Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My Body is a Cage

203 lbs.

Christy and I were watching House last night among a few other things and the song for today's post came on during a very dramatic segment in the show. It dovetailed with a couple of other shows about obesity we were watching earlier: Too Fat for Fifteen and Ruby.

Too Fat for Fifteen is a show about a residential boarding school and camp where young teens go to lose weight. From the portions I saw of the show, I couldn't help but feel for most of these kids. This was not The Biggest Loser for the teen set. These kids had serious health and body image issues and were not coddled or fed a cupcake if they did well. It was going to be hard work but the kids seemed motivated. One segment we watched had the kids doing their weigh ins and the look of joy on their faces when they saw the numbers fall almost made me cry. One of the kids had weighed almost 500 lbs at the start and you could tell for most of them, they were ready to face a thinner future.

Now the other show, Ruby, just annoyed the hell out of me. It's about a woman who was once 700 lbs but started this show at the 500 lb mark. She is outgoing, opinionated and almost entirely self serving. The world revolves around her and now someone has made a show to prove that point. There are so many enablers helping this self involved woman, it's mind boggling. At one point we were given every excuse in the book by her inner circle to explain why she had added 30 lbs in a very short period of time (upon doing research, I found it goes up to 60 lbs later on) except the obvious one. One of those excuses was a repressed memory, I will get to that wonderful little excuse in a bit.

Now give Ruby credit, she calls it as she sees it honestly before finding yet another excuse from her enablers. She sees her relationship with food as an addiction; one that is difficult to come to terms with in her life. Also, another brownie point for Ruby is that she didn't just decide to become house bound when she gained weight, she still stayed active in her own life. Good for her because most people would lock themselves away from the world. The girl has moxie but maybe way too much.

At one point, a friend is emotional because her son is leaving home. Ruby, of course, tries to make everyone focus on her. Ruby says something to the effect that losing a child is nothing compared to gaining 30 lbs. Yep, that's what she said. Her friend does little to defend herself because oh that Ruby! What a card! It's all about Ruby all the damned time. I think if Ruby didn't have a semi famous friend we would never know her. It really makes me sad for others who get themselves in the same predicament who are far more deserving who will never receive help.

So, what was that horrible consciously repressed memory that causes Ruby to tear through food like a leviathan? Her boyfriend left her when she couldn't stop gaining weight or so we are told. Now, they fail to say that the man was dating her even when she was very very heavy. It's not like he didn't know she had weight issues but if you have ever known a junkie, one person can not turn back the tide, no matter how hard they try. It can be hard to watch someone kill themselves slowly and Ruby is certainly a junkie. What junkies love most are excuses and this was just another excuse for the 30 lbs she gained in a short period of time - an event that happened years ago. Complete psychobabble nonsense.

Certainly it takes some sort of bravery to tell the world you are a 500 lb woman with eating issues and to expose your struggle at every turn but I don't get the feeling that's what all of this is about. Ruby is not one of those people who have been starved for attention her whole life. In fact, she steals attention from everyone around her - typical addict behavior. It's not a cry for help, it's a cry for making it all about me. That guy who dumped her? He was a personal trainer who was with her for 7, count 'em, years. You would think after 7 years with a personal trainer you might be able to make some sort of change in your own life without cameras all around you but that's just me. Having known people with addiction issues, I am not buying a lot of the crap she's selling. The woman needs some extremely tough love.

Now she does know she's a junkie and is quite upfront about it but she also, like every junkie, likes to find excuses outside of herself instead of facing her eating issues head on. There lies my problem with everything about the show. The woman has had lots of help (more so than almost every obese person on the planet) but is such a human hurricane, no one can help her because even though she is still about 180 lbs overweight and going up - she knows it all. Some people view her as an inspiration and I can honestly see that because she is a ballsy lady. It's the mindset that says, "Hey if Ruby can do it, so can I!" and that is not a bad thing honestly. But most people would be better suited, including myself, by taking a walk outside for that hour of Ruby than watching a self centered woman who has become a hero to others wallow in self pity and addiction. An addiction is an addiction and there are very few excuses outside that boundary. Once people can face that fact, they will be better off. Simply, if you eat too much - you'll get fat no matter how good the food makes you feel inside.

