How Many Calories Can You Burn Jumping the Shark?

meowser-48.jpg posted by meowser

Earlier this year, as soon as I heard Julia Cameron had a new book out called The Writing Diet, I knew I had to read it. Not, mind you, because I thought it would help me get thin — yeah, right — but because Julia Cameron was once a goddess to me, and the backstory (Cameron gained 40 pounds on psych meds and claims to have lost them with the help of her “write yourself right-sized” methodology) had me curious, in an I-know-it’s-illegal-to-rubberneck-but-I-just-gotta-know kind of way. She and she alone knows the secret of not gaining weight on psych meds? For reals?

As some of you know, I became Officially Fat about 12 years ago, after several years on Zoloft (which didn’t make people — or do I mean men? — fat during the 12-week clinical trials, so it must be Weight Neutral!). That plus as-yet-untreated PCOS multiplied against each other to make me gain about 40% of my body weight. And I might well have gained more had I not eventually been put on metformin. I’ve since discovered that going off antidepressants makes my weight decrease (but also makes me take up permanent residence in the bell jar), and going back on makes it go up again (and knocks the bell jar off). So yes, I’m convinced it’s the drugs — anything that bumps up serotonin bumps up my weight regardless of whether it increases my appetite or not (some drugs do, some don’t, it also varies a lot from person to person, and none of my prior drugs had that effect on me before I recently started Remeron). On the other paw, I’d have to be lacking more than a few crayons in my box not to want to permanently trade in suicidality for a big fat ass. And so on and so on and scoobydoobyblahblah.

And you know what? In the days before that, when I was merely chubby, I’d have been all over this book like, uh, Splenda on strawberries (ptoo!). Cameron’s The Artist’s Way (and later on, The Right to Write) maintained a constant presence at my bedside during those times I was breaking out of creative deep freezes, plus I actually still bought the whole “there’s a size 4 in you waiting to get out” thing. Once I gained the drug weight, of course, I had to cackle madly at the whole concept: If I really did have a size 4 waiting to get out, she had a pretty perverse way of showing it, seeing as I was getting fatter and fatter while eating less and all. But in the old days, the 12-step-fiend days, when I feverishly went to meetings for pretty much every program I “qualified” for (which was almost all of them, other than the ones for alcohol, drugs, gambling, and sex addiction)…yeah, you bet. I’d have thought Julia Cameron had the answer for me.

Now here’s where you atheists get to point and laugh at me and tell me how much smarter you are than I am, because you’d have picked up The Artist’s Way, thumbed through a few pages, muttered, “Godbothering, feh,” and put it back on the shelf. Go ahead, I deserve it. You’re way ahead of me. You would not have fantasized yourself, as I did, being the Young Writer going with Cameron for an inspirational walk in the woods followed by a cup of tea and a slice of her homemade blackberry pie (as she described having done with a Young Writer in The Right to Write), and that she’d think I was just the peachiest, and that would make me go on an unprecedented creative tear. You know better than that, of course. But maybe, maybe there’s a writer or other creative person somewhere you had a fantasy like that about? Please? (Please tell me I’m not the only total dork out there. There has to be at least ONE more.)

Anyway, the book. I certainly don’t want to buy anything with the word diet in the title (unless it’s something like The Diet Myth, AKA the paperback version of The Obesity Myth, which is a way better name for that book anyhow). I didn’t even want to check it out of the library. Best not to encourage that sort of acquisition, no? Of course, since we have Powell’s Books here (which some wags here call the “Portland Public Library Annex” thanks to the vast selection, long hours, and blase attitude towards browsing), I could have just taken the thing down to the coffeeshop, read it there, and then made it up to them by buying a book I did want. (And yes, I’ll be reviewing that one too, but for now I’ll just say — BUY EET.) But I felt weird about that — what if I spilled my chai on it? — so I waited for a library copy to free up and read it there (at the official library).

