Thursday, December 20, 2012

Don't Gain 10 Pounds Over the Holidays! Tips From the Fat and the Skinny.

Santa in the store mall at The Plaza, NYC
In the waiting area of Todd English's Food Hall, The Plaza
Holiday shopping, meal planning, get-togethers, the incredible fun and stress of dining out, staying in, invites and mega events with visiting family and friends between Christmas Eve and New Years. You are a whirlwind and your family is thrilled and spinning like dynamos with the spirit of celebration. How did you do it? The adrenalin pumped, your friends and family rolled sweaters to their elbows and pitched in with sweat and tears.  Now comes January 3rd and all is a glossy virtual memory on your digital uploads and scrolled down Facbook feeds and Twittered Instagram photos.

What will remain in the realm of the concrete is neglect of a certain area of the bathroom or your bedroom. No, not the dust balls and micro bits of human flesh and hair. It's the scale. How long will it take for you to acknowledge that you've eaten your way out of those skinny size 0 jeans and are feeling pinched and breathless in your size 2s? How many days will you avoid, "The Horror, The Horror" of hopping onto the abyss and seeing those dreaded numbers indicating a gain of 15 pounds?
My good friend.
 The sooner you face the fats, the better. The faster you will resolve to shut your mouth and get back to the basics of plain, healthy eating and throwing out everything in your refrigerator with the whiff of sugar and savory. The quicker you will marshal your brood back to accepting veggies, fish and lean meats, praying that you obliterate the rich sumptuous holiday fare from their consciousness.
After the holidays, for many, it's the left picture, not the right when putting on jeans. Gulp....ahhhhhhhhh!
Want to avoid the hell of having to diet off those rat clinging 10-20 pounds after the holidays have long passed? Let's get real! You can gain that much, especially if you are the type, like me, to pillage the delectable goodies you've avoided all year in a holiday binge fest then continue the pig-out bliss to the Epiphany, January 6th or beyond.  It's so much easier to lose only a few pounds than 10-20. If you forestall the inevitable weight gain of the season, you'll be happier, healthier and stronger in the long run..

Here are some tips to fantasize about doing. You want to avoid the scale terrors don't you? If you can accomplish at least one in its entirety, the remembrance of your carefulness will inspire you to get on the scale more quickly and will keep the guilt at a standoff.  Think five pounds less fat misery in January. Use these tips at your own discretion especially if you are overweight or obese.

Tip # 1
Right before the holidays take 2 bites less at each meal and up your intake of water and fresh lemon juice to make yourself feel full. Lose a few pounds before the marathon of eating begins. You can also make the lemon drink featured in the Master Cleanse.

Tip# 2
For more immediate results, go on a Master Cleanse for 5 days before Christmas and your mind, body and stomach will be attuned to feeling full. Your eye-mind-hand-mouth excesses won't be as bad and your susceptibility to sampling and going for seconds of the tastiest, most caloric courses will be muted. By the time your body and mind catch up with the haze of overeating that other partiers have entered days before, you will be near New Years. You will have already saved yourself by half, the weight you would have gained.
Tempting rolls. Avoid, avoid, avoid. They will stimulate your appetite and increase your blood sugar.
 Tip #3
At Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners and New Years Eve and New Years Day dinners, drink hot drinks at least two hours before you eat, if possible. Again, if you use the Master Cleanse lemon (hot, like a toddy without the alcohol) drink, you will be way ahead of your weight gain curve. Tea, coffee, lattes with non fat milk are filling. It's better to hydrate yourself with liquids, and avoid the stress of taxing your organs by overeating. Liquids (stay away from diet sodas and soda, period.) keep your digestive system flowing smoothly and happily. Psychologically, you will feel strong, confident and pleased at your determination. These are good emotions in the midst of friends' and relatives' overeating depression despite their attempt to "enjoy the holidays."

Tip #4
When people see what you are doing, the saboteurs will crawl out of the woodwork like insects on a mission. Remind yourself, your less filled plate or drinking liquids will make them feel guilty as they stuff their faces. You must arm your consciousness and need to please them by either making jokes or being direct according to your own MO. If you need to set this course a few days ahead and make up practice lines in response, then do so. Their guilt trip won't help you take off the 15 pounds you've gained because you listened to them. If they carp at you, ask them, "Are you concerned about gaining weight?" The jacket of blubber they are encouraging you to wear, put right back on them. Your emotional, mental and physical health is more important than all their manipulative taunts, demeaning jokes and guilt-fear machinations. If they have a problem with YOUR ATTEMPTS AT BEING HEALTHY,  that is their problem. Just one more cookie won't hurt them, especially if they are trying to stuff your face with it. Give it right back to them...the cookie and second helpings and whatever else more they want you to eat or drink. Their criticisms of your attempt at strength and health is their problem. Ask them if they have a problem with your need to be healthy, thin and not excessive at this critical time when everyone is prone to gaining weight.
Fish with mussels, light and savory. The only safe dish to finish, perhaps.

Quail; don't finish all of it.
Tip #5
Take two spoonfuls/forkfuls of the most fattening and highest caloric foods (if you must, to taste, but that's it). Take five forkfuls/spoonfuls or more of salad (If you have to have dressing, try fresh squeezed lemon and cold pressed olive oil or a great balsamic vinegar with no oil.) and vegetables (unless they are full of cream, butter and cheese). If you have no choice and the salad is predressed, ask your hostess if she has other dressing or ask for a bit of greens without dressing, then ask for the balsamic. If she is offended, that's her problem.
Arugula salad with parmigiano sans the dressing. Eat all of it.
Tip #6
Avoid white starches and their derivatives, i.e. potatoes, bread, rolls, rice, pasta. Instead, fill up on the most colorful food items that took the least amount of preparation because they were grown from soil or hydroponically and no one has thought to be extra creative to process them with bread crumbs and other caloric preparations. If the cooks have deep fried the broccoli and cauliflower, then pick off the bread crumbs or push aside the creamy, cheesy glop designed to mask the true flavors of the vegetable. The goo and fried batter and crumbs are the pounds you will gain. Ask yourself this question: do I want to gain 5 pounds on vegetable dishes designed to taste scrumptious? Or do I want to gain 5 pounds on the main meal and dessert course? Make a decision, but don't do both. Stick to colors/vegetables that have not been excessively treated, cooked and processed.
Beef cheek ravioli. (Heavy fare; just eat one.)
 Tip #7
If you are going to drink alcohol, limit yourself to a glass of red or white wine, at the most two glasses and follow the above tips about food to the letter. If you are going to have mixed drinks, limit yourself to one. If you are having straight up or on ice straight vodka, gin, bourbon, etc.,  then try to avoid the wine or have one glass of wine and one straight up drink, one of each at the most. If you can, limit yourself to two drinks and follow the other tips about food like a fascist.

