Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Doctor's orders

197 pounds
My weight was up again this morning, and since I happened to be going to the doctor's office for something else, I decided to ask about the fact that I've gained six pounds in the past few weeks.

I was REALLY worried about bringing the issue up in the first place. My fear was that once I opened that door, my doctor would walk right through it and tell me that I needed to lose weight. After all, my BMI is in the obese range, and I've always figured a medical professional would be all over me if the subject ever came up. To be honest, it's something I've been waiting for a long time—for one of my doctors to look at my weight and say, "Wow, you really need to do something about this."

So I could not have been more surprised when my doctor's response was completely laid back.

"It's probably water weight," he said. "You don't need to worry about it."

I was completely shocked. I thought for sure he would look at the number on my chart and ship me off to fat camp.

"But six pounds in three weeks?" I said. "Isn't that something to worry about?"

Yet again, he didn't seem worried. He pulled up my records on his computer and reminded me that I had just had a slew of tests run in January, and that I was in perfect health. He assured me that I had nothing to worry about.

"You exercise, right?" he asked, and when I told him that we try to exercise for at least an hour a day, he said, "Wow, that's great."

The truth is that I had been worrying a good deal about my recent weight gain, but after hearing the doctor reassure me that it was nothing to fret over, I remembered that I'm the one who always says we should be more concerned about our health than the numbers on the scale.

I guess over the past few weeks I've forgotten that. I've been so obsessed with those numbers that I forgot how little they really mean. So I will try my best to stop obsessing, but I'm not going to make any promises that I'm not sure I can keep.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Everything in moderation . . . including moderation

195 pounds
More good news... not only are cheese and dark chocolate good for you, but now alcohol might be too!

As it turns out, light to moderate drinking might actually help us stay fit.

According to HealthDay, "New Research found that women who drank the equivalent of one to drinks a day were least likely to gain weight—30 percent less likely, in fact, than teetotalers."

Let me repeat that: women who did NOT drink in this study gained MORE weight than women who did.

This flies in the face of the don't-drink-your-calories logic that I hear so often. And come to think about it, I do usually feel a little bit leaner, a little bit lighter, the day after I've had a single drink. Yes, when I have more that one drink these days, I usually feel sluggish afterwards, but there's just something about having one cold beer that makes me feel a little bit rejuvenated after the fact.

Since some studies also show that alcohol may decrease heart disease, this is just one more reason not to shy away from alcohol. Still, you should be aware that another study found that alcohol is linked to breast, liver, and other cancers.

I think the key is moderation . . . no, we don't need a glass of wine every night, but clearly once in a while alcohol has its benefits.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Can anyone tell me how this happened?

196 pounds
I've been on the road about 14 of the past 21 days, and during that time, I've pretty much stayed away from the scale. But this morning, I decided to brave it and step back on that magic number box.

Imagine my surprise when I saw that I had gained four whole pounds. Four pounds in three weeks. WHAT THE HELL?!

How does a person gain four pounds in three weeks?

Admittedly, I wasn't exercising as much or eating as well as I normally do when I was on the road, but it's not like I was spending my days sitting on my butt eating bon bons and potato chips. In fact, I ate almost nothing of the sort—or at least not any more often than usual. It almost seems like I gained four pounds just because I was away from my routine, and that doesn't seem right. Four whole pounds? Give me a freaking break!

I had really hoped to break into the 180s before the blog hit the one-year mark in a few weeks, so I have to say that I find this news pretty disheartening. Still, I'm not giving up. I have almost two full weeks left to get back where I was and drop another pound or two. Who says I can't do it? If I can gain four pounds as a result of being away from my routine, maybe I can lose that much from getting back to it.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Who are you calling a pig?

192 pounds

Recently I had dinner at Fido in Nashville, a wonderful little spot that I highly recommend if you’re looking for outstanding food and don’t want to spend a fortune.

At Fido—like other animal-friendly resturaunts—table numbers feature pictures of some of the employees’ favorite pets. After guests place their order at the counter, they’re handed a table number that servers use to locate them when their meals are ready.

And after I ordered fish tacos for dinner one night, I was handed a laminated card that read "MOLLY PIGG" in big red letters across the top

Molly Pigg?????

Was someone trying to tell me something?

Molly Pigg is actually the name of the adorable little beagle that was featured on my table number. She’s six years old, and apparently goes by “Piggy” or “Miss Piggy” because she has snorted like a pig since she was a puppy. As the table number explains, “Calling her a ‘pig’ seemed degrading, so her nickname has the unique spelling with two ‘G’s.”

So does that mean that if I call someone a “Pigg,” it won’t be considered degrading?

I doubt it.

