Weight Loss Support - An Upsetting Experience




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Unna
11-23-2011, 07:22 AM
I live ride the bus everywhere here. The bus seats are made for slender people. Even though I am in the normal BMI category, my butt almost spills over into the seat next to me when I sit. If I were 20 lbs heavier, it certainly would.

Today I got on the bus, it was super crowded. There was only one seat open. The seat was a double seat. So, half the seat was taken by a very heavy, yet very pretty younger girl. I really wanted to sit by her, but she took up 3/4 of the double seat and my butt needs a full seat.

Just imagine, a super crowded bus, every seat taken except the one by the very obese young girl. People were even standing right next to it, but no one would sit. She tried to keep a strong face, but it really looked like she was going to break down at any moment.

It is harder to be overweight here in Germany. They still pride themselves on being 'top fit' - fitter than the Brits at least. And the Brits pride themselves on being fitter than the Americans. People look at overweight people with real disdain.

Everyone has advice to give on how to lose weight- it is SO easy! In the meantime, the Germans are getting fat from their overflow of bread, cheese, cream, pastries, and chocolate.

Anyway, I'm not sure why it bothered me so much or why I am writing this. She did look trapped in her body and everyone freely looked at her in a disdainful way. I suppose I found it somewhat disgusting and disheartening.


kirsteng
11-23-2011, 07:37 AM
How sad for the girl, and embarassing. I'd have been tempted to squeeze myself into the remaining space, just to make her feel less conspicuous.

My mom's side of the family are all German (my mom was born there and moved to Canada in her 20's). I went to visit my Grandmother in Bavaria when I was in my early 20's. She always prided herself on her tiny size, weight was very important to her, even in her 80's at the time. So when I arrived, (around 50 pounds overweight for my height), she was visibly horrified. I remember her looking me up and down and tut-tutting, she actually mumbled 'vie ein baum' (like a tree) under her breath. I still remember it. And then there was the excruciating trip to the local clothing boutique, where she often shopped. She herded me into the change room, made me strip to my skivvies...then had loud conversations with the staff (that I could understand) as they assessed how large a size I must need. All this because I didn't have nice enough clothes along (backpacking trip) in her estimation, to go on her afternoon strolls through the town and out for coffee and cake. :dizzy:

So yes, I completely understand what it must be like to be an overweight person living in Germany... I'd hate it! ;)

Unna
11-23-2011, 07:43 AM
kirsteng: I can totally picture your Grandma. Yes, you explained things quite well.

Thing is, they are all getting big here too.

I wish I could go back in time and squeeze myself into that seat. Maybe that is why I am upset - I'm a bit upset with myself.

I know from firsthand experience how it feels to be her.


sontaikle
11-23-2011, 08:06 AM
I can only imagine what people thought of me when I went to Germany! I guess I was honestly having too much fun with my friends to really give it a second thought.

When I was studying abroad in Italy I really noticed how differently I was treated. I was my starting weight and roughly a US size 16. I was ignored outright for my thinner friends by a lot of people. However, my friend who was much heavier than me was actually harassed! It didn't get that far for me, but I guess there was a size threshold or something :?: I was at the size where people just wanted me to go away while people think it's ok to outright harass someone larger.

It's interesting to go from Obese to "Normal" and see how differently people treat me even here in the US. Other than my weight loss and eating less food, I didn't change who I am, yet for some reason being at a healthy weight means I'm somehow better than I was before. It really bothers me. Why did I have to reduce my weight to get treated better?

I guess now people wouldn't mind sitting next to me. I have hips just under 36" (I lost around 10" off my hips I believe) so I doubt I would take up much space at this point. However I remember the stares and sighs when people realized they would have to sit next to me. I remember having to squeeze into places and dreading having to sit next to two other people in tiny seats.

It's really depressing being obese and living in a world made for thin people.

Sungseng
11-23-2011, 09:59 AM
I totally get this! I am living in Korea where the average size of most people is tiny!

