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Different drum

October 23, 2008

I shut down this blog because I no longer considered myself part of fat acceptance. 

Here’s the thing: I could probably write a bunch of posts about this, but it boils down to two really basic ideas:

1) My longstanding disagreement with a lot of the scientific underpinnings of the movement

From the first time I posted, I had a lot of unease surrounding some of the certainty around amazingly complex scientific questions. It was always under a lot of what I wrote, but I ignored it because hey, even if our science isn’t 100% right when it comes to whether or not fat is healthy, the undeniable fact is that diets don’t work. At all. 95% of diets fail, right?

As it turns out, no, that number is probably not quite accurate.

In fact, the more I looked, the less convinced I became that trying to lose weight almost never worked. And well, if I wasn’t sure that fat was health-neutral and I didn’t believe that almost no one could lose weight and keep it off, then I found myself in a very different place than most people in fat acceptance.

Which brings me to my second reason

2) I wanted to lose weight.

Yup. I’ll write a post about this one later. I have no idea if this blog is off of the fatosphere at this point (I also know fatfu gets a lot of emails and probably has tons to do) so I certainly don’t want to upset or trigger anyone. The summary is: I have my reasons. I will say that I don’t believe weight loss can only be achieved through starvation and suffering.
 

So I closed the blog. At first, I just closed commenting, but looking back through entries I realized I had written a lot that I no longer agreed with. In some cases, I had written things that I didn’t even really agree with when I wrote them. I switched the blog to password protected and focused on other things.

But I kept reading the fatosphere and I added some fitness, nutrition and weight-loss blogs to my bookmarks. The more I read, the more frustrated and the more argumentative I started to feel. No, I didn’t think weight loss had to be tied to disordered eating and self-hatred, but I also didn’t think that every person in the world had to be able to run a 5k in 20 minutes and constantly monitor their body fat percentage. I may not think that intuitive eating works for everyone, but I think forcing oneself to ingest splenda-sweetened cottage cheese with chocolate protein powder because you’re terrified of real food is beyond bizarre.

And what I definitely didn’t want was to lose myself in another narrative mold which bore only a passing resemblance to my actual life. I don’t drink soft drinks. I don’t eat fast food. I don’t cry myself to sleep while smeared with chocolate and bacon drippings. But I also don’t only eat 1900 calories a day while still maintaining my weight. I do find some things hard to do at my size (even after several years of regular exercise.) When I eat calorie-dense foods, I gain weight and when I focus on filling, but lower-calorie meals, I lose it. I’ve known people who’ve yo-yo dieted for years and I know people who lost fairly large amounts of weight and have kept it off without obsessive exercise or disordered eating for well over five years.

My experience of fat and fat hatred and my relationship with food and movement is, like a lot of the science around fat, complicated. It resists simple answers and sweeping pronouncements. It is, to steal a phrase, a both/and kind of a thing. Fat can be both genetic and lifestyle-dependent. Doctors should both treat fat people’s actual illnesses and allow for the possibility that some problems might be ameliorated with weight loss. I can both wish to lose weight and refuse to hate my body.

So this blog is both a personal exploration of me trying to find the middle path of weight loss (being honest with myself while never punishing myself) and still about the awful way society treats fat people. It is not a fat acceptance blog because I think people who run into established movements and try to make the movement change to accommodate their personal beliefs are assholes. Fat acceptance is an anti-dieting movement by the general consensus of the people in it. I’m seriously not looking to change that.

If it helps to have some sort of framework for who I am and what I want to write about, think of it this way: I am an unabashed and strident feminist interested in the way women’s bodies are treated and portrayed in society. I am fascinated by and a bit obsessed with nutrition, fitness and the science of fat regulation. I am a life long fat person who is looking to lose weight.

So that’s that.

Now a few little notes:

Comments will be open. You can even comment anonymously. I will remove comments if they’re just insanely inflammatory or spam. However, all I ask is that, before you comment, you consider whether or not you’re just wasting my time and yours. Especially since it might have taken you five minutes to write something that I’ll read and delete in 60 seconds.

I will write about weight loss and I might even be specific and use numbers. I will cut all posts that contain number talk and other things that might be triggering.

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58 Comments leave one →
  1. October 23, 2008 5:55 pm

    I can totally understand where you’re coming from. For myself, dieting and WLS didn’t (and still don’t) work for me, personally. I’m not about to say that they won’t work for some people, and I’m not going to tell anyone what they should or should not do (I’m not the body police or lifestyle police or any other kind of police). I recently figured out that my weight is aggravating my back problems (only took me 30 years). I figured it out because I’ve been using the pool at the motel we stay at when we visit my son and his wife. I can stand and walk in the pool for an hour to 2 hours at a time and my back doesn’t hurt at all in that whole time. But let me stand at the kitchen sink to do dishes (or stand anywhere else) for 5 minutes, and my back is cramping and my legs are going numb. Obviously, I’m supported by the water when I’m in it, so it’s taking weight/pressure off my back and I’m not in pain. Even my bad knee doesn’t bother me as much when I’m in the water (but I found out I can overdo the water exercise and then I have sore muscles for a week after). So, weight loss would probably help a lot with my back problems, but I haven’t found a way that helps me lose weight and keeps it off for more than 6 months or so, and is sustainable for the rest of my life. And I’ve tried, lord how I’ve tried.
    I wish you the best of luck in your journey, and I’ll be reading to see what you do and how it works for you. Maybe I’ll get some ideas that I can try, and will work for me.

  2. October 23, 2008 6:12 pm

    I’m sort of curious about something. The NYTimes article that you linked to was from 1999, which is considerably *older* than most of the research cited by those in the Fatosphere (for instance, Sandy Swarcz regularly cites from more recent studies). And that Times article notably says that, while the 95% statistic comes from an old and smaller scale study, we don’t (as of ’99, anyway) have a better figure.

    And then the Times writer plays what I’d consider to be a rhetorical sleight of hand, as, rather than talk about any more recent studies on success rates (and there have been studies of individual diets since the ’50s, and even meta-analysis of multiple studies), they instead point to their having located people who’ve kept weight off.

    The NWCR does much the same when they write, “Given the prevailing belief that few individuals succeed at long-term weight loss, the NWCR was developed to identify and investigate the characteristics of individuals who have succeeded at long-term weight loss. ” In other words, the NWCR has no apparent intention of engaging with the the “prevailing belief” or seeking to demonstrate that the 95% figure is innaccurate. Instead, their focus is in looking at those who succeed (even if those people actually do turn out to be 5% of those who try).

    You may well have *better* examples of the kind of evidence that made you change your perspective, but this seems… problematic, at best, and not much different than what companies like Weight Watchers do when they say, “Results not typical” in the small print while focusing on those atypical people.

    I’m not trying to be argumentative here. I’m genuinely interested, as whatever sources or evidence you’re drawing upon are things with which the Fatosphere must engage in order to hold ourselves to a higher standard of evidence and reasoning than that used by the multimillion dollar diet industry.

  3. October 23, 2008 6:51 pm

    I don’t know exactly where I stand on fat-health-diet. I’ve seen a lot of people do a lot of crazy things in the name of dieting. I’ve also seen that it’s very possible for many people to lose *some* weight without suffering, simply by making some different choices. I hear people talk about studies showing that most fat people and thin people don’t actually eat that differently, but then I hear fat people talking casually about eating amounts of food that certainly sound like overeating to me.