But I do know this: the fact that I could laugh about the “Molly Pigg” sign sitting in the middle of my table like a beacon asking people to look at me means that I am finally becoming comfortable with who I am. And I love a Pigg for helping me see that.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

File this under f****d up

192 pounds
Amanda Seyfried—star of Dear John, Mamma Mia!, Big Love, and Mean Girls—has announced that the only way she can stay thin enough to work in Hollywood is to stick to a strict raw-food diet and exercise all the time.

As Seyfried told Esquire magazine this week, "It's intense. And sort of awful. Yesterday for lunch? Spinach. Just spinach. Spinach and some seeds."

Spinach and some seeds?

I'm sorry, but that is completely fucked up.

A fact so obvious that even Seyfried has to admit it.

"'If I didn't run and work out, there's no way I would be this thin,' Seyfried told Glamour magazine. 'But I have to stay in shape because I'm an actress. It's f****d up and it's twisted, but I wouldn't get the roles otherwise. If I'd been a bit bigger, I don't think they would have cast me for Mamma Mia!'"

I've been a fan of Seyfried since she first starred as the already dead Lilly Kane on Veronica Mars (shown below), and I do remember that on that show, she seemed the tiniest bit curvy.

But now, as you can see in the top photo, Seyfried's clearly much, much thinner than she used to be, making Lilly dead in more ways than one.

Seyfried is obviously beautiful at either weight, but hearing her admit that she is basically starving herself breaks my heart. Yes, this is a sad, sad day for someone who believes that dieting is one of the most unhealthy things we can do to ourselves, and it's especially frustrating to hear about Amanda's INSANE diet because she has also claimed that men can't make women feel glamorous, and that feeling attractive has to come "from inside."

What I want to know is how could a woman so smart be so . . . oh, forget it.

I feel for Seyfried. I really do, and I sincerely hope that she will realize that no job—even a job being a world famous actress—is worth giving up cooked food.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Oscars, Part II:
Where are all the curvy white women???

192 pounds
If you didn't watch the Oscars on Sunday, then you might not know that, in her acceptance speech, Oscar winner Mo'Nique mentioned Hattie McDaniel, the first African American to win an Oscar for her supporting role as "Mammy" in 1939's Gone with the Wind. Mo'Nique said, "I want to thank Miss Hattie McDaniel for enduring all that she to, so that I would not have to."

The next day, commentators were discussing Mo'Nique's acceptance speech and one of them also included a video of McDaniel's original speech, which I watched immediately.

As I watched McDaniel accept her Oscar, it hit me rather suddenly that her body, like Monique's and Gabby Sidibe's, wasn't typical of Hollywood actresses.

And that made me think more deeply about an issue that I often don't talk about: the fact that in our society women of color are allowed to be curvy, and "white" women are not.

I'm not saying this is a hard-and-fast rule. There are certainly women of color—Halle Berry, for instance—who are super thin, and I'm sure there are "white" women who are not—Kathy Bates comes to mind. But, for the most part, in the mainstream media, women of color are given more latitude in terms of what their bodies can look like than their white counterparts. A quick glimpse at my Gallery of Gorgeous Women proves that.

Still don't believe me?

Let's do a quick rundown of who was on the Red Carpet . . .

Mo'Nique, Gabby Sidibe, Queen Latifah, Mariah Carey, and Zoe Saldana were the African American women who walked the Red Carpet before the ceremony. Four out of five of those women could not fit into the sample sizes used at Fashion Week.

JLo, Penelope Cruz, and Cameron Diaz were the only Latinas there Sunday night. JLo is obviously curvier than most of her "white" peers, and Cruz is on the fence—she's got some real curves, but she's also pretty fit. Diaz, on the other hand, has always been super thin and is the only one of these three who clearly fits into the waif-like model, but one could argue that most people are ignorant of Diaz' Cuban roots, meaning she has to fit into the "white" model of beauty despite her ethnicity.

And what about the "white" actresses?

That list includes Sandra Bullock, Kathryn Bigelow, Charlize Theron, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, Carey Mulligan, Anna Kendrick, Amanda Seyfried, Helen Mirren, Demi Moore, Sigourney Weaver, Kristen Stewart, Elizabeth Banks, Sarah Jessica Parker, Diane Kruger, Kate Winslet, Nicole Richie, Miley Cyrus, Tina Fey, and Meryl Streep.

Are you seeing what I'm seeing?*

Out of these twenty women, only two have slightly real bodies . . .

Meryl Streep and Sigourney Weaver.

Let me repeat that . . . only two of the twenty "white" actresses on the Red Carpet last week have a normal body, and both of them are not only older than the others, they are also already established forces in Hollywood, a feat I might add they both accomplished when they were still very, very thin.