In a nutshell (an empty one, of course, so as to spare you the calories), about 80% of this book is the same kind of “sensible” dieting advice you’ve been getting since you were 8 years old (or, in my case, 11 — we started later back then). Food diaries. Twenty-minute walks. Aerobic workout routines. Smart snack substitutions like “a plum instead of Mallomars.” Diet buddies. Keeping trigger foods out of the house. Drinking enough water every day to float a dozen koi in. (Cameron happily describes one follower of her plan saying, “I picture myself washing the calories away” when she drinks water. Hmm, where have I heard that one before?) And of course, the ever popular cut-500-calories-a-day-and-lose-a-pound-a-week. (She also helpfully tells us that most women need 1900 calories a day to maintain their weight, so 1400 is a reasonable goal to shoot for. Gee, thanks.)

All of that is Dieting 101 stuff, really. I have to believe that Cameron’s ideal reader is someone who’s never (or rarely) dieted, or even seriously thought about it much. Certainly not someone who’s spent most of her life dieting up to the next weight category, a concept that seems utterly lost on Cameron. (She also doesn’t seem too familiar with the concept of plateaus, in which you have to keep cutting or wasting more calories to keep losing, or often, even having to keep cutting or wasting more of them just to maintain lost weight, which is the fate of those of us whose bodies simply don’t want to be thin.)

There are a few things Cameron does right. She doesn’t, for example, advocate shooting for model-thinness if that’s not your natural shape (she even has chapters on the folly of trying to emulate super-slim celebrities, and praises Tyra Banks for being proud of her 161-pound body). “Many of us,” she says, “found that when we thought about it, we preferred a body type that was not as skinny as the tabloid norm.” She more or less advises people to, if not throw away their scales, at least to use them as little as possible (she advocates keeping it under the bed). And at least she doesn’t pretend that her diet plan has jackall to do with “health” or that she’s trying to single-handedly “fight obesity.” I don’t think Cameron even uses the word “obesity” in this book. Her complaints to her psychiatrist about her medication-related weight gain seem entirely to do with vanity, and she as much as admits it. I admire that, in a way; I wish more diet-heads would cop to what they’re really after.

But oy, the mentality. Oy. (The first and last letters of “obesity”!) Where to start? Firstly, Cameron advises that people do what she advocated in The Artist’s Way — morning pages, meaning you get up early and write out three longhand pages of whatever’s on your mind. Supposedly this is to get out of your system all the feelings you’re allegedly eating now, because not being able to stick to a 1400-calorie diet forever = emotional eating = Bad Relationship With God. Now, I have no problem at all with people writing their feelings (or painting/singing/knitting/ drawing them, or whatever their creative “thing” is) instead of, gods help us, eating them. I think it’s a great idea. And when “doing” The Artist’s Way, it was a wonderful tool (except for the getting up early part, which assumes that you’re not already getting up at 5 to go to work). But using morning pages to distract yourself from hunger? I think maybe NO.

Yes, Julia, I said HUNGER. Physical hunger. As in “if I don’t eat something in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to get the hypoglycemic shakes.” When I first went on Remeron, like I said here, I was ready to eat the fucking furniture, plus all the writing utensils sitting on it. Sometimes I got the munchies when I wasn’t really hungry, but if I ignored those munchies, I’d just get that much hungrier (not to mention shaky and hot from the hypoglycemia — anyone think maybe ignoring hunger signals might be an Officially Rotten Idea for someone with pancreatic issues?). Eventually I went back to the doctor and said, “Doc, I’m a little weary of finding splinters and graphite in the crapper, can we do something about this?”, and we did.

But I can tell you right now that there was no way in hell I was going to be able to stick to anything like 1400 calories when I was in that state. (Cameron, being clean and sober for 30 years, also automatically assumes that the reader has no truck with alcohol.) And I don’t think I could do it now, either, even though the initial Cookie Monster Syndrome has worn off. Just for S’s and G’s, I recently kept a food diary for a couple of days, just to see what my eating patterns were, and sure enough, I was getting hunger pangs — real ones — pretty regularly, every two or two and a half hours just about, unless I had a really big meal. When you’re hungry, you’re fucking hungry. And believe me, by this time in my life, I know the difference between hungry and not, regardless of what some book or magazine article or Web site tells me I “should” be satisfied with.

