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Wow, this really spoke to me. I've been fat for some time, and I've had many of the same psychological experiences you describe. I yo-yoed on Weight Watchers, and then swore off such plans, banning the word "diet."

Then in January I took a workshop on mindfulness, nutrition, and weight loss. I realized that the reason WW didn't work is that it didn't fix my problem (stress), only a symptom (weight). No wonder I got fatter than ever after trying it!

In the past couple months, I've overhauled our family eating to be healthier. Not necessarily low calorie, but doing all the good stuff the Harvard School of Public Health says: whole grains, fruits and vegetables, very little animal fat, lower sugar, etc. Knowing more about the immediate bad effects of poor choices, and viewing it as a health issue, NOT an aesthetic one, helped me make changes.

And now, finally, I am counting calories. Having gotten to this place by a different route this time, I'm having an easier go of it. As you say, it is logistically hard, and I never realized how many social food opportunities arrive in a week before. But it is doable. And going out for steak chimichurri and tres leches cake is still doable too - just less often and more savored.

My new mindfulnesss practice is helping quell my stress before it becomes overeating. It is also, as you note, making me enjoy food more than when I was compulsively eating.

Thanks for sharing your struggle. I think weight is more intimate than sex in some ways, so I appreciate your candor!


"... and yes, even tofu."

That's odd. My monitor seems to be covered with a fine spray of coffee.


Just wanted to say that I'm amazed at your blogging breadth. Er, no pun. I don't know much about the fat-positive movement, but it seems like you've done an admirable job of sketching the territory where being positive crosses over into delusion, while recognizing what that particular movement has to contribute. That's hard work and I applaud you.

J. J. Ramsey

Jay: "I don't know much about the fat-positive movement"

Neither do I, but I find her commentary fascinating. Or maybe I find it fascinating because it deals with something that I'm not familiar with.

Rose Schwartz

I really enjoy your take, Greta. I think its very important to be in a good state with your body but we shouldn't throw health to the wind while doing so. The fat positive movement sometimes does seem to get carried away and miss part of the message.

That said, I do know some heavier people who are healthier than thin people. Health isn't always about being thin or losing weight, yet there definitely is a correlation. I was raised in an anti-fat type family. I used to have many body issues and am closer to 135/140. I think 150 was my heaviest ever. To think I had these issues drilled into me...its disturbing. And that's not even counting media and other societal influences.

Being healthy is very important but solely being thin is not. Finding the balance that works for one is key.

As I've aged (I'm 28 now), I've become satisfied with who I am as I maintain a healthy weight while still being able to enjoy life. I refuse to always turn down the cupcake but pass it up sometimes, too.

I think walking a lot is key. It works for me, anyway. I now live in an area in Vegas where walking to everything is simple. There's an excellent walk score; I no longer own a car. I keep in shape mainly by walking everywhere.

Anyway, I think its great to be conscious of what you eat. I wish you and Ingrid the best in your eating and cooking ventures. :)


I am enjoying this series. I am right there with you, having lost 50 pounds since last July, following an ACL reconstruction. My goal was never to lose weight, only to resume exercising and reduce my risk for diabetes, heart disease, and stroke (three things that are rampant in my family).

I never use the word diet, for me it is a total life change. I ride bikes and walk wherever possible, i eat as much food from farmers' markets as i can, HFCS is verboten in the house, i avoid restaurants... and when i do go i split a meal. Most importantly, i treat my scale like my blood pressure cuff: it is a tool that is used to monitor one aspect of my health. The number on the scale does not affect my self esteem any more than getting a 125/75 BP reading.

Congratulations on improving your health and best wishes for many more years of healthy living.


I find perimeter shopping really helps me buy the right sorts of foods. All the processed (aka "bad-for-you" foods) are on the shelves in the grocery store but the fruits, veggies and meat are on the perimeter of the store. Minimizing the consumption of processed foods really seems to make a huge difference in my overall health, not to mention what it does for my waistline.

Debbie S.

Greta, Thank you. Those two words are inadequate for how much I appreciate your words, how you've put so much of my own thoughts and feelings into words. I am 44 and have struggled with my weight since I was old enough to be aware of my body. That's a damn long time.

