Monday, April 17, 2006

Being a BHM

Being a BHM

So far I’ve pointed my blog’s microscope at BBW’s and SSBBW’s and my views related to them. But, in many ways, a big part of my existence and orientation is related to my own size. While I’ve always been fat, over the years my weight has varied rather considerably and my reaction to my size has also evolved. To some extent, my trip through my own size acceptance obstacle course has colored what I want and look for in women. Just so it’s clear, and some have asked this, my orientation is a generally near vanilla heterosexual one, with any interest in guys merely as friends, compatriots and fellow travelers in the FA ranks. No romantic or sexual attraction is piqued by guys, though I must note an occasional sense of wonder and amazement upon seeing or hearing about guys with profoundly enormous bellies, though I suspect that’s more a reflection on the relative smallness of my own belly compared to theirs(an analog or parallel to penis envy? or some such nonsense). Not really sure, but that’s about the size of it. So, in a sense here is an autobiographical entry, though lacking certain personal details to maintain a degree of privacy.

I’ve been fat as far back as I can remember, and started my first diet, with Weight Watchers when I was 12, I believe. I think I lost something like 80 pounds down to the low 100s and achieved their Life Membership status. Naturally, over a period of years, as I grew taller and went through puberty, etc. all that weight and more came back. The next time I dieted, again with Weight Watchers was prior to going to college. I don’t remember how much I lost, but by sophomore year all that weight and more had returned and by the time I graduated and went on to graduate school I was probably as heavy as I’d ever been. The summer I graduated from grad school I spent two months studying for my professional licensing exam and would run 5 or 6 miles a day and otherwise worked out so that I lost a considerable amount of weight. I kept most of the weight off for a few years until the pressures of work and the absence of time to work out or even to eat in a normal fashion(lots of late nights with major Jewish deli delivered dinners at my desk… you know those enormous deli sandwiches and huge portions of all sorts of stuff) caused the weight to come back on.

I became aware of the fat acceptance movement and NAAFA during grad school, which was in the early 80s and was able to link up my nascent FA’ness with a structure which embodied, supported and validated my preference for fat women. It was first at those Naafa events that I came in contact with SSBBWs.

I recall meeting a woman who was much older than I and relatively well known in Naafa circles in those days who was known for her incredibly enormous legs, hips and butt. One of those Naafa events was a pool party at a hotel near an airport and this aging goddess(gawd, she must have been in her early 50s though I suspect I thought her nearly as old as Methuseleh) was wandering around in a bathing suit with a wrap around her waist and covering down to just above her knees. She and I were talking, and I suspect she was trying to set me up with one of the younger girls(she herself was happily married, though her husband didn’t come to the Naafa events, though she loved to flirt with all the men of whatever age), when some young men whistled and laughed from some window in the hotel overlooking the pool area. They were obviously making fun of her in some way… so she asked me to give her a big hug and play along… which I happily did… After we broke the hug she started to play that the hug had made her so hot… so she said she HAD to cool off.. so she took off her wrap in a fashion that an ecdysiast of Gypsy Rose Lee’s class would have admired, ending with her running her hands over her butt and legs in a fashion that every FA eye around the pool was absolutely mesmerized. Somehow I ended up with her wrap over my shoulder, but I was merely a stage prop. She was playing to the boys in the window, who had grown silent during her show.. so she turned slowly, pointed her finger at them, and in her booming voice said.. boys, I think you need to come down here and help me cool off… well, wouldn’t you know it, the three guys came down, were talked to by this lady and soon paired up with three of her younger friends talking.

I remember this lady very fondly, though a few years later she passed along, the victim, I believe of the cigarettes she’d smoked.

But, having gone off on a tangent without any real purpose apart from it being a pleasant, though bittersweet memory, my point was that I’d become exposed not to the slightly chubby or marginally fat girls of my college years, but real significantly fat women, many of whom were over 400 pounds, which in those days was relatively bigger than a 500 pound woman is today. What I mean is that there were so few really fat women that a woman of 400 pounds then seemed fatter in comparison then 500 pound women seem today. But, surprisingly, there were probably only a very few fat men in the mix, and most of them were married to fat women. I recall one happy couple with the man easily over 400 pounds and his wife his equal or more in size. Apart from their very generous size, what I remember is the adoration each had for the other and their easy happiness and acceptance of their size.

