June 22, 2010

But Wait, There's More: The Problem of the Cat's Weight

(I didn't post this a couple of nights ago when I wrote it, because after being up all night I didn't want to have to deal with the comments that day. Now I'm well-rested.)

It's the middle of the night, and I've been up agitating about the implications of the cat. I mean, here's this cat, right? She eats only an optimal nutritious diet. She doesn't have access to junk food. She lives nearly her entire adult life in complete health: aside from routine vaccinations and one small and quickly-remedied bout with fleas, she never needs medical care for anything. She weighs 12 pounds all that time---and at every annual vet check-up, the vet mentions that she should lose weight, that her "healthy weight" would be more like 6 pounds, that we should try reducing her already-below-average intake of nutritious food, that we should try feeding her food that includes stuff that isn't food.

This struggle goes on for nearly the cat's ENTIRE---and COMPLETELY HEALTHY---LIFE. She reaches 16 years old, which is a nice old age for a cat. Finally she begins to have some old-age-related health problems, and then her thyroid breaks, and she drops to her "healthy weight."

The quotes are deliberate, because what does "healthy weight" even...MEAN here? The weight at which...what? Clearly not "the weight at which the creature is healthy," because Mouse was healthy at 12 pounds, eating a nutritious diet. Clearly not "the weight that is natural for that particular creature," since again, 12 pounds was natural for her. I suppose her "healthy weight," then, would be the amount of flesh that would be average for the size of her frame, but what relevance would that have for her individual cat self? Her own body was round and plump, so how does the average of the entire cat population, including all cat body types, apply to her? Why would she need to strive to put her body RIGHT AT the average, rather than letting it contribute its own data point to the average?

The main question I'm asking---duh---is what does this cat's body tell us about our own bodies? If a creature that doesn't have food choices, isn't shamed by news-like television showing pictures of fat people walking down the street with "THE OBESITY EPIDEMIC!!" flashing over them, and is an ANIMAL who doesn't have Food Issues to work through with her therapist----if THIS CREATURE is at her correct weight when she weighs twice as much as an average cat of her frame size, then what does this tell us about our own weights and our own health---and our own "health"?

I'm awake in the middle of the night thinking about how there are women who go on diets so they won't be the embarrassing Fat Mom. These are women who wouldn't get a nose job if their nose shape embarrassed the kids. They'd laugh long and rich if those children suggested the women should change their own personal fashion style for something the children considered cooler. But they'll have their healthy digestive systems surgically altered so that those systems will be unable to work properly and the effect will be weight loss, and they'll do it so they won't embarrass their children with their appearance. (I'm FULLY IN FAVOR OF SURGERIES ((including nose jobs!)) for people who want them, and have looked into it for myself; what I'm not in favor of is an atmosphere of shame and disproportionate fear, or the idea that a person should alter their appearance to avoid offending/embarrassing others.)

Or they won't have the surgery, they'll instead change their lives to dedicate enormous time and energy to the alteration and upkeep of their bodies. The boulder will have to be pushed up the hill, and then it will have to be held there, NEARLY at the top, for the rest of the women's lives. It will be their life's most consuming project---with all the work gone the instant they die, leaving nothing of value behind to show for it. I hope it's obvious I'm not talking about situations where this brings a person joy.

Well, or maybe some of them won't give the embarrassment reason, maybe they'll say it's because they want to be around to see their children grow up. They want to be around to see their grandchildren. Women in their 30s are dropping dead of fatness all around us, leaving their poor motherless children behind, and of course we want to prevent that. Well worth the cost, financial and otherwise, to take actions that are in fact MORE UNHEALTHY and MORE DANGEROUS than carrying some extra weight. (I'm FULLY IN FAVOR of keeping healthy to prolong life, and as a parent I know how motivating it is to think pleasant thoughts of future family stuff, and it's a great idea to use that as motivation for making the choices we want to make. Again, what I'm opposed to is the atmosphere of shame and of exaggerated/inappropriate fear.)


Pardon my French, but what kind of fucked-up merde is this? Let's think again of Mouse, whose healthy weight (if we must try to apply such a term) is TWICE AS HIGH as an average cat of her frame size. Should we have had her healthy digestive system surgically altered in pursuit of that average? Should we have put her on a little cat treadmill for 2 hours a day while letting a mean person scream at her that she just needed to DO IT and STOP WHINING ABOUT IT!!!

And if we should have, what would have been the purpose? To take a healthy and natural cat body and make it into...what? and why?

Clearly I want to draw a connection between these two things: Mouse, who was healthy and round and plump at her natural weight of 12 pounds, and human women, many of whom are also healthy and round and plump at their natural weights of twice the average. And clearly, many readers are already composing their arguments why this connection can't be drawn, or why an analogy that doesn't apply in every single case doesn't apply in any cases at all, or why there's nothing wrong with being fit (of COURSE there isn't), or why fatness REALLY TRULY IS a terrible health hazard, or how if we allow people to think it's okay to be fat they won't eat well or exercise (the assumption is that fat people neither eat well nor exercise), or how if people really did eat a healthy diet they wouldn't be plump even though the cat was, or how for them being thin has nothing to do with appearance, or how they're sure I'm right that SOME women are healthy and plump but MOST of them are lying to themselves cramming fast food down their throats and eating entire bags of chips and getting diabetes and heart disease, or how they themselves are fat and eat this way, or used to be fat while eating that way, and OBESITY EPIDEMIC OBESITY EPIDEMIC OMG ROACHES CRAWLING EVERYWHERE OBESITY EPIDEMIC!!!!1!

Or they're composing attacks against women who are thin, or who are athletic, because if it's okay to have a fat body it must NOT be okay to have a thin one! If it's okay NOT to choose to get surgery for purely appearance-related reasons, it must be NOT okay to get surgery for purely appearance-related reasons, OR for reasons that include non-appearance-based elements! If it's okay to NOT feel that spending a lot of time in athletic pursuits is a good investment, it must not be okay for someone else to feel like it IS a good investment! There can't be more than one acceptable way to look and act or else HOW WILL WOMEN KNOW HOW WE'RE SUPPOSED TO MAKE OURSELVES LOOK AND ACT???

And many, many people will assume that because I don't think people should be shamed into changing their appearance, or because I think fatness gets a disproportionate measure of blame for health problems while other health-impacting things get disproportionately little (especially considering how very little science is even willing to make GUESSES about at this point), or because I think sometimes people say it's about health when it's not, this means I think people should eat nothing but junk! and should never exercise! and that weight has NO impact on health! and that I have no idea how important it is to be HEALTHY!! And some people will assume that because I think everyone has different body types and that not everyone can achieve the same results with the same efforts and that we should see if science can find out more about this, that means I think NO ONE CAN CHANGE AT ALL!! and no one should try!! and everyone should just pig out and sit around all the time because IT'S HOPELESS AND STUPID!! And some people will think that because I think the culture has become scary and toxic and non-science-based on the subject of weight and needs a major overhaul, that means NO ONE SHOULD TRY TO LOSE WEIGHT FOR ANY REASON. Sigh.

