So, just who am I trying to impress anyway?

So here’s the thing.  I have a follow-up appointment next Monday with my Gastroenterologist.  For the past couple of weeks, and certainly since the reminder call yesterday, I’ve been doing that oh-so-fun thing in my mind where I try to walk through all the possible scenarios which could come up during the usually stressful time with a doctor (or nurse practitioner in this case); as though doing this has ever really prepared me to do more than freeze like a deer in headlights anyways when the actual discussions occur.  And I can FEEL myself getting stressed.  I envision scenarios of everything from tense discussions, polite chats, dramatic sessions of wailing and gnashing teeth… everything possible.

Mostly I remain filled with trepidation because this doctor (again, NP), with whom I had previously had the best of visits and consults, showed a very skewed understanding of nutrition the last time I visited when I asked her about my having (not really) gained 50 pounds over a year.  I have since called her office, as suggested in comments to my previous post, to let them know (and to update my charts) that I did NOT gain such weight.  In fact I am wearing today clothing which I was wearing MORE than a year ago.  I know the medications she has me on does list “nightmares” as a side-effect.  Thus far all I’ve gotten have been utterly bizarre dreams, no nightmares, but I can perhaps chalk up that “I’ve gained 50 pounds!” thought to such mind-muddling effects.

Where am I going with this ramble?  Basically I’ve also been having conversations in my head and rationalizing, discussing, batting back opposition, etc, all regarding what I anticipate or rather, what I worriedly fear, will be the discussion at hand when I arrive for this follow-up appointment:

dancing

Impressive, most impressive. But you are not a "Skinny" yet...

Nurse Practitioner Who Thinks Half an English Muffin is a Large Breakfast: Well I see you’ve Not Lost/Gained More weight since our last visit.  Why do you think this is?

Me: Buh… well I’m actually fitting into all of my clothing since before last year so I feel, especially considering the vast improvements in my digestion-ary health since I’ve started this regime of medication and increased fiber, that I am doing very well.

NP: You have Not Lost/Gained More weight.  What are you eating?  Are you exercising enough?

Annnd this is where my mind spirals off into the various ways to respond; the strongest of which being something like:

Me: Why is it necessarily something I’ve “Done Wrong”? I swim for an hour on Tues/Thurs, and do an hour plus of bellydancing on Fridays!  I’m a “Good Fatty”!  Well, I mean I’ve missed a month of swimming with Spring finals and these Homebuyer Education classes the hubby and I have been taking the last two weeks.  But I’ve “Been Good”…. though not that you’ll believe me anyways so what’s the point in trying….

And yet every time my mind tries to foster this defensive diatribe to the NP of my inner-monologuing discussions; I get to this point in my rant and find myself thinking, “Wait, what the hell?  I’ve been blogging about Fat Acceptance for like 2 years now.  I’ve been finding peace with my body and my habits, knowing that a huge part of Health is MENTAL health and yet I STILL find myself falling into these trope-filled mental traps of trying to excuse away my “condition of fatness” as emphatically NOT a result of poor habits, but simply a happenstance.”  What the hell April D? What has happened to all these months (even years) of working on accepting that size is NOT a reflection of Morality? Where did all of your “I don’t have to apologize or justify my body to ANYONE” fervor go?

After reading the most recent set of very thoughtful and empowering posts lately regarding the downfalls of such Good/Bad Fatty dichotomies, I am even more ashamed at the way my mind keeps turning over “justifications” for my body.  Fuck that.  As I’ve written before, there is no set of Health Behaviors that ANY person should have to stumble through in order to earn the right to live in this world. From my own posting “mouth”:

Because no matter how hard you may push yourself to prove you’re not One of THOSE Fatties; you’ll be told you’re a liar or, at best, be seen as Still a Work in Progress.

Even more importantly though is this thought: No one has to prove they are Doing Everything Right Yet Failing in order to deserve the exact same respect as others who Do follow proscribed dictates of Healthy Living (whether you take that to mean Diets to Lose Weight or HAES or anything in between).

