The Weight I Carry
January 10, 2019 10:23 AM   Subscribe

By any reasonable standard, I have won life’s lottery. I grew up with two loving parents in a peaceful house. I’ve spent my whole career doing work that thrills me—writing for newspapers and magazines. I married the best woman I’ve ever known, Alix Felsing, and I love her more now than when my heart first tumbled for her. We’re blessed with strong families and a deep bench of friends. Our lives are full of music and laughter. I wouldn’t swap with anyone. Except on those mornings when I wake up and take a long, naked look in the mirror. —Tommy Tomlinson on “what it’s like to be too big in America
posted by chavenet (72 comments total) 48 users marked this as a favorite
 
And A conversation with Tommy Tomlinson: Getting naked in print and public: "There are things in this book that I had never told anyone – my wife, my closest friends, anyone – before I put them on the page. But I decided early on that if I was going to do this book, I had to do it right. Other overweight people – or people with any other addiction, really – would be able to sniff it out if I faked it. Even more, I’d always know."
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 10:41 AM on January 10 [4 favorites]


Previously on MetaFilter, Roxane Gay's Hunger, which includes a passage about struggling to ensure she can have adequate seating:
“Anytime I enter a room where I might be expected to sit, I am overcome by anxiety. What kinds of chairs will I find? Will they have arms? Will they be sturdy? How long will I have to sit in them?”
posted by devrim at 11:13 AM on January 10 [5 favorites]


Was right about to post this article on MF! This passage really struck me from the article:
That’s what some of you are saying right now. That’s what some of you have said the whole time you’ve been reading. That’s what some of you say—maybe not out loud, but you say it—every time you see a fat person downing fried eggs in a diner, or overstuffing a bathing suit on the beach, or staring out from one of those good-lord-what-happened-to-her? stories in the gossip magazines.

“Eat less and exercise.”

What I want you to understand, more than anything else, is that telling a fat person “Eat less and exercise” is like telling a boxer “Don’t get hit.”

You act as if there’s not an opponent.

Losing weight is a fucking rock fight. The enemies come from all sides: The deluge of marketing telling us to eat worse and eat more. The culture that has turned food into one of the last acceptable vices. Our families and friends, who want us to share in their pleasure. Our own body chemistry, dragging us back to the table out of fear that we’ll starve.
posted by devrim at 11:16 AM on January 10 [48 favorites]


The 200+ ladypounds and 460 manpounds thing is REALLY bothering me. MRSA doesn't spontaneously spring from fat.
posted by wellred at 11:26 AM on January 10 [10 favorites]


My doctor likes to say that in a third of the cases of heart disease, the first symptom is death.

Yeah, that is a scary thing to hear.
posted by k5.user at 11:31 AM on January 10 [5 favorites]


MRSA doesn't spontaneously spring from fat.
posted by wellred at 2:26 PM on January 10


Well no, but being massively overweight commonly makes people avoid going to the doctor (because doctors as a group are not the most sympathetic to weight struggles, and are prone to dismissing the complaints of obese patients), and it makes one potentially prone to skin infections because self-care hygiene becomes exponentially more difficult the heavier you get. So I can see the potential relation(s) here between her death and her weight.
posted by Hold your seahorses at 11:31 AM on January 10 [10 favorites]


No, I totally get that. I'm frustrated though by the magic 200 pound number that seems to be out there for women - it's a pretty low bar for a weight to cause shame.

I appreciate and have dealt with weight struggles, I'm not saying I don't get it. I'm just seeing a double standard and it upsets me.
posted by wellred at 11:36 AM on January 10 [15 favorites]


I interpreted it more that he did not know his sister's weight or did not want to publicize it and talk about it and thus generalized it as well north of 200lbs not as 200lbs as a shameful weight point, but as a point where she was above.
posted by BooneTheCowboyToy at 11:40 AM on January 10 [7 favorites]


I weigh 215 pounds and I wear a size 12. People have no freaking clue how women's bodies are built.


(that being said I'm also 5'11' and when I was regularly working out I was around 175-180. But still, people cannot fathom that a women would weigh 200+ pounds).
posted by raccoon409 at 11:45 AM on January 10 [57 favorites]


The problem is that when I see "200+" I see 215, 230 maybe. HALF his weight, and less than that friend's goal weight. If in fact he didn't know, or if he didn't feel it was his place to say, he should have left it out rather than have that weird implication about women. 215 isn't all that enormous.
posted by jeather at 11:46 AM on January 10 [5 favorites]


Man, this hit hard with me because this month marks 4 years since I started losing weight (270+-170) and I'm struggling at times - a good portion of the time. It's exhausting, but his line about google searches really drove it home.
"The most depressing five-word Google search I can think of—and I can think of a lot of depressing five-word Google searches—is gained all the weight back. Losing weight is not the hard part. The hard part is living with your diet for years, maybe the rest of your life."
I feel that fear in my head everyday and with every time I'm "bad" in terms of my food choices and yet food and drink are the things I still find the most comfort in - the most stress reduction. So wee.

Even with that though, I do feel better and I don't hear my heart and lungs straining anymore, so there are some victories that comfort me.
posted by drewbage1847 at 11:48 AM on January 10 [9 favorites]


There is no bar for weight to cause shame (or health issues, for that matter). Everyone is different. You can have type 2 diabetes and not be obese. You can be embarrassed enough about being "fat" to avoid going to the doctor without being obese. There are no goalposts, no gates you have to pass to suffer from body shame or the health effects of our modern diet.

My mother died at 49 from asphyxia, basically she stopped breathing in her sleep. She had type 2 diabetes and sciatica and was bullied by doctors for her weight. I don't know if she even weighed 200 pounds.
posted by domo at 11:49 AM on January 10 [16 favorites]


Specific to this person and their writing, it's confusing. On one hand, when denying the 12-step programs he says, "But I don’t feel powerless yet." Yet a few lines above that, talks about his compulsion and cravings to counter a low. I mean, if that isn't the language of addiction (?)
posted by k5.user at 11:50 AM on January 10 [4 favorites]


I weight 210lbs at 5'8 and wear size 12-14 and am a woman and didn't find the 200lbs mark a weird implication about women or myself. But, I am only me.
posted by BooneTheCowboyToy at 11:50 AM on January 10 [3 favorites]


“On top of all that, some of us fight holes in our souls that a boxcar of donuts couldn’t fill” - quoted for truth.

For lots of people Obesity is not in the body, it’s in the head.
posted by Middlemarch at 11:51 AM on January 10 [10 favorites]


It makes me sad to read about "the man inside him." I remember that time. The woman inside me was going to have so much amazing sex with attractive men. Then she arrived, and she was me, and it turned out I was still someone with social anxiety and mild PTSD. And the men were still exactly what they were. And I was still alone.

