Thursday, 30 January 2014

Fat Woman and the need for new friends

Fat Woman likes people. Fat Woman is an extrovert so likes to have many, many people in her life with whom she can interact. If you would like to stay in touch with Fat Woman you can find her on Twitter as @fat_woman. Tweet @fat_woman to say hi and Fat Woman will follow back.

You can also get email updates of this blog by putting your email address in the box on the right hand side of the front page. Fat Woman wouldn't mind at all if you wanted to follow her blog via Google, but confesses she can never quite work out the blog following thing herself so won't be offended if you can't either.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Fat Woman and the unbearable truth

Personal Trainer said that Fat Woman is one of the fittest people in the gym. Fat Woman is starting to believe Personal Trainer when he says this as he has said it several times now.

Fat Woman can believe that she is fit for a fat woman, but has a hard time believing that she is fit on the scale of everyone. Fat Woman knows that her recovery time after exercise is now impressive and that her endurance is pretty good and also that she is both flexible and strong. Fat Woman still isn't fast at moving because she is still heavy.  Fat Woman can go pretty fast and hard on the cross trainer, the stationary bike or the rowing machine and breezes through 45 minutes of BoxFit without breaking a sweat but is utterly pathetic at the bleep test and couldn't run a 1km let alone a 5km. Fat Woman would power walk 5km very happily, but not run it.

Fat Woman thinks it's a shame that her one weakness makes her feel inferior to people who aren't as strong, as flexible, as fit or anything else she is.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Fat Woman and the dangerous sticks

Fat Woman is a dangerous individual. This has nothing to do with Fat Woman owning a shotgun. Nor does it have anything to do with Fat Woman's rapier sharp wit, gift for sarcasm and intolerance of injustice. Fat Woman is very good at putting people down with the pithiest and most cutting sentences, but she is not proud of this. Okay, Fat Woman is a little proud of this but of her ability not the fact that she has in the past used it. These days Fat Woman does not like to do battle with those who are unarmed.

Fat Woman is referring to her study of the Philippine martial art Escrima. Escrima is basically fighting with sticks and, unlike some more gentlemanly sports, it is about fighting to win. Winning means putting your opponent in a position where they can no longer hurt you. This of course means that if you are attacked you counter-attack in such a way as to disable your attacker. Fat Woman appreciates this logic as she has applied it in the past to non-physical encounters. Fat Woman is not a huge fan of passive-resistance in her own life, considering it only effective if you have an attacker with moral responsibility and onlookers who share that moral responsibility and have influence over your attacker. Passive resistance might have worked for Ghandi but when it comes to dealing with individuals rather than governments Fat Woman prefers standing up for herself.

Fat Woman has been studying Escrima for a year or so. Fat Woman spent a year working on Tai Chi Chuan with a nice teacher called Cal. Cal was extremely sweet to Fat Woman when she was just starting her fitness journey and taught her lots about balance and movement to help prevent her Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) and back problems reoccurring. Fat Woman duly learnt the first part of a hugely long string of movements (the form), to be performed on both the left and the right hand sides i,e in a mirror image of each other, but when her attention started to wander Cal shook things up a bit by handing her a stick and letting her hit things. Fat Woman likes hitting things and felt that having a bit of bamboo (or sometimes hickory) was rather like waving a light sabre. When Fat Woman and Cal clashed sticks rhythmically and at high speed Fat Woman felt like she was in a medieval sword fight. Cal actually has a large collection of swords including an enormous broadsword that Fat Woman had to admit was too heavy to be any fun for her to use. Fat Woman has seen Cal perform with a flaming sword and it was very impressive.

Fat Woman is not allowed a sword let alone a flaming sword but is allowed a stick. Fat Woman graduated from the padded sticks to the normal bamboo sticks and then on to hickory sticks, which are harder and denser. Learning to hold a stick was far more complicated than Fat Woman had expected. Cal started by teaching Fat Woman that she needed to hold her stick close enough to the end so her opponent couldn't grab the end of her stick and twist it far enough around to make her yell. Fat Woman had never had such a practical lesson. Fat Woman also learnt that what you do with your thumb when holding a stick is important; Cal can hit a sticking up thumb from quite far away. Fat Woman also learnt that you make your stick scarier by holding it up; she has a tendency to rest her stick over her shoulder like a member of the seven dwarves would carry an axe, which is more comedic than threatening.