I think my huge fear is that I am going to be judged based on perceptions of what common knowledge dictates to be the Results of Behaviors. I don’t need to lie to my dentist to make her think I’m somehow flossing every day in order to somehow improve her opinion of me because she already Knows by Looking that I’ve been neglecting the habit. I didn’t need to inflate the hours I spent practicing trumpet to my music teacher, he Knew by Listening that I had been neglecting the habit.  Yet, when it comes to the doctors and having that same sort of scenario play out I can feel the injustice of it all; knowing that even though I DO maintain those habits; I will still be Known by Looking; that I will be judged as a Result, and not trusted to know and thereby describe my actual habits.

Because of this thought and fear, I’ve been trying to fit in more swimming these past two weeks, trying to squeeze 30 minutes in between working and then racing home to grab Adam D and head off to those Tues/Thurs home buyer classes.  It feels frantic.  And it feels somehow obligatory.  Which makes it feel like work and no longer fun.  And that is totally NOT what I wanted when I first started and fell in love with the swimming and dancing activities.  They aren’t supposed to be drudgery taken on like mandatory gerbil-wheel hours at the gym; done for the sake of Being Healthy.  They are supposed to be my Fun Times, which make me feel good.  Yet at the same time, as Monday approaches, I still find myself anticipating that cold judgment of “well obviously you’re not Doing Enough to maintain Health (and by Health we mean Thinness)” and I’m getting this twitchy need to Defend Myself against such imagined accusations*.  But so freaking what??  I shouldn’t be HAVING these thoughts that I must INCREASE my swimming, do more, burn more, sweat more, make my body less than it is, in order to… what exactly?  Impress my doctor that I’m Doing Things Right??  She isn’t going to believe me anyways since I’m very Obviously Fat and therefore a Liar.

This is the rambling place my jumbled mind has been lately.  Sifting through my thoughts regarding the un-merits of trying to even FIT myself into a Good/Bad paradigm which only serves to perpetuate the idea that Fat needs to be justified and is only Acceptable if it is fought against constantly.  Trying NOT to fear that this NP who really, aside from responding to concerns that I myself brought up last time, hasn’t BEEN derogatory towards me in any way.  I’m trying to fit all of these ideas into my belief that even if I never took a swim, never could afford or find the desire to belly dance, ate nothing but those stereotypical “naughty realm” foodstuffs it STILL isn’t anyone’s business but my own.  I need to re-affirm that when someone is considering making comments on or judging a body they need to ask one simple question: “Hmm, is it MY body?”  If the answer is “No, it is not.” then you do NOT get to comment or judge.  Simple, right?  No one owns anyone else actions done simply to Impress Them Much.

Basically, I need to wrap my brain one more around the knowledge that I am not on this Earth to Impress You.  I am my own person, and I will be whoever I damn well please, in whatever damn sized body I have, with whatever level of Healthy Habits I choose to have or not have, without a need to justify my life or habits to anyone, so deal with it.  I am about Body Acceptance.  And I think it is time I took a moment here again to remember that this starts first and foremost with my own; and then moves on to everyone else’s; no matter the habits maintained or not.  By mentally whipping myself into such a panic over the amount of swimming I am or am not getting in anticipation of having to defend my health’s honor in front of my NP on Monday, I am doing all bodies a disservice because I am implying that somehow I can only deserve this body if I’ve taken all the prerequisite steps laid out before me to change it.  And that, my friends, is the very bullshit that I started this blog to pry apart and scatter to the four winds.

As Snarky’s Machine very recently posted:

Marginalized groups must work to resist the tendency to devalue or bristle over any member whose actions might be viewed as “making the rest of us look bad”. The work to end all forms of oppression does not involve policing group members to ensure they are “on message”.

I do no one any favors if I go in Monday and try to illuminate all the ways that I don’t make fatties look bad.  I do not need to somehow prove or impress upon my NP that I am “on message” or “fighting the good fight”.  After all, that’s not what I’ve been about for over 2 years and there is certainly no reason for me to fall back into those traps at this point.  Thanks for the chance to… suss that out via a very long-winded blog post!

