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PHYSIQUE AND BODY IMAGE

Diet Orange

EATING DISORDERS

If you suspect that you or someone you know may have an eating disorder, visit the National Eating Disorder Association website for help. They have a hotline and chat feature.

LGBTQ+ people are much more likely to suffer from eating disorders than the general population. HALF of LGBTQ+ individuals 24 and under have been diagnosed with an eating disorder at some point in their life.

You can be a healthy weight or above and still have an eating disorder.

Try this search engine to find a provider. Select "Co-occuring Issues" from the first dropdown menu, then "Treatment for the LGBTQ Community" from the second menu, and clear out the "Location" box (it's stuck on Antarctica for some reason), then it will turn up a list of over 50 options throughout the states and Canada. Click on the tiny globe to the right of the search results to see them all on a map and narrow down by your location.

Weights at Gym

WEIGHT LIFTING OR GETTING IN SHAPE

*WARNING*

This section may have some dysphoric, snarky attitude in it. My apologies. I'm working through some things!

I'm no fitness expert. Good god if you could just see me sitting here on my couch in the little (I mean big) ass depression I've made in the cushions. But I try. It's something I care about. Most of my family is/was populated by obese figures, stricken with heart disease, diabetes, stroke, etc. And I know it's something the LGBTQ+ population cares about. In different ways. And maybe a little too much sometimes. We all know the stereotype of the gay man who's a gym rat. Turns out, 42% of men with an eating disorder are gay, according to NationalEatingDisorders.org. On the flip side of the coin, lesbians are more likely than heterosexual women to be obese.


I'm working on getting in shape, working on drinking less (the main culprit), working on eating right, and working on getting physical activity. I'm about to begin transitioning. I'll, god-willing, start hormones at the end of this week (9/7/18) and get a booby-ectomy in about four months. But, apart from a brief 3 year period of being anorexic, I've always been fat. And the last thing I want now, the most dysphoric thing I can imagine, is to be an obese, hairy, bearded woman-thing with testosterone induced acne. I want to be a fit, muscular, glowing, paragon of masculinity. So the following is what I'm looking at. Resources I've found that, if only I have the discipline, will help me be the person I want to be. Now I don't know jack about bulking, but I do know that you generally gain a lot of fat and muscle at the same time. Then you have to lean down. Well, I'm not in a place in my life where I feel like gaining a ninth chin, so I focused in on this workout regimen and meal plan that emphasize "lean bulking." I'm not saying it's good yet. I'm going to try it for a few months after I start T and I'll let you know how it goes in a blog post.

For the MTFs or gay guys out there (really anyone), I want to share with you some really old workout videos that were originally on VHS. They have CINDY CRAWFORD! And some wicked tunes from the 90's. Those of you who are 40 or older will love this. These are great workouts if you want to get stronger and leaner BUT NOT BULK. They remind me a lot of Pilates, before it was cool, and it derives some principles from dance. There is a constant alternation between building muscle and stretching to keep your profile lean. They look really easy and silly, but believe me, the next day your ass WILL be sore. It's mostly based on using the body's own weight as resistance, though you will need some small dumbbells, a chair, and a pillow or cushion.


*Remember, I'm no expert. I'm not a personal trainer. Check with your doctor before starting any workout routine. I'm not saying you should do any of this. So if you get hurt, it's your own damn fault.

Bar Entrance

KICKING YOUR VICE

It can be hard finding LGBTQ+ friendly assistance when dealing with an addiction which is unfortunate because this community is at a greater risk for abuse and addiction (20-30%) than the heterosexual community (9%). Why? We are dealing with more depression, more discrimination/minority stress, more suicidal ideation, more comorbid mental illness, more domestic violence, more homelessness, more underemployment, ...need I go on? And, sadly enough, I know in at least the lesbian community, we may not think the problem is bad enough to require help. Or we're not worth it.

Find out more about the problem here and here.

Start thinking about the possibility of recovery, of having control of your life back. Take a look at these facilities and resources. Most of them have either a hotline or a chat function. They are special because they realize that there are additional challenges that LGBTQ+ individuals face that are unique to the community. And just because I say "facility" doesn't mean you have to carve six weeks out of your life for residential treatment. Some people need that, but not everyone. There are outpatient services out there. If you are having trouble taking the first step, contact me. I'm an alcoholic. I get it.

Greenhouse - hotline or contact form. This is a treatment facility in Texas. Their website also provides guides on just about every addiction you can imagine and a list of other providers in other areas of the country.

