A home improvement project

Cw: tons of body image stuff, weight loss

From being unable to see that my own fly was down (because there’s a gut in the way) to feeling insecure in my relationship even though there is literally no reason to be, I’ve felt pretty bad about myself in the last year. I think weight loss resolutions are a little bit cliché but I must do something.

I strongly believe that weight loss is also an industry, but as I’ve said before, just because I think that doesn’t mean I can outsmart it or somehow live above it when that’s how our society operates: under the assumption that fat = unhealthy and fat = unattractive. I believe this is fucked up and downright incorrect. I feel most “overweight” people are cute, beautiful, handsome, you name it. (And also, attractiveness is enormously overrated in and of itself). And just because I’m considered obese or something, it doesn’t mean I’m unhealthy (from a physical standpoint). I have terrific blood pressure and I am not at risk for diabetes or anything. Mentally of course I’m unwell, but being overweight is only tangentially related. So the health thing is bunk and the unattractive thing is bunk.

But I must recognize that for whatever reason, being overweight is not helping me, and if I can be less overweight, I think a lot of things will improve as a result. For one, I’ll be more active, which helps a whole bunch of things; for another, I’ll be eating a little better/less, which will help me feel a  bit healthier (for example, when you eat greasy fast food for a week or lighter meals for a week, you can feel the difference).

I cannot say enough that I do not judge anyone who considers themselves fat. I think fatphobia is real and I’m a victim of it, both from others and myself. It’s fucked up that we are all under this spell that skinny is the only way to be. Jfc.

All that said, I’ve finally come up with a way to get this project going.

And it’s just that—a project. I think people usually use words like “journey” and I think that’s a valid metaphor, but for me I kind of see it as a project. A home (human vessel) improvement project. What I HAVE been doing is nothing. Nothing is not working. So I’m going to try to do SOMETHING and see if that works.

The goal is to use some knowledge from past experiences with trying to ~be healthier~ but mostly toss everything out. Every single time I’ve tried to be healthier I’ve stopped for some reason, usually after a pretty short time. My hope is to correct that, make this sustainable.

For that reason, I’ve set a tangible goal of being 180 pounds.

A few notes on this: according to my height and gender, I’m supposed to be no more than 165. I think that’s bullshit. If I’m muscly and 180 I’m pumped about that. I don’t need to be SKINNY. I’m okay being a “big guy” if that’s what being 180 means.

I’m not going to share my original weight. If you pay extremely close attention to how much I lose per week when I do share that information, you could probably make an educated guess. But I never ever want to share my weight and make people think that anyone who’s that weight or more is somehow less-than. I do not think that and I do not want to come across that way. I weigh the most I ever have, and I feel bad about myself even though I shouldn’t. That’s all you need to know.

I hope to make this project to becoming 180 pounds as positive as possible. I want to be real with you if I have difficulty, but I also want it to be like “hey this is home improvement” and not “hey I deserve to suffer.” I want to make this about trying a new, good thing for myself. And with a tangible goal, I think that’s possible.

I’ve even come up with a hashtag. So, 180 is a popular number (more than 179, for example), because it’s a common amount of DEGREES. So like, turning 180 degrees is turning around. I want to turn my life around. It’s so obvious. My project is called #180to180. Fuckin’ shit up.

(I’m also going to use the ever-neglected hashtags I created in another life: #BuildingADreamBoat and #BuffAndBeardy)

In the past, I’ve been really excited about the tracking process, where I’ve focused hard on counting calories and recording all my cardio down to the minute. But then I either get distracted by tracking and lose sight of the actual objective, OR I get bored of it and then get bored of exercising as a result.

I think I can do a little tracking but I no longer want that to be a motivator. I want to work out more and go for walks more and open more pickle jars and be more conscious about my eating and see where it takes me. It’s an overall, all-the-time mission that drives this project. I got a number in mind. Let’s do this or w/e.

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Apparently even fatter than I thought

 

cw: body image feels

My last blog about feeling fat was a bit of a disaster. I only kept it on my Facebook for about an hour but a NUMBER of people reached out to me to tell me how I indeed should do things to be less fat. People who literally haven’t spoken to me in years suddenly came out of the woodwork to give me unsolicited advice about how to be less fat.

