Yup, I’m a Quitter

First some quick follow up from yesterday’s post – you can now sign a petition asking Disney World and Barney’s not to give Minnie Mouse a model make-over that makes her 5’11 and a size 0. Please consider signing and passing it on.

On to today’s blog:  I was having a conversation with a very good friend of mine the other day and the subject of diets came up.  Specifically, the fact that they almost always fail.  She said that losing weight is probably not the only way to be healthy,  then she said “but there’s a very small percentage chance of a small business succeeding – just because something is hard doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.”  She was being totally respectful, but it struck an old nerve with me.

One of the most difficult things for me when I decided to stop dieting and pursue Health at Every Size was the idea that I was being a quitter.  I have never backed down from anything because it seemed like it might be difficult or because the odds were stacked against me.  Whether it was in sports, school, love or business, I’ve spent my life doing things that other people told me were impossible.

So when I first found out that dieting almost never works long term I decided that I would beat the odds.  I continued to try but nothing was working. I didn’t want to be a quitter, I wanted to believe that I could beat the odds if I just tried hard enough.

I believed that the people who didn’t succeed at diets were just weak-willed, I believed that I could lose weight through the sheer force of my will and by just trying hard enough.

I believed that weight was a simple matter of calories in/calories out.  I believed that if I could create a calorie deficit with a combination of calorie restriction and activity then I would lose weight, so I didn’t understand why I kept creating a deficit but didn’t lose weight.   I’ve since learned that it just doesn’t work that way.  The body is much more complex than a calories in/calories out model.

That lead to another realization – this wasn’t just about hard work or force of will.  This wasn’t about practicing harder or running more sprints or studying more.  This wasn’t just about my will, it was about my body.  A body that I hated because it wouldn’t get smaller, instead of appreciating it for everything it did for me.

I started to do more and more research and everything I found turned up the same results – intentional weight loss failed most of the time, and there was no proof that it would lead to health even if it succeeded.  However, weight-cycling (yo-yo dieting) was very hard on the system and studies were showing that it lead to long-term health problems.  Dieting began to look more and more like playing Russian roulette with my health.

When I found Health at Every Size I realized that what I had been doing didn’t make sense.  To go back to the small business model – I have started a few businesses and helped hundreds of others through my consulting practice.  I started one business that was going great until there was a regulation change that made our business model non-viable.  So I closed the business.  I didn’t feel like a quitter. Plenty of people tried to tell me that the business could be saved, but I did the research and made the best decision I could based on facts and logic.

For me, that’s exactly what Health at Every Size was.  I was making a decision based on my personal priorities using information and logic.  I wasn’t quitting – I was opting out of a social construct supported by a $60 Billion a year industry that had an abysmal success rate. I was and am clear that healthy habits don’t guarantee good health for anyone because health is multi-dimensional and never entirely within our control.  I’m also clear that health is not a moral, social, personal obligation or a barometer of worthiness.  Health is intensely personal and each person’s prioritization of health and choice of path is never anybody else’s business.

What I’ve learned is that I’m fine gambling with when it comes to money and love, but not when it comes to my health.  I think that feeding my body well and doing movement that I enjoy is much more likely to make me healthy than trying to make my body smaller.  As W.C. Fields  said “If at first you don’t succeed try, try again.  Then quit – there’s no point in being a damn fool about .  So when it comes to risking my health and happiness on a 5% chance of becoming thinner, I’m out.  Call me a quitter, I’m ok with that.

Dance Class DVDs are (finally!) available for pre-order

My Dance Class DVDs are now available for pre-order (with free shipping!)  Click here for the details

Check Out the Book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual.  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price!

I wanted everyone to be able to afford Fat: The Owner’s Manual – Surviving a Thin-Obsessed World with your Health, Happiness, and Sense of Humor Intact  so it is now available in soft cover and e-book which is “name your own price”

Get Special Deals from Size Positive Businesses

I do size acceptance activism full time.  A lot what I do, like answering over 5,000 e-mails from readers each month, giving talks to groups who can’t afford to pay, and running projects like the Georgia Billboard Campaign etc. is unpaid, so I created a membership program so that people who read the blog and feel they get value out of it and/or want to  support the work I do can become members for ten bucks a month  To make that even cooler, I’ve now added a component called “DancesWithFat Deals” which are special deals to my members from size positive merchants. Once you are a member I send out an e-mail once a month with the various deals and how to redeem them – your contact info always stays completely private.

