polimicks: (Happy Yuck)
Ok, so technically I still didn't watch TV. I watched Hulu.com.

So, HUGE. HUGE is a new show on ABC Family which seems to be trying to get away from its former Christian Broadcasting Network affiliations and is trying to air some actual good shows.

I admit, I was dubious. The show takes place at a "Fat Camp." Lead character Willamina (Will, played by Nikki Blonsky of Hairspray) has been sent there against her will by parents who are disgusted by her weight. Some of the other campers are there by choice, others have also been sent. Many of them, regardless of how or why why they got there, enjoy Camp Victory, because they aren't the "fat kid" there. Everyone's fat, to varying degrees. The camp is run by Dr. Dorothy Rand (Gina Torres) who, we find out, had gone there as a teen in the 80s, and who still has some serious food issues, including stress eating and restricting.

The first two episodes are still available on Hulu, and they're good, engaging. The characters are believable, the acting's good. And the fat kids are actually fat kids. They really are heavy. No fat suits, no padding, just fat actors playing fat characters.

The first episode introduces us to the campers. Will is there against her will, and is angry and rebellious about it. She even runs away by the end of the first episode, but elects to stay in the end. Becca (Raven Goodwin), who befriends Will, was there the year before when she lost 26 pounds, but has gained it all back as she tearfully confesses to Dr. Rand. Amber (Hayley Hasselhoff) wanted to come, sticks up "thinspiration" pictures of thin models over her bed. Other characters include Chloe, who won't acknowledge her brother Alistair, who is also at the camp. And Caitlin, who is sent home at the end of the first episode, because she's been purging. We also meet Dr. Rand, her dad whom she's hired as the new cook, Shay their answer to Jillian Michaels, and Shay's assistant George who rapidly develops a crush on Amber, who's crushing right back.

The second episode is called "Letters Home" and is framed around the campers writing letters home, and Dr. Rand trying to tell her mother in email that she's hired her dad as cook. There's also a replacement for Caitlin, Dani, who winds up leaving by the end because of an anxiety disorder. Will writes a letter to her parents that she'll never send, telling them about all of the anger she has toward them and their disgust at her body. In the course of the episode she puts up "Fatspiration" pictures, to counter Amber's "Thinspiration" pics, and uses Chloe's fashion magazine to make a collage out of women's body parts that says, "Screw Body Facism."

HUGE has a lot to recommend it. The writing is excellent, and while the idea of a comedy set in a Fat Camp put me off at first glance, there is a lot of real insight going on here. From Amber saying, "I've been dieting since I was ten. It's the only thing I'm good at." Yet, there she is. To Amber watching Dani's younger sister (8 or 9 years old) looking at herself in the mirror and fretting over the size of her tummy, and from the expression on her face, you know she realizes how sick that is. Also, Will proudly identifies herself as an angry Feminist, and talks about she doesn't hate her body, nor will she.

This is not to say that I don't expect this show to go heartbreaker on me, probably caving to network pressure, and in the end Will will find out how good it is to lose weight. I'm hoping it won't happen. But we all know that network execs are the lowest form of life, next to slime mold and amoebic dysentery. So my hopes are not high.

However, I'll be watching until it does.
polimicks: (Default)
New study from Kansas State says that negative self-image keeps people from staying active: http://frontierindia.net/pharma/k-state-study-finds-a-negative-self-image-stops-men-and-women-from-exercising-long-term/1011

In other news, water is wet, fire is hot, and that guy who owns the Total Gym in Denver is a fucking douchebag.

Ok, yes, I know I said I wasn't going to swear near as much here, but he is!! Have you ever listened to the vile spew that comes out of that man's mouth? Ugh.

Anyway, back to the study. It found that regardless of gender, if someone has low self-esteem or a negative self-image, they are less likely to stick with exercise, and while this affects both men and women who have low self-image, it disproportionally affects women who are, after all, much more likely to have a low self-image.

This is not a surprise to anyone who has been, or is, fat.

