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March 2006 posts

Someone is Trying To Tell Me Something.

But, why now?!  Yes, it's one in the morning, and I'm up.  Apparently, I fell asleep at some point with the boy - because I woke up fighting him for the Spiderman blanket.  It's hard to share a twin bed with someone.  When I woke, I truly thought it was time to get up, it felt like five or six.  I got up, threw some laundry in, folded a load of laundry, went to the kitchen for a snack and then realized with no functioning kitchen (it's been demolished to re-install a new one), I didn't see the clock on the stove which is my usual first glance in the middle of the night. 

Once I came to the computer to see why I had more than fifty emails (out of the ordinary for me lately because don't email back much), I realized of course that it's the middle of the night still.  I think I fell asleep extra early because of a few factors - chocolate being one.  Then, of course, I'm still in training (again), and the whole commuting thing is tiring. 

Finally, our house is going all Final Destination on us, and we're not sure WHO or WHAT or WHY this is happening now.  Someone is obviously trying to tell us something like; "Yes, you can pull money out of your ass to fix A, B, C, D, and NOW E, because you ain't never moving away from this house, it's going to eat you alive."  While making improvements is a good thing, especially with the risk of not being able to sell in this market, if we have to stay here potentially forever, and, why, YES, it's now got ______ much dollars more invested into it for a future owner thanks to us, We Can't Do This For Very Long.  The list of priorities has shifted, the money will run out, and now would be the time for fortune to spill from the sky, please.  On that note:  three calls and one email from real estate agents since removing my house from the www.realtor.com website and off the active MLS listings.  "Can we help you relist?"  Yeah.  Mmm-hmm.  Sure.  I really am in the mood to pull $18,000 out of my ass today to pay a home-sale commission on the House That Wants Me Dead.

This is perhaps why I am now awake at 1:32am. 

I should get back to bed, as I have more training tommorrow, and a doctors' appointment that I am going to have to skip, because I don't want to "call-in" late for my class.  I assume I'm fine, I feel fine, I'm still pregnant.  I'll try to get another appointment before an entire month passes - but that's the way my doctors' office works - you call for an appointment in March, you get one in, December!


More proof, that this child is indeed, his.

The spring season is here, and this means sports.  The coaches from last years' soccer teams have called to see if last years' players are ready to play again.  I asked the kids if they wanted to go ahead and play again, or sign up for something else.  I'm not into soccer - and I suggested that we do baseball and football or at least football.  (I don't have any interest in sports - but I can handle watching football from the sidelines and could see myself getting involved in the mom and dad stuff for football, since I'm a ex-band geek and football is what we knew.)

The response from the boy? Tears.  Absolute sadness.  "I don't WANT to play football, ever."  I turned asked my daughter, "What about you?"  Her response, "Well, I'm NOT going to be a cheerleader if that's what you think."  I asked her if she'd like to play football, and she thought about it for a minute, and then asked if they let girls on the team.  I explained to her that I'd never expect her to be a cheerleader, but if she really wanted to play football, we'd figure it out.  She'd be a freaking good defensewoman.  She's decided that she would play softball again if the sign-ups come up soon, or would like to join a non-performing (aka no recital on stage) dance class.  She'd also love voice lessons, which I am considering.

Back to the boy, "Well, is there something you want to play or do?  Let me know, I'll help you sign up for something."  (With me working full time, we have to have it planned, or it won't happen.)  He thought about it.  He finally came up with an answer.  "Mama, I'd like to play golf."  Sure he would like to play GOLF?! (Now, I'm scratching my head, because we've never even been to miniature golf?!)  Well, it is a sport, technically, but I'm thinking he just wants to drive a golf-cart.  Just remember, NO FOOTBALL.


Star Jones' Reynolds: Interview with Larry King regarding Weight Loss...

StarjonesbeforeafterWhat follows is an excerpt of an interview of Star Jones Reynolds on Larry King.  I've just picked out the piece regarding her 150 lb. weight loss.

KING:  You lost 150 pounds.

REYNOLDS: Yes.

KING: In how long a period of time?

