“Set Point Weight” Theory Never Made Me Happy


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Standing next to that particularly dapper fellow- is me. Well, it was me, about 50 lbs ago. Like many Americans, my weight  problems started early and only got worse in a culture that never taught me anything about health.

As someone who had been bigger all my life, I too believed that was simply my bodies natural “set point”. That any change in diet or exercise would ultimately be useless because this was the weight my body naturally balanced out to. A lot of people subscribe to this theory for a variety of reasons. But I can say honestly now that the reason I believed this was purely denial.

This is a very sensitive subject, I know. I spent years hating my body and feeling inadequate. When speaking to larger women now, I can see them comparing themselves endlessly. It’s heartbreaking because I know that pain well. But the reality I had to face, and the thing that ultimately lead to me transforming my body, was that I was doing it to myself.

I didn’t have a thyroid problem, I drank too much soda.

I’m not allergic to anything, I just eat mindlessly and sit at my computer too much.

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The unfortunate wash on my jeans makes it look like I’ve wet my pants. But I assure you, I’m just fat.

Walking up the stairs to my apartment is not exercise, I’m just being lazy.

Now, I want to be clear: I know many people have physical problems that keep them from maintaining a healthy weight. This isn’t an attempt to shame anyone to lose weight. I think fat shaming is a crappy and ineffective ways to talk to people about health. But I wasn’t happy with my weight and had already started experiencing health problems in my twenties due to my diet.

Your body type can change the number of how much you weight drastically. For instance, I was about 170lbs in the above photo. Now, that wouldn’t be a problem if I was broad shouldered and 5’11. But sadly I’m a petite 5’3. Everything from your genetics, your height and race can change what is a healthy weight for an individual. But. None of those factors can make you naturally overweight. You do not have 30, 50, or 100lbs of excess fat because that’s your body’s “natural set point”. It may be the result of your natural lifestyle but that’s different. It’s something within your control which is why it’s so hard to accept. I know, it was hard for me too.

I had no idea how lazy I was. I was raised into a sedentary lifestyle and didn’t know any other way to be. The first time I went to a gym, I was on an elliptical for eight minutes before stopping, thinking that would be enough. Eight minutes. I had no idea what it felt like to push myself, to sweat, to ache or “feel the burn”. I wasn’t just addicted to junk food, I was addicted to comfort.

As someone who desperately wanted to lose weight, without doing anything uncomfortable of course, I set out to try any quick fix I could find. And none of it worked, obviously, because it was only treating the symptoms. I wasn’t willing to except that the real problem was with all the things I didn’t want to change.
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Four years and one pregnancy later I’m feeling a lot better. I’m happier with the way my body looks and feels. But in the end the real turning point for me was the decision to stop making excuses for myself. Ideas like “set body weight” are tempting and may make us feel better, but it’s an emotional band aid.

No one should hate their body and an often overlooked idea in the body positivity movement is the any mention of health or fitness. Being positive about your body shouldn’t just be about ignoring shitty media messages (although, fuck you Victoria Secret, for real.) It should be treating your body well. That means paying attention to its needs, not mistreating the only body you’ve got.

 

We are not the Specials: the Nerd’s Appeal to Pity


Bitter Nerd: A portion of the Nerd community. These people struggle to self analyze and a have strong need to protect themselves from any criticism. They resent that they’re lonely and often blame women for their lack of sex lives.

[NOTE: If you are a Nerd, but do not fit this category: good. You do not need to send me an essay long email about how you’re not bitter. Do not send me your memoir about how hard things were for you growing up. If you cannot control your urge to inform me about how you’re not a bitter nerd- you probably are a bitter nerd.]

I recently tweeted out the following series of messages on my Twitter.

This came from a place of frustration. I realized during a conversation that I genuinely feared the reactions of nerds to my content. I feared it in a way I never felt about any high school bully. The anxiety over backlash and internet tantrums had actually kept me from writing my feelings, posting content, and saying what I really felt on more than one occasion. All this from a demographic who rallies about free speech in violent games. And it pissed me off.

The subsequent reaction to it blew up my Twitter feed for a bit. The majority has so far been mostly positive or at the very least introspective. The negative reactions were… less than constructive, as they tend to be. In instances like this negative reactions tend to spiral down 1 of 2 different crap chutes. So here’s a handy guide that may help you pinpoint the particular issue you’re dealing with.

Appealing to pity

Arguments that fall under this category generally take the form of…

“I was bullied in the 80’s and girls didn’t like me.”

“Women only like neanderthals.”

“I was never given the opportunity to work on my social skills, that’s why I’m like this.”

The overwhelming message here is of course the word bitter nerds hate most: Entitlement. Along with privilege, they hate these words because they cast criticism on their behavior. And criticism of any kind can’t be tolerated because…

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Bitter Nerds are actually the most sensitive people on Earth.

For all these people complain about the over sensitivity of social justice advocates, I don’t seek them out and never have. Social justice advocates are not the one sending endless, whinging comments to my video about Game Grumps. They see any criticism they receive as the cruelest, most undeserved attack on their poor widdle selves. While seeing any criticism they give anyone else, no matter how toxic or abusive, to be totally justified. It’s just them exercising their free speech and- gosh darn it- they’re proud!

