A member of Rolls Not Trolls – a Facebook community that I created to put body positive comments in body negative discussion on the internet- let me know about a more-ridiculous-than-usual weight loss article (and that’s saying something.) The article’s title suggested that it would be about how having sex doesn’t make people thin. So already this is really inane, and it’s about to get worse. (By the way, I’m not linking, there’s no way I’m giving traffic to that tripe.)
It starts out not talking about sex at all. In fact we have to wade through 12 paragraphs of questionable statistics and “facts” about fat people and weight to get to the only two paragraphs in the entire piece that talk about sex. So the clickbait trifecta of sex, weight loss, and myths has been activated to make sure that people get their daily dose of justification (however shitty it might be) for fat hating. Charming.
But it reminded me of a really important part of my journey out of dieting hell. One of the things that I realized when I finally got off the diet roller coaster was how much of my time, money, and energy had been dedicated to trying to get thin – from reading articles and books about how to get thin, to doing things that were supposed to make me thin, to measuring how I was or wasn’t getting thinner and more. It didn’t leave me happier, or healthier, or thinner, it just made me miserable and it had wasted an astounding amount of time.
I found out that the research showed that while almost anyone can lose weight in the short term almost everyone gains it back and the majority gain back more than they lost. That was certainly my experience. That led me to ask a simple question that helped my life open up in all kinds of amazing ways:
What if nothing will make me thinner?
It was a revolutionary way to look at my life because for years I poured my time, energy, and money into trying to figure out what would make me thinner and doing that no matter what the consequences to my happiness, my health, or my life. The idea that nothing would make me thinner meant that the whole world opened up for me.
Instead of viewing working out as punishment for having a fat body, I could move in ways that I enjoyed, and set goals on my own terms. Instead of hating my body for what it wasn’t I could love it for what it was. Instead of eating as a way to manipulate my body size, I could choose food based on what tasted good and what made me feel good. Whether or not [sex, dancing, salads, etc.] would make me thinner no longer factored into my decision making process. Instead I asked myself questions like: Do I want to do this? Why? Are there downsides? Will this make me happy? etc.
I think it’s basically impossible to describe exactly how much better my life got when I started to make decisions based on what makes me happy, what makes me feel good, and what I want, instead of making them based on whether someone said that something will, or won’t, make me thinner.
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28 thoughts on “What If Nothing Made You Thinner”
Brilliant 🙂 I completely agree. I went through the same thing, and came out at the same place 🙂
For me, I would say: Even if certain things would make me thinner, I hope I would choose to do or not do them for other reasons than that – just the reasons you named.
And it sure would turn me off if my partner told me: Come on, let’s have sex, not because I want to, but because I need to lose some weight – noooooo way
Yeah, that just sucks aaaaaalllll the joy out of sex, doesn’t it? Yeessh!
Now, I’m sure that “sexercise” has lots of positive benefits, such as releasing endorphins and getting the heart pumping, but they are fine, even if you don’t lose an ounce. But once you put it all the weight-loss pressure on it, it becomes a punishment, not a pleasurable activity.
I’d want to break up with someone who only wanted to have sex with me in order to lose weight.
“Once you put all the weight loss pressure on it, it becomes a punishment, not a pleasurable activity.” This describes my relationship with exercise. Having been pressured to diet from a very young age, I grew to believe that exercise was punishment for being fat. Even the word “exercise” makes my skin crawl. Not that I have anything against enjoyable physical activity, but calling it “exercise” takes all the fun out of the idea of movement, and makes me want to plonk down on the couch and eat Doritos, which I hate, just out of spite.
You’re not the only one. And THIS is why fat-shaming “to motivate people to lose weight” Does. Not. Work.
I was talking to a doctor, a few months back, about the fact that 95% of human beings regain the weight they lost, and showed him the study Ragen has linked here. He even looked it up, and when he saw that it was written by PSYCHOLOGISTS, he pooh-poohed the whole thing. Because he’s a medical doctor, and knows how the body works, and if people would just STICK to their diets, and eat only what they need to survive, they would keep the weight off.
