Monday, May 15, 2006

Hey, Lardo

After nearly two years of blogging about the evils of religion (especially the Catholics) and Giant Atomic Chickens and the joys of cannibalism and metal and Satanism and Voodou, it looks like I finally touched a nerve when I mentioned I don’t believe genetics has much to do with us being the second fattest country in the world (just behind Greece). It figures. Since I didn’t have the time to respond to all your comments then, I decided to revisit the issue to clarify my stance on the issue and explain to all of you who don’t agree with me why you’re wrong, and are probably a complete moron. Plus you’re gay.

I was going to do some research on my theories and provide links to experts who back my views, but I didn’t bother because, as an American, I’m not only fat and stupid, I’m also lazy. Besides, what would be the point? Anyone with an Internet connection and a few spare minutes could easily find another so-called expert with a PhD and a diametrically opposed viewpoint. I’m sure that somewhere there’s at least one “expert” who believes our obesity epidemic is the direct result of rogue clowns phasing through the walls at night and shoving Whoppers down our throats. PhD’s are as rare as nose hairs, and are about as good an indicator of a person’s intelligence. Instead of using education as an excuse from thinking, Instead, I’m relying on a little common sense (which isn’t very common these days) and my personal observations.

First off, let me state for the record that I am fat. My BMI places me just shy of obese, not that I care about those labels. What I weigh now in my late middle thirties is within ten pounds of what I weighed in high school. I am fat now and always have been, except for one brief period of my life. I’m slightly lucky in that I have a self-maintaining metabolism that can only be influenced by extremes, but it’s permanently set to fat mode.

Years ago, while finishing college, I had the unhealthiest lifestyle imaginable. I lived far south of Atlanta (too far to call it the suburbs), worked in the Northwest suburbs, and attended school to the Northeast. Due to timing and Atlanta traffic, I routinely spent three and a half to five hours a day in my car. All my meals were fast food, usually eaten while driving. For exercise, I walked to and from my car and did nothing else. My typical weekday was:
1) Awaken at 6:00 AM.
2) Drive to work, picking up and eating breakfast on the way.
3) Work while snacking at my desk until lunch, which was usually fast food.
4) Work while snacking until quitting time, then driving to school.
5) Eat dinner (usually with a pitcher or three of beer with a friend).
6) School until 11:00 PM or midnight. Mountain Dew helped me stay awake.
7) Drive home and hit the books and whiskey until 2:00 AM or 3:00 AM.
8) Repeat.

The weekends were the same except for all the driving. I rarely cooked at home, and whenever I did it was always something like frozen pizza (with added cheese and toppings) or ultra loaded enchiladas with lots of beef and cheese and sour cream.

These days I live and work in the same area. I only eat healthy, natural (usually Japanese) foods and I attempt to go to the gym six days a week, although I usually only make it five days a week. My new routine is:
1) Awaken at 7:00 AM.
2) Have a light, homemade breakfast (soba noodles or rice and something) and drive to work.
3) Work until lunch, having a snack of unflavored green tea and some fruit.
4) Lunch is either homemade or a frozen (but all natural) dinner, like Pad Thai with tofu.
5) Work until quitting time, indulging in another cup of tea if I want.
6) Go to the gym and exercise for one to one and a half hours, usually thirty minutes of cardio and the rest on the weight machines.
7) Dinner, either at Umezono (where I practice hara hachi bunme – eat until 80% full – to offset their large portions) or another home-cooked J-meal.
8) In bed no later than 1:00 AM.

On the weekends I do the same, although I try to get in a little extra exercise. I have a few beers and sometimes a few shots of whiskey a couple of times a week, but nowhere near what I could once handle. I don’t go around counting calories, but by a conservative estimate I would say I’m taking in fewer that a third of the calories I once ate, plus the foods are much healthier (and tastier) than before. The end result? I just weighed myself, and between those two periods in my life I’ve lost exactly three pounds. Fortunately I’m not hung up on my weight, and I don’t do what I do as an attempt at weight loss. With my current lifestyle, the food I eat is better, both in flavor and healthful properties, I have more energy that I ever have as an adult, I rarely get sick, I don’t feel as hot (before I was always burning up) and (this is really strange) I almost never get a static-electric shock. Before, I felt like a lightening rod with all the shocks I received. Now, it’s a rare occurrence and nowhere near its former intensity.

