Brain Fart

A while ago I wrote about becoming Vegan / Vegetarian / Pescatarian. And I was. For a moment. And then life happened and ever so gradually, I forgot about the cruelty. Put it away and filed it under ‘Things I don’t really think about or consider’.

Fast forward to now and 100% of the time, I will physically stop at a shop to buy 100% genuine meat over the freezer full of very expensive vegetarian options that are all that is left over of that one brief moment.

Second by second, over a relatively short span of time, life reverted right back to the way it was. A study in meat with every meal, biltong as a snack (similar to beef jerky in America), ham on my sandwiches, etc.

A slow descent into all the things I abhor.

I find the concept of gelatine in sweets actually nauseating. Except my brain very nicely likes to forget that pertinent fact while it is busy munching on a packet of fruit pastilles.

So I brought myself back to this video – Beyond Carnism. The ideas expressed and wholeheartedly embraced in this Tedx Talks documentary make so much sense to me I cannot even begin to tell you. This movement and ideology is the first I have come across in a very long time that actually talks to my soul.

Every day I chose to eat meat, is one more day my brain does its weird shifty dance around the concept of separating a cow from a dog. A sheep from a cat. A parrot from a chicken.  And again – I do not deny that as humans, we were more than likely supposed to get our protein from meat back in the day. The whole hunter gatherer thing.

My issue with the whole deal is three fold.

  1. The scale of it. We, as the dominant species on the planet, have managed to elevate protein consumption to a level that is actually gross. I am sure my ancestors, back when things were grunts and growls, ate what crossed their – as it were – plate. Animal / vegetable / plant in various amounts based on effort to gather. I am sure that if times were tough, they even munched the odd cricket and were grateful for it.
  2. The cruelty of it. Sjoe – I could write for hours and hours about the capacity humans have for cruelty. Sometimes I think that cruelty is something that comes easier to us than kindness and compassion. It takes a special kind of evil to shove a creature in a gestation crate, throw male chicks into a shredder while they are still alive, and put toxic chemicals in the eyes of rabbits. Oh I could carry on. So many paragraphs dedicated to the capacity of a human to be cruel to other living beings.
  3. The brain fart of it. The gymnastics we put ourselves through in order for us as humans to justify eating a piglet vs. a much loved family dog, a chicken vs. a beloved parrot, a calf vs. an adorable kitten – I cannot even begin to fathom it. There is some serious ‘twistedness’ going on in our grey matter that enables us to draw distinctions between different kind of edible meat. Because when you think about it logically – Meat is Meat.

So I think I shall set myself a new challenge. To eat what I can justify right in this moment. Perhaps this moment will lead to another moment. And a sting of moments will lead to a conviction and a lifestyle that I wholeheartedly agree with. A lifestyle I could very easily embrace if my brain would just stop farting about and remember two very important things –

I would never eat Muffin.  So why eat a pig?

muffin Babe

And does everything living thing on this earth not have just as much right as I do to live?

There is a saying. You are what you eat, eats.

I’d really rather not actually.

Gastricly Speaking

So 2 years ago give or take a month, I had a gastric bypass.
Basically I had my stomach (internally) made smaller and a whole bunch of intestine bypassed.

A whole mess of people have said that I should have done it the ‘old fashioned way’ and a slightly smaller mass of less polite people have flat out said I took the easy way out .

And every single one of these people are thin. Maybe not supermodel thin, but thin none the less.

So here is the answer to them that they cannot seem to understand.

1. Fat runs in our family. I know that sounds like a cliché but, and it is a big but, that doesn’t make it untrue. We go back generations and on both sides of a familial line. 90% of my gene is fat. The other 10% is my red hair… 🙂

2. I did try it the ‘old fashioned way’. And it worked to a degree. But no matter how many mountains I climbed (please note, fat does not mean unfit), how many small meals I ate, how much I went to the gym, the weight only went down so far and then plateau became my best friend.

3. I got sick somewhere in all of number 2 above and got put on a whole banana boat worth of cortisone. Sjoe I was so swollen my lips split open. For those of you who don’t know – cortisone = swollen and usually = heavy duty weight gain.

4. At my biggest I was 170kg. People who didn’t understand the illness and what cortisone does to you, judged me continuously. Friends and strangers alike. I cannot begin to describe to you what weighing that much, being that sick and being judged does to a self-esteem. It is probably easier to just say there was no self-esteem.