I'm already weary of all of it, and it hasn't even started.

So why deliberately post on the topic, if I'm going to flinch queasily every time a new comment comes in, wondering if this'll be a Bad One? Why do it, if the adrenaline will make me snappish with the children, and if I'll dread going to my computer, and if I'll have to start using all my anti-mental-illness measures such as sunlight and funny books and nice hair conditioner? Why do it when I KNOW I will be misunderstood by at least a few people and probably a lot of them? Partly it's because I think this subject is important, and I think the resulting feedback and discussions and posts end up showing the problem better than I can do by writing about it. Partly it's that I think we keep working with theories and not wondering enough why those theories give us inconsistent results. Partly it's that this is one of My Topics: some of us are super-laid-back and wonder why the rest of us can't just stop thinking about things if they get us so UPSET, but most of us have a small handful of hot issues we go back to AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN, despite ourselves. BECAUSE OF ourselves.

And probably more than any of those things it's because this is what I DO: I write about what I'm thinking about, and I publish it online. Some people think it out, some people talk it out, some people exercise it out, some people therapy it out---and I publish-it-online it out. I suppose a couple of generations ago I would have had to keep writing letters to the editor or something. Maybe get a little printing press and spend sleepless nights lining up the inky little letters, and spend the next morning handing out my little leaflets.

75 comments:

Lisa & Jason said...

Thank you for being so honest! This is such a tough topic and most people won't discuss it or resort to the kind of comments you've mentioned.

I love reading our blog

Lisa & Jason said...

Oops. I meant YOUR blog. But really, doesn't it belong to ALL of us? :P

ComfyMom~Stacey said...

I don't get why the media and popular culture & even doctors apply a one size fits all (and that is a size small) appearance to women. I'm not down on thin people but every time I see a model in a magazine I think "Someone give that woman a sandwich." It drives me crazy that I am supposed to have the body of a 14 year old boy according the fashion industry. I'm a grown woman. We come in all shapes & sizes. I have wide hips from birthing babies and big boobs from nursing them. I have the shape of the women in my family. All of whom are a bit overweight and none of whom died of anything other than old age in their 90's. I've got mom friends that are skinny little things mere months after giving birth because that is how they are built. Why do some of us have to be 'better'. Why can't we just look how we look?

Jess said...

I think this is a great topic for conversation. Tough like you said, but necessary. I have two girlfriends who are RAIL thin and anorexic. Sure they'll put on a great show of eating a cookie or salad or whatever when people are "watching," but that's it. Calorie intake=700 a day. They are teeny tiny and receive a lot of attention and accolade for their appearances. Annnd they are dying. Slowly. Both have INSANE health problems that will haunt them for the rest of their lives, just as I have two friends who are extremely obese. But rather than applause they are tsked. Looked down upon. It makes me crazy.
I'm all for eating as well as you can (within reason) and getting a healthy dose of exercise several times a week (as I struggle with severe depression, this really does make a difference for me). But to treat everyone as though we are built the same is ridiculous. I am naturally tall thin framed. It's just the way I am. My BMI is high, but you probably wouldn't ever be able to tell unless you follow me around with those fat pinchers all the time. And then you die and it's a loss for everyone.
The obsession with weight and appearance has gotten out of control. We're moms. We're busy. And we're tired. I look at my body sometimes and instinctively want to criticize, but remind myself that this body gave me my babies, that I sacrificed many a things to get them here, and though my body is no longer (and probably never will be) the same, I got a pretty kick ass deal.

Erin said...

I'd much rather be fat and happy than skinny and depressed.

I've recently lost 9 pounds after improving my diet (because I really was eating junk and feeling terrible) and getting more exercise. Nothing fancy or grueling. Am I still chubby in places? Yep. But I feel better, chubby bits and all. I'm still 20+ pounds heavier than I was when I got married 6 years ago, but this is my new natural size. I've had a baby, I've settled into myself, and I'm not a dancer burning 2,000 calories a practice session anymore.

I feel better because I'm doing things that make me happy (or not doing things that don't).

Maybe if we all really got down to the brass tacks of what makes us happy, and started doing those things, the judgementalishness and Need for a Standard by Which to Judge would go away.

Theresa said...

I agree! It's completely ridiculous to assign a "one size, one shape" policy to HUMANS, not even just women. (or animals)

Corina said...

Great post, and I really hope you don't get too many anxiety producing comments (and I REALLY hope that mine is not anxiety producing because I really think I agree with you.) This is gradually turning into one of my hot button topics too. Basically, I wish we could all just give each other a break and really not care what complete strangers are eating or choosing to do with their bodies. Someone wants to spend 14 hours a week exercising and living on 1100 calories a day and has a body that responds to that treatment by being a size zero? Perfectly valid lifestyle choice, perfectly womanly body, bully for her. Someone wants to spend 20 hours a week exercising and eating whatever the hell she wants and has a body that responds to that treatment by being a size 16? Perfectly valid lifestyle choice, perfectly womanly body, bully for her. Someone hates sweating, eats whatever the hell she wants, has a body that responds to that treatment by being a size zero (or 8, or 22)? Perfectly valid lifestyle choice, perfectly womanly body, bully for her. Etc.

Slim said...

"OBESITY EPIDEMIC OBESITY EPIDEMIC OMG ROACHES CRAWLING EVERYWHERE OBESITY EPIDEMIC!"

I love you! Let's go for a hike together, and then have cookies and give a pet a nice scritchy scratch and tease our children.

Or not. I mean, just because something appeals to me doesn't mean it should appeal to you.

Jen said...

Yeah, I pretty much love you forever for this.

Lindsay said...

I recently had to fill out my weight on some form and handed it in and the worker looked me up and down and said there was no way that was my weight - that I was too skinny looking to weigh that much. One of the rudest compliments ever, but it just left me shaking my head more than ever. It's a weird culture for sure.

meowmix said...

"OBESITY EPIDEMIC OBESITY EPIDEMIC OMG ROACHES CRAWLING EVERYWHERE OBESITY EPIDEMIC!!!!1!"
This is why I love you, Swistle. So funny and true at the same time. You are the voice of reason in this crazy, f'd up world.

Other great quotes from the comments so far.
"Why do some of us have to be 'better'. Why can't we just look how we look?"

"The obsession with weight and appearance has gotten out of control. We're moms. We're busy. And we're tired. I look at my body sometimes and instinctively want to criticize, but remind myself that this body gave me my babies, that I sacrificed many a things to get them here, and though my body is no longer (and probably never will be) the same, I got a pretty kick ass deal."