One time I did put on weight and sailed into the realm of obesity, but that was when I was depressed and began shoveling food and booze into my mouth as fast as I could. I’m not a whiner and I won’t go into that except to say that when I worked through it, my weight settled back down to its normal level of fatness.

When I was nineteen and in the Army (a society that does not suffer fatties gladly), I decided I had put up with my excess weight long enough and would do whatever it took to lose it. I quit eating the army food (which is always high fat and calorie), researched nutritional information, bought a free-weight set and weight bench, and began counting calories, exercising (beyond our regular morning workouts), and restricting my diet according to my needs. Since I was doing a lot of heavy weight training, I calculated that I would need at least 70g of protein daily (probably more than I needed, but I didn’t want to come up short) but I wouldn’t allow myself any more than 2,000 Calories and 30g of fat. I lifted weights and ran five to seven miles each day, except Sunday when I ran about three miles and did stretching exercises and light calisthenics. When the weight failed to melt at a suitable speed, I lowered my caloric and fat intake. Over the next few months, I eventually lost every bit of spare poundage (although I wasn’t at all skinny – just lean and muscular) and eventually arrived at a daily diet of no more than 1,000 Calories and 10g of fat, although my average daily intake was about 800 and 8, respectively.

End result? People respected me more – even my closest friends began to treat me as though I had gained intelligence instead of lost weight. Even better, women would sometimes ignore my inherent creepiness™ and would approach me when in public. Unfortunately, I was rarely in public because my diet was so restrictive I couldn’t have a snack or a single beer without exceeding my daily limits. Besides, I was exercising three hours a day which left very little time for a social life.

Despite the advantages of being thin, I didn’t like living a life built around diet and exercise. Worse, I noticed that more and more I looked forward to the end of the day when I got to sleep. With such a tiny diet fueling such heavy duty activities, I felt hungry all day long, even immediately after meals (which were mainly protein shakes). When you reach a point in your life where the best part is when you’re unconscious, you’re about a fifty cent cab ride away from committing suicide. Even though I hated it, I couldn’t bear to give up my new-found respect and sexiness. Fortunately the Army solved my problem for me. I was sent on a month-long field exercise, unable to exercise except by doing isometrics while I sat in the driver’s seat of my vehicle and unable to eat anything but MRE’s, which at the time had a minimum of 3,600 Calories and 100g of fat per meal. By the time I returned to base, I had gained back every single pound lost and there was no way I was putting myself through that hell again, regardless of the opinions of others.

So, to my point (thank the zombie Jebus). Obviously I believe that there are differences between personal metabolisms since I’m one of those people who can only lose weight through extreme measures. Likewise, I’ve known others who eat and drink all they want and never gain an ounce. They’re usually the ones who say “I don’t know why so many people are fat. All they have to do is eat a little less and exercise some more.” It reminds me of a thin runway model who was asked what she had to do to stay in such great (read: anorexic) shape. She replied, “Oh, I don’t do anything at all. I never exercise, and I eat whatever I want – ice cream, chili cheeseburgers, you name it. Tee hee. *giggle*.” (bitch) So why not blame genetics?

I don’t blame genetics because my genetic code comes from Britain, Ireland, Germany, and France (plus the Cherokee nation, although I don’t have obesity stats for them) and each of those countries have a much lower obesity rate than the US. Some people claim genetics are the key because fat parents tend to have fat kids, but I think the answer is more obvious than that. Fat people tend to have poor eating and exercise habits, plus most people raise their children in the same manner in which they were raised, therefore fat people tend to create more fatties.

The Japanese are the real masters of fat with a low 3% obesity rate. I don’t believe it’s due to genetics as much as diet and exercise, especially during their developing years. I once read a book which cautioned owners of large dogs to avoid over-exercising them as puppies as they needed their energy to be devoted to growth. No, I’m not saying the Japanese are dogs, I just think the same could apply to people. Az once wrote that the Japanese were really breast-obsessed and bothered that their women have such small boobies, which he attributed to their upbringing (sorry, I can’t find the exact post). In Japan, the kids exercise two to three hours a day at school (mostly sports and activities primarily designed to teach teamwork) starting at age six or seven. As a result, they tend to be lean and downright tiny.