REYNOLDS: Two and a half years. I've tracked it. You know I told you that I've been on "The View" now the show's been on nine seasons. I realized that in those nine seasons I started out at about 225 pounds and I felt, you know, full figured fabulous woman but in those seasons I gained 75 pounds up to over 300 pounds all in front of the nation.

KING: Look at that. Look at that picture.

REYNOLDS: Yes, I know and then in the same time period within those nine years I lost 150 pounds.

KING: Did you make a decision one day?

REYNOLDS: I had no choice, Larry. I was killing myself. You know, I said in the book and I had to say these words in order to make the change, I went from full figured to fat, from fat to obese and from obese to morbidly obese. I felt good full figured. Morbidly obese I was unhealthy and dying.

KING: Did you ever consider like surgery?

REYNOLDS: I considered it all and that's what -- I went to my doctors. That's sort of what started the process after one of my girlfriends confronted me with the weight. She wasn't intimidated by Star. She came and said "You got to do something."

I went to every doctor that I knew. I went to a gynecologist, an internist, an endocrinologist, a
cardiologist, bariatrics, I went to everything I was supposed to and for the first time in my life I shut up and I listened and I had them tell me what I was supposed to do.

KING: And what did you do?

REYNOLDS: The whole world wants to know that now right?

KING: And why? You write a book that's open. You write about a physical, emotional and spiritual journey to finding love.

REYNOLDS: And I leave that out.

KING: Why?

REYNOLDS: Because, you know, well first of all I like people to know that what you see here is the end result of two and a half years of a lot of work.

KING: But you can help them attain it by telling them how you attained it.

REYNOLDS: Not really in all honesty because until you take control of your own health and go to your own doctor and have your own doctor tell you what's going to work for you. I found that nothing that anybody else said to me would work. Remember, it was a girlfriend who came and confronted me.

KING: Let me ask some questions then. Were pills involved?

REYNOLDS: Let's say this I needed the help of doctors in all aspects of my life. I needed the doctors to do everything for me, fair enough.

KING: What was the toughest part? That's fair enough. What's the toughest part?

REYNOLDS: The toughest part was doing it in front of the world and recognizing that you had gotten to a point where if you didn't do something you were going to die.

KING: Was like the first week the hardest?

REYNOLDS: No. The first week wasn't the hardest to be honest with you. It's sort of that hump period when you know you have to change your eating habits and you have to get off your behind and exercise because no matter what you do to jumpstart it, if I didn't exercise and if I didn't change my eating habits, I would not be this size.

KING: Are there days you want to eat the wrong things?

REYNOLDS: No.

KING: No? And you want to exercise all the time?

REYNOLDS: No, I don't want to exercise all the time. I still despise it, not at all. I mean that has not changed but I do it because I need to do it. Today was a prime example. I can get whatever I want to eat and when you, you know, you forget to eat you sometimes pick up fast food.

That was me before, double Whopper with cheese, extra ketchup, extra mayonnaise, but it in half but not cut it in half because I was going to eat half, cut it in half so I could eat it with the left hand and eat the French fries with the right. No, I don't do that anymore. Today I chose a half a piece of roast chicken with rosemary and broccoli for lunch and I chose it and I felt very proud of myself.

KING: And liked it?

REYNOLDS: Loved it, absolutely.


Obesity Surgery is NOT Enough.

It's not enough.  I am proof.  The following is from CBS News...

Pigfly

"Some people go into this and think they're cured. They're not. There's still a battle going on."

Dr. Lou Arrone, an obesity expert
  • A new study in the Journal of the American Medical association finds surgical procedures can result in significantly reduced weight and blood pressure but, after 18 months, many of the patients are still considered obese.

    Obesity expert Dr. Lou Aronne explains to co-anchor Rene Syler on The Early Show that, "Not everybody is cured of high blood pressure when they have obesity surgery. And I think a lot of people think everything is going to get better, but not everything gets better.

    "You definitely have a significant improvement in health, but people don't go down to their ideal body weight when they have surgery. These people went from having a body mass index, which is the way we measure overweight, from well over 40, down to 35. They were still in the category of what we call obesity, but it was much better than it was before."