I have students who like to poke and grab my belly and I get called fat every other day.

I really feel sad for that poor bus girl! :(

Sungseng
11-23-2011, 10:11 AM
Also Unna don't feel bad because maybe she may have felt worse if you tried and perhaps failed to get on the seat due to most of it being taken up... :)

Unna
11-23-2011, 10:50 AM
sontaikle: Your poor friend!

I think most people are growing out of the world made for "thin people."

Whenever people talk about the US being prejudiced towards larger people- I always just think, "Honey, then don't come to Europe!" Sungseng: I could imagine Korea or many other Asian countries are ten times worse than even the Europeans.

Well, in Europe a much larger portion of the population smokes heavily. Maybe that is keeping a few of the pounds at bay for now. Many Germans think one is simply "unlucky" if they get sick from smoking. They believe you can live a long healthy life smoking whenever you please - then they like to talk about their great uncle so-and-so who smoked like a chimney, drank too, and lived to be 99. They are quite similar in France and Spain. (of course not ALL of them, but MANY)

Also, it is normal for the parents to let their teenagers smoke in front of them. I also cringe a tad bit when I see this. The younger you start smoking, the harder it is to quit later.

Anyway - I just find it funny that they look at the obese girl with disdain, but not the smokers. Both are addictions of sorts.

No one tries to tell you how to stop smoking here, but they will be the first to tell you a few dieting tips to get healthy.

I really think traveling across cultures helps you see the absurdity of them all.

ShanIAm
11-23-2011, 11:10 AM
At my highest weight I was invisible. I was fat enough to not be noticed by the opposite sex but I wasn't fat enough to be looked upon as some sort of circus act. I just....existed. But even that feeling of being invisible was horrific to me. I cannot even imagine what this girl on the bus was going through -- feeling if all eyes were on her in such a negative way. :( And because you may have once experienced this type of behavior from others it must have cut you to the very core. My heart aches for both of you.

But I probably would have done the same thing you did and not have sat next to her. Not because I wouldn't want to but because I'd be afraid of embarressing her even more by not fitting or not fitting comfortably. I'm sure she already felt like a big enough "burden". *sigh*

I have found myself in a sort of similar situation. There is one girl who works in my building and she sits by herself every single day at lunch. She is obese -- close to 350 maybe -- and she always looks so sad. I saw her in the cafeteria one day and complimented her on a necklace she was wearing. She smiled brightly and we chatted about where she bought it. Now everytime I see her I always wave and smile.

Did I compliment her because I felt bad for her? Yes, I did. But I wave and smile now because she is such a NICE person! :D

free1
11-23-2011, 11:21 AM
OMG...I use to be that girl. I remember being on a crowded bus an only a few people feeling brave enough to squeeze in next too me. I realize that when I see heavier people now I do feel really sad because they look trapped. I use to think people may have stared at me for other reasons...but I wonder if that's the reason why they were looking. Not with disdain but with pity.

And I was trapped. There was always another me that couldn't be seen under all of the extra. I still have a long way to go but I am THANKFUL today for not feeling trapped anymore!

kirsteng
11-23-2011, 01:26 PM
I totally get this! I am living in Korea where the average size of most people is tiny!

I have students who like to poke and grab my belly and I get called fat every other day.

I really feel sad for that poor bus girl! :(


I was also a 'sonsangnim' in Korea for a year! My students used to scream when they came around a corner and caught sight of me.. now THAT'S hard on the ego! :lol:

theox
11-23-2011, 06:45 PM
You sound very compassionate. It might have been a nice gesture to sit next to the girl, but it seems pretty reasonable not to have since it sounds like it would have been physically uncomfortable for both of you.

It is harder to be overweight here in Germany. They still pride themselves on being 'top fit' - fitter than the Brits at least. And the Brits pride themselves on being fitter than the Americans. People look at overweight people with real disdain.

