Saturday, May 31, 2008

Fat Finding Reveals Why Diets Don't Work

This article may have its merits, but I question the conclusion that preventing formation of fat cells in children is really the way to prevent kids from becoming fat adults. I have known kids who were fat as children but not fat as adults, and I've known kids who were thin as children and fat as adults (I know, anecdotal, but still..).
From what I understand, our brains are 77 - 78% water, 10 - 12 % fat (lipids), 8% protein, 1% carbohydrates, 2% soluble organics (whatever those are), and 1% inorganic salts. Do these researchers think that they can limit fat cell formation in every part of a person's body except the brain? I don't think it's a good idea to say that people who are genetically inclined to being fat should have 10 or 20 % fewer fat cells. Do you want the portion of your brain that's composed of fat to be 10 or 20% smaller, just so you can be thin? I don't know the function of fat in the brain, but I'm sure it wouldn't be there if it wasn't necessary for brain function. I'm not willing to compromise my brain function just on the off chance that it might make me thin. My brain functions quite well just as it is (and so does my body with the number of fat cells it has).
Do they really want to mess with genetics to change how a person's body is going to be? Dumb question, of course they do, just because they can, and because they just "know" how horrible it is to be fat (for our health, of course).
The tightly regulated number of fat cells in adulthood may explain why it seems easy to gain back lost weight, Buchholz said.

If you already have more fat cells from adolescence than other people, "it's harder to become thin," Buchholz told LiveScience.

Did they ever stop to think that there's a reason the number of fat cells in our bodies is so tightly regulated? What happens if you reduce the number of fat cells? Is that going to throw other body functions out of kilter? How many other problems will this kind of thing cause, and will those problems be worse than the problems supposedly related to fat? I don't think I'm willing to risk it, and I know I wouldn't want to risk it for my children or grandchildren.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Beryl Cook: May she rest in peace

Beryl Cook has passed away at the age of 81. You might wonder why I'm blogging about a painter's death, especially since I didn't know her, and hadn't heard of her until this article showed up in one of my Google alerts.
Well, strange things catch my eye when I'm reading, and the blurb accompanying the headline interested me. So I went to check it out, and followed a link to some of her paintings. Now, they might not be considered great art by those who supposedly know, but I like them. And this is why:

Perfection isn't everything

This article should be read by every woman who thinks she isn't perfect enough as she is. This gentleman seems to have learned that it's the imperfections that make us unique and desirable. It's certainly given me another way to look at myself and appreciate the parts of me that I don't particularly care for, even though DH seems to like those parts (well, actually, DH likes all of's into imperfections too).
In the fairy tale, Cinderella goes unnoticed until her appearance is magically transformed to match little girls’ ideal of loveliness, which they grow up believing is little boys’ ideal of loveliness. This belief is wrong, though. And I should know, because I’m a grown-up boy who longs for Cinderellas who’ve never touched a pair of glass slippers—who are plenty alluring barefoot. I prefer them to some princesses I’ve danced with. I prefer them—these unconventional-looking women who too frequently call themselves ugly or imperfect when they ought to call themselves perfecting—because their transformations are still ongoing.

Maura, the first barefoot Cinderella I fell for, was not a fussy eater, and it showed. It showed in her substantial hips. It also showed in her contented face.

Radiant happiness was Maura’s best feature, the kind that comes from filling up on pasta and not leaping up afterward to go running. This distinguished her from the other girls I’d dated during my first two years at college. They were slimmer than Maura, their features more symmetrical, but their facial expressions were harder and more anxious, particularly at mealtimes. Salad without dressing will do that to you.

“Can I scrunch in here with my tray?” I asked her in the dining hall one evening. She smiled and scooted over to make room. I’d been watching her. Her skin had the glossiness of a caramel apple. Her figure reminded me of an apple, too, but this was not a flaw because apples reminded me of pie, pie reminded me of ice cream, and pie and ice cream made me hungry for…Maura.

I didn’t go hungry that fall semester, fortunately, but my appetite for Maura confused those who thought she wasn’t worth pursuing. A girl I’d once dated, the type who counted her croutons, asked me one day if I had “a thing for heavy women.” I told her no, I had a thing for women who enjoyed life. My old girlfriend seemed to find this threatening. She realized, I think, that it’s easier to keep off the weight than to keep on the happiness.

The charm of a barefoot Cinderella is that her beauty obeys no formula and therefore can sneak up on a man. When he becomes aware of it, he feels like he’s discovered a secret. And secrets are always exciting.