Red velvet cake. Take a sliver and eat half of it. That's it.

Milleflour cake: thin pastry layers and creme filling. Is a thin slice possible? Then just eat 1/2 and that's it.

What more can be said. If you eat it, you'll wear it, unless you can have just one, the most two bites, to taste.
 Tip #8
If you must eat dessert and must try all the desserts, take one tiny slice/piece of the larger dessert items and then eat one bite of each, yes, that's ONE BITE. If there are those cakes/desserts (fruitcake) that are unappealing and avoidable, then pick one luscious item you do love (i.e. red velvet cake) and eat half of a small portion (thin sliver) and that's it. Don't try more than one half slice of a dessert. If you finish the entire piece of that delicious dutch apple pie, then a half hour later, a piece of the black forest cake and then a half hour later, a slice of the sweet potato pie, you will have gained your six pounds in one dinner.  Even if you are careful between Christmas and New Years, your cells will have expanded and they will be raging to be filled the next day and the next. It will be very difficult to resist the temptation not to eat the leftovers your hostess gave you, especially any dessert leftovers, WHICH YOU SHOULD HAVE REFUSED! If you are the hostess and you aren't sending your guests home with leftovers or they refuse them, THEN TAKE THEM TO A FOOD PANTRY!
Incredible pastries: from tarts, chocolate truffle pastries to Boston creams and strawberry shortcake whipped creamed desserts. Don't they look beautiful? Pretend they taste awful and avoid eating any. Be proud of yourself. These are the little foxes that creep up on you and snare you in their teeth.
Tip #9
Watch out for the seemingly small items that require tremendous will power to avoid whether appetizer course or dessert course, i.e.  chips and dips, the crab cakes or oysters Rockefeller, the chocolate covered Christmas butter cookies filled with jelly or chocolate or another equivalent of such that you like. You know about chips and dips. But the cookies!!! Cookies are pound packers; rarely can you eat only one. I have easily scarfed 1/2 pound of a two pound box simply by eating 5 cookies.  In fact avoid the easily navigable, pop in your mouth appetizers (cheese, any processed tray of items from Cosco, and desserts i.e. chocolates, petit fours, fudge, etc.). If you can't have just one of anything that is 50- 80 calories or more, (potato chip, Jacques Torres chocolate) then don't have it at all. These items havoc your pleasure stimulators and endorphin terrorize you until the tray is half empty. And then you realize you're the paramount nibbler.
Chocolate chip cookies. Can you have just one?
Tip # 10
Weigh yourself immediately the next morning. Of course, you will kid yourself that you should wait a few days until you have allowed some of the food to be eliminated. And don't kid yourself with the rationalization that you can put it off because you have the salad and chicken in the fridge at the ready. NO. Do not fall for any excuse, justification or rationale building. Weigh yourself. The scale is your friend. It will help you decide to follow the same protocol to prepare for the next session of weight wars, New Years Eve and New Years Day. If the scale is kicked under the bathroom vanity or is left to gather hair balls in the corner, then you are doomed to gain even more weight than you imagine. And you will feel you can eat with impunity the week following up to New Years celebrations.

Tip #11  (About those leftovers...)

 Me after drooling over the luscious treats in the downstairs mall just outside Food Hall at The Plaza, NYC (photo credit, Emily)
 Good Luck, God Bless and Happy Holidays.

The resolutions for maintaining your weight or losing weight should begin well before the holidays, not after New Years. In fact, two weeks before, during and after, step up weighing yourself every day, regardless of what the pundits say. Reality is a vital motivator to keep your appetite in check. Delusion and avoidance is a stimulator of appetite.  Of course, if you don't mind gaining a lot of weight and plan to take the next 6 months losing it then go into unconsciousness and oblivion and eat anything that isn't nailed down. For me, a chronic overeater and obeser (see previous posts on this blog) those 6 months reverted to 6 years and then decades of yo-yoing. And when I think back to the beginnings, it was always the holidays that set me adrift on the raft of self-destruction. At sea with my fellow orcas, I was doomed to float on the waves of my own misery looking at rolls of blubber in the mirror (when I had the courage to glance at my reflection).

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Confessions From the Land of No Return

Julie Hatterly's home made hamburger buns via my Pinterest Board

My bread passion is legion. (See previous post.) So is my genetic and/or learned need to overindulge, switching off my brain sensors so fullness, is never registered or acknowledged. Whether my Roman ancestors were dynastic Caesars who conducted huge day-long groaning-table banquets and then every two hours or so took breaks to the vomitorium so they could throw up their meals to make room for more roasted fowl and macaroni, I do not know. I never threw up food after a gorge. I just digested and a few hours later would graze and munch until the next ersatz level of fullness was attained to repeat the pattern a few hours later, and a few hours later without ever allowing myself to feel sated. Was this emotional, inherited, genetic, learned? Does it matter? Well, yes to all and other contributing factors. But regardless, the learned pattern, personality driven habit, unconscious urge and genetic proclivity to overeat made me fat.
Roman Vomitorium at the ampitheatre in Trier. A vomitorium was not used as the myth suggested, for Romans to vomit and eat more. It was a passageway for exiting the theater quickly. 
The interesting fact was that this pattern and unconscious urge could be stopped only if I refrained from food altogether and just drank fluids, particularly warmed milk. In other words, I was able to eradicate appetite if I wasn't around food or didn't take a first bite of anything. Once the first domino was toppled, the rest followed to a great crash. I would binge, purchasing and eating ready made foods, inflating my stomach like a balloon when one of my miserable taste buds was engaged.  And they could be engaged willy nilly by a tiny gnocchi, the corner of a croissant, a translucent sliver of pound cake, a crumb of challah. I couldn't say no to anyone if food was placed before me, especially if it was tempting, succulent, savory or a derivative of wheat. That is unless I was fasting. Then all bets were off and no amount of manipulation, guilt intrusion, cajoling or demeaning ridicule  by friend, family or foe could coax me to have that first bite, especially if my mind was made up.