I once said that being morbidly obese is unnatural. Let's be honest, losing weight is also unnatural. Our bodies are built to store or use every single calorie from the time we emerged from the muck thousands and thousands of years ago up to the present day. Our collective body processes have not changed via evolution, it still works the same way. So losing weight involves being hungry or tricking the body into not being hungry or to eat appropriately until the hunger and cravings dissipate. But hunger is natural and if we could embrace that ever so slightly, we would be better off. It just feels unnatural and we are told it is unnatural but it's no more unnatural than gaining lots of weight in a short period of time. As our ancestors roamed fields and caves looking for the next meal do you think they picked up a Snickers bar along the way? Nope, they were hungry and when they finally ate, their bodies used some for energy and stored the rest. They also ate whole foods because there really weren't fast food joints serving up fried cheesecake bites at the foot of the volcano.

One of the main reasons Americans are fatter than they were 30 years ago is because we have so much food easily available and most of it is unhealthy. The only time you will go hungry in this country is because you are poor or you have made a specific choice to do so. The only reason you can't eat a healthy meal is because you don't want to cook or make better choices. Unhealthy and processed foods are cheap but if you cook whole food, with the appropriate portion size, it can be pretty cheap too. You don't have to go to the whole food supermarkets that charge you an arm and a leg to eat right. Just a little elbow grease in the kitchen will make you a healthier and happier camper. Even pre prepared healthy frozen meals can be good for you and have helped a lot of folks lose weight. When I cook for myself, I do very little work at all. Perhaps I should rethink this because I could burn more calories if I got more elaborate with it all! Whoops! I forgot, I'm lazy.

Your body does not need to be a cage which is what it feels like when you are overweight. My heart goes out to people like Ruby and millions of others who live a restricted life even if they are outgoing and active. Their lifespans will be shorter and their life experience limited. There are lots of overweight folks with so much more potential even though at times they seem like super men or a super women with all that they can still accomplish. But what's the good of being super, if you go through life with a belt made out of kryptonite?

Granted, losing weight is unnatural and it is incredibly difficult but if you could increase your energy by another 20-30% each day and do more, would that motivate you? If I told putting you with 20 more minutes of activity each week and skipping a meal occasionally it would help you to drop a significant number of pounds over a years time, would you do it? I have even dreamed that, if I ever won some big lottery, I would put out a big monetary incentive to lose weight for the people I know, that's how much I want everyone to feel better and live longer. I would say feel happier but I have known some pretty happy fat people - including myself and there is nothing wrong with that. Mental health trumps physical health by a long shot. It's when your physical health starts impacting your mental health that we you have to worry, it's a vicious circle. Just having the folks I know and love around longer would be a little self serving on my part but I can live with myself for that.

You know, I jumped up and down in the kitchen for no particular reason the other day and it was such an alien feeling. My feet did not scream at me, I didn't feel fat flopping up and down all over the place (okay maybe a little). I could have done that for quite awhile. It was a moment of freedom. I am getting closer to putting away that belt of kryptonite in a lead lined drawer forever. Wave at me when you see me flying by!

Note on the song: The following is a cover of an Arcade Fire song by Peter Gabriel. It is one of the few covers I will ever say outdoes the original. I have a list of those in my head and it is really short.

1 comment:

  1. Ruby annoys the living shit out of me.

    When Ken and I are in Japan, we always lose at least 20 pounds between the two of us during a 2 week visit. Remember, Japan is a land of delicious snacks and treats, most of them shaped like some Pikachu or Hello Kitty and drenched in delicious chocolate. However, it's all the walking we do and the reduced portion sizes. It's a totally different, and much healthier, lifestyle.

    Oh, by the way: Ruby annoys the living shit out of me. In case I forgot to say it. She's an XXXXXL Attention Whore who wears her "addiction" like a badge of pride, y'all.