Falling into Fatness

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As a basic millennial of the female type, I am under enormous pressure to enjoy Fall.

Yes, I’m white. Female. Twenty-something.  I understand well what my obligations are.

Boots are cute, everything is orange, and all the pumpkins have features carved into them. I get it. And I don’t mean to distance myself from my cohort, but I just don’t enjoy Autumn.  (Except, of course, for all the dogs in costumes.)

Fall makes me cold, and when I’m cold I want to eat creamy delicious things called “food.” When the leaves drop off, my body begins to sense that Winter is coming. This bodes poorly for my upper arms.

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my only consolation

In Summer, hot long days bring me joy and food barely crosses my mind.  During Fall, I sometimes find myself wondering how the fella adjacent to me on the subway would taste drenched in Nutella.

Speaking of which, I had a rough weekend.

I ate a jar of Nutella – the whole jar. (In all fairness to me, it happened over a two day period. But also, I ate it with buttery crackers).

This is what happens in Fall. Bad bad things. Bad chocolatey things.

I don’t consider eating a jar of Nutella a setback, actually. And I’m not “Falling” into Fatness.

My former self would ruminate, and to be perfectly honest – my current self is doing some of that also. But my current self also has a sense of proportion: Nutella happens, life goes on.

Fall is an easy time to put on weight for me, as I suspect it is for many people. But the key, I think, is to allow yourself to let go a little and remind yourself that not every decision needs to be a great decision.  The important thing is that you regularly make good decisions.

There is no such thing as falling off the bandwagon. There is no such thing as “all or nothing.” To the extent these things exist, they are products of your own imagination. Products of my own imagination, and I’ve lived with them for years.

This weekend I ate an entire jar of Nutella. With crackers. But today, I’ll eat eggs and veggies. I love eggs and veggies, and I’ll enjoy the contrast.

I don’t think weight maintenance should be such a tricky thing. It’s hard as long as you make it hard, and for me, it’s harder in the colder months.

My simple tricks are these:

  1. don’t freak out;
  2. don’t keep tempting caloric things in the house;
  3. don’t avoid the scale (catch problems while they’re small)
  4. exercise if you want (long walks are nice)

I’m also going to try a bit harder to find joy in the colder months. Starting with cute new Fall boots, and MAYBE (just maybe) a new fitness regimen 🙂

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Before and After

Oh jeez…this is one I REALLY don’t want to share.

Since we started Fat Girls Fitness a few months back, I’ve been looking for a good “before” photo of me at my heaviest.

The problem is I avoided cameras at the time soooo…. I had to do a bit of searching.  And even so, I’m not sure this reflects my fattest moment of all. But I suppose it’s awful enough.

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Height: 5’2”

Before: August, 2013 190 ish pounds? (this is a guess)
After: January, 2016. 137 pounds

Thoughts:

  • My triangle arms are on point, regardless of the fact that I clearly ate a semi-trailer.
  • In my first picture, I am 25 years old. It’s incredibly sad to think that’s how I spent my 25th year. I should have been having fun and partying. Instead, I was having fun and partying, but I was also extremely depressed, sweaty, and uncomfortable.

While I feel happy that the weight is gone, I can’t help but look at this with a whole lot of sadness. Apparently I was too busy dining on small villages to care about my own happiness and well-being, and that pisses me off. At myself.

I find it extremely hard to forgive myself, and I’m not sure I ever will.

But – in any event, if I can do it, you can do it. …Because really I don’t have any special iron will or skills. I’m just a regular fatass who got tired of being a fatass and said “enough.” And you are not alone.

At times it was tough, but it would have been so much tougher to continue down that road.

It seems like a long journey, but the only thing you need to do today is take the first step. And there is no long term goal. You don’t have to get skinny. You just need to be better today than you were yesterday.

PLEASE, I AM BEGGING YOU!! Don’t put yourself on hold for as long as I did.

You can do it 🙂

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The A4 Challenge

If you’re heavy into fitness and/or beauty blogs, you’ve probably heard about the A4 challenge.

Like many disturbing selfie trends, it started in China – land of the once bound feet!

