Dieting/WLS, Media, Self-Image

Ex-dieters over 40: Call for stories

Shapelings over 40: My fellow VC alum Kristyn Kusek Lewis just posted the following Facebook update:

For an upcoming magazine story that I’m writing, I’m looking for women over 40 who finally learned to love their bodies when they stopped dieting, obsessing over the scale, and/or gave up an “old way” of thinking about diet and exercise. Email me if you have a story to share or know someone who does.

So of course I was like, “Dude, I know some people.” If you have a story to share, Kristyn’s e-mail is here. Also feel free to discuss in comments.

31 thoughts on “Ex-dieters over 40: Call for stories”

  1. I’m there dude!

    At 42 I have done way too much dieting, only to fail and fail and fail. I can lose 100lbs, but I gain 120lbs back. I’m not sure how to properly express this, but I think had I not started dieting at age 12, I’d still be fat, but not nearly as fat as I’ve become thanks to my messed up metabolism and disordered eating, which I believe was mostly caused by dieting. I hope that doesn’t offend anyone, but I say it because one aspect fat shamers and haters don’t understand is that dieting (at least in my case) can make you fatter.

  2. She would never participate in such a public conversation but this reminds me that I had the most awesome conversation with my 77 year old grandmother when I saw her last about how dieting screwed up her body, made her fatter, and she wishes she’d been happy with her body and never started. I also noticed that after years of “heavyset” and other stupid euphemisms, she’s happily calling herself fat these days. And after years of apologizing for her food intake, she ate what she wanted when she wanted and didn’t say a word about it. I guess it’s never too late to make peace with yourself.

  3. oh, and incidentally she is 77, she’s fat, she has always been fat, and she’s not in any danger of dropping dead. She’s perfectly healthy. The only unusual health issue she has are related to a genetic disorder that runs in the family.

  4. This is so not me. I was a skinny kid, and knew long before I got fat that diets basically didn’t work. Not to say I’ve never tried one, but never with much confidence.

    And I am so not at the “learned to love their body” stage. But I am working on it, and I am very grateful to everyone in the fatosphere for making that possible.

    I wonder about the differences between people who were always fat and people who got fat in adulthood, in terms of developing a sense of self-appreciation. It’s hard to say “this is just who I am” when I wasn’t for most of my life. Not trying to set up any kind of hierarchy here, just thinking about different paths, and really hoping that the answer isn’t “you’ll come to love your fat after you have had it for 40 years” : )

  5. I fit this profile, but I’m just now figuring out how to like myself the way I am and not diet, so I’m going to have to think about this. I’m 46, was a skinny kid, slim adult, and only put on weight after I quit smoking in my early 30’s. I successfully dieted it away, but, yep, it came back, plus some, and left me with rather disordered eating habits and attitudes too. If you had talked to me a few years ago, you would have thought I was MeMe Roth’s southern cousin.

  6. I identify completely with Redwood! I’m sure I wouldn’t be anyone’s idea of thin if I hadn’t started dieting at age 12, but I’m sure I would be at least 60 pounds lighter. Every diet I ever went on ended with me at least 20 pounds heavier than my starting point by the time everything was said and done. I’m 28 and I’m done but it’s so hard to resist the pressure to diet, especially since I’m engaged and everyone is assuming that I must be wanting to lose weight for my wedding next year. /eye roll/. Sure, I’m going to work like hell to look good on one day next year just so I can be heavier in three years.

  7. Alas, that I’m 32 and cannot participate. But I’d be very interested to read the article when it comes out.

  8. My question is what she’s looking for when she says “love your body”. Most days I’m ok with my body – it’s mine, I’m it’s, we generally go about together. But I’m human – of course I have my share of “fatnugly” days. I just know damn well that dieting/losing weight isn’t going to change that – you can ALWAYS find something to hate about yourself if you try.

    I’m also curious as to what the “over 40” angle is. I fit the demographic, but I’d like to know why it’s special.

  9. I’m also curious as to what the “over 40″ angle is. I fit the demographic, but I’d like to know why it’s special.

    That’s the demo of the magazine in question.

    And I can’t speak for Kristyn, but I think someone who’s made the decision to stop dieting but isn’t yet a Fully Ascended Fat Acceptance Master would be a great interview. :)

  10. TropicalChrome, I’m pretty sure you’ll be safe from the Grammar Banhammer if you promise to never do it again ;-)

  11. For some reason, I’m imagining the Grammar Banhammer as a Norse god of some sort.

    Like, Odin’s second cousin who doesn’t get mentioned much at parties.

  12. Grammar Banhammer (prn. ban-HAM-er for rhythmic reasons) sounds almost like a Wodehouse character, a foppish Swede dropping in to call at Blandings Castle.