It was bad timing. I was so sad already. But then it’s like, people are being “supportive” but all I hear is “You’re fat and I can’t wait for you to stop being disgusting.”

It’s only one week into the year and I already feel like my body is the worst vessel. Top surgery has been temporarily thwarted, and my body is too fat to be appreciated. I wrote a post about how society is kind of fucked up and fatphobic and all I received in return were comments about how much I should change myself.

Idk. Because I realize people meant well, I’m supposed to take a chill pill but honestly I don’t have emotional capacity to tolerate that kind of stuff right now. I took down my post from social media. I felt myself dissolving into suicide. It doesn’t take much these days, so don’t feel bad.

I think when I talk about body image stuff, I’m going to not post it on FB or be a little bit more selective. I will still write about this because as a friend pointed out to me while I was swimming in sadness, this is MY truth. It will still be out there, but it will be a little harder to access. Feel free to “follow” my blog for email updates and shit if you don’t wanna miss out (god help ya).

I’ll have you know that the “health” part about being fat is interesting because my blood pressure is outstanding. They have to put the larger blood pressure cuff around my upper arm because they are ~so big~ but whatever nurse is doing the test pretty much ALWAYS says “Wow! You have great blood pressure.” They are surprised, because many think people who are well over 200 pounds are probably just unhealthy entirely, all of them, since they apparently “let themselves go.” That couldn’t be further from the truth–as it turns out, this fatass is only mentally unwell.

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Understanding weight loss as a capitalistic industry but also feeling bad about yourself, a love story

cw: body image feels

One of the things that I keep thinking about after my disaster of a consultation besides “will I ever even get top surgery?” is “Maybe she’s right about me being fat.”

I’m telling you this probably because I’m a little too open. But I feel like if it’s in my self-identified ~vocation~ to document and share about my ~trans experience~ I should probably tell you stuff even if it’s hard. Well, it’s not really obligatory but it feels like my instinct.

Having someone touch your unwanted chest and squeeze and poke your fat rolls for several very long minutes is a little more than eye-opening. It’s something that makes me wonder if my girlfriend, the only one who sees me without a shirt or binder, is merely tolerating me. How can I be attractive? I am not.

Note: As I’ve stated before, I do not think fat = unattractive when it comes to people other than myself.

Another Note: My girlfriend has not given me any reason to think she doesn’t think I’m attractive, and this is purely led by internalized bullshit. (I also realize that attractiveness itself is subjective and even if I wasn’t “attractive” I still have value.

It’s something that makes me wonder if I’ll just keep getting bigger my whole life. I haven’t stopped gaining weight for like two years. Every couple weeks is another pound. My torso is marked by having a chest I don’t want, but now it’s also marked by having a torso I don’t want.

This surgeon spent like 40 minutes with me and it has me questioning my life choices. But then I question my questioning, because I know that weight loss is an INDUSTRY that relies on people feeling poorly about themselves in some way. Sure, being overweight might lead to health issues but that’s drastically overstated, and it’s not like you can’t be skinny and unhealthy. There are many, many factors at play.

I haven’t been exercising because I don’t want to wear a binder to the gym. I went about a dozen times late this summer, wearing a sports bra and baggy shirts, but I got obvious looks in the locker room. I was trying to be discreet but it didn’t work. It feels like I can’t go back to the gym until I get top surgery. It feels impossible.

(Nobody approached me or gave me anything but confused/annoyed looks, but it still feels devastating and like something I cannot resolve).

But like, going to the gym is not just beneficial for weight loss. It’s also for feeling better mentally. It’s about getting minerals to pass through the blood-brain barrier. Those are good things. I always feel stronger when I work out even just once. I love myself more when I exercise. And it’s not like the pounds fly off or anything, I just feel more in tune with my body. Right now I just use my body to drive to work or drive to get food. I never use it and LIVE in it.

But like, I know in my heart of hearts that I will be going to the gym driven by the desire to be different. I want to look different than I do. I want people to tell me I look really good, like they did after I had pneumonia and lost 10 pounds because I couldn’t eat. This is undeniable. I both understand this issue intellectually and also feel it because I’ve been raised with this system. I wish the “intellectual” side of it were more powerful in actually affecting how I feel.

