It came from the search terms

In the tradition of Captain Awkward I’m going to treat the search terms people used to find the site as questions.

im 400lbs is it too late for me to get healthy? 

This is completely up to you and to how you view health. If you are sedentary, you can probably be more active, and ideally have fun with it.  Depending on how you eat, you may want to add more veggies or whatever makes your body feel better – The Fat Nutritionist may be able to help with that as well. Research has found that focusing on eating healthy foods and being active can reduce blood pressure and cholesterol as well as psychological benefits. This is called a “Health At Every Size” approach, and focuses on improving health. 

If you mean thinner, then that’s a different question. Medicare’s Search for Effective Obesity Treatments: Diets Are Not the Answer (PDF) by UCLA reviews 31 studies on diets and recommended that Medicare not cover diet programs because they are not effective enough to be worth Medicare coverage.

350lb flying cross country?

OK. That sounds like a lot of time to sit still. It’s probably going to be uncomfortable. 

if i weigh 450 pounds do i need an extra airline seat? 

Very likely. Airlines have some choice on how many seats they squeeze into a plane. Seat Guru has information on seat sizes by plane and airline so you can check. One method is to check the size of the seat, then measure chairs to see what the airline seats will be like.  Note the “pitch” is the distance between seats, and affects how much legroom there is. 

If you do need an additional seat, you will probably have to call the airline to make the reservation, and the airline will probably warn you the seats may not be together. Yes, this is a problem.  

More on this: 

what can a fat person spray on body to prevent yeast?

I have mostly rely on baby powder (cornstarch) to prevent chafing and yeast infections under my belly. Anti-jock itch spray like Lotramin can work as well.  Lately I’ve been experimenting with Fresh Breasts lotion, which dries as a powder.  This can be easier to apply than a powder.  

 

 

 

Ingress

If you saw my recent tumblr posts you may have thought I’m playing Ingress.  I am. Ingress is many things: an augmented reality game, Google Maps gamified, a walking game, a reason to get outside the house.

The game centers around “portals”.  Portals can be gathering places, libraries, churches, unique businesses, or artworks — and, as a result of some business tie-ins, Zipcar stations & Jamba Juice stores are portals too.  Players can suggest portals.  The company that made the game, Niantic, is part of Google, and I’m sure that Google Maps is making use of this information.

[T]he other morning I spent about an hour playing in Washington Square Park. The park has loads of portals so I figured it would be a good place to try to focus on taking over some enemy ones.

Turns out that even in a place with a dozen or so portals within two blocks, it is difficult to play without being constantly on the move. After a portal is hacked it has a cool down period before it can be hacked again. […] Hacking an enemy portal makes you lose energy, which you replenish by collecting more. To do that, you have to walk around. The energy shows up as little white dots on the map. It’s plentiful, but you have to physically go get it by walking around with the game open on your phone.

The Mary Sue

I find the game fun. I get in-game goodies by hacking portals defined around the area, and I can claim portals using those goodies. I can also attack “enemy” portals.

There can be a lot of walking, yes, but the speed can be your own, as can the number of breaks you take.  By default, you can hack each portal every 5 minutes with a max of 4 times in 4 hours.  For me, this can mean I hack a portal and move on.  On the other hand, when I had 2 portals in range from a shady bench this afternoon, it went like:

  1. Hack 1st portal
  2. Hack 2nd portal
  3. Add goodies to the portals (to make it give out better gear, or better shielded, or able to be hacked more frequently – whatever)
  4. Read twitter
  5. Hack portals again
  6.  Repeat steps 4 and 5 twice
  7. Move on to more portals

Obviously your mileage may vary.  It’s summer in Seattle. I currently favor playing in areas with lots of benches, shade, and occasional water fountains or coffee shops to get drinks.  I also play quite a bit while riding to and from work (I ride with a friend who prefers to drive) or on the bus.

“[M]y favorite way to use Ingress is as tourist guidebook. Beyond that vampire grave in Rhode Island, Ingress also led me to a home on the Upper West Side where Babe Ruth once lived and to the site of Thomas Paine’s death in Greenwich Village. ”

NY Times

Ingress has led me to better explore parks and streets that I thought I knew.  I’ve discovered the local library has more artwork than I thought, along with the local churches and the local senior center.

