The Chairs of my former FAT LIFE…

Posted: June 13, 2011 in Day to Day
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Chairs.  If you have ever been or are very overweight you immediately know what I am talking about.  If you have never had a weight problem you might be confused — so let me clarify.  When you are very overweight much of your time and thought is taken up with Chairs.  For example, you go over to someone’s house and they say have a seat.  Your first thought is — Oh, God what is the chair like.  You look at it and size it up.  Whew! It is OK.  Another example:  you are somewhere very public — like the food court at the mall and you go to sit down.  You size up the chair — the worst thing in your mind is that it gives way and there you are on the floor with people yelling and others trying to get you off of the floor and others laughing and children crying.  How I have played this out many times…. Then there is the booth that you could never squeeze into and you would have to ask for a table.  Your kids would be upset and say, “We never get to sit in a booth!”  Yeah, I ruined your childhood because I am fat!  Then the most horrible situation when the waitress says — “You sure you can fit in that booth?” or “Perhaps you would be more comfortable at a table –”

Ahhhh the Chairs of my former FAT LIFE…  I would like you to meet some of them right now.

(There is one person — and one chair that is missing from this entire blog.  I hopefully will update this later in the summer when I visit my parents and they find out about my weight loss.)

OK — Chair #1. The most hated chair in my former FAT LIFE. The Shannon Park Swim Club Adirondack Chair.  These horrible plastic nightmares for chairs were the worst thing that I ever had to face.  First of all, at 450 lbs. there is no way it would hold me up.  Those little plastic legs would (I am sure) slide out from under me and lay on the ground like they gave up the ghost.  It would be a horrible death for them I am sure.  Second, if I had ever been able to sit in them I would have had to rocked back and forth and rolled on to the ground to get out of them.  I hated them soooo much.  I had to sit in these awful metal things with straps and hope that one of those had not weakened with years in the rain and sun.  I cannot tell you how many times I was offered one of them and had to say, “No thanks. I prefer these.” or “I don’t know how you sit in them, they kill my back.”  Now I proudly sit in them and I go get one and people ask me if I want a different chair and I say, “No. I never could sit in these before and I am so happy to sit in one now.”  I still look at them, and I know they can tell, that I hate them even today.

Chair #2.  The Waiting Room Chair.  I hated this chair for two reasons.  One, because they grabbed my hips and I had a roll of fat sticking out below the arm and a roll of fat sticking out above the arm — on both sides.  It was a circus chair I am sure.  Two, because when I sat in the chair it was always bad news. It was either my blood pressure, or my acid reflux, or my sleep apnea, or my cholesterol.  It was never ever good news.  I sat in it recently and no roll — well maybe a little under the arm but definitely no roll on top of the arm.  The news?  No blood pressure medicine needed, no acid reflux medication needed, and no cholesterol drug for three months and then we take another test to make sure.  This chair is not so bad now.

Chair #3. The outdoor chair.  No arms. Very sturdy. A FAT LIFE’s best friend.  All of my “thin” friends think it is hard and stiff.  Oh well, they deserve it for being so thin. Before you think that is uncalled for and that I am a bad guy — These are the same people who ask me every day “Are you hungry?” or “How much have you lost now?”

Chair #4.  The Ikea office chair.  Many have died, but this guy was able to stick it out. You can see the computer screen that I work from and write this blog from.  The point to this chair is that I removed the handles on the side so that I could sit in it.  The arms were digging in to me.  If I turn quickly I can head right off of it and hurl towards the floor!  I cannot give this chair away.  It is half broken and makes noises but it stuck by me at my darkest hours.  I have to stick by it now in its old age.  Still no arms but very comfy…

Chair #5.  The dining room chair.  Look, no arms.  This was during our “mission”-style period.  Nice simple beautiful chair.  This one sits below my Middle-Period Elvis painting. I include it because you never know, he could be reading this right now.

Chair #6. The Front Porch Rocking Chair.  I never sat in them.  I loved them from afar.  They came with our house.  I like them but I never dared.  This was a horrible accident to be avoided at all costs. This weekend, I read the New York Times and sat on the porch in my Rocking Chair and scoffed at the runners as they jogged by. Being able to sit in this chair without fear makes me very happy!

Chair #7.  The dreaded YMCA stool!  It makes cracking noises when thin people sit on it.  I am 6’5″ and I am sure I would have to grab on to the locker to give my knees some help getting up.  I never dared to sit on them.  I used to put my shoes and socks on standing up.  No way was I going to even attempt to sit on one — even if I was alone in the locker room.  This week I sat on one and put my shoes on.  It barely made a sound. Yahoo….!

