Monday, May 20, 2013

The Weight Wait is Over

I've started another 30 Day Vegan workshop with Heather Bruggeman, of Beauty That Moves.  I've taken her workshops before, including 30DV and Whole Food Kitchen, and always appreciate new recipes and the supportive environment she creates.

And I've really been enjoying veganism recently,  I read Mark Bittman's VB6:  Vegan Before 6 book which advocates eating vegan and minimally-processed food for breakfast and lunch and then whatever for dinner (which for me is still vegetarian--so I generally just add cheese!)  I like the focus on plant-based foods with the flexibility of not adhering to a strict regime/dogma--and it makes cooking for all of us easier.  I like rules and VB6 is a pretty easy one to remember.

I had a pretty powerful epiphany recently:  weight loss is an unobtainable goal.  Think on it--how many people do you know who diet?  And how many do you know who have lost a significant amount of weight and kept it off even a year?  I think I can name 3 or maybe 4 (out of dozens and dozens and dozens), friends of friends or relatives, all of whom have suffered major health issues that contributed to or significantly motivated them to weight loss (intriguingly, almost all of them are over 65, too; none are in my peer group.)  There was another on the list, but she has gained back 40 lbs.  I'm not special and I don't imagine that I can succeed where so many people with less weight to lose and more interest in exercise also fail.  I realized that losing weight was a goal that only served to frustrate me, with years of failure behind me, compounding the problem with yo-yoing.

And science tells me I'm right.  Something like less that 2% of people lose and keep off weight.  There was even an article today in the NYTimes that evolution fights weight loss--"Even if a 170-pound person loses 20 pounds, he needs 15 percent fewer calories to maintain the new weight than someone who always weighed 150."  And that doesn't include the bacteria that healthy-weight people have in abudance that overweight people don't--it's not like I can go out and buy Akkermansia muciniphila.   I can't win and it's silly to play by those rules.   (And don't tell me just to move more and eat less because as studies show it doesn't actually work that way for many of us.)

So I'm changing the game.  And no, this isn't some tricky way to focus on losing weight without calling it that.  I've actually really given up on losing weight as a goal.   I'm focusing on healthy eating--plant-based veganism before dinnertime--and my PT exercises and treadmill.  I'm not watching the scale; I'm not measuring inches.  The numbers I care about are blood pressure (always low), sugar (fine), and cholesterol (could be lower), and all will be improved by veganism (even 2/3rds veganism.)

More than that, I think my spirit will be.  I'm still figuring out the ramifications of my epiphany, but it came to me as clear as day and has already improved things for me; though, I admit, believing it and living it are two different things--our culture is drowning in dieting/fat-shaming/weight-loss-as-a-billion-dollar-industry and that mindset is habitual.  Instead of living in a constant state of failure and negativity, I want to focus on what I can do--I've been a vegetarian for five years (with only some conscious decisions to eat meat, like, say, a bite of chicken fried steak and the occasional fish) and know I can be a vegan most of the time.

I'm writing all of this here not because I like to discuss my weight (I really don't), but because I want to reach out to my friends and readers who struggle with weight the way I do and are ashamed of themselves everyday for it.  You're not alone.  There is another way (and it doesn't have to be veganism; that's just my path now.)  Give up the dieting and the negative self-talk.  Fight cultural body shaming and bullying (and here.)  For ourselves, for others, for our children.  Let's try it together.  It's going to be okay.  We are still valuable, loveable people.  Even if we don't ever lose another pound.

Besides, there really are worse things in the world than being overweight.

Even if our culture has lost sight of that completely.


  1. Those with a bit of spare flesh come through serious surgery better than than those with a lamp post figure.

  2. Thank you for this. After nearly 39 years, I am finally starting to believe that my worth as a person, mother, wife, woman doesn't have anything to do with my weight. You're right--it's a hard pill to swallow in our body-obsessed culture.

  3. I'd love to talk about this with you in person. Too much to write!!