Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Show: Heavy

Last night I watched this new show on A&E called Heavy. The blank faced traumatized looking woman on their ad banner bugs me. I have conflicted emotions about it. The premise of the show is that they take fat people to this spa, where they are taught to exercise, eat right, and given therapy for a month, then they are to go home and continue the program to lose weight. I watched the show that had Jessica who weighted 289 and Ricky who weighed 555 lbs at the start. [and also part of another that show Tom and Jodi.]

Jessica talked about how she couldn't play with her kids nor keep up. In the high 200s, yes people get exhausted. Ricky, admitted he was a food addict and said "There is no off switch with my brain when it comes to food". Definitely some sort of satiety disorder there, those levels of hunger are not normal. Jodi admits having had a stroke giving her the impetus to lose weight. I think her health problems to have had a stroke that young are far more complex then the obesity but wonder if the doctors are looking into it? Tom is seriously overweight with bad lymphedema.

The therapists and trainers did seem to care about their charges. I am not sure how much the psychological affected them. I wanted to know more about Ricky's mother, was she fat too? Was this an inherited problem by any chance? He blamed himself for too much. One could tell he was broken hearted, I do think when he got angry, and yelled, he was just asking for some space, that was not good timing on part of the trainer to approach him just seconds after walking out of therapy, dealing with the death of his mother.

They taught them some good advice, like stay out out of the middle section of grocery store. One can be trained to shop, and it helped me, though it didn't solve all my problems. I do think that healthier food is far harder to come by, for me to maintain a celiac diet and manage my food allergies, grocery shopping is like a military campaign, I can take 45 minutes to write a list of a 100 dollars worth of food items for husband. One thing these programs need to tell people how hard it really is and not hold back, I related to Ricky being overwhelmed in the grocery store, I'm still overwhelmed, so much junk and so much digging to get to the good stuff. Should an apple cost a dollar each? At the smaller store here, they do.

One thing one can tell from this show, the social outcomes of obesity are severe, all the fat people you could tell felt ostracized from society and like they didn't fit in. They all spoke of things they faced in life such as Ricky admitting he can't go out because people laugh at him. Jodi's rather cold husband admitted he was on the verge of leaving her, and she quit singing for a rock band, being embarrassed about her size which I thought was sad, but have felt some of the same emotions. Tom admitted not dating for years and years and seemed to live the typical very lonely severely fat person's life, though in his case his brothers do help him. I didn't get the show's claim that he had not seen a doctor in 15 years, how did he make his living?, he had to be on disability.

We weren't told about what their real diet was while fat, Ricky was shown eating a sandwich, but then that would be the normal diet of thin people around him even if they gave us the gratuitous camera shot of him taking a big bite, music and all. Were all the 6 greasily baked pork chops for him? The three packages of stuffing were a bit much. During the second show [this one with 628lb Tom Arnold and 366lb Jodi], they showed him ordering 6 junior burgers and 3 spicy chicken nuggets and eating them all.

I've addressed this issue on this blog "Are Fat People Hungrier?, how much of this driving hunger comes from a psychological or lack of will power but something awry physiologically in the body?

They didn't go in much detail about what they fed them at the center. I found myself thinking a few mixed greens with a sprinkle of green beans and vinaigrette wasn't much of a lunch. Where was the protein? It would have done nothing to keep my blood sugar going if that's all they got.

Ricky had the leg that was dark red and leaking fluid, by the way when you are at that point, you have an infection, I have been hospitalized for over a week for a leg that looked only half that bad and hadn't broke out leaking. I was literally frightened for him, because blood poisoning via cellulitis is a reality, and I've almost lost my life to it shooting up to 105.5 degree fever. How he managed not to succumb to weakness shocked me, he must have moved into the chronic stage, I am glad his leg looked better by the end of the show. [Mine has improved, I used to have 6-7 infections a year, but only had one so far in the last 14 months]. By the way, they gave a false snippet of information, where they said lymphedema was caused by obesity, thin people get lymphedema from different conditions, where their limbs swell up. Obesity can exacerbate lymphedema but is not its sole cause.