Chair #8. The outdoor front yard swing.  Can you even imagine what when through my mind with this one?  I include two pictures so you can see how high the tree is and how big the branch is that it hangs from. Besides the fact that it would hit the ground and drag my legs at 450 lbs. — Can you imagine if that branch came down?  It would kill the 10 people gathered around to help me get out of the swing.  This week, I intend on giving it the old college try.  I have requested that everyone stand on the front porch in case there is an accident of biblical proportions….












Chair #9.  The backyard Pool Lounge Chair.  We bought these extra sturdy Lounge Chairs so that I felt comfortable sitting with our guests.  You can’t stand there all day and talk to people when they come over.  We paid several hundreds of dollars more per chair to get sturdy one’s simply because of my weight and to accommodate my size and peace of mind.  I don’t even want to know how many times my wife did that over the years in order to make me comfortable and the sacrifice it meant financially to my family.

Well, there it is — The Chairs of my former FAT LIFE…

  1. I LOVE this post!! I understand. I have my own chair nightmare, which even though it was years ago still makes me blush in mortification. I was at an outdoor restaurant with my sister and the chairs were these canvas jobs (like directors’ chairs I guess?) with the canvas pinched between two boards. I sat down and kept on going! The canvas unpinched on one side and I hit the ground. If I’d kept my mouth shut I would only have provided amusement for the diners near by, but of course I had to scream and make myself the focus of EVERY diner there. SO embarrassing. I’m not sure I’ve ever sat on one of those types of chairs since!

    Great news about no blood pressure meds needed! Hope it happens to me.

    Maybe you talk about this elsewhere in your blog, but so, your parents don’t know you are dieting?? Wow, that’s some secret!!

    • Thanks for sharing your story! Eddie Murphy has a great comedy routine about his Aunt Bunny who was very overweight falling down the steps in their backyard. Your story reminds me of that. I have been working on the Chair post for some time — collecting photos here and there. It has always been a sorce of anxiety for me.

    • I forgot to mention. My mother has her own set of issues with weight and she is in a very bad situation. My father is her caretaker and I told him some time ago that I was going to lose weight to ensure what happened to her does not happen to me. I also want to be healthy and live longer for my kids. That said — as we get closer to the trip (July 4th Weekend), I will share some of the information about it — and the fact that she will not be encouraging when she sees the weight loss. So as we build up for the visit — stay tuned for a story that is really unbelievable…

  2. What a fantastic post! 😀

    Grumpy Man Approved. 😛

    I used to dread the booth because the damn hostess would always stick me in booths knowing I couldn’t fit.

    I was at a dinner party a few months ago and I remember thinking that I no longer had to worry about chairs..

    What a great feeling.

    • I refuse to go to ihop with my family because of the booths. They seem to make those very close compared to other places. Once I thought they would have to get a wedge to get me out of one of them. At 170 lbs. there never should be a chair problem in your life again!

  3. paulbentley says:

    This is such a good post and one that I (and ‘big boned’ people everywhere) relate too. On my blog I have a page entitled ‘Rivers to Cross’ and is a list of personal and exercise goals. ‘To be able to sit in a restaurant chair with arms’ is one of my personal goals.

    Love, love, love this post.

    Btw. Will we get a photograph of you swinging in Chair #8?

  4. […] restaurants so that my rear wouldn’t hang out in the open, bulging over the edges of the chairs (my buddy OptiFast Loser gives a good explanation of this terror). My husband was always such a blessing because he never treated me even one ounce different all […]

  5. Shonnie says:

    I guess you figured out that I love this post from the fact that I tagged it. 🙂 So well said! One time when I was at my heaviest, we couldn’t get a table in the back. We were on the main outside edge — my chair broke. I wanted to DIE!

    • Yes, the chair break was the conversation at our Optifast meeting last night. Everyone liked the blog and had a simular story to tell. One woman said that her mother-in-law gave her a broken chair on purpose so that she could look even more overweight than she already was…

  6. Bonnie Gibb says:

    I absolutely LOVE this post. You hit the nail on the head with this one. I can’t count how many gatherings and patio dinners I have made excuses (how many summer colds can a person reasonably have?) to miss because the seating was too questionable. The anxiety and following depression because I didn’t want half my ass to be hanging out the sides of a chair, or worse, those ‘effing’ white plastic stacking chairs with their bowing legs.
    Forcing my family to miss out on a beautiful afternoon on a patio, “lets do a window seat it’s too hot outside” so we can watch the outside instead of enjoying it. I just can’t count the number of times I have done this.
    I found myself standing more often than not when hanging out on the patio with friends, always being the first to offer to get whatever from the kitchen so it buys me more time out of a chair.
    Covertly scoping out local restaurants and their patio situations before going there for a meal…before accepting an invitation to gather there with friends. Add that on to the anxiety of eating out and feeling like everyone is watching what you’re ordering (lets all see what fatty orders and shake our head disdainfully at her – NOW we know why she’s so horribly grotesquely fat), how you’re eating – because we all know overweight people snarf hand over fist, forgoing fork and knife for giant mitt sized handfuls of reconstituted lard.
    Wonderful wonderful post! Thank you so much for sharing the chairs of your former fat life.
    There are SO many things that go through our minds, so much energy and brain space taken up by fear and anxiety. So much time spent focusing on not drawing attention to yourself.
    Thank you for sharing – you are certainly not alone in this, and I thoroughly enjoyed laughing over broken chairs and situations in group.