    Aronne stresses that, "You need to focus on your diet and on exercise. People will do much better if they have surgery if they diet and they follow an exercise program. People who don't follow a diet and exercise program can lose weight and then regain a significant amount of weight."

    Those aren't the only post-surgery long-term concerns: "One of the problems we're seeing is people developing deficiencies of certain nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, zinc and others. People who have surgery need to be on a lifelong program of nutritional supplementation. So, instead of taking diabetes medicine or blood pressure medicine, they're now taking vitamins. But if they do that, they can live a long and healthy life."

    Education about proper diet and portion control is also important, Aronne says: "A lot of people are taught that. What happens is, when you have the surgery, there is a drive by the body to regain weight. Your body wants you to regain weight. It does things that sort of play with your mind to make you start eating sweet foods, starchy foods and that seems to rev up the appetite of people who've had surgery. It's a constant battle to stay away from that kind of food. It's tougher than it looks. Some people go into this and think they're cured. They're not. There's still a battle going on."

    Aronne adds that obesity surgery carries significant risk and, "The risk seems to increase with age. Another paper just published shows that the older you are, the greater the risk of the surgery.

    "It's still worth having surgery if you have the health problems we associate with being severely obese."

Source:  CBS News.


Get me another Baby Bottle Pop. Unhealthy teeth now linked to obesity.

Mmm.  I'm just picturing bottle-rot.

  • "Researchers at the University of Buffalo found tooth decay in children's teeth is the result of overeating, not poor growth as previously thought.  A study presented at the International association of Dental Research meeting in Orlando, Fla., looked at 2-year-olds to 5-year-olds who received aggressive dental treatment at the Women and Children's Hospital of Buffalo between 2000 and 2005. They found nearly 25 percent weighed more than the recommended weight and another 10 percent to 16 percent were at risk of being overweight. This contradicts studies in the 1990s that found tooth decay was connected to underweight kids, blaming the child's inability to grow properly. Researchers said the new connection is between poor teeth and a poor diet, which leads to bigger children and unhealthy teeth."

Source:  UPI


Not a very merry birthday for two.

Bob on his 29th birthday, recovering from a lot of sick.

Bob spent his 29th birthday at work, then to an ENT (to check on his leaking brain), and then, to his moms' where we lit candles and sang happy birthday for each birthday boy and girl, with cakes (for the tradition, even if we didn't eat any) for each.  It wasn't a very happy birthday, and he's now in the tub, because he's got another stomach-ache, which I'm attributing to the stomach virus AND the fact that he's taking heavy duty meds for the ear again.  I'm still not better, either, so we're just still sick and miserable over here.  <p>

For Dad, syrupy looking chocolatey goodness.

The little one spent her birthday with her grandmother, and got to go out to breakfast for eggs (sunny sided up!), which she proclaimed to be "so good."  Then, shopping for birthday gifts.  She got a new big girl bike with a helmet, a doll, and some clothes.  She spent her afternoon riding in circles and crashing, and loved it.

Her own camera.

Now, its Thursday night, I really have to go to work tommorrow, so I'm hoping that the boy doesn't get ill overnight.  I've parked him on the couch, in pre-sick mode, just in case.  Everyone else has stopped most bodily fluid loss, so he's bound to have it happen soon.  I hope not, but it's likely.

His self portrait today

Lots of new pics over at the Flickr link.  Note the pictures that the boy took. (Including the one above this paragraph - it's his self-portrait today)  I think we have a talent here, no?  He's going to be seven in a month.


Something I'd swore I'd NEVER eat.

Beth had oatmeal this morning.  I know, right?

OatmealI've never liked oatmeal and have been intensely grossed out by the texture.  With my virus the past couple of days, I haven't eaten much, so I thought I should eat something decent this morning, and hope it stays down or, um, in for at least a little while.  I found a box of sugar-free flavored instant oatmeal in my cabinet that I must have bought at some point for the kids, thinking I'd give it a try because it was sugar-free.  Amazing.  It's pretty good.  For 100 calories, it very well may be a new thing for me, since I've had a really hard time making good food choices that are low in calories and fat.  There is no way I could eat the entire packet, it filled me up at about three-quarters eaten, and that's what, 75 freaking calories?!  Good.  I've been on the carb-train anyway being stressed out, sick and pregnant, so oatmeal is all good compared to what I've been eating, like bits of crossaints and cheese.


