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Know when to fold ‘em

May 18, 2010

This isn’t necessarily a good bye post. I’m not planning on shutting down the blog or anything. It’s more of a declaration that this blog isn’t a priority these days. I’ve said what I wanted to say and I’m moving on.

Switching this blog over to a focus on my personal weight loss was mostly about wanting to show people that the act of losing weight didn’t have to be about punishment and suffering. I wanted to talk about how I was approaching losing weight mentally rather than detailing my daily menu or focusing on what the scale was saying. I found though that eventually I ran out of things to say about that. It’s not that I don’t still have insights or learn new things. This journey has been a constant balancing act. How to balance my goals with my environment. How to incorporate days or weeks of not-so-great eating habits without weight gain. Learning to order a favorite dish at a restaurant without turning the meal into a 1,500 calorie affair. Mainly though these insights have been personal ones and not some system that will automatically translate to other people. The most important thing, imo, was putting forth the idea that if you approach weight loss from the perspective of being body-positive, of not demonizing certain foods or punishing yourself with exercise then a lot of the little details involved with changing how you interact with your environment will be the ones that work best for you.

Over time then the focus of this blog shifted from my personal experiences to a kind of larger overview of some of the science of weight loss. I was so frustrated with what I saw almost everywhere on the internet when any talk of fat came up. People repeating old disproven ideas over and over again. People frustrated because some guru had promised that it wasn’t about energy balance but they weren’t losing *any* weight. People on every side abusing the poor old 1st law of thermodynamics in a way that breaks this physics major’s brain.

And then I realized two things: 1) There are people out there who know a fuckton more about the science of weight regulation than I ever will. some of these people are online and sharing this knowledge. There really isn’t a need for me to fumble through my undergrad-level understanding of these issues on this blog.
2) The vast majority of people – even people who claim to be rooted in science – will ignore any evidence they need to in order to keep their beliefs intact. I certainly am not changing minds or even giving people much to think about. My dream/hope of being a kind of bridge between the FA camp and the weight loss camp was just not gonna happen. It doesn’t matter that being overweight probably shouldn’t be lumped in with being ‘morbidly’ obese in terms of health risks – we’ll still get to hear that 2/3rd of america is going to dieeeeee constantly. It doesn’t matter that equating a reasonable moderate diet with starvation is like equating going for a jog with an ultra-marathon. If it works to score a cheap point, it’ll get trotted out again and again.

Hmmm, this sounds bitter. I don’t feel bitter. I just am not interested in blogging about any of this anymore. In a little less than two years, I’ve lost 78lbs. There will be no before/after pics. I can’t pretend the weight loss has fundamentally changed who I am or solved all of my problems. I also can’t ignore the ways it has made my life so much better. I’m continuing to lose weight and my end goal is still just to find a weight where I reach a happy equilibrium.

So this isn’t some kind of official end to this blog. I have another project – somewhat inspired by this blog – that I’m in the process of setting up. I’ll provide a link when it’s ready. And I may find little pieces of information or personal insights that I’ll want to blog about here, but I suspect those will be few and far between.

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. cdg permalink
    May 18, 2010 8:30 am

    I’m mostly a lurker (in fact, I think I’ve commented before, but I don’t have a handle I use everywhere and can remember from one time to the next), but I wanted to say I really appreciate your perspective.

    I’m in a funny position in re: fat acceptance and you’ve really helped me, actually. This might sound really stupid, and it’s the kind of thing that would get me snarked to shreds elsewhere, but finding FA sites was simultaneously a best/worst thing for me. Best in consciousness raising, oh, wow, did I ever learn a ton about feminism and conceiving of all people as equally human and valuable and etc. At the same time, FOR ME is all can speak for, the weight-loss-impossible side of it, was incredibly depressing for me, and combined with a long post-partum situation, well, argh, I can’t *blame* FA for this, but it all coincided with a couple years of depressed lethargy, “no point in even trying” kinda depression, and, tada, a cycle of more weight gain/worsening plantar fasciitis/fasciosis that makes exercise and just plain WALKING AROUND feel dangerous, leading to more sedentary days, and so on. So now I really, truly have a specific way that this weight is hurting me, and not in a fantasy of being thin kind of way. I know my body is basically designed to function really, really well at around 200 lbs and these last couple years have really hurt my body. And this is another thing that might sound crazy, but I guess I used to be really naive, because I didn’t know before I found FA the full extent of fat-hate, so now I feel incredibly conspicuous when I walk around in public. Wow. Ignorance was certainly bliss. I don’t know that I would erase everything I’ve learned, but…the truth hurts. A lot. (Again, obviously not the FAULT of FA, because it was among the first serious blogosphere stuff I got into, and I would have learned it from other comment threads.) But in the place I am right now, the more I hear from FA, instead of being a call to arms, it makes me want to hide from hating eyes in a pile of blankets on my couch, because I just don’t feel emotionally and physically strong enough to go out there in spite of it. I do what I have to do in life, but my motivation is weak and easily punctured.

