An Alternative Solution to the Body-Size Problem - POSTED ON: Jan 28, 2018
Being Fat is Hard.
The potential Solution is to reduce one’s ongoing food energy intake in the hopes that this will cause one’s body to consume itself and become smaller.
Meaning: the Solution is to DIET, which is Hard, and to Permanently MAINTAIN Weight-Loss, which is even Harder.
The thing about intentional weight loss is that research shows that almost everyone can lose weight short term, but then almost everyone gains it back – with the majority of people gaining back more than they lost.
The body doesn’t understand that there is a certain size and shape that brings with it an increased social capital. It’s like “No problem, I’ve evolved to survive famine, I’ll just get started lowering metabolism.” Basically, the body is hard at work doing everything it can to lower the amount of food that it needs to live and store as much food as it can.
At the end of a dieting process the body is biologically different than it was when it began.
It has become biologically different than a body that never dieted, and likely has a new set point weight – higher than its original weight – that it is now trying to maintain because it now is worried that there will soon be another famine.
Weight regain has a great deal to do with the fact that keeping the body in a state of starvation is unsustainable, especially when the body reacts by working as hard to get and store all the food it can.
At the end of the day, nobody can produce research for any intentional weight loss method (call it a diet, lifestyle change, or whatever) that succeeds in the long term for more than a tiny fraction of people.
The most likely outcome of intentional weight loss is weight gain because of the elements that are ultimately out of our personal control. Instead of: “Just don’t go back to your old habits!” it’s actually: “Just change your body biologically back to how it was before you became fat AND before you dieted!” .
So… is there any ALTERNATIVE SOLUTION for anyone with a Body-Size Problem? Below is an outstanding discussion of this issue which proposes Acceptance as an Alternative Solution. This means Essentially: Redefine the Problem.
To Plus-size Women
who Cannot yet Name their Bodies.
by “your fat friend” - blogging at Facebook
I remember the first time we spent the night talking. You told me you thought you loved your fiancé, but that you couldn’t be sure. You said yes to the first man who asked you out, because you were so certain that no one else would want you, a size 24 who sometimes gets so deeply sad.
You worried that he might not be the right person for you, but felt bound to him, unable to disentangle gratitude from love. There was an urgency in your voice, as if he was your only shot at a partner. You, weakened and withered from thirst, felt driven to drink salt water, just to bring your stubborn appetite to an end.
I cried when you told me because I love you, and because it sounded so familiar. We sat together, size 24 and size 28, communicating in cyphers. In our quiet language, we said love and relationship and happiness and health. But all our lofty words just meant bodies. We spoke without translation about our bodies. Not the bogeyman bodies so often discussed by friends and doctors and news anchors, fear in their hearts and superstition in their mouths, but our bodies. The ones believed to be plagued. The ones that kept us quarantined.
We spoke about them intimately: the round faces that heated with shame, the soft sloping bellies made rocky by pink fissures, the ruptures where our bodies could no longer contain themselves. The bodies that only we would accept, because only we had to.
We spoke of the water torture of insistence that our bodies are only temporary, and you could change if you really wanted to. The way thin loved ones would speak with irritation or look on with pity. The steady drip of comments, sidelong glances, advice that’s been taken so many times before.
"Why don’t you just go to the gym?" Drip. "It’s not that complicated — just burn more calories than you take in." Drip. "It doesn’t even seem like you try anymore". Drip. The way those droplets make a home for themselves, steadily wearing away at our senses of self, our agency, our belief that the life that comes with this body is one worth living.
"I just wish you had better self-esteem. The only thing that’s stopping you is your lack of confidence."
I know where you are. The shame that melts through you when you see the jeans you bought, because they only had them a size too small, and your friend said that would just motivate you. Longing to take a long walk, just to clear your head, but knowing that the local park will be full of runners, drinking in the sight of your soft body, holding back their sneers. The nightmare scenario of the gym — its gauntlet of stares, snickers and side comments.
Watching late night infomercials about diet pills. Allī. Garcinia cambogia. Green coffee extract. Raspberry ketones. Hydroxycut. The lingering look at spam subject lines. Drop 20 pounds in two weeks! You know they don’t work, at least not safely, but what other choice do you have?
