Living Up to the Brand

I (hesitantly) started FatGirlvsWorld in 2009.  I had been blogging for nearly 10 years prior, but I felt like the topics that I wanted to discuss about my body weren't a good fit for that blog.

The very first Fitbloggin was 2010.  I hadn't heard about Fitbloggin back then.  I was still a neophyte when it came to fitness/health/weightloss blogging.  I was just finding my voice and just starting to find my community.

My very first year at Fitbloggin was 2011.  Gotta admit that I was the one who had fitcrushes on some people.  Tara and Sharla got to see me have an epic emotional breakdown upon just meeting them.  I think I may have squeezed the stuffing out of Carla and squeeeeed with delight upon meeting Josie.  I may have stalked Alan just for the hugs. In Amy and Elisha, I found people just as warped as I am.   In other words, I realized that not only had I found my community, but my community had found me.

In 2012, I hesitated to go to Fitbloggin.  I felt like a complete fraud showing up at a fitness conference when I had done so little to take care of my own body.  Not only was I physically broken, but I was emotionally broken.  I shut down and clammed up when I should have realized that my community was there to support me.  In the end, I am so glad that I went.  I didn't realize that the story that I was afraid of telling (about injury, depression, healing) was a story that people were able to connect with and needed to be told.  More importantly, by leaning in to my fears and doubts, and on my friends/community, I left Fitbloggin12 feeling invigorated and hopeful about my prognosis.  (I have a sneaking suspicion that it had to do with a little heart-to-heart with Janet and a message of love shared between Roni and I, both all about honoring what our bodies could do.)

Fitbloggin2013 just wasn't going to happen for me. Financially, physically, emotionally.  I just didn't have it in me.  For as much as I wanted to join you all in Portland and visit the Pacific NorthWest, it just wasn't my time.

I always saw the FatGirlvsWorld Brand as someone whose tenacity (okay, and hugs) was a force to be reckoned with.  But the past two years really made me doubt that.  It made me doubt that I had anything left to say, anything left to give.  But perhaps that is my story -- despite getting knocked down, I always get up.

So....118 days until Fitbloggin2014 in Savannah and I'm still debating about whether I should go or not.  Okay. I lied. I am not debating.  I'm just probably going to wait until my next paycheck to make it all happen.  After the year I've had so far, Kelly makes a great point:

So I think that means I have 118 days to get my mind and body ready for Fitbloggin2014.  About time, eh?  My promise to you all is that FatGirlvsWorld, the relentless crusader for health and wellbeing WILL show up.

[Update:  Okay, I couldn't wait....]

Life Support

You know that feeling of going from one crisis to another? You focus on what needs to get done (no more, no less) with blinders on to the rest of the world? The "I can only deal with what needs to be solved RIGHT NOW!!!!"

Between Jack's bladder stones/FLUTD and Spike's diabetes, pancreatitis, renal failure, cancer and having to put him down, I've been in a state of day-to-day crisis for over a year now.  After Spike was diagnosed last March, I only had 2 days away from him.  Before that, it was my own personal health and recovery.  Before that... well... life always just felt like a reaction to what could and often did go wrong. The other shoe was going to not just drop, but smack me around a bit before kicking my ass to the curb.

**sighs** It's really hard to live like this.  It requires a great deal of energy to be this stressed out about what may or may not be, what is or is not the case, and what could be around the corner.  I wouldn't say that I am paranoid, but I am primed for the fight/flight. And it shows.  I ran into a friend yesterday at the grocery store, and he said that I always look sad/stressed.

The stress/fear/panic makes it hard to make plans for the future.  Sure, I had a few bright points here and there.  Tickets to concerts, plans with friends, and even a short vacation here or there, but even the good things were part crisis.  I couldn't make plans past having to figure out the logistics of the good things.  Even the good things were things that I needed to survive.

I want to turn the ship around.  I want to be an easy, breezy, beautiful CoverGirl.  Part of me will always be serious.  There's no getting past that.  But I want to put down the metaphoric gloves for a while and just learn how to relax and enjoy life more than I have been.  I don't need the crisis to thrive.  I know it's possible.