So I’m divided. Part of me is super motivated now to start paying attention to my diet and exercise. I would throw on an older binder so it wouldn’t be as tight (they stretch out over time) and just wash it constantly so it didn’t smell like cardio. I’m motivated to pull out my “Lose It!” app and start recording again. Reset my goals.

I’m also of the mind that I’d be a stereotype. Everyone wants to lose weight in January. I’m also of the mind that if I’m driven by the hope I won’t be “fat” anymore, this motivation will lose its power eventually and as I’ve always done, I will fall off the discipline wagon.

I don’t really know what to do. But hating myself and continuing the same behavior isn’t working. It seems like a crapshoot. I can’t really see my eating patterns changing much. I like food. Eating butter is a pastime. (That was a joke but also not).

I’ll keep you posted.

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Relinquishing boobs is no gravy train

I bring forth this cheeky and lighthearted title to mask my immense disappointment.

If I may, I’d like to talk about my top surgery consultation from this afternoon. I’m mostly writing this because I am having a hard time articulating what went wrong exactly. A friend even went with me and I wonder if she saw anything go wrong. What I do know is that I felt like shit after this appointment. It seems rather hopeless, even though it probably isn’t.

I will start with one thing I’ve figured out so far. The surgeon was not gentle when it came to my body and my body image. When it came to physical examination, she didn’t really tell or ask me if she could touch my chest–she just kind of did. And then she went on and on about how I really need to lose weight or she will have to leave a bunch of breast tissue so I don’t look “dented.” She explained the process and it makes logical sense but there was nothing kind or gentle about it. It felt judged for being fat.

And like, I have gained weight. My driver’s license says one thing and the scale says another. She was pinching the slight fat rolls that have accumulated near the front of my arm pit and she said, “You’ll want to get as close to your goal weight as possible so I have something to work with.” And it was just devastating. Maybe everything she said was true but I felt like a walrus. She went on and on about it. I felt disgusting. She was going back and forth about how she could do the equivalent of a tummy tuck for certain parts of my chest while she’s doing the breast removal–something I never asked for. It’s hard enough being vulnerable with an open medical gown and having a stranger touch your unwanted breast tissue, poking it, pinching it, squeezing it. That’s bad enough. But then receiving a bunch of evidence that you are indeed fat and you need to get your life together–well, my heart can’t take it.

So that was the first thing I can articulate.

Secondly, I have some advice for anyone who’s seeking top surgery: do not break up with your therapist the day before your top surgery consultation. You need a letter from a therapist saying you indeed should proceed with top surgery because being transgender has become medicalized to be a disorder and you apparently need ~proof~ from NOT ONLY a doctor BUT ALSO a therapist.

I see a number of things that are problematic about this, one of which is that not every trans person needs to see a therapist. I, for example, see a therapist because I’m depressed. We do talk about gender, but hardly more than anyone else? It’s not like an irrelevant part of my life, but it’s by no means the focal point. Why do people need a letter from a therapist AND a doctor?

And this process is not this particular surgeon’s fault, it’s just the way it works to get covered by insurance. I should be over the moon that it’s even possible. I feel like I should be grateful it’s something I can move forward with. But I do not feel that way right now.

The surgeon did talk about how removal of breast tissue is a very important decision, how it’s very rare but some people do change their minds, how this [problematic] process is in place to protect me because what if I want boobs again someday?

Hella barf. I’m sorry, but I would not have dragged my ass to that plastic surgeon office if I didn’t know this was good for me. People can do all sorts of plastic surgery without needing permission from two health providers. But because it’s boobs, a highly sexualized body part, we gotta protect them and make it harder.

Absolute bullshit.

Also the first words this surgeon said to me when she walked into the exam room were “You didn’t bring your paperwork!” Like, nice to meet you too? Jesus Christ. It wasn’t a good start and I felt pretty much increasingly worse as the appointment went on. Even the nurse ahead of time asked me, “So when did you start ~going as male~?” To someone not particularly well-versed in queer careful language, this may seem innocent. But really it implies that I’m not male, and I’m just putting on a costume each morning and playing a boy all day.

I am sorry this post is so negative. But I’m truly disappointed. I was nervous for the appointment but I thought it would go WELL. I thought it would generate hope. Now it just feels like this process is way too hard and maybe I just shouldn’t do it. I’m apparently too fat to get good results anyway.

