Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Sibling Flabory

I came across this article in the LA Times today and I wanted to share it with all of you. I have some opinions on it and I wanted to get your feedback. The article was about two morbidly obese siblings, a brother and a sister, who each choose to have the lap band surgery. The article describes their journey and compares their weigh loss success.

Something really bothered me about this article though and I think it had to do with the fact that they point out so many times that the brother had lost a lot more weight than the sister because his diet was more militant than hers. While he stuck to proteins and veggies, she would indulge in her cravings and therefore, lost her weight more slowly. The brother worked out at a gym everyday while the sister tried her best to not talk herself out of walking on the treadmill for 10 minutes a day. The brother was married with children while the sister was single.

Maybe I felt so strongly about the article because of the brother/sister dynamic. I have an older brother myself, but he's not fat. Actually, he's a perfect. 6'1, 195lbs. And, I think it's always been a strange dynamic between the two of us. He's always so in control of his weight and diet (I see how he restricts himself), that it makes me wonder what he thinks of me. I know that siblings are different creatures...but I find it so strange that one can possess so much control while the other one, well, has no control.

Does anyone else deal with sibling rivalry in terms of weight?

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

I just found your blog. I read the archives and I'm lovin' it!

I have three other siblings and all of them are skinny as you can imagine while I've been overweight my entire life (Barring my first few months of life).

I watch my sisters eat with abandon... cakes, cookies, chips, etc. while I eat whole foods (Predominantly fruits and non-starchy veggies, with legumes and nuts/seeds thrown in). They remain tiny as ever without exercise and I struggle to be average looking, even with my diet and at least 30 minutes of exercise everday. :-/

I often find myself asking, "Why me?" My entire life, I would have taken a salad w/o dressing over a steak and swimming over video games, yet I struggle so drastically with my weight! I just don't know sometimes...

Hadara said...

I've been reading your blog for a while too although I don't know you! Found you through a livejournal community post that mentioned your blog, and I enjoy your style of writing and the issues you explore.

What also bothered me about the article is the way the reporter discussed the "massive flesh tire" - likening this HUMAN BEING to a "supermarket turkey" and a "mountain of flesh." I mean, it is almost gleefully gruesome in the description of the medical details and statistics, and seems to mention only in passing how physically painful and emotionally distressing the surgery must have been. I think they forgot that the "mass" was attached to a person with feelings and sensitivities who probably did not want to be discussed in such a way!

MissPatty said...

I think you are flabulous!

Neekeela said...

My sister has always been the skinny, pretty one and I've always been the fat, smart one. Then she went to college and put on a few pounds, but lost most of them in England during a study abroad. I went to grad school at the same time and lost a few pounds, but held steady in the obese range. Then she went to law school, studied for her bar, and gained some more and didn't lose it right away. She hit obese right along side me and I recall at one point standing in the mirror comparing ourselves. Even though we weighed about the same, are about the same height, we looked very different--she has bigger boobs and I have a flatter ass. At that moment, I felt really sorry for her. I felt like I was better equipped to deal with our size 14-16 bodies than her because I'd been struggling with it all my life while this fatness was totally new to her. I just didn't want her to have the burden. Then she joined weight watchers, and lost some weight, so I joined and even though we live in different states, we supported each other and lost a lot--35 pounds for me and 40 for her. Then the inevitable, we regained some of it and are now about the same weight again, struggling to lose it.

I'm grateful that there is a lot of love between us, that we've been really supportive in this process and tried hard to do it in a healthy, sane way. Occassionally, I'm sure we've felt jealous of the other's success (I know I envy that she walks on a treadmill 3x a week for 30 minutes and the weight falls off while I can work out twice as long 6x a week and not get the same results--helps that she was an athlete as a teenager it seems). But we're mostly really kind in a way the rest of our family is not. We have a family reunion coming up and I'm LOATH to hear the comments on our bodies--I'll be curious to see what people say, but I know I'm so defensive around them that even if they tell me I look slimmer it will annoy me.

responding to neekeela said...

That was a very well thought our comment, but I have a question: since when is a size 14/16 considered obese?

The Magnet said...

Oh, here we go. Another story about how someone halfed their weight from some surgery. Blah blah blah...

*read the article*

Oh my. I guess surgery was a realistic option, then.

Anonymous said...

Im a size 14 and nowhere near obese.

M said...

"since when is a size 14/16 considered obese?"
Depends a lot on height.

It stood out to me in the article that the emotinal aspects were minimized to, intentionally or unintentionally, make the sister look bad in comparison.
"She said she struggled more with emotional issues that made it tough to eat less."