Dressing impeccably for your own security, just to spare yourself another car full of strangers mooing at you. Laughing too loudly at jokes about fat people so no one mistakes you for one. Feeling anxious when you order food in public, because if you order pasta, everyone around you will think, how sad, of course, and if you order vegetables, they will think, but what a shame she let herself get that way. Forcing a smile when someone tells you that you “wear it well.” Reminding yourself that statements like these are compliments. Wondering why you feel so deflated when you hear them.
The bathroom scale that stares you down, offering only the tenuous success of loss, the abject failure of gain, or the hopelessness of a plateau. The jolt of seeing yourself in a photograph, so much wider than you remembered. The wave of shame that follows, first for the body in that photograph, then for the embarrassment you felt at seeing it. The way all that shame takes hold of your lungs. The way your heart beats fast; the shallow gulps of air that seem to reach your throat, but never your lungs. The anxiety and shame that seems to follow you everywhere, its toxic gas forever rolling onto your little shore.
Convincing yourself that you’re fine, you don’t have to go to the doctor. You just need to lose weight; prove yourself a responsible owner of this body that gets repossessed every day. Remembering how the nurse grimaces apologetically when she announces she’s going to have to weigh you, as if that didn’t happen every time.
The familiar disappointment in the doctor who bypasses an examination and tells you to just lose weight, as if it were ever that simple.
Your body makes even diagnosis a foregone conclusion. Seeing a doctor becomes an exercise in scripted humiliation. Whatever the symptoms, his hands never touch you. Whatever the condition, the diagnosis never changes. Whether migraines or ear infections, back pain or dizziness, the problem is always you. Every time, the cold room & repeated lecture. No new treatments & no relief. A long line of untreated symptoms follow. You convince yourself not to worry.
The racing heart when you board an airplane. Making yourself as small as possible in the seat, breathing shallow and keeping your arms and legs crossed for all five hours. Spending your vacation praying that someone won’t complain about having to sit next to you on the flight back.
Crying in the car after a family gathering, when one family member brings up lap band surgery, and another asks if you shouldn’t just pass on the potatoes. The way the whole room gets silent after those comments. You’ve learned to make jokes, change the subject, break the tension. The moment passes. Later, you think about dying.
Consoling your thin friend, insisting, “you’re not fat!” while she cries about being a size 10 now, and she can’t go up to a 12. She can’t. Letting your partner talk shit about your body, because he’s got a point, right? And his reminders are going to help you finally get thin. The shame when he finally poses an ultimatum, insisting that you lose weight. Your face flushes red. Your body is an albatross that shouldn’t be his to bear. If you’d done your job, it would be gone by now.
Convincing yourself that the body you’ve always had is just temporary — that all of this will melt away when you can shrink the expanse of your skin.
The dreams that come at night. A thin body, one that tapers and flares where it should. Skin smooth and taut over a tastefully muscular abdomen. The life that flows from that body: a loving relationship, phenomenal sex, exquisite vacations, a clean and cozy home, uninterrupted happiness. The flood of hope that comes when you wake from that dream. The crushing disappointment when you remember the body you’ve failed to tame.
The certainty that everything you’ve been waiting for comes with the body that refuses to reveal itself. The life you are waiting to lead.
Quietly planning your days, weeks, life around avoiding these everyday situations that throw you into a tail spin. All those droplets have built a rising tide of shame, and now that’s all that surrounds you. The steady, puttering engine of anxiety. Breathing that tightens every day, because you’ll need to hold your breath as long as you can. Soon, you’ll be under
My greatest hope for you is that you wake up and think the unthinkable:
you might just be fat.
After all the money, time, worry, distraction, and shame of trying every program, pill, regimen and trainer under the sun, it might just not happen. You might not lose 10, 20, 50 + pounds.
This might just be the body you have.
The thought will be terrifying.
Because you have to let go of the DREAM
of that body that just isn’t yours, and might never be.
Because your relationships, your money, and so much of your time are tied up in trying desperately to lose weight, all of it, as quickly as you can. And if you’re not constantly chasing after a smaller body, who are you? And who would take you seriously?
