Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I Am Not MIA--Just Pondering

I haven't posted anything in a while, but I'm not MIA. I've been going through one of my frequent periods of questioning everything, rejecting most things and trying to find peace with myself. I recently came upon this video (see below) thanks to Lisa at The Skinny Online. It's not the kind of video that weight loss warriors want to see.

If you frequent the weight loss blogosphere, it looks like a significant majority of people are wildly successful at losing weight. They are single-minded, extremely hard working and able to tap into a seemingly limitless source of willpower for the rest of their lives. They have, or are in the process of, reaching their long-cherished goal of losing weight.

They are winners.

But in actual fact, well over 95% of people either never reach their goal or eventually gain all or much of the weight back. They are depressed and full of self-loathing.

In the war on overweight, they are losers. Most people are losers.

Enter the somewhat charisma-challenged Dr. Linda Bacon--a woman who nevertheless speaks the truth in a way that few people want to hear.
I find Dr. Bacon both refreshing and inspirational. To my mind, she is putting the emphasis back where it should be: on HEALTH. OK, I can hear you all protest: "I'm losing weight for my HEALTH. I'm on a diet to be HEALTHIER, to see my children grow up, to rid myself of weight-related illnesses and conditions, to enjoy life more."

Maybe you're telling the truth. But there are many more people (and most of them are women, let's be honest) out there who would gladly give up years of their lives (yes, years) to fit into a size 0; who would gladly lose all their muscle tone, wreck their metabolism, rot their teeth...just to be skinny.

What if we started out by asking ourselves what we can ADD to our lives to be healthier? Maybe it's just one thing, like going for a walk several times a week or parking your car at the other end of the parking lot rather than by the door. Maybe it means making peace with who you are today and enjoying life in the body you have today. No, I don't think enjoying life means gorging on chips or candies while sitting in front of the TV. Please be assured that that's not what I'm advocating.I strongly suspect most people who say that that's what makes them happier are actually profoundly sad.

But I'm deeply tired of SUBTRACTING things from my life: calories, carbs, gluten, chocolate, raisins, cheese, meat, bread, food...

The 95% of people who are not weight loss warriors need to add more to their lives, more joy, more peace, more self-acceptance. That's all they can do. That's all I can do. And maybe, just maybe, they'll lose a few pounds...or maybe they won't. But if they've breathed a little more fresh air, enjoyed that walk in the park, had a refreshing swim, then that's OK.

Please take a look at what Dr. Bacon has to say. She may not speak to you, but I think her message can be hugely helpful to the many self-flagellating fatties amongst us.


  1. I'll be back to check out the video but I do agree....Adding things, the positive side instead of subtracting and deprivation! AWESOME post

  2. Hi Wendy. I wish I had never started dieting. I was a healthy weight when I did my first diet - which I did at 15 to fit into a dress of my mother's - who was underweight most of her life, borderline anorexic. At age 16 I went into anorexia and thence to bulimia, and then to compulsive eating and major weight gain. I have been through all these conditions several times over now through the years plus orthorexia (obsession with healthy eating and exercise).

    I can 100% say that dieting has been the WORST thing I ever did. Once you have have effed up your relationship with food, your metabolism, your body, your self confidence, your mental health, it's VERY difficult to get out of it. I don't believe I will ever be "cured" or "normal" ever again.

    My advice to any teenager would be to never start dieting. Simple as that.

    As for those of us who are already diet casualties? I don't have an answer. If I did I'd be doing it.

    The only progress I have made recently is that I want to feel physically healthy and that is the most important thing for me now. Rather than it just being about how I look. So I'm making an effort to do some walking in an enjoyable way - ie taking photos of where I walk. It's helping me feel better physically and mentally.

    Bearfriend xx

  3. I question 95%. Nor arguing the rest of it, but this is one of those things that is true because "everybody knows this", like eating fat is unhealthy, thinner is always better, and eating six meals a day better than 3. Conventional wisdom, but from where? Says who? Where's the evidence?

  4. I loved the video Wendy. Thank you for posting it. If you haven't given up on my blog is despair you may have seen that I have been through a very VERY bad patch recently - but I am on the way up now. That video has really helped. I watched it and found myself remembering how much fitter I am now than I was when I started all this. I can jog for 30 minutes. I DO jog for 30 minutes without really thinking about it. I wasn't doing that 2 years ago - I couldn't ave done that 2 years ago. Even 10 minutes regular exercise was a huge issue 2 years ago.

    Suddenly I feel like a success - not a failure.


  5. I felt vindicated instead of depressed after I finished Gina Kolata's book "Rethinking Thin" recently... Looks like this is another winner!

  6. Everyone:

    Glad you enjoyed the video. Yes, it does make one feel vindicated!


    I think it's more than conventional wisdom that shows how dismal the weight-loss statistics are. If more people were losing weight and keeping it off, the weight loss industry would not be making billions of dollars every year. More power to those who succeed, though they are a very small minority.

  7. Dang! I just spent ages labouring over a meaningful comment and the word verification ate it. Just wanted to say that this is a brilliant post, and I keep coming back and coming back to reread it. I love the war/warrior analogy! I have been fighting the weightloss wars forever, and I am sick of it. I never seem to make any headway and I have been in despair at times.

    I had been slowly working my way towards self-acceptance, and this post and Dr Bacon's message help reinforce my decision to stop obsessing about my perceived failures and think more about what I can add to make my life healthier. Health at any size, indeed! No more war for me.