Maybe this is why some men prefer women who aren't thin. They see something in a larger woman, especially one who loves herself and is confident, that others don't see because they're looking at the superficial outside of the package, when they should be looking at the whole package.
I think I would much rather be a barefoot Cinderella, imperfections and all, loving myself and confidant, than be worried all the time about calories, exercise, cellulite, wrinkles, scars, and aging. I'd rather be happy and imperfect, than be perfect and unhappy because I have to work all the time to stay perfect (something that no one can ever attain). It's so much easier to take care of myself and do what is best for my body, soul, mind, and heart when I love me as I am. It's not easy to learn how to do that, but it's a very worthwhile journey.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Does it really matter, in the long run?

Does it really matter what people say about you, if you don't know them? I mean really, in the long run, if you don't have to deal with these people on a daily basis, if they are never going to be in your life, do their words have power to hurt you? I've been thinking about this for the last couple of days and have come to the conclusion that if someone I don't know calls me names, makes fun of me, or generally thinks I'm an idiot, big fucking deal. I don't know them, their opinion is just that, an opinion (opinions are like assholes, everyone has one and they all stink). I have no time, emotion, or anything else invested in people I don't know, so why should I care what they think?

I know who I am, where I've come from/where I've been, what I've been through in my life, and what experiences have made me the person I am, and I certainly know whether I'm a worthwhile person or not. If they get their jollies by making fun of me, then they are certainly hard up for entertainment if that's the best they can do. The only people who have power to hurt me are the ones I care about, and if those people I care about love me, they aren't going to hurt me (which is why I stay away from abusive family members).

So when I'm out in the yard with DH when he's doing yard work, and kids ride/skate/walk by and call me names (which doesn't happen very often at all), I don't care. I don't know them, I don't have any interest in knowing them, and I'm not going to be dealing with them on a daily basis, so their words mean nothing to me. All they do is show their ignorance and intolerance for someone who is different from them. If someone drove by me in a car and called me names, same thing goes for them. I'm not going to react, I'm going to ignore them, because they don't mean shit to me.

I refuse to give that kind of power to total strangers. Of course, I've always felt like an outcast/misfit, so people's opinions of me have never mattered all that much.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Computer-generated phone calls from stores

Does anyone else not like getting computer-generated phone calls about sales from stores at which they've shopped? I swear, from now on, when they ask me if I have a phone, I'm going to tell them no.
At least once a week, I get calls from Catherine's telling me about some sale or other, or that they have new arrivals (DUH! I get that same information in my email on a weekly basis). If I want to shop at Catherine's, I will shop there whether they have a sale or not (because they almost always have something on the clearance racks that I like). I don't shop at Catherine's online because what they have online just doesn't look the same in a picture as it does on a hanger in person. I refuse to buy pants there because they seem to think that all fat women have short legs (they don't carry an inseam over 30" and mine is 32").
I went to their website and filled out one of those "contact us" forms asking if there is any way I can get my phone number removed from their list. I told them that if I want to shop at Catherine's, and can afford it, it doesn't matter if there's a sale on or not or if they have new merchandise or not. I'm tired of running to answer the phone and then have it be some computer telling me about a sale. I also don't like to check the answering machine just to find a bunch of computer-generated sales calls on it, they take up space better left for more important calls I may have missed while I was out (on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being most important, computer-generated sales calls rate about a negative 5 for me).
DH and I have debated about getting rid of our landline phone altogether, but we wouldn't save any money by doing so; it's bundled with our cable and cable internet, and there is no bundle that's just cable and internet :( And we do have family that calls us on the landline if they can't get us on our cell phones (why will people call and leave a message on an answering machine on a landline, but not leave a voicemail on your cellphone?).
I've shopped at Lane Bryant and they asked for my phone number when I paid, and I've never gotten a computer-generated call from them about sales and new arrivals, so why does Catherine's do it? I mean, they're owned by the same company, after all. And does Fashion Bug do this? It's been ages since I've shopped there, but I don't recall ever getting any calls from them either. I do get calls every once in a while from Payless Shoes, maybe every other month. It's getting to the point that when I hear a computer-generated voice, or a recorded voice, I don't even listen to the whole message, I either hang up or erase it if it's on the answering machine.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Exercise may protect girls from future breast cancer

WASHINGTON - Get your daughters off the couch: New research shows exercise during the teen years — starting as young as age 12 — can help protect girls from breast cancer when they're grown. Middle-aged women have long been advised to get active to lower their risk of breast cancer after menopause.

I love the assumption here that girls have their asses glued to the couch, in spite of all the articles telling us that teen girls are obsessed with how much they eat, are restricting/purging, and are over-exercising to be thin.
Researchers tracked nearly 65,000 nurses ages 24 to 42 who enrolled in a major health study. They answered detailed questionnaires about their physical activity dating back to age 12. Within six yearsof enrolling, 550 were diagnosed with breast cancer before menopause. A quarter of all breast cancer is diagnosed at these younger ages, when it's typically more aggressive.