Haha, yeah...that's one of the reasons I didn't bother traveling to the Continent when I lived in the UK - the snide comments and nasty looks I got in a (supposedly "polite") country where only 63% of the population is overweight or obese (and where smoking is slightly more common than in the US and binge drinking is a big problem) were enough. :lol:

I really think traveling across cultures helps you see the absurdity of them all.

Yes.

Kahokkuri
11-23-2011, 11:02 PM
I really think traveling across cultures helps you see the absurdity of them all.

This, this, this.

In Japan I see the obsession with a "perfect weight", regardless of height or build. My own perspective has been skewed to the point that healthy, attractive people seem overweight. Insanity!

Then I think about America's obsession with fast food, the need for passengers to buy double seats on planes and other indicators of poor diet and health. Insanity!

butterflymama
11-23-2011, 11:49 PM
I have ridden the transit here in Toronto at my heaviest and yes I was the fat person with no one sitting beside me on a crowded subway but you know what I personally like it. I hate sitting close to strangers and I hate having to touch someone I don't know I especially do not want to strike up conversation with a stranger. Anyway usually I try to squish myself up when people get on the subway but once no one has decide to sit beside me I own the space. I relax spread out and enjoy my extra space :) I stand if there are only seats beside other people.

When I was younger and was bullied I found I was bullied the more I tried to "shrink" away or felt like a burden. Once I became a teenager and found punk rock I found my confidence and my attitude and It only took confronting 1 or 2 bullies directly to stop all the bullying. I refuse to let people make me feel bad for the size of my body or to treat me meanly, I don't do it to others and they can not do it to me!

Unna
11-24-2011, 03:55 AM
Kahokkuri: I can't imagine the pressure in Japan and the different version of being thin. In America and Europe, one image is slowly changing - the need to be super thin is being replaced with being "fit and healthy" (still thin, but no longer rail thin).

Do you think the image is changing a bit in Japan?

butterflymama: It is interesting that you write that. I noticed here, much more so than in America, the overweight women have much more almost aggressive facial expressions.

Germany, as a whole, has a stoic face in public. The overweight women, in particular, almost have a meaner expression (though not ALL), not as in they are going to hurt you, but as in "don't mess with me" or "I have no time for you". I wonder if they need that wall up or thick skin or confidence.

The only difference that I can see between American culture and European culture that is causing Americans to be larger is the infrastructure of America. You literally cannot walk from here to there (or anywhere important) on sidewalks in America.

I think that little bit of exercise is keeping a large portion of the population here in the overweight - obese category. Morbidly obese is somewhat of an oddity here, but is still becoming more prevalent.

There is also less of a presence of fast food. But, from what I read on here, many Americans are really turning away from fast food.

They are still using tons of cream and cheese in their meals, eating mostly pork, and have a large amount of bread and potatoes in their diet. The older generation (those retired) is actually becoming quite plump. They believe in taking a "cake and coffee break" everyday around 3pm. I think the pieces of cake have become much larger over the years!

In general, the portion sizes are the same as in America. The Germans also have an important eating ethic- you have to eat everything on your plate. They really believe this.

I would guestimate that 7 out of 10 people here are in the overweight BMI category. That means skinny minnies are becoming a rare occurrence and there are many more bulges growing.

Anyway, the western diet and the availability of food breeds weight gain. Soon the Germans will be looking more like the Brits (who are in turn looking more like the Americans).

I hope I don't scare anyone off from traveling here :(

Kahokkuri
11-24-2011, 07:22 AM
Kahokkuri: I can't imagine the pressure in Japan and the different version of being thin. In America and Europe, one image is slowly changing - the need to be super thin is being replaced with being "fit and healthy" (still thin, but no longer rail thin).

Do you think the image is changing a bit in Japan?
Not that I can see from my somewhat limited scope (I spend most of my time with teachers, elementary and junior high students and expatriates).

