Monday, April 10, 2006

F.A.T. - a response to Kiki

okay folks, this is going to be a long one, just to forewarn you...

so, i got asked some interesting questions in the comments of my last post. although the questions felt a bit out of the blue (and to be honest, a bit accusatory, but we'll let that slide) and i'm not sure i understood them all, and kiki didn't leave an email so i could clarify, i thought i'd respond to them as i understood them...

i read the comment tonight before i left work tonight and could think of nothing else as i walked home tonight.

first i have to thank ink for her comment in response. it was very appreciated and in a lot of ways filled in a lot of my own thoughts. it's also nice to hear that kind of affirmation from someone i don't know (other than through the blog world) who really has nothing invested in me.

i have had friends tell me not to bother responding but i am taking kiki at face value and even though s/he posed things in a way that felt very judgemental i am going to assume that the statement that the questions were not meant that way, and so i am going to respond with that in mind. i figure it raises interesting questions and it's been a long time since i've written a F.A.T. post, so what the heck, right?

so, kiki said:

I don't think that you have really opened up about your weight issues. I think you are holding back on even mentioning weight issues. I'm talking about the mentality of weight, not so much the physical aspect of it. So what is your opinion about it? How does it feel? "really" feel? Have you come to terms with your weight issues or are you still struggling or are you ignoring it?
i'm not sure what is meant by my "weight issues". i'm going to guess that kiki wants to know what it's like to be fat. and i guess i'm an authority on what it is like for *me* to be fat, although i suspect that like anything there are similarities between fat folks, and differences. in the same way that i react in a certain way to having an alcoholic father and others may react differently to their alcoholic parents there are some comminalities.

so, what does it feel like to be fat? well, i don't know. i mean, i know how i feel, but i don't know how it compares to feeling thin, if that makes any sense. i know that i would rather not be fat. i know that there are a miriade of factors that lead to my weight. i know that there is a damn good chance that i will be fat the rest of my life.

but how does it feel? well, it feels like i'm being judged a lot. sometimes i wonder what people are thinking when they look at me. i wonder what assumptions people make about me because i'm fat. i know there are people who make assumptions. i know there are people who assume it means i am a sedentary slob who comes home and eats chips and watches tv all night. and depending on my mood that affects me. most of the time i'm pretty secure in the knowledge that i go to the gym, that i eat well, that junk food does not make up a big part of my food intake, that i am more active in my life (i don't just mean exercise, i mean going out, i mean exploring my city, i mean entertaining friends, i mean all the things that are involved in having an active life), and so often i am satisfied by that knowledge. but sometimes, just sometimes, when someone looks at me and i feel like it's about my weight i wish i could sit them down and explain. explain that i try. explain that i am not some sloth who doesn't have any self-respect and doesn't take care of herself. sometimes i want to tell folks all the factors involved in my weight. and who knows, maybe this is the forum for it.

so, here's a bit of a medical history. first - overall i am a very healthy human. i have normal glucose levels. i have normal cholesterol. i have normal blood pressure. i have a normal heart rate. i can work my ass off at the gym, do half an hour on the eliptical trainer at level 7 for 30 minutes running at 110 rpms and then do the weight lifting circut (but damn, do i ever like the hot tub after that...). that's the first overall picture of my health.

but then there are the complicating factors. perhaps i'll give you a timeline...

i have/am hypothyroid, since birth. hypothyroid doesn't (always) make you gain weight, but it makes it bloody difficult to lose it. i am medicated for this, and will be for the rest of my life, but it will never be a 'normal' thyroid. this is also why i am only 5' tall.

here's the closest we're going to get to weight caused by emotional issues... when i was in grade nine i had some really shitty stuff happen with a male adult in my life (as an alarming number of people have) and between september and christmas of that year i gained 50lbs. i don't think it was a concious effort, but i know that i thought if i could make myself as unattractive as possible it would stop. it eventually did, but i'm not sure it had anything to do with my weight gain.

i also have a family full of fat folks, and i can't imagine that there isn't some kind of hereditary aspect to everything. my parents are both fat, as is my aunt.

when i was 18 i was finally diagnosed with clinical depression. i was put on paxil. i gained 40lbs. it is a common side-effect of the drug. when i went off the drug i did not lose the weight.

