that if you want to, you can go over them yourself.  Honestly all I really needed to hear from her was, “everything looks fine,” and I didn’t obsess over each number like I used to.  Primarily I wanted to know that my liver levels were normal a year after my liquid diet induced liver failure scare, and happily – they are.  I seem to have recovered completely.

My husband didn’t fare quite as well.  Although every other number for him was textbook normal, his fasting blood sugar came back high, earning him the “pre-diabetic” label.  His Doctor wants him to work on his diet and check back in three months, so we’re planning on reversing this situation with dietary changes so that he doesn’t have to take an oral medication.  He already walks two to three miles about four times a week, which I’m sure is helping the situation a lot.  We’ve both been walking that much for over a year, and annoyingly he can still walk faster than I can jog.  I’ll always be jealous of his long, gorgeous legs.

I digress…

As I’ve mentioned previously, my husband has had a medically “normal” body weight his whole life, so he is now a living contradiction to the assumption that fat = diabetic, and thin = healthy.  He has an unlucky genetic predisposition toward the disease since his Mom has it, and like Ted my Mom-in-Law has never been overweight a day in her life.  That being said, my husband is a healthy eater but has also spent his entire life eating pretty much whatever tasty thing he wants when he wants it.  Fortunately he often wants healthy things, but he also adores anything made from meat, fat, flour, and cheese (heck, who doesn’t?) Looking at a food he wants and telling himself that he can’t have it isn’t going to come easily to him.  Me, I’ve been practicing that behavior since I was 12.  Although a person might always be naturally thin, as time passes they’re still not going to get away with indulgence eating the way they could as a twenty-something.

After discussing the idea of dietary changes with him, I decided to take a look at my own fasting blood sugar number from my recent test.  Turns out it came back as 68.  The ideal range is 65 – 99, so mine is about as perfect as it can get even though I’m still classified as obese.  When I mentioned this to Ted he said I just had, “good genes,” but I know in previous years that score has come back as high as 102, so I believe it’s my current eating patterns that are causing the number.  I sat down and thought about what it is about my eating that would contribute to the effect based on my own nutritional research, trial and error.  For what it’s worth, here’s what I came up with:

1)      I eat about 2-3 cups of raw vegetables at least four times a week.  This isn’t really salad since I skip the lettuce and dressing parts and just cut up a bowl of whatever looks fresh and good at the grocery store, focusing on getting a variety of colors and textures: cucumbers, celery, carrots, mushrooms, tomatoes, bell peppers, etc.  I rough chop them into a bowl, sprinkle on some seasoning like 21 Season Salute from Trader Joe’s and a little salt, and I’m good to go.  A word of warning: if you choose to do this it will give you gas until your stomach adjusts to that amount of raw fiber.  At this point I’m so accustomed to it I could probably digest the front lawn with no gastric distress.

2)      Minimal white foods.  A friend of mine who is an avid runner once told me that she eats nothing that is white.  At first I thought that sounded crazy, but she was pointing out that things like processed cane sugar, bleached white flour, and white potatoes really aren’t the best nutritional choices.  I absolutely cannot live a happy life (or permanently stick to any eating plan) that doesn’t include bread, pasta and pizza, so I don’t adhere to this rule as religiously as she does, I just keep it in mind as a guideline.  It includes having swapped mashed potatoes with sweet potatoes at dinner time and substituting spinach and steamed broccoli instead of pasta when I’m having pasta with meatballs.  Vegetarians will disagree with me on this one, but if I have to choose between pasta or meatballs, I’ll take the meatballs every time.  The protein gives me good fuel, is satisfying, tasty, and keeps me full a lot longer.  I also eat limited bread.  Don’t get me wrong, I adore bread and I’m not an anti-bread, gluten free by choice, no-carbs person by any means – I just acknowledge that floury breads and pasta are high in calories for a low volume of food, and I know that the white flour converts very quickly to glucose in the blood, causing blood sugar spikes, so I stay aware of how much of it I’m eating and keep it limited.