    I choose to stand on the side of fat activism (and I’d rather say that at the moment than ‘acceptance’) because regardless of whether being fat is more tied into our choices than we want to think it is, I am *angry* at the way fat people are treated by society. I am *angry* at not being able to see a fat character on television without knowing that said character will very quickly shuffle off to raid the nearest buffet, because Fat People Eat All The Time Ha Ha Ha. I am *angry* at a huge portion of society not being able to buy clothing at most shops because they only carry skinny clothes. I am *angry* at people being driven away from medical treatment and not taken seriously because they’re fat. I am *angry* at the sneering lies told by the media when they want to find another top news story about fatties. I am *angry* at having been told as a child that if I ever ate cake I would be dead by the age of 30. (I’m 30 now. I’m in fairly good health. And heck, I’m only an in-betweenie fat girl.) And I’m angry at myself for buying into the skinny world such that, before falling into the FA movement, it would never have occurred to me to put fat characters in my games/stories. Who would ever ever ever want to be FAT?

    So I want to push back, not because I’m 100% sure that I believe 100% of what the anti-dieting movement says, but because I’m pissed off at the alternative and desperate to try and dent the minds of the mainstream.

  4. October 23, 2008 8:04 pm

    I forget who, but someone once told me that there are three sides to every story: yours, mine, and the truth.

    On one hand, you’ve got the dieting extremes. On the other hand, you’ve got the anti-dieting extremes*. The truth, for most people, is probably somewhere in between.

    * – some FA people fall into this category, others do not. I think that some middle ground needs to be found in order for FA to gain any headway in mainstream culture. By that, i mean FA as how i interpret it: fat acceptance means that it is never okay to be unkind to a fat person because of their size; beyond that, the details are debatable, and depends a lot on who you ask. But that is my opinion, my viewpoint – i am quite certain i am not speaking for the entirety of the fatosphere when i say that. 😉

  5. Anonymous permalink
    October 23, 2008 8:13 pm

    I don’t think you should throw the whole thing out the window so quickly. I mean, skepticism about the health claims made on the fatosphere is, so to say, healthy. The more important things to think about, though, rather than whether or not it is healthy to be fat, are whether personal health decisions should be treated as public moral decisions to be judged as such, and whether fat people should be discriminated against for being fat. I am guessing that, though we disagree about what is or is not healthy, you probably have a similar view to myself, on those two (more social justice oriented) issues.

    Disagreeing with the health rhetoric of the fat lib movement doesn’t quite kick you out, I think. Posting about your dieting may. I know not.

  6. librarychair permalink
    October 23, 2008 8:15 pm

    Oops – the anonymous comment was mine. Sorry for the lack of identification!

  7. October 23, 2008 8:51 pm

    I’ve known about that NY Times article for several months now. I found it when trying to find the citation for the 95 percent of dieters fail claims I often saw parroted across the Fatosphere. While this claim may be questionable, there is other more recently-conducted damning evidence that shows dieting isn’t effective for long-term weight loss. For more on this, see my references in this link.

    I’m with you on your point #1. There are a lot of medical and scientific theories and thoughts recorded on the Fatosphere that I find both irreconcilable and troubling (probably the most incredible claim I’ve read is that your food choices have absolutely nothing to do with your body weight — yes, absolutely nothing to do with weight at all, the author was quite adamant on this point).

    I do believe long-term weight loss is completely possible for people who are above their set point weight ranges, but I don’t believe dieting is the most effective way to achieve this. The National Weight Control Registry tracks people who have lost at least 30 pounds and who have kept it off for one year or more (I’m also listed on the registry). These people aren’t exercise fiends; the most commonly-reported activity is walking. Forty-five percent of participants lost weight on their own and most say that they while they’ve changed their food habits, they are not currently dieting to maintain that weight loss. I’ve maintained a 100-pound weight loss for going on five years and I’ve done it not through dieting but by making, yes… wait for it… lifestyle changes.

  8. October 23, 2008 9:03 pm

    I will say that I don’t believe weight loss can only be achieved through starvation and suffering.

    There are some people for whom it’s much easier than that, yes. What percentage really is not known at all, because almost all research is supported by diet-industry interests in some way and it’s very difficult to get any kind of objective data. But even the NWCR — which was, remember, formed in order to encourage dieting — doesn’t claim it’s anywhere near a majority, and when you factor in that their idea of dieting “success” can include people who lose 100 pounds and gain back 70, the number of truly successful dieters — who lose all they want to and keep off all or nearly all that they lose forever — is even tinier.

    And certainly most of society believes it’s easy for nearly all fat people to become thin with just a token effort, which really does not jibe with the fact that I’ve known a LOT of dieters in my life, and very rarely have I met anyone who was a former fat person who got and stayed (for 10 years or more) not-fat through diet and exercise alone. And almost always when I have, they’ve been men, or people of either sex who were fat as children or teenagers and outgrew it by their early 20s. I also don’t accept that most people don’t lose weight because they don’t try hard enough. Often, all they do is try, but nature is not on their side.

    You might well be one of the exceptions, someone who is genuinely overeating now and will cease to be fat when she stops overeating. That does happen, and I’m not going to claim to know your own habits and metabolism better than you do.

    However, I will say that you also can’t tell by looking at other people who is naturally a larger person, and who has eaten themselves fat, and in the latter cases, why some people are hungrier than others and why some people gain weight more easily than others when they do overeat. There are plenty of people who eat like horses and never gain an ounce, after all, and those people don’t take nearly the shit from society that fat overeaters get. That’s why I don’t believe in throwing negative judgments on or any sort of prejudice against people regardless of what they eat OR what they weigh.

    And it’s why those of us who oppose diet talk on the Fatosphere do so. It really does not matter at all if it’s “riskier” to be fat than thin, if a majority of fat people have no chance of ever becoming permanently thin without making it their life’s work to do so. Right now the prevailing point of view in society is that we fat people owe it to society to make getting and staying thin our life’s work if that’s what it takes. I don’t agree.

    We also haven’t seen a lot of research comparing the health and longevity of the formerly fat to that of the currently fat; comparing people who have been thin all or most of their lives to people who have been fat all or most of their lives really is not an apples-to-apples comparison. And a big part of the reason they haven’t, is because they can’t find a whole lot of former fat people — those who got and stayed thin through diet and exercise alone — to do the research with. That ought to tell you something.

  9. October 23, 2008 9:43 pm

    After (finally) reading “Rethinking Thin,” where I am is this:
    It’s possible to lose weight, but the amount varies. That depends on what you are doing, what you aren’t doing, and your genes.
    When I’m exercising regularly and eating well, I tend to be about 12 pounds less than when I’m not exercising at all, and eating poorly. Medications have an impact.
    So, I don’t agree that it’s not possible to lose weight. I don’t even agree that it’s not possible to keep it off. What the question is to me is, how much weight can people lose and keep off? And what can fat people do to be healthier, whether or not they lose weight?

  10. October 23, 2008 10:02 pm

    Welcome back. I’ve missed reading your posts.

  11. October 23, 2008 10:07 pm

    On the science, meowser and Rachel said it better than I could, but I wanted to say that I (for what little my opinion is worth) don’t necessarily think your views as stated in this post are necessarily that much at odds with FA. I can see why you would want to step down from the fatosphere feed because the direction you’re going in is not necessarily on-topic there, but you still seem very on board with the message that fat is excessively scapegoated and fat people deserve the same rights as everyone else. And whether or not that is appropriate for the fatosphere as such, those are the things that I think are important moreso than our individual experiences with weight loss.

    Frankly, I believe that you and I fall into the same category, metabolically speaking. I recently lost 100 pounds over a two-year period and I can’t say (by the criteria I demand from everyone else 🙂 ) that I’ve “kept it off” at this point… and who knows if I will; I still think the odds are not good… but this was 100 pounds that I had gained mostly through disordered eating during an extremely stressful job that I hated and that left me little time for exercise. I started out following “The Program” on Weight Watchers but over time I’ve modified it so that I eat amounts that would horrify my leader if she knew about it. Seriously, if you take into account the weekends, when I eat more, I average 2500 calories a day easy and I am basically maintaining around that 100 lbs. lost mark. I enjoy running and do so regularly–ditto with lifting weights though that isn’t as clockwork as the running–but I doubt this is enough to really keep my weight down.