It's hard enough to want to either get up early, or stay out after a hard day of work, in order to go to the gym. But frequently when fat people do go to the gym, we get a ration of shit. My favorite, apart from the high school football player who called me a whale, was the girl who said if she ever got as big as me she'd kill herself or never leave her house. She apparently didn't realize that she was talking louder than usual with headphones on, or that my mp3 player had run out of juice.

Then I trebled her weights on the machine she'd been using, and she shut the hell up and practically ran from me.


Or when fat people, particularly women, try to go for walks or jog, or ride their bikes. Friends of mine have had things thrown at them, been spit on and been run off the road by people in cars yelling lovely compliments like, "Fat Cow!!!" and "Moooooo!" or the perennial favorite, "Sew your mouth shut, fat bitch!"

Mmmm, yes, the sound of a concerned citizenry worried about our weight and health. Gosh, they're just so darn CARING, that's what I love.

In case you're not quite getting that, it's sarcasm.

The thing is, for most people exercise isn't categorized as fun.

Yeah, I don't get it either. I love going to gym. I could pick heavy shit up and put it back down all damn day.

But for most people, it isn't fun.

So, what happens when you pair something that isn't fun, with the likelihood that the person who already doesn't want to be there is going to be publicly humiliated by "someone who just cares that much?"

Yeah, they don't go.

You guys want fat people to lose weight? Not that it's any of your damned business. Shut up. That's the best thing you can do. See, we know we're fat. And we know you probably don't like it. But even if we are eating like shit and never exercising, still none of your god damned business.

And if we are eating right and exercising, you're just pissing us off for no reason. Quite frankly nothing makes me crave junk food like some sanctimonious prick preaching at me about how I should be eating better. Particularly, when what he's advocating isn't near as healthy as how I already eat. It just makes me want to eat a twinkie and seductively lick the cream frosting off my fingers while moaning in rapture, and then fellate that spongecake like it's God's own cock, just to be a bitch.

I don't even like twinkies.

Ok, I was gonna stop there with that stellar mental image, but...

The thing is, fat people, particularly fat women, have an encyclopedic knowledge of weight loss tips and tricks. There is, literally, nothing that you can tell us that we haven't heard, tried, and failed with. NOTHING.

So just shut the hell up, already. Because all you're doing is reinforcing that negative mental image, which makes us less likely to do what you ostensibly want (exercise and be healthy), so way to shoot yourself in the foot, and your fat friends in the soul. Go team you.
polimicks: (Default)
The two most common symptoms that reveal a serious systemic problem with the human body are:
Sudden dramatic weight loss
Sudden dramatic weight gain

However, particularly when you're a woman, in this country, doctors don't take those two symptoms seriously. Frequently women who go to the doctor with concerns that include their weight, or with a sudden weight gain, are told to diet. This winter I went to the doctor and asked her about my gaining weight after several years of my weight holding steady, and no major changes to my diet or exercise levels.* Without asking me how much or what I eat, or whether or not I exercised, her response was, "Don't eat so much and exercise." She then went on about food journaling and blah blah blah...

When I stopped her, which took some doing, and said, "Look, I eat well. I don't eat junk food, we've cut HFCS out of our diet. The last several times I went to a nutritionist I was informed I needed to eat more. I don't want to eat more. My body doesn't want me to eat more. I'm in recovery from an eating disorder, so I won't food journal just to reassure you, particularly when you'll just accuse me of lying about how much I eat anyway. I want you to help me figure out why my weight is changing with NO CHANGES TO MY EATING OR ACTIVITY LEVELS."

She continued to bleat about eating too much, eating too much junk food and candy, and drinking too much soda. She told me I was obviously delusional about what I ate.

We've discussed my soda intake here before. I don't drink it. One dark chocolate bar can last me months. In fact, I just finished one I bought BEFORE WE MOVED IN DECEMBER night before last.

Then she told me I was being difficult because I wouldn't lie to her to reassure her that she was right, that I really was mainlining a lard and powdered sugar combination while rubbing myself with frosting.

I really need a new doctor.

Well, after moving, my stress levels dropped significantly, and my weight started to even out again. Go figure.

