Thursday, March 22, 2012

To Fail to Plan, Planned Parenthood Northwest... to plan to fail. And I am out of my month-long blogless torpor to comment on a particularly epic fail by Planned Parenthood Northwest. Here's what I just emailed them:

Dear Planned Parenthood Northwest,

I'm pretty disappointed in you at the moment. I got right up on Facebook and supported PP when the Susan G. Komen folks did their reprehensible thing. I have been speaking out for access to contraception and women's health without interference from religious and political nuts. And then you go and say this in your press release:

"Alaska should not be the place for the next frontier on the national war on women. As a state, we need to focus on continued revenue generation, addressing critical health care issues like obesity, children’s health care, and suicide, and ensuring that all Alaskans are afforded the rights put in place by our constitution regardless of their socioeconomic status."

I would venture to say that Alaska should also not be the place for a war on fat people. And I'm deeply offended that you consider obesity to be on some sort of par with suicide as a "critical health care issue" that needs to be addressed. I am a very fat, active, socially engaged woman whose life is full and happy. My health is good, and I take good care of my mind and my body because I value them. If you are interested in people's health, and not their pants size, I suggest that you turn your focus toward access to the following: joyful, accepting physical activity, nutritious food, eliminating stigma due to physical difference, and providing people of every size, shape, color, age, and income level with decent health care.

If you would like to learn more about Health at Every Size, please contact me or just go to

Let's continue to support each other, huh?

Jayne Williams
Sacramento, CA

If you feel the need for a little activism along these lines, email PP Northwest here:

Monday, January 16, 2012

Progress Report - On the Mat

I realize that there hasn't been much Slow Fat Triathleting on this blog lately. I've been more entertained by various forms of ranting for Health At Every Size and against size prejudice and related forms of stupidity. It's the zeal of the recently liberated...

And frankly, there hasn't been a lot going on as far as moving my bod. There's really only so much you can write about using your abdominal muscles to press your lower back firmly into the mat; or bridging, or planking. Especially if you're not even doing it, which I wasn't for a while. Had my traditional post-Christmas cold, which made the thought of getting down on the floor abhorrent beyond measure. And for some reason, probably associated with my still-convoluted myofascial mess, I would arise from my floor work with a pounding headache, even after the sinus congestion had abated. So that was a disincentive.

But in the last few days I have reapplied my nose to the grindstone and my posterior to the yoga mat. And there's some real good news to report. I am stronger, I have more endurance, and I have way, way less pain. My bridges are higher and firmer with less effort. You couldn't drive a truck over them but you might manage a Fiat 500. My planks are plankier; my clamshells clammier (don't ask). I'm more flexible, and I can move between exercises with greater ease. When my SI joint was cranky, just turning over from supine to prone was a serious endeavor.

My brilliant chiro has loosened up some of the really nagging spots, which has enabled me to move more normally and get out of the downward spiral of stiffness and pain. And a lot of it I've done myself, with coaching from my brilliant trainer. Which is cool. I think the lesson here is the reminder (again), that bodies are amazing and resilient, that they can respond quickly to training, and we need to be freakin' grateful for everything they can do.

(Super-basic drawing from The Metallica Workout at Men's Health UK. How could I resist such a source? All the other bridge pix I could find were of women so thin that I couldn't put them on my Slow Fat Triathlete blog, in all honesty.)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Georgia, Georgia...No Peace I Find

There's been a lot of blogging and petitioning about the Children's Health Alliance of Atlanta, and what many consider to be their utterly misguided campaign against childhood obesity. I hate to send them traffic, but these videos are just so heartbreaking because they are so wrong. In one "Bobby" asks, "Mom, why am I fat?" Mom herself is fat, and she doesn't get a chance to answer. The video ends with her just sort of staring. In another, "Tina" says that she doesn't like going to school because the other kids pick on her. The end screen states, in stark black and white caps: "BEING FAT TAKES THE FUN OUT OF BEING A KID." Um, hello? BEING BULLIED takes the fun out of being a kid.

Like so many other attempts to "battle" the "epidemic" of childhood obesity, this video campaign focuses on the wrong stuff. Oddly, there's a lot of the right stuff elsewhere on the website. Stuff about movement, about having fun running and jumping, eating fruits and vegetables. They don't say "diet," and they provide some tips for parents. Of course most of the tips seem to assume that the reader has been living under a rock for the past 15 years: "Items that are baked or broiled are healthier than items that are fried." Argh. That's your "tip"? Another egregious application of the widespread stereotype that fat people are not only lazy but dumber than a stack of mud. "If only they knew," think the concerned public health crusaders, "then they wouldn't be fat!"

I was a fat kid. Not super fat, but fattish. I'm sure my BMI (which was never intended for use on individuals) would have been outside the "healthy" range as defined today. I look back at pictures of myself though and think, "Now, why exactly was it I got put on diets?" If my height/weight ratio had stayed the same as I grew into my body, I'd probably weigh 100 pounds less than I do today. Instead, decades of weight cycling have left me with a pretty disoriented metabolism. But that's another story. The real issue is, did being fat take the fun out of being a kid?

Hells no. I had a ton of fun as a kid. Not just as a head-in-the-book, check-out-all-the-library-books-at-once kid, which I was. But as an Action Fat Kid: climbing trees and swinging in swings, playing baseball and basketball, climbing the backyard fence and tightrope walking along the top, setting up my own high jump practice pit, riding bikes, roller skating, swimming, playing tag and kick-the-can with my friends. Yeah, I had friends. I wasn't ostracized even though I was fat and wore glasses, starting in the first grade. My parents, who are neither fat nor stupid, taught me pretty good social skills and gave me lots of love, fed me mostly real food in moderate quantities, at regular intervals, and encouraged outdoor play, running around, having fun, eating fruits and vegetables, and reading. As a result, I was mostly healthy and happy,
well nourished, smart, and reasonably confident.

Wasn't I bullied for being fat? I don't recall much. Some teasing and name calling, maybe? I honestly remember being teased more for my glasses, and once, in a ghastly episode that still gives me chills to remember, when some boys from the second grade caught sight of my brightly colored underpants of British extraction - a far cry from the white cotton skivvies that all other first grade girls at Ralph O. Berry Elementary School apparently wore. Yeah, kids can be mean if you're different.

So here's my idea for raising healthier kids, Atlanta "Children's Health Alliance": Teach kids to be confident and fun-loving, proud of their bodies and minds and of their physical and mental gifts. Teach them to curb their meaner impulses when they encounter kids who are different from them - shorter or taller or redheaded, black or nearsighted or foreign, fatter or skinnier or brown or pale. Teach them to enjoy a wide range of foods. Teach them how to build good relationships. Give them love and hope and support. That's an alliance I could get behind.