No means no.

Lately, since I’ve publicly renounced dieting, I’ve gotten a handful of concerned questions from friends who aren’t sure they’re understanding me correctly. Or they aren’t sure I’m understanding me correctly. The conversation usually goes something like,

Friend: So what are you saying – you’re not even going to try to lose weight anymore? Because [lots of sciencey things about how terribly unhealthy it is to be fat].

Me: Even if all that were true, [lots of sciencey things about how permanent weight-loss isn’t actually attainable and attempting to lose weight carries additional health risks].

Friend: Well, sure, the ridiculous magazine diets are all bunk. What you really need is a lifestyle change that involves eating less and exercising more — have you thought of that?

or

Friend: I get that the human body isn’t designed to respond to caloric deficit by reducing weight long-term. But what if you just reduced your food intake and lost weight really really slowly so your metabolism had time to adjust to having less food?

or

Friend: If you just sorted out all the psychological reasons that made you fat in the first place, and all the negative emotions you have about food, I bet then you’d be able to lose weight.

or

Friend: [any other condescending suggestion that tries to find a loophole in the decision I’ve made, after a lot of thought and research, to stop trying to lose weight in favor of adopting behaviors – like intuitive/body-conscious eating and regular enjoyable exercise – that are proven to have a positive impact on my health]

I’m going to be as clear as I can: I am no longer trying to lose weight. Click the links above and you’ll see why I’m convinced that continued efforts at weight-loss are a losing (har!) proposition for me, based on loads of evidence that bodies are wired to want to stay the same size, that the process of losing and then regaining weight (which is the near-inevitable result of dieting) taxes the body more than maintaining an “overweight” size, and — most importantly — my own experience has taught me that trying to lose weight is detrimental to my mental and emotional well-being.

I’m choosing to be content with my weight instead of pitting myself against my body in attempt to somehow circumvent its genetically predisposed size. If science is able to come up with a proven method for permanent weight loss in a way that does not otherwise compromise my physical, mental, or emotional health, I’m sure I’ll revisit this choice. But until then, I know I’m a healthier person for living in a way that values and nurtures my body in the size and shape that it is.

I’m choosing to stop dieting. And before you ask, no, I’m not going to be doing [insert any other term that means “trying to lose weight”] either.

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15 thoughts on “No means no.

    1. 1. X.
      2. O.
      3. Promise me we’ll hang out next time you’re back here. My sources tell me I am so much more fun to be with now that I’m not crippled by self-loathing.

  1. Hi Abi. I get what you are saying. I read it thoroughly twice. Much of what you say is valuable and viable. I have a lot of experience with a history of weight issues similar to yours, as you know. Of course, as I’ve explained, I will continue to fight my addiction to food. My daughter’s drug addiction ruined her life, and my food addiction is taking so much from mine. I wanted to add a couple thoughts based on your comments. Keep in mind that their are different levels of being over-weight. “Over-weight” based on your height, frame, BMI, etc. is one range. “Obese” is the next level up based on one’s statistics. Then, we move into the “morbidly obese” range. Those stats are extreme. You can rely on all the studies, etc. that you choose, but unfortunately, the word morbid, meaning death, does apply. For a great percentage of those people, their death will be able to be attributed to their morbid obesity. I know you have answers for that mind-set, but I believe you are skirting the issue if you try to argue your points too far. The statistics are what they are and you can say this, that, and the other and the bottomline for the “majority” is the same outcome. Early death due to carrying too much fat on their frame, and eating too much food that allows them to maintain that too high of weight. Another thing I take issue with is the listening to your body idea. When you are over-weight/obese, your body talks a whole different language than it does when you aren’t carrying so much bulk. It needs fed more, it wants more fattening food, it requires more carbs, and if you give it all it tells you it needs, you will, as you say, maintain your body’s current size. But, here’s the other issue: You were not “genetically predisposed” to be the size you are. Who in your genetics passed that on to you? We eat ourselves to our size. Then we eat less than we did, and our size reduces, as does the strain and pressure on our hearts, which pumps our blood to keep us alive. You have chosen your current weight to be when you stop “dieting”, and listen to your body and it’s needs. You could have been 50 pounds more, or 50 pounds less and made this same commitment. I think your children, if they had a voice, would want you to start this journey at a lower number. Sincerely, Alane

