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New blog on the block

I've added a new link to my blogroll - Debra's Just Maintaining.  This is the blog of a woman who is writing about her experiences with maintaining weight loss, and how it's nothing like what the diet-industrial complex tells you.  It's hard.  It's a part time job, even.

She's also supportive of HAES and Fat Acceptance, though obviously, she is trying to keep her weight down, so there is diet talk on her blog.  I think it's great that she's doing this, and I think it really is an eye-opener for anyone who has never experienced the ups and downs (literally) of the weight loss rollercoaster.

One of the things she talks about that I have intimate familiarity with is how dieting, even when you're one of the 3% - three percent! - of people who successfully keep 90% of their weight off, your body is changed forever.  Those photos in the diet ads of women with flat stomachs in bikinis?  That, if you lose more than 10lbs, will never be you.  Your skin does not spring back into a tight shape matching your new lower weight, it just sags.  My skin wrinkles like a Shar-Pei when I bend over.  The tops of my thighs don't have much cellulite, but they sag.  I'm just lucky I don't have the "apron" some women get on their upper arms, and I still feel okay with bare arms in the summer (I always gained weight on my hips and belly).

And, with (at the moment - thanks, Lyrica!) a 60lb maintained weight loss, I still have a round belly.  I will always have a round belly.  It's not going away.  But, thanks to the Fat Acceptance movement, I am learning to love my body, not hate it.  I no longer cringe when I see myself naked.  I no longer punch my belly for not being flat (who decreed that a flat belly was the greatest thing ever?  There's about 5 years during teenagehood that slim teens have flat bellies, and then we turn into women, and we're supposed to be rounded).  I no longer starve myself because I don't fit the current fashion ideal.

But I'm not at full love yet - recently, I've been slipping back into feeling dislike for my body and it's shape.  I've been thinking about dieting, and about how my body doesn't look attractive.  I'm still angry about the weight gain caused by medication.  I'm punishing myself for not fitting an arbitrary and very recent standard of fashion in women's bodies (where we're supposed to look like children with boobs - doesn't anyone else find this creepy?).

The extreme thinness currently set up as a body ideal is not actually ideal - studies show that we actually live longer when we have extra fat on our bodies.  What is currently described as "overweight" (I'm in this category, btw) is actually healthier than the so-called "normal" weight.

How fucked up are we as a society that thin is considered better than healthy?

And it seeps into our pores, this twisted attitude - every moment of every day, we're supposed to be vigilantly aware of what we eat, how we look, and what we do.  Total strangers consider it perfectly correct to comment on our appearance and food choices.  We find maladaptive ways of dealing - starving, vomiting, overexercising, food obsession - and still our bodies do what they want to do.

And even when I make a conscious decision to get off the demon weight-loss carousel, the music still plays in my head.  It probably always will.

(comments are always welcome, but please don't spout the "calories in, calories out" lie in the comments - we're all perfectly familiar with the diet industry nonsense.  This is a HAES blog, and we don't think thinness should be held up as an ideal at the expense of health.)


( 37 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )
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Nov. 16th, 2010 03:15 pm (UTC)
I can stand naked in front of a mirror and be honestly happy with how my body looks...It's just hard finding clothes where the style is for everything to be skin tight. I remember when a blouse actually bloused ;-)
Nov. 16th, 2010 03:18 pm (UTC)
I sometimes often think this whole culture (and especially the medical profession) has an eating disorder.

An adult human (male, female, other, both, none) should not look like a teenager. Our bodies continue to grow and mature well into our 20s, possibly even into our 30s. If you weigh at 40 what you did at 18 then there's something wrong somewhere.
Nov. 16th, 2010 03:18 pm (UTC)
I had an anonymous poster comment on a photo of me in my flickr account with, and I quote:

"love the way this dress shows off your sweet sexy tummy"

There is love for the round belly!

(Here's the photo so you can judge for yourself if I'm wrong about my round belly being round: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9317433@N06/2423252516/in/set-72157606243683845/)
Nov. 16th, 2010 03:21 pm (UTC)
(And yes, I'm vain. Put yourself away, Marie! Stop waving it about!)