Losing weight made me more comfortable and improved my energy levels. But it didn't end the pain. It simply removed cupcakes from the list of effective analgesics.
posted by Countess Elena at 11:52 AM on January 10 [116 favorites]


As I am only me. And domo, that's terrible. I'm not saying 200 is a minimum for shame, I'm saying that fits a LOT o'people, and isn't particularly high, so why the shame coming from the brother. Or what I perceived as shame.
posted by wellred at 11:53 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]


From the article:
My compulsion to eat comes from all those places. I’m almost never hungry in the physical sense. But I’m always craving an emotional high, the kind that comes from making love, or being in the crowd for great live music, or watching the sun come up over the ocean. And I’m always wanting something to counter the low, when I’m anxious about work or arguing with family or depressed for reasons I can’t understand.
I lost somewhere around 50 pounds last year, and would like to lose some more if I can, but I'm struggling with the emotional component of eating. I want to eat when I'm bored. I want to eat when I'm sad. I want to eat when I'm stressed. During my more restrictive phases last year, it was somehow easier for me to recognize those urges -- I very clearly remember one specific afternoon when I was going through some emotional turmoil while running errands, and the urge to whip through a fast food drive through and then sit in my car jamming a burger and fries into my not even physically hungry body was almost overwhelming. And now I'm struggling with emotional/boredom eating again, made even more difficult because I'm keeping food on hand that appeals to a man I've started dating, and I'm always home because I work remotely, and it's just so easy to skip going to the gym after work (because it's so crowded with resolutionists right now) and keep tucking into the vat of hummus without even thinking about it. I know I've put weight back on in the past 6-8 weeks, although I don't know how much, and I feel a weird amount of shame about it. Which just makes the emotional eating cycle even harder to break out of.
posted by palomar at 11:57 AM on January 10 [22 favorites]


Don't wait to be happy. Don't tell yourself that "when I hit my goal weight, then I'll..." Don't keep the "skinny clothes". KonMari it and buy one in your current size. Go out. Travel places. Buy the extra fucking plane seat, but GO.
I used to tell myself I'd have fun when I was thinner, but now I think no one gets thinner until they're having fun. It's just too easy to self-medicate with food. Don't put your life on hold.
posted by domo at 12:03 PM on January 10 [37 favorites]


If you're addicted to cocaine, or heroin, or nicotine, or alcohol, you can exert a whole lot of effort and willpower and go on to live a long and happy life while never touching the offending substance again. If you're addicted to food, you don't have that option.

And if you're already dealing with depression and anxiety, and food is the only reliable source of comfort and pleasure that exists in your life, what incentive do you have to even try to cut back?
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:05 PM on January 10 [40 favorites]


Here is what stands out for me: the author (and perhaps his sister) were fat from childhood, despite their parents being basically average sized.

This clearly has everything to do with how his body processes food, and probably very little to do with what he actually eats, and yet science isn't interested in doing the hard work of trying to figure out why, if two people eat the same diet, one will lose weight and the other won't.

I struggled as a fat woman in the world for years. It has only been through personal trial and error over the past year that I have, personally, found out what foods seem to trigger my own weight loss and what I can eat without "fear" of weight gain. For myself, I've found out that blood glucose plays a role, and at very low levels ... basically if my blood glucose goes above 140 during the day, I tend to gain weight. Lots of very healthy and low calorie foods can trigger this (apples are a great example).

So, why, at this point in the history of the world, are we not able to do testing on people to say "ah, your genes make you gain weight because of this specific trigger" instead of relying on the old and tired "just eat less" canard.

I'm so angry for him, and for myself, and for us all.
posted by anastasiav at 12:09 PM on January 10 [52 favorites]


Palomar, I so, so feel your struggle. I've caught myself stress eating or bored eating so many times in the past year. Gets worse when I have a few drinks as a beer writer tends to. I wish I had a solid answer except the hardline "don't bring it in the house" tactic.

The only other thing I try and do is keep less caloric versions of things I need on hand. So many damn baby carrots and turkey jerky.

FoB - ain't that the hell of it?
posted by drewbage1847 at 12:09 PM on January 10 [5 favorites]


He needs to read Gary Taubes' books.

Folks (I count myself among them) who have an "emotional component to eating" have it because it is intensely uncomfortable not to be eating. That component is physical. It's hormonal. It's not anyone's fault and it's not a symptom of a tortured soul or a reaction to marketing. It's just how your body is predisposed.

(Thanks to medication I have been on both sides of this and I can say with authority that people with "normal" appetites -- those calibrated to not need to eat all the time -- have no way of imagining the physical reality of folks whose hormones do not work that way.)

It's a disease. Some people - not many - can medicate, operate or keto their way out of it. But "sensible" eating and exercise? Will have about as much effect on it as it would on any other serious illness.
posted by fingersandtoes at 12:13 PM on January 10 [16 favorites]


I'm only 170 lbs (I wear a size 10) and people are aghast if they find out how much I weigh.

I grew up watching my mom diet and diet and then gain back more. She hates her body and I don't want that misery for myself. I've tried diets; they turn me into someone with an eating disorder. All I can do is go to the gym.

I have to find a new doctor and I'm dreading it because they are invariably thin and give me shit about my weight. They assume I eat three cheeseburgers for breakfast and tell me to cut it out. I already don't do fast food, red meat, alcohol, and soda. I've been trying to eat less sugar. I go to the gym. But they never believe me. I can't imagine the shit they give anyone else.
posted by marfa, texas at 12:24 PM on January 10 [16 favorites]


Meta-studies have shown that 5+ years after losing weight (whether by restricting food intake in some way, or exercise, or both) 95% of people have gained weight back, and most of those have gained back all the weight they lost.

There is no way for the majority of people to lose weight and keep it off.

And you know what? That would be totally okay if the companies that made literally billions of dollars off the diet industry stopped lying to us.

Imagine a world where everyone could easily find clothing that fit them with no upcharge on larger sizes. Where the medical industry treated everyone as worthy of respect, and actually treated symptoms and conditions rather than shaming people for something that is mostly genetic. Where everyone accepted all body types as natural and normal. Where the world wasn't designed, on purpose, for smaller bodies.

I have heard and read and experienced so many people who proudly call themselves feminists and yet still recoil from the idea that fat people deserve respect (and everything else) that thin people take for granted. Because they could change it if they wanted to! (No they can't, and even if they could no one owes that to the world as a tax for existing.)