Now I don't know about the rest of you, but at the age of 24, I doubt if I could accurately remember back 12 years to be able to tell anyone how much of what kind of exercise I did for those intervening years, let alone being able to do it at the age of 42. Hell, I'm lucky if I can remember what I had for dinner two days ago, let alone how much of what kind of exercise I did 12 to 30 years ago with any degree of accuracy. Self-reporting is notoriously bad for research purposes.
Why would it help? A big point of exercise in middle age and beyond is to keep off the pounds. After menopause, fat tissue is a chief source of estrogen.

So by exercising in middle age and beyond, we're supposed to keep off the pounds? We all know how well exercise works to take off pounds, so it makes me wonder how well it works to keep them off when middle age is when some of us either start to gain a little bit or the weight we already have shifts its position on our bodies.
Many breast cancer risks a woman can't change: How early she starts menstruating, how late menopause hits, family history of the disease.
Even though the exercise benefit is modest, physical activity and body weight are risk factors that women can control, Patel stressed.
"I'd say you and your daughter are getting off the couch," she said. "Women who engage in physical activity not only during adolescence but during adulthood lower their risk."

I agree that we can control how much physical activity we get, but I vehemently disagree that we can control our body weight. If that were the case, there would be no fat women.
This is another case of blaming us for a disease we get because we don't work hard enough to control our weight. I don't care how hard you work to control the risk factors for anything that may happen in your life, sometimes you're still going to have bad things happen in spite of everything you've done. Some women will not get breast cancer, even if they do have a family history of it. Some women will get breast cancer even if there is no family history of it. Some will get it in spite of exercising and eating well, some will not get it in spite of having a sedentary life and not eating the best they can. Life is a crap shoot, and you can't control every factor for every possible disease out there. So, love your body, take the best care of it that you can, given your particular situation, and deal with whatever life throws at you (expect the worst, hope for the best and you'll never be surprised).

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Neighborhood's food options affect obesity rates (ya think?)

This article is partially correct. But I think it would be closer to the mark to say that a neighborhood's food options affect health (since the tendency for fat is 77% genetic).
I'm all for giving grocery stores who carry a wide variety of foods tax breaks and incentives for locating in poorer neighborhoods, but it's not going to do a whole lot of good if the people living in those neighborhoods can't afford the fresh/frozen fruits and veggies, all they can afford is the over-processed, cheap, calorie-dense foods.
I'm also all for improving walking/bike paths, and parks in those areas. But it does no good to have them if the area is not safe enough for them to be used. You can have all the space to exercise and walk that you want, but if I'm taking a big risk of being mugged/robbed/raped/whatever if I use those spaces, my safety is going to win out over taking a walk, riding bike, etc.
Just because people have access to a wide variety of food, and have options for exercise and avail themselves of those things doesn't mean they will automatically get thin (or go from "obese" to "overweight" or "overweight" to "normal"). It also doesn't automatically mean they will be healthier. They might be, but health is such an individual thing, that varies widely from person to person, there is no way of predicting who will benefit. None of this takes into consideration genetics or family history, it's just automatically assumed that if a fat person eats "right" and gets the recommended amount of exercise, they will no longer be fat, and therefore will be healthy.
What about the stress they encounter in their daily lives? That has an effect on health also. If peoples' lives aren't going to be made better by reducing the economic stress/stress from biases against POC/fat/poverty/whatever, all the healthy food in the world and no amount of exercise is going to make them truly healthy (since health is just more than physical, it's also mental, emotional, and spiritual). All of these stressors need to be addressed, not just the food and exercise segment of health.
And for these two morons:
Walking into a McDonald's in San Bernardino on Monday morning, Mark Olson, 48, and Linda Miller, 57, said people who are obese shouldn't blame anyone but themselves.
Just because there's a concentration of fast food outlets in a neighborhood doesn't mean residents can't make a sandwich and bring it to work, they said. And it's cheaper, too.
"People are just lazy," Miller said.

Yeah, fat people need to blame themselves because they didn't pick parents with the genes for being thin. They need to blame themselves because they are stuck in poverty (don't let them get a good education, don't make college affordable, and for all the gods' sake, don't end the prejudice that keeps them from getting hired at a company that pays well and has benefits so they can get out of poverty if they happen to luck out and get a good education).
And Ms. Miller and Mr. Olson, why aren't you eating a sandwich you made at home? It's cheaper, according to you. But do you both happen to be thin/average/"normal" and that's why it's ok for you to eat fast food? You're automatically "healthy" because you aren't fat? Give me a break, if fast food is unhealthy for fat people, it isn't any better for thin/average/"normal" people. Does your eating fast food mean you're lazy too? Oh, but if you're not fat, you obviously can't be lazy, only fat people are lazy. Yeah right, and if you believe all that, I have a bridge for sale.