So if you find value in my work, want to support it, and you can afford it, I would ask that you consider  becoming a member or supporting my work with a  one-time contribution.

The regular e-mail blog subscription (available at the top right hand side of this page) is always completely free. If you’re curious or uncomfortable about any of this, you might want to check out this post.  Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

Published in: on September 19, 2012 at 12:07 pm  Comments (15)  

15 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Ineeded to read exactly THIS today. Thank you!

  2. Ha! Love the W.C. Fields quote!

  3. Beautiful. I have had those same feelings and feel gratified in knowing I am not alone.

  4. I’m a very competetive person. I have a hard time NOT competing. But I’m slowly learning to let go of things that used to be so important to me. I was on run teams in the Air Force. I would lift weights with my husband, often putting other men to shame. My husband and I had to stop playing certain games against each other due to hurt feelings…

    Injury has caused me to stop running, lifting. I hope to bring lifting back, but running seems to be out for good. I have gained weight since my Air Force days, but I feel that I was actually under weight during those years. I fasted for days prior to weigh ins so that I would “make weight.” I’ve not stepped on a scale except at a doctor’s office in 6 months. Not being tied to a scale is liberating.

    I’m in a bit of a “limbo” stage. I’m still quite strong, so I’ve not lost much muscle mass. I’m just not where I want to be in regard to healthy movement, mainly due to the injuries. I am attending physical therapy and I am improving my amount of movement weekly. I struggle when thinking about where I should limit myself, for in the past I always set loftier and loftier goals. Right now my goals are obviously for more movement, but I am trying to look ahead and attempt to gauge where to set a bar for “good enough.”

    In tempering my competetive nature… I think I’ll bring out one of those games my hubby and I haven’t played in years. One doesn’t need to be in good physical condition to play Cribbage.

  5. Im a quiter too. My husband has said he has never seen me more relaxed and happier (not sure if happier is the right word) since I have quit dieting. Remember Kenny Rogers said, “Know when to hold them and know when to close them, know when to walk away…” You mentioned business. In 2008 we had to close the doors to our business. No amount of “will power” was going to pay our employees. Just as no amount of will power is going turn a fat person into a thin person. We all agree. Now getting this information to the public.

  6. Thanks for another great post Ragen and the “I’m a quitter/no quitter” struck a chord with me too, as i’ve battled many issue over the years and still am today, related to becoming disabled mostly. But as far as I can recall, one thing you can’t usually accuse me of is not doing something because it’s too hard etc. The difference is I gave up dieting and trying to conform to other people’s idea of beauty/how a woman should look, because I felt it was unachievable and pointless. I have more important and probably more winnable battles to deal with and no matter how you look/your size, someone’s going to find fault, especially the diet/beauty/celebrity industry, which sickens me on a weekly basis.

    What’s caught my attention in the last week has been 2 things, the first is a commercial radio advert that is extolling the wonders of something called, “Alizone”-some kind of wight loss clinic, I think? There are various women saying things like, “My Blood Pressure is down”, my fitness levels are better because of it” one of the tag lines the advert says is, “We change lives”! I especially felt sickened by that last one. The other thing was a presenter on QVC UK shopping channel(my guilty secret)who is quite thin/ordinary size, but is shallow and celebrity obsessed, hosting a jewellery show and stating that it “was better to treat yourself to jewellery than a cake!!! I had to turn that over, I was so annoyed! But this is the same presenter who some time ago mentioned on air while presenting a fashion show, that she was on particular diet and how great it was!!

    I know it’s best to try and keep away from possible triggers, but not always that easy to do that, as you said Ragen in this piece, you were talking with a friend and the dreaded diet word came up.

    Lovely to communicate with you all, I don’t always have the energy and get caught up with other stuff.

    Marion, UK xx

    • “I have more important and more winnable battles to deal with”! I love it! I’m putting that up on the bulletin board next to my desk right now..(Do you call the cork boards for pinning papers on “bulletin boards” in the U.K. or do you call them something else?)

  7. Raegan, Thank you so much for this blog. It has come to me at a time in my life when I’ve yet again regained the weight I voluntarily lost. I just appreciate your voice and your outlook on things. I love this blog, thank you, and rock on!

  8. Ragen, I was recently talking with a YouTube user in the comments (risky, I know) of Penn and Teller’s BS episode on dieting.
    I tried to find some studies to support a claim I was going to make regarding the health risks of yo-yo dieting, but (perhaps because I’m new to academic research on the internet and don’t have a subscription to academic websites) I couldn’t find any.
    I found a few that said that there was insufficient data to draw a conclusion, and some that said that it led to increased weight gain (and the ‘inherent dangers’ thereof), but none that outright said it was a Bad Thing – although they were only looking at physical changes.