How and when I learned this was an effective MO for weight loss is not clear, but I do know that this trend works for many who battle obesity. It is little understood by thin, "normal" folks, so-called nutritionists and medical professionals. Nor is it understood by those self-righteous who are able to eat, feel sated and control their hungers to stop lifting their hand to feed their face. The French with their superior metabolisms especially look at my type with disdain and think I'm a pig for my inability to control my appetite once it's been triggered.
Apple Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes
But for those of us addicts to whom food is like heroin or opium, especially rolls, cakes, croissants, scones, etc., it is easier to abstain altogether from using our mandibles. Much less painful than having "just a taste," which is murderous because with guilt and horror, we cannot stop and are likely to engorge ourselves with every muffin, scone, slice of cake in sight and then hunt for more. Impossible? So now you know! When you see an obeser, think, "Their fasting capabilities are greater than mine." Chances are some are like me, an aesthectic who can abstain from chewing for months while living off the nutrition of a liquid diet. Judging me are you? Stand in my shoes and be merciful or I'll psychically convey this condition to your metabolism so you will have a bit more heart in the face of my suffering.
Pumpkin Bread with Salted Cararmel Drizzled Pumpkin Buttercream
 At my current BMI of 20, I'm engaged in this mini battle to finally right my drunken appetite. I set aside one day a week to eat whatever I enjoy, especially my friends the breads and specifically ones that don't appear to readily inflame my gluten hypersensitivities (or so I thought). In the past, I noted that processed, packaged breads with GM wheat grains (cracked wheat, wheat, rye, even some bakery breads) whose grains scientists tweaked, changed and refined over the past 50-70 years to benefit the commercial food industry and industrial farms, created problems for me. For one, I was extremely hungry after I consumed a bagel or a roll, unsatisfied, blindly craving more in prodigious quantities. Secondly, and I noted this when I was obese, after pigging out, my joints ached, I had reflux, my appetite was off the charts the next day, I was lethargic, non thinking and sleepy. The only way to describe it is I was anesthetized. Jack the Ripper could have cut into my flesh and I would have grinned without a misstep, "Please hand me the rest of that fresh semolina with butter."
Buttery, Flaky Petrossian Croissants, truly my favorite. I could eat them all and your typical slight French woman would be appalled.
But I have been losing the battle using this eating pattern these last six months. The breads are winning. Eating all of the croissants I can hunt down from the area's Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts and Petrossian and polishing off some danishes from 7-Eleven and corn muffins from Martha's Country Bakery and gluten-free scones from Red Hat Bakery during the course of a  12 hour graze, while supplementing with some fish or chicken or meat, fruits and veggies has begun to grate on me. I hate the way I feel afterward. My joints ache, my allergies return. I regurgitate food in my throat while I sleep, unsettling my body's ability to heal while resting. Symptoms I took in stride when I was obese, I no longer can tolerate. I'm beginning to understand viscerally that I cannot overindulge with impunity. This unhealthy practice has consequences, and they are physically painful. Alarmingly, the pain is registering in my mind so that I can no longer remain anesthetized. Between sessions of eating and fasting, the outrageous hunger pangs increase. Now, I organically know beyond knowing (I surmised this before but questioned it.) that FOR ME, all breads, rolls, croissants, cakes, and I mean ALL that are made with this new (last 50-70 years) flour are beyond obsessively addictive. They are dangerously, horrifically addictive. I can no longer joke about them being like death. They morph my body into a dangerous dying state. When I eat, even the memory of their taste, once I've finished them lingers like a luscious kiss or fragrance that is everpresent. But in seeking their fulfillment I am like the sailors who sought the Sirens in Homer's The Odyssey. I am dashed on the razor sharp reef of my own lusts and my cells are slashed dying in  metabolic acidity and toxicity.
In Homer's The Odyssey, the Sirens lured sailors who heard their irresistible song to their deaths. They sailed their ships toward the Sirens and perished in the turbulent waves, the ships dashed to pieces on the rocks. Odysseus is the only man reputed to have heard their song. Circe tells him to be bound to the ship's mast. While his sailors plug their ears with wax, he alone bound as he is can hear their song. Though he gestures for his men to free him, unhearing, they ignore his cries to be freed from his chains. Once past the Siren's island, they unbind him.
Have I had enough of dying? This is the third day of my fast on liquids after Saturday's egregious binge. Fasting on lattes= steamed nonfat milk, fresh, organic lemon drink (following the Master Cleanse) I feel better, lighter, refreshed. Tomorrow, I will weigh myself to check the damage of Saturday's overeating. Will I ever be able to eat such croissants, muffins, scones, cake abstaining after one bite. I am not French. I don't know, but at this point, I know the answer. No. Whatever part of my being in my makeup, personality, conscious and unconscious mind, I cannot handle certain refined flours and wheat grains. My gluten hypersensitivity is worse than I imagined, more painful and addictive than I allowed myself to believe. I have to face that reality for the rest of my life.

The battle has been lost. It remains to be seen if I can win the war.

Overlooking the Hudson River at the Cloisters in April, when I was heavier (BMI 21, 127 at 5'5.5") than I am now.(BMI 20)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Let Me Tell You All About It!

My love, my nemesis, my heartache. It's not a gorgeous, ripped and straight thirty- fifty-something, super freak, wow of a phantasmic guy. My hunger for this beauty doesn't have me cozying up to a cutie Maltese or soft, cuddly Himalayan. Neither is my rapacity for fragrant gardenias or ravishing exotic orchids. Am I impassioned for the secret obsession of all women, Jacques Torres truffles or Godiva pecan crunchies?