I'm memorizing these for when I'm feeling down about myself. I advice all women to do likewise.

Jen said...

I think as long as someone eats (mostly) healthfully, exercises at least a few times a week, and doesn't have health issues specifically related to excess weight, then it really is just about how that person feels. That's it. Averages are averages for a reason.

For me, losing the extra weight after the baby was about how I didn't feel good...physically. I felt weak and was tired all the time and some of that was simply due to eating not so great food and also stress from a job I was miserable doing but also from not getting any physical activity because I sat at a desk all day. But those were my issues and I don't presume that anyone else should do anything that I did or even should think what I thought.

Dr. Maureen said...

I usually avoid potentially controversial internet discussions because my tender feelings may be hurt, but I would like to say this: When I was pregnant with Nora, I got lots and lots of "compliments" about my small size. I also got various comments about how and where I was carrying and one person even said, "Your belly button popped! Does that mean you're done?" And then I punched her in the face. OK, so that's a lie, but the lesson I learned from these experiences is that it is never ever OK to comment on a person's physical size or shape. No, not even if you're going to say they're small! Not even then! I confess to having told people in the past that they were skinny. Once I even told my friend she was "too skinny" and if it hadn't happened so long ago that she has certainly forgotten, I'd apologize because who the hell am I? I thought it was OK to say "too skinny" because "skinny" is the longed-for ideal, but it was not OK. Not OK at all.

Leah said...

Weight and health are tightly coupled - thank-you science! To ignore or dismiss it is to fool/justify yourself. It is not an simple or easy issue for anyone (fat to skinny) to address -thank-you society!

Guinevere said...

I lost weight because I wanted to be a healthier food-eating, more active/fit mom, not necessarily a thinner one. In my experience the diet and exercise route to weight loss has not led to an ongoing sysiphusian battle to maintain that weight, BUT my "before" was at a weight which was NOT natural or healthy for me. (I was unhappy with a very stressful and sedentary career with insane hours, severely undersleeping, and eating way too much as a result of the stress/sleep deprivation.)

There's a lot of evidence (from science, not just anecdotes) that our bodies have a "set point" which is very different for different people. I would define healthy weight as as the weight one is at when one is doing the things you need to be HEALTHY (eat right most of the time, follow hunger cues in eating, exercise, sleep enough). If a human (or an animal) is doing those things, then they are at a healthy weight... which for one person might be "overweight" on the BMI chart, and for another person might be "underweight".

I can tell when I'm there and when I'm veering away from it (in either direction, too heavy or too thin) because I just don't feel as good, and I know it's time to be a bit kinder to myself and take more time to take care of my body. For me it's about a 10 lb range.

(I add animal becase I think cats can be too sedentary or boredom eat the same way humans can.)

And I'm sorry your cat is in poorer health!

Marie Green said...

Loved this post Swistle. Gives me so much to think about. For the record, I agree with you. But more importantly, I love your line of thinking...

TJ said...

Here's the thing. I just want whatever I choose to do to be okay. And logically, I know that it's okay, because what do other people's opinions matter, you know?

But the thing is, I've wasted a lot of my life worrying about what other people might have thought of my weight and that's a hard habit to let go of. I think I have, for the most part. I can easily (almost always) roll my eyes at someone who thinks poking fun at my weight is a valid argument for an adult.

At the same time that I don't care about people who might think I'm too overweight or concern themselves about what I do or don't eat or what physical activities I do or don't take part in, I still care about what I think about those things. And I'm not happy. And I want to feel better. I'm not even saying I want to feel healthy or be healthy. I just want to feel good. I want to feel nice. I don't MEAN that physically. I'm just uncomfortable in my skin and in my body and in the way it moves and feels, and the way that the way I feel inside doesn't match how I look outside, and I don't mean that in a sense that "I'm thin on the inside!," I mean that in a sense that I'm not hunched over or self conscious of my large chest or focused on how uncomfortable my jeans are on the inside. I don't know if that makes sense.

I feel like being okay with how I look is the first step toward making whatever changes I feel like making, whether that's lost weight or muscle toning or maybe just a new clothing style. But come to find out, there's a whole second world of people - a world apart from the people who think I'm too fat to make trendy clothing for - who has a whole new layer of shaming to add on top of the shaming I feel like I've managed to shed. The people who subscribe to the idea that changing my body in any way means I hate myself, and not just that I hate myself, but that I hate you and your body, and the body of anyone who weighs more than me or is round and soft like me, or may have large breasts. That even though I spent so long reclaiming my own thoughts about my own body, I am told by the very people who are supposed to be sympathetic to weight issues that I can only be accepted as I am if I will promise to stay that way forever and ever.

There's the world of people I feel like I need to apologize and explain to - the old situation where you say "yes, I'm overweight... but I'm dieting! I eat healthy! I exercise a lot!" and feel like I need to explain or make excuses for my weight. Then the world that doesn't need any excuses or explanations, but does not have any acceptance for me any longer if I want to change my body.

I just want however I look and whatever I choose to do to be OKAY. I don't want to have to say the old line about "I just want to be healthy." I'm 28 years old. I'm really effing healthy, weight be damned. I'm 28! Of course I am. I don't want to have to explain why I'm the way I am, and I don't want to have to explain why I want to be a different way, and be shamed - SHAMED! - by women from all sides. Where's the middle ground? Where is it okay to just do what I want to do?

Dear Swistle, I dedicate this - my first novel - to you.

Rebecca said...

Great post!! Have I told you lately that I love you?

I skimmed the comments, but from what I saw it appears the consensus is HEALTH is important, not body size. It's hard to argue with that, but as we're all human and humans are judgmental, we've all looked at someone and said "Ew" whether we knew that persons health status or not.

I've had weight issues my whole life. Mainly high weight, but if I busted my butt and ate nearly nothing I could be "normal." I once had a PA tell me all about her diet, since she weighed less than me, only to find out I was 2 sizes smaller, exercised more, and was much healthier than she was. Of course this was a while back -- I'm bigger now than I've ever been at the moment.

So the plan now? Be healthy. Play with my kids, eat real food - raw fruits, more vegetables, move my body, and enjoy my life. If I'm "bigger than average" then so be it. I can do that and be healthy so I probably will be. Besides, age and thyroid disease has made it harder for me to drop weight than it used to be so I did have to come to terms with that, but once I've wrapped my mind around it, it became about my health. And that's all we should be concerned with - HEALTH.

So yeah, you're right. It's fully possible to be healthy and heavier-than-average. And we should learn to celebrate HEALTH and let weight and size go!

gwen said...

Very long-time lurker coming out of the woodwork to say THANK YOU for this post. Just thank you for being honest and funny and right.

Farrell said...

A five-year old in Sophie's dance class asked me last night if I had a baby in my belly.

I do not.

