Tag Archives: obesity

Commuting in DC

metro

So, now that I am able to walk some more, commuting to DC is not the hassle it was a year ago.

When I used to work in DC at a client site, my office was located about a block and a half from the nearest Metro station.  I also had to walk across the street from my apartment building to catch a bus.  I did not have to walk a lot, but it was still more than I could handle.  I had to sit when I arrived at the bus stop.  After I got off the Metro in DC, I had to stop at least twice to rest my back before getting to the office.  It was awful.

Now, I am back to working in DC and no longer working from home.  My office is nowhere near a Metro station.  It is at least 5.5 blocks from the nearest station. Well, OK that’s not entirely true.  There are two stops that are about 4 blocks from the office, but then I have to go two stops out of my way and take another train, and the stop where I change trains is still adds another two stops to my trip.  It’s worth the extra block to not have to change trains and keep my metro stops down to three stations.

Five blocks are really not that far.  Normal people walk this much all of the time without even a thought.  I used to before I became so morbidly obese.  Now that I have lost 81 pounds, (OMG 81!!!!!), walking this much is easy.

I am also standing pretty much from the minute I leave my apartment until I get to the office.  I stand out in front of my building to wait for the bus…OK that’s not true.  I sometimes sit at the bus stop.  But once I get on the bus, I stand until I get to the metro station because there is often not a seat.  Then the metro train is so full, I stand for the three whole stops until I can pry myself out of the train.  There is not even time or quite frankly the room to read anything on my kindle app.  Seriously, some days you need a shoe horn to get people out of there we are packed in so tightly.  Then I fight to get up the escalators and out of the station before I begin my hike to the office.

Sometimes, I go to the little French café (where they play middle eastern music, btw…not that I mind middle eastern music, it’s just that Americans have fanciful notions that every French café should be playing Edith Piaf singing Non Je Ne Regrette Rien all day long, but I digress), that is next to my office to get a cup of decaf.  There I sit and enjoy my last moments of solitude before entering the snake pit.

Honestly, the three stops are not bad.  Even the 5.5 block walk to the office is not bad.  I just hate being crammed on the train with about 10,000 other people with nowhere to move or breathe.  I am convinced with every jerk of the train that I will lose my balance and fall into the person next to me.  There is no real room to fall, so I would probably just body slam into the person next to me and cause people to tumble into one another like dominos.  Then there is the constant stopping and waiting for no reason without explanation.  And I haven’t even mentioned the broken escalators and elevators.  The train ride is stressful.  I thank God I only have to go three stops.

I am also thankful that I can do it relatively pain-free.  I still have some pain in my feet.  And occasionally my knees and back hurt a little.  But for the most part, I am enjoying the fact that I can do this.

Two other points…I lost 81 pounds!!!!  Omg I can hardly believe it!

The other thing I wanted to mention, I kind of put on my Facebook Page yesterday.  Yesterday, upon exiting the Metro station in DC, I ran into a friend of mine whom I have not seen in about two years.  She had a gastric by-pass 9 years ago.  We used to work together.  She looks great.  I also did not know her before the surgery.  She told me over and over again that she has no regrets.  I thought about her often before and since my surgery.

Well, I saw her and walked right up to her and made eye contact and she looked at me like she has never seen me before.  Then I told her who I was and seriously, her jaw dropped.  She asked me what I had been up to so I told her that I had the surgery.  We only had a moment to talk because we were both in the mad-commuter-rush-to-work mindset, but she told me that I looked great.  I have her email address, so I am going to send her an email.  I need to tell her how her experience really helped me make my decision when I reached my breaking point.  I may not have been ready to do it when she and I talked in the past, but I thought of her often through everything I have experienced.

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Barefaced Beauty

I watched Melissa Harris-Parry’s show this weekend and she did a whole section on body image and beauty.  It was an inspiring piece.  I found these statistics to be startling:

Here are some heart breaking statistics:

  • 42% of first-third grade girls want to be thinner.
  • 81% of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat.
  • In the past decade, hospitalizations for eating disorders increased by 119% for children younger than 12.

I have a young niece who in a few years may find herself influenced by negative self images and negative body images.  She is beautiful and has no reason to feel that way, but one could say that about all young girls and women.  Suffering from an eating disorder myself, I know how damaging these negative thoughts can be.