*I wonder if they would even take place if I refused being weighed at all.  I mean very obviously they didn’t NEED my weight since they hadn’t measured it at my very first visit.  Is it difficult to raise a stink and not be weighed??

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22 thoughts on “So, just who am I trying to impress anyway?

  1. April,

    I have been refusing to be weighed for the past two years or so. I don’t go to the doctor more than once or twice a year, so I don’t get a lot of practice with it, and I still have some fluttery panic* every time I am walked up to the scale. But no one has raised a stink about it. I’ve been using the line, “I don’t do scales,” said with a smile, and the medical assistant usually just shrugs and we keep walking to the exam room. It has helped me be a little less stressed about going to the doctor, because I know I’m in control of the situation and don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do.

    *Because of that fluttery-panicky feeling, I do ask them to wait a few minutes before they take my blood pressure.

    • Fantine I think I am going to make “I don’t do scales” my mantra and go with it. Thanks for the simple line to use! And yes, I understand perfectly about that freakin’ fluttery feeling. I’m having it now just thinking about that line!! O.o Ugg.

  2. I read most of this post and thought…this is *so* going to my therapist. I don’t have this problem with my GP. She’s the most awesomest doctor *EVER* I wish you all could see her. She’s not judgmental, if I talk about weight loss, she’s supportive, if I don’t talk about weight loss, she’s supportive. When I first started to see my therapist, I said to my GP “I have issues with my weight” The look on her face was priceless. “Really!” she said. I asked her why she didn’t push me about my weight. Her response, “then you wouldn’t come back” She gets that it’s not all about my weight. We talked about my insulin levels and she said that they still don’t completely understand the links between weight and diabetes. She’s part of the university medical center, so she’s more up to date on the latest research than private practice doctors.

    As for my therapist, it is about my health. I am having problems with walking and getting out of breath. I know that I need to walk more, to exercise more. I’d love to start swimming again, but I’m afraid I couldn’t even do 1/2 lap in the 25meter pool. I know that I will have to start out slow, maybe walking the part of the pool I’m tall enough to walk in and swimming in the deep end until I can swim both sides again.

    I’m coming up with excuses and trying to make myself feel better and bad for not doing but wanting to do better. But that is putting a moral adjective to the verb (so to speak). It’s not about better or bad or good or anything like that. I have to learn to live the best life I can with what I’ve got. Maybe I can achieve more, but right now, this is who I am and I’ve got to learn to like me.

    I’m sending her this link so that we can talk about this in therapy soon.

    Thanks for putting into words what has been running around in my head for years and years.

    • queenaeron thanks for the comment; I think that boiling things down to “I have to learn to live the best life I can with what I’ve got” really gets at the meat of the issue: that being “healthy” isn’t about making yourself feel bad about what you are or aren’t doing; but is about finding that happy balance of mental and physical well-being that feels right personally. Oh and your GP sounds like a dream! :)

  3. I think you read my mind – I feel the exact same anxiety and I have the exact same thoughts. “Why the hell should I have to defend myself here?” I know I’m fat; I don’t need someone to point out the obvious.

    The last time I was at the Dr, I asked her what sort of exercises I should add to my 3x weekly routine. I had started walking on the treadmill several weeks prior and I needed help – a starting point for my upper body. I don’t know these things, helloo??? Fat woman sitting here? She told me to look online. She’s already given me my death sentence and doesn’t have the time to help me. As long as my insurance keeps paying the bills, she’s cool with that. Needless to say, I’m looking for a new doctor.

    • Wow Kari! I’m really glad you’re on the hunt for a new doctor because that sounds incredibly awkward. I don’t think a doctor’s office is really the place for the “pros” to be telling us to “Google it”! Oh and I don’t *think* I read minds. :)

  4. There’s something you could do in this situation which could help everyone else this person treats, not just yourself. Simply tell the truth, and if she seems to think you’re lying, hand her a printed copy of the best research on the topic (practice this beforehand so it doesn’t come across as aggressive), and urge her to read it to learn about the latest findings. Medical personnel rarely have the time and energy to keep up with all the reading they should do, so providing her with a place to start could really help her, you, and all the other fatties she’ll treat in the future.