I know she's just a kid, but oiy. NOT a comment I wanted to hear.

When I was pregnant with Sophie, I got asked all the time if I was carrying twins.

I was not. (obviously)

In the end, I want to say: I hear you and people should just worry about themselves and shut their traps!

parkingathome said...

I'd rather be unhappy and skinny than unhappy and fat. I know, logically, that I have body dysmorphic disorder and see myself much larger than I am, and I know that when/if I ever do get down to the weight/size I am going for I will still see a 300 pound woman in the mirror. I know that I've been totally messed up in the head about weight and I don't think healthily, but I don't believe I could ever be happy while fat. Ever.

I appreciate posts like this one, but at the same time I think "don't listen to it, it'll just ruin your motivation." I hate that I live in a state of misery about my body, that I can't look in the mirror without wincing, that my midsection goes out much farther than my boobs when I sit down, that I have c-cup back-tits, and that my thighs will chafe if I don't wear pants when I walk, not shorts because those ride up in that fat person thigh wedgie. I wish I could think like this, be angry about the stigma and be happy with the fact that I've never even come close to my "healthy weight" but it just enrages me and depresses me and keeps me going back to the jumping jacks in which my stomach fat slaps me in the face. I wonder what it's like for other women to not have their belly fold over itself and that stinky line of sweat-goo form. I wonder what it's like to not have to put deoderant under your back tits. I wonder what it's like to lean forward and not be forced to stop when your belly stops you. I just want ONE chance to be small, to see what it's like, to move faster and with more energy and be able to look good in a shirt while sitting. I want to know what it's like to wear a fitted button-down shirt and not have the space between the buttons curve outward at max capacity.

What I'm saying is is that I'm unhealthy in my thoughts, and I guess that weight I want is my unhealthy weight, but it's not stopping me from doing my damndest to hate myself down to that number.

Slim said...

Leah (and any other trolls): Nice. Next time you make unsupportable assertions, use all caps, because volume = truth. Ask any four-year-old.

The "as long as you're healthy" caveat that some people are using really annoys/offends me, because some people cannot be healthy and because strangers do not get to decide what other people care about. And before you rant about other people driving up your insurance premiums (which is BS anyway), think about all the other things people slack off on, to the detriment of society. Do we insist that they shape up in those areas? You must read two newspapers every day (or you will be an uniformed voter)! You must volunteer three hours a week (society needs it)! You must get at least seven hours sleep (or you won't function well)! You must get as much education as possible and use it to get the highest-paying job available (economic productivity)!

Or you could mind your own business and we could mind ours. Do you really want other people making your life decisions for you?

Buster said...

My feelings on this topic do not lend themselves to being written about coherently, mostly because of the RAGE I feel. I completely agree with you - people are PEOPLE and their worth as a parent, friend, partner, or human is not related to their waist circumference or bust-size.

Saly said...

Dear Swistle,

I love you. And I love when you drop a well placed F Bomb.

Seriously- I am at my unhealthy weight right now. I am carrying about 40 extra pounds over what I am comfortable being at. My hips and knees hurt. And so I'm doing something about it slowly but surely.

But, as I said, 40 lbs to be at my comfort level-basically my pre-3 kids weight. I'd have to lose around 100 lbs to be considered "at my healthy weight" in my doctor's eyes....to have that perfect BMI number. I don't agree.

Spiffie said...

I feel like everyone's healthy weight is their weight when they are eating FOOD--not diet products, not sodas, not fast food--those don't qualify as food. My sister and mom both have weight issues, and they eat tons of diet stuff. Diet sodas, spray diet butter, diet popsicles, etc. And they both struggle with their weight constantly. Neither were overweight as children.

I eat tons of food (whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, avocados, hummus) and would probably qualify as underweight.

I guess what I am trying to say that I agree that your cat was at a healthy weight for her. Everyone has a different healthy weight--not one size fits all. It just needs to be a healthy weight while eating actually food--not a bunch of processed junk.

And I recommend that everyone read some books by Michael Pollan (like In Defense of Food)--they are eye opening!

jiveturkey said...

I always enjoy reading what you have to say about this topic. So please keep publish-it-onlining it out.

Seriously, my friend: I maintain that blogging is my therapy. It makes a huge difference to be able to get the stuff in your head out into the world (and hey, you can always close the comments if you feel like fear of trolls is holding you back).

clueless but hopeful mama said...

I'd be super curious to talk to an animal psychologist (I lived in California. I know these people exist.) about overeating in pets. My golden retriever would overeat until it killed her if she was allowed (she once got into her dog food container and had to be taken to the vet and monitored so she didn't die.) (Let us never speak about her epic turds after that episode.) Is this because of her genetic makeup? Or do we actually not feed her enough and when given the chance, she gorges to make up for it?? According to the vet, she MUST be given small portions to control her weight. What does it mean that, if given the chance, she would make herself sick with too much food? According to my vet and her former dog trainer, she needs a lot of exercise to help control boredom and "her appetite". What does that MEAN??

I do know that when I exercise a bit, it helps control my boredom AND my appetite. But that's just me. And I'm not even sure what that means, either.

(I know NOTHING about cats, obviously.)

(and I don't actually know much about dogs or people either. OBVIOUSLY.)

Anonymous said...

You're getting braver and funnier and more intensely you, and I like you even more now.

CAQuincy said...

Swistle, I do so wish I could marry you.

Gwen said...

I appreciate you saying this; it makes so much sense to me. I think the analogy is right on target. You make me think, so please keep posting whatever is on your mind!

Also, I just want to say that I am so sorry your kitty is sick and I wish the best for her.

Kalendi said...

Hey Swistle,

Great comments. I was skinny (way skinny) as a kid and somewhat overweight now, but I was sick as a kid and extremely healthy as an adult so I think weight is only one factor of our general well being. My sis is obese and has some issues with back pain and ankle pain but she is carrying extra weight. She lost some and feels better. But I think there are so many more factors than just weight...blood pressure, diabetes, heart, that both overweight and not overweight people can have. Let's not assume that just because someone is overweight that they have those problems. So basically I'm agreeing that health and weight don't go hand in hand, and that it's an individual thing. (Just a small note though, what feels right at 30 may not feel so right at 50--speaking from experience).

Sally said...

I love these posts because they make me THINK in new and interesting ways . . .

My dog is the opposite of "Clueless" - his weight has never changed more than 1 pound +/- in his entire 8 year adult life regardless of what treats he is or isn't given. Unlike many people's pets, we keep his bowl full all the time b/c we know he will only eat if he needs to. He's like this perfect machine that operates around his set point. Now that I think about it, I'm not sure if that supports your analogy or not because his set point happens to be at a "good" weight for his frame.

This is a touchy, emotionally fraught issue for me too. I'm very overweight and have been for a long time. I'm sorta body dysmorphic in reverse because I'm bigger than I think. I'm unpleasantly surprised when I see pictures that show my true size: "Is that what I really look like?"