    I don’t want to feel like I’m asking you to do all my legwork, but please could you link to the studies you convinced you to rethink?

    I don’t want to go around making claims I can’t back up, but the ‘95% of diets fail because 95% of people are weak-willed; they should just keep trying’ argument is beginning to grate. I can avoid it on the internet, but my mother is a Slimming World agent and I hear the same thing from her on a regular basis.

    • I’d love to see a link to articles about the health risks of yo-yo dieting, too. I’m always trying to convince people of that and they don’t believe me.

      • Funny, Slimming world is here in Dallas. Anyway, I have a book out called Fatology101 and Ragens book FAT: The owners manuel and a few others that has the information in them. That would be a good start.

  9. I stopped dieting many years ago. I decided that I had better things to do with my time and energy than obsess over every mouthful of food I could or could not have. I have wondered over the years if I made the right choice. I, too, am not a quitter but by stepping off the diet merry go round I became one in the eyes of our society.

    In my darker moments of self-doubt I wonder if I would have “won” and become thin if I had only “stuck with it and not quit.” Then sanity returns and I realize that I may well have ended up far larger if I hadn’t opted out. I realize, too, that I had many, many more hours of my life to spend on real issues rather than dreaming of my next meal because I literally famished.

    I know that I drive my doctors insane because I won’t use my weight as a benchmark for my health. I only recently started weighing at the doctor because now my weight IS an indicator of how well my thyroid medications are working in between blood tests.

    But now I battle with the endocrinologist over weight loss. I insist that the improved blood sugar numbers he gets on my blood work are a better indicator that I’m compliant and working on my health than the fact that I refuse to go on the weight loss diet he keeps trying to cram down my throat (so to speak).

    I also get sick of his disbelief. I tell him what I’ve been doing to improve my health and he patently doesn’t believe me. He doesn’t even have the good grace to hide the fact. The absolute surprise on his face every time he sees my constantly improving test results really angers me. It is as if he’s expected to catch me out in a lie and is disappointed that he hasn’t.

    Sadly he’s really good at his job otherwise so I keep him despite his obvious anti-fat biases. But should I ever find an endo as good who doesn’t act this way, I’ll move on without any sorrow whatever.

  10. The only people I know well who remain super-slim (albeit never were actually fat, although they may have thought they were) are my two sisters-in-law, my husband’s older sisters, whom I’ve known for almost 30 years.They both continue to have eating disorders well into their 60s. One restricts herself to almost nothing all day and makes up for this deprivation by constantly shopping for clothes (and then always claims she’s too broke to do other things). At the end of the day, after ingesting nothing but one yogurt, a glass of grapefruit juice, and several lattes all day, she eats a third of a big bag of tortilla chips and drinks half a bottle of white wine, followed by a very small dinner an hour or so later with her husband…and that’s it.

    The other sister (almost 70 years old) eats (literally!) only steamed vegetables, pounds and pounds of them, and is a truly frightening- looking anorexic with resultant severe arthritis, whose life goal is to have more and more plastic surgery, even though she, too, is on a limited income and seems to have had no desire to date since her divorce in her 30s. Her house is without decoration except for dozens of full-length dime store mirrors.

    Paradoxically, these are (or were) bright women who grew up with intellectual, academic parents.

    Not good poster children for eating to keep your weight down.

    P.S. Fortunately, and surprisingly, they each have a daughter in her 30s, neither of whom starves herself.

  11. Been there, done that–over and over and over. DIE-ted myself up over 300 pounds. I had to quit DIE-ting before I got even heavier.
    As a caveat, I am not saying here that being 300+ pounds is bad. I am saying that in my case, and in the cases of many other people, it actually leads to weight gain. All the diet companies are liars.

  12. I was anorexic/bulimic for 20 yrs, and have only started on the road to recovery within the last year. That is 2/3 of my life gone. When I was in uni. I’d be on the verge of passing out all the time because I never ate, plus I eventually developed lactose intolerance which caused endless “runs”. During that time I was afraid to eat since that would mean some accident on the bus or train which I had to take for 3 hrs each day.

    My parents and doctors were the ones to start the harranging and continue to today. My boyfriend who’s gay and from overseas is the only one who truly cares. Says something about our culture when the only help is from some poor guy in the 3rd world.

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