Simple Does Not Equal Easy and Other Really Annoying Truths About Dieting

Simple Does Not Equal Easy and Other Really Annoying Truths About Dieting

Dean Winchester Eating a Cheeseburger

A friend of mine recently mentioned the book The Fuck It Diet in a Twitter thread and it inspired me to reread it. I remembered loving the first three-quarters or so when I first read it a couple months ago, but I got pissed when the writer acknowledged that she had always benefited from thin privilege and implied that she had never been larger than a size 12, and I believe I ragequit the book at that point and never looked back. But I still owned both the Kindle book and the Audible audiobook, so I put both back on my phone (and iPad) and dived back in, determined to finish the book this time.

The premise is super simple: eat whatever you want, whenever you want, all the time. You will gain weight, and you just have to become okay with that outcome and learn to love your fat self, because permanent weight loss is basically impossible. Ironically, you will start to lose a little weight, enough to get you down to your biological “set point” (which we’ll get into later), once you stop hating your fat body and beating yourself up for every single cookie and cheeseburger that you binge on because that’s your body’s biological response to the semi-starvation you put it through when you restrict calories 1or sugar, carbs, dairy, gluten—whatever dietary Kryptonite you try to avoid only to binge on twice as much as you would’ve eaten if you’d just eaten what you wanted in the first place! .

She does acknowledge just how goddamn difficult this is, and she splits the techniques for how to actually do this into physical, emotional, mental, and “thriving” (i.e., synthesis of all three) components. The physical part deals with the body’s natural instincts and rhythms, and basically just hammers over and over that

• you have to eat, and eat A LOT, of literally everything you want—from bread to ice cream to bacon cheeseburgers to full-sugar soda;

• your body knows what it’s doing, and you have to learn to trust it; and

• you WILL gain weight doing this, BUT THAT’S A GOOD THING—supposedly, even if you’re fat, which is where it tends to fall apart for me.

She talks a lot about your biological set point, which is the weight range that your body will naturally fall into when you neither restrict nor dramatically overeat. I happen to be cursed with a set point that corresponds to the 180-230 pound range — that’s what every woman in my family tends to naturally weigh. The lowest my mom was ever able to achieve as an adult was about 160, and she was unable to maintain that for very long. I’m currently at about 250 and a size 3X and Mom is a size 2X, and Mom and I both have the same bodies as Mom’s mother, which is where the fat genes seemed to have entered the gene pool, because Mom’s grandmother was never that thin, but she didn’t have the wide hips, large belly, double chin, and huge breasts 2 And yes, I’m taking proportions into account. I wear a fucking K- or L-cup bra and I can literally only shop at one store about 15 miles away because no commercial clothing retailers in our area sell bra sizes E-M. I qualify for breast reduction surgery, but Penn State Plastic Surgery discriminates against fat patients by insisting on weight loss as a condition for surgery and I can’t fucking do that. 2 that we have.

Right before I went off to college, I dropped about 50 pounds without even trying due to my first bout of serious depression, which brought me down to 120 pounds and a C-cup bra (the smallest I’d been since age 10). I went off to college and developed a raging eating disorder — which catapulted violently from full-on anorexia, where I’d eat nothing but raw carrots and oranges for weeks on end, to full-on bulimia, where I’d buy an 8-piece bucket of dark meat fried chicken at KFC, eat it all in my car, and purge it behind the dumpster before leaving the parking lot — that lasted for about 5 years before being effectively cured by Wellbutrin. 3 This should go without saying, but Results NOT Typical. It cured my self-harm as well, and I know that this is officially Impossible, but after about 3 months of taking Wellbutrin as prescribed, I never self-harmed or binged/purged ever again. I CANNOT promise that this will work for anyone else, so PLEASE don’t interpret this as me saying Wellbutrin is a miracle cure.

Unfortunately, I then ballooned to about 250 pounds {link Painful Paradox} between 2006 and 2012, when I underwent esophageal surgery for the hiatal hernia I’d given myself by purging multiple times a day for several years. 4 My father also had a hiatal hernia, so they run in the family, but I likely accelerated the development of mine by 30-40 years with the bulimic abuse. I had a Nissen fundoplication procedure to treat it, and afterwards, I couldn’t eat solid food for a month — so I lost 20 pounds right there — and when I could eat solid food, I had to chew each bite 20-30 times and take a sip of water afterwards, which meant that it took me 45 minutes to eat a goddamn Happy Meal. And I couldn’t drink anything carbonated or artificially sweetened, so as a lifelong soda addict, I went through a brutal withdrawal period after I switched to a single brand of naturally sweetened organic iced tea that isn’t even on the market anymore. Oh, and I couldn’t vomit at all and my ability to burp was limited, so if I ate too much, it literally felt like my chest and stomach were going to explode and I couldn’t do anything about it but wait it out. So I lost another 55 pounds over the next six months, which brought me down to about 175 pounds and a size 14/1X/XXL. I still have a couple of shirts and dresses from that era that I can’t bear to let go of because they’re from Fashion Bug, which is long gone, and I can’t possibly replace them. So they hang in my closet, tormenting me.

