Manolo for the Big Girl Fashion, Lifestyle, and Humor for the Plus Sized Woman.

September 12, 2007

The Military Dietitian of Straightforwardness

Filed under: Be Super Fantastic,Superfantastic Fattitude — Francesca @ 5:20 am

When Francesca signed up to write this blog, she stated specifically that this blog would not become the place “where dieting or exercise are encouraged or discouraged, as I believe that Manolo’s readers are intelligent enough to decide for themselves how to take care of their bodies and how much time or effort to invest in losing weight, and when or if to do so.”

Francesca sticks by this policy, and so before continuing she wishes to emphasize that this post is about a personal decision made at a particular time, and in no way suggests what Francesca thinks any of you, our dear readers, should do with your bodies. Francesca spends enough on therapy talking about her own body without worrying about yours!

A few years ago Francesca was under the care of a nutritionist, and it did not go well. Ms. Nutritionist was young and perky and smiled and said things like “We’ll make small changes, baby steps” and “there is no such thing as a food you can’t have; everything in moderation” and then proceeded to try to turn my life upside down with the new diet, which, as Garfield would remind us, is “die” with a “t” at the end.


Francesca suspected that Ms. Nutritionist had never been overweight, that she was one of those people who have always had perfect self control, and who, underneath the gentle words about moderation, harbored a secret revulsion for fat and for fat people, and she made Francesca wonder what sort of person becomes a nutritionist, anyway? I mean, who decides they want to spend their days telling others what to eat? Can we say “control issues”? Ech!

Fast forward to the last year or so, when Francesca has been so busy doing super-fantastic things like writing witty blog posts in cute bistros and reading good books and looking at beautiful art and playing Spider Solitaire at Level Two, that her weight crept upward and upward and the lumpy-squishies increased, and more importantly Francesca started to feel sluggish and tired and yucky. If it were just a matter of buying larger clothes, Francesca would gladly use any excuse to buy a new wardrobe. But sluggishness and Francesca do not mix! And there is also the matter that Francesca is in a high-risk group for diabetes, and although many diabetics are indeed superfantastic, diabetes itself is not superfantastic. Francesca decided the time had come to take action!

So Francesca made an appointment with the dietitian of a superfantastic friend (S.F. for short). SF had warned Francesca that said dietician is a “drill sergeant,” but that she is very talented and has helped many people to lose weight. Additionally, said dietitian specializes in helping people who have certain medical conditions, including a disorder which Francesca has which makes it difficult to lose weight. Francesca called and discovered there is a 3-month waiting list! Well! It would perhaps be worth the try, and anyway there would then be an excuse to eat whatever Francesca wants for the next 3 months! (Just kidding. Sort of.)

Two weeks ago, Francesca met with the Drill Sergeant Dietitian of Doom. This lady is neither young nor perky, and though it was obvious that she understands the nature of my medical needs and does not secretly think that being fat is my “fault,” she also does not sugarcoat a thing. When Francesca asked if she can ever have cake or cookies, did Drill Sergeant Lady speak of small portions and special occasions? No! She said “Francesca, it is poison for you. Poison.”

She also did not pretend we are making small steps. She said “I insist that you make changes X and Y and Z before our next meeting, because you really need to lose weight.”

On exercise: “Francesca, you have no excuses. You are young and mobile and there is no reason you should not be exercising. You. Have. No. Excuse.”

Not long ago, Francesca would have said “Pah! I do not need to listen to this! I am Francesca, and I will make changes at whatever rate I please, and I will have a real Coke sometimes, and cake, and you are a rude, impolite, unfeeling woman and I hate you!”

But as Francesca indicated at the beginning of this blog, sometimes the decision to lose weight is a matter of it being the right situation at the right time. The Sickly-Sweet Nutritionist of Moderation did not work for me, and I am tired of feeling sluggish, and so Francesca decided that since she is paying through the nose for Sergeant Dietitian to dispense advice, she may as well listen to it. It is true Francesca doesn’t have to listen to it, but she realized that the Drill Sergeant is not Francesca’s boss, she is Francesca’s employee, someone from whom Francesca has sought expertise.

At the moment Francesca has decided that she wants to follow this expertise, and that she finds the Straightforward Truth rather refreshing. At this point of Francesca’s life, she prefers the Sometimes Painful Truth to the Harbored Condescention of Saccharine.

Drill Sergeant

So Francesca has been exercising more and eating better. So far she has not lost any weight but she has more energy and feels much better. And that is always superfantastic!