Cameron, when interviewed here, said the drug she was on was Abilify. Abilify is fairly new, new enough that even the Crazy Meds site doesn’t have much on it, but in poking around various message boards, it causes appetite stimulation in some users but not others, although weight gain on the drug seems to happen irrespective of that. I’m going to assume that she was still on it while she lost her weight — if she wasn’t, it would be a short book, right? Like a page. “To get and stay thin, kick your psych meds like I did. The end.”

No, she says, her savior has actually been…Clean Eating.

Oh yeah, the Clean Eating thing, which Cameron’s nutritionist claims to have invented. This concept, in case you’ve been avoiding reading about it to conserve Sanity Points, means eating low fat AND low carb AND portion controlled AND with gobs of artificial sweetener. (Cameron’s favorite breakfast: cottage cheese and strawberries sweetened with Splenda. Splenda. She lives in New York and has money coming out of her hoohah, and she can’t find berries that taste like berries?) In order to stick to this plan, she advises the reader to avoid “the deadly whites” (sugar, flour, starch) literally like they were the very brew of Satan (“chocolate is chocolate, after all, the devil’s food, and I know better to indulge”). She boasts that she is able to do this despite living with “an expert baker” who bakes oh-so-delicious-smelling gingersnaps at home every morning (to sell, one presumes, and not specifically to taunt her).

So yeah. Refuse your own birthday cake — because, after all, one bite of a forbidden food means a binge. (Contrast that with people who turn down birthday cake because they have something like diabetes or celiac disease; unless that condition is new to them, you won’t catch them staring longingly at cake, growling at their fingers not to reach for the spatula. But then, they get to eat something else.) Don’t hang out with those “good genes” people who can eat whatever they want and stay thin, and who will ask you to do evil fattening things like go out for dim sum (what, and miss your morning bowlful of frankenglop-sweetened ladycrap?). Take yourself for a Culinary Artist Date once a week — like, check out a new-to-you ethnic cuisine, but stay away from those opiate-simulating breads and rices! Oh, and one last, crucially important thing: Don’t be Officially Fat in the first place.

Cameron lost 40 pounds, going from a size 16 (misses, I would gather, not 16W) to a size 10. (And the loss would seem to be a new one, maybe a year before the book came out, max.) Assuming she only wore a 16 in the most tightly-cut items, her starting weight is probably the lowest weight I could possibly attain doing this Clean Eating stuff even if I never cheated, as long as I remain on my meds. And I’m maybe a size 18 misses at the lowest, 22 at the highest, but that’s still fat enough to make me what she would call “grotesquely oversized.” (Yes, she uses that exact phrase.) Walk in the woods with her? She wouldn’t hire me to clean her john. (Think of the potential for fat cooties to get trapped in a tiny Manhattan bathroom!)

Similarly, all of the people she mentions in the book lose 25 pounds, 30 pounds, something like that. (No mention of whether they maintained their losses, either.) In other words, these are not really fat people, regardless of what they think of themselves; these are thin people who gradually gained weight for whatever reason until they approached average-sized, which simply, in their minds, will not do for an above average human being. People like me? Or, Bast forfend, even fatter than me? We’re hardly even worth discussing, we’ve obviously eaten all the creativity we have in us. We ate our own birthday cake. And washed it down with beer. Year after year. And maybe somewhere else during the year, even had a slice of homemade blackberry pie whipped up with love by our favorite writer. The horrors.

Speaking of mad cackling, I also love Cameron’s concept that her Writing Diet works because “calories, after all, are units of energy, and so are words.” If the number of words you crank out every week is tantamount to the number of calories you burn, I should wear a size somewhere in the negative integers. (Hi, I’m Meowser, and I’ll be your tl;dr this evening.) It can’t have anything to do with, you know, reaching the very bottom of your set point range, and maybe even dipping a little under it (probably temporarily) through extreme vigilance about what crosses your lips. It also can’t possibly have anything to do with “good genes” having as much to do with where the bottom of your set point lies as anything else does. It’s all about Good Orderly Direction. I just do not understand a worldview that says it’s okay to discriminate against and hate on people just because they don’t burn calories as fast as other people do. It just baffles me that anyone would think that way. But sadly, Julia Cameron does.