    1. Alane, I’m making the best-informed choice I can make for my own personal body. You’re welcome to choose otherwise for your body. However, further comments on my blog suggesting that the only valid option for a person of my size is body-hating and weight loss dieting will be deleted.

  2. You know, Abi…I just don’t think people are really listening to what you are saying.
    My words are Health and Strength. That’s what I focus on. God made my body to do what it needs to do (lose, maintain, OR gain) when it’s taken care of. I have to trust that He knew what he was doing when He put me inside this body and set me down the path He laid out for me. Praying for you in all of this.

    1. YES. “God made my body to do what it needs to do when it’s taken care of.” This is exactly what I was trying to say, only way better. Thanks, Amy.

  3. God made everyone’s bodies. I’m pretty sure he lets you take of them and he didn’t pre-dispose certain people’s to function better than others under duress. He made the bodies of people who die of their morbid obesity also, so I take exception to including your God in your analysis. Nothing about what I said suggested you should hate your body. What was suggested is that you should also consider that your size is up to you, not God, and not your body telling you what size it needs to be. My arguments aren’t about liking one’s size or shape. It’s about ramifications of morbid obesity, and how it’s effects life-span and quality of life with children.

    1. I am shocked by your comments, Alane. I think Abi made it pretty clear that unsolicited advice is no longer welcome at his juncture. It’s inappropriate at this point to continue to push a point of view, no matter how well-meaning. By stating your opinion repeatedly, you’re asking Abi to continue to justify her choice, which is not really your place. I also think that it’s inappropriate to bring her children into your argument. You are trying to rattle her into agreeing with you, which is just going too far. You think that because food is a drug in this scenario, that you are allowed to abandon appropriate social conduct in order to “save” her from herself, like so many interventions encourage. It is clear that you have misread the situation and you probably should stop offering unwanted advice. I have never known anyone to actually heed unwanted advice that is so contradictory to what they believe, so I’m not even sure what you think you’re going to accomplish at this point.

  4. Even after almost 2 years of being off the “diet wagon” (or even the weight loss attempt wagon), I STILL get people harrassing me about trying to lose weight. And it’s not new people, it’s the same people I’ve been telling for two years that it’s just not going to happen.

    It’s like this desperate clinging to something, like they’re trying to convince themselves that there is hope that they’ll be thin, they’ll stay thin, so long as they’re still touting diets and weight loss.

    1. That’s exactly what it seems like – that if they accept that dieting won’t work for me, they have to examine whether dieting also won’t work for them, and they’re just too invested in the desperate hope of somehow being permanently thin. Because even though my decision to diet is just about my body, it’s having the ripple effect of making people reconsider what they believe about all bodies. And that’s scary and threatening.

      1. I think this is very true! I had to consider my own reasons for dieting. I want to say thank you for posting your journey and decisions. I am slowly converting to this point of view but it is scary. I actually allowed myself to grieve over the idea that I may never be as thin as I hoped to be. It is a big thing to give up. Even if the rewards are good change is never easy.

  5. I love this! I too decided to stop focussing on weight loss because it was totally detrimental to my life. I don’t weigh myself and I cut the size labels out of my clothing.

    Instead, I ditched my car and I walk and cycle everywhere now. My clothing is looser but I really couldn’t care less. I FEEL much better, the pressure around food is off, I sleep better and I have more energy than I did on any diet. Weight loss doesn’t matter to me, my health and happiness does.

    1. Go you! I wish ditching my car were an option for me – I can imagine how awesome you must feel to be biking so much. And kudos to you for choosing your health and happiness.

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