Yeah, instead of asking me about any other factors in my life, or even asking me how or what I ate, she just assumed I was gorging myself on candy, sugar and fried foods 24/7. Fucking god damn, you have no idea how angry writing about this makes me.

In my case, the weight gain was just stress. But what if it hadn't been?

http://fathealth.wordpress.com/ The website First Do No Harm chronicles what happens when the weight gain isn't just stress. When there's a real reason, like a fifteen pound ovarian cyst, or thyroid issues, or side effects or bad reactions to medication, or cancer, or...

Weight loss is the other big symptom that something is seriously wrong. Even moreso when, again, your eating levels haven't changed, yet your weight keeps dropping. And again, particularly where women are concerned, doctors will frequently ignore that, and praise the woman for her efforts, even as she's relaying to them other symptoms of ill-health.

My mom lost over 50 lbs before her doctor finally tested her thyroid levels, and HOLY SHIT!! They were off the chart (https://health.google.com/health/ref/Hyperthyroidism). She had to have her thyroid killed with radiation, because as she said, while the weight loss was nice, the insomnia, restlessness, inability to concentrate, being too hot, being shakey, feeling weak and everything else, really sucked.

Although a month ago, she did say that if she'd realized how amazingly impossible it would make it to lose weight, she would have just suffered through it. Even while knowing that hyperthyroidism places undue stress on the heart.


There are over 2,000 medical reasons for unexplained weight loss, http://www.wrongdiagnosis.com/symptoms/weight_loss/causes.htm, including cancer, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, and a bunch of others. But doctors frequently overlook any and all of this in favor of telling you what a good job you're doing, until you do finally lose too much weight for them to ignore the problem.

On the other hand, there doesn't seem to be an amount of weight you can gain before doctors quit calling you a lying pig and actually look into treating you.

I wonder how many medical hours and dollars would be spared if doctors would just listen to their patients when they say things like, "I haven't changed my food intake or exercise levels and I'm losing/gaining weight. What's going on?" But they don't. They either tell you to diet, or call you a "good girl" for doing such good job of conforming to their bullshit thinness standards.

There is a reason that diseases like cancer and heart disease affect fat women disproportionately, but not the reason you'd think.

Fat women don't want to go to the doctor because when we do, we're told we're liars, delusional, bad, recalcitrant, uncooperative, a problem patient, non-compliant... Frequently fat women are told doctors can't help them with a problem unless they lose weight first, whether that's true or not.

*I* go to the doctor for regular screenings because I have a family history of both heart disease and breast and ovarian/uterine cancer and I'm more afraid of dying than I am of the bullshit shaming tactics. And I'm belligerent. But for women who don't know about Fat Acceptance, or Health at Every Size, or who haven't come to grips with their bodies, being scolded like a naughty child or being accused of lying is fucking humiliating and awful. Even I have left the doctor's office in tears after a particularly brutal appointment.

Non-compliant. Even if you are a model patient in every way, except your inability to shed the pounds your doctor thinks you ought to, you, too, can be labeled non-compliant and, it's possible, be "fired" by your doctor. Because, yes, even though I follow all of your other prescriptions to the letter (evidenced by the drop in asthma symptoms, being able to take birth control for over 17 years with only one pregnancy scare, etc...), I am COMPLETELY ignoring you when it comes to my gluttonous ways.

Do these people really listen to the shit that comes out of their mouths? "Well, I realize that you're a model patient in every other way, and your blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure are perfect, but you're obviously a filthy lying fatty fat fat about what you eat."

I learned a long time ago not to lie to doctors, because of a bad drug interaction. When I was younger and using recreational drugs like candy, I told my doctors, frequently to their shock and amazement. When I was younger and drinking myself steadily to death, I told them. When I was sleeping around with many, many different partners, I told them.

Why on earth would I lie about this? Why would I lie about eating which is not an illegal act for which I could do jail time, when I told you about doing pot, acid, speed, drinking more than a fifth a night (while underage), smoking cigarettes, and the orgy on New Years?

Yeah, I don't get it, either.

*Other symptoms I asked her about included hair loss (on my head), hair growth (not on my head), fatigue, my periods coming more frequently and for longer, and insomnia.
polimicks: (Default)
I have news of more studies on fat and weight loss.