when i was 22 i was finally diagonsed with chronic clinical depression (runs in my family) and was put back on paxil. i gained another 40lbs. eventually i was switched to celexa which does not have as seve weight gain side effects and is a very good maintenance drug, but not a good 'pull you out of it' drug, effexor was not around yet, or at least not widely known, so the paxil was needed to 'pull me out of it'.

i have studied nutrition and nutritional trends for many many many years. i generally eat very well, but have (had?) a tendancy to not eat when stressed or busy. camille once told me that i used to have terrible eating habits because i wouldn't eat breakfast until 11 or so, she was right. i spent a lot of time fucking over my metabolism by not eating. i guess we all have our stress reactions, and they aren't always healthy. i try not to do this now. i have compromised by having a shake for breakfast every morning because at least i'm having something so my blood sugar doesn't dump too much, and it's fast so i'm much more likely to have it.

this year i was diagnosed with poly cystic ovarian syndrom (PCOS). one of the side effects of PCOS is obesity. specifically belly weight. most of my weight is in my belly.

one of the things about PCOS is that traditional diets (weight watchers, nutri system, blah blah) actually make you *gain* weight because the problem is it's all about insulin and it's effects on your body, which means diets that cut out fats in a radical way (which means cutting out a lot of protein) actually work against you. and i am living proof of this. every time i dieted i gained weight. i have in fact found a food lifestyle that works for me, i now focus on the glycemic index when i eat. well, focus is a strong word, but i try and live by it a bit, i try and mitigate the glucose my system has to process by eating protein, fiber and 'healthy carbs' together, so that my blood sugar doesn't spike. i have in fact lost about 30lbs in the past 8 months or so by losely following the principles of gi eating. and here you will find my 'issues' coming out again. i have told very few people this. i am completely paranoid that if i tell people i'm losing weight i will stop losing it. but what the hell, now i'm telling all you, and if i stop losing it, so be it.

there are actually a couple of good things about the PCOS diagnosis. first, it has confirmed my need to be very careful about my blood sugar levels, and my need to follow something like the gi way of eating. the other thing it did is reveal my tumour. it was the ultrasound for the PCOS diagnosis that revealed the tumour (more on this later...)

so, there is the timeline of my weight. i'm sure it's not what kiki is interested in. i also know that it sounds a bit like a justification, and maybe it is.

what i know is that being fat is always more complicated than it seems on the surface.

as for how does it feel... well, i'd love to be smaller, i'd love to be able to buy clothes at funky consignment stores like courage my love, i'd love to be able to sit on an airplane and not worry about whether or not the seatbelt will fit (for the record, it doesn't on air transat, but every other airline it does) because there is nothing more humiliating than having to ask for that seat belt extender. i would love to not feel judged by my weight, but the truth is, if it wasn't my weight it would be something else. people judge. it's what they do. it would be my hair, or my clothes, or that i talk too much, or that i don't talk enough, that i reveal too much, that i don't reveal enough. as much as i would love to not be fat i am under no illusions that being thin would solve all my problems. in fact, i'm pretty sure it would solve only very few, very superficial problems. i would still be chronic depressive. i would still have father issues. i would still have trouble standing up to people i see in positions of authority. i would still have a tendancy to put others before me. those are my biggest issues in my life right now, and not one single one of them would change.

what would change? well, i'd be happy to go to canada's wonderland again (i always worry that i won't fit in the seats), i'd be happy to horse back ride again (i always worry that i'm hurting the horse), i'd be happy to buy clothes in a 'normal person' store for half the price.

you want things that are more significant? hmmm. well, i have often thought that i am successful in my career despite my weight. it would be nice to go to a club and dance my ass off (which i do now) and not all of a sudden be struck by the thought that people may be thinking "who is this fat chick and what does she think she's doing dancing like that" (which i am sometimes struck by).

but here's the truth. i am not defined by my weight. i don't actually know what i am defined by, but it's not my weight, it's not the clothes i wear, it's not my hair (okay, maybe it's my hair...) i would hope that i'm defined by my actions. i don't even know what that means to be honest. perhaps this is my main issue, although it has nothing to do with weight and so perhaps has nothing to do with this post, but maybe my main issue is that i don't know how i'm defined. but i do know that the things that are important to me in my life are my friends, my family and learning. in no particular hiarchy, those are all equally the things that are most important to me in life. luckily i am blessed by many amazing friends, many amazing family members (most notably my mother and brother) and many wonderful learning opportunites.