    • Hmmm. I’m not sure if I’m at the point yet Octienne that I’d want to bring in print-outs but I like the suggestion and will definitely just approach her with calm truth instead of getting so panic-y. I can already feel my blood-pressure dropping at these sorts of thoughts. Thanks for all the suggestions everyone ^.^

  5. I thought you were trying to impress *me* (with your writing). *g*

    My only recommendation is that you write down, on a small piece of paper, a one-line (or less–maybe a list of words) response that sums up your position and affirms your esteem.

    It could be something like, “I don’t do scales” or “I’m satisfied with my eating/exercise at present. I’m actually here to talk about ____.” Or maybe just, “I trust myself.”

    Whatever it is, clench it in your fist and, if necessary, use it (the notes, not your fist–unless absolutely necessary!)

    Good luck.

  6. Hello,
    I am relatively new to FA and body acceptance, and I have been reading your posts for a few months now–you take the words right out of my brain sometimes, I swear!!!

    I felt I had to respond to this post because I have experience with denying the scale at the doctor’s office. With the office I go to (a large student health center on a university), I’ve had mixed responses from the nurses regarding not wanting to be weighed. Most were indifferent but I had this one that was snarky about it. She started questioning why I didn’t want to be weighed and looked at my chart and said OUT LOUD, “Oh, a history of ED” so that everyone at the nurses’ station could hear it!

    Needless to say, I was mortified. I’m not trying to make you panicky, and I sincerely apologize if I did, but my advice would be the same as the first poster’s, and just say something like “I don’t do the scale”. Don’t be a mouse like I was. Show ‘em who’s boss of your body :o)

    • Elaine thanks for reading and for the story. I don’t think your story makes me nervous (more than I already was anyways) but I figure if I keep things cool and level headed then I’ll be able to just be a non-mouse as you say. :) Maybe I’ll need to start chanting “Who’s the Boss? I’M the Boss!” :D

      Miriam Heddy *blush* Heh. Writing to impress is far higher on my list of things to be willing and happy to do than is changing my body to impress! :) And seeing as how writing seems to be one of my things I really appreciate that idea to write my phrase on paper and keep it on hand, thanks!

  7. I think you’re being too hard on yourself. There is no such thing as good/bad fatties to haters, as we know, we are all bad to them.

    However, it’s still been useful for some of us fat people who’ve been deeply disenfranchaised from even just moving freely (let alone moving around with joy-the very idea!) to know that there are fat people around who are off message on that one. It has impressed and inspired me and I’ve never made any secret of my aversion to healthism.

    Sorry, but it annoys me sometimes that we are so focused on others and ignore ourselves. Instead of always talking about what effect we are presenting to others, what about us?

    This is about re-gaining ourselves and our authentic stories, after all.

    I think some of the problem is that those who label themselves “bad fatties”, are labelling themselves as failures. They insult themselves.

    So when others go on about moving around and eating habits (as tiresome as I find it), they tend to feel they are being attacked from the outside in, when they are in fact in collusion with that process-whether the other person is attacking them or not- devaluing what they eat and their level of activity.

    Why do we think we can insult ourselves without cost?

    I’d like to read more books, I know this, I don’t need to devalue what I do read. When others are clearly very well read, I might feel a twinge of envy, or some awe or inspired. But I don’t feel they are setting out to insult or belittle me, merely by not keeping their facility secret.

    I would never label myself bad fat, what for? I know how I feel about movement/physicality and that may or may not be reflected -in the way it’s supposed to-by my actual level of movement.

    That doesn’t make me bad. I don’t have to prove anything.

    Ditto with food, if I eat it, I respect it, if I can’t, I don’t. Because whatever I think of the food I’m eating, that’s what I’m eating along with it that’s what I’m thinking about myself, and guess what I, you, all of us are too precious to demean ourselves with every mouthful.