3)      This is the really hard one for me: I ditched daily desserts.  I have a single serving of white flour, fat and cane sugar-based dessert about once every two or three weeks.  This means saying no, on a daily basis, to doughnuts, cake, candies, cookies and pies that appear at work for general consumption.  With very few exceptions, I’ve flipped a switch in my brain that says if it’s in the office and I didn’t bring it with me, it’s off limits.  Period.  I’ve had to, because trying to mitigate the damage done in the office environment by a constant influx of refined sugar was just too difficult.  Although I do eat one to two pieces of fruit on most days, I’ve had to let go of the beloved tradition I grew up with that dessert always follows dinner.  Fructose (the sugar found in fruit) and sucrose (white cane sugar) act very, very differently in the body.  One is perfectly fine for me to consume on a daily basis, and one is unfortunately not.  It’s hard at first, but gets easier over time as it becomes a habit.  When I do have dessert (and I absolutely DO still have desserts), it’s out in a restaurant, or to celebrate a special occasion, and I make sure ahead of time that it’s always exceptional and always totally worth it.

Since my husband isn’t much of a sweet eater it’s probably number 2 that he’s going to need to work on.  He adores soft pretzels, potato gnocchi, mashed potatoes and chewy hoagie rolls like a true Philadelphian.  These are all fine, tasty foods that I wouldn’t ask anyone who loves them to live a life without – I incorporate all of them into my own diet after all.  It’s just going to be a lowering of volume while simultaneously increasing the things that don’t cause a person’s blood sugar to spike like Old Faithful going off.

This is going to be a challenge.

Friday, January 16, 2015

On Being Average

Today I got a great compliment.

I’m addicted to Wegman’s produce department, which manages to have a high degree of both variety and freshness regardless of the time of year.  Today I stopped in for my weekly fix, which amounted to a heaping huge pile of fruits and vegetables.  That’s all I had in my cart, since I get the rest of my groceries at a cheaper establishment.

The woman ringing me up said something to the effect of, “wow – you eat healthy!”

I smiled at her wryly and replied, “I follow a high volume, low calorie diet.”

Although I was using the word “diet” in that sentence simply to refer to what I ate, not deliberate calorie restriction, she took it to mean a weight loss attempt through calorie restriction.  She blinked at me, then leaned over the counter to get a better look at the rest of me, and upon looking back up at my face said, “you’re on a diet?  You don’t need to be.”

Essentially, I passed as “average”.

One of the things that started me on this path was being crushed by the hydraulic lap belt on an amusement park ride, which forced the realization that I no longer fit into the world.  I still have fifty pounds to lose, but I already fit into the world again.  When I was at my heaviest I daydreamed a lot about being slim, but I also just daydreamed about being unnoticeable.  About being a size that people do not pay much attention to because it’s a size that a lot of other people are.  To some people (not all) I now look like an ordinary sized human being, and it took a total stranger to point that out.

To myself, I still seem very large.  So when I got home I made a list of things about my prison of fat that I so desperately wanted to escape from:

  • Walking into most clothing stores and knowing that if anything in there fit me at all, it wouldn’t be anything I thought was pretty.
  • Constantly readjusting and pulling at my shirts so that they covered my belly as thoroughly as possible.
  • Pathological avoidance of putting my sweaters and pants into the clothes dryer because I was afraid they would shrink.
  • Walking down the street and cringing every time a group of teenagers passed by in a car or on foot because I was expecting cow and pig noises to be screamed at me.
  • Avoiding stadium seating, theatre seating, and chairs with arms on them because they pinched and crushed my hips and thighs.
  • Having to allow extra time to stop breathing hard and sweating when I was rushing to arrive somewhere I wanted to look presentable.  Particularly if it was located on a building’s second floor.
  • A generalized, vague feeling of apology and embarrassment that plagued me almost all the time out in public.  As though I felt that inflicting my size and appearance on the people around me was a terrible imposition.

I have escaped these things.  And I promise I will never, ever take these freedoms for granted.  And I’m going to try my hardest to hold onto them.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Body Positive Film Review - The Heat

I adore movies, and have had something of a love-hate relationship with Hollywood (Hollyweird?) for some time now.  Obsessive nerds like me will argue endlessly over the merits and flaws of our entertainment pursuits in a way that is understandably baffling to mundies, but being obsessive and a bit bonkers over the things we love is, in my opinion, what makes us nerds.

That being said it’s become more difficult over time to get me physically into a movie theatre when a film is first released.  It’s spendy to see a film in theatres, so I reserve my movie-going dollars for films with special effects that make the big screen experience worth it.  Big explosions, aliens, winged creatures, anything with “Trek” in the title, that sort of thing.

For this reason, despite being interested when it first opened, I did not see the movie The Heat until this past weekend.