*I* (and only *I*- making no assumptions and/or judgements of anyone else) am overweight because *I* eat too much and move too little. *I* am working really hard for the first time to make real changes in my body and my life because *I* need to and want to.

Is it because of my health? Sorta but not really. I am perfectly healthy aside from my weight although I do fear future issues and complications.

Is it for my kids? Sorta because I want to be a good role model and teach them good habits. I don't want them to have to crawl out of a hole like I am in (partially) because of the way I was taught to cook and eat.

Is it because "society" says I should? Sorta because I do want to be able to shop in regular stores and sit comfortably in narrow seats at the theater or on a plane. And no one wants to be judged by their appearance so the best way to avoid that is to be . . . average.

It's all of that and more - a thorny and complex issue to be sure.

-R- said...

I really like this post, Swistle.

Erica said...

Wow. I'm just now reading this post and I have to admit to being a little upset. (And look at me! I'm commenting as myself because I'm not ashamed of what I'm saying!)

As one of "those moms" who chose to have her digestive tract surgically altered to facilitate loosing weight, I'm offended that you're judging my reasons for doing so. Yes, my daughter played a large part in my decision to have the surgery. I was morbidly obese. I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, painful joints, etc. I has not able to be an active mom nor was I going to live a long and healthy life and see my child grow up.

These weren't my only reasons for having the surgery, but like I said, they were a large part of it. And what's wrong with that, I ask? Why does that make me one of "those moms?" I'm not judging you for the reasons you're fat, so why are you judging me for the reasons I'm not fat anymore?

(Since typed words don't convey tone of voice, let me just assure you that none of this was said in a snotty or mean why. I'm honestly curious and a little hurt.)

Holly said...

Swistle -- this is a fantastic post! My thoughts on the whole issue are so complicated and convoluted and I just thank you for putting some of those thoughts into words!

Anonymous said...

Erica -- But did you have the surgery so as not to embarrass your children? It doesn't sound as though you did, and that's who Swistle is talking about.

I am sorry you're hurt. I just think maybe you're hurt by something no one here has said.

cherylc said...

Strangely, I was going to write about my cat in response to the last post, but I didn't, because it makes me sad. My mom (we're getting to the cat) was obsessed with being thin. She ate very carefully, and she ran. She did this specifically to live a long life. My husband and I had a fat cat, who ate a normal amount of cat food. My mom was always talking about putting the cat on a diet, and we should limit her food, etc. We felt like, Mom, she's a CAT. All a diet will feel like to her is that we're being mean. Then, my mom died at 57 and the cat lived to be NINETEEN years old. The cat was healthy until a few hours before she died. Since then, I've decided quality of life is more important. No one can control how long they live anyway. So, I try to stay a certain amount thin because my feet hurt less and I have more energy. I exercise to do fun things and to feel better tomorrow, but not to live a long life. Also, I do not wish to have to buy new bigger clothes if I don't have to. But the most important thing is to enjoy my life and the time I have with people I love.

I'm not saying that obesity doesn't have health effects. My husband has diabetes and other problems related to his weight. But the whole thing is immensely complicated for him, as it is for lots of people. And it's not my business, even though we are married.

Becky said...

Ditto what Spiffie said. My biggest issue with the "weight problem" in our culture is that it's more a FOOD problem, and being overweight and/or unhealthy seem to be symptoms. (For the record, I feel there is some overlap between being overweight and unhealthy, but I most certainly DO NOT believe that one causes the other.) I think that any weight can be fine as long as you are healthy and are able to maintain your weight by (mostly) eating REAL FOOD, not edible food-like substances. We're not meant to subsist on soda and Cheezypoofs. Unfortunately, it's become quite expensive and inconvenient to eat good food all of the time, and I would argue it's almost unattainable for many American families.

Thank you for acknowledging that people's weights should not be a subject to be commented freely upon, fat or thin. I've only existed in two body categories: 1)naturally thin, and 2)pregnant. 9 months post-baby, I now weigh less than before I had her due to a fast metabolism and nursing. I get tired of all of the comments about how I'm "wasting away to nothing" by well-meaning coworkers. I'm sure what they MEAN to say is, "You look good," but it comes out sounding like, "What are you doing to your body?" I eat A LOT, and I resent the implication that must be starving myself to be where I am. I have never understood why so many people feel as if they have free reign to make my weight a topic of discussion just because I happen to be thin.

I hope what I said came off in the way it was intended. I dread accidentally saying the WRONG THING, especially when the topic of weight comes up.

Swistle said...

Erica- I don't think you read my whole post, or if you did, I didn't get my points across. There is ZERO SENSE in which I'm talking about judging women who get surgery or their reasons for doing so. I'm upset that things are such a way that there are some women who feel they SHOULD get surgery to avoid their fatness being an embarrassment. And then later in my post I point out that I think it's just as vile to say that women SHOULDN'T get the surgery, whether their reasons are appearance-based or health-based or other-based.

Erica said...

Thank you for the clarification. I misunderstood, or was too busy being indignant that I missed your point entirely.

Misty said...

I read this. And then I read it again. (All while eating Doritos and a chocolate chip cookie.)

God, your perspective is so stimulating. What a number of things to think about that I have never considered. This line especially means something to me: "It will be their life's most consuming project---with all the work gone the instant they die, leaving nothing of value behind to show for it."

And the whole crazy process, how crazy it is. The things we human beings think up! I am a firm believer that nothing exists in a vacuum. That yes, people of all sizes probably have things they could do to be healthier. But I also believe that we have these genes that have enabled us to live through famine and now, they don't need to do their job as well. Everyone's genetic makeup is different. Everyone looks different. I think I would have been one of those chicks who outlasted famine hundreds of years ago, and now, my body is a bit rounder than society tells us it should be.

Anyway, thank you for the wonderful, thought-provoking post. I love your insight.

Jess said...

This is actually why I had weight-loss surgery, if that makes sense. Because I knew that otherwise this would become my life's work, and I have so many other things that I would rather spend my life working on.

I feel like the last couple years of my life has been spent growing and learning and realizing how insane the "obesity epidemic" is. All of us make individual choices about our health, some of which have an impact on our weight, others of which do not. All the judgment and the assumption and the thinking we know when we do not know and can not know... it's gross and wrong and very upsetting.

Here's the other thing about my surgery. I've lost 85 pounds since I had it. I am now perfectly, completely healthy. Every single one of my health indicators tells me that. I'm fit, my heart is strong, I have stamina, my bloodwork is all in the normal range. But my WEIGHT is still "too high." I still LOOK fat. I still AM fat. But I am also healthy. But people looking at me wouldn't assume that. In fact, I'm sure many of them assume the opposite. I don't care about their assumptions anymore, but I can certainly not fault anyone else for caring.