And really, let's be honest . . . Streep and Weaver have phenomenal bodies. Neither one of them are the slightest bit overweight. Who knows what I would do to look like them? Certainly, I wouldn't kill for a great bod, but I might lie, cheat, and steal to get one. And in that sense, they really can't even be put into the same category as people like Mo'Nique, Sidibe, Queen Latifah, or even the always voluptuous Lopez and Carey.

So why the double standard, Hollywood? Why are you willing to accept women of color in all shapes and sizes but only accept "white" girls who look like they stopped eating after puberty? I mean, really, Hollywood, what gives?

I don't know the answer to these questions and I fear that racism has something to do with some of it, but I do know this: until we allow women of ALL races and ethnicities to be different shapes and sizes, we will never have a healthy idea of what women's bodies should look like.

*I'm also seeing that "white" actresses significantly outnumber non-"white" actresses, which is another problem, but not one that has to do with the themes of this blog.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Oscars, Part I: A plea to all Hollywood starlets

192 pounds
As I'm sure you all know, the Oscars were Sunday.

It was a great day for women because Kathryn Bigelow was the first woman in history to take home the Academy Award for Best Director. And her film—The Hurt Locker—also won the Best Picture award.

I also felt like the narrative of the evening focused on strong women—Sandra Bullock, Mo'nique, Meryl Streep, Gabby Sidibe, and Bigelow to name a few—and that those women thankfully had bodies of all sizes.

But before the actual ceremony began, I found myself cringing during the Red Carpet show.

At first I wasn't sure why the Red Carpet didn't have as much appeal for me as it normally does, but after the first sixty minutes or so, I put it together: many, many of the women who walked it looked too thin to me. To the point that they almost looked as if they were sickly.

I've made it a point on this blog NOT to criticize skinny women or name names about women who I think look like they are at an unhealthy weight, and I think I'll stick with that decision because it doesn't really help anyone to attack the way certain women look—whether they be too small or too big. I've always said that the point of this blog is too help people accept themselves they way they are, and calling someone anorexic-looking doesn't really serve that purpose, does it? After all, it's just as easy to be naturally thin as it is to be naturally curvy.

But I do want to make a plea to the actresses and celebrities of our time, and that plea is this:

Please be true to your bodies! Please accept your body at the weight it should be rather than giving into the weight everyone else tells you it needs to be! We need you to do this for us! We really, really do!

My husband always says he believes that after we stop growing, people settle in at a certain weight, and that that weight is often where we are supposed to be.

And, for the most part, I agree with him.

It's the same principle as aging gracefully—meaning, accepting the fact that at the age of forty, you shouldn't have the same body you had when you were twenty. We don't expect our faces to look the same as we age (at least most of us don't), so why do people expect their bodies to look the same?

And when I see people—and by people, I mean, celebrities since I don't know ANY regular people who have this problem—who are my age but weigh the same or less than they did when they weren't even old enough to drink, it scares me. There is no doubt that there are some really young celebrities out there who are pushing the thin thing too far, but there are also plenty of middle-aged superstars who are simply way too skinny.

To be honest, I find that extreme gauntness actually ages women dramatically, making them appear much less attractive than they would with just five or ten more pounds on their body. Let's face it, at some point—maybe around the age of thirty-five—women no longer look healthy being the same weight they were when they were eighteen.

Don't get me wrong, I get it.

I get why they do it.

I get that the pressure—pressure from the media, pressure from casting agents, directors and producers—to be whippet thin in Hollywood is completely insane and insanely unfair.

I've even witnessed evidence of that insanity this week. Since the Oscars I've heard one fashion commentator say something like Kate Winslet (see picture above) "has always been bigger" and another point out that Molly Ringwald (pictured below) is "not a size 0."

I mean, why is it necessary for us to talk about Ringwald not being a size zero? Is that really supposed to be some kind of freaking ideal?

And in what universe could either of these women be called "bigger"?! That is complete crap! If anything, they look pretty darn thin to me. Maybe what these critics meant to say is that they don't look anorexic or unhealthy, and it scares me to think that not looking anorexic translates to "bigger" on the Red Carpet.

So, yes, I get it, but I'm begging all of you Hollywood types out there: Do not give in to this bullshit! Let your body be the size it wants to be!

If nothing else works, look at Meryl Streep, the most successful actor in history, and recognize that you don't have to be super skinny to be huge.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The fattists attack!

192 pounds
I'm a big fan of The Huffington Post, which you might know since I feature Arianna Huffington in my "Gallery of Gorgeous Women" to the right. But this week I was frustrated to read an article by Vicki Lovine on HuffPost that claimed we needed to stop staying away from the word "fat."

As you may know from my "Fat is off the List" post, I firmly believe that we should not use the word because it's almost always used in a hurtful and derogatory way, but this article argued that the politically correct desire to not call people fat is making us fatter.

