100 lb. Club - weird weight loss conundrum...




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ubergirl
05-24-2010, 01:56 PM
There is something odd I've noticed about coverage of weight loss issues in the media, and among health care professionals...

When I first gained enough weight to be categorized as obese, after the birth of my child, I tried Jenny Craig, which triggered severe binge eating (I didn't call it that then...) Upset and unsure what to do, I went to the ob/gyn's for a check up and saw the nurse practitioner-- she was a beautiful slim blonde woman, smart, caring and compassionate, she even had rocking chairs in her office to make the patient feel more at home... I told her about my problems, and she responded with showing me an article about how fat was partially linked to genetics... (this was early nineties, when that kind of thinking was new...) and told me not to worry about my weight too much, just to focus on eating healthy. She told me that I wasn't really fat and that my body weight was predetermined by factors beyond my control... I mean, I probably didn't look that fat then-- I was pretty athletic, fairly tall, and robustly healthy-- but still, I weighed 230 lbs-- 60-70lbs above the 150-160 I had maintained through my teens and twenties.

It was an incredibly empowering experience. She me feel really good about myself and for the first time in my life, I entered the plus size department and bought myself some nice-looking clothes. Until then, I had always tried to squeeze myself into regular sized clothes that barely fit.

But here's the thing. In retrospect, maybe getting those plus size clothes and that message wasn't such a terrific thing for me.... I stayed in plus size clothes for twenty more years, and the 230 that I weighed then was just the tip of the iceberg. Eventually a year ago, I topped out at 295....

Did she help me love myself the way I was, or did she enable me to keep going on a lifestyle course that was likely to eventually lead to ill? Even now, I'm not sure I know the answer.

And I've noticed that trend. There are powerful forces in the media that portray fat as evil, and unhealthy. And there is certainly a lot of wishful thinking in the portrayal of WLS as being "for health" when the health consequences are multiple and not fully understood...

But, most people who say, "love yourself the way you are" usually couple it with messages about how multiple studies have demonstrated that weight loss is close to impossible...it's the whole "don't worry fat lady, it's not your fault..." concept.

And that can be very trapping too. Because I have found for myself that weight loss, while difficult is ABSOLUTELY NOT impossible and that the lifestyle gains are amazing and completely worth it.

So? What do you all chickies think? Can you love yourself fat and still believe that weight loss is possible? And if so, why does that message so often get lost?


PeanutsMom704
05-24-2010, 02:14 PM
I think a lot of it comes down to the fact that there are different types of fat people. I mean, I do think at some point, there is a number where the weight itself does have an impact even just physically on your joints.

But before that point, I believe there are definitely people who are overweight, even medically obese, but are still healthy. They lead fit and active lifestyles, they have good BP and other clinical indicators, they are just heavy. Could they cut their calories and lose weight? Sure, probably. But the people I'm thinking about aren't necessarily eating in an unhealthy manner, they are just eating to maintain their weight and their lifestyle. And I can see someone in that situation working more on the "love your body as it it" idea, rather than feel that despite everything healthy about their life, they should still feel badly because they should lose weight.

However, I can say that personally, I was not a fat but fit person. So for me, I don't look back and think that I loved my 263 lb self. I'm not even doing all that much in the way of formal activity right now, but I still feel so much better - have much more energy, sleep better at night, have seen improvements in blood work and BP. I loved MYSELF but I didn't love my body. And I think that's ok - I loved myself enough to decide to change. And in another 40 lbs, I think I'll look back and think that I don't ever want to be 220 again because I feel as much better compared with where I am now as I do when I compared against where I was 40 lbs ago.

mandalinn82
05-24-2010, 02:22 PM
Even in your doctor's advice, the message that I believe is the MOST important did come through...focus on being healthy, eating well and exercising, and don't worry about the scale necessarily. Your doc didn't give you permission to go crazy and let yourself go...she said "Focus on being healthy and let your weight fall where it may".

I believe that the reason most weight loss attempts fail is because THAT message is lost...people either do inherently unhealthy things because they believe that the only positive outcome is weight loss (eating so few calories that they don't have energy to exercise, etc), or temporarily do healthy things with the intention of stopping when they lose weight (because they believe weight loss is the only thing to worry about and they can stop once they reach some goal weight).

I genuinely believe that if everyone ate a healthy, varied diet, got a moderate amount of exercise, and avoided most processed foods, we'd see a huge improvement in our health as a country. I also think we'd still all fall into a wide variety of weights, ranging from the "underweight" range into the "overweight" and "obese" categories. But I think that the health disparities between those categories would start to reduce anyway, because we'd all be eating a healthy diet and exercising. Most people probably would see some change in weight, but not necessarily everyone...regardless, I think people would be much healthier even at larger weights.

