In response to my post for International No Diet Day about The Biggest Loser and how dieting doesn’t work, I got the usual rush of responses from internet trolls to concern trolls insisting (with no evidence to back it up, of course) that all fat people can – and should! – become thin if we just [insert thing we’ve all heard a million times but doesn’t actually work] – lose weight slower, use a specific diet, call dieting a “lifestyle change”, etc. along with the usual “just because it hardly ever works doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep trying” crap.
Here’s the thing. Been there. Done that. Got the rebound weight gain and larger size t-shirt. Before I did the research to understand weight and health, I made the same mistakes that these people are making now – I believed it was a matter of willpower, I believed that it had been proven that long term significant weight loss was possible, I believed that weight loss had been proven to make fat people healthier. Just like these misguided folks, I bought into this hook, line, and meal replacement shake. I tried incredibly hard to be thin. I spent a tremendous amount of my time, energy, and money trying to be thin – I did everything these people are suggesting that I do now and more. And here’s what I learned.
Fuck. That. Shit. I shudder to think of the life I could have had if I hadn’t discovered Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size. The thought of giving up the amazing life I’ve lived and am living to have instead spent all this time – and all the time in the future – chasing thinness, weight cycling, hating my body, waiting for that mystical thin body to show up so that my life could “really start,” is horrifying – what an absolute waste of my life that would have been.
I hear from readers all the time whose moms, grandmothers, aunts, and friends are on their deathbeds realizing that they never fully lived because they put their lives on hold until they were thin, and spent their lives trapped in a cycle of yo yo dieting, body hatred, and self loathing, and they died fat with so many regrets. Every single time someone tells me a story like this I think how much I hope that person is resting in peace, and I realize that could have so easily been me.
I had the exact same experience that almost everyone who tries to lose weight has – I would lose weight short term, and then no matter what I did I would gain it back long term – often gaining back more than I lost. Then, in a tribute to doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, I would try again. And I would have the same result.
So these people who tell me that I should keep trying to lose weight can take a flying leap into a vat of fat free pudding. This discussion is hypothetical to them, but it’s everything to me. Health at Every Size and Size Acceptance gave me my life back, and even if I’m wrong about the research (though I don’t think I am) and even if I have a shorter life than I would have if I had continue to pursue dieting (though I don’t think I will) I would still make the same choices. I get to live free from dieting, free from constant body hatred, free from obsessive thoughts and behaviors around food, exercise, and weight, I get to spend my time, energy, and money pursuing things that make me happy, I can approach my health and healthcare in a way that is rational and evidence-based.
I live every day with the security of knowing that I will not be on my deathbed with the horrible realization that I put my life on hold trying to get thin, and it never happened, and now it’s over. I used to be one of those people who hated my body, and dieted constantly because I didn’t know that I had other options. Now I know – I can have a healthy relationship with food and movement, I can love my body, and I never have to diet again. That’s so much better than the life I could have had.
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