What if they were right about calories?

Not too long ago I was having one of those diet-think days where my inner monologue was right out of a women’s magazine. Among the thoughts I caught myself thinking was this (you’ll find it familiar, I’m betting): “If I only ate a couple hundred fewer calories a day, I bet I could lose weight.” Luckily, I am at heart a rational person, so that thought led to the following thought process.

Let’s assume for a second that the human body is essentially a Bunsen burner, and it really is as simple as “calories in, calories out.” Since returning to my previous weight after getting off of antidepressants — that is, the weight I was before I started the antidepressants, which is the weight I was before i started my last diet, which is the weight I was before I started the diet before that — I haven’t gained or lost more than a couple pounds at a time, and the changes have always averaged out to zero. I eat a certain amount per day, and I maintain the weight I’m at. So doesn’t that mean I’m eating exactly what I need?

If I ate a couple hundred fewer calories per day, I guess I might lose weight, but I’d lose weight because I was cheating my body — it requires a certain number of calories to do its daily thing, breathe and pump blood and think and type and go to dance class and whatnot. Obviously I knew this — that dieting is about cheating your body, that it’s about literally inducing starvation, where starvation is defined as not getting enough energy to support your daily processes — but for some reason it was a revelation to think about it this way. Even if it were as simple as calories in and calories out, I’m clearly not running a deficit or a surplus, which means I get just what I need. Which in turn means that I need what I get.

Now sure, one of the things that my body needs calories to do is maintain my current weight. Presumably, I use more calories than someone with my metabolism who is smaller would use, at least in the body-as-Bunsen-burner paradigm. But just like you can’t spot reduce, you can’t choose where you’re cheating yourself. You can’t restrict only the calories that are used to keep you weighing 250 (or whatever) and not the ones that are used for thinking and dancing and living. If you cheat yourself, you cheat yourself across the board. How is that worthwhile? How is it healthy?

Even if the people who squeal about how it’s as simple as eating fewer calories than you expend were right about how the body works, what they’re suggesting would be absurd. Consistently denying yourself what you need, not out of genuine privation but out of guilt and self-loathing? It’s not only an absurdity; it’s an absurdity born of the fundamentally absurd Puritan notion that only self-abnegation gets you into heaven. Fuck that. I don’t feel the perverse need to count the number of breaths necessary to get my brain enough oxygen, and then reduce them by a third. I don’t mete out how much water I’m allowed, reasoning that getting enough to stay hydrated would be greedy. If the amount I eat is fueling the amount I do, then it’s the amount I need.

Addendum: Just because I brought it up does not mean that the “no diet talk” rule in the comments policy — or, for that matter, any part of the comments policy — doesn’t apply. I realize we’re getting a lot of visitors right now from the saddest and shittiest parts of the internet, so apparently this needs to be said. Comments about your brilliant diet system, or how I could be on a diet right now, or whatever the fuck diet diet diet, are not getting fucking approved, you dipshits.

180 thoughts on “What if they were right about calories?

  1. Holy crap. Yeah, that makes so much SENSE! I never thought about it like that, but yes! We can’t decide which calories go where, to do what. Wow. Thanks for this! I can’t wait to hear what other people say about it.

  2. You can’t restrict only the calories that are used to keep you weighing 250 (or whatever) and not the ones that are used for thinking and dancing and living.

    And that is exactly where fat acceptance runs into resistance even among our fellow fatasses. We’ve had it drilled into us, “C’mon, skip that dessert, skip that 150-calorie drink, the pounds will just melt right off.” We’re told over and over and over again that if there’s a calorie deficit, our bodies will literally just pull it out of our asses, we might hear a few tummy rumbles, but other than that it should be a breeze, other than maybe needing some therapy to overcome our lack of access to our Chewable Drugs of Choice, and once we’re thin, eating less will just come naturally to us, so no problem if we can just get through maybe the next year of semistarve, and a really fat person shouldn’t be hungry anyway!

    If that were true, if it were really as simple as that, if it were really that easy, if we actually did suffer no ill-effects whatsoever from dieting other than being annoyed at not being able to eat “comfort food,” if Total Social Acceptance and Great Health for Life could be ours just from blowing off a can of soda, how many fat people would there be? Why does almost nobody stop to ask that? Why does nobody stop to ask whether there is not, for many of us, serious and intractable pain involved in accessing those allegedly free-and-easy-if-only-you-weren’t-so-greedy fat stores of ours? Whether we have to lose muscle and heart and brain — which we’ll never get back once it’s gone — before we can ever get to the fat?

  3. Filly, I’m anticipating the responses that go, ‘Oh, but your body is smart! It knows that if it’s getting less calories, it needs to re-apportion them appropriately, and BURN FAT rather than stop your heart from beating. Silly woman!!’

    To which I would respond (in my fantasy of being a bad-ass), ‘So you’re saying my body ISN’T really like a Bunsen Burner, and does all kinds of wily shit with the calories I give it? INTERESTING.’

    Not everyone will get the irony, but I will.

    Love, Minerva

  4. Please don’t yell at me, because i am genuinely intrigued by your reasoning and I’m not all rah-rah diet, and I’m trying to look at this from the other side. By that same token, if people are taking in more than they need and gaining weight – are they also cheating their body? Or is more better in this case? And don’t people have calories stored within their bodies that can be used to think and dance and live during the times that they are taking in less calories than needed to sustain their current weight and activity level (assuming you buy the bunsen burner theory.)? I sometimes take in fewer calories than normal depending on my mood, weather, schedule etc and I can dance and sing just fine, even though the scale might show a small weight loss.

  5. minerva, hee! I knew something awesome would happen once you add back in the fact that, oh yeah, the human body DOESN’T actually work this way.

    I know that the idea is that your body dips into its reserves or whatever, but it doesn’t dip into fat reserves until you’ve depleted everything else. This is called STARVING, and it does NOT allow you to run at peak efficiency. If people think that their body magically knows it’s dieting, not starving, and that it will scoop out fat in order to continue thinking and moving and breathing at 100% of its normal energy level when it’s not getting enough energy, they are idiots. And if they think that trying won’t have lasting effects, they should read this.

  6. This reminds me of an article I read (in a women’s magazine) a few weeks ago– a personal trainer actually said that everyone’s body has a natural set point that has about a 20-pound window for variation. He said it is exteremely difficult to get below the lowest possible set point, but that some people manage to do so through “a healthy low-calorie diet.” Um…starvation? How “healthy” and how “low-calorie?’” I don’t get it.

    That said, reading this made me think… how do I know my body “needs” the calories? How do I know how many calories my body absolutely has to have? What if it can operate just as splendidly on fewer calories?

    And now I’m thinking… why is a vivacious young grad student with PLENTY of work to do sitting here pondering calories? Damn women’s magazines!!

  7. By that same token, if people are taking in more than they need and gaining weight – are they also cheating their body?

    I guess I don’t see how calling for people to vilify overeating is remotely relevant to a discussion of dieting.

    See my previous comment re: the magical calories inside your body. Starvation is starvation; if you expect to take in too little energy and still have enough energy to operate at your normal energy level, you’re not even making sense according to the way oversimplified Bunsen burner model.

  8. How do I know how many calories my body absolutely has to have? What if it can operate just as splendidly on fewer calories?

    So what if it could? It’s operating splendidly now.

  9. That was fabulous to read. Thank you. I’m going to print it out, take it to the family reunion I’m going to next week, and whip it so fast if anyone says ANYTHING about my weight (or even ‘the baby weight’, grrrr).

  10. I sometimes take in fewer calories than normal depending on my mood, weather, schedule etc and I can dance and sing just fine, even though the scale might show a small weight loss.

    But we’re not talking about temporary fluctuations WRT fat people being told to “change their lifestyles.” I could probably consume about 150 calories a day less with no ill effects, sure; in fact, I know that’s the case because I already “take in” a lot less than I did 10 years ago (getting a PCOS diagnosis meant cutting way back on the fruit juice and sweetened drinks, for example). But it hasn’t made me thin, or even appreciably thinner, to do so. I lost some weight temporarily, then gained it back without any increase in intake.

    If it’s just for a couple of days you could probably tolerate just about anything and still function, bowel prep even. But fat people are told that they should stop at nothing to get and stay thin, even if it means consuming the equivalent of bowel prep forever.

  11. Oh, this gave me joy. People forget that calories are a unit of ENERGY. Low calorie equals LOW ENERGY. That’s why you get tired and cranky and un-productive when you diet. And, I mean, maybe if you don’t have a lot to do that’s cool, but if you’re a busy hardworking person–like, um, any member of the work force, or student, or parent–you can’t necessarily afford to be tired and cranky and un-productive all the time.

  12. Great post. I love this perspective. It’s amazing how absurd dieting sounds when you break it down like this. It’s just flat out deprivation and it doesn’t make any sense. Reduce calorie intake in hopes of having a smaller waist line? To the mainstream culture it makes perfect sense, but in the realm of body acceptance its totally insane. Anyway, thanks for the reminder…it’s refreshing.

  13. If it’s just for a couple of days you could probably tolerate just about anything and still function, bowel prep even.

    I can’t really call what I did during my colonoscopy prep “functioning.” ;)

  14. Lucy, on July 17th, 2008 at 5:31 pm Said:

    “That said, reading this made me think… how do I know my body “needs” the calories? How do I know how many calories my body absolutely has to have? What if it can operate just as splendidly on fewer calories? ”

    Lucy, YMMV, but for me, when I’m hungry, that means my body needs some more calories. When I’m not hungry, that means my body has enough. It’s amazing to me how many women have been trained to ignore their own bodies.

    Min

  15. As always (at least for the week I’ve been here), this post comes at a very good time for me.

    The curious thing for me about the dieting fiasco that is the American mindset about weight, is that we take a person who feels healthy, who moves well, has energy, who has great vital stats, and because they also happen to carry pounds we consider to be too much, we want to take them to a place where they are fatigued, agitated, and feeling generally lousy via dieting. Why make them feel unhealthy so that they can appear–and I mean simply APPEAR–healthier?

    We should be our own greatest indicators of our inherent wellness; we know if we’re eating too much non-nutritional food or not moving enough every day, or if we’re not getting enough sleep or downtime. It should not be up to anyone else to tell us whether that wellness level is okay or not.

    When I was in massage school we were required to take a nutrition class as part of our curriculum, and the revelation I came to during that class was this: if what I’m putting into my body (food) isn’t doing something FOR my body nutritionally, then it’s working AGAINST my body. This has helped me change my perspective on eating, healthfully rather than thinking in terms of calories and other bullshit. Which is not to say that it didn’t prevent me from buying a brownie to eat with my lunch, but regardless…

  16. “Lucy, YMMV, but for me, when I’m hungry, that means my body needs some more calories. When I’m not hungry, that means my body has enough. It’s amazing to me how many women have been trained to ignore their own bodies.”

    Minerva, I totally get your point, but it’s just not always practical. We have to have some idea in our heads of how much we need to sustain us. In college, I would regularly have to force myself to eat as much as I could, not because I was hungry, but because I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it through three classes and chemistry lab with no breaks if I didn’t. And once you break the hungry –> eat cycle even a little bit, it can get complicated mentally.

  17. we know if we’re eating too much non-nutritional food or not moving enough every day, or if we’re not getting enough sleep or downtime.

    At least we do if we’re tuned in, but there’s a lot of energy being put into keeping us tuned out, making us think that other people know better than we do what we need. Yet another way in which fat and dieting are feminist issues.

    Which is not to say that it didn’t prevent me from buying a brownie to eat with my lunch, but regardless…

    Well, the brownie does something for you too… maybe not nutritionally, but it does something nonetheless. And if it doesn’t, if it works against you, you’ll never notice on your own if you’re constantly thinking of it as “bad” and “naughty” and whatever. I would get a brownie at lunch too if I hadn’t finally noticed that having that much sugar at lunch makes me feel crummy for the rest of the day. If I still moralized food, I would have kept eating brownies at lunch just because nobody could see me doing it, whether I wanted them or not — or stopped because they were bad and I was bad, not because they weren’t doing anything for me mentally and were working against me physically.

  18. That’s so interesting! I was just thinking about the way my body works differently according to the seasons. During the winter I just feel the need to eat more caloric food, otherwise I will feel like spending the whole day sleeping under my duvet… Maybe it means I need more energy to keep the body heated and perform my regular activities under the freezing weather. However, I always put on some weight during the winter as well. Now it’s summer and I lose that weight unintentionally, maybe because my body changes the rithm again… Isn’t human nature fascinating?

