First of all, let’s agree there is no definitive answer to the Big Fat Roulette Wheel game. Any answer may be correct, but some strike me as more plausible than others.
Since my last post, we’ve had five more gamblers, all placing their bets somewhere on the black side, which means the board is now tied. “Personal choices” and “outside forces” are even. Makes for an interesting discussion! If you haven’t read the comments, please do. And don’t forget the second Roulette post, with more discussion, and some great links to additional research that I’m still digesting.
Before I break the tie, let’s eliminate a few contenders:
Aspartame: No one picked it. I certainly wouldn’t either. I lived on sugar-free sodas for the first five years of my maintenance. I have only recently (and radically) cut back for reasons other than maintenance, and that action has had no effect on my maintenance – it didn’t get easier, I didn’t drop additional weight.
It may seem arrogant to give credence to personal experiences and hunches alone, without scientific evidence, but I think in this realm, our individual experiences and anecdotes are vital. I was delighted that many of the answers to Fat Roulette game began “In my experience . . .” Let’s continue to wrap the most descriptive and useful language we can around our experiences, to help one another and, perhaps, to provide fodder for those in the scientific community who haven’t abdicated their curiosity and set their assumptions in concrete.
Now, as for aspartame, it may get our sweet receptors all excited, it’s packaged with other crud that may cause us to eat, but no, it’s probably not the Boogieman.
No one chose lack of sleep either. Perhaps that is because it is likely a symptom of some bigger cause, such as increased stress. Sleep deprivation doesn’t help anything, but it’s hard to correct it alone, without first correcting a number of other personal and cultural conditions.
As for the black side, half the people suspect that’s where the Boogieman lives, but in this game none wanted to commit to one square. I will reveal now, I am a black-side supporter. And in the end, there is one that I feel in my gut is the worst of all, but today let me talk about why I don’t think red, personal choice, is so much to blame.
In short, we would prefer to blame ourselves because it is noble to accept responsibility, as Jen pointed out in the comments. Moreover, it’s a way of claiming some control over a dicey problem, as Judith, Dianne and others noted. But here’s the problem: while the chemicals we steep in daily have increased dramatically, we likely haven’t changed our behaviors all that much. Our memory of the past is nostalgic and inaccurate.
We have romanticized how active we once were and exaggerated how sedentary we are now. In the 1960s you didn’t need today’s sophisticated athletic shoes, because you could do your Jack Lalanne leg lifts in KedsTM or ballet slippers. At the Shelly Lynn Figure Salon (my emporium of choice) you could wrap a canvas strap around your butt and attach both ends to a machine that looked like a motorcycle engine on a stick, and when you flipped the switch it would “shake your flab away.” Then you could lay yourself down on the “manipulating table” that lifted and shifted your appendages for you, before retiring to the “tanning closet” – an actual coat closet where Miss Lynn had removed the hanging rack and screwed a tanning bulb into the overhead socket. At the figure salon I didn’t break the kind of sweat I do when I exercise now. For one thing, I didn’t want to muss up my mascara then.
Another common theory (and represented on the Roulette table) is that the “obesity epidemic” is the result of decreased outdoor play for children. If that were true, however, then wouldn’t girls be less affected than boys? The Women’s Sports Foundation reports that high school girls’ participation in sports has increased 904% since the enactment of the Title IX amendment to our federal Education Act in 1972. Shouldn’t the increase in soccer and basketball for girls have mitigated the effects of the obesity epidemic for them? Yet some research says girls are more affected, and also entering puberty earlier than in the past.
I also reject the theory that we historically ate such “pure” and small foods. We misremember the “good ol’ days” of lard, casseroles, canned fruit salad, SpamTM, VelveetaTM, baked potatoes with sour cream and butter (not salsa or nonfat yogurt), pan drippings on white bread and home-baked pies. In the 1950s, a steak was bigger than a deck of cards and nobody ate hummus and sprouts on multigrain tortillas as people do now. Even if some of us are eating more now than the average Joe of the 1960s, as some research suggests, is it because modern “supersized” meals taste better than Grandma’s gooey sweet, buttery pies of yore, or because the chemicals in today’s foods have desensitized us to what and how much we’re eating?
No, clearly, the culprit isn’t from the red side of the board. Something from the black side of the board has “broken” some of us (and not affected others). I have given you clues, and talked an awful lot for a blog entry. I’ll be out of town tomorrow, but when I return I will name the winner of the contest, whose opinion is different from mine, and I will write about my own thoughts on the Boogieman. Look for a post on Saturday or early next week.
Stay tuned . . . and keep talking. I so enjoy the comments I read here — even when you get a little heated and bicker. It is apparent that weight-loss maintenance is of interest to a broad and clever group of people (many as cynical as I am). We’ve all been betrayed by cultural mythology, and piece by piece, post by post, maybe we can figure out what’s truthful and what may be rejected. We’ll consider the thoughts of people in white labcoats, but not without questioning and measuring them against our personal experiences, which are, indeed, meaningful.