DebraSY

Debra’s Gone Defunct (not entirely — I’m not dead)

In Weight-Loss Maintenance on October 3, 2011 at 10:10 am

Welcome, newcomers and old friends, to Debra’s Just Maintaining!  For roughly a year, starting September 29, 2010, this blog set about exploring the cultural mythology and science surrounding weight-loss maintenance, especially after “radical” loss (more than 10% of highest body weight).  As blog owner, I found myself moderating a discussion involving mostly weight-loss maintainers and size acceptance proponents, two seemingly disparate groups who ended up having more in common than any of us might have expected.   It turns out we are all betrayed by the myth that radical weight loss is some hard-won victory, to be followed (of course!) by maintenance, a less challenging, zippy “lifestyle” composed of tips and tricks.  It’s much more complicated than that. 

This blog is not a “big” blog, but big enough, and certainly has much heart.  Over the year it received just over 60,000 “views” of its various posts.  Many were repeat visits from people I came to regard as friends, dear friends.  We shared a sort of cathartic grief process as we stripped apart the mythology, and discussed from a lay vantage point some of the science surrounding weight-loss maintenance.   In addition to the maintainers and size acceptance advocates, we also entertained a scientist visitor from time to time, and a couple of trolls.

The blog is now mostly defunct because I have gone on to other time-consuming pursuits, and I also need time to be a good Mom, and to continue my weight-loss maintenance, an endeavor that I regard as a third- to half-time unpaid job.  To be competent at these things, something had to give. 

Since the blog is mostly defunct, it’s likely that you arrived here because someone sent you here or you conducted a search for “Weight-Loss Maintenance” or some topic discussed here.  A lot of people find this blog with searches to the effect: “Is obesity killing our children?”  If that is you, you are looking for this post.  Other people are apparently interested in a maintainer’s take on intuitive eating.  That would be here and here.  And a lot of people want to know what I think about journalist and anti-carb pundit Gary Taubes.  Those posts are here and here

If someone sent you here, it may be because you just lost a lot of weight and said something silly like, “If I can do it anyone can!”  Then that person wants you to start with the post subtitled Skiing as Useful Metaphor.

Other reasons someone may have sent you here: 

  •  You said something insensitive or rude about fat people being “in denial.”
  • You said something insensitive or dismissive of someone who works hard to maintain a particular weight – along the lines of “but certainly the rewards outweigh any effort you expend.” 
  • You said something definitively naïve, such as, “science has proven people are fat because of modern breakfast cereals.”  
  • You announced that you are embarking on a weight-loss process/diet (what number?), and a friend wants you to have a realistic idea of what lies ahead, more so than what some women’s magazine or morning news show may be touting today as a “breakthrough.”
  • You are struggling with weight-loss maintenance.  Perhaps your weight is sliding.  You need affirmation from a kindred spirit who knows how challenging this is, and doesn’t sugar coat it or pop off with “inspirational” platitudes.

The Penultimate Post: How do I Reconcile Size Acceptance and Weight-Loss Maintenance?

In Weight-Loss Maintenance on September 22, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Two people in the last month have asked me to answer this question.   Here goes.

Call it serendipity.  Call it an act of God.  But a year or two into my maintenance, when I was still the “joyful jogger” in my own mind, I found Big Fat Blog.  I don’t know what I was reading that got me linked there.  It wouldn’t surprise me to learn it was a diet related blog that belittled BFB.  But I got there and got hooked.   (By the way, if you visit my profile there, it says I’ve only been a member 42 weeks, or some such.  That’s actually the time since a computer glitch eliminated my profile for a few days.  I’ve been there many years – probably since 2005 or 2006.)

I read deep into the archives and all I could think was, these people are right:  society’s hating on fat people (with the best of intentions) isn’t creating health, or even reducing the number or size of fat people.  I searched the site for information on the awful 95% failure rate statistic for weight-loss maintenance.  Even though I was well into my maintenance and I’d thought (hoped) that I’d “clicked” into some new mental or physical state that would support life-long maintenance, I was also painfully aware that I’d been part of that statistic before.  I had regained, yo-yoed, in the past, and I knew that I had not gotten any smarter (and may have, in fact, killed a few brain cells with age and Chardonnay).  I was desperate to know more about this failure rate, the science behind it, whether it was true and whether there were special “exceptions” that I might qualify for.  Sadly, my search of BFB came up dry.  But I noticed that there was another private area for “registered” people, and I thought that maybe my answer was in there.

