In addition to adapting the Rules of Engagement post for a “page,” and looking into how to get rid of the vulture advertisements as cheaply as possible, I have been making my way through the Linda Bacon/Lucy Aphramor paper supporting a Health at Every Size (HAES) approach to weight management. I hope to post on it soon, but it’s turning out to be more challenging and time-consuming than I’d anticipated. I am unable to breeze through it without checking at least some of the sources. I mostly support its premise, and yet it makes me uncomfortable. I think Barbara Berkeley touched on it in the comments at her own blog. It reads as a manifesto, and that rubs me (and her) wrong. It’s kinder and better sourced than Gary Taubes’s Why We Get Fat (also a manifesto), but the Bacon paper is a manifesto nonetheless. And, as with Taubes’s book, I have no place in it, really, or at least my place is awkward. Barbara’s ultimate response (in the comments) indicates she will return to her position of promoting weight loss, which is appropriate for her. It’s her job, her life’s focus, and she does it with kindness and circumspection. I will likely end up somewhere else, though I don’t know where that is yet.
The good news, the Bacon article isn’t messing with my weight, as Taubes’s book did. As I read Why We Get Fat, I found myself falling into his regimen, compelled to decline counting calories, trusting my satiety to keep my weight in check (since I was increasing my fat intake). My weight crept to the top of its range and hovered for days. Then it went over my current range by a pound. Ack. And then another. Ack. Ack. I’ve returned to my own tried-and-true regimen, and have some days seen a number in my range. I think I’ll stick with what my body has prescribed for me. Please accept that as my “final answer” and I will accept carb control or size acceptance as yours, and we’ll look at various topics with respect for our choices. How wonderful that we ARE different, because we are much more likely to see something original between and amongst our experiences, rather than in a fray of dueling manifestos that blind us by calling up our own pig headedness.
In my previous post’s comments I was led back to my “Why” question. I still don’t have a good answer as to why I do this maintenance thing, given that my heart feels the strong pull of size acceptance. There must be sufficient reward in it, since I continue. I trust that. Moreover, since it is rare for someone to be able to do this, if I am able to, maybe I should, and try to find the words to describe it accurately. That might be of value. I mentioned to my gentle challengers that I’d given up on leaving a legacy that would last for any significant time. Most of us 150 years from now will be in no one’s memory, no one’s book. Our possessions will be scattered, the stories behind them lost. And that’s okay, and I’m okay with that. But maybe I could advance some understanding of this interesting process and affect some change among others (smarter than I), even if that contribution would not be worthy of legacy status. Well, I was called up short on that response too.
Let it be known, I’d be happy to leave a literary legacy for this world, but I don’t think that’s in the cards. I went to the prestigious Maui Writers’ Conference (now known as the Hawaii Writers’ Conference), with a book proposal and roughly 130 completed draft pages, and I was rejected by three editors and four agents, all who wanted me to be something I wasn’t. Most wanted me to use the same language that we already hear, everywhere, but maybe I could be funnier. Some also insisted I wasn’t qualified to have original ideas, that a doctorate or RD designation would add credibility. And, of course, I needed to market myself, a prospect I find daunting. (It shouldn’t surprise us that most nonfiction books today read as sales pitches or manifestos, because nonfiction writers, by requirement of the trade, are primarily marketers.)
I looked into pursuing the RD when I returned home from the conference, but with my light-on-science undergrad and grad degrees, it would have been a crazy long process, and I don’t want to be a dietician in any traditional sense.
Then I went to the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Conference (the more literary writers’ conference). When I used the phrase “weight-loss maintenance memoir” with those agents and publishers, you would have thought I’d said “Turd Casserole Cookbook.” Really, it was stunned disgust. Repeatedly. Maybe if I’d offered to rewrite it in free verse. Hmmm.
At both conferences I was told that these days breaking into the writers’ market is a dicey game and mere persistence and hard work, accompanied by a flawless manuscript, are not guaranteed to pay off any more. That’s the mythology of a different era. I have two friends who went the self-publishing route, with brilliantly written books (worthy of a Simon and Schuster imprint), and the time and energy they put into marketing, only to see disappointing results, is exhausting simply to watch.
So I blog. I hand out free thoughts. And I have found such a warm and supportive environment. It has occurred to me that this is enough. It is rewarding enough. If I accrue enough followers to merit another run at Hawaii, I’ll consider it. However, I have not regularly pestered my Facebook friends. I have reminded them a couple of times that I do this. But I haven’t marketed, and I failed, technologically, when I tried to set up a separate Facebook page for the site, and I wondered whether that wasn’t a sign. If there is one thing this maintenance experiment has taught me, it’s to be careful what you wish for; it may not be the zippy thing you expect. Big-time bloggers complain that the care and feeding of their sites is a full-time job. Right now, Akismet (a service offered by WordPress) handles 99% of my spammers, and I have very few trolls. Most of you have found me by way of the Size Acceptance network or through weight maintenance blogs where I participate (because they are intelligent, kind or both) as a commenter. You have been vetted. This is a good life and I am content.
And I’ve also been thinking, to leave a little legacy, I don’t need a big audience, a Simon and Schuster audience. I just need the right audience. I’m thinking that after a time, I may hit the print button, and cough out a “best of the blog” manuscript. Especially the discussions. (I’ll warn everyone before I do this, by the way, to give you the opportunity to opt out. I can delete or edit comments, as instructed, though I hope not to. Our “warts” give us character.) And then I’ll take the pages down to my corner Office Max and make enough copies for each of the scientists at the NWCR (fewer than ten). And I’ll have them three-hole drilled and I’ll bind them frugally but neatly – the pages (not the scientists). Then I’ll mail them off. I may even spring for the “gift paper” envelopes that the post office sells.
I think we have something to say here. That we, the lay public, understand the issue of fat to be much more complex than we’re given credit for. That, regardless of our size or weight-loss status, we want to participate in advancing our own health and well being, but the advice we receive fails us (roughly 97% of the time). That the scientific community fuels both the media and the medical profession with regard to this issue, and it needs to grab the baton and whistle, and lead the parade in the right direction.
As I’ve said before, the NWCR needs to ask its registrants more meaningful questions. Our records need to be made available to empirical scientists as well as those who study behavior. And EVERYONE’s assumptions, throughout the Kingdom of Science, need to be thrown on the table and re-evaluated.
Enough with the dueling manifestos! There is no single obesity and One True Way to deal with it. People are fat in dozens (hundreds?) of different ways, for countless nuanced reasons. Some may be able to lose weight and manage those losses (given more precise and individualized guidance than is currently offered), but most probably will not. And everyone needs accurate information that distinguishes how health and weight are related, and acknowledges when they are not and when weight-loss, as a prescription, may be dangerous or futile. Only when Science and Medicine choose to acknowledge the dismal success rate of weight-loss maintenance might they be able to improve it. They need to regroup and approach this issue or some small aspect of it with the humility it deserves. And Science goes first, before Medicine. Woof!
The NWCR would have the power to start that Renaissance, and since I’m one of their (mixed feelings) participants, maybe one of them will feel some obligation to read our thoughts and bring them up at a staff meeting. It’s the best leverage I’ve got, given that I’m unqualified to have original ideas.