Stop Her Before She Diets Again!

Shapelings, A Sarah needs your help. She just left the comment below in another thread, and I thought it deserved its own post. 

I’ve said many times that the journey to body acceptance is not short, straightforward, or without switchbacks. Intellectually grasping the wisdom of giving up dieting often comes loooong before you’re emotionally ready to give up the fantasy of being thin. And that means that sometimes you might fall into that trap of thinking, “It’s fine for other people to be this fat, and no one should judge them for it, but I just can’t be happy until I lose weight!” 

That’s where A Sarah seems to be now. Here’s her comment.

Um, help? I’m feeling tempted to diet! I’m at the high range of what I’d always thought to be my basic 20-pound range, which wouldn’t ordinarily make me feel ugly and SHOULDN’T, anyway, make me feel ugly… but it’s wrapped up with my feelings about my post-two-kids body that I’m having a hard time with, seeing some pictures of myself from six or seven years ago when I was at the “low” end, feeling like the emotional connection in my marriage has cooled, and the fact that I’ve been more active than usual lately (not for weight loss) and was surprised when I didn’t start feeling leaner.

I guess I’ve still got a ways to go on my FA journey. So I thought I’d send up a “need assistance” flare here at SP. I did a search for a thread that was marginally relevant so I didn’t hijack the more current threads. [Heh. Thanks. -Kate] Hope that’s okay.

I’m throwing this out to the readership because honestly, I don’t have a good answer. When I used to feel like that, my answer was usually, um, to diet. Until one day, I crossed a threshold where that was just truly no longer an option in my mind. I still have my moments of wishing I were thinner, mind you — that was my default mental state for so fucking long, I can revert to it pretty easily if I let my guard down. But the good news is, they really are just moments now, gone as quickly as they arrived, usually because I think something like, “Well, what are you going to do, diet? Fuck that.” Even if I did still consider dieting an option, I’ve come far enough now that I couldn’t sustain the shame and self-hatred necessary to stay on a starvation plan long enough to lose weight — maybe not long enough to cook a meal, at this point. That, my friends, is progress.

But it took a long fucking time to get here.

[ETA: I totally skimmed the part about how you've been more active than usual lately, AS, so you can disregard the following advice, but I leave it up for other Shapelings who might be in the same position and find it useful.] A Sarah, my only piece of concrete advice is this: if you have the time and inclination (and aren’t already doing it enough that an increase would take you to crazy levels), exercise. Nothing restores my body image faster when it’s flagging. Moving my body reminds me of what it can do, which stops me from obsessing solely about how it looks. The endorphins are fun, and they certainly take the edge off of hating yourself. And I swear, after I exercise, when I look in the mirror, I think I look better — even though clearly, my body composition did not change in 45 minutes, or however long I just spent doing something. If you like to swim (and can handle wearing a bathing suit), getting in the water can also have a nice little baptismal effect to reset your thinking — I always feel sort of purified after I swim or do water aerobics (perhaps because I’ve literally been bleached). But really, any movement helps (me, anyway), and it doesn’t even have to be hard exercise. A session of gentle yoga or a walk around the neighborhood can do the trick, which is getting me out of my head and into my damn body.

Shapelings, do you still struggle with wanting to diet? How do you stop yourself? (Or do you?) Tell A Sarah what you do in comments.

289 thoughts on “Stop Her Before She Diets Again!

  1. If you can afford it, buy some new clothes — something fun that makes you feel great. I don’t wear dresses a *whole* lot (though I wear skirts all the time), but I find that putting on a dress makes me feel instantly more striking, prettier, and more vivacious. In fantasy land, I have “perfect” proportions (and skin, and hair, and and and) and I feel like that EVERY WAKING MOMENT ZOMG. In real life, I can put on a new dress and feel like that for a day, which reminds me that I actually don’t need to feel like Angelina Jolie every second to like my looks.

    Obviously, YMMV in what item of clothing (or haircut, or accessory, or heavenly new bra) makes you feel awesome, but if you’ve got a little bit of cash to splurge with, this can be super fun. I hate to sound like a Cosmo article — “Treat yourself by making yourself more feminine!” — but I find that when I start indulging the FoBT, it usually has to do with me feeling uneasy in my femininity in some way.

  2. A Sarah- I totally empathize. I feel like you do more often than I would like to admit (like right now). For some reason I had some silly hope that intuitive eating would, if not make me lose weight, certainly not make me gain. And here I am a year later having gone up a size and being fatter than I have ever been. My solution? I get haircuts (I am getting a new one today, in fact). I play with the things about me that I can change. I browse the internet for great clothes (that I can’t afford but make me happy just being out there).

    I also remember how much of my time and energy used to be wasted tracking what I ate. Yesterday I had a brief moment where I thought maybe WW wouldn’t be so bad (brief, but WTF?) and then I remembered all of the obsessive counting and tracking and not being able to think of anything but what I ate. If you were like that when you dieted, try and remember how NOT FUN it was.

  3. I feel exactly as she does. I’m 114# @ 5’6″ . Which means that the fantasy of being thin is just that, a fantasy. Kate’s advice of exercising is spot on. My worst moments come after long periods of inactivity, regardless of what I weigh.

  4. Ooh! And if you can swing it (or talk someone into doing it for free), massage. Again, it forces you to be in your body for a sustained period of time, and it can quiet the negative voices in your head.

  5. Oh, and I don’t know if kids are conducive to this, but I also put on loud music- my favorite cheer up album is Grandaddy…I don’t know the track name, but there is one that goes, “bust the lock off the front door/once you’re outside you won’t want to hide anymore/light the light on the front porch/once it’s on you’ll never turn it off anymore”. I feel like it exemplifies freeing oneself from anything. Ok, total cheese, I know…

  6. I still struggle with this almost every day. I have been trying to follow HAES, but even that can get twisted around. It’s when I start to exercise regularly and eat healthy food, but then my brain (or ego) starts to take it a step further: “If I feel this good walking 30 minutes a day, maybe if I just ramped it up to 60 minutes I could lose weight.” Or if I’ve been eating lots of yummy vegetables, I start to take it too far: “Maybe if I switched out any pasta or bread for more yummy vegetables I would look better.” Nevermind that I feel great with the 30 minutes of walking and eating my veggies WITH my pasta. I wish I could give advice, but I struggle with it so much it’s hard to help.
    The only thing that seems to work for me in part is setting exercise goals that have nothing to do with weight, like hiking a new trail or trying a new sport like kayaking. It helps me to break the stereotype of “dieting activities”. Hiking can be done for fun at 230lbs(or more), and not for the purpose of weight loss, etc.

  7. I am in the midst of a crisis right now, actually. I’ve been so on board with SP and your wonderful counterparts (where I often lurk as well) and have really been loving life. I’m an avid athlete and I just stay chunky unless I hit some wild diet, which in turn leads to going overboard and slipping into bizarre ED behaviors… And I was seeming to accept that fact and just get on with life as a chunky athlete.

    I’ve had a running-related injury for a few months now and have had to scale it back, but I can’t seem to stop exercising. It’s a big part of my life. But the pain keeping me from running as much and having to find other ways of moving as well as the “giving up dieting” and gaining weight (again! Imagine?!)… I’m freaking out.

    This couldn’t come at a better time. I’ve spent my morning sobbing and trying to fight it. I’m hoping the advice here can help me out of this horrible funk.

  8. Oh, Yorke, I’m so sorry. And you bring up a good point, which I barely touched on in the post — exercise is really helpful for me, but if you have an ED history and/or are prone to overexercising, that’s not the way to go.

    I hope this thread gets really friggin’ long and offers lots of good advice. I expect it will.

  9. I have this problem too, sometimes–I guess because I’m still a bit new to FA?

    I think both of Kate’s suggestions are excellent, but I’d also add that when I get to feeling this way, sometimes it has to do with my feeling sort of sluggish from bad nutrition. Not in a weight loss way, hah, but from a “college student doesn’t have the time, money, or resources to eat more than bread, cereal and pizza” sort of way.

    So maybe getting into foodie-ism might be good? I think about all the wonderful delicious things I can make and eat, and then, ah, make and eat them, and try to just pay more attention to myself and my body, and usually that ends up making me feel better, healthier, and more body-positive, since I feel like I’m taking care of myself more.

    Don’t know if that’s possible with where you are time and money-wise, but when I can manage it it’s excellent. Also a million times yoga, if you’ve not tried it–not for everyone, but I honestly think without it I’d have spent a lot longer unable to accept where my body is, instead of where I wanted it to be.

    (Also, hi, Kate, I think this is my first comment? And since FA has changed my life quite a bit, and I discovered it through you at Shakes, so–thank you. ^_^)

  10. Well, hell, I’d better not diet now that I’ve got a thread and everything about it…

    Loving the advice to get new clothes, haircut, and massage. I have a birthday coming up so there’s even a “proper” occasion to indulge.

    Yorke, I’m sorry about your injury and the pain it gives you from doing the kinds of exercises you used to enjoy. :(

  11. Exercise is excellent, excellent advice. And yeah, it doesn’t have to be like, a hardcore hour at the gym every day (that would be crazy-making for me, especially with two kids!). I’m not sure about your kids’ ages (or if your husband might be interested), but I know that one of my absolute favorite activites growing up was just the good ol’ backyard badminton my mom and I played. No net, no hard and fast rules, just hit the birdie back and forth together. We started when I was 5-6, and by the time I was 11-12 I was really damned good. It was a great family bonding activity, and it’s totally tailorable–you can be really intense about it if you feel like working up a sweat, or slow and leisurely if you feel like having a conversation. Either way, to this day I still feel great after I’m done.

    Man, the dieting stuff can kind of sneak up on you, can’t it? Even though at this point I have pretty much entirely embraced FA, I can still get some of these bizarre, sometimes heavily-coded, messages. Like the other day–I was driving home from work, snacking from a bag of those little Snyder pretzal sandwiches with the cheese in the middle. So, they’re a bit salty, and in the back of my mind I was thinking, “Take a drink of water.” My water bottle was easily in reach, but for some reason I wasn’t reaching for it.

    Well, my mind had been kind of wandering, but at that point I kind of forced it to focus on this: “Why aren’t you letting me take a drink of water?” My mind kind of shuffled around and went, “I dunno.” “Oh, come on.” “Well…umm….if you’re thirsty, maybe you’ll quit eating those pretzals.” “I’m sorry, what?” “Well, you know. I mean, you really don’t need to eat anymore. You should stop.”

    So, I had to dig a little deeper, and poke around a little more, but then I found it, that thought, crouching behind a corner, trying to hide: “Well, maybe if you quit eating those, you’d lose some weight.”

    And I was like WTF??!! You’re forcing me to dehydrate myself so I can (maybe) lose like an ounce of weight from some fucking pretzals? So I immediately drank the damned water and continued to eat. And you know what? About four or five pretzals later, I got full ANYWAYS and quit eating of my own accord! I know, shocking!! And, when it all came down to it, I had eaten maybe 2/3 of a 6 oz bag of pretzals. OMG STOP THE PRESSES I AM SUCH THE FATZ.

    So yeah. This society that we’ve been brainwashed into? Is teh suxors.

  12. Seconding, (thirding?) the above comments–hair,clothes, nails, massage…also sleep. I get down on my body when I’m really tired, although I’d imagine that with two kids that one could be the most difficult.

    And possibly talking to someone (either alone or with your partner) about how your relationship has changed?

    It’s funny how the old diet urge can strike at any time–last year I started doing (for fun) an athletic activity I used to do competitively. In order to do this athletic activity, a person requires equipment, which is expensive and owned by the club where one does this activity. The equipment a person can use is based on weight.

    So I was/am about 5 lbs above the cut off weight for particular piece of equipment, and immediately I decided I should just lose those 5 lbs for the season. Not forever, not to look different, just to fit into that piece of equipment. After much back and forth self-talk about me knowing better and being a huge hypocrite, I finally decided that equipment should fit me, not me fit it. Which is hard, when equipment is expensive and not customizable without a great deal of cash.

    All this to say that this garbage can pop up when totally unexpected, and IMO always is worse when other things are going on personally

  13. I’m actually right there with Sara this week. I just got the photos back from a wedding I was in where I strongly resembled a lilac triangle. Plus other things are making me depressed, so I totally didn’t need a reminder of how horrible I look in a strapless dress. I am currently torn between wanting to eat an entire batch of cookie dough and never eating again.

    Fortunately I’m not actually any good at dieting, so the batch of cookie dough scenario is much more likely.

    My plan, Take a mental health day next week when my boss gets back and go do something totally selfish for myself. In the mean time, I’m going to go visit a pet store and cuddle with puppies.

  14. Oh, A Sarah, I’ve been feeling the same way.

    In fact, I think it’s a little bit in reaction to FA — “Does this movement make me look fat?” — because FA has put me back in my body and made me aware of who I am.
    When I first found FA, all I felt was better, which I equated with thin. So FA made me feel thin, oddly, only at a size 18/20.

    But even I, who was able to hold the cognitive dissonance of no one EVER maintaining their goal weight for years beside “try one more diet”, wasn’t able to trick myself into actually believing I was skinny. Thank gawd for y’all or I’d probably going for WLS.

    Anyway.

    All I can say is that I’m repeating, like a mantra, that “diets don’t work” (which is true for me) and “I’ve got better things to do than work on starving”.

    And then (repeating like some insane thing), I go look at Leslie’s pics on Fatshionista, because she’s someone I want to be, and I look at naked women on Adipositivity, because those women are beautiful, and then (like Sweetmachine suggested) I buy myself something if I have the cash.

  15. Oh, also, kristin, you are SO right about Weight Watchers being a complete pain in the ass. That’s what has so far kept me from taking the plunge… I just start thinking “An egg is this many points, a banana is this many…” and I want to kill someone. I am a FANTASTIC cook — the best cook I know who isn’t a professional chef. (So Chelsea, this goes to your point too — and YAY for your delurking!) Really, it was just a crying shame to be on WW and not be able to treat food properly. Non-stick cooking spray? Egg Beaters? Low-fat bread? Those are props, not edibles. I’m still remembering, though, how quickly the first ten pounds came off with WW, and in my mind, if I could just go back to That Number, I’d be “me” again. Not feeling like me, of course, is related to so many things that are NOT weight… but I feel like I can’t change them as easily.

  16. @kristin: that’s the Grandaddy song “Now It’s On” – really cute video, too!

    @ A Sarah, Sweet Machine et al: I had a weird femininity experience with FA, actually. Over the past couple of years I’d basically stopped shaving my legs, and I justified it with feminism. This wasn’t entirely untrue, but it was dishonest–I hated my legs, didn’t want to show them in a skirt or shorts, and so made a sort of subconscious decision to double-talk about it.

    This summer I’ve bought some dresses and bermuda shorts and rocked shaved legs almost every week. I’m making peace with my cellulite, veins and bruises (damn my new bedframe).

  17. It may be that the desire to lose is a chicken/egg thing when it comes to the relationship… your concerns triggering more eating than you might if you were allowing yourself to be intuitive… that kind of thing? I do think talking with someone (your partner, a professional) about the relationship might help.

    In quicker terms… I usually find it helps when I think of it in terms of “beating up on myself.” The majority of the rest of the world beats up on me for being fat. How am I loving and cherishing myself if I join them? And counting calories and limiting portions makes me feel like I’m a child who must be told what’s best. So what can you do to make yourself feel loved and cherished? What will make you feel delighted that you’re a grown-up? Go out with friends, or find a hip new bistro, or do the new clothes thing others have mentioned. Take a minute to spoil the you you already are!

  18. delurking to say hi and offer my two cents. I think that the advice to get new clothes/haircut/nails done/ massage is awesome. But A Sarah, if you are unsatisfied with how your current exercize activities are making you feel, maybe trying a new activity would make you feel good, because it might challenge some muscle groups that are not used as much in your current activities. I personally have to change up my selection of activities quite often in order to keep it interesting for my body and my brain.

    Also, maybe the emotional disconnect you are feeling in your marriage would be better healed by spending some special “us time” with your partner (couples massage class, walk in the park without the kids during a cooler evening, free outdoor concert with a picnic and a bottle of wine, etc.) rather than by making yourself miserable by dieting.

    I hope you feel happier soon!

  19. From one Sarah to another… yes yes yes, I am right there with you. I had a visit from friends this weekend, and one beloved friend who I’ve always looked up to told me that she thinks I should lose at least 40 lbs. I put up an argument, but I was devastated. I ran to the gym, and felt those thoughts coming back– “you’re too fat to eat that!”

    And oh yeah, I’m so broke that I can’t buy new clothes, and the old ones are getting really worn and don’t fit right, so I’m schlumping around in clothes that look bad and don’t fit. No wonder I feel horrible about myself right now. I’m trying to stick to a diet that nurtures my digestive system (I have Crohn’s) and to get some exercise, but it’s hard not to confuse “taking care of myself and dealing with my illness” and “losing weight and dieting”.

  20. Sigh. I think I’m in a similar place – about to give in to some dieting. It’s that or invest in all new suits. I was about to say “fuck it, I’ll by a new one”, but a day of trying them on convinced me that that wasn’t so easy – my current figure doesn’t match ANY off-the-rack sizes, large or small. Wrong proportions. And doing 5 pounds worth of dieting seems much more appealing than spending the time and money required to have some suits tailored to fit the current me. Blah. Blah blah blah.

    Maybe reading some of the other comments will talk me out of it…

  21. A Sarah and Kristin, thank you for the reminder about weight watchers. Sometimes I forget when I see their commercials with the fun Cher song and these gorgeous larger empowered-looking women dancing around. Then I remember the reality of Weight Watchers and the imitation butter spray and counting the points in mustard, for pete’s sake. That plan always worked for me temporarily before I ended it looking up how many activity points I earned for a fit of seething rage.

  22. Laurakeet- Yay! I love that video- thanks for linking it! Also, I am so with you with the legs shaving thing…it wasn’t legs shaving, but makeup for me. Like if I put makeup on I was drawing attention to myself and then saying to the world that I was pretty enough to wear makeup or something? I know it doesn’t make much sense…

    A Sarah- My husband and I love to cook, also, and I remember a day when he found some new recipe that had ungodly amounts of butter in it and I got pissed off that he even had it in the house. I am glad I remembered that, because it reminds me that I was such a crazy head when dieting.

  23. I should add that if your basic clothes don’t fit — if every day you have to get dressed is a day that makes you feel too fat for your clothes — you should absolutely invest in some new basics that fit your current body. If you’re at the high end of your usual range anyway, it can’t hurt to have some clothes for that size no matter how long you actually stay there.

  24. I definitely second (third? fourth?) the massage idea. Sometimes, when I’m feeling the least like I deserve that kind of thing is when I actually need it the most. Hmmm… maybe I oughtta schedule a massage, too! I do find, though, that I have a better experience mentally if I go to a holistic massage center or somewhere that they do a lot of medical massage… I’m not describing that very well… basically NOT a spa. I, for one, feel very uncomfortable in the whole spa/pampering situation. Perhaps that’s not you. But just remember that there’s more than one type of massage situation/facility.

  25. Ami- “before I ended it looking up how many activity points I earned for a fit of seething rage” made me guffaw, seriously. I know it must have been awful at the time (see my story about the recipe with butter) but after the fact it is a really funny story. I hope someone was there to share your seething rage with you so you can laugh about it together :)

  26. A Sarah, I’m totally with you here. This weekend, hubby and I were clearing up some clutter around the apartment, and I came across a glut of WW materials left over from my last go round a few months ago (a go round that was put to an abrupt stop after finding this blog and FA — thanks so much, Kate!). And although I really, really wanted to chuck those fuckers, I couldn’t do it. I started thinking, “Well, what if I want to go back eventually? Those materials cost money, and I’ll be sorry I don’t have them if I decide to go back.” So I hid them in the back of my closet, so I don’t have to look at them, and hopefully when I move into my new house in a couple of months, I’ll have the strength to throw them away altogether, because I am never, NEVER going back to hating myself hard enough to make that shit worth it.

    Also, belly dancing has been helping my self esteem. I don’t imagine that I am one single pound thinner from my four-weeks-so-far of training, but I can see big differences in my energy level, muscle control and endurance. The first week, I was hurting after a mere 15 minutes. Last week, I lasted the whole hour, sweated my ass off, and loved it. Honestly, I think it’s the first time in my life I’ve actually enjoyed feeling sweaty. Probably because it’s the first time I’ve ever sweated for fun, rather than to lose weight or because central Florida is a freakin’ sauna for 9 months out of the year. It was glorious.

  27. Sorry to comment so much, but-

    Jul! Hey! Since I finished my dissertation last weekend, I have been laying around the house being a lazy head and watching tv. There is this show called “What not to wear” and from it I have learned:

    1) Off the rack clothes fit basically no one.

    2) Buy something to fit the largest part of your body and take it to a tailor!
    I am so totally on board with this. If you are a good clearance shopper, then it is even better!

  28. wow, such good stuff. It’s so important to remember that we can all slip in and out of an FA frame of mind, and sometimes it’s seemingly unrelated things that can trigger the break. I liked EntoAggie’s transcription of the inner debate of pretzels and water and punishing oneself with thirst for eating; it can take some serious excavation to get at the shit, possibly even more so for people who have been working FA for a while, because it’s hard to believe that OMG I’ve still got this in me?! Gah! Get it out, get it out!

    I am struggling myself right now with assigning moral value (or “well, on the upside…”) to the hunger that I’m feeling because I don’t have enough money to eat properly right now. I’m eating two meals a day instead of three, and eating much smaller portions of what I have to make it last longer. The other day I found myself looking at my carton of cottage cheese to see what the recommended serving size was, so I would know how long it would last by that measure. 6 servings per carton, okay, 6 days, half a cup each day. Well, that first day I spooned out half a cup and I was like, what. That’s it? During times when I have enough food I will eat a cup with some pineapple chunks. But right now I just looked at it and said, huh. And in my head I was thinking, well, if I’m eating less… gah! and I recoiled from finishing the thought. I KNEW it was there, and I was appalled. And I added another spoonful of cottage cheese. But I was still hungry, and that was one less day of cottage cheese that I would have.

    I hate the situation I’m in already, for bringing up all the food-scarcity fears that I had when I was growing up. And after yesterday, when I had that thought, now I hate it for making me feel like I’m on a diet, and paying attention to portion size, when the truth is that I can’t afford anything else right now.

    What am I doing to deal? Well, besides waiting for the next paycheck, I joyfully had a few offers of food treats over the last week (late-night breakfast, someone else treating me to ice cream). I also have gotten pretty creative with rice and onions. I also typed up some recipes for the forthcoming Big Moves Boston cookbook fundraiser (stay tuned for details about how to get one for your very own!). And the script that I’m working on for our fall musical, Hot Buffet, contains a fair bit of food porn and sexualized desserts, so I’m having a good time going over that with a fine-tooth comb and thinking about how we are going to, for example, present an audience member with an order of Back-Door Fudge Delight… on the small of the back of one of our dancers.

    Eww!

    Wait.

    Yumm!

    Uh…

    This is what I do to distract myself from the gnawing belly, and remind myself that I love food, and I deserve to have as much as I want in my life, even if circumstances don’t currently permit.

  29. Jul, oh, woops. You don’t want to take it to a tailor. Sorry for skimming over that. But the first point stands.

  30. A good idea I have, is write a list of all the things you’d rather be doing than dieting. Write about the negative aspects of dieting. Then put it on the wall, and if you’re tempted to diet again, you’ll remember all the joys you would loose just in an attempt to be thin.

  31. I’ve been feeling similar sentiments lately, so I just wanted to let you all know that your comments have been helpful.

    This is my first post, and I’m de-lurking to say..THANK YOU. I have been taking so much better care of myself, mentally and physically, since I started spending time on this site. The world is mad, but we can resist the madness rotting our brains.

    I know I have a long way to go in accepting myself. I’ve accepted my what I think my natural weight is, but I don’t feel good about being 30 pounds above it right now (meds, depression, recent unhealthy habits). At least I won’t be waiting around to feel comfortable only when I reach a weight below that of my unusually and effortlessly thin husband (who thankfully is supportive and only wants me to be healthy).

    I even had to hold myself back from listing my weight here– my impulse was to share so that you wonderfully fat-accepting people wouldn’t think I was fat! Ha!

    I’ve been exercising every day, even though it never has an ounce of effect on my fat, because I remembered I like it. I “allowed” myself to buy chocolate for the first time in months. I’m trying to eat more so that I don’t fall into that old bingeing/starving trap. And yeah…it’s hard not to be happy that I’ve lost a few pounds…but at least I’m putting the peace of mind first.

    You are intelligent, brave, and strong for taking on our fat-hating world.

  32. “In the mean time, I’m going to go visit a pet store and cuddle with puppies.”

    I love this idea! :D

    So I feel actually alright today and haven’t had any of those sneaking diet thoughts lately; despite cutting gluten out of my diet now since (even though tests show otherwise) eating it makes my digestion go crazy.