  19. That said, reading this made me think… how do I know my body “needs” the calories? How do I know how many calories my body absolutely has to have? What if it can operate just as splendidly on fewer calories?

    I think that’s where HAES and intuitive eating come in right? I mean if you eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full, eat what your body tells you then you’re getting what you need to sustain yourself at you your proper weight

    The other interesting this I’ll say about starvation, the reason people think your “stomach will strink” no it really doesn’t shrink(unless you get WLS thats entirely different) your body just stops sending hungry pains because it can’t live with that pain all the time.

    Anyway fillyjonk great read really ^_^ lots of interesting stuff to think about

  20. I just had to Google bowel prep. ew. Can’t wait till I need a colonoscopy

    Splendid post FJ, well put, I might just be using some of your phrasing with my friends when they get on “I just need to lose 10 lbs…” kicks

  21. Intuitive eating is all well and good, but not everyone can get there immediately from a place of disordered eating or ignoring their body’s signals all the time. Just saying.

  22. Spot-on, FJ.

    Re the calories used for thinking, does anyone know offhand what percentage of the ‘average’ calorie intake goes to fuel your brain? I seem to recall reading this somewhere, and I don’t remember how much it actually was, but I do remember that it was a fairly large proportion.

    The effect of calorie deprivation on concentration and memory is so well-documented that you have to ask why dieting hasn’t been banned among people in certain professions. Healthcare workers (of whom I know quite a few) go crazy making sure everyone gets enough sleep, but food doesn’t seem to be an issue. Scary.

  23. So, I was on the Gawker site a few days ago arguing about Wall-E and I kept coming across this one commenter who was insistent on calories in/calories out. In fact, he/she came back days later to have the last post on the comment which stated “No matter what any of the studies Vivelafat has posted in this thread say, there is no changing the fact that if you follow a healthy diet and exercise you WILL loose weight, this is just basic science.” It struck me as so odd that some people would be so insistent on this message that they needed to assure themselves no one else believe that there might be an alternate way of thought.

    It borders on psychosis, this NEED to believe what they have always believed, as though this idea of calories in/calories out formed the basis for their lives and ideals. I was miffed. And then my husband and I were watching a documentary about the Vatican and they have, in their libraries, Galileo’s signed confession (how fricking crazy is that.) Mr. Vivelafat remarked on how he was killed because of the blind fear that leads people to cling so closely to an idea which is changing. The more it changes the more scared they become, and violent.
    On a side note, my father, who has always been silent on the subject of my weight chose yesterday to tell me not only am I am hopeless idiot who will end up just like my mother (who killed herself incidentally) but that I was extremely obese (I’m 5/10 and wear a size 20) and disgusting and that I am killing myself. Strangely the comment on my weight bothered me more then the comment on my mother. I didn’t want to leave the house for a full day fearing that all who saw me would run and flee from the disgusting monstrosity that is me. Le Sigh.

  24. I can’t really call what I did during my colonoscopy prep “functioning.” ;)

    Overfunctioning maybe, huh? :-P I had to do bowel prep for a barium enema a couple of years ago (NOTE: If your doctor ever recommends one of those, immediately rejoinder, “You are SO fired,” and march out of the office with your tail in the air), and since I worked at home I was spared the embarrassment of explaining why I had to run to the toilet every two seconds, but hey, how different is that from being on Alli? (Other than never wanting to look at chicken broth or Jello again, that is.)

  25. I’m anticipating the responses that go, ‘Oh, but your body is smart! It knows that if it’s getting less calories, it needs to re-apportion them appropriately, and BURN FAT rather than stop your heart from beating. Silly woman!!’

    To which I would respond (in my fantasy of being a bad-ass), ‘So you’re saying my body ISN’T really like a Bunsen Burner, and does all kinds of wily shit with the calories I give it? INTERESTING.’

    An excellent point, Minerva — but I’d also offer another, even simpler response. What happens when there’s no more fat to burn? Sadly, this just occurred to me now… Everyone gets all huffy about how dieters gain back weight because they give up on the “lifestyle changes.” Except, those “lifestyle changes” were made when you had major fat reserves. Once you’ve lost the weight, there’s no fallback if you’re not eating enough — yet you’re supposed to keep eating the same number of calories as when you were deliberately trying to get your body to burn excess fat?

    That’s tangential to the point here, which is that eating little enough to burn excess fat involves not giving your brain and muscles enough energy, no matter how fat you are. But seriously, as someone who has dieted off nearly all the excess fat on my body in the past, I am stunned that it never dawned on me before that maybe I started eating more calories again after major weight loss because THERE WAS NO MORE FUCKING FAT TO BURN TO MAKE UP FOR THE ENERGY I WASN’T CONSUMING.

  26. FJ I just read that study you linked. I think it is hilarious how they are all “So, it’s gonna be almost impossible for obese people to lose weight permanantly.”

    “Oh but they should keep trying anyway because it is healthy.”

  27. Also, um. Let’s not talk about how we’re supposed to exercise for an hour or more per day and still have enough energy, on our massively reduced-calorie diets, to do anything other than sleep all day. If you’re increasing your activity level, you most likely need to increase your caloric intake.

  28. … we want to take them to a place where they are fatigued, agitated, and feeling generally lousy via dieting.

    Even, as it happens, when they’re *already* fatigued and ill, and really can’t afford the energy deficit. Which is an indicator, I think, of just how bankrupt the thinking on fat and diets has become.

  29. FJ, I totally get what you’re saying, and I knew that my points wouldn’t quite come across that way I was trying to express them. I guess when I mention the thinking about nutrition in terms of “is this food contributing to my health?” is my version of intuitive eating, even though I didn’t know to call it that until now.

    I don’t remember the name of the book, but I’m sure someone here will know what I’m talking about when I mention it. I read a book about obesity/compulsive overeating a few years ago talking about the concept of “good food/bad food” and how we need to stop thinking about it in those terms. One of the chapters encouraged people to allow themselves to go to the grocery store and buy all those foods they’d been labelling as bad and not allowing themselves to buy and have them in the house, and eat as much as they wanted. I remember at the time that thinking about letting myself do that forced me to hit a wall because it felt like…I’m not sure. It felt like too much a reversal of my thinking to suddenly let myself be “bad” and eat whatever I wanted without punishing myself. However, I’ve reached a point now that I do allow myself to eat what I feel like I want, and you know what? Now that I’m not trying to say “fuck you” to whoever out there doesn’t want me to eat what I feel like eating because I’m fat, I don’t find myself wanting that stuff as much.

    I have a very rebellious nature, you know.

  30. #emilymorgan, on July 17th, 2008 at 6:02 pm Said:

    “Minerva, I totally get your point, but it’s just not always practical. We have to have some idea in our heads of how much we need to sustain us. In college, I would regularly have to force myself to eat as much as I could, not because I was hungry, but because I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it through three classes and chemistry lab with no breaks if I didn’t. And once you break the hungry –> eat cycle even a little bit, it can get complicated mentally.”

    Emily — Of course, in a perfect world, we’d all be able to just eat as soon as hunger strikes us, and I know that there are logistical challenges to — well, just about everything we do. What I’m trying to point out is that counting up our calories and deciding that XXXX per day is ‘enough’ (no matter what our hunger tells us) has replaced ‘I know I can’t make it through three classes and a lab without passing out, so I’d better eat something.’ Presumably, you learned that from trial and error (listening to your body), not from a woman’s magazine article.

    Love, Min

  31. I love this. This is very similar to what I used to tell my ex-boyfriend when he’d say I’d look better if I lost 5 lb. (Yeah, I weigh 115, I dumped his ass.) If I’d cut back those calories like he said I should, I might have lost weight, but I’d also have run slower and fallen asleep in class, and it’s not worth it to me!

  32. Diane, my cats totally do that! They eat a bit more and get chubbier in the winter, and then they get super skinny in the summer, every year. (This is visually enhanced by the long-haired coat change, hee!)

  33. 5 lbs? He could tell the difference between you at 110 and 115?

    I couldn’t tell the difference between me at 125 and 130, which is practically the same thing. Sheesh. Glad you dumped him.

  34. On a side note, my father, who has always been silent on the subject of my weight chose yesterday to tell me not only am I am hopeless idiot who will end up just like my mother (who killed herself incidentally) but that I was extremely obese (I’m 5/10 and wear a size 20) and disgusting and that I am killing myself. Strangely the comment on my weight bothered me more then the comment on my mother. I didn’t want to leave the house for a full day fearing that all who saw me would run and flee from the disgusting monstrosity that is me. Le Sigh.

    vivelafat, I am so sorry. That was unbelievably shitty of your father. I have nothing more profound to say than that, but I really am sorry.

  35. I love this. This is very similar to what I used to tell my ex-boyfriend when he’d say I’d look better if I lost 5 lb. (Yeah, I weigh 115, I dumped his ass.)

    Wow…just….wow.

  36. vivelafat, I am also sorry for that. The damage done to us by those within our families and those who act as parental figures leaves incredible scars. I have been fortunate to never have either of my parents comment on my weight except in support of my attempts to get healthier, but I have a longtime babysitter when I was a child who said something along the lines of my needing to wear a tent as clothing, and that comment has stuck with me for twenty years.

  37. Fillyjonk, if you don’t mind me asking, what antidepressant did you go off of? Are you med-free now or did you switch to something else? Did you go off of it because it made you gain weight or for another reason?

    Sorry for the third degree, but my mom thinks that my antidepressants are why I’m overweight and so even though I’m more mentally stable now than I’ve ever been, she thinks I need to switch them so I can lose weight! Apparently to her, my being thin is more important than my being sane… So, I just wanted to hear someone else’s experience with antidepressants and weight. Thanks!

  38. yeah, vivelafat, i can’t believe he said something so nasty to you. :(

    i’ve had a hard time convincing one or two people about FA because they can’t get past the ci/co thing. it pulls them up short and they just say, NO THAT’S NOT TRUE. it’s hard to even know where to start with it.

  39. Thanks Simply Mac and Colleen. That’s why I posted it here, as embarrassing as it was for me. I know people here have had shitty things said to him. I always thought my dad was so good for not commenting, and then he goes and says something like this, and it sets me back light years in my path along FA. There is such a dichotomy between how we see ourselves and how others see us and I always wonder if I am lying to myself and my dad is the only one honest enough me the truth.
    Sorry to blogjack I really am STILL having an argument on Gawker.

  40. Katie, I was on Lexapro, and I went off it partly because it made me gain weight… more to the point, it made me gain quite a bit of weight really fast and the fast weight gain was a little disastrous for me (it made me finally get my PCOS diagnosed and treated, but only because it seems to have made the symptoms a lot worse). I wasn’t into FA at the time and was startled and upset by the effects that the Lexapro was having on my body, so I stopped it. I’m med-free now and functional but should probably be on something… I haven’t bothered going back to the doctor yet.

    Obviously, though, I think you’re right, not your mom! The fact that sanity is more important than thinness is, in fact, one of the major reasons why we advocate HAES (which, as we mention often, considers mental health a part of health) over dieting. I don’t know how old you are so it’s hard to say how to proceed with your mom, since under a certain age she actually has some legal say in your medical treatment. If you’re over that age, I’d be inclined to just say “mom, why does it matter more to you for me to be thin than for me to be happy?” Unless she’s a sociopath, it doesn’t — she’s your mom! — so that’ll bring her up short.

  41. vivelefat – hope you’re feeling a bit better now. What a shitty thing to say.

    Emerald, I think it’s 20% of your energy intake that goes to feed your brain, but i can’t remember where I heard it so I don’t know if that’s when you’re resting, or in an averagely active day, or what.

  42. I can’t really call what I did during my colonoscopy prep “functioning.” ;)

    Dude, SO what I was going to say.

    but hey, how different is that from being on Alli?

    At least with colonoscopy prep you don’t LEAVE INDELIBLE STAINS ON YOUR FURNITURE MY GOD

  43. Vivalafat,

    Generally agree with you, though I do think Galileo’s problems had as much to do with him not having the political capital he thought he had (antagonizing the Jesuits in The Assayer, putting the words of the Pope into the voice of his aptly-named character Simplicius in Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems … stating one’s observations and conclusions is one thing, ridiculing the Pope – who was your friend until he decided you’d made fun of him – is quite another!!!)

    I didn’t want to leave the house for a full day fearing that all who saw me would run and flee from the disgusting monstrosity that is me. Le Sigh.

    Oh, *hugs*. Do I have to drag you out of the house? Trust me, kiddo, this size 38W chick can do so with ease. Think how scary that would be :)

  44. vivelefat – nobody who says spiteful things like that is motivated by honesty.

