Friday, January 12, 2007

MILF Friday and Body Image...

Today is the day I am supposed to write about diets, losing weight and progress or lack of it.

This week has been cold and I haven't made the progress I'd like. While I've kept to the program of a few hundred calories less per day and a 30 minute walk a day (even when it felt like the Bataan death march, once or twice), the scale has not budged an ounce. So, again, I will tweek it and work with it a bit more until I find the magic combination that kicks my metabolism into "it's safe to dump pounds" mode. There are a few new things I want to try, including doubling up on those walk times. This weekend will not be the start of that however since we're supposed to have freezing temperatures.

Putting that aside, there is something important I need to address about all of this dieting stuff. Dieting is good, certainly, and a healthy diet and exercise is important. One of the main things, I believe, is to be clear on our motives.

Last week, Patricia of Windchimewalker challenged me about sizism and the cultural edict that we must be rake-thin to be acceptable. She was right to do so and I have given it a lot of thought over the past week.

Any prejudice is destructive ~ but prejudice against people due to body size is particularly pernicious. There are many reasons why people become heavy and it is very rarely because they are lazy slobs who have no will power when it comes to food. Weight is not a character issue. People who are overweight need support and encouragement, not judgement and vilification. Shame on anyone who sees a heavy person and thinks "fat slob" or "pig" or "heifer"! Shame! It not very often that I will call "shame" on this blog unless George Bush is involved but under these circumstances, I believe it is appropriate. There is no excuse for that kind of talk or behavior. It comes from the bully mentality, the one that says, "I will feel better about myself by putting you down." Yuck!

Food can indeed be a comforter and it was mine for a long time. That is how I became overweight. I was suffering from an undiagnosed major depression and food is how I medicated myself. As a recovering alcoholic, I couldn't very well go out and tie one on. (As a matter of fact, when I was drinking I was reed-thin... scrawny even.) But when the energy to get up and walk across the room to get a book from the bookshelf seems like a Herculian effort, the idea of making healthy meals or exercising is beyond the pale.

For those who feel battered and bruised by the world in general, fat feels like a protective layer over our very souls. It is a barrier between me and you. There have been books written on this topic, the best one in my opinion (even though it is a bit old) is probably Kim Chernin's "The Obsession: The Tyranny of Slenderness". It's very important that we realize why people become overweight and address those issues, many of which should be of more concern to feminists and others who care about women's lives (and men's lives, although the unrealistic body standard seems to be imposed on women more than men) . Health care providers need to be educated on this topic as well as the general public.

My goal in this weight loss effort is to insure a healthier old age. There are health risks with obesity. Even being moderately overweight can bring risks. I'm not talking about ten vanity pounds but mid-double digits. Hypertension and arthritis are real risks, not something made up by the Only-Thin-Need-Apply oligarchy. It is not about beauty. It needs to be about health. And our approach to it needs to be holistic. One of the questions I have asked myself about losing weight and perhaps the most important one is "why am I doing this and what are my real feelings about it?" I believe obesity and fat is as much a metaphysical issue as it is a physical one.

On this I am clear: I am not willing to intentionally lose even one more pound than is necessary to be healthy. I am also clear that I would never want a friend, male or otherwise, who wouldn't accept me as I am, regardless of my weight. I am very clear that a bunch of clothing vendors and weight loss merchants will not be making money by appealing to my vanity or determining the acceptable body type for women. I am clear that I am not giving into a cultural standard of beauty that harms women. And I am clear that it is okay to lose weight now. I am safe. I don't need to hang on to the weight to feel protected. I am ready.

I hope all of us will examine our motives and make sure we are doing this for the right reason. In fact, I would go so far as to say it probably won't work if our motives are not clear.


Peace,

~Chani

22 comments:

1girl2boys said...

Absolutely well said!

Mayou said...

"it probably won't work if our motives are not clear."
That is certainly a necessary condition, but not a sufficient one : I do have thousand good reasons to quit smoking, and, well, that is not enough for me to manage, or even to try to manage...

Andrea said...

Hear, hear.

Bob said...

Amen, sister. preach.