  1. Right on, sistah!

    Comment by aliki — September 12, 2007 @ 6:44 am

  2. Superfantastic!!!!

    There is nothing worse than the young skinny sweet nutritionist telling you to eat smaller portions, snack on veggies, drink more water…wow, duh! You mean I can’t eat Cheetos all day as you’ve been obviously assuming I do?

    Exercising more and eating better to give you more energy sounds great.

    Comment by Maura — September 12, 2007 @ 10:11 am

  3. Good on you, Francesca! Great perspective – she’s not your boss but your employee – and great attitude! Long may you wave!

    Comment by Wendy — September 12, 2007 @ 10:23 am

  4. Well, by all means, do what you want, and more power to you, I guess. Intentional weight loss is an uncertain proposition (at the very least), but I’d never discourage anyone from taking a stab at it.

    But this regular visitor, at least, won’t be around to read about it.

    Sorry, but I don’t come to purportedly fat-positive blogs to hear about intentional weight loss. However charmingly a diet blog is expressed, it’s still a diet blog.

    Comment by Maid of Honor — September 12, 2007 @ 11:00 am

  5. I just discovered your site. Great writing. I’m delighted, and I can totally relate to this post.

    (You win some, you lose some.)

    Comment by Patia — September 12, 2007 @ 11:05 am

  6. Ah, Francesca – it must be something about the Fall and new beginnings (and new wardrobes and the new school year – I love the Fall). I too have not been feeling so up to par and have been suspecting that it was time to go visit my “practitioner”, who ordered the usual battery of blood tests, if only to see if I and my petulant thyroid were still achieving detente or it had done one of those “went out for a pack of cigarettes and never came home” things. My practitioner and I have been struggling mightily with my cholesterol(also due to my petulant thyroid) and today, after having a rather adult “sit down” with her, my practioner sighed and said, “You know, sometimes you just have to admit that you’ve done all you can and it’s time to bring in outside help.” So, I’m on a statin now.
    Sometimes, there comes a point – a moment – when things all come together and something that you would never have accepted doing, well — in your head, the voice just says, “Yep, it’s time; let’s be adults about this.” Sometimes, it’s better to have no choices – no “just this one time” – I feel it makes things easier somehow. We’re with you, girl.

    Comment by Toby Wollin — September 12, 2007 @ 11:20 am

  7. You’re right, Francesca, it’s all about feeling good and being healthy, whatever the weight does.

    And as the wife of a superfantastic guy with TypeII diabetes, I agree that the condition is definitely not of the superfantastic and is best avoided if at all possible.

    Also, you’re so right that you’ve hired this person to listen to her expertise. It’s one thing if a random stranger comes up to you in the street and starts giving this sort of advice, it’s very much another when you’re paying her good money to tell you what she knows and how it relates to you.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take a very long walk because tomorrow’s my birthday and I’m darn well making myself a cake!

    Comment by Twistie — September 12, 2007 @ 11:23 am

  8. Good for you for taking healthier steps. A year ago I joined the dreaded points cult, not because I was too fat, but because my joints hurt. One thing I could do was relieve the strain on them, so I have. I’ll never be skinny, but I feel better, and that is a wonderful reward. Do what you gotta to feel good, regardless of size.

    Comment by Pinkleader — September 12, 2007 @ 11:36 am

  9. Good for you, Francesca! You’re very right, it’s all about the right decision at the right time. I was always chunky, but in my early thirties I became obese. Chunky but athletic is fine for me, however, I was tired, sluggish, and depressed when I was obese. But then the time came, and I changed my diet. I didn’t go “on” a diet, I changed what I ate. I did not eat any diet food, other than my one true love, Diet Coke. And I lost about 125 lbs over the next two years. My weight has fluctuated a bit since then, but not more than 20 lbs, and I have a medical condition that makes eating difficult at times.

    And your drill sergeant is right, there is no reason anyone who is not disabled cannot exercise, even if it’s a small degree to start. I started running again, and I love it! The key is to find the exercise you like to do, that isn’t a chore.

    Good luck!

    Comment by Pencils — September 12, 2007 @ 12:08 pm

  10. Boo for this post. Yay for fashion-related posts. That is all.

    Comment by Boo — September 12, 2007 @ 12:09 pm

  11. It has also been the Deja’s experience that cutting back on sugar was a necessary step to get the energy levels back up and jump start the ol’ metabolism. However due to her history of eating disorders she is wary of any kind of rigid regime, and now practices a policy of Everything in Moderation. The bottom line is that YMMV, what is workable for one is impossible for another, and if you find something that works for you and makes your body sing, hang in there with it.