    • You have no idea how much you are missed in the group… I have to keep reminding myself that people will move in and out of Optifast and I have to just keep going to the meetings forever. By the way, I never ever sit outside… Big mistake… Ha Ha…. Outside is for thin people.

  7. Yes, the chairs and booths — and even more annoying — this thought everyone in the place is staring at you!

    Those stupid plastic-molded chairs are the worst things ever, because even if you do manage to sit in them, you cannot move an inch. Any lean in any direction could start a chair tragedy leading to mortal embarrassment. And you just know when you get up, the chair is coming with you, firmly attached to your backside.

    Then there are the nasty airplane-width chairs with the barely padded metal arms that somehow you have to squeeze into. They are totally unforgiving and you will be in awful pain if there for long. Even some movie theater seating can become a real problem.

    Booths are a pain sometimes. If the restaurant simply provided a free moving table, folks can manage fine. But the ones where everything is nailed to the floor can be a real mess.

    Same story for other people’s furniture, especially people with “antique” seating you just know you are not going to test.

    Years later, I learned we are mostly self-conscious about ourselves. Most people really are not staring at you — they are self-absorbed into their own little lives and contemplate you about as much as the wallpaper and staring at what other people are eating and wondering why they didn’t order what you did.

    People do size you up coming and going, though. But five minutes later, you are long forgotten. So there is no reason to overthink this.

    On a practical level, I’ve found a number of solutions to deal with larger people issues, even after you’re no longer ‘morbidly obese’:

    a) Don’t buy cheap office chairs. You want back pain and broken chairs? Buy the $99 special at Office Depot. I finally found a good supportive chair from Overstock — a Mayline 6446 big and tall chair that can easily handle up to 450lbs. Its foam cushioning is stiff as a board out of the box, but will not be flat as a pancake a year later. Arms swing up and out of the way if you don’t want them. 5/10 year warranty has also meant easy replacements of what will be first to go — pneumatic seat lift and plate attachment. The manufacturer even sent me a brand new chair free after I spotted a bad weld point three years after I bought it.

    b) Never buy a pillowtop mattress. Ever. Canals aren’t dug as deep as the channels that will form in these a year after you buy them. I threw mattress companies overboard altogether and found my own latex foam alternative that will never form a body impression no matter how much you weigh. The foam feels a helluva lot better than a spring mattress too, and is not stifling like those memory foam things you sink into. Add a heavy duty 24″ tall metal bedframe and you don’t even need a box spring.

    c) The firmer the furniture, the better it is for you long-term. The problem with foam cushions these days is that people reject them when they are new and stiff, so the manufacturer has to “soften” them for the sale. But that softness compromises longevity big time. So you end up with a comfortable couch that may last five years before it sags. Get premium, stiff cushioning and it will last at least 10-20 years, and buy ones that have zippered sides so the cushion foam can actually be replaced when it’s worn.

    d) Recognize you have a lifelong weight challenge. You will never be the person that can inhale bags of Doritos and never gain weight. Sorry. So you have to accommodate for the fact your weight will go down and it will increase, sometimes across a wide range. It’s the way it is for most people. This means you build healthy activity into your routine so you can maintain freedom and health benefits from things like exercise, even if you numbers rise and fall. You don’t want to lose the freedom you have fought to win. You certainly don’t want and don’t deserve to beat yourself up over it.

    • I wish it wasn’t so, but am afraid I have to agree with d in your comment. I mourn not being the person who can eat at will and be normal-sized, but have to come to terms with the fact that it isn’t me. And that yes, the need to eat and exercise in healthy ways is a lifelong process, not just while I have a short-term weight loss goal. I have to wrap my head around that fact!

  8. Molly says:

    Love this post!!! Love it. I have two words (well, one compound word and then an additional word) – airplane seat. I’m stuffing my bum in one on Sunday and then again the following Sunday. I fit (barely and I take up every centimeter), but the person who gets stuck next to me always has a grimace. I don’t blame them. Nobody wants a stranger’s arm roll fat right up in their bizniz! I feel like saying to whoever gets the lucky seat next to mine on the plane “Dang, too bad this isn’t two months from now.” But instead I will hurry and put my Ipod earbuds in and crank up the tunes and stare out the window. This, too, shall pass!

    Anyway, Loved your chair blog.

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