No More Wasted Time

Picture courtesy of the fabulous Jodee Rose
Picture courtesy of the fabulous Jodee Rose

I got a Facebook message from a blog reader who gave me permission to share this anonymously:

My mom passed away today after a long fight with cancer.  She was dieting literally right up to the end, still putting things off until she was thin. It made me think about how my life could have been if I hadn’t found blogs like yours.  I’d love for you to share this with your readers so that maybe my mom’s passing can help someone.

I’ve completely been there.  I wasted years of my life with one simple thought:

“I need to concentrate on losing weight right now.  I’ll [do things I want to do] when I reach my goal weight.”

Days, weeks, and months and years, that I will never get back, tracking every bit of food, calculating points, eating nasty pre-packaged food, giving up sugar, wheat, dairy, meat, drinking weight loss shakes, no popcorn at the movies, no cake on my birthday, punishing my body at the gym.

Believing that everyone who tries hard enough becomes thin, that thin was something that it was important to be, and that being thin is the golden ticket to everything, believing in magical weight loss thinking – that I was just x pounds from everything I could ever want.  Believing that I should sacrifice my current life for my future thin self.

Looking back, I could easily have ended up like my reader’s Mom, still trying to lose weight on my deathbed  – I’m not criticizing her mom – she made decisions for her and I have no idea how she felt about her life.  For me, though, it’s scary and sad to think of the life I would have had if I hadn’t made the decision to stop dieting and starting living.

So, of course, I’m not trying to tell anyone how to live.  I’m just suggesting that it might be worth thinking about – whatever you’re dreaming of doing when you’ve lost x pounds, or when you’re thin, what if you just did it now?

[EDIT: I somehow managed to delete this final paragraph before this was published, added back in now.] Now, this decision won’t change the fact that because of any number of injustices many things that we would like to do are not accessible to us, and I’m not saying for a minute that the decision negates those, makes them somehow our fault, or makes them not worth fighting. All I’m saying is that, if there are things we want to do and the only thing that stands between us and them is our belief that we should wait to do them until we are thin, we have the option to do those things right now.

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37 thoughts on “No More Wasted Time

  1. Well said! I’m still catching myself putting things off until I ________. At least now it isn’t so much about loosing weight, but other little things that seem to take center stage.

  2. This reminds me so hard of Kate Harding’s seminal essay on The Fantasy of Being Thin.

    So many of us have put off trips, classes, dances, dates, karaoke nights, or attempts to get better jobs until we look thin enough?

    I gave up the fantasy years ago and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.

  3. This is really the crux of the matter — the core point of everything that you and the body acceptance community are doing.

    As Carole Shaw (of BBW Magazine) used to say:

    “The undertaker isn’t going to let you run out for one more piece of fresh cheesecake”


    “In 100 years we’ll all weigh the same”

    and of course,

    “Stop weighting and start living.”

  4. I used to put off things because I thought I needed to be thin first. Or maybe these things should be a reward for achieving my thinness goal. Then a thought came to me one day, “What if I don’t get to be thin until I’m old and gray? These things won’t be fun anymore! What if thin never comes? I might never get to do these things!” Then I realized all the things I was putting off didn’t require thinness at all. Such a silly mind trap to fall into!

    I think marketing likes to play it up. Someday we’ll be thin and then we can start truly living. So lets buy a bunch of products to get us there! I don’t want to wait to start living since I’m already alive right now. Especially if I’m waiting for something that is statistically unlikely to happen in the first place!

  5. I believe the only thing that should determine whether you do something right now, is whether you have enough money. If you don’t have money, you can’t go to the movies, get a new house, go on vacation, buy groceries.

  6. great blog as always Ragen.

    On a related topic I think I mentioned that last week I had to recieve inpatient psychiatric care after a massive anxiety attack I had (brought on by concern trolling family members sending me an article that said fat people can absolutely not be healthy).

