On Being FAT

On the plane coming back from Hawaii, the guy seated in front of me was easily over 300 pounds. He bulged over the armrests on either side of him. When he leaned his seat back, it came back so far it was virtually in my face. A teenage boy of equal girth sat next to him and crowded the small Asian couple on his left.

I felt annoyed, their big bodies invading the little space we all had. Then the woman across the aisle from them handed each a burger, dripping with cheese, and big bags of french fries. I went from irritated to disgusted.
Our family vacation this summer began on the Big Island. Traveling around through large and small towns, within days it was impossible to ignore that a good percentage of the tourists, and seemingly the majority of natives were extremely heavy to outright obese.

Genetically destined to be fat?

Bullshit.

Never been scientifically proven. No one has even come close to finding a ‘fat gene’ that dictates you will or won’t be, regardless of calorie intake and lifestyle.

True, it’s been shown that certain genetics gives one the propensity towards producing similar body types, but ultimately diet and exercise determine individual body mass.

Much more troubling than genetics, studies have also shown cultures pass on habitually destructive behaviors from one generation to the next. Clearly, this plays out on Hawaii’s Big Island, where the pace is beyond slow, bordering reverse. The warm, humid air stifles motion; and the narrow, curvy, hot roads surrounded by desolate lava flows do not entice jogging, or cycling, or even rollerblading any distance. Typical cafes and family restaurants served large portions, piled high, and most were consumed quickly.

It’s no wonder so many were fat. http://bit.ly/aXAvnc

Been there. Done that. Spent my youth in front of the TV, and ate. Of course, I was overweight. Took a lot of ribbing as a plumb kid, and rarely got a date in my teen years. Made to feel small for being big, so I took the defensive pose and stood on [faulty] moral grounds instead of doing the hard work I knew it would take to lose the weight.

The summer before my senior year of high school my best friend gave me some black pills from her mother’s medicine supply. We both dropped 25 pounds before Christmas break, with ease. It would be another five years before replacing pharmaceuticals with racquetball, but eventually I learned to maintain a ‘normal’ body weight with diet and consistent, rigorous exercise. And I’d love to say staying fit gets easier to maintain with practice, but that too would be crap. A huge amount of my energy is still spent on my internal battle between reason and desire.

I love food. I have a slow metabolism. I always feel hungry. Working out hurts. I’m weak. Addicted. Old, now.

Whatever my excuses, the absolute truth is even running three miles five days a week, and mindful of every mouthful, when I put into my body more calories than I use, I gain weight. Like it or not, the reality is food has calories that turn to fat if they are not burned for energy. Simple laws of physics, and believe in them or not, we are all beholden to them regardless of genetics.

I am cursed with the proclivity towards obesity. My blood pressure is low, probably from running which is known to lower heart rate. It takes me longer to use calories than say, my husband, who has always been thin with a fast burn rate. Three out of four of my grandparents died of complications from adult onset diabetes brought on by consuming too much, and moving too little. My father’s been fat as long as I can remember; desserts high up on his reason for living, and a self-proclaimed connoisseur of just about anything eatable. Sports meant exercise, which was too taxing to even watch on TV, but he loved cop/court dramas, only getting off the couch for the bathroom or to get a snack.

I work very hard to maintain what so often feels a facade—the lazy kid who loves to eat always lurking just beneath the surface. She taunts me, tells me sugar cubes aren’t as bad as say, donuts, and tries to persuade me to remain inert since exercise hurts. Well, no shit. Fatiguing and stretching muscles is going to hurt. Jogging is jarring on bones and joints, no doubt. But pursuing trim isn’t simply a matter of being ‘in,’ as in hip, slick and trendy. It continually proves to be healthy.

Running is the quickest calorie burn for me, which is why I do it, but most any rigorous exercise that makes you sweat for half hour or more a day shows substantial health benefits. Cardio workouts are known to strengthen the heart, and our immune system to fight off colds, flu, cancer and more. Staying light increases life expectancy, neural connectivity, reduces depression, and mood swings, and makes it a hell of a lot easier to run. And stretching muscles keep us limber, less likely for bone loss, or injury, and quicker to heal.

And being fit isn’t only socially acceptable, it’s socially responsible.
Close to one quarter, 25% of our health care costs goes to complications from obesity. http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/weightloss/2009-11-17-future-obesity-costs_N.htm

In a restaurant in Walnut Creek for dinner with a friend last week, I watched her bump and grind her way through the crowded entrance. She’s been fat as long as I’ve known her, stands only five feet and weighs no less than 250 pounds. After squeezing into our booth across from me, she first described her recent knee surgery, only months after her back surgery, then spoke at length of her upcoming retirement plans, projecting a long, healthy, happy future well into her 90s.

She had to be kidding.

Obesity takes years off life expectancy, regardless of heredity. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090319224823.htm
On the plane home from Hawaii, on my way back from the tiny bathroom, I noticed “Proud to be big,” printed across the sweatshirt of the large teen next to the fat guy in front of me. Facebook returned 472 pages of “Fat and Proud” groups.

