Been There, Done That Diet

One of the less fun experiences that I have had, being a fatty who talks about practicing Health at Every Size, is that everyone and their mama seems to feel the need to try to figure out why I’m fat.

If I’m drinking a Mountain Dew someone will suggest to me that I cut out sodas.

If I’m eating mashed potatoes someone will suggest that I cut out carbs.

If I’m strength training someone will suggest that I need to do more cardio.

If I’m doing cardio someone will suggest that I need to do more strength training.

They will insist that I need to produce a food log.

And on and on and on.  People are unable to accept the fact that people come in different sizes so they have to find a reason that I’m the size I am.  Perhaps because they want to believe that being fat could never happen to them, or they’ve bought into the theory of calories in/calories out which is predicated upon the belief that the body is as simple as a lawnmower and that base metabolic rate is simple to calculate.

When people do this, they are also making the faulty assumption that I haven’t already tried all of these things and more to lose weight.  I’ve been there, done that diet, and burned the t-shirt because, just like almost everyone who loses weight, I gained it back and struggle to get my weight stable.  Since I started Health at Every Size my weight has been stable for several years and that’s a first for me and I’m quite happy about it.

People look at me and make guesses (typically incorrect) about what I eat, how much I eat, and how much I exercise.  When I talk about it they call me a liar, as if to say that they are a better witness to my experience than I am.  They are not.

It’s nobody’s business what I do for my health and if I tell someone that I am happy with my food and exercise choices then the only thing left for them to say is “cool”.

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18 thoughts on “Been There, Done That Diet

  1. AMEN, SISTER!!! You help me embrace and love my body – something I’ve struggled with since 2nd grade, when I learned that a girl’s social power was connected to how other’s labeled her beauty. Thank you for speaking your mind and helping those of us reframe these insane thoughts about body, weight, and beauty.

  2. This is one of my pet peeves, among many. People assuming you just haven’t done “x” or “y” or “z” and that’s why you haven’t lost weight. Seriously? You don’t think I’ve done all of those and way more in all of these years?

    I typically don’t even get in these discussions anymore; I shut down the conversation. Too much of a waste of my time and far too often, turns into justifying yourself to someone who won’t believe you anyhow. So I generally don’t engage in this kind of conversation….but I have yet to find a way to not let them irritate me.

  3. IMHO, people who are constantly trying to “figure out why” are phobic. Have you ever noticed how, when a new study comes out saying that doing such-and-such causes cancer, or eating this-or-that causes cancer, people latch onto this like it was sacred dogma? These are people who have phobias about cancer. They feel that if they can find out when causes cancer, they can do or avoid doing what that is and therefore, they won’t get cancer! Getting cancer is no more under their control than their ultimate size is. But being “in control”, “taking charge” if you will, is important to some people…

    1. I do that very thing to myself as if knowing the answer maybe I could fix it. Except I’m not broken. It’s hard to have to remind myself of that every day, but the more I practice, the better I get at it.

  4. Just in the last month I’ve had the joy of people sharing their theories with me:

    “america is getting obese because of all the fast food places.”

    My midwife said … well you obviously didn’t eat well as a child.. what?

    on facebook – kids are getting fatter because they don’t walk to school anymore.


  5. I tried to have a discussion with my mom about weight last night and it was more of the same 😦 “everyone knows” that it all has to do with calories in/calories burned, “everyone knows” that being 400 pounds mean you have to use a wheel chair and can barely walk, “everyone knows” that you’re going to die earlier if you’re overweight. we also talked about a few theories, kids are eating breakfast at 7-11 everyday, a fat family means they all eat badly (nothing to do with genetics of course), “some people” just sit down and eat a whole bag of chips by themselves and that’s why they’re fat (by some I think she meant all fat people…). it was disheartening. She agreed that diets only work for a small group of people and she thought 5 percent was probably accurate but that seemed to give her hope! gah! so frustrating. The most frustrating for me is the assuming that you know a persons life story based on their size. But, she is the boss of her own underpants, I’m the boss of mine, no matter how close we might be otherwise 🙂 Still, it hurts to see someone so unhappy about their weight and so unwilling to accept that there might be other paths to happiness and health besides weight loss. anyway, great articles lately, really digging deep on this topic!

    1. I actually eat less than I did when I was 150 pounds lighter. So there goes the whole “eat less exercise more” theory. I do eat less.

  6. I really appreciate this post, and I’d like to offer a couple of thoughts. First, I think it’s worth assessing what someone’s motivation is in commenting to you, and where they may be in their own journey toward peace with their relationship with their body. Talking about food in general strikes me a little bit like talking about grief–people want to talk about it, but it’s painful and word choices can be a bit clunky. Second, don’t underestimate the extent to which some people just like to comment on the choices of others. In the last year or so I’ve discovered that I am sensitive to a certain of food groups, made some radical changes to my diet, and have miraculously “cured” a couple of chronic conditions I thought would never go away. In the process, I lost weight. I threw out my scale and declared a truce with my body–because I am so incredibly happy to feel healthy for the first time in my life. And the peanut gallery? Louder and more opinionated than ever! I think some are genuinely curious, others are uncomfortable that their own dietary world view is somehow threatened by my food choices, and a couple are under the delusion that eating healthfully is a competition. A few cannot believe that weight loss can just, you know, happen–it must be the result of direct conscious intention. All I can do is set an example–by which I mean: hold my head high, and refuse to participate in a metaphorical food fight. I told someone recently, “I just keep it simple. I eat what works.”

