Saturday, May 30, 2015

New Life Directions

When I was a teenager, my mom and I used to go hiking in a large county park.  The trail I liked  best had a pretty well hidden head, at the very end of the camping area, tucked back in the corner.  It lead down for a long time, then through some very thick under brush.  When you finally came out of the curtain of green, you found yourself on the top of a bare hill, looking out at the calm lake, patches of forest, tall waving grasses, and dozens of trail branches leading off into the trees and down around the water's edge.  The thought of all those possibilities was so thrilling to me.  I would want to stay all day long, exploring every possibility, finding out where each branch would lead me.

Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation in life, only in an intellectual way?  You start down one path of study, some new thought that interests you, and before you know it, you've traveled down a dozen different branches and are nowhere near where you began.

Well, that's what I've been doing for the last month or so.  I started innocently enough by going to the library to pick up some gardening books, to help me figure out how best to grow my apples organically.  I went up the stairs to go to the garden section, which I've been to dozens of times before, but somehow managed to walk right past it.  I ended up going to the dieting section, and saw right away the book Women Afraid To Eat.  I was kind of intrigued, so I picked it up, then turned around and picked up some backyard orchard books that I'd come for.

As I've said in previous posts, Women Afraid To Eat really opened my eyes to the whole weight issue, and how obesity and overweight aren't really that bad for your health, and that fat prejudice is really strong in this country.  I then immediately bought Body Of Truth, a new book about the science of obesity and the health issues around it.  I felt so shocked that I had been pushed by society to hate my own body because of the way it looked and the way I was built.  I was also shocked to see that I had real problems with eating.  I wanted to keep reading and learning more, and I wanted to heal myself.  I stopped watching what I ate so much, and really tried to listen to my body.  I also tried to ignore the voice in my head screaming at me that I was going to gain weight by eating more!

I started reading all of the old Kimkins controversy again, delving deep into the sad stories of women starving themselves for the promise of a beautiful body.  How sad, I thought, reading their blogs.  I saw in them images of myself and the thoughts that have crossed my own mind from time to time.  Twisted as it is, as I read these terrible tales of starvation, I even started to envy them and their big weight losses, despite all the stories of losing hair and menstrual cycles.

I became fascinated with how this related to anorexia, and I remembered that I wanted to read Portia de Rossi's autobiography, Unbearable Lightness.  I knew that was at the library, because I looked it up once, but then never went to check it out.  So Chad and I went one night so I could get it, and while I was there I also picked up the book Fat?So!, which is about how it's ok to be comfortable in your own body, even if it's fat.  Well, as I was walking back to the stairs to go downstairs, Chad hands me this book called Women Without Children and said, "I dunno, I just thought it looked interesting,".  Since we're infertile and decided not to pursue treatment, I decided it might be a good book to read.

I started with Portia's book.  It was impossible to put down.  I was so amazed at what that poor woman went through, trying to be good enough, to live up to her public image.  It made me horrified that I was envious of the people who had done Kimkins.  I'd never wish that kind of life on anyone ever, let alone poor confused women trying to find some self esteem.  Although I truly liked Portia's book, I don't feel like I really got much personally from it, other than a strengthened conviction never to abuse my body just to meet society's impossible standards.

Next, I read Fat?So!, which was absolutely hilarious and wonderful.  It's dated, being written in 1998, but I still love it and I'm even contemplating getting my own version sometime.  I decided I need more body positive information in my life, and went out looking for it.  That's when I encountered all the hate people have for fat people, and wrote that really sad post.  Fortunately for me, I did find some great body positive sites and resources out there, and when I'm more focused, I plan on posting some links.

Reading all that body positive stuff, and seeing pictures of beautiful big women, made me start looking at myself differently.  I realized that, you know what, I really am beautiful!  It's just that normally, I'm focusing on my flaws, my thighs that seem too big, my big belly, my wrinkles, my lumps and sags.  When I stop looking at my parts and look at me as a whole, I see something that I have never seen before, not really.  I see... a curvy beauty with smooth ivory skin and rosy red cheeks, a wonderful smile and a lovely figure.  At first I was really shocked by that.  I was pretty convinced that I was ugly by this point.  Then I started getting kind of mad about it.  Why have I felt so ugly and unworthy all these years?  Why aren't I allowed to feel beautiful in my own skin?  So back to the library I went!