Ashley said...

You don't have to make it your life's work to maintain a healthy weight for your body. You can adopt healthy eating habits (eating real food in reasonable portion) and incorporate consistent activity (30 minutes daily of walking, biking or whatever you find enjoyable) and let your weight fall where it may. I enjoy your writing, but think you really blur the line between liberating "fat acceptance" and an exuse for poor lifestyle choices (eating too much, not moving your body enough).

Miss Grace said...

I am a naturally dense/muscular, but also fairly short person. When I weigh what I 'should' you can count my ribs and see my chest bones my hips stick out in a very eating-disorderish way (and I only weighed that when I was puking my meals, so there you have it). When I weigh what I DO, which is healthy for me, and involves eating right and exercising and not even looking visibly FAT, it's just that I weigh a rather lot with my freakish manly leg muscles, my bmi labels me 'obese.'

It'd be cool if any doctor ever could take their eyes off my chart and look at my body and see that I'm not fat at all and that I don't have any health problems whatsoever and maybe not tell me that I need to lose weight. Because honestly, and not just as a part of FAT ACCEPTANCE CAMPAIGN, I'm not fat, and I don't need to lose weight.

Basically, I'm the human equivalent of your cat, and the only time I have ever weighed what I 'should' was when I was literally starving myself to death.
So there's that.

Melissa said...

Oh, Swistle. I do just love you. (you know...in a blog writing sort of way).

However-some of these comments? Drive me batty. We should accept people NO MATTER WHAT. Whether they are eating great, whether they are eating crap, whether they are moving their bodies, whether they're not. We are human beings and deserve to be treated well. Kind. Accepted. PERIOD. Who cares if someone is eating chocolate chip cookies for dinner (FYI-my husband and son are going out of town for a week, leaving me home. Alone. With the ingredients to make chocolate chip cookies. CALL THE POLICE! SHE'S FAT! And has access to copious amounts of butter!) What effect does someone's 'poor lifestyle choices' have on Joe Blow down the street? Oh, but if I was running every night I'd be OK? But what if I was still fat? See...there's the rub. I could be eating lean protein, veggies, moving, running, etc and STILL BE FAT. And how would anyone know what kind of 'lifestyle choices' I was making? The assumption would be I eat cookie dough for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

UGH.

C C Donna said...

My husband and I are catsitting the grandcat. My daughter gives us strict orders NOT to overfeed him (one stingy 1/4 cup serving of dry food twice a day as directed by the vet) The vet told her that at 18 pounds, he was overweight. (I claim he's big boned...just a plain big boy) Tucker is now 14 pounds and STARVING! He drives us NUTS! He whines constantly for food running to his bowl every time we pass it. We feel terribly bad for him so we do feed him snacks numerous times per day. So, after your blog about your cat the other day, I said to my husband, what the hell does it matter if Tuck is 18 lbs! He'll be happy! Why should he live everyday obsessed with food and hunger? By the way, my husband is a plus sized man, my mother, sister and neice are as well. My grandmother lived her whole very healthy life as a short round lady and died at 104.

I'm going to have a talk with my daughter, not that she'll listen.

Thank you, Swistle, you are beautiful.

Swistle said...

I think what you're missing, Ashley, is that moderate exercise and moderate eating result in fatness for many people. When I say "life's work," I mean doing the amount of exercise and eating that would result in thinness for me and for many other women.

Swistle said...

Jess Loolu- YES, I definitely get that! I read an article awhile back by a woman who said she finally successfully changed her eating habits by realizing that the amount of time she was investing in deciding what to eat, struggling against what not to eat, feeling bad about what she ate, dieting, worrying about her weight, etc., was way more than she wanted to spend. So she came up with a plan and she followed it, and voila, no more time wasted in a pointless project.

JackeeG4glamorous said...

while I agree wholeheartedly with the whole healthy weight and positive body image for women, I think the point missed here is this. As we age, the whole healthy weight (cats and people) contributes to SIGNIFICANT and various illnesses and disease states. So, while wanting to live long and prosper happily, we need to watch our BMI, eat healthy, MAINTAIN a healthy weight/lifestyle and exercise regularly.
My cat (s) were always a few extra pounds over, and yet at 8 and 9 years of age, one developed feline diabetes and the other cancerous tumors along the spine and liver. Both vets (two different ones) said had they been at a healthy weight and more active we could have prevented thier decline.
Same with people. Talk to someone in thier 40's who is battling diabetes or fatty liver, OR heart disease (high blood pressure).

Oh, and I don't mean, skinny, give that girl a sandwhich type weight. I mean within 20 pounds of the weight average. Being 20 or 30 pounds with in the average is Way Way better than being 50 to 70 pounds in that same average. Huge difference.

Jus saying. Now, go have an apple and ENJOY IT damn it!

Slim said...

Psychic veterinarians: Do they attract pet owners with poor reading comprehension and analytical skills, or is correspondence not causation, especially with an insufficient data set?

Nellyru said...

Hmm. I'm a good 20 pounds overweight, flabby, and have a bad back. Not ONE of my doctors has ever mentioned my weight or BMI or any of those things (even if I bring it up myself!).

On the flip-side, I tell people all the time that their pets are overweight.

Jenny said...

I really appreciate what Slim said (about health, not about psychic vets, though that was funny too.) I see this all the time, that it's health that matters, if you're healthy it doesn't matter if you're fat or skinny. Well, you don't get to decide whether you're healthy or not. Of course there are steps you can take that will help, but we all know someone who's died of lung cancer who never smoked a day in her life; someone slender who has Type 2 diabetes; someone who exercised every day until she couldn't any more because her Parkinson's was too bad.

All of us -- ALL of us -- will be sick at some point. Saying that health is the only thing that makes us worthy people is not helpful. Placing blame based on health instead of fatness isn't a good shift.

To be very, very clear: I am NOT saying you were doing this, Swistle -- your post was lovely and very important, and affirmed the dignity of all human beings. It's just that in this country I think we like to look for who's at fault. Saying that health=good and sick=bad does nothing but shame the ill and set a timer ticking for the currently well.

Jess said...

Jenny: I think you're right that it's important to remember that health is fragile and can't always be controlled. And I think that part of what Swistle is saying is that if someone chooses NOT to eat perfectly and work out regularly, even if that's not the best thing for their health, we shouldn't judge them for that either. So you are right, health is not something that makes us worthy or otherwise. But it is of course still important to focus on, if individuals choose to do so. There's a lot about my health that I can't control, but there's a lot that I can control, too, and making myself as healthy as possible will hopefully raise my likelihood of surviving any unforeseen illnesses that can't be prevented.

Sundry said...