Image shows Before: walk, sit at desk, eat, walk, bed. After: same, but with ingress in between.

Ingress is an experience. The whole point is to go out and find some portals, then, once you’ve established your presence, take a look at the real world. Enjoy some artwork, explore a museum. Get inspired. Interact with people. Make new friends, even. After all. You’re fighting for the fate of human creativity and thought, here. May as well make use of that wonderful mind of yours and share it with others.

Android Police

Healthy Habits Better Than Statins

You may recall a study from a few years ago about how certain healthy habits — consumption of ≥5 fruits or vegetable/day, regular exercise >12 times/month, moderate alcohol consumption, and not smoking — decreased mortality risk regardless of weight.

You may not have seen this part:

The results of this study reinforce the association between healthy lifestyle habits and decreased mortality risk regardless of baseline BMI. This finding is of great importance to both patients and health care providers, whose perceptions about BMI may lead them to believe only obese and/or overweight patients require regular counseling about lifestyle adjustments. Although the evidence suggests that patients across the BMI spectrum should adhere to a healthy lifestyle to optimize health, many patients with a normal-weight BMI may believe exercise and healthy eating, for example, are less important for them as long as they maintain a low BMI.

I’ve mentioned before that the emphasis on fat often leads thin people to assume they’re healthy.  Not necessarily — something the authors called out.

 In the pooled analysis that included all individuals in the cohort (normal weight, overweight, and obese), the adoption of each additional healthy habit decreased all-cause mortality between 29% and 85% (Table 2). To put this in perspective, statins decrease all-cause mortality by 12% in individuals at high risk for cardiovascular disease.  Given the tremendous benefits of a healthy lifestyle, policies and programs that encourage adherence to healthy lifestyles should be encouraged both locally and at a national level.

What can be done about this?  Encouraging moderate exercise & use of alcohol, abstaining from smoking, and eating more fruits and veggies.   The study authors also note that when primary care providers take the time to urge things things, it can be “effective in decreasing smoking, increasing fruit and vegetable consumption, moderating alcohol consumption, and increasing exercise frequency.”  (That’s more than they can say for weight loss.)

PS: I see references to statins a lot. They make money, despite side effects.  Not smoking? Doesn’t make money.  Exercise can make money, as can selling more fruits & vegetables — but not as much as a drug.  Hm.

Exercising for Strength

[Please avoid if references to calorie counting, restriction, or binge eating is a problem. This also goes for most of the links.]

Lately I’ve been reading two very different blogs for their exercise content.

One is Shaunta Grimes’ Tumblr, where she’s discussing her “100 Day Experiment” with Health At Every Size®.  Shaunta had begun her weight-accepting journey years before, but still counted calories and tried not go above 1800. Unfortunately she’d end up binging periodically.  During the 100 Day Experiement, Shaunta began eating at least what her body needs,  getting enough sleep, and exercising in slowly increasing amounts.  Shaunta began with exercising 10 minutes a day and has since added swimming & weight lifting.  Shaunta is thrilled to have more energy, be sleeping better, have less edema, and be stronger. She also hasn’t been binging. She has lost a small amount of weight but remains above 350lbs.

The other is 300 Pounds Down. Holly, the author, had weight-loss surgery in 2011 at 417lbs.  She’s lost 200lbs at the moment and intends to lose more (hence the name of the blog).  Holly began exercising for 30 seconds, increasing 30 seconds a day, working up to walking 5 miles a day.  An injury sidelined her walking, and then she began lifting weights with Crossfit.

Obviously these are two very different narratives.  But: both women began exercising while weighing over 350lbs. (Kinda like me.) Both began very gradually and increased slowly but steadily. (Yup.) Both women are getting stronger — and delighting in that fact! (Yup…)  Both have more energy.  Both are happier.  And both are encouraging me to continue my own exercise efforts.