No! Just pass me that yeasty, sometimes yellow, white or dark brown, always crusty, soft inner belly of a structure that ravishes my taste buds especially when plied with butter or peanut butter and thick, luscious, imported blueberry or cherry preserves. Heavenly, toasted, just out of the oven fresh BRRREEAD! My raison d-etre, my love, my soul mate. Of course about now, you are frowning at this wacky and wantonly stupid food confession. And I'm frowning with you, all the more because I'm a gluten hypersensitive. Bread is evil. Bread is hell and damnation. Bread is the maw of Satan.  It is my pal, my heroin. But it's anathema. All flour, wheat, rye, grains, pastas are forever verboten for me. Do you know how long forever is?

Why? Why? The why is the woe. Do you know what the treasured gloriousness that I prefer above all else does to me? Imagine the horrors and miseries of a lifetime of obesity and yo-yo dieting. Yes. The staff of life and grains and all flour products make me obese. On the happiness quotient, in case you haven't looked into our cultural mores about being fat, fat is at the bottom of the scale for power, beauty, grace and righteousness. For me obesity has been a living death.
Beef cheek ravioli at Babbo. Lip smacking good. My friend Emily ordered this; never me.
If you cannot empathize, well imagine miles and miles of journeying through self-loathing and self-hate minute by agonizing minute, year by loathing-filled year. Imagine that nothing and no one can really salve your self-disgust at being a whale as long as there are mirrors and clothes to wear and skinny images in magazines and sylph celebrities on every screen watched by geeks and voyeurs. Imagine the judgment rained down upon your head as you perceive you are belittled for your inferior, sinful, food gluttony and lack of will power. No amount of "Honey I love you, you look fine," can help, because you and you alone know you are a disgustingly overweight, obese, orca. Your type is not a media darling.You are not at a weight of BMI normal or BMI underweight to photograph well. You never photograph well. In fact you race away from family photos during the holidays. No angle of you whether sitting, standing or hiding behind others works, except the one that places you out of the picture.

This was my history until four years ago. It is no longer. The leviathan vanished, exploded by the blood of many tears and 120 pounds of gradual weight loss. Now, I am BMI normal, and though I'm not underweight (as most celebrities must be to photograph well) I am no longer demoralized by my image in photographs. I'm finally satisfied with my appearance in mirrors and storefront reflections.

It only took me a lifetime to get here. How did I do it? I discovered my gluten hypersensitivity was prompting my obesity after reading Wheat Belly by William Davis. It's a fabulous book about the impact of wheat (whose genetics have been so tweaked and refined as to make the grain addictive among other things) on one's metabolism.  After reading this book, I ended a long weight loss plateau when I cut out all gluten products. I felt a restoration of energy and vitality I had never experienced even when I was a pasta raised Italian kid. With fits and starts because of a dream, I had already disappeared 80 pounds of fat, but it was the discovery of my gluten problem that helped me with the last 40. So far, I have resisted weight gain, a miracle, after yo-yoing a total of 20 times.
Recent picture during Thanksgiving week, 11/12

The cravings for my bread passions? They are legion. Hungers are easier to control, but they are everpresent like tormenting spirits. I fantasize about croissants, cheese danish, challah, morning buns, artisinal rolls with pecans, cranberries or walnuts, fresh semolina, corn and seeded ryes like others fantasize about sex positions. If I could, I'd take it any way: just give me the crackers, rounds or French baguette, I'll supply the specialty cheeses, pinot noirs or chardonnays. Every time I stop in Starbucks for my Venti-nonfat-wet-cappuccino, I squash my ravenousness for a blueberry scone or slice of pumpkin bread with a silent mantra, "Death, death, death. Flour is death." Sigh!

"This is no way to live, " you are probably thinking. Others, both friend and enemy have said this to my face. They didn't understand the depth of my insanity for wheat flour products nor my porca miseria (translated as pig misery and interpreted as fat hell). Some part of me not exorcised from yeast sided with them. I thought, maybe they were right. Why deprive myself of what I adore, even it if it is a devil? Just one slice, one roll, one buttery bite can't hurt!
Like all addicts I know how to game my judicious, circumspect intentions. Become unconscious. In this noctambulistic state, I am able to throw caution and right thinking to the floor where I can spit on their admonitions with impunity. I shut down that part of myself that seeks life and embraces health. In this mode, I am capable of heartily enjoying fat suicide. Who cares? Not my friends, not my enemies, not myself. Do you judge me as weak? Well, of course, I'm weak. I never said I was anything but. Obesity is a weakness, a dis-ease. I am still obese, though I look skinny.

The game to hide my relapse into fat suicide has been elaborate. Once I spawned it, I've trawled my wily subterfuge over these last six months to "have my cake and eat it, too," yet remain thin. I suppose it's an experiment to gauge "once and for all," how bad my wheat/flour addiction, my gluten hypersensitivity is. On the other hand, I am riding a whirlwind of screaming fat cells that can strangle me at any moment if I don't counter them by pulling on a pair of skinny size 0 jeans after a feed to judge if my squeeze into them is a gripper or ripper.
I'll take it all. Home made breads, those baguettes, focaccia, cheesey rolls. OMG!  Yummy!
My MO? For one day of the week, I indulge in my bakery bread obsession and eat as many croissants, muffins, danishes I want. I also allow myself healthy food for lunch and dinner (organic veggies and fruit and free range meats, if I can). Then after the entire day's engorgement and I am stuffed like a turkey, I bed myself to sleep off the drunk.

The next day, I weigh myself noting my weight gain sometimes of five pounds. And you thought I wouldn't gain that much?  Get real! It is possible to gorge oneself for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner and gain five pounds and then eat the leftovers the next day and the next. All of a sudden, you get on the scale a week later and you have apoplexia and anaphaletic shock. You've gained 10 pounds over the holidays (especially Christmas week toNew Years). And you wonder how it happened? Unconsciousness.
Fabulous ravioli at Eataly market that I can never have. Sigh!
 Of course, I ate like I normally would when I was obese and in a trance-like state. I overindulged to my heart's content. However, after one day, now, I weigh myself as a safety check and I try on a pair of skinny, skinny jeans. I immediately recognize I can barely button the waist and the zipper is ready to split. I have to get on the bed to pull up the pants where my legs have swelled. It's that bad.
These pastas sold at Eataly, NYC are so fresh, it's like me or my mom made them; I used to years ago. No more!
 This next day I am abstemious. I drink fluids and non fat milk for nutrition, but digest and digest expelling what I've eaten. I may do a Master Cleanse for the next three or four days. But I've indulged my passion and so far so good. I weigh myself after the fourth day and find I have lost weight but must continue to get back to the weight baseline where I began. So far so good, one would think, this treating oneself one day of the week like a holiday dinner. But how do I feel psychologically and physically? How do I feel overeating like it's a Super Bowl Party or birthday celebration, just eating what I know is my bet noir and knowing that the more I eat, the more I crave?