    In other words, I did roughly what I think most people around these parts would refer to as HAES–started eating an amount that was comfortable for me, plus WW encourages you to incorporate x amount of fruits, veggies, water, whole grains, “healthy oils,” etc. so the quality of my diet improved in general–but I was lucky (?) enough that it resulted in a weight loss that makes my body look more socially acceptable. The posts I see about folks who gained weight eating 1200 calories a day and working out two hours a day are, luckily for me, not something I’m personally acquainted with. Not everyone following my same path would be equally “lucky,” and that’s actually one of the parts of the fatosphere that I find the most valuable. Reminding myself that life isn’t fair and that there are women out there who eat literally half what I do and weigh more, and this is a lot of why there is a need for FA in the first place. That you can’t tell anything about someone’s lifestyle and habits by looking at them. People whose metabolisms and dieting histories and so on are different from mine should not have to be systematically punished or have their rights abridged just because they drew the genetic straw that is considered the “short” one at this point in history, or because at some point they inevitably bowed to pressure from family or their doctor or society and went on restrictive diet(s) and are now paying the metabolic price simply for trying to conform to what society requires of us.

    So I think the fact that you want to lose weight and feel you can and feel that it will be good for your personal health is not something I want to judge or question–you may very well be right. I would more point out that just because your experience is different, doesn’t mean that the preponderance of evidence that diets fail is untrue. It is my personal suspicion that most people who attempt to diet are simply naturally fatter people, and based on the feedback loops described e.g. in Rethinking Thin, your body wages an almost impossible to counter campaign to keep you at your setpoint. No wonder most diets apparently fail. And this is of more than passing concern because restricting to the degree that most strict diets require has health impacts and seems to make people fatter. Personally I think we would all be far better off if nobody was ever expected to restrict calories to the extent that commercial/typical diet plans recommend, because I don’t think the vast majority of people are really made to exist on those intake levels… so if that’s what it takes for you to stay thin, then you’re probably not really supposed to be thin IMO. This is not to say that you can’t reduce your caloric intake if you know you’re overeating in terms of your personal energy requirements… if you’re feeling stuffed all the time or binge eating or whatever. But I believe what I have learned in the fatosphere–that most fat people do not overeat in this way.

    Anyway, this is ridiculously oversimplified and just my personal opinion, but I think that if a person can eat around 2,000-2,500 calories a day–or whatever amount feels comfortable and not excessive to them; I recognize many people, especially shorter women, eat less than this, many eat more, and giant YMMV to account for individual variation, but I consider this a reasonable average–and exercise moderately, walking a few days a week for example, and not lose weight, then quite likely they are roughly the weight they’re supposed to be. After all, this is roughly how most thin people live, right? Sure, you might be able to take off 10 additional pounds or so by getting really draconian with the diet or exercise, but I don’t consider this a “natural” or “healthy” state of being. If, on the other hand, you have been eating much more than this for whatever reason, and that amount leaves you uncomfortable and overstuffed, then maybe you would lose weight by decreasing your intake to a point where you feel healthier and more comfortable. I say this only because this was my experience, though, and I think this bears repeating, I don’t consider myself “typical” in terms of the struggles I’ve had with food and overeating. But frankly either way I consider it HAES. The important thing is feeling better, having more energy, eating in a way that is comfortable for you and that reflects any health goals you might have (e.g. getting in your 5 fruits and veggies a day, eating more organic foods, etc.), and working toward your fitness goals. If weight loss happens, fine, but the actual point is treating your body right and I actually think that actively pursuing weight loss as a goal can be detrimental to that.

    In a weird way, my twisted version of WW has actually smoothed out my eating to some extent, and generally I am quite happy with the amounts I eat now vs. what I was eating during my crappy, stressful job and how correspondingly crappy the “stress diet” made me feel. (And no, I don’t think less food is always better… far from it, actually.) Anyway, my point is that I think weight loss can be healthy and possible for some people depending on their set point and where they are in relation to it, but actually focusing on that weight loss as a goal is more often unhealthy than healthy and can actually interfere with keeping your eyes on the “prize” of health rather than the needle on the scale moving lower (which, to keep this happening you often end up trading the “healthy” choice for the choice with fewer calories or points or carbs, all in service of the scale, as well as becoming disconnected with your own hunger cues and the specific foods your body is asking for). That’s the problem with dieting.

    I also think that those of us fat people (if you and I do indeed fall into this category) who do experience weight loss with moderate changes in habits are not in the majority, and I like the reality check I get on that score in the fatosphere. Not to mention the reminder that we are all human beings, fat or thin, “healthy” (like you can actually pin that down universally) or not, and protecting our rights and ensuring that we get compassionate, effective health care are what this is really about.

    Sorry for the manifesto. 🙂 I hope this isn’t TMI but I wanted to be honest about where I was coming from.

  12. October 23, 2008 10:15 pm

    Oh (and I should have just spared your eyeballs and said “ITA with Meowser”)–but I also think that making these determinations about whether weight loss is healthy or possible for you is something that is fraught with peril considering the double standard for fat and thin “overeaters” that Meowser describes, and the conditioning that our bodies are bad and wrong that all fat people grow up with. I think one needs to be VERY careful when trying to separate which of one’s actions truly constitute “overeating” or “an unhealthy diet” or “not enough exercise,” and which are perfectly normal and typical of, say, a thin person, but which we feel are not good enough (or assume we must be doing “wrong”) solely because we are fat. I think a reality check from other non-fatphobic people is often in order. After all, it is hardly difficult outside the fatosphere to get reinforcement for disordered beliefs about what we must do to be “good enough” given the state of our society.

  13. Tara permalink
    October 23, 2008 10:37 pm

    I for one applaud you for deciding to make a positive change that will improve your life. I would like to say that it is important to remember that a healthy lifestlye is a lifelong commitment. The reason diets fail is that they have a defined beginning and end. It should come as no suprise that people regain the weight they lost afher they resume their previous habits. Aslo good to remember is that if something was not a food 100 years ago, it probrably shouldn’t be comsidered one today. Good luck, it may not be easy but it is definately possible and, if done correctly, will improve the quality of your life.

  14. October 23, 2008 10:48 pm

    Miriam,

    Don’t apologize! I think you bring up good points. It wasn’t my intention to post the article as incontrovertible evidence that diets work. Nor was the article any sort of impetus for my change of perspective.

    I posted it for two reasons:

    1) I’ve not seen a source for the 95% of diets fail figure and it was something that always bothered me as I’ve seen it repeated many times. The idea that, at least in 1999, there wasn’t any good solid evidence for that number is interesting.

    2) I liked that it was made explicit that it is in fact very hard to accurately gauge the success rate for weight loss – so much so that researchers who study fat and weight loss don’t even have solid information.

    The last meta study I saw on the success rate of diets in the literature placed the failure rate right around 60%. High to be sure – and I would never ever suggest that weight loss is simple or easy – but still pretty far from the fabled 95%. And, as pointed out in the article, even meta analysis is hampered by the fact that a lot of people who lose weight do it on their own.

    Really, it was things like that and not any single study that shifted my thinking even while I was still writing this blog from an FA perspective.