5. I got the gastric bypass to save my life. My life. Very important and often misplaced words. My life. The one I have to live. The one I inhabit and make my own. My life.

I have lost 70kg and I want to lose another 30. However, if I don’t that is fine too. Because along the way I realized that I don’t need to be thin. I need to be happy. Free from caring what others think of me.

Alone in my space and at peace.

That is all any of us need. So the next time you feel a need to pass judgment on what you perceive to be ugly, deformed, disabled, fat – just stop a moment. And be alone in your own space, at peace. And afford that gift to others.

Rewire your brain…

The subconscious mentality of a fat person as written by a reformed fatty…

I cannot park in that small parking bay-there won’t be enough space for me to get out of my car.

When in a crowded shopping mall – I will automatically give a wider bit of way because my idea of how large I actually am is exaggerated.

When dishing up food – I will dish up more for myself than I actually need because my idea of how much food I need is skewed.

When cooking for guests – I will always make more than necessary because I believe everyone eats the same amount of food as I do.

When trying on clothing – I will unconsciously pick sizes too large for me because that is how large I think I am.

When buying a handbag – I will get the largest one there. Not because I know that at least then it is in proportion to my body but actually because my brain tells me to go large – because I am fat.

When buying jewellery – I will go for the largest, chunkiest pieces because surely I can’t possibly wear anything fine and delicate as it will look funny.

You get the idea ne?

So every day, I make a conscious effort to think like a thin person and I attempt to rewire my brain.

So far I have gotten the following …

My portions are automatically smaller-and instead of having 2 potatoes because I am hungry, I have 1 plus a tomato. Or 3 tomato’s. I love  tomato’s.

When faced with a block of oh so yummy chocolate – I have 1 or 2 blocks. Because, actually, that is all I really wanted in the first place.

When buying clothing – I purposefully take a size smaller than I think I am. And 9 times out of 10 – it fits.

When parking – I don’t skip the parking bay squashed in between two idiots in SUV’s who think the demarcated lines should be half a millimeter from their tyres because I don’t think I will be able to get out of my car. I channel thin person and I contort but I can get out.

When faced with a slightly open sliding door (open enough for a thin person) – I don’t automatically make it wider. I fit. Because I do.

You get the idea ne?

Change the way you see things.

Change your reality.

Rewire your brain.

Just do it.

It works.

I promise.

The Fat Chick

I have always been the fat chick. Always. That is how I have defined myself forever. Fat and damaged.

This is part of my story.

When I was 13 years old I remember my family (mom, dad, me) traipsing down to weigh less and joining up. I was 13 kilograms overweight at that stage. Needless to say, weigh less did not work for me. Or my mom. Or my dad actually. And I’m not saying weigh less doesn’t work. I’m just saying that it didn’t work for me.

Somewhere along the line, it became cemented into hard and fast concrete that I was the fat chick in the most damaging and important place – my head. Sadly, weigh less was and is never going to fix that kind of being fat.

The kind of fat that makes you think you are bigger than you are / horrible / nasty / no one will ever love you / weak willed / destined to be fat / it’s in my gene’s fat (because that is easier to believe than to believe you have become conditioned – by yourself and others – to think the absolute worst of yourself).

For many years that cemented belief, that low self esteem, that thinking the worst of myself, ruled my life absolutely. It took control of every single part of it. I became a recluse. An introvert by choice. A loner. I made very bad choices in men (boys). I let myself be manipulated / used / hurt because my head told me that was all I was worth. If someone could love this damaged / fat / terrible person that I am – then I must at all costs make myself worthy. Be worthy. Well to try anyway. I walked with my head down – convincing myself that I was OCD – just so that I wouldn’t have to see people’s reactions to me (and I don’t mean their true honest reactions – I mean the reactions I thought I was getting). I worried and stressed and emotionally – quite simply, I destroyed myself. It became an extremely damaging cycle of neglect, self hatred, low self esteem, bad choices, allowing myself to be hurt or treated badly, making bad friendships etc. All the while adding layers and layers to the cemented block in my head that said you are huge / massive / the biggest person ever / totally unworthy / ugly / deformed / unloved / disgusting. Being fat did not do that to me. Being fat is a symptom. Yes I spent years not caring what I ate / comfort eating / not exercising. Ultimately though, I made me fat because I am damaged.