MHP has asked women today to not wear makeup and post their pictures of themselves without makeup.  It is a small thing, but I know many women who have not left their house without some kind of make-up since they were 12.  Wearing makeup is part of body/self image.

So, here is my pic this morning:

barefaced

Fatty Fatty Two-by-Four

Do not like fat people?  Think they are ruining the health of this country?  Bully them!  So says prominent bioethicist Daniel Callahan.

OK, to be fair, he does not use the word bully, but I see little difference between what he is recommending and bullying.  He calls it “stigmatization.”  He tries to compare it to the successful stigmatization campaign against smokers to reduce smoking in this country.  He justifies his theory thusly:

It will be imperative, first, to persuade them that they ought to want a good diet and exercise for themselves and for their neighbor and, second, that excessive weight and outright obesity are not socially acceptable any longer. 

Really?  Excessive weight and obesity are not socially acceptable any longer?  When, pray tell, was being fat ever acceptable?  I would like to know when he thinks that is.  I have been battling poor self-image all of my life because even when I was thin, everyone told me I was fat.  I have faced social ostracization,  mean comments uttered both aloud and muttered so that just I could hear them, and mockery because of my weight.  I have been held back professionally because of my weight and my weight also affected my dating life.

So, when exactly, does he think it became cool to be fat?

Here are some of his suggestions for bringing social pressure to bear on fat or on their way to being fat people:

I do not know what is scarier, the fact that he is promoting bullying as a useful tactic in the fight against obesity or that he thinks that overweight people do not know what so-called thin people think of us.  Yes, I stand by my term bullying because that is exactly what this kind of social pressure is.

The worst part of all of this?  Mr. Callahan makes many other astute and valid points in his thesis.  He talks about bringing government pressure to bear on the food industry, taxing high caloric, high fat food, changing school lunches, finding ways to address childhood obesity.  All excellent ideas.  But those ideas are completely overshadowed by his promoting negative social pressure.

He spent a lot of time comparing fat shaming to smoking shaming.  He also tried to address what he views as the reasons other people do not think fat shaming will work.

Why is obesity said to be different from smoking? Three reasons are common: it is wrong to stigmatize people because of their health conditions; wrong to think it will work well, or at all, with obesity; and counterproductive with the obese because of evidence that it worsens rather than improves their condition. Ethically speaking, the social pressures on smokers focused on their behavior, not on them as persons. Stigmatizing the obese, by contrast, goes after their character and selfhood, it is said, not just their behavior. Stigmatization in their case also leads demonstrably to outright discrimination, in health care, education, and the job market more generally. The obese are said to be lazy, self-indulgent, lacking in discipline, awkward, unattractive, weak-willed and sloppy, insecure and shapeless, to mention only a few of the negative judgments among doctors and nurses.

These are the wrong reasons.  I am not saying that he does not have a point with some of these reasons, but he is missing the bigger point.

The differences between smoking and eating are this.   One, we need to eat to live.  People need to consume calories, protein, vitamin rich food every day or we starve.  We do not need to smoke to live.  Two, smoking affects the health of the larger community through second-hand smoke.  Obesity generally only affects the health of the obese person unless that person is pregnant or may become pregnant.  Also, there is no evidence that social shaming and ostracization keeps people from gaining weight or makes fat people lose weight.  It only makes them feel bad about themselves and encourages fat discrimination.

Finally, we will never really find a way to combat obesity in this country as long as many people live in poverty, lack access to healthy food, and lack access to health care.  Also, as long as losing weight is seen as part of the “diet industry” and a way for business to make money off of people who want nothing more than to be healthy we will not adequately be able to address the obesity problem.  People need real knowledge on how to become and stay healthy.

I have no problem with some amount of social pressure to encourage people to be healthier.  I just think that the pressure needs to be positive and encouraging not shaming and negative.  I think most people want to be healthy.  Most every woman I have ever met has dieted or tried to change their diet to lose weight and improve their health.

I imagine that on many issues concerning obesity, Mr. Callahan and I are much closer together than we are apart.  I just cannot agree with his fat-bullying campaign.