That version of FatGirlVsWorld has the mental space to focus on herself, her health, and other things.... such as... People have asked me if I'm going to Fitbloggin 14 in Savannah, GA (June 26-29, 2014).
And well... now that I don't need to be in crisis mode anymore cause of Spike.... it's something I can actually consider going to.

What do you all think?


A great deal of what I know about love comes from being familiar with the loss of it.  To stand at the end of love, look back, and still say that you wouldn't have change a thing even knowing the outcome. 
To quote what I put on FB: 

When I first met Spike, I knew very little about him. WARL participated in the Shelter Animal Relief Effort (ShARE) that goes around DMV-area shelters and selects animals that they think they can adopt. In Spike's case, he was a 4-month old kitten from Baltimore scheduled to be euthanized. WARL intervened the day before he was scheduled to be put down.

Upon arrival at WARL, he was separated from the rest of the cats and held in quarantine until they knew what his health looked like. On the second day of his quarantine, I wandered somewhere I wasn't supposed to be (rules are meant to be broken, eh?). As I walked past his cage, he reached through the bars and took a swipe at my ponytail.

My cat had chosen me.

I had to convince my then-landlord that declawing cats was wrong and then had to convince WARL that I was the right person. But the adoption coordinator knew it when he saw Spike in my arms.

In 12 years, Spike never let me forget that he was the one who chose me and not the other way around.

So in a way, Spike was always living on borrowed time [especially after nearly dying last year after an acute bout of pancreatitis]. As he got sick, I only had two questions that I asked of myself and at the vet:  am I doing everything I can and is he in pain?

The chronic pancreatitis, diabetes, and renal failure were all too much too ask him to deal with, but he was a strong and brave kitty even til his last breath. His vet believes there may have been an underlying "diffuse cancer" (and perhaps a tumor that was compressing his other organs) that was making him uncomfortable. He would need round-the-clock care and fluids (his couldn't keep his blood sugar up). He wouldn't be able to come home.

So I did what I promised to him many months ago:  I would find the courage to make the hardest decision I ever could. I would love him enough to let him go. I brought Jack with me in the hopes he could bring Spike comfort and so he could understand. And as his vet (and friend) injected the sedative and other drugs into his IV port, I held him close, tucked his head under my chin, and said the only thing I could:  "I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you."

Even as he died, he was the most handsome beast I have ever had the privilege of loving. 


After my nana and my mom died, I dealt with it by eating.  I gained a ton of weight.  And well... I've just had no appetite over the past few days.  I know nothing will fill this empty hollow where there used to be Spike. 

Was there a winner?


Does the Biggest Loser want strong or do they want thin?
The Biggest Loser started with a doctor's premise:  Dr. Huizenga (former doctor for the Raiders football organization) saw very large and athletic linebackers being able to exercise and lose weight (off season), so why couldn't the average overweight/obese person.  His focus was on simple exercises (calisthenics) to start and then increasing the challenge, walking, and a healthy diet.  NBC has bastardized this original premise. 

My favorite episodes always used to be the ones where Dr. H would give people devastating news about what they had done to their bodies -- their body fat percentages, pre-diabetes, diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnea -- but the simple hope that just by exercising and eating reasonably, that they could reverse the harm done to their bodies.  That episode began in tears and ended in determination and hope.  Later in the season, they'd meet with Dr. H again and learn that they had indeed done what he had promised:  they were no longer diabetic, they no longer had sleep apnea.  They were no longer killing themselves; they had learned how to live.

Over the years, Dr. H's presence and influence on the show has decreased.  As his presence has decreased, the focus on weight over health has increased.  Ever notice how one third of the show is dedicated to the weigh-in and the results?  Ever notice how they talk less and less about the diseases of obesity? America just wants to bottom line -- how much weight did they lose?

So...doot da doo... last night's finale has definitely caused a stir, to put it mildly.