    My suggestions; that I try to follow on the days when I DO get that diet urge:

    1. Remember what it felt like to diet. NOT how you felt when you lost weight; how it felt to DIET. It sucked. Remember now? All those calories being counted; wondering if 1/2 spray of fake butter counted as ANY calories. Working out that extra 10 minutes past your endurance/comfort level just so you could earn that second cookie or an extra 1/2 cup of rice. Writing down every minute fucking thing you ate all day; down to using measuring cups and scales for nuts. It was fucking insane. It SUCKED. Remember.

    2. Get a haircut. This is what popped me out of the latest diet urge I had. I read that blog about fatties afraid of shorter hair and I cut mine; drastically. It feels amazing and I’ve never gotten so many comments on my hair before. A cute outfit or something might also work if you have monies.

    3. Dance (or do some other activity you love that gets you moving). If this means putting on some music by yourself or going out dressed all hot with friends; either way just move your body and appreciate what it can do. :D

    4. Get sleep! Like someone else suggested; I know I start feeling down on myself when I get overworked/overtired. Putting aside my “cute” habit of rubbing my eyes when I’m tired (as if I’m a 4 year old in need of a nap!); being tired makes me look drawn and haggard and sometimes that ends up translating into feeling fat and ugly. So sleep! There’s a reason we call it “getting your beauty sleep”. Feeling rested makes you FEEL beautiful and feeling pretty makes you act pretty and well confidence makes people smile!

    Or you can just hug a few puppies; cause quite frankly that sounds awesome and will be added to my own mental list for the next time that diet urge comes around. :)

  33. I had one day a month or two ago when I had to call up my mother, at work, halfway across the world (well, across an ocean and half a continent, anyway), and get her to say to me “it’s okay to eat more if you’re hungry” because that day I was hungry about every two hours and by 4pm or so I was really having mental trouble eating outside mealtimes (having had one snack already). This is similar to what happened to me last year (well before I discovered FA) when I let my aunt talk me into tracking my calories, just to see how many I was eating and make sure I wasn’t overeating (I wasn’t, but it led me down some very unhealthy mental paths.) I had the same reaction around dinnertime then…

    One thing I sometimes do is download one of the past HAES radio shows (one of the mostly or all music ones) and listen to it on my computer.

  34. Kristin – no problem, what you’re saying totally makes sense! And it’s probably what I *should* be doing. I just haaaaaaaaaaate everything to do with clothes shopping, and the idea of adding an extra step (tailor) to the whole process is a huge turn-off. But, yeah, probably the best long-term solution. The idea of having interview clothes that fir me well is appealing, I must admit! But, enough to get me off my ass? Hmmm….

  35. I tore my ACL tendon in my knee at the beginning of March and went from doing martial arts 5x/week to nothing. I can’t even walk for longer than 5 minutes before my knee starts to ache. (Surgery booked for January – hooray!) Because I went from being very active to being completely sedentary, I have gained weight. I have no idea how much, because I refuse to step on a scale, but I do know that I had to buy new clothes and now some of that new stuff is feeling a little tight already.

    I totally hear where you are coming from. I’ve had those stray thoughts about going back to WW until I remember the crazy, and how I did not think about anything other than food for a year. So I read my FA blogs and repeat to myself that diets don’t work, and then I go eat something delicious (like the chicken burrito I had last night that was covered with cheese and chipotle mayo omg so good).

    Exercise always made me feel better, so I second the advice to shake up your routine a little bit and try to find something new that you enjoy. Yoga was always a great thing for me but of course it is not for everyone. Also, I immediately felt better about myself when I bought clothes that fitted the body I have now, rather than the body I had six months ago. Once I wasn’t squeezing myself into too-small clothes, I stopped feeling so fat and disgusting. If you can afford it, go buy yourself some everyday clothes that make you feel gorgeous. :)

  36. Buy something to fit the largest part of your body and take it to a tailor!

    YES. I’ve been doing this for about the last year, and it is so damn nice to get clothes that actually fit my body instead of sort-of fitting — and it helps with taking away the power of THE NUMBER, since I know that even if I buy size whatever, it’s not really size whatever anymore anyway — it’s just Kate-sized, which is exactly the size I should want to be wearing.

    Also, I almost brought this up in the compliments on weight loss thread… the last time I did that, I brought a slightly too big skirt into the tailor, and she was like, “Did you lose weight?” all excitedly. *eyeroll* She’s been taking in my clothes for a year, so I don’t even know what that was about (except that I often have her take things in around the shoulders, and this one was too big in the waist). But I just said, “Nope! Bought it too big!” and before she could say anything, another seamstress was like, “Girl, that’s the way to do it! Buy it too big and have it altered to fit you!” I was so grateful to her for shifting the conversation there — not least because she’s totally right.

  37. Once I wasn’t squeezing myself into too-small clothes, I stopped feeling so fat and disgusting.

    Oh, this is such a good point. Those thoughts have often snuck up on me at times when I considered myself “between sizes” but had actually graduated to the next size without realizing/acknowledging it. When I’d finally break down and buy the next size up, it was like, “Oh, right! I still look great in clothes that aren’t too fucking tight!”

  38. My suggestion is to do something – anything! – that reminds you that you have worth and value. Everyone deserves clothes that fit and peace of mind and to feel comfy in their skin – and whatever reminds you of that is, in my mind, the best remedy for this kind of funk.

    If I can’t afford fancy new clothes – maybe I can hit a thrift store, or call up some friends and have a makeover swap meet. If I’m not into manis and pedis and massages and facials, maybe I can go sunbathing for an afternoon or take a walk on a beach or through a park. Maybe I can’t afford new music or a movie, but I might write a song or some poetry or draw or paint or collage some inspirational artwork. Maybe have a potluck diet intervention with people who share FA values – and everybody brings their favorite tasty non-moralized dish to share?

    Also, I think escapism can be a useful tool for short-term crises of faith…maybe there’s a good book that could distract until the urge passes?

    Just some ideas.

  39. My first inclination is to say: Please try not to feel guilty for being tempted to diet. More guilt is not the answer. This comes from someone who feels guilty about lots of things, so I know it is easier said than done. Others have mentioned many things that have crossed my mind: not beating yourself up is my favorite. I can relate to other themes. I have been exercising more than ever for the last five months or so and I also weigh more than I ever have. I have a mother with Alzheimer’s so my motivation is always: blood flow to the brain, blood flow to the brain! Try to take pleasure and pride in the good things that increased activity is doing for your body and mind. One other thing I was thinking … is your partner someone you could share these feelings with? Just wonder if you could toss it out there in the context of what you described as a cooled emotional connection – and also get out there your belief that dieting is NOT the solution you’re seeking.

  40. Hey, A Sarah, I’ve been looking for an opportunity to tell you how much I enjoy your commenting both here and over at Bitch PhD, as well as your blog. I don’t have any good anti-dieting advice but a shot of ‘wow you are an amazing thinker and writer while you’re at it’ can’t hurt, right? I think all the suggestions here about treating yourself like royalty in other ways is spot on.

  41. Maybe have a potluck diet intervention with people who share FA values – and everybody brings their favorite tasty non-moralized dish to share?

    I love this! When are we having a potluck?

    Also, I think escapism can be a useful tool for short-term crises of faith…maybe there’s a good book that could distract until the urge passes?

    Ooh, I like this, too. I swear, I could not have handled my mom’s death if it weren’t for Harry Potter (which I discovered on the plane to her memorial service) and mediocre mystery novels. Reading stuff that was totally absorbing but not intellectually challenging was the only thing that gave me any relief for quite a while. And if that can conquer grief, it should be able to conquer thoughts of dieting! :)

  42. *are* spot on. Happy morning, subject-verb agreement!

    And I think FA is just like any other movement of decolonizing your mind: it’s a process rather than a destination and it involves continually re-committing. Thank god for Shapely Prose!

  43. a personal-form-of-feminism note for people to be aware of: I’m really uncomfortable when people suggest that I do things to make myself feel/look more feminine. This may be the case for other women.

    For me, learning to love my body the way it is has been just as much about learning to love it with no makeup (which I stopped wearing years ago), hair on my legs and under my arms (also, something that happened years ago) and on my face (which I’m still dealing with) as it is about learning to love myself at the weight I am. Being told that I should make myself more feminine looking feels the exact same way to me as being told that I should lose weight, even if I’m told it’s to make myself feel better.

  44. I love this! When are we having a potluck?

    As soon as my tomatoes are ripe so I can share them. :o)

    And I think escapism is often maligned, but it’s actually a handy trick in moderation.

  45. Oh, and to all the other injured people who have commented, I so know how you feel! I slipped two discs last summer, and I have been SO frustrated since then about not being able to do active stuff that I used to be able to do, and about the changed shape of my body since then!

  46. Being told that I should make myself more feminine looking feels the exact same way to me as being told that I should lose weight, even if I’m told it’s to make myself feel better.

    TBS, I think this is an important point, but I also think people are being careful to say, “This is what works for me, so I’m throwing it out there, YMMV.”

  47. Are there any low-cost or free yoga classes in your area, perhaps through a park district or community center? A gentle yoga class ALWAYS makes me feel like a million bucks. Yay for deep breathing!

    I also secind more sleep. As a culture, we are sleep deprived and a lowgrade lack of sleep can accumulate into a short temper, impulisve decisions, and mild depression. These are not good states of mind to begin with, but certainly could have relevance to your specific situation.

    Also, you might want to look into acupuncture. Used as a natural mood elevator, it can create feelings of wellbeing and calm that add to an overall sense of health and happiness.

    A few more suggestions – -I always look at pictures of foxy fatties online! Livejournal Fatshionista, Blog de Big Beauty, and even the Torrid website make me feel awesome about my body and my fellow fatties’ bodies.

    A few books have really stood out over the years, such as The Fat Girls’ Guide to Life. There’s a also a slew of books on the market that promote a positive body image and healthy lifestyle regardless of size. I am sure your local library will have them or can get them.

    I am a Chatty Cathy today!

  48. A sarah,
    Two of my thin friends say they tried to diet off their “baby weight”, and that as long as they were trying, it stayed on, but when they gave dieting up the weight gradually left anyhow. One of them is convinced her efforts to lose it kept it on longer than it would have otherwise; the other thinks it just has to happen “in its own time.”. So if you don’t want to diet, you might tell yourself that dieting to “hurry the process along” would actually slow you down.

    are SO right about Weight Watchers being a complete pain in the ass. That’s what has so far kept me from taking the plunge… I just start thinking “An egg is this many points, a banana is this many…” and I want to kill someone.

    I’m in the “shock yourself into reality” mode right now, so I’ve been researching the National Weight Control Registry, which is a self-reported group of successful dieters (although their definition of successful dieting doesn’t exactly fit that of most people – you can be morbidly obese and successful by their standards). And one of the bits of info from that group is that the average successful female dieter is eating 1300 calories a day and vigorously exercising 90 minutes a day.

    Suzanne Phelan, who has done research on some of the dieters, further reports that, “Their diets are rather boring. There’s not a lot of variety, and they tend to eat about the same thing all the time.” So according to the largest study group we’ve got going, the average successful dieters are on a boring starvation diet (considerably below the calories per day recommended by world health organizations for sedentary people, let alone for highly active), and even with that boring starvation diet they are only an ankle sprain away from gaining weight (because over 90% of them consider exercise crucial to maintaining their weight).

    For someone who lives on a boring diet anyway (fast food junkies), this may not be a big lifestyle change, but for someone who loves to cook and cooks a fair variety of foods? If that’s where you’re at I’m guessing this isn’t a lifestyle change you’re going to be able to commit to long-term, so why start?

    And on the romance front – you’ve got a little one. The romance front is going to take a hit from that, and the hit it takes is worse with the second one than it was with the first according to my friends who’ve had two. It is a stage of growth; if you both hang in there, it will pass. What can I say? Chronic exhaustion just doesn’t do much for a relationship. ;)

    And in my experience, while there’s a certain euphoria connected to starting one, after a week or so, diets do not do much to help in the exhaustion department!

  49. The Bald Soprano:

    I absolutely agree. I must admit I cringed a little at the leg-shaving/make-up wearing comments above, but I didn’t know if I was being too sensitive. I mean, I don’t want to sound like I’m annoyed at those particular commenters, because I’m not. It’s so hard to articulate, but it just brings up mental images in my constellation of experiences that smack of “oh she’s just ‘letting herself go.’”, which is of course code for “not being feminine enough/gaining weight” etc. And by correllary, if you just start shaving/make-upping again, you’ll obviously feel great.

    I also struggle with facial hair issues, which, if you’ll forgive the expression, are a BITCH to deal with. I would wager that inappropriate hair is right up there with weight in terms of being used to completely decimate women’s self-esteem. When you hear “as long as she doesn’t have a moustache” as what is supposed to represent bottom-of-the-barrel, supposidely non-picky dating behavior from guys, well….you know.

    /rambling

  50. Like so many other voices here, I have these moments. I want to fit in certain clothes, do certain yoga moves, make an ex jealous. For me, the hardest thing to learn is that we don’t have to fit a predetermined mold.

    Lately, I’ve been examining my visceral reactions to my new HAES lifestyle. Some days I feel thinner and I get excited, then I realize what I’m doing and try to reframe it…”I’m excited about my energy, my stamina, my confidence.” But I still can’t shake this feeling that I’m cheating on the FA movement.

  51. I still try to navigate between dieting and binge eating (or, at times when things are a bit better, simple overeating without full-blown bingeing), so I guess I am not the best person to give advice how to get over the urge to diet. However, one thing that has helped me dealing at least half-way successfully with body image and food issues is having good social support. That’s incredibly hard to find, in fact, I guess that it can be almost impossible to find, at least when it’s about face-to-face contact. But it helps incredibly to have a family member, friend, or even therapist who really “gets” that dieting is not a good idea for you, that praising weight loss is actually harmful and that you deserve to accept your body (and have it accepted by others) the way it is while at the same time not judging you for trying to lose weight.
    As for physical exercise: I am not really an over-exerciser although it tend to get very competitive (i.e., I think that when I do sports I have to try harder than everyone else because otherwise they will see my as just another lazy fat girl – and of course it is made worse by not being naturally athletic). This frame of mind is hard to get rid of, even though I know and have known how ridiculous it is.
    Also, honestly, I sometimes find it hard to deal with anything that draws attention to how my body feels, and certainly how my body looks like. I know that in the long term it is something I should aim at getting used to, yet in the short term it sometimes can be healthy to distract yourself. So at least for me the most reasonable thing seems to be short, controlled periods of “exposure” balanced by actually not thinking consciously about my body. (And again, a supportive, save environment can help an awful lot. I at one point had a therapist whom I could completely trust not to judge me and who actually danced with me among other things. But a family member, partner or friend can do the same. By the way, dance in general is pretty awsome for making you feel better about your body.)

  52. And in reply to Kate, I got that sense too, which is why I wasn’t annoyed with the commenters. I know they weren’t being all “Just be super feminine, you’ll feel AWESOME!!”. I guess it was just an initial emotional reaction, a result of being on the receiving end of advice like that too many times.

  53. I’ve been feeling fat recently, but a simple moment of reflection told me: You’re bloated because you’re about to start your period, and on top of that, dummy, you’re lactose-intolerant and have been eating things you can’t digest. What did you expect?

    Of course, knowing that doesn’t make me feel less fat, just silly about feeling fat. Which doesn’t really help, but I can change a little at a time, right? (Also, I should just buy more Lactaid.)

    A Sarah, I totally millionth the “get awesome new clothes” thing. I got a new shirt at a thrift store Monday, and then I discovered while getting dressed this morning that I had a necklace that matches it exactly. And I look awesome in it.

  54. “Maybe have a potluck diet intervention with people who share FA values – and everybody brings their favorite tasty non-moralized dish to share? ”

    Possibly my favorite idea yet! Sign me up for some awesome swedish meatballs :D

    BaldSoprano ~ What you write about using feminine things to discourage weight loss was actually a bit of a jolt for me; in a good way! I hadn’t thought of it but yeah; a lot of the things I end up doing to avoid thoughts that I am fat/ugly/unworthy (and thus need to diet) ARE related to making myself feel more feminine. So maybe we need some gender neutral ideas.

    Hugging puppies still applies; as does just appreciating what your body can do. Maybe even take advice I heard a long while ago and look in the mirror; LOOK at your body and get to know it. (Isn’t knowing half the battle after all? *cue GI Joe theme*) Know that it is just what shape you are. And it is wonderful. Powerful. Strong. Think of the brain that supports that great body. Instead of centering your mind on how to best LOOK prettier to the person next door…work on loving your accomplishments in all things.

    Yeah. I kinda like that too. (Along with doing things to feel more feminine/masculine as you personally see fit!) :D

    So when is this uber moral-free pot-luck thing happening? *breaks out the crockpot*

  55. One thing I’d suggest is going on a media diet, instead. I’ve been finding myself feeling tempted to diet lately, and I have no doubt it’s because I’m staying with my parents. They themselves put no pressure on my to diet, but my mom gets women’s magazines which are strewn about the house, and they have cable, so I’m watching quite a bit of TV, and it definitely all has an effect on me. At home, I don’t let magazines that push dieting or body satisfaction into the house, and we watch very little television, and my attitude is so different.

  56. (shyly):

    Um, I can haz Savannah, GA-area moral-free potluck?

    Could I be so lucky as to be surrounded by fellow FA-ists around here? I’m sure we could have a ripping-good time with some good ol’ Paula Dean-style Southern soul food. Hell, I’d probably invite her if her security didn’t bat me away.

  57. Um, make that “body dissatisfaction”. And, “me to diet.” There’s never an edit key when you really need it.

  58. Oh, do I sympathize. I’m struggling with this, but from a slightly different angle. Kate, if this breaks the “no-diet talk” rule, I very much apologize. I only intend to reach out for help.

    It seems that many people find FA after diets repeatedly failed them. I’m at the other end. A year ago I went on a diet. It’s only a year out, but thus far, it “worked” in the sense that I am now somewhat thinner. It also made me obsessive and unhappy (I was a crying wreck the day before my wedding because I was so ashamed that I hadn’t lost more weight). So I started reading books on nutrition and gradually shifted my focus to healthy, intuitive eating rather than following a set of rules. This way of life is much nicer than either dieting or subsisting on junk food.

    I’m a lot happier now, but I’m having such issues with the last step of just letting go of control of my weight completely. Throughout my shift to focusing on healthy eating, my weight loss continued, just at a slower rate. Right now, I still weigh myself. I still know, in the back of my mind, that the healthy foods I eat are also low in calories. I don’t feel deprived, but I can’t honestly say that I don’t base my decisions on what I eat in part on what I think they will do to my waistline. I think it’s possible that I wouldn’t gain any weight if I just threw out my scale, but then again, I might. And that thought scares me. And since so much of my remaining “diet” thoughts are very subconscious (I can’t really help the fact that I know the calorie content of a spoonful of peanut butter, for instance), I have no idea how to completely shut them down. Does anyone have any advice for me?

    Thank you for maintaining this blog. It has truly challenged me and changed me.

  59. This is actually very timely for me, too. I had a much lauded eating disorder from late elementary school to early college because I never got above or below a socially acceptable range. When I’m feeling the most stressed, my body image suffers- usually in a Jekyll and Hyde sort of way- I snap into and out of moods pretty fast. Remembering that I do have these mood swings about my body can remind me in the heat of a moment that I have not gotten fatter/bigger headed/more hairy/whatever in the past 20 minutes.

    In the past few months, I’ve immersed myself in reading fatosphere experiences. I force myself to recite the kind and encouraging words that I would give to others, even if I don’t feel it at all. That’s a really hard part for me. Dieting and body image aren’t about being rational so I can *know* something without feeling it.

    I definitely agree with Arwen about Lesley. The pictures that she posts to Fatshionista have done a lot to reshape my thinking about clothing sizes and styles. I have been losing my mind for the past two days from temptation by old habits, but it’s a general “I want to lose weight” rather than a “I have to lose X pounds and suffer in these skin tight jeans until I can jam my way back into misses’ sizes” feeling. She gave me permission to try on (and buy, more often than not) 20-22-24s that essentially terrified me for years. Now, I realize it’s not the difference between fat and not-fat but rather, between admitting that I’m fat and being comfortable or pretending that I’m not-that-fat and being greased up and shoe-horned into a 14/16. Fatshionista in general has also taught me that sizes don’t necessarily have anything to do with a garment’s actual measurements. While this is a really duh lesson, I wasted a lot of time crying in dressing rooms because X size didn’t fit any more (and at the time, it was still very easy to find larger sizes than X). Nevermind the clothes that I bought because I’d be fitting into them any minute.

    Surround yourself with positive people and entertainment. Turn off the tv, if you’re not looking for a particular show, or at least be selective about the channels that you choose. Random diet ads and super skinny actresses are still big triggers for me. Be careful with the old pictures when you’re feeling low. Try to focus on what you were thinking when the picture was taken, not how you looked. Think about how *everyone’s* body grows and changes. Would you want older friends to be upset about looking older? Would you want your kids to obsess about how they were/weren’t growing how they wanted to? Try to give yourself the same good, kind advice that you’d probably give anyone else.

    I’m up roughly 100 lbs. from the worst of my anorexia and it’s really, really hard some days, but starving yourself sucks. If you’re good at it, you’ll make yourself weak and sick. If you’re bad at it, you’ll do what most people do- lose for awhile and then gain more than you lost. While I realize that it’s missing the point, on my worst days, reminding myself that dieting is likely to result in additional weight gain is enough to jolt my brain into settling down and having that cookie with my lunch (or my lunch at all, depending on how bad bad is at the time).

  60. Oh, A Sarah, how I feel your pain. It was much easier to be into the HAES mind when I was maintaining a pretty stable weight. Then I quit smoking and now all my clothes are too small, and I don’t want to spend money on new clothes because I’m really hoping that somehow, miraculously, these extra pounds will disappear.

    So, what am I doing? Well, I’m trying to play more with the kids, bouncing on the trampoline with them, or fencing with plastic swords, or playing croquet, and inside during thunderstorms I’m trying to play games with them, or read to them instead of watching tv with them. And with the Spouse, I’m just trying to spend a little more time chatting and laughing, which always makes us feel closer.

    And when I really want to punish myself for this fatness with starvation, then I make myself go unpack a box left over from moving or clean up one tiny section of one room. Since I hate cleaning that satisfies my need to flagellate, and it gives me a more pleasant home to be in, so that’s a big win-win.

    Good luck.

  61. After all this talk of pot-lucks and get togethers, am I the only one who wants to start a Shapeling-con? Maybe we could all decend on Disney World, to be public fat women laughing and playing at a place that encourages (through it’s generously-sized ride vehicles and admiable amount of accessibility for the disabled) visitors of all shapes and sizes?

  62. “Since I hate cleaning that satisfies my need to flagellate, and it gives me a more pleasant home to be in, so that’s a big win-win.”

    Beautiful. Man, I love this community. More quotable-quotes than Tombstone. Oh, btw, I’m you’re huckleberry.

    Mel, I just thought your comment was well-thought-out and beautiful as well. I just thought I’d send out a compliment-of-comments comment, because, well, it’s nice to be appreciated. ;)

  63. Kate: That’s why I was careful to add a similar disclaimer to my point. But I wasn’t comfortable letting it pass entirely without comment.

    Fair enough! :)

    I want to fit in certain clothes, do certain yoga moves, make an ex jealous.

    Okay, as to that last bit, I’ve got two thoughts.

    1) I was recently cleaning out my office and ran across a shitload of pictures, including some from a trip to D.C. right after my last diet — on which I lost lots of weight, but ended up about 25 lbs. heavier than my thinnest. On the same trip, I went to visit an ex I hadn’t seen in years, one whom I’d dated at my thinnest. And despite having no interest whatsoever in dating him again, I was OBSESSED with how “fat” I was, and how he’d undoubtedly think I’d “let myself go.” (It didn’t help that it was August and I spent the day walking all over the city, thinking I’d get a chance to shower and change before I went to meet him, but I didn’t, so I was sweaty, make-up free, and disheveled, too)

    Anyway, some of the pics I found were of that very day, and can you guess what I think when I look at them now? TINY. Seriously tiny. Sigh.

    2) I only have one ex in Chicago that I might ever run into, and I really don’t give a rat’s ass about him — it was a short relationship, and he was a fucking trainwreck. But the “must impress ex!” impulse is still there, and I do hang out in his neighborhood sometimes, so it crosses my mind that I could bump into him. Which means it also crosses my mind that I’ve gained weight since he last saw me.