I had to read this a few times before I could stop feeling prickly about the paragraph in which you seem to be angrily belittling any possible different viewpoints -- and you've edited at least one area to clarify something I was going to call foul on. So I'm not here to disagree, because I believe I'm with you on the fundamental stuff you're saying about shame and Doing Things For Unhappy Reasons That Don't Contribute to a Person's Sense of Well Being. But I do wonder what your thoughts are on why veterinarians told you the cat's weight was unhealthy. Since cats don't have any of the body image/society issues, why the concern? Is it because vets are wrong in their belief that weight is tied to health? (I don't have a stand on this, I'm just wondering how you fit that with your view on humans and weight and health.)

Swistle said...

Sundry- I don't know, either. (Though to clarify, the vet didn't say her weight was unhealthy; the vet said that ANOTHER weight would be her healthy weight.) It's one of the things I'm talking/thinking through here: why DO we assume that a certain number is IN ITSELF healthy---especially when we're the ones who picked that number based on data that may or may not apply, may or may not be correct? Why DO we assume that all creatures of a similar type (all cats, all humans) are equally able to be the same Ideal Weight and that they SHOULD strive for that weight? This is the exact point of the post, really: why WOULD the vet keep talking about the "healthy weight" of a healthy animal, and how can/does/might that apply to our own views of the health/weight connection---especially in what is the complicated human environment of physical-attractiveness ideals.

Slim said...

@Jenny -- It really is a nonstop lesson in opportunity costs, isn't it? And learning to do our own cost/benefit analysis is not helped one tiny bit by other people imposing their biases on our decisions.
Years ago, a woman on a bulletin board was talking about the importance of a positive attitude in dealing with health issues, and I pointed out that medically, there is no evidence that that makes a difference. She informed me that she was not willing to be around sick people who weren't doing everything they could to get well. The corker was her revelation that when her brother was dying of AIDS, she broke off contact with him when he started planning his funeral. You know, instead of devoting all his energy to recovering from an illness that at the time had no effective treatment.

Tess said...

I am SO HAPPY that you continue to talk about this stuff. It's worth it. We can throw up our hands and be like "OH, SOCIETY, WHATTYA GONNA DO?", but that's bullshit. THIS is what we can do.

It's hard for me, of all people, to keep emotion out of this, since of course it's one of my Hot Topics as well. Ironically, the reason WHY it's such a hot topic is because I've spent so much time and energy immersed in the science/research, and when you do that the one thing you find is that the ratio of things we know about metabolism/endocrinology to things we DON'T know about metabolism/endocrinology is MICROSCOPIC.

And that is why I find even the "health" thing a bit grating. We don't even really UNDERSTAND health all that well. We understand feeling "healthy", and that's about it. Even most of the traditional health MEASURES (BMI, total cholesterol, etc.) are turning out to be unmeaningful.

I can predict with some confidence the hordes of people who will find this comment to be ignorant bullshit, and that's fine. I don't mind.

You might expect this type of comment from someone who has their head in the sand, and is not ready to expend any effort re: diet and exercise, but in fact I am one of those people who expends SIGNIFICANT time and effort on nutrition/exercise. However, I don't fool myself that I know exactly how it works with my OWN body, much less the body of anyone else. Cats included.

Anonymous said...

In your vet's defense - a cat's thyroid doesn't just "break" from old age. In reality, the cat has probably had a long, if not life-long problematic thyroid, which is well known to effect weight gain/loss. Your cat may have been twice the weight of another cat with a similar frame because she had a thyroid gland that was malfunctioning - hence the eventual thyroid shut down and weight loss. In truth, neither condition is actually "healthy" an over-active thyroid is not normal and once it swings the other way and becomes under-active it can be problematic as well. Obviously, a cat or person can appear healthy on the outside but may have actually had a disease for a very long time. That is WHY weight is a condition that is checked in animals.

I do think it is important to be able to think rationally about topics that get our hackles up. Sometimes carrying extra weight really does indicate a problem - in humans or cats or whatever and it seems kind of irrational to link every mention of weight/weight loss we hear with our own personal feelings about our weight/bodies.

Swistle said...

Anonymous- Mouse had her thyroid checked annually, because her vet was so sure that her weight MUST mean unhealthiness. It cost a lot of money to do that, but we were concerned about her health. And your dig about it being "irrational to link every mention of weight/weight loss we hear with our own personal feelings about our weight/bodies" is duly noted, and is really astonishingly asinine, since I don't do that. Do I write daily or weekly about how EVERY SINGLE MENTION OF WEIGHT affects me? No. Do I occasionally use my brain to analyze data on the subject of weight? OH YES I DO.

Swistle said...

P.S. to Sundry: I didn't want to seem like a bonehead who doesn't know my own post so I didn't mention it in my first answer to you, but I've been over it and over it and I can't find a paragraph where I'm "angrily belittling any possible different viewpoints." Point a girl in the right direction, would you? Because if something comes across that way, it's unintentional and I want to fix it---I've already fixed a few areas where people said they misunderstood what I meant to say. This subject seems to create a BUTTLOAD of misunderstandings, and I hope you know me well enough by now that "angrily belittling any possible different viewpoints" is not my usual style and may be a misunderstanding.

Sundry said...

The CAPS SHOUTY ONE above the line where you say you're weary. It didn't really sound like the tone of someone who was eager for any kind of conversation other than "I agree 100%". But yes, I am totally willing to admit I may be misunderstanding that.

Joanne said...

Oh yes, Swistle, how DARE you take personally things about weight that are directed at YOU by your FAMILY? Sensitive, are we?

This is the CRAZIEST thing, to me. Are we really talking about what other people think about people's personal weights? Their personal fitness goals? What they personally eat? Their personal health. My mind is blown.

Sundry said...

Also, Swistle, I keep worrying about the two comments I've left here and wishing I'd never said anything. I was trying to analyze for my own sake why parts of the post didn't sit well with me and you've clarified them all, so I'm sorry I spoke up. XOXO. (No idea what Joanne's talking about, tho.)

Swistle said...

Sundry- The paragraph above the one where I mention weariness is the one where I say:

"And many, many people will assume that because I don't think people should be shamed into changing their appearance, or because I think fatness gets a disproportionate measure of blame for health problems while other health-impacting things get disproportionately little, or because I think sometimes people say it's about health when it's not, this means I think people should eat nothing but junk! and should never exercise! and that weight has NO impact on health! and that I have no idea how important it is to be HEALTHY!! And some people will assume that because I think everyone has different body types and that not everyone can achieve the same results with the same efforts, that means I think NO ONE CAN CHANGE AT ALL!! and no one should try!! and everyone should just pig out and sit around all the time because IT'S HOPELESS AND STUPID!! And some people will think that because I think the culture has become scary and toxic on the subject of weight, and needs a major overhaul, that means NO ONE SHOULD TRY TO LOSE WEIGHT FOR ANY REASON. Sigh."