Oh, and let me ward off the BUT FAT IS UNHEALTHY!!! right here. The link is a post from June 2007. This is not news.
posted by twilightlost at 12:24 PM on January 10 [37 favorites]


I saw a quote on FB the other day that wasn't attributed to anyone so I can't give credit. But it said:

my friend said that whenever she has a bad feeling about her body/appearance, she asks herself "who profits off this emotion?" and i really love how simple and incisive that is
posted by twilightlost at 12:26 PM on January 10 [60 favorites]


I am one of the lucky ones, I guess. I weighed 300+ through my teens and into my 30s and was very lucky to find that I could keto my way down to 200lbs and I've been there for almost 20 years. I'm 6'4 so at that weight some people call me thin. times I've slipped up to 220 but when my pants-of-last-recourse get tight that's the final alarm bell that something's gotta give. And anyone who says weight loss is easy, I will fight. These days I keep it off by generally only having breakfast and lunch, and no big meals at night, and walking to do my errands.

There is NOTHING in our capitalist society that rewards being normal sized -- there are only just fewer things to make you feel like you need to spend money to feel good. Are you fat? Lose some weight! Already thin? Get pretty! Already pretty? Attract a mate / have a baby! Already paired up? You should travel! Had enough traveling? Eat out more! Get a better job! Buy a better house! Your car sucks! Your skin is the wrong colour! Your accent is inappropriate! And on and on and on.

There's literally no safe space for people to just feel accepted for who/what they are except among welcoming, non-judgemental friends. And some people don't even have that.

I remember eating to feel good. I understand.
posted by seanmpuckett at 12:28 PM on January 10 [20 favorites]


I am fat. I've done a bit of research on fat-related bias, especially in medical contexts. I've come to appreciate the science behind Health At Every Size. I've come to appreciate the assumptions I've made about my own health, my own possibilities, my own worth, stemming from my weight. I recognize a battle that I am fighting: I am fighting the battle to live well, eat well, be healthy, and love myself, and to do all of that independently of the number on the scale.

What else I've come to realize through my research is this: my feelings about my own body are just one side of the coin. The other side is this: the judgments I make of other people who are fat just like me. To hate yourself for being fat is, also, to hate anyone who is fat. I see so much of myself in his expressions of his shame, his anger, his fear and his pain... And I've seen in myself how all of this shame and pain is aimed not only inward, at myself, but outward as well, at other people just like me.

You can take the Harvard Implicit Association Test related to obesity, if you'd like. It will give you a viewpoint into what you assume about the human beings around you. I knew what result I would get, before I took it, but I still found it valuable to do so.

This article gives such a clear view of what it is like to hate yourself because you are fat. It also gives such a clear view of what it is like to love someone who is fat. But something rings a bit hollow to me, and I think it is this: he confronts his own self-hatred, but I don't see much consideration of how that self-hatred connects to an internalized fat-phobia, which is as much an outward-focused, social phenomenon as it is an inward, personal one.
posted by meese at 12:28 PM on January 10 [16 favorites]


I read Dietland last night and this today, and I feel more heard as a fat person than I ever have before. At the same time, I feel really raw and emotional. Being heard this loudly turns out to be painful.

My personal issue with sustained dieting is that if I go into a calorie deficit, I get stupid. I can feel the brain fog move in. The exhaustion. I start to have trouble finding particular words. It's very similar to having a conversation with my 87 year old father, except I can eat a sandwich and it goes away.

I sometimes wonder about the stereotypes about vapid, pretty girls. Are those girls really dumb? Or did they just decide not to eat the sandwich?
posted by jacquilynne at 12:29 PM on January 10 [26 favorites]


Yikes. That article really could've used some kind of warning. I expected an article about the social, financial, and emotional costs of being fat in a fat-hating society, and as a fat person, I was ready to read that. I didn't expect the author's unfettered self-hate, food shaming, and the extended discussion of his fantasies of being thin.

Fat lives aren't inherently tragic. What's tragic is the way that fat people are bullied into hating ourselves, the way that it's acceptable to treat fat people as less worthy or less human than others, the way that fat people are encouraged to treat themselves as less worthy and less human than others.
posted by mishafletch at 12:30 PM on January 10 [25 favorites]


I recently lost 70+ pounds. I was fat (technically obese by BMI) because I was an alcoholic. No amount of diet and exercise was going to make me lose weight. I lost weight because I'm now an alcoholic in recovery.

It's super gross that doctors take my health issues more seriously now than they did when I was a fat woman. They're the same issues I had then. They're not related to weight or alcohol use. But now they're suddenly important in a way they never were before.
posted by Ruki at 12:43 PM on January 10 [32 favorites]


I don't know what I weigh, I have given up trying to control it. I only know how my clothes fit from month to month. I lost 50 pounds in six months once and I was angry all the time from, honestly, low key starvation. Some days I still catch myself hating that I'm fat, which isn't a thing I want to do any more than starve myself again.

I hate all of this, I wish we could just be people who eat stuff and there isn't an industry built around making us do it more and being ashamed of that.
posted by wellred at 12:45 PM on January 10 [10 favorites]


One area that I think is a poorly appreciated is the sheer muscular energy exerted by large people. When he talked about having to pause to catch his breath after climbing the stairs out of the subway all I could think was "no shit". That would be the equivalent of a mid-range BMI man doing about 30-60 one legged bulgarian squats with about 270lb weights! That's herculean level exertion. Moving that kind of weight on the regular and dieting at the same has to be damn near impossible. I struggle to contain my eating on weight training days and I move nowhere near that kind of weight when I am actively adding weights trying to get as strong as I possibly can.
posted by srboisvert at 12:47 PM on January 10 [24 favorites]


I sometimes wonder about the stereotypes about vapid, pretty girls. Are those girls really dumb? Or did they just decide not to eat the sandwich?

One thing I've come to realize in the past few years is that my early ideas about girls who were ditzy or airheaded (both very '80s words, showing my age) were formed by judgmental observation of teenagers who were developing eating disorders and unhealthy exercise habits. The slow "whut?" and glassy stare of the stereotype is no longer funny. They acted lightheaded because they were.
posted by Countess Elena at 1:03 PM on January 10 [53 favorites]


What a courageous piece of writing. Writing honestly about oneself is such a vulnerable feeling in any context, and he's brave enough to face not only his own struggle and shame but also the inevitable criticism that will pour forth from readers about (a) how fat he is, (b) whether he talks about being fat in the right way, and (c) whether he expresses the right amount of personal shame, properly framed by criticism of a fat-hating culture and awareness of internalized oppression.

