Book Review: You Have The Right To Remain Fat

right to remain fatYou Have The Right To Remain Fat
by Virgie Tovar
Nonfiction
128 pages
Published 2018

You Have The Right To Remain Fat is a short manifesto on why society needs to change the way it treats fat people, and that we don’t need to lose weight to fit into society. Tovar talks about the sexism, classism, and racism that is often behind fatphobia and discrimination, the way culture has shifted around looks, and feeling comfortable in your own skin. She rips diet culture to shreds, shining a spotlight on the gaslighting technique that is heavy in dieting language. (You’re not losing weight because you’re not doing it right. You don’t have enough willpower to deprive yourself of essential nutrients? Shame on you.)

I could understand people being offended by this book – she basically says if you’re trying to lose weight for the sake of losing weight, you’re wrong. But if you really look at it, if that really is all you’re losing weight for, to be thin, shouldn’t society accept you as you are? If you need to lose weight for actual, valid health reasons, that’s different. But if it’s just for the sake of being thin – maybe rethink your reasons.

I’m going back on the Auto Immune Protocol as soon as we settle in to the new house – and while losing weight is a nice side effect, I’m doing it to control autoimmune symptoms. And in all the literature around AIP, it’s about not feeling fatigued or nauseous. It’s about getting your digestive system back on track and reducing the chronic pain. It’s NOT about losing weight, though people often do lose weight on it because it boosts the metabolism and cuts sugar. (Although it’s also used for hyperthyroid people, who often have unhealthy weight loss, so really it’s about stabilizing your weight!)

One of the most interesting parts of the book was when she discussed a conference she’d gone to and talked to women about fatphobia and inferiority complexes. First she asked if anyone there felt inferior. Of course, no one did. But then she asked a series of follow-up questions that pointed out behaviors born of feelings of inferiority. Things like: “Are you wearing something physically uncomfortable because you believe it makes you look better? Today did you refuse to do something you wanted to do because you were worried how it would make you look to someone?”

Out of curiosity, I read all the questions (there were eight or so) to my husband. He’d done exactly one of them. I have done all of them in the past, and still do some. (I’m currently a housewife. I don’t wear uncomfortable clothes.) It was rather eye-opening.

You Have The Right To Remain Fat is a quick, thought-provoking read that is uncomfortable at times but also makes you want to shout HELL YES at other times. I definitely recommend it.

From the cover of You Have The Right To Remain Fat:

Growing up as a fat girl, Virgie Tovar believed that her body was something to be fixed. But after two decades of dieting and constant guilt, she was over it―and gave herself the freedom to trust her own body again. Ever since, she’s been helping others to do the same. Tovar is hungry for a world where bodies are valued equally, food is free from moral judgment, and you can jiggle through life with respect. In concise and candid language, she delves into unlearning fatphobia, dismantling sexist notions of fashion, and how to reject diet culture’s greatest lie: that fat people need to wait before beginning their best lives.

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Book Review: Are You Tired and Wired?

tired and wiredAre You Tired and Wired? Your Proven 30-Day Program for Overcoming Adrenal Fatigue and Feeling Fantastic Again
by Marcelle Pick
Nonfiction/Health
289 pages
Published 2011

One of my 2019 goals is to get my health under control. I have at least two auto-immune diseases, with two more suspected (they often jumpstart each other, yay!) and one of the things I struggle with A LOT is fatigue. Adrenal dysfunction often goes hand-in-hand with autoimmune diseases, especially those dealing with the thyroid gland, like my Hashimoto’s Disease. This book spends a lot of time on figuring out if you have Adrenal Dysfunction and why that’s important. A lot of the questions made me feel REALLY called out. I perk up at 9 p.m. after being tired throughout the day. I crave high-protein, high-fat, salty foods like meats and cheeses. I’m exhausted all the time, absent-minded, and have to take breaks often when doing things like housework or walking. There’s a quiz in this book that has five categories for your score. The worst score is anything over 26 points. I scored 64!

So, according to this book, my adrenals are SHOT. Unfortunately, the 30-Day program involves a lot of foods that contradict with the AutoImmune Protocol, which I was on for about six months in 2018 and made me feel fantastic. I’m still avoiding gluten, nightshades, and some dairy, but I want to go back on full elimination AIP. It’s just difficult to do because it means cooking almost every day. After we move, we should have more fridge and freezer space and I can start doing big batch cooking. That should make it easier.

In the meantime, though, there isn’t actually a whole lot of lifestyle changes in this book I can make. There are herbal supplement suggestions, which I might try, and prescription medication suggestions, which I will consult with my new doctor about as soon as I get insurance straightened out and make an appointment. But I won’t do the 30-day diet program, and as far as reducing my daily stress, well.

