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Climbing up the top sails

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Every day I leave the house, I put on a green and white Winter jacket or the navy blue jacket. This is nothing remarkable, except that I didn't fit into either of them until February or so.

Fit isn't quite the right word. I got into them. I could zip them up. They did not make me look like a sausage stuffed into an acid green and white or navy casing.

But it wasn't a good fit. They did not reach over the hips unless pulled. And I had to pull on them more or less all day long.

Today the navy (the smaller of the two) fit just fine. I barely noticed except I saw my image reflected in a bus window and then realized, "Hey, I haven't been pulling down the jacket to cover my rapidly disappearing keister!"

This might seem like not so much but for the fact that this jacket has never fit me properly. Ever.

Until today. The Red Sox had been losing. But today was the home opener, and so they've returned to their winning ways. I'm confident that that will continue. For them it was just a minor setback. Everyone gets them but those setbacks, they pass.

And then, one day, a miracle happens, and your keister is covered by your jacket automatically, just like it's supposed to be. Or suddenly your pitching and hitting come together. :)

But that's not a miracle, because miracles imply divine intervention and, even if you pray and pray, the act being done is outside of anything you do. This was no miracle. I did it. Yep. L'il ole me. Today was gonna go in the win column no matter what the Sox did. But they pulled it out, too. They did it.

Sometimes it all comes together. And before you know it, your keister starts to REALLY disappear.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SISNAMIL 4/9/2008 11:16AM

    Woohoo! I love those 'Eureka!' moments.

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JESPAH 4/9/2008 5:30AM

    Thank you both.

Oh I'm definitely ready for the nicer weather! This Winter has taken forever! :)

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3DOGCREW 4/8/2008 7:54PM

    Glad to hear your having a great day. Noticed that my jacket I were is getting big. Hope summer comes soon. ( ha.ha.) Really just tired of this cold weather. Keep up the good work.

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LIQUEURLADY 4/8/2008 7:43PM

    Like the coach, one would call it practice -- the team has practiced its plays, and you have practiced with your changes in food and exercise. NO accident -- so go for your personal pennant!

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JESPAH 4/8/2008 7:04PM

    Ah, you're a sweetheart. Thank you. :)

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TCEDEROTH 4/8/2008 7:00PM

    I'm so glad that you're noticing the small differences. Too many people get hung up on the number on the scale.

You are correct. Your jacket fitting properly was no miracle. You worked hard to achieve it. It may not have been a specific goal you set out for, since when losing weight, we do tend to strive first and foremost for the numbers, but it was there all the same.

You are the miracle. And your focus, determination and hard work is what acheives the goals.

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These Are The Things I Can Do Without

Monday, April 07, 2008

I'm having one of those days where nothing is satisfying and I'm antsy.

This is all directly tied to lunar events, so don't mind me. I'm just going to rant about nothing that important (so what else is new?). I woke up this morning and was down .4 lbs. from last week. This is fine except it's up 2.2 since Sunday morning. Again, lunar stuff. You'd think I'd be happy with a loss, and intellectually I know I should be. But it all looms large because if I lose another .6 lbs. then I make my second goal. I was hoping to do it this week, but such was not to be. Durn lunarosity.

In the meantime, I continue to look for work. There are stretches when you look, when there's not a heckuva lot you can do other than wait for someone to get back to you. You've applied wherever you can apply, you've networked to everyone and his brother, and you've done all the usual updating things, like update the resume and improve it on Monster and Dice and anywhere else it may be hanging.

I am at that point, and it's driving me nuts. Oh, I look at all of the websites in the morning. And I make all of my phone calls. And then .... I watch paint dry.

The weather stunk today (yet again!) so it was not a good day for a midday walk but later this week it will be. And that's what I'll do. It'll make me less antsy, it'll pass the time, and it's a little bit of playing hard to get with the recruiters. Looking for work in 2008 resembles a girl looking for a prom date in 1948. You make yourself available to the local talent, you're courteous and cheerful to all, and then you sit at home by the telephone. And if you make yourself a little bit unavailable, e. g. you're not immediately reachable by phone (or email or whatever), you cultivate an aura of mystery and desirability. But that can backfire if you're too unavailable. And, in the meantime, you dream about your prom gown -- but you don't tempt fate so much that you actually buy one until the transaction is complete and the date is made.

I want to go to the Prom already. This waiting is for the birds. It's one of the things I can do without.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JESPAH 4/8/2008 6:56PM

    That's fantastic! :)

I've erased about 6 years of weight gain, something like that.

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SISNAMIL 4/8/2008 11:17AM

    Well, I figure I am lighter than I have been since I turned 15. Which is pretty big (any puns intended:-)) since that was 28 years ago. I figure even if it takes me another year to reach my goal I am still way ahead of the 'fat clock'.

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JESPAH 4/8/2008 5:35AM

    Oh definitely; I'm just a little sick of people not calling me back.

Today will be better.

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TCEDEROTH 4/7/2008 8:43PM

    I know it's easy for someone else to say "Patience, it will come".

When it's time for the right thing to come along, it will. We are all exactly where we are supposed to be right now. We only find out why when the reason chooses to present itself.

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I'd studied your cartoons, radio, music, TV, movies, magazines

Sunday, April 06, 2008

I heard this song recently on the radio and remembered how much I like it and really pretty much anything from REM.

Things are proceeding apace here. I am on target for my next minigoal, although the monthly fun has arrived so it's possible that, even with best efforts, I won't get it this week as I tend to retain water and salt like nobody's business.

I'm perimenopausal so the monthly stuff is more like the every-three-weeks stuff but that's harder to say and wastes syllables.

And we all know about the tragic syllable shortage. Please give generously.

In other news, I've done more trying on of stuff and am pleasantly surprised to report that my hips may be finally starting to obey my command to shrink. I have fitted much better into two jackets lately, the green and white winter one and the navy blue slicker. Neither of these have ever fit me in the hips; they've always either pulled or had to be yanked down or just worn open. Not any more.

I put on an old flannel shirt yesterday. It's two sizes away, but gets on just fine and is not tight in the arms or shoulder blades. Another four inches or so in the chest and it will fit with extreme ease. Heck, it'll probably fit after two, two and a half.

The cranberry blazer is almost fitting perfectly in the hips. Maybe one more inch, inch and a half, and it will lie flat and together when buttoned.

I even -- because I'm insane -- tried on the jean jacket, even though it's three sizes too small and stiff (no elastic). I could button all but the lower two buttons! I have every confidence that I will wear it by the end of the summer, if not before.

I still have swimsuits to try on, but that's for next weekend. In the meantime, minigoal #2, here I come!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JESPAH 4/7/2008 6:28PM

    I must be getting the ones you're missing. So karmically it all evens out, I suppose.

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SISNAMIL 4/7/2008 11:02AM

    I know what you mean about peri-menopause. except for me it means skipping every other month. When I skip I sit on a plateau that I can't bust till the next cycle.

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JESPAH 4/7/2008 5:33AM

    Awesome! Way to go, Sandy! :)

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MUNTERMORMOR 4/6/2008 9:59PM

    Isn't that a great feeling! Good for you, Janet. Today I found a new pair of cropped pants in the closet. I had purchased them last year for our November vacation to Disney World. Of course they didn't fit. I ended up wearing the one & only stretchy knit that did fit the whole week. Well, today we had our first 70 degree day & I thought what the heck let's try these babies on & see what happens. Perfect fit & maybe a little loose. Ya hoo. Success can be measured in other ways, too. I've dropped one of my high blood pressure meds, my pulse has gone from the high 90's to 65-68 beats a minute. That means more then seeing the scale go down.

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JESPAH 4/6/2008 5:58PM

    Thank you so much!

I have yet to listen to the song you sent me. I need a 25-hr day!

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TCEDEROTH 4/6/2008 1:19PM

    you're doing great Jes. And I always enjoy reading your blogs. You have an entertaining way with words.

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The High Cost of Obesity (Part 4 and Conclusion)

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Attitude is everything, it is said.

And the attitude against the obese in our society is, in general, anything but welcoming.

Actually, it's an almost schizophrenic reaction. We live, in America, in a time of not just plenty, not just nonfamine, but excess. Big cars, big houses, big jewelry, big handbags, big heels, big credit card debt, big portions. And it's all fine until it comes to big bodies. Because then the gloves come off, and the party ends, and the sniping begins.

Many of the women here on Spark have heard that old saw, "Well, she's got such a pretty FACE..." as if that excuses the inevitable, whether tacit or implicit, shot to the body. There's even the reverse, as anyone who's heard the term butterface ("Her body's smokin' hot, but her face ..."). The unstated predicate is often something like, "but her face ... could crack a sink."

What of the overweight who dare to exercise in public? Go to many gyms and you'll be rebuffed if you're not already buff. The same is true out on the sidewalks if someone is obviously exercising (as opposed to walking like they're going to the train station or something). It's as if our society wants us all to be thin, but doesn't want to watch us get there. Instant cures and get out of my face seem to be the order of the day.

