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Carbohydrates are from Saturn

I went to the new Saturn owner’s complimentary service clinic last week, but I thought I’d stumbled into an AARP meeting instead. (That’s the American Association of Retired Persons.) There were about 20 people sitting at folding tables, chowing down on free chicken and potato salad, but at least 17 were over 55. In fact, it is not an exaggeration to say I was probably the hottest chick there.* My only real competition was another 20-something, mildly overweight girl who was kind of annoying and loudmouthed. Maybe I should start hanging out at retirement homes to boost my self-esteem. My only fear is that pervy old men get even pervier with age and I’d have to watch my ass the whole time.

The purpose of these clinics is to give away free swag, answer any owner questions, and show people basic service procedures like how to change oil. A secondary purpose seemed to be to fatten people up, because their food table was a miniature shrine to carbohydrates. Maybe they have some sort of deal with that witch who tried to eat Hansel and Gretel? There was deep fried chicken, not-as-deep-fried chicken with the skin still attached, a big bowl of potato salad, an even bigger bowl of potato chips and a tray of chocolate iced brownies. Just looking at the bowl of fruit salad soaked in some sort of high fructose syrup gave me diabetes and made me go blind. And that was it. No veggies, no salad, nothing. I’m not too fond of the term “obesity epidemic,” but taking one look at this table made me see why there’s been cause to use that phrase so often lately.

I retreated back to my table with my mom, who was the one who wanted to go to this gathering because she loves free swag. Her favorite word is “clearance.” While we were eating and my fingers became more lubricated in grease than the mechanic’s, some more people walked in, including a morbidly obese girl. My reaction to seeing her was one I’ve noticed I’ve been having a lot lately which is “Thank God I’m not like that anymore.” I became completely flooded with relief. The limited mobility. The public shame. The restricted clothing options. Gone, gone, gone.

At the same time I also felt an urge to tell her, “I know how you feel. I used to be like that. I changed and you can too!” But I just averted my eyes and tried not to choke on the peach I was forcing down because what else am I really going to do? Save all the fat girls of the world? Become the Mother Theresa to the chubby? It would be rude to get up in a stranger’s business like that. Besides, obesity and weight loss are such complex, complicated topics that I don’t think I could ever convey everything I’ve learned in the last year and half in any sort of compact form.

Sometimes I feel like I have a secret past, like if I’d witnessed a mob hit and was in witness protection or if I killed a man in Reno just to watch him die. I used to be morbidly obese, but no one new that I meet knows this unless I tell them. It’s this big issue that has shaped who I am as a human being – but no one knows!

I didn’t educate anyone on weight loss techniques, however I did get a free thermos (sticker value $11.98) and my mom scored a free lunch bag, which we can use to bring healthy food to the next clinic if we ever buy another Saturn.

* ETA – As kalyn pointed out, it is quite possible to be over 55 and still be hot. I know there are a couple blogs by 55+ writers that I read and admire and I’m sorry if I offended anyone. I blame hubris of the young. Maybe when I’m older I’ll be wiser.

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Rachel • July 18, 2006 at 10:05 am

Is it bad that reading about the buffet table made me want to go buy a Saturn? I always knew they were good people. You had me at chocolate iced brownies.


little miss ess • July 18, 2006 at 10:17 am

Great post PQ!


PastaQueen • July 18, 2006 at 10:28 am

Rachel – Well, it might just be cheaper to stop at your local grocery store. But if you want to drop several grand on a car for the free brownies, more power to you :)


LauraBora from Bufadora • July 18, 2006 at 11:16 am

ROLLING on the floor over bringing your own food to the next clinic. What a smorgasboard of temptation!

I loved the Folsom Prison reference, too. I also know what you mean! The first time I lost 90 pounds, I felt like people who met me had no idea about my PAST and I felt like I was kind of pulling a fast one on the world and was actually a fat girl in disguise. I actually was, which is why I regained the weight.

This time, I’m hoping that my brain changes along with the body.


kalyn • July 18, 2006 at 11:46 am

I love reading your blog and I think you are really talented, not to mention your determination about your weight loss. But, I do have to say, (since I’m 57 and still relatively hot) age discrimination is just as bad as weight discrimination. Now that i am “older” young people often treat me as if I don’t exist. So just felt like I had to mention that the intro to this post kind of struck a nerve for me. (You can see what I look like on my blog if you don’t believe that someone over 55 can still look good.)