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Heavy-weight anti-champion

cw: tons of possibly triggering body image discussion

When I went to the doctor today, the nurse weighed me, as is routine. I stepped up onto the scale and I looked straight up at the ceiling. I waited for her to say “okay” so I could step down. I didn’t let myself know the number. It felt like a form of protection, a kind of self-care, even.

It’s the first time I haven’t looked at all.

Several months ago, my therapist said something like, “If you weren’t socialized as a woman, you’d never think twice about your body. Do you think cis men look in the mirror and hate themselves? No. They don’t. They don’t give a shit what they look like.”

I used to only hate my naked reflection because of my boobs. I don’t remember ever even noticing anything else. Zits maybe? But now it’s the whole thing, the gut, the legs, the arms. I have stretch marks on my biceps because they have so much more fat on them than they did like 2 years, even 18 months ago. I never thought it’d get like this. I used to be skinny. I used to run. I used to be so active. But I’ve gained a considerable amount of weight in the last two years, and not for reasons like a bad thyroid or anything. I’ve just completely neglected to care.

(this hate is self-directed)

As I’ve gone from an XS to a L, as I’ve gone up six inches in pants sizes, it’s been difficult for me to, frankly, live with myself. I can hear a few people from my past and their echoes in my mind, about how they would judge this immensely. Their voices are even louder than my own.

In my last blog platform, I did talk about body image some but not nearly as a reflection of HOW OFTEN it’s on my mind. I feel nervous talking about it. What if someone who weighs more than me sees this post and then thinks I think poorly of them as I do myself? It’s not like that. I think it’s due to a long history of, you know, external harmful stuff I’ve experienced. It’s my failure to take care of myself. And maybe even actively not-taking care of myself, if that makes sense.

(maybe someday I’ll tell you why. let’s try this password protection thing first.)

I used to not be able to look in the mirror because of my boobs. Now it’s that AND my body as a whole.

When the vessel you occupy doesn’t meet your standards, everything is so much more difficult. It’s usually a suicidal trigger, tbh. I just don’t look down (at my torso) or up (at the mirror).

Outside of myself, I’m fat-positive. I think our culture is abhorrently cruel to people who are overweight. It ruins lives, the way we talk to/about people. I’m not a scholar on body positivity but I’ve been on tumblr long enough to know that my thinking is based in a complex societal system of capitalistic efforts to try and MAKE ME hate myself. In other words, the weight loss industry, etc.

I can know it in my head, but I can’t feel it when it applies to me.

Sometimes my (amazing, brilliant) girlfriend and I will be making out and I’ll stop because I’ll feel fat. I’ll just crumple into nothing. It’s happened a couple of times now and it’s so disheartening. She does nothing wrong. I do nothing wrong. I just fall apart.

The problem with this lack of self-positivity is weirdly fed by what my therapist said. My therapist is awesome and by no means did she try to incite this inner dialogue of mine. She was trying to address how women are socialized to hate themselves, usually. My thoughts are off the path here. But, if cis men don’t feel like this, is my own poor self-image a sign of non-masculinity? I am pretty anti-absolutes, so to say that literally all cisgender men don’t feel feelings about their image is of course ridiculous. But it sounds so real to me. Am I failing my own manhood standards by feeling this huge? By even thinking about it? Do other men feel so distraught when they go up a pant size?

Am I man enough? It always comes back to that. I can hear dozens of women in my life saying “oh my gosh of course you’re man enough! :)” But there’s a reason (there are a lot of reasons actually) I mostly hang out with women. There’s no competition. There’s no question. I’m probably the most masculine person in the room, and even if I’m not, nobody takes the time to wonder.

In summary, gaining 80 pounds and feeling helpless about it has made me feel:

  • ugly
  • worthless
  • harder to love
  • like I’m not a man

But if one of my friends told me this about themselves, you know what I’d say? Well first, I’d say nothing and just listen. But then I’d give them a consensual hug. I’d tell them how loved they are. I’d apologize on behalf of the capitalists. I’d say the world is really fucked up. I’d let them know I was in their corner. I also like, wouldn’t judge them! I’d think they were cute. I’d think they were amazing and important. It would truly be effortless.

I need to talk to myself like I’d talk to anyone else. Idk how that’s going to happen. But I must.

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