I ran into this one on Slate this morning. It's a moving article by a young woman who after years of punitive diets, finally had bariatric surgery and is now just normal-chub, still getting weight loss advice but somehow finally visible. She does not want to be praised for weight loss. I get the sense she doesn't even want to talk about it. I couldn't help but note the bitterness that I read in her tone, which reminds me of my former step-mom, who I'm guessing was somewhere over the 300 pound mark, and a few other very high BMI folk I have known. The hard thing with obesity is that much of the time it more or less follows the rules-- if you eat better food and move more, you will be less fat. Of course, if you eat too little, you can enter a vicious starvation cycle. And some folk just can't eat very much without getting fat. Some can eat carelessly and stay thin. Being human, our brains make categories, and the underlying assumption is that very fat people are lazy and unmotivated, or at the least they Have Issues. Which they very often do. But not always-- or at least, their issues stem directly from the fact that a "normal" diet for some annoying reason makes them very fat.
But the New York Times, Tara Parker-Pope style assertion that lasting weight loss is all but impossible bugs me too. Maybe because I worry it's true. And yet I can count... let me think... 1, 2, 3, 4-- 5 friends or acquaintances who've kept off anywhere from 15 to 60 pounds, not counting my dear bloggie friends. We can all probably name people who say, "Oh, yeah, I got really chubby for a while there." Even I've managed to shave maybe ten or fifteen pounds more or less permanently from my top number, and I am secretly convinced that a reasonably modest effort could get me back to a place where I don't look or feel particularly fat.
I will say this. I can't imagine every going on a harsh diet again. I just won't do it. I don't believe they work (I could be wrong about that). I would rather be quite fat or have bariatric surgery first. (By the way, people who view surgery as somehow "cheating" or "the easy way" kind of blow me out of the water. There's nothing easy about it. It has lifelong consequences.) Anything below, say, the roughly 1600 or 1700 calorie mark just doesn't interest me.
Remembering I titled this post Fat Acceptance, so I need to circle back there, don't I? Do I accept my fat? Sure. Can I be sophisticated enough not to assign blame, to reserve judgment (about myself or other people), and still realize that certain behaviors are more likely to result in clearly better outcomes (as in not flinching from cameras, scales, or glucometers?) Here's hoping.
In other news, I am planning to keep shelling out meeting fees and attending Weight Watchers even though I haven't lost any weight since the initial five pounds (in one week, it was startling). That's because I stopped counting points. Hmm, a correlation, do you think? I do like this version because of the leeway in terms of sheer volume. I seem to be able to burn up (and need) more calories than the average middle aged type person, and as I hold deprivation in scorn and contempt, I appreciate the optional points and working out points and the tacit okay to eat more apricots or pineapple or microwaved apples as needed not to feel hungry. My leader told me I should not be eating more than five servings daily-- this after losing five pounds in a week. My mental note was, you don't know how many calories I need, lady. But I would not say such a rude thing, also she was a pretty formidable, authoritative type of lady :) I will be up a little on the scale and I am hereby pledging to keep going, since I am mature enough not to be fixated on the scale. I'm really, truly not. Right? Right. Wish me luck.
PS Edited to say, down a pound for 7 lbs total, and I really want an Active Life thingie.