PastaQueen • July 18, 2006 at 11:54 am

kalyn – You’re right, that was rather rude of me. I guess it’s the hubris of the young. We don’t think about the fact that someday we’ll be older too. And you do look pretty hot! If you’d been at the Saturn clinic you would have given me a run for my money. So my apologies.


Urban Fat Girl • July 18, 2006 at 11:58 am

What you say about the morbidly obese girl is interesting, as I’ve often wondered about that too, from different angles. As an obese person, it’s hard to conjure how a conversation like that would start with a stranger who was actually sympathetic. I think I would appreciate it though, as I really enjoy hearing other people talk at WW meetings and I’ve finally gotten to a place now where I would be OK (even excited) to talk about nutrition, exercise, weight loss, being overweight/obese with someone who had been/is there. Alas, before I made the choice to treat my body better and be healthy, the only two comments I got last year were from people (in my head they’re “jerks”) who saw my being obese as an excuse to draw attention to themselves for NOT being obese.

One woman randomly sat next to me on the NYC subway and told me (breaking a major urban social more) about Sugar Busters and how she “saw me and thought I needed it.” When I looked at her with a blank but silent face (my go-to face when feeling panic, sadness, shame, and anger all at once) she added that she had used it to lose “a few pounds” too. This was all loud enough for the entire train to hear. If she had loudly admitted to a 100+ lbs lost would I have looked at her differently? I don’t know.

The other person was an older guy who saw me walking to work during last year’s transit strike and yelled (yep) that this would be great for me, as it would help me to start reducing! By the time he finished I was already quite a few paces past him and just said, “Yeah, that’s what I need!” in as sarcastic a voice I can muster before noon. Then I walked the rest of the eight miles to work. And later, the eight miles home (from Queens past the Flatiron building). For three days.

Comments like that last one were one of the excuses/fears that I used to keep me “safe” from the gym. What if every single fit skinny person at the gym felt like they could give me those impromptu lectures while I tried to work out? What if the staff did? But they didn’t, the staff at my gym (it’s a smaller one, not a big chain) are really nice and supportive, and the other people there are fine, absorbed in their own workout. It’s actually become a safe, restorative place for me. And I used to cut gym class like my life depended on it (I thought my high school social life did, anyway).

So, now that I’ve lost some weight (just passed 10% of my starting weight loss, my goal will probably be 45-50% . . . half of *me*!), I sometimes wonder what it would be like to be a weight-loss role model someday, and always wonder which people I pass on the street, on the train, could be role models to me (if they’d loss a lot of weight in the past so are not pegged as obese on sight).

Recently, the best time I’ve had where weight was discussed but not used as a Scarlet Letter was at the Fat Girl Flea Market at the Gay (GLBTQ) Center in NYC. I was going to a life drawing session (yep, I’m a queer fat girl) and met a girl in the elevator wearing a tee that read “Does this shirt make me look FAT?!?” I told her I really liked it. I didn’t have a chance to go to Fat Girl Flea (I had my portfolio, and a budget, darnit!) but I stopped by to peak in and chat up one of the (supercute) girls at the desk, and was blown away by the vibe and the site of a huge roomful of fat chicas living life loud and proud and DETERMINED to get that dress, that pair of jeans (I can relate). I really wish my 14 year-old self could’ve been there too.

PS- I started going to WW because it was recommended by my doc after she prescribed my an antidepressant, as another way to handle my moods. But role models like my mom, and bloggers I admire (Hi PQ!) have been a huge help in my *committing* to healthy choices, and helping me to believe it was possible in real life, for anyone. Real Life Losers (ha) are also an inspiration for me to be proactive and learn about health on my own, and try new things (plain non-fat yogurt: Fage Total 0%, who knew?). And I just feel less alone. So yay role models/fellow journeymen (journeypeople? journeypeeps?).

Dude, sorry this is SOOO long. Thanks for the vent.


