Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A no-plateau Weigh-in Tuesday! Plus a "burning question" about being fat and fit.

This morning, I'd like to start with a little good news.  I have officially beaten my plateau.  This week I lost three pounds (including the two pounds I had gained, plus an additional pound) which brings my loss to 60 pounds!  I started at 366, and I'm at 306 today. I take a progress photo every 20 pounds, so I'm due for another one now.

It feels great to know that I've made it past the stalling.  The surgery and ensuing rest period has been a bummer, but I've done well with food this week, and I was able to take walks and to work out at Slimmons.  Soon I'll be able to get back in a pool, and I'm incredibly excited about this. I didn't realize just how much swimming meant to me until I wasn't allowed to do it.  I feel energized to hit the full week of workouts, and happy to know that my next mini-goal is only six pounds away!  That's right... seven more pounds (less, actually) and I will be under 300... for the first time in probably nine years.  To most people, I realize that 299 sounds like a lot.  It is.  I'll still be morbidly obese, with quite a few mini-goals until I reach plain-ol' ordinary obese.

The question of weight categories brings to mind an article I read in the July/August issue of Health Magazine.  Their pro/con column, "The Burning Question," asked "Can you be fit and fat?"  Two different doctor-professors weighed in on the matter, one on the side that overweight people who are active have half the risk of mortality of normal-weight people who don't exercise at all. (He makes the case that it only applies to overweight people, not the obese.)  The other doc-prof says no; exercise isn't enough - you must also watch what you eat.  Well, duh.  I watch what I eat.  I exercise and am in reasonably good shape.  But am I healthy?  I guess that's the question.

Seems to me like they were replying - though not directly referring - to the movement known as "Health At Every Size" (or HAES) - which I was first introduced to through the Fat Acceptance movement.  There are three main precepts to HAES:

  1. Self-Acceptance: Affirmation and reinforcement of human beauty and worth irrespective of differences in weight, physical size and shape.
  2. Physical Activity: Support for increasing social, pleasure-based movement for enjoyment and enhanced quality of life.
  3. Normalized Eating: Support for discarding externally-imposed rules and regimens for eating and attaining a more peaceful relationship with food by relearning to eat in response to physiological hunger and fullness cues

I feel like I really address all three of these.

I accept who I am - I know where I've been, what actions I've taken in the past and presently.  I know how I got to this weight.  I still see my beauty and worth at this weight - and my weekly Fashion Friday posts are an effort to highlight that for myself, for the times it's harder to remember.

I am active.  It sometimes goes beyond social, pleasure-based movement, because even if I am not specifically enjoying the exercise (as is sometimes the case) the pleasure I feel after a workout, and the energy it gives me for other things, definitely enhances the quality of my life.

I work very hard at normalized eating.  In the past, I have had difficulties with moderation, and with behavioral/emotional eating.  In fact, that's not in the past.  I think it's likely I will have those difficulties all my life, but the difference between my behavior now and my behavior before is that I am up-front with myself about those struggles.  Instead of avoiding discussion about food choices, I seek it out.  I lay out plans to help avoid the less-healthy choices I make when I'm tired, bored, or simply don't have a road map for my food.  Plus, the KIND of food I eat matters.  I'm eating lots of vegetables, fruit, and whole grains, plus lean protein and healthy fats.  I don't eat out much, and I don't eat fast food at all.  I do count calories, which is not something recommended by HAES - but I don't punish myself for over or underconsumption if I'm hungry or full.  It's merely a tool I use to keep my behavioral eating in check.  It never fails - after a couple of days of not recording calories, and I begin to slip into behavioral patterns again.  It's all about being mindful, and calorie-counting helps me do that.

When it comes to Health's "Burning Question," I think I have a better answer than either doc/prof:  each body is different.  It's ridiculous to generalize.  We don't need generalizations from magazines.  We need to work directly with our medical teams to find out the specific ways we can improve our health.  I do that - so there's a good chance I'd live longer than some average-weight fella who doesn't exercise and eats fast food all day.  Or, who knows, maybe I'll get hit by a bus.  So it's not just about the length of a life, it's about the quality of that life.  The point is that I know I'm worth taking care of - and I'm taking care of myself as best as I can.  And I hope that you will do that for yourself, too.


  1. Inspirational as always, I praise your insight and strength! I can sympathize with the swimming, I am once again banned from the pool, so hard to look at it everyday and know I can't get in- yet! See you soon, much love

  2. As long as you don't look like you are waiting for that bus you will continue to be gorgeous; both inside and out. ;-)

  3. Each body is different and I do believe you can technically be healthy and obese. For years, I have had doctors comment that I was the "healthiest fat person" they ever encountered.

    All my numbers were/are great and organs functioning properly, and they seemed almost disappointed when they had to tell me that. I also had a very successful and healthy pregnancy at a starting weight of 300+. (I gained about 60lbs during my pregnancy.)

    Despite the good numbers I am still morbidly obese. I knew that someday those good test results would be a thing of the past, if I didn't start treating myself better and shedding the excess weight.

    My long term goals keep changing, but right now, if I can get out of the morbidly obese category and into obese (180lb range), I would be happy and I believe still healthy, due to a new lifestyle of proper nutrition and regular exercise.

  4. "The point is that I know I'm worth taking care of" - Absolutely! I'm so glad you are taking care of yourself! I love your Fashion Fridays and I love hearing how you're doing. :) :)

  5. This is a question I have pondered long and often. I believe that everything is cumulative and that the cumulation of good (or bad) eating and exercise are what really makes the difference (or does it?)

    I grew up on organic foods, non-dyed cheese, whole grains and mega vitamins. I never ate wonder bread, tang, fiddle faddle or potato chips and at 18, I became a vegetarian. That all stopped at about 21 when we were just starting out in life and I ate a lot of crap (and a lot of good food). I also drank an awful lot for about 10 years.

    Fast forward 20 years and I'm eating better and eating more like I did in my "hippie diet" days and I've been sober for years. I also get cancer for the first time. Seven years later, I get it again - in 3 different areas.

    So, I always wonder what was the thing that did it to me? What it one too many martini, one too many trips to Naugles at 2 am, one too many sausages? Or is it just my wonky genetic make up that causes me to be prone to autoimmune diseases?

    I'l probably never know for sure, but I do know that when I eat right an exercise regularly I feel much better both mentally and physically. When I feel good, at least I can take on these pesky diseases with a good attitude and not let them take over my life.

  6. Found you on fitblogger and wanted to pop by to say hello. Kim

  7. I saw that article and thought that it brought up a good point, so I'm glad you addressed it here. I think you're right that it is better not to generalize. I do think that being at a healthy weight is better overall - the body functions more smoothly (internal organs) when there is less strain on it.

    The main thing, as you said, is to take care of ourselves and treat our bodies (and our choices) with respect.

  8. This is a great post. I do think that you can be healthy and still considered overweight. For example my goal weight will still put me in the overweight category but according my dr that will be a good weight for me...especially if I am eating right and exrcising regularly