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What No One Tells You About Losing Lots of Weight.
November 11, 2013 1:18 PM   Subscribe

What No One Tells You About Losing Lots of Weight. For at least some newly thin people, there’s a meta-dissatisfaction in feeling that significant weight loss has made life anything other than perfect: Any discomfort you may feel with your body is compounded by a sense of shame at not feeling unmitigated pride at a moment you expected to be triumphant.

(NSFW) Julia Kozerski is an artist and photographer who documented her weight loss journey in photographs.

Half: While I genuinely believed that my hard work and dedication would transform me into that “perfect” person of my dreams, the reality of what has resulted is quite the opposite. My experience contradicts what the media tends to portray. While it is easy to celebrate and appreciate the dramatic physical results of such an endeavor, underneath the layers of clothing and behind closed doors, quite a different reality exists.

Changing Room: I felt lost, not understanding the person looking back at me in the mirror. My physique was always in a state of flux and, in an attempt to strike a balance between how I felt and how I looked, I ventured out to stores on a daily basis, piling my arms full of clothing of all shapes and sizes. There was no method to my madness and I subsequently spent hours within the confines of store dressing rooms trying to “find” myself. Purely for personal reference, I used my iPhone to document these endeavors.
posted by Drinky Die (178 comments total) 74 users marked this as a favorite

 
That's exactly how I felt when I lost 40 pounds. There came a time when I wasn't tempted anymore to break for, say, a cupcake, because I knew that it wasn't a cupcake I wanted. I wanted to feel better in a way that the cupcake could not provide, and the diet routine had finally broken me of the headaches and the addictive feeling of the fats and sugars.

And yet the weight loss did not provide that thing either. It left the odd, hollow feeling of longing for longing itself, missing a desire. The world seemed to have lost some colors. I've got to go back to it, since I've gained a few pounds back, and I'm not looking forward to this.
posted by Countess Elena at 1:32 PM on November 11, 2013 [24 favorites]


The Changing Room photos are mostly poorly taken selfies and two of them are CRYING SELFIES for crying out loud.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:32 PM on November 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think food tends to be medicine for the overweight. You can lose the weight, but that was really never the problem in the first place.

That's certainly among the issues that contribute to weight problems, but what I find interesting about these links is how they highlight one of the major goals of weight loss...looking good and being satisfied with your appearance when it isn't hidden by clothes...is a lot more difficult than people think even when someone puts in the tremendous effort of will to successfully lose extreme amounts of weight. For someone in that situation it doesn't seem like there is much you can do about it aside from expensive cosmetic surgery.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:34 PM on November 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


[Couple comments removed, let's maybe not kick off thread on difficult subject with reductive "here's my simple theory for what's wrong with people" stuff, please.]
posted by cortex at 1:35 PM on November 11, 2013 [23 favorites]


It left the odd, hollow feeling of longing for longing itself, missing a desire.

I think this is common with all long term goals. Some distant horizon looks to be the promised land and yet when you get there it's not as satisfying as you thought it would be.
posted by ian1977 at 1:37 PM on November 11, 2013 [16 favorites]


i really enjoyed the changing room photos. i related to quite a few of them.

thanks for this post. as a person who has never felt thin enough (even when i objectively was) and who daydreams of the time when i'm 60lbs lighter, this has given me a lot to think about.
posted by nadawi at 1:38 PM on November 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


It left the odd, hollow feeling of longing for longing itself, missing a desire.

That's a lot of what depression is like too, in my experience. I wonder if there's a tie there.
posted by Apropos of Something at 1:39 PM on November 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well, I am clinically depressed. Count on me to become Werner Herzog about the excitement of new clothes and single-chinned photographs.
posted by Countess Elena at 1:41 PM on November 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


Not to discount any other's experience with weight loss, but going from 260 lbs to 195 lbs (from obese to 'normal' weight for my height) was a wholly positive experience for me, with none of the mentioned drawbacks, and no emptiness at the end. There's pretty much no topic for which YMMV more.
posted by Huck500 at 1:42 PM on November 11, 2013 [27 favorites]


I didn't mean to imply that depression's the only reason you can feel that hollowness, or that your feeling wasn't totally legitimate, Countess Elena. It's just a feeling I'm really curious about, often having had it myself.
posted by Apropos of Something at 1:44 PM on November 11, 2013


looking at half, i pretty much burst into tears at "avert" and "lovers embrace" - sometimes i forget how much time i spend hiding myself from the man who swears he loves every mark and curve.
posted by nadawi at 1:46 PM on November 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


Foci for Analysis: "The Changing Room photos are mostly poorly taken selfies and two of them are CRYING SELFIES for crying out loud."

From the artist's statement:

The images in “Half” are real and true to my personal experience but are also very controlled in their execution – equal consideration was paid to visual aesthetics as it was to content. The images in “Changing Room” are just the opposite, as it was not an intentional photographic series. These photographs were never meant to be shared, they were taken for myself. It wasn't until one year later, succeeding the completion of my series “Half,” that I uncovered the archive of cellphone images I had amassed.
posted by jquinby at 1:46 PM on November 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


I read this when it came out and found the photos themselves (particularly the ones she refers to, Half, which are more warts-and-all nudes) in some ways told a better story than the way NY Mag wrote it up.
posted by jessamyn at 1:46 PM on November 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


It left the odd, hollow feeling of longing for longing itself, missing a desire.

I always go back to that Nirvana lyric 'I miss the comfort in being sad'. I've been through a few journeys of self-discovery such as this; losing weight in high school, some bad breakups and also the erily similar experience of very heavy running mileage as an athlete, where your hormones and stress levels screw you up and produce some enormous lows on the way to what you think may be some huge feat.

It's very true that the journey is more important than the destination. People who are succesful in making it through these things are often goal oriented and focused on the result more than the vast majority of time spent in achieving the goal.

It's right to not be satisfied. Satisfaction in life is feeling good about progress, about working towards something. If you're sad that the end result isn't quite what you wanted, keep searching. It's the best part.
posted by jimmythefish at 1:48 PM on November 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


I went from 240 to 160. Here's the thing about losing a bunch of weight...From that point on, your life is a constant struggle to keep the weight from coming back. You have to be constantly aware of what you're eating and how much because it's so damned easy to go right back to the eating habits that put the weight on in the first place. The struggle is even harder if, like me, you were an obese child. You end up hating that former person and a backstory to your struggle is to not become that person again. You really do end up hating that person. Hating yourself.

But, at least I got the weight off.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:49 PM on November 11, 2013 [37 favorites]


Loose skin really is a son of a bitch, too.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:49 PM on November 11, 2013 [11 favorites]


My experience losing 85 pounds was very similar to Huck500's, perhaps because I understood going in that it was a permanent lifestyle change, not a quick fix, and (more importantly, I think) I ramped up the exercise along with ramping down the calorie intake. Being in shape (as opposed to merely being thin) is an unequivocal improvement in my life.

And no, I'm never going to look like a True Skinny Person, but I think I look better with my clothes on, at least.
posted by doubtfulpalace at 1:53 PM on November 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


ian1977: " It left the odd, hollow feeling of longing for longing itself, missing a desire.

I think this is common with all long term goals. Some distant horizon looks to be the promised land and yet when you get there it's not as satisfying as you thought it would be.
"

Eh, only a couple billion more bucks and I'll finally have made it!
posted by symbioid at 1:55 PM on November 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


This was a really good read because it does touch on what no one tells you about losing a lot of weight. Around the time I got married, I knew was I tipping close to 190/195 lbs and I knew why. Years of shitty lifestyle choices--smoking and drinking pretty much every night--and just deciding to not bother exercising like I used to. Add to that the shaky self-esteem I've had since I was a kid and it was a recipe for just ignoring the obvious. I have hated using changing rooms since forever, the experience of trying on anything a surefire formula for calling my then-fiance or my mom in tears. (Now I just send sad texts to my husband.)

When I relocated to Canada to be with my spouse, I was determined to Not Repeat the Same Bad Habits. I quit smoking--that took the longest--and I severely curtailed drinking. I started to exercise again. I ate better. And over the course of three years, I lost over 40 pounds. It felt good but it felt weird because yes, you've lost that weight, but where's my six-pack? Where's the toned tummy I see in the media as a reward for that? How come I still have flabby rib bits? (And yes, I know those are results that come from personal trainers and what not, but it's really hard not to assume you will get those things when you've done so much work.) I'm still trying to lose the last ten pounds of what I assume will be My Ideal Weight, but really, I just picked a damn number out of the air. I feel better and look better (to friends and strangers, at least; I still see an unattractive could-be-thinner girl in the mirror) and know that to keep it off will always be A Thing.

I'm very glad she shared her story.
posted by Kitteh at 1:55 PM on November 11, 2013 [12 favorites]


People magazine and The Biggest Loser both need to have a big label slapped on them. "Warning: This magazine/show does not have your best interests in mind."
posted by benito.strauss at 1:55 PM on November 11, 2013 [27 favorites]


Those are both really interesting series of photos. It's not a process I've gone through, so I can't evaluate it directly, but I found this compelling and fascinating.
posted by Dip Flash at 1:56 PM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Personally, though, me, I don't care so much about being fat. I am morbidly obese. 395 lbs last I checked. I don't look it, not compared to some people I've seen. That said, I would like to lose weight, not because I'm hideous (no, that's my terrible teeth that are hideous). I want to lose weight so I can walk without getting winded, and I want to lose weight so I can find clothes that fit that look cool and are easy to find and not so goddamned expensive.

But baby I'm fabulous when it comes to how I look!
posted by symbioid at 1:57 PM on November 11, 2013 [15 favorites]


I dunno, my biggest thing has been making my friends weird, and I've heard others say the same thing. (I've dropped 110 pounds and am working on another 80 or so).

It feels like I had a social role in the group and in the world and by changing that, I'm threatening them and they get angry about it. Like I was the "funny fat guy" and by not being "fat" anymore, they don't know what to do and they get angry.

Because I can tell you prior to this I've never had people get downright belligerent about shoving food in my mouth (or me not shoving food in my mouth). If I opt out of dessert, I get harangued for it. I went to an event with a friend that had various food for tasting and didn't go for it and she stayed mad at me for two weeks for not eating. I've lost friends because while I will go out and eat with them, I won't just hog out and shove food in my mouth and it bothers them and makes them feel guilty about all the eating they're doing. People get legitimately pissed at me if we go to a thing and I'm not hungry and so don't eat, because the fat guy eating was giving them the green flag to go nuts and eat whatever they wanted. I've lost a lot of friends. And I've had female friends say the same thing happened to them when they lost a ton of weight and started looking better.

On top of that, a lot of my overweight friends are going out of their weight to vilify me as "fat shaming" when I talk about my workouts and race goals and how much better I feel (and how nice it is to buy nice clothes, my god!), or if it's not that, it's constant crabs-in-a-bucket reassurances that I'll totally fail and pull it all back on and everything is impossible and they can never do it and it's totally crazy to think what I'm doing is possible at all.

Basically I was never aware how much everyone else's neuroses hinged on me being overweight and how much it meant to them that I was.

It's funny to me that the most accepting and welcoming people have been the much-vilified "jocks" and others at the gym I go to and the races I attend and the fitness groups I hang out on, even when I fail, because those guys and girls know how hard the struggle is and just how much work you put in every day. I've had people I've never met come up and tell me that I inspire them, that they know they can't skip the gym when I'll be there, and that's awesome, but it's kind of off to me that sentiment comes from random strangers rather than the people I'd have called friends.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 1:59 PM on November 11, 2013 [184 favorites]


My experience contradicts what the media tends to portray.
We should all apply for a refund.
posted by homerica at 1:59 PM on November 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


The photos in Half are lovely, just for the textures in all the loose skin.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:59 PM on November 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


I dunno, my biggest thing has been making my friends weird, and I've heard others say the same thing. (I've dropped 110 pounds and am working on another 80 or so).

It feels like I had a social role in the group and in the world and by changing that, I'm threatening them and they get angry about it. Like I was the "funny fat guy" and by not being "fat" anymore, they don't know what to do and they get angry.


"Everybody pities the weak; jealousy you have to earn.” ― Arnold Schwarzenegger
posted by entropicamericana at 2:01 PM on November 11, 2013 [42 favorites]


As for The Biggest Loser, executive producer Dave Broome, reached by e-mail, argues the show's primary emphasis is on health, not aesthetics:

bullshit. for weigh ins and work outs on the first half of the show it seems like their goal is to shame the fat people as much as humanly possible, making them pull off their shirts and the like to stand on the scales (even though the weighing isn't actually being done then so there's no reason to change their attire at all) - and then the make over happens and they're given lots of body contouring under garments and work out clothes and suddenly all the sagging and stretch marks and the like are hidden from view and the show just acts like those things stopped existing and the contestants suddenly have super toned bodies. if they weren't focused on the aesthetic, why the drastic change in how they portray the weight loss?
posted by nadawi at 2:05 PM on November 11, 2013 [25 favorites]


Ghostride, girls are assholes at lunch.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 2:05 PM on November 11, 2013 [13 favorites]


Foci for Analysis: "The Changing Room photos are mostly poorly taken selfies and two of them are CRYING SELFIES for crying out loud."

So, you DNRTFA at all, which would have told you this in the first three, short paragraphs. Thanks for your contribution to this thread.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:09 PM on November 11, 2013 [23 favorites]


Ghostride, girls are assholes at lunch .

Not just girls. I still have neuroses about eating in public.
posted by The Whelk at 2:10 PM on November 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


Not to discount any other's experience with weight loss, but going from 260 lbs to 195 lbs (from obese to 'normal' weight for my height) was a wholly positive experience for me, with none of the mentioned drawbacks, and no emptiness at the end. There's pretty much no topic for which YMMV more.

Same here. Went from 250 to 185 (and still dropping), and I couldn't be much happier. It's true that you can get the stretch marks, and now that I'm 40, the shape I'm getting into isn't quite as nice as it would be if I had done this at, say, 25. But it's a lot better than it was and it's getting better over time. I wonder if Kozerski had lost the weight purely through dieting or by combining dieting with exercise. My expectation is that exercise will minimize the droopage.