    (Families, eh? My stepfather used to call me “that lazy/greedy/selfish/slow/ungrateful/workshy/scruffy/talentless/fat bitch”, and my mum insisted it was a “nickname” or “term of endearment”. That was in my childhood and early teens, and I think I’m still getting over it. Fuckers.)

  45. I see your point with the hypothetical, and I can totally get why you asked it, but at this point it seems just a bit like giving credence to any number of other falsified theories.

    Like, would we even ask, “What if they were right and…
    –the sun revolved around the earth.
    –women’s reproductive organs would shrink if they studied too much.
    –the body has four humors
    etc. etc. ad nauseum.

    Just because people say it again and again, doesn’t make it so, but it’s going to take awhile before people’s “truisms” catch up to science.

  46. The “skip the soda and lose weight!” thing really pisses me off, and I see it in magazines and stuff ALL THE TIME. People who trot that out usually say you can “painlessly” lose 10-15 pounds a year just by giving up your soda habit. Those calories you aren’t consuming add up like loose change in a jar!

    Really? Really?

    Here’s the thing– I hardly ever drink soda. I bought 12-pack of Cherry 7Up around Easter and I still have a few cans. I probably wouldn’t care if I never had soda ever again. There’s a soda fountain at my job with unlimited free use for employees, and the only thing I get from it is ice. I also don’t put any sugar in my tea or coffee and I water down fruit juice to about half strength. This isn’t because I Have To Be Good, it’s because I just don’t like sweet drinks.

    Why, then, am I a Super Gross Fatty Fat Fat? Why don’t I start each new year 15 pounds lighter than the last? I mean, it’s as simple as that, right? I’m not pouring those 150 calories of carbonated sugar water down my gullet every day, so I should be losing those 15 pounds of calories each year… Isn’t that how it works?

  47. @vivalafat: Geeze I’m sorry that’s awful… so much worse when you think it’s someone that never cared and should never care anyway.

  48. Tell me about it! Vivelafat, that’s really terrible- and surprising and perplexing. Maybe it was something wonky going on in his head. Especially for 5’10 and a size 20….that sounds pretty well-proportioned. We’re here for you. .<3

    And, FJ, Awesome awesome feel-good post. I’ve been a little blue this week, too, and I needed that. :)

    -Zaftige

  49. vivelafat, this is an immature reaction, but right now I’d sure like to leave a burning bag of poo on your father’s front door.

  50. To rephrase an annoying tagline: Sanity tastes better than thin feels.

    NEW BLOG TAGLINE PLEASE

  51. I’m so glad you posted this today. I know we did “please don’t diet” last week, but today I have had three separate instances of thinking, “Hey, I should cut some calories, lose a few pounds. These jeans don’t fit (again!), so I should get thinner and fit my clothes. I’m starting to look gross.”

    *sigh*

    I DO NOT HAVE TO FIT THE CLOTHES. THE CLOTHES HAVE TO FIT ME. DEAR SELF, PLEASE TAKE NOTE.

    On the other hand, how many times can I buy more jeans? (As many times as it takes, I hope.)

    Anyway, it makes me feel better that you do this, too.

  52. Like, would we even ask, “What if they were right and…
    –the sun revolved around the earth.
    –women’s reproductive organs would shrink if they studied too much.
    –the body has four humors
    etc. etc. ad nauseum.

    Um, no, because those were disproven hundreds of years ago in some cases? So it would be pointless?

    What I’m engaging in is a time-honored logical exercise known as reductio ad absurdum, in which you assume your opponent’s argument is true and show how the conclusions that would then follow are contradictory. It’s not the strongest reductio ever created, but it’s still a valid rhetorical move.

    And yes, a reductio on the sun revolving around the earth would have been perfectly valid in the 16th century. If you could show that the conclusions derived from assuming a geocentric universe didn’t match up with reality, that would be a pretty strong… oh, Copernicus did that already? Well then.

  53. Oh, vivelafat, I’m sorry. You know you’re awesome, we know you’re awesome, just keep at it.

    People forget that calories are a unit of ENERGY. Low calorie equals LOW ENERGY.

    Why is it that something so blindingly obvious can seem almost magical when someone puts it a way you hadn’t thought of before? Of COURSE people on diets are hungry and tired and feel like shit, they’re DELIBERATELY NOT GETTING ENOUGH ENERGY. It’s madness. God. Madness.

    In exciting-for-me news, I decided to treat summer camp as an experiment in eating whatever the fuck I wanted, because, no scales, and test whether my lingering fear that eating in a completely non-restricted way would lead to me becoming 600,000lbs (approximately). So I’ve been eating exactly what my body was telling me to, when it was telling me to do it, with absolutely no judgement or restriction, for six weeks. How much I eat is a regular topic of amazed conversation at my table of 15 to 27-year-olds who are all 100% on the societal-self-loathing train. That’s only driving me a little bit mental.

    So anyway, six weeks of eating all round me any time I wanted. Got on a digital scale at the mall yesterday, and? I weigh exactly. the same as when I started camp. EXACTLY. THE SAME. It turns out that when I completely and without restriction listen to my own body, I CANNOT GET PAST this weight.

    I realise this is old news to some of you, but my mind? She is blown.

    IT IS ALL TRUE. /wonder

  54. Miriam–I think we’d ask those questions as hypotheticals as well if 1. people out there still believed in them and 2. showing they were wrong demonstrated clearly that we need to think in a new, different way.

    Just because ci/co is falsified doesn’t mean people reject it.

  55. Aaaand the above is relevant because it turns out I need to eat that amount here to have the energy I need to do our 14-hour days. Meanwhile my friends who’re deliberately eating, like, 1200 calories a day wonder why they continually feel like shit and have no energy. EM, WELL…

    (I forgot to include the relevance ’cause of the wonder. Rookie error.)

  56. I actually kept a food diary for about six months last year. It started because a nurse practitioner recommended reducing sodium to see if it would help my blood pressure (it didn’t), but I kept going with it because the oh-so-helpful web service I had subscribed to swore that I should be losing 1.5-2 pounds a week based on the calories I consumed and the amount of exercise I was getting. I kept waiting for that weight to start melting off. I waited and waited. And waited.

    Yeah, still waiting on that. I had someone tell me that if 1800 calories was still too much, I should try cutting it down to 1500 calories, because surely THAT would work. My reaction was this: Why in hell would I want to do that? I know from experience that first I would cut to 1500, then when that didn’t work, to 1200, and when that didn’t work, to 800, until I was once again consuming only saltines and water in pursuit of my fantasy figure. So again, why in hell would I want to do that?

  57. So, I was on the Gawker site a few days ago arguing about Wall-E and I kept coming across this one commenter who was insistent on calories in/calories out. In fact, he/she came back days later to have the last post on the comment which stated “No matter what any of the studies Vivelafat has posted in this thread say, there is no changing the fact that if you follow a healthy diet and exercise you WILL loose weight, this is just basic science.” It struck me as so odd that some people would be so insistent on this message that they needed to assure themselves no one else believe that there might be an alternate way of thought.

    It borders on psychosis, this NEED to believe what they have always believed, as though this idea of calories in/calories out formed the basis for their lives and ideals.

    Kudos to you for trying. Believe me, there are people who read and begin to understand. The FA message is getting through to the wider world, slowly. Misconceptions continue to abound, though.

    I read comment sections that require sanity watchers points such as that, because I like to see how far more current nutritional knowledge has penetrated the population. It is working. I didn’t see anyone who appeared to be part of FA posting in the MetaFilter thread that recently linked to Heidi’s WLS post, for example, but there was an amazing number of informed people with a lot of links to medical journals and studies on hand disproving what Gawker site dude was fanatically clinging to. The few “it’s just that simple” folk were quite owned in the conversation, frankly.

    I think some of this goes back to what Sweet Machine posted the other day – and in this case, he needs to justify his irrational hatred/disgust/fear of a group of human beings by insisting that they are doing something wrong, so therefore it’s okay for him to feel the way he does.

    I’m sorry about your dad mistreating you. Been there. *hugs*

  58. I’m not pouring those 150 calories of carbonated sugar water down my gullet every day, so I should be losing those 15 pounds of calories each year… Isn’t that how it works?

    Ah, The Soda Conundrum I hate that one too. It chaps my hypoglycemic ass as much as the Fatties’ Favorite Foods Fallacy – that if we fat folk just cut down on our favorite foods the pounds would melt off. The assumption being that if we just ate one serving of Fried Chicken Cheesecake garnished with Baked Alaska instead of five, all would be well.

  59. FJ, this is really awesome and I also needed the reminder today, not because I’m considering dieting again – y’all cured me of that last week – but because I’ve been HUNGRY and allowing myself to think, “I can’t really be hungry. I had a big lunch.” (Which, I mean, geez louise, why do that? Why? There are plenty of other things I don’t do that with. It’s not like I ever say, “I feel sweaty. But, wait, the newspaper says it’s not that hot out, and that person over there isn’t visibly sweating, so I must not really be sweaty.” Or “I feel thirsty. But, hang on, I just had a glass of water, so I must not really be thirsty. I’m probably imagining things. Or maybe I’m a comfort hydrater.”)

    I wonder if that works, too, beyond the level of calories and body energy, and on a broader level of identity and selfhood? (Not that one’s body hasn’t got everything to do with one’s selfhood, just that the latter is arguably a broader category.) Like, you deny things that your deepest, you-iest Self wants in order to be deemed Good and Healthy; but it turns out you can’t decree that only the “bad” aspects of your deepest, you-iest Self get deprived; and then before you know it you’ve given your deepest, you-iest Self away and/or don’t know who you even are anymore.

    OH WAIT! I think I just accidentally wrote my memoir of ages seven through twenty-nine.

  60. I have mulling about how to write about a frustrating problem and I hope that it isn’t too much of a thread swerve to stick this in here.

    I’m 55, fat [well, obese according to the U.S. govt] and healthy [man, if everyone were as healthy as me the happiness in the world world go way up], with a terrible, terrible family history of breast and ovarian cancer that goes back at least 4 generations. My little sister was recently diagnosed with breast cancer (in just one breast) and went ahead and had a bilateral mastectomy and will soon have her uterus and ovaries removed too, just for good measure.

    I have never dieted because I discovered years ago that if I even consider dieting, my appetite goes crazy, my eating goes out of whack and surprise, my weight goes up. It doesn’t even go down first, just goes straight up. And this is without my even actually restricting food intake! My weight has fluctuated considerably over the years all by itself, but the two times it went down by itself it came back up by itself. I’ve been putting on about 5 pounds per year for the last 4-5 years, and I had my last period two years ago, which means that I completed menopause one year ago. (Weight gain at menopause is nothing surprising, but I have no idea what a “typical” weight gain is because everything I’ve read is all pure freak-out about any weight gain at all.)

    So…I went to the gyn a few days ago, and we were talking about some follow-up radiography related to you guessed it, breast [i]and[/i] ovarian abnormalities that I have. Then, she examined me, and at the very worst possible moment of the exam (yes, I’m being coy but jeez) she snaps out “You really need to drop the extra weight”. (Yes, “fire her ass” did fly through my mind but she is [i]very skillful clinically[/i] even though she has pretty rotten people skills. And no insight at all about weight.)

    So…it turns out that our fat actually produces estrogen (especially after menopause, which is me), and I personally have a very high risk of getting cancer which is caused by/encouraged by estrogen. So, it makes sense for me to limit my exposure to estrogen. And if I had less fat, I would (supposedly) have less estrogen.

    But…to me dieting = starvation (which is why I leapt into this particular thread with this post.) My sister had drastic surgery (removal of body parts to reduce the risk of cancer) — to me, dieting would be a similarly drastic response. Except that the dieting (starvation) would have to continue for the rest of my life to be effective. (If indeed, it would be effective at all.) (My sister’s body will heal.)

    I’ve researched estrogen and breast cancer and fat cells and weight gain and I’ll tell you, you need a whole wagon of SW points before you start. But even the sanest articles did affirm what my gyn was saying — that my own ample supply of adipose tissue is creating something that increases my already great risk of breast cancer. (Any irony that estrogen and breast cancer could kill a woman? Estrogen and breasts are part of what makes me who I am! Femaleness killing a female; womanliness killing a woman.)

    What do you think? My impulse to the thought of dieting is to say “Fuck that!” (Um, this is the very first time I have ever written the word Fuck! by the way, but what better time than now, what better place than here.) But…what about my doctor’s voice saying “kiddo, that fat is making estrogen and the estrogen is pointing pistols at your bosom right now!” (She didn’t actually use those words.)

    So what do you think, and Fillyjonk, if this is a really inappropriate place for me to have put this, please remove it.

