Tuesday, October 11, 2011

ED issues - do they ever go away?

I love how our Fat Acceptance community can come together to support each other when one of us is feeling less fierce than usual... I'm hoping to find a bit of that support today.

Trigger warning for eating disorder issues, ok, y'all...?

I am really struggling the past couple days with a strong urge to binge on sugars, fats, and carbs. All the stuff I've been taught my whole life is "bad" (which I've struggled, with limited success so far, to re-define for myself in a HAES and intuitive eating framework). I've struggled with a tendency to have disordered eating - and disordered thinking about eating - for what feels like forever. Certainly since middle school, when I'd make up elaborate lies about wanting something to do, being so bored, surely my mom wanted me to go to the store and get some milk or something just so I could go to the store to buy a candy bar and devour it in a fear- and forbidden-food rush of shame. (I wasn't allowed to spend my allowance on candy, cause, ya know, so fat.) I also got caught once stealing chocolate chips out of the deep freezer in the garage... and the shame, wow... I don't think I'd have been more ashamed if I'd been caught masturbating. (Yeah, no body issues there. Why should masturbation be a shameful thing either? But that's another story for another post.)

I think I'm being triggered these past few days because a) I've learned that I'm gluten-intolerant, which means I'm constantly telling myself "no" to things I want to eat, and restriction/the forbidden are huge triggers for me... and b) I had a conversation with a friend who is a 10-year WLS survivor with pretty much the best imaginable outcome. I forget how it came up, but I tried to neutrally respond saying I was glad she had such a good experience and was healthy. Somehow this turned into her recommending other mutual acquaintances I could talk to who also had good experiences, and wham - I was triggered.

Not sure the above two items can possibly explain completely why last night I ate 2 corn dogs and a bacon-wrapped hot dog (after a full meal 2 hours earlier) and this morning a turkey sandwich and a muffin (both v. gluten-ous) and for lunch Taco Bell and then a 3-pack of Hostess orange cupcakes AND a pack of Twinkies. And why I'm feeling so much like a failure and so much frustration and some shame for eating all these things. I know I'll be kicking myself for DAYS as all this grease and sugar and most importantly gluten wreaks havoc on my poor tummy and gut. Why do I do this to myself? How can I give my body the food I know is good for it when intuitive eating says eat what I crave, and what I crave is sugar when my genes give me a high chance of diabetes and gluten which makes my tummy hurt? This is too hard to navigate.

Help me, wise fatties! What have YOU done to struggle through these issues and come out the other side?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Medical Care Update

I 'met' (on the FatStudies List) a HAES-based naturopath today. It spurred me to reflect on the state of my medical care in the last year.

I've been seeing a naturopath in Los Gatos, CA for about a year now. I was struggling with chronic, intense sleepiness and I'd exhausted all my options with traditional medicine. The last option they offered me was to prescribe "uppers" -- with the caveat that they have side effects AND may or may not help. I was not a fan of this idea, but didn't feel like I had any other choices. My boss/colleague told me about this naturopath that had really helped her, and she was so convincing that I checked out her website. I was immediately concerned, because she offers weight loss support as one of her services... which would normally disqualify her from my life. But I'd gotten such amazing, passionate reviews from my boss, and I was out of options with regular medicine, so I wanted to try.

I did a phone consult with her before ever meeting her in person or paying out any money.On the phone, I explained to her that I wanted to see her if she thought she could help me with my medical needs, but that I did not want to hear anything about weight/weight loss. I went ahead and pulled out the big guns and shared with her that I struggle with disordered eating, depression/anxiety, and other issues that are triggered by weight loss focus in my medical care. (I wish I could have just said, "I prefer weight-neutral medical care," and that would have been enough. But past experience has taught me that even if they're open to that at the beginning, when we get into the various issues I have that are conventionally thought to be associated with weight, they cross that line.) I was pleasantly surprised to find that she took me at my word, and has diligently avoided any weight talk and has even been careful not to give food/eating rules until I ask her to. (For instance, she'll say my sugars are looking a bit high, and talks about supplements we can use to help with that. She didn't mention anything about avoiding certain foods/making dietary choices until I asked whether there were nutritional strategies we should be using too. Once I asked, she said she didn't know whether she should say that part because she didn't want to trigger me. I said I was open to general guidelines, just not pounds and calories.)