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But back to appealing to pity.

Although these people can be frustrating, they’re problem is really just having a deep-seated sense of persecution that they’ve carried into adulthood. Combined with  feeling entitled to women’s attention, and therefore not responsible for improving themselves- this breeds resentment.

It’s impossible to get through to someone like this until they first understand that they are responsible for themselves and what they say and do. They must be open to the idea that they’re flawed and capable of improvement. But they’re also hypersensitive to anything that might resemble snark, anger, or sarcasm. Replying in any of these ways will result in them doubling down on their feelings of persecution.

Bitter nerds love to consider themselves misunderstood anti-heroes and lone wolves. I’d like to point out that this is a pretty common coping mechanism. One I fell victim to in my own youth. It gives you a  sense of identity and shields you from the sting of criticism.

“I’m not a loser, I’m just misunderstood. They don’t get how special I am. And that’s fine as long as I am super duper special.”

The problem comes up when you’re confronted with the reality that so many other people suffered in the same way. People we thought “had it all” struggled just as much as we did, if not worse.

Case in point, my boyfriend.

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Stupid hot guy… I bet he traveled the world with the money he made being popular in High School.

If I had met him in high school I would have never spoken to him. I would have never even considered talking to him. He was cute and on the soccer team and had legs like Chun Li. Guys like that didn’t go out with chubby nerd girls who drew Sailor Moon fan art in their notebooks. He might as well have been a different species.

But the reality was he was taking so many AP classes at such a young age that he could barely connect with anyone in his school.

“The older kids didn’t like the younger kid showing off, and the kids my age didn’t relate to me because I wasn’t in any of their classes. I felt like I was completely alone. I had some friends, but I didn’t feel like I was part of a group like everyone else was.”

Learning this was kind of mind-blowing for me. I was so absorbed with how everyone dismissed me and how bad that made me feel that I was totally oblivious to the fact that high school sucks for everyone. If you’re fat and ugly, like me, you were an invisible loser. But if you were beautiful then fat, ugly girls like me would resent you forever. You can’t win. And the first step in escaping this persecution complex is realizing that we were not the only ones suffering. And no, our suffering wasn’t worse or somehow more important than others. We are not the specials. 

Appealing to pity only proves that you’re still operating the same way you were in adolescence. It’s a self-centered and extremely flawed perception that has no place in modern conversations about politics, social justice or gaming. I implore you, as a fellow nerd, we all seriously need to grow out of this. I know it’s hard to stop. After sitting in a specific chair for long enough that butt nook is pretty damn comfortable. It soothes us to think that we’re the real victims because it takes all the responsibility off of us to change our behavior. But that’s a coward’s approach to the world. It’s time to take up the sword, put on our big kid pants and start acting like the heroes we look up to in our games.

The Drain


Sometimes I get bored. Very bored. Sometimes I get so bored that I start sending my friends handwritten letters. One particular series of letters gradually descended into a crazed rant about a Lovecraftian monster that lived in my shower drain. The being eventually took over my body and started writing the letters entirely in Latin. The final letter was just a pile of torn and burned pieces of paper shoved into an envelope.

…I was very bored.

Last night I was in the kitchen eating out of the fridge straightening up and heard a noise. It was a scratching noise that sounded faintly like an animal. Convinced there was a mouse behind the fridge, and that the dark spots underneath were droppings, I started to investigate. Unfortunately the spots turned out to be coffee beans I had spilled a week earlier.

But then today… in the bathroom…

 

 

shock-o

 

Halloween Hunt text adventure


I was so wrapped up in finishing this game while experiencing the first precious moments of Fall as Summer breathes it’s last sputtering, agonizing breathe that I forgot to actually mention I finished it.

Sorry about that.

Halloween Hunt is a small text adventure I wrote and programmed in Twine. You play you, as in you, and you’re investigating a spooky mansion. I’ve always had a soft spot for haunted houses so I hope you enjoy it and send in your results.

Just click here to download it for free:

Halloween Hunt

Social Media is changing your perception of the world


It’s easy to forget that, but forgetting is probably the worst thing we can do.

I see this problem a lot with people involved in social justice. People who have genuinely good intentions of raising awareness for good causes. They want to be on the forefront of social changes. I get that, I feel that way too. But everything from the types of sites you visit to the people you surround yourself with all mold and color the world social media shows you. And it’s easy to forget that’s not the whole truth.

My old Twitter feed, for example, would have me think the world is consumed by the gender controversies of gaming. Everyone I know and respect would be tweeting their support and/or criticisms, and then of course the endless stream of arguments that ensue because of that. It wasn’t until I was sitting face to face with a group of friends that I was shocked back into reality.

“Anita Sarkeesian.”

“…who?”

“Seriously? Feminist Frequency?  She did that who series about Feminism in gaming? She’s spent the last couple years getting followed around the internet by MRA idiots?”

