Saturday, February 26, 2011

clashing frameworks

I think the reason we chafe, a little, against each other, is this. She believes like a consuming fire; in God, in the book of Mormon, in revelation. She believes those who hurt me would be far better off drowned in the sea with a millstone about their necks than when God gets a hold of them. Cast out, she still believes. She's sacrificed to hang on to God who loves her. God who loves Us.

And I, despite my best efforts, believe in the abusive patriarchy of Mormonism; it is one of my strongest and most deeply held beliefs. I believe in a system which, while apparently all right for some people, rips some of us into bloody little chunks and spits us out, with God at the head. My belief is like a glacier on which I'm alone in winter with broken legs, and it subsumes any faith I might once have had about God having good intentions towards me.

Still, she was very kind. And I'm grateful she's around.

Friday, February 25, 2011

essential reading for the pre-maritally chaste

I'd Rather Eat Chocolate is the story of a woman and her husband sucessfully negotiating a large difference in sex drive. It's wonkers that this hasn't been done before, because it very intelligently addresses that one big surprise people who choose not to have sex before marriage face. It's funny and concise, and manages to give usefully detailed descriptions without getting gross or exhibitionist. I'd Rather Eat Chocolate covers a lot that inexperienced engaged couples would be wise to discuss.

I hate that she attributes the gap in libido solely to biological gender. For someone so articulate about the gendered sexual pressure she's under, she's impressively immune to the possibility that patriarchy could have adversely influenced her sexuality. By making it all about gender she also re-enforces the stigmatization of women who are extremely interested in sex, and especially men who aren't. This story and others like it are needed for all the low libido individuals out there (and those who might wish to partner them), not just the women.

But I love Sewell's description of coming to terms with her sexuality in a context where female sexuality is framed in terms of male desire. It's awesome to read how healthy it was for her to resist cultural pressure and refuse to have sex she didn't want, despite the complications; that's a lesson for everyone, regardless of how often they prefer to have sex.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fat (part 2)

The problem is, I have yet to see a piece of science that suggests diets work. I'm not even slightly interested in loosing ten pounds for a year, and I think most fat people aren't; the fantasy is thin, or at least average weight, and it must last forever. . . to satisfy the fantasy, anyway.

Not that ten pounds lighter wouldn't be welcome, but I'm not willing to make dieting an obsession for the rest of my life for ten pounds. Honestly, I'm not sure I'd be willing even to be seventy-five pounds lighter, though it's definitely a more attractive possibility.

But the chances of that, not to pun, are incredibly slim. Take this analysis of success rates at weight watchers:

"38,000 people who reached goal weight per year sounds like a lot. But actually it turns out to be a really small number. I found a business article from back then that stated that Weight Watchers had 600,000 attendees in the U.S. in 1993. Divide 38,000 lifetime members per year into 600,000 and my calculator says that each year only about 6% of Weight Watchers members (give or take) reached their goal weight (presumably 94% failed).

Now before you get all impressed with Weight Watcher’s 6% success rate, let’s step back. For one thing, the successful 6% weren’t so fat in the first place. The 2001 study says that most were between a BMI of 25-30 (i.e. “overweight” but not “obese” – to use definitions I find silly). The 2007 abstract says the average starting BMI for that study was 27 – which is well below the average Weight Watchers participant. So in order to achieve goal weight the average lifetime member probably had to lose less than 10 lbs and would have to include a lot of people who had even less to lose. [...]

And what about the number we’re really looking for – how many people actually become “normal” weight long-term using Weight Watchers? It turns out only 3.9% of the golden 6% were still at or below goal weight after 5 years. By my calculations that means 3.9%*6.3% = 0.24% or about two out of a thousand Weight Watchers participants who reached goal weight stayed there for more than five years."

Frustrating, because there's no indication what percentage of weight watchers attendees are there to maintain, or have an initial goal that would reasonably take them more than a year to reach. Still, all the evidence I've ever seen suggests that most dieters move from one diet to the next, and if most fall within that pattern, she should at least be in the right order of magnitude.

Then there are these excerpts from the same blog:

"Even in the studies with the longest follow-up times (of four or five years postdiet), the weight regain trajectories did not typically appear to level off (e.g., Hensrud, Weinsier, Darnell, & Hunter, 1994; Kramer, Jeffery, Forster, & Snell, 1989), suggesting that if participants were followed for even longer, their weight would continue to increase. It is important for policymakers to remember that weight regain does not necessarily end when researchers stop following study participants."

