Back from Norwescon!

As mentioned on Twitter, I was at Norwescon this weekend! One of the most delightful parts was the interview session with special guest Seanan McGuire, who is also Mira Grant.  I don’t have that to share with you, but I do have this from her book tour last fall for her book Parasite (which IS about genetically engineered parasites, and yes, it’s touched on in the video).

Minute 7 – how having a genetically engineered tapeworm could affect weight loss.

Minute 9:45 – could write a very socially-shaming book along the lines of “now that my PCOS doesn’t prevent me from losing weight, you actually think I deserve decent medical care?”

Minute 11:50 – poop transfers & your personal biome

Minute 25 – on bacteria & how antibiotics are overused

Minute 29 – on how drugs are mislegislated and miscontrolled

Minute 39:55 – on morning person encountering a night person

Minute 42 – “Do you honestly think it’s better to be dead than autistic?”

Watch and enjoy ;)

It Came From The Search Terms

When you go to a page by searching Google (or whatev) it very nicely let your sites know what you searched on.  WordPress aggregates this for its users.  Some of them are fun.

how do morbidly obese people get dressed

Once you manage to buy the clothes it’s not all that different….

how some will look if they weighed 400 lbs at 6 foot 2 inches

Depends on the person, but see the photographic height/weight chart.

what it’s loke to be fat

The interesting thing about that one was that it wasn’t just a 1-time misspelling — 7 hits with that one phrase.

Wheezing Around the Block

One of the recent rants I moderated out of the comments included something* about how “wheezing around the block doesn’t count as exercise.”

Wheezing is a symptom of asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, pneumonia, and other illness. Deciding that wheezing is only treated by weight loss is dangerous.

I do wheeze. I have asthma. Now that  it is properly treated I can exercise without wheezing. My treatment plan is greatly helped by insurance to cover the not-available-in-generic Advair & other meds. One of my asthma triggers is exercise itself. This means I need to medicate pre-exercise. I’m also affected by things like air pollution and pollen.

If you’re fat and wheezing while walking around the block, you may need to see a doctor about your wheezing. It’s not necessarily “just being fat.” Waiting til you’re thin? A, may not help, and B, you could die in the meantime.

The fat haters of the world would have you believe you only wheeze if you’re fat and should lose weight to cure it. The fat accepters think that if you’re sick, you should be treated for that without having to lose weight first. I’m on the fat accepting side.

*Paraphrased to remove profanity & improve readability.

Saturday Ramblings

1am is still Saturday if you haven’t gone to bed yet, right?

Note to self: The expensive twice-daily asthma med works best if the evening dose is 12 hours after the morning dose, not 18 or 20. You carry it with you. Set an alarm on your phone & use it. Don’t just turn it off.

Kath posted about a current fat acceptance tag on twitter, if you haven’t seen it already. Also the HAES blog has a piece on activist burnout.

I started watching the first season of Mad Men on Netflix.  Is it weird that I’m describing it as “a grown-up Bewitched”?

Music Monday

Kathy Mar

Kathy Mar (image from Last.fm)

Kathy Mar has been making folk and filk music longer than a lot of people have been around.  She was a professional folksinger and street performer in Denver before she discovered filk, the music of science fiction & fantasy fandom.  She’s gone on to record several filk albums and won awards in filk music.

And yes, she is a woman of size.

One of her songs from 1988 is still as timely as it was then.

We are surrounded by technology a flood that’s rising still
And we are praying we’ll survive it or we’re sure we never will
And all our speed and skill and reach will soon be taking us to space
It’s a great day in the morning for our funny human race
But we’re frightened of our future and we’re scared to move along
So we scream that our technology is dangerous and wrong
Back-to-nature cannot save us but the stars could be our crown
If we can drink up this river before we drown

Last.fm has a great version of “Drink Up The River” and other songs of Kathy’s.

A more recent image of Kathy (via Wikipedia).

A more recent image of Kathy (via Wikipedia).

QOTD: Workplace Wellness

Much criticism of “employer wellness programs” have been focused on privacy concerns and angering employees.  But now we’re seeing more practical concerns (also known as “does this even work?”).

Which leads me to this quote of the day, directed at CEOs:

Suppose a vendor made you this proposal: “Pay us to take your employees off the job for medical tests that the government specifically says are unnecessary, and then send them to the doctor (at your expense) even though the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) says healthy adults don’t benefit from checkups. We also want you to bribe or even fine employees to drive participation. Despite this adverse morale impact and wasted time and money, we promise you’ll reduce your healthcare spending, mostly because we’ll make up the savings numbers.” [...]

Think you’d decline this proposal? If you have a wellness program built around screenings, doctor visits, and “incentives,” you’ve actually already accepted it. Because (in addition to free gym memberships and other possibly worthwhile perks) that’s what wellness is for tens of millions of Americans.

— Al Lewis and Vik Khanna

Gee — let me think.

Wednesday Trying to be Monday

image

Image from IGIGI

Good: Wearing nifty IGIGI dress from Gwynnie Bee.
Bad: Turned my left ankle and fell in my driveway this morning.
Good: Ankle feels okay.
Bad: Right hip & knee, which I actually fell on, are sore.
Good: Hubby brushed off dress. 
Bad: Headache.
Good: Five compliments on the dress at work today. And it has POCKETS.
Uncertain: What does this say about my “normal” clothing?