  15. julie permalink
    October 23, 2008 11:06 pm

    I’m glad you’re back, I like your sense of humor. I agree with about half of the FA stuff. I think the “fat problem” is way overblown. I don’t think it’s nearly so dangerous to be causing the “epidemic” that we’re having. I think most folks just don’t like to look at it. There have always been different body types, but it seems that lately, people are just getting huge. OTOH, I think that your weight is quite related to what you eat, and how much you move. If I had to take my guess, I’d put the blame on processed junk food and too much driving, video games, not moving. I think losing weight is quite difficult. I am losing it, about 15 pounds so far in the last 3 months, putting me just at overweight, not obese. I don’t starve myself. I don’t diet. I do eat less than I used to, and a lot more vegetables. I have ice cream once or twice a month, not weekly. I eat a burger 2-3 times a month, not a few every week. I don’t eat pizza at 11 pm just because I’m high and it tastes good. Or, not often. I exercise 60-90 minutes a day, though I would have to do that for my mood and sanity, regardless of whether I was trying to lose weight.

    I don’t know where the 95% figure came from, but it’s my thought that maybe that’s people who follow crazy commercial diets, not people who just moderated their food and adjusted their lifestyle.

  16. October 23, 2008 11:14 pm

    This is kinda addressing several comments…

    One thing I probably should have made clear is that I have not given up on the issues of discrimination against fat people. I just feel that my approach to them fits within the general ‘progressive, feminist pinko’ framework better than the fat acceptance movement. I know the movement is not the borg and that there is plenty of disagreement and dissent among its members. I feel like my disagreements are numerous enough to put me outside the movement,others may disagree.

  17. October 24, 2008 6:51 am

    I used to read the FA blogs and totally agreed with most of them (I was obese and wanted to feel OK about my size). That is, until I was diagnosed with arthritis in my knees, heartburn that wouldn’t go away, sleep apnea (being on a CPAP machine is not fun, believe me), and passed one kidney stone with another still in my kidney – all within a year. I believed in health at any size and intuitive eating, but I felt worse and worse and gained more and more weight. I was tired all of the time and depressed and my feet were starting to hurt really bad. I did walk and do yoga and stuck to intuitive eating, but I felt horrible.

    That’s when I decided I needed to loose weight – and I am doing that. I just found something that I enjoyed doing and it worked for me and now it is just part of the way I live (eating healthy and vigorous exercise are key for me). Now my heartburn is gone and my knees are much better. I am still on my CPAP machine, but I haven’t gotten down to a healthy weight yet (I know a woman who is totally off of her CPAP because of a large weightloss that she has maintained for over a year). And no, you don’t have to starve yourself to loose weight and there is nothing wrong with you for wanting to loose weight if you are overweight. It is your choice to take care of your body, nobody should try to bully you into not loosing weight – it is your choice as an adult, not anyone elses. There is no magic pill or quick easy solution – it takes work and commitment and a long time, but it is worth it to get your mobility back. That is one thing that bothered me about some of the FA sites. It seemed that on some of them, anytime anybody mentioned anything about loosing weight they were discouraged to do so and pretty much bullied into changing their minds. As for me, I don’t want to end up being unable to move because of my weight as I have seen happen to a few of my close relatives.

  18. meerkat permalink
    October 24, 2008 8:52 am

    Your article isn’t convincing me. At one point they define success as keeping weight off for one whole year. Amazing. They say people have kept off a lot of weight for longer than five years. Well, that’s significant. But were these people genetically that fat or did they gain weight for some reason that they could eliminate? One of their case studies apparently ate tons and tons of junk food. Could it be that she was above her set point? I’m not going to believe that “no, I’m just a lazy stupid fatty and obviously eat way more than I think” without more details about these people who have lost so much weight and kept it off on a permanent basis.

  19. October 24, 2008 8:56 am

    Stephanie’s story helps show how in some ways simplistic FA can be as blind as the Diet! crowd – by assuming that one solution works for everyone. People are *different*. If you have close relatives who are suffering serious weight-related health problems, your genes have probably set you up to also suffer serious weight-related health problems. And what YOU need to do for YOUR body is not the same as what other people need to do for theirs.

    For you, maybe taking care of your body does mean weight loss. You’d certainly know that better than a random internet fanbase. But at the same time, you can’t assume that everyone else’s problems would be solved by losing weight (especially those who’ve tried it and told you it didn’t work for them) because they have different genes and bodies than you do. For some people, acceptance is a better way to take care of their body. People are different.

    Even if the “95%!” figure were true, even if there were no way to keep the weight off for good, if the side effects of having that weight were sufficiently problematic for one person, then losing that weight would improve quality of life for that person, even if it were only temporary and would have to be done again later. It’s not a perfect solution, there are no perfect solutions, but you can make that choice for yourself because you are the best person to judge for yourself.

  20. October 24, 2008 9:24 am

    meerkat,

    The article wasn’t intended to convince anyone of anything. Again, the point of posting it was that I once repeated the 95% claim despite never having seen a source for it and, as the article pointed out, its origin was a small, outdated study.

    I have not said that I believe fat people are lazy nor that anyone else should lose weight. I’m not sure what you’re arguing with here.

  21. Anonymous permalink
    October 24, 2008 10:51 am

    I guess I would be considered a weight loss success story, having lost 140 pounds and kept it off for nearly 7 years now. I always knew that fat people were treated differently but I never realized how differently until I lost the weight. It was amazing how nice people were to me as a much smaller person. People made eye contact and engaged me in conversation, store clerks were polite and helpful, jobs were much easier to land, etc. The difference is night and day. How sad is that.

  22. October 24, 2008 11:22 am

    I feel for you as I too don’t feel part of FA, but for very different reasons, these stem from the fact that you seem to be expected to sign up to a whole load of things, rather than concentrating on what if anything can be agree on. Actually, I think that’s exactly what you said!! What I mean is that my reasoning is very different from yours.

    FA to me, centres on self-acceptance, you accept that you are a fat person, and just as human as anyone of any other weight. With all the same fears, doubts, health issues, mental health needs, etc.,

    Everything else flows from the acceptance of self.

    Re: the 95% thing, dieting was never subject to a major clinical trial, before it caught on. The only study done, was a small one done out of curiosity, to see what would happen when you subjected people to a reduction in calories, that’s where the figure came from.

    You say that you know people who’ve kept weight off, so do I, but I don’t know why people put on weight, for every ’cause’ you can come up with someone with exactly that cause, who remain stubbornly thin, so I don’t know why they lost it either, again, you could say, they went on a diet( and stayed on it) again, you can come up with people who did exactly the same and more and are still fat, or did not maintain the loss. No one, not science, not WW, knows why.

    But really, I can’t see why we have to personalise a statistic. It’s not an attack on people who want to lose weight, if chances of success are higher great.

    As for weight loss, I don’t have a problem with wanting to achieve it,
    nor do I doubt that a change of habits of all kinds promotes weight loss, I’m the one that keeps trying to detatch weight loss from dieting- they are seperate concepts- what I have a problem with is the way it seems to block conclusions. That is why is all this weight loss not leading to more slimness in fat people?

    The usual answers are non-compliance, but I’m saying that when ‘non-compliance’ keeps happening, there must be a reason for it. We get more of the same; fat people are doing it wrong and round and round it goes.

    If people need or want weight loss, this is not going to give us anything new, arguing about whether dieting is painful or not, doesn’t makes surprisingly little difference to the overall outcome, we somehow manage to stay fat.

  23. October 24, 2008 11:43 am

    Re: 95%, I don’t particularly care whether the actual number is 95% or not–my anecdotal experience of observing myself and other fat people around me trying to lose weight indicates that dieting is a crapshoot at absolute best, and actively bad for you and your weight at worst. The existence of the NWCR does not really change that for me. Hell, I would qualify for the NWCR… keeping 30 pounds off for 1 year is an absurdly lenient standard and I’m sure they set those goalposts specifically so they could claim that it’s common for people to “maintain” weight losses, which I consider extremely sneaky. (Seriously…. 1 YEAR?!)