By that time I’d also learned that diets weren’t a good way to lose weight and that most bodies had a setpoint which was negatively affected by dieting. Negatively affected in the sense that the setpoint after the diet would be higher than it was before. The mechanism for this may not be clear, but the effect was obvious. Talking to many of the fat folks who came to the Naafa outings it became clear that the bigger and biggest of the women, (even then I was fascinated and interested in the biggest of the ladies), had all reached their current sizes through screwing up their setpoints by diets of various types. Each described the series of diets that so-called well meaning family members and medical hacks had urged or imposed on them. Everything from uppers to diuretics to speed to radical diets, to even the early attempts at weight loss surgery(WLS). And every time the story was the same. I lost X and quickly gained back X plus Y. And no one had been on just one diet, it was A and B and C and D and whatever fad diet had come out or someone had recommended. Initially I figured that these fat folks were just failures at the diets, but eventually I thought of my “successes”, and realized that I too had followed a similar path. After doing a fair amount of reading and talking to the survivors of the diet wars, my own views about dieting began to gel.

I vowed that I would never again diet in the ways I’d done it before, in an effort to lose pounds. I might change the way I was eating to eat more healthily and perhaps in a more moderate way, but that my key would be to increase my fitness level and link that with a more rational eating style. Over the years I’ve found that this sort of an approach has worked reasonably well for me, so that I’ve maintained a very good level of fitness despite weighing much more than any of my fellow sports participants.

But I found that the women who were fat lived a life far different than the one that I as a fat man lived it. Perhaps a part of it was that I am and have always been a strong willed, bright and physically powerful man who doesn’t suffer fools or take shit from anyone. My size has in many ways been an advantage, rather than a disadvantage, and until my weight went over 300 and then 350, there were no real restrictions on where I could go and what I would fit in. I don’t apologize about any of the things that I am, though I suppose some will consider my calling myself “bright” is blowing my own horn. No one who has ever met me in person has considered that characterization inappropriate, though many would have other things about me they don’t like. Gee, maybe I’m being too sensitive about this. In any event, my point was I’ve never really been overtly discriminated against due to my size. This is something which is significantly different from the many Naafa women I met at that time and the fat women I’ve known and met since then.

There is no question in my mind that fat women are very significantly discriminated against in many ways. Of course, some of that is due to passivity in accepting treatment that is less than they are entitled to and allowing others to act reprehensibly toward them. On the other hand there is a limit to how much butting of one’s head against ignoranamuses and idiots can be reasonably managed. So, my comment is intended to note that there is more discrimination against fat women than against fat men, though clearly fat men are discriminated against too. Of course, women are discriminated against vis a vis men as a rule too, so it becomes more difficult to tease out the specific cause of any discrimination, whether gender, weight, height, skin color, ethnicity, political beliefs, religion, etc.

Only when I encountered fat men in my professional sphere who were so fat as to have taken on more feminine shaped and textured bodies did I see the same sort of discrimination as has been rained down on the fat women. When I saw these men I was struck by two partially inconsistent thoughts. First, that they should get off their asses and stand up for themselves because they were allowing themselves to be treated like third class people. Second, that they were a victim of discrimination which was not brought on by themselves and was mean spirited and without rational basis.

Anyway, back to the timeline… during my professional life my weight ebbed and flowed, but by the time I was in my mid to late 30s I’d topped 350, though not clear by how much as I never weighed myself and refused to allow the doctor to do so(well, more accurately, demurred when he asked me to step on the scale.. and he stopped asking me to do so). See, another situation where my strong will and somewhat overbearing manner tends to prevent others from doing something that I don’t approve of relative to me.

At some point I realized that I was dozing off inappropriately during the day and eventually, just about any time I would sit down for more than a minute or two. As a person who’s work is done sitting down primarily, this wasn’t a good thing. So, eventually I figured out that there was this thing called sleep apnea and found a doctor who specialized in sleep disorders. I was lucky, I suppose because the doctor I found was one who had been involved in this area for many years and is/was one of the leading sleep doctors who’s organized and regulated the area in connection with certification of doctors and centers who deal with sleep apnea and the related sleep disorders. So, he and I began a trip together, and through the diagnosis of my sleep apnea. I’d be happy to do a post on it if anyone is interested. I got a CPAP machine and got my life back again. Within a matter of a few days I had energy that I hadn’t had in at least several years. The few years before I was diagnosed are somewhat fuzzy, which is pretty awful looking back.