The thing that most disturbed me about the show, was the bootcamp exercise and the tears of frustration, pain and misery. Taking fat people who have barely moved from 0-60 in one day seems dangerous to me! The show was heavily advertised this way, showing us groaning, straining, literally bawling out of pain and distressed fat people. This alarmed me greatly. How did any of these fat people avoid going to the hospital? By the way when someone is throwing up [and I've done it from over-exertion] that means you are about to be in the emergency room. How do the extremely obese ones keep from swelling from congestive heart failure? [Most people above a certain size, retain tons of fluids from the heart not being able to keep up, in fact this more then anything limits the degree of exercise I can do] During the second show Jodi is barfing. Part of me thinks, you know a lot of thin people are just thin, via eating normally and doing a nice job on the treadmill, they aren't puking their guts out, wailing and turning red. One thing Ive said in my case, if I could burn it all off without ending up dead, I would. One seemed to have some type of exercise induced asthma.

I think fat people should exercise, I make myself walk the length of my large apt building everyday [just 18 months ago, I couldn't do this], because I fear losing mobility from being housebound due to cold, and lift cans for weights at least once a day. If I did the level of exercise they showed these fat people doing, the paramedics would have needed called--my physical therapist, had to stop me a few times, and I'm not kidding. Someone could say well maybe they are in better shape then you, with your bad lungs, cardiomyopathy and multiple conditions, but they showed at least one of the fat people with their multitudes of pills. One thing about me, before my severe fast weight gain, as late as 1995, I used to walk for FUN and knew I walked at least 2-3 miles if not more on many occasions.

That said, there is something disturbing about watching people put through the gauntlet so bad, they are crying. Is this the answer to obesity, for trainers to get that whip out, act as drill sargents and literally force the fat to "feel the burn". Aren't fat people punished enough in this life?
It seems all the "solutions entail more suffering" not less. There is a problem with that. Some of them seemed to be risky serious injury. I thought in the fitness community, the misleading "no pain, no gain" ethos had been left behind.

This is something that always bothered me about The Biggest Loser. Is exercise supposed to be life threatening and painful? One thing I pick up on when it comes to the fat, pain and torture seems to be the responses from this society, "let us cut your stomach out, let us make you do so much exercise you start barfing in the bathroom". Something is really wrong with that equation. To be frank, the levels of exercise on this show seem dangerous to me. Why did my physical therapists treat me so differently?

This fitness blogger writes about Jillian Michaels [from a different show], who I think is downright abusive to her charges so I don't watch any show she is on. He brings up the point what good is exercise that brings injury to the obese? I was happy to see some personal trainers on this website that get it. Wish I had money to hire one. At least the show Heavy as far as I have seen, hasn't made anyone run, but it brings up good points.

One thing I noticed too, is a lot of the weight gain in the different parties, seems triggered by stress, [I address that here: "Is Stress Making Everyone Fat?"] such as in the case of Ricky losing his mother and being overwhelmed. Why doesn't anyone ever talk about this facet of weight?

I am glad they lose weight, and seem to do better. The show has inspired me to try and add more exercise in my life though I will have to do things differently. In Ricky's case, his greatest test will be living at home with a family that obviously will not be eating the same diet, Jessica being more moderately obese and the one managing the kitchen, has a greater chance of success. But over all I find myself thinking, are these solutions really going to work? Why doesn't anyone get more to the core root of the hunger problems and the bad food this society is awashed in? Most severely obese people are never going to be able to afford a month in a nice spa with day to day personal trainers. I told someone the other day, they'd be opening gyms with affordable HEALTHY training and physical therapy for fat people all over, and make healthy food more widely available and less expensive if they really wanted to deal with the obesity epidemic.

My other worry about this show, is it promotes the same failed solutions we have seen so far, no I am not against people trying to lose weight or following exercise programs, but isn't this the same stuff that has failed all these years when looking at long term projections? It promotes the majority of the world's belief that if the fat people just got off their lazy duffs, they would be thin. If this was true, Wouldn't all fat people just go join the gym, eat healthy and be done? It makes the viewers think obesity has simple solutions, and that everyone can follow this formula and be a thin person for the rest of their life. I am hoping all the parties succeed, but I've seen other fat people lose for a time, get gung-ho dedicating hours at the gym, but one thing, just a slight let-up on this intense work, and the weight will come back. Have seen it happen time and time again. Does this mean these people are all "lazy failures" or that something else is in operation?

