Monday, February 8, 2010

The Numbers


On Saturday, I read a couple of blog posts that really disturbed me. If you recognize yourself in this post, I'm responding on my own blog since you asked that no one question your feelings on your blog.

The first blogger wrote a post to tell her readers that she was thinking about going down to 600 calories a day since she was planning to go off a medication and had heard that she might gain weight by doing so.

Let's be clear on something: 600 calories is starvation--nothing more and nothing less. You will not be nourishing yourself properly. Your body will start cannibalizing itself in search of nutrition. Your metabolism will slow to a snail's pace to keep yourself going. You will gain back the weight you lose in a snap as soon as you revert to normal eating. This is yo-yo dieting at its worst. It is a perfect recipe for failure. In the Auschwitz concentration camp, people were worked and starved to death. Great diet.

Which leads me to blogger number 2 who wailed most loudly when a trainer told her that she was consuming too few calories and that her large weight loss of the preceding week was only half fat loss with the other half being muscle loss. This again is an example of the body cannibalizing itself in search of nutrition. (See here for further explanations).

Blogger number 2 said something else that made me jump through the ceiling: she wouldn't be happy as a size 6 if the number on the scale was too high for her liking. OK, OK, I know she was being slightly facetious, but let's be clear: in the great scheme of things, it's the measurements that count. The number on the scale can tell a lie, the tape measure always tells the truth. With a healthy diet (not diet in the sense of "weight loss" but in the sense of "what you eat") and exercise, your body will be much healthier than if you simply cut calories. You can be fat and underweight. When you lose inches, you've lost fat. When you lose weight--well, half the time, who the heck knows what you've lost. When I was hyperthyroid, I looked very slim. Trouble was, it was muscle, not fat, that I lost.

But hey, if you want to live and die by the scale, be my guest. Personally, I think I'll be looking at some other numbers too.


  1. Agree with you completely on this! So often when I measure, there has been a loss in inches even though the number on the scale has barely moved. And regardless of any number on the scale, I'd be doing a major happy dance to fit in a size 6... lol.

  2. That would be really hard NOT to respond on their blogs...

    I'm reading patrick swayze's book right now, talking about how the dance company he was with required their dancers to only consume 500 calories a day. crazy.

    I have no idea how many calories i consume per day.

  3. I work with women on their relationship with food. A client recently told me that her MD advised her to stick to 800 calories a day. 800 calories! I believe to advise someone to starve herself constitutes malpractice.
    BODA weight loss

  4. I am now more and more pissed now that I think about it. What a slap in the face to food and really to God in my mind, that starving yourself is what you (those bloggers) choose to do (please know that I'm not referencing people with eating disorders) and now there is no respect for food... and people are reading it and may consider the same thing! Ugh. The pictures really hit home (my grandmother was in a concentration camp... and my father tells stories of years of his family starving.)

    I totally agree with Stephanie's comment that advising someone to starve themselves should be malpractice.

  5. I agree with you on the calorie intake. You should have more than 600 calories that is starvation. I am on a 1200 calorie a day diet and it is working okay. Somedays it goes to 1500. The pictures really make you stop and think.

  6. Courting anorexia? I'm glad I don't read these blogs, though possible I ran into the second one, sounds a bit familiar, though I likely didn't stay. I'm not comfortable with the whole starving thing, having been insane and shamed about food my whole life. Now I like the stuff, and enjoy enjoying it.

  7. I just read some friends' postings on facebook that they are eating around 800 calories a day and find it hard to even eat that much. wtf. !!!