It will be terrifying because all you’ve heard all your life is how awful it is to be fat. Fat is the moral to the story. Your body, you have been told, is the worst case scenario. Fat means being isolated, alone, lazy, weak-willed. It means being ugly and unloved. Fat means giving up. Fat means that the side comments and overt aggression from strangers, family, friends, doctors — all of that continues.
But you don’t deserve that. No one does.
You have not earned the well-intentioned bullying of family members who insist that they’re only acting out of concern for you. Your body doesn’t entitle partners to belittle and abuse you. Your weight doesn’t mean you deserve to be condescended to, shamed or ignored at the doctor’s office. Having a fat body doesn’t mean that anyone can treat you however they want.
And now you can grieve. Get sad. Mourn the body you don’t have — not because it’s better, but because you’ve held onto the idea of it for so long. Ache for the realization that your body has been a stalwart friend that has only tried its best to care for you, and you have repaid it too often only with your frustration, anger, and blame. Cry for the cruel, insensitive things people have said to you. Get angry that the doctor wouldn’t run any tests because he said you just needed to lose weight — all the while letting your symptoms get so much worse. Laugh at the absurdity of thin people eating nachos while they lecture you about going to the gym.
Purge yourself of the terrible things people have said and done, the deep sadness that has weighed on you for so long, the anxiety and frustration and isolation. It doesn’t deserve any more of your time.
Then feel the extraordinary lightness in your body. Feel the weight lift from your shoulders. Let your brow unfurrow. Drink in a real, deep breath.
You are fat. And you can move on.
It can be hard to know who you are if you’re not always thinking and talking about losing weight. You might feel adrift. But that feeling is a precursor to the most divine liberation. It is the glimmer of fiery sky before the sunrise. It is a new day, and now the world is yours.
You can buy clothing that fits who you are. You can buy clothing that fits! Buy things that you want to wear: bright colors and cap sleeves and drop waists and short skirts. Break fashion rules. Experiment. Get bright. Get weird! Wear the sweatshirt you always thought would make you look too slovenly, but you loved how soft it was. Wear the clothing that you like, beyond the endless rules set forth for you by people who hate their bodies as you have hated yours. Your body is worthy of being seen.
You can find other fat people, or people with disabilities, new friends who are also thinking dangerous thoughts. Compatriots who are realizing that shame doesn’t help them get happy, healthy or grounded. They, too, are nurturing the voice in the back of their head that tells them their critics might not have a point — they might have just learned a cruel script. They might just be mean. Your body is worth defending.
My grandmother used to say “just because someone throws you the ball doesn’t mean you have to catch it.” You can learn to drop the ball.
You can claim your fatness. You can come out as fat. Tell your friends, your family, strangers at the grocery store, whoever you want. Practice saying it before anyone else can. Over time, it will come more naturally. Over time, their comments will hurt less, because you know your worth, and you know that it isn’t determined by simply having a fat body. Your body is worth naming.
You can travel, learn to ice skate, buy a bikini! You can start swimming laps at the Y, because you’re a great swimmer, and it makes you so happy. You can do what you want, because what other people say is on them. You know who you are, and part of who you are is fat. What else can they say?
You can advocate for yourself. Respond to the doctor who says that you wouldn’t have so many ear infections if you weren’t fat. Ask your aunt to stop talking about Jenny Craig. Tell that asshole at the bar that you wouldn’t sleep with him, either. You can get what you need.
You can ask someone out. Tell someone that you like them, that you want to date them or sleep with them. Maybe that person will be your fiancé. Maybe it won’t. But for the first time, you’ll feel the exhilaration & fear of taking the reins of your own desire. You can leave the partner who has put so much pressure on you, your size, your skin. You can leave him behind, because you do not need his voice echoing in your head every night, reminding you of his many judgments and disappointments in your body. Your body is worthy of love and desire.
You can let go of the constant running away from the truth about your body's size. Let go of performing, internalizing, beating yourself up. You don’t have to love your body. But you don’t have to hate it, either. Declare a ceasefire with your body. Somewhere down the line, you may learn to love it. You may even begin to believe the compliments on your beauty, your body, your strength, your self. You may let their soft waves lap at your skin. You are worth every compliment. You can relax, and you can believe them.