  7. We take it for granted that different models of cars will get different MPG. Why is it so hard to believe that different people basically do as well?

  8. It’s almost creepy how accepted it is to feel entitled to other people’s private information, particularly regarding eating habits. We get so obsessed with our own bodies, weights, and diets that we have a pressing need to know and play compare/contrast. We are all different. Just because you eat a certain way, doesn’t mean that way is right for me or will help me alter my body shape. People try to “help” but don’t realize how harmful or triggering that “help” can be.

  9. (Note: some triggering language below).

    I’m stuck in between a rock and a hard place, myself. I’m currently pregnant with my second baby (yay!), but because I’m fat, have PCOS, suffer from Hashimoto’s Disease and had gestational diabetes during my last pregnancy (which resolved after I gave birth), I’ve been forced into a program to “increase my health” because my chances of developing GD this time is much higher.

    Even though I have not been officially diagnosed (they force you to do the glucose tolerance test at 24 weeks), they’re still forcing me to do blood tests 4 times a day, 7 days a week, and I’m forced to keep a food log, which I absolutely HATE.

    I have to write down what I eat, what time, how much, etc. It makes me feel afraid to eat a lot of the time, and I know that it’s all psychological leftovers from back when I was in high school and was put on a ‘sensible’ diet by the family doctor of 1000 calories per day. I would eat one chocolate bar because I was SOOO HUNGRY and felt out of control and starve myself through dinner (the only meal of the day that was monitored by my parents), and then exercise for several hours afterwards, jogging and shooting baskets and shit talking at myself about how my body sucked and I was ugly and stuff.

    It got worse before it got better.

    College saw me going away in junior year after two years of living with my non-judgmental grandma who made delicious healthy Italian home-cooking every night. I had barely enough food for rent, so I starved myself again out of financial necessity. It was only after meeting a couple friends who had extra meals on their meal card for the dining halls that I could eat regularly, and I would binge and binge because I hadn’t eaten in so long. I was SO hungry- I felt like I was dying, but I told myself that couldn’t be right because I was still fat, that I deserved to starve until I became acceptable again. Still, I kept losing the battle and eating when access to food became available.

    So now I’m testing myself again, I’m carb restricting again because I’m terrified about getting a high blood sugar level and every morning I get a slightly high fasting level, I beat myself up a little bit more.

    My doctor has already told me she won’t “let” me gain more than 10 pounds this pregnancy, and I’m absolutely terrified that I’m going to have to give birth at the hospital this time because I don’t have the money to pay for the birthing center (which was pretty damn interventive last time) and my insurance doesn’t cover it. I have nightmares where they’re wheeling me into the hospital at 9 months shouting “It’s a FAT ONE, let’s CUT HER OPEN.” The stress and the fear is overwhelming.

    So yeah. When I was doing my intuitive eating thing and exercising, I was doing that for me. But now I feel like I’m only eating and exercising because I don’t want to get high blood sugar numbers, and I am terrified of insulin injections (super needle phobic here).

    And then there’s the consistant threat by the doctors and nutritionists that “YOU COULD KILL YOUR BABY UNLESS YOU DO WHAT WE SAY” that increases the stress and terror that I feel every time I put something in my mouth.

    I generally know how to restrict carbs, but it’s a monumental task and most of the sugar cravings that I all but had ceased experiencing are back with a vengeance (I haven’t wanted to eat Red Vines in YEARS, but have been craving them like crazy lately).

    I’m just not sure how I’m going to get through this pregnancy without having a mental break down. There are no allies in my medical team, and there are no other choices I can make in healthcare providers- I am very limited by my insurance coverage and I don’t have the money to pay out of pocket. So I’m stuck.

    And, more than ever, I’ve been wishing that I could just, for once, be NORMAL so I could finally be invisible.

      1. Thanks for the link, Ragen. I’ve read some of her stuff (I think she went by Kmom awhile back- I’ve read some of the articles on GD from her experiences as well). It really does not help that I live in CA, and am part Cherokee/Creek Native, so I’m automatically put in the high risk category even though out of all my family, only my maternal grandfather has type 2 diabetes (and he developed it in his late 50’s early 60’s).

        And it doesn’t help that my last pregnancy was GD, even though I was super strict with my dietary behaviors and exercise so I wouldn’t have to go on insulin. I just feel like I have a black mark on my head, no matter what I do, and it’s a very very tough position to be in and also keep my mental health.

        Let’s not forget the full time job that constantly talks about lay offs every year in June, my beautiful almost-3-year-old daughter who can be both adorable and infuriating, and all the stress from my husband’s horrible job at the graveyard shift at Kinkos that he does so that we don’t have to dump our child in daycare.

        And under all of it, I just feel like the message is “it’s your fault if anything goes wrong.” It is very, very discouraging, and more than a bit terrifying to be forced to put my health and my body (and the life of my unborn child) in the hands of these people!!

    1. That last sentence really resonated with me. 😦
      I’m not trying to push any kind of “program” on anyone, but I found it was less onerous keeping a food log when I use the My Plate tool at than when I try to write it down. I still like to use it to keep track of my exercise and to try and eat healthier, not to try and go on a die-t.
      I hope you will be able to feel at peace. I was so stressed out during my pregnancy with my son and I wonder if it didn’t contribute to my developing toxemia, although no-one really knows what causes toxemia.

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