  13. I hope I’ve reached this stage in my late twenties after a decade or so of dieting. I was steadily about 80 pounds — 80 pounds! — lighter than I am now and yet I was still horrendously ashamed of my size 10 body! After a super diet in which I lost 40 pounds, I gained weight back with such a vengeance and let’s not forget the binge-eating extraordinaire. So yeah I would probably never be thin without dieting, but man those size 10 pictures look so good now.

    I thought I had learned to love my body but I grew frustrated after my “love food again” strategy lost only 15 pounds in six months … until I read somewhere that 13 lbs is the average that ppl on weightwatchers lose in the same amount of time, and I did it while enjoying myself. I just began getting totally stressed that I’d never return to my size 10 … I bought protein shakes in a moment of weakness …. hadn’t eaten fake foods in over a year … :( so ashamed.

  14. I gave her my long, sad tale of woe including my stint in the AF where I learned to abuse diuretics, courtesy of the Flight Surgeon, no less!

    But really, are any of us Fully Ascended Fat Acceptance Masters? I know I’m not, but I do aspire…

  15. I’m 41 and actually have come to love my bod and myself (this is the BEST, BEST, BEST part about getting older).

    I can’t say I’ve mastered intuitive eating, though, or totally given up diets. I’m working on it, but since I’ve been dieting since I was six, it’s going to take some time.

    Recent NYT articles on eating disorders in older women:

  16. Fully Ascended Fat Acceptance Master

    I so like that phrase. There should be an award, or a Hall of Ascended Masters, or something.

  17. Hi Kate,

    No, I’m far from a Fully Ascended Fat Acceptance Master, though I love the title.

    I actually shot off an e-mail to Kristyn. I think it would be a hoot to participate in her article.

    I finally gave dieting the boot in January of this year and am in the process of chronicling my slow path toward intuitive eating. Is it cool to admit here that I actually have lost a modest amount of weight since January? I also admit that I still have an uncomfortable relationship with the scale (I try to keep it at bay as much as possible) and I do follow a number of weight-loss blogs, though when posting a comment, I often mention that I think diets are a load of hooey.

    Sorry for the long ramble. Come and visit my blog sometime.


  18. Read this piece this morning on the NYT website. It doesn’t focus on ex-dieters over 40 but I thought you would still find it interesting. It’s basically debating whether or not fat doctors have the “right” to lecture fat children on eating less and exercising more. It seems like the obvious answer should be that NO doctor should be going around calling little kids fatties, but…

  19. Inspired by the “fuck it list” posting a while back, I wrote one of my own on my blog. One of the items was to not diet anymore. I’m a 41-year old single woman, and just like a bad relationship, do not need to expend the energy to measure, worry and judge myself because I’m not a size 3 like when I was sixteen. I’d rather spend energy enjoying my life and the loved ones in it. That’s what’s worthwhile, not anxiety over dimpled thighs…

  20. *sigh* Baby beginner steps. I’m still weekly, if not daily, reminding myself that 1) a “diet” will only make things worse, and 2) not eating too much processed crap is not a “diet”, just sensible.

  21. I’m going to be 49 next week. My mother struggled with her weight her whole life, until her dementia got so bad she forgot to eat. Now she’s thin at least. Ironic. She had a nervous breakdown from diet pills when I was five. That’s probably when I started putting on weight. I was chubby in the third grade, fat in the fifth. I was tortured in jr. high and high school. I was absolutely told no one would ever love me unless I were thin. In high school, I felt like some sub-human monster. I was mercilessly harassed to the point of not wanting to go to school, even though academics were where I shined. I had a desperate crush on one of my guy friends. He actually treated me as though I were human. The summer of my sophomore year, I went home and starved myself. I read Ursula LeGuin and listened to Elton John. Now, you might say I was anorexic, but people only rejoiced in how much weight I was losing. I went from a size 26 to a size 18 in one summer. People didn’t recognize me when I went back to school in the fall. All in all, I ended up losing over 100 lbs. My proudest moment was squeezing into a size 12 Calvin Klein jean. I weighed 135, but the gym I went to told me I still needed to lose 20 lbs.

    One day, as I stood in the bathroom, I looked myself in the mirror and heard a voice in my head tell me I had to learn to love who I was, or I’d never be happy. Between age 21 and 25, my weight went up and it seemed nothing I could do could stop it. I went to college, then a year of grad school, the weight coming back. After leaving grad school, I learned that there might be underlying reasons for my weight. I started working on accepting myself and learning how to eat. I knew people in AA and joined OA. I gave up sugar and meat and became macrobiotic. The weight came off again, but I couldn’t enjoy food and had stopped menstruating.