  61. Yeah, still waiting on that. I had someone tell me that if 1800 calories was still too much, I should try cutting it down to 1500 calories, because surely THAT would work. My reaction was this: Why in hell would I want to do that? I know from experience that first I would cut to 1500, then when that didn’t work, to 1200, and when that didn’t work, to 800, until I was once again consuming only saltines and water in pursuit of my fantasy figure. So again, why in hell would I want to do that?

    The next person who tells you such a thing, point out the ever-lovin’ Starvation Experiment, where the subjects were starved on 1800 calories per day.

  62. Man, Fillyjonk, what a post! I emailed it to my personal trainer (who, by the way, absolutely loves the ‘To hell with tiny pants’ shirt that I regularly wear to my sessions with him ^_^), since he often deals with clients who are lethargic and out of it when they begin calorie restrictive diets. (Which, he discourages. I got a good’un in him.)

    It struck me as so odd that some people would be so insistent on this message that they needed to assure themselves no one else believe that there might be an alternate way of thought.

    What’s the saying? “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”? I’d put them in that boat, fo-sho.

  63. You can’t restrict only the calories that are used to keep you weighing 250 (or whatever) and not the ones that are used for thinking and dancing and living.

    so true!

    Emerald, the number I usually see is 20% of total energy expenditure, which is huge compared to the fact that your brain is typically 2-3% of body weight. Of course, I’m sure all these numbers are for “healthy” adults with BMIs under 25…

    I have to say I feel like my body is living proof that humans are not bunsen burners. My appetite varies greatly from week to week. Some days I barely feel like eating at all, other days I’m hungry all the time and if I don’t eat enough I end up cranky and unable to concentrate and absolutely desperate for a milkshake. And yet my weight stays extremely consistent, generally the only fluctuation is dropping a pound or two if I’ve let myself get to that desperate state, which rarely happens.

    emilymorgan, I had a similar problem in college. My natural eating pattern is small meals and lots of snacking, especially in the evening. But of course when I’m on a dining hall meal plan, I only have access to food in concentrated sittings. I definitely had to force myself to eat more than I was comfortable with in order to make it through the day. I think the important part is I was still paying attention to my body and respecting its needs, it just happened that I was in a situation where I could only fulfill some of my needs, and I had to choose the more important ones, as opposed to questioning my body’s signals and believing I shouldn’t “need” as much as I “want.”
    Eventually malt-o-meal bagged cereal saved me by being cheap and filling and easy to keep around.

  64. “I feel thirsty. But, hang on, I just had a glass of water, so I must not really be thirsty. I’m probably imagining things. Or maybe I’m a comfort hydrater.”

    A Sarah, I could barely finish reading the comment after I read this line! Bravo my dear, bravo!

  65. I read comment sections that require sanity watchers points such as that, because I like to see how far more current nutritional knowledge has penetrated the population. It is working. I didn’t see anyone who appeared to be part of FA posting in the MetaFilter thread that recently linked to Heidi’s WLS post, for example, but there was an amazing number of informed people with a lot of links to medical journals and studies on hand disproving what Gawker site dude was fanatically clinging to. The few “it’s just that simple” folk were quite owned in the conversation, frankly.

    I had the same reaction to that MetaFilter thread. Conversely, do not read the Something Awful thread (although in their case I suspect it’s about issues besides their supposed scientific knowledge of fat and instead their need to reassure themselves that they are superior and therefore immune to misfortune).

  66. I wonder if that works, too, beyond the level of calories and body energy, and on a broader level of identity and selfhood? (Not that one’s body hasn’t got everything to do with one’s selfhood, just that the latter is arguably a broader category.) Like, you deny things that your deepest, you-iest Self wants in order to be deemed Good and Healthy; but it turns out you can’t decree that only the “bad” aspects of your deepest, you-iest Self get deprived; and then before you know it you’ve given your deepest, you-iest Self away and/or don’t know who you even are anymore.

    this trope crops up in romance stories ALL THE TIME
    and the happy ending only comes when the repressed person GOES FOR WHAT THEY WANT. Hell, half the time they have to forgive themselves for something they feel makes them unworthy of love in the first place.

    hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

  67. Everyone gets all huffy about how dieters gain back weight because they give up on the “lifestyle changes.” Except, those “lifestyle changes” were made when you had major fat reserves. Once you’ve lost the weight, there’s no fallback if you’re not eating enough — yet you’re supposed to keep eating the same number of calories as when you were deliberately trying to get your body to burn excess fat?

    DID YOU HEAR THAT GIANT *CLICK* NOISE THAT MY BRAIN JUST MADE? It’s just been nothing but clickclickclick around here since the “Stop her before she diets again post.” I sound like a bug zapper. I’m surprised I get any sleep, for all the clicking and the light bulbs going on and the OH YEAH moments.

  68. Oh, gods. For the first time in my LIFE I am considering reducing what I eat. I think it’s like that time I read “Fast Food Nation” and had to go out immediately and buy a big burger and chips, or the time I was pregnant and someone said “Ohoho, your bikini-wearing days are over!” and I had to go out and buy a bikini.

    Luckily I’m too hungry to diet.

  69. Conversely, do not read the Something Awful thread (although in their case I suspect it’s about issues besides their supposed scientific knowledge of fat and instead their need to reassure themselves that they are superior and therefore immune to misfortune).

    Yeah, the funny thing about Something Awful is that even most people on the Something Awful forums think that everyone on the Something Awful forums is a miserable douchebag. I have to say I’m grateful to them for collecting all the dregs of the internet in one place that I can safely avoid.

    The Photoshop contests are funny sometimes, though.

  70. I just had the opportunity to read the fabulous article that came out about 2 years ago. The one that reviewed a chunk of diet research and looked at outcomes…then said that dieting is not efficacious and it has huge potential for harm. Yet it never seems to make a dent in people’s thinking.

    The hardest part of reading the article was in the introduction the discussion about how CMS (Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services) had removed language from their funding regulations which had previously stated that “obesity is not an illness.” So now they are looking for a treatment for the “illness.”

  71. It’s not like I ever say, “I feel sweaty. But, wait, the newspaper says it’s not that hot out, and that person over there isn’t visibly sweating, so I must not really be sweaty.” Or “I feel thirsty. But, hang on, I just had a glass of water, so I must not really be thirsty. I’m probably imagining things. Or maybe I’m a comfort hydrater.

    ILU, A Sarah.

  72. I feel thirsty. But, hang on, I just had a glass of water, so I must not really be thirsty. I’m probably imagining things. Or maybe I’m a comfort hydrater

    I have a serious blog/internet crush on A Sarah because of comments like that lol too fantastic

  73. Katia, does your GYN really think thin women don’t get breast cancer? Doesn’t she even know who Sheryl Crow is? Olivia Newton-John? Melissa Etheridge? Carly Simon? Suzanne freakin’ Somers? Barbara Ehrenreich? Breast cancer survivors all, thin women all. (Some were premenopausal, some post, there’s no pattern.) I have a friend who’s pencil-thin and is third stage, and she’s the biggest “health nut” you ever saw. I know people like to think of weight loss as some kind of magic cancer-prevention bullet, because they’re desperate for one, but that doesn’t make it real. Nerf bullet.

  74. I’ve always been confused by the “fat produces estrogen” thing. Because if that’s true, shouldn’t my PCOS be curing itself?

  75. Thing is, even if fat does cause cancer, how are you going to get rid of it? Everything I’ve done to get rid of my fat has led to putting on more, and I know I’m not alone in this.

  76. I’ve always been confused by the “fat produces estrogen” thing. Because if that’s true, shouldn’t my PCOS be curing itself?

    BWAH!

  77. Thanks, FJ. I’m 26 – so definitely control my own medical treatment. My mom seems to think that antidepressants are interchangeable though, and that I can just go on some other one that doesn’t make me gain weight and it’ll automatically have the same effect on my psyche. It took me 10 years to find THIS cocktail of drugs that works for me, most of which were miserable. I’m not about to do that again for the sake of 30 pounds. I know she just wants me to be healthy, but she’s hook line and sinker bought the “ZOMG obesity = death” theme in the media. She also thinks losing weight is as easy as calories in/calories out. She’s never been overweight OR depressed, so I feel like she doesn’t really GET me at all. I know I don’t have to get her approval for things anymore, but she’s my MOM ya know?

    I’m glad you’re doing ok now! Is your PCOS under control? I have a friend who has it, and she struggles a lot to keep her symptoms in check.

  78. Fillyjonk,

    I get that you’re trying to test the logic and play the game, but the snark really was unnecessary. At least I’d like to think that it is in that I like to think I’ve posted here enough times to get the “not a freakin’ idiot benefit of the doubt” pass at least once. And, btw, I’m a writing teacher, so not altogether unfamiliar with rhetoric.

    What I’m trying to get at with those other hypothetical theories of the past that now look sort of silly is that they were all faith-based truisms not rooted in logic and not held simply because of a lack of scientific evidence to disprove them. They continued to persist for quite awhile after the science disproved them because they were culturally valuable.

    In the case of the “calories in/calories out” model, the science has *already* disproven that theory, and continues to do so. Yet we end up with things like “the obesity paradox” numbers 1, 2, 3, etc. each time that happens because the metaphor is more important than the scientific evidence–and far more important than logic. Calories in/calories out is entering the realm of faith and metaphor (with the Bunsen burner seeming to place the metaphor in the realm of scientific processes because it borrows from the language of the laboratory).

    At this point, sure, we *can* engage with the scientific logic of fatphobia, but I’m not sure that does anything useful when people’s insistence on calories in/calories out is rooted not in a lack of counter-evidence (we have a surfeit of that) but in an intertwined philosophy that’s beneath it, supporting it in lieu of the science that fails to do so.

    So yeah, it’s an oft-repeated phrase that seems to be the most vulnerable part of fatphobia and the place to attack it, but if you imagine fatphobia as that proverbial iceberg, Cin/Cout is the most visible part of a larger and sturdier mass of beliefs.

    The idea that the sun went around the Earth was, after all, based in a theistic view of the universe, and observation disproved it long before the Church–or most people–could accept the solar model. Women were kept out of higher education as a means of social control masked as concern over our organs and even today, education is essentialized in bodily difference (ie, women just don’t like science because we’re people-people). And physiognomy was groundless, but it helped justify racism. I suspect there were cultural reasons to hold onto the four humors as well (especially as they’re scientifically groundless but continue to the basis of some very scienterrific cures).

    We can play the “let’s follow that illogic to its natural conclusions” game, but in the end, I don’t know that we’re accomplishing much in the way of swaying anyone, unless you really believe that fatphobia is rooted in or dependent on or even really *about* logic.

    Sure, yes, we can continue to point to scientific studies and scientific thinking like the one you linked to above. But given that even the scientists conducting those studies manage, again and again, to come up with stuff like this, moving from:

    “Many obese people who lose weight have metabolic alterations similar to those observed in our subjects.”

    to this:
    “Physicians should be aware that for some obese patients the achievement of what is considered to be a more healthful body weight may be accompanied by metabolic alterations that make it difficult to maintain the lower weight.”

    Only to finally end with this:
    “Nevertheless, the beneficial effect of even a modest weight loss… justifies persistent efforts at weight reduction and maintenance of a reduced body weight for the treatment of obesity.”

    suggests to me that we’re aiming at the wrong target and expending energy (which is not, btw, causing us to shed pounds) we could devote toward chipping away at the hidden parts of that iceberg we’re running up against.

  79. At least I’d like to think that it is in that I like to think I’ve posted here enough times to get the “not a freakin’ idiot benefit of the doubt” pass at least once.

    Actually, what you got from being a regular commenter was the “really should know better than to write a comment saying only ‘I don’t think you should have written this post’” reaction. I mean, come on, Miriam. I get that you think there are more important ways of attacking fatphobia, and we do those too. Right now I’m doing another thing, from a different perspective, and I’m not talking to the people who know the science but are clinging to CI/CO anyway; I’m talking to people like buggle. Because we have a blog to run here, and that involves writing different kinds of posts. And apparently it also means being told in multitudinous comments and emails why we’re doing things wrong and writing the wrong things and not addressing every point in every post and not being all things to all people, and yeah, it gets my back up, and it makes me snarky.

  80. FJ- Yes, if PCOS means I don’t produce enough estrogen then what the hell is all of my fat doing? IS MY FAT SLEEPING ON THE JOB! I should probably fire my fat. In this economy it will never get another job. (Plus there is probably fat lining up around the block to produce the estrogen I need, I’ll hire it)

  81. Those that think all you need to do to lose weight is burn more calories than you eat are being more lazy than all the fat people in the world. Lazy because they lump fat people into one group of overeating non-exercisers and don’t look at the individual people and what may have caused them to get fat in the first place.