I do worry about our obsession with youth. I blame our fiction, where heroes are always in their 20s (unless the actor has a following) and a woman can be district attorney, just so long as she hasn't reached 30. :P
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Nov. 16th, 2010 03:30 pm (UTC)
I have currently been feeling very down about how I look so I am on a crusade for myself to feel better about myself because I have found that I am better about losing weight if I actually like myself to begin with.

But, seriously, it is hard when wherever you look are ads saying "you can look like this *insert svelte sexy pic here* in 6 weeks!" There is another ad that basically says "it's fun to be thin" except they say it even worse. Boils me up every time I see it.
Nov. 16th, 2010 03:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the link, I will be following her. And thank you for, as usual, putting things into words the way I never can.

Years ago I had an epiphany when I helped talk a friends teenage daughter out of a major self-image crisis generated by one of those exercise ads. Let's see, they are wanting you to send them money and they are doing this by making you feel bad about yourself. What is wrong with this picture?

It took a fight with cancer to really but things in perspective for me however. LIFE was important, not the image someone else wanted to impose on me. It is still a daily/hourly fight but, overall, I am really happier with myself.

Thanks again.
Nov. 16th, 2010 03:51 pm (UTC)
The twisted attitude -- oh, I am so in tune with this frequency. It took me a long time to figure out how I feel about it, but now I know. I don't really have a problem with people deciding to change the way their body is, or change the way they look - especially if there's some artistic principle involved. But I do have a problem with these changes coming from a place of self-denigration, fueled by a society that demonizes real bodies. I don't have patience with people who offer ridiculous justifications for body changing. I wish they would just own up to the truth about how hard it is to be different, old or fat in the world today, and get on with it. Promoting health and wellness is a different thing than making a body look a particular way. Even fitness is different than wellness. I don't think everyone needs to be as fit as an athlete or look like a model. I'm not prejudiced against you if you are that fit, or do look like that, but that's a lot of effort that you are spending to maintain those attributes. Effort I like to spend on other creative pursuits. And that is a choice. Against a cultural bias against real bodies and real age, it is tremendously hard to maintain a good and positive feeling about one's own body. It is so easy to slip into self-flagellating thoughts and justifications for self-mortification. So I do what I can to be supportive of myself and others. I know that since I don't fit the acceptable physical mold, some people simply discount what I have to say.
Nov. 16th, 2010 04:50 pm (UTC)
*I* think you're gorgeous. And you look younger than your age, which is, like, cheating. :)
(no subject) - pooklaroux - Nov. 16th, 2010 04:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
Nov. 16th, 2010 04:00 pm (UTC)
"...the music still plays in my head. It probably always will."

Amen. Although, I haven't gotten off the demon weight-loss carousel, or accepted my fat...yet. I'm just not ready to 'give up' (_my_ emotional problem definition, not a judgment on anybody else). I can accept that I'm fucked up about it, but I remain determined to conquer my own fat, at least, to a point I find tolerable, and that range varies from day to day...today? I'd take a good 20.
Nov. 16th, 2010 04:37 pm (UTC)
A lovely tribute to the belly:

Nov. 16th, 2010 05:00 pm (UTC)
i have a beautiful daughter. when she was a senior in high school and prom time came around, she and several other girls were talking dresses. she happened to mention hers was a size 16. (she has curves for DAYS.) one of the other girls got all excited and told her "if you start RIGHT NOW you could buy that dress as a 14! maybe even a TWELVE!"

my little girl (gods bless her lil black heart) STOOD UP on the picnic table, grabbed her wee bit of belly fat, and yelled "i like my pudge! its soft! its squishy! it keeps me warm at night! NO ONE IS GONNA MAKE ME LOSE MY PUDGE!!"

ten years later i'm STILL ever-so-proud of the girl. and she's still a 16 with a size 12-14 waist. :)
Nov. 17th, 2010 04:29 am (UTC)
I think I adore your daughter. Such an awesome mindset.