And what’s even sadder here is that there’s a hint that in an even slightly better world, she might not buy into it. In one of the most telling passages of the book, she mentions a friend of hers who has a lover named Pavlo, who encourages her friend to eat and says, “A woman is like a good steak; better if it’s not too lean.” To which Cameron responds: “Not all of us meet Pavlos. More of us dream that a Pavlo might exist.” Well, ahem. Leaving aside the skinny-baiting, which I’m not down with, the idea that “Pavlos” who appreciate fuller figures don’t exist is just…well, let’s just say that Cameron might do well to get out of Manhattan more often (and not just to go to west L.A.) if she wants a man like this in her life. Look, dude, two-thirds of the American female population is said by the epi-panickers to be “too fat.” Are you trying to tell me that two-thirds of us can’t get lovers? My labia boggles. As far as I’m concerned, a “good man” doesn’t make a woman go hungry in order to conform to his aesthetic preferences. Period. And if Cameron’s gingersnap-baking roommate is one of those guys, maybe he’d better ask himself exactly who it is he expects to consume his product. At least that’s how I’d react. But you know, I’m like…a feminist and stuff. Guess she isn’t.

I reckon it’s occurring to me now that being a people-pleasing dork and wanting to be an inventive, gutsy, cutting-edge creative person really don’t mix. Yeah, I know most guitar players, no matter how badass, would probably gibber and drool and stammer out “you’re my biggest fan” type of stuff if they were in the same room with Eric Clapton, but I doubt most of them could give a freshly lit fart if Eric Clapton approves of them as a person. That’s the thing that’s always killed whatever creative spark I had — this idea that “so and so won’t like it and they won’t like me for doing it, so I’d better not.” I am done with that. Doner than a gingersnap. The Julia Cameron of The Artist’s Way would probably applaud that newfound attitude of mine. Too bad she doesn’t exist anymore, if she ever really did outside my own head.

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30 Responses to “How Many Calories Can You Burn Jumping the Shark?”

  1. integgy Says:

    Absolutely loved this post. As a fellow “grotesquely fat” person, no doubt her book was not targeted at me. And honestly, from what you say she’s touting sounds like old news, same crap we always get from diet books. I wonder how her nutritionist is claiming to have invented dieting strategies that have been talked about for at least 20 years? Also, I know how it is to want to meet someone so bady, and admire them, even though they would probably be disgusted at the mere thought of you (Anthony Bourdain and Alton Brown, why have you forsaken me?).

    P.S. Can I shoot you an email about a meetup this coming winter in Portlandia? Snow permitting, of course (I hope you’re not snowed in like everyone else I seem to know in Portland, buy hopefully the weather will lighten up). I have a schedule hammered out for next term, and so far, all free weekends, so let me know when you’re available. 🙂

  2. lilacsigil Says:

    Why didn’t Nanowrimo make me THIIIIIIIN? Seriously, with all the fanfic I write, I should be totally invisible by now. Or is fanfic like junk food? So hard to tell!

  3. Keechypeachy Says:

    Hee hee hee, “frankenglop-sweetened ladycrap”.

    Good post! I did the Artist’s Way. Didn’t like the morning pages much; I have a lot to do outside before it gets too hot, so I found myself resenting the time it took. I am kind of disappointed in her. A lot of the exercises in that book were about seeing that you were enough as you were and putting away the internal critic. How does that fit with dieting? Why does she need to write a diet book anyway? She is no expert on the topic. We most of us have personal experience in losing weight for a little while due to extreme measures. Maybe we should all write books?

    Oh, and Nanowrimo hasn’t made me thin either, even though I’ve done it for five years in a row. How odd!