Once I was able to eat normally again, I went straight back to regular Pepsi and Double Quarter Pounders, and I ended 2014 at 231 pounds and a size 22/3X. On January 1, 2015, I made a resolution to lose weight, and I actually managed to do so just by eating less and moving more. By October 2015 I was down to about 180 and wearing whatever fit out of my 1X and 2X clothes, and I think I wore size 18 jeans. But I went to WinCon for a few days in mid-October and when I returned home, I mistakenly thought I’d gained weight instead of losing it, so I immediately said “fuck that noise” and proceeded to gain all the weight back.

By February of 2016, I was back to 231 pounds, and since January of 2018 I’ve gained almost 20 more (after a few brief 3- to 5-pound downward fluctuations) to end up at 249.8 pounds. And I’d be lying if I said I was anything but utterly horrified at and ashamed of myself for being such a (literally) GIANT fucking failure.

And then The Fuck It Diet has the gall to say that this is a good thing and I should embrace it? Well, you neurotic, thin-privileged bitch, get the fuck outta here with that bullshit!

But, she argues, that attitude is exactly what makes you fat, and if you look at the scientific studies, women who were taught the Health at Every Size mindset lost less weight than women doing a traditional diet, but kept that weight off when the other women all gained back more than they lost.

And, she does acknowledge that, no matter what your weight or what you look like, accepting the “flaws” that modern marketing and fatphobic culture have convinced us that we all have is incredibly fucking hard. But it’s the kind of hard where you get to feel awesome and nearly invincible once you pull it off. It sounds so simple: just eat whatever you want, whenever you want, and learn to feel good about yourself while doing so. But the bitch of it is that simple ≠ easy. And in this case, simple = almost impossibly difficult. It’s like playing-BioShock-Infinite-on-1999-Mode difficult. And, just like 1999 Mode, when you fail, you usually end up right back where you started.

I mean, when you get to the point where you have skin infections underneath your fat rolls, how can you possibly even tolerate said fat rolls, let alone love them? How can you not spend every second imagining how good you’ll feel once they’re gone? How can you not Photoshop your head onto a “plus size” (read: size fucking 12) model and try to magically “manifest” that body without doing any of the physical or mental work required? Hey, The Secret says that calories only count when you believe they’ll make you fat. If you truly believe sugared soda will make you thinner, then it will! God wants you to be thin! Just get on board with the divine plan! (Note: I’m not actually badmouthing God and/or divinity here. In fact, I’m going to go deep into that topic in the next couple of weeks. I’m badmouthing so-called “spiritual self-help” that promises that you can get everything you want without any effort or responsibility on your part. Good spiritual self-help authors don’t negate the effects of preparation, productivity, and personal responsibility. The only people who magically “manifest” millions of dollars are the kind of lottery winners who find themselves bankrupt several years later.)

And don’t even get me started on the whole “let yourself feel your emotions in your body” thing. There is nothing I hate more than feeling negative emotions, because I have clinical depression and borderline personality disorder, which means that my negative emotions are literally life-threatening. Yes, I eat my feelings. I also drink, (prescription) drug, shop, gamble, tweet, Instagram, YouTube, podcast, playlist, drive, read, and game my feelings. 5 Pretty much the only thing I don’t do is smoke, snort, or inject them. I’m so disconnected from my emotions and the subconscious thoughts that trigger them that sometimes I just feel overwhelmed by sadness or “down”ness and not only can I not identify what triggered it, but I also cannot do anything to alleviate it beyond finding an incredibly engaging distraction. Going to work and spending 5 hours there is the most effective one I’ve found. 6 In fact, I have yet to find anything else even remotely that effective, which is a big problem. (At least to me. I’m not sure a mental health professional would agree.)

Emotions are fucking annoying and they mostly tend to make my life a lot harder than I want it to be, and I’m supposed to embrace them and try to elicit more of them? No thanks. I’ll pass.

… But avoiding them, loathing them, and stuffing them isn’t really working either. Well, fuck.

There are a couple sections of the book where the author says something along the lines of Does that feel uncomfortable? GOOD! It’s supposed to. Apparently emotional resilience is the same as bodybuilding — no pain, no gain. You gotta break those muscles down in order to build them up stronger. And, much like bodybuilding, it doesn’t get to be enjoyable until you’ve been doing it for quite a while. In the beginning, you’ll probably be miserable. It’s just a different kind of miserable than the misery of being fat, addicted, and depressed. It’s a nobler misery, a purposeful misery. Eventually, it will pay off by not feeling like misery. But when you’re at the bottom of the hill, the boulder is really fucking heavy. It’s not until you get close enough to the top of the hill to see the other side that the anticipation of the reward makes the boulder feel lighter.

But if my only two choices are to push the boulder up the hill or be crushed by it, I guess it’s time to start pushing.


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