    And here’s what’s FUCKING INSANE. If I did chance to run across the douchebag, within the course of the forced pleasantries that would ensue, I could tell him about the following things that have happened since we broke up:

    1) I started a blog that became wildly popular.
    2) Popular enough that I’ve gotten lots of media attention, including the cover of the RedEye, an article in the NYT, and an invitation to appear on the Today Show.
    3) I HAVE A FUCKING BOOK DEAL.
    4) I am on the payroll at Salon.com, which was one of my biggest writerly fantasies for years.
    5) Two months after we broke up, I met the love of my life and have been living with him for the past two years. (This one would be especially likely to sting, since his last two girlfriends met their eventual husbands very shortly after breaking up with him, and that bugged the hell out of him. When he told me about that, I was like, “Well, shit, I should break up with you so I can find the right guy!” [Lovely of me, I know.] And lo and behold, that’s exactly what happened.)

    Somehow, though, when I think about the prospect of running into him, ALL OF THAT is negated by however many pounds I’ve gained. (At least until I check myself, of course.)

    That is how deep this shit runs. And it is fucking ludicrous.

  64. ASarah, I’m being lazy and didn’t read everything on the thread, so please forgive me if someone mentioned this already – but what works for me is looking at art. If seeing Cosmo can make me feel terrible about the way I look, then Rubens can damn well have the opposite effect. I check out every beautiful luscious curve on any woman depicted in the past and am able to see that not only does the perception of beauty change and morph, but that I belong in there somewhere. When I see shapes and colors and expression instead of parts and flaws and suppression, I feel better. Hope it works.

  65. I wanted to comment about what shiloh said about losing the baby weight. The average weight kept for women regardless of country is ten pounds heavier after having a baby. While it’s possible that your body will go back to size it was before, it’s probable that it won’t. I struggle with my after baby body too.

  66. Ugh, I think exes and old high school nemeses are the worst for provoking the FoBT or the Fo(Having My Shit Together). My mom can send me into a defensive tailspin just by reminding me that my old high school nemesis started law school in 2007. NEVER MIND that she’s going to the ninety-seventh-ranked law school in the country and I’m applying to Number 3 (with a chance of getting in, if we’re just talking numbers). NEVER MIND that I intentionally put off law school another two years so I could get a certain amount of shit together (and get married). NEVER MIND that I’ve had an impressive job (title) for those two years. Clearly I have NO shit together, just because she beat me into law school.

    And, since I currently weigh 20 lbs more than I did in high school, the weight thing is also a factor. If I’m not a HUGE success, then she’ll notice that I ‘got fat’.

  67. Something that might be important to remember is that (as I have learned in “When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies” as well as other FA positive books) that saying that we “feel fat” or “feel thin” is really code. The code is that fat can cover a multiple of negative feelings/experiences and thin a multiple of positive feelings experiences.

    Fat is not bad. What do we really mean when we “feel fat”? (unattractive? unwanted? lonely? unsuccessful?). This is similar to what a lot of people have already said. Just now I am seeing the connection to a couple of threads ago (the “how do I respond to compliments?” thread). It seems that people in general connect fat with negative things and thin with positive things (i.e. you’ve lost weight when really you look happy). I know I do this to myself, as well. The key, for me, has been to figure out what I really mean when I tell myself I’m “fat.” (Which is different than acknowledging the fact that, yes, I am fat, and that’s ok.). Hope this wasn’t too ramble-y.

  68. A Sarah, small children frequently mean relationship issues. You could be a size 2 and you’d still have the issues. Remind yourself that it’s not your body that’s the problem, your body is supporting you and your children and it’s doing an awesome job. Think of all you do in a day! Your body is a marvel!

    And I cannot emphasize enough the importance of daily exposure to whatever reading matter floats your boat. Under stress I read every moment I can snatch. I’ve been known to sit cross-legged on the floor to blow dry my hair so I can prop a book under one foot. When I used to have the minivan attached to my butt, I always had a novel in the front passenger seat. And to work medicinally, the book must not be something that you think you SHOULD read, it should be something that makes you forget you have a minivan stuck to your butt.

  69. This one would be especially likely to sting, since his last two girlfriends met their eventual husbands very shortly after breaking up with him, and that bugged the hell out of him.

    Holy shit! I have the same pattern….all (!!) of my exes have married whoever they dated after me. Hopefully it’s because I’m not the marrying kind, rather than a trainwreck, though.

  70. Hi A Sarah,
    I was thinking about what you said in terms of being more active than usual lately and being surprised you weren’t feeling leaner. I wonder if even though consciously you weren’t being more active for weight loss purposes, you weren’t subconsciously expecting some weight loss, or fat loss, or something along those lines. I’ve found that when I get more active just for the sake of being active, that old association between exercise and weight loss pops up and bothers me after I had thought it was really gone for good. I think after years of exercising with the hope of changing my body’s appearance, this is an ingrained connection my mind makes at a deep level.
    Besides that thought, I recently have been feeling better about my higher-than-ever-before weight simply by paying attention to my posture, and how I move my body during everyday activities — putting a little more grace into my movement I suppose. Just a thought. Hope you’re feeling better soon!

  71. “I think exes and old high school nemeses are the worst for provoking the FoBT or the Fo(Having My Shit Together).”

    No kidding. I am going to my 10-year high school reunion this summer, and I am currently sitting at the highest weight I’ve ever been (50 lbs heavier than in HS, which may not sound like too much, until you consider that I’m 4’8″). Granted, I was terribly underweight in HS, and WTF? It’s not like I need these people to validate my self esteem now anymore than I needed them to when I was in school. It’s like, wow, so the guys that didn’t want to date me in high school might still not want to date me. (With the added bonus that I no longer want to date them, either). So why is it that one of the unwanted thoughts that keeps popping into my mind is: “So, is there anything I can possibly wear that won’t make me look GINORMOUS??”

  72. Lori – I am on a “media diet” this week, and it’s fantastic! I do it a couple of times a year when I’m starting to feel overloaded or overstimulated or out of control. I figure, I can trust my coworkers, friends, and boyfriend to let me know if there’s anything super important or immediate that I’ve absolutely got to know about. Anything else? It will be there in a week. So for me this means… No radio in the car, no news websites (except for DCist), no news on TV, no magazines, no newspapers, and no TV that I didn’t plan ahead of time (i.e. I watched House on Monday, TiVo clicking through the commercials, but last night I didn’t watch anything.). You can be as strict or lenient as you want. But it’s just nice to turn the stimuli off for a while. I highly recommend any version of a media diet!

  73. You’ve got kids, so it seems to me that eating energizing foods must be incredibly important so you can be there for yourself and for them.

    This might be terrible advice, but sometimes when I get that impulse to restrict myself into losing weight (and it is always about restriction, since I’m pretty active) I play along with that inner voice for a minute. I think: “Okay. So maybe I’ll restrict my food intake. Starting with this meal. What can I eat that would still fuel my crazy schedule?”
    And the answer is: fruits and vegetables – the ones I find delicious. But also, pasta or rice, because if not I’m starving again in an hour and I simply don’t have time to snack today. Also, a little meat or at least a serious helping of protein, because if not I get dizzy. And totally ice cream later because I’m meeting a friend and that’s what we’re doing, and I’m looking forward to it.

    And then it turns out that I’m eating the same things I eat anyway in about the same proportions, because if I don’t then I just won’t be able to do my job. Or my life. You know? So that fixes me for a little while.

  74. Hello A Sarah,

    I’m a pretty body positive chick myself, but I know that feeling you are talking about. So I focus on two main things:

    1. Instead of looking at food and thinking “diet,” I look at food and think “have I given my body what it needs?” Have I eaten enough veggies? Enough fruits? Do I really want a soda when iced green or white tea would be better for me? Did I try a really good whole grain pasta recently? Made my own sauce from scratch? Figured out a way to mix pomegranate juice with something to make it last longer?

    I find that self-destructive mindsets tend to creep in when I am unaware of what I am giving to my body to work with or feeling deprived in some other area. When I pay more attention to things I need (oh, calcium – chocolate milk, ice cream, yogurt?) everything else tends to work out.

    And 2, I try something new.

    So, last week, I finally made it to a strip-ology (kind of burlesque meets cardio strip) class. And while I felt completely self-conscious in front of a huge mirror, picking out all my flaws, the other women (of varying ages, shapes, and sizes) were eagerly warming up. Let me tell you – all body anxiety disappears when you are trying to get the moves down and remember to smile and breathe.

    And it’s a hell of a lot of fun.

    Diet anxiety gets hard to hear when your head is full of fun and choreography.

    Hope that helps some!

  75. First off, I am so glad to see so many folks chiming in, saying that they feel the same way. Some days I read the FA blogs and wonder what is WRONG with me that I’m not perfectly enlightened and loving myself ALL THE TIME already! I know it’s irrational to think that and that in reality it’s always a journey for everyone, but there you go.

    A Sarah, can you get angry about the situation? Sometimes if I can get angry at the outside socialization that causes me to feel [x] way, I have a better time beating it down. The question I’ve been asking myself (a lot) lately to trigger that sort of constructive anger is this:

    What if I did all the “right” things, got the “right” amount of exercise, had perfect blood pressure and cholesterol numbers, never ate anything but unprocessed, organic food, could run 5-10 miles easily and without getting out of breath and every doctor I saw said I was the healthiest person they’d ever seen? Now imagine that I wake up tomorrow and all those things are true, BUT MY BODY IS STILL EXACTLY THE SAME.

    Am I happy? Or do I still hate my body? And if I hate my body, WHY? If it does everything it should do, why do I feel like it’s not “right?”

    The answer of course, is that in those moments I hate my body because SOCIETY TELLS ME TO HATE MY BODY. And that? Pisses me right the fuck off. And then I get all, “Screw THEM! Fuck THAT! They are not the boss of me!!!!!! RAWR!!!”

    A lot of times that anger will carry me through (and often out of) the dieting mindset. In those moments I realize that loving and accepting and taking care of myself is a seriously rebellious act in this society. And I LIVE for snarky rebellion. ;)

    Also, Weight Watchers? Is of the devil. Seriously. In college I had an eating disorder, and after I got through most of it, I tried every diet under the sun over the next 10 years or so. And WW was the only one that made me just as disordered as I was in college. (Obviously none of them exactly HELPED the ED, but I had a really hard time coming back from the brink when I was on WW.)

  76. But the good news is, they really are just moments now, gone as quickly as they arrived, usually because I think something like, “Well, what are you going to do, diet? Fuck that.”

    Heh, I have that moment like three times a day.

    There’s been lots of great advice on this thread. I hesitate to add the one that I sometimes use for myself because it’s not really all that fat accepting but if I’m really, really tempted to try to lose weight, I remind myself that every time I lose weight, I only end up fatter than where I started in a few years.

    Another piece of advice which is more body positive is to ask yourself: when you were 20 pounds thinner, were you actually happy with your body? Because I sometimes think: “Oh, I don’t have to be tiny again, if I could just get back down to a size 8 or 10″ but when I think back to when I actually was those sizes, I wasn’t happy with my body. What makes me think I would be this time?

  77. It looks like most of the good advice has been given.

    Basically, do something that makes you feel amazing. Go shopping. If you can’t find any clothes that fit, buy a hot new purse (those ALWAYS fit! I think that’s why I have such a massive collection). Get a free makeover at a dept store counter (MAC is my favorite). Do something at a spa – massage, facial, mani/pedi, etc.

    If you feel the need to be physical (I know I frequently do and it doesn’t have to do with size), maybe it’s time to change your workout routine. If you usually run, go take an aerobics class (or rent a DVD). If you usually do aerobics, try swimming, or biking, or yoga, or…you get the idea.

    If you need to feel sexy, I recommend the Carmen Electra Aerobic Striptease DVDs. They are so much fun, make you feel HOT, and are actually a good workout. Bow chicka wow wow.

  78. The average weight kept for women regardless of country is ten pounds heavier after having a baby.

    Yah, true enough, and I probably should have mentioned that, but my point was more that trying to get rid of it is no more effective than ignoring it. Even the women I’ve known who lost all the weight say their bodies are changed after the first one.

    OTOH, you don’t gain ten pounds with each kid, and this was her second, so it may be A Sarah went into the pregnancy with most of the first pregnancy changes already extablished.

  79. Aw, man. A Sarah, I’ve been there. I’ll be in a wedding in December, and, hilariously, the first thing I thought of when my friend asked me to be a maid was: “OMG! I have, like, 98 lbs to lose before I can do anybody’s anything!”

    And then I had to rein myself in. My friend does not care how big I am, or any of that foolishness, she just wants me there to share in her special day. If I’m dieting, I can’t be avaliable to help her pick colors, or decide on flowers, or pick a veil, ’cause I’m too busy counting a calorie. And that shit’s just not fun. So, I threw the diet-mind into my mental volcano, and kept it going.

    Basically, with this extra long-winded comment, I’m seconding those who said remember how it was to be on that diet–not the weight loss, but the actual count a calorie, plan a meal diet part that drives us all batshit crazy.

    Oh, and if you do decide to grab some new clothes, and you like B & Lu, then use this code they sent me in the email ( SAVINGS ) to get 25% off your order!

  80. I’ve also been having a hard time loving my body right now. For me I think it has to do with seeing all the adorable women running around on their bikes and etc. in little shorts and tight pants that just makes me so envious I could spit.

    I try, every time I see a pair of slender legs that make me throw a face, to remember a few things:

    1: At the thinnest I have ever been I still have thick thighs so even if I *could* diet my way down to 125 lbs it would not get me skinny legs
    2: If I did look like this person it doesn’t mean all my problems would be gone (FoBT)
    3: She may have long skinny legs that I’m envious of but she might very well be envious of my thick hair or big eyes, the grass is always greener.

    So that’s sort of how I deal with acute body hate, and it is of course particular to me, ymmv.

    I also kind of hate that I get solace in the ways that I have socially acceptable beauty. I really wish I could just reject it, but it really does make me feel better to think about how pretty my eyes are or how nice my fair skin is. I wish I could just say that I don’t care, but I do :(

  81. Great thread!

    Maybe someone already said this, but some good old perspective couldn’t hoit.

    Whenever I think of people who(m?) I truly love and admire (past and present, whether I know them personally or not) it’s always for things like their wisdom, talent, bravery, accomplishments, humor, smarts etc. Not ever ever ever about how fat or thin they were/are or their *looks* in general. No doubt there are people in our lives who view all of us the same way.

  82. Just wanted to add, those Weight Watchers commercials are evil. Because you’re sitting there fully aware that, no matter what they say, it IS a diet, but they tell you it isn’t enough times that you start to think, “Hmm. Maybe this is just a really nice, structured way to be a healthy eater!”

    I did the Core plan like two years ago (the only time I’ve dieted in the last ten years), and I loved it at first. The foods made me feel really great. And then I started dreading every bite of whole wheat pasta and every carrot stick dipped in hummus and dreaming of white pasta and bread. It occurred to me that, while the Core plan had some really good ideas for healthy eating, white flour, bread, and fat are not evil and don’t need to be doled out in skimpy portions or repented of through exercise.

  83. I think that there may be some of the “thin is magic” superstitious thinking happening for you, AS. I’ve known so many people who had absorbed so much body-negativity that they fell into patterns of thinking that losing weight would “fix” problems and challenges in their lives.

    The only people for whom losing scale weight will fix any actual, real-life problem are jockeys, wrestlers, and boxers. I’m guessing that none of those are your profession.

  84. From Rebster:
    “Something that might be important to remember is that (as I have learned in “When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies” as well as other FA positive books) that saying that we “feel fat” or “feel thin” is really code. The code is that fat can cover a multiple of negative feelings/experiences and thin a multiple of positive feelings experiences.
    Fat is not bad. What do we really mean when we “feel fat”? (unattractive? unwanted? lonely? unsuccessful?). ”

    Ooo, good one. I hadn’t thought about it in those terms, but wow. I have something seriously big to chew on now (ha!). Thanks.

  85. There is so much good advice in this post; you guys are awesome!
    Whenever I’m feeling down about anything (weight, life, etc.) I go and do something good for myself, whether it’s exercise (running on a treadmill is a good stress reliever for me), watching a favorite movie, or hanging out with friends. One thing FA has taught me is the importance of doing nice things for yourself.

  86. Have fun. Breathe deeply. Break a sweat.
    Make a dream come true.
    Do something you love.

    Sometimes, I see pictures of myself and wish that the skin on my neck was still firm and that my muscle to fat ratio was closer to what it was when I was compulsively exercising. Some days, it would be really easy to walk until I’m sick and keep going every day after that, no matter how much it hurts.

    Those are the days I pull out my “I am an awesome person” soundtrack. It’s made up of songs that make me feel like I can do anything. Some of the songs on it are:
    Tubthumper – Chumbawamba
    I Love Myself Today – Bif Naked
    Big Girl – MIKA

    I have a tenuous relationship with exercise, so loving what my body can do means doing things like dancing while I clean house because it takes a certain amount of grace and rythm to keep moving and not fall over during some tasks. It also makes me breathe deeply and builds up a sweat which makes me feel like I’ve cleaned my insides as well as my environment.

    Have fun. Breathe deeply. Break a sweat.

    Make a dream come true.

    I don’t know how long I’ve wanted to play the guitar. My mom says I was playing air guitar when I was 2 years old. I’m 33 years old now.

    At the beginning of the year, I started doing research and saving up my money. I went to one shop where nobody wanted to help me. I went to shops until I found a shop where someone talked to me for about an hour to find the perfect guitar for me.

    I nearly cried when I got it home and thought my fingers were too fat because I kept muting strings when I tried to finger chords. Five minutes with Google showed me that most beginners have that problem and guys with “sausage fingers” rock the frets, so I just need correct form and practice.

    Making a dream come true sometimes means being resourceful and having the determination to make your dreams fit your body rather than wasting time and energy trying to make your body fit your dreams.

    I wasted so many years thinking that I was too fat, that my fingers were too fat, to play an instrument. All I needed was some research, money, and a friendly and helpful salesperson.

    Practicing my guitar every day is a daily reminder that I can do anything with the right resources and information. Who needs a diet when you can do anything you want to in the body you have?

    Do something you love.

    Whether it’s making a dream come true or enjoying a life-long hobby, doing something you love every day is a powerful reminder that your life has value.

    Besides practicing my guitar, I write. I’d love to do it for money, but I haven’t figured that part out yet. I blog. I contribute to small group projects. I write poetry. I start stories I never finish. I write every day because it’s impossible for me not to. I love it like I love breathing.

    Have fun. Breathe deeply. Break a sweat.
    Make a dream come true.
    Do something you love.

  87. So I have to join in here for the “help” flare. Last night I spoke on an issue at a local government meeting, and a blogger videotaped the proceedings (with my permission I might add) and posted the video on her blog (again, I support the issue and wasn’t against her posting).

    I am HORRIFIED.
    I look like an elephant.

    I thought I was in good shape. I have done a lot lately, I stopped wearing clothes that didn’t fit me, I spent lots of money on clothes I like in my size, I started wearing dresses and skirts again, I am doing 10000 steps with the cool pedometer, and – big drum roll –

    I BOUGHT BRAS THAT FIT. FOUR OF THEM.

    my boyfriend could not be more sweet and adoring and amorous. i thought i was looking totally cute and really rocking the FA thing.

    until i saw that video.

    it is 2:17 and i haven’t eaten lunch and i can’t figure out how i’m going to get myself to eat lunch because I LOOK LIKE AN ELEPHANT IN THIS VIDEO THAT IS ON THE INTERNETS.

  88. “Have fun. Breathe deeply. Break a sweat.
    Make a dream come true.
    Do something you love.”

    Umm, t-shirt, please?

  89. I Love Myself Today – Bif Naked

    Can I just say, I would really love to see that song replace the tired “I Will Survive” as the go-to post-break-up karaoke number.

  90. Wait, where are there HAES radio shows?!

    I’m having a really stressful week, which has brought out the delightful urge to binge eat. Last night I was dying to binge *and* too tired to stay up to do it. Bleh.

    What I try to remind myself of is this essay by Anne Lamott, about her thighs. She’s calls them her “aunties”, as if they are elderly relatives. Like, maybe they’re not all that hip and cool. Maybe your first inclination is to avoid visiting them. But they love you, and they’re a part of you, and they are so delighted when you visit. They would just like to be with you… maybe go to dinner, or go swimming. She talks about gently massaging her thighs with lotion and putting temporary tattoos of flowers on them, like she’s caring for someone precious.

    In some other essay, she talks about treating yourself as a beloved relative. This works pretty well, too. Would you treat you favorite sister/aunt/etc. this way? Why not treat yourself like you’d want your beloved relative to be treated?

  91. Another Great Biff Naked Break Up Song Tango Shoes My new Tango Shoes they are so cool!

    Shoes.

    3 hours and counting till puppy cuddles.

  92. I just review the numbers when I feel that old insidious diet urge. I am 51 years old. I have been on diets in some form or another for 43 years. I weigh more now than ever. I am living proof that diets don’t work – for me, anyway. So why waste the valuable time and head-space on yet another one? It’s perfectly illogical. Tempting, though – so very tempting. I have thin dreams like some people have flying dreams.

    20 years ago, when my favorite aunt got the cancer that killed her, I remember envying her for being thin for her last couple years on the planet. How sad.

    It sounds from the comments like most of us have these demons in our head.

    A FA potluck sounds WONDERFUL. I also wonder about an FA high sign or secret handshake. A code word? “I hear the blue relish is particularly fine,” you say. And I reply, “Yes, but the doorknob is unfortunate.” And then we smile knowingly as we pass…

    .

  93. WOW did I ever need this post!!! Thank you Shapely Prose. I haven’t even read all the comments yet but I had to say THANKS and I HEAR YOU!

    Just spent a week visiting my sister in CT and all I heard all week was how awful I look and how I look pregnant and how disgusting it is (yet she made a comment about how “adorable” a friend who really is pregnant looked, and she was bigger than me) and how I “need” to lose weight.

    For a bit I got pretty close to teetering back into that awful time where I ate one meal per day and felt tired, strung out, paranoid, dizzy and miserable all the time. In a clumsy attempt to defend my fledgling FA stance I brought that up and she actually said to me “well you obviously are alive so you must not have needed so much food, I don’t understand why you need to overeat to be happy.” Oooh, you’re right! Depression, insomnia, and being nearly sedentary have NOTHING to do with my new/extra/whatever 50 pounds (gained over about a four year period), it MUST be my horrible fattie eating habits!

    I’d rather keep those 50 pounds, forever and always, if I could just find a way to be happy with myself, than feel for even another day the same misery and hopelessness I felt in that almost-anorexic year.

    The part that sucks the most is that I was really starting to feel that, even though I am decidedly chubby, I’m quite cute… that is GONE now, it’s just solid GONE. The monster in the mirror is back. Gods, how I hate her.

    :(

    *reads the rest of the comments for strength!*

  94. Sugar,
    I can’t believe your sister said that stuff to you. That crosses the line. It is in fact so far over the line that it is in a different hemisphere. That’s horrible. I’m sorry to insult your family, but your sister is evil. (And probably adopted.)

    *hugs*

  95. I also wonder about an FA high sign or secret handshake. A code word?

    I’ve been thinking abotu this myself. Going up to someone and saying “are you Kate Harding?” seems to have a lot more embarrassment potential than flashing a covert sign or wearing a button or something.

  96. I love this! When are we having a potluck?

    You are having it in late September or early October, when I can be in Chicago.

    (I hope)

    A Sarah, you’ve gotten some great feedback here, and I don’t have much to add, except: If you need a reminder of how assy WW is and always has been, you need Wendy McClure’s The Amazing Mackerel Pudding Plan, which is a collection of old Weight Watchers recipe cards from the 70s with fall-on-the-floor funny captions.

    Also, ditto what others have said about little kids and marital intimacy. It’s tough. I don’t have kids, but every couple I’ve seen who has, went through that. But boy, the diet people really do a great job of marketing that shit, don’t they? “Your husband will love the new you!” (My mom’s being pencil-thin didn’t save her first marriage, so it’s a lot harder to market it to me than it is to most people.)

  97. Have fun. Breathe deeply. Break a sweat. Make a dream come true.

    Totally. Here are the two things that are the most reliable for me:

    1) I go to a good yoga class. Challenging, tiring, physical work that takes all my mental focus quiets the mind chatter. By the end of class, all I’m noticing is that I’m breathing, and I’m alive. It’s a simple spiritual experience, that. It puts things in perspective. It sounds stupid when I type it out, but it really is like “I’m alive! This makes so many things possible!” And from that perspective, dieting is like, the least interesting of all those possible things.

    2) I work on my art. I’m like, fuck you, diet culture. I’m not going to waste my precious mental energy, my creativity, my time, all of my fucking attention, on a DIET. Who the fuck would that benefit? How could that possibly make the world a better place? How could that possibly be the basis of any real connection or progress? Fuck that. I’m going to actually make something GOOD.