I had intended to get The Beauty Myth, a feminist book about society's ideal beauty and the way it's keeping women from really reaching their potentials.  However, the library didn't have it, so I decided to check out some other feminist books while I was there.  I got a classic, The Feminine Mystique, and a book called Never Too thin.

I started reading Women Without Children and The Feminine Mystique at the same time.  Both are very good.  I have to admit that The Feminine Mystique is a really heavy book.  It took a lot of effort to read that one, because it's meant for someone perhaps a little more educated than I am, but at the same time, it was too interesting to put down.  I realize that America isn't the same way it was in 1960, and women don't feel the need to stay home and be housewives, but I think some of the thinking still applies to women today.  I especially could relate to the housewives of 1960, because I dropped out of high school, never went to college, and married young.  I feel like maybe I did some of those things because I, just like the young women fifty years ago, am afraid to really grow up and make hard decisions for myself.  (I'm not sorry I got married, of course.  I think that was a life saver for me.  Chad's a great guy.)  The book really got me to thinking about the life dreams that I'd put aside to pursue my image of perfect housewife.

At the same time, Women Without Children really got me to thinking about my life without kids.  Many stories of women who, for whatever reason, didn't have kids and were happy with their lives made me wonder if I could have that too.  It talked about how infertile women ended up happier if they had something in their lives to make it fulfilling.  It also made me think about my reasons for wanting to have children, and then showed me that my expectations about kids weren't really reasonable.  It helped me to dig deep, past the hurt, to see the truth that was hiding behind the infertility.  The truth is, I never really wanted kids.  I hated kids growing up, and knew when I got married that I was never going to have them.  But at a certain age, I started to think about my life as I started to age.  I love having close family, and I want to continue to have close family once our parents are gone.  I thought I could get that with kids.  That's not a good reason to have children, though, because you can't know for sure what the kids are going to be like or what their wants and needs are going to be.  Maybe they'll want to live across the world and I'll never see them.  Maybe they'll be sick and I'll have to take care of them until I die.  I don't need my own kids to have family.  I have younger family that I could get close to, and I could make new friends to be my extended family.

Then I started to think more about those life dreams that I'd set aside, and how if I had kids, I probably would never pick them up again.  I care too much about those dreams to let that happen to them, even though I've been ignoring them for several years now.  So Chad and I had a long talk about life, kids, dreams, and what our future holds.  I found out his reasoning for wanting kids was because he always thought he would someday, and also, he wanted to be a better parent than my sister (who is a very bad mom), which he admitted were bad reasons for wanting to be a parent.  He also agreed that I need to start working on picking up the dusty old dreams and breathing life into them again.

Later that week, I ordered some female condoms to try.  I realize that we're infertile, but we've decided we really truly don't want children.  Leaving the door open like that will only cause heartache in one way or another.  I'll either start to feel my loss of not being a parent again, or I'll get really comfortable with being childfree and find myself pregnant.  I refuse to use hormonal birth control, Chad refuses to go back to male condoms, and both of us refuse to alter our bodies permanently.  So we're going to do a combination of fertility charting (something I'm pretty good at by now) and female condoms.

When we knew for sure I wasn't pregnant, Chad took the money we'd been saving for a baby and spent it on a new computer for me.  He also bought a new Wacom tablet, Corel Painter and Paint Shop Pro.  My dusty old dreams, laid aside so thoughtlessly, are to be an artist.  I am an artist, a really good artist, but for some reason, it seemed like I couldn't be an artist and a housewife at the same time.  An artist is messy, and a housewife is neat.  An artist is chaotic and unpredictable, and a housewife has dinner on the table when you get home.  And a mom, in my mind, couldn't really be an artist.  Art is free and unbound, but kids hold you down on earth.  That's not to say that there aren't great mom artists out there, just that I personally could never do them both.  And I want to be an artist.  It's my deepest calling, and I'm ashamed that I've been ignoring it's pull for so long. 