Also, when it comes to "normal weight" people, the sister's philosophy seems more logical. She "advocates careful portion control rather than absolute denial"
She had a small portion of dessert on her birthday, he "feels sick with guilt" at having sweets.

It's weird in a way with my family since usually parents are more critical of daughters' appearances than sons' but my parents have said more things about my brother's weight than mine. I'm not sure if they were more concerned about eating disorders for me because I'm the girl or what, but I think they're more concerned about my weight than his.

shiloh said...

my brother is about 6'3" and used to weigh over 300lbs, but he started working long hours as a commercial plumber and dropped all the weight. now he weighs about 190lbs and looks great. i have been slowly gaining weight since i stopped abusing drugs and alcohol three years ago, but no one in my family gives me a hard time about it.

my boyfriend, however, has been gaining weight since we met... mostly because i like to cook a lot, as well as eat out and and he has a hard time saying no to it. his sister was in town recently and would not stop making fun of his extra poundage. he felt really crappy about it, and he's only gained about 15lbs in all.

Emma said...

I just started reading your blog, and I love it. Especially the name. Anyhoo, I definitely have sibling/weight issues. My sister is 18, I'm 22, and she and I both used to be fat. She's lost weight and is now size 10 (US 6), 5'2, and blonde with blue eyes. I am 5'6, US size 18, sort of brown hair and hazel eyes. I got fatter as she got thinner. There are other relationship issues between us and this certainly didn't help. She was saying something the other day about only being allowed to have 1000cals per day. I set her straight, and then I thought, "She wouldn't listen to me, why would she? I got fatter, she's lost weight. Maybe I should listen to her". Turns out the 'big sister' sheen still works because she looked it up and found I was right, but still...
My two younger brothers are quite overweight, too. I never say anything about it to them, and they never say anything about it to me.

Stephanie said...

Oh lord yes! Sibling/Weight stuff here. My sister is 4 years younger, 4 inches shorter and thinks its just grotesque to be over 110 pounds, (she is just 5'2" keep in mind, but still)! Now don't get me wrong, she has absolutely never insulted me about my weight and in fact gets really upset when I put myself down for it, and since I have lost so much weight is always concerned that I am going to get too thin. But it's always amazed me how different we are when it comes to food and health. She eats like crap but doesn't eat much or often, and would rather have her teeth drilled than workout. Where as I have many issues with over eating and emotions connected to food but try and eat very sensibly (well that's how I've lost weight anyway, not how I gained it of course), and have become a personal trainer (so of course am very into working out). There's never been issues between us because of weight, but I've felt it within on my part. I wonder though since she's dealt with addiction to drugs and alcohol if that was her thing to deal with and this fat/eating/body image thing is mine. Total opposites I guess. It's just amazing how people from the same family can be so different sometimes!

Jackie said...

My brother is 6 feet tall and has NEVER had a weight issue in his life. He never teased me about being fat either. "I got the good teeth genes and he got the 'skinny' gene" I used to tell people. If he ever made a fat joke I made a crooked teeth joke. See? Everyone has thier "issues".

Anonymous said...

Reading this story, you have to take into account that these are siblings of different sexes.

Everyone is different, but on the whole, men tend to see quicker results than women from similar lifestyle changes. (Not that we're representative, but I lost a stone over the course of a year by doing a lot of exercise and dieting; my other half lost about the same in a couple of months by giving up beer.)

Also, I'm not saying that no men have emotional issues connected with eating, but I've yet to hear any talk about it in those terms.

Anonymous said...

About the 14/16 thing...I hate to say it, because it's nowhere near MY definition of obese, but depending on height, some of the insurance-style healthy-weight charts think obese is a LOT lower than, say, I do. My spouse, who's lost 30 pounds and is looking great at 6'1" and 225, is still considered "obese" on the charts. The charts want him to be 190, and let me tell you, he is a really big-boned guy and at 190 he'd look like he'd been through a year of SERE school. But the numbers don't know that. It pisses me off, but yeah, by some definitions, weighing more than 10% of the "ideal" gets counted that way. It's pretty dang depressing to run your finger down the column and see that you've lost all this weight and you're still considered "obese." Or that, at best, you've just moved down from "obese" to "overweight." Grr!

emily pound said...

I have two older brothers, and we all have weight problems. My oldest brother isn't really concerned about it, he could care less, it seems, but my middle brother is always trying to lose weight and we have been in competition with each other in the past. It sounds like the two siblings in this article might have such different reactions to the surgery because of gender, and the fact that he's married with kids and she's not. Two totally different life circumstances.

pepa said...

