I Am That Girl Now

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I feel so famous now

Ladies and gentlemen, the CEO of Wesabe personally replied to my last post. This was so totally not what I expected. I'm kind of wigged.

Um... hi? ::waves to Jason Knight:: Welcome! I like your service. I like the blog. I like the attitude. I am utterly terrified of the fact that I was noticed with such great speed and actually responded to. I have mentioned many products and services on my blog and this is the first time anyone related to 'em has popped up to chat, much less the CEO.

Ah, intarweb.

I kept working on creating a good reply for his reply, and then I discovered that this was getting way too long, and besides, it really deserved its own post. In my last post, I said:

...if the returns for all one's hard work is to maintain the status quo, it's quite discouraging, and any bump in the road becomes a justified reason to throw up your hands and say "to hell with this, I would rather go broke/be fat/lose the game than have to spend all my time doing this shit."

To which Jason replied:

I disagree with your closing comments about people abandoning projects because of a "bump in the road." It is actually the road that causes them to abandon the goal.

I sat here thinking, "Well, that wasn't what I meant," and feeling rather misunderstood, until I went back and realized that what I was thinking in my head and what I was typing with my hands were kinda different. So, let me try this again.

First of all, I meant to say that the "bump in the road" is not the real reason for quitting a self-improvement program: it may be the reason given, the rationalization, or the excuse, but the underlying cause is going to always be the crushing amount of work that it takes to keep up the program. On that, I believe Jason and I are in agreement.

I believe we are also in agreement that this is a fault of the self-improvement program and not the person. A program that can be adhered to and kept up only during the best of all possible circumstances is not a practical plan.

I think that what I was taking for granted, at that moment, was that I was writing purely for a fatblog audience, and I forgot to include something that we all know, but don't talk about: we never say the diet was too hard, we always say it was the bump in the road, and everyone will assume it's our fault anyway.

There are three pieces of common knowledge, things that EVERYBODY knows are true, that come into play here.

1) Fat people are LAZY.

2) Losing weight is EASY.

Beautiful stuff, here, because the one proves the other. Losing weight is easy, and since it's easy, the only reason that fat people are still fat is because they're lazy, and weak, and other things meaning that they don't want to work hard or can't handle working hard.

(I could have sworn that I saw something in, or linked to, the Wesabe blog that glanced off of this topic, but I can't find it for the life of me now. Rest assured, Jason and Marc and all you adorable folks, I believe you know this stuff. I'm just bound to pontificate when given the chance, and here it is.)

The thing here is that these two things are bullshit. First of all, people say "it's just a matter of eating less and moving more" all they want, but the results that such a (very wise) plan would result in would be very, very slow results. Which, in a perfect world, would be what everyone meant by losing weight. In this world, though, the yahoos who point fingers and say "shut your pie hole and move your ass!" are not talking about slow results, they're talking about fast ones.

Back to what I was saying before, about how we don't like to say that the diet was too hard. Since everyone in the world tends to think it's their business how much we eat and weigh (sweet holy pancake stacks, the amount people have gone on about how "fat" Britney Spears looked at her Video Music Awards performance... seriously, put me on the record as wanting to look that "fat", albeit not that drugged and brain-dead and completely out of it), we are exquisitely sensitive to things that will play into those two "common knowledge" memes. We sense them coming, and try to avoid them when we can. In this case, we don't say that the diet was too hard, because we know how that'll make us look. Instead, we point to what was happening in our lives when we bailed on the diet.

I will bet that everybody who's ever bailed on a diet was running on empty for that last stretch, slogging along, and the "bump in the road" that throws you completely off the program just happens to coincide with the time when you take a look at what you're spending your time on and say, "Something's gotta give, here."

Let me stress that by "bump in the road", I mean big things like buying a house, selling a house, moving, getting fired, starting a new job, having a death in the family, having a new baby in the family, planning a trip, going on a trip, having the car break down unexpectedly, having a real jerk of an ex-boyfriend keep calling and calling and CALLING, getting married, having the basement flood, going back to school, declaring bankruptcy, getting divorced-- things like that, which are universally admitted to be stressful. These things happen. Big, time-consuming, labor-intensive self-improvement projects are going to seem a little pointless at times like those... but small daily things that are a part of your life, like brushing your teeth, you keep. In order to survive the stressful points of life, a self-improvement project must therefore be small and unobtrusive. Name me one commercial diet program that's designed to do that. And if you do, be prepared to bring statistics, because if it has a 90% failure rate within the first five years-- or an 80% failure rate, or a 70% failure rate, or anything over 50% which is still freaking ridiculous if you ask me-- then it is not a small, simple, unobtrusive program.