For myself, I'm actually more concerned with how difficult it is for me to get strength gains in the gym. Again, this probably has more to do with being 40, but I'm a devotee of Starting Strength (minus the massive calorie intake - I know, that is a crucial element) and I've definitely plateaued.

I think it's valid to say that losing weight isn't going to make everything perfect. But that's true of all wonderful things. Many of life's accomplishments bring only fleeting satisfaction. I feel that it's important to maintain perspective and not take things for granted. Whenever I stop appreciating my new body, all I have to do is remember how uncomfortable I was sitting in chairs, any chair, with my belt buckle biting into my fucking gut. When I weighed 250, I was only truly comfortable when lying down.

I went from 240 to 160. Here's the thing about losing a bunch of weight...From that point on, your life is a constant struggle to keep the weight from coming back. You have to be constantly aware of what you're eating and how much because it's so damned easy to go right back to the eating habits that put the weight on in the first place. The struggle is even harder if, like me, you were an obese child. You end up hating that former person and a backstory to your struggle is to not become that person again. You really do end up hating that person. Hating yourself.

I've been on-again off-again fat my whole life, and I can't quite muster up this level of self-loathing. But yes, I think sometimes this is a side-effect of all the motivation it takes to do what you need to do. I mean, you probably wouldn't have done it in the first place unless you hated part of who you were. And when you look back, of course you feel a bit absurd for not doing it sooner. But don't forget, it was the fat-you who mustered up the will to become the person you are now. And underneath it all, it's the will that's important, because that's what gives you the power to be the person who you want to be, in all areas of your life.
posted by Edgewise at 2:10 PM on November 11, 2013 [9 favorites]


and I can't quite muster up this level of self-loathing.

I envy you. My secret horrible inner thoughts would make roast beef blush. At nice point I had actually trained myself to be repulsed by the smell of cooking food.
posted by The Whelk at 2:13 PM on November 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


I dunno, my biggest thing has been making my friends weird...

Ghostride, you have (or had) some terrible friends. They should be happy for you. Everyone I encounter has been really supportive about my weight loss. These kinds of people will also hate you if you get married, win the lottery, etc. Maybe you were hanging out with a misery-loves-company kind of crowd, and now you're sticking out for not being so unhappy. Good for you, and I hope you replace those friends with people who actually enjoy it when your life gets better.
posted by Edgewise at 2:16 PM on November 11, 2013 [13 favorites]


Edgewise: " I wonder if Kozerski had lost the weight purely through dieting or by combining dieting with exercise. My expectation is that exercise will minimize the droopage."

Why do you expect that? Skin tautness really has nothing to do with muscular fitness, AFAIK.

I'd expect age to play a big part - younger skin has more elasticity, and should accommodate greater changes in size without wrinkling; and genetics clearly; beyond that, I'd say it's a fairly inevitable side-effect of weight loss. 10 billion skin cells can't cover half the area without some excess appearing.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:17 PM on November 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


Happiness is a tricky beast. That's a TED talk from Dan Gilbert about some interesting findings in the science(s) of happiness.

And the worst part is that humans get really well trained to beat ourselves up when we don't feel happy about the things we (thought we) were supposed to feel happy about. And then it's even easier to not be happy when the thing we worked so hard for is not as advertised.

Combine this with Brene Brown's work on vulnerability, connection, shame and numbing indicates that acquiring some state is not going to be what makes us content. (some people reach for a beer, some people reach for a banana nut muffin, some people reach for the remote, but whatever we're using to numb is disconnecting us from our lives.)
posted by bilabial at 2:18 PM on November 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


Why do you expect that? Skin tautness really has nothing to do with muscular fitness, AFAIK.

Replacing some of the lost fat volume with muscle helps, but it's not a cure-all.
posted by entropicamericana at 2:20 PM on November 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


All the super type A folk I know who set goals and Achive Greatness and get everything they planned to get are miserable. All the people who know who dropped out to chase personal happiness are miserable. We're all sick and nobody is getting better.
posted by The Whelk at 2:22 PM on November 11, 2013 [45 favorites]


Happiness isn't a thing to achieve. It's a state of an accepting mind.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:25 PM on November 11, 2013 [26 favorites]


My secret horrible inner thoughts would make roast beef blush.

Oh geez, I'm really sorry to hear that. It sounds like you may have some issues with liking yourself that go beyond weight. I hope it's not too presumptuous of me to say so. Please, keep in mind how far you've come, and build upon your victories. You didn't ask for advice, so I'm going to shut up now...it's just that I feel bad for you when I hear you say that.
posted by Edgewise at 2:25 PM on November 11, 2013


It's just really easy to fixate on weight and appearance when you ..hate yourself this much because it's the one thing everyone agrees is good. It's always good to be trying to loose weight, it's always good to keep pushing yourself, go ahead and put yourself in the Hospitol in the process cause you are doing The Right Thing.

Ugh this is too personal, my head goblins are coming out.
posted by The Whelk at 2:28 PM on November 11, 2013 [37 favorites]


Ghostride, my god; I am so sorry. But I also know exactly what dynamic you are talking about. It's funny how all the weightloss articles we read don't mention much about that sort of invisible peer pressure.

I hope you can find better friends, not just at the gym (though hell, that's great too) but also people who will simply accept you and honor you. Because you deserve it.

At the moment, I struggle with rage because the one person at my work who works out a lot also tends to bring desserts "for the rest of us" and Jesus, lady, why would you do that? You are already toned and fit. Stop shoving sugary things at me.

I have actually run into that more than once, fairly weight-obsessed thin women (usually women, but one was a dude) who offload their food issues on everyone else by obsessive dessert-making.

We are so fucked up about food and bodies in this culture.
posted by emjaybee at 2:35 PM on November 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


It left the odd, hollow feeling of longing for longing itself, missing a desire.

I think this is part of Buddhism's "It is the nature of life to be unsatisfactory." We attach a lot of meaning to things that are only what they are. Losing a lot of weight is a major accomplishment, but it doesn't fix anything except weight -- it will not make you more desirable or give you a better job or make you happier with your family or anything except what it is. Which seems really obvious when you say it, but we carry around the idea that this is the thing that will fix everything. And it can't; it's just the thing that it is. (And the same is true for that new car or a relationship or getting that degree. They are all accomplishments, but we weigh them down with expectations. On top of all of this, we live in the past and the future and everywhen except now, so we are always comparing now with then, and that gets in the way of being satisfied with what and where and when we are. So I think you are really right -- we miss desire partly because desire was the thing telling us "10 more pounds, and it will all be great." It's like the thing that makes us unhappy is the thing that is a temporary antidote (or gloss over) that unhappiness.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:44 PM on November 11, 2013 [29 favorites]


some people reach for a beer, some people reach for a banana nut muffin, some people reach for the remote, but whatever we're using to numb is disconnecting us from our lives.

....aaaand now we can feel shame for wanting to numb the shame! I know that's not the intent, but that's what I hear anytime someone tells me to connect! Be present! Don't numb the pain!

Sometimes, you can't deal with being present. Like the Whelk said: headgoblins. Sooo many headgoblins.

And I have yet to find a therapist who really understands the headgoblins around eating, at least the way it works for me. It's deep-down visceral stuff, not something I can happy talk out of. I have never been anorexic, but I have always been fascinated by girls who were, from a teenager, because there is something about that sort of burning self-negation that I completely understand, even if I could never do it. My obsessions all go the other way, but there is a similarity there.

And whenever I have lost weight I have felt it as a bad loss and even been afraid and had to struggle not to self-sabotage.

Honestly, I think the solution will eventually be pharmaceutical. Like depression, we can work on behavior modification till the cows come home, and it helps, but there is some deep, powerful psychological mechanisms at work with eating that we just cannot easily or consistently fix with therapy and self-improvement alone.
posted by emjaybee at 2:47 PM on November 11, 2013 [14 favorites]


We all focus too much on weight, because it's the easiest metric to see. You can't look at a skinny person and know whether they are skinny because they are weak or skinny because they are distance runners. We are conditioned to think they are just better looking because they are skinny. But you can look at an obese person and make a judgement, whether that person is all adipose or quite muscular. You see the fat, you judge.

I really dislike the focus on skinny, personally. Too many people are so focused on weight that they are thin but are not at all fit - they have no muscle tone. I don't find that attractive; Fitness is attractive. If you have a layer of fat over the top, so be it. But we should focus on being fit rather that on not being fat. They are not the same thing. Being able to walk a flight of stairs without being winded? Great. Having 6-pack abs? Not as important.

The number of times I have been in a race and observed someone twice my size cruising past me at the finish... You can be in pretty remarkable shape, and not be a skinny mini.

My wife complains about the weight she has gained over the last two years. Two years in which she ran two marathons. She said her clothes don't fit differently but the scale shows her as heavier. I have to keep reminding her that she has probably traded a lot of fat for muscle. She thinks she looks puffy still, but I see her working her ass off to take care of herself, physically, and I love that about her, I love that she has that drive even if it doesn't make her look like an Olympic athlete. Very few people do, no matter what Hollywood wants to tell us.

(Personal pet peeve: magazine articles from celebrities telling us how they lost the baby weight. Because whatever the article says, the real answer is always "I have shit-tons of money, a personal trainer, and being attractive is my job so I can spend all day doing cardio", which is not going to help the average American one bit. Those articles are condescending.)
posted by caution live frogs at 2:50 PM on November 11, 2013 [13 favorites]


What symbioid said. Interesting project, but the larger issue applies to us all, or the "why are my rich, successful friends miserable?" question.

My solution is to banish all ambition.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:55 PM on November 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wow, that's shocking, Ghostride. I've needed to learn to make all new friends fairly well after moving so much, due to being an academic. Join lots of clubs, activities, etc. to make new friends, especially activities that "generalize" stuff you already like. I'm a burner for example but basically no burners live in Scotland, so I've started hanging out with the Beltane fire festival folks while I'm here.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:56 PM on November 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


it will not make you more desirable

This may be skewed for women, possibly, because I found that losing 25% of my body weight was totally the difference between getting random attention and not. Which is, as you might expect, a mixed bag all around. And the reverse is weird too, going from someone who was heavy-but-curvy to someone who is thinner-but-assless (I'm in shape, this is just what i look like) is its own weird thing.

To me the big deal was that my weight was ONE of the things I knew I needed to deal with for health and general psychic-energy reasons and it was sort of the last thing on that list after a while. So clearing it off the list of "Things keeping you from being where you want to be" which eventually became nearly empty meant that you wind up at your target weight, paying attention to what you eat for the rest of your life, with no more milestones to meet in that direction other than "not fucking up" and you need to find new purpose.

Not awful, and certainly not impossible, but as someone who has trouble with goals generally (having them, not so much as attaining the ones I might decide to have) it's a weird dull place to be. In some ways it's psychically easier to be in the gain-lose-gain-lose cycle than just maintaining because at least there's some novelty to it. I think back to what Temple Grandin calls the "seeking stimulus" the "what's going to happen?" twinge we get when watching cliffhanger tv or clicking refresh on MeFi or some other website. In some ways it's more compelling to wonder what's going to happen than it is to know it. Thinking about maybe being thin is, in some ways, more tantalizing than being thin, or regular weight, or whatever it is you're after.
posted by jessamyn at 2:56 PM on November 11, 2013 [44 favorites]


My solution is to banish all ambition.

I think you'll find that self-love is impossible without ambition.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 2:58 PM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Says you .. (but fair point)
posted by mrgrimm at 2:59 PM on November 11, 2013


So, I've been on a calorie-reduction diet recently, 40 days at 25% below my TDEE (12,000kj/9,000kj for those of you at home), and much healthier foods. This plus a MyFitnessPal-estimated 2,000kj worth of exercise, minimum, every day, and the theory is that my weight should have been flying off me.

It didn't make a dent. I'm no longer into self-sabotage and I was measuring and recording everything. My weight fluctuated up and down by no more than 2kg. The story is, if a 25% reduction (plus 100% exercise increase) doesn't do anything, you reduce by another 10%, and exercise even more. Presumably this goes on until you eat nothing at all and never stop running.

Thankfully I read the two Gary Taubes books. A bit of research in various places and I considered carb back-loading, but have decided to go full keto ("Never go full keto!"). I started that yesterday, had 17g of adjusted carbs over the course of the day, and today I'm already down a kilo. Which, yeah, I know, it's just water, but still, for a single day, that's pretty encouraging. I was full all day yesterday, and had no desire for sweets at any point.

I'll say, however, that I'm "glad" I am no longer vegan, because otherwise that would have been hard as hell. It's possible, but I just don't have the fortitude for it at this stage. Vegans and even vegetarians who go keto (though vegetarians have the cheese and in some cases eggs advantage), though: mad respect.

Anyway, re: the article, it doesn't mention which diet she followed (I don't think, I didn't notice) my guess is this poor girl was on a severe calorie-restriction routine. Those ones leave you feeling shitty and miserable pretty much around-the-clock, because you're just constantly saying no (instead of saying "yes" to the right things).

I've lost lots of weight in the past by simply starving myself for weeks on end, and it's not recommended but it certainly works. Except, yeah, your belly ends up looking fucking disgusting for a fair while, just hanging there like some kind of deflated growth. It takes a long time for your skin to shrink, but it does eventually happen (and presumably there are unguents and ointments to assist the process).
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:01 PM on November 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


GenjiandProust, spot on. Combined with the seeking stimulus that jessamyn references above, it's just such a trap. We want to be anywhere, anyone, anywhen except where we are, who we are right now. Where's the next thing? The next thing will give us something else to think about! Something else to look forward to! Something better than now.

And of course it's hard to stay present when right now is so utterly miserable that the only way to survive is to escape into the future or the past. Definitely huge links with depression, but maybe that's just my depression talking.
posted by Athanassiel at 3:02 PM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]




Just like owning that new sports car is never as good as it seemed it would be.