Now, With More Puke!

Now, my oldest has it.  She came downstairs at 3am, to poke me, and tell me, "Mama, I'm sick."  I knew it.  Dad got up and cleaned up the majority of the puke (which thank goodness she went in the bathroom to do, because she got it like me, double bonus!), and I just did burn your nose hairs bleaching at three in the morning, when I found what he missed.  Hopefully being a smaller person it will get out of her quickly.  She already got upset when I told her she's taking the day off of school.  She's got perfect attendance.  She's lying on the couch now, writhing.  I don't think I should go to bed, because I know if I fall asleep, she's going to puke on herself.  Oh joy.  I wonder how long it will be before the boy gets it.  I've made sure he's got a direct lighted path to the toilet if it happens tonight, today.


I lied about the puking.

Not even two hours after I wrote the previous post, something knocked me on my ass.  I have had serious body fluid loss in the last 15 hours.  I'm sipping the first water I've had in that long, and if it comes back to visit, I'm going to be upset.  All I remember is that I got a sudden and undeniable urge to run to the bathroom - and I was in and out of it all night long with cramping and retching.  (The little one was sick over the weekend, so I think it was her gift to me.  Bob seems to have gotten a touch of it, too, but he doesn't have the added benefit of retching bile every 60-90 minutes.)  While this was happening last night, I think I fell asleep on the toilet for a minute, but woke when I nearly fell into the retch bucket.  Since I have such a limited stomach capacity the actually volume of yuck that can come out is very little, but it's so much harder to actually BE sick - it hurts.  A lot.  Ok, tea stay down.  Down.  Please.  I'll check in later.


Living Large: A Big Man's Ideas on Weight, Success, and Acceptance- New Book

This guy says we can be fat and happy.  I haven't read it, but, whatever.  It's a different perspective as a man, a man pushing age 70, dude, be happy.

"Obesity, however, has always plagued him. Berman, 66, and 5-foot-9, now weighs 239 pounds. He has weighed as little as 215 and as much as 332 -- a weight he attained after Mondale's disastrous 1984 presidential campaign. He has battled obesity most of his life and documented that struggle in a book written with Laurence Shames, "Living Large: A Big Man's Ideas on Weight, Success, and Acceptance."

In the book, Berman says that his inability to lose weight successfully is a disease much akin to alcoholism, but, unlike a beer, one cannot avoid eating food if he wants to live a healthy life. "Normal-weight people don't get this," said Berman, who is a member of the National association to Advance Fat Acceptance. "Even fat people don't get it. I've come to learn it's a chronic disease and there's no magic pill. All of the diets worked. I lost weight, but I couldn't keep it off. That's part of the disease. You may lose the weight, but you haven't lost the problem that caused you to gain weight in the first place and so you gain it back."

Berman is unique because most of the people who discuss being overweight are women who are more likely to be affected by society's prejudices. Even Berman said he avoided dating overweight women when he was younger. When he married his wife, Carol, to whom the book is dedicated, he weighed 290 pounds and she weighed 125. "I was shallow for the moment," said Carol Berman, 65. "But I invited him in because I didn't want to be totally rude. We started to talk. He asked me about myself, and he was such a good conversationalist. We had a lot in common. I was won over, and we ended up going out to dinner. Luckily I'm not shallow, but I was 24 years old and I was looking for someone who was handsome and looked good on my arm." In the end, she proposed to him. Women, Berman said, have much more to think about than men when it comes to weight. Female clothing styles are constantly changing while Berman said he had been wearing the same kind of outfit since he was 18. "First of all, it's a subject, like many personal subjects, men don't like to talk about," he said. "Women are more willing to share the pain that men aren't. Secondly, fat men do have an easier time than fat women both in employment and social life. … When's the last time you saw an average-size guy with a fat woman?"