Is that the angry belittling one? That's the paragraph in which I was trying to make absolutely sure people understood that even thought I strongly object to shaming fat people for being fat and assuming that FAT = BAD and also that FAT = JUNK FOOD AND NO EXERCISE, that that DOESN'T mean I think exercise, weight loss, and healthy eating aren't good, or that change isn't possible, or that good health isn't important.

With the other comments that have pointed out places where I needed to make myself more clear, I knew immediately what needed to be changed/clarified. In this case, I still don't know what I should change. I don't mean to ask you write my post for me, but can you tell me where the trouble is so I can fix it? It still looks really clear (and GOOD and NICE) to me. It looks like a paragraph about the fear of being misunderstood to mean something I don't mean at all.

Swistle said...

Erk, sorry, I was writing this while you were leaving your comment, so we crossed messages and now it looks all weird.

Joanne said...

I was talking about the Anonymous comment, Sundry, not yours. Sorry!

Nellyru said...

I'd just like to put in my two cents about dealing with weight issues in animals...

I wouldn't put thyroid disease at the TOP of my list of reasons for a cat to be overweight, since HYPOthyroidism isn't exceptionally common in cats. HYPERthyroidism, on the other hand, is.

I always discuss potential health concerns for overweight cats with clients. And frankly, I don't give a FLIP if people want to argue with me about "scientific evidence linking blah-blah-blah"...because my own experience has been that a good number of the overweight cats I see end up with scruffy coats, skin problems, and/or diabetes. Do they all? Of course not. I see some cats come in year after year fat and happy with no health problems. What should I do here? Some cats are chubby their entire lives with not a single problem. Some are that way for a few years before I start seeing the health changes. Some gain a bit every year until POOF they aren't healthy any more. It's not like there is a magic time frame or a magic number for each cat that I will know if and when health problems will occur. BUT. Because I SEE HEALTH PROBLEMS OCCUR in what appears to be a CORRELATION to weight gain, guess what? I talk about it. I warn about it. I suggest weight loss. Sorry.

People always ask me "Well, what SHOULD he/she weigh?" And I never really answer. I don't use a chart or a formula. I usually say something like this: "Well, since I don't know what Fluffy will look and feel like after she loses five/ten/fifteen pounds, why don't we shoot for that and then we'll see?" And then we go from there.

Swistle said...

Nellyru- I know, I know, and I even AGREE with how my vet handled it: she didn't in any way SCARE us or OVERDO it, she just mentioned it, and of course she SHOULD because that is the kind of information we are paying for when we bring our cat to the vet. I don't know how to simultaneously express all the thoughts I am having on this subject without simultaneously offending EVERYONE. I don't mean "This doesn't click into place, therefore SOMEONE SUCKS AND IS FATIST!!!!," I mean more literally what I say: what DOES it mean in the cases where the weight of animals and people does NOT correlate with their health, when we would expect it to, and does it mean something for our general views of how weight and health are related?" Definitely NOT "NO ONE SHOULD EVER MENTION WEIGHT!!!1! WEIGHT IS NEVER AN ISSUE!!!!!"---and in fact, I find my own doctors UNDER-mention weight, as if out of respect but actually to the detriment of my health (like when maybe some problems I'm having COULD be related to my thyroid, and no one wants to suggest a blood test because MAYBE IT WILL SOUND LIKE THEY'RE CALLING ME FAT ACK OMG!! ....See what I mean about how I'm not going for one unified point here? I am wondering what this all means and why the pieces don't always fit the way we think they will.

Swistle said...

And---AND---it's not like our vet is now saying, "Yay her weight is 'healthy,' so now everything's fine!" Our vet is VERY CONCERNED about her weight loss. And we LOVE our vet.


So what I'm saying is that when weight is discussed, EVERYONE LOSES: there is NO WAY for it to be discussed without EVERYONE feeling attacked and unsettled and then me having to reassure EVERYONE that I don't mean what they think I mean! and that I'm not attacking what they think I'm attacking!

Well, that is the problem with the topic. I do think it's worth it, but on the other hand I am burning through the vodka and tranqs at a pretty steady pace here. (NO NOT TOGETHER.)

Nellyru said...

ooh ooh, I was in no way trying to disparage anything your vet may have said! (that's some bad ju ju there, bad mouthing a colleague!) I was just making some remarks because so many people tend to think thyroid issues=overweight.
And I too, have noticed my doctors never mention weight. (Even when I was PREGNANT! And I gained EIGHTY POUNDS!)

Anonymous said...

Hi - I was the anon. poster earlier. I wasn't trying to be condescending, asinine or make personal "digs" with my comments. I was just trying to see things from the vet's perspective and point out that I'm sure her mentioning the cat's weight every year wasn't intended to make you feel bad.
I know that you don't literally freak out about EVERY mention of weight. It just seemed like your recent posts (and I love your blog) followed a trend, first your son put his foot in his mouth about your new pants then your husband made an untimely remark about the cat's weight and then there was this angry post about cats and the obesity epidemic and people having surgery because they are ashamed to be fat etc. I guess I think that sometimes people tend to overreact to ANY and ALL discussion of weight because they themselves are feeling sensitive about it. I'm sorry.

Lawyerish said...

As always, I think you did a great job with a very difficult and loaded topic. I could go on for DAYS, but instead I'll just tip my hat to you. I hope you'll always work out your thoughts on this here website, because I will certainly always read them.

Swistle said...

Anonymous- Two posts, one of which is the thoughts the first inspired, surrounded completely by posts on completely different topics, is a "trend"? You think you need to point out to me that the vet wasn't trying to make me feel bad by mentioning the cat's weight? You bring up irrationality, oversensitivity, and overreacting, but don't think you're being condescending or asinine? AND you have reduced the entire intellectual, political, ethical, medical, and scientific issue of weight/health to "people feeling sensitive about their weight." And you say all that and then follow it up with "I'm sorry," as if there is anything about what you said that was apologetic rather than a more emphatic restatement of what you said the first time? And you do it all anonymously? I...I don't even know what to say! You have astonished me!

GinaAnn said...

A few friends of mine are seeing a doctor for weight loss - but it's kind of different and if the guy accepted insurance, I'd be all over it. He took some measurements with his fancy machine and came up with a thirty pound range that would be a healthy weight for my one friend. Rather than just "You're 30 and 5'4"? Here's your five pound range" he used his machines to check her bone weight and other business and then gave her a broader range where she'd be perfectly healthy. And even the low end was heavier than you'd think.
My point is this: She's spent her entire life being told she was grossly overweight because she wasn't 5'4", 120lbs. This doc? He told her she could weigh anywhere from 160-190.

d e v a n said...

Ok - I have like, 300 posts in my reader so I didn't read all the comments but YES. Why does "society" think that the same things work for the same people and we should all be the "right" size or else?! *sigh*