  98. SugarLeigh, I am mad at your sister! I tend to think that someone who says such things obviously has no love for herself, or she would not need to talk like that to you. You are way ahead of her, just reading this blog. You have hundreds of SP friends. Does she have any? Sorry, I know it’s your family – but she just sounds mean!

  99. I need to count my blessing more often; I’ve got a husband and a best friend who’ve both always been thin (well, hubby’s put on a bit of weight since turning 40), and they are both convinced that a person’s weight is genetic. Comments from family are The Worst. So sorry anyone’s having to deal with this.

    Depression, insomnia, and being nearly sedentary have NOTHING to do with my new/extra/whatever 50 pounds (gained over about a four year period), it MUST be my horrible fattie eating habits!

    According to some researcher, the PRIMARY reason people in the National Weight Control Registry regain the weight they’ve lost is depression. Personally, I put on most of the weight by NOT eating, and part of the reason I wasn’t eating was depression. I think for a lot of people the connection between depression and weight gain is pretty powerful.

  100. I just want to remind A Sarah that many women, fat or not, feel this way about their bodies after they have had children. Having a belly stretched out to heeeeere and then vacated quickly lends itself to bags and sags and a jelly-like texture that feels so different from our well-rounded but firmer bellies from before. It’s challenging to love these changes in our bodies, even years out from having the actual kids.

    I would suggest a visit to theshapeofamother.com. You can see that a bit of a jelly-belly is not uncommon in women of all sizes, and looking at other women’s bodies is helpful in making some peace with the fact that our bodies will never be *quite* the same. At some point, we can even celebrate the changes a bit.

    I also spend some time looking in a mirror and loving up my belly, thinking of the wonderful things that that belly nurtured inside it, thanking my belly for sacrificing itself for my four wonderful children, and concentrating on positive thoughts and thanks about it. It’s not always easy, I grant you, but remembering why it’s there does help. And I remember how much my children love my soft, cuddly, pillowy roundness that makes for good hugging and snuggling, and that helps too.

    Remember that most marriages are challenged after kids because the focus has moved away from each other and onto all it takes to care for kids while little. Remember you’re in this long-term, and all marriages have a rhythm of togetherness/intimacy and times of less intimacy, even when there are no children in the mix. Just because you are in a period of flux doesn’t mean the marriage is ending.

    That’s where the commitment comes in, to stay even when things are harder and other things temporarily take priority and allow for that for a while…….and it’s also a signal to make the effort to reconnect with your spouse emotionally. Even the littlest things count in challenging times.

    Children are SUCH a blessing and they bring so much enrichment to our lives….until you have them, you can hardly imagine how MUCH it enriches you. But there are tradeoffs, like a jellybelly or times of less emotional intimacy in your marriage. The tradeoffs are worth it, but they ARE challenging, there’s no doubt about it.

    You battle that by stopping and taking time to appreciate your body and your belly for all it has given you with these little ones, taking little steps (like more/different exercise, well-fitting clothes, a good massage, etc.) to give yourself a physical and mental boost, and by making more opportunities to reconnect with your spouse and to “feed” yourself emotionally and spiritually.

  101. When I see pictures of thinner me from a while back, I get nostalgic for the whole “back then” (of which I remember the good parts more than the bad parts) and I somehow think that if I were thinner, all the good parts of “back then” would come back.

    But being thinner won’t bring back the good parts of back then.

    Sarah A, I think that trying to find ways to get enough sleep and take care of yourself as well as your kids, and find a chance to do fun stuff with your husband and reconnect with him, would make you happy in a way that just being thinner wouldn’t.

    If your husband doesn’t love and support you at your present weight, then that is a real problem and one that I don’t think that your going on a diet would solve. (So I really really hope that it’s not the problem.)

    I like to read FA books (like Gina Kolata’s Rethinking Thin) to inspire me not to diet.

    I also like to read Terry Prachett because not only is he amusing and entertaining, but he is also so wise and accepting. He always makes me feel better.

  102. Oh, and can I just say that I *LOVE* this comment from Karen above about making peace with your thighs??? You could apply the same thinking to your belly.

    “What I try to remind myself of is this essay by Anne Lamott, about her thighs. She’s calls them her “aunties”, as if they are elderly relatives. Like, maybe they’re not all that hip and cool. Maybe your first inclination is to avoid visiting them. But they love you, and they’re a part of you, and they are so delighted when you visit. They would just like to be with you… maybe go to dinner, or go swimming. She talks about gently massaging her thighs with lotion and putting temporary tattoos of flowers on them, like she’s caring for someone precious.”

    How fabulous is that??

  103. SugarLeigh, I’ve been there too.

    From the time I was 11 until I was 19 I only ate one meal each day because I was harassed so badly at school that I couldn’t eat for all of the knots in my stomach.

    My mom used to introduce me to people and tell them what a bitch I am. When she met my friends, she’d scoff if they said something positive about me.

    I’ve had those days when I couldn’t imagine ever having thought I was cute or being able to think I’m cute ever again. You’re not alone in that.

    One day, my mom and I were just talking and I casually said that it hurt my feelings when she said bad things about me and scoffed when people said good things. She honestly believed she didn’t do that, so I calmly gave her a couple of recent examples and sat quietly for a minute while she thought about it. I was stunned when she apologized. She hasn’t treated me that way since.

    Those days when I feel ugly don’t last forever. When they happen now, I have strategies for coping with them. I strum my guitar (though I can’t play yet.) I sing. I write. I dance. Sometimes, I just wallow in the delicious melancholy and have a good cry and then do those other things. Those days pass and get fewer and farther between each time.

    Don’t lose hope.

  104. shiloh, oh absolutley. I just had issues around the weight I gained when I was pregnant, and how I thought that it would just go away on its own. This didn’t happen to me, and I wanted to call into question the idea that women can have their prepregnancy bodies back with little to no effort. This is true for some people, but not for a lot of us.

  105. SugarLeigh–I’m so sorry. People boggle my mind sometimes. I don’t understand how people can be so nosy and judgmental and think they are being helpful. And if your family knows you’ve struggled with depression, I find their intrusiveness even worse. Obviously, it wouldn’t be okay to badger you even if you did gain the weight by eating fast food all day, but people need SUPPORT in times of medical crisis, not smug comments about symptoms of their illness (yes, weight gain is in the DSM-IV as a symptom of depression, as is weight loss). I have issues with depression myself, and I can only imagine what it would do to me to have someone tell me “you’re not good enough and need to change” at a vulnerable time. Depression makes self-acceptance so much harder. Please don’t listen to anything your sister said.

  106. @ bigmovesbabe: I am 100% with you here. My husband and I are both back in school and we have 2 kids; one 11wks and one 8 yrs, whom we homeschool. I know that many people will be angry about this, but we just got food stamp benefits this week and we went grocery shopping. We got REAL FOOD – veggies, fruit, FOOD. Not the cheapest shit we could afford. No (current) worry about the total crap we were putting into our bodies. It is SO expensive to eat well. It is far cheaper to buy pasta than spinach and I hate that (not that pasta is bad – I just can’t eat it every night anymore). I have been positively GIDDY with joy at being able to buy the healthful food that we ALL should be able to enjoy. I have been so poor that I lost 40# in a matter of a couple of months (all I could afford, when I scraped found change together) was a package of ramen noodles each day. I even started mixing mayo into them to be sure I was getting some calories. I lifted a small hand weight to try to guard against muscle loss, at least as much as I could. It is a disgrace that human beings have to face these barriers. I do hope that things look up for you. I so wish that I could bring you shopping with me and get you some yummy food. I also feel fortunate, in some ways, to be living through being so poor ONLY because I will NEVER forget how it feels and it can only deepen my compassion for others in the same situation. My thoughts are with you, and everyone else, who is living through being poor. :-)

  107. @SugarLeigh: I am sending a heartfelt “FUCK OFF!!” in your sister’s general direction, on your behalf. Maude knows, sometimes it’s the only response I can conjure in response to such awfulness.

    I don’t get much of that in my direction these days, and it’s probably only partially due to the fact that I hang out with mostly nice people. But even my mother was on good behavior when she came to visit last October, and I was dreading the look on her face when she saw that I was fatter than ever. And that is very, very fat. In the past, whenever she hadn’t seen me for a while, when we saw each other again she would look me up and down and then get this *hurt* look on her face, like I had betrayed her. Or maybe she had fantasized that I was finally thin and had got my shit together, and then the reality of me spoiled her fantasy. Who knows?

    Ooooh, I didn’t mean to go there, but I’ll leave it.

    Anyway, what I started to say was that even though I am extremely sensitive to looks, comments, sneers and the like, I hardly get them anymore. In fact, I can honestly say I haven’t had *any* in a long time and I wonder if it’s because my attitude has changed to a combination of “it’s nobody’s goddamn business how fat I am” and “how dare you judge me based on my looks.” And a heaping helping of FUCK OFF!! Instead of what I used to feel, which was “OMG I am a fat, out-of-control slob with no willpower and probably some kind of mental problem that makes me eat and I totally deserve your derision and the derision of the whole world.”

    But I can certainly sympathise with the urge to diet. In mid-January I did something awful to my back and it took a long time and a couple of chiropractic adjustments to heal (it’s only in the last month or so that I’m pretty much back to normal). Because of the pain, I wasn’t able to do my usual daily walk (about a half hour on the way home) and I spent most of my time at home just crashed in my chair (and I have an office job: me sitting in a chair most of the day) and gods, the weight has just piled on, to the point where I’m physically uncomfortable. A few years ago I probably would have thought about going on a diet, and would have dreaded it, because not only do I fucking HATE dieting, I knew that eventually (and probably sooner rather than later) I would go off the diet and the weight would come back, plus more. Which is how I got so fucking fat to begin with. So now, even when I get the fleeting thought that maybe I should go on a diet, I can talk myself out of it easily.

    Funny this came up now, because I’m heading back to the gym today for the first time in quite a long while. I pretty much like working out, but I don’t like my options for *when*: getting up earlier (I can hardly drag myself out of bed at 6am NOW), going on my lunch hour, or after work (off to the SO’s on weekends). At the end of the day, all I fucking want to do is go home. So I’m going to try the lunch hour for a while, since I have spent most of my lunch hours for the last few months staring off into space (and not hungry for lunch since I had a late breakfast). So wish me luck! I am feeling a little anxious about it, but I’m not sure why.

  108. SugarLeigh…wow…I am hesitant to actually speak ill of someone’s family, but your sister sounds toxic beyond all words.

    I’m sure this isn’t news to you, but some people hate themselves so much that the only way they can feel good is to, if I may be blunt, shit all over others; sadly it sounds like this may be the case for your sister.

    Keenwell is right…you have 100′s of SP friends (maybe thousands…who knows who is lurking out there!) who would undoubtedly would think of a much better way to spend a weekend with you. I hope that the other comments here are helpful to you, and that you find a good remedy for giving that depression a kick in the ass soon.

    (((hugs to your beautiful self)))

  109. Just chimimg in to say thank you to everyone here. This is such a tremendously helpful, and thought-provoking thread. The whole SP community has completely changed the way I feel about myself over the last year or so. Although I still have days like those A Sarah and many others have described, I no longer live with constant self-criticism and ridicule as I had for about the last 15 years or so. It really means so much to me to have found this community.

    I’d also like to echo the comments made about the power of Fatshionista in helping me see bodies in a whole new light. I have always been really into clothing and expreimenting with fashion, but I let that drift somewhat for a while because I hated the way everything looked on me. I was so afraid to try a size bigger because I’d be breaking my own rule of “Okay, any bigger than size X, and you are officially a lazy, out of control slob.” But seeing the gorgeous, stylish, and supportive people on Fatshionista has taught me that how good you look has absolutely nothing to do with what size you wear. And that is a radical view am I so grateful to have acquired.

    On another note, I think it was here that a link was posted to a blog post in which a woman wrote a letter to her body on her 30th birthday. It was so sweet and heart warming and really made an impression on me. Does anyone remember that? It was beautiful.

  110. I feel your pain, A Sarah and other folks. I think it’s too much to ask that no one waver. On occasion, I have moments where non-feminist thought sneaks in; less and less as I “practice.” Body image is even more insidious. My doctor made a point of reminding me that my weight is now “the highest it’s ever been”, so Ive been feeling the pressure, too.

    “Real Exercise,” which for me involves anything requiring a sports bra, triggers bad thoughts for me; it makes me feel guilty and angry and out of shape and ugly!fat. I find gardening, which is exercise but doesn’t *feel* like exercise, is good for my mental health. I snack on sprouts and radishes and things while I weed, and sometimes just go and sit and enjoy being outside.

    Enough sleep helps tremendously; when I don’t sleep enough, I feel depressed and grumpy and much more likely to feel bad about myself in all kinds of ways – intelligence, weight, beauty, skin, age, achievement. Getting more sleep doesn’t magically fix all that, but it does help.

    I love going to the Farmer’s Market when I feel that way, too, because there’s so much food love. It’s a reminder that delicious things come in many forms – vegetable, baked, jams and sprouts and fish, saturated and unsaturated, smoothied and raw and cooked. Also, there’s no signs reminding you about transfats or whatever the evil ingredient of the week is.

    I struggle constantly with loving my body the way it is, but these things help. Good luck.

  111. Thinner pictures of me are a mixed bag. I loved the positive attention I got. I hated the price I had to pay for it.

    I looked amazing in the clothes a friend helped me pick out. I hated them with every step becase it wasn’t my style.

    I loved how it felt to discover the things that my body can do. I hated the ways I hurt myself in pushing myself that hard. It took a month of walking pneumonia to finally make me rest when I was sick.

    I’m slowly learning to have the good parts back without the bad. I figured out why I looked so fabulous and adapted my style to what worked without giving up my style. I love long skirts and camisoles. I still wear my skirts with cotton tshirts, but when I want to look polished, I go with a camisole and something cute and fitted over it.

    I am finding ways to enjoy what my body can do without punishing it for not being smaller. I am earning positive attention by being confident, having opinions, and standing up for myself. It’s a far better kind of attention than, “Wow! You look amazing!”

    Focusing on what I hate, just reinforces it, even if I am doing so in an attempt to convince myself that I don’t want to go there again. Focusing on what I love gets me where I want to be. I still have to deal with obstacles on the way, but they are easier to get over, around, or through when I’m not worried about how big they are.

  112. I absolutely have to fight the urge to diet, sometimes hourly. In fact, it has become such an issue with me that I started an online support group for other people who have the same trouble (please e.mail me off-list if you want to know more about that, I don’t want to spam here).

    For me, what I know is this: if I go on a diet to lose five pounds, I will gain ten. I have successfully dieted myself up to the weight I currently am, from a natural weight that was thirty pounds lower. If I go on a diet, I’m not solving the problem, I’m making it worse. I know this through my own experience with thirty years of dieting, it’s not just a factlet I read somewhere…!

    I haven’t found a solution to this yet, but I agree with the other posters that reading Gina Kolata and Paul Campos really helps. So does this blog, which I thank the gods for on my knees daily.

    Minerva

  113. sugarleigh, i’m so sorry your sister said those things. she sounds abusive, and that’s horrible to have to deal with. :( is there any way you can avoid talking to her or seeing her?

    but shinobi, the adoption comment was way out of line. like, WAY.

  114. Thank you so much everyone. *hugs you all*

    Even though I love my sister dearly, I have to admit, hearing a few digs about her put things in perspective a bit for me, heehee! She really is a person I love who has many wonderful qualities, but my goodness she is a TERRIBLE fat bigot. And being bossy is her other major fault. So it all adds up to some serious misery for the lil’ sis (me), who has dealt with her meddling my whole life… I already HAVE a mother, thanks just the same sis!

    In her defense (I suppose she deserves some… sort of! heh), she’s unhappy right now. She never dealt with our younger sister’s death, really… none of us has. And she’s a new mother several states away and hates CT and wants to come home. Time for TMI theater here, but this is where I’m coming from if it helps anyone understand things on my end…

    Not so coincidentally, death-of-the-youngest is when I started putting on that extra 50 pounds… a few months after, a close friend of mine died also, and my ass was in class the next day because I just plain didn’t know what to do with myself. Despite not knowing what way was up for the better part of the next two years or so, I made the dean’s list twice and got my BA, dammit, and now I’m struggling so hard trying to “find myself” and figure out what sort of gainful employment will keep me stimulated and happy while simultaneously keeping, you know, a roof over my head, that it just seems like so much more of a heartache and a chore to worry about my body, my health, or really anything right now.

    My boyfriend keeps saying he doesn’t know why I continue to be frustrated and don’t just deal with it when I know that this is a phase of life most of us go through, and that my turmoil is not exactly unique among college grads… every time he says such things (not-so-hidden message: stop being unhappy in ways not conducive to me being the magical fix-it man! I hate worrying about you, it reminds me I’m not invincible!) I imagine someone on the rack, and the executioner saying, “Oh for heaven’s sake, you know, it hurts that much for everyone, you sissy! You think you’re special or something? Deal!” XD

    Goodness, I’m being so down on my loved ones today. I’ve been more focused on trying to recapture the optimism I used to have as a younger person than anything relating to my weight, that’s been my big self-love/ self-improvement goal, but I can see that even there I’m backsliding.

    So, yeah… all that heady/ crabby stuff might help to explain why I’m trying pretty hard right now not to give a damn that I’m OMG TEH FAT. Cuz like, boo hoo hoo, right?!!!!

  115. re: handshakes and buttons and the like, I actually DID go up to a woman in the mall and ask her if she was Kate Harding.

    She looked like someone from the BMI project whose name I couldn’t remember.

    And because I was dropping names ANYWAY, I said that Kate Harding was one of my fave writers. Hey, publicity and buzz is always a good thing, right? The woman looked nothing at all like KH, but she did look like one of the Shapelings.

    If she should ever show up here, then — Hi, woman from the mall!

  116. I just wanted to say that I’m totally crying in gratitude for y’all’s kindness and wisdom, to the point that I can’t quite put words together… So I’m going to chime in tomorrow when I’m not so choked up with feeling, if that’s okay. I love Shapelings!

    jonstewart
    “I promised myself I wouldn’t CRY!”
    /jonstewart

    (Hey, incidentally, did he steal that line from Mike Meyers?)

  117. One of the things that helps me recognize that I no longer want to diet, is witnessing the behavior and mindset and personality of those I work with who do diet, how much like them I am when I am dieting and how their lives (and mine when I’m doing it) are reduced to nothing but dieting- so so BORING.There’s the Weight Watcher who goes around smelling and inspecting the food of everyone else in the building because she’s so starved. There’s the No Carb boss who spends at least 15 minutes of every staff meeting discussing “getting her calories down” so she can “compete with the 20 year olds and look good on the beach”. (I do have to share though the last time she said this I commented back in front of everyone: “I’ll look good on the beach, too. I’ll just also be fat” You Shapelings are wearing off on me! The silence was deafening.) I have so much more I want to do with my life, I literally cannot afford the head space and the time to dieting, nor the endless boring discussions about it, nor the near hermetic existence I live when “successfully” dieting. So, yeah, I don’t live in a bubble, occasionally I experience the temptation to diet but all I have to do is look at my co-workers to remind me why I don’t.

  118. (Hey, incidentally, did he steal that line from Mike Meyers?)

    If he did, Meyers stole it from Sally Field, so it’s okay!

  119. Sugarleigh, I am so sorry about your little sister…Having one myself, I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose her. Forget about gaining 50lbs…I would probably die myself.

    Knowing this information kind of changes my thinking about your older sister; suddenly the situation becomes a lot more complicated (isn’t it always?). Aside from all the pain over your younger sister, she probably is paralyzed with fear at the thought of losing you too (and if she is fataphobic, as you said she is than she probably believes omg the fatz will killz you rght now!!!!!!) and she’s maybe also a little jealous that, inspite of all you are dealing with, you are really thriving in your life and she feels she is not.

    If this is the case, maybe someday when you are ready, you can write her a letter and just tell her that you are working on loving and caring for yourself, and that body talk has to stop, because you don’t want to lose your relationship with her.

    Anyway / armchair psychologist.

    I can really relate to a lot of the things you are going through now, as I’m going through some of them myself, so if you ever want to chat, please drop me at email: thenewthirteen at gmail dot com. You are definitely not alone in your place in life…everyone I know is going through it now!

    And A Sarah…I’m sorry if I ignored your plight; I was distracted! You got so much good advice…I don’t know how to add to it…all I can say is if you are in the NYC area, feel free to email me and I will loan you my puppy for snuggling (as someone suggested above!).

  120. And (as I highjack this thread, temporarily), when do we get a post on this facial hair issue that plagues/embarrasses so many of us? Somewhere I read that the fatter we are, the more testosterone we have, therefore we have more facial hair. Being a woman of philosophy and not-so-much science, I don’t know if there is any truth to that. Regardless, I would love to have a forum to discuss this.

    Another AMEN to this timely post. My dearest friend on earth came to visit this past weekend, and all I could think about was how fat I am and how he’s going to be so disgusted to look at me. W.T.F.? I have known him for 20 years, he has seen me thin and fat and still loves me. It reminded me of that post about other people seeing our fat. Duh, of course they do! And he still hugged me and kissed me and touched me like he always does (not to mention that I’m only a tiny bit heavier than last time I saw him – it’s just a little, probably unnoticeable, baby-weight). Sometimes I wonder… I am one of those people who can’t look at fat-positive art or photos because I only degrade into comparing myself to them. And I TRULY see beauty in these women – women with my shape, women who are a size 2, women who are 500 pounds. I just can’t see it in myself most days. This will definitely be a bookmarked thread!

  121. Somewhere I read that the fatter we are, the more testosterone we have, therefore we have more facial hair.

    That’s interesting, because, on an awful Oprah about the dangers of childhood obesity yesterday, parents were told that, as their fat sons aged, they would begin to grow breasts and become physically feminized because their fat would be producing estrogen.

  122. Man, I am so sorry for everyone who’s going through some version of suck right now. Dumb internet hugs all around.

    Several of the comments about what triggers the urge to diet have made me think of the quote I started off the FoBT post with, so I think it’s worth repeating here:

    Obese patients are often encouraged to believe that weight loss is an appropriate way to combat depression, save a failing marriage, or increase the chance of career success. The irrationality of hopes pinned on weight loss is so striking that dieting might almost be likened to superstitious behavior…. Passing from childhood into adolescence, leaving home, marrying, starting a new job, having a baby, experiencing marital difficulties, adjusting to children leaving home, and growing old — all these life situations may become unexamined reasons to diet. In other instances, concerns over weight mask even more serious problems.”
    -Wooley and Garner, from “Obesity treatment: the high cost of false hope,” published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, vol. 91, no. 10, 1991.

    In other news…

    but shinobi, the adoption comment was way out of line. like, WAY.

    Yeah. Shinobi, you know I love you, and I’m sure you didn’t mean for that to come off the way it did, but… yeah.

  123. on an awful Oprah about the dangers of childhood obesity yesterday

    Fucking Oprah.

    I dunno about the facial hair thing (it smacks of “Bearded Lady” freakshow stereotype to me), but apparently fat guys have inadequate sperm. Someone should tell my fat dad and his kids (all of whom were conceived while my mom was on birth control)…’doh!

  124. I was walking through a department store yesterday and saw a painting with a word and its definitions. And I thought, I want to do that with the word FAT. And I looked up the word, and here’s to you A Sarah…and the rest of us: the third definition of the adjective fat is abounding in desirable elements. aka abounding in desirability!!!! GO US.

  125. I SO needed this thread. I’ve been working on my Dissertation for years and JUST finished. Thought I’d be totally happy and now that I am free (no job right now or anything–need to find one) I’d catch up on my projects, do stuff I’ve been putting off, and finally get to exercise. I told myself that I was not walking or swimming or any of the things that make me feel good because I was so busy with my deadlines. Two weeks later with total freedom and I am sitting on my butt doing nothing, and eating dozens of Oreos.

    I’ve been so tempted to diet lately, even though I’ve mostly been doing the exact opposite by binging. I feel lazy and can’t seem to stop eating sweets. Here I am at the start of the new life I’ve been looking forward to and I can’t seem to get motivated. Worse, I hate my body and my life.

    I’ve downed a whole bowl of pudding, half a thing of Oreos, plus several hands of M and Ms just today. This isn’t right. I’m not even enjoying this food. I felt bad because here and at other FA blogs most people seemed so happy with their bodies and I had said I’d stop dieting but secretly I knew that the idea of exercising wasn’t just for feeling good or being stronger–those were code words for wanting to lose weight. I hated the recent pictures taken of me. I think I’m reacting by eating. I don’t know.

    The advice here seems good but any other thoughts would be appreciated. I don’t know if I have an eating disorder, although in college I did spend some time starving myself (and hating myself pretty badly) but I thought I’d gotten better since marriage.

