Friday, April 3, 2009

Does this blog post make me look fat?

by Helen E. H. Madden

Seriously, I have to ask, because I don't usually blog about my weight. I'm considered the skinny-minny in my circle of friends, thought I'm not really skinny. Not fat either, just somewhere in between. However, I have friends who are overweight and I don't usually feel comfortable talking about what I weigh, even though weight does seem to be the topic to discuss among mommy bloggers (of which I am one, as well as an erotica writer).

So what is it about weight and fat, anyway? Why are we so obsessed with it? It's already been pointed out in previous posts this week that we have an obsession with what other people weigh, as though we like to point and stare and say "Hey! Look at the fat people!" Stupid isn't it? Like people who are carrying extra weight deserve to be ridiculed and punished.

I've often heard people say that being fat is a sign of over-indulgence. People who are fat don't just eat too much; they're lazy, slothful, indolent. I don't think I have ever been lazy or slothful. Certainly not in the past couple of years. Between two small children and my writing career, I've been exhaustingly busy.

I've also been overweight, in spite of the fact that I am a so-called skinny-minny.

I haven't been a lot overweight. I've just been stuck with 10 pounds left over from my second pregnancy that I haven't been able to lose to save my life. It's only a problem because my favorite clothes don't fit very well, and because my bum knees ache more at with those extra 10 pounds hanging around my ass. There's also the little problem of the extra weight affecting my menstrual cycle. I don't know why, but weighing an extra 10 pounds causes me to retain more water during my period, so that I'm suddenly carrying an extra 15 pounds and nothing I own fits. Plus they make my period more painful. It's kind of a bummer, you know? So I decided the extra weight needed to go.

But the weight didn't want to budge. I did my damnedest for two years to exercise and eat right, but nothing seemed to work. I went swimming two or three times a week, cranking out the laps. I lifted weights and hopped on the elliptical machine for 30 minutes at a time. I spent five hours a week in karate classes. I sweated and strainged. I fit as much exercise as I could into my busy schedule, and I always looked for new ways to fit in more. Because exercise and activity would burn calories and make me lost weight, right?

Wrong. I'd exercise one day, and be dead tired the next. With two kids and a full workload, I didn't have the luxury of sleeping in, so I'd get up and push myself through my schedule. Even though I ate healthy meals, I was constantly hungry, craving snacks I knew I shouldn't eat - sugar, fat, caffeine. Bad stuff, but those snacks were be about the only thing that could keep me awake so I ate them and trudged through my day - a day that usually ended around midnight, thanks to my workload. Then I'd crawl into bed, get up five hours later and drag myself through the whole routine again.

I went through the past two years like that, always tired, always hungry, and never losing any weight. Things finally came to a head around last Christmas when I got pissed off about not having enough time to enjoy the holidays. My schedule was packed with exercise, work, my daughter's school, and that was it. My inbox was overflowing to the point of craziness. I had no time for anything else, no hobbies, no fun, no lazing around. I had pared down my life to the bare minimum just so I could keep up with my crazy schedule, and it sucked. I wanted to bake cookies, dammit! I wanted to laze on the couch and read the Sunday paper while sipping a hot coffee and eating a piece of toast! I wanted a hot bath with bath oils and smelly candles and a trashy novel!

In short, I wanted back the simple things in my life that I had given up to keep pace with everything else that was going on.

It has taken me four months to turn things around. Slowly but surely I have cleared stuff off my calendar, and in light of this year, I am rethinking next year's schedule. I don't want to work myself to death. I want my simple pleasures, my self-indulgences, back in my life for good.

To give myself more time to enjoy my life and my family, I cut way back on exercise for a while as I straightened out my work. When I got the work under control and could finally get to bed most nights before 10PM, I found a way to exercise that wasn't going to demand too much of me. The Hubster bought me a Wii Fit, and I've been having a blast playing silly games on the thing, all the while losing weight. Not much, just a few pounds, but I'm finally on my way back to my prepregnancy weight.