I’m a housewife. I have no children. The vast majority of my stress comes from living with roommates, and I can’t do anything about that until we move! Now that my husband is done with school, there will be less stress coming from that direction, at least. But really, I lead a pretty low-stress life. Looking back on things, I think I’m actually improving from where I was a few years ago, when I was working retail while my husband went to school and worked, while being financially strapped and living with roommates. And that was after the five years of near-constant background levels of stress from him being in the military. So it could be that my adrenals actually bottomed out a few years ago and I’m just now noticing it because there isn’t a constant pressure forcing me to be on the go constantly anymore. Or, according to the book, I’m through the Racehorse and Workhorse stages and in the Flatliner stage.

I’ll probably look into more books about adrenal dysfunction – I always take these kinds of books with a grain of salt, because so many self-helpish health books are just trying to sell their own protocols or diets or “this one simple thing will change your LIFE!” But it was worth reading and mulling over the information.

From the cover of Are You Tired and Wired?

Do you wake up every morning feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and stressed? Are you constantly reaching for coffee, soda, or some other promise of energy just to keep yourself going? Do you struggle through the day – tired, irritable, forgetful, depressed, and craving sweets – only to have trouble sleeping at night?

If you answered yes to any or all of these questions – you’re not alone. In fact, hundreds of thousands of women are fighting these same feelings as they strive to live the lives they want. 

In Are You Tired and Wired?, Marcelle Pick, co-founder of Women to Women – one of the first clinics in the country devoted to providing health care for women by women – and the author of The Core Balance Diet, gives you the knowledge and tools to overcome this epidemic of fatigue.

Pick sets her sights on adrenal dysfunction – the root cause of these symptoms. In our modern lives, the adrenal glands, which are responsible for providing the fight-or-flight hormones in response to stress, are triggered much more often than they should be. Everything from challenges at home and at work, to environmental toxins, to chronic health problems cause the adrenal glands to produce a constant flood of stress hormones that can ultimately lead to multiple health issues, especially severe fatigue.

The good news is that through diet, lifestyle adjustments, and reprogramming of stressful emotional patterns, this can all be fixed!

Pick helps you identify which of three adrenal dysfunction profiles you fit – Racehorse, Workhorse, or Flatliner – and then lays out an easy-to-follow, scientifically based program to help you restore adrenal balance, regear your metabolism, and regain your natural energy to live a happier and less-stressed life.

Sunday Stuff

I’m starting to look over this year’s challenges and think about what I want to do in 2019. I’m currently at 40 out of 50 on the PopSugar Challenge, so if I buckle down, I could totally finish that by the end of the year, especially since I own most of the last ten books I need to read for it. To be honest, though, I probably won’t. I have far more interesting library books to read!

I’m debating starting two challenges without end dates on them next year. I’d still do the Goodreads Challenge, but that’s just number of books. The first of the two challenges that have been interesting me lately is the Dewey Decimal Challenge, where you read a book for every category of the Dewey Decimal System – or at least every 10s category. It’s a lot of books, but with no time limit on the challenge, it’s just something to keep track of over the next few years.

The other challenge is a geographical one – there’s two main ones, and I think I’d start first with the US challenge – read a book set in each state and territory of the US. Once I finish that, I might move onto the world challenge, which is a book for each country on Earth. Preferably written by an author from each country.

I have about six weeks to figure out what challenges I want to start.

On a completely different topic, I’m really glad I have posts scheduled out about a week and a half on average, because right now I am NOT feeling good. I caught my husband’s cold – which is really just a sore throat and some stuffiness, but it’s made my thyroid flare. So I’m coughing but trying not to, face is full of snot, and my immune system is going absolutely INSANE because the tiniest upset sucks when you have an autoimmune disease. I’m not getting much reading done, is what I’m trying to say! Heck, I’m having trouble focusing long enough to type up this post. Chronic illnesses, man. I just need it to clear up by Thanksgiving, as we’re getting away for the weekend up to Philadelphia, mostly to see VNV Nation in concert Friday night!

And of course this all hit me the same day I finally got my pre-ordered copy of Girls of Paper and Fire, and then the very next day the library sent me The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy, but instead of reading either I’m about to go pass out. Blargh.

Oh hey it’s Sunday

And I still don’t know what I’m doing with this space. Saturday was long and humid working at the Maryland Renaissance Festival, and I am absolutely pooped. I know about the SCOTUS vote, but right now (Saturday night, as I’m writing this), I do not have the spoons to even start to address it. There may or may not be an evening post tonight talking about it. We’ll see how I feel once I have slept.