I read the beginning of the Tehrani sibling's journey a few months ago and was very touched by it. I'm happy to know about their progress.

I was always the skinny one while my sisters where chubby. Then I got chubby like them. My sisters actually blame my parents for over-feeding the skinny child. My sisters and I have never had any rivalry about weight, on the contrary, it's always been about supporting each other's struggles, not about who is more disciplined or who looks better.

Siblings can have vastly different personalities and it's so normal for all sorts of traits to manifest themselves.

The world is mess of rivalries - especially for a fat person. Why bother with sibling rivalries? It's so not worth it!

alice said...

definitely have sibling issues with weight - when we were younger, my brother was the skinny minnie, and I was always the pudgier one. He never made bad comments, but I always felt as though I *should* be able to suck up and be thin, since he was. (Mom was pretty thin as well, although Dad was heavy like me. Both were pudgy as kids.)

When my brother grew up and started gaining weight, I felt horrible about feeling relief. He and Mom are now both in the 'able to pinch an inch' category, but they're not fat the way Dad and I are. Still, it feels like less of a silent indictment than it did when he was hyperfit.

Sarah said...

I have a 19yr old younger brother. He is about 6'1" and 180lbs. He has neevvver had a weight problem whereas I have struggled being overweight to obese my entire life and am just now getting it under control. He just doesn't have the same issues with food and eating that I have had. He eats crap, but he only eats when he is hungry and until he is full. Food is just food for him and not a big deal. If he had already had dinner but his favorite dessert was then put out on the table he would not even be tempted to eat it—because he wouldn't be hungry. As for me--- I would gobble up at least a small piece of the dessert because I don't see food as just something that you have to eat in order to sustain life. For me there is a lot of emotional baggage and hormonal cravings caught up in it and I will always have to watch what I eat for my entire life. Sometimes life is just not fair. And that's that.

Tim said...

Yeah, this is totally my family. I've always been the fat boy, since around 2years old. my younger brother was always the skinny little stick who could eat whatever he wanted. he used to always make fun of me so I 'cursed' him one day and lo and behold, he's now fatter than me with a giant chipmunk face and a beer belly that makes him look nine months pregnant. The funny thing is i'm used to my size, he's not and still thinks that he's skinny. he'll walk around without a shirt on and still make fun of other fat people. Karma, gotta love it!! :)

littlem said...

My mother and her sister. If one goes to the gym, the other goes too. (I think it's great - then I get to stay out of it.)

However, brother/sister has got to be as tough as husband/wife, since women's bodies are regularly built with more fat than men's and they have that muscle advantage on us, which is why the weight falls off them when they just stop doing unhealthy stuff, and we diet and sweat and run and lift weights and the weight coming off us is still like trying to melt a glacier.

(I have often thought that there should be a male muscle tissue handicap on The Biggest Loser. I don't think a woman has ever won that challenge and I don't think anyone is looking at that particular biological factor.)

holiday at sea said...

my brother and i were always the same size, until the dreaded adolescence, when i put on the baby fat and got really self-concious about being "the chubby one." only recently did i realize that i don't have to be that girl anymore!

Marly said...

My entire extended family is obese, and so is my brother. My father is overweight and my mother and I are those extra-5-pounds people.

It kills me sometimes because I know that my brother feels badly about himself and his weight, and my father has always given him a ridiculously hard time about it while my mother has refused to even admit that he is overweight... So now even though he has a loving girlfriend he is still plagued with self esteem issues.

I support him, whether he chooses to diet or not. He has never remarked about my weight and I don't about his. People are more than numbers on the scale.

Anonymous said...

Marly,

No they're not.

Anonymous said...

I wear a size US 12-16 depending on whether it's s top or a bottom. (small up top with little boobs, carry my weight in my ass and thighs). I'm 5'4 and weigh 185, run daily and according to my governments weight chart am fully in the obese category. So yeah you can be a size 14 and be medically obese - I know I am! Good thing I don't put any stock into that.

Anonymous said...

So anon,

Last time I checked, paying homage to the porcelain god in the name of Ana and Mia wasn't a paying job.

Might want to consider that when the dentist bills come in, because surely *they* don't give a shit about the numbers on your scale.

Anonymous said...

9:31 anon, I mean, of course.

violet_yoshi said...

In my family, my dad, sister, and I are all overweight. My mom is the skinny one. So it's kind of funny, when she complains about weight 175 and being fat..while us 3 fatties are looking at her like "What the heck are you complaining about?!"