Another piece of anecdotal evidence – I knew (barely) a Chinese couple that immigrated to the States and had a daughter. Both were tiny C-people, the wife no more than five feet and a hundred pounds (but still really attractive in her fifties). One day I met her American-born daughter – at least 5’ 7” and not at all fat but sporting a pair somewhere between a C and D cup. It’s possible they were the result of surgery, but they seemed to match her hourglass figure. Again, if genetics ruled her figure, she’d also be a tiny C-hottie. Instead, she grew up to be a sexy ABC usagi.

In conclusion (finally, you fecking windbag) I do believe that some people are more “Fat-friendly” than others, but I think it’s mostly due to their upbringing and developmental years than genetic code. If you disagree with me, I truly do not care.

Here is an interesting and related article.


Melissa said...

I bet you feel amazing in a hug.

Liz said...

Seems like you just did a great job at convincing us fat IS a genetic thing. Your metabolism is slower and therefore it is harder for you to loose weight. You get that metabolism partly from your parents, not a country.

I don’t think your proof of ‘thin’ heritage can really be valid. That’s like saying every German has blue eyes and every Mexican has brown. Neither is true, yet you receive those characteristic through genetics.

I think the explanation is two fold, genetics and habits. But some people got an easier ride.

Tracy Lynn said...

I'm still not sure why so many people seem to care about your opinion on this, or, really, anything. I mean, opinions are like assholes, right? Why does it seem to cause so much angst in so many people when someone states an opinion that they don't agree with?

Although I always enjoy the rants, dear.

Grant said...

melissa - yes, especially if you're Japanese.

liz - go back and read it again.

tracy - I think the topic of weight is just an international hot button.

Angie said...

If I was J, I'd ask you to marry me right now ;) Someone who has never been overweight has no idea what it's like or what some overweight people go through to try to lose weight. You captured the experience very well. Like you, it takes extreme measures for me to drop a few pounds. I don't need to widen the front door just yet, but let's say I could rid myself of about 15 pounds. I workout daily & eat lowfat but struggle to lose every pound. And you're right about the social attitudes. Thank you for saying what I didn't have the courage to previously.

Now, that being said, I agree that it is poor eating/exercise habits passed down the generations as well as stress, poverty, etc. You evil heathen feckin redneck! :p

poody said...

I agree with you that we as Americans myself included are fat because of poor eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle. The more advanced and streamlined our lives become the less we have to physically do. I personally can lose weight with diet and exercise but choose not to. It is a big commitment and I don't have the will power. The onlt thign that keeps me out of the guiness book f world records is the dogs who insist on a daily walk. But, I was not a big fatty whenI was younger. I have always been big and that is genetic. My family is big. The shortest one is 5'9''. We are Texans! But when I reached 30 and was working night shift I started to really gain weight and by the time menopause took hold boom the weight not only increased but is much harder to lose. We change as we get older. The thing to do is educate and encourage the children now to eat right and exercise often. I myself try to eat fish at least 3 times a week mostly sushi. The Japanese do have the right idea. Their diet is great but they also have public daily exercise in their villages. As do Koreans and Chinese. I noticed when I lived in Hawaii the different cultures and the diseases that they had. Like how black people in this country have a high incidence of high blood pressure but the black people in Africa do not have high instances of this. So, that tells you diet is much more important than genes any day. Just a thought or 2.

Doug Murata said...

I agree with liz that it's probably coming from two fronts: genetic and upbringing. (It's that God-damned nature vs. nurture argument!) However, I also agree with you that, if genetics were a factor, it shouldn't be as big a problem in America as it is. As I understand part of your argument, it doesn't make sense genetically if Japanese people are thin, but then you get to America and see fat Japanese people. However, if you look at their generally low-fat diet and the amount of exercise they are conditioned to from an early age, nurture takes over and genetics are thrown out the window. Be that as it may, you do also have those supermodel types that eat whatever they want (my brother and I are like this and we both think that he's too skinny,) and never gain weight. I don't think that fits into your argument that it isn't genetic. There must be some genetic factor that makes your metabolism kick in at times. (However, we were pretty active children. Our parents made us play outside quite often. Perhaps that's what drove our metabolism to do what it does now. OK. You've convinced me.)