But the effect of the CPAP was that while the sleep apnea isn’t cured(there really isn’t any cure for most folks), I had more energy and resumed my athletic endeavors and wasn’t eating so much in the evening to keep myself awake, and my weight went all the way down to about 250 pounds. As my weight went down I had the guys at my health club do one of their analyses of lean body mass, and they determined(when I was about 300 pounds) that my lean body mass was about 240 pounds. They claimed never to have met anyone except the steroidal body builders with a lean body mass that high. Big bones, lots of heavy muscles in my legs and torso. So when I got down to 255, which was as low as I’d been as a working world adult I was actually probably quite thin for my body. But, I suspect my body wasn’t very happy at that weight, since it was well below my setpoint. So, steadily, my weight crept back up to around 300 and then 325.

Finally, at about 350 my body was still allowing me to be athletic and play fairly heavy exertion sports, such as racquetball, swimming and golf, though ones which did not tend to abuse my knees and ankles. Basketball was discarded as a sport years before because of the beating that jumping put on my knees. Unfortunately, a small knee injury, which was really only a sprain, took me off my athletic regime for a while and it took me over a year and a half to get back to it.

By that point I’d noticed that I was more out of breath doing even usual walking and stairs tended to wind me more and more. So, I decided I needed to get back to the gym and rebuild my fitness. Since the last time I’d been to the gym they had replaced the old style balance beam scale in the center of the men’s locker room with a digital scale with a 440lb(200kg) capacity. So, on my first visit, checking that no one was looking(they’ve got it in a more private spot so that no one can see the numbers unless they have x-ray eyes and can look through you, and also because its literally in a corner.), I weighed myself and found I was over 390 pounds. It took me almost a month more to start coming back to the club again and I didn’t weigh myself again until after I’d been working out for more than a month. I have to believe that at some point my weight crested over the 400 pound threshold but have never seen those numbers while on a scale. At the point I did weigh myself my weight had dropped some and over the course of the next several months my weight has slowly but steadily dropped close to 350 pounds, where I find I have a significantly augmented my fitness level.

The steps at my local train station, one flight of 9 followed by two flights of 19 each up and then two flights of 19 each back down to the platform, which have aggressively high risers are no longer a problem and I find that the slight out of breath and heart pumping that I get racing up and down the stairs to catch a train quickly abates. For those of you who are math challenged, that’s 47 steps up and 38 down, or a total of 85 steps. I can fairly easily walk 3 miles on a treadmill at about 3.5 mph, swim some laps in the pool and do a few of the nautilus machines in a workout over a period of an hour and a half without so exhausting myself that I am useless or need to sleep afterwards.

My golf game, which is my love and addiction, will improve this year due to the higher level of fitness. I can already see that my drives are traveling significantly further and I’m getting additional distance out of each of my clubs which is indicative of my body more efficiently and repeatably generating rotational energy. Also, I’ve noted that at the end of the round of golf I’m still fresh and ready to play more, as compared to the way I felt at the end of the last golf season, where the last few holes I felt tired and my swings were somewhat labored.

So, that’s where I am now, slightly over 350 pounds, at about 5’11 and still a guy with a substantial appetite, though one that I tend to moderate much of the time. I generally don’t prevent myself from enjoying anything food related, and if the food is wonderful I will eat my fill which can be substantial. However, in many ways I pick my spots. Rather than just eating big meals all the time and eating something particularly scrumptious all the time, I will hold back if I’m pretty sure that the quality of what I’ll be getting at some restaurant will be subpar and save my pleasure for a restaurant that will have really delicious food. The joy of gluttony has been reduced to an extent by becoming a more selective eater, i.e more of a gourmet.