Fat Woman has progressed to the stage of hitting her opponent with a stick, thumping with her opposite hand and hitting with a stick again. Sometimes it's a thump, sometimes it's a palm at a vital point such as the chin, sometimes Fat Woman has two sticks. This all happens fairly fast now thanks to much practising of drills and even some pad work. Cal spent a long time trying to break down Fat Woman's resistance to hitting people, even going to far as to put on a big wire helmet and make Fat Woman hit him around the head for twenty minutes.

Fat Woman was having trouble getting the economy of movement that Cal was hoping for. Fat Woman is inclined to be flamboyant with her sticks as she has seen far more movie depictions of fighting with sticks than she has actual fights where sticks are used. Cal handed Fat Woman two short metal bars to use instead. Fat Woman was unimpressed by the weights because Personal Trainer often hands her weights that are much heavier.

Fat Woman spent the rest of the lesson swinging 2.5 kilo weights instead of her usual light whippy bamboo stick in order that she could feel the distribution and direction of force that the weights were taking. Fat Woman found that working with weights increased her heart rate and her work out was the most punishing she had had in months.

Fat Woman is still feeling the distribution and direction of force that the weights were taking several days later.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Fat Woman and the parallel universe

Personal Trainer flirted with Fat Woman. More accurately, Personal Trainer flirted AT Fat Woman.

To say Fat Woman was taken aback would be an understatement. Fat Woman and Personal Trainer have a carefully cultivated relationship of client/trainer with a dash of mentor/mentee (can go either way, depending on the subject at hand) and a large dose of Auntie/Nephew. Personal Trainer denies the last one, but as Fat Woman makes him cake for his birthday and gives him money to buy an ice-cream on holiday and even  a lollipop after he went to the dentist it is hard to deny. Fat Woman and Personal Trainer have trained together, worked together, lunched together, met each others families, shot together and talked for hundreds of hours. Personal Trainer sharpens Fat Woman's knives for her and brings her pigeon breast. Fat Woman picks up cartridges from the gun shop for Personal Trainer and makes cake for his mother. The friendship is amiable and, Fat Woman thought, a genuine platonic one.

Fat Woman has never found Personal Trainer attractive, although she will happily admit he is the prettiest trainer in the gym and, since he started sharpening her knives, she will publicly declare him God's gift to women. (Fat Woman doesn't know what other women want in life, but decently sharp kitchen knives are damn near the top of her list.) The indisputable lack of Fat Woman's sexual attraction to Personal Trainer was quite a sticking point for Personal Trainer, who is still taking it personally and cannot see the irony of expecting someone to find you attractive on aesthetic grounds whilst holding an equal and opposite expectation that you will never find them attractive on those same grounds. Fat Woman doesn't mind this because she likes her men older, taller, more educated and with an appreciation of culture (see: Thin Husband), but she hasn't actually said this outright to Personal Trainer for fear of hurting his feelings. At the time Fat Woman met Personal Trainer she felt that she was fighting for an awful lot and was focussed on nothing but her health. By the time Fat Woman relaxed enough to get to know Personal Trainer she knew him far too well to ever find him attractive. Also, Personal Trainer really reminds Fat Woman of her father.

When Personal Trainer threw a flirt at Fat Woman he implied that he was standing behind her watching her behind. He actually said: "You don't know what I'm looking at standing here" complete with a Sid James leer. Fat Woman was incredulous. Fat Woman is fully aware that she has many attractive features, but even the ones that aren't esoteric are on her front side. Fat Woman is also keenly aware of what type of female rear Personal Trainer likes as he has told her so, mostly to wind her up but also because she suspects he gets a kick out of making her use words like "objectification". Personal Trainer's own rear is probably closer to his ideal than Fat Woman's own. Fat Woman doesn't usually pay much attention to these things but when the short shorts are on (leg days) one hardly has a choice in the matter. Fat Woman is a classic English pear shape, which means she has a fat arse. This is not exactly a worry to Fat Woman as she has many other fat bits, but it does mean that there was no way in five kinds of hell that Personal Trainer was eyeing her up for anything other than professional reasons. With the amount of work Personal Trainer has made Fat Woman do on squats and their form recently Fat Woman suspects he could pick her lower half out of a Big Beautiful Princess line up. Also, Personal Trainer is not usually stupid, and whilst in a parallel universe far, far, away he might have been lustfully gazing upon the trunk of his fat woman client, he wouldn't be so dim as to say so out loud directly to the lady in question.