You can live your life. Do what makes you happy — truly happy. Focus on your job or your family or yourself. Volunteer or get a new job or travel abroad. You can realize just how resilient and strong you’ve become, and you can flex that muscle. You have handled so much hurt from the hands of people you rely on, trust and love. And now all of that heartache has left you stronger than you ever thought possible. You can move mountains.
It’s not easy. It will take time. Friends will still say hurtful things. So will strangers. The world will still come at you. But YOU won’t come at you. You’ll be too busy building a life you love.
Welcome. Feel the sun on your skin. I’ve been waiting for you.
Sometimes articles posted here in DietHobby can feel a bit uncomfortable to people who refuse to face sad truths. My own life path requires me to seek out the truth ... whatever it turns out to be. I would rather be alone with an Unpleasant Truth, than surrounded by people who welcome only Comforting Lies.
I have had More than Enough - POSTED ON: Jan 27, 2018
Winner of the “5 Percent Lottery of Hell” - POSTED ON: Jan 26, 2018
Below is a YouTube interview video of an online “Health Coach”, Isabel Foxen Duke, who takes the position of: Stop Dieting and accept Your Own Body Size and Set Point, whether it is fat or thin.
It gives an accurate and thorough presentation of the issues involving body image, size acceptance, and weight bias. Research indicates that 95% of all dieters will regain all of their lost weight in 1-5 years, plus more, and will wind up heavier than they were before dieting. Near the end of the video Isabel says people who are able to successfully diet long term are winners in the “5% Lottery of Hell”.
I am a person who is in the “tiny fraction of the population of statistical anomalies who are ‘able to successfully diet long term’ … one of the winners in the “5% Lottery of Hell” …, and I find her statements to be accurate as well as amusing.
My primary objection to Intuitive Eating (aka: the Hunger & Fullness Diet), is that most of its cheerleaders falsely promise, or at least imply, that it will result in weight-loss; and rarely touch on the proven fact that “reduced obese” dieters who successfully adopt that way-of-eating will most likely re-gain all of their lost weight.
Isabel Foxen Duke is an refreshing exception to that norm. She says:
"The reality of the situation is that when you heal your relationship with food, you will be sane, and you will be whatever weight that makes sense for your body … and that weight could be any number of various weights. It is not necessarily going to be defined by what we describe by the politically or socially constructed BMI index .”
What she says is compelling, and I agree with most of her positions on dieting and body image. She says: “You’ve got two choices. Either accept your body for what it is, or fight it.”
Her recommended choice is to give up dieting and end the fight.
My current choice is to continue fighting my body by dieting to maintain my weight-loss because, at this point, I am simply not willing to accept the high weight that my body clearly wants to give me.
The YouTube interview below, “Isabel Foxen Duke on How to Stop F*cking with Food”, contains a clear and accurate explanation of Set Point.
Here is a transcript I prepared which contains some of her statements about that issue:
Set Point weight is basically a theoretical term that was used to describe this phenomenon that we see which is that different people … in the absence of interference, in the absence of diet-binge cycling, in the absence of screwing with their food … are just going to arrive at some weight.
If I just stopped dieting .. relaxed, just let my biological instincts take over, whatever happens, happens…. over the course of time, maybe a few years, I’m just going to arrive at some weight, like the weight that children just arrive at.
The idea of a weight set point is basically just a term to describe the individual personal weight that a single human might end up at, when they are behaving generally, holistically around food. Not dieting-binge cycling, not interfering with their food, hunger attunement, these kinds of things. Just letting their body kind of do its thing. And eating for pleasure, sometimes, is included in that.
Set point concept is … when you stop f*cking with your food, and you’re just naturally, biologically attuned and sort of eating “naturally” or “normally” … your body has a weight that it just wants to be, and it’s just going for it. And that weight may be different than somebody else’s weight. Quite possibly, even two people at the same height will wind up at two different sizes due to different metabolics, different genetics, different environmental factors, all sorts of different stuff.
So, Set Point is a catch-all-term to describe the natural weight your body just goes to eventually when you are eating “normally”.
A ton of people are afraid of their set point weight, but the reality of the situation is that one of the reasons why this term, Set Point Weight, came about was because most people are not capable of suppressing their set point weight.