Everybody just needs more vitamin D. Or weed.

posted by mrgrimm at 3:03 PM on November 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


Basically I was never aware how much everyone else's neuroses hinged on me being overweight and how much it meant to them that I was.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 3:59 PM on November 11


Oh God this.

I've recently lost 15 pounds (which is really very little) and am working to lose more. I can't even count the number of people who told me that I shouldn't even try to lose weight because I looked fine the way I was (which, I mean, thanks, and I'm actually quite pretty, but I'd be prettier if my figure wasn't obscured by 50-70 lbs of fat I don't need to be carrying around), or because I'd just put the weight back on again so why even try. Many of my friends have been very supportive, but an astonishing number seemed to see my weight loss efforts as a judgement of them. It's really odd.
posted by joannemerriam at 3:04 PM on November 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


(Oh and before any do-gooders come along to correct me, yes I understand that one day of low-carb doesn't make me "keto".)
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:07 PM on November 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't know, when you are getting fit and talking to your non-fit, overweight friends, I think it's best to judge the room when talking about how great you feel about your weight loss and what diet you are on and what a life change that has been. Some people will be good with it and happy for you, but on the other hand I think one needs to be wary of turning into one of those thin people who has made fat people feel bad about themselves their whole lives by talking about themselves and their food habits as though the fat person's problems are invisible. I'm not sure I'm expressing myself well here, and I'm not saying that's what Ghostride was doing, but everybody has their own sensitivities, and it does sometimes happen that people who are getting thin to turn into that stereotype; that's why it's a stereotype.

My own friend recently lost 20 pounds by eating 500 calories a day and bragged about how lightheaded she was feeling all the time to me and how very little she was eating. I mean, I am happy for you, but it's about being healthy, right?
posted by onlyconnect at 3:09 PM on November 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


Mostly, I feel colder after shedding about 50lbs. I also look a lot older than I did before because fat fills in wrinkles.
posted by srboisvert at 3:10 PM on November 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


I abhor and disdain all form of bullying but if we're at lunch and I mention I'm trying to go low carb for a while and then you pipe up and cheerfully inform me that the grape I just plucked off the table is " Not low carb" then I am allowed to lean in and say "NEEEEEEEEEERD" in my deepest, angriest voice.

Actually I've made it a rule to not mention diet or weight in any conversation unless pressured do and god, IT'S ALL SOME PEOPPLE CAN TALK ABOUT- its like the weather, a source of endless chitchat.
posted by The Whelk at 3:11 PM on November 11, 2013 [21 favorites]


To summarize, losing weight is good for us but the common way to motivate that weight loss is through self-hatred.

There's something really awry here. This BMC Medicine article examines evidence that external toxins such as DDT have changed how our bodies metabolize.

Here are words for these striking pictures — Stranger Here: How Weight-Loss Surgery Transformed My Body and Messed with My Head by Jen Larsen explores the grinding effort it took to change her eating patterns even after her body had been permanently altered.
posted by Jesse the K at 3:12 PM on November 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


joannemerriam: Not to say that there aren't plenty of neuroses to go around with regard to such things, but there are a lot of people in the world who do genuinely find women more attractive when they are fuller-figured, and that is not necessarily something that is intended to sabotage you just because you have a different standard of beauty.

I spent a lot of time personally thinking that I was going to be way more attractive if I just lost a few more pounds and it gave me an eating disorder. That's not to say you will, or anything, but it is far from some kind of universal that thinner = prettier or that some people might think you looked great as it is. While some people might just utter platitudes because they think they're expected to, or because they feel bad about their own bodies, or whatever--not saying that it's always this, but dismissing the notion that you could be perfectly attractive currently is dangerous.
posted by Sequence at 3:13 PM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Psychological and Emotional Obstacles to Sustainable Weight Management is going to be the name of my book.

Because that's what it's all about. 100% of sustainable weight management is getting over your own -- what we called in the '70's -- hang-ups, so that the simple mechanics of "Watching what you eat" and "Paying attention to your weight" can actually be useful.

See also: Zizek, They Live, Idiot's Guide to Cinema...
posted by mikelieman at 3:14 PM on November 11, 2013


Now, don't think I'm for a moment discounting the challenge of getting over your own hang-ups. FOR ME, in the context of my weight ( and losing 130 lbs ), that took about 10 years of continual stress-reduction/relaxation/mindfulness work....
posted by mikelieman at 3:15 PM on November 11, 2013


I have been on both sides of this issue a couple of times, and I can attest that there really is no completely good side. You get a lot of accolades when you lose weight, a lot of praise and attention for it, and the first time at least, new discoveries and achievements of which you can feel proud, like performance goals or new outfits, and this delight at thinking you have figured it out, discovered the key for all time, triumphed over something. However, it is a long haul over a lifetime and there are very likely going to be further revolutions in your habits. These days I tend to reject both extremes - the eager praise, the odd behavior changes in the people around you, the shame and self-recrimination, the vain self-regard, the temporary euphoria of latest goal met, the grim slog of maintenance over years and years and the way the body abhors stasis and the exhaustion of realizing over time that even the things that once worked rapidly no longer do. I have come to wonder why people congratulate me when they see I've lost weight (why are you entitled to observe my body so closely and discuss it with me?) and why they suppress commentary if that's not the case. The ugly flip sides to skinniness and apparent physical fitness are surprising, and the cold moralistic revocation of positive response and human acceptance at times when it falls from the top of the priority list equally so. We are, on the whole not normal about this as a society, and most individuals are also not grounded in their ability to talk about it with wisdom, knowledge, sensitivity and truthfulness.

These days, I'm trying to opt out and generally to listen only to my inner voice, and maybe my doctor, on this issue. Beyond that, weight and the various and sometimes crazy and untrue things other people believe about it are not permitted to commandeer a major part of my psyche.

A friend recently linked to this essay on her Facebook wall and I thought it very wise. A brief excerpt:
...the false obligation of physical fitness, the false morality of health, is competing with, and sometimes surpassing, our actual obligations, our actual moral duties, as traditionally defined by our relationships to other people. Defining ourselves as good people because of our diet and exercise regimens frees us from the burden of more difficult, more meaningful ways of becoming good people, like kindness and compassion to others, advocacy for the good of society, care for our children, and abstinence from abuse and oppression of our fellow humans.
posted by Miko at 3:17 PM on November 11, 2013 [52 favorites]


We attach a lot of meaning to things that are only what they are. Losing a lot of weight is a major accomplishment, but it doesn't fix anything except weight -- it will not make you more desirable...

That... has not been my personal experience.
posted by atrazine at 3:19 PM on November 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


Defining ourselves as good people because of our diet and exercise regimens frees us from the burden of more difficult, more meaningful ways of becoming good people

I call them Fitness Calvinists
posted by mikelieman at 3:21 PM on November 11, 2013 [48 favorites]


Oh Calvinism, is there anything you can't ruin?

How can you tell if you're part of the Fitness Elect?
posted by The Whelk at 3:23 PM on November 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


For myself, I'm actually more concerned with how difficult it is for me to get strength gains in the gym. Again, this probably has more to do with being 40, but I'm a devotee of Starting Strength (minus the massive calorie intake - I know, that is a crucial element) and I've definitely plateaued.

Bro. I'm turning 35 in a month so I'm not that far off you age-wise, and I'm telling you: I did Starting Strength last year, and now it's time to move to 5/3/1 bro. That or the Hepburn routine (highly recommended - it's all about heavy singles). But first, take a break and do the Dan John "Easy Strength" 40-day workout. Hit me up in Memail if you want some deets, otherwise we'll set off the lunk alarm.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:23 PM on November 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


How can you tell if you're part of the Fitness Elect?

Dude, have you seen r/fitness ?
posted by mikelieman at 3:24 PM on November 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Cancel that. No need anymore..
posted by mikelieman at 3:25 PM on November 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


the false obligation of physical fitness, the false morality of health, is competing with, and sometimes surpassing, our actual obligations, our actual moral duties, as traditionally defined by our relationships to other people

But our obligations are never traditionally defined; they are personally defined. As an adult, you should do what you ultimately feel you should do. Health matters because it affects happiness, which affects our relationships with others. Navigating the obligations of the moment is about having the clarity to be present and the courage to act. Physical fitness affects both of these things.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 3:30 PM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Cancel that. No need anymore..

Do you even lift?
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:31 PM on November 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


Edgewise/turbid, what is "Starting Strength"? Is it based on Rippetoe's excellent book? I love his introduction:
Physical strength is the most important thing in life. This is true whether we want it to be or not. As humanity has developed throughout history, physical strength has become less critical to our daily existence, but no less important to our lives. Our strength, more than any other thing we possess, still determines the quality and the quantity of our time here in these bodies. Whereas previously our physical strength determined how much food we ate and how warm and dry we stayed, it now merely determines how well we function in these new surroundings we have crafted for ourselves as our culture has accumulated. But we are still animals — our physical existence is, in the final analysis, the only one that actually matters. A weak man is not as happy as that same man would be if he were strong. This reality is offensive to some people who would like the intellectual or spiritual to take precedence. It is instructive to see what happens to these very people as their squat strength goes up.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 3:32 PM on November 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


squatz 'n' oatz, brah
posted by entropicamericana at 3:32 PM on November 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


esprit, that's the one. Squatz 'n' oatz. (Actually his advice on food is tremendously bad, but it's a program technically targeted at skinny teens.)
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:34 PM on November 11, 2013


Combined with the seeking stimulus that jessamyn references above, it's just such a trap. We want to be anywhere, anyone, anywhen except where we are, who we are right now. Where's the next thing? The next thing will give us something else to think about! Something else to look forward to! Something better than now.

And of course it's hard to stay present when right now is so utterly miserable that the only way to survive is to escape into the future or the past. Definitely huge links with depression, but maybe that's just my depression talking.


Sounds like the overall plotline for any season of Doctor Who. Maybe this explains my deep deep love for cheesy scifi. And cheese.
posted by Malla at 3:34 PM on November 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


But our obligations are never traditionally defined; they are personally defined. As an adult, you should do what you ultimately feel you should do.

This may be true for you. If it is true for you, then your philosophy is:

Health matters because it affects happiness, which affects our relationships with others. Navigating the obligations of the moment is about having the clarity to be present and the courage to act. Physical fitness affects both of these things.

Which is fine, for you. This is your philosophy of health and fitness.

Is it then moral to prescribe your philosophy - which you argue to be personally defined - to others, and offer your reactions/judgement to their choices, habits, circumstances and other conditions affecting their bodies?
posted by Miko at 3:35 PM on November 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Do you even lift?

Variation of classical 70's A/B, thrice weekly programming ( and a 30 minute cardio session once a week, just to keep my hand in.. ) with a focus on physical rehab and recovery. The 40 years of treating my body like shit left some long-term issues so squatting full range rather than loading up with plates is a priority right now...

Um...

Fuck.
posted by mikelieman at 3:37 PM on November 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Everybody just needs more vitamin D. Or weed.

My best healthy living advice (which could include weight loss) is to increase physical exercise (inside, outside, whatever), to drastically reduce time spent watching television/listlessly browsing random websites, and to take medicine for insulin regulation by taking cannabis. I prefer vaping to smoking for other health concerns, but I have dropped about 35% of my body weight and I'm a lot happier.

I think it's important to remember that American life in particular is institutionally predisposed to make people unhealthy. We have few walkable/bikeable living choices, absolute crap for food regulation services, subsidized prices but only for crap food, and a culture that rewards manipulative marketing behavior. The food market doesn't care if it kills you, and the USG doesn't either. Good luck out there.

Now we get to the more important part: the lack of time. If you don't make much money, you have to stay at work for 60+ hours a week to make it. If you make a little bit of money, your boss will make you stay for 60+ hours a week. Then subtract the worlds longest and worst commutes from your day. I didn't get healthy until I moved to a country where 40 hours was a full work week, and working outside of that time is viewed with suspicion and disgust, but the same can probably be achieved with a change of jobs. And who has those kinds of options open to them? I was lucky.

I think many of us living fully western lives are miserable because we are barely valued in our places in the machine. All we have time to do is work, commute, eat, sleep, and die, with nothing but entertainment from a small backlit rectangle to see us through. These financial connections to other people are not nearly as satisfying as regular camaraderie and meatspace interaction, for me at least, but our financial connections are the only connections that are valued. Your job is your life, the source of your financial stability, and probably your health insurance. But in the end we're still just keeping up with what we see on television, and accepting bland 22 minute narratives as a drop-in replacement for living. You can work really hard, miss your kids growing up and dinners with your partner, and your only upgrade is the kind of car you drive, or the cut of your suit.

So of course almost everyone is miserable, no matter what they look like or how much money they have compared to others. Many of us are only alive in a strictly medical definition.
posted by tripping daisy at 3:39 PM on November 11, 2013 [44 favorites]


...and a 30 minute cardio session once a week, just to keep my hand in...

lol cardio

posted by turbid dahlia at 3:42 PM on November 11, 2013


I gained a lot of weight in my early-20s (going from 130 to 210 at 5' 4"; a combination of depression and pregnancy) and lost it all (and then some; I was 109 at my lightest) in my early-30s. Even at a size 0, with a visible six-pack, I still loathed my body, just for new reasons. When other women would come up to me in the gym and ask for workout/diet tips so they could look like me, I wanted to invite them into the change room so they could see what I really looked like when I wasn't buttressed by support garments -- seersucker skin hanging down, breasts like deflated balloons, the front of my body like a melted candle.

No matter how much weight I lost, how much I could lift, how far I could run, my body was still a disappointment. I know that's why I gave up and let all that hard work be for nothing. As the weight started to creep, and then flow, back on, my skin started to fill up again. Being fat I could live with; being thin but secretly misshapen I couldn't. It's taken ten years for me to be in a place mentally where I can divorce making healthy choices from trying to look a certain way. I don't know how I'll react to losing weight this time, especially since my skin is older and more stretched out. I'll be honest, plastic surgery isn't off the table.
posted by atropos at 3:43 PM on November 11, 2013 [16 favorites]


esprit, that's the one. Squatz 'n' oatz. (Actually his advice on food is tremendously bad, but it's a program technically targeted at skinny teens.)