To give credit where its rightfully due: The Heat is in many ways exactly the movie I’ve been asking (okay maybe yelling at and begging for) Hollywood to make for some time now.

But first, the negatives:
1)      The film has a well deserved ‘R’ rating due to profanity.  I’m not a fan of cursing, but I understand the writer’s desire to make tough, Boston cops sound like tough, Boston cops.
2)      The movie has a high level of casual, comedic (non-gory) violence.  Not quite slapstick, more like the way Lt. Riggs would bash a bad guy over the head (repeatedly) in one of the Lethal Weapon movies in order to obtain the information he was looking for.  There’s a lot of pulling firearms on people for highly unnecessary reasons.

If any of those things will bother you this is not the film for you.

Now for what they got right:
1)      I believe this is the first ever female-lead action hero with a body shape and size that is atypical from the Hollywood standard.
2)      The plot and every character in it make absolutely zero reference to the aforementioned hero’s body shape and size.  This film contains a fat character with no fat humor or angst whatsoever, and from all evidence presented the character has a positive self-image and is not dieting.

And that is exactly the thing I’ve been asking for.  Overweight characters have been in movies for almost as long as there have been movies, but their plots inevitably revolve around stereotypes regarding their body shape and size.  Some examples:
·         She’s beautiful and sexy… despite being fat.
·         She’s completely hideous… because she’s fat.
·         All fat girls are funny!
·         She’s fat so she must be freakishly strong too.
·         She’s fat so she’s desperate for sex with anyone who will have her.
·         Of course she’s trying to lose weight!
·         Of course she has bad self-esteem!
·         You think she’s just a silly fat girl but no, she’s smart and likable too!
·         She’s obsessed with food… because she’s fat.
·         She will eat any and every food available… because she’s fat.
·         She’s unhealthy by default, inherently lazy, and can’t perform physical tasks well.
·         And my personal least favorite – let’s all laugh at the fatty’s expense.

A lot of these tropes are negative, but some are positive too.  Regardless, they have one thing in common: they make characters with non-Hollywood-standard body shapes into walking plot points that revolve entirely around their non-Hollywood-standard body shapes.  They aren’t people, they’re FAT people.  This adds to the pervasive and dehumanizing cultural mentality that a fat body is abnormal, non-standard, and a thing to be reviled, ridiculed, constantly focused on, and most importantly brought under control.

Melissa McCarthy’s character in The Heat is both tough and strong, but it’s because she’s a cop, not because of her weight.  She is physically capable, ready and willing to run after a suspect, vault over a fence and climb right out the window of an offending vehicle.  Far from lagging behind slimmer characters she is portrayed throughout the movie as charging fearlessly ahead of them.  Although the bad guys do insult both her and her partner (played with nerdy gusto by the always delightful Sandra Bullock) there isn’t a single insult or joke that’s directed at her weight.    She isn’t seen eating or obsessing about food a single time, and she is portrayed as attractive to men, sought after, and not desperate for any attention.

As a comedic action hero, I’m not going to say the character is an accurate representation of a normal person, but everything abnormal about her has nothing whatsoever to do with her weight.

This movie was so funny it gave my husband a laughter-induced asthma attack.  It had an interesting plot, strong supporting cast, and the chemistry between McCarthy and Bullock was really fantastic.  If you enjoy humorous buddy/cop films like Beverly Hills Cop, Lethal Weapon and Rush Hour, you will like The Heat.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

My Shopping Dollar Vote

A few years back I expressed my um… irritation, with the advertising practices of the Victoria’s Secret Corporation and posted my ensuing email to them expressing this displeasure.  An email which, it became quickly and abundantly clear, no one at the company bothered to read before sending me a stock, kiss-off reply.  They continue their unfortunate advertising choices with the below ad, featuring women who are beautiful to begin with being photo shopped to the point where “perfect” bodies like theirs only exist in computer pixels.

Due to the understandable backlash, VS quickly revised the ad to this:

I guess it’s good that they’re capable of responding to the public’s wishes in some ways.

That being said, I have a confession.  A year ago when they were having their big annual sale, I bought some of their underwear.  As products go I have no complaint with it.  So long as your lower half can squeeze into a size 18, you can wear their product and it feels good, is cute, fits comfortably and stays where it’s supposed to.  However shopping there left a bad taste in my mouth that remains to this day.  I don’t like myself much for financially supporting a company whose ideas about which bodies are allowed to be called “perfect” I so fundamentally disagree with.