What bothers me is that people have attributed a lower intelligence to your physical appearance. I do suppose, however, that it shows you how much your friends value good looks.

Kira said...

In my area of the country, a woman who has all her original teeth is hawt. Weight is not relevant. Woohoo!

I think that it's pretty much as you said: some people find it easier or harder to lose weight, but if one is determined enough (barring a medical problem), one can lose weight. I just don't think it'd be worth it to cut down my caloric intake to 1000 calories and then also exercise that much just to be slender. Brrrr. Screw that shit.

I know that Mexicans, thanks to the Inca/Aztec/Mayan heritage, are prone to obesity and alcoholism. I think that the Native American Indians across the US have the same tendencies, too, but I'd have to look that up to be certain.

SJ said...

If it were genetic why were Americans thinner a couple of decades ago? Did the government secretly implant obesity genes in the current population for achieving its nefarious purposes? Hmmm I could be onto something here.

Wendy C. said...

We're fat because we rely on diet of simple carbs. There is no real dietary need for bread, pasta, refined sugar, corn based products. If you just cut out those types of things, most healthy people will balance out their weight, cholesterol, blood glucose...mood swings...believe it!

Wendy C. said...

The proof that its a matter of eating too much AND/OR too much of the wrong thing is the RAGING success of stomach stapling surgery! It doesn't change our just makes a person unable to overeat...simple! If we do it ourselves, we save 30k!

Ayako said...

"Grant said...

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01110110 01100101 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101 00100000 01110100 01101111 01101111 00101110 00100000 00111010 01110000

Chinese, Japanese, English, and now Binary. You've added geek speak. :p Next time, abbreviate with octal or hex. =)"

Well here's my response:
01000001 01101000 01100001 01101000 01100001 01101000 01100001 01101000 00100000 01100001 01110011 00100000 01101001 01100110 00100000 01110010 01100101 01110011 01110000 01101111 01101110 01100100 00100000 01110100 01101111 00100000 01100001 00100000 01101101 01100101 01110011 01110011 01100001 01100111 01100101 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100001 01110100 00100111 01110011 00100000 01101110 01101111 01110100 00100000 01100001 01101001 01101101 01100101 01100100 00100000 01100001 01110100 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101 00100000 00111101 01010000 00100000 01001000 01100101 01101000 01100101 00101110 00101110 00101110 00101110 01100001 01101110 01100100 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101 00100111 01110010 01100101 00100000 01100011 01100001 01101100 01101100 01101001 01101110 01100111 00100000 01001101 01000101 00100000 01100001 00100000 01100111 01100101 01100101 01101011 00111111 00100000 01010100 01110011 01101011 00100000 01110100 01110011 01101011 00100001


annush said...

I was going to comment but I am not.

People should be responsable for their health and even though I understand that not everyone is physically capable of being thin. But then again, i used to think I wasn't and it turns out I am.

I understand that living healthy and keeping fit is something everyone can and should do. If being fat were only about aesthetics...but it's not. Keep yourself in a healthy weight and you are reducing your risk of a bunch of illnesses by a lot.

Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

Metabolism, genetics, how often you eat, how ALL figures in (at least that's how I look at it). I have a girlfriend who has a three year old daughter, she sits on her ass all day long, does nothing but drink Coca-Cola and eat Doritos and smoke weed....and she is a size 0.

I could stop eating tomorrow and not eat for MONTHS and not end up a friggin' size 0.

I know what you mean about being SO TIRED of working to get lean. When I got married, I was at my lowest weight....and I was exhausted all the time because I was almost starving myself to stay at that weight. It was awful.

I'd rather be a few pounds over weight and fell pretty good than be thin and sickly. Besides, most me like curves or so I've heard. :)

PBS said...

Hmmm, I think your story suggested the opposite, that genetics really does make a difference! But so does diet and exercise! I'm not thin and have tried hard (at various times) to lose more weight. But I didn't like the necessary emphasis on food and eating (or not-eating) all day long, every day. It was like a weird habit or obssession and not worth it, I wanted my life back. I do eat healthy and am almost never sick.