Are they for real?

Be proud for winning the row with your inner-child demanding instant gratification, not giving into the brat.

Let’s take off the pc gloves and get down to brass tacks.
Nearly 34% of American adults http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/14/health/14obese.html and close to 20% of our kids are obese—30 or more pounds overweight, setting them up with health issues for the rest of their lives. http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood/index.html
We may have the right to do what we want with our body, but beyond the cost to society, modeling obesity condemns our children to a shorter life, full of health problems, body issues and social stigmas. And, it’s true you don’t have to be a young, flat, anorexic model to be beautiful—but illness is never pretty.

Fat is NOT a state of being. For most, it’s merely a state of mind. Eat salad and fish, not burgers and fries; include a rigorous workout daily, religiously, and most anyone can achieve and maintain fit. It’s going to hurt, especially at first. Get over it. Start slow, work up. Deny yourself that dessert on the knowledge the sugar rush is bad for your body thin or fat, and calories from sugars convert quickly to fats. Think before shoving crap in your mouth and get off the couch and odds are you’ll ultimately feel better, have more energy, get more done; be healthier, happier, smarter, and live longer. Best of all you’ll be modeling healthy living to our kids, and grandkids, and possibly a few generations down the line obesity will be a thing of the past.

What is SEXISM?

My father raised me to believe my mother was ignorant. “Your mother, (implying like most women) is irrational. Fickle. Full of love and lightness, but not really a [deep] thinker.”

All women were (are) not as…capable as men, as the woman’s primary job—her role in society of mom, caretaker, homemaker—doesn’t take much real work, or brain power, according to my father. (His ignorance is only surpassed by his arrogance, as he left the raising his children to what he’d deemed his nescient wife.) He actually said to me, “Isn’t it odd that women can’t walk and talk at the same time,” and stopped to tell me this, in all seriousness, while we were walking.

My father thought he was inherently smarter than my mother, or any woman. He was a MAN, after all. He was well read, had to be for business in the real world, unlike silly homemakers. (My mother read the newspaper daily, news magazines monthly, new non-fiction and fiction monthly. My father read only Scientific American and Popular Mechanics, and watched TV. Cop shows, like Magnum PI mostly, where the main, white male character was rescuing ditsy, busty women.)

My mother graduated high school at 16, and attended Florida State University two years before most of the classmates she left behind in New Jersey. My father has no degree beyond high school.

My father went through five or more businesses, several of which failed, none of which ended up in substantial wins. My mother started a pilot magnet program at Cabrillo Marine Museum for underprivileged East L.A . kids, to teach them marine science. For almost 20 yrs she touched thousands of lives, many of whom I met personally, in the store or gas station, when they stopped my mom to gush that they were now oceanographers and scientist because of her program. As a woman, she made 1/3 of the men whom she worked beside, offering comparable programs.

What is SEXISM?

Sure, most of us will agree equal pay for equal work, regardless of gender is an important step in ending sexual inequality. According to Forbes, the top paid actress of 2016 is Emma Stone, at $26M. Actor Mark Wahlberg, made $68 million. Women had only 28% of the speaking roles in major movies, and Emma is the first women, at #15, of highest paid Hollywood stars. (Women are half of the human population, yet no actress is even close to #2, 3, 4….)

In 2017, 54 years after the United States passed the Equal Pay Act, on average, a woman earns 79 cents for every dollar a man earns.

So, why, even today, are women fighting so hard for equal pay, which most of us agree is one obvious step to ending SEXISM?

BELIEF.

My father was born in 1929, when MEN WERE MEN, and everyone ‘knew their role.’ His mother, my grandmother, was a homemaker. His father, my grandfather, was a pianist for the New York Philharmonic, and the breadwinner for his family. To make it through the depression years, and the harsh realities of being a Jew through WW2, each family member had a role, a function to fulfill to assure the family unit was maintained—literally stayed alive, however modest an existence.

Back then, many jobs required physical labor suited to a man’s physiology, as technology wasn’t here yet. There were no robotics building our cars or manufacturing our appliances. Go back further in time, all the way back to our caveman days, and you’ll find a distinct division of labor. It took the strength of many men to kill a mastodon, and they had to work as a group to do this. There is an adage, “It takes a village to raise a child,” and women naturally took on this role as the childbearing sex. But make no mistake about it, it took a community for both sexes to fulfill the often integrated tasks of their respective roles.

Fast forward to present day. Last Sunday my husband is reading me an article on the feminist #MeToo movement, in the New York Times, while I cook pancakes for him and our two teens. At the end of the article he sighs heavily, his ‘this is absurd’ sigh, and says, “It gets so tiresome hearing women complain how hard they have it. It’s equally hard on men, and always has been.”

I looked at him incredulously, and said, “How many times have you been sexually assaulted on the job?”