Anyone's goal should be a healthy body, not a thin one - and the two are not the same.

The root of happiness is in loving yourself. If you do, then you will be beautiful. Size hasn't got a damned thing to do with it.

Bob said...

BTW - I loved the Two Fat Ladies cooking show. I miss it. I hated that Jennifer died. She was like the "black sheep" auntie that blew into town once a year or so and livened the place up, your parents not quite liking the influence she had on you.

Ginnie said...

"Peter Paul Rubens, the Seventeenth century Flemish Baroque painter and contemporary of Caravaggio, painted bodies as they would not wish to be seen in the present day. Full-bodied women's curves were never underdone: at least he was honest, and never short of models."
As I read this I realized how differently each era has looked at women's shapes.

QT said...

Health should be our #1 motivator, but it often is not for me. I admit, I am vain. I guess I do it for both reasons.

However, I agree that judging people by appearances will come back and bite you...

Gobody said...

I am not weightwatcher expert, to be honest with you I don’t even believe in dieting! The reason is the same one you mentioned, people eat extra for a reason. Depression, confusion, bad self-image or whatever, and these are causes that are hardly addressed when dealing with the problem with overweight. My philosophy says, be the weight that you feel comfortable with. It is not a matter of beauty standard, everyone has a different standard, but a matter of feeling good inside your skin.

I would only suggest one thing; it does not even involve exercising. Eat slowly; try to enjoy every bite instead of swallowing mindlessly! Once you feel full, stop. Hope it works for you. Good luck.

Pam said...

I blame the media for the premise that only zipper thin or Playboy curvy is acceptable beauty. Rubbish! Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and if anyone doubts it, take a look at artistic renderengs of the human form over the years. Rubens, anyone?

And keep in mind that excersize builds muscle, muscle weighs more than fat so the scales may not budge quickly but the body will change.

Be healthy, Chani.

I just read Ginnie's comment, see? Rubens again!

Stephen Newton said...

Chani, Weight loss is a total lifestyle change. 1 to 2 pounds a week for several weeks is quite enough. Drinking 8- 8-0z glasses of water each day without fail actually helps for real. Limit yourself to 250 calories for breakfast, 250 for lunch and 500 for dinner. If you stop eating, the body (it's so smart) goes into fasting mode. If you don't drink enough water, you gain water weight. You'll see how it works and most of all, at first, write down every morsel that goes into your mouth. It's amazing how much I stuff that I don't think is really eating.

BTW, it's proven that we can't possibly lose weight if: we're depressed, getting a divorce, buying a home, grieving, or otherwise not in harmony.

I was watching Frank Herbert's "Dune" made by David Lynch and realized that Paul's fremen wife was named Chani. It made me think of you.

Queen of the Mayhem said...

You make some very good points! Thankfully, I am with a man who loves me, regardless of my size! I know he wants me to be happy, and I am happier when I am thinner. Like you said, healthier skinny. I have long lost the desire to try and look like a super model. I am 33, and have two kids! I want to be fit and healthy! That's it! I so enjoy reading your thoughts. They are so peaceful and full of insight. Good luck next week.

Katie J said...

Thanks for the great post. I have a few books on this topic as well. I would love to really know why this weight of mine stays with me. There are many ways to explore this. I'm intending on doing some journaling. Blogging helps as well.

Good luck in the upcoming week!

Laurie said...

Like you, my goal is to improve my health. My mother had rheumatoid and osteo-arthritis. Several of my cousins are diabetic and others have heart disease. My wish to lose weight has nothing to do with vanity and everything to do with staying healthy.

As always, an excellent post.

Lotta said...

What a lovely post. Thank you for sharing that.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Chani, You've already got the beauty end of it covered, no pun intended. Health is definitely what matters.

I see no reason to believe the fashion industry about anything. It is full of anorexics, bulemics, and drug addicts who would be eliminated from the survival of the fittest dance in the first round.

And I fail to see the glamour in looking like a heroin addict. There is really nothing remotely pretty about gaunt and moribund.

Julie Pippert said...

It's all about health, for me. Emotional, mental and physical health.

I want to look healthy. I want to feel healthy. I want to be healthy.

