The Life I Could Have Had – International No Diet Day

Talking NonsenseIn 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.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.  Click here for details

Book and Dance Class Sale!  I’m on a journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

I’m training for an IRONMAN! You can follow my journey at

If you are uncomfortable with my offering things for sale on this site, you are invited to check out this post.

25 thoughts on “The Life I Could Have Had – International No Diet Day

  1. And why is so important to THEM about what YOU do? What do they get out of you losing weight or not losing weight? It’s kind of the same mentality of people who insist others not get abortions simply because THEY don’t believe in it.

    1. I think this is similar to people trying to convert you to their religion. They badger, harass and abuse until you see the wonderful religion. Maybe they get points for heaven based on how many converts they made? But then the harassing would seem to negate that.

  2. I so agree! I’ve spent 50 years of my life (I’m now 70) putting off things I would have liked to do or wear until ‘I lose some weight’.
    If I had known about the science behind the difficulties of losing weight and keeping it off and just accepted myself as I was at 160 instead of trying countless times to get thinner maybe I would not now weigh 300. Each time I tried, the deprivation and resulting rebound caused me to gain more, sad to say.
    Well, no more!
    I will do what I want, wear what I want, and eat what I want and enjoy every minute of it!

    1. Exactly!!! I’m 65 and I weighed 160 on my wedding day. Now I weigh just over 300.

    2. Weaverpat — I had to check The name on this comment to make sure I hadn’t written it! I also have been dieting 50 years. I am 62 now. My numbers are 165/250 but it’s the same story. Kind of freaky. So glad I found Ragen and this community. Never thought I would be happy until I was thin. Now I am. Thanks for sharing your story!!

      1. I guess for those of us who have been fighting this battle for decades, it just shows that it’s never too late. We can still fight back, we can still accept ourselves as we are and we can still speak out. I credit Ragen and all of the fat activists for giving me the courage to do so.

  3. I extra hate the people who think that if you are fat and dieted to get thin, it’s perfectly fine for you to hundreds of calories less than a naturally thin person or exercise for hours more.

    They think fat people SHOULD just devote their lives to maintaining a weight their bodies do not want to be at.

    1. Because once you tip the scales at five or more pounds “overweight” (over what weight?), you deserve a lifetime of torture and punishment, and nothing less will make you worthy?

    2. Only people who have never experienced that would wish it on anyone, because it is a miserable way to live.

  4. A few people are genuinely misguided. A lot of people are just plain cruel, and have found a fun and legal way to torture other people. These are the ones who simply Will. Not. Listen.

    The genuinely misguided can be taught. Eventually.

    What hurts me the most is when a fat person throws this stuff at me, because they have internalized the fat hatred so much, they actually think they’re helping.

  5. Thank you- living beats waiting to live, no matter how long you get.
    Today on another blog I follow (from a pharmacist lately attending the “Best Science Medicine Course”):
    “Speaker re: the “obesity paradox” – which is the name for the way people with a BMI of 25-30 (“overweight”) live longer and healthier than people with a “normal” BMI:
    “It’s not a PARADOX, it’s just wrong. If new information comes out that makes your assumptions look stupid, you don’t get to call it a paradox, you’re just wrong. So let’s stop hassling our overweight patients, which doesn’t work anyway.”

    1. Also, reduced fat cheese.

      I have half a block of that in my fridge that I bought accidentally that even the cheese fiend in my house won’t touch.

  6. I’m going to save this one and send it to people every time they try to talk to me about a diet, losing weight, etc..Loved this!

  7. My 86 year old grandmother recently said to me, “I’ve never not been on a diet in my whole life,” and I found no statement more depressing. To dedicate so much of your life and energy to being thin seems insane. She was also a chain smoker so, you know, it wasn’t ’cause she was a health nut.

    1. I struggle with it too. Not so much the desire to diet, but the desire to find a way to lose the extra weight around my middle, and my double chin. I am super-jealous of anyone with an hourglass figure.

  8. I decided several, years ago, to not let my weight hold me back from whatever I am physically able to do. And I got to that place because of my good friend, Ronda Wood. I went to her dances, parties, and whatever else came along…without being afraid of being ridiculed. What is heartbreaking to me is those that are still waiting to live, “once I lose weight.” A very dear friend has this attitude, and life is literally passing her by….So sad.

  9. Thank you for this. I will be registering for pole dancing, ball room dancing and ordering a bikini. Yes, I just said bikini. Rolls, cellulite, shanks, all between the bikini top and bottom. It’s about damn time. I proclaim that today, I like my skin and body and I am grateful for THIS body. Too long have I wanted to dance and sing but I didn’t because I would wait until I was a size 5. When I lose weight, when I finish this program, when, when, when. When is now. I am ready to have fun. Now, let’s be clear. I still struggle with this and it is quite scary, but I am going to do it. As soon as I send this, I am on the website registering for the dance classes and buying that bikini. I have to start and push through this by doing. I can think myself out of doing the right thing by thinking about it too much. It is time to do and live.

    1. Oh, Vera… you are an inspiration. Thank you for saying bikini and not the dreaded “fatkini”. I’m starting to stray out of my comfort zone too.. first getting rainbow dyed hair and then a tattoo. Maybe belly dancing will come next.

    2. You rock, Vera!

      I always felt my most beautiful while dancing. Ballroom and belly dancing are my favorites. Ballroom dancing makes me feel like a queen and bellydance makes me feel downright sexy.

      If my back and hip would cooperate, I’d take them up again. Ah, memories!

      Still, I’ll have you know that in a class where women outnumbered men, so that every song, there were several women left without a partner, in my ballroom dance class, I, one of the fattest girls in the class, if not the fattest, never once went without a partner. And this was more than 20 years ago, long before I ever heard of body positivity or fat acceptance.

      Own your body and your beauty!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.