  126. Oh! I forgot my other good advice!

    I fantasize that I’m a fashion trend setter so by definition, the beautiful people look like me. Big thighs is where its at and everybody wishes they had them. Not everybody gets to be so lucky but I do. Then I congratulate myself for not getting all snobby about it. I know, that sounds totally obnoxious, but it does help.

  127. A Sarah… look at your post-two-babies body in a different light. Take the time to admire your gorgeous children. Realize that what you see as “damage” to your body is really just the result of having created those two beautiful kids.

    Would you prefer your pre-baby body and no kids?

    I can’t get pregnant… but I’d happily take on an extra 20 pounds or more if I could.

    Your body is beautiful. It created life. Celebrate that, instead of punishing yourself for doing something so many of us will never get the chance to do.

    I’m sure there are lots of other suggestions that are valid, and I admit to not reading most of the many comments… but this is what I immediately thought of.

  128. Yeah. Fat women have elevated testosterone…IF WE ALSO HAVE PCOS. Which causes both elevated insulin and elevated testosterone. But I had all my frigging beard hairs at 125 pounds, too. Being fat does not cause virilization in women. And it doesn’t “cause” feminization in men, either; anyone ever heard of congenital hormone levels? It’s not like if you put those fat guys on a diet, their voices will all drop two octaves.

  129. ugh, SugarLeigh, your sister went so far over the line that it is a dot to her.

    I can’t add anything that hasn’t already been said somewhere in this thread.

    *hug*

  130. And (as I highjack this thread, temporarily), when do we get a post on this facial hair issue that plagues/embarrasses so many of us?

    Yeah, I’ve been thinking about this too. I wouldn’t be comfortable writing about it (sue me; I open up about my fat body all the time, I don’t also have to post about facial hair or, you know, gross toenails or whatever), so it might have to be a guest post. Volunteers?

    Kim, it’s important I think to remember that “not binge eating” and “dieting” are not the same thing. If you diet, far from repairing your relationship with those Oreos, you’ll be doing further damage to it. You can’t fix your relationship with your body using food, as you know; you also can’t fix your relationship with food using your body. Losing a few pounds by criminalizing Oreos won’t change the hold they have over you; it’ll just be a simultaneously attractive and repulsive force instead of just an attractive one. So if you feel like you don’t have good reasons to be eating Oreos, deal with that — but don’t swing all the way in the opposite direction, because that’s just the same thing in a different hat.

  131. Fillyjonk, I would TOTALLY guest post on this! If I can find the time (with my kids and 3 incompletes from last semester to finish this summer, due to the youngest’s preemie entrance into this world), I will write something up and send it on in. Unless someone (likely) gets to it before me. Though it may become my new project instead of something I don’t want to write about. :-) It’s very, very hard to write/talk about. I can talk about my fatness to just about anyone, but can’t even mention my facial hair to my husband of 12 years! God/dess knows he knows!

    And Katia – RIGHT ON! I love love love that advice!

  132. It’s particularly weird for me because hair-pulling is one of my nervous habits… so I manage to sublimate a lot of that into supposed “grooming,” but facial hair becomes a doubly fraught concept because it’s something we’re supposed to be embarrassed about (even though SO MANY WOMEN have it) and also something I’m compulsive about.

  133. Fucking Oprah.

    After that episode, I have to just nod at that.

    It was so bad. These parents had children supposedly eating junk food all day and suffering from health problems but it wasn’t until some ridiculous age-progression photos of them as–gasp!–really fat adults were shown to them that it sunk in.

    And, some doctor was standing in front of these pictures and was like, “Do you see where this will lead? You are killing them!” They barely mentioned all of the horrible medical problems that befall everybody with a BMI over 25. No, the thing that was so awful about their lifestyle was that they were going to be fat. There’s usually some pretense that it’s about the kids’ health and not about what they look like in these sorts of discussions, but it was barely there.

    I watched about 15 minutes and had to turn it off. It was just awful. I can’t imagine what a fat child watching that show would have been thinking.

  134. @Fillyjonk,

    Thank you. I’d like to clarify that my desire to diet seems to be in direct contradiction to my binging rather than springing from it. In other words, I feel like rather than wanting to diet because I can’t seem to stop eating Oreos that I’m eating Oreos uncontrollably partly because I’ve been hating myself and wanting to diet.

    I agree that I seem to have some food issues that my recent attempt at HAES has not solved and in fact seems to have uncovered. I’m trying to deal with it–hence my delight to find a thread that covered those of us who are struggling to stick with FA, HAES, loving ourselves, etc. I felt alone in my desire to lose weight–shamed that I would fall back on this when I know that it is a stupid desire. I’m glad to see I’m not alone. We can all do this together! :) Screw diets! I’m going to work on these bad feelings and get my act together!

    BTW, I love this blog and thank you to all who come here. You’ve really been a big help.

  135. “And (as I highjack this thread, temporarily), when do we get a post on this facial hair issue that plagues/embarrasses so many of us?”

    I for one would definitely appreciate this, even if it is not entirely relevant to this blog, other than in a tired-of-being-judged-by-society way. I have tried to find supportive communities out there for women with facial hair, but they’re not easy to find–and perhaps I’ve just been spoiled by the vibe on this blog, but I feel I wouldn’t accept anything less than what I’ve found here. ;)

    I would even volunteer to write a guest post, except that I have no coherent story to write, nor would I even know where to begin–all I have are disconnected feelings, anecdotes, trauma, tears, fears, overreaching emotional themes. All due to being the Bearded Lady. It’s just about the last thing about myself that I am having trouble just accepting–not that I absolutely love or admire everything else about myself, but I at least have found some sort of acceptance, like, ok me, this is the way we are, let’s deal. But damn if I don’t still have a twinge of the Fantasy of Being Beardless.

    Jeez, I think I might cry. It’s hard to write about this shit.

  136. About the post-pregnancy body: I’ve not yet been pregnant, but my mother had 4 children in 5 years (I’m a twin, so at least it was only 3 pregnancies), and it showed. Growing up I was surrounded by so much fat hate in our culture that I was always a little bit ashamed of how my mom looked. But now–thanks in very large part to SP–I’m not only not ashamed of my mom’s body (which, what hubris to be so ashamed to begin with! It wasn’t even my body!), but I’m proud of it, and her. I think I’m at the point where if I had kids and my body changed to look more like hers, I’d be proud, following in her footsteps.

  137. “I can talk about my fatness to just about anyone, but can’t even mention my facial hair to my husband of 12 years!”

    Yes. This.

    Okay, seriously teary-eyed now. Auuugghh!!! *fans self in dramatic swooning gesture*

  138. I feel like rather than wanting to diet because I can’t seem to stop eating Oreos that I’m eating Oreos uncontrollably partly because I’ve been hating myself and wanting to diet.

    Oh, yeah, this totally makes sense!

    I think it’s good news that you’re so clear on your motivations, though.

  139. I had no idea that facial hair was considered a fat thing. I’m like 100% Italian. Every woman in my family, regardless of her size, waxes, bleaches, or has had electrolysis on her upper lip. I started bleaching my upper lip at like 12, when I was thin. My thin sister waxes her lip.

    I always thought it was an Italian thing, not a fat thing. ;)

  140. It’s not a fat thing, but:

    a) A lot of fat women have PCOS, whether they know it or not
    b) Fat women tend to be highly sensitized to ways in which they deviate from feminine ideals, so might be harder hit emotionally by facial hair
    c) Because this is a body-positive space, we get to talk about touchy, societally frowned-upon body issues that might not come up in a more normative space. There might be just as many women worried about facial hair on Jezebel, say, but they’re not going to bring it up.

  141. Kim, it’s important I think to remember that “not binge eating” and “dieting” are not the same thing. If you diet, far from repairing your relationship with those Oreos, you’ll be doing further damage to it. You can’t fix your relationship with your body using food, as you know; you also can’t fix your relationship with food using your body. Losing a few pounds by criminalizing Oreos won’t change the hold they have over you; it’ll just be a simultaneously attractive and repulsive force instead of just an attractive one. So if you feel like you don’t have good reasons to be eating Oreos, deal with that — but don’t swing all the way in the opposite direction, because that’s just the same thing in a different hat.

    Fillyjonk – while I agree with what you said 100% just knowing intellectually that it is true does not make it easier to put into practice. I know you didn’t say it’s easy – I am just in a situation that is very similar to what Kim describes, I have been in this situation for years, and yet I have known for a long time now that dieting and bingeing are two sides of the same coin. I don’t want to put words in Kim’s mouth, but I really don’t know what a workable alternative to this cycle is anymore. HAES is a great concept but very hard to put into practice once you have screwed up your relationship with food to a degree that you actually cannot trust your internal body signals or at least your interpretation of those signals because you don’t know really what feels like what.

    Kim – I don’t really have advice for overcoming bingeing for good (obviously), but one thing that I believe is very important is a) give yourself credit for the things you have achieved (getting your dissertation done sounds HUGE thing from where I am and no matter how many oreos you eat this achievement still stands) and b) don’t freak out about the bingeing – freaking out makes it worse.

    I hope this doesn’t sound too negative – it’s not meant to sound negative in any case.

  142. I love you all.
    I’ve only recently committed to HAES, so I’m constantly trying to get myself to cut back. What I’m trying to do right now is not turn around every single item of food I pick up at the grocery store and SCRUTINIZE the Nutritional Facts for TEH FATZ and TEH CALORIEZ, but it might be okay if it has TEH FIBERZ (thanks WW for that lingering compulsion).

    None of us want to go back to that. I have my big dieting horror story. I remember on WW having a fridge full of Diet Coke and sugar-free Jello cups and cutting candy bars into thirds. Weight Watchers actually threw me head first back into bulimia because I stopped losing even though I was following my plan to the number and not even spending my Flex Points(tm). I had been in recovery for a year, and then, I was basically just throwing up my meager points rations, and everyone a the meetings threw me a party each week because I lost 3-5 every time. It was the biggest non-drug-induced high I’ve ever had. Then, after I reached my “goal” weight, I stopped going to WW, but the bulimia stuck, and the weight stayed off. Two years later, I could barely function because my teeth were falling out of my head. In conclusion, I have 3 fake teeth, had 4 root canals, and have fillings in all of my teeth besides my two front and bottom front four. I can’t even tell you, even with okay dental insurance (in the U.S.) what that cost me out of pocket.
    Wow. That feels really, really good to say out loud (or, in typeface, as it were).

    In short, it’s not worth any of the costs to hate yourself.

  143. I am brand new here and have been lurking around for the past few days, reading voraciously. I discovered SP around the same time as discovering FA and HAES, and I am still SOOO right there with you. This blog made me de-lurk. Dieting has been so much a part of my life since I was probably 12 or so, that I can’t imagine being able to totally eliminate it from my mind right now, even if I have embraced the FA idea. ( I grew up drinking diet soda, and went to my first weight loss program with my mom– a WW type thing– at around 13-14. I remember I weighed 155 at the time, and the lady who weighed me said to me when I stepped on the scale “Wow, I never would have dreamed you weighed THAT much!” )
    Plus, I am so with Kristin is saying that I hope that HAES will not make me gain. Realistically, I am not sure what I would do if I go above my current clothing size, because buying a new wardrobe isn’t really an option.
    I am a 37 yr old married mom of 3 little girls. I am 225-230 lbs. I have been big my whole life (though looking back on it, I was really only a size 12/14 in high school– seemed huge at the time!) I am a veteran of just about every “healthy” diet– WW, counting calories, food pyramid, etc.. and a few not as healthy (Six Week Body Makeover– healthy food but seriously restrictive in calories and choice– and Alli for a few weeks when it first came out)
    I have gotten down as low as my goal weight (155) pre-kids with WW, and been up as high as 260 after one of my kids. I have, within the last year lost 40lbs, and gained back 25. I most recently have done WW, and managed to lose 1 lb in 5 weeks. Last week, I just said to myself: “So what if I just say I am not going to try to diet anymore? What if I just say that I am going to exercise and try not to eat too much crap, and not care what I weigh?” Then I discovered FA and HAES on the net, and it seemed to personify this “crazy” idea I had. I realized the reason that I can’t lose weight and keep it off is because I like food more than I care about being thinner. And I am in great shape. I wear a size 16/18 (I have well distributed fat)and a year or 2 ago I did a wellness consult at themgym I was going to, and every single thing came back either “average” or “good” (Cardio endurance, strength, etc) except for the amount of body fat. So I have no health reasons to need this weight off.
    But it seems like it will take me sooo much to get to a point that I wouldn’t feel bad about myself if I gained weight. How do you get there? Do you ever get there?

  144. I totally agree that bingeing and dieting are two sides of the same coin.
    What helped me – which is total assvice, of course, because it may not help everyone – is the book “Feeling Good”. Cheery yellow cover, blue writing. The author just nailed all of the ways I would hate myself, and his ways to overcome that made a huge difference. I’m not sure it even mentions eating disorders — actually, I think he may even mention being on a diet at one point, which you simply have to stop doing eventually. But for me, bingeing/starving was a reaction to self talk – a symptom which I saw as the problem.

  145. haven’t even read all the comments but i have to second the thing about clothes, tho i know sometimes money can be a challenge….

    for me it does do a lot of good to put on clothes i love – e it something new, or something a friend doesn’t want anymore and gives me, or something old i haven’t worn in awhile or some new combination of existing clothing items… a bit of prancing around and thinking how wonderfully these things fit me helps me a lot. (so of course it’s important they be things that fit your current body.)

    and i have bought great things from torrid and i only know about them from this blog so thank you guys so much! i love them and i love their models.

    ok now i will read more of everyone else’s comments…

  146. @Kim- regarding finishing the dissertation and then…nothing. Me too! I handed it in on Saturday and I can barely bring myself to do ANYTHING. I got a haircut today and walked down to the wine and cheese shop, and that is the extent of my excursions. I told my Mom that I was having post-dissertation depression.

    Facial hair! Man do I have it. Like Lori, I always thought it was my Italian and Mexican heritage. However, I am beginning to think maybe I should be checked out (like it’s so easy) for PCOS…I have irregular periods, facial hair, big belly, thin skin in places. All things that are secondary indicators of PCOS, I think.

  147. Arwen, I remember “Feeling Good”! It was an excellent help for me when I was learning cognitive therapy techniques to cope with my chronic depression. Although I can’t remember any weight/diet talk specifically, it is overall a good guide to examining the way we cognitively distort the input we get from the world, and how that can lead to negative outlooks (my biggest distortions always tended to be Disqualifying the Positive, Mind Reading, and Personalization).

    Hope that link works. *crosses fingers*

  148. abounding in desirable elements

    Tag line! Man, I’ve got to start a file.

    I fantasize that I’m a fashion trend setter so by definition, the beautiful people look like me. Big thighs is where its at and everybody wishes they had them. Not everybody gets to be so lucky but I do. Then I congratulate myself for not getting all snobby about it.

    Okay, this was cracking me up from the first line, but the last line made me lose it. BRILLIANT.

  149. Kim – it sounds to me like you’re rebounding from acheiving your goal. Feeling kind of down and at loose ends is a fairly standard reaction to finishing a degree/ dissertation/ research project/ etc. It also sounds like you might be trying to self-medicate your moods with sugar & chocolate. Sugar and chocolate really do work as temporary mood elevators, so biochemically, it’s not such a strange thing to do.

    In your case, I’d suggest finding other mood elevators, without making it imperative that you drop the mood elevators that are currently (sort of) working for you. Stick the Oreos in your backpack and take a walk. You’ll get exercise and endorphins and all that good stuff, and if you want to have Oreos at the same time, you can.

  150. kristin, those were all symptoms I had before my diagnosis of PCOS. I just attributed my facial hair to genetics/lifelong dose of Prednisone, and my irregular periods just gave me pregnancy scares. I didn’t even know what PCOS was until my diagnosis–amazing that it’s not more well-publicized, considering so many women have it. Oh, and the way I got it “checked out” was they thrust an ultrasound wand up my hoo-ha, and then gave me a lovely picture of my ovary surrounded by the big black space that represented all the cysts that had built up in the preceding months. Lovely, no?

    Geez, I’m just so chatty today. Must be lonely. But there is World of Warcrafting to be done…..

  151. Oh, and I almost forgot: congrats on that dissertation! To someone who couldn’t hack it in a master’s program (hi), this is just one of the most impressive things I can think of. That goes for Kim, too.

  152. I so needed this post. I have just got back from a wonderful holiday in southern France where I spent two weeks swimming, canoeing and walking in and around the Ardeche (all those stereotypically lazy things that fat people do!) I came back feeling fit, tanned and good about myself. That is until my husband downloaded his photos.

    There was a shot of me standing on a rock in my bathing suit about to jump in the water and I look terrible. Like really, really awful. I have a weird fat distribution, it’s all in my midriff, and basically in the picture my midriff is bigger than my boobs, my lower tummy and my hips. I look downright weird and totally unfeminine and above all grotesquely FAT.

    To add insult to injury, I had MOOSE shouted at me on Friday by a group of teenagers. It’s been a while since I got insulted in the street, and this happened in front of my husband and a very good friend. It was embarrassing and pretty soul destroying coming on top of a disgusting photo of me. So now I feel so, so horrible about myself that I have thought about dieting very seriously over the past 5 days for the first time in years. The only thing that is keeping me going over to the dark side is the FoBT post and this place and Fatshionista.

    Please keep posting, I’m clinging to these posts, trying to keep myself sane.

    Oh, and I’m another hairy person, and I only broached the subject with my husband of 8 years about 3 months ago. Mainly, its plucking chin hairs in the privacy of my own bathroom. See I really am a moose :-(

  153. Just realized there was already a poster named “Karen” so I better change mine. :-)

  154. Kristen, congrats on your diss and thanks for the thoughts. I’m glad to see I’m normal. (That may be the first time I could say that!)

    I thought the dissertation was depressing so it is a bit of a let down to find that the post dissertation/figuring out what to do/catching up on life phase is depressing too. I guess I need to figure what I want to be when I grow up. (Snort! I turn 40 next year!)

    Fillyjonk, it’s funny but your “this totally makes sense” (about my eating Oreos) made me pause. I thought, “I’m supposed to make sense?! Whoops!” I’m not sure I do right now.

    Thanks to all! Need to stop checking back here so often and get something done! Be back later. Best wishes to all of you!

  155. Ok, I am making comfort food – my first stab at homemade french onion soup. Anyone in or near Lafayette IN is welcome to join me; we can plan the next potluck :)

    EntoAggie- Um. That sounds scary. But I suppose I should do it sooner rather than later since I am thinking about maybe one say if I want to having kids.

    Bagfish- Damn. You sound like you have my body shape. I know where you are coming from, and all I can say is maybe look at how great you look in other photos from the same trip…

  156. Speaking of exes, I recently had a dreadful breakup with my boyfriend of the past 5 years. And I’ve been going through this same problem A Sarah has of wanting to diet, thinking losing weight will make all the pain of this breakup go away. Thinking this weight is the whole reason that douchenozzle broke up with me/cheated on me/was a douchenozzle etc.
    I keep telling myself he’s the one with the problem not me. But it’s just so hard. Doing all the “girly” things sometimes makes me feel better, sometimes makes me feel worse because I look in the mirror after it and just don’t feel right, still don’t think I look good.
    A Sarah, I have found that counseling is helpful. I’m not sure where you live but I have managed to find sliding scale counseling here in Chicago through Catholic Charities… and NO they don’t preach at you, it’s a service they provide, you don’t have to be Catholic, and they don’t even ask you if you are or not. They do both individual and couples counseling and for others… you don’t even have to be married to do the couples counseling. In the event anyone else thought of counseling and felt they couldn’t afford it..

  157. @ Kristin. Thanks for posting fellow ultra-apple. I have really been trying to like some of the pictures of me from the trip . There’s a couple that I do like, but I just know that hidden underneath the clothes is that odd bathing costume shape.

    I sometimes feel like there is a hierarchy of appearence of fat women. I find so many pictures on the net of fat women (e.g. on fatshionista) incredibly beautiful, curvy, luscious, powerful and strong. But as for myself, I just feel like I’m the wrong shape because as well as being fat (OMG teh horror) I don’t look “womanly”, i.e. I don’t go in and out in the right places, and feel so self conscious about it.

  158. Kim and kristin, everyone I’ve seen graduate seems to go through that post-dissertation funk. I don’t know if it’s the burn-out, or the anti-climacticness of it, or the sudden free time, or the aftermath of so many years of misery, or what. Maybe all those things. I’m nearly there myself and I already barely cook anymore, barely exercise, don’t have a lot of energy or interest in fun activities anymore… I don’t expect that the brief excitement of actually graduating will magically lift me out of months to years of habitually unhappy behavior.

    So I wouldn’t punish yourself if you need a few weeks or even a few months to indulge in things that are ‘bad’ for you or to wallow a bit. You really might also need some time with NORMALCY to adjust back to a less damaging and miserable lifestyle. (Though if you feel like you need a doctor or a therapist, that’s more severe than I’m interpreting and by all means you should do that.)

  159. So. I have a weird problem and I was wondering if anyone could help/sympathize.

    I finally figured out that I’m genderqueer a few months ago. When I’m “feeling female”, I’m okay with the way I look most of the time after a long struggle to get here (though trying to get into being more active again). When I’m “feeling male” though… I’m a bit more of a wreck. I want to wear straight legged pants and wicked jackets and basically be one of those slender dudes that all wickedly cool dude clothes were made for. But I’m fat and carry most of my weight about my hips. Oh yeah, and that whole breasts thing.

    Maybe this is outside of the scope of the original post (I apologize if it is), but people to talk to about this have been hard to find.

  160. kristin, you live in Lafayette IN? Shiloh and I live in South Bend. Indiana potluck plans are in order, I think!

    Pattie (and others who expressed similar wisdom) I couldn’t agree more about counseling being helpful if it’s the right person. I’m lucky to have finally found a really good one.

    Some thoughts now that I’m not a big blubfest…

    DIETING REALLY SUCKS, doesn’t it? Dude, y’all are really reminding me… When I was dieting, I seriously thought about what I was allowed to eat for my next meal like All Day Long. How uninteresting. Jeez! There are so many more interesting things to think about!

    I really appreciate the reminder that, taking the long view (in terms of human history) and the wide view (in terms of women who want to bear children) I am really fortunate to have had two pregnancies with no complications, where all I have to show for it is ten extra pounds, a slack belly, and a generally changed shape. I mean, really, amazingly fortunate. I’ll be honest that I often experience motherhood as an affliction. Not so much the kids/stress/interruptions/if-I-have-to-watch-Nemo-again-I’m-going-to-scream moments, so much, because those come with the territory and I really do love my kids. I mean the definitive, yet unstated, erasure of whatever identity you had before you became a mother. It was very painful to realize recently that I don’t feel like anyone has really seen ME — the for-real me, not the N’s and M’s mom me — in a dog’s age. So I think, then, when I didn’t feel like I LOOKED like me, it became this focal point for not feeling like me. Or rather, feeling like the person people were dealing with was not me, and even if I put the real me out there, they’d ignore it and talk to their mommy caricature instead.

    I also am kind of not happy where I live, or how I live, or not happy with being a nuclear family where I live, or something. I don’t like not bumping into different members of a circle of friends several times a day and having spontaneous fifteen-minute conversations and then going on to something else. I don’t like driving everywhere. And of course, when my circumstances were such that it was easier to walk everywhere, easier to bump into people, easier to arrange to get exercise, etc., I was also at the low end of the 20 pound range. Again, though, I went straight for “Maybe I should diet,” and only then was able to work my way around to, “Er, no, maybe I should make sure as hell that wherever we move in a year is a walkable city with lots of potential friends for neighbors.”

    And then there’s the feeling of, “Damn, is this IT? Is this marriage? Am I ever going to be looked at like I’m hot stuff ever again? Or are we just now past that?” Because while my husband would NEVER give me grief about size, TOTALLY agrees with Shapely Prose, and joins me in rants about the obesity epidemic, etc. … still, yeah, it’s not exactly hearts and flowers 24/7 anymore. And occasionally I feel like when my husband got married his sense of religious duty kicked in So Hard – because, you know, vows! in a church! before God! – that it totally overshadowed anything he might *actually* in fact *feel* for me at any given time. I sort of feel like I became Wife, the recipient of his husbandly duty, his moral rectitude… certainly not the target of his spontaneously bubbling-up desire that was stirred by my, you know, actual personal characteristics. (In all likelihood, though, it’s probably just that he is, like I am, friggin’ exhausted. But unlike me, he finds it HARD WORK to be emotionally demonstrative whereas I just do it spontaneously. So he really can’t just dredge up these big overblown reactions to my attractiveness. )

    Again, though, this all boils down to not feeling like the real me is being dealt with, interacted with… not something that’s going to get solved by a diet, clearly.

    I think massages, new cute clothes, and fun outings are a great idea.

    I think seeing my mom recently, who is on diet number bazillionty-eleven of her life, helped bring this on.

