“You look like that fat blueberry girl from Willy Wonka”

Fat Kid, Fat Adult; Overcoming three decades of misinformation — Part I

What could I possibly have been wearing, back in 1970-something, to deserve such a nasty momandchriseaster

comparison to Violet in the movie, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory? The words were  meant to hurt. They came from the often foul but pretty mouth of my best friend’s skinny, blue-eyed and blonde older sister.

At twelve, with a round face, long brown hair and bangs, and hefty thighs squeezed into polyester pants … there was a resemblance. Stricken with shame, most likely I retreated to my friend’s bedroom and put ELO or Donna Summer on the turntable. In my adult fantasies, I wish I would’ve laughed at her.

Growing up fat sucks.

Countless times I’d come home from school, wounded from yet another mean girl, and my mom would tell me, “Chrissy, you’re beautiful inside and out. These girls, they’re ugly and stupid and won’t ever change.”

I’d recall those words, throughout my elementary school years, while eating my school lunch: a bologna sandwich, on Wonder Bread with American cheese and mayo, with a bag of Bugles and a Hostess berry pie on the side.

More comfort was found at home each night with meatloaf, cream of something casserole, or all-you-can-eat spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread, with the vegetable of choice being either canned green peas or tater tots. Top off the night with a puddin’ cup while watching Happy Days and Laverne & Shirleyscrew them nasty girls.

I wouldn’t wish growing up fat on any kid.

About a year later, I started on my three-decade journey of misguided eating.

A “culture” of poor eating

Growing up in the 70’s, with a single mom who worked full-time, inexpensive and convenient food dictated what we ate (with a lot of misleading information from advertisers). And those same foods are still inexpensive and found on the tables of the poor and undernourished today: ramen, pasta, rice, hamburger, whole milk, white bread, etc. Our quick meal or reward after Mom picked us up from our team practices, was McDonald’s, Shakey’s pizza, or a root beer float and corn dog from A&W.

In the 80’s, when I could start making food choices on my own as a teenager, marketing promised me a skinny body if I’d just buy Slim-Fast, Diet Coke, Lean Cuisine, and Dexatrim. Oh, then came the “fat-free” craze, which has been misunderstood ever since (if it doesn’t have a lot of fat in it, I can eat as much as I want). My diet lunch in high school was a bag of Doritos from the machine and a Diet Pepsi.

It’s no wonder that I have had multiple jean sizes all my life and have been so screwed up on what I should be eating, along with the other 69.2% of overweight Americans.

Why should you or our businesses give a damn?

I write a lot about the “quest” for happiness and fulfillment (and my many screw-ups and self-sabotaging missions on my journey). I want to know, how do we get to more “woo hoo days” than “life sucks days?” Just how can we realize our full potential?

And how can our places of work, help us in that journey to be happier, healthier, more productive human beings? And why would they want to? Do healthy employees mean healthier bottom lines? If so, what organizations in our industry are breaking ground that others could follow?

My research began by talking with casinos across the United States, including biggies Isle of Capri, Pechanga Resort and Casino, and Cache Creek Casino Resort, about how they are assisting their employees to lead healthier lifestyles. And finding out if those efforts were linked to higher profits and happier employees. Could a casino be like Zappos, one of the top 100 places to work, and be profitable, too?

Have those casino top dogs that we see at casino gaming industry tradeshows like G2E and Casino Marketing every year changed their employee dining rooms (EDRs) to serve healthier foods? Do they get any of their produce for their EDRs, or even their restaurants, from local, sustainable farms? How are Tribal casinos helping their employees and their communities to overcome the diabetes epidemic on their reservations? How are gaming organizations rewarding employees for measurable improvements in their health?

Before you learn about what these companies are doing, in my next article, we’ll cover some of the terms, fads and concerns about food that are trending now (some of them are just as confusing and misleading as the previous twenty years), and the information that you need to know as a consumer in order to make the best choices for yourself, your family, and even your community and your planet. Then you can be the judge of what these gaming companies are really offering.

It’s not about a short-term diet; it’s about healthy living for all of us

MAYBE you are part of the 21% minority in this country that is not overweight. But there’s a good chance that you know someone who is struggling.

MAYBE you want to help your community, your Tribe, your workplace become healthier and happier, but you’re not sure how.

MAYBE you’re one of those skinny adults who can eat anything, but you don’t have the energy, muscle tone, or strength that you want.

MAYBE you have been diagnosed with arthritis or gout, and your doctor tells you that certain foods can make your inflammation worse.

MAYBE your gut is causing you serious pain, and you’re not sure if it’s your stress, your boss, an ulcer, or all of the above, and besides popping Pepcid AC, you’re not sure how to deal with it.

MAYBE you are taking care of your not-so-elderly mom with osteoporosis, who fell and broke her ankle in three places — and you wonder if diet and exercise can prevent you from the same outcome.

MAYBE you have heard about genetically modified foods and how they may be linked to severe allergies — should you be buying food that is labeled non-GMO, or is this a bunch of political hooey?

MAYBE you wonder what’s more important — to buy non-organic at your local farmers’ market, or to buy organic produce that needs to be shipped from way the hell down in Mexico.

MAYBE you don’t have sex with your spouse because you hate how ugly you feel naked.

Maybe you are just one grumpy son of a bitch who can barely find the energy or motivation to go to work as a casino executive each day.

Okay, “Uncle,” you cry, so, what the hell am I supposed to eat?

One of the terms that almost every expert can agree on is that we should be consuming “REAL FOOD.” What does this mean? If you were on a farm or in the wilderness, these are the foods that you could find to eat in order to stay alive: fruits, veggies, meat, and fish. (We’ll leave out the debated grains and dairy for now).