    As I’ve written at my blog before, when you consider how many Americans are dieting at any given time, and when you consider how programmed we are to trumpet our dieting success to all and sundry because it gives us a temporary social “in” as good little Puritan thin people, the existence of only 5,500 people in the NWCR who have kept off 30 lbs. for one year actually makes me feel WORSE about the odds of keeping weight off. That has got to be a tiny percentage of the number of people who step out of WW or Jenny Craig “at goal” every year and believe with every fiber of their being that they will never ever be that fat again, but who sure enough are that fat again, 6 months or 1 year or 3 years later.

    And for those who would dismiss WW as a fad diet and give that as the reason for its failure rate–which fat fu did an in-depth post on a while back that is definitely worth reading or rereading–I’d look at the current program again and see if you can really make the case that it’s that extreme. It’s about as sane as you can get in the world of diets these days and probably very closely resembles a regimen that a more “reasonable” person might design for weight loss if they didn’t want to attend a commercial program. So I don’t think there is anything insidiously “faddish” or extreme about WW, it’s just the fact that it is a weight loss diet that makes it likely to fail for that–very large IMO–group of people who are just not genetically cut out to be thin.

    I think the actual percentage of people who keep weight off is probably close to “whatever percentage of fat people are actually above their genetic setpoint, have no health-related impediments to losing weight, and have the time and privilege to consume a healthy diet, get moderate exercise, and avoid undue stress.” I have no idea what that number is, I just doubt it’s very high and I also doubt that most of us can be objective about whether we actually fit into that category, because society tells us that simply by being fat we must be “overeaters” and lazy. IMO if you look at the group of fat people who must consume 1,000 calories a day with an insane exercise time commitment in order to keep their weight BMI-normal, those people by and large aren’t gonna keep the weight off and I don’t know why we are surprised when going so forcefully against one’s genetic grain doesn’t work out that well. What the hell is supposed to be the difference between a fat person who eats a 2,000-calorie-per-day healthy diet and exercises, and a thin person who does exactly the same thing? Why is it considered “healthy” for that fat person to consume an amount that would be considered starvation-level outside of the obesity panic–for the rest of his or her life–simply to force his or her body into a mold that it’s not intended to fit?

    None of this is meant to change your mind; I meant what I said before that weight loss may very well be possible for you (like I said, it was for me for whatever reason) and you best know your own body and what is good for it. But I don’t think anyone actually knows what that dieting failure % is, 95, 80, 99 or otherwise, and I don’t really think it matters. The operative fact for me is that based on my own observations, the odds are not at all good, and the idea that any given fat person can just get off the couch and do a little exercise and cut out Big Gulps and bam, you’re thin or thinner (therefore how execrably lazy would you have had to be before), is clearly incorrect and is used to justify hatred and discrimination toward fat people. Too often in these discussions (not that I think you’re fostering this attitude) there is no middle ground between “weight loss is never ever permanent” and “it’s possible and healthy and realistic for everyone to lose weight” (this is usually the position of condescending, head-patting people who have never been fat, or maybe women who just lost 15 lbs. of baby weight and think they are god’s gift to the obesity epidemic, and concern trolls). There is a big gray area and in my experience that gray area is skewed much more toward diets being problematic and focusing on health rather than the scale being the way to go. I wanted to put this out there not to tell you what to do with your own personal self but so as to add my voice to the tone of the comments, which, in cases like these, often devolves into “don’t hate, she just wants to be healthier, why do you bitter fat ladies want her to DIE?!” And I think that does a big disservice to the complexity of this issue.

  24. Heather permalink
    October 24, 2008 12:55 pm

    I just wanted to thank you for saying what I’ve been thinking. I’ve been reading fat acceptance blogs for a few months now and on the face of it, it seemed like a good idea. Accepting and loving yourself as you are, whether fat or thin–what could be bad about that?

    But as you said, much of the science that is cited in these blogs is questionable. And what I’m reading flies in the face of what I see in my day to day life. My own experience with family and friends is that there *is* a correlation between obesity and heart disease, hypertension and other problems.

    So I tried accepting myself as a fat person. But in the end, I don’t believe that I can remain fat and not eventually suffer the problems many in my family have–hypertension, diabetes, kidney failure, blindness.

    I still share some of the desires the fat acceptance bloggers have—finding flattering clothes that fit and don’t cost a fortune. Being judged on what I do, not what I look like. But on the “diets are evil and don’t work”, “fat people are not more unealthy than thin people” ideas, there we part ways.

    The best of luck to you, and thank you once again.

  25. October 24, 2008 1:41 pm

    Thanks to everyone who’s commenting. I’m sorry I don’t have the time today to write the kind of replies a lot of you deserve.

    Some things I’m throwing out in response to a few posts:

    Set-point theory is a place where I part ways with a lot of fat acceptance. I really want to avoid having dueling studies on this blog since I absolutely believe anyone with enough time and access to the internet can find studies to support their point of view. However, what I will say is that some studies seem to support the idea of the body fighting to return a ‘natural’ weight and other studies have shown that once a lower weight is achieved and people are no longer eating less than their caloric needs, that metabolism returns to an equilibrium that is in line with that person’s new weight. As with lots of this stuff, there are a ton of opinions even among experts.

    I do think the NWCR is interesting, but hardly proof of anything. Even the people who started it are clear that it isn’t meant to be a final word on the effectiveness of trying to lose weight. It’s supposed to help researchers identify any pattern or universal among people who do lose weight.

  26. October 24, 2008 3:10 pm

    Famed martyred diet guru Peter Atkins of the Atkins Diet has the truth on this, I think. It says that you should only eat the low carbs, and not high carbs. Brilliant. He’s put out several book I think. Look into it.

  27. October 24, 2008 3:28 pm

    Set-point theory is a place where I part ways with a lot of fat acceptance.

    Same here. Overall, I believe that if you eat healthy and in moderation and exercise regularly, your body will settle into a healthy set point weight range (which may or may not be thin). This range, however, isn’t set in stone. I wrote about this in relation to thyroid deficiencies in a recent series:

    The basic premise of the set point theory is that the body has a built in weight regulating mechanism, largely genetically determined, that works to keep your weight within a physiologically established range healthy for you. Think of it like your body temperature: A normal body temperature is 98.6 degrees and the body works to maintain this particular temperature at all times. Temperatures above and below 98.6 degrees may indicate sickness, disease or trauma. In people with hypothyroidism, it is thought that the body puts up only a modest metabolic resistance to weight gain. If you take in more calories than you burn – and because of slowed metabolism, this doesn’t necessarily mean you overeat — the metabolic resistance loses strength and your body establishes a new, higher weight set point.

    Let’s say you are a 5-foot-3-inch woman who weighs 140 pounds. You need 2,130 calories-a-day to maintain this weight. Fast forward several years later. You have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism and have steadily gained weight, so that you now weight 200 pounds, a weight that requires about 2,500 calories-a-day to maintain. If you dropped your caloric intake back down to 2,130, would you lose the extra 60 pounds? Not necessarily. As you reduce your calories and lose weight, your metabolic rate slows down. You may lose some of the weight, but it would probably only be about 10 – 15 pounds even though you are consuming the same number of calories as another woman of the same height who’s stayed steady at 140. Because metabolic resistance is impaired in people with hypothyroidism, the body establishes higher set points, making it harder to lose weight.

  28. Anonymous permalink
    October 24, 2008 4:56 pm

    As a frequent critic of the FA movement, this is a post I have long wished to see from someone connected (albeit loosely) with FA. If more people in FA had this viewpoint, then it would be a movement I could support. I fully support all the social/political aims of FA – respecting people, not judging people by their weight, etc., but I simply cannot support a movement that so profoundly distorts science, engages in crazy conspiracy theories, and denies the well-established effects of fat on health. Saying that being overweight is unhealthy is not an attack on fat people. If I said that having cancer was unhealthy, and that we should work toward treating cancer patients to rid them of their cancer, does that mean I hate people with cancer? Of course not, and anyone who claimed that would rightly be looked at as a complete loon. So it makes no sense to me why people who say being fat is unhealthy are branded by FA as fat haters. It simply isn’t true. It’s FA who is conflating health concerns with hatred, not the critics.