  82. We can play the “let’s follow that illogic to its natural conclusions” game, but in the end, I don’t know that we’re accomplishing much in the way of swaying anyone,

    Miriam, it depends on what you want to accomplish. This post accomplished one of the very important purposes of this blog, in my opinion: it articulated a truism in a way that obviously resonated with a lot of people. That right there is plenty of reason to post.

    Other purposes of this blog include: making people laugh, allowing the authors to rant, and arsing around to entertain ourselves — in addition to fighting fatphobia. Your main objection to this post seems to be, “This isn’t the best way to convince fatphobes they’re wrong” — but so what? Neither are the Friday fluff posts. They’re still worth posting.

  83. Like, you deny things that your deepest, you-iest Self wants in order to be deemed Good and Healthy; but it turns out you can’t decree that only the “bad” aspects of your deepest, you-iest Self get deprived; and then before you know it you’ve given your deepest, you-iest Self away and/or don’t know who you even are anymore.

    OH WAIT! I think I just accidentally wrote my memoir of ages seven through twenty-nine.

    And mine from nineteen through thirty-five…

    Meowser, my guilty pleasure is my mother-in-law’s tabloid ‘true life’ magazines, and the vast majority of the breast cancer survivors in there are thin, have always been healthy, and warn readers ‘It can happen to anyone!’ But when the odd fat woman in this situation is featured, she always seems to feel obliged to blame herself for the disease. I’m thinking about the only well-known (in Britain) fat breast cancer survivor I’ve come across – Jenni Murray, from our BBC Women’s Hour – and she acknowledged self-blame was pointless…at the same time as implying that it was her own fault because she was fat. (In her case, she had an ogre of a mother whose spiteful comments had made her loathe her body for years.) All very sad.

  84. I don’t know that we’re accomplishing much in the way of swaying anyone

    Miriam, it depends on what you want to accomplish.

    Yeah… I’ve always felt like this blog was as much (or more) about helping people accept themselves as it is about swaying the rest of society. And this post is useful because we all have days where we think: “What if all those people telling me calories in, calories out are right?” and this is really helpful to help us defeat those thoughts in ourselves.

    And as far as the long term cause of fighting fatphobia, helping people accept themselves is important. The more I accept myself as fat, the more I’m going to stand up for myself and fight fat hate when I encounter it in the real word.

  85. Hmm, vivelafat, maybe you have to go through menopause to get your fat to produce estrogen? Could be.

    And it’s not that estrogen is bad in itself, or fat is bad, its that I’ve already got a ton’o’risk factors and more estrogen makes it worse.

    But, is starving myself the solution?

    Am I going to not starve myself, and then if I get cancer later think “oh, gee, I really should have starved myself back when it may or may not have made a difference?”

    Or, am I going to starve myself, and if I get cancer later think “I got cancer anyway, why did I starve myself?”

    Or, I guess I could spend the rest of my life STARVING and wonder if this is any way to live cancer or no cancer.

    (My gyn suggested that I “just lose the weight gradually”. I think she subscribes to the bunsen burner idea of bodies.)

  86. Katia, I feel like it’s significant that dieting doesn’t actually make you lose weight. You said you gain weight without even losing it first on a diet. So clearly a typical diet isn’t the way to go — not only will you be miserable, but you also won’t even achieve the desired effect even temporarily (and of course most people don’t achieve it permanently).

    I’d say that the first step is to get a second opinion — not because I think the first one’s necessarily wrong, but because it would help to talk to an understanding doctor with a better bedside manner. No reason to jettison the one with the skilled hands, but she doesn’t have to be the one you go to for advice. Can you find another doctor, maybe from the Fat-Friendly Health Pros list, and say “listen, here’s my dilemma, what can we do”?

  87. Oooooogh, this is a post I so needed to read this week. If I see one more “IT’S SO EASY IT’S SCIENCE CALORIES IN CALORIES OUT YOU STUPIDHEADS!!!!!” thing anywhere…shit, last night on the CBS evening news, their douchey tool of a doctor twerp was prattling on about CALORIES IN!!! CALORIES OUT!!! regarding a story about a study that tried to determine what the super-bestest-awesomest diet in the whole wide world is. And Katie Couric just nodding her head and, to assure her status as a Good Person, saying something along the lines of “no bacon cheeseburgers!!!!”. Ugh. UGH. Major capslock of annoyance.

  88. Am I going to not starve myself, and then if I get cancer later think “oh, gee, I really should have starved myself back when it may or may not have made a difference?”

    And if, every deity forbid, you do get cancer, are you supposed to beat yourself up for it? Everyone I know who’s had cancer has been thin, and their attitude was that they had really shitty luck.

    I’ve been diagnosed with a not-horrific-but-scary cardiac issue that my cardiologist says stems from PCOS. I have to go in for more tests next week for an even scarier problem. If I really am sick and my heart is fucked, should I spend my time berating myself for being fat? Hell, I do that a lot anyway, although less and less all the time. People get sick, thin or fat. There are things you can do but really, unless you’re playing chicken with large vehicles, I really don’t think blame should come into it.

  89. I just want to interrupt and say thanks again to everyone. (We really need an “I love this place” thread to go back to now and then!) I had a long talk with my mom on the phone today. She’s having major health problems, and has gained 10 pounds in the last month or so due to comfort eating (and hydrating!) which of course is making her even more depressed. She doesn’t use the internet, so I can’t direct her here, but I’m trying my best to get her to see that all of her health problems aren’t directly because of her weight and not to let that part get her down too much, bald-facedly stealing directly from here to do so. A year or so I wouldn’t have been able to to do that, or have known what to say if I’d tried.

    And A Sarah, you keep making me have a straight-girl crush on you! Agh!

  90. Comments about your brilliant diet system, or how I could be on a diet right now, or whatever the fuck diet diet diet, are not getting fucking approved, you dipshits.

    Oh, crap.

    Is this because I linked that NYT article?

  91. “douchey tool of a doctor twerp”

    Excellent.

    Jane, with your permission, will be banged on till the strings break.

  92. OMG.

    Seeing how that reads. Should slap myself for thinking in fragments.

    Of course I meant the PHRASE would be banged on till the strings break. NOT the Jane.

    *headdesk*

  93. Is this because I linked that NYT article?

    Heidi’s post on WLS has been floating around the shittiest parts of the internet. I think it’s from that (although how they found her post in the first place, I do not know.) You should see the comments she’s gotten on her LJ, they’re appalling.

  94. A Sarah: ummmm, I don’t quite know how to say this, but I think I love you.

    Katia: I am SOOO glad you brought this up. I have PCOS and want to try and get pregnant. All I hear from all the books I’ve read is “loose the weight, and you’ll concieve” or “I lost weight and I got pregnant two months later.” It just breaks my heart. How, in good conscience, can I diet knowing that it will:
    A. likely be unable to loose it since we know the likelyhood of diets working. Thus making me feel like a failure for letting my husband an unborn child down
    or
    B. Loose the weight and not conceive which would mean I put my body through all of that stress for nothing

  95. “IS MY FAT SLEEPING ON THE JOB!” too funny!

    vivelafat – I love your name. Your post about your dad’s comment really hit me. I’m 5’10 size 22 and lately I’ve been seeing myself as a monstrosity too. My dad was never cruel about my weight, but I knew he wanted me *healthy.* He’s been gone for just over a year and during that year I’ve gained 30lbs. The other day I actually looked in the mirror and thought “I’m glad Dad can’t see me like this.” I realize now how stupid and shallow I’ve been. 1. My dad would be more interested in breathing again than criticizing me. 2. The only monstrosities in my skin are various natural microbes and bacteria who love it here.

    On a separate note we should have a website for women to swap clothes so we don’t have to keep buying more. We could stop haunting ourselves with the ghosts of sizes past and breathe when we sit down.

  96. The “skip the soda and lose weight!” thing really pisses me off, and I see it in magazines and stuff ALL THE TIME. People who trot that out usually say you can “painlessly” lose 10-15 pounds a year just by giving up your soda habit. Those calories you aren’t consuming add up like loose change in a jar!

    Really? Really?

    Yeah, really not. I gave up soda because it was making me feel crummy (and a lot of other foods with HFCS in them) and I actually gained a few pounds. It turns out, I was using the caffeine to mask the feelings of hunger, and when I quit, I started eating more again. I’d given up all that sugar and replaced it with water, so I fell into a huge caloric deficit, something that my body couldn’t afford at an average 800-1100 calories/day.

    Anybody who says cutting back on calories will magically make you lose weight can suck my fat ass. In two years I was forced from 2200 calories/day to 800-1100 calories per day, and all I have to show for it is a body that has gotten softer, weaker, and less able to function. Oh, and I’m a lot bitchier than I used to be, and I sleep about 4 hours more at night. I also lose focus easier than I ever have, I spend a lot of time wandering around trying to remember what the hell I’m doing.

  97. I get that you’re trying to test the logic and play the game, but the snark really was unnecessary.

    Just a reminder to all of you, even our most beloved commenters: we decide when snark is necessary around here.

    Yet we end up with things like “the obesity paradox” numbers 1, 2, 3, etc. each time that happens because the metaphor is more important than the scientific evidence–and far more important than logic. Calories in/calories out is entering the realm of faith and metaphor

    Okay, I’m speaking both as a writer and reader of poetry here: metaphors are not eternally or indestructibly effective. Some metaphors last for ages because they are useful. Some cease to be evocative to people without specialized knowledge. (e.g., John Donne, whom I adore, uses many metaphors in his erotic poetry that are based in the scientific understanding of his time. Many of those still register as emotionally potent but virtually nonsensical — like “eye-beams” twisting together — if you don’t know what (some) people in Donne’s era actually believed about sight.)

    My point is, just because a metaphor seems initially apt doesn’t mean that it works. CI/CO is an example of a metaphor that many people think must be true: it’s a metaphor of an account balance, right? You have credits and debits, and your body is the bank that registers these transactions. What FJ has done in this post is show that this metaphor, even if we take it on good faith, is actually extremely imprecise, literally confusing, and morally questionable. In a sense, she’s workshopping our popular rhetoric. And you know what? That’s actually, IMNSHO, a more effective way of defusing the potential damage that such a metaphor works in the minds of many people, including fat activists who have read and promote the studies at hand. Metaphors that are driven into our skulls constantly by the culture at large (women:men::nature:culture, anyone?) move in vast subterranean currents in the way we think and speak about our personal lives. The more we can disrupt the ones that are oppressive, the better, I say.

    I would absolutely love it if fatphobes and FA skeptics come here and are “converted” to the glories of self acceptance. But you know what? I love it just as fucking much when someone who is a regular here tells us that a post dislodges some piece of fatphobia and self-doubt so deeply internalized they didn’t even know they were still harboring it. THAT is a victory to me in every sense.

    The long story short is: hey everyone, guess what? We actually kinda know what we’re doing here. We don’t throw things up willy nilly (well, most of the time). We put thought into our work here. We are all highly trained writers and we try to bring that training to our work here. We welcome dissent, but we get snarky if you tell us things like, oh, our posts are useless, or, say, we’re to blame if a girl commits suicide. If you’re gonna say shit like that, you’d better be willing to get snark in return.

  98. Am I going to not starve myself, and then if I get cancer later think “oh, gee, I really should have starved myself back when it may or may not have made a difference?”

    Or, am I going to starve myself, and if I get cancer later think “I got cancer anyway, why did I starve myself?”

    Or, I guess I could spend the rest of my life STARVING and wonder if this is any way to live cancer or no cancer.

    Katia, I’m not sure if you saw the post on Cheating death last week, but your questions reminded me of this quote from Susan Sontag:

    Illness expands by means of two hypotheses. The first is that every form of social deviation can be considered an illness… The second is that every illness can be considered psychologically… These two hypotheses are complementary. As the first seems to relieve guilt, the second reinstates it. Psychological theories of illness are a powerful means of placing the blame on the ill. Patients who are instructed that they have, unwittingly, caused their disease are also being made to feel that they have deserved it.

    Look, you have a very high genetic risk of getting cancer. That sucks ass in about 10000 different ways. If it turns out that you get cancer? It’s because of your very high genetic risk of getting cancer. It’s not your fault. I don’t know what to tell you about weight and estrogen, but I do know that cancer is not your fault, just as it’s not your sister’s or all of your female relatives’ fault.

    I highly recommend Sontag’s Illness as Metaphor for anybody who has to think seriously about cancer, by the way. It’s a dense read but so worth it.