So this year comes around, and once again VS is having their big annual sale.  And I once again need some new underwear.

A friend of mine awhile back recommended Aerie to me.  Although as a 36 DDDD bra size I stand virtually no chance any longer of being able to shop in any brick and mortar store for bras, I figured their underpants would probably fit somewhat similar to VS’s and suit my size 18-20 bum.

On top of that, I remembered Aerie for this ad campaign…

Don’t get me wrong, that is still a beautiful woman with a figure the vast majority of us can only dream of having, but I absolutely love their no-retouching advertising.  “The real you is sexy”?   Yes please.

So today, I checked out the store.

The sale that Aerie had going on was quite comparable to VS’s annual one, and I was able to get 8 pairs for a very reasonable $3.75 / pair.  The staff was friendly and helpful, and gave me absolutely no side-eye glances whatsoever for being an obese, 40 year old woman in a store with lithe, teenaged models plastered all over the walls.

My only complaint is that they don’t carry briefs (my favored style).  So I got boy shorts because they offered the most coverage.  Trying them on at home, I can tell you that although the fit is perfect, the low rise of these in the back is something I’m going to have to get used to.  I think they're designed that way so that your underwear can’t say, “hello!” to the world in the back when you sit down.  Since I’m paranoid as heck over that happening, I can get behind the design concept, I’m just going to have to get used to the sensation.

The sales staff told me that the company is very open to consumer suggestions, so I’m going to email them requesting they start making briefs and carrying size quad-D bras too (although I don’t hold out too much hope on the second request, too niche of a market).

Still, it was an overall really positive and pleasant experience.  And most importantly, I don’t feel like a traitor to my cause for having shopped there.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Conquering One Shame, Still Living With Another

The other day I was listening to two people discuss the benefit of smaller apples because the bigger ones are difficult to finish.  I gave what has become my usual response to such conversations, “not being able to finish my food is really never a problem for me.”

Which caused me to realize, much to my delight, that I am no longer ashamed of my appetite.

I’ve written before about how admitting to any hunger whatsoever, let alone the substantial size of mine, has caused me great shame and embarrassment throughout childhood and young adulthood, persisting even into last year.  Although it's true that a big appetite in women is sometimes considered sexy, it is only so if the woman in question is also very slender and/or athletic.  If it's a bigger girl with an appetite she's just gluttonous/lazy/undisciplined, etc.  I'm still trying to figure out the cultural thought process going on behind that one.  When I was younger, even saying the word ‘hungry’ caused me embarrassment and I hid away in private to eat my lunch at school.  Despite still not fitting the body type for sexy women with big appetites the shame over having one has gone away.

I don’t know if it’s being a grown up that did it (ie. old enough not to care so much what other people think), or if it happened through desensitization.  Whenever I’m in a conversation with someone who is elaborating about their tiny, delicate appetite (I’ve only ever met women who do this, but I would imagine there are men who do too) I’m always quick to point out that my appetite would probably be more appropriate for an NFL linebacker than an average woman, but it is what it is.  It’s what I was born with and what I’m working with.  I certainly didn’t choose it, so being ashamed of it is very silly.

I think I reiterate this to other people so often because I want both them and particularly myself to embrace the idea that having an appetite, being hungry, and even (gasp!) eating are okay things for us to be and do.  The sense of morality that’s been assigned to food choices and eating in our culture is both ridiculous and incredibly harmful.  Although I’ve conquered my shame over possessing a big appetite and feeling hunger, I still suffer from awful feelings of self-hatred and failure when I tip over eating 2,000 calories per day.  If I eat 1,200 I feel virtuous and triumphant and if I eat over 2,000 I feel like a horrible person.  If I fall somewhere in between (which I usually do) I’m morally neutral that day.  That is incredibly messed up.  I can see it going on intellectually and get how stupid it is, and yet I’m still helpless to keep that tidal wave of shame from washing over me at the end of a day when I’ve succumbed to a binge.

I guess I just have to keep repeating these things to myself over and over until I get them to sink in too.

And hot dang… I’ve managed to lose 75 lbs. while dealing with the voracious appetite of an NFL linebacker on a daily basis.  It doesn’t make me more moral or virtuous than the next person, but it is a pretty awesome accomplishment.