Grant said...

angie - thanks. Get jaundice and squint a lot and I may accept you. :p

poody - I do think genetics could still have a hand in matters, but I think people are too quick to use it as an excuse.

doug - you remind me of an Army buddy who truly didn't understand what fat people deal with. He was 6' 2" and 145 pounds. I noticed he was the type who had trouble sitting still, and he confirmed that he'd always been active and practically bouncing off the walls.
And I deliberately stayed away from the phrase "nature vs. nurture" because when you fall back on those jingles, some dummies (not you guys - those other people) think "Oh, yeah, I've heard that argument before and I already have my opinion in place". I like to rethink matters sometimes, especially since I once bought into the whole genetics argument.

kira - I think the Indians do have obesity problems, and definitely high rates of alcohol and drug abuse, but I still think their marginalized existence explains it more than ethnicity. It seems they got fat right around the same time as the rest of us, a couple of decades ago in what I call the McDonald's Revolution.

sj - I think the timeline coincides more closely with widespread fast food chains and processed foods replacing home cooked meals. The fast food explosion in France has definitely harmed their low obesity rate.

wendy - sounds like you're dangerously close to backing the Atkins diet, which I don't support. It just seems unnatural. The one guy I knew who followed the program and lost weight looked like he did it by shooting heroin. That said, I agree about the unnatural carbs, especially stuff laced with processed sugar. My J-diet carbs are mostly from rice and soba (buckwheat) noodles, and I feel great. I did the Atkins diet once, lost a few pounds, and got off it because I had no energy and felt rotten.

ayako - I accept your marriage proposal.

annush - good thing you decided to stay out of matters. :p I agree with your claim that obesity is more than looks (the US not only has the second highest obesity rate, but the shortest lifespan of any "civilized" nation and the most money spent on healthcare per person), but then again skinny does not automatically equal healthy. Cocaine and heroin addicts tend to be thin, and I could also mention a certian little brown girl who is nice and shapely and yet doesn't seem to be feeling well here lately. :p

pq - well, at least she's getting her vegetables (weed). I think a lot of people aren't honest with themselves about how much and what they eat and how much they exercise, but there are some of us who know what it takes and don't think it's worthwhile. I'm concerned about my health, but starvation and misery (plus all the injuries I sustained by pushing myself so hard) do not equate to a healthy lifestyle.

pbs - read it again until you agree with me. :p

patti_cake said...

I cannot stand to be obsessed with what I eat/weight. I eat what I want, just not alot of it. I remember in elementary school the fat kids were picked on (I never did it, I swear) and I worry about my daughter. I don't want her to go through that. She is a tiny thing now but genetics on both sides of her family are against her. I don't want to raise her to be a budding anorexic either. Ah weight issues are such a pain the ass. Thanks alot Grant for bringit it up :/ (but you did post a thoughtful, well written one!)

Avitable said...

That was quite the post!

As a giant carb-loading hairy beast creature, Food = Good! And that's all I have to say about that.

Oh, and I loved that weird digression about being thin reducing static electricity.

Nobius said...

Genetics can definitely predispose you to being over weight however I'm living proof you can beat it. And it ain't easy but it's what you have to do.

Kerry said...

You arent fat... that picture doesnt indicate 'fat' at all. I think you should email me a current photo though :P

I'm one of those that has to stay on a strict workout schedule also... or my food intake catches up with me. For years i worked out so hard and I got used to eating 5 times (small meals) a day with lots of protein that when i slowed my workouts down, the food caught up with me. I didnt adjust my eating to keep up with the slow workouts. So now, i'm going to have to kick it up a notch to get back to super lean.

hellbunny said...

One thing i do agree with is that the north american diet contains more fat than the european one.Also,the portions are twice as big which i think makes people eat more.I do think though that some of us tend to be fatter than others.Mind you im on the fat side so i would say that.

~Deb said...

Very interesting! I was just blogging about my parents and how they always cooked with lard or bacon to get their food tasting good. In the long run, I found myself a bit more ‘rounded’ off. Bleckk… But once I started to work out and find that hey---sushi and vegetables aren’t bad at all! I’m with you on that.

I believe that we should take care of our ‘tickers’ before weight. Exercise and food in moderation is always the key to feeling better. I’d rather be active, feeling better and having more energy rather than focusing on being super thin. And I don’t believe in the gene code thing. I think it’s what we put in our mouths and the lack of physical exercise. However, at the same time, I do believe that our body chemistry and hormone levels can affect our weight regardless. It has a lot to do with it sometimes. (Sometimes)

Great post!!!

