*Disclaimer: The views in this post are mine alone. I do not suggest or recommend them to anyone else. What you decide to do for YOUR body is YOUR decision alone and no one else’s.*
I’ve been a fat girl most of my life. I’ve rode the weight rollercoaster up and down multiple times. I’ve experienced the high of compliments when I dropped weight and the low of wanting to hide away when inevitably the weight came back and decided to bring some friends along. It made me feel like I was a failure all over again, which sadly is a constant in my life for other non weight-related reasons as well. I thought I was some kind of anomaly, but that was a lie. That’s just what the diet industry would like me and others to believe when the truth is diets rarely work for a vast majority of people. Below is just one link I found but search “do diets actually work?” or “are diets really successful?” and you will see tons of links to articles telling you that long term diets just aren’t what they are made out to be. You have a friend who lost a lot of weight and kept it off? Well, that’s great! Your friend is one of the lucky few. That still doesn’t change the facts. Scientific American did an article in 2019 stating this: “Research suggests that roughly 80% of people who shed a significant portion of their body fat will not maintain that degree of weight loss for 12 months.” And while hearing that may be depressing to some, if you, like me, have lost a lot of weight only to regain it back, that’s reassuring news that you’re not a failure.
During the pandemic, I read two books that changed my way of thinking completely. The first one was called “The F*ck it diet”, which sounds like it’s a diet, but it’s not, although it does teach you about learning to intuitively eat. For those curious, this means learning to eat when you’re hungry and allowing yourself to eat what you want without guilt. I wouldn’t say I have completely mastered it to where I never eat when I’m stressed or when I’m not hungry, but that’s okay too. I’m learning that food should not be associated with good or bad terms. Food is food. We shouldn’t punish ourselves for eating what we like. I also read “What we don’t talk about when we talk about fat”. This one really goes into depth about fatphobia and how pervasive it is in our society. They both also mention how ineffective dieting really is and how much harm it can do. For instance, do you realize how much damage dieting does to your body when you are constantly going up and down instead of just maintaining? And not only do a vast majority of people gain back their weight, but did you know it’s common for people to add even MORE weight each time they gain? That definitely happened to me! When I look back at every time in my life that I dieted, beforehand, I was a certain weight and basically just fluctuated within 5-10 pounds but otherwise stayed about the same. Yet every time I dieted, lost the weight, and gained back, I ALWAYS ended up bigger than when I started. Just seems like a cruel thing for our body to do, but it’s completely natural. Why? Well, the books go into a lot more detail, but basically dieting is starving our bodies, EVEN if we think we aren’t really doing so. When we tell ourselves certain foods are off limits, our body retaliates by holding on to fat because it thinks we are starving it, and that’s a biological thing we were made to do. It’s how our body helps us in famine situations, which hopefully, we are not actually dealing with. (Sadly, too many are though.) After a certain amount of time with our body feeling starved, it basically stalls our metabolism, sometimes effectively killing it for good.
“The Biggest Loser” show used to be a big deal, both figuratively and metaphorically. A lot of people looked to the show for inspiration. Some still think of it on good terms. The sad truth is that the contestants who lost a lot of weight back then gained it ALL back. A 2016 study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) followed more than a dozen former “Biggest Losers” and found that of the 14 people studied, 13 regained a significant portion of the weight they lost on the show. Four were heavier in 2016 than they were before they set foot on the set. I think they really don’t want us knowing that though. Let’s face it, the diet industry makes a TON of money off our obsessions with our weight. According to a recent 2021 study, weight loss has grown to be a $71 billion industry, yet according to studies— 95% of diets fail.
So my vocabulary no longer chooses to contain the word “diet”. I refuse to waste my time and mental energy on worrying about calories or carbs. It has literally done nothing for me but wreck my life. Healthy to me looks like working on my mental health so that I don’t need food to fill that hole. Healthy to me looks like being in a place where I’m doing what feels right for me physically and what I can safely do within the boundaries of my limitations. Healthy to me looks like learning to be proud of the me that has got through some really crappy things in life but has still survived even when there were times where I didn’t think I would. I know my opinion here is a very controversial one. I live in what’s considered a medically obese body. I’ve seen the looks. I’ve gone through the doctor’s appointments where everything is blamed on my weight. I’ve sat in chairs that I couldn’t fit in. I’ve shopped in stores where nothing fit me. No one knows what being fat is like more than a fat person. My size doesn’t change who I am though. I am still the Sharon I was as a skinnier little girl, and I am still just as worthy as everyone else. So if you choose to diet, I’m rooting for you, but as for me, there will be no dieting to fit in anymore.
*Book links included in this post are associated with my personal Amazon Associate link, and I may make a profit if you purchase the books linked.*