Wednesday, 21 July 2010

The Penalty Ogre - Looking For Fat People Everywhere.

I think I am a bit of a laid-back individual. I am the tortoise not the hare. I'll race but not care if I don't get a medal. I am not incentive-driven really. I am happy for others to come first...although if by chance I come first and am recognised as a winner, I am pleased to bits. For me, being a winner in some aspects of my life HAS come naturally - just because of the way I am. I just wish I were a natural winner in ALL quarters. I am not, alas.

I have seen results in my working life..I have been a winner there. I won't say they've been without effort, because I have always given 100% effort. I have worked hard, I am a bit of a perfectionist (not a good trait but anything which has my name on it has to be perfect) and with experience I have gained skills. This has been recognised by my employers without me having to compete against others or shout from the roof-tops about the good job I am doing. I just get on with things, and have been fortunate to have been recognised and promoted. I am also fairly modest. I am not good at blowing my own trumpet and drawing attention to myself...I just get on quietly with doing the best I can...and fortunately, this has brought good results.

I have worked hard..but not been all that eager to climb the career ladder. I did, but only because other people wanted me to move a few rungs up...I didn't fight for a better salary. I didn't do a good job because I wanted promotion...ever. Easily contented...that's me.

I am, sadly, not terribly ambitious. Is that a fault do you think? Should people STRIVE to be the best they can be - or is that the fast track to stress and associated illnesses? I became a career success almost by default - if that makes any sense? I am not complaining. It's just that I got on by being 'me'... laid-back, not-at-all-competitive me..not someone racing to succeed, competing to be recognised or HAVING to do well. (I acknowledge that I was lucky other people cared that I should earn more for my work, and wanted to give me more responsibility/pay but as long as I have enough, money has never been a driving force in my life.) Like I said..I am OK with coming second. It doesn't eat away at me because I am not first. Rewards don't seem to work for me or spur me on to greater things :(

I have been wondering about why some people go about losing weight with a passion...and I don't. Jack Sh*t (sorry..not sure how to do a link) mentioned a few posts back about not being able to catch the spark to light the fire and boy did that hit home with me. That's exactly where I am. This is one area where I wish I could drive myself on into caring more or wanting to be a winner. I am dawdling along, knowing all the reasons why being overweight is not good for me, knowing about the illnesses and complications being fat can cause, yet NOT doing my utmost every day, every moment, to make the fat go away. I wouldn't be sitting here typing now if I REALLY cared. I'd have been out for a long walk already this morning if fat-busting meant that much to me. Like I have said before - I spend far too much time online, sitting on my fat arse.

There are penalties for being fat that we ALL know about. We wrote the lists, didn't we? Clothes don't fit, we can't move properly, chairs aren't big enough, we get out of breath, people stare, we feel awful about ourselves, become depressed, hide away, we stop taking part, we can't take part, our reflections sadden us, and we could become very ill, and not be around for our families. All horrible attachments that come with our big, flabby bodies.

If we know all this awful stuff and we experience it too, why do we carry on being fat? Why aren't we using every single moment of our existence on fighting the flab, being active, eating like a sparrow etc? We know HOW to lose weight. Only the dedicated get the job done. Many bloggers ARE successful. I am blogging because I want to be, but without humongous (and noticeable) effort on my part, I am not going to get the rewards. My kids haven't seen me picking at salads or full of enthusiasm for a walk around the block. No one would really know I am cutting back and trying to lose weight, even though I tell them I am. No one has exclaimed "Oh Grump! You are looking good!" I am not looking good - yet.

An article in Psychology Today, says that “Rewards produce only a temporary upswing in productivity; they are strikingly ineffective at inducing lasting changes in attitudes or behaviour.”

It's true. The reward of smaller clothes tomorrow doesn't work for me. The carrot has to be dangled and dangled and dangled to get us to do more and do better for a reward. There are incentives to lose weight...all personal ones. I am reminded of my training back in the '70s, and the lectures I had regarding intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. It all makes sense. That's why I flounder. If only I did a excellent job on myself every day, without thinking - like I did with the task in hand when I worked.