    Anyway, thank you.

  29. October 24, 2008 8:14 pm

    My problem with set point theory is really one of interpretation. Yes, the body has certain reactions that can and often do work against fat loss, but, afaik, these exist in almost all circumstances when someone is eating below their caloric needs and losing weight. The issue I run into is when these processes – the slowing down of metabolism, the elevation of certain hormones/chemicals – is taken as proof that whatever size one is at is their destined size which can almost never be changed. Only, if I gain a lot of weight in a few years through chronic overeating and then I drop my calories below maintenance level, I’ll have the exact same physiological reactions as I would if I had never gained that weight and then decided to go on a diet. So couldn’t either weight be argued to be my setpoint under those conditions?

    It’s not so much that I don’t believe its possible that people’s bodies have a built-in healthy weight range. I just think it makes sense that people’s bodies would be built in such a way that it is much easier to gain weight past that range than it is to stay under it. Lots of available and non-filling calories isn’t something humans had to deal with until fairly recently. It makes sense to me that there may not be, in many people, a way of protecting against gaining weight past a level that is personally healthy.

  30. October 24, 2008 8:33 pm

    Stephanie,

    Thanks for your post. I’m glad things are working out for you.

    I think you bring up a good point in that intuitive eating and HAES don’t work for everyone. HAES is a good paradigm and I think it is especially wonderful for people who’ve had bad experiences with disordered eating and/or exercising. But I think it can be damaging in its own way when people feel like to even entertain the idea of weight loss means betraying their principles or giving up a whole way of relating to their body in a positive way.

    One of the things I hope to do with this blog is to show that weight loss doesn’t have to be punishing or mean that enjoyment of food and movement is at an end.

  31. October 24, 2008 10:54 pm

    But my question is (and I honestly want to know because I feel like I’m not getting it, so obviously feel free not to answer if you feel like I’m picking at you) why would one need to focus on weight loss? Why wouldn’t one select a number of calories (or level of fullness, or whatever) and dietary composition–plus level of exercise–that they felt constituted a “healthy lifestyle,” follow those guidelines (tweaking and iterating as needed and depending on how they feel) and let the weight loss chips fall where they may?

    In other words, why would someone (say someone who has been overeating and wants to get back to a healthier intake) decide to go with 2,200 calories–assuming this is an amount that makes sense to her, leaves her feeling satisfied but not stuffed, and allows her to get in the nutrients she needs–but then switch to 1,200 if she doesn’t end up losing weight on the 2,200? If 2,200 is considered a priori “healthy” by the person in this hypothetical situation (and incidentally is an amount in line with what many thin people eat), feels comfortable to her, etc. then why does it suddenly become “unhealthy” just because she’s not losing weight at that intake? I realize I’m oversimplifying this but I hope the gist of my question makes some sense.

    I agree with Rachel that setpoint can certainly change in response to imbalances, diseases or screwing with your metabolism. And I think your question as to what evolutionary purpose it would serve to have a lower limit on setpoint is interesting. I only know that there seems to be such a limit for me; whenever I have dieted, whether I’m on true “diet rations” or more like the amount I eat now, I end up about 175 and can’t get much thinner without taking drastic measures (otherwise my setpoint, if it can even be called that, seems more variable than others’ since I am capable of gaining and losing weight with some ease… I just don’t think this is true of everyone). And from reading e.g. Rethinking Thin I’m not the only one who experiences something like this lower bound on setpoint, it’s just that for many it seems to occur at 200 or 250 or what have you. I agree something like hypothyroidism may explain many of these cases but I don’t think it can explain all of them.

  32. October 24, 2008 11:46 pm

    To give a short answer to your first questions (cuz it’s late and I tend to ramble at the best of times): because my weight negatively impacts my health and my ability to do some of the things I want to do in my life. I can and will expand on these later, if you like.

    The thing is, and maybe I’m just different in this way, I can eat an amount of food that I find satisfying and take in 2,800 calories a day. And I can also, if I’m careful to focus on filling on nutrient-dense foods, eat 2,300 calories a day and feel the exact same level of satiety. I can have energy on both types of diets. I can meet my nutritional needs on both types of diets. The first ‘feels’ more natural some times, I believe, because of habit and my being used to less-filling, and high calorie foods, but the second one does not feel like I’m eating less or deprived in any way.

    Bed time, but I’ll have some more tomorrow. Thanks for the good questions.

  33. October 25, 2008 2:35 am

    Gotcha. That does make sense on its face.

    I guess my only remaining question would be, what if you can’t lose weight on the 2,300? What if you have to go down to a level of intake where you don’t feel satiated in order to get the scale to budge? Would you still consider that the healthy path, and if so how far would you be willing to go to make the weight loss part happen?

    Feel free to tell me it’s none of my business because it’s not. I’m just trying to understand your paradigm which I do think is quite different from what one sees on the “typical” fitness or weight loss blog.

  34. October 25, 2008 8:51 am

    I am another person who doesn’t accept set point theory or is it a hypothesis?

    I very much believe, that the body does have a built in weight regualtory mechanisms. In a way, the beginning of set point is an observation of the WRM in action, the fact that it knows say, how much weight to regain after weight loss etc., It does tend to keep you within a certain range, which is obviously alterable, but all this is in the context of fatness continuing to rise, or at least, not fall.

    The WRM is also why I don’t believe in the concept of ‘inuitive eating’, eating is not ‘intuitive’, it’s not guess work, the conscious mind is vital part of eating, it’s just that it’s not the only part, that’s the point.

    I’m shocked that people keep falling for this, I blame dieting culture which spreads the meme that we have fully conscious control of our eating, and can impose arbitrary plans and schemes, irrespective of our actual body needs, if we do this, we will feel pretty bad. The fact that this is not obvious to people and they stop this IE, is due to the idea that it’s OK for dietary regimes to be unpleasant, you must stick to them because they are more important than your needs, no so.

  35. October 25, 2008 9:44 am

    I consider healthy weight loss only to be that weight loss which is possible without hunger, obsession or any kind of unhealthy behavior (like smoking to blunt appetite.) So if I reached a point where I could really truly not lose weight without being hungry all the time, I would not continue to try and drop my calories just in order to lose weight.

    However, I will also say, and I have a post about some of these issues coming up, that metabolism tends to be more predictable than a lot of people in FA seem to believe. And there’s not a lot of evidence that reasonable calorie restriction results in big drops in metabolism.

  36. October 25, 2008 11:34 am

    OK. I think we are actually more or less on the same page. Thank you for taking the time to spell out your position to me.

    The only thing I would caution you to do is to continue believing the good-faith testimony of other fat people who tell us that metabolism is not predictable for them. As I mentioned before, I personally need the reality check that even though–for me–I eat less/moderately and I lose weight (to a point), or I eat more and I gain weight, for many fat people it doesn’t appear to work that logically. And the reason I think it can be a problem to extend our personal experiences to others (at its most flip this become the “I did it, so can you!” defense) is because it lends credence to the arguments behind discrimination against fat people. If the voices of those who have been unable to lose weight at any reasonable level of effort are not heard, it becomes too easy to decide that fat rights are not important because hey, they can just lose weight if they don’t want their kids taken away (for example). JMO.

    Thanks again.

  37. Susan permalink
    October 25, 2008 2:07 pm

    And there’s not a lot of evidence that reasonable calorie restriction results in big drops in metabolism.

    This article makes this point well:

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/pto-20000301-000017.html

    “But studies show that when we lose weight, our metabolism actually shifts to a normal rate for that new weight, independent of individual differences.”

