Monday, June 16, 2008

mug shot (off topic)

Over the weekend I stopped at the grocery store with a friend. Although it was the store I shop at, it was a different time of day than I would usually go. The joke in our town is that you are almost guaranteed to see someone you know if you go to that store on the weekend.
I saw, for the first time in 14 years, my favorite ex-boyfriend (the last time I saw him was in that store too). It is weird to think we are both creeping up on 40, because in my mind we are always 15 and 17. He was my first love and he never cared that I was overweight. He's bearded now, and rather gray, but I still recognized him right away. He was wearing a weird hat, a very bright aqua shirt, and off-label jeans that were definitely dirty. He glanced at me and my friend (who graduated with him and who, to my eyes, still looks the same as in high school, but also with more gray) without recognition. (She didn't see him or didn't recognize him.)
I saw him again, walking past the end of an aisle where were were standing, and finally he was in line right next to us. With two little kids and a wife (I assume wife). I wasn't shocked to see him with kids. I could see the back of the woman's head with him--she was blonde.
Now this guy, other than me and a different friend of mine, had pretty good taste in women (mostly). He dated half a pair of identical twins who looked like models and another girl who was a model. I was curious to see who he ended up with. Did I know her?
Our line moved faster (we were in a self-checkout express; he was in a regular line) and I was able to turn around and look at his wife's face without seeming obvious.
And I felt terrible.
She looked like a mug shot. That's the best way I can describe her. Her skin was thick and coarse, her features undelicate, and she had inches of dark roots. The blond hair I'd seen from the back had that nasty greenish tinge that badly dyed blond hair gets. She was unsmiling and completely unappealing. I couldn't tell you if she was overweight or underthin or in between (I'd say she wasn't really fat because I would have noticed that). She didn't look like she used to look better, if that makes any sense.
I wanted to cry. Because what I had wanted to see was my ex, who I still have affection for, with someone happy. Not necessarily beautiful, but a happy person, a person that he smiled at who smiled back. I wanted to look at him and think "I'm glad he's happy." Because when I knew him, in high school and college, he was a happy guy with a bouncy step, who looked a little like Richard Gere.
I guess the dirty jeans should have clued me in that he wasn't happy. They weren't dirty like "I was working in the yard" or "I was fixing my truck" or "I was knocking down a wall" dirty. They were just unwashed and nasty, although the shirt looked clean. One of his children was climbing him and he was looking down with no expression, saying, "What do you want?" to her. Not annoyed, just not caring.
I don't want people to come and flame me and say I judged my friend and my friend's wife on appearances. A dirty person who isn't smiling, who is with another unsmiling dirty person, is not happy. I wish his wife was gorgeous and rich and kept him happy every minute of every day. If not the first two, the last one is mandatory.
When my friend and I got into her car, I said, "I hate it when I see an old friend and they are unhappy." I told her what I had seen and she was sad too. I almost wanted to sit in the parking lot and see them come out, but I didn't suggest it. I might have if I was alone.
Now I know he still lives in town so maybe I'll run into him again, and actually talk to him and get the whole story.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

bathroom rant (brief)

You know what I hate, what makes me abso-fucking-lutely crazy? Skinny size 0 women in the handicapped stall. Obviously not handicapped or with babies (not that there's a changing table in there). I want to confront them: there are six non-handicapped stalls open that your skinny bitch ass fits in. Why don't you use one?

Monday, June 09, 2008

bad eating habits and lack of exercise do not cause obesity

WHAT? Or more accurately, WTF? But it's true. I have a trifecta of articles which say exactly that. And contradict each other. But who's paying attention?

A lack of exercise and time spent sitting in front of a television or computer screen are not to blame for the boom in obesity, scientists have said. Researchers have found that people burn the same number of calories each day as they have for the last 20 years, which means that over-eating rather than a sedentary lifestyle is the main cause of the "obesity epidemic". (1) (pubmed link to study)
But then again...
Your nerves, rather than your eating habits, may have a more direct role in whether you are fat or thin, according to new research.(2)
So which is it?
Researchers from the universities of Aberdeen and Maastricht have discovered that there has been no reduction in the level of energy people use in their daily lives over the past 20 years.
They also found that comparisons of energy expended by people in both the USA and Europe differ little from those in pre-industrial societies in the Third World. (1)
Honestly, I find that hard to believe. I am sure that most American & European office workers use a lot less calories than someone who lives a step above hunter-gatherer.
So if we aren't lazy, are we pigs?
A study on worms shows that serotonin levels in the nervous system influence feeding and fat. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter, also acts independently to control eating and what your body does with those calories once they've been consumed, the study said. (Pubmed link to study)
The head of the study suggests, "From a clinical perspective, this may mean you could develop therapeutic strategies to manipulate fat metabolism independently of what you eat. Now, the focus is primarily on feeding behavior. As important as that is, it's only part of the story. If the logic of the system is conserved across species, a strategy that focuses solely on behavior can only go so far. It may be one reason diets fail."
So what does this mean? That I eat like a worm, exercise like someone in a 3d world country and that I'm fat anyway?
I'm not above taking personal responsibility for my weight. Yes, I have been known to overeat occasionally. Not every day, not every meal, and not like one sees on TV. And yes, I don't exercise enough (especially in the last few weeks with my knee being so bad and my PT schedule). But the little bit that I overeat should not have produced the body I have.
I was at a counseling session this week (I'm not really going again, it was a 1-time thing, or maybe a 2 time thing), talking about childhood fears, when's the first time I remember being fat, etc. We did hit some breakthroughs, but one thing that came up (as I was sitting there crying) was that my body is like a punishment, a prison I can't escape, 200 lbs of jail I lug with me every minute of every day, and what the hell did I do so bad in my life to deserve this?

PT blues

I'm really unhappy with the physical therapy I've been getting. The way that they schedule me, I had to give up going into the pool, because they only give me appointments during the same window I can go into the water. I was told at my first appointment by the therapist that I could swim for free as a PT patient but when I tried to arrange that, I was told it wasn't true. I only went there for PT because I wanted water therapy, but I can't get it because my doctor didn't SPECIFY. He wrote, "Evaluate and treat"-he didn't say "NO WATER THERAPY" but they refuse to give me water therapy because he didn't specify..
I'm not doing 3+ hours a week of exercise. I'm doing none. That is NOT an improvement.
The "therapy" has mostly been massage. Which is fine, and if I was also working out, it would probably be helping. But 2 half hour sessions of massage each week don't equal 3 hours of full-on workout. So my edema is horrible. Each co-pay costs more than a month of pool membership.
Last week one of the three therapists I've worked with (one of them horrible) decided it was time to give me real therapy in the gym room. I thought I'd be using machines. No. First she had me do calf raises, a whole 20. I'm looking at her in disbelief--only 20? Then side leg raises, again, only 20. I can do jumping jacks for 15 minutes straight in the pool, the equivalent of hundreds of these. And not with weights on my ankles or resistance on a machine--she just had me using "body weight" as my resistance. Totally lame.
Then she had me do another exercise that was balance related. And I couldn't do even 1 correctly. My center of gravity isn't in my pelvis where it should be, and if it was, I could have done it with no problem. I can tell from how this therapist is with me that she's never worked with a very overweight patient before. She has no idea what I am capable of and doesn't think that I know my own body at all. I try to do it, it's an epic fail, and I say, "Physically I cannot do that without falling." She weighs about 110 and she shows me "It's easy, do this." I try, and I fall backwards. Then she decides it will be easier if I do it leaning against a balance ball. It's not a no-burst ball and I could tell it wouldn't take my weight. I point this out. She insists it will. I know it won't, because I own 2 no-burst balls and they feel totally different under me. I'm trying to put my full weight onto an inflated piece of rubber that's not going to take it and also balance myself against my center of gravity and not fall. (BTW, I noticed as I was walking out that there are shreds of popped balance balls hanging on hooks around the room. So much for no-burst, huh?) Another epic fail. Every time she forces me to try this, there is a pain in my knee like it's ripping inside. I tell her this, she makes me try yet another configuration because she's just not getting it. I know the difference between workout pain because I am pushing myself and injury pain, but she doesn't believe me.
I'm walking out of the facility, holding the wall, trying not to cry, and another therapy patient who also can't walk comes up to me and asks if I'm all right because it's obvious I'm about to fall over. Here's this skinny guy with a hip replacement and he's going to help me? I went to get into my car, which obviously requires me to put my right (good) leg into the foot well and for a brief moment transfer my full weight onto my (bad) left leg. When I did that, the leg just gave way. No pain, it just buckled underneath me and I had to grab onto the door and hang from it before heaving myself into the driver's seat in a huge burst of pain.
Unhappy? Me?
That night I went to visit a friend of mine, who happens to be a nurse (a planned social visit, not because of my leg). She was appalled at the state of my edema. I think it's the worse it's ever been. She tried rubbing it but it's solid fluid with no give. She was holding my foot looking at my calf and she finally said, "This isn't good at all. This is very bad. What are they doing for therapy?" Her opinion, and I agree, is that I'm better off just doing my workout and stopping if it hurts (pain, not workout hurt) than paying all this money for something that's exacerbating the problem, not alleviating it.
I basically spent all weekend in bed with my leg up, in pain. I'm trying to eat less, but I know I'm gaining weight. It's a vicious horrible cycle and I'm dreadfully unhappy and I don't know what to do.