I was talking to my new friend Dawn and she mentioned that the commercials for Meridia diet pills are what actually got her into Size Acceptance, because they were fat women with great clothes who looked like they were happy and having fun. I laughed and said that was fantastic because the side effects of Meridia are …unpleasant… so the commercials helped her get all of the confidence with none of the anal leakage. It turns out that she skipped a lot more than that.
First of all, I was wrong, extra laundry of the pants and panties variety is not a side effect of Meridia. But these are (feel free to skim, it’s a long list):
dry mouth, increased appetite, nausea, strange taste in the mouth, upset stomach, constipation, trouble sleeping, dizziness, drowsiness, menstrual cramps/pain, headache, flushing, or joint/muscle pain, fast/pounding/irregular heartbeat, numbness/tingling of the hands or feet, mental/mood changes (e.g., excitement, restlessness, confusion, depression, rare thoughts of suicide), change in the amount or color of urine, easy or unusual bruising/bleeding, black stools, vomit that looks like coffee grounds, yellowing eyes or skin, unexplained fever, shaking, unusual sweating, swelling of the arms/legs, seizures, chest pain, weakness on one side of the body, vision changes, trouble breathing. serotonin syndrome (for which there are class action lawsuits).
alli is the diet pill I was thinking of – the one that literally recommends wearing dark pants. Side effects may include (feel free to skim, it’s a gross list):
back pain, sinus infection, soft stool, abdominal pain, fecal urgency, gas with a small amount of oil or stool, uncontrolled anal seepage, fatty or oily stool, spontaneous bowel movements, kidney stones, severe stomach pain, life-threatening liver damage (for which there are class action lawsuits)
I know that it’s just a homophone but fecal urgency is pretty far away from being an ally by my definition. And boy, to take on these risks a person might assume that these must be some really damn effective treatments. How much weight can you lose? In studies Meridia helped people lose an additional 4.5 pounds a year. Alli is expected to help people lose an additional 4 pounds a year (and it sounds like a fair amount of that leaks out). If we pretend that I won’t gain the weight back, I’ll be in the healthy BMI category in just 35 short years. So for my 70th birthday I can finally like myself, buy a bikini, and start dating.
No wait, screw a bunch of that. I already like myself, and I’m healthy, I’m dating, and I’m not carrying around an extra pair of pants, or waiting on the liver transplant list. Look, people are allowed to take diet pills if they want, but can we please not pretend that they are “medicine” that treats a “disease”. Body size is not a diagnosis, and nobody is suffering from a Meridia deficiency or dangerously low alli levels in their blood. These are for profit companies who are selling us drugs with horrible side effects and very little upside at a HUGE profit. The company that makes Meridia had over 25 Billion dollars in revenue in 2010.
One of the many massive problems with using weight as a proxy for health is that we then assume that weight loss behaviors are healthy behaviors, or that even if we use unhealthy behaviors to become thin it doesn’t matter because we’ll be healthier when we are lighter. But that’s just not true. And for me, taking pills with life threatening side effects just to be four pounds smaller at the end of the year takes the fly-over past unhealthy behaviorsville and goes straight to what-the-hell-am-I-thinking town?
Instead of a New Year’s Resolution, I’m having a New Year’s Revelation this year. I realized that in the past when I was trapped in weight cycling, my resolutions always involved being less and giving up: weighing less, eating less, giving up soda, giving up sugar, no desserts. Once I started working with Health at Every Size my resolutions became much more about adding and doing things: drink more water, eat more vegetables, find more movement that I enjoy. My life is mostly an additive process now – being more instead of being less – and I like it. Happy New Year!
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