In chatting online I am often asked by women why I’m interested in knowing their numbers. I’ve dealt with that in an earlier post and won’t burden you with a repetition of it here. What has surprised me more than anything is what a great percentage of women seem to have no real interest in what my numbers might be, apart from height, weight and age. Of course, there are some who are almost belligerent about their numbers… saying why should I share my numbers with you if you won’t share yours with me. In each such case I’ve said… I have no problem sharing my numbers with you… what are you interested in knowing. So, for this group of vocally interested, and the bigger group that probably has an interest but is too polite, shy or unwilling to ask, here you go. At my biggest I was bursting out of my 58 inch waist slacks and wearing a 60 Portly Long suit, with the biggest girth, which isn’t exactly at the waist, being about 63 inches. Now, my 56 inch slacks are a bit loose, though not loose enough to consider 54 inch slacks. My suits are really loose and the only reason the pants don’t fall down is that I wear suspenders, though I can slide my hands in the waistband without a problem. I’ll need to have them altered so they don’t look so much like circus clown pants(well, its not that bad, but you get the idea). I estimate the suit jackets are about 2 inches too big and the pants are about 4 inches too big now. I don’t really have measurements of any of the other dimensions, but my 4X shirts are now looser, and some 3X shirts actually fit.

So, where am I at about my size, weight being a BHM and gaining or losing weight. Well, I like my size, in the sense that I appreciate that I’m a big person, I’m happy and comfortable in my skin, regardless of my weight. I’ve enjoyed the times my body has grown and I’ve gotten fatter, watching and feeling the changes in my body’s shape, the growth of my belly and the way in which it’s affected my balance and gait. I have too much of an investment in my athletic endeavors to sacrifice those without a significant fight and will strive to maintain myself as an active, athletic fat man. I don’t want to get my body down to a size that will fit comfortably into “normal” range clothing because my body isn’t comfortable at that level. Whether my setpoint has been raised to the point it is now through dieting, aging or some other factors, it seems to me that I must and will deal with it as it is now and not as I’d either like it to be or it was at some time in the past. Given the choice I’d prefer that my body stabilize under 350 pounds, because I think I have the most strength and stamina at that point.

I’ve always found it interesting that the classic FA stereotype is a nerdy, skinny guy who likes fat women, an analog to the Jack Sprat and Mrs. Sprat with the skinny man and immensely fat woman. I’ve never fit into that mold, though at various times my size and muscularity has made me seem not so fat as just big. In many cases I’ve been surprised (though on looking back it should have been no surprise), that fat women are as specific in their physical preferences as everyone else, and often are only looking for very skinny, or very short or very tall or very muscular men. In fact, there is a common view among the ssbbws that they’d prefer a thinner man because of the ergonomics of sex between a very fat woman and a man. One belly or one set of thick thighs or big butt can be accommodated more easily than two big bellies, etc. From my experience and that of the few other BHM’s who are also FAs of SSBBWs I’ve encountered over the years, two big people in bed certainly creates additional difficulties, but never has the additional effort failed to result in significant pleasure and satisfaction. Amusingly, like everybody else, even the fat women are generally less interested in fat partners then more slender ones even though they, themselves are fat and are looking for men who find them attractive as fat women.

So, like in the Wizard of Oz, you’ve now had an opportunity to look behind the curtain of this BHM’s existence and get a sense of where the words in this blog are coming from.


Blogger emily pound said...

Hi Huge,

SO glad you are back. I missed you!

Thank you for this glimpse into your life. I found it very interesting, and I liked how you went through each phase of your life and what your weight was at, how it was affected.

I have never been athletic or a lover of sports, as you are, but I do love to walk and I believe that is what has "saved" me from becoming super-sized. I've also acquired a taste for yoga and and I've always loved the water, so I swim too. With prolonged and continued moderation in eating and regular exercise, our bodies will become the shape they are meant to be. As you said with women who have dieted themselves "up" to the weight they are now, with me, my set point will never be that of a skinny woman. I wouldn't ever want to be skinny, though. No thanks. I just want to wear the clothes I like (sigh). And feel comfortable and confident when someone takes them off me :-)

I loved this post. And I'd be interested in a post on sleep apnea, if you're so inclined, and how dealing with that problem made such an improvement for physically.

18/4/06 2:16 PM  
Anonymous MissStacie said...

Nicely done, that was very well done. It's not often that we get to hear a BHM talk about being fat, or his journey to get there and get comfortable.