So Fat Woman stood for a moment, jaw agape, eyebrows in hairline, and stared at the trainer she had trusted enough to let him do assisted quad stretching (when Fat Woman lies face down on the floor and Personal Trainer twists and bends bits of her) with outrage and horror on her face. Then it came to Fat Woman. Personal Trainer was employing a classic distraction technique. By setting off a bomb at one end of the street Personal Trainer was trying to distract Fat Woman from the petty theft at the other end, or in this case he was trying to distract Fat Woman from the fact that he had just let slip enough information to tell Fat Woman that (1) he had started dating a new lady and (2) that lady is someone with whom Fat Woman is acquainted.

Fat Woman views Personal Trainer's behaviour in the same way she would a child who tries to hide something they've broken under the settee, completely missing the fact that the grown up can see everything anyway and knows exactly what is going on. Fat Woman thinks this clumsy attempt to hide something is rather sweet. Fat Woman knew the young folk liked each other, had picked up that they were seeing each other and so long as Personal Trainer turns up for sessions on time (he'd been late twice that week, a big indicator) Fat Woman doesn't care in the slightest. Fat Woman likes a good romance and thinks it is sweet that Personal Trainer is protective of his new relationship. However, if Personal Trainer EVER tries such a blatant and disrespectful trick on Fat Woman again she will break his arms. Or tell his mother.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Fat Woman and the real benefits of exercise

Fat Woman has a god son. When God Son was a year old a friend was lifting God Son above his head. Fat Woman tried it because God Son loved being picked up and waved about but God Son was a hefty little boy and big for his ages and it was extremely hard. Fat Woman's repetitive strain injury meant she had trouble holding things, never mind repeatedly lifting them above her head.

God Son is now four years old and at school and still considered big for his age. God Son is in fact one of the largest boys in his class. Fat Woman is now the possibly the only person who will lift God Son as much as he likes. God Son begs to be carried constantly when with Auntie Fat Woman "Cos she's STRONG like Grandpa used to be."

Thinking of this makes Fat Woman happy.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Fat Woman and the manifesto

Instead of a "these are my resolutions, I am sharing them in the hope it will keep me honest" post, Fat Woman is outlining her priorities in 2014. These underpin everything Fat Woman does in her lifestyle and when Fat Woman feels under attack from people who are telling her that she's doing it wrong, she reminds herself that mostly they don't have a clue about what she IS doing. If you want Fat Woman to listen to your opinion please make sure you have read all three thousand plus words of this, the Fat Woman's Manifesto.

Fat Woman's Manifesto 2014
1. Stay awake
2. Do not smoke
3. Be functionally fit
4, Stay stable
5. Have a calorie deficit without feeling hungry