I support bodily autonomy, including the right for each person to decide whether to exercise. I choose to exercise for my own selfish reasons. I support others in making their own choices. Both of these blogs have helped me to reflect on my own experiences with exercise and on my own victories, like “lifting 40lb boxes” and “better at carrying things upstairs”.

(And yes, I’m aware that Shaunta & Holly have very different blogs!!!  Shaunta, like myself, is a HAES proponent;  Holly has weight loss as a primary goal.  Shaunta is  deliberately eating more than she had before; Holly is deliberately eating much less & differently than before.)

Wheezing Around the Block

One of the recent rants I moderated out of the comments included something* about how “wheezing around the block doesn’t count as exercise.”

Wheezing is a symptom of asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, pneumonia, and other illness. Deciding that wheezing is only due to weight and only will be treated by weight loss is DANGEROUS.

I do wheeze. I have asthma. Now that  it is properly treated I can exercise without wheezing. My treatment plan is greatly helped by insurance to cover the not-available-in-generic Advair & other meds. One of my asthma triggers is exercise itself. This means I need to medicate pre-exercise. I’m also affected by things like air pollution and pollen.

If you’re fat and wheezing while walking around the block, you may need to see a doctor about your wheezing. It’s not necessarily “just being fat.” Waiting til you’re thin? A, may not help, and B, YOU COULD DIE in the meantime.

The fat haters of the world would have you believe you only wheeze if you’re fat and should lose weight to cure it. The fat accepters think that if you’re sick, you should be treated for that without having to lose weight first. I’m on the fat accepting side.

*Paraphrased to remove profanity & improve readability.

Things I’m reading

Kath as a post at Fat Heffalump on the feedback from her recent interview by Jasmin Lill on news.com.au, Brisbane blogger speaks out against online bullies. Go Kath!

Closet Puritan has a thoughtful response to some of the conflation between “Fat people are more common in communities with a Walmart” and “Eating more processed food from Walmart makes people fat”.

This Adipose Rex has some musings on Christianity and the body:

This Advent I am thinking about how if my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, then this flesh itself is sacred — this same substance worn by the God of the universe, and shaped into God’s image. If I really believe in the words I recite every week, the resurrection of the body, then this is not some temporary meat-costume I will abandon so my soul can flit off to an immaterial heaven, but the too too solid flesh that will dance in the hereafter.

This reminds me of The Unapologetic Fat Girl’s Guide to Exercise and Other Incendiary Acts by Hanne Blank, which I’ve been reading. From the introduction:

Exercise—by which I mean regular physical movement that puts your body through its paces—is crucially important because it is something that makes it possible for you and your body to coexist in better and more integrated ways. It builds a bridge across the mind-body split. […E]xercise gives your body to you. […] Most of all, it teaches you that your body is not just a sort of jar made out of meat that you lug around because it’s what you keep your brain in, but an equal and in fact quite opinionated partner in the joint production that is you.

And over on the HAES blog, there’s an interesting discussion on healthism & privilege.

Quote of the day: Easier to get fit than thin

Not that everyone has to want to be fit or can be fit, but for those who exercise and don’t lose weight, this might be helpful.

[Deb Burgard, Ph.D. points out that] fat people who repeatedly try to lose weight are more likely to yo-yo diet, or weight-cycle, than they are to maintain weight loss permanently. And because weight-cycling has been linked to cardiac disease and other problems, overweight people who are metabolically healthy could increase their risks of the very diseases they tried to avoid in the first place if they lose weight and gain it back again.

The takeaway for fat people? Keep on trucking when it comes to increasing your physical activity, and don’t get discouraged by headlines that seem to make weight the single determining factor in living a long, healthy life.

“It’s much easier to get a fat person fit than it is to get a fat person thin,” concluded Gaesser. And that’s a good thing, because fitness may be much more rewarding than thinness alone.

— From a Huffington Post discussion of a new “But fat people are so unhealthy” study.

Things to Read

Some links I thought worth sharing:

Lara Frater on the word “fat”.

Grief moves at its own pace, despite the “rush to normal” common in our society.

You know how kids will bulk up a little before a growth spurt?  That’s now a strange thing to be studied, not a normal thing.

Swimming laps & self-acceptance.