I love hearing the vulnerable, honest voices of people who struggle with weight, substance abuse, sexual behavior... Any topic where we as a culture try to reduce a multifaceted societal problem to a personal failing and heap on the shame so we don't have to think too hard about how it could happen to any of us. This kind of honesty is where empathy starts. I hope to see more and more of it.
posted by xylothek at 1:10 PM on January 10 [13 favorites]


I think part of what he's describing isn't actually the fantasy of being thin--it's only the fantasy of being thin because of the way the world works. There's not really an objective reason that he needs to be thin to sit in an airplane seat, except that there are no airplane seats that take into account his size. You can actually get a bicycle if you're 400lbs, but Zize's inexpensive model is $2500. Even at my weight, I cannot comfortably sit in booths at several restaurants I like. Part of why I am presently trying to find a way that I can lose weight without triggering my eating disorder again is not because I glorify thinness anymore but because I exist in this world and do not have the financial position to fly places and buy two tickets, and I don't actually really fit in an airplane seat, at 240lbs, because so much of me insists on spreading sideways.

In a world like this, I can see how even I've had a tendency to turn inwards, because the me who made slightly healthier choices, if I didn't lose a substantial amount of weight, did not seem to have incrementally better options for my life. So I feel like I come away with even more of a reminder that I need to stop letting myself do that, that it only gets worse, but also that it doesn't need to get worse. Inclusivity doesn't encourage people not to care; accommodations encourage people to stay in the world, stay as active as they can manage being, instead of relegating that to the territory of unreasonable fantasies where a lot of very ordinary things you want to do require you to lose 100+ pounds first, or win the lottery.
posted by Sequence at 1:16 PM on January 10 [20 favorites]


I'm not fat.

Some years ago I surreptitiously compared what I ate with a couple of fat people I know and was un-surprised to find out I ate more and worse than they did and exercised less.

I suspect I will be fat if I live another ten years as my weight sometimes increases, but if the adage that it's all a matter of calories in and calories burned were true I would be wearing at least XXXL by now instead of M.

I feel deep contempt for doctors who tell their patients to lose weight. I feel blinding rage for the doctor that told my friend with sleep apnea to lose weight before they would consider surgery. There is so fucking much evidence that dieting does not work it is incredible that any doctor would pander to the shaming cult and blame fat people for whatever it is causing their metabolic disability. And I have just used the word "fucking" as a modifier for the first time on mefi which, given that I am a church secretary, and compulsively answer Ask Metafilter questions is a testament to how strongly I feel about that superstition.

The only thing I have figured out that I can do is to speak up whenever anyone fat shames or repeats the dieting superstition, and when someone large gets on the bus and there is a free seat beside me to make myself as small as possible and smile faintly without making intrusive eye contact to show that they are welcome to sit beside me.
posted by Jane the Brown at 1:36 PM on January 10 [42 favorites]


"...The me who made slightly healthier choices, if I didn't lose a substantial amount of weight, did not seem to have incrementally better options for my life."

Sequence, I have never heard it put this way and it is a great insight. The world is so unaccommodating that the goal of just fitting into this world--not of being thin, but of literally fitting in to the available spaces--can be so far off as to feel unachievable. We have a world built for only a fraction of the people who actually live in it. I've seen a similar thing happen to an elderly woman with mild dementia I know; she will no longer participate in some activities she enjoys because the slight accommodations she would need to still do them are either unavailable or she feels ashamed to ask for them (when they ought to just fucking be available because old people like to do stuff, too), so she's becoming more and more isolated and I think that she is declining more rapidly cognitively as a result.
posted by xylothek at 1:44 PM on January 10 [14 favorites]


The world is so unaccommodating that the goal of just fitting into this world--not of being thin, but of literally fitting in to the available spaces--can be so far off as to feel unachievable.

That is 100% true in nearly every aspect of the (western (I guess I haven't visited the whole))world, and it makes no sense! We spend tons of time talking diversity, talking celebrating difference, but every profession only designs for their perfect consumer at the full neglect of everyone else. It's not even about saving money, because you can't tell me that designing for walking/biking is less expensive than designing for driving cars (for example). It doesn't even really matter in what aspect you are different, but if you are, god help you, because conformity is literally unachievable.
posted by The_Vegetables at 2:47 PM on January 10


That was a heartbreaking essay. Stirs up lots of thoughts and feelings, as I've been fat since childhood and was very, very fat during most of my adulthood. Keto turned things around for me in a significant way.

My work has me keep an eye on some of the cutting edges of biomedical research, and I can't help but try to make sense of things from both the personal and professional perspectives.

Here's my bet on how the story will end up. Advances in analytical tools and computing have let science study more people in more depth than ever before, and it's quite clear that there is tremendous individual variation in metabolic response, just like there's individual variation in any other aspect of human biology. The days of one-size-fits-all nutritional advice is going to fall by the wayside because it just does not hold up on close examination . Eventually clinically validated markers will give guidance about what and how to eat to avoid obesity, but it'll be a long time in coming. Eventually people will come to realize that calories are an accounting construct, not irrelevant to weight loss or gain but just beside the point: bodies don't respond to calories, they respond to concentrations of chemicals. The first law of thermodynamics will always hold true, but the arrow of causality works differently than we've been led to think. Mother Nature always bats last.
posted by Sublimity at 2:51 PM on January 10 [13 favorites]


“overweight” over what weight?
posted by aedison at 3:15 PM on January 10 [3 favorites]


For years, she dealt with sores on her legs caused by the swelling. They leaked fluid and wouldn’t heal. In late December, one of the sores got infected. I'm guessing this is related to poor circulation.

450 lbs. and unable to walk, use stairs, etc., is not healthy. He doesn't mention his blood sugar, but he does talk about having a sugary diet. He has bad circulation and high blood pressure. I don't want to judge him for his weight; he clearly spends every second judging himself. Anybody at any weight with healthy blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, who can exercise, great. His fear of death is palpable and getting moving and eating better are the way for him to live longer. I hope he's able to get healthier.

I have more and more concerns about the crap in our food, endocrine disruptors, hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, plastic residues, preservatives, stuff they pout in for mouth feel it color or whatever. The money's in selling diet pills and supplements, not in researching additives.
posted by theora55 at 3:29 PM on January 10 [11 favorites]


Eventually clinically validated markers will give guidance about what and how to eat to avoid obesity

Being fat is just another body type. As a society we need to get rid of the discrimination around being fat, not try to fit every body into the same cookie cutter shape.
posted by twilightlost at 4:03 PM on January 10 [6 favorites]


Fat is a handy target for multi-directional loathing. It is one of many. Where I live I see a lot of vibrancy, people who dress up get out, of every size, shape, age, ethnicity, orientation, color, or combination of these descriptors. There is a lot of life in this town. Today is the one event that brings weight loss home. I brought in the 42 # bag of cat litter. It weighs less than I have lost. It kills me to carry it, I have to remind myself to breathe. Last year I couldn't carry it, I had to use my rolling office chair. I was carrying that around 24/7. I feel great I won't need a seat belt extender the next time I fly. I can walk a mile uphill, with no shortness of breath. I am going back to work. I didn't feel awful about my size, I just felt awful and debilitated, and stilled. Now I dream, not the rosiest dreams, but lenghty, full on serpentine dreams, not dreams to awaken me because I am struggling to breathe. Now I am not in a hopeless fugue state, I feel like getting out, talking to people, and going back to work. I do listen better to myself, my players. I am trying to learn what metabolic process causes what impulse, I understand the emotional components. Oh and water, rather than most other liquids, at least 4 /16 oz glasses a day. I just came to the realization my weight was killing me. Anyone who decides to change something about themselves benefits from operating out of self respect. It helps to plan, and have contingencies, and a good humor about things, like laughing when your now too loose pants fall off going in the front door, letting them drop, and throwing them away. It is OK to take the steps to change.
posted by Oyéah at 5:19 PM on January 10 [14 favorites]