Priority number one: Stay awake

If staying awake sounds like something that you do naturally in the same way that you breathe then: lucky you. Fat Woman has an under-active thyroid with the associated auto-immune disorder, Hashimoto's Syndrome. This pleasing condition remained undiagnosed until Fat Woman was 25. After putting on a stone a year for her entire life it was a joy for Fat Woman simply NOT to put on weight and to know that it wasn't that she was stuffing her face with so much more food than everyone else. What was even more wonderful for Fat Woman is that with thyroid medication she is comparatively full of energy. When Fat Woman wakes up in the morning she feels she has finished with sleep. It used to be that Fat Woman could sleep 11.5 hours every day, and still feel exhausted when she work up. It took three years of dose adjustment to get Fat Woman on the right dose, including a horrible period when she was over medicated, which was worse than being under medicated, and then Fat Woman found that her dose needed to be correlated with bodyweight. Therefore Fat Woman would spend her time in a loop thusly:
  1. Be properly medicated. Have lots of energy and a healthy appetite and reasonable metabolism.
  2. Lose weight because of eating well and living reasonably.
  3. Thyroid dose is now too much. Body reacts by making Fat Woman put on weight until she is the right weight for her dose again.
Fat Woman went through this loop no fewer than four times in 2013, each loop taking approximately eight weeks. In the end Fat Woman gave up eating a calorie deficit for a while as it was too heartbreaking to lose the same eight pounds over and over. Eventually Fat Woman learned to run her dose at a slightly lower level than she felt perfect at to allow her time to change it before she became over medicated. Fat Woman has not quite got this down to a science as she may only have blood tests every two months (that is unusually generous for the NHS) but she is doing better. Of course, having Hashimoto's means that if the syndrome flares up then Fat Woman's thyroid itself could behave differently, which stuffs everything up. When your thyroid dose isn't right you get brain fog, you can't concentrate or remember or learn things as efficiently, and quite often the symptoms mimic depression, not to mention you have a whole host of physical symptoms. So staying awake is Fat Woman's topmost priority. Fat Woman would rather be fat and mentally functioning than walking around in a stupor, unable to concentrate on anything unless powered by adrenalin.

Priority number 2: Do Not Smoke

Fat Woman used to smoke. It was partly in self-defence as everyone she knew did it and it smelt disgusting unless you did it too, but also there was a vague idea that smoking stopped you eating and that made you thin. This was partially true initially and Fat Woman certainly lost a few pounds at one point at university when she was living off cigarettes and barely leaving the newspaper office, but actually it made Fat Woman short of breath and less likely to walk anywhere. Fat Woman gave up smoking for good the day she realised she was an addict. That was in 2003 and Fat Woman still won't touch a cigarette. This is made easier by the smoking ban and the fact almost no one Fat Woman knows smokes any more. Fat Woman is down to a crave once a year, but is ever-vigilant against slipping off the wagon. Giving up smoking still remains the hardest thing Fat Woman ever did.

Priority number 3: Be Functionally Fit

Fat Woman was always functionally fit, for some values of "functional", up until the 26th stone. That last stone was just too much and Fat Woman suddenly found walking incredibly hard. That only took a small amount of dieting to deal with, but there were more serious things to contend with.

Fat Woman took up swimming because it was a safe thing for a fat person to do, and hurt her back doing breaststroke, which meant she couldn't even swim. Swimming Coach may have been a bit of an arse on a personal level, but he knew his swimming and diagnosed Fat Woman as having a screw kick, and also said that breaststroke was really bad for making the back arch anyway. Fat Woman now does a lovely front crawl.

Fat Woman had terrible RSI all down her arms, caused by the muscles at the top of her spine not working properly and all the other muscles compensating for years. Fat Woman had always felt that what she looked like wasn't a problem in life as she could contribute in other ways such as in more intellectual things, but once she couldn't use a computer any more because of the sharp pain in her hands her life had to change. It took Fat Woman two years to face up to the fact that she had to give up her previous work completely and get better, but she was very glad she did.

Fat Woman had problems in her left knee from the age of 11. Fat Woman remembers her knee going out from under her in registration one day. Certainly it was never looked at by the doctor again after that so Fat Woman accepted she had a weak knee. By the time Fat Woman started working with Personal Trainer she had horrible sharp pain whenever she tried to put all her weight on that knee. In fact, Fat Woman's one rule of the gym was that she wouldn't do anything that required her putting all her weight on one leg and hoiking the rest of her weight up on top of it. Eventually Osteopath diagnosed patellar tendinitis. Between Osteopath and Personal Trainer Fat Woman worked through patellar tendinitis, compressed cartilage, embedded knee caps, various strains on muscles and ligaments, problems with the iliotibial band, and finally a badly tracking left knee cap. Fat Woman can now go up stairs without screaming and will admit that the one-legged squats and the assisted stretching were worth it.

So Fat Woman is concerned that she stays functional. Fat Woman likes being strong and healthy, able to lift and move and do what she likes. Fat Woman is fitter across the board than lots of her friends are now.