I do see some young students being bullied for being bigger than other students, but more often than not they're simply ignored. The elementary teachers at my school also seem like a disproportionately thick bunch.

I'm a member of a gym where the focus is very clearly on getting small as opposed to getting fit. It's all about numbers–pants size, shirt size, weight–but other indicators of health like cholesterol and body fat percentage are not mentioned. The one thing that is very big here is blood pressure testing, which can be done at the gym (and is recorded into a log) or at many workplaces. TV shows still focus very much on weightloss and diet with little mention of fitness.

The ideal body type here is extremely tiny, but not at all toned. A very tiny, weak body is much more ideal than a very slightly larger, stronger body.

magraba
11-24-2011, 08:43 AM
The number of overweight people is growing in my country as well. Obesity among children is becoming a matter of concern.

My parents were born in the 40s, they were children during the war and were constantly hungry: overfeeding us, persuading us to clean our plates at meals was one of their way to express their love.
I am 47 today, and still argue with my mother when we eat at her… she can’t understand why we don’t eat it all, I cant understand why she doesn’t cook less…!!!!!
The idea of eat-it-all is still very strong, as is the idea that a fat child will lose weight when he/she will develop.

Nutritionists have started to visit schools and try and teach children the importance of a healthy diet, but fighting against a mentality is the worst battle ever.
“why should I give my kid a piece of fruit as a snack if he/she does not like fruit? He/she is hungry and wants a croissant, he/she needs to grow”.

I try not to make the same mistake with my daughter, but surely I make others: when I was a kid and a teenager I used to walk to school (and my mother was a housewife); now I drive her and go straight to work. Of course its more practical, but funny enough I drive her also to the gym where she plays volleyball… (I don’t want her to walk alone when it’s dark but still, I used to go by myself when I was her age).

Smokers or drinkers are tolerated and forgiven. Fat people aren’t.
Yet, we all rationally know none of the above is healthy.
The triumph of appearance.

Unna
11-24-2011, 09:32 AM
My boyfriend's parents (germans) are much more interested in making sure I eat tons than my parents ever were (americans). When I go over there, it is a constant attempt by them to feed us - as if we don't get enough. I definitely think it has something to do with the post WWII situation - something the Americans never went through.

While Europe doesn't have the oily fast food problem, they have the Bakery problem! That means ever block has a baker with fresh bread and pastries and cakes of ALL sorts, ready to be taken in the hand and eaten as you walk. I find that much more tempting than Taco Bell. Sugar high!

There are also ice cream parlors everywhere!

Anyway, give them 10 years and they will have caught up with the Ami's if nothing changes.

runningfromfat
11-24-2011, 09:35 AM
Ah... yes, i can relate. I lived in Germany for many, many years. People there can be quite blunt and I've definitely received comments about my weight (at the time I was about 185lbs so 30lbs overweight). I was there at my highest post-pregnancy weight too (225lbs) and that's actually where I started this journey. I was only there for about 3 months during that time and I can't remember any specific comments about my weight (beyond one OB/Gyn who commented on it). Everyone sat next to me on the bus, etc.

I do think, though, that the Germans are definitely in denial about their size. They pride themselves on being thin and healthy. Certainly, some of them are but like you said the smoking and drinking is a definite issue. I have many friend there who smoke and drink in excess and, sure, they probably have a healthy BMI (or are just slightly in the overweight category) but a lot of that is because they are getting more exercise due to the walking AND because smoking is an appetite suppressant. It is NOT because they are eating healthier foods (although it might be in somewhat smaller portions due to the smoking). I can guarantee you that.