Is the stick more effective than the carrot? I have been wondering - if there were penalties - serious, scary, tangible and frightening penalties - issued to us on a weekly basis if we didn't drop one pound of weight (which is do-able) wouldn't we all be working-out like demented things and living on fresh air? We'd all drop not one but two pounds or more if we were scared of the enormous, loud, green Penalty Ogre coming to visit us every Saturday with his booming voice, ugly talons, scales (weighing scales that is!) chains and a cage in which he would take us away to a hideous place if we hadn't lost a pound. If there were no hiding place...if the ferocious Penalty Ogre could seek us out, wouldn't we commit like crazy to working-out and cutting back on calories? Fear is a driving force, yet the fear of ghastly diseases and even early death can be put on the back burner most days, for slackers like me.

Isn't this true? "Fears are educated into us, and can, if we wish, be educated out" ~ Karl Augustus Menninger

The penalties of being fat are all the things listed above and more. Even the thought of ill health doesn't spur us laid-back types on. It might niggle away at our consciences, (it does, constantly) but for people like me, that's about all it does. The recognised, destructive penalties of being fat I can live with. I must be able to - you must be able to - because we do. I can't work myself up to being 100% committed, nor can I work out like a loony, which given I am older and post-menopausal I really need to do. I need more fear.

I think the Penalty Ogre might be a good thing. Do you need him too? Bring him on!


  1. My feeling is that we remain fat because it serves us well in some ways. I did a post about it awhile back listing all of the potential benefits I derived from being fat. I did it not because they outweighed the drawbacks, but as an early recognition of what I would lose by losing weight. Many of them have certainly come to pass as "losses".

    I'm also not "gung-ho". If I were, I wouldn't have finished my dinner with a cookie, or my lunch with 3 bites of chocolate. If I were all-out on this thing, I'd probably save another 1400 calories per week and possibly have lost a half pound more per week than I have in the past year or so.

    Would I change a thing? No. First of all, I think there are diminishing returns on sacrifice. I have yet to see someone who has an average weight loss that exceeds mine. That is, they lose 4 lbs. one week, and .2 lbs. the next. I lose 2-2.5 lbs. per week on average, steadily. The body can only do so much, and it can't be fooled. It won't be pushed too far too fast no matter how insane you want to be about it.

    Second, I'm not looking to diet. I'm looking to pare back my eating habits and pile on exercise until I have something I can live with day-in and day-out until I die. Those super dieters aren't going to be able to carry on as they are forever. Maybe they don't need to, but I'd rather spend every day practicing for the rest of my life than to go extreme and race to the fat loss finish line. It may take me another 6 months or a year to reach my target, but I have the time. I have it planned - it's supposed to take me three years, and I'm right on schedule so far.

    Incidentally, you are right about the carrot and the stick. The carrot is only good for the short term. That's why I have no carrots in what I do. That being said, I also have no sticks, because I firmly believe the stick just makes it harder to do what you want to do. If you think you're weak, bad or in need of punishment, it's far harder to see yourself as someone who can succeed. I think I'm just a grown-up, who is interesting in personal growth and changing something about my life which has made me unhappy for almost all of my life. I don't need rewards, and I don't need a metaphorical spanking either.

    I'm guess you're big girl enough not to need them either. ;-)

  2. Laughing here SFG.

    What I want is for someone else to make my life successful - someone to drive it. The Penalty Ogre would get the job done for me - as if by magic. He is of course a figment of my imagination and any progress I make will be because I worked and planned for it, day after day after day. My progress (and my determination) is so wishy-washy (not habitual)that I am only just clinging on to the notion of being a woman who WILL lose weight. At times I feel I am the woman who talks about losing weight. Know what I mean?

  3. You have brought up so many things to think about!! I will be pondering your post at my boring, unsatisfying job today! (Future posts: career advice for those of us who are stuck.)