I have the third edition. It is 400 pages. Almost the whole book is about barbell exercises and proper form. The three pages on diet only have three paragraphs on overweight people, for whom he suggests "a Paleo-type, lower-carb, no-dairy diet". For the rest, he suggests a gallon of milk per day for various reasons.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 3:43 PM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


lol cardio

Cardiobunnies *respect* that you can do 30 minutes at 80% of HRreserve. Just sayin...
posted by mikelieman at 3:44 PM on November 11, 2013





“Yeah, but what do you do for cardio?”
posted by mikelieman at 3:49 PM on November 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


For the rest, he suggests a gallon of milk per day for various reasons.

True enough. I was talking more about the SS forums, where he engages with his devoted, and the supplemental material that has come from that.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:49 PM on November 11, 2013


I've lost maybe 30lbs this year - which isn't much, but means I'm the smallest I've been since about half my life ago. It's been a weird, interesting journey. I joined a gym sometime in late January, because I had a falling out with a family member that I was really just fucking mad at. They were cruel and hurtful and ignored me, and I felt like I had all this energy (and anger. a lot of anger) that I just needed to pull from my insides and get OUT. People think it was some "this is the year I'm going to do it!" New Year's resolution - it wasn't that at all. I was just so fucking furious and frustrated.

It evolved into continuing after seeing "results," and also really because it makes me feel good. I go running every other day now, which makes me feel proud that my body can do that. My weightloss has been pretty slow, and while I'm overall happy with it (and starting to see some of the "sagging" skin effects since an extra 30 lbs on a short frame for a long time does leave some history). But mostly, I like the pride of knowing what my body can do - which isn't that much, but is way better than it could do in January. I really like knowing that my body can do things that it *never* did before.

I grew up in a pretty strict household when it came to eating. My dad was a bio-chemist and had a strong background in nutrition. My mom was diagnosed with cancer when I was born - and died 10 years later. I got blamed by my 3 older siblings, for why they could no longer eat the same things after I was born. We all adopted a macrobiotic diet, to support our mom. For years my favorite snack was sheets of nori (seaweed). Later, we were allowed rationed cookies once in a while, but they were kept in a locked file cabinet. Our Halloween candy was confiscated. I later went through a period in High School eating just 300 calories a day, because I thought I was fat at 125 lbs. I was so stupid.

I've been overweight as a child, and pretty much my entire adult life. I've usually wavered between a size 12-14, but recently tried on a pair of Size 8 skinny jeans. An 8 was my goal, so that's nice. But it's also really weird. There is definitely more unwanted attention from men, and I keep wondering if I forgot to wipe tomato sauce from my chin or have some cold weather nasal leakage. But nope. It's kind of gross, because why are you looking at me, when you would have looked past or through me, earlier this year? I felt gross when I make a package last week, and the guy at the Post Office gave me free tracking. For the second time. He never used to do that. Now I'm just asking to pay for tracking even if I don't need it, because I just find it creepy. I am the same damn person. I don't want anything different. I feel better and stronger for ME. The weightloss was truly an afterthought.

I'm still really angry at that family member. I think a lot of damage was done, but it wasn't a total loss. Truthfully, I haven't weighed myself since a doctor's appointment in January. I estimate 30 lbs based on the clothing size change, but I don't really know. I stepped on the scale for the first time at the gym last week - the scale ended up being broken. Maybe that was for the better? I ran nearly 4 miles this morning - that's really more exciting.
posted by raztaj at 4:08 PM on November 11, 2013 [13 favorites]


...which makes me feel proud that my body can do that.

This. I am always grateful that I can run five miles at a time. As I age, it gets more and more rewarding to just be able to go out and cover ground. If I want to hike a rough trail or bike around an area, I can do it and it feels good.
posted by Mental Wimp at 4:13 PM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


...but an astonishing number seemed to see my weight loss efforts as a judgement of them. It's really odd.

Is it really odd, though? How many people do you know who expressed disdain when you try harder at anything, like your schoolwork or your job or dressing nicely or avoiding alcohol or what-have-you...there are lots of people in the world who want to be comfortable knowing they're "right" (even though "right" is subjective) and when someone in their "right" group starts trying to change, it makes them feel "not right".
posted by davejay at 4:17 PM on November 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's kind of gross, because why are you looking at me, when you would have looked past or through me, earlier this year?

As delicately as I can: could it be not only that you "look better" now, having shed a great deal of weight, but that you are also carrying yourself differently? Creepers are creepers, of course, and should be captive-bolted, but perhaps a side-effect of your body transformation is that you are now comporting yourself with greater confidence? That could also be another reason for the unwanted attention. I know I certainly go around feeling like hot shit most of the time, and it impacts on how I am perceived, and on how I interact with others.
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:18 PM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hm, actually I typed that comment, then realized I don't buy into my own theory. Even I, who was historically very skinny and told by many to gain weight, have gained weight and gotten lots of compliments...but when I ended up with high cholesterol (and so have lost a bit of weight while changing my diet back to something healthier) I started getting "don't lose the weight" comments.

Sometimes I wonder if people do just look better at a certain weight, and not below.
posted by davejay at 4:22 PM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sometimes I wonder if people do just look better at a certain weight, and not below.

I've seen it credited to a couple different people, but this says it was Catherine Deneuve who said, "When you get older, you have to be ready to trade your ass for your face." Surgery aside, you can't control individual areas separately, and there are definitely tradeoffs.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:34 PM on November 11, 2013


I just wrote an amazingly TL;DR-ish soliloquy about a significant weight shift towards the leaner I experienced several years back. The social and emotional effects it had on me, the horrible personal truths it made me stare into the face of, the elation of the honeymoon period followed by the resentment of what it means to be suddenly seen as someone new. What it means to be shamed into hiding by self doubt and loathing your entire life, have that turned on its head entirely in ways that makes you question everything you thought you knew about your friends and family. The dark places that these revelations can take you.

But then I deleted it all, assured that if I pressed Post Comment I could never return to MetaFilter having revealed far too much about my insecurities to ever be comfortable again.
posted by mediocre at 4:53 PM on November 11, 2013 [15 favorites]


have that turned on its head entirely in ways that makes you question everything you thought you knew about your friends and family. The dark places that these revelations can take you.

tl; dr: People Suck.
posted by mikelieman at 5:11 PM on November 11, 2013


lol cardio

Did you scroll UP on that page?
posted by mikelieman at 5:14 PM on November 11, 2013


Family, Friends Can Influence Weight, Mood
posted by Bella Donna at 5:15 PM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


My wife gained 70lbs with our twins, but now that she's back down to 115, her stomach muscles are permanently separated and it pokes out, and there's a lot of extra skin. She jokes about having it sewn into a pocket for fostering marsupial babies, but she's also constantly pointing it out as it bugs her to no end--she wears a belly-band (a 6-8" tall stretchy velcro belt) to hold it all taught 24/7.

If there were any way we could afford the surgery, I know she'd want it even though we're both, for some reason, normally against the idea of elective aesthetic surgery. That said, I don't see how insurance doesn't cover it--I'd think her belly muscles being separated will eventually cause back problems, since I'm pretty sure abs are a big part of one's overall core-support (my dad's back issues were mitigated by boosting his core strength--sit-ups and crunches did more than any other PT).
posted by whatgorilla at 5:20 PM on November 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


There was a thread on reddit by someone who had a lower-body-lift go bad, and after reading about the complications gained a whole new acceptance of my own body's current state -- good and bad included. It might not be the best, and it sure as hell ain't perfect, but *I MADE THIS*. ( again, for good or ill... )
posted by mikelieman at 5:29 PM on November 11, 2013


I lost a lot of weight after having my daughter. A third of my body weight (although that's evened out to a quarter now) and the thing is, when people invite me out for food, it isn't about 'sabotage' - they get pissy because when a person pushes away the cake, or refuses the tasting, or things like that, it's a direct line of "my weight loss (read: appearance) is more important than participating in this social manifestation of culture you have invited me to". And it is a super common shaming tactic, even if you don't mean it that way.

For me, they get angry when I refuse to indulge in the rose coloured glasses BS.

I move better because a doctor and a physio finally took me seriously - that freedom of movement has resulted in more activity and some weight loss. I need to do squats and shoulder exercises for the rest of my life, if I want to be able to sleep and move without pain.

I eat 'better' because I have no gallbladder - remember the two bouts of surgery when my exclusively breastfed infant was two months old? I sure do, it was five days of fasting out of seven, and I was the hungriest I have ever been in my life and they had to put me on a drip. As it turns out, no gallbladder makes some food choices pretty damn easy, including binges. Excruciating pain is an excellent teacher.

I look 'better' for a certain value of better. You can see the bones in my face more, you can see my collarbones better. Men harass me more. I can buy clothes at most places. But I still need to go to a specialist shop to get bras fitted. The skin on my thighs slaps together if I wear a skirt - not just rubbing, but a slap, like I'm hitting two pieces of steak together. I don't hate how I look, but it isn't what exists in my head. It isn't who I've been for 30 years. I look so different that it's hard to look in the mirror and see me, instead of a collection of body parts and a fading resemblance.

But because I've lost this weight, everyone wants to talk to me about it. Everyone thinks I fucking care about their stupid goddamn diets and carbs and protein and reps and cardio and oh god it is so fucking boring and it makes me self-sabotage. It makes me look them in the eyes and eat the second bit of cake, eat the packet of chips, refuse to move. Same with anyone commenting on how good I look now. Fuck you. This wasn't on purpose, this wasn't to please you, I did this (the parts that I did) for me, for my comfort, and they resulted in weight loss. You aren't there, when arseholes hit on me no I'm a yummy mummy (oh how I loathe that). You aren't there when I don't recognise myself in the mirror. You are there when you imply that fat me was a bad person, or a worse person, or ugly, or undesireable. So fuck you and your 'support', and pass me the goddamn biscuits.

(Sit ups aren't recommended for diastasis recti, the separated abs - it's different to the elastic skin pooch a lot of post-baby bodies have though, and requires different treatments to simply lax core muscles!)
posted by geek anachronism at 5:36 PM on November 11, 2013 [39 favorites]


I've been trying to be a bit healthier the past several months, and finally broke down and bought a scale this weekend to be able to calculate a more precise TDEE and BMR. Found out I was about where I'd hope to be, at this point. Trying to get to where I'd like to be the slow and steady way, recognizing that what I really need is to teach myself to eat healthier for the rest of my life and not hit a certain number.

So....this thread has been super-depressing.
posted by Diablevert at 5:38 PM on November 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I had bariatric surgery earlier this year... no-one seemed to notice until I dropped a hundred pounds, this was after five months, and now it's all weird, because everyone seemed to notice and comment all at once, and I find myself in the position of explaining "my secret" (surgery to remove most of my stomach capacity and the glands responsible for appetite, with a major complication that narrowed down what I could eat to extra mushy beans and nonfat greek yogurt for six months) which they then usually react to with some horror.

The real kicker is that I don't notice. I know intellectually I can fit into restaurant booths and my wife's subcompact. I am annoyed and a bit nervous that I have to buy new clothes once every other month, and buy them at K-Mart from the discount rack. But man, I still see a tremendously fat guy in the mirror. I can't judge how far I've come, I can only see how far away I am.

On top of that, I'm constantly worried the surgery may not have worked, or that it will wear off tomorrow, and this leads me to do things like hit the gym three times a week religiously (good) and skip lunch because I had a small package of dry roast peanuts as a snack that morning (bad).

The health benefits are such where even if I didn't drop another pound, I'm ahead of the game, but instead of "Eye of the Tiger" playing as I triumphantly swagger everywhere (which is pretty much how I went thru life before the surgery) my personal soundtrack is now something with theremins, and I'm cringing around, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

We were warned about this beforehand, tho as part of the months-long pre-surgery process... sudden weight loss in the chronically obese can break up marriages, ruin careers, cause other addictions - drugs, gambling, shopping - and lead to eating disorders that can undermine and reverse your progress. The brain is weird, yo...
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:52 PM on November 11, 2013 [12 favorites]


In the past 9 months, I've gone from 240 (at least - since I stopped weighing myself at that point) down to my current 185. Its been nothing but a positive experience - except for finding a new home for my old, perfectly good clothes (which I haven't been able to do yet). Going from a size 42 waist to size 32 has been kind of expensive, but I'm ok with it. Another 15 pounds and I'll be in a nice and healthy weight range.
posted by blaneyphoto at 6:06 PM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Loose skin really is a son of a bitch, too.

Unless you fight like a honey badger.
posted by Smedleyman at 6:40 PM on November 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


The piece "Tag" on the artist's website is also really interesting - she's taken images tagged beautiful/sexy from Tumblr and projected them over her body as she mimics the pose. It's interesting viewing and I really wonder how it made her feel, given the other pieces on the site.
posted by hepta at 6:40 PM on November 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


Being over weight is a pretty significant disadvantage for guys not just for women though I'd imagine it's much worse for women. I'm currently losing weight and it seems to have already made a difference in this regard even though I'm nowhere near my goal yet. There has been lots of science over the years studying the effects of this discrimination.

Ghostride The Whip: " I've lost friends because while I will go out and eat with them, I won't just hog out and shove food in my mouth and it bothers them and makes them feel guilty about all the eating they're doing."

I don't drink but often hang out with people who do; often to excess. And it really weirds most of them out. I haven't encountered the same with my weight yet but I do have one co-worker who is newly obsessed with what I eat. They are also into several WooWoo diets which they are constatly advocating to me which is pretty annoying. Hard to avoid these people noticing though because I've noticably lost weight and my eating habits have radically changed. Really surprising to me is that some people not only notice what other people eat but are able to keep track over the course of weeks. The annoying coworker knows what I ate over the course of a week better than I do.