    Well today I had a follow up with a new psychiatrist who I was referred to my cardiologist (whom I love) because he supposedly has a lot of experience dealing with the psychological trauma that comes with compounding health issues and is generally considered on of the top MDs in the world when it comes to psychoactive medicines combined with heart/diabetes/BP etc… meds (basically the cocktail I take every day). I have to admit he seemed like a nice guy and genuinely concerned with my well being. But about half way through the appointment he said that at my weight (he never weighed me, but I did write down what I thought I weighed) one of my major problems was very clearly Binge Eating Disorder. Of course I got very defensive with him because I absolutely do not overeat. I enjoy food but that is a far cry from Binge Eating. He said that for him to treat me, I absolutely must keep a food log. Of course I said that I would absolutely not and that what I ate was none of his business. His reply was that he was the MD and he would stand up in from of the CA board of psychiatrists and defend his diagnosis of binge eating greatly contributing to depression and anxiety and for him to treat me, he must see how much I’m eating. He basically said that if I disagreed I would have to find another doctor. He also added that if I wasn’t over eating then the food log would prove him wrong and he would gladly change directions of treatment.

    Along with trying some new anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds and scaling back on my current ones, I have to bring a food log next week. This is crazy doctor shaming but finding a good psychiatrist is really hard. I’m just kind of wondering what other people would do in my situation.

    1. I don’t really have any advice for you, just sympathy. Are you and the doc even on the same page as to what would comprise BED? Did he bring up some actual criteria for you that was created or vetted by somebody reputable besides himself?

      Also, why would he be so obsessed with your keeping a Food Log, anyway? I wonder about this constantly when doctors bring it up to me. (Though thankfully it’s not frequent.) When I feel a doctor is shaming me for what and how I eat, my first instinct keeping a log is to change those things to try and please the doctor. Or else to play up some of them and downplay others. So if I know the doctor has an axe to grind regarding my weight, a Food Log isn’t going to give him or her an accurate assessment of my habits/diet anyway. I don’t get it.

      1. no just my weight…and like I’ve mentioned I’ve always been fat so it’s far more likely that I have a genetic reason for being fat as opposed to overeating. His reply to that was that a food log would prove me right so there’s no reason not to do it.

        And I’m not sure what BED actually is to be honest.

        1. Oh, I’m sorry. BED is just short for Binge Eating Disorder. There’s a tag for it over at the ASDAH blog. (link) If you have the time to check out some of the articles, they might provide you with some insight when dealing with the doc. Regardless, I do wish you well.

    2. Do Dr. Asshole’s Food Log that he was having his temper tantrum over. But he’d best not accuse you of lying about it. He needs to put his money where his mouth is.

      1. Yeah, a guy like that, who assumes someone is a binge eater simply by their size, will likely not even believe him when he produces his food log. That’s such a hard situation to be in. Like he said, it’s not easy to find a good doctor, but at the same time, if he is going to act like that – WILL he be a good doctor? I hope for Simon’s sake that he will be.

        1. That’s what I suspect as well. Most unfortunately. But my opinions are colored by the fact that I had learned before I was even 20 years old to be deeply suspicious of and to question doctors. I wasn’t diagnosed and dismissed as Fat. I was diagnosed and dismissed as Young instead. I learned early not to bow and scrape at their feet like they are the Gods they think they are. Basically that doctors need to be considered guilty until they prove themselves innocent, and many years later I still hold that view, in fact my encounters with doctors in the decades since has only reinforced my mistrust of them.

          Perhaps the cardiologist could be an ally in dealing with Dr. Asshole and his preconceived notions.

          1. Ah, yes, Diagnosis Whiny Kid. The reason why, decades after I was told to suck it up and power through it, my knees still hurt every single day. Because as it turns out, you can’t power through Osgood-Schlatter disease. Got it when I was skinny, bee tee dubs. But non-athletes were to be sneered at and told to nut up until they saw the light and became athletes. Because basketball. So my gym teacher told my mother I didn’t have any team spirit and that was why I was whining about my knees, so I never saw a doctor. After a while I stopped talking about it, because nobody was listening. Can’t kneel without tearing up in pain? Whiner. Can’t run without feeling like there are ball bearings ripping through the soft tissue of your knee? Slacker. I figured it was my fault, somehow, that if I could only find the magic exercise that would make me strong=good=fit=acceptable, then my knees would stop hurting. MIddle Eastern dance helped with the pain somewhat, but I still couldn’t kneel without putting something cushiony under my knee(s) first.