I've done everything except surgically altering my body to lose weight, never reaching a final goal and never keeping it off. I am 5'10" and weigh (as of yesterday) 344.8 lbs, the highest I can remember. I've been on a search for THE answer as to what is wrong with me, why I'm not "normal" and have reached the conclusion there is no such thing as "normal".

My weight has hampered my life...every aspect of my life. I consider myself a food addict unfortunately though unlike other addicts I must have my addiction daily to live.

I am disconnected from my body. The picture I carry in my mind is so out of touch with reality such that when I see pictures (which is rare) I am in total shock. I avoid all reflective surfaces.

This is difficult at every stage, imo. And I look forward to reading more about your journey and incorporating some of it into my own.

Again, thank you.


This series is great, Greta. It's so honest and real, letting emotions play their part but not letting them run the show. In terms of discussions on weight loss, that is a refreshing tack indeed. And I think it's the crux of your argument.

Anything hard in life is full of emotion, and anything worth doing takes work. I keep that in mind all the time. I've done the work with other things in my life, but never when it comes to physically taking care of myself. I'm not willing to do that anymore.

I count calories. I give myself one day a week where I can eat a little more than the others. I don't tell myself I can never have a certain food again--I just limit having that kind of food in my diet. I found exercises I love to do (very important). I keep in mind the fact that I want to be healthy so I can be around for my kids and play with them instead of sitting on the sidelines. I work out at least three times a week. I find an excuse to just stand up instead of sitting on the couch. I don't think about food obsessively--I free my mind up to think about other things. I don't eat past 7 or 7:30 at night (this helps a lot).


There’s an interesting post over at the Health Journal Club that makes the case that people should just not eat anything that wasn’t a food 100 years ago. Gets rid of the aspartame, bleached GM flour, high fructose corn syrup garbage they try to pass off as food these days. If interested you can read on it here,


It very useful stuff! Anything hard in life is full of sensitivity, and any kind worth doing takes work. I retain that in psyche all the time. I've wrapped up the work with other things in my life, but not ever when it draws close to strongly taking care of myself. I'm not keen to do that anymore.


I haven't really struggled with my weight but I have struggled BIG TIME with maintaining a normal relationship with food and felt alienated from my own body. In the last six months I joined a triathlon club and it has done wonders for my body love. I used to look at my thighs and think "Look at you stupid fat thighs, you with all your biggness and wrong shape and blubbery uselessness- you could be so much smaller. I. HATE. YOU. THIGHS.". Now I'm part of a club where we are all different shapes and sizes and we all focus on our health and performance I am starting to appreciate what my body is capable of. My inner dialogue is now "Wow my lovely leggies, look at how far you just carried me. Look at the millions of muscle contractions you just did thighs. I'm really proud of you guys!". Suddenly I own my thighs. And suddenly I want to take care of them. So think that is an important aspect. I think we all get a little cart-before-the-horse. We think "If I just lose may 10kg I would love my body..." but it's hard to do that when you are alienated from it and hate it. I think that may be why some people have so much trouble losing weight. How are you meant to properly take care of a body you loath and despise? I think that is maybe why it gets easier as you get into a diet because as the love of your body grows you really WANT to take care of it from a more sincere place instead of being motivated by a superficial reason. My body does a lot of crap for me and it deserves love, care and recognition. Go team!


I have not lost such a large amount of weight as you, Greta, or some of the commenters - I am in awe of your ability to do so - but I have lost 10-15 lbs at a time, which is what you apparently have left.

I like taking the "performance mentality" toward my body - assessing it based on the things it can do rather than on how it looks. My body can do multiple consecutive dead-hang pull-ups! It can run several miles at a time! Many of the things that I like my body to be able to do, are things where it helps to be relatively thin. But the performance mentality keeps the focus on functionality rather than on how I look or what societal standards are. It's also a mental buffer against unhealthy levels of thinness - my body won't have the functionality that I want if I'm too thin, or starve myself!

I found that the most helpful factor in losing weight was being accountable to myself - writing down everything I ate, and all the exercise that I did. If I didn't do that, it was too easy to pretend that a snack here or there didn't count, and put it out of my mind.

Sarah TX

I don't really know how to respond to the first paragraph of this post.

