This is just something I posted on another board - not specifically a weight loss board, but one I frequent. It's kind of a catch-all advice site, and someone had asked how she could get herself motivated to try to lose weight again, when she had already tried everything, and everything had failed her. She mentioned her family - a wife and kids - and wanting to be able to be active with them, and to not be in pain all the time. I assumed, with the comment about constant pain, that she was probably of a weight that would qualify her for WLS - though she never stated it, just said she had a "significant" amount of weight to lose. She listed all the stuff she had tried and failed - low carb, low fat, keto, paleo, fasting, intermittent fasting, therapy. She was looking for -- I don't know, maybe encouragement, maybe support, maybe just some mental tricks to help convince herself that trying again was worth it.
You guys, it made me so. Damn. MAD! I was literally shaking with anger on her behalf as I read it. Take away the wife and kids, and she could have been me a year ago. I was also desperate - but I knew that I was at the bottom of my bag of mental tricks. I had given up on trying to eat rationally - it never worked, and it always made things worse. Even worse than failure was success that was inevitably followed by failure - I knew I couldn't go through that again. But there's so much predatory crap in the diet and fitness industry, and so many people have bought into it when damn it, there IS an easier way out! Not even just an easier way - for most of us who have/had substantial weight to lose, right now it's the ONLY way out. It's just that almost nobody wants to talk about it!
So I responded, and maybe it wasn't the response she was looking for, but it felt good to just be honest about it. I didn't even do it anonymously, so my usual "handle" was out there for everybody to see.
Everyone else who responded to her was suggesting "Maybe if you thought about it this way" or "the trick is to find exercise you love" or "only eat after 2pm and before midnight, like a gremlin"... And that's all fine advice for maintenance, but it's all basically crap when you're 100 lbs or more overweight. At that point, your body is so out of whack it's going to take a miracle for diet and exercise to be anything but a pointless torment for you.
Anyway... here's what I said to her. I'm posting it here because I don't want to lose track of it - other forums come and go, but TT is home!
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So, I can't tell from your post how much extra weight you're carrying. What I'm going to say is tailored specifically toward women who are seriously obese. It's coming from the perspective of a woman who has been fat all her life, and who topped the scales at 350 lbs, and whose obesity is now in remission.
The fact that you have tried everything and nothing has worked makes you dead normal. It is vanishingly rare for anyone who is significantly overweight to be able to lose that weight through diet/exercise and keep it off long-term. Only something like 5% of people can do it, and many of those do it by turning weight loss into a career. Trying to fix obesity with diet and exercise is like trying to repair a computer with a hammer - the harder you try, the more you @~$& up the machine.
Please believe that you haven't done anything wrong. You haven't failed. You've got exactly as much willpower and inner strength as any normal-weight person. People who are thinner than you don't have any secrets. They are what they are because their bodies LET them be what they are, not because they're just that awesome.
You don't need another way of thinking about dieting or a better way of motivating yourself to exercise or managing your emotions about your weight. And you certainly don't need therapy -- unless it's to get over the piles of mental and emotional crap society has been shoveling onto you since you gained your first five extra pounds. There is nothing wrong with you. Let me repeat, with greater emphasis: There is nothing wrong with you!
Nobody really knows how weight loss works physiologically. Certainly nobody in the scientific community devoted to the study of obesity. Believe me, I have made a PhD-level survey of the literature. Everybody knows how to lose weight in the short term; nobody knows how to keep it off long-term.
At this point in our scientific understanding of weight loss, there is only one thing that reliably reverses obesity for the seriously obese - and that's weight loss surgery. It works really well for most seriously obese people who have it - while diet and exercise alone only work for about 5% of them. But since most people still tend to view obesity as a character flaw rather than a physical illness, most people (and most doctors) will just advise you to diet more and exercise harder. Hell, that's what we tell ourselves, too. It's somehow comforting to think that if we were better people, diet and exercise would work for us. It's not so comforting to admit that they probably never will.
I'm not responding here to preach. I just wish someone had told me fifteen years ago, "Hey, you're not weak. You're just sick. There's a physical cure for it, you should look into it" instead of telling me to eat less fat, or fewer carbs, or go to the gym more, or see a therapist. Because I wasted literally years of my life eating less of whatever and exercising more and examining my emotions and adjusting my mental state -- but what finally cured my obesity was a couple of hours with a surgeon, who rerouted my insides and gave me a shiny new metabolism that allowed me to return to a normal weight.
TL;DR: If you're in the weight range that would qualify you for weight loss surgery, I would seriously suggest you look into it, because it's a simple and safe procedure that corrects the metabolic processes that keep you fat. Science doesn't know for sure why it works, but they know that for most people, it does. I'm convinced that for the seriously obese, any other advice is basically woo.
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