I will have more comments on this show as it continues......

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Health At Every Size? And Healthism in the Size Acceptance Movement

Read this article for context:"Goodbye NAAFA: Why I Left the Size Acceptance Movement Behind", this article is kind of a continuation of the points I make there.

One large size acceptance organization is ironically named Health At Every Size or HAES promoted by the Association For Size Diversity and Health and is growing and popularity, getting the word out to professionals and others. Denial of the health problems related to fat really takes hold in a group that purposely turns a blind eye to the sick and fat. Paul Campos who is a spokesman for HAES in his book "The Obesity Myth, somehow manages to exclude super-sized people in general with a main focus on the moderate and mild fat or "The wish I was skinny" crowd. This sentence sums up the weird rabbit hole and ideals of the HAES movement: " A healthy weight is the weight a person maintains while living a healthy life" [p.79] Consider that sentence and the implicit backhanded judgements within it.

Entire chapters are devoted to proving that fat doesn't affect health, and that those who complain of hurting knees and edema,are a bunch of whiners.

Read this one too."The Reason why the disease of obesity doesn't kill those who suffer from it, and why it remains impossible to cure are one in the same because it doesn't exist'" [pg 41]

What!?? Talk about wiping away endless people's experiences.

Can't they admit fat is even a symptom of illness? I suppose not. While some tenets of HAES are good things to follow for health:

•Accepting and respecting the natural diversity of body sizes and shapes.
•Eating in a flexible manner that values pleasure and honors internal cues of hunger, satiety, and appetite.
•Finding the joy in moving one’s body and becoming more physically vital.

I would like to take all these HAES followers and NAAFA fat activists on a visit to a nursing home that specializes in the rehabilitation of obese people who have lost all mobility and suffer an array of health problems and tell me straight to my face after visiting this facility that obesity is never a disease or even the symptom of one.

While exaggerations do exist to sell diet products oppressing hordes of mildly fat people, doctors aren't being "mean" to suggest a correlation between ill health and obesity. Many become fat from a variety of causes, some even mixed and find themselves in the same boat.

Does Health at Every Size apply to 500lbs? 400lbs? Find me even one 350lb person of average height capable of running a marathon. How many 400lbers do you see in the Olympics? Seen any fat basketball players lately? Even the "Refrigerator" of Chicago Bears fame was forced into early retirement from his bulk. While the HAES folks are right to nod to the fact to the genetic undergirdings of obesity, no one tried to tell Robert Wadlow, the world's tallest man, that he was as healthy as everyone else and that just some "positive thinking" would cure his leg problems and other ailments that came from his height.

Many don't know this but there is a dimension of healthism within size acceptance, that is so focused on proving "Nothing is wrong with being fat"! It denies the reality of the majority of people who cross a certain mark. Even by the 200s, the pain began, I sit here, now knowing my stomach is killing my legs,and my time is limited to get this typed out. Part of me screams--"Are these people on drugs? Being fat hurts!"

When I was in size acceptance, this was during the years I was at my peak weights and the pressure to keep quiet about all physical suffering was the unwritten rule. Ironically I went to a NAAFA conference held at the most sprawled out hotel in the world that would have given a thin healthier person exhaustion just to navigate the place [no one thought of the sick there, or assumed all immobile fat people already had the scooter]. It was interesting to note one 600lb lady, playing "my stamina is better then yours" games with me adding to my distress.

I figured out fast during my time in the size acceptance world, that unless I presented myself as perky and healthy, that I wasn't wanted. This was not a world that embraced "thinker" type personalities but extroverts and adherents of delusional false "positive thinking". For a time, I basically said, lets just tell the truth! You think fat people do not know they are sick, or that their weight doesn't cause problems just on the sheer physical level? Why do we have to live in delusion in some sort of over the top people pleasing escapade? This doesn't mean helping the fat bigots out but just standing up with some integrity!

One fat activist got angry with me on a message board and asked me "Would it be so terrible if you let go of that fat negativity? What would happen if you thought about your health problems the same way a thin person thought about theirs?" She went on to tell me that the valuing any weight change was related to keeping fat prejudice in it's place and finished up telling me. "I cannot see anyway to seek 'the fat cure' without investing fat hatred".