    At the age of 29, when my doctor sadly shook his head and commented, "You're too young to have blood pressure this high....." that was an Ogre motivator for me.

    That, along with all of the things you mentioned that are hard about being overweight. I guess I need the Penalty Ogre....

  4. The Ogre motivator for me is to live a longer healther life. So I like having a carrot dangled in front of me. Gives me something to work toward. Smaller clothes, fitting into an airplane set. So bring on Mr. Ogre. lol

  5. I am not an ambitious person by nature either. I love sitting around surfing the web. I dread career-building. And I didn't especially care about the weight issue even with the little penalties until I got big, life altering penalties. I started breaking chairs I sat in, in front of other people. I had to go to the ER for terrible heart palpitations. And the worst penalty I didn't even NOTICE until it was too late to change: I'd missed out on years of my little ones' lives... unable to play, unable to do a flight of stairs to kiss them goodnight. And now they're teens. And I can't get those moments, those years back.

    So I guess the lesson *for me* has been, sometimes it takes a huge, very painful, heart wrenching realization of *what you've missed* to make the changes truly worth making. Because bigger clothes are not really all that bad. But missing years of life... that's not something you want to wake up and see after the fact.

    I enjoy your blog, and I also thank you for the kind support and comments you give to me! I really appreciate it :)

  6. My moment came when i found out i had an artery that was almost totally blocked and needed two stents to open it. The surgeon said "we don't usually see anyone this young with these heart issues" Oh yeah, i'm on the ball now.

  7. Please send the ogre right over, oh, wait a moment, he's here...he's cancer, he's a stroke, he's a coronary in the wait, he's diabetes, he's early senility, he's sadness and sorrow and he's always lurking about looking for fat people.

    I understand about lack of drive, I've simply fallen upward in my career, I've turned down promotions and tried to have a life but I do always want to do a good job so I end up, well, up.

    I think in spite of your doubts you've made progress and will continue to do're made to fail up. :)

  8. OH MY GOSH! I was just thinking about this the other day. I have such a hard time sticking with my weight loss. I found a website the other day, though, that caters to my slight obsessiveness. SparkPeople.... I put my whole meal plan in the day before and it gives me calorie totals. Then I know what I can and can't have the next day. I love seeing those numbers add up to perfect totals. I know, wierd. But it just may do it for me!

    I'm one of those bloggers that bloggers get bothered by. I'm here for a week, gone for two, here for two days, gone for 5. I READ them all the time, but I get embarrassed that I'm doing poorly. I get caught up in life (er..I mean watching The Bachelorette online) and I just.. don't do it!

    Anyway, I received a very comforting comment from you one day and ever since, I've been reading your blog. I luf it. Just luf it. :)

  9. I really don't think the ogre does a bit of good. I also don't think that being somewhat overweight is such a terrible thing, health-wise. I'm not talking morbid obesity, breaking chairs, the inability to fit into a booth in a restaurant. But there are lots of people who have, as the French say, a bit of embonpoint and it is definitely not the worst thing in the world.

    In fact, one of the absolute worst things you can do for your health is to yo-yo diet.

    Fear mongering and insults--be they self-imposed (something we all do) or from others (our friend Screaming Fat Girl has talked a lot about living in a country that crucifies the overweight)and --are totally counterproductive. If they worked, there would be no overweight people, no one would smoke, take drugs or even stay out late at night. lol

    We are living in a society that on the one hand encourages overeating and eating patently bad food (do you have the "I'm lovin' it" McDonald's commercial in England?) and on the other hand tells us that every health problem on the face of the earth can be eliminated by reaching one's "ideal" weight. (I'd just like to mention that my slightly high BP has returned to a lovely normal now that I'm almost totally off work--the stress of what I do is monumental. And I haven't lost a pound.)

    The truth is out there, but it's far more complicated than the media would have us believe.

    You are eating better, walking more and watching your portions. I think you are on exactly the right track.

  10. Hi
    Thanks for visiting. My, you dont do a post of this length in five minutes. Love your honest approach. Will be back.