Friday, March 1, 2013

Not One, But Both: An Introduction to Me

     Fat. It's a word that people tiptoe around and are afraid to use in "polite" company. If you talk to doctors, they have words they like to use. Words like, obese, morbidly obese, or my personal favorite, SUPER OBESE! Super obese is the medical condition of having a BMI (or Body Mass Index) higher than 45 or above the 95th percentile of all weights for your height. (Of course, this whole thing is being debated by people because these numbers were an average from 1963 to 1994 and people weigh more now and blah, blah, blah. Don't worry, this isn't that type of blog.) I was super stoked to realize that I was big enough to no longer be morbid, but was now SUPER. I first heard this term in 2004 when I was about to undergo Lap-Band surgery and was fascinated by the marketing of it all. It'd be a few years before I decided that "super obese" wasn't a medical designation or a marketing term to deepen the self-loathing of potential weight loss surgery patients. I'd learn that it was a call to arms, a challenge, a way to say: "If you're going to be obese, at least be awesome." Don't use it as a crutch, but a pogo stick. I'd learn to be not one, but both. But, it'd take some time and some serious effing up before I learned that meaning for myself. (Editor's Note: I tend to swear, a lot. But, for the purposes of this blog I shall attempt to restrict it to SFW swearing: i.e. effing, crap, etc. Thank You)

     Fat. Husky, portly, "of size",  I've been called (either directly or indirectly) any number of words like these my whole life. These clever inventions of our language to avoid an uncomfortable moment have followed me around like a shadow since I was old enough to remember. I've heard it from friends, from doctors, whispered by children at my son's school, in the hallways at work, from girlfriends, from complete strangers who know how to "fix me". I've broken chairs, had to leave airplanes, been too big for bathrooms and bus seats, had to stand during concerts and movies (because I didn't fit in the seat) and have even gotten into a few fistfights, just because I was too fat. When people see me for the first time, I'm usually met with a combination of shock, contempt, concern and sympathy, but mostly: curiosity. When all pretense is removed, people just genuinely want to know two things:
  • How did you get that way?
  • Why aren't you doing anything to "fix" it?
       Well, let's talk about that. For the first part, I "got this way" as a product of my upbringing, bad choices as a young adult, and many other reasons that are, frankly, quite boring. I was a fat baby, a fat kid, a fat teenager, and now...a fat man. In my adult life I've weighed as much as 530 lbs. and as "little" as 260. I've been to multiple physicians that have given me Phentermine, herbal supplements, and various injections that caused more damage than they solved. I've done Weight Watchers, Atkins, Sugar Busters, and every other diet that made sense to me. I even have a $15,000 piece of plastic inside me that can clamp my stomach closed with a quick injection. It just seems that the more I focused on "losing weight", the more unstable my weight became. It occurred to me that I might be focusing on the wrong thing.

      Now that second question. There's a word in there that plagued me for a long time: "Fix". In order for something to be "fixed", it has to be broken. I never felt broken, I still don't. I used to always joke about going to the doctor. Whatever was wrong, the answer was always, "You need to lose some weight." It didn't matter if I had a cold, pneumonia, bronchitis, or a broken arm; the doctors would repeat the same mantra over and over again: Lose weight. You see, most doctors didn't see me as an obese man with an illness, they saw me as a broken skinny man. About the whole doctor thing, I'm very healthy. I have the lowest blood pressure of anyone I know. I don't take any medications and I never get sick. I'm not sure when it happened, I'm sure it was a Thursday, but I stopped trying to lose weight. I woke up, thought about the things that were important to me, and realized that "my weight" wasn't high on that list. In fact, it wasn't even on there.

     This isn't one of those "I'm fat and fabulous" kinda things. I don't like being fat and I knew I wanted to be healthier. I just didn't care about doing it for some number on a scale, or in my head. The priorities had just, shifted. I wanted to feel good, to do meaningful work, to inspire my son and be a better partner to my wife, and pursue the things that drive my passion. I'm cooking more, I've stopped buying any food that I can make myself (within reason), I've become more active and adventurous, spent more time with my wife and son, and am traveling more. I started trying to be the person I always saw in my head, and the weight has started taking care of itself. I'm not eating food that didn't either come from the ground or from a source I respect. I don't eat anything that was "manufactured" and shipped into chains that don't do anything for my local economy. I've become more active in charities and began giving my time and my money to causes that make me proud to support them. I'm looking at myself and where I am at this point in my life and I'm happy to be me.

       So, I should probably give you a little list of what I'm trying to do here:

What this blog is about:
  • Food. Wonderful, delicious, sustainable, responsibly grown, humanely raised and thoughtfully prepared food. My experiences with making it, growing it, and seeing it created.
  • Activism. I'm becoming more and more inspired by the amazing work people are doing, and I want to help. I'm starting small by backing Kickstarter projects and getting more selective with my donations, but I'm on my way to making this a big part of my life.
  • Life. I know that's broad but it'll be my experiences as a father, a husband and a man that takes up more space than a normal person should. It's funny, but sometimes sad, but it's all filtered through my unique point of view.
  • Technology. But not just "hey this is a cool new gadget". More like the companies and individuals that are expanding the way we do things and seeking to integrate technology with life in a symbiotic way.
Here's what this blog is not about:
  • Weight Loss. This is not the story of "my weight loss journey", although I'll probably talk about that, it's not the focus, it's the byproduct (see above). I'm not going to be telling you "I lost XX pounds, here's what I did." with recipes and exercise plans to follow. There a million blogs like that, keep looking and you'll find the one you like.
  • Fat Pride. I am not here to extoll the "I'm fat and proud." or "Awesome comes in any shape." philosophy. I do, however, want people to stop equating large with unhealthy. They are mutually exclusive and it is not a foregone conclusion that fat people are dying nor are they trying to stay fat.
So, I guess that's it. This is my introduction to you. My name is Dave. I'm 33 years old. I'm a husband, a father, an advocate, a nerd, a fanboy, a foodie, a locavore, a software engineer, a corporate thug, a volunteer, a Cub Scout leader, and a million other things. 

I am super obese.
I am obese, but I'm effing super.