I want to really separate a few issues here:

1.  People on Facebook are trying to finger wag at me b/c I'm discussing another person's body.  I'm not trying to fat shame or thin shame.  Like I said on FB, I think that concern is driving the whole debate.  People in the weight loss/health gain community are worried for Rachel as well as concerned for how viewers might perceive Rachel winning. I believe that the same psychological issues that contribute to people being obese can also swing the other way.  People lose weight and become addicted to the weight loss.  I've seen it with my own eyes more than I'd care to admit.

2.  The CDC says that the slower one loses the weight, the greater the chances are that the person will keep it off (i.e., not yo-yo).  I haven't been able to find an official start date for the filming of Season 15, but I know that she lost 155lbs in less than a year (She's 5'4" and weighs 105lbs now (a BMI of under 18.5).  That's fast.  I'll leave it up to the experts to determine whether it is too fast.  However, I just want to remind people that there are health risks associated with losing weight that fast -- the main concern being how the heart (a very important muscle) will react.

3.  I've made it very clear on most social media networks (especially when I ask weight loss celebrities why they're hosting DietBet competitions where the focus is on weight loss, not body fat percentage or positive behaviors) that I'm a firm believer that the best way to determine health is by a blood test, fitness tests, and an honest look at a person's behaviors and life.  The Biggest Loser relies on the scale as a measure of health.  If you lose more, you must be healthy.  In the case of last night's finale, people (including myself) that Rachel had gone beyond healthy and into unhealthy once again.  We don't know that for sure, we'd need to see her blood test results.  But our guts are telling us that she went too far.

4.  So why did she go too far?  If you've watched BL15, you know that Rachel is a competitive person and that she likes to win.  This is a great motivator, but also needs to be kept in check.  Any look at humanity and you know people will go to great lengths to win--even if it's illegal (ahem, Tonya Harding), unhealthy, or unsafe.  I remember the end of last week's episode how great Rachel looked after winning the triathlon.  I wondered what more she had to lose in terms of weight.  She was fast, strong, happy, healthy.  At the finale, she looked like she wouldn't be able to win a triathlon, let alone finish it.

5.  So that makes me wonder -- should The Biggest Loser change the "winning" criteria -- that you have to pass a physical examination (metabolic fitness, blood work, not be malnourished, healthy bone density, electrolytes in balance), or that the triathlon should be run or repeated a few days before the finale to ensure that the focus is on fitness, not thinness? Should a contestant be disqualified for calorie restricting beyond the recommended daily intake? Should the Biggest Loser enact fail safe measures to ensure the safety of the contestants?

6.  My dietitian weighed in on all of this:

7.  This just raises every concern that I have about how people love to talk about the obesity epidemic, but not the eating disorder epidemic.  Kids younger and younger are admitting to eating disorders. More and more adults are admitting to eating disorders or disordered eating.  IF Rachel won by calorie restricting (again, this is speculation based on what I know of weight loss), what does it say that The Biggest Loser crowned her the winner of season 15?  What does it say about us as an audience if we don't at least raise concern for this young woman's long-term health? She's not a prop or a character on a TV show.  She's an actual person.  We should put her health over the show's ratings.

8.  People are saying that she probably wanted to lose a little extra to add to her lead going in to the finale, and that she'll probably gain some weight back once the season is now over.  Is it just me or is this type of justification disturbing?  It's the same type of justification for the people who do ridiculous things all to lose just a few more pounds.  They've lost the ability to know when enough is enough.  There wasn't someone looking out for her saying "you're doing this the wrong way."

But who are we to judge what one woman did to win $250,000 and the title of The Biggest Loser. 

**raises an eyebrow** 

I don't know what the answers are.  I just know in my gut that something isn't right (and I'm not talking about Rachel's body... I'm talking about the environment in which health is no longer the focus).
As a weight loss/health gain community, I think we need to talk more about what a healthy life looks like versus what healthy bodies are supposed to look like (because our eyes don't really know... unless someone has x-ray vision that they're not owning up to).

Should we speak up if we think a friend or an acquaintance is engaging in unhealthy practices?