  99. Fillyjonk, in my first post (and I had to reread it to be sure), I in no way said, ‘I don’t think you should have written this post.” I did not even *imply* it, and while I can understand you feeling defensive, I don’t believe it was justified by my post.

    In fact, in that first post, I actually opened with a moment of *agreement* and *empathy* with you when I wrote, “I see your point with the hypothetical, and I can totally get why you asked it.”

    And yes, I did move on to a “but” (“but at this point it seems just a bit like giving credence to any number of other falsified theories”). So if this is what you took offense at, I’d point to the fact that my cautionary “but” actually anticipated the addendum in which you (with some frustration, I think) noted the trollish responses you got about diet-talk as well as the responses you got that weren’t trollish but still asked things like whether gaining weight was also “cheating your body.”

    That non-trollish question about weight gain actually was reasonable, I think, as, in using the phrase “cheating your body,” you fell into the same kind of language you criticized when you mentioned the “absurdity born of the fundamentally absurd Puritan notion that only self-abnegation gets you into heaven.”

    “Cheating” suggests an ethical or moral sleight. Cheating is an act of guile. It’s a pain in the ass the way we’re all pulled again and again into the very language we want to question.

    Is it possible to talk about food or weight or dieting without using that language? I’m not sure, as I’m not sure we *have* another language. We’re so deeply enmeshed in it (which is why I so like S. Bordo).

    Do I need to add that I am *still* not saying, “you shouldn’t have posted this”?

  100. Dear douchebags who are here to tell us it REALLY IS about calories in/calories out: yes, I am deleting your comments, which are useless. No, I am not doing it the VERY SECOND that you post them. They are going to the moderation queue. Complaining about how we’re censoring you is going to bring me a brief moment of bitter hilarity, but is not going to get any of your past or future comments approved.

  101. Calories in–calories out just never made much sense to me, too much anecdotal evidence against it. I know that’s the “weak” evidence, one is supposed to look at “science” but I’m more swayed by what I see around me in real life. People’s bodies can do all kinds of different stuff with calories after all. What I know about weight is my grandmother had a tiny appetite yet her weight never dropped below 200 lb. her entire adult life. My nephew, in contrast, eats anything that isn’t nailed down and is skinny as a twig. On the other hand, I don’t think fatness correlates with health all that well; my grandma lived to be almost 99 without being diagnosed with diabetes while my nephew will be lucky to make it to high school without a diagnosis of diabetes. He has had blood sugar irregularities his whole life that seem to get worse all the time despite being skinny.

    My mother is constantly being encouraged by her doctor to diet (she’s built like her mother) and it makes me so mad. Dieting is stressful for the body, it is deprivation, hardship, & suffering. And it doesn’t even work!! (I tell my mum that when the doctor bugs her about her weight she should remind him that her own mother lived to be 98 and her grandmother lived to be 93 and that fatness, like longevity, tends to run in families).

    The calories in-calories out thing makes me think of my grandmother, she could have taught HAES, she was an intuitive eater by nature would eat whatever she wanted, in quantities that satisifed her. She would eat half a chicken salad sandwich or 3 pieces of chocolate covered ginger and then say she was full.

    The whole calories in-calories out approach seems to look so reasonable on paper, it sounds logical, but if anyone would look around at what real people around them eat they would see there is just no connection between calories and weight. People just come in different sizes. Period.

  102. I find it so frustrating when people who have never needed to diet tell me that its as simple as eating less. I hate it I hate it I hate it. Its so simple in their minds. If only I could bang their head against a wall until they understood. If they didn’t then they would get knocked out eventually and I wouldn’t have to listen to their dribble.

  103. Like, you deny things that your deepest, you-iest Self wants in order to be deemed Good and Healthy; but it turns out you can’t decree that only the “bad” aspects of your deepest, you-iest Self get deprived; and then before you know it you’ve given your deepest, you-iest Self away and/or don’t know who you even are anymore.

    Oh hai, my life. This is very much a lesson I’m in the process of figuring out now.

    A Sarah, you do have all the awesome.

  104. Outstanding addendum, FJ.

    Katia, I have two things to add to what others have said. One is that, as a menopausal woman, you should be producing far less estrogen now than you used to be, so why is your doc suddenly on you about it?

    Two is just a reiteration of our favorite phrase: diets don’t work. Look at it this way — even if you hadn’t already proved that you personally don’t lose weight on diets, as FJ pointed out, you will almost certainly gain back whatever you lose in five years. If you have $11.95 to spare, I highly recommend downloading this article, which is a review of the literature on dieting up to 2007. The conclusion? EVERYONE GAINS IT BACK.

    What this means is, dieting to lose weight is, at best, a short-term solution. And your cancer risk is a long-term problem.

    As someone with a family history of heart disease and diabetes, the way I look at it is, fat is just one risk factor, exactly like the family history itself. It doesn’t guarantee I’ll get sick or die young, and even if it did, there’s nothing I can do about it long-term. It’s just something I have to accept as a part of my overall health profile. And if it means I’m more susceptible to diabetes or heart disease than a thin woman with the same family history, well… that’s my shitty lot in life, just like the family history is. It is not my fault I’m fat. I’ve starved myself repeatedly, to no long-term avail. (See article above.) I exercise and eat my veggies, and I stay fat. I come from a long fucking line of fat people. There is only so much I can control, and fat is simply not on the list.

    Too many people, including too many doctors, think that fatness is equivalent to smoking — something people really don’t want to give up but totally could if they cared enough about their health. But as someone who is also a smoker, I can also tell you it’s just not the same goddamned thing. Quitting smoking is incredibly, unbelievably hard — which is why I haven’t done it yet — but it is totally POSSIBLE. I can make the decision to put myself through a certain amount of pain and difficulty, knowing that at the end of it, I never have to smoke a cigarette again, and my heart disease risk will go down. But that’s not the same as putting myself through the pain and difficulty of a diet, because there is not only no guarantee but no EVIDENCE that it is possible for me to remain thin for the rest of my life. In fact, all the evidence points in the opposite direction.

    Adipose tissue isn’t a habit or a lifestyle. It’s just something different people have in different proportions. And if having more of it is connected to certain diseases, well, that sucks, especially for people who have other risk factors. But there are loads of risk factors people can’t control, and this is one of them. (Also, fat –like estrogen — can be protective against other diseases. It’s not uniformly harmful; it just depends on the luck of your genetic draw for other risk factors.) Show me a weight loss diet that A) works long-term and B) definitively prevents heart disease in a substantial number of people, and hell, even I might try that, given my family history. But as it is, there’s no such thing. And there is no diet that prevents breast cancer, either.

    So, to sum up: Being fat is not your fault. And if — fates forbid — you get cancer, that will definitely not be your fault. Look at it this way: do you blame your sister or other family members for getting cancer? Would you believe that anyone else brought cancer upon themselves? I sure hope not. And if the answer is no, then why would you blame yourself?

  105. Oh my gosh, A Sarah, I am SO a comfort hydrater! Cranky? Glass of water. Tired? Glass of water. It’s July and I live in Tucson? Enormous water bottle, constantly refilled and chugged so that I pee about eighty-eleven times a day. Every time the thought “Should I have a drink of water?” crosses my mind, the answer is YES.

    I really should apply that thinking to my eating habits as well. (Because I am lazy about cooking, I don’t actually eat as much or as often as I know I should.) (And have gained weight in the past year. HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN MY BRAIN IS MELTING)

  106. Ooh, also, if you don’t click on that breast cancer link (to an old post of mine, which I just reread), here’s what you need to know from it: “Studies by the American Cancer Society from 1995 and a 1999 showed a correlation between intentional weight loss and increased cancer mortality risk.”

    Look up those studies and show them to your doctor, honey.

  107. I haven’t read all the comments so apologies if I’m derailing/repeating.

    My boyfriend (who eats hugely and is thin just like his Dad, hello genetics) accidentally ordered a salad at his favorite lunch place recently, instead of his usual big sandwich or pasta. That afternoon at work he was tired, spacey and unproductive, not to mention CRABBY! He was kinda surprised how hard it hit him, and said that he suddenly really really appreciated why people on diets would be grumpy. Well, yeah. It was a good “now I get it!” moment.

    I think this is my first comment on this blog, and I want to mention that I really appreciate being able to come here for my daily serving of body positivity and occasional privilege-related big slaps-upside-the-head. Thank you.

  108. Do I need to add that I am *still* not saying, “you shouldn’t have posted this”?

    No, now you’re apparently nitpicking my word choice. Charming.

  109. SM- I LOVE that you are deleting the cin/cout fanatics that want to post. I, for one would like to give a big fat BURN to all of you out there who are being so censored.

    Second of all, Cinsation, I don’t know what it is. I would love a post about our inability to have a clear sense of self and how our weight takes up space. I can’t get a clear picture of what I look like in my head. Am I a Monster? Do people think I’m obscene? Everyone in the news talks about obese people, but I don’t think thy really understand who they are talking about.

  110. You can’t restrict only the calories that are used to keep you weighing 250 (or whatever) and not the ones that are used for thinking and dancing and living. If you cheat yourself, you cheat yourself across the board.

    When you look at the issue this way, it also highlights the total absurdity of a lot of workplace “health” initiatives. When companies try to encourage their employees to lose weight, they’re probably hurting their own productivity.

  111. Re: fat produces estrogen –

    Can anybody point to any trustworthy science that says this is true? And/or that our fat doesn’t understand when we have enough estrogen and to modify it’s output accordingly? I read Gina Kolata’s book about a month ago, and it seems to me that she addresses the estrogen/fat connection somewhere in it, but I’ll have to read it again to see.

    Meanwhile, me wondering if the fat=estrogen=cancer thing is another useless encoded metaphor…

    Love, Min

  112. When companies try to encourage their employees to lose weight, they’re probably hurting their own productivity.

    I’d love to see an experiment in which workplaces hand out a nutritious snack – say, cheese and fruit – at 10 a.m. and 3 a.m. What would be the effect on productivity, I wonder?

  113. I don’t think there is one single person in the Western world who hasn’t had that thought at least once in their life. “If I only ate fewer calories a day…”

    I had a wonderful revelation while taking part in a HAES program at my local women’s hospital. We were paired up with another person and had to tell that person what aspects of their appearance that we liked. Then we had to talk about what aspects of ourselves – physical and mental that we liked. Then – and only then – we could talk about what we didn’t like about our physical appearance. And I – and nearly everyone else – made the same discovery. We didn’t like not being able to go into a shop and find stylish clothes that fitted and were comfortable. In other words, we all hated our bodies because they didn’t fit the manufactured clothes, and were trying to change our bodies to fit some arbitrarily-sized and shaped manufactured clothes, instead of realising that it would be a lot easier and more sensible to simply change the clothes. Even if it meant getting every item we bought either made-to-measure or altered.

    I felt this incredible psychological weight lift off me when I had this revelation. My body wasn’t wrong – it was the clothes that were wrong! And I could do something about this.

  114. Self image is so tricky. I saw a documentary once where anoerxics were given ropes and told to measure how big they thought they were. Then they had to wrap the ropes around themselves and face the difference. They all marked way too much rope for their waists and denied they were really small. I sometimes think if they gave ropes to a bunch of fat women we might hang ourselves instead of facing being measured. I don’t even own a scale anymore. I have to sneak on the one at our vet’s office (pathetic, I know).

    When I look into mirrors or at pictures of myself I feel like I’m always looking at a stranger. Does anyone have a clear idea of how they really look? Are others looking at us the same way? That would be a great topic for a post.

    The obese people in the news are usually headless bodies jiggling about. They don’t have faces or identities. They are the OTHER, the abject. The media doesn’t know or care to know who they are talking about as long as it isn’t them.

    As for what constitutes obscene, not even the Supreme Court could figure out that definition. I’m fairly certain they weren’t thinking about size.

  115. I am fangirling this post ALL OVER right now.

    And I’d agree there isn’t a woman in the Western world who hasn’t tried to tell herself that cutting the calories (with the power of Willpower!) would make everything shiny and happy. I even caught myself doing it the other day: “okay, the white skirt doesn’t fit anymore, but I can take care of that with a little willpower and WAIT A MINUTE WHAT?!?!”

  116. I’m just dashing in to say thanks and send hearts the way of everyone who has been answering the me-me-me! part of this thread. I need to read the rest of this thread tomorrow because I’ve only skimmed it and it looks really good.

    But for right now–

    Look at it this way: do you blame your sister or other family members for getting cancer? Would you believe that anyone else brought cancer upon themselves? I sure hope not.

    Well, gee, of course I don’t blame them!

    And if the answer is no, then why would you blame yourself?