I hesitate to list her on a HAES website such as the Fat Friendly Health Professionals List or the HAES Community Resources page, because I think the only reason she's so careful is that I shared my particular issues. I don't know that she is generally HAES in her thinking. If I didn't have specific mental health issues that I had shared with her, I don't know that she'd be so careful -- so I'm inclined to think she's not generally HAES, but rather responding to a specific patient's needs. Still, that's better than the regular docs I am used to. They don't have any qualms stomping all over me with weight loss and even WLS recommendations despite -- or even directly in response to -- my sharing that a weight loss focus makes me sick, literally. Just being treated with compassion, as an individual, and having my eating disorder taken seriously, is a big darn improvement!

All of which is to say, she may not be 100% HAES, but she's 100% better for me than my supposed primary care physician. I've told my naturopath she's my *real* primary care physician. In my head, that is. I just keep the regular PCP on call for the few prescriptions my naturopath and I have decided I should continue.

I hear that in Oregon where she trained, she could actually be my PCP and I wouldn't have to mess with someone else for med management. That would be just grand! Hope California catches up someday...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Blog-linky love

No time for a full post, but I want to direct attention to a couple of blogs I have really enjoyed today.

First, a relative newcomer to the FatOSphere: Samantha and her blog Horrible Food Ogre. Samantha is a longtime FatOSphere reader and commenter, new blogger as of last December... and I'm loving what she has to say. I SO. COMPLETELY. RELATE.

Next, a new-to-me (and if this post is any indication, new addition to my shortlist of faves) blog called This Woman's Work. The specific post that hooked me, and good: On Being Round. I love, love, LOVE stories of moms raising daughters who feel good, beautiful, proud in their round bodies. LOVE!

Finally, a perennial favorite of mine: Katja's blog, Family Feeding Dynamics. Katja is an MD who works primarily with children and feeding, influenced by the work of the great Ellyn Satter, but her advice applies to eaters of all ages.

(Incidentally, a post on Katja's blog led me to On Being Round, which led me to Samantha. Yay for interconnectedness!)

And now, off to my 7pm appointment that's an hour-plus in traffic away (and it's 5:45 - oops!)!!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

31 Days of New Year's REVolution Challenges

I'm posting the 31 Days of REVolution because life has gotten hectic and I don't want people to go without if I have another conflict and miss a day like I did Friday and Saturday (bad Amanda! I feel so bad for letting people down...).  If you don't know what I'm talking about, go to the FB Event page (see link below!).

