Getting healthy in Michigan: Confessions of a (very) curvy girl: Part fifteen
Part Fifteen: Definitely with whip and doing something about it.
*Note that the exchange below is to the best of my recollection, though after a certain point, my version of what I was hearing was clouded by unexpressed outrage.
I am, for everybody’s information, “definitely with whip.” This is something I didn’t know about myself until last Friday, when I ordered an almond soy steamer for my trip home from a local coffee shop, and the girls on shift at the time decided to christen me as such.
I was standing there, waiting to place my order as the small group in front of me shuffled away from the register after paying. I stepped up, ordered my bevie, and paid. Then, as I was meandering in front of the counter, slowly making my way down to the end of the counter to collect my drink when it was ready (and I was still in plain, plain view mind you), I heard the girl who was making my drink say to the girl who took my cash, “Is this with whip?” To which the girl who took my money without missing a beat answered, “Definitely. This one is definitely with whip.” (I know what you’re thinking, and oh yes, she did go there) I thought to myself, “They can’t be talking about me. I was never even asked about whip, and I don’t want any anyway. But if I did, that’s my prerogative and it should be no problem to get it without commentary.”
Then I heard the exchange continue:
Drinkmaker to Cashtaker: “So this is definitely with whip, huh?”
Cashtaker to Drinkmaker: “Oh, yeah, definitely. For sure this one’s with whip.”
The realization that I was in the middle of my very own fat joke suddenly hit me - of course the (pleasantly) plump girl wants the whip. The inner toastiness that I had had at the thought of going home and seeing my boyfriend and my cat suddenly curdled into a silent but ornery indignation. I was incredulous. I thought, “I can’t believe they just said that! And went back and forth with each other laughing about it! Am I misinterpreting ? I don’t think so. Wow. Unbelievable.”
Everyone’s a critic.
I kept holding out some faint margin of hope that someone else would come up and claim their giant hot chocolate topped with a mound of requested whipped cream, but it wasn’t happening.
Plunk. “Tall soy almond steamer to go.”
I looked at the counter. It was my drink, complete with a spiral of unwanted whipped cream on top.
“Definitely with whip. I’ll give you definitely with whip” I muttered to myself as I walked toward the bus stop. “Definitely nothing. How do you know I’m not lactose intolerant (which I pretty much am), or vegan, or even simply attempting to lose weight? You don’t know. That’s right; you don’t know. You don’t know anything about me.” And on and on the Jerry Springer-esque ‘ya’ll don’t know me’ litany went in my head as I grumbled my way down Detroit street and across Division, where I narrowly missed having my “definitely with whip” behind t-boned by a snow plow truck because I was so (what Kinky Friedman would term) “highly agitato”. I had taken my chances, grocery bags, drink in hand steamer and all, to do what amounted to a pathetically slow sprint across the street in the snow, hoping my ire would rocket me across the road in time before I became “definitely a pancake”.
And I should point out dear reader, that you do have to be careful, because you don’t want to end up “definitely with massive head injury” or “definitely dead” with a chalk outline on the pavement (that at this point would appear to resemble a stocky, rather misshapen snowman, I mean snowwoman, sorry). But getting ridiculed like you did in middle school by the 20-something’s who are handing you your warm beverage sure does make you want to put on your best Clint Eastwood stare, lean across the counter and say something really petty and incredibly satisfying into their smug little faces like, “I can always lose weight, but no matter how hard you try, you ain’t never going to lose all that [insert disparaging descriptor here].”
The whole interaction got me thinking about a conversation that I had with my best friend the day before about other people’s perceptions of our weight (a common topic of discussion between us). In the interest of keeping her as my best friend, I will heretofore refer to her, not by her real name, but as Myrtle. Yes, my best friend forever Myrtle. Anyway, Myrtle was saying to me, “People just look at us and they think, ‘Hey, that’s Liz’ or “Hey that’s Myrtle.’ They don’t see us as anything different than what we are. To them, that’s just how we look.”
“That’s just Liz,” I thought. Ugh.