Priority number 4: Stay stable

Fat Woman reached 26 stone without developing an eating disorder, which Fat Woman thinks is something of a miracle. Fat Woman thinks this is pretty damn impressive, but also that it highlights that things such as mindful eating only work for you if your body is in good order. Fat Woman was told to listen to her body, that her body would tell her what it wants. Fat Woman's body lies. Fat Woman's body wants cake. Nowadays that's occasionally, but really mindful eating isn't the panacea some people make out it is.

Fat Woman found that having enough thyroxine in your body gives you an appetite off-switch that she'd never experienced before. The second day that Fat Woman was on thyroxine replacement she looked at her dinner and in tones of wonder and amazement announced that she was full. The feeling was completely different. Before Fat Woman had eaten until she felt "full", that is, that her stomach felt physically full. Then Fat Woman went through leptin resistance. Suddenly Fat Woman felt satiated by much smaller amounts of food. Fat Woman could eat little and often and feel a correlation between the amount of calories she ate and how quickly again she needed food. Fat Woman has no proof that this was the case but it was five months after she started resistance training and several people that month remarked on how good her skin was, which is listed as a marker of coming out of leptin resistance. Having hormones acting appropriately means that Fat Woman doesn't feel like she's going crazy when things don't work for her the way they do for other people.

Fat Woman gave up diet Coke. Fat Woman had thought that at least there was one thing in the world that tasted great and wasn't doing her any harm and that she could drink without feeling guilty for consuming calories. Fat Woman never noticed any side effects from the aspartame even when she was drinking a two litre bottle a day. What did happen is that Fat Woman gave up Diet Coke for Lent. On Easter Sunday Fat Woman was looking forward to a nice cold can of her favourite beverage but found instead that she was drinking overly sweet brown water. Fat Woman has tried diet Coke again but the magic has vanished. Interestingly, Big D PT told Fat Woman about the effects Phenylalanine has on the blood sugar of some people and Fat Woman is convinced that this was a bit part of her problems; she would eat normally but would suffer huge blood sugar drops. These mostly ended up in Fat Woman dinging her car. Fat Woman has just got another car so the proof of this theory is going to be in the driving, or rather the not-hitting. Fat Woman certainly doesn't miss feeling normal one second and in the next second feeling that she'll kill someone if she doesn't get fed in the next two minutes.

Fat Woman's mother provided a pretty healthy home diet but did have the habit of regarding anything sweet as a "treat". Fat Woman spent the first year she lived with Thin Husband shaking off her mother's food issues and finding out what her own might be. Fat Woman certainly doesn't reward herself with food, although she does have a tendency to show affection in the form of cake. Fat Woman would absolutely show affection in the form of marketing consultancy, but very few people take her up on that. Cake happens to be one of the few things Fat Woman does well that not everyone can do. Fat Woman developed a protein bar for Personal Trainer when he was weightlifting and "on a cut" and now serves them as protein pops, on sticks with a nice plastic wrapper and a bow, so it's not about what the food is, more about Fat Woman sharing her skill. No one wants to hear Fat Woman play the clarinet.

Fat Woman won't eat out of obligation. Fat Woman still remembers the first time Thin Husband refused to even taste any of the cakes that Granny had made because he wasn't hungry. Fat Woman's jaw dropped as she was so conditioned into politeness and showing appreciation for someone else's efforts. Fat Woman is very good at the apologetic refusal and will take home packages of sweet things for Thin Husband, or for the round filing cabinet under the table.

Fat Woman will not suffer abuse. Fat Woman did some training in trauma resolution. It turns out that the most traumatic experience in Fat Woman's young life was being denied food when she was hungry because she was a fat child and therefore didn't deserve to eat. Fat Woman got this particular traumatic incident seen to, but is keenly aware of the interpersonal politics around food. Fat Woman has to put up with the following:

  • People thinking that Fat Woman shouldn't be eating that BAD THING, as though single item is going to make the difference between Fat Woman remaining fat or suddenly become thin. This is stupidity and interfering and is a disjoint generally shown in elderly relatives, particularly those of the in-law variety.
  • People thinking that what Fat Woman considers to be part of her healthy eating is actually unhealthy and a BAD THING. Fat Woman has trouble getting these people to define the parameters of their arguments, usually because that requires investment and thinking about what they are saying, and they don't actually care about Fat Woman, they just want validation that their way is right. The only validation Fat Woman is going to give you is
  • People thinking that Fat Woman shouldn't be eating AT ALL, because fat people don't deserve food, they should stay in one room until they are thin. As all humans need food on a regular basis this is a dehumanising thing to think about anyone. Fat Woman likes being functional and not in pain from hunger thank you very much.
  • People who think that they know what is best for Fat Woman. Fat Woman knows what's best for Fat Woman, and is as far as she knows the only person with a full overview of her needs. Fat Woman is not going to work with anyone who doesn't respect her autonomy and the fact that this is not about them.
  • People thinking that they have some kind of moral superiority over Fat Woman because they are thin and she is not. Fat Woman likes what CS Lewis wrote in The Screwtape Letters about the inverse side of gluttony, delicacy. Fat Woman likens listening to these people to listening to someone boasting of how much money they make. You just shouldn't have to put up with it.

Of course, if people only thought these things it wouldn't matter in the slightest. It's the ones who let it leak out of them that that get up Fat Woman's nose. Fat Woman doesn't see why she should put up with bullying or control games from anyone, no matter how well they think they mean. Fat Woman is pretty sure that "meaning well" is a top-brain justification whilst your subconscious is actually getting its rocks off on your power games and sense of superiority.  Fat Woman is a fairly well-balanced human and likes to be strong enough as a person to consider the opinions of others rather than resorting to the defensive position of not caring what anybody thinks. It is now proved that fat shaming makes fat people fatter, which rather throws daylight on this controlling and abusive behaviour. Control is at the core of every abusive relationship. Now, if someone had been in an abusive relationship with a partner you'd understand if they were very good at spotting controlling behaviours, the red flags that signal abuse ahead. Fat Woman has had quite enough of these food-based abusive relationships over the years, thank you, and when she says that what you are doing is a micro-aggression and that is unacceptable, dollars to doughnuts she's right. Fat Woman isn't going to be in any kind of an abusive relationship, so she certainly isn't going to be in one with you over food. When Fat Woman says stop, she means stop. If you don't stop Fat Woman will push back, in as aggressive a way as is appropriate to get you to STOP. Fat Woman will protect herself as necessary from worry and hurt and any kind of mind game. Fat Woman now knows her food needs and has a right to manage them.

Staying stable means Fat Woman being able to take part in life, to join in outings and events where food is part of the occasion without her going into melt down, demanding changes in plans or denying herself. Fat Woman is a foodie and a social person and loves going out to dinner with friends or throwing dinner parties. Fat Woman doesn't want to have to stay on a tightly regimented diet with no joy or fun for the rest of her existence.

Priority number 5: Have a calorie deficit without feeling hungry

Fat Woman believes firmly in the idea that a calorie deficit means you will lose weight. Fat Woman knows that anything else is a violation of the laws of physics. Fat Woman is now skilled at eating a diet with a 500 calorie deficit each day without feeling hungry. Fat Woman could eat her entire calorie allowance in chocolate if she wanted to, but that isn't massively healthy and would also leave her hungry so she doesn't. Instead Fat Woman eats low GI carbs, and not very many of them, high protein, lots of fibre, some fat, and low sugar. Fat Woman denies herself nothing because that can end up working against priority number four, but makes her choices on a daily basis. It's about balancing needs, physical hunger with health and emotional needs. Fat Woman will eat salt, fat of all kinds, sugar, starches and anything else she damn well pleases. Fat Woman has parameters for her diet. Sometimes she keeps to them better than others, but that is what she works with.

Fat Woman hopes you can see that with all she has to worry about she hardly has time to be concerned about the long term effects of eggs on cholesterol levels or whether polyunsaturated fats are better for you than saturated fats. Fat Woman cooks mostly from whole foods, eats processed foods when she knows what they are made from or could conceivably make them herself and weighs and measures ingredients wherever she can. Fat Woman would be the Health poster girl for the NHS, if only she wasn't actually fat.

Fat Woman would like to congratulate anyone who got this far for their patience and interest. Fat Woman appreciates it and thinks you should have a cookie of whatever kind fits your macro. As this blog is hosted by Google you've probably had several already.