31 Days of REVolution Challenges

Join us in 31 HAES / New Year's REVolution Challenges for the month of January. Join the FB Event (http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=190278547652738) to keep up the excitement and stay informed on new developments!
  1. 1/1/2011 -- New Year’s REVolution kickoff day!
  2. Dance to the music you love best today!
  3. Count clouds instead of calories today!
  4. Tell someone they look beautiful or handsome today!
  5. Take the first step towards finding a fat-friendly physician today! (You could start with the Fat Friendly Health Professionals list at http://www.cat-and-dragon.com/stef/fat/ffp.html).
  6. Today, think of one positive/loving thing about a part of your body which you usually dislike and/or ignore!  (For extra credit, I’ll share this insight with someone you can trust to appreciate it, or journal about it.)
  7. Move for the joy of it today!
  8. Let go of ideas about “good” and “bad” foods today, and simply eat what your body craves!
  9. Have a spa day today! Either go to a day spa to be pampered or make your own day spa at home with manicure, pedicure, hot bath, facial, etc.
  10. Stand and sit tall today! Hold your head high and show the world beautiful posture.
  11. Read a HAES-positive article today, such as Dr. Jon Robison's article, "10 Things You Can Do Right Now To Ease Concerns About Your Weight And Improve Your Health" (http://www.welcoa.org/freeresources/pdf/10thingsyoucandorightnow.pdf).
  12. Today, try out a movement or exercise activity you haven’t done in a while!
  13. Have yourself over for dinner today! Make some wonderful food, light candles, put on a dressy outfit and some relaxing music, and really savor every bite.
  14. Put on some fabulous new shoes today (even if you’re just trying them on in the store)!
  15. Today, spend a few minutes alone, in front of a mirror, look yourself in the eyes, and notice the thoughts that pass through your mind. (For extra credit, speak an affirmation such as “I accept myself just as I am,” or “I am beautiful, good, and worthy” to your image!)
  16. Visit a fat acceptance, fat fashion, or body positive blog today!  (Find links to dozens of fabulous, fat-positive blogs on the 2011 New Year’s Revolution Resources page at http://2011revolutions.blogspot.com/).
  17. Enjoy a meal with someone you care about today!
  18. Find a few minutes to play today!
  19. Today, weigh the merits of foods not only by how nutritious they are, but also how delicious!
  20. Pick up the phone today and make that medical or self-care appointment you keep meaning to schedule!
  21. Wear something that makes you feel sexy and delicious today!   
  22. Enjoy what you eat and eat what you enjoy today!
  23. Go for a walk or a hike and enjoy nature today!
  24. Go through your closet today, and get rid of everything that doesn't fit or doesn’t make you feel good when you wear it!
  25. Today, give loving attention to a part of your body which you rarely pamper!
  26. Borrow or buy a fat-positive book today! (Find tons of fabulous book suggestions, both fiction and non-fiction, at the 2011 New Year’s Revolution Resources page: http://2011revolutions.blogspot.com/).
  27. Tune in to what your body feels like before, during, and after you move it today!
  28. Eat a nutritious and satisfying breakfast today!
  29. Write down five things you appreciate about your body today!
  30. Hug somebody today!
  31. Spend time today thinking or writing about how to continue your New Year’s Revolution through the rest of the year 2011!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Self care... it's a right, not a privilege

The New Year's Revolution Challenge for Thursday, January 20, is: 
Pick up the phone today and make that medical or self-care appointment you keep meaning to schedule!

When we don't feel good in our own skin, or we have had the experience of being humiliated, lectured, and scolded time and time again by medical professionals, or we feel ashamed of parts of our bodies, it's easy not to feel worthy of, or entitled to, medical care or self-care or those little physical luxuries like massage or pedicures. 

I'm here to remind you, and myself too, that we are all entitled to compassionate medical care and decadent pampering. Our bodies do not disqualify us! I have finally, after 10 years of searching, lined up a Primary Care Physician and a pedicurist (two of my most crucial care providers - more on why pedicurist is on that short list later!) that make me feel I can get medical care when I need it, preventive care before I need it, and regular pedicures so my chronic ingrown toenails are kept under control - and my feet look pretty and make me feel all girly and happy.

It actually takes two doctors to make one Primary Care Physician to see to my needs. First, there's my official PCP - a family medicine physician I'll call Dr. H, who practices at the local giant non-profit full-service medical clinic (think Kaiser, but local not national). Dr. H is a lovely woman, and seems to care about me deeply. I like her, too, and always ask about her kids and really feel I have a relationship with her. Unfortunately, I've been seeing her for years, and despite trying again and again to bring her up to my HAES standards, she can't or won't get on board. When I tell her about problems she doesn't know how to solve for me with a pill or a needle, she resorts to recommending weight loss because she's so desperate to do something to help me. I even had her talk to my HAES-expert therapist, and all Dr. H got from it was "Dr. B thinks you should exercise, too." Uh-huh... not exactly the full picture of Dr. B's explanation of HAES.

So why do I stay with her? Well... it comes down to the devil you know. I considered leaving - actually tried another doc - and the new one was WAY worse than the old. She actively pushed the issue of WLS! So I did some soul-searching, and decided that I just didn't have the sanity points in my life (or the money or the time to take off work!) to try meeting with a dozen - or a hundred - possible PCPs in order to find the one in a million who truly 'gets' HAES. Or more likely, is incrementally better than Dr. H but still not the HAES guru of my dreams. In the meantime, I've thrown away a person who truly cares about me and my health and happiness, who has a (admittedly major) blind spot but is otherwise really helpful and good to me.

