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Old 11-02-2004, 07:25 PM   #1
Crazy Canuck
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Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 1,693

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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"My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four. Unless there are three other people." Orson Welles
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