The irony of a fully mobile 200 and something lb woman saying this to a woman who [at the time I was somewhere in the high 600s] is immensely absurd. Fat negativity? What is that? Wanting to stay alive? No one would tell someone dying of kidney disease, that we don't wish to seek the kidney cure anymore! The size acceptance world has lost it!

One thing about me, I'm an independent thinker and know when I am being bamboozled. By the way, having discussed these matters for years, most people see size acceptance as trapped in a morass of delusion and that includes many fat people. More damage is done to fat people demanding they must hide the realities of larger bodies, and surely the merely large still can function well, but to deny the super sized of us, a voice or even admitting our truths is a betrayal beyond belief!

What is wrong with not wanting to see friends sick anymore? What is wrong with wanting people not to lose the ability to have functional lives? What is wrong with asking true professionals and researchers for unbiased help?

Size acceptance if it really cared about fat people instead of just being the inverse side of the diet enterprises would have worked on helping there to be rehab centers for the obese [those are so few in number to be laughable] and demanding real research in obesity that isn't biased. They would have allowed super sized people to tell their truths, instead of foisting "think positive" New Age claptrap on them. By the way "intuitive eating" is badly named, intuition is related to what one feels, eat when you are hungry is good advice, but not eat when you feel like it.

Health at EVERY size? I don't think so. How absolutely ABSURD.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Fattest Woman in the World Update

Watch video here, she is in a bathing suit,--[guess its alright by Youtube standards] but I'd rather post link here.

This is the lady, I've posted about before, who wants to be the fattest woman in the world. I posted about ths woman before on this blog "Woman Who Wants to Be The Fattest Woman in the World". She is basically a feedee and maybe with a feeder boyfriend. When I was in the size acceptance world, this is some of the debauchery I got to watch, there was one lady I knew who weighed just a bit less then me but was very large, being naive and young, thought she was just someone like myself struggling with severe weight problem for whatever reason, and I found her feedee website, that blew my mind.

This woman is basically committing slow attempted suicide. It is always odd to me that there are tons of centers, organizations for alcoholics and drug addicts out there, shows like Intervention but nothing is done for people like this. I know things are more complex, here because proving someone a food addict may be difficult and there are many different causes of obesity, genetic cases to endocrine to eating disorders with people like this, but this woman is so far beyond the pale and public about her self destruction. She definitely needs help. The man in the video is right this is "attempted suicide" done in slow-motion.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I've Never Lost Weight On A Diet!

Nope I never have. Even when I lost down from almost 700lbs into the 500s, it was mostly medical treatment floating that boat. I have lost everywhere from 160lbs-80. Good health, less stress, and more activity seemed to be my winning strategies. Right now I am losing weight and have been for some time but its a mixture of some exercise and the gluten free diet--I stopped wanting to itch to death. Barring some societal or American economic collapse that puts us on famine status or other horrible illness--one friend used to tell me all 500lb diabetics become thin if they live long enough--my dreams of thinness are over. "Live life the best you can, doing what you can", this was great advice I got from my favorite doctor of 8 years who was from Ghana and less indoctrinated by the American stupidity regarding obesity. That good man probably bought me 10 more years of life

When people tell me, they have lost weight by what they eat, I almost laugh, it seems like a magic trick to me, because in my own experience it just doesn't work. I ask questions of them like well how do you handle the hunger pain? They look at me all googly-eyed like I just asked how Mars was? I have hunger pain right now and ate lunch at 12:30 and its 3:51 pm. Welcome to my world!

Months of illness before where food nauseated me haven't even done the trick to strip weight off, so why would I even connect the two things in my mind? While some of the doctors and rest concede that some people have very low metabolisms and that dieting is an exercise in futility, most of the world thinks its the answer to all the fat person's problems and its not! With the exception of Jared, an aunt who had to have half of her intestines removed due to an illness and a few who took the winning spin of the weight loss surgery, I have yet to see one super sized person become a "thin person" for the rest of their life. Even the majority of people I know who had weight loss surgery, either had it just work for a couple years with a full regain, or had to be happy going from severely obese people to more midsize obese--say from 400lbs to 300lbs. One core component, those who have decent hearts and lungs and can exercise normally, do far better.