I feel this essay deep in my bones. I have actually done what he is attempting to do. I dropped about a hundred pounds of weight. But doing it was brutal. I had to spend two hours at the gym every day doing hard lifting and cardio. I had to eat a starvation-level diet (for me) of about 1200 calories. I got about 5-6 cups of food a day, which really isn’t that much and had to be rigorously measured and controlled. And even then, the weight didn’t melt away so much as slowly disappear while screaming.

So for me it’s doable, but it’s no way to live. Spending my days with a headache and being a snappy asshole from hunger. Always being tired because I am working out like an athlete and eating nothing to force my body to burn its fat stores. Having no free time because I’m grinding it out in the gym again. So now all that weight is back and probably more. But I don’t have time for that regimen and I like going out to restaurants and not worrying not will blow my weight loss for the week.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 6:32 AM on January 11 [3 favorites]


I lost about 140 pounds between fall 2017 and spring 2018 via gastric sleeve surgery and I have promised myself to always be around to talk to anyone here who wanted to ask about it. But I also lost my job about three days ago and I just can't do a proper "Here's my story" comment right now. Anyone who'd like can MeMail me though. I'm around.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:33 AM on January 11 [12 favorites]



I have generally been unhappy with my weight (and probably medically overweight) since I was in elementary school, except for a few short periods where I was at a "healthy" weight through very unhealthy means. Most of my adult life, I've been moderately overweight (~220 - 240, 6'), but active -- for example, biking 12 miles each day to and from work, surfing on the weekends. I found this kind of puzzling -- I ate relatively healthy -- a largely vegetarian diet, with minimally processed foods. I assumed it was simply my body -- why wouldn't it be, after all, I'd been this weight most of my life? I hoped for a magic bullet -- during a checkup, pushed a doctor to test for thyroid disorders (since I had heard that could cause inexplicable weight gain). In the end, I learned to accept the weight I was at and assumed that nothing could be done.

A few years ago, I went clothes shopping and found I could no longer even fit into XL shirts. My mother had just passed -- she too had struggled with weight throughout her life, and this was a likely contributor to her death. At the time, my son hadn't yet turned one, and I knew he would never get to remember his grandma (my father having already passed more than a decade ago, he would never know either of my parents). I, too, met few of my grandparents -- my mother's had died when she was a teenager, and my grandmother passed before I was old enough to remember her (our grandfather eventually came to live with us, but was not pleased to have children about). These events together -- one tragic, one comparatively banal (and almost offensively so) -- pushed me towards thinking about if there was anything to be done. I probably tapped something like "site:reddit.com weight loss" into the address bar, and I saw a few posts from people who claimed to have lost considerable rate on the CICO diet. Of course, the punchline was that the CICO diet was "Calories In, Calories Out" -- i.e., tracking your calories and eating fewer than your weight maintenance level. I was disappointed, because I had assumed that my calorie intake was fine -- after all, I ate healthy, I was active. Regardless, I decided to try it anyways.

The very first day was eye-opening. I discovered that I probably, on average, ate at least 1000 calories more than my body needed. Maybe 2000 some days. I was floored -- I didn't feel like I ate that much more than other folks I saw around me -- how was I consuming so many more calories than I was supposed to? The reddit forum for weight loss recommended just eating what you normally did for the first week and simply tracking to set a baseline, but the very next day I was determined to get under the number I needed to lose about a pound a week.

It felt hard. I had headaches and felt hungry all the time. I was consistently surprised by how many foods I had thought were "healthy", meaning that I could consume them freely, were actually quite calorically dense. I felt silly for being a grown up who had made those assumptions. But I stuck with it. I tracked my calories in the LoseIt app. I tracked my bike commutes in Strava. They told me how much food I could still eat. I didn't try to be precise about how much I was eating, just ballpark it on the high side and then try to stay well below my calorie budget. At the end of the first week, I was a pound lighter. I thought, well, I can definitely do this for another week. By the second week, the headaches had already gone away. I began to discover foods that I *could* eat more freely: many fruits, for example, are not calorically dense. At the end of the second week, I had lost a few pounds more. "OK", I thought, "it'd be cool to lose 10 pounds". To put a little more room in my calorie budget I decided I would make a quick morning run (a 15 min, 1.5 mile sprint) part of my daily routine.

In about 2 months, I had lost the 10 pounds -- by this time, of course, I was determined to hit around 180 -- the lightest I had been in my adult life. I had a pretty consistent routine now -- weigh in every morning before my run (using an old Wii with Wii Fit running on it), track that in the "Happy Scale" app to get a running average of my weight so it was easier to see the progress (something I had started doing when I hit a bit of a 'plateau') and then once a week, on Mondays, update my weight in the Strava and LoseIt apps. The Wii had told me that the weight I *should* be was 166, so I mentally updated my goal, but told myself I could stop if I wanted to at 180. I had already begun to get comfortable with the idea that maintaining weight loss meant I would simply have to change the way I ate forever. This was made obvious by the fact that as I entered my new lower weight into the LoseIt app, my calorie budget would get smaller (you need overall fewer and fewer calories to continue to lose weight as you get thinner). Strava too, rewarded me with fewer and fewer calories for each run and bike ride my weight dropped.

Four or five months in, I knew I could get there. And I knew, even more comfortingly, that I had the tools to keep lose weight in the future if I needed too. In the past, when I had lost weight, it seemed like magic -- I didn't understand it. Was I more active? Was I eating less? Was it this Atkins thing? I lived in fear of gaining it back, and I eventually would. Now, I knew -- if I wanted to lose weight, I had to figure out how much I was eating and eat less, or move more.

This is also when the awkward interactions with others started happening -- I think folks are mostly great about ignoring personal changes, but with weight loss, they assume you want to celebrate with them, and so I got a lot of "You look great!" or "Wow, you've lost a lot of weight!". These often don't feel good, because the implication is, of course: you used to not look great. There was also the occasional "I never ask this, but you're OK, right? I just wanted to make sure you're not sick". I figured no matter how the comments made me feel, I should feel privileged that I was in a place where I could lose the weight, and smiled happily and said "Thanks", or reassured folks that I was OK.