I think that message doesn't get out because, frankly, it's not popular and would lead to a rejection of the diet/fitness industry as we know it. Not only does it reject the idea that there is one "good" weight range and all other weights are somehow "bad" and must be fixed, but also that weight loss is the ONLY goal, and therefore worth spending a lot of money on solutions that may or may not be healthy but will reduce weight.


findingfawn
05-24-2010, 02:23 PM
You know, this really is interesting to me.

My ex stopped all physical contact with me when I gained a little weight.. and by the time I was 195 (ok this was years ago now), he was telling me I was horribly repulsive. I did every crazy fad diet in the book to lose weight, some worked, some didn't.. none were very healthy.

My hubby, who is an amazing man is forever yelling at me for putting my now WAY fatter self down all the time (part of it comes from my wonderful ex). He insists he is still as much in love with me and attracted to me as he ever was. I really don't believe him (I mean how could he find a body with more rolls than Pillsbury attractive? [thoughts that run through my head]) esp. when I think of how I have gained over 65 pounds in the 6 years we have been married. He insists he loves those pounds that he was part of making them (we have had 3 babies in the 6 years and with each I have gained a signifigant amount of weight, he also supported me to quit smoking and is happy to keep me a "kept woman" so I can care for the kids). He does make it hard to stay on plan, because even though I'm "yelling" at myself inside, he is on the outside saying things like "it's just who you are, you are beautiful, there are so many people out there way bigger than you, etc.".

I need to do this all for me, and he is supportive of a healthy lifestyle, but at the same time he sends the message that I need not work too hard because I'm perfect the way I am. (Boy, don't I wish I felt even half way to perfect ;) )

Eliana
05-24-2010, 02:45 PM
I have gone through phases of complacency during which time I tried to love myself. It didn't work, but it got me some decent clothing. :rofl:

I could not love my fat self. That doesn't mean I didn't feel worthy of love. I was happy to have other people see the real inner me and love me...I just couldn't see that inner person for myself. I fought this weight every step of the way, except during those periods of complacency. My wardrobe will tell you those times were few and far between!

I think people CAN love themselves at any weight and be ok with losing it too. I know I was able to love myself just for trying. I am a much happier person when I am trying to lose weight, regardless of whether or not it comes off.

ubergirl
05-24-2010, 02:47 PM
Even in your doctor's advice, the message that I believe is the MOST important did come through...focus on being healthy, eating well and exercising, and don't worry about the scale necessarily. Your doc didn't give you permission to go crazy and let yourself go...she said "Focus on being healthy and let your weight fall where it may".

I believe that the reason most weight loss attempts fail is because THAT message is lost...people either do inherently unhealthy things because they believe that the only positive outcome is weight loss (eating so few calories that they don't have energy to exercise, etc), or temporarily do healthy things with the intention of stopping when they lose weight (because they believe weight loss is the only thing to worry about and they can stop once they reach some goal weight).

I genuinely believe that if everyone ate a healthy, varied diet, got a moderate amount of exercise, and avoided most processed foods, we'd see a huge improvement in our health as a country. I also think we'd still all fall into a wide variety of weights, ranging from the "underweight" range into the "overweight" and "obese" categories. But I think that the health disparities between those categories would start to reduce anyway, because we'd all be eating a healthy diet and exercising. Most people probably would see some change in weight, but not necessarily everyone...regardless, I think people would be much healthier even at larger weights.

I think that message doesn't get out because, frankly, it's not popular and would lead to a rejection of the diet/fitness industry as we know it. Not only does it reject the idea that there is one "good" weight range and all other weights are somehow "bad" and must be fixed, but also that weight loss is the ONLY goal, and therefore worth spending a lot of money on solutions that may or may not be healthy but will reduce weight.

Right. I do pretty much agree with this. And that is absolutely where my NP was coming from....

I was healthy by most measures. I was in my early 30s, had normal BP and labs and I ate healthy whole foods and grains and stuff and I probably glowed with health. BUT I did not get to 230 (or 295) by eating healthy-- I had a very bad problem with binge eating... when I ate healthy and didn't binge eat, for a period of several years in my mid-twenties, I weighed around 150....I'm not sure you CAN be my height and weigh 230 without seriously OVER eating....but at my current weight, just over 200, I'm thinking that I really don't have to make it to a BMI of 24 in order to have achieved my current goals.

No answers here. I'm just mulling it over.

ubergirl
05-24-2010, 02:53 PM
Well, and just one more thing....

I mean, I feel like there are two competing myths out there.

One is: fat people are lazy and stuff themselves, they are worthy of our scorn.

That myth gets a lot of currency.

But the competing myth goes something like this:

Fat people have NO CONTROL over their body shape and weight. We should give them a break. Some fat people exercise like crazy and eat like birds and still don't lose weight. (and as a corollary, the ONLY way to lose weight is major surgery...)

And, I mean, I don't know. Maybe those people exist, but it does seem like everyone at 3FC and that I know IRL who has adopted healthy eating habits and gotten more exercise has lost weight-- maybe not down to a size 2 but smaller than they were before....