On the US government, but likely applies to others: Fewer secrets would also be smarter secrets.

Anyone have others to share?

The Fitbit

I’ve been seeing pedometers discussed a bit lately.  In some ways, they get a bad rap; we’ve seen them [mis-]used in “wellness” programs and that accuracy varies.  Although they can be amusing, as noted by one NY Times commenter:

Fitbit has a clip on model that I attach to the waistband of tights or to the center of my bra. I’ve had this one for a year and it’s gone through the laundry and still works…though it did count the washing and drying as 37 flights of stairs.

comment from Karen in Chicago

Ana Mardoll, meanwhile, uses one to be sure she doesn’t walk too much.

As it happens, I’ve had a Fitbit Zip for about 6 months now.  What does it say?

Graph showing 6 months of data

Graph showing daily average steps for every 7 days

The above graph the daily average steps for each week.  There’s some variations, but it varies between 2400 and 5500 per day.

Daily average steps per month

Daily average steps per month

The daily average per month graph, however, shows a much smaller variation – from 2950 to 3400.  That’s a fairly narrow range.  On average, the Zip says I’m walking about the same as I did six months ago.

What has changed?

I have become more aware of how much I walk.  I thought I was more active on the weekends because I walk around the house more frequently than the office.  Wrong!  The house is more compact; I have to make an effort if I want to walk as much on the weekends as I do by just going to work.

I am more consistent in my walking routine.  I had noticed before I got the Zip that varying between “not walking much” and “going on a hike” would leave me with aching knees.  Now I have a higher “minimum” and I have a LOT fewer problems.

For the curious, the Fitbit Zip is pretty much a pedometer.  It doesn’t do flights of stairs or track my sleep, like other models do.  It uploads data to a website for long-term tracking.   The website can be used with or without one of the trackers, if you’re into manually entering things.  (Personally I just use the Zip.)

One gripe I’ve had about the “dashboard” is that it assumes I want to track my weight, calories, etc.  No, I don’t want to log food. I don’t want to track my weight. I don’t care how many calories you think I’ve used….

Snapshot of Fitbit dash

Bonus reminder my Fitbit doesn’t track stairs.

There’s also a beta for a new dashboard, which is better at letting me hide what I don’t care to see.

Example new dashboard.

Example new dashboard.

Personally I prefer the new one.

Overall, if you’re the sort of person who learned to disconnect from and distrust your body, this kind of tracker may be a useful tool.  But like many things, your mileage may vary.

Exercise Takes Time? Really?

Reading yet another piece on an exercise study, this one with older (60-74 years) sedentary women, I giggled at this observation:

“They complained to us that working out six times a week took too much time,” Dr. Hunter says. They did not report feeling fatigued or physically droopy. Their bodies were not producing excessive levels of cytokines, sending invisible messages to the body to slow down.

Rather, they felt pressed for time and reacted, it seems, by making choices like driving instead of walking and impatiently avoiding the stairs.

As noted in the study abstract, the groups working out twice or four times a week (half strength training and half aerobics) had about the same physical improvement as the group working out six times a week, and became a bit less active overall than the other 2 groups.   And, of course, this is about averages and older women, and individuals vary.  But it’s nice to see recognition that you don’t have to work out every day to have useful strength or endurance results.  Or that people might have things to do besides exercise.

QotD: Fat & Exercising

I think a lot of people look to exercise to help them lose weight, and when they don’t lose weight immediately with exercise, they quit. They return to the couch, and they basically never move again. What is lost in that is that fitness is almost certainly more important than fatness. […]

If someone starts an exercise program and improves his fitness, even if he doesn’t lose an ounce, he will generally have a longer life and a much healthier life. It would be nice if people would look at exercise as a way to make themselves feel better and live longer and not necessarily as a way to make themselves skinnier.

Gretchen Reynolds discussing her bookThe First 20 Minutes (emphasis added)

I bolded what I did for a reason.  Like many who grew up fat, I was nagged to exercise with an emphasis on taking all the fun AND usefulness out of it.   I don’t blame anyone who doesn’t want to exercise.  But I also think facts are useful.

