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Sobering Reminder...

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Old 11-02-2004, 07:25 PM   #1
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Unhappy Sobering Reminder...

My best friend at work is Shazza. We met at a training seminar and clicked immediately. Shazza is a very big woman. Nope, let's face it - she's definitely clinically obese. The first time we had lunch together she noted me jotting down in my "points" journal and questioned what on earth I was doing. I explained that I was a member of Weight Watchers, had lost a considerable amount of weight and was battling to get to goal. An interesting conversation ensued.

You see, Shazza is an incredibly attractive person, both physically and personally. She's very confident - to the point that she says "I am totally comfortable with my body and KNOW I look great". Tis true, she has the most beautiful clothes, her hair is always perfectly styled and her makeup is exquisite. She admits that a large part of her income goes to her appearance and she loves the feeling of pride when she walks into a room and everyone notices her. I thought Shazza was at least 10 years my junior and was SHOCKED when she disclosed she'd recently celebrated her 50th birthday. That woman has not one wrinkle on her face and her skin is as soft and supple as a baby's bum!! She admitted to use of expensive face creams and bi-yearly injections of botox.

I began to think about her ideology. She frankly spends the better part of her income to look "great", yet is comfortable with her body - one that many could construe as unattractive. Since we're close, I felt I could discuss this issue with her. She shrugged and said that she loves rich food and lots of it. She doesn't do fast food - she's a total gourmet diva who salivates at the thought of crusty bread slathered with butter, creamy cheese sauces over pasta, rich gravy with her prime rib and dollops of fresh whipped cream on her chocolate cheesecake. Eating in that manner is one of the great enjoyments of her life and its not something she's willing to give up to adhere to society's concept of beauty. She also stated that she is fully confident in her self-worth, knows she has a wonderful personality and feels she has a presence that far exceeds many of the skinny waifs who roam the halls of the office. And I repeat, she does look GREAT!

Her response gave me pause for thought. How I'd love to exude such confidence. How I'd love to spit society in the eye and say to **** with your ideas of beauty (while enjoying chocolate cheesecake). Also, being a compulsive eater myself, whose binges rarely have anything to do with hunger let alone enjoyment of the food after a certain point, it was interesting to hear from someone for whom over-indulging in food results in a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction, rather than self-hatred.

Yet, what of health issues? I am not without vanity and think I look better now than two years ago. I also believe "big is beautiful" as evidenced by the "before" pictures posted at this forum. However, there's a difference between having extra meat on your bones and having fat clogging your arteries. Shazza has asthma and is diabetic, but maintains that plenty of thin people are asthmatic and suffer from diabetes, so its not necessarily weight-related. When questioned whether she fears strokes or heart-attacks, she asks me to explain how fit people drop dead of a heart attack while jogging or suffer a stroke while doing laps in the pool. Being argumentative in nature, I explain it as either previously undiagnosed defect, family history or plain old bad luck, which is different from courting disaster through behavior. Non-smokers die of lung cancer every day, but I don't see that as an excuse not to quit smoking. Her reasoning? Life is too short not to enjoy eating whatever you want, whenever you want, that there's worse things than death by chocolate and that although she's fat, she'll leave a great-looking corpse. She had that look on her face, the one I wore during my days of gluttony and tobacco addiction when people "lectured" me. I knew she was thinking "I want to stuff a donut in your mouth to shut you up".

Yesterday was our annual fire evacuation practice. Last year I was excited and timed myself (I made it down the 45 flights in 17 minutes). Yesterday I accompanied Shazza and it took us a little under two hours. As I watched the sweat pour down her face and heard her laboured breathing I remembered how it felt. As we stood in the corner while she rested and watched all the others file quickly by, I thought about how much I enjoy hiking, running up a flight of stairs without being out of breath and simply jumping out of the car and running in and out of a store in a matter of seconds. I looked at Shazza and wondered if she'll ever see her grandchildren. I wondered if she'll live to her planned retirement at 55 and enjoy the travelling she so fondly dreams of.

When we got to the bottom and checked in, I was reprimanded for having stayed with her and was told in the event of a real emergency I'd have to concentrate on saving myself so as not to lose two lives (hopefully the firemen would get to her in time). Yes, I understood that...but in a way, it WAS a lifesaving practice for me to be with her for that two hours because I needed to be reminded that a couple of years ago that would have been me. I don't know if I can help her - I truly believe the desire for change has to come from within and you can't be forced, coerced or convinced into it. I will use this experience for my own benefit though – I'll remember when I'm feeling unmotivated and discouraged and when those cookies call to me at night. I never want to be that person struggling for breath in a stairway again.

I saw Shazza in the staff kitchen this morning, buttering her croissant and pouring her coffee (double cream, double sugar). She joked a bit about being exhausted last night and having the best sleep of her life. She complained of sore legs. Her hair was perfectly coiffed, her makeup was expertly applied and she was wearing a lovely designer outfit. I shook my head sadly and thought what a great looking corpse she'll make....
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Old 11-02-2004, 08:43 PM   #2
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Thanks for sharing that. Everyone of us needs that occasional reminder of why we're on this journey.