Berman said that he went through nine years of therapy and was never able to stop gaining weight. At one point, he was in the hospital, undergoing supervised fasting. He hallucinated, seeing cheeseburgers floating in the air. He and his doctors decided it was time to stop and go home. In the end, he concluded that the point of life was not to be thin, but to be happy."


Early bird.

I woke up too early today.  If I get up before I have to, and try to go back to bed, I get a headache, so I'm up for the day whenever I wake.  So, if it's 4:15 am - I'm up.  Today I woke with a stomachache that just disappeared, but I'm not going to to bed.

I don't leave the house today until 7:30 so it's a bit too early to get ready and the kids don't get up until 6:45, so here I am, trying to type sort of quietly with a cup of leftover coffee from the Box Of Joe from yesterday's open house. 

First lesson learned today, don't ever put a "small" Dunkin' Donuts cup in the microwave.  It started to burn slightly on the very bottom, had I walked away it might have been a mess.  It looks like we may have had one or two families in the house to see it yesterday, but I'm willing to bet it was just one.  I've yet to get feedback from the agent, but since I didn't see it advertised online or in the newspaper for the weekend (like typically), I'm sure there wasn't much activity.  My goal is to leave the house nearly ready for showing as we leave everyday - in case someone wants a viewing in the day time.  Some weeks we're here during the day, since Bob takes his time off during the week usually - and after training, I will also have at least one day off during the "work week" also.

Bob is still very Hard Of Hearing with the perforated ear drum.  He's missed some work this week, and said he might even skip part of today and go back to the doctor.  The little one was sick the night before last, and I'm hoping she's all better too, and can go to school. I think her issue was directly food related, because she threw up repeatedly at her grandmothers' house and seems fine as of yesterday.  She had eaten the same meal as everyone else, but who knows, a small child can pick up a slight bug from food differently.

I've sufficiently wasted some time here, but I still don't want to wake anyone up yet.  As I write this sentence my daughters' little girlie-pink rhinestoned calculator has an alarm going off.  ARGH.


Another Weight-Loss Surgery Journey Begins...

It looks as if Bob's mother will be going through the process of getting approved for gastric bypass.  She's terrified, and for a very long time said that she wouldn't/couldn't even think about doing it.  I think that Bob's success and the fact that he's nearly two years out (and even though his brain is falling out,) he's healthy, has rubbed off on her.  Her doctor was the one to actually make the suggestion, so it's not like we did the prodding at all.  I try not to push the procedure on other people, but it would really work for her.  Bob's only suggestion was that she go to the same hospital we went through, but her doctors' choice is also fine, as it's a very reputable program also.  She's full of questions, like "Will I ever be able to drink a big bottle of water, ever again?!"  She's always asking us if we're eating right, eating enough, healthy, etc.  "Is that all you're having?"  For now, I've been eating too much, so I don't really answer that question.  Anyways, I'll follow her story and let you know about her progress.  I tell ya, if all goes well/others get influenced by her success, we could be a commercial someday.  Then, I could get "my house."


Trying Not To...

...find a new house prematurely.  But, it's so hard.  So, here:  Buy My House.  I'll put the "details" there - so as not to bore the crap out of you here with the house drivel too.

I did a drive-by today during our open house to check out other open-houses, and while I didn't really stop anywhere, I found one that I want to get in to see.  I probably shouldn't, because it's highly unlikely we'll sell in a timely fashion, but...but...but... Anyway - this other house has four bedrooms and two baths.  Which means, every human would have someplace to sleep, and in the event that more than ONE out of SIX of us needs to answer the call of nature - TWO could go at the same time!  What a novel idea.  The kids were in the car when we did the drive-by and I got the seal of approval because of the sheer size of the house, and the fact it's got an an acre to play on.


Tee Aye Double Guh Err.

Yes, it does feel like a TGIF.  I am tired.  Bob called the doctor yesterday, to inquire about his still-leaking brain, and he was told to come in if it didn't stop by Monday.  I told him it's like the slowest death possible - death by ear drip.  He's lost weight, and has been an absolute misery, until today, he seems well again beyond the brain drip.