It’s true. No one can see the more svelte version of myself that I see in my mind’s eye (except maybe Myrtle :). No one can see the young woman I picture who can manage her haircut and who can find the time to schedule an eye appointment and get new contacts and hem her super-long pants before she has to wear them anyway. No one can see that, but those who love you (god bless ‘em) see the real you and see past the haircut that is slightly reminiscent of the founding fathers, the oft-smudged glasses, and the super-long pants, dragging their way indiscriminately through the sludge and the slush of winter in Michigan. But the realization that this is just how we look to people, for Myrtle and I, really is a rude awakening. I mean, it affects all kinds of conversations. The other day when we were discussing “True Blood” I told her that sometimes I think about (you know, sometimes) is that if vampires were real, and I was turned into a vampire right now, I would be a fat vampire for all of eternity. And she said back, “I worry about that all the time!”
Being allegedly “definitely with whip” aside, yesterday two of the lovely ladies I work with told me that they think I look like I’ve lost some weight. So as not to break my trend of not taking compliments well without making some self-deprecating comment, when I came home and mentioned this to my (very tolerant and good-humored) boyfriend, I immediately followed it up by saying, “So that means that now I only look slightly pregnant.”
I’ll tell you one thing though, no matter what the critics are thinking, homegirl has been making some serious efforts toward being healthier all around. Through doing more research on food, I find that I am eating better naturally. It really does make a huge difference to be aware of what you are eating and exactly what all is in the next bite you take. So, to that end (and because of my incredibly popular and memorable acid reflux issues for starters) I have come up with an eating experiment for myself that I have been easing into this past week with great success.
My personal conditions are as follows:
1. Phase out the meat for now. I already am largely a vegetarian, and the exceptions to that have been small. If I eat meat (unless I’m on vacation or a meat-cation as the case may be) I need to know where it comes from. For the foreseeable future though, I am phasing out meat because I don’t seem to digest it very easily and I don’t eat it all that much anyway, so it’s an easy start for me.
2. Beginning on the 1st of next month I will attempt to go vegan for 6 weeks. Why? For the reasons I have already mentioned, it makes sense to me to get my body to a food baseline and then slowly reintroduce foods back into my diet once that baseline is achieved, to weed out what types of foods don’t feel good for me to eat. Thinking about this prospect makes it much easier to be just a really good vegetarian. Suddenly the cravings for the meat and the sugar of ubiquitous food die out and my urge becomes solely to savor a very tasteful amount, but an amount nonetheless, of spectacular cheese. Also, yogurt for some reason has entered my radar like never before in these strictly vegetarian days before undergoing self-imposed veganism, but I digress.
3. Severely cut the sugar intake and completely cut out the highly refined sugar. My crutch with this rule has been honey, but not too much, just enough to satisfy my sweet tooth without making me nauseous.
4. Try to switch much of the peppery and acidic items in my diet to more alkaline based foods in an effort to again isolate exactly what types of foods and beverages irritate my body.
5. Repeat with me the following: I will not kick myself, punch myself, or in any other way beat myself up for failing to meet all of these objectives every second of every day. What I will do is meet each edible interaction with my growing awareness of our food system and what is in the food that I am considering before I eat it, require myself to only eat enough, but never too much, and finally to eat well and approach this venture with good humor.
So far, so good. I have been actually (I’m thrilled to report) doing a very good job of cutting out the things that I shouldn’t be eating with very few exceptions. Having just begun, it is encouraging to note that my focus is there and I am also feeling more energetic already. Tired because I am always working on something, but I have more energy to accomplish it all now and it’s only really been a few days. That is good news though, and it makes me feel like finally my weight isn’t what is on the upswing.
More confessions of a (very) curvy girl will come out every Wednesday. Also, look out for the two new “Curvy Girl” supplements, “Unfit” and “Food/Foe Thought.”
Elizabeth Palmer is the Customer Advocate at AnnArbor.com as well as a contributor. She writes about food and food traditions, sustainable development and her experiences as a curvy girl. She has a bachelor’s degree in photography and is finishing her masters in historic preservation. Elizabeth also teaches a course on sustainable development at Eastern Michigan University.
You can contact Elizabeth by e-mailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.