When I need a reminder, all I have to do is look at the guy whose finger I prick every day when I check his blood sugar. My Dad has done wonders for my motivation because I don't want to end up diabetic and having my daughter washing my feet, and putting my shoes and socks on for me because I'm too heavy to do it myself. I prefer to be like my grandmother, who walked every day and lived by herself until she was 101.
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Old 11-02-2004, 08:47 PM   #3
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What an amazing set of events!! Thank you for sharing it!!
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Old 11-02-2004, 09:37 PM   #4
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Very thought provoking. Thank you so much for sharing!
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Old 11-02-2004, 10:16 PM   #5
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I love you Jill. This thread just defines it.
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Old 11-03-2004, 09:23 AM   #6
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oh my. shazz is indeed heading for being bedridden before her planned retirement. how well i know this!!!!!! the weight worsens her asthma. the less oxygen she gets into her system because she can't breathe around the weight, the less she will be able to move.

sound familiar???

as for the 'dropping dead of a heart attack.' well, that's actually the point. thin people often DO drop dead... they're doing something else, and then suddenly they die. they are not bedridden waiting for it to happen.

let's face it: no one leaves this earth alive. from a STATISTICAL point of view, people who are heavy leave it earlier than people who are of more-normal weight. the causes of death are the same, though.

the real question is how does one want to live? struggling to move, gasping for air, and savoring every mouthful of rich food? or running around seeing the world, taking full advantage of nature and people, and savoring every mouthful of good food????

i made my choice... we ALL have made our choices here... and shazz has made hers.

but i wonder what she'll think when she becomes bedridden because she can't breathe..

my best to you, dear jill. for your friendship, support, wisdom, and STAMINA...
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Old 11-03-2004, 09:29 AM   #7
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What a great thread Jill. I can't help but think about the same situation, but with someone like myself who has the desire, but is still in the same situation. That's even sadder. I do workout, so I have that in my favor, but 45 flights would kick my butt. Sometimes just living day to day kicks my butt.

I was looking at pictures the other day and noticed some pics from when I turned 30 (7 years ago! ) and it made me sad to realize that I have been fighting for 7 years and am still at the same place (If not a touch heavier) than I was when I turned 30.

Thanks for the motivation Jill.
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Old 11-03-2004, 10:49 AM   #8
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Yes, I agree, this is a great thread. It is very sobering, but I am like Shazza!!!! I am trying to lose weight, but I am still not anywhere near where i want to be. it just reinforces my plan. I do not want to still be like Shazza when I am 50!! Hopefully I can win this weightloss battle by then:-)
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Old 11-03-2004, 12:29 PM   #9
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what an eyeopener. thanks for sharing that story.
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Old 11-03-2004, 12:56 PM   #10
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Thanks for sharing. I have seen people like this before. Kimberley used to get BBW (Big Beautiful Women) magazine and this seemed to be the theme for the magazine. I know people are saying they are fine with there body but I have to wonder how many really are fine with it. I wonder how many are just in the mind set that they can't do anything about it so I might as well learn to live with it and try to be happy.

I would be perfectly happy eating what I want when I wanted it if I did not want to have a life outside of my easy chair. Like you said above I want to get out and do the things I see other people doing. Thinking about it I would not even be happy if I did want to sit in my easy chair. Because I just don't like the way I look or feel.
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Old 11-03-2004, 04:41 PM   #11
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The more I've been thinking about it, I can relate to your coworker. I too love my food—the smells of it as it cooks, the taste of it, and yes even the fullness I get from eating. That is one of the main reasons my weightloss hasn't been more dramatic these past few months. I do not want to give up my foods. Am I happy in life? Definitely! Do I wish I was thinner? Of course! But, I've also come to realize that I'm the one in charge of whether or not I stay where I'm at, gain loads of weight, or decide to lose that weight and I accept the fact that no one else can make that decision for me.

I've been overweight all my life and I've learned to accept that fact and yes live with it. I try not to let my weight not let me live. I also know that if I don't do something about it now, then my weight will control my life.

I agree 100% with howie—I don't know how many obese men and women are truly happy in their lives when no one else is around.
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Old 11-03-2004, 06:01 PM   #12
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This is just the kicker I needed to get my butt in gear. THANK YOU!
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Old 11-03-2004, 09:07 PM   #13
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Somedays I think to myself .. you know what .. I am happy with who I am and what I look like .... but then the reality of it all sets in ... I am FAT .. I may think I look okay in the mirror ... but then I'll see a picture of myself ... or I find my self hiding under the covers from my hubby ... in the past 2 years .. eveything has changed ... I used to have no problem sleeping nekkid (not that you all wanted to know that heh!) ... and now, even my hubby says why don't you sleep nekkid anymore .. I am ashamed of my self now ... I need to do this .... I start good ... then I hit a roadblock and eat poorly .... I'm not sure what it'll take .. I've considered talking to my doc about gastric bypass, but I'm scared to death that I will never be able to enjoy the finer things in life after the surgury ..... I know there is no magic potion .... I've done it before and I can do it again ...I just need to think positive ................
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Old 11-03-2004, 10:31 PM   #14
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Thanks for sharing that, Jill. It's really too bad that Shazza can't be healthier. Although it's good that she's confident, that's only part of the equation. It's so sad to think about what could happen to people if they can't find it within themselves to do something about what ails them.
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Old 11-04-2004, 10:49 AM   #15
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Your friend can have all kinds of gourmet foods, she just doesn't have to eat as much of it to be satisfied. My idea of gourmets is that they don't stuff themselves, they just have a taste of everything.

Your story brought to mind the other story of the obese woman who had broken her legs and then refused to get off the couch particularly when your friend talked about how thin people get asthma and diabetes. Yes thin people get all the same diseases overweight people do BUT being overweight is just one more obstacle to overcome when trying to cope with the disease and it can make recovery next to impossible as that other story demonstrated.

I hope your friend wakes up some day and sees the road she's headed down before it is too late.
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