The trail that I find myself on now is bright and beautiful.  I'm not entirely sure how I got here, but I have a feeling that the hand of God has been guiding me.  I'm so grateful that I found everything I needed to find my way, and that my husband has been so supportive.  I don't know what lies ahead, just that I'm ready to meet it. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

The World Hates Me

I recently started looking for body positive and fat acceptance groups on the internet, trying to find a group of like minded people to help me navigate the slippery slope of learning to love myself the way I am and accept that I'm not perfect and will never be skinny. 

However, instead of finding fat acceptance groups when I googled for it, all I really found was a lot of hate and ugly words.  People are so angry at the body positive movement, and think that fat people have no right to feel beautiful or to be seen in public, and think the movement is moronic because of course there's no way that a fat person could ever be healthy.  So to help fat people be healthy, they throw toxic words at them, tell them they're disgusting and a drain on society, that they can be proud of their bodies but they shouldn't expect anyone to ever find them attractive, that they're just giving themselves and others like them a license to over eat.

I was starting to feel so good about myself.  When I read those things, it just made me cry.  I've never seen such hate before.  We're just people, you know.  Most of us are doing the best we can. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Let's Be Honest

I was poking through Diet Doctor's New page this morning (which is an RSS feed of lots of low carb and paleo blogs), and happened to see an interesting looking post by Dr. Adam Nally titled Much Ado About Ketosis.  The post was a pretty good one; it wasn't exactly enlightening to me since I've already read just about everything that has to do with ketosis, insulin, low carb, paleo, and food in general over the last three years, but it was good nonetheless and I'm sure it will help educate plenty of people about this subject, and that's really important in our society of sheep blindly following the conventional food gurus. 

However, there was something he said that kind of touched a nerve.  It's clear to me that he didn't intentionally try to trick people with what he said, unlike many a government food committee, but the point he was making is important to the conversation about low carb and paleo eating.  I don't want to seem like I'm attacking Dr. Nally, because I'm really not.  I think his writing is good and that he's doing a good thing by educating people.  It's just that what he said follows a pattern I've seen in the low carb and paleo scene, and I think we need to point this out and get really honest with ourselves.

So what the heck and I even talking about?  Well, here's the comment Dr. Nally made that bothered me:

Our bodies recognize the seasons we are in based upon inherent hormone release.  The key hormone is insulin.  Insulin is the seasonal indicator to our bodies.  Insulin tells our bodies when it is a “time of plenty” and when it was a “time of famine.”  Why?  You ask.  We didn’t have refrigerators 100 years ago and you were lucky if you had a root cellar.  The body needs to know when to store for the famine (the winter) that was around the corner. Insulin is that signal.
During the summer, potatoes, carrots, corn and other fruits are readily available.  These are all starchy carbohydrates and they all require the body to stimulate an insulin response so that they can be absorbed.  Insulin stimulates fat storage.  Just like bears, our bodies were designed to store for the winter.
During the winter, when carbohydrates are less prevalent, insulin production decreases to baseline levels.  If you think back in history, your grandparents probably used stored meats & cheeses that could be salted or smoked for preserving during this time of year.  Those crossing the plains were commonly found with pemmican, a concentration of fat and protein used as a portable nutrition source in the absence of other food.  Think about conversations you may have had with your grandmother when she told you that for Christmas, she received an orange.  A single orange for a gift?! Many of my patients drink 12-15 of them in a glass every morning.  The winter diets of our grandparents were very low in starches and carbohydrates.  When carbohydrate intake is low, little insulin is produced.

And here is the comment I made to his post:

I appreciate your post and the good data found within it, but I have to argue one important point you made. As a gardener and wanna-be homesteader, I know for a fact that there were plenty of carbs available to most folks before refrigeration, and yes, even in much older times. You mention that carrots, potatoes and corn are plentiful in summer but not in winter. It’s funny you mention those foods, because they are amongst the longer storing crops. And actually, potatoes have to last all winter long because you start next year’s crop by planting last year’s tubers. Fruit is easily dried by cutting it up and placing it in the sun. Many native Americans did this with wild native fruits. They even made fruit leathers. And while we’re on native plants, the native Americans also grew native winter squashes, which last anywhere from a few months to literally two years. And let’s not forget acorns, which are super plentiful, easy to store, and nearly 100% carbs.
As for grandma getting one orange for Christmas, that was because shipping fruit was nearly impossible before our modern highway system. However, that doesn’t mean grandma didn’t have fruit in the winter, though admittedly she didn’t eat as much as we do today, and mostly what she ate was preserved in a heavy sugar syrup.
I’m not trying to be a troll. I think your message is a good one, but we need to be honest when we talk about low carb and paleo. Otherwise, we’re just as bad as the health officials and scientists that spout bad dietary advice.
Yes, it's pretty easy to store carbs for the winter, and it seems paleolithic people did indeed do this whenever possible.  Tom Naughton, the guy who introduced me to low carb in the first place, and a blogger I can trust to always be honest and upfront, mentioned this last fall in a post titled My Previous View of the Paleo Diet Got Squashed