    (I think also the occasional “slimming” outfit or foundation garment might have to be what gets me through days like this until I’m further along in self-acceptance. It’s not just that they’re slimming, it’s that they make me look more like the me that I fear has been lost. So that’s one way in which I’m not prepared to be brave yet.)

    And I think that I probably don’t even know the half of what it means to suffer for not meeting the beauty standard. Not that we need to compete for who has it worse, but I think I was being a little narrow in my focus on those Magic! Ten! Pounds! that separate the real me I thought I was, from this person that everyone seems to be interacting with in real life. That is to say, I do go, as Bagfish put it, “in and out in the right places,” mostly (except for the postpartum belly issue, which I still honestly have a hard time seeing as anything but an eyesore.) So that’s one respect in which I get the privilege of not deviating from the “feminine” standard.

    I suppose the biggest take-away point for my own life, is that all of this dietlust was about feeling like I’d lost any social space or connection for the person I was/am, and wanted to get it back. But a diet is no more a cure for that then an oil change is a cure for a clogged toilet. And the diet comes with costs. I’m not sure what the cure IS, but at least I can be without a cure AND not be counting fucking points or squirts of cooking spray.

  161. Ok, I am making comfort food – my first stab at homemade french onion soup. Anyone in or near Lafayette IN is welcome to join me; we can plan the next potluck :)

    Lafayette’s a bit further than I want to go this week (I’m in South Bend), but I’m all for comfort food. I’m making oatmeal muffins, seafood quiche, and surprise (baked with jelly inside) muffins, myself. :)

  162. Seriously, if I had a tapas party for shapelings in South Bend, who would come? Anyone? Anyone? Shiloh, you’re a South Bender, so you’re invited, obviously.

  163. A Sarah- I knew you were from South Bend, right? I think there was a post where I said my friend was having her wedding dress made there? And I went back weeks later after I found out who it was and left it on that post (I can’t remember what the post was, though).

    Seriously, though. I can come to South Bend! I am done with my dissertation and just waiting around for my defense! Email me at erthlvr78 at yahoo if you really want to.

    Oh, jeez. Everytime I get ready to meet new people, I totally freak out cause I smoke and I am scared of how people will react :(

  164. Wow, this thread has rocked all day long! I love it when I go offline for a few hours and people are busy being awesome while I’m away.

    First off, I want to say that I would happily either write a post or coordinate guest posts on facial hair. I’ve got a lot of it and always have, even though I don’t seem to have PCOS. The only catch is that I can write a post about the shame and anguish but not about the solutions, since I haven’t found one that I’m happy with yet. How about this: if anyone is interested in guest posting, or writing up a few comments to be incorporated in a mega-post, email me (sweet.machine.sp at gmail).

    Secondly, I want to address the femininity issue, since I brought it up way up there in the first comment and it has been thoughtfully questioned by several commenters.

    Being told that I should make myself more feminine looking feels the exact same way to me as being told that I should lose weight, even if I’m told it’s to make myself feel better.

    I *totally* hear this, and I respect that reaction. Since this is an advice thread, comments can seem a little bossier than in others — “try this!” can read as “you must do this!” What I was trying to get at, but totally failed to articulate, when I said this: In real life, I can put on a new dress and feel like that for a day, which reminds me that I actually don’t need to feel like Angelina Jolie every second to like my looks. is that because part of “feeling fat” for me is really about feeling unfeminine, it often helps me to remember that femininity is an act — and it’s an act I can access in ways that don’t require me to be thinner. I have had an uneasy relationship with femininity for as long as I can remember, from getting mistaken for a boy when I was a fat kid to having facial hair (which I got *before* my period) as a teen and acne as an adult. Most days, I’m really angry about femininity as a construct, and I try to fuck with its standards at least a little in how I present myself — but those are not the days that I’m having the urge to diet or indulge in the FoBT.

    Ultimately, what I’m trying to say is that, just as it’s totally normal and understandable to not be (to use FJ’s coinage) a Fully Ascended Fat Acceptance Master 100% of the time, and even though you don’t have to be pretty, it’s okay to want to be pretty. If part of wanting to diet is feeling like you’re ugly and unfeminine, then putting on a dress and heels and a bright red lipstick can remind you that femininity is an act that you choose whether to perform, and not an intrinsic quality that you desperately lack.

  165. A Sarah, I’m glad to see you seem to have figured out what’s really bothering you. Good luck getting through it =)

    Bagfish, I also get the feeling that there is a hierarchy of appearence for fat women. It’s more acceptable to be fat if you have big boobs or a shapely butt or a small waist or ideally all three (hourglass figure). Fatshionita is good and bad for the self image because on the one hand it’s great to see all the beautiful fat women, but on the other hand it can be hard to read comment after comment of: “You have such great curves/such a nice shape” directed toward the hourglass shaped women. And I’m even relatively privileged shape wise – I do have the boobs and the butt but I don’t have the small waist and the amount of time I spend agonizing over that… it’s ridiculous. Made even more ridiculous by the fact that when I was thin, I didn’t care or even notice that my torso has a straight up and down shape, but now that I’m fat it matters because I don’t have the acceptable fat girl shape. Which is all to say – I feel you.

  166. I suppose the biggest take-away point for my own life, is that all of this dietlust was about feeling like I’d lost any social space or connection for the person I was/am, and wanted to get it back.

    Wow. I was seriously considering a diet a few weeks back (until I discovered I was only averaging 1550 calories a day anyhow, and decided I’d do better going the other direction), and this is totally where I was at.

    And the diet comes with costs.

    I don’t get why people don’t see that. I ran across a conversation on the National Weight Control Registry yesterday where people were discussing their past or present efforts to keep weight off and recognizing that it’s like taking on a second job – it takes that much time and effort, y’know? If someone choses to do that, then fine and good; but it needs to be a choice and preferably a knowledgeable one.

    Because, yes, dieting carries costs, and when I can get outside of the cultural mindset it’s shocking how many people can so casually demand others pay this cost, with no consideration of what else the people being pressured might be able to do with that time and effort.

    (except for the postpartum belly issue, which I still honestly have a hard time seeing as anything but an eyesore.)

    Aside from the website recommended earlier, the pictures of real women who’ve had kidlets, I find bellydancing helps with this. I’m not really a belly dancer but I like to watch, and, unlike ballet dancers, most belly dancers actually want to have a nice rounded tummy. “Something that’ll jiggle,” as one lady put it.

  167. LilahCello! It sounds like you should qualify for food help beyond food stamps. Do a search for food banks in your state, and from there you should be able to find information about gleaners, community gardens, harvest sharing, and other community food programs.

    So, as to the original post — when things in my life are generally kind of depressing or even just blah, for some reason my body appearance becomes the scapegoat. When I take care of everything else, my body somehow miraculously becomes a non-issue. Also agreed: diets have just made me fatter in the long run and my bitterness about that is enough to never let me near a diet again, and yes, nice clothes that fit, and music to move to.

    And I love the “media diet” suggestion.

  168. I seriously struggle with avoiding thinking about losing weight. Walking up the hill from dropping my son at his friend’s house this morning I found myself thinking “I just need to lose 10kg”. I realised that I *always* just need to lose 10kg, no matter what weight I am now.

    The only advice I have is to think about what correlates with you putting on weight or losing it. If you are anything like me (and I grant you may well not be), the answer is absolutely nothing. Yes, there are extremes of behaviour that result in real weight changes (and usually result in some form of unhappiness), but local fluctuations (on the scale of months) are utterly random. So why bother thinking about it? It will continue to wander about randomly anyway.

    Intuitive eating is, at this stage at least, utterly beyond me. I either couldn’t care less what I shove in my mouth, or I am looking for non-nutritious rubbish. I was wondering what the SP take is on an eating plan (loosely followed) where the objective is removing the need to decide what to eat, and has the lovely side effect of making me eat a much wider range of foods and feel better. Weight loss doesn’t seem to be a result (as above). Am I still dieting? Does it actually stop being dieting if I stop feeling guilty about not following the plan? I mostly don’t feel at all guilty, just less healthy if it goes on for weeks at a time.

    Sorry, this has been a question lurking in my mind since I started lurking here.

  169. Becky, you are right about the posts on Fatshionista, and I know that the issue of “shape privilege” has been brought up on a couple of occasions in response to a complaint that the “non-standard/hourglass” looking women don’t get the same amount of (positive) comments to those who have traditional hourglass shapes.

    It’s really awful that we do this to ourselves. We finally find a relatively safe place where we are not going to be mocked about our fatness by outsiders, but we still manage to divide ourselves – just by body shape this time rather than body size.

    I feel inadequate in the face of women who are fatter than I am because they have a more classic “womanly” shape, and that is an odd feeling to feel. I think in some ways it is positive because it shows that in my head that I have finally got the idea that being fat is not bad and is beautiful, but conversely, it just proves how low my self esteem is because I can still dredge the depths of body hatred.

    Comparison is an iniquitous thing.

    Sweet Machine, I really appreciate your comment that femininity is a construct and an act. it sort of puts things into perspective, and maybe I should just put on some lippie and a skirt and sod my inner critic.

  170. Everytime I get ready to meet new people, I totally freak out cause I smoke and I am scared of how people will react

    If you find it entertaining to deliberately blow smoke in nonsmokers’ faces the way a friend of mine used to, that would irk me. But that was more about his contrariness than about the fact that he smoked. ;)

  171. Firstly, on the topic of high school reunions, my ten year reunion is also this year and I am going, but planning on taking along my current posse. That way I know there will be cool people around to talk to who will not cause any flashbacks to puberty.

    Secondly, would it be inappropriate to suggest that orgasm is a good method of increasing your appreciation of your body and its glory? It seems like really good sex (including partnerless sex) is able to consistently shut up my head voice when it becomes negative.

  172. You guys have helped me so much today that now I can’t stay away from this page. ^_^

    Did I hear a whisper of a Shapelings meetup in the South Bend area? Bless me, I may be in MI, but friends that “get me?” THAT is worth a four hour drive. I’d love to put a face to some of you wonderful people. If anyone has further notions of making this happen some day, SIGN ME UP.

    Also, I don’t think I addressed you directly yet, A Sarah. Bless your darling heart. Hope this has made you feel better, and most of all I hope it’s helped you feel less alone, which it has definitely done for me today!

    Everybody who made a comment directed at me, thank you, it was appreciated beyond measure. Jae, I think I’d like to thank you the most. I may take you up on that email.

    Huggles for all! And I dole out my hugs like I dole out my special baby-flavored chocolate puddin’, shotgun-wedding-cake, ambrosia-dipped donut dumplings: freely, and with wanton unconcern for the passersby. :D

    <3

  173. I just remembered something that happened to me about a year ago, viz. the question ‘do we ever get over this?’

    I work for myself, and I had a client who was this gorgeous blonde bombshell of a woman. We got pretty friendly while we were working together, and at some point , we were just sort of casually chatting about body image, etc., and I said something like, ‘in my next life I’m going to be born with your genes.’ She just looked at me and said, ‘we all have issues.’

    OK, it wasn’t that trenchant a comment, but there was something in the way she said it, I could feel the pain behind it. I thought, if this incredible-looking woman has days where she hates her looks, I’m totally fucked.

    Nowdays, I think back on that, and I think she’s right. I doubt there are very many women who can positively say ‘I really love the way I look,’ no matter what their weight. So I don’t think this is just women of size — I think women in general are so directed toward their appearance that we ALL spend more time than any human should loathing our physical selves. Sad.

  174. I third … or fourth, or umpteenzillion … the ‘media diet’ recommendation.

    Eight years ago or so, I decided not to read any more magazines with covers that advertised diets, nutritional advice, fashion, or celebrity news. Not long after, I decided to pretty much stop watching national television news too, and to just watch the first half-hour or so of local news when it was, you know, actually local news. And not long after that, wow, had my mood improved.

  175. Re: body shape… This is why everyone needs to find either a friend with fashion sense (something I sorely lack) or an awesome sales associate. When I was smaller, though still big, I had that coveted hourglass shape, though I didn’t realize it at the time. Now that I am larger and post-pregnancies, I have the big belly/back fat shape. Is that an apple? Anyway, my legs are (relatively) small, at least compared to my torso. Finding anything that doesn’t sag in the crotch/thigh area is almost impossible. If it is snug on the legs, it is too tight on my belly (which hangs a bit). If I find something to fit my belly, especially a skirt, it is too big on my lower half and makes me look bigger (not that there is anything inherently wrong with that, just that it doesn’t look right, not properly fitted). And, yes, this is the problem I have with my body. I miss my curves and know that while I am already on the outs for being fat, I am even more so for being fat and “improperly” shaped. I’m glad that someone brought this up, because it makes me insane. Add to that acne/rosacea, facial hair (which I keep removed as best I can), and being limited on shirt options because I am breastfeeding (need something I can nurse in, not anything too nice because it will end up covered in spit-up), and you have someone who just doesn’t fit into any “(socially) accepted” looks group. And, back to the femininity/prettiness issue, shouldn’t matter. But you know what? Sometimes it does. As aware as I am of gender constructs, it still bothers me. My mother always told me I looked like a boy – so what? But it’s all I see when I look in the mirror. When I dress up and/or wear make-up, I feel like a little kid playing dress up and trying to pass. BUT WHY SHOULD I CARE? Because that is what patriarchy and modern society do to any of us who don’t fit into their slots.

    Maybe I’ll stop ranting now. That went somewhere I didn’t intend… :-) Sorry!

  176. And speaking of putting faces to names – I love to do this. It helps to make people even more “real.” Was there something here, or on Facebook, where people were “coming together” online? I would love to see some sort of forum or group where, if we wanted, we could “out” ourselves. I’m generally very leery of being the real me online, but would be willing to in this group!

  177. A Sarah, I have a lot of empathy for you right now as I read about your state of mind and struggle. I’m sure most of us have been in your shoes at some point or still are in this frame of mind.

    When I feel like this I try to analyze if I am at a comfortable weight. If I am not, I naturally modify my food and exercise to get to a comfortable weight for me. But it is usually because my body is too uncomfortable at a higher weight and pushes me to lose. I don’t want to eat and have move more otherwise it drives me nuts. Yes, there is a natural set point.

    Sometimes my thoughts have nothing to do with my actual weight and more with fitting into some clothes, boredom, unhappiness, etc… If this is the case, I try to do other things that make me feel good. Meditation, massage, reading, walking, trying new foods, going to see a show, get nice fitting clothes, whatever makes me take my mind off the stress of the moment.

    Good luck

  178. WOW there are a lot of comments here! I can’t read them all because my eyes are getting blurry lol BUT

    ASarah: I have absolutely no advice, I’m sorry I really wish I had great ideas like these ladies(and gents) but yeah I just don’t

    However I will say that I admire you in a weird internet type way, you always have the most amazing things to say :-) You’re very bright and almost everything you write I go… ‘oh! oh! WOW’ ^_^

    So that being said I wish you well on your quest to not diet. But just remember you’re totally fabulous

  179. Tangentially related, this article is soliciting feedback on the question of “Should Doctors lecture patients about their weight?” It appears to be a serious look at the damage done by shame, especially that generated by the “health profession.” I’d like to see someone here in the Fatosphere post this up so there can be even more input on the side of “no nagging”. :^)

    http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/07/09/should-doctors-lecture-patients-about-their-weight/index.html?hp

  180. Minerva: “I doubt there are very many women who can positively say ‘I really love the way I look,’ no matter what their weight. So I don’t think this is just women of size — I think women in general are so directed toward their appearance that we ALL spend more time than any human should loathing our physical selves.”

    So true! I’m a thinnish person who has those days where self-hatred is hard to avoid. I’m fighting back, though, and Shapely Prose has been a big part of that (thanks to everyone here!)

    In fact, I’m also in South Bend (Hi A Sarah and Shiloh!) and would love to join in a Shapeling get-together, although I admit I’m a little hesitant to invite myself along because, well, I am thin, and I don’t want to shove that in people’s faces if they’d prefer the company of people who are part of FA from the fatter perspective. Is that coming out right? I’m still a newbie at this and I *really* don’t want to step on anyone’s toes.

  181. whoa, might not want to read the comments on dawn’s link, folks. i just blew a lot of SW points.

  182. Oops, sorry, Lynne! Should have issued a standard Sanity Watchers warning there for the comments. POST comments, but for deity’s sake don’t READ the ones that are there already!

    Sorry everyone.

  183. aproustian, lol, after all my fretting about Those Ten Pounds, I then got all fretful that if some of us really met up in SB that people might think I was a big whiner who didn’t really belong because I wasn’t fat enough!

    Fancy two South Benders being here! And a Lafayetter and a southern Michigander… WOW!

  184. Wow. I so needed this today.

    I’ve been a lurkie-lou for about a month, but I wanted to tell you (as if you don’t already know) that you all rock. I found this particular thread especially meaningful as I found it about 10 minutes after I hit the “cancel” button on my WW membership. I’ve been thinking about quitting diets for about two weeks after a particularly discouraging conversation with some girlfriends. They are strong, successful women who feel like failures because they were unable to maintain their lifetime status. The look I got when I suggested that perhaps the problem was the program and not their weakness was enough to give me pause. They insisted they were utter failures because they “allowed” themselves to get fat again. For some reason, this really hit home. I’d been telling myself all along I was doing WW to form a healthy, normal relationship with food so as not to pass along my bad habits to my 18 month old. If that sense of worthlessness is what normal is, then friend, I want no part of it!

    And I’m in South Bend all the time visiting family. I’ll bring dessert.

  185. aproustian- Most of my best women friends are thin, and are totally on board with FA. I don’t think body size should preclude participation in a shapeling meet up!

  186. A Sarah – Honestly it sounds like maybe a Shapelings gathering where you can be just you and not “Mommy” or “Wife” might actually be what you need. That and a night out with the hubby while the kids are with a babysitter so you can have some time to yourselves and remember why you decided to get hitched in the first place ;) You sound burned out and exhausted and I’ll stop there otherwise y’all will get my rant about how motherhood wasn’t a single-person job until the mid-20th century and our approach to it is insane, etc. But in the spirit of loving oneself, keeping yourself relatively sane and happy is beneficial for your family, so go for it!

    kim & kristen- YAY YOU GUYS! Everyone goes a bit nutty when they get done. It’s kind of a ritual. Remember to bask in having completed something that not that many people manage to do (just in general and then of the people who start working on a PhD tons end up not finishing).

    Also, you kind of have to just let the emotional chaos that follows run its course. I had no idea while I was working on my diss how stressed I was and it wasn’t until almost a year later that everything finally “unclenched” emotionally. Which made sense because that’s several years of intense stress and burn-out you’ve waded through just to get done, so it’s no wonder it takes such a brutal toll. And the aftermath, especially when you don’t have a job lined up (and really, the number of people who finish a dissertation and walk into a tenure-track job is about the same number of people whose diets are successful after 5 years – almost nobody!) can feel like this gaping void and panic attack at the same time. The stress doesn’t stop because there’s that implicit “OK I got the doctorate; now how do I make a living?” pressure starts beating on you immediately. I’ve been exactly there. Try not to let the stress kill your pride in your accomplishment and trust me, you’ll find something. Don’t be too hard on yourselves *waves pom poms*

    And for the record, I am a 35 year old with a PhD and a shiny new tenure-track job 2 years out from finishing the degree, and I’m not sure I want to teach for a career (aspiring novelist but that, as we all know, don’t pay the bills). I was about to go back to school and get an MLIS before this job came along, and I may do it yet. Or run for Congress. *g*

    Other stuff:

    I would love to hear people’s thoughts on facial hair. I hate mine but my mother thinks I’m denying my Italian heritage in getting rid of it. *facepalm*

    POT LUCK POT LUCK POT LUCK!!! Especially if any Shapelings are in the Pittsburgh area. I’m about to move to a tiny little town outside it and I know nobody. *frets*

    DRST

  187. DRST- Thanks…I have felt kind of strange, and I am contstantly apologizing to my husband for generally being lazy. He just looks at me with kind of a blank look and says WTF for? For not working 80 hours a week? For taking a little break? I defend next Friday, but I have a seminar put together from my job talk (yay! I have a tenure track position to walk into!) but I should really practice. It is just really…strange, I guess, to not have to get up and have important! work! to do right now.

  188. oh, and DRST, does your mother often stand in bright sunlight with people who keep losing track of what they are saying cause they keep looking at your mustache? If she does and it doesn’t bother her, then she is incredibly strong. I get pretty self concious when that happens.

  189. I’ve been reading this off and on all day (gotta get SOME work done!), and even though it’s way late in the game, I have some assorted thoughts:

    Re: the initial question: At this point, whenever I have the overwhelming thought that “OMG I MUST BE SMALLER AND DIETING IS THE ONLY WAY TO DO THAT”, I’ve realized that the issue triggering this is never actually body or food intake. It’s usually something else, something harder to control or address, and if I just focus on my body and dieting I can use all my energy on that and not have to actually, like, you know, DEAL with the real issue. Never underestimate the power of desiring to avoid a real problem to come up with crap like this.

    Dieting never really was about food, anyway. It’s all about control.

    Re: fashion and sizes: I have clothing of at least 4 different sizes along the same contiuum in my dresser and closet. I have no friggin’ idea what size I am. I know where I start trying things on, but that’s the size I end up buying only about 50% of the time. So what size am I? Damned if I know. I buy clothes that fit. And it’s frustrating as all hell.

    Re: thinking you look huge in pictures: it’s actually an illusion. I wish I’d saved the source of this one, but when the human brain sees a two dimensional images, it interprets it as being wider than it is because it’s missing the three dimensional cues we rely on when judging size. And a picture, digital or movie or otherwise, is two dimensional. It’s like how we perceive the moon to be so much bigger when it’s near the horizon – all illusion, all just our brains interpreting things wonky.

    Re: potlucks: I want to bring calabacitas – it’s the yummiest vegetable casserole in the world with zucchini and tomatoes and corn and green chiles (mild mostly) and cheese and spices and garlic and onion and we’re coming into prime season for making it. And it has green chiles and cheese in it, which is one of those flavor combinations made in heaven (along with chocolate with strawberries and cranberry with orange).

  190. I’m a little hesitant to invite myself along because, well, I am thin

    Heh. I was just thinking I’m too old for the group – this year is my 30th high school reunion! But I should think a shapeling meet up should include those of every size, since shapelings are every size, yes?

  191. (disclaimer: commenting before I’ve read all the other 200 comments)

    I have a few strategies for when I find myself in this situation.

    I think sleep is crucial, especially with two kids. Being a parent (and a mom especially, since dads often don’t feel guilty for taking their “me” time), is a 24 hour job and — okay so I don’t HAVE kids, but I just spent a weekend with some and observed how exhausted my sister gets with hers — I cannot imagine my life without weekend naps. Tell everyone to go to the park for at least 4 hours and then take a bath and a long nap and generally pamper yourself. This is what I do when I’m feeling down on myself. I find that when I treat myself well, my outlook is likely to follow.

    Take a day off work. Nothing feels better than playing hooky and doing something like going to the movies by yourself or going to the beach with a good book or something else you enjoy doing for no other reason than that it pleases you.

    Get a babysitter and go on a hot date with your partner. Eat something really lovely for dinner and enjoy one another. Your partner’s appreciation of your body will increase yours.

    All of these things boil down to enjoying your life in the body you’re in. You can’t help but love your body when it’s your vehicle for doing awesome stuff.

  192. To the people who are all “I HATE MY BODY BECAUSE I SAW AN UNFLATTERING PICTURE OF IT” (and I have been there and done that so many times too)–

    Don’t hate your body. Just realize that the picture is unflattering. When photographers do picture shoots of people whose profession is being “beautiful” (models, movie stars, and so on), the vast majority of the pictures look horrible. Seriously, they take hundreds of photos in a two-hour shoot, and are lucky if twenty of them are flattering.

    So why do we hold our own casual snapshots to a higher standard than the super-high-tech draped-and-lit photographs done by professionals?

  193. Several years ago, I saw a photo of myself taken when I was feeling good about my body – good enough to wear a skirted bathing suit over rolled up jeans (yes, wonderous fashion choice, I know!). When I saw the picture, I rolled up on my bed and almost died. Okay, that was a little over the top, but you get my drift. I was also in a period of writing what I thought was Brautigan-influenced poetry and this is what I came up with and try to remind myself anytime I see an unflattering photo: “I will not let my self-worth be determined by one photograph.” Sometimes it even works.

  194. I second or third or fourth the suggestion to get new BRAS.

    After literally months of bloomping* out of my old bras, I finally found a new bra that has made miraculous improvements in the way I look and is (gasp) not painful. This may or may not have to do with the fact that I had been wearing my old 42DDs and the new ones are 46DDs.

    *Bloomping is my mother’s word for the spillage of the breast over the top of the bra cup. Kate, am I spelling it right?