Well, Let me tell you...   

(To be continued...)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Anorexia Revisited: Tweens, Teens, Adults

Teen anorexic

When I taught high school, I remember a discussion I had with the gymnastics coach. We were discussing some of the girls who had graduated and gone on to college. I was shocked when the coach mentioned that two of them she knew had battled anorexia and even confronted it when they were on the high school team. Somehow, I didn't equate the muscular-looking bodies with anorexia, but there was a correlation. The young girls had to whizz through the air, remain lithe and agile and after the season was over, without their rigorous routines, they gained weight which made it very difficult to get back in shape when the season returned again. So they became anorexics to maintain their "balance" on the beam and cartwheel and running flip to their hearts content 4 months of the year.

Example of a photo which sometimes is posted on #thinspo

This is not an unusual occurrence for teenagers engaged in gymnastics. One mother discusses that when her daughter stopped the rigorous training which by fourth grade included practicing 14 to 16 hours a week, she put on weight and thought she was getting "fat." So she ramped into the anorexia mode eating less and less, and flew under the radar with her parents because the weight loss was  gradual. Her mother noticed how emaciated she looked in a bathing suit and she rushed her to a pediatrician who hospitalized her. "I pulled every string I could think of" the mother says when she attempted to enroll her in a program and see a psychiatrist. However, there was a waiting list for new patients, and other doctors she called were already at capacity. The mother remembers, "I was hysterical calling the psychiatrist's office and saying, 'Please, we can't wait. My child will be dead in three months.'"

Anorexia is a disease that has spread beyond the once typical age group of teen girls. Doctors are changing their protocol to accommodate treating younger anorexics and older ones. They are now treating children as young as 8-years-old and the elderly who are reaching the upper 70s age brackets. Once identified as occurring amongst a wealthy population of 13-17 year-old-girls is increasingly common among the elementary age children, even little boys and it runs a complete economic and age spectrum so that no one population remains untouched by eating disorders.
And adult woman suffering from eating disorders which may have begun in her teens.

According to Margaret Kelley, clinical nurse manager for the eating disorders treatment program at The Children's Hospital in Denver, "In the last two years, we've actually had to add a treatment track to deal with kids ages 9 to 11, and we're getting many more boys. We used to see one or two a year at most, but we've almost always got one or two boys in the program now."

Because the eating disordered hide their condition in a culture that prizes uber thin celebrity, the svelte model and the thin broadcast media spokesperson, and touts diets, weight loss programs and fitness devices and gyms, the disease is not easily detected, especially when two-thirds of the US population is either dieting or poised on the brink of dieting. Children are not stupid. They recognize that great status enshrines the thin, and demeaning stereotypes slap the fat. The overweight and obese are denounced and shamed for their ungainly condition. They are assumed to be unintelligent, lazy, unfit, smelly, sweaty, unloved and gross. Fat kids have no identity other than "The Ridiculed" and in elementary school through high school, they are the lost population, perhaps self-designed to avoid bullying jokes, opposite sex rejection and daily embarrassment about their disgusting condition. They just slide into the wall like ghosts, unless they rise above their condition and make their teachers and peers forget with sterling performances in academia or other activities: music, the arts, technology, etc. However, this is too little too late; the damage is done. Tweens and teens see the peer treatment of the fatties and fear for lives and their ability to fit in and be cool.
Adult woman suffering from eating disorders which most probably began as Anorexia in her teens.

Is it any wonder that fat, considered a cultural taboo and anathema from the White House down to the Frat House is most probably behind most of the drive toward the silence of anorexia/eating disorders, a condition hampering an indeterminate number of preteens and 5% of adolescents and a growing number of young women, middle aged women, wealthy socialites and senior aged women and men? What? Has the world gone off its axis? You thought men could do anything and there would be a woman out there to love him? Yes...well, not the kind he wants: not a fatty woman. He wants a slender, beautiful woman, certainly not one who is obese, so he had better look the part or obviously be attempting to look the part. And in the case of a gay man? Whew! He has to be buff and beautiful. Yes, more than ever men are being diagnosed with eating disorders. (Just today, I was trying on black slacks in a GAP store that had a coed dressing room. I overheard a young guy; he was asking the salesgirl if the pants pushed up his waist and gave him love handles. She assured him she saw no bacon anywhere. Gee, I thought. There's a revolution going on...a man concerned about love handles and back fat showing

If the adult population is suffering from fat worry as they acknowledge that obesity is associated with poor, trailer-trash, Walmart patrons, and slender beauty with Ralph Lauren, Gucci and the good life, can kids resist internalizing these modalities and equations? Will kids act on such internalizations?

Here are some statistics. In a study by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, 60% of elementary and middle school teachers reported an eating disorder problem with their students. Experts know this and are concerned about the rise in nearly epidemic proportions of "disordered eating" because of the perceptions of kids in elementary school, perceptions which can foreshadow the underpinnings of full blown anorexia a few years later.
  • Kids in first through third grades wish they were thinner: 42% or almost half said this.
  • Of the 10-year-olds surveyed, 81% are afraid of becoming fat.
  • Girls between the ages of 9 and 10 years-old say they feel better about themselves when they are on a diet: 51% said this.
If you feel this is a good thing, think again. Do we want kids preoccupied about weight issues before they have physically matured? Should they be stressed to the point of emotional, psychological and physical illness? Isn't our culture too fat obsessed as it is without our kids being traumatized about the horrors of being 10 pounds overweight with a higher than normal BMI? It appears that such stress is delivered to kids daily at school, by their caustic peers and by the media for it's not just overweight kids who are restricting calories, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Populations of normal-weight and underweight kids are dieting, for example, 16% of girls ages 8-11 and 19% of girls ages 12-15. Though the numbers are somewhat lower for boys, they, too, are dieting concerned that they not appear fat.