Exercise doesn’t have to suck.  It doesn’t have to be an obligation.  Ideally it’s a choice made from facts not hatred and rebellion.  It seriously pissed my mother off when, as a child, I played soccer and had fun and felt great and didn’t lose weight.  She’s dead now.  But somehow I think she’s still pissed off when I exercise for my own selfish reasons that have nothing to do with becoming “more beautiful” or “a better person” or “a thinner person or making her happy.  And that’s fine. 

Happy New Year!

Image of a fat woman talking on the phone in an office setting.

Image courtesy of the Rudd Center Image Gallery

Hello and welcome!  I’m back at work with my new cartoon-a-day calendar (New Yorker cartoons) and new wall calendar (Pacific Northwest landscapes).  I even cut off some of the photos from last year’s wall calendar to decorate my cube.  Ready to work!  (Yes, I know it’s Wednesday, but today feels like Monday to me.  Yay four-day weekends! )

I adjusted the layout, let me know if you can’t find things.  Also, let me know if you have additional topics or questions you’d like me to write about.

As for resolutions, well, there’s resolve and then there’s Resolve the carpet cleaner, (Two Lumps).  There’s also ASDAH’s Resolved: Addressing Weight Bias in Health Care Project, collecting health care stories in video or written form.  Please see their site to see what they are asking for and the submission methods.

 

In the meantime, some things to read / discuss if you wish – warning for fat hate:

People are living longer! I thought this would be a good thing. Oops! As Fatties United discusses, some people aren’t happy with this.

Since so many fat people have had the audacity to keep on living instead of dropping dead on schedule, Dr. Mokdad is predicting that all these fat folks will be old sick fat folks and require lots and lots of medical treatment.

Study results show that “normal weight” folks don’t live longer than overweight folks? (Again?) Oh noes, must include lots of fat panic in the news coverage!

Charlotte Cooper writes about The UK Royal College of Physicians and their concerned about obesity!  Oh dear.

Reading the report is like a journey into Opposite Land. The work is well-meaning, but it exists with a framework that is profoundly problematic. For example, it is hard to disagree that current service delivery for fat people is really poor, particularly for those who undergo weight loss surgery, and that there needs to be proper auditing, quality control and monitoring of all obesity treatments.

But the report, as is typical in a medicalised discourse of fat, is entrenched in a view that regards weight loss as the universal solution to the problem of fat people and health. The authors throw about “severe complex obesity,” a term they’re obviously pretty proud of, coming soon to a healthcare provider near you, and bound to further medicalise and stigmatise fat people. They make the crucial mistake of failing to question the effectiveness of weight loss at all, so it’s not weight loss surgery that ruins fat people’s health, it’s the fact that the care pathways surrounding the surgery need tweaking. This ties them up in all kinds of knots, looking for answers in the wrong places, for example suggesting that the UK needs a Michelle Obama figure to galvanise the population against obesity, even though her crusade in the US has been disastrous in re-stigmatising fat kids, and even though we’ve already seen Jamie Oliver screw things up over here.

Anyway, let’s be careful out there. Now, I’m going for a walk.

Women standing up against a society [that bastardizes] thin and athletic women

[Discussion of fat hate & discrimination]

OK, I wanted to give people the benefit of the doubt.

When Lesley Kinzel wrote about the Kickstarter campaign to raise money for a to stand up for “thin and athletic women” who are oppressed by society’s expectations, I wondered if:

  1. The author of the Kickstarter campaign thought that using hyperbole about “a society that protects fat culture” would be eye-catching, and,
  2. If the author of the Kickstarter campaign had conflated society’s dislike of visible muscles on women as “pro-fat”.

The photo of the author on Kickstarter definitely shows visible abs definition, and yes, “feminine” usually correlates to “few or no visible muscles”.  Some women do fear gaining visible muscle and avoid weightlifting as a result.  Women bodybuilders are sometimes viewed as “masculine” or “freaky”.

From the Kickstarter description of the project:

Collection of images of women standing up against a society that protects fat culture while bastardizing thin and athletic women.

