A jumble of thoughts for mere pennies, or more accurately, free

Thoughts, part one:

I’ve been hanging around at a web site called “Debra’s Just Maintaining” — written by Debra, who says this on her About page:

I’m on the National Weight Control Registry.  With behavior control alone (no surgery), I have maintained roughly 60 pounds of weight loss for more than seven years.  According to empirical, evidence-based research, this places me in a minority of less than 3% of weight-loss maintainers.  If this sounds like bragging, read a post or two.

Debra is a new breed of weight loss maintainer. She doesn’t lump herself in with all the skinny folk, she regards herself as something of a mixed breed — someone whose body wants desperately for her to regain the weight she’s lost, and she doesn’t regard the fight against her own body as heroic or noble, only a substantial effort, roughly the equivalent of an unfair unpaid part-time job. (In addition to her jobs as a mom, a partner, and paid employee.)

I like Debra. I like how she writes. Sometimes I share her perspective, sometimes I don’t. She admits that her desire to maintain lost weight is more cosmetic than health-related, and she does not engage in (as far as I have seen) in fat-bashing. She’s not HAES-unfriendly, although for her, a focus on weight is what works.

She’s not lobbying to join the Fatosphere, and I’m not lobbying to have her on the feed. I am excited, though, to be able to interact with her, and others like her, who really want to know how it all works, for them, for others, and seem to be without much judgment, if any. I don’t think the fact that “maintainers” exist undermines the case for fat acceptance, the fact that there are few maintainers does not mean they don’t exist at all. Debra doesn’t seem to claim that her life is better now that she’s thinner, she describes how it’s different, and wouldn’t wish the effort it takes for her to maintain her weight on anyone else.

In a sense, I am a “maintainer,” too, if you want to look at it from a certain angle. I now weigh about 35 pounds less than my highest weight, and the last time I was at that weight was about 11 years ago. I haven’t had weight loss surgery, although I do take medications for diabetes that have contributed to weight loss and maintaining the lost weight. I don’t go around advertising this on every available rooftop. For one, I’m not many people’s idea of a success story* as I’m still around 90 pounds higher than what my weight would need to be in order to have a BMI of just under 25. I’m also not someone who likes to proselytize. If people were knocking on doors looking for people who have lost and maintained a just greater than 10% weight loss, I would answer the door. But I’m not about to label myself as some sort of “after” scenario.

From a body autonomy perspective, I have a live-and-let-live attitude toward Debra, and other maintainers. I wish them good health, in the most holistic sense. I do not live in their bodies and cannot know what the trade-offs are for them. Where I do draw a line is when and where people tell me what to do with my own body, and assume they know better than I do. Debra doesn’t do that. She speaks for herself, and about herself.

Thoughts, part deux:

I’m trying to decide if I still believe in the idea of a set point, or maybe more accurately, a “set range.”

Here’s an unsatisfying list of the things I do believe are at play when it comes to weight homeostasis:

  • Our genes determine how fat we can be
  • There are aspects of the health (including psychosocial ones) of a woman who becomes pregnant that can play a role in the future weight status of the woman’s offspring
  • Starvation and malnutrition, whether intended (as in dieting) or unintended (as in Holland during the winter of 1944, and a sad myriad of other contemporary examples) contributes to weight status as children grow
  • Environment certainly plays a role
  • We don’t really know what the current food environment will result in, in terms of health and, to some extent separately, weight

At the risk of being called “Roussauian,” I do have an idea that if most people who had genes that tended them toward fatness were to be conceived, born, raised and reached adulthood under ideal social and economic conditions, they would still be fat, but able to achieve their own greatest possible health, psychologically, physically and spiritually speaking. Of course, there are few “control” conditions that would serve as a scientific test of this theory. But the “hate the obesity, but love the obese child” approach sure doesn’t help things.

Thoughts, part tres:

Here’s what I think fat kids need:

  • Extra love
  • Extra self-esteem
  • Extra training in how to remain calm under attack and self-defense
  • Plentiful food for good health
  • Plentiful opportunities to be active in ways they enjoy
  • Plentiful opportunities to know what they are good at, and to grow and learn
  • Safety

Okay, wait, let me compare that to my list of things I think all kids need:

  • Extra love
  • Extra self-esteem
  • Extra training in how to remain calm under attack and self-defense
  • Plentiful food for good health
  • Plentiful opportunities to be active in ways they enjoy
  • Plentiful opportunities to know what they are good at, and to grow and learn
  • Safety

Huh. How about that.

