How This Weight-Loss Skeptic Lost 60 Pounds and Kept it Off
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How, exactly, do you lose weight while maintaining progressive ideals about body image?
In the last year and a half, I've lost 60 pounds. I've done a fair amount of writing about it, here on AlterNet and on my own blog: about the politics and cultural issues of weight loss, the psychological and sexual and weird emotional stuff connected with it, my changing and conflicted thoughts about the fat- acceptance movement and its ideals of accepting our bodies the way they are.
But I know that when it comes to weight loss, all that political and cultural crap is, for most people, only of moderate interest. When you've lost weight, what most people want to know is, "How did you do it?"
So here, for anyone who's interested in losing weight or maintaining weight loss, are the nuts-and-bolts details: the specific "how-to" of my so-far successful effort to lose weight and maintain weight loss in an evidence- based manner, while retaining my feminist ideals and my resistance to body fascism. (And for anyone who's not interested in losing weight -- that's totally cool. I'm not evangelizing for weight loss for everyone. The cost/ benefit analysis of weight loss is different for everyone, and I completely support fat people who are genuinely happy with their bodies and aren't interested in losing weight. I just also happen to support fat people who do want to lose weight, and who want to do it in a healthy and sustainable way. Our bodies, our right to decide.)
I'll tell you right now: This isn't a diet in any traditional sense. I'm not going to tell you that I eat twelve meals a day every two hours, or that I limit myself to six servings of pork a week, or that I only eat plankton and spelt and a vodka martini on the full moon. What I'm going to talk about is practical strategies that have helped me lose weight... and emotional/ psychological strategies that have helped me stay on track with the practical strategies.
I should spell out very clearly before I begin: I'm not an expert. I'm not a physiologist or a nutritionist or a researcher on weight loss. I'm a lay person who's staying on top of the research as best I can, and who's found some things that are working for me. Some of it may work for you. Take what you need; leave the rest; pay attention to the current research; talk with other people about what works for them.
I'm basing my weight management program on some relatively recent research done in the last few years. As anyone knows who follows the science on weight loss, losing weight and keeping it off is difficult and rare. Regardless of the specific weight loss plan -- high-protein, low-protein, high-carb, low-carb, the Fruit, Bourbon, and Astroglide Diet, whatever -- only about ten percent of people who try to lose weight succeed in doing so and in keeping it off for more than a year.
So some researchers decided to reverse engineer the process. Instead of asking, "Why don't these weight loss plans work for most of the people to use them?", the creators of the National Weight Control Registry asked, "What, if anything, do those ten percent of people have in common? Is there anything the success stories are all doing -- regardless of which particular plan they're following?"
The answer was "Yes." And the things the success stories had in common turned out to be almost embarrassingly straightforward. They are: