Fit vs. Fiction's Blog


Why I started Fit vs Fiction and why I won’t shut up about it

BECAUSE:
We live in an image obsessed, fat-phobic, one-size-fits-all, thin is in, skinny jean wearing, thigh gap measuring, binging and purging, body hating society where kids barely out of pre-school are begging their mothers to keep them home from school because they feel like they’re just too fat to fit in!

And THAT..is NOT..Okay.

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Sugar-free, Fat-free, chocolate flavored pudding..is NOT pudding!

And there is nothing cake-like about rice cakes.

Diet companies might be able to package their fat free, sugar free, carbohydrate free “treats” to look good, but nothing can be done about the taste. The sad thing is that we accept it! We convince ourselves that they are just as good as the real thing and then wonder why we’re still hungry after eating them. “How can I still be craving chocolate?” you wonder, as you swallow the last piece of the “ChocNOfat BAR” you bought at the health food store. Our bodies are smarter than we think, when we crave certain things, we can’t simply trick our taste buds into thinking we’re satisfying those cravings by eating something that’s the same color, shape or texture. What usually ends up happening is we wind up eating “around” the foods we really want. For example, you might really want a few chocolate chip cookies, but to avoid the calories and inevitable guilt that will follow, you choose instead to have something else. Maybe you choose a couple of rice cakes, but when they don’t quite do the trick, you decide to have something sweet, so you grab an apple, but when that doesn’t work, you try something a bit more substantial and grab a few slices of bread with some low fat cheese. Still not satisfied, you end up giving in to your original craving and have a few of the cookies you wanted in the first place. Only now, you’ve had the cookies PLUS, rice cakes, an apple and bread with cheese. Had you just eaten what you wanted in the first place, you would have been satisfied and gotten on with your life! Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. Now that you’ve eaten the forbidden fruit, or in this case, cookies, you are overwhelmed with guilt and feel like you’ve just blown your diet and will usually react in one of 2 ways. Either you vow never to eat cookies again and start following an unrealistically strict diet to repent for your food sins, which, in time, you will find impossible to maintain. Or, you’ll skip the diet and, feeling completely discouraged over your own perceived lack of willpower, give up on healthy eating altogether, and punish yourself by gorging on anything and everything with complete abandon while your self-esteem sinks to a new low. All this can be avoided, however, if we learn how to be patient with ourselves and realize that food is not the enemy.

Eating food doesn’t make us overweight; OVEReating food can. The simple fact is that it takes more than a slice of cake, or a few cookies or a small serving of fries to lead us into a life of obesity. A lot more. I don’t believe that we need to or should ban these foods from our lives, in fact, we need to learn how to live with them if we want a chance at living a life free of the diet and body image angst that plagues so many of us.

After years of being told that we don’t know how to eat, we’ve actually started to believe it. This makes us completely vulnerable and therefore prime targets for any and all new diet plans or products that come our way. When did we lose faith in ourselves and start putting all our trust in complete strangers, who care more about healthy incomes than healthy consumers?

I realize that there is a problem with obesity in our culture, but it’s certainly NOT from a lack of diet products available; quite the opposite actually. When we’re told to avoid fat and sugar, we immediately start stocking up on all the fat-free, sugar-free products we can get our hands on. There is a diet version of almost everything these days. Each of them promising to taste just as good as the original. What they don’t say, is that the fat free items are loaded with extra sugar and the sugar free ones are made with extra fat. It’s their way of replacing some of the lost flavor. I’m not suggesting that we should always choose the most decadent option available, but there is almost always a happy medium. Life is too short to live without flavor. Don’t settle for bland and dry over moist and delicious. While we shouldn’t make decadence the main component of our diets, we shouldn’t completely avoid it either.

Along with a Barrage of diet products telling us what to eat, are countless weight loss companies telling us HOW to eat. We are so tired of feeling like we’re fighting an uphill battle with our bodies and trying to figure out how and what to eat every single day, that we’re relieved when some diet company offers to do our thinking for us. Some of them will sell us books detailing what foods to eat, others will make their own, prepackaged foods available at most grocery stores, and some, will go as far as to offer home delivery so you never have to shop, cook or think for yourself ever again. BUT AT WHAT COST? Needless to say, these options are very expensive, but worse than that, they make us completely dependent on them. Suddenly, we can’t take a bite or a sip of anything that hasn’t been pre-approved by whichever diet company we’ve sold our souls to! That can’t possibly seem like a good idea long term. When does it end?

I understand the desperation to lose weight, but most people want to lose weight because they feel that their extra weight is keeping them from enjoying life to the fullest, but how does being a slave to a diet plan improve their quality of life? Where’s the freedom in that? We need to learn how to live WITH food, not fear and avoid it. We are all so much more powerful than we give ourselves credit for. It’s time to reclaim that power. We have to stop paying other people to do what we should be doing for ourselves. The only things getting leaner are our wallets! Instead, we need to take the foods we enjoy off our “naughty lists” and learn how to incorporate them into our daily lives. It’s time to go back to REAL food. Throw out all the fat free, sugar free, carbohydrate free, flavor free products that are filling your pantries and refrigerators and start enjoying your food again. Listen to your body, respect your body and most of all, start working WITH your body instead of fighting AGAINST it.

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Sugar-Free, Fat-Free, Chocolate flavored pudding..is NOT pudding!

 

 

And there is nothing cake-like about rice cakes. The diet companies might be able to  package their fat free, sugar free, carbohydrate free “treats” to look good, but nothing can be done about the taste. The sad thing is that we accept it! We convince ourselves that they are just as good as the real thing and then wonder why we’re still hungry after eating them. “How can I still be craving chocolate?” you wonder, as you swallow the last piece of the “CHOCNOFAT BAR” you bought at the health food store. Our bodies are smarter than we think, when we crave certain things, we can’t simply trick our taste buds into thinking we’re satisfying those cravings by eating something that’s the same color, shape or texture. What usually ends up happening is we wind up eating “around” the foods we really want. For example, you might really want a few chocolate chip cookies, but to avoid the calories and inevitable guilt that will follow, you choose instead to have something else. Maybe you choose a couple of rice cakes, but when they don’t quite do the trick, you decide to have something sweet, so you grab an apple, but when that doesn’t work, you try something a bit more substantial and grab a few slices of bread with some low fat cheese. Still not satisfied, you end up giving in to your original craving and have a few of the cookies you wanted in the first place. Only now, you’ve had the cookies PLUS, rice cakes, an apple and bread with cheese. Had you just eaten what you wanted in the first place, you would have been satisfied and gotten on with your life! Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. Now that you’ve eaten the forbidden fruit, or in this case, cookies, you are overwhelmed with guilt and feel like you’ve just blown your diet and will usually react in one of 2 ways. Either, you vow never to eat cookies again and start following an unrealistically strict diet to repent for your food sins, which, in time, you will find impossible to maintain. Or, you’ll skip the diet and, feeling completely discouraged over your own perceived lack of willpower, give up on healthy eating altogether, and punish yourself by gorging on anything and everything with complete abandon while your self-esteem sinks to a new low. All this can be avoided, however, if we learn how to be patient with ourselves and realize that food is not the enemy.

 

Our society has an intense fear of food. We live in fear of putting the wrong foods in our mouths and are constantly searching for the next miracle food to fulfill all of our nutritional needs. I do not believe that there is such a thing as GOOD food and BAD food. It’s all just FOOD. It’s not what we eat, but how we eat it that makes all the difference. Eating food doesn’t make us overweight; OVEReating food can. The simple fact, is that it takes more than a slice of cake, or a few cookies or a small serving of fries to lead us into a life of obesity. A lot more. I don’t believe that we need to or should ban these foods from our lives, in fact, we need to learn how to live with them if we want a chance at living a life free of the diet and body image angst that plagues so many of us. After years of being told that we don’t know how to eat, we’ve actually started to believe it. This makes us completely vulnerable and therefore prime targets for any and all new diet plans or products that come our way. When did we lose faith in ourselves and start putting all our trust in complete strangers, who care more about healthy bank accounts than healthy customers? I realize that there is a problem with obesity in our culture, but it’s certainly NOT from a lack of diet products available; quite the opposite actually. When we’re told to avoid fat and sugar, we immediately start stocking up on all the fat-free, sugar-free products we can get our hands on .There is a diet version of almost everything these days. Each of them promising to taste just as good as the original. What they don’t say, is that the fat free items are loaded with extra sugar and the sugar free ones are made with extra fat. It’s their way of replacing some of the lost flavor. I’m not suggesting that we should always choose the most decadent option available, but there is almost always a happy medium. Life is too short to live without flavor. Don’t settle for bland and dry over moist and delicious. While we shouldn’t make decadence the main component of our diets, we shouldn’t completely avoid it either. Along with a “Barrage” of diet products telling us what to eat, are countless weight loss companies telling us HOW to eat. We are so tired of feeling like we’re fighting an uphill battle with our bodies, with trying to figure out how and what to eat every single day, that we’re relieved when some diet company offers to do our thinking for us. Some of them will sell us books detailing what foods to eat, others will make their own, prepackaged foods available at most grocery stores, and some, will go as far as to offer home delivery so you never have to shop, cook or think for yourself ever again. But at what cost? Needless to say, these options are very expensive, but worse than that, they make us completely dependent on them. Suddenly, we can’t take a bite or a sip of anything that hasn’t been pre-approved by whichever diet company we’ve sold our souls to! That can’t possibly seem like a good idea long term. When does it end? I understand the desperation to lose weight, but most people want to lose weight because they feel that their extra weight is keeping them from enjoying life to the fullest, but how does being a slave to a diet plan improve their quality of life? Where’s the freedom in that? We NEED to learn how to live WITH food, not fear and avoid it. We are all so much more powerful than we give ourselves credit for. It’s time to reclaim that power. We have to stop paying other people to do what we should be doing for ourselves. The only things getting leaner are our wallets! Instead, we need to take the foods we enjoy off our “naughty lists” and learn how to incorporate them into our daily lives. Shocking as that may sound; you can be a healthy and fit individual while eating a variety of foods in a balanced way. Even foods whose sole redeeming quality might be that it tastes good! It’s time to go back to REAL food. Throw out all the fat free, sugar free, carbohydrate free, flavor free products that are filling your pantries and refrigerators and start enjoying your food again. Listen to your body, respect your body and most of all, start working WITH your body instead of fighting AGAINST it.

Charels Barkley in a dress?! UGH. You can do better than that Weight Watchers!

     Here’s why I’m annoyed:

Weight Watchers, as well as most other weight loss programs, are constantly equating being skinny with being healthy. There commercials often show celebrities in tight dresses or skimpy bikinis talking about how much better their lives are and how much happier they are, now that they’ve lost weight and can fit into their sexy clothes again. It’s always bothered me that they’ve completely neglected the fact that truly fit people can come in different shapes and sizes and the  focus should be on how our bodies WORK instead of just how they LOOK.

NOW they’re using Charles Barkley; a former professional basketball player. An ATHLETE. You’d think this would be the PERFECT opportunity to talk about how eating well and being active could completely change the way you FEEL. He could talk about how well his body functioned when he was playing basketball and how his recent sedentary lifestyle has left him feeling sluggish and weak, and how by taking care of himself, his body and his confidence level is stronger than ever! But noooooooooooo, Weight Watchers has decided to put him in a dress as a way of saying, ” Losing weight isn’t just for women”.

Sorry..I don’t get it.

Do they really think that THIS will get men to join their club?? Believe it or not, I’m not the kind of person that gets offended easily..but I think this is ridiculous!

With our society so focused on being SKINNY, more and more people who don’t need to, are putting themselves on diets and the ones who are overweight are feeling pressure to lose the weight for the wrong reasons. When are we going to realize that “smaller” isn’t always better..but STRONGER is?

Sorry Weight Watchers, I think you missed the mark on this one!

Summer Clothing Brings Body Loathing

Here comes the sun!

The days are getting longer, the sun’s shining brighter and the temperature’s heating up. Gone are the sweater and coat displays in shopping mall windows, instead we’re seeing Mannequins wearing shorts, tank tops and bathing suits. For most people, the sight of summer clothing brings happy thoughts of hanging by the pool or laying by beach; however, there are a larger number of people who see the summer clothing displays, also think about hanging by the pool or laying by the beach and feel anything but happy. For many of us, warm weather forecasts bring on feelings of intense stress and anxiety, because just the thought of having to pull out the shorter, more revealing outfits we’ve kept neatly tucked away all Winter, is terrifying!

A study out of the UK showed that 1/3 of women polled are buying summer clothes that are too small for them in a desperate attempt to lose weight for the summer, which creates an enormous amount of pointless stress.  50% of women said they feel self-conscious about wearing summer clothes and will only wear bikinis with a sarong to cover them; 12% won’t sunbathe at all.

2/3 of women go on pre-summer diets every year, with ½ of them breaking their diets within the first week.

Looking Fat on the beach was the TOP summer vacation concern for women, followed by quality and costs of accommodations.

As someone who battled years of body image issues, I can remember way too many summers, when I’d pray for cold, rainy temperatures and would actually get depressed when the forecast showed sun and heat. It was easier to hide what I felt was my oversized body in oversized clothing, than to have to look at myself in something sleeveless or form fitting. Sadly, more and more people are feeling intense pressure to look perfectly fit and fabulous by the time the last flake of snow has melted and are putting their health at risk by attempting “quick fix” diets to get there.

While it is very common to put on a little extra weight during the colder months, when we tend to eat bigger portions of heavier meals, shocking our bodies through overly restrictive diets and regimented workouts is not the way to go. Here are a few tips to help ease some of the summer woes:

1)      INCREASE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

While some people enjoy a gym atmosphere, there are others who avoid it at all costs. The great thing about warmer weather is that there are countless ways to stay fit outside in the fresh air! Truth is, it doesn’t have to be complicated: walking is the easiest, cheapest activity you can do and you can pretty much do it anywhere, grab a friend and just walk! You can also cycle, run, play a few games of tennis or whatever else you find enjoyable. The key is to find something that you like doing so it won’t feel like exercise.

2)      GIVE UP THE POP (or at least, limit them)

Calories still count when you don’t have to chew them. Pop (and Diet pop) will do very little to help you achieve your fitness goals. Whether it’s the sugar or Aspartame, the more you bloat yourself up with the nutritional emptiness of these foods, the less room you leave for the foods and drinks your body actually needs.

3)      DITCH THE DAIQUIRIS

Quick calories.  Slower metabolism. Enough said.

4) DRINK MORE WATER

There’s a reason WHY we keep hearing this advice and it’s because it makes sense!

Water detoxifies our bodies, moisturizes our joints, helps with metabolism and keeps our skin clear. A hydrated body is a happy one!

5)      BUY A BATHING SUIT THAT FITS

Don’t waste time or money getting a bathing suit for the body you WANT to have when you should be wearing a bathing suit that fits the body you already have. There are so many different styles of bathing suits available to flatter all body shapes and sizes, find the one that fits you best and you’ll feel the best in it. Whatever you do, please don’t feel like you have to wait until you lose weight to wear a bathing suit; wear it now and wear it proudly.

6)   KEEP A JOURNAL OF YOUR PROGRESS

This is not a way of keeping tabs of yourself or judging the little slips that are bound to happen now and then, but a way of cheering yourself on and staying motivated through every healthy decision you make. Seeing what you’ve done is  great inspiration for what you can do!

7)      BE CONFIDENT

One of the most attractive qualities a person can have is self-confidence. Believe in yourself, appreciate yourself and be proud of your body, it does a lot for you everyday and should be celebrated not judged!

NOW GET OUT THERE AND ENJOY THE SUNSHINE!

12 days of glee..353 days of guilt?

Posted in Uncategorized by fitvsfiction on February 1, 2012
Tags: , , , , ,

Tis the season to engage in holiday cheer with family and friends, sings songs, play games and feast on whichever meals and treats are traditional in your family. It’s a time to be grateful for all the wonderful things and people who surround us. There’s one problem: Why does it feel like even before the tinsel’s been removed from the tree or the wax has melted from the Menorah, we are bombarded with messages from TV talk shows and diet ad commercials telling us it’s time to REPENT for everything we’ve eaten or had to drink during the holidays? After weeks of baking and sharing recipes, talk instantly turns to dieting and losing weight. It’s almost like giving a child the video game they asked Santa for, only to turn around and call them lazy for playing with it!

It’s gotten to the point, where many people find it nearly impossible to eat something without an instant calorie count coming to mind. Just the other day, I was at the gym doing a spin class and feeling pretty good about doing something good for myself, when the instructor RUINED it for me by explaining that we would need to do SEVEN spin classes in order to burn off ONE Christmas dinner! Really? Was that necessary? If she was trying to be motivating, she had failed miserably.

 

Here’s the good news: All that shame and guilt we feel post-holiday indulgence is unwarranted. The best way to return to our pre-holiday weight is NOT by dieting, but by returning to our regular, balanced meals and active lifestyles.

 

It’s estimated that nearly 50% of North Americans make losing weight their #1 New Year’s Resolution and it’s believed that close to 80% will fail. Any regular gym goers know to expect their gyms to get busier in January with an influx of new members and then quiet down by mid-February when these members give up.

 

Here are a few common mistakes we make post-holiday season:

1)      Completely Overindulge with plans to restrict later on: “I’m going to eat everything I can NOW, and start a STRICT diet January 1st!”

 

2)      Set unrealistic goals: “I will lose 50lbs by March, even if it kills me!”

 

3)      Make exercise a punishment: “I’ve been BAD, so I will make myself go to the gym everyday, whether I like it or not.”

 

A better way to handle it:

 

1)      Do NOT shock your body with a very restrictive diet, instead, return to a balanced diet with the focus being on healthy choices and portions. Believe it or not, your body knows where it wants to be and with proper food and activity, will get there easier than you’d expect.

 

2)      Set realistic goals based on IMPROVEMENT. Our aim should be to improve our fitness level which includes things like strength and flexibility. Speak to a trainer about what you can expect and appreciate the positive changes as they come.

 

3)      Do NOT make exercise a punishment.

Being active is a GOOD thing. Don’t think of it as something we do because we hate our bodies, but something we do because we love them and want them to be healthy. Exercise doesn’t have to happen in a gym either, find something you ENJOY doing and you’ll be successful at it.. Some people enjoy the atmosphere of group classes at fitness clubs, while others prefer to on a sports team or walking club. If you like what you’re doing, there’s a much better chance that you’ll stick with it.

 

Guilt and shame are never good motivators.

 

ENJOY your holiday…AND every day that comes after it!

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

So you mean cherries don’t grow in the shape of Dinosaurs?!

Oh no she Di’ int!

So there I was at the grocery store, innocently picking up a box of gummy candies for my kids, when I heared an unfamiliar, judgement filled voice say, “You DO realize those don’t actually have any FRUIT in them,don’t you?”

“Excuse me?” I replied.

She continued, “They’re pure sugar. Why would you buy those for your kids?”

(Poor woman had no idea who she was talking to or what she had just started.)

With sarcasm seeping through my pores, I said, ” Well, thank you so much for the tip, I was actually under the impression that they we ALL fruit..don’t cherries grow in the shape of dinosaurs? I thought all oranges looked like Spiderman or Dora the Explorer..wow, good thing you were here to set me straight!”

She looked at bit confused.

I continued by explaining, that while I was aware that the fruit snacks I was buying were more snack than fruit, they were just a small addition to the already balanced, healthy diet my kids enjoy. I know the difference between fruit  and “Fruit flavored” and so do my kids. When they come home after 8 hours (yup, 8 hours of Taekwondo training 5 days a week for the next few weeks), they grab something from the bowl of fruit that are washed and waiting for them on the kitchen table, because it’s what their bodies are craving..but during the day, when they are working hard and burning calories like crazy, you better believe I give them all KINDS of foods to choose from!

She countered with a somewhat sheepish, “Uh..well..I…”

I assured her that I understood the point she was trying to make but explained that it’s probably not the best idea to dish out advice to complete strangers. I told her about what I do and why I am so passionate about the issue of food and kids and encouraged her to check out my Fit vs Fiction website.

Maybe I should send this as an idea to the TV show “Primetime: What would you do? I’d love to see how others would have handled it!

 

 

 

Will reading this blog make you FAT?

A few of the things I’ve learned recently:

Diet pop will make me fat, sugar will make me fat, watching TV will make me fat, White flour will make me fat, too much caffeine will make me fat, air conditioning will make me fat (apparently, it has something to do with the cold air impacting calorie burning), so will granola, sushi, veggie burgers and lack of sleep. So basically, if what I’ve been reading is accurate, then I am destined for a life of morbid obesity!  Forget the fact that I workout regularly and vigorously and try to make healthy choices at mealtimes, seems none of that matters when you factor in all the “Fat rules” I’m breaking on a daily basis.

As I sit here in my air conditioned home, after getting just a few hours of sleep, I reflect on the week I’ve had and realize that I’ve been a bad,bad girl. My week started with dinner from my favorite sushi place, continued with several hours of television, the occasional diet Pepsi, lots of iced tea and a couple of veggie burgers..just to name of few of my weight infractions.

According to what I’ve been reading, my next purchase should be one of those scooters you see people driving around in when their weight has overcome their strength , but that ain’t gonna happen because, well, I just don’t buy it.

I do not think that sugar (or white bread, or caffeine) makes us fat! There; I said it. Why do we insist on blaming ONE food or behavior for an issue that has a MULTITUDE of factors attached to it? Obesity is a much bigger issue than most people realize..and believe it or not, it has less to do with WHAT we eat than HOW we eat.

When a person is eating themself into obesity, it’s usually not because they are hungry, the same way that an Anorexic who is starving themself isn’t doing so because they aren’t really hungry.

 

The headlines are meant to scare us and shock us, but I think, for the most part, they just confuse us.

Do I engage in some of the afformentioned fat traps? yes, I do. But, I also engage in many healthy lifestyle choices. Food has always played a much bigger role in my life than it should have. I’ve spent years alternating between restricting it and overindulging in it and the truth is, It’s just FOOD. One type of any kind food, eaten in moderation will not significantly impact my health in a negative way, this is what I’ve learned and what I believe.

oh..and don’t worry, reading this blog will NOT make you fat.

:o)

Just when I start feeling like maybe It’s too tough a battle to fight…

I went through Hell battling my eating Disorder. I aliented friends and family,gave up on my dreams and put my life at risk far too many times to mention. This is not an easy disorder to get over, it sinks it’s claws into you and hangs on with all it’s might. It’s sneaky and mean and painful. I let my negative body image control my life for over 20 years and I will do whatever it takes to never go back to that dark place ever again.

But now saving myself isn’t enough. It absolutely kills me to see other people struggling the way I did and I know that it’s my responsibility to do whatever it takes to change the way we treat and see ourselves where our bodies are concerned.

But sometimes I feel like it’s just too tough a battle to fight. For all the experts I speak to and studies I read that support my mission, for every parent or child who comes to me for help because they know I understand what they’re going through, there’s still an inability for most people to accept the fact that obesity isn’t just about FOOD. Food isn’t the cause of the problem, it’s a symptom of a bigger one. But it’s so much easier for governments and school boards to remove food from the equation and think that they’ve saved the day.

It’s much easier to blame obesity on junk food and lazy kids with lazy parents than to tackle WHY it is that we have so much trouble finding balance with what and how we eat. BLAME never works. Shame never works. EDUCATION is key, but in order to PROPERLY educate our kids we need to educate ourselves.

Sometims I feel like maybe I should just give up. I should be grateful that I was able to reclaim my life and leave the rest of the world to somebody else…But just when I’m starting to question what I’m doing, I get a message like the one I got this week from a girl in the U.S.:

“Hi Marci,
I agree with you 100%. I am from the U.S.A. and here, there is A LOT of focus on fat especially in grades 1-8.
I personally have struggled with Anorexia that was caused by my school wanting us to be “healthy.” They weighed us and in a class we even had to write down our foods and calculate calories… When I first started losing weight, the teachers noticed but didn’t say anything. I ended up losing 50+ lbs (I wasn’t overweight to start with.. I was actually towards the lower end of the BMI scale with a 18.9 bmi.) After getting help and gaining the weight back, my mind is still not normal. It doesn’t make it easier for me to recover when I am in health class and our teacher is telling us to not eat cookies and ice cream.”

Schools should build confidence in our kids, not destroy it.

I will get frustrated at times and I will wonder if I’m too small a fish in a very big pond, but I can promise you that I will never give up trying to get the message out that SELF-WORTH SHOULD NOT BE MEASURED IN POUNDS.

Dr. Clueless

I stood on the scale, wearing only a pair of underwear and one of those flimsy robes that barely cover your butt at the doctor’s office. I didn’t want to be standing there. I had made that fact perfectly clear to my doctor. I had been very honest with him about what I was feeling. It was the beginning of September and just 3 months earlier, on May 28th,1987 I lost my brother to a liver disease no one knew he had until it was too late. He was only 21 years old and he was everything to me. From the day my father left the family when I was 10 years old, he took over as man of the house and I adored him. Soon after he had become ill, I had noticed myself becoming obsessed with food and what I was eating. It started with me rejecting the food that friends and family would bring to the the hospital in an effort to comfort us and continued through Billy’s funeral where I would watch my mother’s friends place platters of sandwiches and cookies on the table in front of me and I would revel in the hunger pains I felt, but would not feed, and into the weeks that followed. Luckily, in July, I was encouraged by friends and family, to accept a job offer to teach dance at an overnight camp. The same camp my brother had worked at the summer before. It ended up being a mostly positive experience as I started to loosen my grip on my diet and calorie counting and actually managed to enjoy the friendships I made and found comfort in the joy I got from dance and movement.

This made me feel like I was beginning to take small steps in the right direction by regaining some normalcy in my life. While I was aware of the fact that by eating without strict boundaries I had gained a little bit of weight, I wasn’t bothered by it. When I considered how thin I was before the summer, a 5 lb weight gain hardly seemed significant. At 17 years old, standing 5’6 inches tall and weighing in at no more 130 lbs, I was well within an acceptable range. Or so I thought. But there I was; in my doctor’s office, standing on that scale; feeling incredibly vulnerable, terribly uncomfortable and completely unprepared for what was about to happen.

For the next 15 minutes, my doctor, and I use that term loosely, proceeded to berate me with insult after insult about how fat I had gotten. He pointed at my stomach and with a look of disgust on his face said, “Look at that, what is that?!” He then explained that although “Medically speaking” I was not overweight, society was thin, and in order to fit in to society, I would have to lose 10 lbs. Keep in mind, I had NEVER been called fat in my entire life; this was devastating! He continued his assault by letting me know that if he were me, he would not be caught dead in a bathing suit. I refer to this experience as an “assault” because with a few years and many therapy sessions under my belt, I can now differentiate between a doctor’s well meaning advice and the twisted ranting of a man who may as well have gotten his medical degree from the bottom of a cereal box.

Sadly though, on this day, the difference wasn’t as clear to me and as much as I tried not to, I took his words to heart. What was he thinking? Speaking those words in that way to any teenage girl could be dangerous, but a teenage girl who had just been through the kind of traumatic experience I had, was completely asinine. The fact that I had been honest with him about the way my brother’s death had started to affect my body image made it even worse. I left his office with direct orders to write down everything I ate from that day forward in a journal to be shown to him at the end of each week. My first meal after that appointment was an order of toast from the hospital cafeteria where I had gone for some follow up blood work I needed to get related to my brother’s illness. My plan was to forget about what the doctor had said and just return to eating in a way that felt healthy and balanced. However, sitting in that cafeteria, butter and jam seemed a bit overindulgent and I opted to eat my toast dry instead. That was where the insanity started, but nowhere near to where it came to an end.

A few years later, during a moment of clarity, I wrote this man a letter. In it, I chose not to point fingers and make accusations that would fall on deaf ears anyway, but tried to educate him on the power of words when spoken by a person of perceived authority. I encouraged him to put more thought into his words as their impact can be devastating. I never got a response. Sadly, he probably doesn’t remember anything that he said to me that day, or even the fact that we spoke at all. But I remember every, single word like it was yesterday. Only it was 24 years worth of yesterdays.

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