Thorzdad: "here's the thing about losing a bunch of weight...From that point on, your life is a constant struggle to keep the weight from coming back. "

There is a great bit in a Friends episode (4.02) about this:
Back then, I thought that I would never, ever get the chance to go out with a Chip Matthews, and now he's called me up and asked me out. And the fat girl inside of me really wants to go. I...I owe her this. I never let her eat.
It was played for laughs of course but even at the time I thought how very true it is for a person who struggles with their weight (IE: me). I've thought of it often over the years.

I really hope I my experience if I reach my goal is more like Huck500's than the OP accounts. I don't think I really have an ideal body shape in my mind so that will probably help in this regard.
posted by Mitheral at 6:46 PM on November 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


So....this thread has been super-depressing.

Don't give up and try and stick with it! My big change started with a healthy eating decision. Just don't forget to think holistically... if you are miserable because your job is thankless and soul-draining, looking nicer at your desk can only change so much.
posted by tripping daisy at 7:03 PM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


"here's the thing about losing a bunch of weight...From that point on, your life is a constant struggle to keep the weight from coming back. "

Not in my model. MY morbid obesity is a chronic medical issue requiring daily assessment and feedback.

Consequently, EVERY DAY FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE I'll be getting on my bathroom scale, plugging that raw data into my exponentially weighted moving average plotter, and then using that insight to make the needed changes to my choices going forward on that day.

Every day for the rest of my life. Of course, now that I'm mostly in 'maintenance', my 'goal' is to keep my short-term average rate of weight change as close to zero as I can. Some days it's up a little bit, some days down. That's when the 7 day gauge comes in handy...
posted by mikelieman at 7:03 PM on November 11, 2013


My point is, by framing it in this way, there isn't a 'struggle'. There's just the sustainable management of my weight which is the same whether I want to lose or maintain.
posted by mikelieman at 7:04 PM on November 11, 2013


Could we please skip the usual weightloss how-to's? If they worked on any kind of universal level, there wouldn't be an obesity epidemic. More, it seems kind of tasteless considering TFA's subject matter.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:14 PM on November 11, 2013 [14 favorites]


I totally get the idea behind the photos, and the only reason why I think that I'm not going to go through the same thing is that I've finally given up on the idea of that ideal physical self that I've had since my late teens (about the time that I started to gain significant weight). Now, it's about avoiding things: a heart attack, a knee replacement, having first dates judge me on the likelihood that I might end up permanently disabled due to weight-related problems, and the worst thing, having to use one of those little electric carts in the grocery store. It's a relief, really.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:15 PM on November 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


I also look a lot older than I did before because fat fills in wrinkles.

I recently found some old pictures of myself at my heaviest, about 80-85 pounds more than I currently weigh. I can tell that I was terribly self-conscious about my weight when I took them: most of my body is cropped out and I'm holding my face a certain way. But the thing that really shocked me was how young I looked: my face was full, my skin was clear. That was six, seven years ago, but I feel like my face has aged about ten, thanks in part to the weight loss. My skin hangs lower and there's nothing I can do. I don't regret losing the weight, but damn.

I've also been incredibly fortunate: for the past three or four years, my weight's been pretty stable. In the back of my mind, there's always a fear that something will upset the equilibrium and I'll gain it all back. This year, thanks in part to an injury that kept me from doing my harder workouts, I've gained ten pounds. I can feel it on my body, though my clothes still mostly fit the same. I don't mind this weight out of context - it's a number I've held steady at in the past. If I gain more, I know I'll be fine. But I can't help worrying that I've messed something up and that my body's going to start changing without my consent.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:17 PM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


They are also into several WooWoo diets which they are constatly advocating to me which is pretty annoying.

Oh man, this. I've been focusing on eating better and exercising more for the last six months or so. It turns out there is nothing like eating better and exercising more to bring out everyone's totally bonkers theories on diet / nutrition / exercise / vitamins / supplements / you name it.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 7:18 PM on November 11, 2013


I once complimented someone on their weight loss only to find out they'd had most of their guts carved out to unsuccessfully try to arrest a rampaging cancer. Now I make an effort to avoid noticing people's weight at all unless they seem to want some attention paid to their fitness efforts.
posted by BrotherCaine at 7:22 PM on November 11, 2013 [22 favorites]


I can see several benefits from a regime of daily weighing, like mikeliemann describes. But, isn't it the case that the body normally fluctuates by a few pounds around a kind of average weight? It seems like it would be easy to get worked up about scale differences that you really shouldn't be alarmed by.
posted by thelonius at 7:32 PM on November 11, 2013


I'm in the midst of My Half-Assed Goal. In truth, it's a bit more than that because I refused to step on a scale for the first two months of my journey as it wasn't about weight as much as it was about reclaiming my life as I wanted it. Perhaps that has protected me from the "fantasy, that when we lose weight, everything wrong in our lives is going to be right." I didn't have that fantasy... fixing the wrongs came first and stepping on the scale just happened to turn into a part of that. But, that doesn't mean it's been easy. Physically - that's actually been pretty easy for me. Mentally - it's a trip.

When I stepped on the scale 2/10/12, I weighed in at 270. A year to the day later, I weighed in at 170. In the 8 months since, I've only lost 5 lbs. The first few months, that was intentional. I needed to give my mind & emotions a break. You see, I cannot tell you what I look like. I have no idea if the image that I'm looking at in the mirror is accurate or not.

When I had lost 50 lbs, I could not see it unless I put on my old clothes. Crossing into the 100s (onederland on so many weight loss blogs) was momentous, not because I was in the 100s, but because I could actually see that I was looking thinner. Yet, unlike the 50 lb down mark, I didn't *feel* skinnier, I only *looked* thinner. Just after Christmas, I took advantage of the post Christmas sales to get a few new clothes... I bought clothes in the normal size section for the first time in over a decade. (I'm getting teary even writing that. It was awesome.) I felt incredible. Not only could I see the weight loss, but I could feel it. Around then, I started getting the "You don't need to lose any more weight" comments. By the time I passed the 100 pound down point, just about everyone was saying it... You look amazing! How'd you do it! You want to lose 35 more pounds?! There will be nothing left of you!!!

Yet, when I look in the mirror... I don't see it. Not always. Though that shouldn't surprise me. I never saw me as fat as I was, either. In my head, I looked about 200-225 lbs. And that's still what I saw.

Some mirrors are better than others. They tend to be the decorative mirrors meant to brighten a room or make it look bigger or whatever. You know... the mirrors you're not actually supposed to look into, so you only see a passing glimpse of yourself when you walk by. The person I see in that mirror is significantly smaller than the person I see in the bathroom mirror or the full length mirror.

It's getting a bit better. The bathroom mirror seems to be catching up with me. Rarely does a day go by that I don't either feel or look smaller. I also have the occasional day where both seem to align for me. And while I don't, particularly care about looking & feeling smaller - I'm happier & healthier than I've been in years and that was my ultimate goal - it's a bit frustrating that my mind can and will play such tricks on me.

That was the one thing that nobody had mentioned to me going into all of this. Yet, the more I talk about it, the more I find others who have gone through the same sort of thing. Some didn't get it quite so bad and others have it worse. It's a phenomena that's so frequently associated with anorexia that, while I've read tons about disordered eating, it wasn't on my radar at all because I was at the other side of the spectrum.
posted by imbri at 7:36 PM on November 11, 2013 [9 favorites]


But, isn't it the case that the body normally fluctuates by a few pounds around a kind of average weight?

The moving average removes the noise component. John Walker popularized the idea back in the 90's. He used a spreadsheet. Because I'm a hacker, I ended up homebrewing my own tool which has a novel visualization I find useful.

This technique, using the "Daily Rate of Weight Change" and adopting a 16/8 Intermittent Fast really did the trick. Well, that and a decade of stress reduction/relaxation/meditation work to get through my own hang ups first, of course...

Again, it's not the losing weight that's hard. Putting on the sunglasses is what's hard. And of course, you know you CAN'T make anyone else put on the sunglasses, right?
posted by mikelieman at 7:45 PM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm down 135 pounds, maybe 20ish to go but I'm honestly happy where I am. Lots of loose flappy bits though, I'm planning on getting plastic surgery this spring to fix my thighs, arms, breasts and tummy. I kind of figured it would be needed from the start so I wasn't too surprised. I do know that while I am happy and more active than I have been in a LONG time, there are things that don't feel right. When I jump there are parts that move that shouldn't and it's not the most comfortable feeling. I accept my body for what it is, it's a sum of my experiences and not all of those experiences have been healthy, obviously. I look great in clothing though, I accept myself naked, and getting rid of the skin will be so much more for me than just cosmetic, it's just finishing the process that I started.
posted by Hazelsmrf at 7:47 PM on November 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


thelonius - I weigh daily. Sometimes multiple times a day. It works for me. Weighing weekly breaks the habit for me. I have a "Wed Weigh-in" that is the weight that I go by and, until I got an Aria scale (which uploads my weight to Fitbit which then syncs with various other sites), it was the weight that I used on my various fitness apps. I fully accept the fluctuations and don't really care if I'm up or down just a bit. I've just always looked at the number on the scale as nothing more than a number. It's a number that can be quite fascinating though, especially when you start noticing little trends.

But you are right, if someone's the sort that would get all worked up by the frequent fluctuations, then they should not weigh daily. It will drive them batty. Though there are various sites that will take a daily weight and graph it all pretty like with trend lines and goal lines. Those can be nifty and help control the battiness.
posted by imbri at 7:47 PM on November 11, 2013


mikelieman, I hope you take the time to read and understand the countless other voices who are saying, quite loudly, quite clearly, that for them, losing the weight is hard.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:49 PM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


and imbri, honestly, I hadn't realized until I read what you wrote, but damn. I've been avoiding mirrors for something like ten years. I just don't look. Or I focus on exactly the part I'm trying to look at (my face when I shave, my teeth when I'm brushing). If I walk past a mirror, I tend to look in the other direction.

I guess it's because, most of the time, I can just tell myself that I'm not that big. I'm me, right? I must be okay. Seeing pictures, seeing myself in a mirror, that just brings it right up to me, in a way I can't ignore. So, well, I do my best to avoid them. Up til now, I'd been doing it unconciously.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:51 PM on November 11, 2013


I wonder how much one's body image is shaped by seeing photographs of oneself.

Anecdata: I was really scrawny (my parents described me as "starved-looking") for part of my childhood, became really fat for several years, and then settled down to something in between within the last few years. For unrelated reasons, I hate being photographed, so the only photographs available are from big milestones where I'm bundled up in graduation gowns and so on. Looking at a photocopy of my medical record, I know I bounced from 20% underweight at one extreme to 50% overweight at the other, but in my memory I was always about table-height and a little pudgy.

It's like I haven't updated my self-image since I was twelve. A few months ago I thoughtlessly asked to borrow someone's clothes. There was a long awkward pause. It turns out we are visibly, obviously different sizes. I had no idea. And my self-image is remarkably resistant to new information. Every time I try to buy a pair of pants, I'm surprised again by my waist-to-hip ratio. I remember once overhearing someone say, "That's a biker for you: all thighs." and literally looking around before realizing that I in my cycling stuff was the only person in sight who could possibly have been the subject of this comment.

thelonius: people who do daily weigh-ins usually put the data into an exponentially weighted moving average to smooth out these minor variations.
posted by d. z. wang at 7:52 PM on November 11, 2013


I can see several benefits from a regime of daily weighing, like mikeliemann describes. But, isn't it the case that the body normally fluctuates by a few pounds around a kind of average weight?

I weigh myself right before I go to bed, and first thing in the morning (well, first thing after a big wee). I tend to lose about 2kg overnight. From farting, presumably. Oh and the ten minute wee I just did before weighing myself.

My point is, yes, your day-to-day weight is a useless metric to judge fat loss by. The best bet is to measure yourself, get some skinfold callipers, and to plot it all on a big graph like mikelieman above is doing.

That helps you figure out how your body is recompositioning. Are you losing just fat, or fat and muscle, or, god forbid, just muscle? Are you putting on both, or more of one than the other? Or do you have your food and your exercise so clinically precise that you are literally replacing adipose tissue with muscle, pound-for-pound?
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:18 PM on November 11, 2013


mikelieman, I hope you take the time to read and understand the countless other voices who are saying, quite loudly, quite clearly, that for them, losing the weight is hard.

My point here isn't a hand-wavey 'losing weight isn't difficult', but rather looking at the root causes it's more difficult than people struggling with it believe.

The reason is that it is not the mechanics of a calorie deficit are particularly challenging in themselves, so many tactics work, but rather the resolution of the psychological and emotional issues preventing sustainable weight management are actually critical to success, and without addressing those issues first, people might very well be wasting their time.

FOR ME, a moving average provides a scientifically based metric to tie my assessment and feedback to. Getting to the point where I got on the scale every day and paid attention to it took... My whole life up to that point, I'd say.
posted by mikelieman at 8:18 PM on November 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I weigh daily but I don't freak out at the number, I have the Aria scale so it just automatically syncs for me, and I learn all sorts of things, like 2 days before my period I gain 5 pounds. If I didn't weigh daily and that 5 pound upswing came at my weekly or monthly weigh in, I'd think there was something to fix when there's not, it was just normal hormonal water retention.
posted by Hazelsmrf at 8:20 PM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ghidora: I did the same. And pictures. I became the person who took the pictures. It took me far to long to realize that I did that so that I wouldn't actually be in them.

Interestingly, I had a big discovery moment because of The Biggest Loser. While I agree with nadawi's critique of the show and could pile on easily, the show helped me come to terms both with my progress and my body image. In part, exactly because of the fat shaming aspect of it all - which makes me feel oh so dirty and bad. I'd boycotted the show for years, but one of my weight loss buddies was a huge fan and talked me into watching an episode so that I could be more honest in my hatred of it all. The first thing that I noticed was that everyone was so very big... and that all of the girls weighed less than I did when I started losing weight. Seeing them in their sports bras with their various flabby bits hanging out helped me to remember my various flabby bits. Seeing them struggle to keep up with exercise at the start reminded me of just how much I struggled to move when I started. (My journey started with walking - I could barely walk around the block without getting winded... morbidly obese, anemic, smoker) By the end of the show, I was more able to see myself at both 270 lbs and 170 lbs. That, certainly, doesn't justify their use of shaming and emphasis on image. But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't personally grateful for it. (ack. so so wrong.)