18/4/06 6:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many pats on the back, I always look forward to your posts. Please dont stay away so long if it can be helped. I would like for you to post on sleep apnea and go into more detail on how the cpap machine has helped you. Greta

19/4/06 1:05 AM  
Blogger hugehugefan said...

Many thanks for the thoughtful replies. I've found that I didn't want to fall into a blogging approach that is merely narrative of what's going on in my life or of what I've seen or been exposed to. In many ways the early posts, which were pent up inside me were like the low hanging fruit on a tree. Easy to pick and in great number. Now, I need to live until something strikes me as significant or interesting to write about.

It is also so heartening to hear that my words are looked forward to and found interesting. I will try to put together something on sleep apnea though I will try and decide how best to approach it.


19/4/06 6:50 AM  
Anonymous didgyreandgimble said...

I, too, enjoyed your latest post. I'm not sure I have anything relevant to offer.

I have been there, done that as far as diets go. My first 'diet' was when I was diagnosed with low blood sugar (a precursor to diabetes). I was diagnosed with this because shortly (like an hour or so) after eating I would collapse at the playground and my siblings had to half carry me home.

I was supposed to follow the ADA diet at the time, but found it difficult. It didn't help that I didn't get any support from my mother. The diet sheet was soon relegated to the top of the refrigerator and never seen again until Mom cleaned off the refrigerator!

My mom didn't believe in dieting, just good old fashioned healthy eating. Her idea of 'dieting' was the push yourself away from the table before you ate yourself into serious pain. I have to thank her for that because I was never into any of the fad diets.

My first serious diet was with The Diet Center in Boise, ID. I should say that I, too, was 'big' all my life and subject to all the teasing and shaming that kids do to fat kids. I could tell you story after story about those times. I don't know how far the franchise went outside of Idaho if at all. Anyway, I lost almost 100 pounds, down to 165. It's the smallest I ever was in my adult life.

Like everyone else I regained it back in about 6 months or a year. I had been promised that becoming thinner would make me happy. Boy was that ever a lie! The only thing it ever did was make me more desirable to the assholes of the world. If it hadn't been for that I would never have experienced date rape either. NOT the best period of my life. I was about 235 after that. I, too, had been extremely active most of my life: bike riding, camping, walking long distances, hiking, dancing (including ballroom(!), etc. My weight didn't deter me in any way.

My weight was fairly stable after that until I joined Weight Watchers. I lost some, maybe 40 lbs. It felt pretty good. I joined again while I was in grad school, but didn't lose anything. I should mention, btw, that my diet at the Diet Center ended up being around 750 calories per day at the end. I fainted at work one day and that was the end of that diet!

Then I got pregnant with my first live birth. I lost a considerable amount of weight while I was pregnant (didn't diet, it is a natural phenomenon for some fat women) and immediately regained it after my child was born. At that point my ex-husband accused me of lying when I said I would lose weight. That was the beginning of the end of our marriage.

I joined NAAFA after I left him. It was a really good period in my life and I met my first FA during that time. It was fun being a member of a great size accepting group of people. I had fun dancing the night away at NAAFA functions. Many times it was just us gals dancing with each other, but I didn't care. I was very graceful and beautiful. Then the chapter started going downhill and eventually closed.

During that time I had another child. I lost a considerable amount of weight again and regained it again. That was when I went over 300 lbs. The highest I have been at this point is 350. I do not believe in dieting, but, like hugehugefan, believe in eating a healthy diet and getting as much activity as I can. Many studies support this lifestyle.

For some reason I have begun to lose weight. I haven't a clue why. I am now down to about 320 although it fluctuates the normal amount, about 10 lbs.

Am I happy being a BBW? I have to honestly say I am fairly neutral. Some days I don't care and other days it is hard to like myself at this size. Those are mostly the days when I experience a lot of discrimination or can't find any clothes in my size (5X basically). I have to say, though, that most of my friends don't say anything even though they might have oppinoins about my size. I am grateful for this. I won't let them get away with diet talk and bad health talk, but it doesn't change what they believe. I found this out when my oldest friend started talking about her weight a little while back. Apparently she had been letting what I said go in one ear, bounce around a bit, and head right out the other ear. ha!

Well, I have written enough to start my own blog, hugehugefan and others. I hope you are not bored... heh...

19/4/06 12:13 PM  

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