Again, I'm not trying to bash Dr. Nally.  What I really wanted to get across with this post is that we need to be really open and honest when we talk about food in this low carb/paleo community.  The conventional wisdom about food, with it's grain-based pyramid and low fat hysteria, is based on lies and untruths, bad science and money-making agendas.  Those of us who are fortunate enough to have found out about these lies early in the game, and who are trying to spread that information to the rest of the world, have a responsibility to not only be truthful but also well educated.  It's easy to say that past people didn't have carbs in the winter and therefore neither should we, but that's simplistic thinking.  Maybe it's true for some populations, but it's clearly not true for the human species as a whole.  That kind of logic is akin to the idea that fat causes you to become fat; it makes sense at first because it's such a simple idea, but it's clearly not right. 

Don't get me wrong; this isn't just about Dr. Nally's post, either.  I've seen this a lot over the years reading blogs and articles.  When you're trying to make a point that you believe in, it's easy to simplify data or ignore conflicting information.  It's not something we do because we're evil; I've been known to do it myself, and I'm pretty sure I'm not a bad person.  We do it because we truly believe in what we're saying, and we want to help people.  I totally get that.  But it's not the way we should be acting.  If we're dishonest or not totally upfront with people, they may listen to us at first, but then after a while it will breed mistrust and contempt, and may end up turning them away from this way of eating all together.  They may even end up feeling the same way about low carb/paleo as they do about the standard American diet; like they can't trust us, and don't know what to believe.  Which would be a shame, because this is clearly a very healthy diet.

So here's my call to every low carb/paleo/WAPF/whole foods blogger out there; be totally honest when you blog.  If you're trying to educate people, make sure to do your own research and not just depend on another's opinions.  If something seems overly complicated, don't assume telling the whole truth will confuse people.  If you don't understand all of the information yourself, be honest and tell people that and give them links so that maybe they can read it and make their own conclusions.  We don't have to be perfect; as a society, we're still trying to figure out what's best for our bodies and our health.  But we should at least be honest.

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Lure of Skinny: Part 2

Skinny is such a powerful thing in our society.  If you're skinny, you have power, social power; the power to attract the opposite sex, the power to get many more jobs and have more opportunities, the power to make friends and to be seen as trustworthy, the power to tell (fat) people what they need to do to become skinny as well.  For reasons that are very hard to understand, our society today puts skinny on a pedestal and makes it the highest level of moral rightness you can ever achieve.  You're seen as trustworthy, well disciplined, highly motivated, energetic, and healthy, just by the way you look. 

On the flip side, fat people are seen as lazy, lairs, gluttonous, self-centered,  having no self control, and on the verge of death every time they put anything in their mouths that isn't a leaf of lettuce.  We're told that we should be ashamed for the way we look, because obviously we just need to eat less and exercise more and we can be just like the skinny people.  And the sad thing about it is, fat people absolutely believe that 100%.

Is it any wonder, then, that so many overweight and obese people are desperate to lose weight?  The message to lose weight has become so frantic, so terrifying, it's as if it's a highly contagious disease, and if we don't take action right now, all will be lost!  Many fat people are lead to believe that they're just months away from diabetes and heart disease, even if they're physically very healthy.  And so they take on the task of losing the weight, for themselves, for their families, for society as a whole (because everyone knows that obesity is a drain on the medical system).

