Saturday, January 12, 2013

The fat on trying to sell skinny

I am sick to death of people trying to sell skinny.

People who sell the ideal of ‘skinny’ prey on a large segment of the population, desperate for a fix, perhaps a quick fix. Not all weight loss programs promote a healthy lifestyle, nor are many of the people in charge of running these programs certified to help others learn about nutrition and health.

Selling skinny is an over-saturated and lucrative business. 

Fat discrimination is one of the last acceptable forms of prejudice in our society. We see it in movies, on TV, we hear ads on the radio, on billboards, on magazine covers, and even in our daily rhetoric with others. In this day and age it is still acceptable to make fun of people who carry extra weight, because it’s their fault they’re fat. I call bull shit.

Why is it acceptable to comment or pass judgement on anyone’s appearance? I often compare the radical “Health/skinny-pushers” (we’ll call them ‘Fitness Extremists’) to the radical religious nuts: Just because they are doing something that they feel is right and they believe whole-heartedly in, they feel it is OK to pass judgement on others who may not do, or believe in the same regime. It’s the exact same religious cult, only a different god.

We’re appalled at the religious extremists who push their beliefs (often hurtful and hateful) on the rest of us because we deem them to be wrong and they instill hate. Yet we say nothing at the fitness extremists who do the exact same thing because they’re just trying to make the world a “healthier,” less fat place. 

Again, I call bull shit.

There is a fine, often marred, line when it comes to health and weight loss. There are definitely people who make it their career and their mission to help others become healthy, and as a result lose weight. But, there is another segment who is banking on the fact that we are a weight-obsessed society, willing to shell out money for the secret potion of weight loss. Some of these people have credentials that are deemed trustworthy, others don’t. Still, there is another segment who just don’t like overweight people. I can’t explain why, just as I can’t explain racism or sexism. 

The biggest obstacle many people with weight issues face is that they are made to feel inadequate and worthless because of the way they look. Whether it’s as blatant as someone calling someone else fat, or whether it’s in an ad preaching about how much better life is when you’re skinny, the messages are out there, and they are plenty. 

I am not certified to give nutritional advice, so I can’t and won’t say what might work for someone trying to lose weight. I don’t know what will work, we’re all different and our bodies respond to different things. That said, I do encourage people to look at themselves in love and kindness and appreciate the body they have. As cheesy as it might sound, loving yourself is the first step to a healthy lifestyle.

Please be leery about lifestyle changes, and please be leery about the countless people who want to “help” you.

The best way to decipher a person or business’ intentions is in how they promote a healthy lifestyle. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My grandma: The cycle of life.

My grandma is 93-years-old and she has dementia.

It's hard to watch somebody you've loved your whole life deteriorate in such a confusing and frustrating way. She's old, she's changing, and the reality is, she is not the same person I've known my whole life. This disease is infecting her mind, weaving confusion and forgetfulness into her 93-years of memories and emotions. One minute she is fine, but in a split second she very easily gets lost, mentally and emotionally. She knows it, which is the worst part.

Amma, Me & Heather: Folklorama in the 80s
My mom always tries to console me by telling me that this is a natural progression of life. (She specializes in neurological brain disorders, I suppose she comprehends my grandma's disease in a way that I can't: logically and scientifically.) She's the one who has become my grandma's primary...I don't even know the right word. I guess the best way to describe it is that my mom and my grandma have, in a sense, come full circle: My mom cares for my grandma in ways that she is unable to care for herself anymore.

I know it's taxing on my mom, it would be on anybody. Not because my grandma is a "burden," but because it's a hard stage of life to walk through with somebody. Yet she does it well, with a lot of patience and firmness.

My grandma is a lovely lady, but if I had to guess I would say I got my attitude and temperament from her. (translation: She can be a diva at times, maybe a little intense and melodramatic...) That is part of her charm, and perhaps one of the reasons her and I have such a strong bond: we're the same person, sixty years and a bunch of different morals apart.

I've just been feeling a profound sadness about this chapter of life with my grandma. People tell me all the time that I should feel lucky to still have a grandma who is otherwise healthy, and I am. I just have a hard time with the dementia. I am not ready for this part. I'll never be ready... When it comes to my grandma my emotions outweigh any logic I might have. I love her, and it makes me sad. It just makes me really, really sad.

I know people mean well when they say those kinds of things, but sometimes those 'reassuring words' aren't helpful. Most times they aren't. Instead they instill a sense of guilt and shame about the way I feel. I know that's not the intent, and I am probably hyper-sensitive. But even though she is old and this is probably inevitable, love doesn't know age. Sometimes the best response to someone who talks about this kind of issue is just something like "That's shitty."

Yes it is.

That said, I love her and she needs me not to be the weak person that I've been. I can live in denial and sadness, but then I'm robbing myself of spending time with my grandma.

In the end, there is no real moral to this post. This is the cycle of life and the emotions that accompany it. To love someone with your whole heart is to understand that love sometimes does and will hurt, but it's always worth it.

Here's a video of my grandma I made a few years ago, my favourite part is when she starts laughing (fun fact: that was genuine; we were just fooling around and talking. I wasn't even going to use that footage until I saw it when I was editing. It's perfect.)

"We should all have one person who knows how to bless us despite the evidence, Grandmother was that person to me."  - Phyllis Theroux