I wound up watching the season religiously. They all said & did things that I could relate to at one point in time or another. I didn't become a fan of the show by the end of the season, but I definitely became a fan of a few of the people who let me see my journey through theirs.
posted by imbri at 8:34 PM on November 11, 2013


What no one told me about losing weight was how much stronger my internalized fatphobic thoughts would become once I wasn't fat anymore. It's almost like every time I saw a fat person, I would have these horrible thoughts like "at least you don't look like that." For all my years of being fat, I thought I'd learned a lot about fat acceptance, but even though my reasons for changing my fitness behavior had to do with getting stronger and reducing pain and discomfort (as well as being able to buy better clothes), I kept finding myself psychologially "encouraging" my own weight loss by reflecting societal judgment of other people's appearance (and, by extension, my own).

This really distressed me, and I even thought of posting an Ask Metafilter question about it. I'm dealing with it with mindfulness and reading a lot of stuff about fatphobia, but I still have to interrogate my own thoughts and ask myself "am I having this thought because it's good for my health or because it's a way of hating on my former (and potentially future) fat self?" It makes me mad that the fucking social scripts have invaded my thought process so much - perhaps I buried the thoughts so much when I was fat because I didn't want to engage in that level of self-hate, but now that it's not my (current) self anymore, they slip out when I think about someone else. And that's just someone I don't want to be.
posted by matildaben at 8:39 PM on November 11, 2013 [14 favorites]


The first thing that I noticed was that everyone was so very big... and that all of the girls weighed less than I did when I started losing weight. Seeing them in their sports bras with their various flabby bits hanging out helped me to remember my various flabby bits.

2/3rds of Americans are overweight in reality. On TV, not so much. There's an immense value in knowing that you're not alone and seeing honest representations of how people look -- as you've found
posted by mikelieman at 8:41 PM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


matildaben,

I've found this to have some relevance w.r.t. my own reactions. http://www.raptitude.com/2013/06/5-steps-to-stop-worrying-what-people-think-of-you/
posted by mikelieman at 8:45 PM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


( In the context of myself, "people" and "you" are both aspects of what I like to think of clinically as "My Big, Dumb Brain" )
posted by mikelieman at 8:47 PM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


2/3rds of Americans are overweight in reality. On TV, not so much. There's an immense value in knowing that you're not alone and seeing honest representations of how people look -- as you've found

Yes. But a 5'3 foot girl weighing in at 270 lbs isn't just overweight. She's not even just obese... she's morbidly obese. Heck. According to the charts most folks use to get that 2/3rds figure, 140 lbs is "Overweight" on a 5'3 woman. That's nearly half of my starting weight. I was still technically obese at 170 lbs. and I was wearing a size 10/medium. At 165, I've crossed into overweight territory. I also fit into some small tops (though mostly mediums). Showing more "average" sized folks on tv, folks who are still likely smaller than I am, is important. Definitely. But the folks on The Biggest Loser still represent a small proportion of Americans by size.

The problem is that whenever the news folks do a story on The Obesity Epidemic (dun dun duuuun), they show a morbidly obese (or, even, super obese) person in the most unflattering of ways. Perhaps sitting with their fat sticking out under their shirt (bonus if they're eating ice cream, cotton candy, or a hot dog) or maybe they're shown trying to get healthy in a sports bra 5 sizes too small so, again, their fat ripples out in the most unsightly of ways and they look super awkward trying to jog or lift that 5 lb weight or maybe it's a street level shot of them walking with their ass & tits bouncing all over the place. Whatever it, it's always designed to show the 170 size 10 wearing chick that the obesity epidemic is not her fault... it's those fat fatties. They're the overweight and obese ones clogging up the system. Not you. Not at just 170 pounds... and wearing a medium!

Pisses me off. Every. Damn. Time.
posted by imbri at 9:10 PM on November 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


I've found this to have some relevance w.r.t. my own reactions. http://www.raptitude.com/2013/06/5-steps-to-stop-worrying-what-people-think-of-you/

That was pretty good. For years, I got by on the premise of "if you knew how rarely people thought or cared about you, etc." but that was a bit a cheat.

For me, i'm not ashamed to say that burning man (back in the 90s, I am old ...) was a major personal revelation for me. I would have never gotten naked in public before, nor had the confidence to not give a fuck when wise to do so.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:32 PM on November 11, 2013


Health matters because it affects happiness, which affects our relationships with others. Navigating the obligations of the moment is about having the clarity to be present and the courage to act. Physical fitness affects both of these things.

Which is fine, for you. This is your philosophy of health and fitness.

Is it then moral to prescribe your philosophy - which you argue to be personally defined - to others, and offer your reactions/judgement to their choices, habits, circumstances and other conditions affecting their bodies?


Miko, is every expression of value foisted upon others? Of course not. I believe that there is an unknowable universal human experience, which we discover through personal experience. So I declare mine that it may perhaps be of use to you. If my saying "health affects happiness" sounds like a judgment to someone, it is their own insecurity that makes it so.

I'm sure you agree that it is very sad to see in this thread how badly people are affected by the thoughts of others. I understand that it's hard if you've had your own voice stamped out of you by perhaps an intense social pressure to conform or parents who devalued your opinion or the many other outrageous machinations the world sets against you. But the dark wind that levels all the things you were told to care about has nothing to do with silencing the voices of others — or plugging your ears to my suggestion that health affects happiness. That wind rises from deep within your future. It is the force of your own soul.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 9:49 PM on November 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Fuck all that noise. When I'm lean, I don't hurt and I can move.

I've been fat. I've been lean. Lean wins.
posted by flabdablet at 9:49 PM on November 11, 2013


So clearing it off the list of "Things keeping you from being where you want to be" which eventually became nearly empty meant that you wind up at your target weight, paying attention to what you eat for the rest of your life, with no more milestones to meet in that direction other than "not fucking up" and you need to find new purpose.

You know, I started thinking about this at the very outset of my weight loss journey. That may seem like crossing a bridge too early, but it's not like I've never been there before. My weight over the years has followed a steep sine wave, so I know how easy it is to lose motivation when you reach your goals.

What I decided was to treat "maintenance" like a dirty word. I've set certain goals for myself, and I'm actually very close to achieving them (180 lbs was my goal weight, although I may amend that downwards until that six-pack I ordered arrives). So then what? My plan is to develop a new goal - not weight loss. At that point, I plan to switch to a strength-building program, and to return to jiu-jitsu and finish my black belt. After that? I haven't decided yet, but I'm thinking about dance and yoga.

I'm sure you get the idea: once you reach a goal, get a new one. There are so many individual aspects of one's body that can be improved and emphasized, it's actually pretty easy to find something other than weight to aim for. I find my notions about the body and physicality changing as a result. It's about being a physical person, not just living in my head and noticing every five years what a wreck I've allowed myself to become.

It's not about reaching some point of ultimate satisfaction, but continual improvement in all areas of life. After all, if anything is coming out of this thread, it's the sense that getting what you want isn't always what it's cracked up to be, and the journey itself really can be more satisfying. The solution is to never stop journeying to a better place.
posted by Edgewise at 9:52 PM on November 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


...the false obligation of physical fitness, the false morality of health, is competing with, and sometimes surpassing, our actual obligations, our actual moral duties, as traditionally defined by our relationships to other people. Defining ourselves as good people because of our diet and exercise regimens frees us from the burden of more difficult, more meaningful ways of becoming good people, like kindness and compassion to others, advocacy for the good of society, care for our children, and abstinence from abuse and oppression of our fellow humans.
Shiiiiiiiiit.
posted by Quilford at 11:05 PM on November 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


When I'm lean, I don't hurt and I can move.

I've been fat. I've been lean. Lean wins.

ok well I'm somewhat fat and I also don't hurt and can move

yay for us
posted by threeants at 11:25 PM on November 11, 2013 [10 favorites]


To the folks upthread who mentioned losing (IIRC) 15 and 30 lbs, but qualified the numbers as "not really that much"...don't sell yourselves short. Even if others' weight-loss numbers are bigger.

Try carrying around a backpack with 15 or 30 lbs of something, and you'll see just how much of a big difference that number is, how much of an effect that amount can have on your body.

Good luck with whatever else you've got planned, just don't belittle your accomplishments. :)
posted by Celsius1414 at 12:24 AM on November 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


imbri: "It's getting a bit better. The bathroom mirror seems to be catching up with me. Rarely does a day go by that I don't either feel or look smaller. I also have the occasional day where both seem to align for me. And while I don't, particularly care about looking & feeling smaller - I'm happier & healthier than I've been in years and that was my ultimate goal - it's a bit frustrating that my mind can and will play such tricks on me. "

I remember the first time I saw my thighs, about three years after the weightloss - I don't have any full length mirrors in my house, and don't run around pantless anywhere else - it was the most awkward and uncomfortable thing. Where my thighs touch had changed SO much it was disconcerting.

And yeah, I was fat, now I'm lean and yeah I fucking hurt. The reasons I was fat didn't change, my knee is still fucked and will always be fucked, same with my back and all the loose joints. Hell, I lost 30 kilos and barely changed bra size - the only thing that could have induced me to diet and it turns out it didn't change a whit. Everyone is different, and this is why I hate so much of the weight loss rhetoric.

Being thin hasn't made me healthy.

Or happy.

Or pain-free.

Or a better person.

Just smaller in mass.
posted by geek anachronism at 2:41 AM on November 12, 2013 [12 favorites]


Being thin hasn't made me healthy.

Or happy.

Or pain-free.

Or a better person.

Just smaller in mass.


^This.
posted by mikelieman at 3:08 AM on November 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


I had a friend who was pretty over-weight decide once she had a decent job, that she was joining a gym, and getting on a diet to drop the weight.
She began as a schlubby peasant looking woman and turned into a blond bomb-shell.
Guys who had outright insulted her began flirting with her, even asking her out. She often called me in tears over things that happened because she'd lost weight.
It took a long time for her to deal with the emotional side.
Another totally weird thing was while she was overweight, her cholesterol numbers were amazingly low, all of them.
Losing the weight, going on an excellent diet, her cholesterol numbers went way up. It was weird,
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 3:28 AM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


This reminded me of one of Barry Deutsch's cartoons.
posted by Acheman at 4:32 AM on November 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


About ten years ago I lost a lot of weight - at my lightest I reached 80kg, which BMI calculators suggest is at the heavy end of my healthy weight. Later on I began to put the weight back on. When I reached about 95kg (well within the overweight area), people began to come up to me and tell me how glad they were that I was getting better and that they were very worried about me. And I did look pretty thin. I quite liked being thin, though I am now back to my traditional role as King Blobbo the Vast. I'm interested to know how emaciated I'd have to get in order to reach an ideal weight, and whether there's a way, if I ever did reach it, to convince people that I don't have cancer.

BMI is bollocks.
posted by Grangousier at 5:42 AM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have to admit, I also don't quite understand why people are upset when they're treated better after losing weight. I understand that there are negatives, especially for women who may experience more unwanted attention than before, but other than that it really seems like it rests on some strange belief that there is such a thing as a "real you". This "secular soul" construct represents your real identity and everything else, your body, your clothes, your hobbies, your job, health, taste in art/music/films, habits, and whatever else are nothing more than surface realities that people are supposed to see past in selecting romantic and sexual partners. In this view, anyone who is attracted to lean-me but wouldn't have been to fat-me is guilty of some great crime.

It seems strange to me. People are more attracted to what some combination of genetics and socialisation has taught them is attractive, surely that's tautological? Why get upset about a benefit to you?
posted by atrazine at 5:56 AM on November 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have to admit, I also don't quite understand why people are upset when they're treated better after losing weight.

Perhaps they wish they were treated well at all times and not just when society deems them beautiful.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:14 AM on November 12, 2013 [36 favorites]


Because to a great extent, it's not about romantic and sexual partners. It's about being exposed to unwanted attention in a new way that you may not have learned how to deal with because it's never happened before. It's about realising just how badly you were treated before when your body did not conform to what other people think is acceptable, when you are suddenly being treated as a person where previously you were a hideous object deserving of public shaming. It's about realising that since the only thing that has changed is your body, the only difference between social approval and social censure is the shape of your body. And that if, God forbid, you put the weight back on, then all this new-found attention and people being nice to you will evaporate. It's having it made plain just how fickle and superficial and body-policing people in general can be.
posted by talitha_kumi at 6:15 AM on November 12, 2013 [21 favorites]


I can understand it... While we are wired to be more cordial and helpful to those we find attractive on some level (not just thinness), we are also wired to be bothered when we feel that we're being treated differently. Whether that's differently from other people or other versions of ourselves.

Lean-Me is no more me than Fat-Me was me. Yet, when I go to a store or to a restaurant or to a meeting, I am treated differently. Not always and not by everyone, but enough so that I can notice. For a while I tried to convince myself that I was carrying myself differently... I'm happier & healthier than I've been in years. Not just because of the weight loss, but because of all the various changes I've made along the way that have made the weight loss possible this time around. I'm certain those things have added to my confidence and made me an even friendlier person. Yet, even on days when I'm feeling grumpy or bitchy, people are more likely to open the door or ask if I help. I'm also less likely to feel (perception is reality) that everyone in the store is judging me when I toss junk in my cart. I'm sure my confidence and such has a big role in all of that, but it is not the only thing. My weight is clearly a part of it. And that just sucks. It sucks for Fat-Me and it sucks for everyone else who is on the bigger side of things.
posted by imbri at 6:16 AM on November 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is sort of blowing my mind. Putting a name to a vague feeling I've had all year. Since January 1 I've lost 52 pounds. I'm 5'2" and weighed close to 250 pounds. When the first number of my weight became a 1 I cried and did a little dance on the scale. But I didn't buy new clothes. I wore the same clothes all year until they were literally falling off of me because I was SCARED to buy new clothes. Scared that that would be the thing that would jinx my whole process, but also scared to look good. I've been fat for so long that I don't know how to be any other way. I forced myself to the store for new jeans a month ago and for the first time in almost ten years I could buy jeans from the regular section, not the plus-size section. I celebrated, sure, but I am still that fat girl inside and I think I always will be.
posted by altopower at 6:55 AM on November 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


Perhaps they wish they were treated well at all times and not just when society deems them beautiful.

