I’m very interested that the British still use the weight standard of “stone.” I mean, it dates back to Roman times and yet, there it is. I think it just doesn’t sound as bad to say “I’m 12 stone 5 pounds.” Instead of “I’m 173 pounds” or even in kilograms (the metric stuff of 2.2 pounds per kg) – “I’m 78.64 kg.” Twelve stone is just a smaller number, even if everybody in England knows that a stone is 14 pounds (or not quite 7 kg.)
Recently, I was over on the British online newspaper or magazine or just plain gossip rag, The Daily Mail, and saw this intriguing headline: “Can’t Lose weight? How Pathetic. You Just Lack Willpower” and a link to an article which I clicked on. I mean, when someone just comes right out and says it – hey, fatty, you are pathetic (no coddling here!), you are wondering just who is this fat shaming idiot and why is he/she saying this?
Well, the fat shaming idiot just happens to be a probably lovely individual named Carol Sarler (a regular contributor to the Daily Mail) and here’s some more of her article:
I think the mindset changes when you reach the age when your body is never again likely to be seen by anyone who has not already seen it.
Uhm. Yes, I think that’s true. And let’s add that the “anyone” is probably a spouse who, for better or worse, hopefully and presumably loves you. The other category of folks likely to see you are medical professionals and they see all sorts of bodies every day. It’s ho hum to them.
Carol’s point is that, for her, it was going to the doctor’s office and learning she was 200 pounds (or 14 stone 4 pounds) and that her blood sugar levels were close to diabetes level that did the trick. But . . . as she writes, she was a great dieter – only thing is, diets don’t work. In essence, over time, she’d dieted into these 200 pounds (of course it took decades of up and down to achieve this.)
She points out a truth – that diets essentially turn women into dopes and that diets have to lie (and we believe the lies!). She writes:
Yet all this money, together with billions generated by diet clubs, recipe books, supplements and ready meals, is made out of selling the lie that they will work when in the long run they do not.
What is worse, the only way this industry can keep the lie alive is to turn clever women into stupid women.
Answer this: which makes you fatter: a large sweet potato, roasted in oil then piled with cinnamon sugar and melting butter, or two sticks of celery? See?
The fact is, any adult with an IQ above room temperature knows what makes them fat.
Yep. I know what makes me fat. Doesn’t everybody? Truth is – I like to eat. I indulge myself frequently, not occasionally. I once had a thin friend point out to me, “You know . . . I have to watch what I eat all the time.” And I just haven’t done that as much as she, the thin one, has. I guess I have an IQ above room temperature, which I hope is a good thing.
Carol decided to lose weight her way. This meant no counting of points or calories but a determination to lose a pound a week with simple rules that were her own – food was fuel, not fun, she expected to be hungry, and she worked from the principle of either “less, more or none.” Some foods were kept and some were banished (the “none” category.) It took her 40 weeks, but she lost the 42 pounds and is now, as she puts it, unbelievably smug that she did it her way. (And has kept it off for a year before writing this article.)
It’s a great article full of truths instead of the lies that are often told. I found myself agreeing with so much of it. I’ve been fat most of my life. My fatness was roundness and chunkiness (Rubenesque-ness and zaftig-ness) for a long time until graduate school. I was up and down the scale with either dieting or overeating (and when I was younger, binge eating). Then it turned to out-and-out fatness. Or in the clinical language, I went from “overweight” to “obese” to “morbidly obese.
Ironically, when I went from sort-of fat to really fat about 13-14 years ago, I actually got happier (and completely stopped binge eating) and I think I understand why. I was always at war with myself and my body. When we talk about the “thin person screaming to get out of the fat body,” I think I was a fat person trying like hell to get out of her thinner body. And even today I still think that. I am a fat woman. No doubt about it. So once I was at a pretty noticeable and unarguable fat weight, I could honestly just relax and be myself, not someone on the way to being some other size in my closet.
But fatness is correlated with nasty stuff. Not necessarily does it cause nasty stuff, but there is a correlation. (I’m being precise because so many people jump from correlation to causation and it’s just not true, folks.) For me, the truth is, yes my blood sugar is hovering close to pre-diabetic levels (luckily not out-and-out diabetes yet), I am already on a statin and blood pressure meds, and just on a mechanical level, increased weight and fat are hard on my joints, especially my hips and knees. And feet, let’s not forget the feet.
However, as a fat woman, I also go to the gym two to three times a week, I walk the dog almost every day, and sometimes twice a day, I am married to a wonderful man (who is not fat), and live a very good life by all measures. I can buy nice looking clothes and lingerie online (yes, harder to go to the malls and I generally won’t buy the low quality crap in the fat chick stores), although I’m hard on certain things like shoes.
And . . . my weight has been mostly stable for a number of years. In fact, it’s lower by about 18 pounds than the day I got married in 2006. Yes, it’s on the high side, but it’s not up and down which, by all accounts, is much harder on the body. Stability is tied in with not bingeing anymore, but also with not dieting anymore, either.
I guess it’s Carol’s refreshing style of writing that hooked me in. I realized that just going from “morbidly obese” to “obese” would be (a) reasonable; (b) likely to yield most of the health benefits that I might want like lowered cholesterol and blood sugar levels; and (c) most important, do-able. That’s not that much weight. I don’t need to live life “unbelievably smug” like Carol, but I’d like to live it without having to buy a new knee anytime soon.
So I’m not lying to myself and I’m determined to drop “one pound a week.” Mostly of fat, if I can help it. My scale does both weight and fat, so I can keep track. I think this is important, because losing weight can also mean just losing water and, more importantly, losing muscle. For a 56-year-old woman, I don’t want to lose a bunch of muscle. That’s not a good thing. It lowers metabolism for one thing – which is counter productive to losing weight and being healthy.
And to do this I just have to be more cognizant of what goes in my mouth and, as Carol notes, if the scale doesn’t budge one week, something needs to change for the next week.
I think the simplicity of this idea and the lack of lies is probably what is giving me some hope that I can do this. I’ll check back in and give progress as I go along. Like I said, I don’t plan on becoming thin; it’s not necessary nor is it desirable at my age (actually, if you’ve ever seen a 50 plus woman lose a bunch of weight . . . ewwwww. Can you say “wrinkles”???)
But it would be nice to not have to worry about the blood sugar numbers so much, and I’d like to be able to go on longer hikes and do the full Zumba dvd without thinking that I’m going to die.
I might even start bellydancing again. (Hey, I’ve got a belly and I can dance . . . )