About 8 months later, I hit the 166 that the Wii told me I should be at. I didn't stop tracking calories and avoided going over my "maintenance" budget. I wanted to "run through the finish". A few months after that, having maintained my weight, I stopped tracking calories, but never stopped weighing myself. A year later, weighing myself in the morning is still part of my routine. A year later, I am still in spitting distance of my goal weight (170, right now, mostly because the holidays interrupted my ability to get the kind of regular exercise I need to maintain my weight, so I'm making a conscious effort to push my eating habits towards fewer calories, but not tracking). I know that there is still a long road ahead, given the stories I hear about folks gaining all the weight back, so I think it'd be foolish to declare victory, and perhaps I will never get to say "Mission Accomplished", but each day, I think I can say "I'm happy about my weight, and I feel healthy".

I *do* feel healthier, too. My ability at various sports that I participate in has improved tremendously. I feel like I have more energy. I feel like I'm in the best shape of my life (probably because I am).

I want to share this story because often in in posts talking about weight loss in Metafilter, the sentiment "people say just 'eat less', but that doesn't work" is expressed. I read this and took that sentiment to heart -- I was active! I was biking an hour a day, and getting exercise on the weekends! It must certainly be some kind of genetic thing -- after all, my mother was overweight.

I do imagine that it is harder for someone with my genetic makeup to maintain a healthy weight than others. These days I cycle nearly 30 miles each day. That's 2 hours on the bike. I eat about how I did before -- mostly healthy, a lot of salads, maybe the occasional binge on pizza or sweet treats, but not unlike other people I see who are much more sedentary. Maybe it's not fair that I have to put in that much more work.

On that note, I think it's only fair to take a moment and recognize that I'm privileged in being able to spend this time around my personal health. I am *able* to spend that much time on the bike. For some people this is simply not an option. I can *buy* healthy food (good fruit is not cheap), and my work has healthy snacks for me to eat. I hope folks don't take this story as me suggesting that being overweight is a failing, or folks shouldn't or can't be happy with the circumstances they find themselves in.

That said, if your weight is making you unhappy, and you have the desire to address that, I would suggest just *trying* to track your food intake for one week instead of assuming that your weight is something you cannot control. I believe that for some people, that might be true, but perhaps it's worth finding out, as you might be surprised -- I certainly was.

A good place to start is the /r/loseit wiki. (I personally prefer the "LoseIt" app to MyFitnessPal).
posted by fishfucker at 7:11 AM on January 11 [21 favorites]


I think it's only fair to take a moment and recognize that I'm privileged in being able to spend this time around my personal health.

I'm glad you added this caveat, but I wish you'd said it to yourself before posting and then just stopped right there. Or that you'd read the thread more closely and realized how little need there is to crow "it's so simple! you just have to do what I did!" in a thread like this.
posted by palomar at 7:52 AM on January 11 [16 favorites]


Most people could lose the weight with a combo of permanently changing their diet and 2 hours of exercise a day. Both of those together are difficult to impossible for most people to maintain. That's why the weight comes back. People have kids, jobs, chores and cleaning to do. I lose weight if I bike to work, run three times a week, and restrict sugar and carbs. If I do two of these things, there is no change outside of feeling a bit better. If I only do one, I can still gain weight. It's doing all of these forever that is not sustainable. I keep thinking if I just do all three long enough to get to my goal weight, I can do two to maintain. But that never happens. The house is a mess, I am constantly doing laundry, I am irritable and have "low carb fog". I tend to do it just long enough to complete my goal, then backslide. I don't think I am any different from the next person. If we all had breathing room in our lives, we could get things done. I think the obesity epidemic stems from a lack of resources and leisure time. The combo of frozen wages and the always on-call mentality are killing us.
posted by domo at 7:58 AM on January 11 [12 favorites]


It was telling to me that in the study of the Biggest Loser alumni, the only people who kept the weight off had turned to occupations in which exercise is a large part of their job.
posted by domo at 8:00 AM on January 11 [4 favorites]


Domo, isn't also it a matter of our society using food as a substitute for leisure, entertainment and rewards? Isn't there a well funded industry responsible for making sure every occasion has a socially acceptable accompanying tasty snack that's not very filling but easy and fun to consume? There's money to be made in popularizing a lifestyle where people are always consuming calories, yet also hungry enough for three squares a day.

Additionally, clothes are getting bigger alongside the population and women's sizes are more of a cultural signifier rather than an objective measurement of a person. Part of my problem was that I was waiting until I had to go to a specialty section of the store to consider myself "fat", that time never came, and my doctor and joints had to tell me I'd reached obesity before I resolved to do something about it. I don't think humanity has changed so significantly in the last 40 years that the citizens of about 5 of the world's countries are naturally meant to be about 50 lbs. larger than they used to be.
posted by Selena777 at 8:51 AM on January 11 [1 favorite]


That said, if your weight is making you unhappy, and you have the desire to address that, I would suggest just *trying* to track your food intake for one week instead of assuming that your weight is something you cannot control.

This is brilliant! No other fat person has ever tried trying this before! Thanks for the insight!
posted by jacquilynne at 8:59 AM on January 11 [24 favorites]


How has this turned into, yet again, another thread of "well if you just do what I did you won't be fat anymore"? Jesus.

The science is very clear that when you "diet," your body will do everything it possibly can to keep you from losing weight. Because it doesn't want you to die. It's got numerous failsafes to ensure you don't lose that weight, because it thinks that any day now there could be a famine and you could need those calories. Dieting (and eating disorders, and weight loss surgery) can permanently change your metabolism as well. Repeated dieting has been shown to make it even harder to lose weight.

The last thing anyone needs is to be told to count calories and how very simple it all is. Because it's not. At all.
posted by fiercecupcake at 9:17 AM on January 11 [16 favorites]


It's just one more way to make fatness a moral failing: "You could just do this thing I did, why haven't you?"

Food is not a moral issue. Fat is not a moral issue.
posted by fiercecupcake at 9:19 AM on January 11 [10 favorites]


Selena777, food as substitute for leisure is a huge part of the problem. If we had the leisure, people wouldn't self-medicate their stress and lack of time with crappy mass-produced food. People haven't changed, but our circumstances sure have. It's happening to entire populations. It isn't something you can fight individually. Wake up and realize that shame and "specialty sections" aren't going to fix a systemic problem with our modern lifestyle.

If we didn't have a fast-food industry, people would still find calorie-dense mood-lifting alternatives elsewhere, because when you have no money and no time, that's the kind of food you choose.
posted by domo at 9:27 AM on January 11


I don't think humanity has changed so significantly in the last 40 years that the citizens of about 5 of the world's countries are naturally meant to be about 50 lbs. larger than they used to be.