Now, here in Brazil, it's just insane. Lots and lots of issues. I'd say the population looks pretty close to American sizes, especially when you get to the poor neighborhoods. The foods, if anything, have more sugar and less veggies than American food. Some habits are better than Americans due to more walking and most do eat beans with pretty much every meal but I've also run into lots and lots of misconceptions when it comes to diet and exercise (just read some of my complaints on my blog for that! :lol:). I've also seen people be much more openly discriminating against the obese, much more so than in the US or Germany. DH has had comments made to his face by strangers about his size, I've been laughed at while exercising, and yesterday a doctor told me to just "stop eating" when I asked him what sort of exercise I could do after he diagnosed me with scoliosis. It doesn't help matters that the clothing industry has not caught up AT ALL and clothes run much smaller than even in Germany. Additionally, bras are all B cups and they just make the band bigger so I can't even tell you how many women have got to be in a lot of pain because of that! :?:

Oh, and don't even get me started on the inlaws...

Sungseng
11-24-2011, 09:49 AM
I was also a 'sonsangnim' in Korea for a year! My students used to scream when they came around a corner and caught sight of me.. now THAT'S hard on the ego! :lol:

Wow, great to know somebody gets it! The thing that I find hardest is that the Koreans don't really put in a lot of effort to be thin, it seems to be genetic! Although the younger generation is just starting to face obesity, maybe if our children try teaching over here they will be the thin ones?? :^:

Unna
11-24-2011, 10:02 AM
runningfromfat: I find it fascninating that you've lived in Europe and now South America. The Germans do pride themselve on their size! They also pride themselves on not being in debt like the other countries (Greece, Spain, etc.)

I've heard the Brazilians are extremely worried about their outward appearance - even more so than the Americans. I can also imagine that the food quality in Brazil for the poor is wretched - filled with preservatives and sugar. That is one thing that Germany has helping them a bit - the selling of super cheap junk food isn't an issue. They also have tons of fruits and veggies at affordable prices.

Someone needs to make a documentary that really shows how obesity is an increasing global problem (except where they are starving).

One more thing, I've never met one single German who has ever said they were on a diet. I've never heard any of them talk about low carb, etc.

runningfromfat
11-24-2011, 11:44 AM
runningfromfat: I find it fascninating that you've lived in Europe and now South America. The Germans do pride themselve on their size! They also pride themselves on not being in debt like the other countries (Greece, Spain, etc.)

I've heard the Brazilians are extremely worried about their outward appearance - even more so than the Americans. I can also imagine that the food quality in Brazil for the poor is wretched - filled with preservatives and sugar. That is one thing that Germany has helping them a bit - the selling of super cheap junk food isn't an issue. They also have tons of fruits and veggies at affordable prices.

Someone needs to make a documentary that really shows how obesity is an increasing global problem (except where they are starving).

One more thing, I've never met one single German who has ever said they were on a diet. I've never heard any of them talk about low carb, etc.

Ha, well, it's definitely been an experience! Quite a big different in terms of culture too, wow.

Hmmm... I'll say that, yes, I think in general the middle-class on up worry about their appearances more than Americans. You do have extreme poverty here and middle-class here is still quite a bit lower than what you'd get in the states so there are some people that really don't have that option. :( That being said, the economy is booming here so you're getting an always increasing middle class and, yes, those individuals do seem to spend more time/effort/money on their appearance. Part of that, though, is that clothes are freaking EXPENSIVE here so it makes sense to buy something that's high quality and flattering vs something that's cheaply made (but still expensive!). I do think part of that too is that when Americans visit here they're visiting very touristy areas (read rich neighborhoods) so those Brazilians have a high disposable income and will certainly look more dressed up to our American eyes. If anything the Brazilians in those neighborhoods are going to be quite a bit richer (compared to the average Brazilian) than the visiting Americans, so it would be like comparing a middle-class American's investment in clothing and beauty to a rich American's investment in clothing and beauty.

Yes, I agree about the cheap junk food. Well, except for those amazingly delicious Lindt bars, sigh... but here you see junk food more often. They have quite a few convenience stores around that just sell prepacked junk food and they're always busy. I'm fairly surprised by this because that food is expensive compared to the fruits/veggies!