    So, that’s all over the place, but I just wanted to say it’s been really encouraging to find someone who is an FA alum, who has gotten as into fitness as you have and actually worked steadily to improve your body, without hating and brutalizing yourself, and make it stronger and fitter, and lo and behold! It happened! And it didn’t make your life perfect and solve all your problems, but it solved some of them, the ones actually physically related, right? Now, there’s the magic 5 years issue, but you know, at this point in my life, even if it’s only another 3-5 years, that would be pretty great instead of feeling prematurely elderly like I do (I’m on the high side of the 30′s) and disabled when I am not.

    I understand where you’re at with writing, but I’ll have this in my reader, so if you ever pop back up, I’d love to hear from you.

    • June 1, 2010 12:55 pm

      Wow, cdg, I can really relate to alot of what you just said. In the beginning, I really liked the HAES message. Later on, though, the idea that I had no control over my weight felt disempowering and demoralizing.

      Anyways, I don’t have anything to add, just wanted to say that what you wrote really resonated with me.

      - N

      • June 1, 2010 12:56 pm

        * Which is not to say that HAES = “no control over weight”. That’s not the intended or explicit message at all, but that is what it became in my head.

        - N

    • February 4, 2011 10:08 am

      I learned about the FA movement after I’d lost my first 10 lbs from my enough-is-enough heaviest moment and started wondering if what I was in the process of doing was doomed to failure and/or damaging me. I was also hanging out on some fitness forums, and while I pride myself on being logical, I also have enough honesty to admit not all my decisions are rational.

      What pulled me toward the fitness (note: NOT weight-loss per se as much as health and fitness) crowd was two things:

      1) How my ramped-up fitness routine that I started around the same time made me FEEL – i. e. strong and powerful and alive, not suffering and weak and dying like the FA crowd made weight loss sound like – and

      2) the sheer difference in attitude between the two. The people on the fitness forums were baseline happy even when people were posting about setbacks. The underlying tone was positive and life-affirming, how to squeeze the most life and fun out of every day. The FA tone was baseline negative, even when they were saying positive things.

      I also saw that the FA women have had experiences I don’t share. They are traumatized by weight loss and fat and everything to do with it. I was skinny as a kid, gained weight because I changed my eating and exercise habits for the worse when I moved out of home, and lost the weight (and more!) when I changed them back and took it a step further and tweaked both exercise and food even more. Emotionally I don’t connect with what the FA movement has gone through, so.. when I realized that if they’re right about anything they say about dieting and weight loss, it’s right only given a particular history that I don’t even have. So why go toward the negative, the heavy, the somber, the hurt when it’s not even mine? Why not choose life, happiness, strength, and health? Maybe someone else needs the FA message for emotional healing, but why wade through the hurt if you don’t have to?

      I love the food I eat. I am not hungry. I like the way it tastes. I know from experience that nearly all deviations from my current eating patterns will make me feel worse, not better. I love the exercise routine I’ve got. I miss it when I don’t do it. I love my yoga practice. I love being in my own skin. All this is supposed to be impossible, I understand. Even if no one is actually stringing the words together like that in the FA movement, that’s the feeling I’ve come away with. All women are condemned to self-loathing and self-hate and it’s the infernal diet industry’s fault.

      Not that there aren’t strong commercial powers trying to do just that, but you can BOTH resist AND lose weight. I’m a “skinny bitch” and I made myself that way, but I certainly didn’t do it to fit an ideal someone sold me on – I just didn’t feel like myself anymore. I enjoy being a mentally and physically strong woman. No one’s going to tell me what I “should” be like. I do what I want. My own body prohibiting me from doing what I want to do it even worse than someone else doing it!

      And what I want is to live life and enjoy it! I want to climb a volcano. I want to run my next half-marathon faster than the last one. I want to have such a strong core and arms there isn’t much I can’t do in everyday life without pause. I want to sit down to delicious, home-cooked food, nourishing food, with near and dear ones. I want to celebrate life’s successes with cake and Champagne. I never want to worry about how my digestive system feels, because it’s always humming along. I want to keep my body running like a well-oiled machine as I age. At 70, I want to be able to still do what I want physically. I want to age like Jack LaLanne! What’s the point of living if you’re not able to get out there and live the life that you want?

      I still read FA blogs from time to time but I find myself more and more put off by the negative emotional drain that all the misery and hurt expressed creates. Having been in an emotionally raw place like that (regarding something else, not fat), I recognize the hard-won attempts at positivity, at seeing a future beyond the blackness, at trying to pull yourself up by the bootstraps. Because what else do you do? Got to keep moving. So I’m sure for some people, the FA movement can provide a space for healing emotionally.