He didn’t respond to my rhetorical question. I already knew his answer. Zero. He didn’t turn my question around. He knew an investor in my very first startup tried to rape me in my office at our Christmas party, then fired me that night for not letting him assault me. He knew my second job out of college, as an Art Director for 1928 Jewelry Company, the CEO came into the empty conference room moments after me, introduced himself, and instead of taking my outstretched hand, squeezed my breast, as if checking the firmness of an orange. I’ll never forget, he said, “Mmm, Nice!” before I pulled away, shamed as others I’d yet to meet walked in.

My husband wasn’t at my housewarming party, when a relative accompanying an invited guest tried to assault me when I found him at my work-space on my Mac. I could go on, but you get my point. And even knowing all this, my husband is “sick of hearing women whine about how hard we have it.”

Can’t blame him, really. My father-in-law talked down to my mother-in-law, probably all their lives together, but clearly in the 20 years I’d been on the scene of their married life. He was cruel and cutting with a continual barrage of snide ‘jokes,’ if he listened to her at all. My husband tells tales of his mom going ballistic on his dad every few months, probably when she’d had enough of trying to communicate with him while he verbally slammed her, or, by and large, ignored her.

To this day, most men do not BELIEVE a woman is as ‘equal’ to them, as other men.

The problem is, most women BELIEVE this too. We do not feel ‘equal.’ Why would we? We get paid less for the same job. Our bodies are more valued then our minds (as most men can’t seem to get their brain out of their little head). Women are rarely taken seriously by the overwhelmingly male controlled business world, nor in our home environments.

How many women reading this post did most of the cooking and serving of your last holiday meal, even with a career/job? How many of you do most of the cooking, cleaning, chauffeuring of the kids, even working full time? The fact is, according to the 50 news articles I just read, women still do 80 – 90% of all domestic chores, including kid care, regardless of her job status. Equal pay for equal work, of course, but also equal WORK must be invested by both genders to reach sexual equality.

How do we get there from here? I honestly have no idea, other than to stand up, and say “NO! Not OK,” whenever you are a victim, or see the action of SEXISM.

Since the mastodons are all gone, and we can now buy packaged meat at Safeway, we no longer require the muscular physique of the male physiology to survive as a race. While most women have always brought to the table of any union equal intellectual, logistical and financial support, men are rapidly losing their position of strength, literally and figuratively. Our bodies and minds are adapting to the changing needs of our time. In fact, we are getting fat! Obesity is at an all time high, close to 40% of the population in some states now, and rising fast! (Think Pixar’s Wally.)

Men have dominated the business world from the beginning, and this too must change. They have created an ugly, psychologically and sociologically corrosive environment with their continual attacks against women, to keep us ‘in our place.’ It isn’t “locker room talk.” It is degrading, and women buy into it, thinking our value really is just in our breasts and vagina. At the very least, women are made to feel we must acquiesce to this humiliating behavior men dish out to be heard at all, at work or home.

This BELIEF, that women are lesser than men, by both genders must end, before SEXISM is a non-issue.

Humans, all of us, ACT as we BELIEVE. Change the BELIEF, and change the ACTIONS of SEXISM.

Ever Fall For Someone You Knew You Shouldn’t…

20 yrs to write, and 20 rewrites to get it right–Disconnected is the evolution of today’s modern women…

New Release

Novel Memoir, Disconnected, Releases Thursday!

20 yrs in the writing. No joke! The novel memoir, Disconnected, releases on Thursday! http://disconnectednovel.com/

DisconnectedLeftFacing

Are You Proud to be Fat?

fat-girls-in-bikinisA dialog on ‪#‎Litchat‬ the other day on Proud to be ‪#‎Fat‬:

#Litchat hosted an author on Twitter who’d written a book on accepting herself for being fat.
And I had a problem with that.
Annoyed with the conversation—the politically correct yet ignorant people stroking the author’s ego with praise, I joined in the dialog.
I tweeted, “As a society, we need to stop making excuses for poor diet and giving into every whim. Self-discipline is key, not self-acceptance.”
The author tweeted back, “I can’t help being fat.”
The following 5 tweets were from the politically correct folks slamming me for being rude to the author.

Read the rest: http://jcafesin.blogspot.com/2014/04/proud-to-be-fat.html

Review Readers Wanted

romance, contemporary romance, L.A. story, fiction, literary read, My novel Disconnected releases on June 12th. I’m hoping to get reviews before its release! Happy to send an ebook of the complete manuscript if you’re interested in an engaging, powerful read:

Disconnected reads like a modern Jane Austen—taut, smart, historical lit chronicling the coming of age for the last of the baby boomers with the displacement of classic gender roles at the end of the 20th century. Rachel and Lee’s tumultuous relationship is reflected in the land of perpetual sunshine imploding with rapid growth, racial tension and violence. Disconnected is an L.A. story, an addicting contemporary romance, and like the city itself embodies a very sharp edge.

Please leave a comment if interested and I’ll get back to you!