    Comment by deja pseu — September 12, 2007 @ 12:14 pm

  12. I love this blog, and I have cited it in my blog, most recently referring to it when I spoke of blogs that “inspire” me to be my best self. I myself was diagnosed w/Diabetes 2 last December; it shouldn’t have been a surprise since I’d been feeling like utter crap for years. Accepting our size means embracing our adipose but that isn’t incompatible with making healthier food choices — not for weight loss per se, but to prevent or control insulin resistance. I haven’t lost much weight, but I have brought my blood sugar under control with some radical dietary chance… and that’s what’s iimportant.

    Comment by Constance Kent — September 12, 2007 @ 12:22 pm

  13. Maid of Honor–I hear what you’re saying, but one post doesn’t make it a diet blog. And fat-positive doesn’t meant that it’s OK to be fat to the detriment of your health. Or I don’t think so. Francesca didn’t say that she was determined to diet until she was a size 2–I think most of us who are larger people know that we’re just larger people, we’re never going to be a size 2 and be healthy. I stopped trying to lose weight at size 14-16, and I’m pretty damn happy where I am. I’m sure plenty of people think I’m fat, but I don’t care. I know J Crew does, because even though they make my size, they can’t bear to stock it in their Soho store. Maybe because us fatties will frighten off the fashionable skinny people? Which is too bad, I’m WAY more superfantastic than nearly everyone I see in that neighborhood. And I bet I can beat most of them in a road race, too.

    Francesca will be superfantastic whatever size she is. Let her be heathy. And let her enjoy buying a new wardrobe!

    Comment by Pencils — September 12, 2007 @ 12:28 pm

  14. Yay Healthy!

    There is a stigma that if you see a nutritionalist or a dietitian, it is to loose weight. This is likely based on the stigma that this country has that only skinny people are healthy. The reality is that our food is so processed and packaged that it can be hard to tell what is good for you and what isn’t – which may lead to weight gain, or weight loss, or other diseases like diabetes or rickets (see Micheal Pollan’s books, including “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”). Even athletes consult nutritionalists on how to eat properly for their activity level. I applaud you for seeking guidance and support on how to eat healthy for you and your lifestyle. I hope it works out well for you, and you continue to feel healthier and energized.

    Comment by Leah — September 12, 2007 @ 1:22 pm

  15. Francesca, I salute you entirely. Do what you need to for your health. Actively courting diabetes should be nobody’s idea of “big girl empowerment,” and we want you healthy, because that means we get more blog entries from you. ;)

    I myself am also working out because I’ve got a speedy lifestyle that requires energy and efficiency and because of health risks in my family. If that means my Botticelli bod gets some muscles under the curves, and I can eat an ice cream cone without the first reaction being fear of what it will do to my heart, so much the better.

    iBuena suerte!

    Comment by Monica the tiara chick — September 12, 2007 @ 1:50 pm

  16. I enjoy the the fashion and positive posts on this blog. I feel that it is good to know of the efforts of the Francesca and I commend you on your hard work. It is difficult to accept that sometimes changes need to be made and it is even harder to enforce them. I think this blog is not just about fashion but to share all the experiences that are faced.

    To share my experience I have tried the diet and the cult of points with intermediate points of success and failure. I finally decided that the major issue for me was irritation at my overall weakness i.e. difficulty up the stairs, walking long distance, running across the parking lot to a code and also I wanted to look better in my clothing nad perhaps indulge in H&M. So, I said no diets, no points, just exercise. The lbs have not changed much but I have dropped at least two sizes (allowing me to look far better in clothing than I thouhgt possible) and even better I have discovered that I can run!! I have decided to continue the experiment.

    So, for the Francesca, continue with the military dietician, I don’t see how it could ever impact on your superfantastic state of being other than to increase it!

    Comment by Adenike — September 12, 2007 @ 2:04 pm

  17. Sorry, I have to “weigh” in with the boo-ers (ha! get the pun?) I wish Francesca all the best, but I am not sure that somebody who says she will “not see you unless you do X and Y” is somebody who can legitimately be characterized as “working for you.” If it works for you, great, but it doesn’t read like a respectful comment to me. I’d be more receptive to “If you don’t make these changes, we’re wasting our time.” Not everybody is motivated in the same way.

    However, one of the things that makes the Manolo’s sites so awesome is that he is relentlessly unserious and fun, always fun. The reason why there are some naysayers to the post is that, well, if we wanted to read about weightloss, nutrition, and exercise, there are only about 1,000,000,000,000,000 other blogs about that. Too often you start reading them and it all descends into self-obsessed crap about how many calories they have eaten that day, how people who do eat Cheetos are “ruining the world” and blah blah blah aren’t they doing well please validate their choices yada yada yada yada. I realize that Francesca put a disclaimer in the post to say that this about her, not about what she thinks about the state of fatness or anything else, but the appearance of this post raised a red flag for me as a reader.