The warnings are out there. Experts see them, but does the rest of the culture care, or are the benefiting corporations happy that they are creating continued generations of rebellious obese and weight obsessives who will need their products: their weight loss drugs, teas, diets panaceas, programs, medical devices, gyms, protocols, doctors' visits, etc.? How many more anorexic suicides does our culture have to produce before more medical groups, schools and parents demand enough is enough with the obsession about weight and being uber thin? We could learn a lesson from the UK whose organized groups prompted the government to create a guide for parents to help their tweens be realistic about their body image and not believe the photoshopped images on magazines and covers and the camera lighting and angles on TV and in films.
This is the photo of an older, eating disordered woman in her 60s.

Faux, thy name is traditional  media. Its egregious misrepresentation of principles, values and human integrity to sell product is pernicious and harmful to the body and soul. The public is on to you! And a time will come, it is already beginning, in fact, when consumers will no longer allow themselves to be bullied into buying useless product or be influenced by stupid and ridiculous concepts like YOU ARE DISGUSTING IF YOU ARE FAT (meaning anything over a normal BMI range.) That is why every opportunity I get, I sign petitions like the one on to get Teen Vogue to show teenage models realistically and stop the photoshopping. We need a critical mass of public support to educate against such fascism about images. We are who we are individually and realistically; in our uniqueness we are beautiful and that runs clean to the bone.

All photos courtesy of

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


                                                  THE READER APPRECIATION AWARD                                          

The Reader Appreciation Award is given to writers who have supported other writers' blogs. Happily, I've received the award from Sharla Shults (Blog: Awakenings from Then 'til Now and and Catnip of Life) and Raani York (Blog: Raani York) who I admire for their fine writing and sustained, determined work ethic. 

Sharla Shults is a poet and writer and has two books out on Amazon Echoes and Remembering.     
Her third book out this summer is Awakenings from Then 'til Now.    

 Raani York has published articles, letters, short stories, poems, continuation stories and novels (some of which appear on her website). One of her short stories made it to the semi-finalist level in a contest sponsored by the Boroughs Publishing Group.  

Giving a big HUG to Sharla Shults and Raani York for nominating my blog, The Fat and The Skinny, for this award and providing the occasion to spread the love around online. As a former English teacher and professor, I uplift any opportunity to engage others in reading which some have claimed is a dying "art" in our digital age of short word bursts and flash fiction.


                                                                      MARGO DILL
                                                                AMBERR MEADOWS

                                                           BELINDA WITZENHAUSEN
                                                                      JEN OWENBY



 There are a few guidelines for accepting this award:

l) Acknowledge the giver of the award and provide a link to his or her blog.
2) Copy and paste the award to your blog.
3) Pass the award on to up to ten bloggers.
4) Notify the selected bloggers that you have nominated them.

Thanks again Margo, Amberr, Belinda and Jen. And when you have time, visit each others' blogs and become acquainted. You will be happy you did!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Teen Girls Choose Reality Over Photoshop, Normalcy Over Skinny, Skinny

Julia Bluhm and friends protesting Photoshopped images used by Seventeen Magazine
 The gap is widening between women who are obsessed with appearing like the latest stick insect models/celebrities and those who, realizing this is a psychological illness, are pushing back against the ethic of uber skinny and anorexic is beautiful. Teens, electing to go with the normal look are fighting back against magazine artistic directors and editors and winning because it's all about market share and the magazine industry, feeling its losses doesn't want to lose any more.

First, 14-year-old Julia Bluhm petitioned Seventeen Magazine, the nationally distributed young woman's magazine, to publish one un-retouched photo in each issue to show how photoshop creates the fake image of perfection. The response to Bluhm's petition was overwhelming. Over 84,000 signed her petition, many signifying their disgust with the faux beauty standards young women are held to and can never attain.

Seventeen, fearful of losing readership, came out with a pronouncement in its August issue. The Editor-in-Chief vowed that the magazine will not Photoshop their teen models' faces, shapes and body sizes. Furthermore, they assured that they will diversify to normalcy with different body shapes, races and hair textures. Hell, this I have to see. Seventeen has been amongst the worst of its breed. At thirteen, I recall feeling dismayed perusing the glossy pages styling the sleek, sassy and "all that" young women. I stopped buying the magazine because as an overweight chub, I knew it was hopeless; I would never, ever look like those fabulous "creatures" responsible for countless wet dreams. Of course, in those days there was no photoshop, but there were starvation diets, air brushing, heavy makeup, clothing effects and lighting techniques to make one appear thinner.

Julia Bluhm
Julia's petition on is to be viewed as a win for the "little people," and a loss for the fashion industry and its lackeys in waiting, the print/advertising/old media companies who do NOT COMPREHEND THERE IS A CHANGING PARADIGM. You see, the whole world is watching, but it's just not TV they're watching. IT'S THE INTERNET, driven by mobile devices. Online, the petition site has brought more than a few companies to its knees. Witness Beef Products, Inc., and the petition that went viral "prohibit pink slime in the schools." It's about being connected and sharing through Twitter, Facebook and a hundred other sites like Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc. About the only ones who will be watching TV in the future will be shut ins or those who are incapable of getting up off their couches because of extreme obesity. This is an interactive world. People want to be engaged and involved. TV/cable doesn't provide enough stimulation, interest or satisfaction, unless you are comatose.

So the petitions are coming fast and furious and the next one has been engendered by Carina Cruz and Emma Stydahar. They are petitioning Teen Vogue, the young girl's fashion giant to do a reveal. Whattttt? They intend to influence the fashion industry and advertising industry to create a new ethic: reality. That means "chunkier" teens, ethnic teens without photoshopped noses, waists, limbs or complexions. Will pimples be seen? Ah ha! Probably not, but realistic beauty photographed without digital enhancements would be a step in the right direction. So "beauty scouts" will have to scour the countryside for the normal teen who is naturally gorgeous. Perhaps, duh, the other teen girls' magazines will then be forced to follow these two biggest magazine publishers in the country or suffer boycotts, perhaps, if these young girls joined by their peers remain firm in their intentions that real beauty be revealed.