It seems to me like you are ascribing the opinions of some people who identify as fat positive with the opinions of all people who are fat positive. We are a continuum, and to say "I just think they've run off the rails with them" is to imply that there's some organized political or social movement with an organized platform.

Many influential thinkers in the fat positive movement are radically anti-diet. In my experience, the majority of "us" are struggling just like you are - struggling with cultural messages about our body. Struggling with cultural and in-group messages about the "right" behavior. And so on.

It really sucks that people are attacking you for behavior that you feel is necessary to keep you healthy and fit. Those people are trolls. Fat positive trolls, of course, and I would never make the mistake of saying "THEY'RE not part of the HAES movement!" But I WILL say that their opinions do not sufficiently define even the majority opinion of the fatosphere.

absent sway

Most of the time the important points about health, weight, and body image are drowned out by both prejudiced bullshit and wishful thinking; it's always encouraging to see someone write about weight issues with sanity. Congratulations on consciously determining what works for you and pursuing your goals! My experience with this territory is recognizing for years that my eating habits were unhealthy and educating myself about changing them but failing to successfully do so because overeating is my form of stress management. I managed to stop gaining weight, which was an accomplishment in itself. When I felt really low a couple years ago I joined a program and lost about twenty pounds but the novelty soon wore off. I have kept the weight off but my progress has stalled (there's more to lose till I'm where I need to be), so I claim a small success and hope to inch my way closer with renewed efforts. I am seriously considering the possibility of counseling for support and accountability because the basis of the problem is emotional for me. What works for me is continually reminding myself of what I can accomplish or look forward to, and dealing with stress right away instead of avoiding unpleasant tasks. Also, dancing and walking/jogging outdoors strengthen good feelings about my body and relieve stress in a healthy way.


While I am not surprised that the fat positive movement exists, I was somewhat surprised to find that it has some elements that say weight loss is harmful. Ever since you started blogging about weight loss and health, I think you've given a balanced and fact based view of the matter.

Your line 'Sanity doesn't mean not having neuroses. It means not letting neuroses get in the way.' spoke to me a bit, but in a different way. I have OCD, but I do the best I can to not let it rule my life. In the past several years, I've come to accept it as part of my personality.

Greta Christina
But I WILL say that their opinions do not sufficiently define even the majority opinion of the fatosphere.

Maybe not, Sarah TX. But they sure defined the majority -- the vast majority -- of fat-positive advocates who wrote to me or commented on my blog when I first started writing about this issue. And they sure seem like the most public representatives of the movement.

If the fat-positive movement is moving back towards a more sane, nuanced, evidence- based position on fatness, then excellent. We need a sane, nuanced, evidence-based fat-positive movement like crazy. (Or maybe "body-positive," the term some people have been using in the discussion of this on Facebook, would be a better word -- since these issues affect more than just fat people.) And if there are fat-positive blogs and forums and whatnot that aren't fixated on the idea that weight loss is a hideous evil that must be stamped out and is never right for anybody ever ever ever, I would love to see them.

But what I saw when I first started writing about this last year was a whole lot of people bringing the denialist crazy... and not a lot else. And I heard a whole lot of other people seeing the same thing... and feeling alienated, disinformed, and poorly represented by a movement that they wanted and needed.


Thank you! I have just started my own blog about being a feminist and losing weight. I definitely have the same core beliefs about how fat-feminism has its positive attributes BUT there's a limit when it comes to health. Making a life style change has been brutal but neccessary.

I look forward to reading more of your posts.

My blog:

PS GO TOFU! (It can be yummy!)


This series is great, Greta. Neither do I, but I find her commentary fascinating, I am agreed with paul that people should just not eat anything that wasn’t a food 100 years ago.

I look forward to reading more of your posts.


Why did they chide you for losing weight?Losing weight to become healthier is an achievement! It takes a lot self discipline and determination to achieve this goal. Good job Greta!

HCG Drop

Well, I think diet is the one of the important things that can help for loosing weight. For example, you can learn how to work with a healthy diet so you will have an easier time with losing weight.

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You're a wonderful journalist, and I know you've put good thoughts into writing this story

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I know that weight loss is hard, and that for reasons we don't even come close to understanding, it's harder for some people than others.

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Being healthier is very important but completely being slim is not. Discovering the stability that performs for one is key.

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