According to Tracey Delaplain, MD, Center for Women’s Health in Reno, “Our bodies were designed to eat natural foods and less simple carbohydrates. The epidemic of obesity in the US can be tracked back to the 1980’s, when processed foods and packaged fast foods became mainstays in the Standard American Diet (SAD). While the total calories we eat are important, there is compelling research to convince me that the types of calories we consume affect not only our weight, but our well-being. Unlike processed foods, real food, especially fruits and vegetables, don’t have to have nutrients like vitamins and antioxidants added back.”

So, got it. Go to the store and attempt to stock up on “real food,” like eggs, chicken, salmon, lean cuts of beef, apples, bananas, broccoli, and spinach. (If you go to Tracey’s blog, “What’s for Dinner, Doc?”, she has some really great recipes for real foods, and smart conversation about health topics for women).

But when you go to the store, you’ll see labels on your meats and produce that might say:

  • Organic
  • Locally grown
  • Grass fed
  • No added steroids or hormones
  • Cage-free/free-range
  • Wild salmon/farmed salmon

Before you get totally hung-up and frustrated, most doctors will tell you that ANY addition of fruits and vegetables and lean meats like fish and chicken is a huge improvement. Start integrating these things into your diet as your first step.

Join me next article when we go into the meat aisle and ask the question — are happier cows healthier cows, and do I really care? And when we pick up those fruits and veggies, do I really have to buy all organic?

Little steps, baby.

PS: And … yes, I struggle every day, even with all this knowledge I have accumulated. And yes, I screw up and get back into bad habits all the time. I think what has changed, is that I forgive myself and don’t call it quits.

Originally published by Raving Consulting

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7 Responses to “You look like that fat blueberry girl from Willy Wonka”

  1. Kathy Thill says:

    This blog was invading my innermost thoughts, kinda scary. I, too, grew up fat (or chubby or whatever cute word there was for fat). But was I? I look back at pictures from then and I don’t look bad to my now body but I wasn’t comparing myself to me, it was the skinny girls I was comparing myself to.
    My weight has taken up too much of my time over the last 50 some years. I have decided that my approach must be to have at my disposal whole foods, real foods and eat them. I can grab an apple as easily as a burrito and although the Atkins people will tell me that a slab or butter or cream cheese are “better” than an apple, can it be….really?
    No, it can’t. I am going through rehab for a bad knee on one leg and a bad toe on the other. Would recovery be easier with 50 less pounds…sure. Could I have known at 12 that one day “the weight” would be a factor in my old age, no way. We can only learn things from experience and I hadn’t gotten old before. It sucks, but it can suck less. Go whole, real, paleo foods. Atkins be damned.

    • Chris says:

      Hey Kathy – a trainer told me, if you think you’re hungry, grab an apple. If you don’t want an apple, you’re not hungry. She never said grab a piece of bacon, which I’d probably eat even if I wasn’t hungry.

  2. Joanna says:

    The link is to a website but you can download Hungry for Change from Netflix. In my mind, it is a must see. It really clearly explained to me why eating real food is better. I too relapse and eat crap – especially when stressed or working long hours – but I agree with you – why beat myself up? If I relapse, the next day I try for salads and fresh juices. You know Chris – I look back at pictures of us in high school and neither one of us was fat – and if we’d been left alone about it, we most likely would have been fine normal sized adults. It’s crazy how cruel words can distort your image of yourself. For me, I did get fat – really fat – in my late 20s due to a lower back injury and the inability to exercise. Food and alcohol were how I self medicated for the pain I was in. It took me a long time to figure out how best to fix my problems. It’s a journey for sure and we each have to find the way that works for us. But eating real food (and I personally believe industrialized cows are bad for us – all the stress hormones they release as they are so badly mistreated and slaughtered can’t be healthy to consume) is the best advice. This was an interesting read – thanks!

    • Chris says:

      I have watched Hungry for Change, and I agree, and it made total sense. I think once you figure out what you need to eat, which is hard in itself, it is still so hard to stick with it, and not return to comfort foods. Well, at least that is my struggle. Comfort food and convenient foods when you don’t take the time to plan out your week. Thanks for sharing Joanna … I think it is through honest conversations that we all can help each other.

  3. The nutrition program I studied almost 20 years ago had me read about the dentist Weston A. Price http://www.westonaprice.org/ who did groundbreaking research on the connection between modern diets and changes in the health of teeth, as well as other health issues. In his travels and studies, he found that people still living in their native geographical areas and eating their native diets did NOT suffer from dental or other big diseases that plague current modern western societies. And when some of these people moved to the urban areas and changed their diets, so did their health-ie, it got worse. Chris you pose good, important questions and bring up issues that need to be addressed more in regards to the quality of food consumed in our country.

  4. Amber says:

    I was the skinny kid with a metabolism of a Hummingbird and constantly running around the neighborhood and involved in sports, but I always thought I was fat because I was so much taller than all of the other kids and that came with a bit bigger size in general. I graduated high school, became way less active on a daily basis, and gained way more than the freshman 15. Sad to think I thought I was fat back then. My weight has been a struggle since then and I certainly hope to get it under control. One day at a time. Just did my meal prep for the week last night and started Couch25k yesterday so I’m hoping this may just be the time I stick to it. After two long weeks on the road and an empty refrigerator, it was the perfect time to start over.

    • Chris says:

      It’s funny how we look back and think “wow, I wasn’t fat at all.” So much wasted, negative energy. When I look in the mirror now, and see something I don’t like, I say, “Well, think of how you did look before,” and I don’t beat myself up so much. I hear you about being out on the road … I don’t know how folks do it. T

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