 This desperation is what feeds the $60 billion dollar diet industry.  If being skinny is so good morally, socially, and physically, it's worth spending money on, right?  Well, according to recent studies, no, not really.  Only 5% of dieters keep the weight off for 5 years, and the ones that do keep it off make it their life's mission.  Several of the people who told their diet stories in the book Body of Truth said that maintaining the weight loss was a full time job, and they had to stay at it constantly.  But that's the great thing about the diet industry; they know that their business model works really well.  The dieters lose weight initially, they keep it off for 6 months to a year, then start gaining it back.  They can then say, "Hey, the diet isn't at fault; you just didn't stick to it!".  And because people are so desperate to lose weight, they believe it and come back for more punishment.

I don't know how well the low carb and paleo diets work long term.  I do know of several people who have kept the weight off with low carb for many years, but I know of even more people who have gone up and down with it.  As for the paleo diet, I don't know if what we call "paleo" today (as opposed to Lorren Cordain's paleo, which I understand is low fat and anti-saturated fat) has been around long enough to see if many people can keep the weight off long term.  As I said last time, this doesn't mean I don't think these diets are great; I think they're wonderful ways to get back to health, for sure.  What I really don't know is if they're any better at keeping the weight off compared to any other diet out there.  If anyone has any info on this, I'd love to see it.

The most damaging aspect of this whole get-skinny-to-be-healthy mindset is that it skews a person's idea of what healthy really is.  You begin to think that anything that makes you skinny is healthy, even if those methods are clearly dangerous.  Or at the very least, you use that as justification.  Truth be told, I'm fairly certain that health is only an added bonus to weight loss for most people.  Even if they don't say it out loud, I'm pretty sure that the number one reason people attempt weight loss is to look good, and to be socially acceptable.  It's so easy, when you're thinking about or doing something dangerous to lose weight, to give yourself and others the justification that, hey, you were unhealthy as a fat person, so this can't be bad for me!

A case in point of this disturbing mental gymnastics is the Kimkins disaster.  I know I've talked about it briefly before in my blog, but I never went into much detail about it.  Back then, I was fascinated by the drama of what happened, and how Heidi (Kimmer) could put herself into a situation like that.  I found myself reading the whole drama again recently, though this time, I see something a lot more disturbing.  I paid special attention to the blogs of people who went on the diet and were deep into it, but because of the fraud, they left the site and started talking about their experiences.  I see people who were so desperate to lose weight and be beautiful, that they rationalized a 300-600 calorie low carb/low fat diet as a way to get healthy.  They believed, despite being intelligent well educated people, that this was enough food to fuel them for the whole day:
594 calories

And if that wasn't doing it for them and they found themselves in a weight stall, they could try this for their daily intake instead:
376 calories
 (Both pictures are from Mariasol's anti-Kimkins blog.  I highly suggest reading through their blog and those they link to if you're interested in this fascinating side of low carb history.)

The most disturbing part about this epic tale of self-deception and desperation is the long term effects.  Many people (mostly women) who stayed on this diet for months started to have side effects; losing hair, brittle nails, feeling nauseated, dizziness, blacking out, heart flutters, and in some cases, serious heart problems.  And yet, despite all of these issues, they were brushed aside as if they weren't a problem, not just by the owner of the site and her admins, but also by the members.  They were told, and believed, that there was no such thing as starvation mode, that the side effects were normal, and that whatever they were experiencing was temporary and worth it to be skinny and healthy. 

But there is such a thing as starvation mode.  It's called YOU'RE STARVING!  Anyone with a functioning brain should know that eating very tiny amounts of food is what starvation is.  By definition, it's to "die or suffer from lack of food."  SNATT is a term that was used frequently on the Kimkins website; it stood for Semi-Nauceous-All-The-Time, and it was a state you wanted to be in.  If that's not suffering from lack of food, I don't know what is. 

The other side effects aren't normal, by the way; they're signs that your body is suffering.  You lose hair  because your body is in shock.  Your nails become brittle because you're not providing your body with the proper amount of nutrients and good fats and protein.  You get dizzy and black out for several reasons, including low electrolytes, hypoglycemia, and low blood pressure, all of these things linked to the starvation diet.  As for heart problems, well... when you're on a very low calorie diet, your body starts to eat away at your muscle tissue just to keep you alive, and of course your heart is a muscle.  It's not a secret that many anorectics die from heart problems.