A lot of people don’t understand severely obese people. Personally, I think there are three kinds of fat;

  1. Society in general is breeding a culture of laziness and overeating. America and the UK are good examples – and we are not far behind. I have no sympathy with those genuinely lazy greedy souls who just eat because they can.
  2. People like my brother who has a genuine hormonal imbalance and whose body cannot metabolize fat. People with genuine medical reasons for being overweight. My heart goes out to them. To my brother who has the soul of a saint, but a body the entire world judges him for.
  3. And people like me. People for whom being fat is a symptom of a larger, underlying problem. People like anorexics and bulimics and yes, even some of us fatties.

Sometime in the last 2 years or so, the best 2 things in the world happened to me. My ex boyfriend dumped me. I ran out of worth / things he needed / money. And I got sick. Very sick. For the first time in my life I was truly faced with mortality, the idea of dying. And for the umpteenth time in my life I was faced with being rejected. However, this time was different. Perhaps it was the circumstances. Maybe it was age or just plain exhaustion or a tiny bit of wisdom. Maybe it was God. I don’t know. I like to think it was a combination of all of that along with a bit of me, and a very large part of my nephew Mookie Man (obviously not his real name), my family and having reached rock bottom with nowhere else to go but up.

For the first time ever in my life – I chose not to be floored. I chose not to fall apart. I chose to live. And most importantly – I chose to be happy. I started going for therapy. I started to put myself first. I joined a gym and I actually went (and found myself enjoying it after a while). I did things I was afraid of – I walked with my head up even when I felt small, I smiled at strangers and greeted everyone I saw, I talked to random people instead of huddling in a corner, I smiled when I felt like crying, I danced instead of lying on my bed crying hysterically, I went for belly dancing lessons, I did Pilates. I forced myself to live, go out, be me, laugh and enjoy things. I forcefully distracted myself from being miserable, crying, obsessing. And eventually I didn’t have to force anything anymore and I didn’t have to stop myself from being miserable. I woke up one morning and realized that being happy wasn’t a choice anymore, it was a reality.

Through all of that, I started losing weight. Not because I was on a diet, but because I wanted to live a long and happy life. And quite simply, being fat and all that comes along with that is not conducive to a healthy long life. I started reading the labels on food packaging. I cut out what I can honestly say I can live without – butter, most oil, and takeaways, full cream anything. I ate chocolate in moderation. I had a handful of chips instead of a packet. I found a dietician. At that time, I don’t actually know what I weighed. Scales don’t go up that far. So I took a random number and worked from there. I lost 16.77% of my body weight. About 28 kilograms. Yes I was still too big and yes I was still fat and obese (or as my ‘friend’ puts it – you are still obese but at least you look more normal now’…).

But – what started out as a choice to live, a choice to be, a choice to find myself and fix what was so very obviously broken had snowballed beyond my wildest dreams. In the best way possible. The right way. The way it should be. I didn’t need anyone to tell me I am worthy. I didn’t need anyone to love me. Because I knew I was worthy and I loved me. I am amazing. Quite simply – because I am.

And then I sick. Again. I spent an entire month in a hospital so that the pulmonologist could try and figure out what the hell.  It took a long time, filled with large doses of cortisone and medicine and being careful. And my weight started to climb. It was a perfect storm of circumstances. Illness, inactivity, cortisone and just plain bad luck. I stopped weighing myself because I just knew. At my largest – I weighed 170kg. The most I had ever weighed in my life. Everything hurt. Everything was swollen. Just walking was a bitch.

BUT – I never lost the joy that I had found. Yes my circumstances sucked – but so the hell what – I am still amazing. I am breathing. I am funny. I am smart. I am me.

For years I struggled to be thin, conform, be loved and liked, be worthy. No one ever told me that being fat wasn’t my problem. My head was my problem. My head never thought I was good enough. My head was wrong. Don’t get me wrong. It was hard. It is hard.

I am healthier now and after much soul searching, much discussion with people who know about these things, after much advice – I chose to have a Gastric Bypass. On 7 June 2012, I took a very large step off a very well worn path and started my new journey to another facet of awesome.

Through all of this – I have on occasion failed. Sometimes I have let what others think of me interfere. Sometimes I put the ideas and opinions of others ahead of me. Sometimes I feel that concrete block like an actual weight on my shoulders trying to press me into oblivion.

But always, I smile. My family or the people who truly matter say wow you are doing awesome. I take my lead from Khan in the Parlortones – and I dance like nobody is watching me.

And the concrete gets weaker every time.

And my soul sings every time.