And I really, sincerely doubt that the availability of larger clothing sizes contributed AT ALL. I remember crying every single year when back to school time came, because there were no clothes to fit me in stores that didn't make me look like a frumpy post-menopausal housewife instead of a teenage girl, but perhaps shockingly, the lack of clothing available in cute styles like my peers wore didn't magically make my body smaller. Did I TRY to get smaller? Oh fuck yes of course I did, don't be ridiculous, I'm a woman in America and I've been told since I was a tiny child that I'm worthless unless I'm thin, I'm completely unlovable and unfuckable at any size over 10, and the size of my body signals to observers that I'm slovenly, lazy, stupid, and lack any moral fibre whatsoever. But I didn't get smaller. And then when retailers realized that bodies come in a larger range of sizes than had been previously offered in mainstream settings (instead of just continuing to relegate us disgusting fat people to catalog shopping* so no one would ever have to see us and be sickened by our existence), I wept for joy. Did I take the sudden availability of cute clothes in larger sizes to mean that I could swell to epic proportions unfettered by shame? HELL NO! This is still America, where we work overtime to make sure that fat people hate themselves constantly, OF COURSE I didn't think that. I know it's still my responsibility to feel shame about my very existence, to hate myself for not being in single digit sizes, to never stop apologizing for the way I am, and to never ever stop working to get out of the "specialty" clothing section.

I guess good for you that you somehow escaped knowing that you were fat, though. Sorry the clothing industry failed you by providing garments for other human beings to wear.
posted by palomar at 9:37 AM on January 11 [16 favorites]


(*of course, many retailers still keep their plus size offerings out of the retail stores, so we have to shop online instead. so... still not human enough to actually walk in a store and find a garment that fits, AND we still get to hear about how horrible it is that anyone thinks clothing our bodies is anything but a moral failure. Lovely.)
posted by palomar at 9:45 AM on January 11 [10 favorites]


As fiercecupcake notes, even when you succeed your metabolism is permanently lowered. To keep it off you have to run the Red Queen's race, forever. The more you lose, the faster you have to run just to keep in the same place.

It is doable, and people who do it are lauded, but don't act like it's not a lot of extra work and time and effort that most people just do not have. Most of us are one paycheck away from choosing between housing and food, for fuck's sake.
posted by domo at 9:50 AM on January 11 [8 favorites]


"Wake up and realize that shame and "specialty sections" aren't going to fix a systemic problem with our modern lifestyle."

Why doesn't every society with a modern lifestyle have this systemic problem, though? Why are the US and Mexico at the apex?
posted by Selena777 at 9:57 AM on January 11 [1 favorite]


Why doesn't every society with a modern lifestyle have this systemic problem, though? Why are the US and Mexico at the apex?

I used Google to find out why people in the US and Mexico are obese. "Because larger clothing sizes are available" was absolutely NOWHERE in the results. Turns out it's poverty plus cheap processed foods. Quelle surprise.
posted by palomar at 10:09 AM on January 11 [12 favorites]


How has this turned into, yet again, another thread of "well if you just do what I did you won't be fat anymore"? Jesus.

Because we hate the fat as much as we hate the poor. Both groups remind us that we too could be fat or poor, if the conditions were right. Which is why we have to deny that exterior conditions have anything to do with being fat or poor and instead blame people suffering from obesity and poverty for their alleged self-deficits.

Anyways, good piece, thanks for posting. Re: Taubes and the carbs are killing us theory: The Struggles of a $40 Million Nutrition Science Crusade. I wish low carb worked for me, but I also become noticeably slower mentally when going low carb (defined as below 50% of my diet) and I experience severe drops in my sleep quality when going beneath 2000 calories a day (going from 7-8 hours a night of restful sleep, to around 5 hours of light sleep, with less deep and REM sleep, and where my sleep ends long before I want it to (e.g., I wake up around 5:30, after going to bed at midnight)). I do weigh my food and track my calories religiously and limit eating out to once a month. Scale weigh-ins are daily.

Re: exercise quantity and intensity: Why exercise alone won’t save us . HIIT has never worked for me (makes me ravenous), but LISS (low intensity sustained state) exercise, like walking, does. The only problem is that I need to do 3-4 hours a day of consistent walking to maintain my weight (about 25k steps a day). It's really difficult to work that into a job where I'm stuck behind a desk for 10-12 hours a day. I'd pay for my own walking desk, but my employer won't allow me to install it in their offices.

There is NOTHING in our capitalist society that rewards being normal sized. Speaking as a woman, I don't find this is true. I went from about 216 to 135 and not only is it far easier and cheaper to buy clothes that fit and don't break the bank (I can buy a professional looking work wardrobe from Costco for less than 100 dollars), but more importantly, people "see" me in a way they didn't when I was heavier. People that I pay to provide me services (doctors, dentists, mechanics, etc.) are much less dismissive and more responsive to my requests and my work life is almost a 180 in terms of being seen and rewarded for my work with raises and promotions. The work of being and staying thinner is a second job for me in terms of the time/mental energy that I have to spend on meal planning and calorie tracking and the time I need to spend on exercise (which is mandatory for me in a way that it doesn't seem to be for my relatives and friends who have never been overweight). But the costs of being "overweight," both personally and professionally, were so high for me (as I suspect they are for most women) that I know I can never afford to relax about my weight.
posted by longdaysjourney at 10:15 AM on January 11 [23 favorites]


Former disordered eater and yo-yo dieter here. Still slowwwly -- painstakingly slowwwly -- rebuilding eating and exercise habits that are health-promoting and sustainable. It's insane how much our bodies - especially women's bodies - are taken as signs of our morality, self-control and virtue. "You're shrinking! Great job!" a neighbor yelled to me last week as I walked down the street. I have had maybe five conversations total with this neighbor. I don't even know his name. Yet he felt that it was a normal -- even a positive -- thing to do to tell me that he's been monitoring my weight, and approves that I am now taking up a smaller amount of physical space. And it's delivered in a way that I am the asshole if I respond negatively! So fucked up.

In case it helps anyone else in the same boat, here's a link to the Love, Food podcast by RD Julie Dillon. She's a dietitian who spreads a lot of wisdom about diet culture and how unscientific, harmful (and ultimately, fattening!!!) it is. She uses the term "Weight Cycling" a lot which means the constant gain and loss of weight from dieting.

Excerpt from her last newsletter, subject line "Weight loss is a seductive fantasy...here's why":

"A 2007 study reviewed outcomes from long-term calorie controlled diet plans to determine if they were a successful way to treat "obesity." The researchers found 1/3 to 2/3 of dieters regained more weight than was lost. Further, dieters did not experience any significant health improvements (Mann et al 2007 and Bacon and Aphamor 2011).