    Uh, because, uh, light bulb light bulb light bulb!!!!!

    (I think this is a little like saying “oh, you can be fat, but I don’t want to be! It’s okay if you are but not if I am!)

    And it does help to move the adipose tissue/estrogen list into the list of risk factors that I can’t do anything about. Because, realistically, I can’t, not long term, and I’ve known that for a long, long time.

    I’ve got tons more to say and thank, but I’ll have to do it later, maybe tomorrow. I read the most wonderful things about adipose tissue (especially about how it promotes bone strength) — maybe I can find those and post those. Made me proud to have so much of it, except for the cancer danger part.

  117. My boyfriend (who eats hugely and is thin just like his Dad, hello genetics) accidentally ordered a salad at his favorite lunch place recently, instead of his usual big sandwich or pasta.

    Apropos of nothing, this made me lol. How does that happen?
    Brain: “Cheeseburger cheeseburger cheeseburger”
    Mouth: “Salad, please.”
    Brain: “Damn it!”

  118. Sorry Kate, I had no idea. That’s hilarious and you’re beautiful.

    I just refuse to own a scale because I know I would get obsessed with it. I guess the pathetic part is that my vet is the only doctor I trust.

  119. That said, reading this made me think… how do I know my body “needs” the calories? How do I know how many calories my body absolutely has to have? What if it can operate just as splendidly on fewer calories?

    This SO reminds me of the StupidManagerTrick™ of the underfunded/understaffed/constant false deadline department that goes along the lines of “You seem to be getting along quite well without more money/people/time. You don’t need it. Do without” all while never noticing the stress, the low morale, and the misery of its people.

    They are both empty paradigms.

  120. Katia,

    A friend is on a new drug to shut down all estrogen production to prevent cancer recurring. (She’s already had breast cancer twice, had 2 mastectomies. Fun, not.)

    She is also one of those teeny-tiny women (5’2″, ~100 lbs) who have very little body fat. She’s gone through menopause. She has had her estrogen production slowed naturally already, and now she’s on a drug to stop the rest.

    Note the drug isn’t all good. It’s also causing her to age faster – less energy, joint aches, muscle aches, her skin is less elastic. She feels like she’s aging years in months. But she’s taking it because the studies found this drug increases life expectancy for women with her history.

    All of which is to say…
    …less estrogen isn’t ALL good or ALL bad.
    …losing weight might not be the only way to reduce estrogen.

    I don’t envy you the uncertainty you’re dealing with.

  121. I just refuse to own a scale because I know I would get obsessed with it. I guess the pathetic part is that my vet is the only doctor I trust.

    Ditto on the first part. Sadly, I don’t even trust my vet, though. (Am looking for a new one.) And thanks!

  122. Fillyjonk:

    It’s not only an absurdity; it’s an absurdity born of the fundamentally absurd Puritan notion that only self-abnegation gets you into heaven. Fuck that.

    A-fucking-men.

  123. I kind of want to step in and say that yeah, there are some few women who have never entertained the thought of wanting to lose weight. I recognize how incredibly privileged that is, but there it is.

    Nothing like lifelong ridicule over being too small to make sure you dread losing a single pound for any reason, ever. Overall I know I have it one million times easier than almost any other woman in this regard, but it still managed to make me hate my body and desperately want to change it.

    (And on that note, ci/co being bullshit means that telling kids who are abnormally small that they just need to eat a lot to grow is not necessarily the best move. It might not be anywhere near as hard as being the fat kid, but if you hear that all the time and then put it together with little kid logic, it rapidly turns into intentionally overeating at every single meal. Which REALLY doesn’t work. fwiw.)

  124. Also, it hasn’t been mentioned in this thread yet but I just wanted to point out that the brain runs on glucose.

    Glucose is sugar. You need sugars in your diet for your brain to work.

  125. Calories are different for different people anyway.

    For arguments sake, say you were trying to lose weight. The idea that you need X number of calories to maintain, X to lose, X to gain, etc, varies greatly from person to person. So any pre-made diet or pre-determined plan is going to have different impact on different people. Even if they base it on weight, metabolism differs person to person. You can get a BMR (basil metabolic rate, not related to BMI despite having similar initials, lol) reading with the right equipment, but you can’t apply the same food principles to each person. This is the same no matter how big or small you are.

    Someone at my doctor’s office told me my metabolism was fast and I laughed at her. Then I got a little depressed and ashamed because I thought, if I have a fast metabolism, I must have been a serious glutton before I healthied up my habits. I don’t think “healthied” is a word, but you get what I mean. But I think she was comparing mine to her own, and she was a lot smaller than me. So I don’t know if I’m fast or slow relative to what’s “normal” for someone of my height, weight and composition. You’d think someone working in a doctor’s office that frequently oversees weight loss would be a little more sensitive…maybe she thought she was being encouraging or something.

    Filly, I was on Lexapro for over two years. When I decided I needed to get in shape and lose weight I switched to Wellbutrin, which I’ve now been on for about 7 months or so. My doctor (who has been guiding my weight loss) said Lexapro frequently causes weight gain or at least an inability to lose weight, and Wellbutrin can actually cause weight loss. Funny how my shrink two years ago didn’t mention that one. Of course, I did lie to him a little…I said that I was OK with my weight and it didn’t really effect my depression, which is complete BS, and was even more so three years ago when my depression hit it’s serious low point. I was at a point where my depression thoughts were so horrible I didn’t even want to admit them to my shrink. Because saying them would make them real, plus, I am always afraid of being judged. Hey, that’s the first time I’ve admitted that fact out loud…or the internet equivalent of “out loud.” Not the always afraid of being judged part, anyone who knows me can tell that…the not wanting to tell my shrink everything because I felt like what I was thinking was too shameful or “bad.”

    I need to stop. Talking about that time makes me feel bad again…on smaller scale thanks to the pills, but bad nonetheless. At least now I can push the bad thoughts away when they crop up.

    Well, that comment went into a serious sad crap spiral. Wasn’t expecting that.

    I’m not going to include my usual disclaimer about my weight loss, which generally includes my reasons and a promise not to tell anyone they should join me. Obviously I’m not going to tell anyone what they should or shouldn’t do, that’s just common courtesy, I mean the reasons part. I’m sick of having to explain myself and my personal, private decisions about my life/body.

  126. Katie–

    I’ve also gained quite a bit of weight after being on antidepressants and I definitely am choosing sanity over thinness. Finding FA has definitely helped with the choice. :-) Anyway, feel free to email if you want to chat more personally about our experiences. (I don’t want to hijack the thread.) bassc@cfl.rr.com

  127. So, all this time the weight that I lost while I was on Lexapro that I thought was the Lexapro? The weight loss was probably connected to the crushing sadness that I was on Lexapro in the first place to address — meaning, making it a possibility for me to function.

    Oh, I’ve been mulling the CI/CO paradigm in my head for days now, nice to see everyone else’s thinking on this. my computer has now been taken over by a 3.5 year old who wants to play a teletubbies game.

  128. “Oh my gosh, A Sarah, I am SO a comfort hydrater! Cranky? Glass of water. Tired? Glass of water. It’s July and I live in Tucson? Enormous water bottle, constantly refilled and chugged so that I pee about eighty-eleven times a day. Every time the thought “Should I have a drink of water?” crosses my mind, the answer is YES.”

    *hysterical laughter*

    At least you don’t whine and pout if the runners for your office don’t bring you back SmartWater.

  129. I always wondered why it was that when someone is very thin with a large appetite, they’re considered a genetic outlier, but someone in the other direction is fat because of lack of willpower.

    Re: breast cancer. My mom was diagnosed when she was at the lowest weight of her adult life. People get cancer. There’s no magic effing bullet that will keep people healthy forever.

    vivelefat: Please find a reproductive endocrinologist who can help with your quest to become pregnant. Just as an anecdote, I lost almost twenty percent of my weight on the last diet I will ever go on when I was getting ready to try and get pregnant. Instead, I went off birth control and my hormones went fucking haywire, and by the time I got to a fertility doctor my PCOS was out of control and I’d gained back all that weight plus more. Besides, I’ve read studies saying that when women diet right before conception they have more difficult pregnancies.

    If you are in the northern Chicago suburbs I can send you the info on my new doctor, who I like very much.

    Oh, and on the old calories in/calories out? I went to a reproductive endo associated with a well-respected university and, according to him, women with PCOS can just use ole ci/co to lose weight! He very condescendingly advised that I keep it under 2000 a day. Oh, and if they have a period they must have ovulated! So please research your doctors beforehand, and if they say something boneheaded don’t be afraid to fire them. I sure did.

  130. Oh, and the quitting of the soda! I quit drinking soda and didn’t lose one single pound. All I drink is water (beyond the occasional adult beverage) and I’m still fat, fat, fatty fat fat.

  131. And…what if someone regularly eats 2000 calories per day or less and is moderately active yet does NOT lose any weight? I know I don’t. Even though at my size every chart says I should be losing a few pounds a month. Nope and nope. That doctor ought to rethink.

    I can’t understand what Miriam was getting at because on the third reading my eyes glazed over and I quit trying, but it seemed to me FJ wrote a common-sense, accessible post on a topic that dominates every single discussion about weight outside of FA and picked it apart in a way laymen can clearly understand and relate to. And use. I can’t for the life of me figure out what’s wrong with that.

  132. “I’d love to see an experiment in which workplaces hand out a nutritious snack – say, cheese and fruit – at 10 a.m. and 3 a.m. What would be the effect on productivity, I wonder?”

    That was why during the Rosie the Riveter days they would hand out soda pop at those times (is it Dr. Pepper that has the numbers on it still, or coke? I know Coke came to be seen as THE drink because of it, though.) The break, and the boost (double whammy – caffeine and sugar for the sugar slump) increased productivity and increased worker happiness. Remember, soda was seen as healthy and pretty much medicinal at the time. Anyway, I’d say a couple of snacks or even a (heaven forbid) soda or juice handout like that would be nice and helpful.

  133. Annie,

    Its Dr. Pepper. 10 2 4

    How do I know that? There is a huge, neon lighted billboard in my town with the Dr. Pepper logo and a clock with only 10, 2 and 4 on it.

    I like Dr. Pepper. Not that much though!

  134. Cheating your body is not the way I’d put it, not that that makes it wrong we understand things each in our own way.
    To me, it’s thwarted expectations.

    Strictly speaking from a cool logic, it seems like it should be foolproof.
    You have fat stores, you cut down you expect your body to use the reduced amount and then converts from stores to make up the difference, simple. Of course it simply doesn’t work like that a all.
    Logic in this case takes nothing that really matters in reality into account, so you are left floundering by the tumultous effects of your seeminly innocuous intent.

    To me it’s not an issue of whether calories in/ out works, It seems like chasing ones tail. The question is, why can’t most people just get over it, we thought it was going to work, it hasn’t, how many sure things have failed badly in the history of the world, trillions. Make that a trillion and one.

    And more importantly, why is everyone so convinced, that there is no possibility of another approach that would not be so disturbing, invasive, abusive and above all, self deafeating?

    That last question especially is what I simply don’t get.

  135. Calories are insidiously being forced into our vernacular. I can’t number the conversations I’ve had with my EIGHT-YEAR-OLD about calories. Every package of snacks now feels the need to blazen the calories across the front–with no reqard for that nurtirion label on the side. And I struggle with the moral language attached with it also: “It is a FACT that it has 100 calories, it is not good or bad.” Did I mention she’s eight?

  136. Anyway, I’d say a couple of snacks or even a (heaven forbid) soda or juice handout like that would be nice and helpful.

    I’m hypoglycemic – very sensitive to sugar and caffeine – so the very idea of a soda snack freaks me out. I’m the crazy person who’s all, “ARGH! THE ICE TEA IS SWEETENED!!! FUUUUUUCCCCKKK!!!” I also can’t hold my liquor worth a damn. I recently read a Poe biography in which the author suggested that Poe’s hypoglycemia was partially responsible for his legendary problems with booze (drunk in one glass) and for the first time ever, I could totally relate to Poe.

  137. In that case, sniper, I’d definitely you recommend taking the fruit or pretzel sticks or something instead of the soda! I too can not handle caffeine – I trace it back to the days when I popped like ten Vivarins every morning to get through work because I’d be out partying all night. It didn’t help, but it made me jittery and sick. Now all it does is give me panic attacks. I figure I abused it enough that I’m probably like allergic or oversensitive or something. But I lurve my decaf coke.