I tried to tell him that 95% of people “failing” is still FACT, regardless of it being caused by physical factors or psychological factors. Does the reason really matter? If it’s psychological, it’s still that powerful!
He still wanted me to get weight loss surgery, and stick to a diet for the rest of my life.
Not going to happen.
doctors are fools, at least a large majority of them. I haven’t even bothered with the studies with my doctor, I just told him I am fine with my weight and I’d rather we drop the issue from now on. He’d been pestering me about losing weight “to help my fibromyalgia”. The last time I went in and I told him I’m fine with my weight and I want to drop it he tried to diagnose me with sleep apnea BEFORE checking the results of my at home sleep test. He said weight is important because it affects your sleep and can cause/worsen sleep disorders. I said okay, well what was the result of my sleep test… Oh I was just about to look at that…….. Then he tells me that my oxygen was only below 90 twice during the night so it’s highly unlikely I have sleep apnea. He didn’t bring up my weight again. He’d already gone through the usual deathfatz stuff: cholesterol (normal) A1C (normal), so this was his last ditch effort to scare me into conforming to his skewed life view.
I’m very lucky with my current doctor – he’s not a fool. He is smart, kind, and not a fat-shamer, and I am very glad of it!
It’s not impossible to find a good doctor. Just difficult.
Well, there might not be a good one on your insurance plan.
I’m hoping, though, that the younger and newer crops of doctors that come out of medical schools now will be more and more likely to understand than the set-in-their-ways crop.
That makes them sound like wheat. Sorry.
I do have a good primary doctor, she never says a word about weight. My rheumatologist is the dummy that’s been prescribing weight loss since day one. I just know he would outright dismiss any study I tried to show him as being skewed or biased.
I know there are some good ones, but there aren’t nearly enough. I share your hopes that the younger doctors will be better, but I don’t know, they are all being taught by the older doctors and they grow in the same environment the rest of us do of fat=laziness/not trying hard enough/bad health/death
Yeah. What wave of feminism are we on now? And we still have so much further to go.
Reblogged this on Stuff! Also Things!.
That is basically the way I have always lived my life, and I am so thankful that I never fell into the weight loss trap. In my case I never knew that long term weight loss was so impossible, I just felt that the physical/emotional cost of doing those things that “would make you skinnier if you tried hard enough”, wasn’t a wise investment of my time and potential happiness. Because I get really unhappy when I try to deny myself certain foods (or if the food I wanted was out) It’s totally blown my mind to find out that weight loss isn’t really possible even if you “try hard enough” and that I can love myself instead of just being apologetically okay with myself
That is a good motto. Except I wasted 22 yrs trying to be thin, and gained 275 pounds as a result (starting weight 25 pounds).
Were you put on a diet as a toddler?! Or is that a typo?
I was 8 years old.
You weighed 25 pounds at 8 years old, and they put you on a diet?
OK, I didn’t trust my own idea of kid-poundage (when I lifted my toddler nephew, I swore it felt like 50 pounds, but I do have a bad back, and don’t really know the statistics), so I looked it up.
Yeah, 25 pounds heavy for a toddler, but for an 8 year old kid, that’s 50th percentile, so NOT FAT. In fact, it’s right on track for a “healthy weight.”
That’s just wrong. Putting you on a diet when you’re at the socially approved “healthy weight” is forcing you into “unhealthy” range. Yeah, on the thin side, so you “look good,” but hellooooo! They hospitalize people for that!
You don’t make clear whether the diet was your own choice or your guardians. If it was your own choice, I’d want to label it an eating disorder (but I won’t actually label it, because that would be an armchair diagnosis of an actual mental health condition, and I’m not a psychiatrist). If it was your parents’/guardians’ choice, I’d call it child abuse. Yeah, I’d actually go there on that one. 22 years of torture, trying to be thinner than you need to be, just to please THEM?! NOPE!
This is what fat-hatred works on society: Parents feel justified in abusing their children, in the name of “health,” when it’s all about control and physical appearance, and small children are developing eating disorders at an increasing and alarming rate. Ragen has mentioned those numbers several times.
If you will excuse me, I have to go whack some orcs on my computer and pretend that they are fat-hating trolls. Yay, catharsis.
