I had a follow-up post to my last one, but I’m post-poning it. (Get it? POST-poning? Funny, right? RIGHT?! Hmph. The crickets think so. I can hear them chirping in appreciation. ;D)
And the reason for the postponed post? Well, I came across some interesting stuff this weekend. I read a lot of the Body/Size/Fat Acceptance stuff (over in the blogroll) because when the Crazies threaten my sanity, it gives me somewhere to go and hear that my weight does not define who I am. That I can have a good life, a fun life, a FULL life at any weight, and that the media bullshit is exactly that: bullshit. It helps me reset my mind, reevaluate my goals (both internal and external) and find MY balance – not anyone else’s balance, but MINE. I am a firm believer in the idea that in order to know your own mind and what you agree and disagree with, you should read ALL SIDES OF THE ARGUMENTS. Ok?
So I’ve read the “weight-loss is good” stuff and the “weight-loss is bad” stuff. I’ve read about set points, and how some people think they can be reset and others don’t think so. I’ve read studies showing that the majority of diets fail, and I’ve read the opposing arguments that of course “diets” fail – you have to “change your lifestyle” in order to maintain a loss.
And I’ve discovered that I’m pretty much on board with ALL of it. Why? Because EVERY BODY IS DIFFERENT. My healthy weight might not be your healthy weight, yours might not be mine, and both our weights might be outside the BMI’s idea of healthy weight. Every body is different. I don’t feel well at 190. I just don’t. I feel sick and sluggish and lethargic. I feel MUCH better at 170, or even 180. Best is 160, but much lower than that and although I get thinner, but I don’t necessarily FEEL better, if that makes sense. On the other hand, my sister, who is only an inch shorter than me, probably weighs around 125 (I’m guessing, based on her body structure). She is quite thin, and has trouble keeping weight on. But she is not UNHEALTHILY thin. If she gained 5 pounds, she would probably still feel fine. Maybe even 10. Much more than that, and I imagine she would feel the difference in her body. HER BODY IS DIFFERENT FROM MINE. I feel sick at 135, because I feel underweight, whereas she might feel bloated and sluggish. Same weight, nearly the same height – totally different bodies. My sister at 160 or 170 would look much heavier than I do at that weight, and I would look flat-out emaciated at 125. We would both be unhealthy.
I’ve been thinking about all this after reading Lynn’s post over at Escape From Obesity. Someone directed her to Kate Harding’s post on the Fantasy of Being Thin (over in the sidebar), and she responded by saying that she was losing weight for her health, not her vanity. And here’s the thing: the Fat Acceptance advocates would argue that she could be healthy at the weight she was at. That she could start getting mild exercise and eating better without counting calories. And you know? They might be right. But they might not be. I don’t know Lynn, and honestly, I don’t read her blog thoroughly, so please understand that I’m strictly hypothesizing here. But it might be that she really CAN’T be healthy at the weight she was at. Just as possibly, it might be that her old weight might be someone else’s healthy weight. There used to be a blog called Fat Girl on a Bike about a 300-pound woman who did triathalons. (She took it down because it became overrun with trolls who logged in to mock her and call her names.) TRIATHALONS, for God’s sake! I couldn’t do one now, and I weigh more than 100 pounds less than she did/does. Maybe that’s HER healthy weight.
(Aside: the FA folks don’t have a problem with weight loss as a SIDE EFFECT. The idea is that if you get some exercise, stay active, eat well, and you just HAPPEN to lose weight? No big deal. Just a side effect. Honestly, I think that might be the healthiest way to think about it. But I also know that I personally have been brainwashed enough to know that I’m not going to the gym if I’m not getting smaller. Once I START going, I’m more likely to keep going because hey, I feel better! But I’m not going to start going unless I want to lose weight.)
And I come back to the idea that there is truth and bullshit in everything. The generalization that it’s healthy to lose weight and the generalization that weight loss won’t help you in and of itself are both flawed. Because again (say it with me, now) EVERY BODY IS DIFFERENT. There are too many variables on both sides. (In other words, if you are fat and your skeletal system can’t support your weight, so you lose weight by eating frozen dinners 3 meals a day, and now you’re a “healthy” weight and your bones are fine, but your blood pressure has skyrocketed because of all the salt in the dinners and you’re at risk for heart disease – are you really any better off? LOL, how’s THAT for a run-on sentence?!)
And then I came across Lesley’s post over at Fatshionista. A post about weight loss for strictly reasons of vanity. A post specifically about how in our culture, a photo of a fat person is usually seen with a subtext that marks it as a “before” picture. It’s a great essay. Go read it if you have time. And it makes a fantastic point: how often have you seen a photo of yourself, laughing and having a good time, and yet all you can see is your arm flab. Or your muffin top. Or whatever. Even sadder, how often have you taken that photo and pasted it somewhere you could see it every day: somewhere where every day, you look at that photo of you having the time of your life, and all you see is a “before” picture. You don’t see yourself laughing. You don’t see the fun you were having. You don’t see the happiness in your face. You have reduced yourself to the (perhaps imagined) flaws in your body. And by extension, when that is all you see, you forget your worth as a human being. You forget – *I* forget – that the number on the scale doesn’t define who I am. I forget that I am more than that arm flab, that muffin top. And I fail to see that in that moment, in that picture, I was happy. I was happy REGARDLESS of the arm flab or the muffin top. I was happy REGARDLESS of how I looked according to society. I was happy in that moment, and my body shape had nothing to do with it.
And I take that laughing, smiling picture of me, and post it on the mirror as a reminder of how I DON’T want to look. Yeah. There’s a bit of a disconnect there, isn’t there?
In the end, I think it all comes down to the mindset of the individual involved. Both sides (pro- and anti-dieting) have good points. Both sides have arguments I don’t necessarily agree with. But I always read both, because I get something different from each side.
Because, you know. Truth and bullshit in everything.