    Here I am going to sound like a snot, but I don’t come to Manolo’s site or this one to hear about personal stories. I come here because I am interested in reading smart, witty prose about fashion for big people–not somebody’s personal weight loss journey. Manolo writes in a character, and it totally works because it does not turn a blog that is supposed to be about fashion into a forum for confessional or personal content. I’m glad Francesca has found a nutritionist that works for her, and I seriously hope she also has a great dentist (crucial to quality of life) and a terrific pedicurist. Not sure I can work up the interest to read about them.

    Comment by Chaser — September 12, 2007 @ 2:50 pm

  18. I’d like to chime in as a lolcat:

    moar fashun plz kthxbai

    Comment by Nabushi — September 12, 2007 @ 2:56 pm

  19. Losing weight is not as hard as many make it out to be. I have a few moves that you do daily that for some reason cause the fat to fall off…I also have one way to change what you do everytime you sit down to eat which WILL make you lose weight. Check out my blog…all the proof is there under the action photos!

    Work Hard,
    Ahmad Baari, C.P.T.

    Comment by Making the Best Celebrity Fitness Blog — September 12, 2007 @ 3:34 pm

  20. I too have been trying to lose weight, but I have been unable to find a nutritionist that will not recommend random dietary supplements in pill form (yeck). I wish I had a friend with a good nutritionist to refer me to!

    otoh, I started running and I can def. recommend two things to any girls that want to try it:
    1) get an ipod shuffle
    2) get a pedometer


    Comment by Jen — September 12, 2007 @ 3:39 pm

  21. Well, as long as the headlines are straightforward enough, it should be easy to skip over posts that one isn’t interested in. Right?

    “Points cult” — that’s great!

    Comment by Patia — September 12, 2007 @ 3:41 pm

  22. Absolutely, it’s easy to skip, and I do skip. I never read posts like the one, for example, that ask me to relive the hurtful things female relatives have said to me because of my weight or whatever. That might be great and empowering for some, but it’s not my interest. And I don’t expect every single post to be interesting to me personally, just like not every article in a magazine is interesting enough for me to read even if I buy the magazine.

    Just like with magazines, though, as a commercial blog with advertising, it’s probably wise to weigh (did it again, I’m killing myself) what keeps readers on the page long enough to see and engage with the ads–that’s rather my point. Guns and Ammo does not run story after story after story about nail polish for a reason; not just because their regular readers could easily skip over those parts of magazine that don’t engage them, but because after enough of that, the skimming gets to the point of “not buying” and you have ticked off sponsors.

    Just an observation. I’m not going anywhere, at least not yet.

    Comment by Chaser — September 12, 2007 @ 5:05 pm

  23. The main point I took away from this posting was Francesca’s frustration with sugar coating, politically-correct, everything-can-be-empowering-and-even-fun hooey and those who spout such drivel.

    For that I thank her!

    Comment by Susan — September 12, 2007 @ 5:06 pm

  24. i just can’t believe that anyone would denounce francesca’s attempts to avert diabetes. loving your body means taking care of it, and if hers is giving her signals that she needs to make some changes, more power to her.

    Comment by amy — September 12, 2007 @ 9:31 pm

  25. Even though I’m glad this is a fashion blog and would not want to see it shift into a dieting blog, I enjoyed this post. Even if there are a bajillion dieting blogs out there, how many of them are from size 10 women who are constantly whining about their attempts to become a size 2?

    Everyone who writes and comments for the Manolo Blogs I feel are part of my evening reading family (ok, except for those kid and bride writers, cause, well, I don’t like kids and I’m more likely to win the lottery than marry). I’m feeling inspired by Francesca and the commentors herein because I can trust them. They know what it’s like, they know the struggles, and I can trust them not to start whining about calorie counting. Yawn.

    I have a “fa(c)tivist” friend who starts crying whenever I mention my weight loss successes. It makes her so mad that people try to lose weight. But I can’t change the way society feels about overweight people, and I can’t change the effects on my health (thankfully few, but my joints are starting to ache) and the limitations on my activities (I’d love to go skydiving someday). So I try anyway, because I feel I need to for those reasons. Not everyone’s going to feel they need to or want to, but if Francesca wishes to tell a story to which we can all relate, well, I for one, will happily read it – and thank her for the reminder and inspiration.

