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Archive for November, 2013

The Spleen Diet

I haven’t been intentionally losing weight, but it’s been a side-effect of the newest wrinkle in my physical state.   I’ve had to change my eating habits a bit to focus on certain nutrients and that change has resulted in some amount of weight being temporarily misplaced.  How much I don’t know for sure, because I only weigh myself at the doctors.  (If you go to the doctors’ more frequently than you ever went to meetings when you were officially on WW, I figure that’s a fine policy.  It also results in my not having the cognitive dissonance of my scale never agreeing with the Official Scale Of Medicalness.)

A friend who is also a physician posted a link to Facebook today about the 10 Things That Cause Diets To Fail.   Given my new status as an accidental weight losing person I decided to look it over out of curiousity.

This is why people don’t lose weight in America.    The optimal conditions for weight loss, according to this article, are so stringent as to be unlivable.   Sure, you can call me lazy.  You can say all fat people lack willpower and initiative.   Yet I don’t see people who are not fat being told things like “Never take NSAIDs” and “donate your TV”.      I understand that the American Diet needs some serious reform.  But I also understand that’s partly the fault of the People Who Know Better telling us for years to eat a diet high in carbohydrates, low in fat, when more and more research is proving just how utterly wrong that is.      So here we are, fat people, being told that the advice we followed was very bad but now here’s some new advice.  Let’s do this instead.

I’m not intentionally dieting.  I stopped that years ago when I realised that my scale was my idol and my tape measure was my father confessor and clippings from Self magazine were my God.   It dawned on me one day that I had LITERALLY made Self my god and that was that.   Since then I’ve watched what I have eaten as best I could.  I maintained a large weightloss over a span of five years simply by eating when I was hungry and taking  chemo weekly.      I refuse to intentionally diet but I  WILL moderate my nutritional intake for medical reasons.

What does this mean?  It means that I won’t put myself on starvation rations.   It means I eat more of certain foods–I’m living on asparagus, black beans and cinnamon.   It means I cut down other things.   But my day doesn’t revolve around it.

That’s the trouble with this diet guide.  I’m not saying they aren’t correct .  They probably are.  But what they miss is this.

People are not solely machines.   As much as it would be LOVELY to be able to tell people to “eat less and move more” and have that be a one-to-one proposition, it just doesn’t work.     When you hand a list like this to most overweight people I imagine their response is  somewhat similar to mine.  “Why yes.  Let me just quit everything in my life and become a professional dieter with a stable of physicians and dieticians overseeing my every move.”   Because that’s what a list like this takes.

And if you want to treat the whole person you’ve got to treat the PERSON, not just the body.   Work with people to make small changes and understand that in an ideal world  everyone would ride exercise bikes all the time and eat only organic veggies and lean  meats and not have to be caregivers or ill or laid off or heartbroken or harried, but this is not that ideal world.

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My former boss–the best boss I had when I wasn’t working for myself–just posted this to Facebook.    Other friends are passing around various status updates that tell us all to buy locally, eschewing retail outlets in favour of local craftspersons.   It’s that time of year, when sales are ramping up for the holidays and everybody from the giant mega corporations to the lowly crochet maven on Etsy wants a piece of the pie.

I guess that means it’s time for me to say this all in one coherent piece in one place.

Consumer decisions are just that.  They are  a personal decision about where and what you should buy, eat, wear, do.     Some consumer decisions are intrinsically moral.  No, you shouldn’t buy stolen goods from your cousin Robbie.  No, you shouldn’t shoot your neighbours’ cats instead of joining a shooting range.

But many other choices are just that.  They’re a choice without a moral center.   I am increasingly irritated at the various movements designed to elevate one sort of shopping over another.   (Or in the case of “Don’t Shop–Adopt” to demonise shopping entirely.)

There is nothing intrinsically morally better about buying stationery from your neighbour’s cousin Faith-Anne’s collection of hand-pulped artisan paperie than from the  Hallmark down the street.    You can pat yourself on the back for supporting a local business of course.   But let’s take a look at your OTHER neighbour.   We’ll call her Kathy.   Kathy works at a local business, because (like most people) she can not afford to commute five hours every morning and evening to a job in another state.     Her local business employs 83 people other than herself.   It  gives all of those 84 people paychecks and health insurance and the occasional bagels on Friday mornings.     They design stationery that is printed in factories on the other side of the state or in China.    That stationery is shipped to the company’s warehouse, which is ANOTHER local business that employs ANOTHER forty people.    Those people unpack the boxes, enter the data into the computer and repack them to reship them to Wal-Mart.     The Wal-mart that is five miles from your house and Kathy’s house and Faith-Anne’s cousin’s house employs 213 people for round-the-clock staffing.   Those people all live pretty close to you too.   One of them unpacks  the box from Kathy’s company’s warehouse.  Another rings up the sale of the box into the register.   Another in the office upstairs tracks the sales and reconciles the day’s receipts.