    Laura I thought it was Dr. Pepper with the numbers. Thanks :) I can’t stand Dr. Pepper, though I’d like to visit the original location where they still collect the bottles and make it with pure cane sugar. Actually I’m still on a quest to find coke with real sugar – though of course it’s gonna have caffeine in it. But I just have to see if it’s like I remember it from my childhood. Then if I could just find a McDonald’s that still fries their fries in tallow and still deep-fries their pies, I’m all set. Oh, and an Arthur Treachers.

  138. Come to Cuyahoga County, Annie! Our Coke is made with real sugar all year round. (I guess it’s cheaper, since one of the major crops in Ohio is sugar beets.)

    Also, if you live in a city, look for Kosher Coke during Passover. I think it has a yellow lid.

    I can’t handle caffeine in amounts more than you get in chocolate; it makes me go into panic-mode, as well. I think it’s a legacy from a year on Zoloft. Grr. I drink Sprite, when I drink pop at all.

  139. Annie, also look for Mexican Coke if your grocery store has an international foods section…it’s made with sugar and even comes in the cool glass bottles!

    Stephanie, the Coke up there is made with sugar too? Ooh. Must check that out next time I’m in Cleveland! The Columbus Coke is definitely still HFCS.

  140. I was watching CNN this morning they were interviewing some guy who was talking about his 45 pound weight loss. They start doing the calories math business. You know …

    Change X food to Y = Z fewer calories over a year = inflated pounds lost estimate.

    These things aggravate me so much. If you add up the total pounds they say you would loose from cutting out all this food, most of the time you would have literally negative fat human beings. They make it sound like basic math, but never add up the ending totals. I always end up thinking, so your telling me that the rest of the food i CAN eat has NO calories in it?

    In college i had to take a class on brain anatomy and how your chemical processes and brain structure effect your behavior. The class was very biology heavy but I’m glad I had to learn it all. You need all that stuff they tell you to cut out of your diet. Like salt and sugar and calories and fat. Those things make up your brain. Without it your brain doesn’t function properly.

    I wish you could vote scientists off the island. Sorry Mr. Nutritionist, you have too many negative public votes, we are taking your license away. But then again that never stopped Dr. Phil, that man hasn’t had a practicing license since way before they let him on TV.

  141. (Continuing the Coke thread-jacking)

    Has vanilla Coke re-appeared in the States? It’s been gone in Canada for a long time, and I miss it. :(

  142. It’s still here, though for me it’s been totally overshadowed by diet Coke with lime. I don’t like regular Coke but I do like diet Coke, is that weird? They taste totally different to me.

  143. Not weird; they taste totally different to me, too, and I’m the same. And diet Coke with lime is NOM.

    [ / end Coke thread-jack ]

  144. I spent about 20 minutes on a post in this thread last night that didn’t make it through. :’(

  145. Victoria, I’m not seeing it in spam or anything. Maybe it was a browser problem?

    Or if it was all about your diet or whatever, someone might have deleted it. Not that I’m assuming it was, but that’s one possible explanation.

  146. It’s still here, though for me it’s been totally overshadowed by diet Coke with lime. I don’t like regular Coke but I do like diet Coke, is that weird? They taste totally different to me.

    The taste totally different to me too – regular coke always tastes gritty and sickly sweet, to my mind. (I don’t like diet coke with lemon either – tastes like lemon pledge.)

  147. Victoria, I’m not seeing it in spam or anything. Maybe it was a browser problem?

    Or if it was all about your diet or whatever, someone might have deleted it. Not that I’m assuming it was, but that’s one possible explanation.

    It said the comment was in moderation last night; I thought that was because I’d put a number of links in – they were mostly about Omega-3 fatty acids and the brain. It was about the diet I consume, hypoglycemic diet, not a weight-loss diet. If my posting about the sugar issue is a problem, please, whomever, tell me. I’d prefer to be told straight out that I shouldn’t post about it rather than have posts/emails ignored and my post last night deleted. Thank you.

  148. Victoria, we get hundreds of comments every day. We can’t and furthermore don’t want to respond personally to every one, not even every one that does go through. I don’t know anything about what happened to yours, but the likelihood was that it was judged to violate the comments policy (which you should read).

  149. I know. I’ve read the comments policy, a couple of times in fact, when it’s been linked in various posts. I was really trying to fall in line with what those who run the site wish. I’m really sorry to hijack here. FJ, thank you for your response. The posts in question I specifically directed to SM and I sent her and KH an email but none have received responses. I know you’re all busy. I’m very sorry.

  150. Re: Lexapro:

    I’ve been on it for all of two days, and I have absolutely no appetite. It feels really weird.

    Anyway, this post and this thread are fantastic. As for everyone who is apologizing for epic posts, please don’t! It’s all worth reading.

  151. I know I’m coming in at the very end of this, but I really wanted to address a couple of things, here:

    I’ve always been confused by the “fat produces estrogen” thing. Because if that’s true, shouldn’t my PCOS be curing itself?

    One of the most common myths about PCOS is that we have high testosterone, so therefore we must have low estrogen. Not true at all. Those hormones aren’t in any sort of dependent relationship. What we usually have, instead, is high testosterone AND high estrogen, but low progesterone. (The exact hormone profile varies from patient to patient, but the estrogen dominance syndrome is the most common.)

    Most PCOSers don’t ovulate, and ovulation is the only thing that produces progesterone. Without that, you don’t have a regular cycle–either an absence of periods or very long or heavy ones.

    The dangerous part about this is that without a regular, normal bleed, one can get endometrial hyperplasia, which can turn cancerous. This is why most doctors will prescribe BCPs or a progesterone-only regimen to produce a regular cycle.

    The running theory about why this happens is that the insulin resistance/hyperinsulinemia messes with the ovaries’ ability to produce estrogen, and instead jacks up estrogen production from two other places: the adrenal glands and abdominal fat.

    (Sorry to go off-track here, but I’ve been studying my illness for 14 years, and the continual misunderstanding about it kind of drives me batty.)

    On to the other thing:

    The calories in-calories out thing is a gross misunderstanding of physics.

    It may indeed take a certain amount of fuel to move a certain amount of mass a certain amount of distance, but there’s another variable in that equation that most people don’t apply to human bodies: Velocity.

    Let’s use the example of a car engine: In order to provide fuel efficiency, a car has to have 1) Less mass and 2) Less overall speed and power.

    Anyone who’s ever tried to get a 4-cylinder Toyota up a sharp hill at any rate of speed knows how this works. The engine itself just isn’t powerful enough to make that climb fast. Likewise, getting from 0-60 takes a while. And if you add mass to the car with more cargo, it takes even longer. It doesn’t matter how hard you step on the gas pedal. The car just isn’t going to go any faster than its engine can handle.

    For those of us with fuel-efficient metabolisms, there’s really no way we can suddenly swap out our gas-sipping engines for a V8. We’re always going to process energy at a slower rate.

    Depriving our bodies of that energy isn’t going to change how our basic engines are built. And for smart fuel-efficient engines, it’ll just make them run slower. Ever tried to drive on an almost-empty tank? You guessed it. Performance goes down even further because the engine is trying to conserve fuel.

    The real irony in all this is that researchers just found that slow metabolisms mean slow cell death and therefore longer lives. So all those folks with fast metabolisms who can run around and burn fuel like crazy? Their cells are dying faster. Sue me, but I don’t think I want to try to artificially increase my metabolism if it means I’m going to die sooner because I’m burning my body out.

  152. The real irony in all this is that researchers just found that slow metabolisms mean slow cell death and therefore longer lives. So all those folks with fast metabolisms who can run around and burn fuel like crazy? Their cells are dying faster. Sue me, but I don’t think I want to try to artificially increase my metabolism if it means I’m going to die sooner because I’m burning my body out.

    Aww, I think I’m going to try and slow down my metabolism now. We all know how that works: You only need to go on a few diets and then go off them – voila, instant weight gain. ;)

  153. My doctor said they’d reconsidered and it was no longer worth forcing people to have bleeds if they weren’t having them… although who knows, my doctor may have been on crack.

  154. Oh, and an Arthur Treachers.

    Passed one on Rt. 1 in southern Alexandria, VA, yesterday. How weird is that?

    Oh, and Coke with vanilla syrup (like, the kind you use in lattes and things) is a million times better than Vanilla Coke. I mean, it’s not sugar, it’s hfcs, but if that’s ok with you, I highly recommend it.

  155. RE: Being a “compulsive hydrater” (LOL)

    I actually DO worry about it, because I’m thirsty all the time (yes, my blood sugar is fine). “But I SHOULDN’T be thirsty…I just had a big glass of water!” “It’s so embarrassing that I want to pee again, I just went!”

    I guess I’m more than the usual level of insane.

  156. Ha, seeing some people write cin/cout reminds me of C++ programming.

    Your body is not a computer, people. You can give it all the commands you want, and it might still tell you to fuck off.

  157. My company does all the stuff people mentioned here: in addition to free coffee and tea, they have fridges full of free soda and juice, and they provide fruit, veggies, and pretzels at 3 PM every day. And free breakfast on Mondays! They also employ a lot of engineers and programmers straight out of college, so there’s a lot of people with fast twentysomething metabolisms here; if they don’t get enough sugar and caffeine, they mope around and don’t get anything done.

  158. Tal, thank you for saying what I was going to say re: PCOS and oestrogen/progesterone. It’s such a harmful misconception that PCOS automatically means low oestrogen, and so many women are given drugs based on that misconception which aggravate the insulin resistance and other hormone imbalances, making the PCOS worse. Most of us with PCOS need more progesterone (natural progesterone, not those awful progestins which actually make the problem worse) and less oestrogen (avoiding soy is a good plan, there. Makes it very bloody hard to be vegetarian, but hey ho).

  159. Karen, my brother used to work at that Arthur Treacher’s in the 80s! When he comes to visit he makes us eat there…I think it’s punishment for the way we treated each other when we were kids.

  160. I did starve myself, on a 1200-1600 calorie per day diet for over 2 years. I went from 280 to 170, and I’m a 6’2″ male. I exercised a lot too, alternating weight training and running. I had big plans to be a skinny and strong man that could walk right out of a magazine ad or a romance novel cover.

    Well, at the same time I lost muscle, a lot. My bench press max went from 165lbs to struggling to lift 135lbs, for example. I got into rock climbing, and enjoyed it a lot, but ended up giving myself tendinitis in my fingers so bad I could barely open doors or use a shovel for months. Bowling still gives me some pain, and this was years ago. My time for running a mile first went down since I had less mass to move around, but then it went up again as I had less muscle and energy in my legs to move at all.

    I was so frustrated since I was doing everything “right” and yet I wasn’t looking like the hunky magazine ad, I looked like a cancer patient. I went to my doctor with a list of what I ate and what I was doing, and he said “looks good” and pulled out a BMI wheel and dialed me in and then said “keep up the good work, here’s some naproxen for your fingers.”

    I was so malnourished at the time I couldn’t think straight, which is why I kept obsessively starving myself. Not too long after that, I met my (now) wife who loves me for who I am, not the body I could never maintain, and that acceptance was freeing, and I began to accept myself as well. I started eating “normally” again and yeah, over the next few years I put back on EVERY POUND I lost, and no more. My set point is just that set. I also got stronger again without even working out and I’ve been tremendously happy since.

    Keep up the good work, Kate. I wish someone had slapped me with a dose of the sanity found in this blog while I was off starving myself.

  161. This is hella late to the party, but I really wanted to comment on this:

    When I look into mirrors or at pictures of myself I feel like I’m always looking at a stranger. Does anyone have a clear idea of how they really look? Are others looking at us the same way? That would be a great topic for a post.

    I am an artist. I am also a naturally thin person who suffered from very disordered eating and body hatred for most of my life (I am currently 21, reflecting back on my middle school, high school, and early college experiences). It was not until I had done many many self portraits that it finally sunk in that yes, this is what I actually look like. So, to answer your question, I can’t imagine that most people know what they look like. I know that I didn’t. Seeing yourself is something that takes a lot of time and concentrated effort. Without my art i really believe I still would not know what I look like. My self-image exaggerated all my features, so I felt I had these huge eyes and fishcheeks, and I frequently find myself running to a mirror to make sure my worst fears about my appearance hadn’t come true. The corollary to this is that I felt if I ever stopped thinking about and “controlling” (in quotes because obviously we don’t control what we look like or how much we weigh) all day every day, my external appearance would suddenly collapse and my internal, negative self-image would come true!

    I encourage anyone who can relate to the above quote, who has to look in the mirror to remember what they look like, to try to draw themselves, or even trace themselves from a picture, so they can see what the lines of their face actually are. It’s so effing incredible to me how much I physically could not even see myself through the hatred I had for my appearance prior to learning to draw.

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