honestly, if i don't talk much on my blog about my 'weight issues' it's because they are such a minor player in my life that they just aren't as interesting. i am not for a second trying to say that i don't have any, i defy any fat person in our society to not have issues with their size, no matter how healthy and well balanced they are, but they certainly aren't all consuming or omin-present. so i don't know if i've "come to terms" or if i'm "struggling", but i don't think i'm "ignoring" them.

okay, so that was the straight forward part. now to kiki's question that i really actually don't understand but i'll give it my best shot...

kiki said:
Also, about your partner. Who is he exactly? Is he your love/life partner? If you've been together for so long with him, you sure started this relationship when you were very young. Again, I can't help but link your "issus" with having his need to be in a serious relationship at such a young age. If he is your life partner, why aren't you married to him?

john is my love/life partner. he is absolutely the love of my life. these questions raised a couple questions for me though. first, what makes you think we aren't married? we haven't had a wedding (you'll have to talk to him on this one) but i refer to him as my husband as well as my partner, and he refers to me as his wife as well as his partner. even if we had had a wedding, i would still refer to him as my partner. i don't feel the need to decalre the fact that my relationship is a heterosexual one, i am not defined by my sexuality, people can make whatever assumtions they want, the fact that john is a man is immaterial, the fact that he is my partner is the important part.

we did start our relationship young. i was 18, he was 22 (damn cradle robbers!). we got our first apartment together when i was 19 and he was 23. it scared the shit out of everyone around us, including us. in all honesty, as much as we loved each other, i often say i got married by default. before we lived together officially he lived with me at my father's house 6 days out of the week. when i was 19 my father's partner moved in with her two kids, i was basically told i could start sharing my room or i could move out (but that's another story...). john and i were forced to make a difficult decision. i could not afford to have my own apartment, but i also could not move in with a roommate and then have my boyfriend stay over 6 nights out of 7. we decided that we would move in together. we loved each other, but if the truth was to be told, it was a move of convenience. that was 11 years ago (well, minus a month, it was may 7th). we have been living together ever since.

this is where i get fuzzy, i honestly don't understand where my 'weight issues' have anything to do with getting married young.

i'll do my best to answer the question though. why so serious so young? well, the only answer i have is that it wasn't planned. i didn't intend to have a lifelong relationship with this dude i had a crush on. i didn't intend to fall in love. i didn't intend to go through university a married woman. i didn't plan for any of it. but it happened.

and anyone who has met john can tell you that it makes perfect sense. john is an amazing man. sure we've had our rough patches, i'm not sure that anyone who has been together for 12 years hasn't, but we have worked through them, we have put an effort into the relationship because it was worth keeping. i can't imagine ever loving anyone as much as i love john. i can't imagine anyone fitting with me as well as he does. i don't belive in shit like 'he completes me', he doesn't, i'm complete without him, but things are better when he's around, i'm better when he's around. he challenges me, he teaches me, he respects me. but trust me, if you knew john you'd know why someone would want to spend their life with him. i'm pretty sure that those that read my blog who know him can attest to that.

and so, there you have it, my rediculously long response to kiki's comments, i spent almost an hour and 15 minutes writing this, i think that's the longest i've ever spent on a blog, i hope folks have the patience to read it.

kiki, i have a question for you... what prompted you to ask these questions? also, if you knew about how long john and i had been together and you had a general sense that i was avoiding talking about fat issues, how long have you been reading the blog and what made you think i had issues i was avoiding?

one last thought, just because i don't talk about something on my blog doesn't mean that i'm avoiding it, it simply means that i don't feel like talking about it on my blog, for any of a myriad of reasons, just because it is a personal blog i don't think that means that i am obliged to divulge every single thing that i think about and that i have to share all my personal bits (yes yes dickey, i know, i know) on the blog. i may be censoring because i may not want the world to read it. i may censor because i don't want my mother or my brother to read it (as much as i love you guys there are likely some things in my life that i don't want to tell you). i may censor it because i just think it wouldn't actually be of interest to my readers. or it may just not occur to me to write about it in this forum. having said all that, apparently if you ask me, i will answer. ;)

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