Monday, November 21, 2005

Once More Around the Mulberry Bush

The HR Manger stopped me in the hall this morning and asked, how I'd "gotten so skinny."

Now, anybody who's met me or seen me at a Con can tell you I'm not exactly a skinny person. Never have been. I'm a size 16, moving back into a 14, and this is the weight I've been at most of my life. Two years ago, though, I was coming out of grad school binge eating and binge drinking and over-stressing, and was 20 lbs heavier when I started this job. So, I guess that in comparison, I'm "skinny"(er), anyway.

It's odd that I get annoyed when people make any sort of reference to my weight, now. I don't mind the gee, you seem a lot stronger comments, but the "gee, how did you get so skinny?" comments grate on me. Mainly because 1) I'm not skinny 2) I've been losing and gaining the same 40 or 50 lbs my whole life. I know how transitory this is. 3) I know there's no secret.

Basically, I told her I'd stopping trying to starve myself and started working out more. 20 minutes of free weights 5 mornings a week, two days a week at the gym, two 15 minute walks a day while at work; I take the stairs everywhere. I still drink calorie-laden drinks at Starbucks. I just get the small size. Instead of denying myself everything, I let myself have stuff, which means no binging later.

And I'm still not a small person. That's certainly not my goal. Being "average" and "proportionate" feels very good to me, and that's where I feel I'm at. Right now I'm working toward being stronger. That's the biggest thing for me. As far as weight goes, I'm quite comfortable at this weight. I've been here most of my life. Dropping to a 12/14 would be the furthest I'd ever take it. I physically can't get below a size 10 even if I ever wanted that - my hips, the actual bones, are too big for that. My lowest size barring concentration-camp chic is a 12, and that's going to take more years of training to hit, if I hit it again (likely, I will, if I can take boxing more seriously and get back into it).

I was watching "Supersize Me" this weekend. It's a very slickly made documentary, and it's also one of the biggest modern propoganda peices I've seen in recent years. The fat=unhealthy equation was used throughout, though none of the (mostly women) overweight people he talked to went through the same blood tests he did, so though we could see they were above average as far as pounds go, they could have been healthy as horses. I was a little startled that the graphic and stats he used to illustrate how fat America was was the image of a teenage girl, the average of which is now taller and fatter, of course, than the average woman 50 years ago, who also wore a girdle and didn't participate in any sports.

The best part of this documentary, the one that I was glad got included, was the one about the school lunch programs. In the "real world" adults have lots of choices, and if they want to eat a half pound of fries, great. But school cafeterias get lots of perks from junk food companies, and let me tell you, if I was given the choice between cheetoes and soda and some of the shit that gets dolloped onto cafteria trays, I'd choose the cheetoes. The real kicker? Comparing that food to the organic, healthy choices given by another school that cost the same amount. If it's not a cost difference, what's the deal?

The deal is that big corporations want to get their products into schools. So we live on chips, sodas, and candy bars in school. I remember one of the great things about the cafeteria in college in Alaska was that we had a salad and sandwich bar in case the "hot food" option sucked that day. I lived on a lot of salads and sandwiches. And it was cool to have that choice available.

Watching our protagonist stuff himself silly on McDonald's food that his body obviously didn't want and not walking - in New York City, no less! - in order to achieve the results he was gunning for was a little over-the-top. There were some fantastic points made, but in the end, it was a propoganda peice whose ultimate goal seemed to be to get rid of McDonald's, which is silly. Eating a cheeseburger and small fry a couple times a month isn't going to kill you. An extra 20 lbs on your frame won't even kill you. Overeating nutritionally-devoid foods and lying around on the couch all day might. If nothing else, you'll suffer from malnutrition, which he was, and that's going to cause your body to go into binge mode, which it did.

Eat what your body craves, stop eating when you're full, and exercise. Walk, walk, walk, and you'll feel better. The surprise is you may not ever be thin while doing this. And you know what? That's OK.

But then, it's never really about health. That's not what we're gunning for, and that's what's getting us into trouble.

2 comments so far. What are your thoughts?

Unsane said...

I've never had trouble with my weight, being, as I am one of a fairly nervous temperament and having a high metabolism (it's all in my jeans?? (sic))

A lot of how we look to ourselves and others is mind over matter. Attitudinal stuff, really.

I can sympathise with grad school making one a bit nuts, though. 

Posted by Jennifer

La Gringa said...

Well said.I have always been a big woman myself, always hovering around 240-280. Last year I got it into my head to just start working out more, and I started working out with a great trainer three times a week. My blood pressure was up, my cholesterol was up, and I was tired all the time so I figured it was time to start taking care of myself.

I wanted to lose weight but not by starving myself. I started eating healthier foods.Eating when I was hungry instead of when I was "supposed to." I dropped 60 pounds and three sizes in a year, but the funnny thing was that my coworkers perception of how much weight I'd lost was grossly inaccurate. I still weigh about 220, am a size 18 (down from 24), but whenever anyone I know tries to guess my weight, they are always off by a good 60-80 pounds. Is society's perception of size that inaccurate?

I'm most comfortable around a size 14, so that's my ideal goal, but I feel healthier,have more energy and my cholesterol dropped 40 points. The funniest thing was that my doctor told me that she wanted me to do three things: exercise every day, drink a glass of red wine at least once a week, and eat an ounce of extra dark chocolate every day. It had to be over 70% cocoa solids, though. She said if I ate that along with whole grains, I would lower my cholesterol within two months. And it worked!

My doctor seems to think I am perfectly healthy, even if I am what society would call overweight. Intertesting, huh? 

Posted by La Gringa