I don't buy it.

And here's why I disagree: I don't buy into the idea that the obesity epidemic in our country is related to people being nicer to each other. In other words, I don't think our collective girth is growing bigger because people think twice about calling someone "fat."

Instead, I believe that America is getting bigger for three* simple reasons:

1) Because we don't exercise nearly as much as we used to. From my way of thinking, this is especially true of children—a major contributing factor to the shocking increase in childhood obesity—and you can read why I think that in the second of my posts on that subject.

2) Because we eat far too many processed foods and don't cook enough at home. One of the big reasons this is more of a problem than ever before is because processed foods have become incredibly cheap to buy as well as available on almost every corner in America. In fact, in my "Processed Foods and Little Pink Houses" post, I argue that's the reason why working class people are the segment of our society that are gaining weight faster than any other group.

3) Finally, I believe that our country's obsession with dieting makes us actually eat more. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: when we tell people that they need to look like Angelina Jolie to be beautiful, it makes it very easy for them to give up trying to be healthy and grab another box of Mac 'n Cheese. I truly believe that as long as we hold women to standards that are unattainable for regular people, we will have an obesity problem in our country.

And that's why I completely disagree with Vicki Lovine. She believes that if we start using the word "fat," we can start shaming people into being healthier. Sounds like a lot of mumbo jumbo to me because if there is one thing I know it's that making people feel bad about themselves does NOT help them. In fact, the first step to being healthy is feeling good about yourself. And I stand by my belief that until we accept ourselves the way we are, we will never lose weight.

I'll even take it a step further and argue that promoting the use of the word "fat" is, in fact, fattist.

Can you imagine if we proposed using another derogatory word to make a different group of people change their behavior? What will Lovine propose next? Using the word "retarded" more so people act smarter? I hope that the recent debate about that word proves why taking digs at those who are struggling with any issue doesn't work.

Lovine says that we need to start calling people like me fat, but despite my strong desire to do so, I will maturely refrain from calling Lovine the "R" word.

*There is also evidence that the chemicals that are now so ubiquitous in our country are making us fatter as I mentioned in my post on that subject.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Rebuffed at the buffet

192 pounds

Recently I was at a social gathering that included a plentiful buffet of snack food—decadent cheeses, fine breads, gourmet meats, tasty guacamole, salty tortilla chips, and much more. I was standing near this table of goodies when one of my friends saw me and said something like this: “It must be nice not to have to worry about dieting! You can eat whatever you want.”

There is some question about whether my friend meant this comment literally or not, but I do sometimes feel like people don’t completely understand my “will not diet” approach.

Not dieting does not mean that I can eat whatever I want.

I really wish it did!

What it does mean is that I don’t go on “diets,” and if you’ve read my “What is a diet?” post, you know that I define a diet as something that requires us to change our eating habits for a set period of time. Some people would call these fad diets or unhealthy diets. I just call them crazy ways to make you less healthy in the long run (even though they might help you drop a few pounds in the short run).

Famous fad diets include the Atkins diet, the Zone diet, the Cabbage Soup diet, the Grapefruit Diet, the Thousand-Calories-a-Day diet, etc. I also consider it a diet when people give up something—like sweets or flour—for a set period of time.

Basically, for me, a diet is anything that means that you can’t eat as you normally would.

And this brings me to my approach.

No, I don’t diet in the way I’ve defined above. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t watch what I eat. My goal is to eat healthy all the time, but don’t let the word “healthy” fool you. For me, eating “healthy” is as much of a mental approach as it is physical one. It includes having plenty of fruits, vegetables, and lean meats as well as a moderate amount of carbs, dairy, and dark chocolate in my daily diet, but it also includes eating cheeseburgers, sodas, and sinful desserts from time to time. And that’s because I believe that indulgence is an important part of living a healthy lifestyle. If we don’t give into our desire for high-calorie, fatty foods from time to time, I believe that desire will only grow, causing us to actually eat more of the bad stuff than if we simply allowed ourselves those indulgences now and then.

For me, “now and then” means limiting my indulgences to about twice a week. In other words, I let myself go a little crazy about two times every week.

Usually that happens on the weekend, but last week that meant splitting a large Buffalo chicken pizza with my husband on Thursday while we spent the day grading at Greener Groundz and going out for a high-calorie Mexican dinner with some girlfriends on Friday night.

Because I knew I was going to have those two big meals, I didn’t allow myself to eat whatever I wanted at that snack buffet I mentioned earlier. If I had, I promise you that I would have had a much bigger plate of cheese, meat, and bread than I did.

No, unfortunately, even the “will not diet” girl cannot eat whatever she wants.