Marie Clare calls it a “disturbing new fitness trend pressurising girls worldwide into extreme weight loss.” I call it inevitable. I also admire Marie Clare’s use of the word “pressurising.”

Of course, the challenge has a hashtag: #A4Waist

“The tiny waist has a long tradition in China, going back at least to King Ling of Chu, who ruled from 540 to 529 B.C. Many in China know the passage from the Book of Han, the history of the Western Han dynasty: “The King of Chu loved a narrow waist. Many people at court starved to death.” – The New York Times

The premise is this:

Step one: Take a selfie standing behind a single sheet of A4 sized paper, held vertically.
Step two: If the paper is bigger than your waist, you win. If not, shame on you!

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Yikes! this means my worth = zero cents

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But wait! I almost make it sideways! 

What I Find Interesting

Most of the articles/bloggers covering this topic seem to have a derisive tone, as if to:

  • blame the girls who are doing this challenge; or
  • express loathing and hatred towards the challenge itself

“Whatever,” I say! “Don’t blame the messengers. Or at least don’t be too harsh on them.”

Humans are only humans. They do what they can for attention. This goes double for young girls who KNOW (based on the sad reality) that a foolproof way to get power is to physically embody the ideal woman.

Challenges like these only reflect what’s already there. And sure, they amplify it too.

There are all sorts of reasons why we value thinness, especially when it comes to the waist.  The reasons are rooted in biology, and then (like many traits) are fetishized in culture. What is “culture” anyway if not the fetishization of all things?

Instead of blaming the messengers, or suppressing the message, let’s try to understand it. And then let’s try to modify it, gently.

Why We Value a Thin Waist

Blah blah blah. I’m so sick of hearing about all the reasons why the patriarchy is destroying the world.

Blame biology!  A preference for a thin waist is rooted in our DNA.

  • It connotes youth and virginity.
  • It might also indicate child-bearing hips.

Things that indicate youth, virginity, and a sizable birth canal are attractive. Sorry, it’s just true. If your goal is to impregnate someone with your man seed, it’s kind of a drag if they’re already pregnant or if they die during childbirth. So we look to cues. We’re just human.

But there’s more! Blame the fashion industry. Ok, but a thin waist is not necessarily an A4 waist. So what’s going on?

Enter the FETISH aspect. If a little bit of a good thing is a good thing, then a lot of a good thing must be a great thing. Right? …Well – probably not as far as health outcomes are concerned. But certainly as far as sales are concerned. 

Think about it. Your job is to hire a model. Good looking people have power. Insanely great looking people have more power. And insanely great looking people are just good looking people whose good features are exaggerated. Often beyond the point of a healthy balance.

So, are you going to hire the good looking person? Or the insanely great looking person?

I suppose the real question is – how many purses/lipsticks/panties do you want to sell?

“Fetishization” describes this race to the bottom. Everyone wants to get closer to the ideal, but no one is alone in this world. As you get closer, someone else gets even closer. There is always someone with a smaller waist than you.

If you want to sell the most things, have the most boyfriends, or get the most IG likes – then you need to have the smallest waist of all.

..At some point, the year 2016 comes around. Inevitably, some random person in China decides your waist needs to be the size of a sheet of paper. Awesome China, thanks a lot. But why couldn’t you have thought of this BEFORE inventing lo mein?

In any event – all of this because we like to take biological shortcuts. Even when it comes to strangers from the internet.

The strangers who follow your Instagram? They are JUST DYING for more information about your fertility than they can possibly know just by seeing your photo. Aren’t people the weirdest? 

A Compromise

Maybe the A4 challenge reflects a compromise. Perhaps a spontaneous social compact?

Maybe what the A4 challenge really says is “I’m hungry!! So let’s all agree – A4 is small enough. Can we please stop competing now?”

But I doubt that. Some other crazy challenge is coming soon. It’s only human nature.

…Perhaps the “Post-It Note Challenge?”

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Why Losing 2 Pounds/Week is a Bad Idea

Successful diet
“Yes! I can finally eat cheesecake again!”

I like goals, small & big.