Of course, there is an irony in all this. Beauty standards are by definition opaque and subjective. Three hundred years ago, Peter Paul Rubens painted nude chubbettes that would be characterized as obese today. Were their round faces and double chins beautiful? That class of folks believed them to be so because uber thin meant starvation and poverty. Poverty brought malnutrition and malnutrition death. Poverty was ugly, hence skinny was UGLY. My have things changed! Now, anorexics near death are beautiful. It is a ridiculous ethic that causes soul torment for the normal weight teen girl who knows something is wrong but the illusion masks what it is.
Peter Paul Rubens, The Three Graces, 1635, The Prado.  Today these women are obese. Then, they were perfect.
 Carina and Emma have broken through the cloud confusion with their petition when they state, "These photoshopped images are extremely dangerous to girls like us because they keep telling us: you are not skinny enough, pretty enough or perfect enough. Well, neither are the girls in the pictures! As teen girls, we know first hand how hurtful the photoshopped pictures in these magazines can be for our body image and self-esteem."  They reach the heart of the matter; the illusion is toxic, perhaps most importantly because IT IS an illusion that the industry refuses to own up to. Well now, Seventeen has. My fear is that such "clever" folk in the fashion industry will tweak the good will of these girls and come up with an even more egregious way to thinnize their models...

I signed the petition. It's a matter of pride with me; I'm writing a book which will touch upon such issues because I have wrestled with faux reed thin images in media my entire life. I crowed when Liz Taylor became fat in her 40s and 50s. I leaped for joy when other celebrities went "natural" and "let it all hang out," not going the slash and burn way of all celebrity flesh. I applauded when Diane Keaten, et. al were subtle about their pulls and cuts. My heart broke for Cher, immobile and "statuesque." There is something obscene about the fillers after a while that make one's face look bizarro: Joan Rivers, Sally Jessy Rafael, Cher (google them before and after; you'll see what I mean).  They're worse than photoshopped images. Oh, God. I do hope that editors are not going to be paying for plastic surgery for their models. They're too young for that, aren't they?

Peter Paul Rubens, Venus at the Mirror, 1615, The Goddess of Beauty and Love, today is a fatty. Then 99% of the men thought her ravishing. Today, not a Young Turks idea of a trophy wife.
As we age, all of us fall apart; gravity aging impacts every aspect of our lives and health. It's anathema and to my mind, if teens are taking a stand, then so should the boomer generation with its penchant to "defy aging" with botox, restaylene, rejuven, radiesse contorted cheeks/lips/foreheads, desperate lap bands, exercise obsessions and the frantic search for youth elixirs. There is no such American ethic as growing old gracefully. Old is skeletal horror and death, yet it is the inevitable reality which none of us escape and even the young may be struck down to the skeleton if fate has her way. Yet the media and medical industrial complex indulge our fears and fantasies with easy remedies, panaceas and surgeries to delude us to keep our wallets open and eyes shunted away from the impossible final result of life in a grave ending.

For one day, just one, we should have an appearance blackout, a moment of silence to reach our inner being and trounce appearance, the dividing line of bigotry between life and death. We need to be brought into psychic or spiritual unity to realize this overriding sick cultural ethos. If there is one thing that traditional media, TV, film, magazines, the fashion industry and its hand maidens including the medical industrial complex have done in their profit motive wickedness, on a basic level, they have divided us, woman against woman, teen against teen, man against woman (in addition to divisions of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc.). They've done it by disseminating cultural misinformation and ethnic bigotry and racism and agism and sizism. And don't say that these "isms" have stopped; they haven't. Political correctness is but a surface pandering blind while in secret groups, such discrimination is even worse and the residual effects are experienced daily. The media power structure is still white and fascist and sadly mostly overweight males who fantasize and want the undemanding Barbie type woman doll, an engineered image reinforcer for all time.

The beauty images these young women are calling down exemplify the end result of this power structure as clearly outlined in The Beauty Myth. It will take constant battering down of this structure, again and again. The older generation may be too brainwashed, too far gone to help. Elites make too much money by lifting up these unattainable images heavenward away from those whom they perceive to be the stupid, envious masses that they intend to enthrall and prey upon with their products that promise happiness, youth, beauty at the expense of the human soul. Only the young can beat these powers down and wipe them out as the paradigm shifts and the divide widens. I, for one, hope I live to see the day when their power is finally shuttered and we lift up the importance of spirit and soul over the material flesh.

These young teens have taken an important first step toward that eventual end. Why not help them drive the spear deeper within the heart of a magazine and its attendant empires.

If you wish to sign the petition, you can find it here.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Why I Appreciate Anthony Bourdain (speaking in Brooklyn at the Howard Gilman Opera House)

Enjoying his own humor, Anthony Bourdain
I watched Anthony Bourdain's Emmy Award winning No Reservations on the Travel Channel for years, less frequently now because I am writing online most days. He is an insightful raconteur and feisty, fun, global, food culturalist, promoting the human factor, sharing food and hospitality on his travels. You can expect that his move to CNN will be edgier, more dynamic and perceptive. Bourdain has the chops to accomplish great things with the sophisticated team there. Hopefully, they will allow him to deliver, as he brings his legion of fans to their viewership. I may even turn on the TV now and then just to snoop around and see what he's up to. But most likely will stream it if I can.

So when I found out that Bourdain was landing in Brooklyn at the BAM Opera House to speak, I debated whether I should attend the more personal session (pricier) to share photos, drinks and snacks with this exceptional writer and traveler, or just warm a seat as close as I could get to the stage. I did the latter which I'm thrilled that I did, but I rue that I didn't do the former as well. It would have been a gas to take some photos and post them here with a few choice rubies thrown to me during a brief exchange from this Will Rogers of the food universe.

The show was one half hour getting started because the crowd was packed out, the only criticism of the evening which was more the fault of Ticketmaster, the producers and the Opera House venue creators, I think. Who knows, but our expectations were raised as was the suspense to see the man live and in person. At last, the announcer introduced him to warm applause and catcalls by his throng of twenty to thirty somethings. 