Thursday.

Today, I tried very hard to be just "on time" to training.  I left considerably later than before, and even with traffic, I was early.  I've got to submit a form for my mileage, once I tally what it is that I'm driving - and they'll cut me a check in a while for the troubles. Today's class was more complicated and I got slightly agitated with the new procedures we were learning.  Although I wasn't alone, because a few others were also a bit perplexed and didn't do it all right either.  I know I'll do perfectly fine once I'm out on the job, but for now, it's a little bit difficult to fake everything with others around you that also don't know exactly what to do.

We met with a mortgage broker today after work to discuss options for a new mortgage, if in fact, we are able to sell this house.  It seems like we'll be able to get what we need, but of course selling this will be the hard part.

Tommorrow, St. Patty's day.  I could really go for some boiled cabbage.  I know, right?  I saw it advertised on the way home tonight, "Boiled Dinner, All Day, $8.95."  Cabbage, though, it does things to intestines.  The previous-stay-at-home-mom who's behind me at the training says she's bringing in green cupcakes tommorrow. She makes a mean cupcake, I guess, and it's in the spirit.  I wondered for a minute if she was already making some for her younger childs' class.  Then I thought, I'm not making anything my my kids' class, and I never do.  Bad bad mom here.  I didn't realize that folks get festive for St. Patricks' Day - but they do.  This woman from my previous job once told me about the giant party she'd throw every year for the parade in her town, and how it was such a big deal.  I probably woulda went, too.  ;-)  My daughter is freaking out for green clothing - she says it's a must-do.  I don't think I own a piece of green anything, so she's out of luck.

I did have a bag of Two Bite Brownies at training today, trying to pawn them off so as not to eat them all in the span of the day, and those are too delicious for words.  I must not ever have them in my possession, ever again.  This is what happens though - when you have too much time on your hands between being early and one hour lunches - you wander in stores and pick up random things that look good.

I've got the weekend off, so Saturday will be spent at home, keeping the mess to a minimal level, and hopefully getting the brush in our yard taken away or burned if it's dry out - and Sunday we've got the open house and a bowling birthday party for a friend of my eight year old.  I've had to look at the invitation for the party repeatedly, because I can't seem to remember that it's on a Sunday at 4pm.  That seems odd, but whatever.

Tommorrow will definitely feel like a TGIF.Clo


Obesity and TV

A article recommended by Mimi:

"Obesity," declares Charlotte Cooper, author of 1998's Fat and Proud: The Politics of Size, "is just a word used by people to medicalize fat." Extra weight, once considered a genetic short straw, is increasingly characterized as a crisis threatening the physical, political, and moral health of our nation -- even as large bodies are becoming increasingly visible in popular culture. Medical and public-health sources define obesity as weighing more than 20 percent over one's "ideal weight." However, the methods that are used to determine "normal" weight ranges are limited in their estimation of what constitutes obesity. And as the ranks of overweight and/or obese Americans swell, they challenge the very notion that fat is not "normal." So what's making us so fat, and why? In the past, overweight Americans have had several tried-and-true explanations: genetics, an underactive thyroid, and that old favorite, big bones. But a quick review of studies and books on the plumping of the American populace shows that there is no consensus about the etiology of individual weight gain. Increasing rates of obesity have been attributed to a wide range of factors both personal (overwork, food obsession, yo-yo dieting, stress) and social (poverty, the rise of fast food, poor nutrition education). Now, a handful of scholars and psychologists are attempting a deeper evaluation of this hefty new body, while even the basest expression of popular culture -- that is, reality tv -- is revealing some intriguing things about American corpulence. Linda Papadopoulos -- a British psychologist, author of the 2004 book Mirror Mirror: Dr. Linda's Body Image Revolution, and consultant on the U.S. television show "Celebrity Fit Club" (more on that later) -- says weight gain is "not as simple as 'people just eat.'" Psychologists like Papadopoulos and psychoanalyst/writer Shari Thurer (author of 2005's The End of Gender: A Psychological Autopsy) find that individual weight gain can be attributed to causes as benign as eating when bored or as extreme as responding to sexual abuse by piling on pounds to make oneself unattractive. They also tend to link pathological eating disorders -- including anorexia and bulimia as well as compulsive eating -- to deeper issues around relationships and control, often rooted in childhood development. In his early writings, Freud avoided arbitrary separations between psyche (mind) and soma (body), and in this approach Australian neurologist/psychologist Elizabeth A. Wilson sees fertile ground for new theories about eating and weight. She decries the progression of psychoanalytical investigation toward purely ideational theories of eating (what does it mean?) and away from biological explanations (what happens in the gut?). In her 2004 book, Psychosomatic: Feminism and the Neurological Body, Wilson expands feminist theories of the body through the illustration of biology's dynamism. Intrigued by the positive effects of using antidepressants to treat bulimia, she points out that the majority of the body's serotonin is found not in the brain, but in the "complex neural networks that innervate the gut."