Isn't the truth somewhere in the middle? Don't fat people get that way by eating either too much, or not the right foods while at the same time having sedentary lifestyles where they sit and drive a lot and move and exercise little?

Not OUR FAULT that's the world me live in, but there are modifiable factors involved.

Eliana
05-24-2010, 02:57 PM
Fat people have NO CONTROL over their body shape and weight. We should give them a break. Some fat people exercise like crazy and eat like birds and still don't lose weight. (and as a corollary, the ONLY way to lose weight is major surgery...)


Well...LOL! I fit MORE into this category, or at least I thought I did. Some of us just really need to find what works for our own specific body, genetic makeup, etc. Nothing I tried was working, or at least I should say I wasn't educated enough to know that I had to give it time. I saw other people losing faster than I was so something must be wrong with me, right? I had to do a lot of reading about that and about calories in vs. calories out and about the effects of resistance training on weight loss. I didn't know that diet may bring about a steady loss but that up to as much as 40% of that loss can be muscle. I didn't know that the way I was losing it before was not only normal, but healthy and that the exercise was GOOD and not slowing me down.

Weight loss is not as simple as everyone makes it out to be. LOL! It wasn't for me! I was honestly convinced something was wrong with me. You all see my determination. This determination....this drive...this can-do spirit...it's not new!! I've done this before with equal enthusiasm. But I know more now. I count myself lucky.

Meg
05-24-2010, 03:05 PM
It's a question I've often mulled over in the past nine years and like you, I don't know what the answers are.

I loved myself when I was morbidly obese but loathed being fat. I hated it. I was proud of my family and my professional and academic achievements. But being fat felt like the big failure of my life. I can honestly say that I've never hated myself, but I really despised being fat.

Was that a necessary condition for me to lose weight? That's what I don't know the answer to. Did I have to reach a point of absolutely loathing being fat in order to do what was necessary to get rid of it? Could I have summoned up the strength and perseverance to lose the weight if I had been comfortable with my body and weight? If I accepted myself as I was?

And is that absolute, unequivocal hatred of being obese what keeps me from going back? What keeps me going after nine years when everyone I know who has lost weight has gained it back? If I loved and accepted myself as fat, would I be motivated to keep the weight off? Or would it be easy to slip back into old, comfortable habits because the consequences wouldn't seem so dire?

A number of years ago, when the Maintainers forum was new, we had a member who posted that she would rather die than become obese again. I've never gotten her statement out of my head and I've asked myself over and over again f I would rather die than regain the weight. Did I hate being fat that much that I would rather die than go back? I don't know the answer but wonder about it often.

I'm not sure if this was exactly what you were driving at, Uber, when you asked Can you love yourself fat and still believe that weight loss is possible?. As you can see, my post is full of question marks and not a lot of answers. But it's something I think about when I wonder why I succeeded at weight loss when so many don't and more importantly, why I've kept the weight off for more than 8 years. Is it because I refused to like or even accept being fat? :dunno:

mandalinn82
05-24-2010, 03:07 PM
I think it's all a study in extremes. Both of the examples you gave were extremes. I think it's an extreme view to think that someone who is medically overweight MUST get to a BMI of X or he/she cannot be healthy. It's an equally extreme view to think that someone with an obese BMI is probably healthy/has healthy eating habits.

It's an extreme view to think that a person who gets to a "healthy" weight by unhealthy means is better off than a person who is obese or overweight but has healthy habits (varied diet, exercise, etc). It's an equally extreme view to think that all people who are obese or overweight have to undertake unhealthy habits to lose weight.

ubergirl
05-24-2010, 05:25 PM
It's an extreme view to think that a person who gets to a "healthy" weight by unhealthy means is better off than a person who is obese or overweight but has healthy habits (varied diet, exercise, etc). It's an equally extreme view to think that all people who are obese or overweight have to undertake unhealthy habits to lose weight.

Yes, well, I completely agree with this. One hundred per cent.

I think that was where my NP was coming from-- she was giving me permission not to do any of the unhealthy things, that seemed to make me WORSE, like severely restrictive diets.

I guess, what makes me feel sad is that it seemed to me, personally, that giving up on the idea that I had to do things that really didn't work for me-- like Jenny Craig-- that I had to embrace the idea that I was stuck where I was permanently....

Clearly not every obese person has binge eating disorder, and maybe the only way that I finally "cured" myself was to stay off diets for twenty years until I finally got so gosh darned fat that I actually could not stand it anymore.

Believing that weight loss is a do or die thing and that people are better off doing drastic measures is better than living with some extra weight-- well that's a destructive idea... but believing that weight loss is really unachievable, well, that's destructive too.

Mel-- I relate to what you are saying about being proud of personal and professional accomplishments but HATING being fat. That is me in a nutshell too. But I knew that my fat was having a negative impact on my professional accomplishments, and it was that painful realization that finally sent me in a new direction.