90% failure is not considered acceptable. If a game is designed so that 90% of people can't play past the first level, it's a bad game. If a diet is designed so that 90% of people fail, it's because they're bad people. What other business can get away with this and still make so much money? What other business has, as a central if unstated core of its business model, a dependence on people hating themselves as they are and blaming themselves if that business' product doesn't work for them?

We're all so ridiculously caught up in this that we see people going back to Weight Watchers, for example, over and over and over again, always thinking that it was some sort of problem with them, not that the program is flawed. When you're on Weight Watchers, it's even worse; check any WW board, anytime, and if somebody tearfully blurts out that they're just not losing weight, everyone will ask if they're eating inside their Points range, if they're weighing and measuring precisely, if they're exercising hard enough, because the assumption is that if it's not working, it's your fault, 'cause you're doing it wrong. Not that the diet is hard. Not that any maintainable weight loss is going to be slow, and that a lot of times when your body stops losing weight it's because an inner alarm bell has gone off saying "oh fuck, we're starving!" It's not because living on a diet is insanely difficult shit to pull off.

I do not have a good answer to this, except that as far as I can tell, constructed diets are just no good. I do not, as of yet, have a working alternative. All I've got is that fat (and by that I mean any weight above the happy normal spot your body really wants to live in) shouldn't be treated as a punishment, or as a disease, but as a symptom of something else in life that may need to be changed. It's going to be different for everyone. Eating only fast food? Eating too much? Stress eating? Not enough sleep? Not enough movement in our lives? What fixes it will be different for everyone, too. Meditation? Church work? Vigorous sex (Hallelujah!)? Running? Yoga? Only you can figure out what fills the need. Do that. Bring something to your life that makes you feel happier, not more righteous. It's not the fat's fault that our lives lack things, and losing the fat won't mean that we get those things. In the end, improving your life-- not your waistline-- is going to be a lot more important than weight loss could ever be.

...Okay, I'm just gonna shut up now. Suffice it to say that I wish we had a program like Wesabe for weight loss, but at the same time, I am convinced that the reasons people have extra fat are so varied, and the best ways to improve their lives are likewise so varied, that I don't know if that would be humanly possible.

10 Comments:

  • *applauds*

    BRAVO! I love the part where you talk about how if a program fails 90% of the time, it's the PROGRAM that's at fault not the person following the program.

    By Anonymous Norabear, at 12:36 PM  

  • Great post, Meg. A lot of truth here, and very well written.

    By Blogger Laura N, at 9:51 AM  

  • EXCELLENT post, chickie. I don't mind in the least blaming the programs; I am probably one of the few fat people in the world who firmly, confidently, truly KNOWS that I have done the right things, that the fault is not with me. I don't mean I'm one of the few who has done these things, but I'm one of the few who believes myself and my own experience.

    Question: you said there were THREE things that everyone knows, but I only saw two. Did I miss the third somewhere?

    By Blogger M@rla, at 8:31 AM  

  • So true! Thanks for posting this today, it came at the perfect time. Just this morning I was complaining to my H how friggin hard this losing weight shit is. Why does everyone act like it is so easy? Thanks for preaching sanity.

    By Anonymous Lindsay, at 6:25 PM  

  • I really enjoy your blog. With your permission I would like to link it to mine.

    dawnn

    By Blogger Dawnn, at 1:10 PM  

  • Oh my gosh! I just found your blog today and this is exactly what I needed to hear!! Just this morning I was thinking, "well maybe I should try WW AGAIN". I lost weight last time, but was totally miserable and when I stopped counting the points, I gained it all back. Your post is so spot-on, I don't think it was an accident that I found you today. I'll be lurking often - thanks!!

    By Anonymous Jill, at 7:20 AM  

  • Amen, amen.

    By Anonymous Jenny, at 5:55 PM  

  • i had that happen to me yesterday, its kind of scary. I work online and the website was implementing a new scoring system and I mentioned on the forum that I thought there must be a mistake because one project I have worked particularly hard on had a score of Zero. The head of the technical department responded himself asking me to send the stats and my link and he was going to check it out personally. I have never felt so honored or embarrassed at the time time. As it turns out my barely though out response to the issue revealed a really big error, lol.

    By Anonymous A Public Diet, at 11:56 AM  

  • umm, hello? update?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:42 PM  

  • I miss your updates :(

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:21 AM  

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