[…]

There are millions of women out there and im sure you know at least one looking for a voice , not from tvs and magazines, not from victorias secret.. but from the ground level , to speak up and tell them that its okay to want to be in better shape.

[…]

But.. if it just makes it into the hands of ONE little girl who feels like she has to be overweight to fit in with the current 70% of the overweight population of America, and it gives her the strength to know that being healthy isnt a bad thing.

Then this whole project is worth all the time and effort i can possibly afford to put into it.

…. ah no.

Obese individuals are highly stigmatized and face multiple forms of prejudice and discrimination because of their weight (1,2). The prevalence of weight discrimination in the United States has increased by 66% over the past decade (3), and is comparable to rates of racial discrimination, especially among women (4). Weight bias translates into inequities in employment settings, health-care facilities, and educational institutions, often due to widespread negative stereotypes that overweight and obese persons are lazy, unmotivated, lacking in self-discipline, less competent, noncompliant, and sloppy (2,5,6,7). These stereotypes are prevalent and are rarely challenged in Western society, leaving overweight and obese persons vulnerable to social injustice, unfair treatment, and impaired quality of life as a result of substantial disadvantages and stigma.

— Rebecca M. Puhl and Chelsea A. Heuer writing in “The Stigma of Obesity: A Review and Update” published in Obesity.

Look, I get that nobody’s life is perfect.  There’s a reason the Romneys believed  their college years were a “struggle”.  There’s a problem with how our society regards bodies, especially women’s bodies, as open to public discussion.  But I have trouble believing that a thin, fit woman is going to be less likely to be hired than a fat woman with the same qualifications.  I have trouble believing that a fit, thin woman is going to be told to gain weight to when she goes to the doctor’s. And I certainly don’t buy this belief that women need to be told it’s okay to want to get into better shape when every women’s magazine assumes getting into better shape is every woman’s dream.

Thankful Thursday

Things that I am thankful for:

1 The man of the house packed a yummy lunch for me today.  He also cooked each night I was home this week.
2 AC. Most houses in Seattle don’t have AC.  I don’t regret installing ours, even if we barely used it last year.
3 A job where showing up in shorts one day and a dress the next is fine.
4 A boss who reminds me that I have strengths, and who encourages me to use them.
5 Initial “let’s start probate” paperwork has been fixed for accuracy and ready to mail.
6 I fell in love with temperature-controlled computer labs in college one summer term when the temps were stubbornly sweaty &  sticky.  Except the minicomputer lab, which had to be kept cool per warranty.  All of which is to say, taking computer classes to help cool off has served me well & I’m glad.
7 Leg lifts are my friend.
8 Stretching makes me feel divine.
9 Chocolate covered espresso beans are yum.
10 So much enjoying Mira Grant’s book Blackout and how it improves my understanding of the prior two books.  (Feed, then Deadline. They are a trilogy, not a book & two sequels.).

Thankful Thursday

[an occasional exercise in gratitude]

It’s Thursday and I’m thankful for…

  1. Being thanked for work I did on an event.
  2. Being complimented on my writing and this blog.
  3. Between blackout curtains and weight lifting I’m mostly getting enough sleep this summer.
  4. Physically feeling the benefits of regular strength training.
  5. Splurging on a few summer tops & such.
  6. New Donna Andrews book!
  7. I feel like I’m starting to wake up from the last few years.
  8. Reminders that even with my parents gone, I’m not as old as I sometimes think.

What Does It Say That This Is News?

The truth is, getting up and moving is good even if you’re thin.

Seriously, this was included in a Sunday magazine feature on exercise.  Specifically:

I’m perfectly fine the way I am, thank you. I’m not even overweight.

The truth is, getting up and moving is good even if you’re thin.

It turns out being sedentary is a health risk. Period. It’s up there with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, even smoking, according to a 2010 article in the Journal of the American Heart Association. In fact, fitness level is a “more powerful predictor” of survival than traditional risk factors, the journal says. That means an active person who’s overweight can have a better prognosis than a thin, sedentary person.

What does it say that our society is so invested in thin = healthy and fat = unhealthy that it’s necessary to point out that thinness doesn’t indicate health?