He jaunted out on stage, dark classes, signature black sweat shirt and jacket and designer Nikes or whatever brand they were. The audience still clapping didn't realize it. At first, I was like, "What? Oh no. It's an impersonator and Bourdain got stuck in air traffic over Mumbai." When I looked again, I nearly fainted, and those around me were like, "Not. Bourdain. That's his buddy."  Then the Bourdain twin took off the glasses and jacket and Voila!
Eric Ripert (Bourdain's doppelganger revealed)
Sure enough, it was ERIC RIPERT!!!! Yeah, Eric. Clever! Ripert introduced his close friend with the faintest whisp of a French accent and the man himself appeared, hugged Ripert and went to the podium shaking his head and laughing. And that was the beginning of a fabulous night. My love of Ripert and Le Bernardin has been chronicled on Technorati. I'm planning to go back in September. How can you not respect a chef who is so particular about food safety and quality that HE GEIGER COUNTERED THE FISH HE SERVED after the Japanese nuclear disaster. And if I know Ripert, he is still doing it! Supposedly, Thomas Keller of Per Se flies in fresh fish every day. Does HE geiger counter the fish? I didn't see an article to that effect and I am looking for it.

Ripert is awesome. Bourdain respects and shares Ripert's concerns and appreciates Ripert's phenomenal interest and artistry in developing his culinary lexicon and perfecting all aspects of his restaurant, Le Bernardin. Ripert's food palate is superb and he is a gentleman and a perceptive, temperate soul. Bourdain is sanguine, humorously ironic to the point of sardonic and in your face. The two make a great team of complements. It is obvious how and why they are friends.
Who better than a close buddy to introduce you to the Brooklyn crowd and cheer you on. (Eric Ripert and A. Bourdain)
For Bourdain, center stage is his playground. He started with  a humorous and scathing shishkabob against Paula Dean, putting up some slides of her outrageously unhealthful concoctions. One of them was her notorious 1200 + calorie balloon cheeseburger on a doughnut bun. He escalated his skewerings with other fare (I'm surprised he didn't lay bare her deep fried chocolate pudding cupcakes) and concluded with her deep fried stuffing. Bourdain quipped that her recipes in no way reflect wonderful Southern cooking and he's not sure what region they represent but the Dean marketing empire and her destiny to suck up every morsel in sight and spew out culinary pornographic excess, even though it may be at the expense of her fans' waistlines. He also quipped about the products she's endorsing, a mattress  and a new diabetes drug. Of course, Bourdain was quick to point out she was mum about her diabetes for 5 years until recently so that she could advertise the new Diabetes drug on her show, proving once again that exemplifying and peddling illness can be profitable.
Bourdain during the question and answer session. Eric Riper (left) sitting and listening.
 Bourdain is a talented showman. He covered topics from his show that resonated with his fans like what you have to go through to team up with him traveling the globe (i.e. leeches, food that's inedible, gastric problems, being the guinea pig of the unexpected). Of course he discussed getting high and sneaking in clips of a foreign DEA bust aiding agents in burning up the cocaine, despite freaking out the show advertisers and administrators. He emphasized that he learned when you go to grandmas for Thanksgiving and she serves you gravy and jellied cranberries from the cans along with over salted, unsavory turkey meat, you compliment her and go for second helpings because that's the way. You're a guest and you love her and receive her hospitality. Bourdain has been the recipient of more than one bacterial stomach bug on his travels, but he bucks up and tastes the dishes wherever he goes, from Dubai to the African bush. And it's cool. His riff was a humorous scraping up and drumming down of vegans and vegetarians who, when they visit your house, turn their nose up at your grilled meats and ask for grilled peppers. He discussed getting along with folks despite the fact that you have nothing in common with them culturally, folks with whom you couldn't be more diametrically opposed. In other words as a statistic or part of a generalized group, they are THE ENEMY. He showed clips of himself breaking bread with a strict muslim Wahabist, a red neck, red state Deliverance type and a KGB hit man: each of them "the nicest guys," illustrating that we can "get along" if we put down the rhetoric. It was a refreshing point; there is nothing like exploring cultural differences in foods to tear down walls.
Answering the question about food quality
 During the question and answer session, Bourdain shared some interesting thoughts. Regarding flying (he must be frequent flyer black status) he doesn't mind turbulence; it breaks up the boredom/monotony of a fight during which he doesn't eat and after watching 3 films becomes tiresome. He laughed that he enjoys looking at the panic and terror on the faces of fellow elite passengers who think it's over and their time has come. When asked whether he wants his daughter to eat responsibly (Bourdain shares the Obamas' concerns about  American obesity; that's why he hammers Dean) Bourdain replied that food quality, eating organic and fresh is important. He relayed he is not of the type that is pushing sushi on a  three-year-old. But he proudly recalled a wonderful story of his thrill when he saw his daughter's interest when the family was dining in Paris and she admired the height of the seafood tower of clams, shrimps, scallops, mussels, etc., with two lobsters perched prettily on top. Remembering her love of the lobster Sebastian in The Little Mermaid, she cried out, "Oh Sebastian," then grabbed the top lobster and picked it clean tearing at its flesh  (as only Bourdain can gesture and mimic).

Bourdain's take on American junk food gyrations? Great answer. Make the junk food look like the food court in Thailand or other Asian nations with food stalls run by entrepreneurs where you could sample Dim Sum, or roasted goose or duck, and other treats. These would be more nutritious and fewer calories than the typical garbage slid toward us. What he was discussing is happening outside of Eatley across from Madison Square in NYC. That is a wonderful food court of more upscale fare from various restaurants in the city from seafood to deli. It's a step in the right direction, but Bourdain was discussing more exotic offerings for more reasonable prices; not corporate, not industrial, not big business, but something equivalent in other countries as street food. And he's right. Expanding the palates and intellectual curiosity of Americans just might decrease their waistlines. Quality not quantity might be the right imperative. That and an unadulterated food supply that is not rife with additives, preservatives, GE/GM (genetically modified) produce and products, pink slime hamburgers, E coli-spinach and hamburger, salmonella eggs and antibiotic fed animals... would slim all of us down.

The inimitable Bourdain listening to another question.
Bourdain is about food, quality food. It's who we are and what we are as Americans. And if we are going to help one another, we should be fit and trim, as he quipped with a sober note. You want to live next to a neighbor who will quickly come to your aid rather than one who is unable to get off the couch because he/she are trailing 50-100 pounds of fat baggage front and back and need help from you to get around.