* I am my own idea of a success story, though.



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9 responses to “A jumble of thoughts for mere pennies, or more accurately, free

  1. G

    I love Debra’s blog too. That woman truly has an iron will– I couldn’t fight against my body for so long.

    I have a good friend whose doctor has instructed her to lose weight to help control PCOS and high blood sugar. I myself don’t diet (and think diets can be harmful) so I’m struggling with how to be supportive. I want to say yes! body autonomy! work with your doctor and get healthy and active! but hearing the crap dieting advice that other people tell her makes my blood boil and I have to check myself to keep from getting on a soapbox…

    I think in FA there is an understandable backlash from people who reject diets, against people who do diet. Though I think Debra is an ally, her blog can be triggery (and she acknowledges this). I’m glad she’s there; it’s good to have a diversity of voices (and I admit that her blog is one of the things I point diet-zealots at– “This is what happens *after* you lose the weight”).

    (sorry if this was a jumble– need more coffee)

    • Jumbles deserve more jumbles.
      Thanks for the comment.
      I do think of Debra as an ally — and it’s been good practice for me to not be led into thinking that just because she can do what she does, doesn’t mean I could — or would want to — take on the job she does.

  2. Thanks for the link. Good post. Good thoughts. For benefit of your size acceptance friends who haven’t visited me, I would want them to know about the “warning system.” The theme I’ve chosen for my blog places tags at the top of each post, in grey. I always leave a size acceptance clue there: triggering, questionable, okay or celebrating. I want size acceptance people to feel welcome, even comfortable at my blog. My two most recent posts, for example, are triggering. Ack.

    With regard to other thoughts in your post, my kid, a boy, seems to vascillate normally between society’s labels of “Husky” and overweight. I try to talk openly about my “hobby,” “job,” “obsession” and couch it in proper terms for him, and hope for the best. I am painfully aware of how we may damage children through our actions/example. Your list of what children need is good. Adults need those things too.

    • Thanks for reminding me that adults need those things, too.
      Sometimes it’s not so much what you write about, but how you write, and how you think, that I love.
      I wish my thoughts were as linear as yours seem to be 🙂
      But, I suppose thought diversity is as valuable as size diversity, as a concept.

  3. I definitely think of Debra’s blog as being a sort of “gateway drug” to understanding FA principles, for people who have gotten it into their heads that us unrepentant fats are just too fringey and out-there. Finally, a successful dieter who will admit that most fat people can’t possibly be expected to do everything she does to hold her weight down! Now there is a blog I can point diet-head trolls to, and they might actually read it.

    • Yes, my dear dear friend, I think that for those who say “it’s easy to not be fat, just stop eating so damn much and get off the friggin’ couch” Debra’s blog is a great example.
      I can’t wait to see you next month!

  4. I am another huge Debra fan. I feel that her blog is one of the handful (present company included) that keeps me sane in a generally fat-hating blogosphere.

    I actually wrote a post about speaking to our children about fat that you might be interested in. I definitely agree with you about what fat kids (and all kids and indeed all people!!) need to live happy and healthy lives. Ragen Chastain, from Danceswithfat, wrote an interesting comment on my choice of words. I just want to make it clear again that I used words that do not reflect my feelings, but rather reflect the feelings of many others.

    Glad to see you’re writing again. I was wondering where you were!

    • Hi! I read what you wrote regarding fat kids, and I am still digesting it.
      Life has gotten busy, and I’ve not had as much insomnia, which is what provides me with the time to write that I’m otherwise missing.
      I do keep a blog that’s more for friends and my community, and sometimes I end up devoting time there. But life — hectic!
      I like reading you, too. Being shorter than average poses a specific set of issues in terms of weight and health, and a much smaller “calorie zone” than is often afforded taller people. I think my ancestors probably survived harsh circumstances because they required little food and were able to do hard work — and I’ve got the same genes, but not the same workload or environment. Will I live as long as they did? Remains to be seen.

  5. I’ve known Debra online for many, many years now, and she is wonderful.

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