I guess. It just seems that a wish to have been treated as well in the past as one is now wouldn't be sufficient to generate such a depth of feeling, but that probably depends on just how poorly someone was treated in the past.
posted by atrazine at 8:02 AM on November 12, 2013


Being morbidly obese seriously messes with your own head. I'm not engaging in hyperbole when I stress the importance of working thorough emotional and psychological issues BEFORE attempting 'dieting'.
posted by mikelieman at 8:05 AM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


It just seems that a wish to have been treated as well in the past as one is now wouldn't be sufficient to generate such a depth of feeling, but that probably depends on just how poorly someone was treated in the past.

How else is one to feel when one has seen beneath the mask, to learn how nasty and awful people truly are? Hard to ever trust the friendliness when you know it's all conditional and will go away if you don't look "right."

Also remember, in many cases, this "new positive attention" is coming from the SAME INDIVIDUAL who treated the person like shit before. And not just baristas or whatever. Imagine having a hostile, passive-aggressive relationship with your mother for 25 years. Then you lose 20 lbs, and suddenly your mom treats you like her very own beloved child. 20 lbs was enough to keep her from loving her child. How are you supposed to ever trust a love that is so demonstrably weak and flimsy?

tell me that wouldn't generate a "depth of feeling."
posted by like_a_friend at 8:22 AM on November 12, 2013 [33 favorites]


People generally don't like being reminded how shallow and deterministic people can be, I've found.
posted by The Whelk at 8:24 AM on November 12, 2013 [11 favorites]


People suck sometimes. The people who call you more often, want to spend more time with you or collaborate with you more when you are thin really, really suck and make me resent humanity.
posted by Sophie1 at 8:48 AM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, what like_a_friend said x1000
posted by Sophie1 at 8:49 AM on November 12, 2013


It's not just positive attention, when you're out there in the world as a person other people are dealing with and not just looking past, there are expectations that your social skills will be good and you'll know how to handle politicking, jeaousies, jockying for status, or just being the center of attention. There's a new intensity to the way you interact with other people, the stakes seem to become higher.
posted by subdee at 9:07 AM on November 12, 2013


Losing the weight, going on an excellent diet, her cholesterol numbers went way up. It was weird,

Might it be that her good cholesterol went way up while her bad cholesterol went down or stayed the same?
posted by gyc at 9:07 AM on November 12, 2013


It just seems that a wish to have been treated as well in the past as one is now wouldn't be sufficient to generate such a depth of feeling, but that probably depends on just how poorly someone was treated in the past.

For me, it's not so much that we resent past treatment as much as it's that we've become aware what assholism people are capable of. It's hard to look past finding that someone in your life is capable of being a self-appointed body cop mired in morphic essentialism, even if you forgive their past offenses.
posted by sonascope at 9:17 AM on November 12, 2013


This may be skewed for women, possibly, because I found that losing 25% of my body weight was totally the difference between getting random attention and not.

So much this. Being larger offers you some secuirty from a male gaze in this world.
Overcoming my own negative reactions to being stared at like this are an important part in my own continued lifestyle changes.
posted by Theta States at 9:52 AM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think there's something about being confronted with what a different world it is for thin people than for fat people that is mind blowing in a way that ought to inspire righteous anger.
posted by Salamandrous at 10:04 AM on November 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


At 22 years old over the course of 3 months, while living isolated in the country I went from 300lb to 185 or so. A simple fast and no shopping..took up exercise+smoking..(stupid). Anyway overall much more positive experience for the last 20 years as a non-smoking, fit, attractive man that as morbidly obese, freakish loner. Yeah, life isn't fair. So fucking what. I was sick of being fat, not because of how people treated me but how I treated myself. I also wanted to get laid. So, motivated...
posted by judson at 12:14 PM on November 12, 2013


I've lost 80 pounds over the past two years (300 -> 220) and while I definitely feel better physically, I don't really feel as awesome as I thought I would. I still have some of the issues with food that I had in the past (for example, I fell down icy stairs on Saturday and I'm hurting...when I am hurting my willpower against sweet foods goes completely out the window).

I know others here say they really don't care what other people thought/think. I make a good front on that, but really I do. Something someone says that stresses me will make it difficult to sleep that night. More stress leads to less willpower, leads to me stressing about the weight, leads to less willpower and I cycle downward until I manage to pull myself free again.
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 2:52 PM on November 12, 2013


I think there's something about being confronted with what a different world it is for thin people than for fat people that is mind blowing in a way that ought to inspire righteous anger.

Partly that, partly I'm used to being judged as a fat person. I'm used to people sneering if I order dessert or making comments if I got a double cheeseburger or helpfully offering exercise advice or saying "You know, you just need to eat less and move more and the laws of thermodynamics will kick in" in the smuggest possible tone as if I'm a tribesman in The Gods Must Be Crazy and they've handed me a Coke bottle of wisdom. All that I'm fine with.

I'm not at all used to being hectored to eat more or having people demand that I join them--"I AM A VERY SOCIAL EATER AND I NEED TO FEEL SOCIAL WHEN I EAT AND YOU ARE BEING RUDE BY NOT EATING!" is something I had screamed at me recently--or having people tell me, sincerely, how good I look or that kind of thing.

I mean you build your defenses over several decades and people start coming in a different way, it's jarring.

And then, yeah, people look at you different. They treat you different. They are kinder. They look you in the eye. It really is angry-making if you've been on the other side. The 30 Rock episode with Jon Hamm on The Bubble is a really good representation, honestly.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 3:03 PM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah the BMI is the worst kind of horseshit. Apologies if this is already linked above, but here's a good NPR piece on it.
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:40 PM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I lost 50lbs in 2011, going from quite obese to merely overweight (size 24 to 16). This year my focus has been on being active. I haven't gained or lost anything since the 50lbs, but I'm more fit right now than any other point in my life.

The thing is, I'm still fat. I know that objectively what I've done so far has improved my health and will improve my quality of life as I get older, but it's made little quantifiable difference to me day-to-day. I am invisible in crowds like most fat women, I pay ludicrous prices for stylish plus-sized clothing. I don't eat in public, and I still feel just as bad about making people, ew gross, look at a fat person whenever I walk by.

One day when I'm ready I'll make the push for those last 40lbs or so, but it sucks to have put in years of being diligent, of cooking healthy dinners at the end of a long day, of making myself go for a run in the rain, and still not feel any different in my own head or in the perception of others.
posted by jess at 4:41 PM on November 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


“Without realizing it, the individual composes his life according to the laws of beauty even in times of greatest distress.”
― Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Cruel application of the laws of beauty are ... sad. In all our lives sometimes those laws are applied in cruel ways. Who applies those laws more cruelly to Kozerski, the world or herself?

It hurts to watch her do that. But I can take the pain -- for art's sake, right?

Maybe someday she will be done with the mirrors. How will she know?

“The worth of a human being lies in the ability to extend oneself, to go outside oneself, to exist in and for other people.”
― Milan Kundera, Laughable Loves

Maybe someday?
posted by surplus at 6:25 PM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


It just seems that a wish to have been treated as well in the past as one is now wouldn't be sufficient to generate such a depth of feeling, but that probably depends on just how poorly someone was treated in the past.

For me, it's not so much that we resent past treatment as much as it's that we've become aware what assholism people are capable of. It's hard to look past finding that someone in your life is capable of being a self-appointed body cop mired in morphic essentialism, even if you forgive their past offenses.
posted by sonascope at 9:17 AM on November 12 [+] [!]


I was significantly overweight my whole life until I went from 240 to 160 and then as low as 140 over 10 years ago when I was in my early/mid twenties and slowly migrated up to as high as 190ish a few years ago and now back down to 175ish.

The difference in the way I was treated at 240 as compared to 140 and even 175 is mind blowing, and a lot of it comes from the realization of all the shit people are actually saying about fat people behind their backs. Sometimes I feel like a secret fat person, because people now treat me as a "normal" weight person (even though I'm still technically teetering on the edge of obesity at 5' 4ish inches and 175lbs) and say things that they would never ever say if 240 lb me was there. When I was my biggest, I would overhear some insensitive comments, (and let's face it - up straight up insults to my face, high school sucks) but most of that stuff is saved for after you are out of earshot, and all you hear is the laughs and giggles at what was obviously a joke at your expense. Now that I've been a petite 140 lbs, and I have heard those jokes from the "inside" - (ie when hanging out with only "regular weight" people and a "fat" person dares exist near us/is in our visual field/ comes up in conversation, etc) - I can say with confidence: people can be such assholes. Like really huge assholes. It's astounding how mean some people can be, and how many people use fat jokes and mockery as acceptable casual humor.

Then there's fact that as a young woman I never really got any kind of flirty attention from men until I had reached a certain weight (ie after I was 20 years old). Some men flirt with me now that I know for sure - new found confidence aside- that not only would they not have flirted with 240 lb me, they would have mocked me mercilessly (behind my back or not).... and...let's just say it's hard to trust people, and men in particular.
posted by smartypantz at 10:08 PM on November 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


Also these photos are beautiful and I've often thought about this topic and the secrecy. I definitely have some loose skin and copious stretch marks on my upper arms, belly and thighs and it's disheartening when you want to be carefree with your smaller body but you still have these little secrets you "need" to cover.
posted by smartypantz at 10:19 PM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I'm lean, I love my loose and floppy skinsuit. So flexible!

About the only good part about having become accustomed to living under the gaze of horror and contempt that society accords seriously fat men is that I have no qualms at all about exposing my weirdly saggy post-weight-loss skin at the beach or the pool or wherever. I got lean for me, not for you, so if you don't like the way I look having done so: totally your problem.
posted by flabdablet at 11:03 PM on November 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


There's a million reasons people are prejudiced or judgmental about weight, but what it perhaps comes down to, ultimately is the issue of free will. If you believe that the over/under weight person is in control of their weight, just by sheer will, then you're far more likely to be judgmental about it.

In my industry, there's a premium on being slim. Fat people are allowed to exist, but they have to be in a position of unassailable power - really the very top. If you're Rudin, Weinstein, Oprah, fine (and of course, if it's part of your image, a la Goodman).

But if you are an executive hoping to get promoted, or an actress hoping to keep getting cast, well, that's a different story. Certainly fat people exist, but they are statistically drastically fewer than in the general population, and I know for a fact - in at least some cases - their careers are affected. How do I know? Because I spoke to someone who was hiring not too long ago. The reason given for rejecting a perfectly fine exec, was because "fat". That alone was enough. Now, I knew that exec. I thought that she was the best choice. I probed - gently, and without seeming to have any agenda - why "fat" was enough. He told me very simply that being fat reflects badly on the person - it means they have "let themselves go", they are therefore unreliable because they allow demonstrably bad things to happen; what if tough choices are to be made and they similarly make bad choices? Reject! Wow.

So, I pressed on. What if the person was fat since childhood, and really had little control over that? The comeback was "look around - do you see any execs around here who are fat? No? What does that tell you? It tells you that when things really matter, people somehow *can* control themselves and not 'let themselves go', but look at the few fat folks at the very top, they're fat because they can be fat, if they were lower on the totem pole, and their job depended on it, they'd be slim. That means it's completely within people's control." So, I asked, well, what about someone like Oprah, who was certainly sincere in wanting to control her weight, and had a lot of credibility riding on not regaining, and yet she failed... she has all the money in the world, and yet she cannot do it - what chance does your ordinary mortal have? And if we recognize that clearly f.ex. anorectics are not in control of their compulsion, and have objectively wrong perceptions about their weight, and actually die from this condition, why do you believe that at least some fat people don't have the same exact medical condition? His response: "well, that's BS because why would we have a sudden epidemic of fat - you telling me suddenly this medical condition erupted everywhere? And I go: well, social trends can affect things like weight, it's well-known that friends can influence, and media, and advertising, etc., etc., etc.. Round and round we went.

But what I concluded is that it really comes down to what you believe about the agency of the person. And that remains true even for people who themselves are struggling with these very over/under weight issues. Because if you believe it's a matter of will, then you can blame or be blamed. Free will is necessary for sin to be meaningful in that theology as well.
posted by VikingSword at 12:06 AM on November 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Because if you believe it's a matter of will, then you can blame or be blamed.

That does indeed seem to be the "logic" involved.

The thing is, though, that ultimately it is a matter of will. Ultimately all a person needs to do get lean is to not eat; starvation definitely works. But like any medical intervention it has side effects, and many of those side effects also occur with far less extremist dietary limitation, and for many people, tolerating those side effects is just plain too hard.

Some people run to fat and some don't, and if you don't run to fat you probably have no idea what a chunk it takes out of my life to prevent my weight creeping relentlessly upward. If it costs me ten times as much willpower as it costs you to keep my weight under control, why would I not feel resentful about your fat-based assessment of my judgement or strength of character?

So, I pressed on. What if the person was fat since childhood, and really had little control over that? The comeback was "look around - do you see any execs around here who are fat? No? What does that tell you?

Um... that we don't have fat execs because smug ignorant pricks like you won't hire them?

If I were that bloke's fat boss, and I heard him attempt to back up an unjustifiably discriminatory hiring policy that exposes my organization to a totally unnecessary risk of lawsuits with circular reasoning that poor, he would certainly not be on my promotion shortlist.
posted by flabdablet at 1:51 AM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


atrazine: "It seems strange to me. People are more attracted to what some combination of genetics and socialisation has taught them is attractive, surely that's tautological? Why get upset about a benefit to you?"