    Comment by Synnamin — September 13, 2007 @ 12:20 am

  26. Hey, awesome! I too am paying thru the nose for a similar service – LA Weight Loss – and so far have lost 14 pounds and rediscovered my ability to climb stairs (while wearing a backpack!!!!) so things are going well so far. Best of luck to you!

    Comment by Rainne — September 13, 2007 @ 1:28 pm

  27. I too have started exercising for health reasons — and have become a bike weenie in the process, complete with spandex shorts (size 18). I’ve always been at least a size 14, and I know I’ll never be any thinner without also being hugely deprived and miserable. But heart disease and type 2 diabetes run in the family, so I look on this as life-insurance.

    That said, what’s up with the ugly skinny chick advertising Elle MacPherson undies on a fat-positive blog? You could slice cheese on those hipbones. Yeesh!

    Comment by Rubiatonta — September 13, 2007 @ 6:28 pm

  28. Francesca, congratulations on eating better and having more energy! KateriBella is a size 20 with extremely high blood pressure, and she has done some things due to doctor’s advice and husband’s cajoling — KateriBella is now 25 days into not smoking and just started a 20-minute a day walk/jog routine today; plus I play summer league softball and am helping out with a 5-year olds soccer team. I’m not doing this because society says I must. I’m doing it for next spring when the Bear and I stop practicing and start trying to become parents (can’t be on the medicines for the BP and be preggers). I’m doing it to make myself feel better (I hate feeling sluggish and the clothes I love and make me feel like a rockstar look weird in places that they shouldn’t). IMO, fashion isn’t about what you are wearing or the next big clothing/shoe/purse fad…It’s about how you feel and that should always be superfantastic! You have done the right thing for Francesca, as KateriBella has done the right thing for KateriBella. Keep us updated, my superfantastic friend!

    Comment by KateriBella — September 13, 2007 @ 6:38 pm

  29. “i just can’t believe that anyone would denounce francesca’s attempts to avert diabetes. loving your body means taking care of it, and if hers is giving her signals that she needs to make some changes, more power to her.”

    Exactly. (I used to work for the American Diabetes Association). If you find that you need to make a change to be healthy, your health is most important. If you don’t have your health, you can’t keep on being superfantastic, now, can you?

    That was kind of shallow, but let’s pretend it was deep. :) Good luck, Francesca. Being more energetic and having lessened risks of diseases is good.

    Comment by Genevieve — September 13, 2007 @ 8:06 pm

  30. Great writing.

    Comment by Spider Solitaire — September 14, 2007 @ 6:29 am

  31. Francesca dear, brava to you for taking care of yourself. Whether you lose weight or not eating healthier and getting plenty of exercise will keep you feeling better and more fashionable for years. I recently watched my very fit, very active, but somewhat tubby dad (we’ve got hobbit genes!) go through heart surgery and he really bounced back a whole lot faster than the people on his unit who didn’t have a lifetime of physical activity under their belts.

    Comment by jj — September 14, 2007 @ 12:38 pm

  32. Brava, Francesca!
    My husband and I recently bought superfantastic bikes and a trailer for our son. What fun! I love the time we spend together now. I’ve always hated the gym, but I’m loving the bike, especially with the fall weather. As for eating, I’m in the Real Food (Nina Planck) club and though I haven’t lost weight, per se, I have more energy than I have in years, feel great and I get to cook the things I love!

    Comment by Eilish — September 14, 2007 @ 9:04 pm

  33. who is she??? I want to be on the the three month waiting list…

    Comment by helloanne — September 16, 2007 @ 2:26 am

  34. People do have a stigma about making dietary changes…everyone assumes it’s all about really wanting to lose weight.

    But the truth of the matter is, there are some very serious health conditions that completely resolve with the appropriate nutritional changes, and “weight loss” is not even a consideration for most of the people with these problems because they don’t fall into the societally fickle category of “fat”! For some of them, it may be one small bonus, but certainly nothing as impressive as being free from facing a lifetime of using noxious prescription drugs or dealing with health that increasingly fails.

    After all, it’s all about being able to live to your fullest potential, accomplishing whatever it is you were meant to do: body size has so little to do with it.
    So, Francesca, if you’re eliminating some major obstacles and you happen to end up being much more knowledgeable about good food and healthier too, more power to you for making such a decision.

    Comment by chachaheels — September 17, 2007 @ 9:00 am

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    Comment by Blog Comment Poster — September 22, 2007 @ 8:05 pm

  36. very intresting write up now to further my research

    Comment by Herb Montoure — August 9, 2010 @ 2:15 am

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