It was not my choice. For a couple yrs I was only allowed to eat slim fast for breakfast, and that stuff tastes awful, so when they weren’t looking, I would dump 90% of it down the drain.
That chart you gave shows 25kg as 50th percentile, not 25 pounds. I know I didn’t reach 40 pounds until around age 10. We had a scale then, and I was told to use it all the time, so I was very aware of my weight. Around age 16 I weighed about 125, which I was told was something to not be proud of..
Oh, Mich. I just want to give you ALL the internet hugs! That sucks!
I’m sorry you spent so much of your life dieting. One of my reasons for not dieting was I was told at 12 and younger I was already fat (because I was average sized next to my super skinny sisters and parents), so by the time I might have started dieting I assumed it was too late for me, no point in dieting or even caring if I ate right or worried about moderation, because I was already too fat. Maybe subconsciously I knew that it didn’t really matter (of course moderation isn’t a bad thing) because at 10-12 I was still eating exactly the same “healthy” vegetarian meals and snacks as the rest of my family, so if I was fat, but my sisters were perfect (where in reality I was average and they were extra skinny) then it couldn’t be my fault. And if it isn’t my fault and I’m eating the exact same thing as my skinny sisters, then there is no need to diet, because it won’t really matter.
Sorry you had to go through that. On the other hand, if you learned early not to diet, and just accept your body as it is, then you’re luckier than a whole lot of people.
Still sucks to be told your body is wrong, especially as a young child. Your parents apparently had issues.
Also, you are proof that vegetarian does not equal thin. Some people simply cannot believe that vegans and vegetarians can actually be anything but slim. Blows my mind.
Yes, I did luck out that I fell into accepting my body without dieting. The more I read Ragen’s blog and other similar blogs the more thankful I am that I never dieted, that I never tried to place my life on hold thinking I couldn’t have something because I was fat. I think I’m also really lucky because I was not especially fat growing up. I thought I was, and my parents and sisters thought I was, but I wasn’t until a little later in high school, so I didn’t have the same disadvantages that our current system offers to those that start out fat.
It did suck thinking I was fat. I have talked to my mom about it recently (and the whole fat acceptance movement and the truth about dieting) and she says that she just didn’t know that I was normal, “we all thought you were”. She kind of apologized for it. She doesn’t believe that diets fail as much as they do, because her sister took off 30-50 pounds and has kept it off for 40 years, and diets work for mom… every time she does them. Sometimes she keeps the weight off for 10 years before her “eating gets out of control and it starts coming back”. She has finally accepted that diets may not work for some people and that the effort to diet may be too much for some people whether or not it would work if they tried hard enough, so she has finally at least accepted that we have a right to be whatever body size we are and to not diet if we don’t want to diet. She’s not willing to accept that diets fail for the majority of the people but she is willing to admit that they surely fail for some people, and that people are not obligated to diet. She knows that yo-yo dieting is unhealthy, so she agrees that whether the diet is likely to fail or whether the dieter is likely to not stick to the diet, the end result is worsened health. She also knows that her obsession with thinness is unhealthy, but it is an obsession, or an addiction. She felt like she was ugly all her life, but at least she was skinny and could wear skinny people clothes, so even though her face was ugly her body was hot (her words). We’ve come to an understanding that everybody is different and that there is not one thing that applies exactly the same across the board for people. That was how I was able to get her to see the possibility that diets don’t work for some people. We talked about people that die from emphysema who have never smoked a day in their life nor been exposed to second hand smoke (like her mother), and people who smoke a pack a day starting when they are 10 and live til 90, or people that smoke several cigars a day and live til 100 (George Burns), so you can’t even say that smoking will kill you for sure, though of course it is unhealthy, it affects everybody differently. We know that some medicines work for some people and not others, we’ve also both dealt with Infertility (she tried for 10 years before she got pregnant with me, and my husband and I started trying 9 years ago), and that has proved to us that doctors don’t know everything. We also have talked about skinny people who are unhealthy or who have died young or had heart attacks (my dad has always been pretty skinny and had a heart attack in December, turned 62 (or 61?) in the hospital, and skinny people that eat and eat whatever they want and don’t gain weight. So I’ve gotten her to understand that weight isn’t necessarily the fault of the fat person, that dieting is not an obligation, that dieting doesn’t always work, that yo-yo dieting is unhealthy, that one person’s experience is not guaranteed to be extrapolated to the next person, that skinny people are not automatically healthier than fat people, and that people who argue or make political moves to eradicate obesity are not doing it for health reasons or they would be making moves to make healthy choices available to all people, not just fat people. I think it was a pretty productive couple of weeks of email and one conversation, even if I couldn’t convince her than diets fail the majority of the time instead of the minority of the time. And even though I didn’t get a real apology for my treatment when I was an average sized child.