In other news, I seem to have determined that IGIGI 30/32 fits me. (This may be expensive news.)

TSA Travels

I don’t fly very often. This is likely why it I didn’t go through a full-body security scanner until Friday and, again, today.  I don’t have strong opinions about the type of scanning used, although I do consider much of the airport security approach to be security theater. So I did the scanner instead of other measures.

image

Image from Wikipedia

These were the millimeter wave scanners. The opening is narrower than the machine. I turned sideways to get in. Otherwise I fit fine. Each time the machine flagged me for pat downs afterward on my thighs, just above my knees.  The second time also included pat downs of my tummy, back and bottom. I was always patted down by a woman – no waiting.

Other posts on flying:

Flying While Fat
Buying Plane Tickets (more seats than passengers)
A mid-flight conversation on flying while fat

N Things Make a Post

Thanks to This Is Thin Privilege for the shout-out.

Image from the Rudd Center Image Gallery

Image from the Rudd Center Image Gallery.
Not the blogger.

Jeanette took on the “Obese women get only an hour of exercise a year” thing.

…as did This is Thin Privilege.

…as did Marilyn Wann and many commenters on Facebook (signin needed).

On a personal note, my allergies are bothering me much less since Sunday.  Why? I spent over 3 hours Saturday doing “soak, rinse, repeat until the water is clear” on the electrostatic air filters for our furnace. Then waited about 4 hours for them to dry. Fortunately we replaced the windows in a few years back to the inside temp only went down about 10 degrees (and I set the heat UP about 5 degrees before I turned off the furnace to take out the filters).

Also on a personal note, I’m back into the swing of getting allergy shots once a week after an attack of life around November.

Tell Me Again How It’s “For My Own Good”

Lara Frater wrote about this and I wanted to boost the signal.  The Rudd Center recently came out with a study (PDF link) showing that weight stigma affects the stress hormone cortisol.

Exposure to weight-stigmatizing stimuli was associated with greater cortisol reactivity among lean and overweight women. These findings highlight the potentially harmful physiological consequences of exposure to weight stigma.

It doesn’t require being fat to have this kind of reaction, by the way. Both the lean and overweight women “were equally likely to report that they would rather not see obese individuals depicted in a stigmatizing manner in the media.”

What’s cortisol? Some highlights from Wikipedia:

Cortisol, known more formally as hydrocortisone is a steroid hormone [...] released in response to stress and a low level of blood glucocorticoids. Its primary functions are to increase blood sugar through gluconeogenesis; suppress the immune system; and aid in fat, protein and carbohydrate  metabolism.  [...] Cortisol counteracts insulin, contributes to hyperglycemia-causing hepaticgluconeogenesis and inhibits the peripheral utilization of glucose (insulin resistance). [...] Cortisol can weaken the activity of the immune system.

Being fat (“excess weight”) is considered a cause of insulin resistance.  And it appears that weight stigma increases cortisol … which increases insulin resistance.  Which is the chicken? Which is the egg?

This isn’t necessarily new.  Weight stigma  has been tied to weight gain before.  What this study highlights is one mechanism.  There may be others.  We know that fat bias prevents fat people from getting jobs, from getting raises, and from getting proper healthcare treatment.   Fat people are also often paid less and harassed more than similar-qualified people who are thin.  None of this improves health.

So when I hear people saying that fat people just need more “tough talk” to lose weight “for their own good”? No, I don’t believe them.

It Came From the Search Terms

how does 400 pound have sex

400 pound what? If you mean £400 I’m not sure.

blogs about being obese

Hi!

what to do super morbidly obese

What do you want to do?

what size is 6x plus

Oh dear, plus size sizing is NOT for the weak.  For example, I wear 5x at Making It Big, except when I wear a size 4x or a size 6x.  I recently joined Gwynnie Bee, in part, to try more clothes from vendors I’ve been unsure about committing myself too (and I’ve discovered I can rock a 30/32 IGIGI dress, which may be an EXPENSIVE thing to learn).  Oh, and how did I learn about Gwynnie Bee? From Marianne Kirby, which brings us back to how plus sizes make no sense.

yoga pants bbw

You know all those stretch knit elastic-waist pants that everyone sells for fatties?

what sizes does lane bryant carry

14-28.

4x – 9x clothing for women

Already answered - be sure to check out the comments & also this list of resources.

what size do you need a seatbelt extender

Depends on the person and the seatbelt.   Check out these posts.

 swimwear for morbidly obese

For women, this post. For men, Casual Male.

what is the largest scrub size you can buy

Plus Woman sells clothing from 1x to 10x, including scrubs.  They make a lot of things to order so you can pick fabric and so on.

Pursuing An Agenda

Earlier today, Melissa McEwan tweeted:

So, in response to the accusations that I have an agenda, yes -- yes I do. And that's what it is.

Scrolling back, I saw Melissa’s prior tweet was regarding Dylan Farrow: “I am speaking about this because it is wrong; I am speaking in solidarity with Dylan Farrow; I am speaking in defense of my own survival.”