Recovery Connection - hotline, online chat, and contact form available. This organization can help you get in touch with a treatment resource that fits your needs.

Willow Springs Recovery - phone and contact form. This LGBTQ+ friendly facility is also located in Texas. I believe that their gay friendly portion of their facility may only focus on drug abuse and not alcohol, but you should double check that for me. They do make a point of saying that they DO accept Transgender patients.

DrugAbuse.com - hotline. This organization, which has a very informational website, has gay addiction treatment center professionals that can put you in contact with a treatment center that fits your needs.

The Recovery Village - phone. They have treatment centers in numerous states, though I'm not sure if they are all LGBTQ+ friendly.

Green Salad

HEALTHY EATING

This goes back to the eating disorders topic a bit. It's important to eat right. Everyone knows that. But it's possible to be too good at healthy eating. Orthorexia is an obsession with eating healthy to the point that health or social life become endangered. Although it is not officially in the DSM V, the National Eating Disorders Association recognizes it as a serious problem. Find out what it looks like here.

There are other pitfalls to avoid when trying to eat healthy. Make sure you are getting enough calories. If you are trying to stay under 1200 calories a day, stop*. That's not enough for a grown woman, let a lone a grown man. Restricting too much will slow your metabolism, making it harder to loose weight or build muscle, and put you at risk for heart, liver and kidney damage. Believe me. I was once anorexic and my body literally started eating my heart muscle to the point that my pulse became life threateningly low. Talk to your doctor about how many calories you should be eating, and follow their advice. If you are having trouble staying at a healthy weight, whether it's too high or too low, get the help of a nutritionist who can develop an food plan specifically for you.

Now, all that being said... what to eat? I've tried just about every fad diet out there. Oh god, and the detoxes! They don't work, at least not long term. What does work is eating real, whole, minimally processed food. Your food should look like... well, food. Eat a bag of Doritos once in a while, it's OK, don't beat yourself up. But try to find things that have short ingredient lists, ingredients you can read, ingredients that you could find in a kitchen. Or really step out on a limb and find things that don't need ingredient lists because they just are what they are (ex: an apple, some chicken). Don't go all crazy and go on a fat-free diet or a carb-free diet, or anything else extreme*, unless you have a health problem and your doctor tells you to. Your body NEEDS those things to work, especially your brain.

My weight has been all over the place my whole life, but here is what I have found that has helped me lose weight at a healthy rate. If your goal is to bulk up, maintain an already healthy weight, or gain weight, these two methods can still work for that. These are really more about being healthy than about being skinny:

  • Eating a (primarily) plant based diet. I was a vegetarian for just over a decade (thanks to a tick bite). I lost and kept off 60 pounds for that whole time and then some. I did not have much access to vegetarian junk food (beware, it's everywhere now) so I made most of my food from scratch, meaning whole, fresh ingredients. When I gradually started eating meat again, I opted for grass-fed animals (which are higher in vitamin k2) and only had a couple servings a week. I believe that eating like this is what kept me from some of the poor health milestones that my parents achieved* - diabetes by 21 years and heart attack by 28 years. At 34, I'm quite...a hand(or two)ful, but healthy. Check out this documentary, Forks Over Knives, to find out more about the benefits of a primarily plant based diet. You can download it for free or watch it on Netflix, Amazon, or iTunes.

  • Now hear me out on this one. There's an old book that's out of print now, but you can still find used, called The Liver Cleansing Diet, by Sandra Cabot. It's not the kind of cleanse you're thinking about. You don't have to fast. You don't have to drink cayenne concoctions. You won't be in the bathroom twenty times a day. You don't have to count calories or restrict. It's not really a detox or a diet. It's a lifestyle, a way of eating, that takes some stress off of your liver* so it can do what it was meant to do. The gist of it is that you, for a time, eliminate heavily processed foods including processed sugar and oils. That's not to say that you don't get to have sugar and oils in your diet though, just in different, more natural, forms. You limit, but do not eliminate, how much alcohol and coffee you drink. You limit, but not eliminate, what kind of meats you eat. And that is about it. You're supposed to give it 8 weeks, then you can go back to eating crap, or you can modify the diet to a longer term lifestyle. I did it for the whole 8 weeks. I ate as much as I could get my chubby fingers on. I never exercised. Yet I lost an average of two pounds a week (the most you should ever try to drop*). I had tons of energy, got amazing sleep, and had amazing skin. There, that's it for my testimonial.

*I am not a doctor. I'm not attempting to diagnose, treat, cure, or anything like that. These are just my opinions and experiences. Please don't sue me.*

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