All business is local.  All purchases are local.  Even purchases from Amazon involve a local transaction that employs at least three local people.  How else do you think the products make it TO YOUR HOUSE?

All business is human.

Chain stores or local artisans, it doesn’t matter.   One is not a sinner, casting the other one as a saint.  They are just choices.

This holiday season feel free to buy from whatever place gives you what you want at the price you want to pay for it.   Ultimately the person you have to live with is not Kathy or Faith-Anne’s cousin or the UPS guy who drops off your packages from Amazon.   It’s you.   So do what works for you and your family.

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warning:  This post will contain graphic language

I’ve already written three blogs’ worth of content on FB about this, because of my own stupidity.   I recommended an article to my friends even though I skimmed part of it.

I’ve been skimming ranty stuff lately because I barely have enough emotional energy to be outraged about the adversities which befall me.  I don’t have any energy at all to drink in the umbrage of strangers.     That’s why I ended up reading the part where the 29 year old woman talked about raising her boys to become men and skipped the part where she said people who were bullied needed to not make a big deal about it.     I’ve been bullied and I’ve been treated badly; those are two different things.    Being treated badly happens a lot in the course of a person’s lifetime.  Bullying is about a systematic destruction of another person’s psyche.  It’s real and it happens and it’s something that is extremely difficult to withstand.   The only way I could and did withstand it was by having an excellent support system.    I bristle whenever people get on the trendy rant about bullying these days.    I also know the term is over- and mis-used a great deal.

When someone is called a bad name it may or may not be bullying.   It may just be the other person being a class-A jerk.    Not every instance of  “You’re a bitch, Kathy” is someone bullying Kathy.*   But if there is a person with a specific twist to her psyche who likes to emotionally abuse another individual because of her own psychological damage, that person will call Kathy names.   That person will do a bunch of little things that all look like insignificant blips but add up to a sort of mental water torture.   A drop at a time wearing away another person’s soul.

Hence all  these articles lately where folks say “so you got called a bitch! Big deal! Walk it off!”    Because it really doesn’t seem like the end of the world.  Not that calling other people names is fine, but I think most folks probably get slagged every now and then. **

I’ll never forget having to meet with the HR director to explain the bullying.  I was still pretty young and all of the complaints in and of themselves seemed like I was being a sheltered whiner.    What ended up tipping things in my favour was that after the first meeting with HR the bully cornered me in my office after hours, pinned me against the wall and said in no certain terms that she would destroy me, going into great detail about how that would happen.    No, I didn’t have it on tape but the bully was dumb enough to have said the same things to the HR director the day before (“I’m so mad I could just etc.”)   I left the job the next day.     I’ve told this story before.  I’m telling a condensed version of it now to make it perfectly clear that by the time the whole thing came to a head it was pretty obvious that the bully had used vast quantities of her free time in an attempt to turn whatever self-hatred she felt in my direction.  I was just  the person who was unlucky enough to be in her sights. ***

How can you tell the difference?

You have to pay attention.  You have to be very aware of how you or your child is reacting to being called names.  You have  to keep an eye on social circles to see if the bullying victim is being systematically worn down by exclusion or taunting.    It’s not an easy thing.   It’s certainly not something I could “walk off” when I was 30.  I don’t see how we expect little kids to handle it.

* To this day I have an almost panicked reaction to being called “Kathy” by anyone but my family.   Kathy was the name I was going by during both times of my life that I was explicitly tormented by a bully and I still associate that appellation with that treatment.   It took me 35 years to get to the place where I was secure enough in myself to insist that people call me something else.   Hence the Coble, Kat, Kath and Katherine grab bag I get called now.  Anything, even “Roy”, would be better to me than “Kathy”.

**My current response to being called a bitch is to say “you’re probably right.  I most likely was being bitchy.   My apolgies.”   When one of my coworkers called me a fat bitch and I responded with “I can work on changing the “bitch” part but I can’t lose the weight very fast” we ended up laughing and becoming friends.

***To this day I pray for her to have healing (it took me awhile to get there) and I also pray for those who work with her now.   I hope there is never another “me” in her orbit.

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