That's the lure of skinny.  Intelligent, healthy people, who perhaps have more padding than society deems proper, put their lives at stake just to fit into the crowd.  The really sad part is that it's usually all for naught.  Scientists have not only shown that 95% of dieters regain the weight, but that yo-yo dieting is very bad for your health and leads most people to an even higher weight than when they started.  I don't exactly trust scientists, not after reading many of the scathing reviews of studies done by the low carb/paleo community, but there's a cultural component to this idea of yo-yo dieting.  The fact that so many people have lived through the up and downs of weight cycling and ended up heavier than before should tell us that there's at least some truth to it. 

So why do we, as a society, continue to promote dieting to people who are otherwise healthy?  I think the idea of weight=health is so deeply ingrained in our culture that it's impossible to believe a fat person is perfectly fine.  It doesn't help that "health experts" are out there vehemently rejecting the idea of healthy obesity, screaming that this plainly wrong idea is costing us all money and making people sick and dead, despite the mounting science that shows that obesity isn't really that big of a health risk (or one at all, in the case of overweight).

I wonder sometimes if this will ever change.  Will doctors ever promote a good diet and exercise as ways to get healthy rather than skinny (and then be satisfied if the patient gets healthy but doesn't lose weight)?  Will women's magazines have cover stories about how to get healthy in 30 days with a beautiful round woman showing off her incredible biceps (as opposed to a tiny skeletal woman standing in one leg of her former pants)?  Will we ever be told by our government the truth that dieting is actually very bad for us, and encouraged to eat wholesome, natural, real food for whole body health? 

I suppose only time will tell.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Lure of Skinny

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately, about weight and food and what it means to be healthy.  I read Body of Truth, which is a scientific look at obesity and how it affects health.  I've been doing some soul searching.  What I've discovered, through all of that searching and thinking and reading, is that our society and their longing for thinness is pretty messed up. 

It actually makes me pretty mad, if I had to be honest.  Mad at scientists, at doctors, at women's magazines, diet gurus, Hollywood, the weight loss community, and myself.  I've been trying for a couple weeks to get these feelings into words, but I've been struggling with it.  My emotions are so raw and tangled up.  It's almost the way I felt when I first watched Tom Naughton's Fathead documentary and found out that the low fat/high carb standard American diet was a sham that was making us all sick.  Only this time, it's somehow worse. 

Why am I mad, exactly?  I talked about it some in a previous post, but I didn't go into a bunch of detail there.  And since I wrote that, I've read Body of Truth, which is just fascinating.  I read it in two days, I think, which is very quickly for me, and I plan on reading it again soon with highlighters in hand.  It all goes back to weight and health, with one equaling the other in the collective mind of our society.  A skinny person is healthy, and a healthy person is skinny.  You're fat because you're unhealthy, and you're unhealthy because you're fat. 

When I joined the low carb scene back in 2012, I was totally revved up to get going on this plan.  I was a diehard believer, and I knew that in just a short while, the weight would start falling off of me.  So I buckled down, ate as low carb as I could manage as a vegetarian, and watched the scale.  However, aside from an initial 7 pound drop the first week, the scale never moved.  I started eating meat a few months later (because vegetarian low carb is really really hard), and waited for the scale to move.  Again, it never did.  I tricked myself into believing I was getting smaller, losing inches, but looking back at it now, I don't think I actually did.  I have a way of making myself believe something when I really want it. 

Then Chad and I started cutting out the junk and went more of a paleo bent.  Again, I waited for the pounds to drop.  I started lifting weights and I was running.  No change.  I gained a little while on vacation, and lost it again when I went back on the diet, but that was the extent of it for me.  Meanwhile, Chad was losing weight and it made me feel bad that he could do it but I couldn't.

That's not to say I don't think these ways of eating are bad.  While I was watching the scale, waiting for a miracle to happen, my health was improving tremendously.  I had more energy, I was feeling stronger and happier and more clear headed, my ice pick headaches went away, my menstrual cycle normalized, my fingernails started getting stronger, my moodiness went away (mostly; I am human, after all). 

But because the weight wasn't coming off, and everyone in the low carb/paleo crowd said it should be, I thought I was a failure.  I kept all of these feelings inside, though.  I didn't want anyone to know that I was feeling like that, or that I couldn't lose weight even though everyone else seemed to have no problems with it.  In my mind, I was clearly doing something wrong.  It felt like my dirty little secret.