It seems so strange and yet so wonderful to finally not bust my ass all the time and just relax instead. I had a nice lazy day this past Sunday. I ate breakfast while lingering over the funny pages. I had a long hot bath and read one of my trashy shojo manga (Japanese romance comics - SWEET!). I folded some laundry, had some tea, played around with some artwork on the computer, read stories with the kids, drank a glass of wine and hopped onto the Wii for a bit. A lazy day. A fun day.

A day of indulgence. I want more of them. I want to spend a day over Spring break baking pie with my oldest daughter. I want to pick dandelions with the youngest. I want to sleep in curled up next to my husband. I want to soak in a tub surrounded by flickering candles while reading "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" (it's a real book, no kidding!).

The more I relax and take time to indulge myself, the better I feel. The fact that I'm losing weight as I calm down does not surprise me now. If I can work too hard, if I exhaust myself trying to do everything, I have to pay for it somehow.

If you're having trouble losing weight, try taking a break. Enjoy a nice dinner, enjoy a nice life. Enjoy yourself, no matter what you weigh.

Zaftig Goddess, by Helen E. H. Madden


  1. I love your goddess, Helen! And I applaud your wisdom. There's a limit to what one can do. And trying to exceed that limit will just make you crazy.

  2. I think getting more sleep has really helped. I can actually wake up in the morning and get stuff done. What's really astonishing is that now I've slowed down, I'm losing the baby fat, I'm getting more done. I'm catching up on e-mail, and the laundry is even done! Sleep and relaxation equal productivity, it seems.

  3. My last child put thirty extra pounds on me that I'm trying to shed by July. So far, I'm not overly obsessive about it; I'm walking, watching my calories, but not really depriving my body of anything. Been ill for three weeks, and have gained back what little I've lost, but soon as I get my strength back, I'll be back to doing my 10 miles a week. And if I can disguise the weight gain, even better! I've been told I don't look overweight, but I would like to drop at least one size in my jeans:)

  4. I like your attitude, Helen. And I love the Zaftig Goddess!

    Thanks for the great post.


  5. Molly, the walking is probably the best exercise anyone can do to lose weight. If you've been ill though, do take a break. I swear, the scale wouldn't budge until I started taking some time off. In fact, I think I'll take some time off today for a hot bath and a good book. I've been working since I got up, and now it's time for some relaxation ;)

  6. Jamie, some days the best way to summon that attitude is to slap on a Hawaiian shirt, play some Jimmy Buffet, and laze around with a margarita and some salsa and chips ;)

    Wow, that sounds even better than taking a hot bath and reading right now! Change of plans for my relaxing afternoon!

  7. Helen, what a wonderful post. I love the lush little minx at the end of your message too. Very sexy and sweet.

    You give good advice. Life really is for living. There's no second chance, this is not a rehearsal. Things to remember when you're busting your ass.


  8. Jude,

    What's the old saying? Life's short, eat dessert first? I can deal with that philosophy ;)

  9. That's the reason I can never give up chocolate for Lent:) Momma's not happy unless she gets her daily candy bar, hahahaha....

  10. Being incredibly fat myself, I have a serious lesbian thing for Nigella Lawson. I love the fact that she ends all her shows with going to the fridge in the middle of the night and eating something. Funnily enough, I never do that. In fact, I counted my calories over a week for fun and found out I averaged about 900 per day.

    I got fat because I was on psychiatric drugs for years and it changed my metabolism profoundly. I don't regret it. I would much rather be fat than crazy.

    Interestingly enough, being fat has had a profound effect on my understanding of sexuality. I have interiorized it in a way I never had when I was thin. My sexuality became about what was going on inside of me, not through external cues of desire from others. Slowly, I began to develop an erotic world that was entirely internal, entirely virtual, entirely mental.

    Maybe that's why I write such weird erotica.

    But it has also made me strangely happy. Never again will I have to wonder why someone doesn't lust after me. Never do I think twice about wearing anything uncomfortable to incite desire in someone else. Everything I do, I do to please myself. The weight has been oddly liberating for me.


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