      Sometimes you just need to know you’re not alone, you’re not in fact suffering in a way that no other human being could ever understand. But while that empathy is emotionally necessary, it isn’t enough in the long run – it merely gives you the emotional tenacity to actually overcome. The violent activism you dream of in your misery isn’t actually a productive way to change anything. And you may well be part wrong anyway, but unable to accept it because of your strong need to show the world that your suffering is unjust with a bulletproof case. (Definitely been there.) But anyone not in that emotional hole has different needs and in some practical sense a different emotional reality. And someone who’s never been in it can jump right over it without even noting its existence without it really making a dent in their life. In the fat acceptance case, that would be me. So I choose to jump, only looking down out of curiosity.

  2. Karen permalink
    May 18, 2010 10:09 am

    As a chemist/chemical engineer, I also happen to concur with the laws of thermodynamics. And I am also endeavoring to the same thing – a body acceptance/healthy weight/exercise journey. In a similar nonrestrictive way, I might add.

    Kudos to you for moving on, taking on new projects. I hope you continue to post at FFF, too.

  3. May 18, 2010 1:24 pm

    Good luck on your journey and future endeavors. Weirdly, I keep coming back to FA sites, even though they don’t jibe with my personal experience at all (lost 100 lbs, have kept off 3 years and running). And frankly, I’m glad I didn’t discover it until then, because it would have jacked me up. There is a “middle way” of not viewing your body as the hungry, backstabbing enemy and acknowledging when changing one’s weight and eating might be a good idea.

    • July 24, 2010 9:51 am

      “There is a “middle way” of not viewing your body as the hungry, backstabbing enemy and acknowledging when changing one’s weight and eating might be a good idea.”

      That’s a great way to put it. Thanks.

      I’ve struggled with the straddling as well. I want the bold, breezy self love that the FA folk seem to have but I also want the light, fit body that would allow me to walk around a mall without collapsing.

      It’s hard to find support for the middle way. FA folk don’t like diet talk or the-science-of-weight-loss talk. Weight-loss folk don’t like the idea of being healthy and overweight at the same time.

      Thanks for the blog thus far. Glad you’re finding expression elsewhere. Best of luck.

  4. May 18, 2010 9:16 pm

    I started reading a few “weight loss”, and I HATE the self loathing that comes along with dieting. I think having a sane way of looking at our bodies is the Best way to truly love ourselves. And, we can love our bodies and want the best for ourselves regardless of our current weight or how we would want our weight to go.

    I do straddle the FA/diet line. I think the world would be a much better place if everyone loved their bodies. (I also think that less of us would be fat, but that is a whole other issue.)

    I look forward to your future projects!

  5. May 19, 2010 8:37 am

    I hope you hear from many more people because I think you’re blog helped a lot of people. I know it helped me. When I discovered the FA community, I was so excited… the idea of loving my body was just what I needed. And very soon after discovering FA, I started doubting (my place) in FA because it was hard for me to figure out how to think about weight loss in conjunction with it. And YOUR BLOG was probably the biggest factor in getting me to the place I am right now. So thank you. Can’t wait to hear about your new project!

  6. May 24, 2010 5:32 am

    I didn’t know you were a physics major! My dad was a physicist, he says if he grew up today, he’d likely be a computer engineer. Personally, I had a really hard time in physics, also with quantum mechanics. And congrats on your weight loss, and getting comfortable with your way of living. Zealots and evangelists on any side are tiring, frustrating. I love your blog, and the interesting research you find and describe in layman’s terms, but can understand why you’d be over it. Not sure what I’ll do with mine, just post less and less probably. These days I’m more into finding sanity than losing weight, which is about over anyway, as long as I don’t regain. I’m happy at this point to be content with my eating and enjoying my tasty, healthy enough, food. I don’t fit very well into either FA nor WL communities, and that’s really okay with me. My whole life is like that, from politics, weight, lifestyles. I try to not be neurotic, which gets more difficult the more I listen to people telling me I’m doing it all wrong. I’m doing just fine, and so are you!

    Best of luck!

  7. Sarah permalink
    May 29, 2010 7:32 am

    I’ve been a lurker for the past two years. I just wanted to say thank you for the writing you have done. It has really helped me as a fat vegetarian who has been losing weight the last 5 months or so(a last ditch attempt to help a foot injury.) I lost a lot of weight a long time ago and it was horrible. I hated the process, I hated myself, and hated that I still hated myself when I was thin. This time it is totally different and I think it has to do with the positive influence your blog has had on me. I am working to find ways to accept myself everyday and to accept the weird feelings I have around modifying my body size. And to not make myself crazy or punish myself. So, again, thank you! I’ll be sad to see you writing less here but am looking forward to reading your new project. All the best to you!

  8. Ashley permalink
    January 9, 2011 7:18 am

    Well, I just found this blog, and I’m going to read it through anyway :)

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