Ari • July 18, 2006 at 1:44 pm

Your blog is so inspirational. I’m about halfway through the journey myself (lost 70 lbs, 50 lbs to go). I’m glad you posted your secret past online to help keep the rest of us on the path! :)


Eh... not so much • July 18, 2006 at 2:04 pm

I know exactly what you mean. I’m about 2 lbs away from my “official Weight Watcher” goal weight. (Which means I’m going to hit it, enjoy maintaining for a while, then try to get down to 24% bodyfat, but leave myself wiggle room if I really start hitting the weights and the scale goes up.) That will make 106 lbs lost since 1999, or 40% of me. (Click my link for before & current pics.) I would never just walk up to an obese person and start telling them about WW and the gym! I think if someone had done that to me, it would have just made me feel worse about myself and shattered my carefully-strung web of self-delusion. I’m the first one to refer to my obese self as “Shamu-esque” but that’s OK, I can do that now.


Hilly • July 18, 2006 at 3:02 pm

First of all, anyone that knows the term “swag” is a rockstar ;). And it sucks that companies don’t offer a healthier alternative when feeding people at seminars, meetings, etcetera. One of the things that I hate is being forced to eat what is there just because I am starving and I probably would have left once I saw chicken skin…ewiieee!


kathryn • July 18, 2006 at 5:38 pm

I have to fight the impulse to tell people about my weight loss. Esp when I see someone overweight at my gym. The thing is you don’t know what the story is with strangers – maybe they have been much bigger and have dropped a heap of weight themselves.


Marla • July 18, 2006 at 6:51 pm

I think that writing our blogs IS where we tell people about weight loss. It’s really a perfect venue – when someone’s ready to hear the message, they’ll go looking for it, and they’ll find you (lucky them!) I’m sure that what you’ve written has already helped many, many people.


Kim • July 18, 2006 at 7:39 pm

I just want to embrace people that I see struggling. I saw a man on the treadmill the other day he had to be well over 350 pounds and I just had to go up and say “Keep it up the pain is all worth it” He said “Yeah right” so I had to tell him that at one time I weighed 289 (probably more that was just the last time I let the doctor weigh me) and that because of working out at the Y I had lost over 100 pounds (now 165-170). It didn’t seem to matter I have never seen him since and my heart grieves for him because I know when you are large it is hard on some many different levels. I HATE FUNCTIONS that center around food…I have no self control and almost always cave….I am an avoider! I really enjoy reading your blog….no one understands like someone that has been thru the war!


miss fatt • July 18, 2006 at 8:48 pm

i have always found the whole ‘saturn family’ thing quite interesting. a fairly interesting cultural phenonmenon.


PastaQueen • July 18, 2006 at 11:03 pm

miss fatt – By “cultural phenomenon” you mean “cult” right? I think you tacked some extra letters on there by mistake :) I’m surprised the food table didn’t have some Kool-Aid for me to drink.


Debbi • July 19, 2006 at 8:51 am

What Kalyn said. I sure think I look better at 55 than I did at 40!

And what Marla said. I found your blog (and hers, and several others) when I was ready. All the ones I read have helped me so much. I can’t begin to tell you what an inspiration you’ve been. Thanks.


Denise • July 19, 2006 at 10:36 am

I’m going to take the opposite side of this and say that I used to get really uncomfortable when – after I’d lost 110 pounds the first time – people used to come to me looking for some secret wisdom or inspiration. It always made me really uncomfortable that people saw me as having accomplished something huge and wonderful because I’d only lost weight, I hadn’t cured cancer or anything. I guess I’m just intensely private (in real life, of course) and I just can’t get comfortable with the idea of letting anyone else in to my private battles.

I’ve been to one of those Saturn meet n greets and they are just as you described. I didn’t get any free stuff, though!


K • July 19, 2006 at 12:24 pm

I got a blog chiefly to stop myself going on to random people about my fitness regime… not that I’m much of a role model; I just didn’t want to foist it on anyone who wasn’t already interested.

I know the urge, but I would have just DIED if anyone’d suggested to me in my unfit days that I ought to do X or Y. Probably I knew perfectly well I ought to be doing it, but in my heart I was hoping nobody else had noticed that I needed to…

This is a bit garbled. Well, I know what I mean.


Kalyn • July 25, 2006 at 12:06 pm

I’m so impressed that you took the trouble to acknowledge my comment and edit. And don’t worry, you will be wiser when you’re my age, but you’re pretty wise now too. Keep up the great writing. (Have you ever thought of writing a book or newspaper column? You’d be great.)


Comments are now closed on all PastaQueen entries. The blog is an archive only so I don't have to deal with spammers. For fresh discussions please visit my new blog at JennetteFulda.com.

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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JennetteFulda.com now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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