Because I don't give a fuck what people find attractive - but I find myself incredibly hurt when they assume I'm a better goddamn person because I'm smaller than I was. That hurts. It isn't about fuckability - although the attention makes me furious - it's about actual people who know and love me who still think that I'm a better person, that this reduction in size is a manifestation of character.

But yeah, those benefits, I should throw all the other fatties under the bus because I got mine; fuck being a better person because I can be thin! And attractive! And buy into and support the bullshit! I'm shouldn't feel bad, right, since it's just genes and socialisation...
posted by geek anachronism at 4:31 AM on November 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


Sometimes I feel like a secret fat person

Given that I think of my weight issue as a chronic medical issue, I consider myself 370 lbs still UNLESS I maintain my simple daily routines. ( Weigh myself daily + 16/8 Intermittent Fasting pretty much at this point )

So, yeah, I'm a 'secret fat person' too. But I already *know* that people suck, so it's not exactly news.
posted by mikelieman at 5:00 AM on November 13, 2013


atrazine: "It seems strange to me. People are more attracted to what some combination of genetics and socialisation has taught them is attractive, surely that's tautological? Why get upset about a benefit to you?"

Because it's not just about perceived fuckability. It's about whether fat people are considered worthy of respect, courtesy, kindness, employment, opportunities, medical care. "Why get upset about a benefit to you?" is a bit like: Why get upset about bigotry/privilege that you're benefiting from? A question to which I hope the answer is self-evident.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 5:42 AM on November 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


it's about actual people who know and love me who still think that I'm a better person, that this reduction in size is a manifestation of character.

But surely, given that achieving any substantial weight reduction is an exercise in sustained focus and commitment in the face of considerable difficulty, the fact of having achieved such a thing is to some extent a manifestation of character?

It's not so much the being lean that makes you worthy of respect as the feat of having become lean. It's the same kind of response that makes us consider somebody who has run the Boston Marathon more awesome than somebody whose strongest evidence of physical prowess is the occasional walk around the block.

To me, this does seem like a separate issue from the wilfully ignorant assumption that being fat is in and of itself a demonstration of some kind of contemptible moral turpitude.

Of course, if you don't find you're getting more respect than is generally given to those who can maintain a lean physique without gut-wrenching effort, this line of argument completely falls apart.
posted by flabdablet at 7:48 AM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


But surely, given that achieving any substantial weight reduction is an exercise in sustained focus and commitment in the face of considerable difficulty, the fact of having achieved such a thing is to some extent a manifestation of character?


The problem with those thoughts is that people tend give more significance to weight as a part of character. Chris Christie is a Republican Governor of traditionally Democratic state. Yet the drive and focus to accomplish that doesn't matter as much as his battle with weight, to many.

It's not so much the being lean that makes you worthy of respect as the feat of having become lean. It's the same kind of response that makes us consider somebody who has run the Boston Marathon more awesome than somebody whose strongest evidence of physical prowess is the occasional walk around the block.

I've known plenty of Marathoners who were assholes, many who weren't. Saying they're awesome just because they ran marathon is pretty shallow judgement.

There are several people in my neighborhood who just want walk around the block. They're invariably friendly, helpful and keep a general eye on the neighborhood. Except for that one guy, who tends to be a grumpy SOB who has too many cats. But whether he's awesome or not has little to with whether he decided to run 26 miles.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:32 AM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I guess. It just seems that a wish to have been treated as well in the past as one is now wouldn't be sufficient to generate such a depth of feeling, but that probably depends on just how poorly someone was treated in the past.

You don't realize how poorly people treated you until they start treating you well.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:32 AM on November 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's not so much the being lean that makes you worthy of respect as the feat of having become lean.

I'm currently winning a war against depression. I made it through a very difficult time a few years ago after the sudden death of a parent. I sleep 5 hours a night so I can pursue my creative dreams after the day job is over. I'm proud of these things. They are the manifestations of my character.

Instead, the trend line of my weight is given value more than anything else. I don't want respect for losing 50lbs, I just want people to stop judging me for my pant size no matter what it is.
posted by jess at 9:43 AM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm currently winning a war against depression.

Mad respect from me. That takes a lot of work.

I don't want respect for losing 50lbs, I just want people to stop judging me for my pant size no matter what it is.

Having been a target of that very same bogus judgement myself for most of the last 50 years, I would also prefer that people didn't hang shit on fat people. And during the few years I was lean, of course there were occasions when somebody would thoughtlessly do that very thing while talking to me, unaware that I myself was one of those contemptible fatties. And I would generally react by taking that person aside for a quiet chat about the issue which often included a discreet reveal of my (often disturbing to people with that attitude) belly flap just to let them know how personally offended I was by the crap they were spouting.

But I still maintain that there is respect due for the act of losing 50 pounds precisely because that also takes a lot of work and work is worthy of respect; that when somebody offers congratulations for that, the healthiest response is gracious acceptance rather than angry rejection; and that this is a completely separate issue from the snickering abuse heaped upon people who don't find themselves in a position to do likewise.

Certainly it's been my experience that most of the people who do actually bother to express respect for the achievement of serious weight loss are not malicious thoughtless fat-shamers.
posted by flabdablet at 10:20 AM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


flabdablet: "But surely, given that achieving any substantial weight reduction is an exercise in sustained focus and commitment in the face of considerable difficulty, the fact of having achieved such a thing is to some extent a manifestation of character?

It's not so much the being lean that makes you worthy of respect as the feat of having become lean. It's the same kind of response that makes us consider somebody who has run the Boston Marathon more awesome than somebody whose strongest evidence of physical prowess is the occasional walk around the block.

To me, this does seem like a separate issue from the wilfully ignorant assumption that being fat is in and of itself a demonstration of some kind of contemptible moral turpitude.

Of course, if you don't find you're getting more respect than is generally given to those who can maintain a lean physique without gut-wrenching effort, this line of argument completely falls apart.
"

LOLNO

I lost weight because I was sick and also because I simultaneously had long-standing medical issues treated by doctors who didn't leave their degree in the drawer the moment a fat lady walked in. Who treated the gall bladder, the back pain, that I've had since I was a teenager.

And even if I had worked at it, why is that work more respectable than say, the work of being fat in society? Because that takes it's toll too, that takes work, hard work, just to keep your head above water. Not submitting myself to the slow social suicide expected of fat women, not giving in to the cultural zeitgeist that I am unworthy, I am unloveable.

See, even when I was fat, I didn't hate myself for it*, I didn't think I was unloveable. So to have well-meaning people treat me like I've reached some special goal in their minds, simply because I lost weight, is vile. That losing weight fixed society's view of me, when in reality I'm just incognito now. The secret fat lady, as others have said.

And it cannot, in any way, be separate from the 'wilfully ignorant assumption' about the moral turpitude of fatness - if morality is to be found in thinness, in achieving thinness, then it follows that fatness is not to be found there, and is either a moral void or turpitude. It ties in with a whole lot of puritanical BS about purity and cleanliness and sacrifice. It comes in with paleo, with 'clean eating', with the way people talk about dieting in general. It becomes something completely separate from health and reality** and instead functions as an easily externalised judgement upon the 'less worthy' and those who do not 'work' hard enough.

No amount of hard work would have helped me until a surgeon removed my gallbladder. No amount of hard work helped me until a physio actually treated me (even walking caused enormous amounts of damage by the time I was under his treatment but every second fucker kept on with the 'just walk' BS and 'ignore the pain you're just not used to walking'). And the hard work I've done, and do, to be able to walk and sleep without pain, is still not the same as the work I did to be mentally healthy in a culture that thinks fat people just need to work harder. And to be rewarded, not only overtly but covertly in the ways that society discriminates against fat people, is morally repugnant to me.

But mostly? Mostly I know my daughter is going to grow up with an arse like mine, maybe boobs too, and I don't want her looking in the mirror with her grandmother's voice saying 'work hard to be smaller' in her head. I want her to know her worth is internal, and that the culturally imposed significance of her body is not a way to auger her moral worth.

*Reading a few other women's experiences, I wonder if it's due to not being exposed to or consuming visual pornography - how I look is not terribly correlated to sexual performance for me, but it is for so many women I know who are now celibate by choice.

**FUCKING COCONUT OIL AND AGAVE. Christ. Coconut oil has a shit ton of saturated fats and agave is processed to hell and back. The hypocrisy astounds me.

posted by geek anachronism at 2:23 PM on November 13, 2013 [10 favorites]


easily externalised judgement upon the 'less worthy' and those who do not 'work' hard enough

In no way am I arguing that fat people should only be respected if they manage to get lean.

Nor am I an apologist for the negative judgement almost universally heaped upon fat people. I am a fat person so I cop that shit all the time. It's repugnant, it's morally bankrupt, it's hypocritical, it's not properly thought through, it does nothing good for anybody and above all it's dull. It's complete and utter bullshit, we'd all be better off without it, and if anybody has any clue how we can actually make that happen, I'm all ears.

And I'm also in no way trying to claim that suddenly having all that social noise removed when you get lean is not or should not be disconcerting. It's one of those things like the noise of an exhaust fan - only when you switch it off do you realise just how much noise was there.

BUT

It does take me and almost every fat person I know a tremendous amount of sustained effort and discipline to become and especially to remain lean. This is true regardless of the strength of the medical motivation to so so, and having expended that effort it does feel good to have it acknowledged by people who know and love me - because those are the very people who actually have some clue about how big a job it is and can see just how extreme I need to be about the thing to get it done.

I think there is a difference between genuine respect offered for the taking on and completion of a ridiculously difficult project, and the frankly revolting tribal acceptance accorded for making it past the door bitch at the Lean Club. I think the right response to the former is gracious acknowledgement; to the latter, scorn. And I think that failing to make that distinction, and therefore responding with indiscriminate self-righteous anger to anything that sounds like praise for losing weight, is a mistake that can actually be very counter-productive once a committed get-lean plan moves into maintenance mode.

THAT SAID:

I don't want her looking in the mirror with her grandmother's voice saying 'work hard to be smaller' in her head.

Damn straight.

Anybody who puts a voice like that in my head can expect to be met with "If I found it no harder to be lean than you do, you self-righteous judgemental prick, why the fuck would I choose to lug around four fully stuffed hiking packs' worth of excess bodyfat 24/365? Fuck off and take your useless admonitions with you because you are so not helping."

The only person who has the right to tell me to work harder to get smaller is me. Which is handy, because I'm always around when I feel the need to tell some slave driving prick to fuck off, and I've both been doing that long enough that neither of me takes offence any more :-)

I want her to know her worth is internal, and that the culturally imposed significance of her body is not a way to auger her moral worth.

More heated agreement on this point. I have nothing but contempt for anybody who seriously believes that my body composition says anything at all about my innate worth as a human being. If my being fat is any sort of issue at all, it's my medical and physical issue and none of anybody else's fucking business.
posted by flabdablet at 7:14 AM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


After thinking this through overnight, it's occurred to me that some people might take offence at respect expressed for a serious weight loss achievement on the grounds of sensing an unstated assumption that other people "ought" to have lost a similar amount, have "failed" to do so, and are "unworthy" of respect on that basis: "So now I've lost weight I'm respectable, but no fat person ever is? Fuck you!"

But respect, like love, is not a zero-sum deal. If you do something I admire, and I express respect for that, the total amount of respect I have for other people and/or their own achievements is not lessened. And it seems to me that - again like love - the more respect there is in circulation, and the more freely we can express that respect, the better off we all will be. This is why it makes me sad to think about people throwing well-intentioned, well-informed and completely appropriate expressions of respect back in the faces of those who make them.

I am in the process of getting lean again. I'm doing it for me, not for anybody else. I am voluntarily taking on the suffering required - and there is considerable suffering required, make no mistake about that - because it's now become quite clear that my alternative is living in more pain and becoming less mobile and less healthy year on year on year, and this has once again reached a point of becoming personally unacceptable.

I am not motivated by socially constructed rules on beauty and body image, the arbitrariness of which I find abhorrent. I am extra especially specifically not doing this in order to suggest to anybody else that they ought to do likewise. My body, my business: your body, yours. And on that basis, I'm quite comfortable with accepting congratulations for progress from people who care about me.

No matter how much rah-rah you-go-girl I get from other people, if I get back down to the 85kg I reckon is about right for my height and build and I don't feel physically better as a result than I do right now, I am going to be pissed. But I certainly don't expect perfection. Who has that?

On the other hand, if The System Works God Dammit and I do end up feeling a whole lot healthier and more alive, which is what happened last time I did this, I also expect I'll be feeling the satisfaction that comes from worthwhile and difficult work well done. But pride? Triumph? No. Those are about self-worth, and healthy self-worth has nothing to do with body composition.
posted by flabdablet at 9:28 PM on November 14, 2013


Final comment on TFA before I STFU and kthxbi: the shapes Julia Kozerski focuses on in the "Half" series - especially the "Casings" and "Ruins" shots - are remarkably personally familiar.

While I genuinely believed that my hard work and dedication would transform me into that “perfect” person of my dreams, the reality of what has resulted is quite the opposite. My experience contradicts what the media tends to portray.

The fact that she so clearly believes that the way she now looks is in some way Wrong makes me want to punch the entire marketing industry square in the face. When I look at those portraits and read their titles I'm seeing shame and regret where neither should be called for.

To me, all that beautiful loose skin is clear and unambiguous evidence of the amount of work she's done to acquire it. I know from personal experience what that kind of work feels like, and I have nothing but admiration for the strength of character she's shown by doing that work.

But it does seem that much of her motivation for it was based on some kind of belief that she'd end up looking like a photoshopped cover girl, and that it has not in fact got her anything like the results she'd been led to expect that it would. And it's precisely because I do know how hard it is to do work of that nature, and because I can imagine feeling as if I'd done that much work and got nothing I wanted out of it, that I now feel even more hatred than usual for the industrial-grade lying that's the ultimate cause of that disappointment.
posted by flabdablet at 10:01 PM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


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