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There's nothing wrong with you

Kio

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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!  :) 

~ ~ ~

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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This is sooo well said Kio!  I would like to literally cut and paste and hand this out was a brochure, for each person who comes to me asking about my weight loss "secret".  We have all learned so much in the last year.  You have done so well.  Thanks so much for putting into words what rattles inside my head regarding WLS :)

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1 hour ago, TammyP said:

This is sooo well said Kio!  I would like to literally cut and paste and hand this out was a brochure, for each person who comes to me asking about my weight loss "secret".  We have all learned so much in the last year.  You have done so well.  Thanks so much for putting into words what rattles inside my head regarding WLS :)

Thanks, Tammy!! I just find that I get really angry lately at all the hype around fitness and diet.  From spending time here, and now from my own experience, it's pretty clear to me that fitness and diet are tools that are a huge benefit to people with working metabolisms... but they are not and will never be curative for people whose metabolisms are out of whack.  I hate seeing people get their hopes up... and then get their hopes crushed... over and over, because they believe what everyone tells them - that they are failing their diets, instead of the other way around.

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@Kio

Well said, and sympathetically said; kudos. 

It is so very important to tell people, to shout from the rooftops, that there is nothing wrong with a person who cannot sustain a major weight loss over time. The statistics are dismal. In my personal opinion, the weight loss "industry" is largely fraudulent. If one had 20 lbs to lose, that might be fine; but the concept that it is reasonably likely you could lose 70, or 100, or 200 lbs through that approach and maintain it is just not supportable. 

Kudos again for speaking up. 

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Well said Kio. I feel the same way as you...but to get it in writing with the sincerity and empathy you've shown, would have required an all nighter with numerous rewrites on my part.

PS: I tell pretty much everyone that asks me.....except my parents....because I do think it really important to get the message out there that WLS not only works if you work it, but diet and exercise really don't work for the morbidly obese. The diet and fitness industry will just prey on the obese for financial gain....often believing the bile they spew to shame those people into paying out for their services, when they've really been shamed enough to the point of defeat by both themselves and society in general already. 

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Brava, Kio, and well said. I browse around some fitness and exercise forums, and there are always a few very overweight people who are feeling really down on themselves and are getting the "eat/don't eat xyz" "do this great workout" "see a therapist" "just take control of yourself" advice and it sets my blood to boiling. People who don't have serious weight problems attribute their success to their behavior and their ability to use self-control, and attribute overweight people's failure to lose/keep off weight to THEIR behavior and INability to use self-control. To me, that would be like a tall person giving advice on how to be taller: just do what I do, I obviously have the winning behavior!

 

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@Kio This is fantastic! I have always felt this way about the diet industry - even when I was knee deep in fat liberation. It is bullsh*t, plain and simple. I know there are outliers. There are people who have lost 100+ lbs and kept it off. That's why people think it can be done - because they see those examples exalted in social media and think they can do it to if they just set their mind to it, not realizing that it's the exception and not the rule. But those are the stories that we all hear over and over and over because they make us feel like we can do it - to devastating ends. :(

I'm curious to hear the responses! Let us know how it was received. 

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Wow, that was well stated....what did she reply? 

I too, get frustrated over it.  I think of the years I wasted and the money i have spent....an obscene amount of money on weight loss products, gym memberships, exercise equipment, supplements, books, etc!  Even if i would have had to have paid for my surgery outright, it would have been cheaper than all i’ve spent on trying to lose weight!!!!  

  

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@CheeringCJ, @tracyringo, @Cardamom77, @Res Ipsa - sorry about the late reply!  I got eaten alive by mosquitoes while doing lawn work yesterday (I guess they thought it was a buffet!) so I took two benadryl and promptly passed out for the night.  (That answers the question of whether my body can absorb caplets - it totally can!).

The forum I posted on isn't really a give-and-take kind of place.  Well, parts of it are, but the advice-seeking part isn't.  You basically post your question - it can be about anything at all, weighty or trivial (many people seek help for naming their cats, for instance, which has always baffled me) - and a bunch of forum people answer.  Hopefully you get some good input, say a quick thank you, and that's it.  There's a LITTLE back and forth, but it's discouraged, because the idea is that others can come later and do a search for the advice they need, find your thread, and not have to post their own question.  So chit-chat in threads is avoided.  I

In this particular case, she said all the answers were really encouraging, thanked everyone, and that was it.  You can "favorite" responses, and mine got about 13, so that's pretty good.  Other answers ran the gamut from "read this book that changed my life" to "I lost 100 lbs and kept it off, here's what I did" to "I feel the same way, so I just do these things and try to be forgiving of myself."  None of them are bad answers, but I feel like - they are not going to be terrifically helpful, unless she's genetically gifted in that area and also in that tiny percentage of people who can dedicate their lives to weight loss and nothing else.

 

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11 hours ago, CheeringCJ said:

Wow, that was well stated....what did she reply? 

I too, get frustrated over it.  I think of the years I wasted and the money i have spent....an obscene amount of money on weight loss products, gym memberships, exercise equipment, supplements, books, etc!  Even if i would have had to have paid for my surgery outright, it would have been cheaper than all i’ve spent on trying to lose weight!!!!

Right?!  I was giving some thought yesterday to the amount of money I've spent, and the amount I used to eat - and it was insane.  So much wasted time and effort.  I'm really glad I finally worked my way around to WLS - I had always been one of those people who said they would never do it.  So there's that much hope at least - for those of you with people in your lives who say that.  Sometimes they come around!

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8 hours ago, Kio said:

Right?!  I was giving some thought yesterday to the amount of money I've spent, and the amount I used to eat - and it was insane.  So much wasted time and effort.  I'm really glad I finally worked my way around to WLS - I had always been one of those people who said they would never do it.  So there's that much hope at least - for those of you with people in your lives who say that.  Sometimes they come around!

It is insane....i know I could have afforded the surgery w/ all of that money, but i could also have probably could have at least half funded my liposuction or plastic surgery!!!  Disgusting actually, but i am done with that.  Now my money goes to chewable vitamins, smaller clothes and Greek yogurt, which i find all MUCH cheaper than the previous attempts to lose weight!!!

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@Kio What a wonderful post. I hope the reader took your words to heart. I wish someone would have said that to me during one of my million attempts at slimming down. 

Yesterday, I was going through Google Drive and found a bunch of to-do lists from over the years. I have at least fifteen notes to myself about losing weight and signing up for Weight Watchers. I have given the diet industry too much of my money and tears. I’m glad that you gave your advice freely. You are simply lovely. 

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15 hours ago, NerdyToothpick said:

I wish someone would have said that to me during one of my million attempts at slimming down.

I feel like one of my most favorite NSVs is that I don't plan a new diet every single week of my life. Mentally swinging on that pendulum between "What do I want to eat for ____ (dinner, snack, potluck, meal out, special treat, etc, etc)?" and "OK, now I need to crack the whip and get serious about dieting. What eating plan am I going to follow next week? Atkins? Whole 30? South Beach? Dukan? Intermittent fasting? Juice cleanse? Master cleanse? WW? That ever-loving 70s cabbage soup nasty diet? Some other stupid book I saw on the internet? Which foods in my pantry am I going to have to throw out this week?" Only to go buy more junk when I'm depressed about the carefully selected diet-of-the-week not working.

It's a great relief to not do that anymore. 

It would be lovely to be that voice that would spare someone else the years of agony.

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