Then, like I explained in another post, I gained 10 pounds over the 2013 holidays, and then another 5 pounds over the 2014 holidays, and no matter how hard I try, how many carbs I cut, how small my portions are, how much fat I eat, how much I exercise, how much I watch sugar and grain consumption, how much I cut calories, no matter how much I desperately I want it, I can't lose that weight.  I've literally tried everything I can think of to lose this weight, to the point where I got obsessed with it.  I would look at myself in the mirror and get so angry at myself and swear that I would do better the next day.  My binge eating got worse, and I felt so out of control.  I'd be so good for weeks, but nothing changed on the scale, so I would binge, and that would make me feel even worse about myself.  I cried because I feared that I would continue to gain the weight and there would be nothing I could do about it. 

(To be clear, a binge eating episode is different for everyone who has the problem; some people consume 5000 calories, while others only eat 100.  The real sign that it's a binge is that you can't stop yourself from starting, you feel like you have no control over yourself while you're doing it, and once you're done you feel absolutely terrible and guilt stricken.  For me personally, a typical binge is probably 400 calories, and since I don't drive, it's almost always food in the house which is all whole natural foods, usually of a fatty nature.  Not that I'm trying to justify what I binge on; I just want to make the picture clearer.) 

And then by chance, I found the book Women Afraid to Eat, read it through, then bought and read Body of Truth shortly after.  Weight isn't equal to health, these books said.  Weight loss is incredibly hard to maintain (yes, even for some low carb/paleo people).  Your body fights too much weight loss.  Dieting is bad for you!  The effects of dieting are far worse than the effects of being overweight as far as health goes.  Actually, being overweight (bmi of 25-29.9) is a pretty healthy place to be, as far as longevity goes.  And the terrible thing about this is, scientists have known all of this since the 60s.  More modern science only confirms what these earlier researchers found. 

I have totally cut out the schemes to lose weight.  For one blessed month now, I have had no get-skinny-quick plans.  I have eaten mostly very healthfully; lower carb paleo WAPF style foods; veggies, eggs, meat, dairy, raw milk, fruit, good oils and fats, resistant starches.  I have mostly tried to eat at meals (breakfast at 7am, lunch at 12pm and dinner at 5:30pm), and only until I'm satisfied.  However, I'm not being strict about it, either.  I've eaten cake and ice cream at a party, I've made peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, I munch on candy when I visit my mom's house, and Chad and I have gone out for ice cream a couple of times.  Thirty blessed days of no binging and no emotional eating.  Thirty days!  And I haven't felt guilty eating the junk, either.  I try to keep it low, because of course I know it's not good to eat sugar all the time, and I know that it will make me feel bad and be tired and moody. 

I'm trying not to think about weight at all.  I'm trying to eat for health and wholeness, and let the scale fall where it may.  I do check my weight occasionally, though, because of my intense fear that I'm going to start gaining a bunch of weight.  After a month (a month!) of eating whatever I wanted, and eating sugar and other junk whenever I wanted (within reason), I haven't gained any weight at all. 

I've read a lot about set points and how your body wants to be at a certain weight.  Not many people in the low carb/paleo community seem to like this idea (for that matter, I don't know any diet group that does, and why would you?  That's basically saying dieting is going to fail).  I have a bunch of reservations about it myself, but I can't help wondering if it's really true.  Is my set point 200 pounds?  When I weight 275 pounds, was it because I ate so much junk that I forced my body to gain all that weight against its will?  When I got down to 175, I was absolutely miserable and couldn't stay there for more than a few weeks.  I was happy at 185, but it's been five years since I  got to that weight, and that's the amount of time when a dieter starts creeping back up to their starting weight.  Am I going to get back up to 215, where I was before going on a low calorie diet?  I hope not.  I'm having trouble fully accepting these extra 15 pounds and loving my body with the extra roundness.  But if I do gain the other 15 pounds, it won't be because of my diet or lack of self control.  I know that now.  I also know that the extra 15 pounds won't make me unhealthy, either.  I bet I'm healthier than most thin people eating a SAD. 

The real reason I started writing tonight was because I wanted to talk about the lure of skinniness and what it can do to a person.  Since I've spent so much time rambling tonight about everything else, I think I'll save that post for another time.