Oh lord having a chronic illness SUCKS BALLS. I am so glad we’re never working both days of a Fair weekend this year. I don’t think I’m capable because one day makes EVERY. THING. HURT. And it’s not like I’m running all over the grounds. I am alternately standing, sitting, and occasionally walking around a, what, 10 foot square booth? Might be 12. I’m not really sure. It’s not large, anyway.

So yeah. I’m gonna go collapse in my bed and sleep until sometime Sunday. Probably far past when this post goes up. Then we’re going to lounge around the house until we find enough spoons to go see Venom, and then maybe I’ll write some long ranty opinion piece about the piece of shit that just got onto the Supreme Court.

I’ll leave you with some Wonder Women. 20181006_2207247668070089285426173.jpg

Book Review: Bonk

bonkBonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex
by Mary Roach
Microhistory
319 pages
Published 2008

It’s not often a nonfiction book has me laughing out loud, but this one did it. This is the first of Roach’s books I’ve read, but her voice makes me want to read everything she’s ever written! Bonk is the story of sexual research – how scientists have made discoveries about a topic that is awkward at best, and taboo or even criminal at worst. Roach takes research seriously, volunteering as a research subject more than once (and convincing her husband to help, in at least one case!) Her wordplay is clever and her footnotes are HILARIOUS – this was a nonfiction book I kept having to pause and read to my husband between snickers.

Even her chapter titles are giggle-inducing – with titles like “The Princess and Her Pea – The Woman Who Moved Her Clitoris, and Other Ruminations on Intercourse Orgasms” and “Re-member Me – Transplants, Implants, and Other Penises Of Last Resort.”

Roach writes about some truly awkward sexual encounters in the name of science:

On the bed are a man and a woman. They are making the familiar movements made by millions of other couples on a bed that night, yet they look nothing like those couples. They have EKG wires leading from their thighs and arms, like a pair of lustful marionettes who managed to escape the puppet show and check into a cheap motel. Their mouths are covered by snorkel-type mouthpieces with valves. Trailing from each mouthpiece is a length of flexible tubing that runs through the wall to the room next door, where Bartlett is measuring their breathing rate. To ensure that they don’t breathe through their noses, the noses have been “lightly clamped.”

Another passage mentions two gymnasts who have sex in an MRI tube. (For science!) I’m impressed these people can perform under these conditions at all!

There’s only one passage that squicked me out a little bit – there’s a few paragraphs describing a urologist performing surgery on a penis and it’s…a little disturbing. That aside, though, this is a delightful book on an uncommon topic. It’s an easy read, which I don’t say about much nonfiction. It might be awkward to explain why you’re snickering over this book, though!

This is also my pick for the PopSugar prompt “Microhistory.”

From the cover of Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex:

The study of sexual physiology – what happens, and why, and how to make it happen better – has been a paying career or a diverting sideline for scientists as far-ranging as Leonardo da Vinci and James Watson. The research has taken place behind the closed doors of laboratories, brothels, MRI centers, pig farms, sex toy R&D labs, and Alfred Kinsey’s attic.

Mary Roach, “the funniest science writer in the country” (Burkhard Bilger of The New Yorker), devoted the past two years to stepping behind those doors. Can a person think herself to orgasm? Can a dead man get an erection? Is vaginal orgasm a myth? Why doesn’t Viagra help women – or, for that manner, pandas? In Bonk, Roach shows us how and why sexual arousal and orgasm – two of the most complex, delightful, and amazing scientific phenomena on earth – can be so hard to achieve and what science is doing to slowly make the bedroom a more satisfying place.

Sunday Miscellany

Oh man, it’s been a rough week. Monday was a very hot, very humid day working at the Maryland Renaissance Festival. I adore the friends I work with, but that heat and humidity just ruined me. I’ve spent most of the rest of this week in a bit of a daze, recovering. Couldn’t even stitch any codpieces. I got a little bit of reading done, but not much. And then Thursday night I couldn’t sleep worth a damn – I’d fall asleep for an hour or two and be woken up by a roommate getting home from work, or my husband’s alarm going off, or another roommate leaving for work – and each time, be up for at least an hour (sometimes three) before being able to sleep again.

20180908_2208356132623923712052450.jpg

The Culprit looking innocent

So Friday night rolled around and I was really, REALLY looking forward to getting some sleep. Fell asleep a little after midnight – and woke up at 2 am to the cat puking up a hairball. Or trying to. It takes her a few tries sometimes. And then she wants to chew on plastic after she’s puked. So I was up until around 6:30 dealing with the cat. Then I got four hours of sleep – which was the biggest chunk of sleep I’d had in two nights so YAY! Hopefully I’m still asleep while you’re reading these words, as I’m writing it Saturday night before bed. I’m about to collapse.

I’m pretty sure I had a couple links pulled up to post here but I can’t remember what the heck they were.

So I’m just going to leave you with the soundtrack of my insomnia.