Caro said...

As we say here Chani, L√Ęche-pas!(keep up the good work!) Choosing to free oneself from superfluous poundage is a very painful process because it often means having to face heart-wrenching issues.My best friend is nearly 100 lbs overweight and I worry about her but never make comments about her size. She knows I'll be there when she finally decides to tackle her demons. The rest is up to her.

dana said...

Oh man. I can't even think about my diet. I'm not doing as well as I wish. I suppose it takes time. Well, that and I'm quitting smoking, too, so this is exhausting!

Thanks for visiting my blog, today. :)

Cuppa said...

Another great post my dear, thank you.

As I have been running just to keep up this week I haven't stopped to comment at all, just skimmed a few of my favorite blogs, then zipped off to the next event. I am enjoying a quiet Saturday morning now though so thought I would stop and say hello. I so enjoy reading your blogs.

When the A Team was in SE Asia, my anxiety eating habit kicked in. Sigh! As cookies were munched with each cup of calming tea the pounds gathered here there and everywhere.

Now the girls are home safe and sound, my anxiety levels have lowered significantly and it is time to deal with these extra pounds.

I get on the scale at the doctor's office, but only if she makes me! Yep, I threw my scale away years ago and won't be a slave to it ever again. I found that I would get really discouraged if I thought I was doing well and the scale didn't record an ounce of weight loss. So, I threw it away, felt good about myself for trying to watch what I ate and let my clothes tell the story. Each day I would think that my clothes fit me a bit better than they did yesterday and next week would be even better. I was moving in the right directions and that was all that mattered.

If I felt like I lost ten pounds I didn't want to get on the scale and see that it was really only half a pound. I was more motivated and felt much better letting my feelings of well being be my guide.

That's what works for me anyway. I wish you joy as you walk this path towards a more healthy you.

Cecilieaux said...

I'm of the male persuasion but I have been dieting since Thanksgiving, mostly for health -- but, hey, if women go for it I won't be opposed to that, either.

Joined Weight Watchers. Found myself in a room of extremely skinny women who were aghast not to lose the odd pound or two, when I'm going for a loss of everything I gained since my marriage broke up -- let's say it's in the double digits.

OK, let me end with a more important blog-related complaint: where's the MILF in your post? (Or is my mind in the gutter?)

KC said...

Yes, those are all the right reasons. Losing weight is a health intervention for many people--it's harder on the body in many ways.

I have more to say on these topics of weight and body image, from someone who's battled thin-demons in the past, but maybe for a different day.

lu said...

"...be clear on our motives."

This is the challenge, the most difficult task to overcome when it comes to any changing of self.

The actual losing of weight is simple-but it's hard to get started. Eat less, move more. Eating less and losing weight after 40 means you only eat the bare minimum. No sugar, No bread, No cheese... and your portions must be tiny. No snacking beyond one piece of fruit or a vegetable. It is restrictive, very restrictive, but once you get past the first month and you embrace what feels like hunger as progress, you find you don't need as much, as you thought. You find things to take the place of food to feed your soul.

I'm thin and I get more snarky comments about my food choices and my figure than my heavier friends would ever get about their choices. I own my share of weirdness about body image, but I'm not anorexic; I'm fit as hell, and my mental and physical state are better for it. When I go to the gym women avoid me, my sister and friends don't hesitate to tell me they won't workout with me anymore because I'm more fit than they are, that I make them feel rotten about themselves, that they hate that I’m thinner they and will not go shopping with me. When I go out to eat with friends and order light fare it never fails that someone will make a comment and try to make me feel rotten that I avoided the higher calorie foods. I would never say a word to them, about their choices. Not once have I ever said, don’t you think you should run one more lap, or maybe you should avoid the creamed crap. I'm not a flaunter either, I just go about my business, I don't announce my choices or my dress size. Do they stop to think for one minute how shitty it makes me feel that I make them feel badly about themselves because I am what and who I am?

Boy--I guess this hit a raw nerve.

There is pressure, from all sides, no matter what. Is it a bad thing to be thin or thick? It's all about what feels right and your state of health.