What we do not want to do is create a world where it is OK to harass fat people and create such stress that it drives many people into eating disorders to live up to negative social pressure to meet seemingly untenable goals set by people who do not have their best interest at heart.

Wait…what?

The Big Five-O

Nope I’m not talking about age nor the Book’em Danno type either.  I have passed a major milestone in my weight loss.  I have exceed the 50 pound mark for a total of 51 pounds lost.

I can hardly believe it.  I do feel a lot different.  I am also wearing a smaller size now.  I’m down from 26/30 to a solid 24.  Pretty soon, I will be packing up some clothes to give away.

Today I finished my Christmas shopping.  I had been nearly done for quite a while.  I just had to pick up a couple of things to round out the shopping.

I’m excited about Christmas this year.  Maybe it’s because I’m feeling so much better than I have in years.  All my presents are wrapped and under the tree and Christmas cards mailed out.  Tomorrow, I am making a special Christmas treat for some of my friends and family to hand out as gifts as well.  I’ll share more about that treat once I have them done and I’ve given out a few gifts.

Anyway,  I am tired today after all of the shopping and gift wrapping.  I will leave you with a photo of my tree with the presents under it. IMG_1168

OMG They So Totally Fit!!

So, a few weeks ago I think I said that I ordered a couple of pair of jeans online.  My old pants, ranging in sizes 26-28 are too big and really starting to fall off of me. I ordered two pairs of jeans, sized 24 short.  (Yes, I’m short.  I’m 5’1″.)  I have been very concerned that they would be too small.

It’s one thing to have your current clothes feel roomy and slide off of you.  It’s quite another to comfortably fit into the next smaller size.

Well, I tried on both pair and they both fit perfectly.  I never thought I’d be so happy to fit into a size 24, but I am so happy to fit into a size 24!  For one thing, it increases the number of pants that actually fit me properly from zero to two.  But they are also 1.5 – 2 sizes smaller than the pants I was wearing before.

Whoo hoo!

I also bought a very snug support garment for my top from Spanx.  Wow, what a difference that makes!  The Spanx top also offers a little more support than the binding garment they gave me at the hospital, plus it is a lot less bulky.

Tonight is the Christmas party for my writer’s group and I will be donning my new and improved jeans, my Spanx top and a size 24 blouse as well.  Yay me!  (Although, that’s probably more information than they wanted to know.)

Oh, and btw…check out my new weight loss!  46 pounds down baby!

New jeans:

IMG_1165

Clearing Away Old Ghosts

Part of what I have been doing over the past year, in addition to preparing for my weight loss surgery and dealing with the aftermath of said surgery, has been trying to deal with things that I have ignored for a long time.  I have taken care of a lot of financial problems that I had.  I gave up video gaming.  I started taking care of my overall health, which I have had trouble dealing with for years.  So many things.

Before my surgery, I cleaned out my big walk in closet.  Cleaned out all of the remaining boxes I had not unpacked except for one that I cleaned out after the surgery.  I reorganized the closet, bought more hangers, hung up all of my clothes that I didn’t have room for, threw away or gave away a lot of clothes.

In the same spirit of purging and reorganizing, I cleaned out my hall closet yesterday.  Anytime I would order anything online, or if my mom sent me a box of supplies, or if I bought something that came in a box like my new coffee maker, I threw the box into the hall closet.  I’ve wanted to clean this closet out for a long time and clear out these boxes.  So, I did this yesterday.

Most of the boxes, I flattened and took out to the trash room in my building.  Some of the boxes, I discovered were filled with old bills, books, and other things I just did not know what to do with.  I created a bag of stuff to shred.  I then ordered a new shredder online.  My old one broke, you see.  I put the books on my bookshelves.  The other stuff, I sorted through.  I chucked a bunch of stuff and threw it into the trash.  I did keep a couple of useful items, which I then put away.

I feel so organized.

I have two more cleaning projects on my list.  One, I need to clean out the cabinet in my kitchen that holds all of my plastic containers.  Currently, my cupboard looks like the “before” picture in one of those commercials for better products which has the ancillary benefit of keeping you more organized.  When I put another plastic container in there now, I open it and quickly toss the container in and shut it immediately to keep anything else from pouring out of it and onto the floor.  God forbid I actually have to take one out.  I’m so ashamed.