This blew me away.

In retrospect it seems silly — of course people often have their own agendas on the internet! — but we often want to stay neutral and avoid “taking sides.”   Especially in matters of activism, we want to be one of the good guys, to avoid self-interest.  It’s not that I’m getting something out of this, it’s that it’s the right thing to do.

Self-interest is not necessarily wrong.  Yet people often try to put it aside, to derive credibility from their neutrality.  I’m one of them.

I’ve been accused of ignoring research that shows an increased risk of death among people with my BMI.  I don’t ignore it. I just don’t see how it changes the research showing that diets don’t result in long-term weight loss for the overwhelming majority of people.  Or that in the long term, weight loss efforts often result in regain (or net gain), loss of self-esteem, and are ultimately a waste of time.

Yes, I have an agenda in my choice to live life at my current weight instead of trying, yet again, to win the weight-loss lottery.  Yes, when I discuss weight-loss scams, it’s because I consider selling such frauds to be unethical, unhealthy, and wrong.  Yes, rejecting the decade-plus I spent dieting has done wonders for my mental and physical health.

So yes, if you’ve wondered what my agenda is in writing about weight — there it is.

Quotes on Clothing

Image courtesy of the Rudd Center Image Gallery

Image courtesy of the Rudd Center Image Gallery

“If you don’t grow up ever seeing members of your community wearing suits or expensive clothes, it’s easy to see those who wear these things as members of an exclusive group you can’t break into.”
— Kris Gale in the NY Times 

“[P]erception is often reality. If you dress, act, and sound like a competent professional, people will generally assume you are, until you prove differently.”
Mark Melvin in Information Week

“There’s a certain despair that comes with not being able to buy clothes — access to plus size clothing is a huge issue (and one that reaches beyond fashion) because you can’t leave the house naked. You can’t go to work without work-appropriate clothing. You can’t feel confident about yourself and your abilities if you cannot accomplish the fundamental task of getting dressed in the morning. I don’t even mean getting dressed in new and trendy things — I mean that being able to even acquire clothes of any kind is a big deal.”
Marianne Kirby in xojane

“I SLAYED A FUCKING DRAGON BEFORE I COULD BUY THIS DRESS. THAT IS WHAT YOU SHOULD BE COMPLIMENTING.”
Lesley Kinzel on Two Whole Cakes

Health At Every Size Principles

I sometimes post about Health At Every Size®, both the concept (which is trademarked by ASDAH) and the book Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth about Your Weight, by Linda Bacon.  So I am pleased to see that ASDAH has updated its HAES® Principles to be more inclusive of different abilities and backgrounds. Weight bias and weight discrimination is explicitly called out.  Supporting individual choices is more explicitly encouraged. A brief framing of the Health At Every Size® Approach has been added, as well, noting that health is NOT “simply the absence of physical or mental illness, limitation, or disease.”  It also states that

[H]ealth exists on a continuum that varies with time and circumstance for each individual. Health should be conceived as a resource or capacity available to all regardless of health condition or ability level, and not as an outcome or objective of living. Pursuing health is neither a moral imperative nor an individual obligation, and health status should never be used to judge, oppress, or determine the value of an individual.

I suggest you check the full statement on the ASDAH site.

 

Some Workplace Wellness Programs Work

I found it surprising too!

A study of over 67,000 people who could join PepsiCo’s “Healthy Living” wellness program found that 7 years of participation in a “disease management” program resulted in a net savings — the cost of the program was less than the money saved by reduced healthcare costs.  These sorts of programs are “aimed at helping people with chronic illnesses stay healthy, by educating them and reminding them to take medication” and “resulted in significant savings”.

Meanwhile, the wellness program’s “lifestyle management offerings, which aim to reduce health risks through programs focusing on weight loss or stress management, resulted in no net savings at all.”

As the NYTimes headline put it, “Study Raises Questions for Employer Wellness Programs.

Researchers estimate that disease management lowered health costs by $136 per member per month, mostly thanks to a 29 percent reduction in hospital admissions. Lifestyle programs, however, had no significant effect on health care costs.

[...]

Other analyses have shown cost savings for lifestyle programs — perhaps, researchers said, because they looked at older programs that were introduced when habits like smoking were more prevalent and cholesterol-lowering drugs were just becoming available, so gains from intervention were greater. Another study at the University of Minnesota, with a design similar to the PepsiCo study, also found that savings resulted from disease management programs rather than lifestyle programs.

I note this article is in the “Business” section and focuses on dollars and cents and not the utter failure of weight loss programs or the paternalism inherent in businesses that offer stress management classes while overworking employees.  I also note that a program focused on “educating people with chronic illnesses on their diseases and reminding them to take their medication” sounds a lot like actually treating the chronic illnesses so they don’t get worse.  Heck, the paper’s title? “Managing Manifest Diseases, But Not Health Risks, Saved PepsiCo Money Over Seven Years.”  What a concept!

But yeah: If  you are in a position to discuss a potential “wellness” program with an employer, here’s some research on how weight loss programs don’t save money. May be useful.