  38. Anonymous permalink
    October 25, 2008 3:51 pm

    I’ve been a member of the NWCR for somewhere around 9 years. They send you questionnaires ever year for the first 5 years or so, and then after that, once a year, you report in your weight. So while the initial criteria is 30 lbs kept off for one year, the statistics they compile follow people over years and years. Those first five years I filled in extensive questionnaires about my habits such as exercise and the things I ate, as well as whether or not any disordered behaviour was present. The NWCR keeps statistics up to your eyeballs.

    I lost 135 lbs and have kept it off for 13 years. I was overweight from childhood and both sides of my family are substantially overweight. These questions were all asked of me when I joined the NWCR.

    But…I’m still a fat person on the inside.

  39. October 26, 2008 9:03 am

    I consider healthy weight loss only to be that weight loss which is possible without hunger, obsession or any kind of unhealthy behavior (like smoking to blunt appetite.)

    I have to say that hunger is a natural part of life, it’s not necessarily something to be avoided.

    It is undoubtedly popular to focus on hunger though, that’s because when your body is fighting your weight loss attempts, your response to it is totally different, even though it may be less painful than someone experiencing more extreme hunger, who isn’t going through that tussle. IOW, your body can use hunger, to disturb you more at some times than at others, sorry am I making sense to you (I’ve been told I am sometimes unclear).

    metabolism tends to be more predictable than a lot of people in FA seem to believe. And there’s not a lot of evidence that reasonable calorie restriction results in big drops in metabolism

    Firstly, I cannot rule out your first point, metabolism may well be less unpredictable than it appears from a subjective viewpoint, but the couching it as 1lb=3,500 calories, is misleading in the context of -‘fat burning’, and tends to promote this kind of misunderstanding.

    As for the second sentence, what tends to happen is that when people decide to diet, they’ve already tried, ‘cutting down’ it’s when that doesn’t lead to the desired weight loss that people go on to more and more stringent strategies.

    The fact that so many get to this point is partly why people become convinced that metabolism must drop, they’re trying to explain it.

    Also have you ever known rebound weight gain? It not at all unusual for people to put on an average of a pound a day during this phase, when the body gets to where it wants, it often makes an adjustment and either slows, or stops.

  40. October 26, 2008 12:20 pm

    First, I want to say that I agree with all of spacedcowgirl excellent posts.

    I was 30 pounds below my maximum weight for almost 10 years. Sure, it’s possible. At my lowest weight, my BMI was still over 30, but my BMI doesn’t go any lower than that with reasonable habits (i.e. not being obsessive about exercise and not being hungry all the time). At the time, I was involved in FA, and I never saw a conflict. I was just taking care of myself, and I wasn’t trying to lose weight or to maintain a weight loss. In fact, I didn’t own a scale. It was just a side effect of having a job I could walk to, having active hobbies, and eating in a way that felt healthy to me.

    I think a lot of people in the FA community are below their highest weights, and have been on/are on health kicks that don’t focus on weight. Mentally and physically, that’s the healthiest way for me (and, probably, a lot of other people) to manage their bodies. I suspect that some FA people actively manage their weight, but (appropriately) don’t talk about it in the fatophere. What you decide to do would normally not be anyone’s business, but since you’ve posted it on the fatosphere, we’ve pretty much been invited to comment. So, here goes.

    You don’t seem to have a weight loss goal. If you’re planning to keep your habits comfortable and sustainable and you don’t know how much weight loss that’s going to result in, and you’re not planning to go nuts to force your weight lower if you don’t lose much, then how is that different than HAES? Intuitive eating doesn’t mean “no structure whatsoever.” For example, I think that I eat intuitively, yet I have three meals a day and the foods I buy and eat regularly are consciously chosen. (Of course, if I’m craving chips or ice cream, then I go out and buy some.) What you’re planning to do doesn’t sound like a diet to me. Of course, I could be wrong. Maybe you’re planning to obsessively count calories and/or fat or carb grams. But, whatever. Good luck. I hope you find a balance that works for you.

  41. October 26, 2008 6:37 pm

    deeleigh,

    While I absolutely welcome everyone’s comments and I certainly don’t mind any questions or criticisms, I just wanted to reiterate that I did ask to be removed from the fatosphere feed. I sat on this post for two weeks after emailing fatfu in fact since I understand that these things can take time.

    The way I see it, I practiced HAES for many years. It’s not that I consider myself unhealthy, but I think I’ve hit a wall in terms of health and fitness that I believe is due to my weight. Basically, I did everything except focus on lowering my caloric intake and I’m still not happy with my level of fitness nor with some of the symptoms of metabolic syndrome that I still have.

  42. October 26, 2008 6:42 pm

    O.K., I understand not wanting constant hunger, because that’s messed up. But hunger is a good thing. It tells you when to eat (if you don’t confuse it with something else), and what you want. Losing weight, and holding onto the goal weight, has made me listen to my body more than I ever did. When I want to eat, I have to think if I’m hungry, or upset, or just in the habit of eating them. It’s been a huge journey, and it got better when I started thinking of my body as a partner instead of an enemy.

  43. October 26, 2008 6:48 pm

    I should have been more clear. What I mean is that I will never ever ever again try to lose weight in a way that leaves me hungry for hours on end and obsessed with food. Of course, listening to my body’s signals is a part of learning to eat in a different way.

  44. October 26, 2008 10:49 pm

    It’s been a huge journey, and it got better when I started thinking of my body as a partner instead of an enemy.

    Right on! So many in the FA movement see a desire to lose weight as synonymous with self-loathing. For some people, that may be true, but not for all. There was a debate at another site last month about the blog Big Fat Deal and if it really promotes “body positivity” because it also allows weight loss discussion — my comment is here. I argued then that some people are at higher weights than what is healthy for them because of body hatred and having antagonistic relationships with food and their bodies. It wasn’t until I began to repair my tattered self-esteem and learn to appreciate my body that I began to make healthier choices, which for me, results in sustained weight loss. When I was actively anorexic, I starved my body for days and abused it with emetines and ephedra and overexercise. Yet no one in the size acceptance or FA movement would have dared condemn me when I entered into eating disorder recovery and gained 50 pounds as the result of making healthier choices.

  45. October 26, 2008 11:32 pm

    I think one can support the FA movement while pursuing healthy ideals. I do not think that “losing weight” is a healthy ideal, however, MANY of the things that we discuss will result in weight loss. However, in my opinion, if weight loss is the goal, imlicitly and explicitly, that it becomes harder to maintain many of the health benefits.

    And, yes, I am a traitor to the FA movement, I had weight loss surgery. And, yes, I am still in the first year, and i very may well gain back all of my weight. However, they surgery was the first time in which I was able to actually start to practice HAES ideals. I could eat until I was satisfied, and then not think about food anymore. I could eat exactly what I wanted, and actually be satisfied without binging. I am also one of the fatties that exceeded my “setpoint” by binge eating. I find it very interesting that I settle in a stall at the same weight I was when I was 18.

    I posted about this here http://www.fatgirlshrinking.com/2008/09/why-do-i-talk-about-haes.html 🙂

  46. October 27, 2008 1:57 am

    My personal opinion is that whether or not intentional weight loss is a reasonable option depends on what exactly is bothering you: If it’s the general idea that you will be healthier afterwards, forget about it. You may just as well end up less healthy instead, and I wouldn’t want to risk that. If it’s a specific disease or a bunch of risk factors that have only been associated with weight, forget about it. There is no proof that losing weight will make them go away. If, however, the physical limitations that the weight itself is currently putting on you are bothering you so much that you can’t imagine any other way out, go for it. That would equal getting treatment for an actual disease. I support anyone’s decision to do this, especially if it’s possible without starvation.