            Years later, I heard a short piece on Osgood-Schlatter in a public radio program, went WHAT THE BLUE HELL, and called a doctor on my own.

            Turns out that a few weeks of no gym, daily icing, and simple physical therapy could have saved me decades of pain.

            1. For me it wasn’t Diagnosis: Whiny Kid. More like Diagnosis: Addled Teenager. And that by actual MDs! I put up with it way longer than I should because The Doctor Always Knows Best!

              1. And in my case 7 years later it turned out that all I’d needed to correct the problem was bracing and some physical therapy. Instead I suffered crippling pain for many years and have permanent damage. The bracing, PT, and 17 nerve blocks helped but could not completely fix the problem after that many years.

          2. I have been diagnosed as “attention seeker” a few times. As such the nerve damage and knee damage I’m 150% certain I’ve got, has gone untreated. Many falls down the stairs, falling under cars (in parking lots, the cars were parked), tripping on sidewalk blocks, passing out, has led to my knees to be truly terrible. I’ve tried to get orthotics, but you need a referral, and I can’t get one. I’ve been considering just getting a Dr. Scholl’s insert, and only using 1 of them (one leg shorter too).

    3. If he’s convinced you have Binge Eating Disorder based on your weight, I’m not sure a food log is going to dissuade him from that belief.

    4. If you do the food log and it doesn’t meet Dr. Asshole’s preconceived notion of what your food log “should” look like, chances are he will accuse you of lying about it. Because Dr. Asshole can’t possibly be wrong.

      It may be difficult, but I’d say, find a new doctor. Your psyche doesn’t need any more beating up that it likely already gets on a daily basis.

    5. Argh! Honestly, my knee-jerk response would be to bring in a food log that looks like this:

      MONDAY: A Partridge In a Pear Tree
      TUESDAY: Two Calling Birds and a Partridge In a Pear Tree
      WEDNESDAY: Three French Hens, Two Calling Birds…etc.

      and staple it to a self-diagnostic quiz for binge eaters, with all of the boxes checked NO, and an additional “IF I WERE DOING ANY OF THESE THINGS, DOCTOR, I THINK I WOULD HAVE NOTICED” note put on the bottom in big red letters.

      I mean, “You’re eating lots and lots!” “–No, I’m not eating lots and lots.” “Okay, I’ll make you write it down and prove that you’re eating lots and lots!” “Oh my gosh, I didn’t realize that I ate a partridge in a pear tree yesterday! I would never have noticed if you hadn’t made me write it down! Thank you, doctor!” Has this script ever actually happened in the real world?

    6. Simon, you wrote: He also added that if I wasn’t over eating then the food log would prove him wrong and he would gladly change directions of treatment.

      Think I’d want to hear more specifics about this change in treatment directions before embarking on a food log. Then I’d like an explanation as to why these alternate treatments can’t be pursued first.

      If you are handy with a camera/camera phone, suggest taking pics of each meal. Easier than writing everything out.

      1. Dear Simon, This is a really tough one. I *think* what I’d do is sort of a combination of some other replies’ suggestions. I’d keep his damn food log for a week, take it in, and when I gave to him ask forcefully to know what the other treatment options he mentioned are, and insist that those options should be pursued *now*. I’d say something like “As you can see from this food log, I am not overeating. I have always been fat, and I will not undertake calorie restriction since I know from past experience that it does not work for me. Let’s discuss treatment options that will work.” Or something like that …

        If he resists this, or is scornful, or accuses you of lying on your food log, then it’s time to find another psychiatrist. But since that is such an enormous hassle, I think i’d give him ONE chance to back down from his food log and binge eating ideas and work with you reasonably.

        Please remember that there are many people here who support you and care about you!