And it's not like a lot of this obesity should be unexpected. Portions are huge. Messages of excess are everywhere. Nutrition labels can be confusing (who ever heard of a small candy bar as having TWO servings?). Scientific studies disagree, or junk science gets into the communications stream without proper vetting. Conflicting diets crop up (Atkins and Stillman on the high protein/low carb side, many others on the low fat side). Surgery holds out hope for some but side effects and fatality rates conveniently don't get as much press. Some drugs hold out hope (Alli and Xenical) while others are banned (phen-fen). Herbal concoctions and snake oil crop up in not only our bulk folders but as advertisements in the back of our magazines (hoodia gordonii, anyone?).

In the midst of all this is a society that treats the overweight as if we were no good. From missed job opportunities to contemptuous glances on the bus to credit denial to out and out yelling on the street.

When I was shopping for a wedding dress, in 1991, I weighed about 60 lbs. less than I do now. And the dressmaker told me I'd have to pay more for more fabric and continually whipped her hands and measuring tape around my body as she spat out numbers to her assistant. I got out of there as quickly as I could, and went somewhere where I was treated kindly -- and ended up with a better gown anyway.

Shift back even earlier than that, to when my husband and I were first dating and I probably weighed about 50 lbs. less even than that, and I recall walking in Greenwich Village and some drunk came up to my husband and said, "I'd hate to have to feed her."

Jerks are everywhere, of course. But for a society than manufactures obese people at a rate that must be dozens per day, we sure don't treat them well at all. That is a reflection on our society, but where does it come from? Some of it certainly comes from simple weight prejudice. But it can come from other prejudices as well. If poorer folks tend more towards obesity, if people of color tend more in that direction, if immigrants and women also tend to go that way, then isn't anti-weight prejudice, for some of the nasties, a cover for prejudices against those other groups?

An inordinate amount of time is spent in schools, trying to increase self-esteem. And that's the right idea but I suspect that it's not addressing the whole problem. This problem has many parents. In addition to increasing self-esteem, how about working together so that the nasties learn that such behavior is unacceptable? And if the behavior persists, surely there are means of dealing with it, everything from peer pressure to actual punishment.

I am not suggesting political correctness. Rather, I am saying that people should be kinder to one another, and should be rewarded for their kindnesses and should get some negative reinforcement when they aren't so kind.

Weight gain, in part, stems from depression and feelings of worthlessness. Being laughed at, harrassed, teased and put down does nothing to stem those feelings.

Kindness, acceptance and, yes, even love, can help to heal these wounds. We need not be a free-loving hippie commune in order to treat each other with decency and respect.

Be good to yourself. Be good to each other. Don't forget where you've been, and do what you can to help others get to where you are, and beyond. Because we're all worth it.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JESPAH 4/7/2008 6:27PM

    I wonder if my nephews will have a similar reaction.

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SISNAMIL 4/7/2008 10:43AM

    You have to be taught to despise large people just like you have to be taught racial prejudice. My nieces all think it is weird that I am getting thinner because they have never known me that way. I am no longer something they would consider an 'Aunt Barb' size.

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JESPAH 4/6/2008 6:04PM

    I hear ya.

I was on the bus the other day, coming home from work, and this woman wanted to be the first to get off. Lots of people have to make connections so, no biggie, whatever. And this guy barred the door and demanded to know why she had to be first out. She explained that she was headed to some place remote (it could even have been Maine; I know there are regular buses that go there and people always RUN for those) and he finally ended up just calling her a word that rhymes with witch.

She wasn't rude to him or threatening. She was all of maybe five feet and here he was, this big strapping business guy, and it somehow fell to him to be the Door Police.

What a jerk.

I was so mortified I couldn't think of what to say, and by the time I did, I was already running to my own connection. But the whole exchange was ridiculous.

It's rush hour. Someone might need to get out before you. Or if you also have to get out, explain nicely that you have to go first. Sheesh, it's like kindergarten.

Anyway my point -- and I do have one, I swear! -- is that it's not just directed towards the overweight although it does seem to be a lot. I think it's a hurry up, do it yesterday society and people seem to think that manners are optional, like getting a roof rack on your car.

Well, they aren't.

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TCEDEROTH 4/6/2008 1:40PM

    I know that I should "Turn the other cheek", "kill them with kindness" and all of that. However, I just can't seem to make myself tolerate or even ignore meanness or rudeness, especially when it's based on prejudice, which is always the case towards overweight people.

My reponse was always "I may be overweight, but you're ugly, and I can diet."

Ugly is not a term directed at the physical appeareance of the person, rather what's on the inside. However, shallow and superficial people such as these, just don't get it.