Then the real kicker-

“…what’s the MRA?”

I just stared blankly, realizing I had spent about 10 minutes ranting over coffee about something my friends were oblivious to.  I envied them because the mongrels who stalked and doxxed Sarkeesian had infuriated me. I ruminated about their stupidity and sheer willful ignorance as the world went on happily around me. And eventually came to the frustrating realization that the only person giving these pathetic neckbeards any power… was me. I had fallen down a social justice rabbit hole- with the best intentions- but I had lost all sense of size and proportion. They looked like a huge, unmovable threat. Marching ever forward with their pitchforks aimed at the ideals I held most sacred.

The reality of course is if any of these  dweebs ever got up the courage to say anything to me up front, I would have laughed right in their face. I experienced a similar situation in high school when the hyper-fundy Christian felt to the need to give me the:

“Do you believe in God? You should, he believes in you…” I tried really hard not to laugh. I did, I swear I did. But I failed, just as I would inevitably fail not to laugh at the painfully awkward gamer who decided I needed his wondrous guidance. It’s all just way too sad.

This phenomena doesn’t just affect the way we perceive the world, I see it affecting our health too. Yes, that sounds very granola of me, but that’s what my observations had led me to believe. High profile feminists and social justice people have talked openly about struggling with depression and anxiety. It’s like a shitty job where you get yelled at all day, social media also often becomes a venue through which people tear you down and that’s without pay.

I eventually couldn’t find a reason to stay. I was being bombarded with articles that could ruin my afternoon, every afternoon. People complaining about the awful dredges of society, and of course the dredges themselves always manage to pool around the bottom. It made me angry when in my real life I had nothing to be angry about. When in fact my real life is full of happiness, love and friendship. So why waste my time?

And why waste your time?

 

 

Stop saying things are “Triggering” you if you don’t have PTSD


One of the hardest things about admitting publicly that I have PTSD was it’s association with the hordes of young people who wear their disorders like fashion accessories. The internet has begun to throw this word around like it’s rice at a goddamn wedding. To the point where it’s now inextricably linked with teens who wallow in self pity for self diagnosed mental illnesses. This is not to say that everyone on Tumblr is faking, I would say the majority are probably not. But it’s now been picked up as a trendy term to describe anything that bothers someone. Stop it. Seriously.

What does “Trigger” mean?

A trigger is a term created by mental health experts to describe an event that triggers a flashback or volatile response in PTSD patients. It is something that is either directly or indirectly linked to the traumatizing event(s).

What are common triggers?

War footage.

Loud or sudden noises.

Locations that are similar to the trauma. Back roads, alley ways, basements.

Graphic violence in movies.

Vomiting or other pro ana activities

These aren’t the only possible things, far from it. In her book No Comfort Zone, Marla Handy talks about how, as a child, her father beat her for spilling ketchup on the floor. So now the very specific event of spilling ketchup can trigger her to have a flashback. But the openness of this term has allowed people to stretch it so far out of shape they seem to be free associating without any real understand of what “triggering” actually does.

What happens when you’re triggered

People respond in different ways depending on who they are and they got PTSD. But common reactions include:

Debilitating flashbacks

Auditory hallucinations

Violent outbursts (punching walls, knocking over furniture)

Screaming or crying

Overwhelming fear or rage

Uncontrollably shaking

These are real reactions to being triggered. It’s not something that offends your sensibilities. You may even be downright infuriated by something- that doesn’t mean you’re triggered. Specifically, if you don’t have PTSD you’re not being triggered. You’re just having emotions and despite what the Gods of Stoicism tell us, that’s completely natural.

“Trigger Words”

…What the fuck do you even mean by that? Trigger words… were you assaulted while you were reading? Attacked by a Librarian? People who survived concentration camps went on to write thousands of words about their experiences. Victims write blogs, teach seminars and actively seek out books written about PTSD trauma. I don’t understand why these kids feel they can’t even be in the presence of certain words.

In all my life I have never met another diagnosed PTSD patient who felt triggered by words. This is a fictitious extension of normal triggers invented by social media. It also pisses me off immensely. Because it’s, in part, one of the reasons people don’t take triggers seriously.

The spread and dilution of this term is having a negative effect on people with legitimate PTSD. For example, the last time I tried to explain this concept to someone I was told to “stop policing other people’s triggers!” by a person who had admittedly self diagnosed over the internet and- oh my God -the amount of FUCK YOU I had for this woman was immeasurable. People who are trying to speak up about their experiences are being lost in a sea of Muchausens. It’s already difficult to talk about this sort of thing anyway without the fear that you’ll be lumped in with a crowd of people who treat mental illness like a purse poodle.

So here’s the bottom line: trigger is a word specifically for PTSD. Use it accordingly or not at all. It’s just as easy to say advisory or warning. I know “trigger” sounds cool, but trust me there’s nothing cool about it. PTSD is fucking lame. Here’s a tip, if you think your mental illness makes you unique, cool, or dark and complex- you’re probably fine. And stop using “Trigger” for every little thing that’s remotely controversial.