Whether fat is viewed as a medical problem or as an indication of a damaged psyche, the message that permeates pop culture is the same: Healthy people are not fat, and fat people are not healthy. This rhetoric ignores the fact that a thin person can be weaker or more prone to illness than his or her fat counterpart, and it coerces us into a constant vigilance against what could be an evolutionary preference for amassing energy reserves (fat) to sustain us in periods of famine. If it were so easy, natural, or normal for us to be our "ideal" weight, perhaps we wouldn't need to struggle so hard or become dependent on external supplements and medical intervention to maintain it. Scholar Kathleen LeBesco, author of the 2004 book Revolting Bodies?: The Struggle to Redefine Fat Identity, thinks that the problem with psychological approaches to fat is their tendency to collapse all weight gain into "disordered eating." She argues that we need a new angle of looking at fat that can "tease out who is engaging in compulsive overeating or bingeing -- versus who is fat for reasons that aren't what you'd describe as 'psychologically unhealthy,' but that end up being aesthetically 'vile.'"

She points out that in American culture, "we don't seem to care about compulsive overeating as long as the body looks a certain way. So it's not really about the practice, it's about the aesthetics." Nowhere is this call to conformity seen more clearly than on television. Hefty individuals have expanded beyond the stereotypes of, for instance, the fat comedian, and spilled over to talk shows and reality programming, but they haven't necessarily fared better for their efforts. Daytime talk shows love to feature social outcasts in a parade of shame and judgment, and fat folks -- along with more active transgressors like cheaters, beaters, and sexual predators -- are a staple of the afternoon tv dial. But to dig into our culture's obsession with weight and dieting, we need to tune in to two reality shows that purport to tackle the real issues behind weight.

Both NBC's "The Biggest Loser" and VH1's "Celebrity Fit Club" divide their participants into two teams and put them through a series of competitive weight-loss tasks. Combining the challenges with a generous helping of tough love, they ultimately reward those who lose the most. I first tuned in to "The Biggest Loser" during a week in which all food was removed from the house except temptation food supplied by the producers: piles of cookies, stacks of donuts. The ostensible reason for this was, as the show established, that the "real world" outside the cloistered set is full of temptations, and that none of the contestants would succeed in keeping weight off if they easily succumbed to breaking their diets. In practice, though, it was akin to putting a group of alcoholics in a room with an open bar and chastising them when they cracked. On "The Biggest Loser", losing weight is simply another strategy in a means to an end: winning the "game" and collecting the $250,000 prize. And while a short disclaimer at the end of each program reveals that a physician and nutritionist provide supervision, the camera's gaze rests only on the contestants and the two trainers. The focus on calorie counting and exercise flattens the discourse about roots of weight gain and roads to real weight loss. It eliminates any consideration of the social and political implications of corpulence, evaluation of fat rhetoric, or analysis of the very concept of "obesity" itself. In the more realistic (and, one might argue, more humane) "Celebrity Fit Club," celebs stay at their own homes, keep their day jobs, and remain on the show throughout the season; a nutritionist and a psychologist (the aforementioned Dr. Papadopoulos) are integral parts of the show. Although viewers aren't privy to the details of all psychologist-participant interactions, we do learn enough to make rudimentary analyses of each celebrity's psyche and the root cause of their weight issues. For instance, we witness the gymnastic-coach father of onetime "Saturday Night Live" cast member Victoria Jackson as he flips through photo albums of a young Jackson. "Here she is at 5," he says, pointing his daughter out from an indistinguishable group of leotard-clad girls. "See, she's already bigger than the other girls." Later, Jackson reveals that when she confronted her father about his fatphobic comments he insisted that he was just joking. "And what are you now?" one of the "Celebrity Fit Club" panel of weight-loss experts asks. "A fat comedienne," she laughs. In these discussions of the psychological implications of the participants' weight, we get a more expansive view than that provided on "The Biggest Loser."