    The only thing that’s bothering me is the whole aspect of being able to get the same amount of satisfaction from 2300 and 2800 calories both. How is that even possible? My eating habits were atrocious when I was at the low end of “normal” weight – would doing the same have made me lose weight as well? Would I have ended up underweight?? Watch as I spend the next three months racking my brains about this.

  47. October 27, 2008 7:51 am

    So many in the FA movement see a desire to lose weight as synonymous with self-loathing.

    Why is that though? My contention is that this doesn’t have to be intrinsic to FA, any more than weight loss has to be synonymous with pain.

    It’s now clear that many of us don’t agree with some of the conclusions that are put about in FA, all I hear about is how we have to engage with people like MFS and BFD, but what about people in FA who’s conclusions we believe are wrong or self defeating, should we bother to engage them or are they not worth the effort too?

  48. October 27, 2008 9:17 am

    “The only thing that’s bothering me is the whole aspect of being able to get the same amount of satisfaction from 2300 and 2800 calories both. How is that even possible?”

    For me, at least, eating more fiber will result in feeling fuller on fewer calories. I in fact needed to re-learn what “enough food” felt like after I started accidentally losing weight when I switched to a much higher fiber diet for completely unrelated reasons (joining a CSA farm and trying to avoid packaged food).

  49. October 27, 2008 9:46 am

    The only thing that’s bothering me is the whole aspect of being able to get the same amount of satisfaction from 2300 and 2800 calories both. How is that even possible?

    To expound upon what limesarah said, it depends on what you eat. When I was a meat-eater and a fast food connoisseur, I ate, on average, at least several hundred more calories a day than I do now as a vegetarian. Because I am vegetarian, I now tend to eat more plant-based foods that are often high in fiber. Also, my diet is now much, much healthier than before, so the fact that I’m eating things that help satisfy my body’s need and cravings for nutrients and vitamins also helps me be more satisfied with less calories. When you eat foods that aren’t really nutrient-rich, your body is still left wanting those nutrients, which can leave you feeling unsatiated even as you’ve consumed a lot of calories. And equally important are our relationships with food, our “mental hunger” so to speak. For someone who eats emotionally or as a response to stress, learning to confront and manage these feelings can help them feel satisfied with less.

  50. October 28, 2008 7:07 am

    When you eat foods that aren’t really nutrient-rich, your body is still left wanting those nutrients,

    Ditto ‘nutrient rich’ foods, if they do not meet your body’s requirements, you may crave foods that do, including those dirty foods with higher calories, eating these is no more intrinsically self-loathing than a desire for weight loss, presenting it in this way can and does cause distress to people who eat these foods as a part of their diet and feel they are doing something wrong, they are not.

    Like it or not, fat, sugar and carbohydrates are nutrients, it’s time to make peace with that for all our sakes.

  51. Anonymous permalink
    October 28, 2008 11:43 am

    If more people in FA would just stop trying to get people to accept fat, it would find a lot more people in agreement with it. I don’t know when accepting fat became the mantra of fat acceptance but that kind of radical philosophy is just going to push people away. Why can’t there be a community for people to support weight loss goals? FA seems the perfect place to have that kind of a support since there are so many fat people already here. Why can’t that be the mission of FA? Its that kind of moderate viewpoint that the movement needs. FA needs to get with the program already and stop providing such a radical alternative viewpoint. We don’t need alternatives. We need more of the same.

  52. October 28, 2008 1:02 pm

    Anonymous,

    I may have my disagreements with the FA movement, but I don’t think it needs to become a weight-loss support movement.

    I think there can be, and there are, communities to support weight loss goals. The problem I’ve run into is that too many of them are filled with misinformation and/or hatred and disgust focused on fat bodies. This is where I think a lot of the messages in FA would be valuable to people trying to lose weight.

    However, many people in FA believe the evidence points to weight loss being ineffective and unnecessary for the vast majority of people. Saying that needs to change is a bit like telling gay rights advocates that they need to support ex-gay therapy. Now, that comparison isn’t something I would agree with, but I think it does capture the sincere belief of many in the movement.

    And even for those who don’t agree with the above, the main focus of the FA movement is eliminating discrimination and social stigma against fat people. So they would hardly want to turn the movement’s attention to becoming a weight loss support resource.

  53. julie permalink
    October 28, 2008 3:29 pm

    “Like it or not, fat, sugar and carbohydrates are nutrients, it’s time to make peace with that for all our sakes.”

    Obviously, and I don’t think anybody here is saying that these aren’t part of healthy eating. That’s an assumption that I hear a lot on the FA sites, that people trying to lose weight are starving themselves, or eating nothing but salad with no dressing, or no sugar/fat ever. It’s just not true. I eat all these things, also lots of veggies, whole grain instead of white bread, brown rice instead of white. I eat bacon, full-fat cheese, chocolate almonds, pizza, even the occasional croissant. And I’m losing weight, and I don’t feel deprived at all.

    “If more people in FA would just stop trying to get people to accept fat, it would find a lot more people in agreement with it.”

    This has got to be a sarcastic comment, no? The problem with fat acceptance is acceptance of fat? We need more of the same?

  54. October 28, 2008 10:13 pm

    Anonymous–hee. 🙂

    (I assume you were joking. If not, then… well… I am actually speechless so I guess that’s all I have to say. 🙂

  55. October 28, 2008 10:22 pm

    Okay, upon further consideration, I want to clarify–I still think Anonymous’ comment is pretty hilarious as a sarcastic response even to a (very) few of the comments in this thread, but only because even in its absurdity it sounds so much like the crap that trolls post all over the fatosphere. It’s amazing to me the capacity people have to feel entitled to get hugs about their diet; regardless of what space the discussion is taking place in, and regardless of whether the diet is reasonably healthy or has a snowball’s chance in hell of producing the results the dieter is looking for, you’re a bad wrong person if you do anything other than blow sunshine and ponies up her butt. I hate this and I am pleased that this attitude is being called out.

    However, if it’s meant to be a response to the original post then I think it attributes motives and statements to attrice that are not there–she didn’t demand people support her in her weight loss, and she asked to be removed from the fatosphere feed. So if it is a response to attrice then I think it’s misguided and unfair.

  56. October 28, 2008 10:46 pm

    Yeah, spacedcowgirl, I first assumed it was someone being sarcastic, but I’ve also heard similar sentiments from anti-fa people so I decided to treat it as sincere.

    Honestly, if it is aimed at what I wrote, then I don’t feel bad. I’m not sure how I could have been more clear that I’m not interested in trying to challenge or put down the movement.

  57. October 30, 2008 12:35 pm

    If more people in FA would just stop trying to get people to accept fat, it would find a lot more people in agreement with it. I don’t know when accepting fat became the mantra of fat acceptance but that kind of radical philosophy is just going to push people away.

    BWAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHA

    Oh, sorry. Were you serious, Anonymous? I mean, really?

    You do know that “FA” stands for “fat acceptance,” right? I mean, saying that fat acceptance shouldn’t encourage people to accept fat is like saying the civil rights movement would have met with a better reception if only they hadn’t insisted that people acknowledge and treat blacks as equals.

  58. October 31, 2008 6:08 pm

    I can stand and walk in the pool for an hour to 2 hours at a time and my back doesn’t hurt at all in that whole time. But let me stand at the kitchen sink to do dishes (or stand anywhere else) for 5 minutes, and my back is cramping and my legs are going numb.

    What I wish someone had told me 20 years ago: It’s your stomach muscles. The stomach and back muscles form a natural corset around the area between your pelvis and your ribcage. Weak stomach muscles will lead to back pain regardless of weight though a pot belly will aggravate the problem. If you’re having trouble losing weight, try focusing on building up muscle instead. There are simple excercises you can do at home (in front of the TV because they’re frankly boring :). Good luck!

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