Sometimes I wonder if I had been more accepting and not started dieting when younger if I'd be what I'd prefer now. Lose 20, gain 25. Lose 30, gain 35. etc.
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Nov. 16th, 2010 05:24 pm (UTC)
...where we're supposed to look like children with boobs - doesn't anyone else find this creepy?

Boy children with boobs, no less.

I mean, seriously. I do have friends who have tiny hips and large breasts, but we're talking 2 women in a pool of about 250 ladies that I see out and about between work, school and social life.

So, pretty unlikely scenario for the whole of femininity to aspire to. Not that this stops us…*le sigh*
Nov. 16th, 2010 05:44 pm (UTC)
"There's about 5 years during teenagehood that slim teens have flat bellies, and then we turn into women, and we're supposed to be rounded"

THANK YOU for saying this! I turn 29 on Friday and have 3 children, I know my belly will never be flat again. (It hasn't been so since before I could legally drink.) While I also know I still have "baby fat" to loose (baby is 6 months, I know my body from previous children) I also know I do not want a flat belly when standing. If I DID have a flat belly when standing, when laying down I would have a huge cavity in my pelvis, It is already there.

I get tired of people who look to victorian corsetry and think that corseting will give them a flat belly. Make me want to show them 19th century porn.

We are WOMEN we are meant to be round. (I could add for the comfort of our partners and children, as well rounded hips and backsides are great for balancing a small child on. and well I never liked hearing my husband saying it was uncomfortable to be on me because of my pointy pelvis. TMI I know, shot me)
Nov. 16th, 2010 07:08 pm (UTC)
I lost 157 pounds so I could friggin' walk. I am smaller than in high school, and no disrespect intended to anyone, I consider that neither abnormal, or impossible. I also do not presume to dictate to anyone what they should be - I only represent one in many billions of people.

I like your Shar Pei analogy. I've been using the depleted shrinking helium balloon one myself, but happily there is considerable shrinkage. Sometimes my belly is almost flat, but I like my little middle jiggle. It's a kind of security!

Oh yeah, maintaining? Hard. Losing weight? Hard. Changing ourselves for the better? Hard. We can all choose to do it or not, and that someone might tie love, affection and respect to a person's human form in my opinion is not very enlightened behavior.
Nov. 16th, 2010 07:42 pm (UTC)
I like my bacon and my boobs. I just wish I could find a buttondown shirt that had enough buttons to fit reasonably without feeling like a jacket. :(
Nov. 16th, 2010 08:05 pm (UTC)
Yes, this, please. My favorite button-down shirt has buttons that come in closely-spaced pairs specifically to address this problem. Now if we could only get them to sell it without the "Instantly Slims You" tag. Maybe we could get them to change it to "Has Enough Buttons."
(no subject) - addled_addie - Nov. 22nd, 2010 12:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wulfsdottir - Nov. 22nd, 2010 03:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
Nov. 16th, 2010 08:33 pm (UTC)
I think this blog is awesome, even though I find it really hard to read. Her description of her weight maintenance regimen reminded me why I don't want to do that to myself.

A guy I know has been going on about how the 5% of people who successfully keep weight off "do it as a gradual lifestyle change and not as a fad diet" and I sent him a link to this blog to say, no, "lifestyle change" is too mild a term--it's a life sentence, a second job, and an unforgiving obsession.
Nov. 17th, 2010 01:05 am (UTC)
Without disagreeing that for some/many/most people, you are correct - people for whom it is a non-intrusive lifestyle change do exist. I dropped about 25lbs about 5 years ago and keeping it off has not been a problem for me, even with being fairly casual about my diet. I'm constantly re-realizing that this is uncommon, but it does exist.
(no subject) - aeliakirith - Nov. 17th, 2010 03:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
Nov. 17th, 2010 04:22 am (UTC)
"(where we're supposed to look like children with boobs - doesn't anyone else find this creepy?)"

This does creep me out. I sort of fit this ideal though, and in my rebellion have not shaved anywhere for years and usually dress "like an old lady." 'Cause when I dress like most others my age I feel really, really weird about the look... like I accept it and strive for it when it actually bothers me :/
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