Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Big Fat Problem

My cat soulmate, Puckett, is fat.

For those who have been following me for the last few years, this is far from earth-shattering news.  Puckett has always been fat. She was fat when I adopted her at the animal shelter, she gained two pounds since then, and then lost a pound the last time I took her to the vet.

She fluctuates between nineteen and twenty-one pounds.  I think she hovers around nineteen and a half.

And of course precious darling comes with a host of health problems due to her obesity, including pancreatitis, perpetual upper respiratory issues, allergies, and a bad attitude when it comes to not getting her way.

Humans find obesity abhorrent at the worst, and at best, a health condition that needs to be addressed with lifestyle overhauls, medications, exercise, and positive thinking mumbo jumbo, depending on who you're talking to.  Over the years obesity has become a red alert health condition, a disease to be combatted like cancer or heart disease.  This is a positive change from the days of fat shaming and calling obese people names, as if they have no feelings.  Yet, obesity and being overweight, while now a condition to be empathetic and compassionate towards, still carries a stigma, like mental illness.  No one stones you anymore if you have a mental illness or are obese, but there sure is a lot of head shaking, sighing, and "sympathy and understanding."

Every year around the holidays, publishers start putting out the new cookbooks. My job at the library is ordering nonfiction, so I get to see firsthand all the new cookbooks, and they span a large spectrum.  There is something out there for everyone.  Paleo, vegan, vegetarian, low-carb, carb-free, gluten-free, dariy-free, gluten AND dairy-free, vegan-gluten-free...and on and on and on.  Of course there are plenty of "normal" cookbooks too, complete with fat, sugar, wheat, dairy, and - horror of all horrors - red meat. 

It is no surprise then when after the holidays, beginning January 1st, the diet books come out.  And every year there is a new "It" diet.  There's the South Beach Diet and the Atkins Diet and Dr. Phil's 20/20 diet.  There's the Fast Metabolism Diet, the Zero Belly Diet, and the Whole30 diet. My favorites are the one that are just stretching for originality now, just reaching for a niche, like the Bone Broth Diet or the Apple Cider Vinegar Diet.  And then you have the ones that are just marketing their blogs, the gimmicky ones, like the Skinny Bitch Diet and the Hungry Girl Diet or the Shred Diet, whatever the hell that is. Like if I stick to their meal plans I'll have six-pack abs like you've never seen. And the word "shred" has never been something that sounded all that pleasant to me anyway in regards to my body. It sounds like the diet and exercise plan will put me through a meat grinder or something. Sign me up!  And let's not forget my personal nemesis, the Food Babe. I don't know what it is about her, but she just bugs me.

There's also a diet for any number of mental illness or physical issues as well, like what to eat to rebalance your hormones or the adrenal fatigue fix or the thyroid diet. There's probably a diet to fix one's low sex drive for all I know.  Eventually someone will market the "You're TOO Skinny, Eat a Sandwich" diet since people are so weight-loss crazed.

Cats don't worry about this.  How come is it that when people are overweight, they obsess and fuss and starve themselves to the point of such irritability the community is ready to ship them off to Abu Dhabi, but when a cat is fat, it's considered adorable?  Even dogs are kind of gross when they get obese, but the more roly-poly cats get, the cuter they are. Puckett is definitely ginormous, but she has this darling fat little face with huge eyeballs and these disproportionate tiny white paws.  She tends to put out a ridiculous number of pounds per square inch pressure when she stands on my chest thanks to her tiny feet and humungous bulk, but she's still just so cute I have to cuddle and love her.

I have never had a weight problem. In high school I weighed ninety pounds and in college I weighed ninety-five pounds. All through my twenties I wasn't just thin, I was skinny, almost skeletal. No, I did not have an eating disorder, but I thought about it.  Even though I've never been heavy, I have been weight conscious, I never ate very much, and I tried to eat healthy and exercise. I have a dancer's body since I belly dance and do Pilates.  So I was not pleased a few weeks ago when I looked in the mirror and wondered why I looked four months pregnant. Part of it was bloating - at any given time of the month I am bloated due to impending period, PMS, acid reflux, accidental ingestion of wheat, or post-nasal drip courtesy of my constant allergies (incidentally caused by darling Puckett whose own obesity gives her worse dander than the other two cats).

In the past when I got that four months pregnant look, it was because of my gluten sensitivity. I can no longer pretend it is bloating, however. I have developed middle-age spread. I used to have a flat belly, and underneath the fat pad that has slowly grown over the months, I still have rock hard abs. They just can't be seen from the street. Or up close and personal for that matter. Even when I suck it all in I can't see them. 

Besides the middle-age spread I have also developed ghetto booty.  I no longer consider what I do belly dancing. I twerk, and not on purpose.  My wobbly bits take over. This works when one shimmies, but only if one shimmies in enough flowing material so that one doesn't gross out the spectators.  California Guy did not help matters when he said something along the lines of loving my "big ass."  Excuse me? I have never had a big ass in my life.  He was trying to give me a compliment. My response was to eat nothing but lettuce and go for a long walk with my dog.

My ass now outweighs my boobs, so I look like a pear. I used to teach high school and my students used to make fun of how skinny I was, so I joked back that if I stood sideways and stuck out my tongue I'd look like a zipper. Now if I stand sideways, I have two speed bumps sticking out in opposite directions. I'm not sure what that resembles, but it sure isn't a zipper. Maybe a Treble Clef?

When Puckett naps, which is pretty much all day, she looks like a beached whale.  I haven't gotten that far yet.  But dammit, she's an adorable beached whale! I'm just a thirty-eight-year-old woman who has no excuse for the bubble butt and the fat pad resting comfortably over my stomach. It's like the last year of anxiety and depression decided I needed an extra padding of fat armor to protect me from the world. Puckett wears her fat like a badge of honor, going so far as to use it to get what she wants. She pushes all of us around and throws her bulk into it for good measure. Nobody wants twenty pounds of fluffy cat in one's face. While Puckett uses her size to her benefit, I'm cursing the mirror every time I look in it.

Thank God I don't own a scale.

At any rate, it's three months to Hawaii and I have exactly that long to shed this belly, reveal my six pack abs, and get rid of that coveted ass California Guy likes so much. 

You can't have them both, buddy. It's either that wallet-size bikini on the beach or the ginormous butt.  Take your pick.

Puckett chooses her butt so she can sit on us when we misbehave.  I'm going with the bikini.  I WILL fit into that thing again without the rolls spilling over.

Unlike Puckett, I refuse to succumb to my fat.


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