With few and rare exceptions, the majority of superfat people earn very little but brief reprieves from obesity. Most of the corpulent have gone through the ever-revolving door of Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, Phen-Fen, Pritikin, Atkins, nutritionists, gyms, personal trainers, leaving as one fat lady said to me..."You take control for a while and you fail yet again, and you're more depressed then ever".

Lack of willpower, shame, physical hunger, boredom, migraine headaches, stomach pain, buckets of tasteless cabbage soup, almost every obese person knows the reality of the diet is like. Even under the euphemism of the "lifestyle" change, many diets end up with the same results, its a long plod, getting the special foods, groceries, cooking and facing the fact that some of the meals in those diet books alone could cost $40 bucks by themselves.

The Diet Psychologist sighed and peered over his bi-focals taking his chin in his hand, "If you want to succeed in this program, you need to stop lying about your food intake" I thought back, I at that time, was living in the ghetto, with 40 bucks a week to feed two people--I had filled out the journal of then 15 years ago, honestly even including 2 cookies I had nibbled on at a friend's house and a greasy take-out gyro, that if I ate today probably would put me under the table.

Then after weighting the exact same on their broken scale [it was actually weighing me far under what I was, and getting the same number, 5 times in a row, I knew it wasn't accurate. I would leave the room full of other depressed and beleaguered obese people who mostly were at least 150lbs smaller then me to the room to commiserate over their mutual lack of "will power" and supposed "cheating".

Dieting has an extreme high failure rate. For years Ive watched several fat relatives, more healthy, able to feel the burn and exercise, ping pong back and forth between 250 and approaching 400lbs. This is such a problem, that bariactrics is seen as the low man on the totem pole of medical specialities. No other illness has the failure in treatment like obesity. If cancer and skin rashes had the same failure rate, doctors would be out of business for good, all bankrupted by malpractice suits. Even those who work in the obesity research field, have their true desire to help people but are realizing what an insurmountable problem obesity has proven to be.

Many fat people do lose weight, some even great amounts, 100lbs-200lbs. Regains however are high as soon as one looks away, stops the extreme vigilance, gives in to the hunger, the diet fails again, and the fat person resumes the soul destroying roller coaster of no mercy.

Many humans have been cursed with the so-called thrifty gene, a good thing to have during constant famines and most of world history, a bad thing to have during plentiful food and supermarkets. All the physiology is set up to keep weight on as much as possible to keep you from dying of starvation. Some people even realize that when they eat too little or starve themselves, the body goes into metabolic shut-off. I witnessed this myself when during a severe illness I could barely keep down 600 calories a day for weeks and weeks , and didn't lose a pound.

The overweight are often hungrier then the thin on top of it. I have come to the conclusion that unlike some thin friends, not eating for a day, would cause me far more physical suffering [maybe insulin resistance from PCOS?] It is all mental? The whinings of a person with "no self control?" Well blinding migraines are no fun, feeling the room tilt or your hands go numb is scary. I have seen the thin and smug announce "I only eat one meal a day", "an apple for lunch is more then enough" and I have thought "I wish!"

While some say to the metabolically imbalanced like myself, why don't you just eat 1000 calories a day, its not that easy. It's easy to hit that mark even eating normal allotted meals by noon. After all my big body craves nutrients, hunger is present in the brain too. Maybe you can take the hunger pain, and the fuzzy wuzzy feeling in your head, but it doesn't do much for me, except in some ways create more hunger.

The body has some over powering hormonal messages to feed it. It will pull out all tricks to get you to run to the refrigerator, in thin people it causes some moments of uncomfortableness, that supposedly go away after 20 minutes, in some fat people in never leaves you alone. Drink a glass of water, take a walk, if you've skipped lunch and you're fat, it will be hours of thinking of nothing but food and it's not always psychological. There are many things I'd rather be doing, even my stamp collection is more exciting then washing more plates or worry about what to eat.

Forget to eat in my case, and be visited with asthma and the shakes--asked doctor about that one and was told "Don't do that!" People think fat people are lying, and whiners and just do not have the gumption, but the problem is, that all bodies are assumed to operate the same, it would be nice for those to understand that some of us are experiencing something else entirely.