    7. Try a new doctor… He’s arrogant and making diagnosis of binge eating before even evaluating any food logs. I usually end up binge eating after too much attempt at dieting. If this doctor starts picking apart your daily menu to force you on a diet, it’s likely to end up causing binge eating disorder!

      Hang in there! I hope you get whatever help you need for your anxiety and depression.

    8. What a creep! psychiatrists are supposed to treat your brain, not your plate/fridge/kitchen. It amazes me that so many doctors think they are the moral judgers of society.

      I have a couple books on the history of medicine, and it seems doctors are the most satirized and flambasted groups of ppl ever. Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales” includes jibes at them.

  7. “Believing that everyone who tries hard enough becomes thin, that thin was something that it was important to be, and that being thin is the golden ticket to everything, believing in magical weight loss thinking – that I was just x pounds from everything I could ever want. Believing that I should sacrifice my current life for my future thin self.”

    I did this for years – for me, it comes down to believing that being thin is more important than being happy. It’s not. It never was.

    I dieted to the point where I was having seizures, and I still wasn’t thin. I was miserable and crabby all the time because no matter what I was depriving myself of, I still wasn’t thin.

    About 6 years ago, I said “eff it!” to all that. I’m fatter than I have ever been, but I haven’t had a seizure in 6 years, either – and I don’t waste all that time putting stuff off until I reach an unreachable goal. Sure, I still have moments of self-hate – but they’re moments, not hours, or days or weeks or years like I used to have.

    Thank you for all you do here!

    1. I too had seizures. My dad would always laugh when it happened, and ask me to “do it again”. Plus at night I was afraid my head would hit the bed board. It always felt like I was getting punched in the head when it happened. Light flashing seemed to trigger it mostly though.

      Haven’t had a problem when I started eating more.

  8. Good thoughts my way, please, folks. I was hired last year sight unseen, headhunted actually, by a corporation that has a lot of remote employees like me. I just found out today that I will meet my boss face to face in less than a month.

    1. I’m fat.

    2. I have a thing where basically being alive makes my skin break out. If I have one day per week without a painful red zit on my face, that’s a good week. I can’t wear makeup, even light office makeup. The local culture is pretty okay with weird-looking people; there’s a woman with the same thing the Elephant Man had running a boutique, for example. But he isn’t from here.

    3. This guy has had good things to say about somebody else in the business who feels free to do things like look into my grocery cart, stare at the underwear I just bought, and do one of those tch-and-grin things that signifies contemptuous amusement. In the store he is managing. While I am there as a customer. Whether this jerk doesn’t act this way when men/business equals are watching or whether my boss just doesn’t notice or does but thinks it’s nothing…I don’t know.

  9. The red-headed step-child of this is, of course, the Big Event Happening in Six Months sparking the automatic, “I’m gonna be looking so THIN when I walk into that room. I will be wearing a Size X dress made by X designer, $$$ shoes, I’ll be spray tanned, hair done, nails done, etc…because I want people to see how AMAZING I look” train of thought. Which, sadly, is STILL the first thought that pops into my head when I hear of something coming up.

    *shrug* I’m not proud of it. It’s a process like anything else. But I was about 38 when I realised that 30 years of self-flagellation had gone by, and if anything, I’d gotten heavier. And I was done with it all. Life was going on for other fat girls around me…why not me?

    And that’s when I started over.

  10. Of course it’s anecdotal but I DID get thin. And despite what “they” would have you believe, all my problems did not magically disappear with the pounds.

    1. “Naming of Parts” is a powerfully moving and profound poem which I’ve loved for decades, and I never would have thought I could like a parody of it … but I like this!

  11. Simon (and others),

    I follow a facebook page called My Stealthy Freedom. It’s run by a couple Iranian women who photo themselves without hijab, in various Iranian locations (eg. mountains, beach). Showing female hair is the worst crime in Iran, and it was the first thing done in the Revolution: to get women to cover their hair. The best way to give the gov’t the middle finger is to uncover their hair. I think this is similar to what Ragen has said about us “being fat at” others. It’s a political and religious statement.

    Recently they posted some videos:

    One of the singers in this band has been banned.

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