First we have this study (http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S26/91/22K07/), which demonstrates that consumption of HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup) leads to more weight gain than a comparable intake of actual sugar. The study also demonstrates that rats fed a diet that includes HFCS not only become obese, but have other symptoms usually attributed to just being fat in general, metabolic disorders, higher rates of triglycerides, and more visceral fat, the fat most recently blamed for diabetes. Rats fed a diet of the same amount of calories, without HFCS do not have those problems, nor do they get obese.

Now, I know a lot of you will just start bleating, "Well, just stop eating HFCS!"

You really don't know how difficult that is, do you? Once my husband was diagnosed with diabetes, we made a concerted effort to weed HFCS out of our diet.* You would not believe the things it's in: ketchup, bread, fruit juice, many yogurts, most packaged foods, soup... I could go on and on. If someone lives in a food desert or does not have the time to prepare meals from scratch, like we do now, they're fucked. You can't get away from the stuff. I found it listed in the ingredients of bread I bought at our hippie, organic grocery store.

It has taken a LOT of effort on our part to get HFCS out of our diet, and it's expensive. The stuff without HFCS just plain costs more. It takes time, you HAVE to read labels, as the FDA (under Bush, btw) neutered the power of "organic" claims.

Ok, next study, found on Jezebel: http://jezebel.com/5500912/latest-in-unrealistic-exercise-recommendations-a-full-hour-every-day Ok, US federal guidelines are athat peole get 150 minutes of exercise a week for health benefits. That works out to a little over 20 minutes a day. The study cited by Jezebel says that in order to not gain weight, people (women) should work out at least an hour a day. Ok, the thing that Jezebel, and I, would like to point out, is that hour a day is not to LOSE weight, but just to not gain any.

Further articles on the study reveal that the study says that the hour a day of exercise to not gain weight only worked on women who had a BMI of less than 25 to begin with. It didn't do shit for the women with higher BMIs: http://www.livescience.com/health/weight-gain-exercise-overweight-100324.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Livesciencecom+(LiveScience.com+Science+Headline+Feed)

This backs up another study (http://www.livescience.com/health/090106-exercise-obesity.html) which points out that fat women generally have exercise levels the same as thinner women. That article points it all at diet, which may be true considering the women in Chicago probably have diets loaded with HFCS, by virtue of being in this country and in a city notorious for food deserts. BUT it also does not rule out genetics, because yes, all the women in the study are of "African" descent (African American women in Chicago, Nigerian women in Nigeria), but they do not mention any attempts to make sure that the African American women are actually of Nigerian descent. Africa's a big place, cupcake, and there are a LOT of different genetic pools all over that great big continent.

Unfortunately, the LiveScience folks didn't give me enough info to look up the actual study, although maybe when I have more time to wade through results, I might give it a shot.

So, yeah, as the government funds more research into obesity, and relies less on research funded by the diet industrial complex, we're finding more and more evidence that the "Thin is Healthy" and "Calories in/Calories out" party lines are bullshit.

*I think it's worth noting that while, when we cut HCFS, he lost 45 lbs (no longer drinking a six pack of Coke a day will do that), I lost nothing. For starters, because I don't drink pop as a rule, anyway, and so couldn't cut it. Though we do eat pretty much the exact same stuff.

ETA: Actual HCFS study http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6T0N-4YGHGM1-1&_user=582538&_coverDate=02%2F26%2F2010&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_acct=C000029718&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=582538&md5=a4aa1ceb69a7b128aac56f9668239dbd

And a refutation of said study: http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2010/03/does-high-fructose-corn-syrup-make-you-fatter.ars Whose conclusion seems to be, "Well, they're probably right, but sloppy."

ETA 2: Ok, since I will bow to those with superior knowledge of the scientific process (I'm a History major, with a Marxist bent, yo) that the aforementioned study is flawed. HOWEVER, this does not mean that the premise that HFCS is bad is wrong. If you go to the study bibiliography you will find other less flawed research that pre-dated this study, and inspired it.


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October 2012

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