This is why we see nothing but yo-yo dieting. This is why we hear the phrase, “Diets don’t work”. The reality of the situation is that, unless you are a complete statistical anomaly, you are going to be unable to avoid your set point weight. You are just going to bounce around it all day long. Up and down and up and down and up and down.
So the whole concept of set point weight really came about because we started seeing that people just weren’t fully capable of making themselves be a certain size. People would diet, and just have further up and down fluctuations within a general range, … although diets mess with your metabolism, so in fact set points go up as a result of dieting over time.
Tons of people are afraid of their set point weight, but the reality is that it will probably get you no matter what. The question is how painful is bouncing around it, and do you want to be constantly pushing it up? Dieting tends to push up our set point. The more I engage in extreme behaviors around food, or extreme weight-loss mechanisms, the more I’m going to f*uck up my metabolism, and push my set point up irreversibly.
Irreversibly. So, it’s like “when are you going to cut your losses.”
You could continue to try to suppress your set point forever, but the reality of the situation is if you are like 95% of the people you’re going to binge eat. You’re going to gain the weight back plus some. You are going to potentially push up your set point further. You are not doing yourself any favors even if you were trying to be as thin as possible.
You’ve got two choices, either accept your body for what it is, or fight it. You will probably fail at that. You will probably lose the fight.
Even if you were in the teeny tiny 5 percentage of people who was somehow magically able to suppress their set point weight for more than 5 years; even if you were in the tiny fraction of the population of statistical anomalies who are “able to successfully diet long term”; you would have to be miserable your whole life in order to do it. By definition you are suppressing a natural biological phenomenon. You are hurting yourself physically, emotionally, psychologically. Is that really worth it?
I would make the argument that body positivity and doing body image work is a much healthier and happy way to go long-term than just continuing to diet in the hopes that maybe you can get into the 5% lottery of Hell. Even if you win the lottery of Hell, even if you are able to successfully diet, it’s Hell. Like, Why?
And Again, most of you won’t be able to do it. Most of you won’t even have the choice to choose Hell. Most of you are just going to Binge-eat. It’s several levels of irrationality when you consider that the alternative of body acceptance is actually pretty great.
For several years now, I have realized that if I were younger … in my 20s, 30s, or 40s but still knew what I know now … I would totally buy into Isabel’s choice to accept my body as it is, no matter how fat it might be. I would just give up dieting and work on body image and body acceptance.
This is because there’s no way I would be able to tolerate living the way I’ve lived this past 12+ years in maintenance for 30 to 60 years or more. Under any circumstances, continual dieting is hard, but watching my hard-earned weight-loss continue to creep back up while I consistently eat at lower and lower starvation levels is almost intolerable.
My main rationale for choosing the other choice: … Continue to diet and fight with my body … is that, here at age 73, it won’t be that many more years before the battle will naturally be over anyway, because I’m going to be too old to work to control my food or I’ll be dead. Plus, I often find it hard now to move my body about, and I shudder to think how much more difficult that would be if I started carrying around another 100+ pounds.
I am fortunate because over my 60+ years of dieting I’ve adopted a great many learned behaviors that make my struggle more tolerable for me than it is for the majority of people. For example: one of these is my ongoing choice to consider Dieting as a Hobby. … Hence this Article, this Blog, and this DietHobby website.
I’ve been following Isabel Foxen Duke for quite some time. She appears to be knowledgable, thoughtful, and articulate. I’ve found her comments to be both credible and meaningful. She Blogs at: “How NOT to Eat Cake really Fast when Nobody’s Looking”, and a link to it exists here in DietHobby under RESOURCES, Links: 2. Blogs of Interest.
The YouTube video discussed above: “Isabel Foxen Duke on How to Stop F*cking with Food”: is posted at the bottom of this article.
NOTE: Originally posted on 1/10/2018, then Bumped up.
The Weigh In - POSTED ON: Jan 25, 2018
Here is My Take on Naps. - POSTED ON: Jan 24, 2018
Feb 01, 2018 DietHobby: A Digital Scrapbook. 2000+ Blogs and 500+ Videos in DietHobby reflect my personal experience in weight-loss and maintenance. One-size-doesn't-fit-all, and I address many ways-of-eating whenever they become interesting or applicable to me.
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