"Here’s something doctors don’t tell their patients: 41% of people who go on diets weigh more a few years after the diet, then they did before they began dieting.1 Since I’m a blogger, not a scientist, I’ll go ahead and make the irresponsible comparison: Dieting is significantly more likely to cause long-term weight gain than weight loss. That’s a Surgeon General’s warning that should appear on every diet program and product on the market."

Again with the frustrating; most people naturally gain some weight as they age, and arguably, Americans just gain weight over time in general, so the follow-up weight gain of dieters is meaningless unless one is comparing it to a control group.

There's so much bad science, and so much financially motivated science, in this field--it can be hard to wade through. Pro-diet sources define "success" at dieting in a way no human being does (like ten pounds for a year), and fat acceptance writers publish things like. . . well, like what I just quoted. It's not at all solid, but it is enough to give me pause about dieting. Supposing that dieting gives me only a 10% chance of reaching my goal weight, and a 20% chance of regaining more (above the curve or normal weight gain) than I've lost within five years, it would still a stupid move on my part.

Monday, February 21, 2011


1) Farmer's Market: I can not wait for it to open for the pre-season on May 7. . . almost three months away. :(

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle was good, but I question Kingsolver's approach. First, she doesn't weigh the ecological and human cost of preserving local food to last through the winter against the costs of transporting it. Second, I get a knot in my stomach when someone who gets paid to write books and owns a small farm that they don't have to use is dismissive of working parents' need for convenience.

Still, she's sold me on in-season, organic local produce. Last year I gave myself 10$ a week to spend at the farmer's market; this year, I'm going to try and do as much of my grocery shopping there as possible while the season is on. I'm excited to plan cooking around what I find, and to ask diversified local farmers my gardening questions. And I'm excited about keeping my food dollars in my community. FMH introduced me to Smitten Kitchen, and even though their style is a little Martha Stewart for me, they definitely win at inspiring my vegetable lust.

2) Orthotics: being able to walk, outside a swimming pool, without pain. What's not to love? I get mine in 11 days. And counting.

Plus--and I don't say this lightly--my physical therapist is a kindred spirit. I've hated physical therapists since I was a toddler because it was SO clear they weren't listening to me. This one listens.

3) Writing: I've decided I need a writing group, but haven't quite figured out the best way to make it happen. Best idea so far? Sit in on a summer writing class--maybe creative writing, never done that--and mine for recruits. Once more with the waiting for May.

I'm of good cheer. :)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Fat (part 1)

I am fat. 5'5, and 220-225 pounds. To paraphrase Kate Harding, I'm not ugly, lazy, stupid, unmotivated, or uninformed. In fact, I'm kind of nice looking, and reasonably smart. And fat. . . so please don't tell me I'm not; I prefer to be reality based. My desire to be thin--FoBt?--falls in three categories:

1) I want to be graceful and strong, and do things I love without excessive pain. Like hiking, backpacking, jujitsu, salsa, hip hop, marksmanship, West African dance, rock climbing, and ballet. Unlike, say, Ragen's*, my skeleton seems to have trouble holding itself together under pressure. This isn't caused by fat--everyone in my family has problems of this kind, including the skinnies. In theory, the pain and incapacitation are 100% solvable with lifestyle changes, under the bountiful supervision of a physical therapist or osteopath. My PT, God bless him, hasn't once mentioned my weight, but it doesn't take rocket science to guess it's exacerbating the problem. Also, chronic pain and chronic depression mutually re-enforce like a mofo. Those two problems take up a lot of my life.

2) I want to be considered attractive. It feels silly to complain about this, because I did ok in the genetic lottery. I don't face the penalties that people who have far-below-average looks get slapped with. Still, I'm looking for a partner--or at least I plan to be this decade--and it bothers me a lot that so many guys who would otherwise be attracted (and/or attractive) to me seem to find me entirely invisible as a woman, or to equate "attractive" with "not fat." I don't think anyone should be sexually invisible unless they choose it. It just so happens that being thin would solve it, in this case, for me. Likely, being thin would dramatically improve my social desirability in this culture generally. . . not that I'd know what to do with that, but still.

3) I want to live free of discrimination based on fat. The link between wage and BMI is very, very well documented--and, incidentally, much stronger for women than for men. If that weren't plenty, things like denial of medical care, even when the patient is clearly not at fault for their condition, happen all the time. 24% of nurses said they were "repulsed" by obese people; that's not how quality care happens. Even if they had any right to know, I don't have time to explain to everyone I meet that I've carefully made choices I felt were best for my health.

It might seem the choice is obvious--I should just try to loose weight. I'm a lot more stable than I used to be, and it could be a psychologically healthy option now . . but the choice isn't clear. That's all I'm going to say about it tonight. Yeah, I know, I'm all full of cliff hangers.