But there is a certain type of goal I don’t like. And it’s one I hear often – “aim to lose 2 pounds a week.”

Why don’t I like this goal? Because it predisposes you to failure. Instead:

  • aim for 8-10 pounds in a month; or
  • aim for 4 – 5 pounds every 14 days

But wait – isn’t that the same thing as losing 2 pounds a week? 

No! It’s not. Especially not for women.

I’m not trying to mince words here, I swear.  There are psychological aspects to weight loss. And aiming to lose 2 pounds a week simply isn’t a smart goal.

Reasons

  • Weight doesn’t directly correlate to fat. You already know this.
    • So you CAN gain weight while losing fat.
    • When you’re working with such a small number as “2 pounds,” there is so much room for error that you are bound to get mixed up.
    • This makes it tricky for you to track what’s working and what’s not working in terms of reaching your goal.
  • A week is a LONG time. And yet it’s a short time.
    • When you diet all week long, and then you step on the scale to no results, or even to a higher weight than you started out, it can be deflating. Which is stupid, because if you’ve been doing the right things, then you probably ARE making strides towards your goal, even if those strides aren’t reflected by your weight this very minute.
    • On the other hand, if you go two weeks without losing any weight (and CERTAINLY if you go a full month without losing any weight) – then it’s likely there is either:
      • a problem with your plan (i.e., your numbers are wrong); or
      • a problem in the EXECUTION of your plan (ie..you’re eating more than you realize)
  • It’s not how weight loss works. When I was losing weight, some weeks I lost 3-4 pounds, and some weeks I lost none.
    • If I was a fool, I might have listened to people who said “losing 4 pounds in a week! that’s dangerous!” Or, I might have listened to someone who said “if you’re doing things right, but not losing weight, then you’ve probably hit a plateau.”
    • The truth is most likely this: as long as I stayed consistent, I WAS losing FAT steadily. I just wasn’t losing WEIGHT steadily. There is a difference! As long as I averaged out to 8-10 pounds a month, I was losing fat at a healthy pace. Even though my weight loss was staggered.

A lot of people have a lot of opinions on the right way to lose weight, the right pace to lose weight etc. Some of these people have advanced degrees. So what? Advanced degrees never stopped anyone from saying “Fat is bad! Eat more carbs!”

I say, don’t listen to anyone! Don’t even listen to me.

Losing 4 pounds some weeks, and zero pounds other weeks might make sense for you. Unless you’re doing a body fat analysis every week, then there is no reason to think this reflects anything other than a steady fat loss.

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Can a Manicure Help You Lose Weight?

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By nature, I am disgusting. I just need to internet to know.

Grooming, to me, is the ultimate Sisyphean struggle. In the instant one stray hair is removed, another 6 pop up. My latest pedicure was consistently three months ago.

Grey hair? I call them my “wisdom strands.”
Werewolf legs? Just part of my “January Coat” (a term coined, btw, by the same Laura who brought us the Pretty Purple Smoothie ala Laura).

Whatever. I’m gross.  Because entropy always wins

But here is what I find.

When I take more pride in grooming habits unrelated to weight loss, I also tend to eat better. In fact, I treat myself better in general.

When I feel fresh to death, so to speak, I feel unstoppable. My freshness has no limit. I’m like a human breath mint.

And when I’m feeling good, I’m doing good for myself. And this makes sense. Studies have shown that the way you dress affects not only your behavior, but even your hormone levels.

Studies?

Have you ever experienced a day where you just feel “on”?

When you’re feeling that way, you’re living a fuller life. You’re less likely to turn to food for comfort or out of boredom or anxiety. You’re feeling sexy and you know it.

So could taking steps to feel “on” more often be beneficial to your mental and physical health? Could a regular routine of manicures increase your general sassiness factor so as to promote weight loss ?

I also wonder – could one facial per month multiply your hotness factor by 15, thereby turning you into a sex god?

I spent about 45 seconds on Google searching for studies that look for correlations between grooming efforts and weight loss. I came up empty. But I will continue my search.

In the meantime, what do you think?
Do you feel that putting more effort into your appearance has any relation to the choices you make throughout the day?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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