~Deb said...

Very interesting! I was just blogging about my parents and how they always cooked with lard or bacon to get their food tasting good. In the long run, I found myself a bit more ‘rounded’ off. Bleckk… But once I started to work out and find that hey---sushi and vegetables aren’t bad at all! I’m with you on that.

I believe that we should take care of our ‘tickers’ before weight. Exercise and food in moderation is always the key to feeling better. I’d rather be active, feeling better and having more energy rather than focusing on being super thin. And I don’t believe in the gene code thing. I think it’s what we put in our mouths and the lack of physical exercise. However, at the same time, I do believe that our body chemistry and hormone levels can affect our weight regardless. It has a lot to do with it sometimes. (Sometimes)

Great post!!!

Grant said...

patti_cake - many of us do more harm than good by inflicting Hollywood style values of appearance on our children. I'm sure your daughter will be fine if you work to ensure she has good eating and exercise habits from a young age.

avitable - I don't think thin reduces static electricity. I've just noticed I don't get shocked as badly when I'm eating all natural foods.

nobius - you're wrong. Drop and give me twenty. :p Actually, I believe that some have it easier than others, but I also believe it's due to body type which is influenced more by childhood development than genetics. That explains the tiny J-couples I've seen with their 6' teenaged sons.

kerry - everyone says that about the photo. I was a few pounds lighter (no more than ten) becuase basic training wasn't too far in my past. I think woodland camo must be very slimming. Try wearing fatigues instead of exercising and see what kind of compliments you get.

hellbunny - that all contributes, although I think a lot of my problem is that I had a sedentary childhood and was raised on fattening Southern style American foods, which involve a lot of breading and deep-frying.

~deb - thanks. I'm glad I'm not morbidly obese. Not that I look down on them, I just see them and think "There but for the grace of no god whatsoever go I." Despite a few pounds, I'm physically semi-strong and my heart is in good shape, so I'm happy with it.

Enemy of the Republic said...


I wasn't going to post because some of this stuff is a little raw for me. I can relate to the undercalorie intake which makes you only want to go to sleep. It's strange with men; the skinnier I get, the more they complain. I'm a freak--I was even called a Somolian refugee by a friend. When does skinny cease to be attractive to a man and become gross? I suppose it's a matter of taste--bad pun.

My eating disorder has nothing to do with whether men want me or not anyway. It's rooted in something else.

I appreciate your candor, as always.

JohnB said...

All I can fall back on with this is mass continuity...conservation of energy: energy and mass cannot be destoyed, only to change form. If you don't burn off what you take in, then you gain...It really is THAT SIMPLE. Us humans really love to complicate matters...seriously, we are our own worst enemies. The key is balance...

Doug Murata said...

You're right. I don't understand. To a degree, I feel bad that I don't understand. (However, I also admit that I'm glad I've never been in a position that would give me such insight.)

You're definitely one of the people that make me stop and think. I appreciate that. (I suppose the next step would be to actively change now that I've started thinking...)

Anonymous said...

dont have much to home the diet has always been healthy, outside the home, its terrible.

I can't believe that I can eat maccas, fast food, softdrink, icecream and chocolate like i do and still end up as slim as my mum... but its workin for now.

Maybe I should care more, but at my size, if i even mention putting on weight people tell me to shut up i need the weight or get angry coz they think i must be anorexic...

I am not anorexic for sure. Food is just waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too important in my life.

Wendy C. said...

I don't follow the adkins diet. I hate diets. I eat what feels natural. My problems have always been the other end of the spectrum, so really, i shouldnt comment at all :-)

Juliabohemian said...

what person actually thought that??

do the math. 200 years ago we mostly worked hard labor and burned off all our calories.

now we have drive-thrus, cars, microwaves, remote controls...anything to avoid exerting energy.

It's not a coincidence. There are people who are more inclined to be heavy because of their genes. But, on the whole, our country is lazy and sedintary.

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Eternity said...

I had a friend who was extremely overweight, who moved to India for a year. She came back reed thin, even though doctors here told her it was a medical thing, and that she may always struggle with her weight. That was ten years ago and she is still thin.

I'm not sure if this has anything to do with this blog but it is what it made me think of, so here I write...