Still, these are simplistic evaluations: While one person has an addictive personality rooted in a shortage of nurturing, another let his need for career success distract him from his health. Not least of "Celebrity Fit Club's" shortcomings is its superficial sketching of such recurring characters as Addict on the Verge of a Relapse, Sassy Black Woman, and (my personal favorite) Fat-Positive Plus-Size Model -- filled last season by rock offspring Mia Tyler and this season by former "America's Next Top Model" contestant Toccara. Both seasons' FPPSM initially resisted the compulsory weight-loss quest and offered subtle resistance to body norms -- but in the end did lose weight. Toccara's weight loss was spurred by the eventual resentment of her teammates as well as a growing competitiveness. Still, she remained comfortable in her body and in the season finale announced she would gain weight to return to her "perfect weight" of 180 pounds. What, exactly, are the producers hoping to convey with a participant like Toccara? Is she there to build drama, add conflict, or provide an opposing viewpoint? We'll never really know, because "Celebrity Fit Club" positions all participants -- even the few who are clearly self-confident and well-adjusted -- as pathologically wounded, medically unhealthy, and in deep denial. When Toccara loses weight, we're expected to think, 'Damn, she looks good,' and join the panel in expressing chagrin at her determination to replace her (slightly) minimized curves. Even Papadopoulos, who is proud of her efforts to provide a positive influence on "Celebrity Fit Club," recognizes that "in general terms, what we are still saying is, 'Your value lies in the way you look.'" Not surprisingly, Cooper goes further, arguing that the show reinforces "the wrongness of fat" and, worst of all, disconnects viewers from their own bodies. It's worth wondering who, in the end, these shows are for, and whether the intended audience alters their meaning. Perhaps in between the sit-ups, the judgment, and the baring of psychological wounds, viewers are intended to get a sense of what it means, in this time and place, to be fat.

However, since we're provided such shallow representations of each fat contestant, viewers are more likely to walk away feeling good about ourselves in comparison to corpulent participants, and validating our feelings that fat is bad, dieting good, and competition even better. There are small sparks of political resistance implicit in the presence of hefty bodies and fat-positive individuals on shows like these, but they are too quickly snuffed by the larger context. When it comes to reality diet shows and their ritualized exorcism of our shadow selves -- the internal Other, the Fatty within -- we all lose.

Source: Alternet


His brains are falling out.

They're dripping out of his ear, slowly.  His brains have liquified and are seeping out of the ear canal and getting on my pillow.  He's been in bed most of the day since work, in the fetal position with one hand on his ear, holding a towel catching the drips of brain.  On my way home, he called to ask for an old-fashioned hot water bottle to hold on his head to make him feel better.  I don't make a good nurse, and I don't like it when he Can't Hear Me (more than the usual level of Can't Hear You.)  He will live, it's a perforated ear-drum, which I've had, and yes, it hurts like a mothatrucker, but he's gonna make it.  This what he gets for trying to blow his eardrums out while holding his nose.  He's now laying on the couch, with the affected ear folded over, and fluid is just oozing out.  It's making me a little queasy.  I don't want my pillow back.

Ruptured or perforated eardrums are usually caused by middle-ear infections or trauma (for example, an object in the ear, a slap on the ear, explosions, or recurrent excessive ear pressure from flying or diving).

I swear, I had nothing to do with it.