Personally, I'd love to see that documentary! It's been quite a switch to visit these different countries and since I've yo-yoed so much over the years I've visited them at a number of different weights too. :dizzy:

As for the Germans and diets... same here. But I have heard Germans of all sizes comment on their food choices in regards to health as in "I don't eat XYZ because it has too many preservatives" or "I try not to eat too much sugar" etc. Also, most Germans I know do at least some sort of exercise on a consistent basis.

Ryler832
11-24-2011, 01:34 PM
I could imagine Korea or many other Asian countries are ten times worse than even the Europeans.

I am Asian (born in the US) and I have to agree with this 100%. I was 110 before my first pregnancy and I was called fat by my entire generation. I was a fat a$$ (excuse my language) at 140 after my pregnancy. My family kept saying I need to stop eating my son's food and anything they could possibly think of to make me feel horrible about my weight. I felt like I was in hellwhen I went to Vietnam and China. I know what it's like to be the "big" girl.

InsideMe
11-24-2011, 01:44 PM
The same goes for Guyana, South America and East Indian. Being thin and fair skin is VERY IMPORTANT. Growing up in this type of culture especially overweight can really scar you emotionally for life. My mother is a size 12 which is her highest she's ever been. Now that I'm in the same size as her she's freaking out. She always prided herself that she was under 90lbs (yup she was 85lbs) when she got married....In our culture if your dark and fat your ugly :( AND they have no problems telling you that!

When I was a size 5 I went to Guyana with my sister (who was a size 0) at the time. I'm much lighter than my sister and people we didn't even know (like my dad's friend) would say right out your much prettier then your sister, she's too dark, right in front of her! However when I gained the weight they also have no problem saying "your way too FAT!" "Hey FAT Gyal, whatcha eatin'" It's sooooo rude and upsetting, I can't go there while I'm overweight.

JOLINA
11-24-2011, 04:10 PM
Inside me, in my area of the USA the older Indian ladies are ALL overweight.
Not to an extreme, just chubby. And they dress so nice in their native dress.
I wonder if people are rude to these elderly ladies when they visit India.

Food is cheap here in the USA, and we have a great variety all year long, so I guess that is why they become overweight.

I have friends whose parents went through the war years in the USA who pushed their children to clean their plates. Some of the kids were thin, but some were overweight and remain overweight to this day. Some of my neighbors came to this country straight from the European refugee camps, where food was basic and scarce. They really packed on the pounds here.

There was a shortage of food in the USA during the war because we were shipping tons of food to England. And half of the ships were sunk by U-boats.
We had rationing because half of our crops were being shipped abroad to feed our troops and the Brits. Most foods were difficult to get here and in England. Food rationing remained in effect in England for several years after the war was over. Recovery took a long time.

So people in both countries really focused in on the importance of not "wasting food." The governments published ads telling the people not to waste a crumb.
So some kids learned bad eating habits, which they have passed on to their children. I have neighbors that have large tins of homemade cookies on hand all the time, just because the ingredients were not available in wartime. And it is 60 years past the war now.

But food is plentiful and cheap here in relation to our incomes now.
So that's another reason why we become obese.
:(

May your stuffing be tasty
And your turkey be plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious
Your pies take the prize,
May your Thanksgiving dinner
stay off of your thighs!
--Unknown--

MissNikki930
12-05-2011, 11:40 AM
I live in the US, and I cannot tell you how many times this has happened to me. I am overweight (size 22 to 24), but I do not spill onto other seats, I simply take up all of mine. No on will ever sit near me, as if I look like some kind of creep. On air planes, people move away from me as quickly as possible. When I was in high school (at size 18), my bus stop was the very last one on the route, so the bus was always packed. I always took the first available seat and had to squeeze in with two other people on a seat made only for two normal people period. Every single day I was laughed at and every single day people looked at me in terror when I tried to sit next to them. It was one of the most hurtful things I've experienced and I remember it any time I am sitting in public.