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JESPAH 4/6/2008 9:25AM

    Thank you. :)

And I understand what you mean, BEECOMINGME. I see women, both here and on the Alli message boards, who stay in lousy relationships -- some of which may be borderline emotionally abusive -- because they think they can't get a man otherwise, that a man must be in their lives to complete them, even if he's a jerk. These women have gotten a message, loud and clear, that they don't deserve real love.

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BEECOMINGME 4/6/2008 8:11AM

    I think the high toll of obesity is most apparent in our own lives. The missed opportunities. The dreams unrealized. The little pleasures of life which are foregone. Those are innumerable, and without price.

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VANYELMOON 4/5/2008 8:42PM

    That is a beautiful essay. I live by the motto "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." I have had nasty comments thrown at me in the past, and now that I have reached my goals I try to help others reach theirs. When I heard an upsetting word about my weight, I would "kill them with kindness." It is frustrating how nasty people can be.

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JESPAH 4/5/2008 4:15PM

    Thank you so much! :)

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3DOGCREW 4/5/2008 1:28PM

    Great thoughts and comments. Loved reading all 4. Good luck and God bless.

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The High Cost of Obesity (Part 3)

Friday, April 04, 2008

Individuals aren't the only ones who pay a price for obesity. Societies do, too.

As the population fills out and widens, public accommodations have to keep pace. Newer stadiums have wider seats -- and to seat the same (or more) people, they have to be either wider or taller or both. Wider stadiums sit on more land, so they cost more. Taller ones are also costlier, not only because of more materials but because you need serious equipment to build taller structures. Plus there is more of a danger factor (a potential for more bodily harm due to a fall from an increased height, for the construction workers building the stadium), so insurance costs may be higher as well.

Seats aren't the only things that have to get bigger. Hospitals buy bigger cotton johnnies, and larger examination tables. Plus they have to hire more health aides to move immobile patients.

School districts -- if they can afford it -- are in the market for larger desks. Restaurants buy bigger booths. Public accommodations (parks, courthouses, etc.) have to buy toilets that can take the weight of a 500-lb. person at least.

More weight in vehicles means that gas mileage suffers. Try this thought experiment. Just after filling up, record your current odometer reading and then grab 40 lbs. worth of something unperishable -- lawn chairs, canned goods, umbrellas, kitty litter bags, whatever -- stick it in a box and put it in the trunk of your car. Ride around with it and don't take it out. Whenever you fill up the car next, record the odometer reading and the amount of gasoline purchased. The number of miles, divided by the number of gallons, is your gas mileage. Say, 200 miles and 10 gallons, so your MPG would be 200/10, or 20 MPG. Now that you've done this, take the junk out of your trunk (sound like a familiar phrase?) and do the same. Drive around as always and then at the next fill-up record the odometer reading and the number of gallons. And also pay attention to how long it took to get to the point where you need a fill-up, e. g. six days instead of seven, or whatever. You should see a difference. Keep in mind that traffic conditions, etc. can affect gas mileage, plus you're probably hauling something else around, such as groceries, during these times. This is an illustration, not set in concrete.

But to take it farther -- imagine those 40 lbs. not in umbrellas or compact discs or whatever, but in a piece of you. You can readily see where losing weight can affect something you might not have thought about before.

Automobiles are, of course, not the only conveyance around. More weight on humans means more weight on municipal buses, on trains and on trolley cars, and on airplanes. And more petroleum usage means more pollution, and more scarcity and translates into higher prices at the pump, even if you're buying jet fuel and not economy gas. Not to mention dependency on foreign oil and the geopolitical consequences of that.

Society also pays an actuarial-style price. For all of the people who are obese, some, if not many, will die younger than persons who are not obese. That means orphaned children, families with reduced earning capacity and possibly a rise in suicide rates for folks who've become despondent over loss. And for those who don't die young, it can mean other impairments. Diabetes can lead to foot amputation or blindness, or both. Strokes can lead to speech impairment or the inability to walk, or both. Severe heart disease can also affect personal mobility. Those people may no longer be able to work. They may have to get around using a wheelchair or crutches or a cane. They may need service dogs. They may need more handicapped parking. And they may need more social services, which translates into a need to levy more taxes to pay for such programs.

Of course being obese does not mean that you, personally, or your friends or family or neighbors, are the one to blame for so many societal ills. But there's an old expression: No single raindrop believe itself to be responsible for the flood. The rising tide of obesity is already at flood level. Instead of passing around blame, pass around the rice cakes.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JESPAH 4/5/2008 10:11AM

    Thank you for your kind words. :)

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BEECOMINGME 4/5/2008 9:33AM

    Interesting posts -- thank you so much for sharing!

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