    • Wriggles: “all of us are too precious to demean ourselves with every mouthful.” I LOVE this. There IS a cost to constant self-insults. It is VERY difficult to break away from a life-long habit of self deprecation though and of the guilty feeling that comes when you DON’T self-deprecate (which is why I LOVED the post on Shapely Prose about shouting out your awesomeness).

  8. I don’t weigh myself any more either, nor do I get weighed at doctor’s offices. The last time I got weighed, the NP didn’t even bother addressing the issue I was there for (asthma) and instead turned it into a conversation about my blood pressure vis a vis my weight. Never mind that I was on no less than THREE medications that list hyperFUCKINGtension as a side effect. *sigh*

    Now when they indicate that I should get on the scale, I just say, cheerfully, “No thank you!” with a big smile. For the most part they just shrug and get over it, although I did have one nurse who was kind of a bitch about it.

    Good luck!

  9. I think it might help to keep in mind that the doctor’s job isn’t to police your habits or to judge your lifestyle. The doctor’s job is to help you be well given what he or she “has to work with”. They are paid to perform a service, not to disapprove of your choices. If you are fat and have a health issue, then they need to accept that being fat is a static condition (like many other static health conditions like congenital weaknesses and conditions) and help you as much as they can without targeting the fatness issue as if it were something that had to always be at the head of line before they could address other issues.

    I’d keep in mind that you pay the health care professional to help you in the way you want to be helped, not to help you in the way they want to help you.

  10. I, too, struggle with the issue of whether to do something active that I’ve tentatively scheduled when I don’t feel like it. That feeling of “should” can definitely get in the way.

    The reasons why I try to stay active don’t have anything to do with what other people think. They have to do with helping myself feel good, and at the moment, being able to do the things I want to do without excessive pain. So, when I’m trying to make that choice, I think about how keeping up with the actively will benefit me (in terms of energy, strength, mobility, etc.) and I ask myself “do I have a good reason not to do this thing?” If the answer is “no,” then I usually do it, enjoy it, and benefit from it. But, if I decide not to for whatever reason, I just go through the same process again the next time.

    Once I’m moving – doing something regularly – my considerable inertia will make moving easier and more natural than deciding not to move.

  11. Hi April,
    I completely relate to this post. I have a patient doctor who is really nonplussed by weight-related stuff. He’s sort of in a compassionate/bemused place with regard to weight — he is a slender, tall guy who hasn’t ever been overweight himself, but he does struggle to find time to be active. There’s a sort of Eeyore quality about him (“Don’t want to talk about weight? Oh well. No one does. It’s your choice. Let’s see how your blood sugar has been.”) and seems to see me as someone who consults with him but ultimately is in the driver’s seat. I am fond of him.

    My advice to you — which is worth exactly what you paid for it — is this: Sometimes, a health care provider gets you to a certain place, health-wise, and then it’s time to find a new provider. This NP got you to a much better place, digestive-health wise, and now maybe you need to find someone who will work with you on YOUR health goals, not hers.
    If you can bear it, looking for a new person to help you with the next items on your health “to-do” list might be the thing to do. And getting back to the movement you do because it’s fun and feels good seems like a very important health goal.

  12. I agree with the several people above me who suggested “I don’t do scales” to avoid being weighed. I just wanted to add that if that line doesn’t work and they still bug you about it, say, “I do not consent.” You can bet that will end the pestering!

    • Loving the positive reinforcement, thanks all!! I am feeling a bunch of trepidation but yet feel empowered by all the support and good suggestions on making “I don’t do scales” my mantra. ^.^

  13. Right there with you. Fortunately, I have a good doctor. Unfortunately, I am right there with you on my blog because I still find myself internally fighting with the trolls that I know are out there and I know it affects my work.

    I did not avoid scales because I did not care about the numbers, but once I hit a specific number, I had to stop getting on the scale because I saw that number and all of the old dieting thoughts and habits shot back into my head like they had never left.

    It really is ok to NOT step on the scale. It really is ok to refuse to justify your choices.

    You know it and everybody else has said it, but I am a big fan of positive reinforcement :D

  14. Pingback: Followup on a follow-up « I AM in shape. ROUND is a shape.

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