Even the dieting world seems set up to sabotage it seems, Slim-Fast, SWEET protein bars, all sugar, leading to a crash, a rise in insulin and starvation within a couple hours. Avoid the sugar if you want to avoid the hunger pain Dietitians are no guaranteers of good diet advice either. Even as last as the mid-90s, I was told a bagel for breakfast and a baked potato for lunch was my ticket to normalville. The supposed low-fat diet that now most recognize did more harm then good.

Lynn McAffee in a long ago article in Radiance Magazine says this: she asks a doctor why figures on the failure rates of diets haven't been divulged. His response to her, is that no one wants to discourage people from dieting. It's absurd, she thinks, to suggest that people do what is clearly impossible. She is incensed. "I spent my childhood and adolescence feeling like the lowest form of life because I couldn't do something as 'simple' as lose weight and keep it off."

Books of Fat Hatred #1: "She's Come Undone"

The fictional world can be a danger zone to the fat woman. A Best selling book in the 90s, that I read was Wally Lamb's best selling book "She's Come Undone" which was a fixture of Oprah's Book Club. This is one of my least favorite books on this planet.

The heroine Delores, gains a 100 pounds after a childhood rape, but magically sheds it later, seven years of mental hospital confinement [what insurance program would pay for that now?] works wonders! The proof is a clipboard away, when Dr. Shaw explains how Delores lost seven pounds in a week.

"It was better to let him tell you what you were thinking rather then wasting time having him correct you. Because you're beginning to conceptualize the beautiful person you really are-you are becoming the young woman you deserve to be".

[page 259]
The problem here? Fat women more then anyone need to free their minds and do their own thinking rather then letting others define them.

It's worth noting how Delores makes this goal: by imaging her food with slimy mold [page 260] growing all over it. Though Delores is not a terribly sympathetic character, she mainly seems to exist for delivering one message, that thinness is the surest way to beauty: "My chest rested in a beard of fat. My eyes were small and piggy looking. I'm sorry I look like this Kippy, I've had a bad life." [page 178]

Delores naturally delivers such soliloquies while she chugs mass quantities of candy bars, and candlelit suppers, followed by a sugar binge that would flatten any self-respecting diabetic. It's not surprising then how a newly thin body seems to vaporize Delores's anger with the subplot being that the perfect body will erase all the bad memories: "As I began to drop my weight, I began to drop my prod of hostility whenever Dr. Shaw closed the door.

Even more creepy is an episode in the book where Delores equates herself to a beached whale which leads her to make suicidal gestures. Could the chosen symbol here be more offensive on so many levels? It gets heavy handed when some of her therapy includes water therapy and she goes whale watching at the end of the book with her new boyfriend and tells us she is at peace with herself.

I found the character Delores to be mean, manipulative and submissive despite her never ending Job-like troubles. "She's Come Undone" reads like a primer for fat bigotry in the world, basically be what we tell you to be and all your problems will be solved. What's so uplifting about seeing a beaten down woman do exactly what society expects of her and seeking conformity as her salvation?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Poop Will Make You Thin???!

Poop will make you thin? Now I have seen it all! Nah, it's not that bad, they are realizing the intestinal flora of fat people is different from thin and why wouldn't it be even more affected considering the American diet? The theory is change the flora, and you will change the digestion and the break down of food.

I don't get why they have to use feces, and why not just get some specialized probiotics? I have been considering getting some probiotics myself to try and 're-set" things and improve digestion. Just so folks know this is not from the onion, here is a scientist, assistant professor of Epidemiology commenting on this:

What if, instead of re-constituting healthy gut flora one species at a time, you could simply take the entire fecal contents from a healthy person and use it to re-colonize your own gut--in other words, undergo a fecal transplant? Yes, it's like probiotics on steroids: getting an infusion of someone else's gut flora in order to re-establish a healthy gut ecology of your own, and squeeze out some potentially harmful organisms along the way. A recent story discusses this treatment for patients suffering Clostridium difficile infections in Scotland, but it's actually not brand-new, and has already surfaced in the peer-reviewed literature. More after the jump...