Yay, progress! Maybe more progress will come later? I hope so.
At any rate, this proves that accepting the fact that human beings are unique individuals and one size does NOT fit all, either factually or metaphorically, is the gateway to accepting so much more. If we can teach people just one thing, teaching them that people are individuals, and need to be dealt with on an individual basis, instead of blanket rules and generalizations, we can make the world a better place.
Thanks so much for putting in that work with your mother! Who knows what future ripple effect might show from it?
And yes, proof that vegetarianism, while (IMO) healthy, is not skinny-making
Replying over here so it doesn’t get too thin
I’m hoping at the very least it will do some good for my nieces as they grow, my sister has two daughters and lives very close to my mom. I’ve also talked to my sister about it, and I think she was more receptive than mom.
I think an important point I was able to drive home to mom (and that I forgot to make with my sister) is that if you want to make a point about health, make it about health. If you are worried about kids getting no exercise and eating only junk and that resulting in fat kids, make sure that all kids that you have a say over get healthy food and enjoyable exercise, not just the fat kids. Because lots of skinny kids sit around and eat junk and watch TV too. Not just fat kids. And make it only about health. Movement, healthy food, limiting TV, regardless of whether that results in changes in weight or not.
YES! This is vital! Exercise for health’s sake, not weight’s sake. Healthy eating for the sake of nutrition, not weight. And healthy behaviors regardless of weight!
If health is the goal, and you behave in a healthy way, then your weight will be “healthy,” as a result, whatever that weight happens to be. Or, at least as “healthy” as it is in your control to be. It’s not completely in our control, after all.
And focusing on health, rather than size is also beneficial for mental health, as well!
It’s not too late to talk to your sister about it. Maybe not in person, but on the phone, or email, or what-have-you.
Would you comment on Kerryn Feehan’s attack on Whitney Thorne?
Realising I’ve had lipoedema since childhood has been a great help for me personally. When I lost 2.5st doing Slimming World and failed to shift bulk on my arms and thighs I had an “ughhh, this effing body hates me” attitude, whereas now I know the reason for it. I can bury the hatchet. Knowing there’s no real chance of ever becoming properly slim (without involving surgery in one way or another) is strangely liberating. Instead of berating myself for whatever reason (“light trousers? With these thighs? You look like a sack of cottage cheese!”), I now feel more understanding and forgiving toward my body (while the cottage cheese sack is still a thing, now my approach is more, well, “lipoedema and these trousers aren’t a good look, but we’ll try on something else which will look great”). I’ve stopped blaming myself so much for being fat, basically, and I feel much better for it. 🙂
I struggled with weight for years and looking back on it, those were lost years. I missed out on so much because self-consciousness about my weight and constant efforts to change it just sapped all my time and mental energy.
Advice to “just eat less” is the equivalent of planning a cross-country road trip and someone offering you routing advice: “just get in the car and drive somewhere.”
That’s fine advice, if you just want the road trip for the sake of enjoying a road trip. Back when gas was cheap people DID do aimless road trips, just for the fun of it. Bonus, if you’re driving a convertible.
But dieting is not a fun road trip. And if you get lost, it’s a whole lot more dangerous. Organ failure is way worse than having to spend the night at a rest stop, because you’re too tired to drive any more and can’t find the way home.
Nutrient deficiency is REAL!
If fat people really could survive just fine, and not suffer any nutrient deficiency, by just “living off their fat,” then doctors would harvest that stuff, bottle it, and sell it as a health-supplement! They don’t. Gee, I wonder why!