  195. Concerning Shapeling potlucks: I’m outside the perimeter, but if anyone in Metro Atlanta wanted to have one I’d be all over it. I love to cook, I love to eat, and I love to talk so really potlucks are the perfect event for me.

  196. iiii, I love that comment about walking but keeping the Oreos at hand. It seems so gentle and so much about what we’re trying to do…care for ourselves, in the best way we can, in the moment.

    A Sarah, my kids are eight and five, and I still struggle with that sense of reclaiming myself as a person separate from my role as mother and wife. Yes, I love my kids and my husband, and at the same time…well, you know.

    I’m in Orlando, FL, if anyone near here is interested in a potluck!

    Everyone, thank you so much for this thread. I really needed to read it today.

  197. Yesterday I came to the conclusion that, at age 39 and after 2 kids, I’m done with dieting and trying to lose weight. I’ve been trying to lose weight for 30 years. I’ve been fatter, I’ve been thinner. I’m done. I work out, I eat good, healthy food, I teach Pilates. I’m strong, healthy, happy.
    I don’t know what advice to give you, other than to ask yourself WHY you want to be smaller, maybe? It seems like a no-brainer: “Of course I want to be thinner, who doesn’t?” Well, there are a lot of people who have decided that thin does not equal happy.
    Good luck to you, sweetheart. And know that what you are feeling is very common, and we’ve ALL been there, and we are here for you and rooting for you.

    YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!

  198. If I have an urge to diet I try to counteract it by doing something kind and generous for myself and then I feel better. Dieting is just so mean-spirited and cruel; I wouldn’t choose to deprive any other hungry person of food so I refuse to do it to myself either.

    I often relate the urge to diet to being unhappy about something else in my life and I try to figure out what else might be the problem. Sometimes the problem is that I feel overwhelmed at work, or I’m not getting enough sleep, or else I’m falling into the trap of comparing myself to others or setting unrealistic standards for myself. I know dieting is not going to solve any of these things but the old thoughts just pop up sometimes. I can’t honestly remember a time when losing weight really did make me feel better about myself, usually it just made me feel more insecure because now there was something I needed to “maintain”, just one more thing I had to worry about screwing up and failing at. Who needs that?

    Things I would try now instead of dieting would be to get more sleep or exercise, call someone, pet my dog or cats, wear comfy soft clothes, or take a hot bath. I might invite someone over for dinner or go out for coffee, take a long walk or go to the library for a whole stack of new books.

  199. When I get a bit down on myself, I try to remember how beautiful, sexy, solid and strong I find other women who are fat. If I find them attractive, why shouldn’t I do the same for myself? So, instead of feeling fat I try to feel like those other women look to me.

    On the subject of exercise, be a little careful if it doesn’t actually make you feel good. Hypothyroid, over-exercise, and probably other things like the stress of dealing with babies or work can wear out your adrenal glands, making it so that instead of feeling good from exercise, you feel bad. I got so I would finish a martial arts or yoga session feeling totally drained and suicidal. Now I know enough to stop the very second I first feel down-hearted or tired.

    On the subject of the sex-life, well, have you asked hubbie? Ours has had a slump for a long time, but we still cuddle a lot and touch a lot. We discussed it and both are still very attracted to each other, but life has got in the way to the extent that we just can’t find the extra energy to act on those impulses we still have. Having it out in the open makes it much easier. It makes me happy to know hubbie still fancies me, and to know that right now neither of us cares about the sex thing as long as we still have the laughs and cuddles. If you talk it out with hubbie, you may find he is feeling something similar; no extra energy even if he would like to. Doesn’t mean he doesn’t still find you sexy and love you just as much. Sexuality goes in cycles like all parts of life and relationships!

  200. Maybe this is outside of the scope of the original post (I apologize if it is), but people to talk to about this have been hard to find.

    Hey, Andy, would you mind if I gave your comment the same treatment A Sarah got here, only on Shakesville, tomorrow? I’m sure there are people here who have struggled with the same questions, but Shakers might be an even better crew to ask.

    (Also, if you say yes and don’t see it on Shakesville, please e-mail and remind me. I would love to put this question up there, but I am such a scatterbrain I might forget by tomorrow, which would NOT mean I don’t want to do it.)

    Kate, am I spelling it right?

    Yes, as far as I know, you’re spelling “bloomping” correctly. But are you sure you’re a 46DD and not, like, a 42 or 44 F? I mean, I know you have the “small” rack in the family, but I’m willing to bet that 46 band will soon be riding up your back ’cause it’s too big, and what you needed was a bigger cup.

  201. “I am earning positive attention by being confident, having opinions, and standing up for myself. It’s a far better kind of attention than, “Wow! You look amazing!”’

    Someone please teach me how to do this in a world where women are only supposed to shut up, starve, and suffer.

    In silence.

  202. Lately, I have kept that thin fantasy alive…I am not talking really thin, but a size 16 thin. 193 thin. Most days I can totally accept who I am. I have been working on it for quite a while. But lately, I have been shopping for some European designer clothes…where the size goes up to a L only. I am a 2X…no longer 1X, XL or L. I envy those clothes… does any one know of any European designers that are making strange amazing designer clothes? I am so sick of the clothes we can buy…even if it’s better than before…I want Italian, French or Japanese clothes with fine material and tailoring. Oh the fantasy…I will be better tomorrow.

  203. Alyssa, I sure wish you lived around here so I could take pilates from you! I’d like to take pilates (I hear it’s good for strengthening lower back muscles), but I’m afraid of the process of finding a class that’s fat-friendly.

    About the size/shape thing: Up until last year, I was basically an hourglass shape (although I did have a belly –more after each down and up in my weight), but although I didn’t actually gain weight after my injury, it… moved around a lot. I’m struggling to come to terms with the new shape –is it an apple, even? I still have a large bust (I think…) and definitely large hips and legs (and broad shoulders), but the belly is definitely in the running now.

  204. I recently started a new job, and have an unflattering photo of myself on the intranet to contend with, and the impulse to diet.

    I also will be meeting a ton of new people through this job, and as it’s in the field of health, I know they will be thinking, what can someone of her size teach me about being healthy?

    I’m not dieting (I wouldn’t even know how to anymore). I’m getting plenty of fresh air, exercise, and eventually, sleep. I’m thinking about how to, as TR put it, say, “Hi, I’m Fat.”

    Maybe summertime has something to do with all of this — in which case the following things might help:
    1. Everyone’s excellent suggestions of a media diet
    2. Admiring all the beauty of the variety of bodies around you of all sizes (I know other people on this thread have suggested this, too).

    And for all of you who are finding you aren’t able to afford enough to eat, please do utilize all available resources, food banks and other programs, and take people up on offers to feed you. I try to donate to hunger relief groups locally and internationally, and I try to lobby for better food policy, because that situation is one that anyone could find themselves in. I wish I could have you over to my house for dinner.

  205. Hey A Sarah – I’m coming in tardy here, but I’m going to throw something totally out from left field here: perhaps what you need is a little more time to yourself? Either alone or with a good friend?

    I find little beats the crap out of my self-image like day after day of dealing with kids and hubby and house and yadda yadda. And summer is a great time for fun, but… it’s a great time for fun. Which means that there’s this pressure on us parents (particularly us moms, unfortunately) to make every moment special! and memorable! and soak up all the joy of summer as much as we can while it lasts, because all too soon summer will be over.

    But dude, that shit’s exhausting. I don’t know how old your kids are, and if you’re at home with them or working or what, but really – a prolonged lack of “Me-Time” always just leaves me feeling low. And I do find myself more inclined to doing counter-productive things in an attempt to boost my mood (as evidenced by the DOZEN bars of fancy, mostly handmade soaps I’ve bought in the past two months – it doesn’t take a shrink to see I’m looking to literally wash my blues away there).

    I think you’ve gotten a lot of other great advice already, so I figured I’d throw out something from one mama to another.

    (Scrolls up before hitting “Submit”. Oh. Or um… you’ve already figured this out. Well, if you’re ever near Madison, WI, shoot me an email and we’ll meet up! No kids allowed!)

  206. I love reading this blog. People have made so many wonderful suggestions, and the general atmosphere is just so supportive and awesome and beyond my capacity for adjectives.

    I’ve been fighting that little evil voice myself today–I decided it was high time I had a little room in my closet, but as I was going through old clothes, I kept thinking “Why are you getting rid of that skirt? Just lose a few pounds and it’ll fit like it did in high school!”

    I was able to quiet that voice by reminding it, “Listen, you looked TACKY AS HELL in high school. Thank god you gained weight and had to buy new clothes, so you’d start dressing like a grown-up.”

  207. Sue

    There’s an amazing European designer called Anna Scholz
    http://www.annascholz.com
    She makes clothes up to a 26. She was a model in the past and is now a very beautiful fat, tall, statuesque lady, who appreciates the fact that fat women don’t want to wear sacks, but want beautifully designed and well fitting clothes. Her clothes are very, very lovely, and if I had more money, I would be buying them every season!

  208. i have been struggling w/wanting to lose weight lately myself. it was brought on by fiiiiiiiinally unpacking all my fetish clothes. only to find that about 90% of them don’t fit me any more. and it would literally take thousands of dollars to replace that wardrobe. le sigh. and then there’s the strapon harness. i’m almost grown out of that too. and it’s not exactly something you just run out to target to replace when you out grow it. how crazy is that? i want to lose weight so i can still fit my kink wardrobe?

    at least i am still sane enough to realize that dieting is not my friend and isn’t going to work. also, i am trying to remind myself that i’m bloated b/c i’m about to have my period. and that it’s ultimately a lot smarter and healthier for me to slowly rebuild my alternative wardrobe than to try to lose weight.

    and, to top it all off… my lower back is hurting me so bad that i can barely move. let alone exercise. and it’s been this way off and on for months. i finally made an appointment to see the doctor. and now my paranoia is telling me that she’s just going to tell me to lose about 50lbs. when what i really want is some kind of scan to see what’s going on back there. and maybe some muscle relaxers. and how the heck am i supposed to lose that 50lbs w/o dieting and exercising? ack!

    i’m trying to keep it all in perspective. so this post and reading the comments is really helping me today.

  209. Thanks to everyone who left comments above. And big hugs to A Sarah and everyone else who needs them :)

    I recently discovered Shapely Prose and HAES. I’m intellectually ready to dump the diet, but the The Fantasy Of Being Thin is still lurking within me – especially as I’m hoping to marry next year and keep thinking I’ll look like a blimp in a wedding dress.

    I realise the body image stuff has a lot to do with my depression (and the reasons I get depressed if you know what I mean) – but it’s still there.

    I love the idea of a media diet – I get sick to death of watching women being vilified for being too fat/thin/loud/quiet/maternal/independent/intelligent or whatever else. And so often we do it to each other.

    Thanks again for helping me to deal with my own stuff and think about other women’s issues. And if anyone is interested in having a potluck in the UK, south of London, let me know. :)

  210. There’s an amazing European designer called Anna Scholz

    OH MY GOD.
    I’m dying over here!
    WANT!

  211. Some wonderful advice here, and some great thoughts on parenting that I just shared with my husband. We’re still pretty much newlyweds (married 11 months next week) and I’m in my sixth month of pregnancy with our first child. It’s good to hear about some of the curve balls that having children will throw at our relationship. Maybe it’ll help to be prepared!

    I’m also already dealing with the pregnancy weight issue – the morning sickness I was suffering with for the first five months (yep, that long), had me eating very very unhealthily because that was all I could stomach, but it was totally against my instincts and I put on a lot of weight that I didn’t need to (ie not baby weight). With four months still to go I was worried about how much weight I’d put on – I was trying to focus on everything I’ve learned here at SP, but I was also simply alarmed at having to buy entire new wardrobes. I think I can deal with it taking time to get back to pre-pregnancy weight *and* that that might not be what it was, but higher – but it was beginning to seem that it would be very significantly higher, which was daunting. This past few weeks I’ve begun to feel better and so can eat more healthily, and the weight gain has slowed, but I still have to keep focusing on the changes in my body being positive ones and to not worry too much about what will be afterwards.

    For years and years I thought that I would never find anyone to love or to love me, and would never be able to have children because of that (and because of suspected PCOS and advancing age) so I must remember, despite the misery of the morning sickness I’ve been enduring, that having conceived so easily at the age of 34 is wonderful, as is everything about my life and husband, whatever happens to my weight after childbirth!

    I would echo a few suggestions others have given: a media diet is a *fabulous* idea (and one I tend to practice all the time myself just because I’m uninterested for the most part), and also, focusing on not only how crazy-making dieting is, but how it tends not to work anyway, and just to make things worse.

  212. Hi A Sarah – (sorry this is a really long post)

    I’m new to FA and am still troubled by my ingrained urge to try and diet. In many respects I’m psychologically/emotionally addicted to dieting; even though I’ve proved to myself time and time again that even if being thinner would make me happier or whatever, on a practical level, diets simply do not work. There’s an argument going on in my head even as I write this, between “the fantasy of being thin” and an exhausted, plaintive common sense voice questioning how much longer I am going to keep putting myself through all the ridiculousness of dieting and the resulting worsening of self esteem.

    Giving up dieting, for me at least, seems to have similar psychological withdrawal symptoms to those I experienced when I gave up smoking some 10 years ago. Even when I was about three months into non-smoking life, I’d still think to myself, “oh one won’t hurt,” despite the thought of actually breathing in smoke making me nauseas. The nicotine cravings had long gone, but the psychological need/habit/pattern/whatever of smoking was still there. Not smoking was the only thing I could do. It’s difficult for me to remember now, but yes it was bloody hard not to succumb at the time, and even now I’m elated that I actually managed to quit, because I’m free! The relief I feel for no longer having to smoke/having to quit is incredible (I was on 30 Marlboro reds a day, mind you!) My life as a smoker is over forever.

    The same goes for dieting and climbing back onto the crap-body-image roundabout. As with smoking where “just one” cigarette would be enough to set me right back off again, the same applies with dieting. There’s rarely such a thing as a “just one” of anything (we all know this already from all those wretched diet tips we’ve read!) Therefore, Not Dieting is the only thing we can do.

    It’s working too. I’ve really noticed some shifts in my attitude to the whole weight loss = happy, healthy and desirable scam. Before I used to feel intimidated and bullied (mostly in my head, but not always) by the constant food vigilance and competitive dieting entertained by my friends, work colleagues, family members etc. Now, while I still love and appreciate them, I am frankly amazed and appalled at how much time and energy they waste obsessing about food, exercising like crazy mad things, and vehemently refusing to buy clothes labelled size 14 or over, even though that’s the size that fits them.

    My mother is 63 and still on a diet. My Aunt is 59, still on a diet and fretting about her cellulite. Yes, really, FRETTING ABOUT HER CELLULITE AT 59 YEARS OLD!! My mum’s next door neighbour, 78, an incredibly sprightly and elegant lady who enjoys dancing and is always out pottering around in her garden; also on a diet because she says her stomach is sticking out. DIETING AT 78!!? I mean, for goodness sakes, when does it stop?

    I’m nearly 40 years old and I’ve been dieting since I was 8. None of my efforts have ever, ever worked in any sustainable way. I really cannot allow myself to fall into the misery of dieting again. I’m exhausted with it. It’s taken me so long to get to just this beginners’ level of Fat Acceptance, I cannot bear the thought of sending myself backwards. So in the same way that I used my will power to keep off the ciggies, and ironically enough, keep away from the biscuit tin when hungry to tears on my latest weight loss plan, I’m now using it to stop myself from giving in and attempting yet another diet. I mean, if I don’t do this now, when will I ever?

    You’ve done incredible things. You’ve given birth; twice! I bet you’re a fantastic mum and a brilliant partner to your husband. You are good enough as you are.

    Every day that you are not on a diet is a triumph you should be proud of. You are standing up for yourself and your body. Well done you, keep going. The craving to diet will fade in time…..

  213. Kristin: Lafayette! I didn’t know that there was anyone from here, HERE. Being from an even smaller town in Indiana, I’m used to the “real” world being off somewhere else.

    I’m late in responding so I don’t know if you’ll see this but… Despite the best advice of childhood posters, I’m usually up for meeting strangers. Normally, I’m on campus or downtown for lunch so let me know if you’d like to meet up sometime.

  214. Everyone who replied here is brilliant.

    Sarah A, don’t do it. Sometimes the diet wagon trundles in front of us so temptingly, but the seats are stuffed with nails and it’s a bumpy, unpleasant ride! I feel like hopping on it myself right now, but I know it’d be unpleasant and while it looks like it’s the way forward, hopping on the diet wagon will actually set me further back.

    The earlier suggestions about having a great haircut or pampering yourself are excellent.

  215. Mel- Yes! I am totally up for it. I could really use getting out of my house, too. I don’t want to put my full name/purdue email out here, so email me at erthlvr78 at yahoo.

  216. Hey, Raven, how about trying a chiropractor? The first time I went, he adjusted me and asked what I thought I needed to do to alleviate the pain? I answered something I can’t remember, and he said, “Nope. It’s right in front of you.”
    “Oh, lose a ton of weight.”
    “No. Exercise.”
    First. he didn’t tell me to lose any of the weight everyone else told me I should. Second, by exercises, he didn’t mean going to the gym or doing anything strenuous – he showed me some light stretches/easy “exercises” to do daily. Some things I could even do while driving! I know that not everyone believes in chiropractic care, but it has saved me on many occasions – from back pain to wrist and hand adjustments. Either way, good luck! (And the wardrobe sounds awesome – maybe you can sell some things to raise money for new things?)

  217. Wow, so much to think about when I go away for a day or so and come back to read a couple hundred comments! This is perfect for me right now, too, because my summer plans have all gone down the toilet, I’m looking at some trying situations coming at me over the next several months, I’m depressed about it, and of course the easiest way to feel bad about it all is to gripe about how my clothes don’t fit. I love the advice to stop and think about why I’m “feeling fat” and dissect it more. It’s very similar to how I have to stop with binge eating and think about “why” I want to eat right right now when I’m not really hungry.

    coyote, I’m skimming and don’t see if anyone’s mentioned your issue yet, but oy, have I been there. Last summer I had recently discovered FA, I had gotten some nice clothes that were form-fitting, I was coincidentally at the lowest weight I’d been in a few years, I was rocking. Then, I went to a conference, the conference pictures got posted on the website, and I was gobsmacked by OH HELL I LOOK AWFUL. It took awhile to deal with, and I still don’t like those pictures, but I keep telling myself that I don’t photograph well in comparison to how I look in person. Besides, it’s not like people were physically recoiling from me, so I must not have looked that terrible. I think that was the key for me to cope – ok, I look at the pictures and I think I look hideous, but thinking back to the event, did anyone treat me like I looked hideous? No. And are all of them such great etiquette actors that they would have been able to hide their disgust if it were really there? Absolutely not. So, even though to me I look bad in the recording of the event, I must either have not looked that bad in person, or I look worse to myself than what everyone else thinks, or both.

    A Sarah, I totally want to move in next door to you so we can talk about all the same stuff all the time. :) Having two kids in grad school, woo! I sometimes am surprised I lived through it at all.

  218. Since you mentioned being a mother…

    I’m the mother of a seven year old, a four year old, and a new(ish) four month old. And as a mom three times over, I am, like all moms in America, constantly bombarded with the message that carrying and giving birth to a baby should somehow *not* change my body.

    After 9 months of pregnancy, however long of breastfeeding, and endless years of taking care of babies and small kids, moms are supposed to just spring back, like a rubber band, with no signs of wear, tear or living.

    Having had three kids now, that means I’ve been pregnant for a grand total of about 26 months (that’s just over two years!). And my breasts have been feeding babies for nearly four years.

    And I should somehow look like I did *before* I had kids?

    It’s a crock. It’s unreal. And it’s a consistent, impossible message that diverts us from recognizing our own achievement (the signs of which we’re supposed to erase).

    It helps me to remind myself of that every day and every moment I look in the mirror and see the evidence of my life on my body.

    We aren’t rubber bands (though sometimes I do feel like snapping). Our bodies produce stretch marks for a reason–because life is about growing and changing, and those things produce marks and signs and symbols on our skin.

    If we can let go of the unrealistic, impossible, and stupid goals, we have so much more energy to pursue the ones we can and should achieve.

  219. I too have struggled with the FoBT and the constant urge to punish myself for eating foods I enjoy and only ballroom dancing twice a week because I LIKE DOING IT instead of doing aerobics I hate every day because I “should” be. When this happens, I tell myself this – the definition of insanity is repeating the same behaviors over and over again and expecting a different result each time.

    That’s my definition of dieting – insanity.

  220. Our bodies produce stretch marks for a reason–because life is about growing and changing, and those things produce marks and signs and symbols on our skin.

    I really like this.

  221. Have realized there is another Charlotte so have changed to my nickname.

    A Sarah, there are a couple of things that keep me from dieting, even when I’m so overwhelmed by work and the kid and the husband and the house and the other moms and *deep breath*

    1. I remember that I am a total bitca when I’m dieting and now that I have a family, I can’t be that way. It was one thing to not eat and be horrible when I was fancy free and single but now my son needs a mom who’s nice and playful more than he needs a skinny mean tired mom.

    2. I count up the number of diets I’ve been on (this takes a while) and how much weight I’ve lost and regained. I remind myself that I am living proof not of laziness (as I think about the time and labor intensive hours of exercise/charts/counting/weighing/etc) but of the fact that it doesn’t work.

    3. I remind myself that the other mothers, and you know the ones I mean, have their own issues. Many of them have body image issues and are so worried about how they look, they’re not actually talking about me.

    4. I take a break. Get a pedicure, a massage, an hour at barnes and noble with a book and some coffee–without the kid.

    5. I think about all the ways my body is there for me and how precious it is. This belly nurtured and held my son–it held a person! I think about my great-grandmother heading out west and how her body, so much like mine, was a good thing out there. Sturdy and strong and nourished. I laugh that when the revolution comes, (which is an onrunning joke in our family), I’ve got the homesteading body already.

    6. I have an awesome meal and think about what it would be like to spend time again not eating anything I enjoy.

    Also, I don’t know how old your kids are, but small kids can really knock the heck out of a person and a marriage. If you can swing a date night or afternoon, maybe you and your partner could go hang out for a bit and connect? it can make a big difference.

  222. Oh, and I noticed we have a number of Shaplings in this sortof area: Charleston, Orlando, Savannah and Altanta. Maybe we could do a meetup/potluck in the middle somewhere? That would be beyond awesome.

    I also love the idea of a Shapling WDW meetup–great food in a fat friendly environment. (it really is too, if anyone’s never been there and maybe worried about going with their family or friends–there are some resources that tell you what few rides might be a problem and the attendants were really nice about talking to me about it. I was also pleased to notice fat workers in costumes/uniforms that fit)

  223. Oh, now that I read carefully there were several comments about how pictures suck. Pictures suck, people! So does video.

    I’m jealous of y’all’s proximity. I’m sitting high and dry in central New York, and with gas prices and lack of time off NYC is about as far away as the moon. :( But ha, I live vicariously through the internet! Go internet!

  224. RE: meetups and potlucks and such–I am in Northwest Indiana and would totally be down with one.

    Great thread, everyone!

  225. Car, I’m totally in central NY! Where are you? You can contact me at plaingenericemail at gmail dot com. I’m located in the Syracuse/Ithaca area.

  226. omg south bend!
    i live in boston, but grew up in south bend–i will be visiting my parents (with my fat partner, incidentally) and would be SO EXCITED if there were a potluck! not that it should be scheduled around me. just saying.
    and also reading this post is really important for me right now cos i am getting back into regular gym-going and having to work hard to keep myself in check to not let it slip into a Thing That Takes Over.
    and the writing on facial hair–just hearing people talk about it at all is really good for me. i am another one that can talk all over about being fat, but when it comes to having facial hair? even though i know other people know? totally silent.

  227. The phrase “Syracuse/Ithaca area” just boggles my mind. Growing up around Syracuse, Ithaca was a WHOLE different area!

    Both of you, feel free to email me. my email is in my blogspot profile.

  228. Veering temporarily back to the facial hair thing, I’ve started a thread on my blog to talk about why it’s so hard to talk about our facial hair. I think it’s an interesting question.

  229. I refuse to attend a Shapelings potluck unless everyone brings baby donuts.

    No that I live near any of the mentioned places, but still, it’s the spirit of the thing.

  230. I posted a comment, Bald Soprano!

    Of course, 100% of women have hair on their faces. It’s those of us who have visible, darker hair in certain places (“terminal hair” vs. “vellus hair”) who feel (or are made to feel) anxious about it, yes? And that percentage of us is between 15 and 25% in the US, depending on whose statistics you read.

  231. Car–Oh my gosh, do pictures ever suck.

    The thing is, though, I think we like to think of ourselves as always looking our best. When we look in the mirror, we make our prettiest face / straighten our shoulders / suck in our tummies / etc. So that’s the mental image we carry around of ourselves. But when you’re caught on film, it’s likely that you haven’t done all those things, because instead you’re DOING SOMETHING that’s worth taking a picture of. So your picture doesn’t look like the Slightly Better You that you have in your head, but that doesn’t mean it’s horrible–it’s just how you normally look, and you’re not used to it.