The reason I'm able to settle for less than perfection in my official PCP is because I have another person on my team. I've been working with a naturopathic doctor, Dr. J-L, for the past six months or so. She, too, is less than my perfect HAES guru. (What can I say? I have high standards...!) But she's less indoctrinated in Western medicine, obesity-epidemic-booga-booga than a standard doc - to the point where she understands that a "morbidly obese" person such as myself can also have an eating disorder, and because of that understanding, she will not cross the line and give me weight-loss focused nutritional advice. In fact, she's so careful that several times I've had to explicitly say, "Please, go on... I'm totally open to your advice on nutrition. The only thing I don't want to hear is calories or pounds. General nutrition guidelines are welcome!"

So after one too many weight-loss discussions with Dr. H, and the terrible WLS discussion five minutes after meeting Dr. E (that's the new potential PCP I met with once - the 'E' is for evil!), I went to Dr. J-L and proposed a deal. I told her I'd like us to agree that as far as the two of us are concerned, she's my *real* PCP, and Dr. H is my Western Medicine Liason. We can't tell Dr. H this, of course. But I realized that if I 'manage' Dr. H by avoiding talking to her about things that will trigger her fears and stereotypes about "obesity" (back pain, knee pain, foot pain... things she associates with curing by weight loss, or has no good way to help with other than prescribing weight loss), she can give me great care on other issues, the kind Western medicine is good at (sinus infections, PAP smears, etc.). And now, I have Dr. J-L to help me with those issues Dr. H isn't so good at, so I had the luxury to do so.

The upside? Dr. J-L is helping me feel better on a day to day basis. Dr. H is there to prescribe me antibiotics when my sinuses go haywire. Everybody wins.

The downside? Dr. J-L isn't covered by insurance. Not even a little bit. And I have good insurance through work! And of course, I still don't have my HAES guru. Or rather, I have many HAES gurus, but none of them is my PCP.

But hey... it's working for me. At least until I come up with something better. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to plan my next pedicure.

Vive la REVOLUTION! -- link fix

I invited  everyone to join the New Year's REVOLUTION on Facebook and then deftly posted the wrong link to the FB Event! (sad face)

Let me try that again... please join us at http://www.facebook.com/?sk=events#!/event.php?eid=190278547652738 for flabulous fun, frolic, and feats of HAES derring-do!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Well, I'm back. I was gone a little longer than the month of November, and I don't even have 50,000 NaNo words to show for it. I have no excuse other than life/I got busy/lost momentum/etc. - which is really no excuse at all!

But then again, I have been working hard at the New Year's Revolution. It started back in early December.... Marilyn Wann proposed that we (the Fat Studies List/the HAES and Fat Poz community(ies)) work to create a movement that would go viral on social media to spread the message of New Year's REVOLUTION rather than resolutions - love your body, don't buy in to January pressures to diet/self-hate, and so forth.

So throughout December, I was hot and heavily involved with brainstorming with the fabulous folks of the Fat Studies List on exactly what and how we should do for this awesome FB/social media event. I gathered lists of resources, blogs, books, and daily HAES challenges and compiled them, and other folks created images, took my list and turned it into a fabulous webpage (see http://2011revolutions.blogspot.com/), blogged and Tumblr'd and Tweeted out the wazoo, and so forth. It's been quite an affair, and I'm extremely proud of my role in the whole shebang, and flattered and humbled by the amazing group of people I have the privilege to work with. I mean, who'd'a thunk I'd count such luminaries as Marilyn Wann, Deb Burgard, Marianne Kirby, and so many others as friends and colleagues?? Holy cow, it's so darn cool!!

Seriously... a ton of great people (well, several tons, probably - we're rad fatties after all!) have contributed to this event, and we're already starting to think about how to carry the banner on into February and beyond.

Visit the website (again, it's http://2011revolutions.blogspot.com/), join the FB Event, (http://www.facebook.com/?sk=events#!/event.php?eid=190278547652738), and keep watching this space to join in the fun!!