The second project is cleaning out from under my bathroom sink.  I cannot find anything under there.  I know I have soap, lotions, shampoos, vitamins, etc, but your guess is as good as mine as to how I find these items.

I’ll probably throw a lot of stuff away in both cases.  Although, I am kind of a fanatic when it comes to recycling, so I will probably put most of the plastic stuff into the recycle bin, whether it’s recyclable or not.  In either case, the organization and purging must occur.

Organizing my life is not nearly as much fun as binge eating an entire bag of Cheetos or Doritos or fantasizing about pizza, but I feel so much better afterwards.

 

Feeling Good After A Rough Week

I had a very rough week.  I had a lot of problems, from stomach problems, feeling bloated, stress at work, headaches, feeling tired, and blood pressure spikes.  I had to take my blood pressure medicine a couple of times.  The stomach problems were mostly early in the week, but persisted in a small way through Friday.

I decided that it was all due to stress from work.  This week, work was quite stressful.  Fortunately, I do work from home.  If I worked in the office, I do not know if I could have handled the stress.  Part of the problem is that I am kind of a supervisor.  I have no actual power, mind you, but my co-workers do look to me for answers and support.  I also manage the phones, the time off schedules, and the vacation calendar in addition to my regular duties.  Therefore, my phone is always ringing and my instant messenger is forever blooping at me.

I also talk to our customers on top of all of this, so it can get quite crazy at work.  I went back to work a month after the surgery because we are moving into our slow season.  And since I work from home, it is easier for me to manage the stress and deal with my meals.

This week wasn’t so much busy as it was stressful.  Everything seemed to happen at once.  For example, I was on the phone with a client who was calling from overseas on Skype and he was upset about something.  My other line kept ringing the entire time I was on the phone.  My co-workers were calling me, either to ask me questions or to transfer calls to me.  Plus I had a bunch of instant messages.  I ignored all of these interruptions tried to deal with the customer on the phone.  Then I had one person who, because they could not get through to me any other way, starting calling my cell phone over and over again.

Seriously?

Granted, the person calling my cell phone had a relatively serious personal emergency earlier in the day and was calling to give me an update.  OK, that was kind of important.  And many of the other interruptions were things that I did have to take care of.  My co-workers were simply doing their jobs.  They are all good, hardworking people.  But the stress can sometimes be overwhelming.  It’s mostly my fault that people call me over and over.  I’m usually very responsive and answer people right away.  So, if they do not get a hold of me, they are not used to it.

I am supposed to be keeping my stress level low to help my stomach heal after such a huge surgery.  As I have discussed in previous posts, I do have a problem dealing with stress sometimes.  I have not done enough to retrain my coworkers to deal with my new reality.  I will have to fix that.

I did tell my boss, who is very understanding about everything I have been going through, that I need to slow down and reduce my stress.  I told him about my stomach problems and blood pressure spikes.  He was great.  He told me that I need to take care of myself and to only do what I can.

I’m currently out of vacation time until the first of the year.  I cannot afford to take anymore time off this year.  Any time I take off from here will be without pay.  I can go back on medical leave and get short-term disability, but I really do not want to do that.  I know that the week before Christmas through the second week of January will be painfully slow.  I cannot take Christmas off, but I’m thinking of taking the first two weeks of January off.  After the second week of January, our busy season begins.  I will need to be at work.  I feel if I rest up and do what I can to decompress, I will be ready.

I will still need to make sure I do what I can to manage my stress level, but I feel I will be better prepared if I take some more time off.

Now, that was the worst of it…onto the good news.

I lost two more pounds!  I’m down to 256.  That’s a total of 42 pounds.  I am feeling better.  My blood pressure is back down in normal ranges.  Yes, I’m still taking my medicine, but I do not want my pressure to spike again.

So, in the spirit of reducing stress…here is a kitten!

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This is Annabelle.  She is my step-niece’s kitten.  My step-niece found Annabelle on the side of the road and nursed her back to health.  Took her to a vet.  Made sure she had all of her shots.  Paid for a surgery, which is why Annabelle has a cone on her head.  The cone is gone now, but this is the most current picture I have of Annabelle.  She’s a pretty laid back kitten and will sit on you endlessly for petting and she loves treats!