    The thing to remember is that you’re the only one shocked and appalled. Everyone else already knows what you look like, and they obviously like you fine, so it can’t be as bad as you think.

    (I had to go through this whole though process when I first saw pictures of myself performing my poetry. “Oh my God, do I really make that face?” Um, yeah.)

  232. I haven’t read through all the comments yet, but I’ll tell you where I am.

    I’ve been reading SP for about 2 weeks now. The whole time, I’ve had my WW points tracker up at the same time in another window. Obviously, I’m new to all this.

    So far, I’m convinced I don’t need to diet. I’ve started buying clothes that fit me as I am now. I’ve started eating what I want and only using the WW thing to track how many veggies, fruits, and lowfat dairy I eat instead of using it to limit my calorie intake. I’m feeling really empowered.

    And then. I think, “What if I run into one of my exes? What if I run into someone I knew from high school or college?” I weighed 103 pounds when I left for college. I weigh 190 now. I’m 5’3″. I am more afraid of the social stigma and OMG OH NOES LOOK WHO GOT FAT! judgment I might get then I am of losing weight and gaining it all back. Not might get, probably will get, since fat is so demonized in our society. All this despite the fat that I lost 71 pounds five years ago, kept it off for 3 years, then gained 50 of those pounds back. (I’ve been holding steady at my weight since then).

    I’m lucky in that my gym has lots of fat people, older people, disabled people, so I don’t feel out of place exercising. I’m not lucky in that the only yoga studio I can get to on public transportation during daylight hours (I live in a bad neighborhood, so I can’t be walking from the trolley to my house in the evening, which is when most yoga classes in my area are held) just turned into an all-Astanga studio, and I’m not physically up to that. I need relaxing yoga, not power yoga where I can’t keep up with all the thin people in better shape than I am.

    Anyway, the cognitive dissonance is horrendous.

    Right now what helps is reading this website and looking at websites that sell clothes that fit me. At a size 18, I obviously don’t fit all the clothes out there, but I’m encouraged by seeing that I do have SOME options.

  233. (disclaimer: sorry for the long long post)

    It seems that I’m a bit late for this post but FA has done wonders for me and it seems like a betrayal not to reply.

    Anyways, as I’m fairly new to FA, I decided to search for a gym and overcome my fear that they’ll think ZOMG the fatty wants to exercise!!!

    So I went to this gym and they told me they were going to weight and measure me which I dreaded because I knew the BMI was coming. Then she’s asking me about lots of stuff and my size, so:

    Me: I’m a XX
    Her: What size do you want to be?
    Me: *puzzled* w/e an XX.
    Her: Just that? You can be any size you want!
    Me: *I don’t think this is the right place for me, but let’s see*

    So she starts asking me my reasons to do exercise,

    Me: I want to be healthy and have energy.
    Her: Oh, but you don’t have, like, any clothes that don’t fit?
    Me: Mmmm… no *why would I?*
    Her: But that’s such a good motivation to exercise. Like, if you miss a class for a day I can call you and say “hey, remember those white pants you told me that don’t fit? You don’t want to be skipping class”
    Me: I don’t have any clothes that don’t fit.
    Her: Mmm.. ok
    Me: But the reason I want to exercise is not losing weight [I felt so proud for being able to say that]. It’s to be healthy.
    Her: You DON’T want to lose weight? But if you exercise you are going to lose weight.
    Me: Well, not necessarily, you can be fat and healthy, those aren’t mutually exclusive.

    So I tried the exercise program and in fact I liked it and it was fun but I decided against it, because they set you goals of losing X pounds in a month and blahblahblah and that’s not what I want right now. And it felt great just to decide that.

    On a happier side note, I found this great yoga class. I tried it, I loved it and I think I’m going to be doing that, which I think is awesome. So thank you guys for the awesome blog and just for giving me courage to speak for myself. 

    And A Sarah, I hope you’ll be feeling better, I know FA is not a day to night thing, but I feel it’s [and it will be] really worth it in the long run. *hugs*

  234. All the comments here for A Sarah (and the other strugglers such as I), as well as the outpouring of awesomeness from everyone to help 13 has cheered me right the fuck up.

    I’ve really got to say the reminder of the fuckery of dieting instead of the weirdo glamourizing I was doing in my head made the biggest difference.

    Anyway, no bawling for me today!

    And to Tam, a similar experience got me questioning things before I encountered FA:

    Trainer: Why are you coming here?
    Me: It’s cheaper than my other gym
    Trainer: Why are you meeting with a trainer?
    Me: So I don’t break my ass on your newfangled fancypants equipment.

    later…

    Trainer: You’ll even see the line from your shoulders drop (assuming my arms make a rounded shape as they fall to my sides, I guess?!)
    Me: Okay… *and why would I want that and who the hell decided that’s what I should want? What a weird thing to say!*

  235. Bald Soprano, I wish I lived near you! A couple of the classes I teach are at a local community center, which is far more relaxed and accepting of people of all ages, nationalities, sizes, etc.

  236. DADGUMMIT!!

    I HAD A BIG LONG DRIPPY GRATITUDE-GLAZED AFFECTION-FILLED WARM DOUGHNUT OF A COMMENT WRITTEN and then…

    the power went off.

    That was six hours ago.

    It came back on.

    But the reply was gone.

    But I love you all, and I promise I won’t diet.

    And I promise to provide the Michiana Shapelings with F doughnuts and tapas sometime over the summer.

  237. Did all the Michiana people catch aproustian’s address for a discussion on dates and whatnot?

    http://knives42ljk.livejournal.com/58333.html

    I’m so glad you’re feeling better about things, A Sarah. I’ve really been struggling with getting myself to eat lately so this thread was helpful. I don’t really diet – I just go through periods when I don’t eat. Yeah. *sigh*

    Go, Tami! I’ve been trying to work up the nerve to go to the Y and do some stuff, and even though I know not everyone there is Totally Trim, it’s a familiar place (I take the kids there for Home School gym), I’m technically paying for it already (we have a family membership), and I’m still having a heck of a time working up the nerve to go.

    Since we have a membership I think this fall I could go to a yoga class for free (various kids and/or hubby have gone sporadically the past few years), maybe I should go that route.

  238. I think, “What if I run into one of my exes? What if I run into someone I knew from high school or college?” I weighed 103 pounds when I left for college. I weigh 190 now. I’m 5′3″. I am more afraid of the social stigma and OMG OH NOES LOOK WHO GOT FAT! judgment I might get then I am of losing weight and gaining it all back. Not might get, probably will get, since fat is so demonized in our society.

    Uplate, I hear you…this is always a tough moment. I remember thinking of actually skipping out on the holidays a couple of years ago because I didn’t want all of my relatives (who congratulated me on losing weight) to see that I had put on a few pounds. But lately it has occurred to me that if people can look at me, a bright, accomplished, young woman, and only see the size of my ass…then I pity them, and I think you should do the same. Because anyone who would be that focused on another person’s body, probably spends a lot of time looking in the mirror and hating their own.

    I’m sure that’s small comfort when you’re feeling anxious, but I’ve found it to be definitely true, so at least it is something to hang on to.

    Oh and lots of clothes will fit your gorgeous self…if you haven’t already, check out The Pretty Pear and Fatshionista for some ideas!

  239. Tam – if you ever come back here – can I ask you is that the women-only gym with the purple logo you had that experience at?
    I had a pushy intake lady ask me what my wedding weight was, because – you know – that’s who my husband had signed up for. We got that straightened out right quick.

    Since I work out at the gym a fair amount, I keep planning to make a U of SP Varsity T-Shirt with the slogan “Exercise, It’s Not Just for Weight Loss”, and mail it in to these nice folks. Then, any gym pushy people can be told to talk to my tits.

  240. Arwen – That’s it ! I actually didn’t make a lot of research before I gave it a try, so I was not aware that it would be a weight-loss program instead of “just” a gym… I would take one of those shirts ;)

  241. I really needed this thread today.

    I finally got up the courage to tell people on another site that I visit to knock it off with the negative comments about how fat and lazy and disgusting they are. And of course I got a lot of shit for it.

    Today I needed to be reminded of why this place is my haven and why Shapelings (or whoever did) needed to coin the term Sanity Points in the first place and why it can be really easy to slip back into old ways of diet-thinking.

    Thanks, everyone!

  242. Bald Soprano and Lilah Cello, I’m in the *gorgeous* Utica area. I’ll shoot you an email sometime this weekend. :)

  243. I have only just found this website yesterday, but this particular entry really strikes a cord with me. I have been overweight since I was a child (probably about 8), and have done nothing but basically grow bigger ever since.

    I was never much of a dieter, but a few years ago I discovered, through a friend, a doctor who offered a specialized diet with extremely restricted calories and an acupressure regime to assist in diminishing appetite. I very quickly lost a lot of weight, for the first time in my life. However, I was hungry all the time, and working as a nanny, so the exhaustion and frustration did not serve me well. It also created in me a bulimic tendency, because occasionally I would find myself eating meals with the family, then feeling guilty, so I would purge. This was generally only an occasional habit, but has carried with me ever since.

    Fortunately, after losing the weight I then maintained it for a while with almost daily exercise and a sensible meal plan–which wasn’t counting calories, but simply making good choices about getting enough of the right things. However, the gym I was a member of was also one I worked at, and once I lost that job, I started to gain weight back.

    For a while I only gained back about 20 pounds, and then I went on depakote, and quickly gained 20 more. Then I tried phentermine which helped me lose 10, but then I couldn’t afford to maintain it so I gained 30. That left me at a higher weight than I have ever been.

    All that being said, I am a very lucky girl. I have met and am with a very wonderful man who always tells me how beautiful or “so freakin’ cute” I am, and when I am down I try to remember that. But I currently work as a receptionist with three very thin women, who don’t let a day pass by without mentioning calories. I once reached my limit and actually told them I was going to ban the word. My fellow receptionist, who was very thin when I started, recently starting restricting her calories to 1200 a day so she could “lose the weight (she) wanted to”. It’s insanity.

    This site, however, is helping to change my perspective. Ironically, I found it through a link on NY Times, which is a site I have been reading voraciously for the comments on the Well weight-related blogs. I have discovered how very much hate there is out there for bigger people. And I adore all of you for being here to lift me up from it. I will not read those comments on that site again.

    On one more note, I live outside of and work in Orlando, FL, so as far as a central Florida potluck, I am all for it! I love food and LOVE to cook (yet another thing my boyfriend loves about me), so I would be excited about sharing that with others who can appreciate food as much as I!

  244. After a busy week at work, I’m late to all the threads…here’s what I can offer:

    When I feel this way, I try to think about when I was at my worst in my ED and how miserable I was and all the things I couldn’t or wouldn’t do, all the things I missed out on because I was obsessing over my body. And I use that as momentum to move forward (kind of a “look how far you’ve come” reverse psychology.)

    And also, because I realize, when I was 100 pounds smaller, I wasn’t any happier (in fact, I was more miserable, partly because I was so obsessed with it and every little inch and pound..)

    I also splurge on myself (new shoes, always good) or do something that makes me feel good (whether it’s a pedicure or charity work.).

    One more thing: I think recognizing that it’s OK to feel this way sometimes. :)

  245. I never look at photos of me. In person I think I’m pretty, in photos I am as a whale. So, no.

    As to how not to diet, god knows I have those days too, but I just remind myself over and over (as someone said upthread) dieting doesn’t work. Absolutely nothing that is wrong with me or my life or how I feel right now is going to be fixed by eating less. Which seems obvious when you say it like that, but is so ingrained in there as a fix-it that I don’t know if I’ll ever completely get rid of it.

    So yeah. My advice is to do something that will make yourself feel better, and in the meantime pull yourself into you and wait until this passes. For me (said the musical theatre nerd) the cure for a shitty day/week/month, whether self-esteem based or for any other reason, is almost always the Rent soundtrack at full volume. By the time I hit the final “no day but today” I’ve usually laughed, cried, danced, cried some more, and come back out the other end a human being again. But you might be, you know, cooler than me, in which case you’ll probably need to try something else. ;)

  246. Tuppence, as to the Charleston/Savannah/Atlanta/Orlando-ish meet-up, hells to the yeah. Who’s good at coordinating stuff? ;)

  247. @ lilahcello: actually i’m not opposed to chiropractic. i had a good one in dallas. but i was interested in finding out what sort of damage is going on back there. (and since i’m very in touch w/my body, i KNOW something isn’t right in the lower back!) so i got an appt w/the doc since my insurance covers everything i do w/her and doesn’t cover chiropractic. so i got a basically free xray on friday. and luckily no mention was made of my weight AT ALL!!! they did weigh me, even though they weighed me 2 weeks ago when i was in for my blood draws. which is kinda silly imho. but nobody mentioned the weight as an issue. so i panicked over nothing! and a silly anecdote about the weigh in…

    i get on the scale, which is set at about 300 when i step on it and the nurse moves it all the way down to 150!!! i gave her a very odd look since 1) they weighed me in at 217 a mere 2 WEEKS AGO and she’s looking right at the chart (b/c they thought i lost over 50 lbs in 2 weeks???) and 2) even if they’re guessing wrong just by eyeballing me, they are wrong by almost 75lbs! totally goes to show why we all need to be fat in public! nobody freakin knows what teh dredded 200lbs zomg!! actually looks like.

  248. I am LATEST OF LATE (I spent four days at home and only checked email), but:

    thank you, everyone, for this thread. I’m dealing with a lot of emotional headfuckery right now, and among that is that I’m at my highest weight ever-ever, and this thread served as an amazing reality check. I plan to keep coming back to it.

  249. Hey there –

    This is an amazing thread.

    My suggestion to those who have the “OMG I ‘m SO FAT!1!” in that photo feeling is actually… take LOTS of photos of yourself! Last year at this time I had come back from a trip to Florida with my parents and I had that reaction when I saw the photos. This led to my final diet and thin fantasy pre-discovering size acceptance and HAES.

    I’m fortunate enough to have a shutterbug friend who takes tons of pics whenever we’re out and always tells me “you’re so photogenic.” I didn’t believe him at first – I just kept staring at TEH FAT. But the truth is… I AM fat. The more pics I saw of myself at different angles/outfits/lighting I realized that I am fat and also cute in most photos.

    A year later I am mostly happy when I see myself in photos, even if I am the biggest person in the photo. Seriously take a few photos of yourself once a month, look at them and try to find something you like about yourself in them. It will help!

  250. This is the best place I can think of to put this sorta-related post.

    I’m getting hitched next year, and this weekend I went fabric shopping with my Mom. She has decided I must lose at least thirty pounds before the Big Day Out next may. I told her I didn’t want to diet, and her response was:

    “You don’t have to diet, you just have to completely change your eating habits.”

    *headdesk

  251. I’m pregnant at the moment, and I have to admit that I’ve been finding it tough to watch my body getting bigger (and not just my belly!) after spending my entire adult life trying to make everything (except my bust) smaller! I’ve come to accept that weight gain is part and parcel of begin pregnant, but the thought of the extra weight when I come out the other side has had me in a panic.

    I’d already decided that more activity was the way I wanted to go after the birth and this has reinforced it for me (of course, whether I’ll have the energy to do that in the early weeks is another matter – LOL!). I already eat quite healthily, so a diet wasn’t something I want to consider (especially as I plan on breast feeding!).

    I guess I have to get into a mindset where it’s OK to be me and be happy in the body I have!

  252. Thank you for this post. I have been struggling recently with non-weight body image issues (trichotillomania, dermatillomania, blah, blah, blah) and this reminded me that, for me anyway, it’s always been all part of the same giang ball of smelly, horrible gunge.

    I have dealt with disordered eating that goes beyond yo-yo dieting, so stopping dieting has been difficult, but a lot more successful that freeing myself of the other habits. In part this is due to the type of advice Kate gave about the exercise and how movement makes me feel. The combination of feeling strong, able, and clearer in the head pretty much saves the day.

    But it’s obviously not enough, and I have abused that too in the past as a substitute for my other coping mechanisms. I guess the point of this is just to say I see giving up dieting the same way I saw giving up alcohol, or now trying to give up beating myself up – it’s all symptoms. And for along time, it’s easier to screw around trying to control the symptoms (not a real, long term solution) than it is to deal with the underlying disease.

    But, I am trying to. Whether the disease is more acute, like my stuff, or simply the shared (and no less frustrating) social disease of all women who try to stuff themselves into someone else’s image, it has to be addressed. I strongly advocate cognitive behavioral therapy, support groups, and reading the shit out of this blog. Anything that gets us closer to the reasons why we are so quick to hate ourselves is damn painful, but absolutely key.

    Thank you again for this post, I think just the act of rading and being able to respond in kind has helped me with a personal breakthrough. Good way to start a Tuesday.

  253. Seemed like the best place to mention a conversation I just had with a (male, naturally very thin) friend.

    I was having a very busy day full of paperwork and things and finally exclaimed that I had forgotten to eat and rushed off to prepare a meal.

    He said, “I’m so jealous of people who can forget to eat. Hunger is really distracting for me. If it were so mild that I could just not notice, I’d get more done.”

    I said, “Oh, I knew I was hungry…”

    He looked totally confused. “But how could you forget to eat if you knew you were hungry?”

    I said, “… it’s just that I knew it wasn’t dinner time yet and I didn’t remember that I hadn’t had lunch, so I felt guilty for being hungry…”

    He blinked. “That hadn’t even occurred to me.”

    (Which also makes me GAH at myself a little for still being somewhat controlled by whether I ‘should’ eat or not!)

  254. Hope its not too late to leave something on this interesting thread – (I’ve spent the last week catching up – and there is so much to catch up on!)

    yay to moral-free food zone potluck! and yay to a tour of Rubens.

    But here’s a problem I’ve got with the term “exercise” – since you mentioned it in your post, KH.
    Pat said: “I’ve found that when I get more active just for the sake of being active, that old association between exercise and weight loss pops up and bothers me after I had thought it was really gone for good.” And, that brings me to my point. To me the word “exercise” and especially “healthy exercise,” occupies the same head space as “diet” and “healthy diet.” These seem to me to come straight from the “carer’s” code book (101 Ways to Disguise your Fat Hatred). Movement, no problem, and in fact I’m a believer in “intuitive moving.” Move, because your body won’t really let you sit still for all that long, anyway. (just try it). Move, because moving is part of what you need to do to do your job, maintain your living space, enjoy your relationships, etc. Move with joy when the music makes you, or when someone catches you by the hand and wants to show you the new foal in the next field. Move with practiced expertise – yoga, tai chi, fencing, rock climbing, whatever, because you have learned (are learning) to do it well and it gives you pleasure to feel your body doing it. But please, please, don’t talk about exercise any more than you would talk about diet. It hurts my head (ok, I know not my blog, so my headaches not necessarily relevant). But you know what I mean?

  255. Hey, I know its an old thread, but it is relevant to what I’m thinking right now, and I have given this a lot of thought – so, I hope, not just spouting. I nearly got up in the middle of the night last night to add these next thoughts, but decided that way madness lies… so here goes:
    Exercise is part of the formula: diet + exercise = what works.
    Exercise is the currency you use when dieting to PAY for food – remember?
    Exercise is Extra, Extraneous, Extrinsic to your actual life. Like you could be waitressing 8 hours a day, running to catch buses to/from work, spending your evenings feeding/entertaining your kids, getting them ready for bed/for school – BUT, if you don’t spend half an hour on that stairmaster before collapsing in a heap – you haven’t exercised.
    Exercise is Virtue, but also Punishment. It is the wages of Sin (we used to call them Sloth and Gluttony, folks).

    There’s more, but this is supposed to be a comment not a post.

    So then there is movement – a different word altogether.
    Movement – a group of people who loosely work towards a common goal.

    Movement – a musical term. And Movement and Music go together like …..well, babies and doughnuts, or anything else you can think of that goes really, really well together.
    Movement is organic, natural, and stillness can be a part of it. If we are alive we are in motion, and this is true EVEN if we are practically immobile (I had cause to find this one out when coming face to face last March with dead body of elderly relative who had died – peacefully, as they say – in his bed. He was 95, and practically immobile before he died – but seeing him dead made me realize how much he had been moving even when sitting in his chair all day!)
    People have always worked, rested and played – and even though that was an ad, it is still a description of a full life with no room for Exercise. If we breathe we are in motion – our actual life that we are living is one long fluid motion – why should we have to step OUTSIDE of our life now and again and EXERCISE.

    Sorry – maybe this is a rant – if so, I apologise. But with A Sarah’s journey, which started this thread, exercise is no more an “answer” than diet. And the following self-teaching has become part of my journey – “Don’t diet. Just eat stuff. Don’t exercise. Just do stuff. Start when you feel like it, stop when you want.”

  256. Fantastic, scotlyn, I couldn’t agree with you more, this exercise guff is another thing I’ve jettisoned as I’m sick of it’s invasiveness, as if your body is a dog that has to be taken for walkies. When it is indeed yourself.
    It really can get in the way of your spiritual connection with your body /self and can be as distorting to your desire to move as diets can be to your instinct to nourish yourself.

  257. Scotlyn, what you say is also true for me insofar as it was exercise/movement that finally demonstrated to me that calories in/calories out was utter garbage. I was at the heaviest I have ever been while living in NYC walking 3+ miles/day, every day. My weight and happiness, it turns out, have very little to do with how many calories I expend.

    Of course, my current knee problems only really took hold once I found out that I had a talent for Dance Dance Revolution. Not a form of movement good for anyone over 30, but damn fun.

  258. Oh man, atiton, it just occurred to me that since I’m about to move to a first-floor apartment, we can finally get DDR without worrying about pissing off neighbors! Which instantiation of it do you recommend?

  259. SM, I have/had DDR for the PS2. And, I know this isn’t what you necessarily want to hear, the only way to go is with a real pad from Red Octane. No messing around, you need a pad made of metal, you know what I mean? And, as for software, my faves were DDR Extreme (the best one of all) and DDRMax2.

    I’m staring at the disks now, thinking…just one more round…just one more round. But one more round means over an hour for me and the old knees just can’t do it. I need Sylvester’s “Birds Anonymous” for DDR. Yes, I did just compare a video game to Tweety.

  260. Phew, glad to have struck a chord, instead of annoying. I’ll look up DDR – sounds good.
    Just on knees – in my acupuncture practice I see a LOT of knees. And acupuncture can, just about, keep some people going when they are waiting for a knee replacement. But, here in Ireland, the official waiting lists are miles long – you’d need to be a time traveller to get seen when you really need it. But here’s what really kicked off the whole HAES thing for me was this – when it wasn’t about me any more, but about patients I’ve got who have been told they ARE eligible for new knees/new hips, whatever, BUT, they’re not even going to be put on the OFFICIAL waiting list UNTIL they can lose a stone or three (ready reckoner for Americans and other metrically diverse persons – 1 stone = 6kg = 14lbs). And so, if these patients can’t get off the UNOFFICIAL waiting list (all together now…) IT’s THEIR OWN DAMN FAULT. And worst of all, my patients come in here saying “please help me lose the weight!” I had to find out a better answer for them than just my gut instinct that that wasn’t the answer – and then I discovered junfoodscience – about six months ago. This blog (KHSP) is a more recent discovery, but wow – everyone on it has great things to say, and if I’m not careful, this blog will take me well away from my actual life – but I guess I can give it up anytime I like :)
    Anyway, about knees – be gentle, enjoy, and remember, they are only supposed to bend in one direction.

  261. scotlyn, thanks. Your last sentence really amused me, as I actually have hyperextended joints. And not just my knees. All of them. Every last one of them. So, in fact, my knees bend mostly in one direction, but then some in the other.

    This leads to much mental frustration as well as physical pain. In Pilates, for example, whenever we have a substitute instructor, I have to go through the whole, “My aren’t YOU Miss Flexible?” And I feel the need to explain AGAIN about how we’re all made differently and that no one way is better than another and that my flexibility means that I’ve had arthritis since I was 13 and that I get tendonitis at the drop of a hat…blahblahblah. I do get sick of being a freakshow. Sometimes, I even get a hint of, “But you’re so LARGE…how can you be this limber?” But I let that slide off me for the ignorance that it is.

  262. Hi atiton-
    I hear you – you’ve been through a lot with those joints!

    What I meant by bending in one direction, though, was this – whereas hips, shoulders, wrists and ankles are able to rotate, and even elbows to a limited extent but knees emphatically do not rotate, they only bend. Some types of exercises overstretch the ligaments on either side of the knee, which work better to protect the knee if they are somewhat stiff. I probably did not explain very well, and anyway, I’ve realised this is not the place for heedless advising without a prior invitation, so I’ll stop here.

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