Several twin studies have considered whether genetics has a part in weight gain from dieting. A 2012 twin study (K H Pietiläinen, S E Saarni, J Kaprio and A Rissanen 2012), found a dieting twin to be 2 to 3 times more likely to be overweight than his non-dieting twin. Even more, they found the more one dieted they more they weighed!

...

Dr. Deb Burgard, eating disorder psychologist, has said, “Instead of the weight loss industry we need to call it the Weigh Cycling Industry.”

Weight cycling is another term for yo-yo dieting. Have you tried a diet, lost weight, and then regained in all back? Did you regain more? After a break, did you start another diet then lose weight? But, after a period of time, did you notice the weight crept back on?

If you identify with this process you have weight cycled. Your weight going up then down then up again leads to poorer health. Research has found weight cycling to promote high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high insulin levels, and high blood sugar. Dieting has been associated with food obsessing, binge eating, and eating outside of hunger (Haines & Neumark-Sztainer 2006).

Instead of helping you keep weight off, improve your health, and help you feel better about yourself dieting contributes to your binge eating and weight gain.

posted by rogerroger at 10:58 AM on January 11 [9 favorites]


And yeah, echoing longdaysjourney re: stress. When I have been larger sized, there have been times when I needed an article of clothing and could not get it quickly because my size was not carried in stores near me. I had to order it, wait for it to be mailed to me, try it on and then potentially deal with the hassle of returning it/waiting for a refund. It is an added stressor if you can not quickly find clothing that you need to operate in our society for job interviews, social events, and more. Especially women whose appearance and clothing is more intensely scrutinized. I at present wear a size that is typically carried in stores (not all stores) and it is much faster to physically go into a store, try on a bunch of jeans and leave in a pair that fits.
posted by rogerroger at 11:01 AM on January 11 [5 favorites]


There is NOTHING in our capitalist society that rewards being normal sized.

I would call this another area potentially where we need to think in intersectional ways. It's not that this isn't rewarded; it's that even once you reach that point, your life is still probably going to be full of bullshit for a hundred other reasons, absolutely. But if you think there's nothing that rewards being normal sized, just think about the airplane seats. It literally costs normal-sized people half as much for a cost that is a huge part of any long-distance travel. Is that suddenly going to render your life peachy? Definitely not. But when you get even just barely outside the range of being able to fly comfortably, suddenly you're not traveling. Your world is smaller.

It isn't equivalent to winning the lottery or anything, but it's like saying the world isn't easier for white people just because lots of white people still have lots of problems. Nobody's denying that there are other problems! This particular one has some really huge and obvious places where people in one group have access to things we consider big parts of the human experience that the other doesn't.
posted by Sequence at 12:31 PM on January 11 [10 favorites]


Selena777, every society with a modern lifestyle is having this problem. We're having it worse because we started it.
It turns out that desk work + cars + convenience food + no leisure time = people gaining weight. We've now exported that formula across the globe. Even "skinny" countries like France, Japan, and South Korea have a higher percentage of obese people every year.

It's a societal problem, we need societal solutions to fix it in the long run. If you were to move to a place where everyone walks or bikes instead of driving, and has the money and time to cook at home, you would probably lose weight. Are you a different person just because you moved? No, of course not. You just moved to a more humane place.

I'm not saying don't try to lose weight. I'm saying it's hard, our society isn't built for it (in fact, it profits off our failures), and it gets harder every time you fail due to the metabolism dampening affects of weight cycling. So don't judge people, especially when you aren't doing a damn thing to make it easier for them.
posted by domo at 1:15 PM on January 11 [9 favorites]


I feel like I have to justify my +1 of fishfucker's comment, but I've had people basically lecture me for owning a scale and weighing myself daily. I don't freak out over supposedly normal fluctuations, but on my frame, I can gain or lose 20 lbs. over a few months without really noticing, so I do need the scale to keep track. I feel like I'm supposed to be deprived of data on my own body, denied the use of simple technology that's been around forever, AND be effortlessly thin and healthy.

Someone on Twitter was saying that the new Nike ads featuring plus-sized models were getting vicious comments because of course, and pointed out that fat people are told to "just exercise," but when they do exercise or just get photographed in workout clothes, they get harassed and insulted. That made me realize how often we're told to *just* lose the weight but also to *just give up* immediately. Once you've gained the weight, there's no support system for losing it, just a long shame dance.
posted by ziggly at 3:39 PM on January 11 [11 favorites]


I'm glad you added this caveat, but I wish you'd said it to yourself before posting and then just stopped right there. Or that you'd read the thread more closely and realized how little need there is to crow "it's so simple! you just have to do what I did!" in a thread like this.

The quote that you made up ("it's so simple...") does not appear in the comment you referenced, nor any other comment in this thread. And Fishfucker's comment hardly sounds like "crowing" to me.

I thought the linked article was very good, if painful to read. The author recognizes that he has a pathology that will likely eventually shorten his life, and which has apparently made him unhappy much of the time because he can't do things that a normal-sized person can do. But he's trying to make a change to improve his life. I've known people who have been successful at what he's trying to do.

What's the point of only allowing comments that wallow in misery about how bad things are, how it's impossible to change, how the world works against you, etc. etc.

Is someone's lived experience (as in Fishfucker's comment) not relevant?
posted by JeffL at 2:15 PM on January 12 [5 favorites]


If he hadn't felt the need to suggest people just try food tracking to see if it works -- as if it was something most fast people haven't already tried a dozen times -- people probably would have bypassed it. But lived experience coupled with condescending advice is still condescending advice.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:24 PM on January 12 [4 favorites]


Fishfucker's comment describes large scale weight loss involving a lifestyle overhaul that includes cycling 30 miles A DAY, yet suggests that the magic bullet for fatties is just tracking food intake for a week. That's the disconnect that's making people chafe.

But for that bizarre suggestion, their comment mirrors everyone else's experience here: large scale weight loss requires constant attention, artificially inflated exercise levels, and grinding physical discomfort. A small minority of people can do it despite those roadblocks, but never easily.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:26 PM on January 12 [6 favorites]


I like to say “all it took was a complete change in diet and lifestyle”.
posted by bq at 11:03 PM on January 12 [1 favorite]


I sometimes wonder about the stereotypes about vapid, pretty girls. Are those girls really dumb? Or did they just decide not to eat the sandwich?

No, and no. jesus fucking christ.

I don't know why you decided to do a thought experiment about misogynistic stereotypes as if they must be true, and the only question is why they're true. but I'm completely sure the thought process that made it seem reasonable to you to write that had nothing to do with whether or not you ate a sandwich, or how pretty you are or aren't.
posted by queenofbithynia at 8:42 PM on January 14 [2 favorites]


I wish I could make everyone in my life read this.
posted by penduluum at 10:54 AM on January 16


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