    I thought of being macrobiotic as a healthy lifestyle choice, but it was just another diet. I was about a size 16 when I met my husband. Funny how I mark time by what size I was. We started dating and it’s hard to go out to eat when all you can eat is brown rice and steamed vegetables. I started eating and my weight started slipping up. Again I tried healthy lifestyle choices (aka diets) but it seemed that unless I did something drastic, I didn’t lose weight. I read books by Geneen Roth and started appreciating eating, but it still felt like a diet to me.

    At some point, I realized I just didn’t have the strength to go on another diet. I just couldn’t put myself through it. I was healthy and happy, if not in complete acceptance of my size. I started hearing about research being done that debunked the fat is unhealthy idea. It’s been a process, but today, I wouldn’t think about going on another diet. I’m far more accepting of my body and enjoy eating whatever pleases me. I have read Linda Bacon’s Health at Every Size and started working those principles into my life.

    I still struggle with being public about it. Sometimes I feel it’s like coming out gay. I’m afraid I’ll lose friends. I have many friends who are on this or that corporate diet and don’t want to hear about HAES. They don’t want to give up the hope that one day they’ll be thin. My hope has changed, from hoping I’ll be thin to hoping someday, I’ll feel completely comfortable in my skin and not care what anyone else thinks.

  22. Well, I sent an email, even though 1) I don’t turn 40 for another 7 weeks and 2) I am not a Fully Ascended Fat Acceptance Master.

    I figured if nothing else, the fact that I’m planning a wedding and have vowed NOT to lose any weight beforehand might gain me some points on the interesting-o-meter…..

  23. I don’t really fit this description — my story is not this story, but the idea that I might someday become a Fully Ascended Fat Acceptance Master might actually give me a reason to start meditating each morning.

  24. Kathleen, I’m leaving my first comment on Shapely Prose to tell you I’m glad you told your story – a lot of what you said resonated with me, so thank you.

  25. i am 49, 5’10 and about 223lbs. I would have said I was totally beyond diets and totally accepting of my body until yesterday, when I had a meltdown when required to do a dance routine in a class I was taking for personal enrichment. I flashed back to the fat, uncoordinated kid who never did anything more physical than turn the pages of a book, and couldn’t go on. I’m feeling better today, and I still won’t go on a diet–they have been responsible, as so many posters and others have said, for so many pounds gained. I just walked a bit longer today and made food choices that would serve me as well as I could manage–I ate all of the lovely chicken salad sandwich I ordered, but left half of the over-seasoned Sun Chips, I ate a small bag of chocolate covered fruits and nut mix as a snack….and a nice sweet, juicy, crisp apple.
    I wish I could wear a size 14, instead of a 16/18/20 just because better quality clothing often stops at that size, and I wish I were lighter for the sake of my feet and knees, but otherwise, I have very healthy physical “numbers”–cholesterol, blood pressure, etc. I carry myself well, and look young for my age without requiring facial fillers. What’s not to love? I read a story of Liz Somebody, an anorexic editor in England, last night and realized that everybody has troubles and insecurities. I sure like how I relate to food better than how she reports doing so!

  26. @Trabb’s Boy – ‘I wonder about the differences between people who were always fat and people who got fat in adulthood, in terms of developing a sense of self-appreciation. It’s hard to say “this is just who I am” when I wasn’t for most of my life.’

    This is me, too. I don’t feel like I belong in the Fat Girl club, not having suffered horrible discrimination for decades like some have. I’ve only gotten fat in the last few years (my thirties) and partly due to inadequately treated chronic illness – though I’ve noticed treating the illness did not result in a corresponding loss of fat, just feeling better.

    Usually this isn’t good enough for people who know me who think I should be working at all times to become more like what I was, or that I’ve ‘let myself go’ (what a phrase) or that buying comfortable clothes for my fatter body is laying out the red carpet for more fat to come stay with me. As if hating, denying, and making my fat body uncomfortable would make any of this easier to live with. More people will talk about dieting as reasonable than having useful health insurance. (Anyone can afford to diet! You just eat less! And exercise!)

    Accepting that this version of ‘me’ is a completely legitimate part of being ‘me’ is hard to do. It requires some Zen thinking: just this very moment, this is me, not what I’ve cooked up about myself from my own history and thoughts and snee snee snee – just this moment, just me.

    But I’m not forty yet either, so I’ll just wait interestedly for the article.

  27. Kathleen, the comment about “funny how I mark time by what size I was” just knocked my socks off. Exactly so. The influence that size/weight had on seemingly every decision I made from the most trivial to the most fundamental…. remarkable, and a long process to let it go. No Full Ascension for me, I’m afraid, just an ongoing evolution between my ears…

    And happy birthday next week! Enjoy the cake and all that goes with it.

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