When I registered I only briefly contemplated lying to get in.  Ultimately, I figured, I’d feel more comfortable participating if I were there honestly.  In my essay I revealed that I was a weight-reduced person, but some things just didn’t feel right.  I promised that it would not be difficult to play by the rules and avoid diet talk.  God bless Paul McAleer, the founder and moderator of BFB at that time:  he let me in.   I guess he knew I needed to be there.

Sadly, in the BFB forums, I couldn’t find an answer to my burning question about the 95% failure rate of maintenance.  But I did find there compelling, intelligent, heart-felt, truthful discussions covering the  many facets of living fat, which I had not forgotten.  (For a time, among my real-world friends, I called myself a “fat chick in the closet.”)  When I participated in discussions at BFB I never used the word “we.”  I would say “fat people fall victim to . . .”  or “most fat people understand that . . .”  To my knowledge, no one noticed this pattern.  It didn’t stick out.  I became a member of the community.  Some people there attacked me for being “healthist” (and I think I was once disparaged for being a “good fattie”), but many fat people at BFB are subject to the healthist moniker (including DeeLeigh, who now administers the blog), and we supported each other’s views.

Within a short time of my joining BFB we discussed creating “cheat sheets” to help us with the most common challenges to size acceptance.  I volunteered to write on the 95% failure rate (which I would learn is actually 97%).  It gave me an excuse to do more research.  My early musings on that topic are still there.  Above the BFB logo are two tiny links, one to Big Fat Index and the other to Big Fat Facts.  My essay is down the page and entitled NEW:  The Truth About Long-Term Diet Success.   You’ll likely recognize my “voice” if you read it.  I also helped by doing some line editing in the other pages, so my “voice” is elsewhere too.

The Third to Last Post: On Plastic Surgery

In Weight-Loss Maintenance on September 18, 2011 at 11:21 pm

As regular readers may note, I am cleaning up loose ends before I move on.  For example, I finally posted the Rules of Engagement page I had drafted sometime Aprilish when we’d had a visit from a concerned but kind self-promoter (some might say “concern troll”) who thought I was presenting an unnecessarily dark (I would say realistic) impression of weight-loss maintenance.  The Rules page is no longer applicable, of course, but to people who come visiting when the blog is closed down and who happen upon the post that inspired it, it will make sense.

I had also meant, shortly after I opened the blog, to say a word or two about plastic surgery.  In my initial post on The Unfairness of Weight-Loss Maintenance, I mentioned the issue of loose skin. 

“Unfairness 7.  You hide a secret under your clothes: your body may be deformed.  Friends say you look great, but naked in front of the mirror you find your pendulous parts and saggy skin discouraging.  Some maintainers may need counseling; others undergo expensive plastic surgery.”

Well, I was one who went for plastic surgery.  I think it is important to talk about this issue openly.  So often it is reduced to a mere vanity concern, and it is not. 

For some people, I imagine radical weight loss presents a pleasing image, if not nude, then in clothing.  For many of us, however, if our skin is not elastic any more, losing radical weight results in a mirror image that we don’t recognize.  It doesn’t even look like a human as we have come to understand it.  The loose folds may conceal the parts that make us sexually capable and deform those parts that we heretofore thought defined us as sexually appealing. 

Many naturally trim people regard fat people as asexual or unappealing regardless, and Madison Avenue does much to perpetuate this notion.  Sadly, many fat people buy into the myth as well.  That, however, was not my experience with my own fat body.  On the way up, weightwise, I became accustomed to my ever increasing curves, lumps and bumps over the years it took to acquire them.  I was joyful, sexual and fully human and, to my thinking, a Boticelli babe.  On the way down it was very different.  Within a period of months, I became a conglomeration of saggy parts.  I didn’t adapt well to this change.  For example, during intimate times with my husband, instead of being present in the moment and contemplating how to please him, I became self-conscious.  I positioned myself so he wouldn’t grab handfuls of flesh. 

In my more mundane moments, as well, my body would remind me of its new predicament.  As I ran or did other aerobic exercise, the loose parts would bounce about distractingly.  Sometimes they would grow itchy from this bouncing, or hurt.  It made me angry and sad.

I decided, because I could, to get plastic surgery.  I won’t go into the details of the process.  Actually, No Celery has produced a nice accounting of a tummy tuck, if you want that.  What I would like to do however, is issue a cautionary note, both to people who are considering plastic surgery after radical weight loss and people who are in a position to support them … or not.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 35 other followers