7.23.2012

Goodbye Belly Shelf

When you're fat, you might think everything about it is inconvenient. And generally, it is. Flying, for instance, really sucks. Then there is the whole trying to find clothes that fit right thing, the not having as much athletic endurance as you'd like thing, the inability to tolerate heat thing, the swelling ankles thing, the not being able to bend over and tie your shoes as easily as a skinny person thing. If you can think of a physical inconvenience, I'm pretty sure a fat person (even a happy fat person) has experienced it. We've just learned how to live with these facts of life.

But it's not all bad. I mean, at least you have the "shelf." You know, that plane of flesh that forms in front of you when you sit down that can become anything you like, from a built-in armrest to a cup or plate holder, a book support, that thing you can prop a baby on? Most women have them when they're pregnant, and a lot of us keep them years after we have our babies, like a souvenir. The belly shelf is like one of those things you might expect to see Billy Mays plugging in a late night infomercial as something you'd strap on and enjoy with your Snuggie.

While the shelf can be handy, I think I could do with out it, because there is this other other shelf our bodies automatically provide for us called a "lap." But if you're fat, then you might have noticed that there is limited real estate on said lap. In the meantime, my shelf is disappearing and honestly can't even rightly be called a shelf anymore. In fact, it's about half the size it was two weeks ago (maybe that makes it a pudgy form of crown molding?), all because I stopped eating crap and started eating good stuff (see the Vegan Thing and the Vegan Thing Part II). Again, I'm not counting calories, and I'm not even really exercising (yet), but I've cut out added oils and sugars, dairy (still having the occasional bit of cheese, but that's it), no eggs, no meat (chicken, pork, beef). Also no sodas or artificially sweetened beverages of any kind. It's either water or unsweetened iced tea. I eat lots or veggies (starchy and non-starchy alike), fruits, nuts, grains (rice, oats, pasta, quinoa, barley, bread), and beans. Yeah, that's a lot of carbs, and you know what? My body is perfectly happy and my blood sugar is lower than it's ever been, so Dr. Atkins, if he were still alive, would receive an invitation to kiss my ever-shrinking ass. If you want more information on the style of eating we're doing, I recommend The Starch Solution by Dr. John McDougall.

The belly shelf has disappeared and come back a lot of times over the years, but I have to say, I don't think it's ever disappeared this quickly before. Even when I was doing Medifast and taking in about 900 calories a day, I don't think my belly shrank at this rate. In fact, the fat in my belly has been the most stubborn since I put on a good bit of weight there after having kids. Even when I've lost large chunks of weight over the years since (Weight Watchers, South Beach Diet, Medifast, etc etc), I've been lucky to drop more than one or two pants sizes because of my stupid stomach. Now it seems like this is the first place it's leaving, and, well... I'm shocked.

But don't worry. I'm not complaining about the loss of such an important utility device. The shelf has been there with me for so long I scarcely know what to do with myself in its gradually increasing absence. I find myself hugging pillows as I sit on the couch trying to mimic what was once there, because I honestly don't know how to sit without having a big mass of flesh in front of me. I'm going to have to relearn how to be comfortable in my own skin as its shape changes.

If you're not fat or never have been fat, you're probably reading this and wondering how in the hell you can relate. Well, we all adapt to the bodies we have, I guess. If we don't, then imagine how much more miserable we would be.

But for now, don't ask me to hold your baby, because I'm not quite sure I would know how to just yet.