Monday, January 21, 2013

A Woman of Low Virtue

I wish I had more mental space these days to write posts for this blog. The truth is that, one of my accomplishments in my relationship with food is that I don't think as much about food and weight. That means that all of the deep issues and thoughts that plagued me earlier in this process have done their dance and moved along.

Occasionally, however, something will spark a thought, and I'm afraid that these days I'm too preoccupied with other mental and emotional battles to take the time to entertain them here. However, a comment on my previous post has been, from time to time, spending a little time doing the soft shoe on my mind. An anonymous commenter said "no one gets to be 380 lbs by eating 1500 calories of grilled chicken and green vegetables and doing meaningful exercise for 30 minutes a day."

The statement is presented to be factual, I'm sure, but the critical subtext is clear. You did not get very fat living a life of eating virtue. You must have eaten like a pig and sat on your lazy ass. The story of how I came to weigh that much is detailed throughout this blog for anyone who cares to really know the details, but few care to know. They prefer to judge and point a level finger in accusation.

It is true that I didn't get to 380 lbs. by eating 1500 calories of grilled chicken and green vegetables and meaningfully exercising for 30 minutes a day, but the truth is that a lot of women who weigh 120 lbs. don't maintain or achieve that weight on a similar routine. I also didn't get to 380 lbs. by eating candy and sitting on my ass, as anyone who has paid attention knows. I got to that weight through eating refined carbs, uncontrolled portions of healthy food, compulsive eating due to psychological problems and a very damaged food relationship, and excruciating back pain which made all exercise, including walking more than a minute impossible. But, hey, if I had just eaten more virtuously I wouldn't have been in that situation.

But, wait, I didn't get to 380 lbs. by eating 1500 calories of grilled chicken and green vegetables and meaningfully exercising 30 minutes a day, but I also did not lose 200 lbs. by doing that either. I lost 200 lbs. by examining the way in which I was using food to cope with the difficulties in my life and managing those issues psychologically. I did it by eating chocolate, cake, and cookies everyday. I did it by walking for about 5 minutes a day and building that up. I did it by forgiving myself and slowly making a series of tiny little changes which never included extreme restriction in my eating or anything that smacked of "deprivation".

So, I didn't get to 185 lbs. from 380 lbs. by eating 1500 calories of grilled chicken and green vegetables and meaningfully exercising 30 minutes a day. I am a woman of low virtue when it comes to eating and weight loss, but I'm not nearly as angry as the woman who made that comment nor is my relationship with food likely as dysfunctional. I don't judge people's characters by what they weigh or how they eat, and I exclude myself from that judgment as well.

Incidentally, for those who'd like to open their minds to the possibility that it's not all about eating like a hog or eating like a bird, there's a good piece in the New York Times about a study with two rats in which one is exposed to an endocrine altering chemical and gets fat while eating the same number of calories as a skinnier rat that was not exposed. It's not all about calories in/calories out. That's a part of it, but it's not all of it.


Mir Writes said...

If it was simple to deal with weight issues, we wouldn't have a raging diet industry and an overweight/obese population described in terms of epidemics.

The calories and exercise guidelines can sit there all they want, but until we learn to figure out how we change how we see food, react emotionally to eating, desire more than we need, etc, it's a losing proposition. The regain stats show that even folks who lose can't seem to keep it off long-term. When someone with enough gumption and drive to build an empire like Oprah, or who has the motivation of fame and fortune like the late Liz Taylor or Kirstie Alley, or who achieve great success in their field, like Kevin smith or Michael Moore or Mike Huckabee...and they still can't seem to get a handle on weight, then we have to accept it's complex.

It's simple to say "eat 1500 calories and exercise 30 mins'. I can say, "Just go write a bestselling book and retire."

The trick is writing the book that sells.

The trick is solving the issues that block eating better and less and having the discipline to do the moves.

Simple ain't always simple.

The person who wrote that at best naive and at worst a rude snot. And your response showed a maturity and intelligence that could teach said commenter a thing or two.

FredT said...

There are none as ignorant as those who think they know the answer.

Obesity is a complex problem, and even those of us who have recovered only know our own case.

Keep up the struggle. In the end we will win, and if we are not winning, it is not yet the end.

The Paris Chronicles said...

I just read that NYTimes article myself.

The French have long looked at endrocine disruption/disorder and its link with obesity. One of the first specialists any obese patient who expresses a desire to lose weight will see is an endocrinologist, not a "nutritionist."

I recently was getting a cardio checkup and the cardiologist mentioned he saw a lot of Middle Eastern adolescents in his practice. He said that many of them were quite large -- 150 kg and up. I asked him if he thought there was something specific in their diet that would promote obesity at such a young age. His immediate response was "it must be something in their endocrine system." I thought it was quite interesting that he didn't jump on the more-expected response of "Oh, they just eat too much and never move around."

Anonymous said...

I hope you will keep posting, even if it is sporadically! A month or so ago I read through your entire blog from beginning to end, and it is so powerful.
What you said about skinny people and how they eat - it's so true. Almost everyone I know who is in a normal weight range (but not all) eat seemingly without a care in the world...yet because they fit the desired norm, no one thinks to criticize how they eat.
We are so messed up in this country...

Sarah Quina said...

I had been wondering about you.
And this "I don't think as much about food and weight" tells me you're fine. At least when it comes to this part of your life. Hope you are otherwise well too.