  4. Jane Says:

    Considering the amount of (unsold) screenplays I wrote in my 20s…I should be a wisp of a thing at this point. And this:

    (Hi, I’m Meowser, and I’ll be your tl;dr this evening)

    rules.

  5. Rachel Says:

    My eating disorder stemmed from going on a low-carb diet plan. After it became disordered and I started reading fitness and nutrition magazines as if they were the gospel, I decided to cut calories, which inadvertently left me cutting out most fat, too. My goal was to eat clean foods, safe foods. In the end, I tried to do the low-cal/low-carb thing and it drove my disordered brain even more disordered. I tell ya… if someone who already obsessed over what she ate 24/7 found it extremely hard to follow, I have no idea how any sane person is supposed to do this without also becoming disordered. After a couple months, even I decided to ditch the low-carb part of the plan and focused solely on calories.

    I’ve never heard of this woman or this book before now. Doesn’t sound as if I’m missing much.

  6. Anita Says:

    Also, having written papers (we’re still working on “creative” writing) on and off diets, I can tell you that those “units of energy” that are calories are *required* for putting together words in a manner that makes sense. (Not to mention thinking in the first place.)

    I just had a conversation with someone at work who doesn’t use blankets at night so she’ll “shiver off some calories.” It was a lovely warm 10 degrees last night, and how much warmer could it be in her bedroom? She also eats healthy choice pretty much exclusively, goes to the gym, and still is not losing weight.

  7. fillyjonk Says:

    My labia boggles.

    Only one of many times I LOLed! I’m one of those people who flipped through Artist’s Way, made a face, and put it back on the shelf (though I assure you I am a dork in other ways), but I would totally read a “how to be healthy, creative, and also LIVE IN THE WORLD” book by Meowser.

  8. Tricia Says:

    You’re not the only dork — I loved Artist’s Way. It helped me immensely during the transition from all art all the time (college) to working at a job and only being able to squeeze in art around the edges. But, yeah, by the time Vein of Gold came out I was getting bored.

    So, I am kinda nostalgically sad that Cameron seems to have lost the big picture, if she ever had it in the first place. Life is supposed to be about LIFE, not obsessing over every morsel.

    Great post, thanks.

  9. Emerald Says:

    Yuck. Is all I can say.

    I got the belief pushed at me, for much of my life, that because I got a big fat Fail on appearance, my creativity was worthless. While I’m not quite dorky enough to have hero-worshipped Cameron, she was one of the writers whose books helped me tell that particular voice where to get off. Finding her buying into that tastes worse than a bucketload of Splenda.

    Although, speaking of both creativity and fake food:
    your morning bowlful of frankenglop-sweetened ladycrap?
    …is the best description I’ve read of any diet food. Ever.

  10. JupiterPluvius Says:

    She is seriously mentally ill. I mean, this is not news to those who read her autobiography, Floor Sample, where she talks about this quite candidly (and I do honor her for that).

    But this book seems to me, from your account of it, like something written in a grandiose, manic phase by someone with bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder (which, from Floor Sample, sounds like an accurate approximation of Cameron’s diagnosis).

    So I want to talk about what the FUCK is wrong with the publishing house who decided to publish this sick person’s disordered ramblings because they knew they could make coin from her disciples? Oh, wait, I think I’ve figured that out.

    Also, the food plan she describes is the EXACT OPPOSITE of the “Clean Eating” model, which has been around in the body-building community for 20+ years. What the “Clean Eating” model really is is a whole-foods, no-processed-carbs plan that emphasizes lean protein and high-fiber vegetables.

    I don’t know if Cameron’s nutritionist has scammed her (probably–there’s nobody so vulnerable to cons as a con artist) or if Cameron’s trying to scam us, but “Clean Eating” exists and is nothing like what she describes.

  11. Elizabeth Twist Says:

    I second Emerald!

    “your morning bowlful of frankenglop-sweetened ladycrap” made my day. Just how, exactly, is frankenglop “clean”???

    Thank you so much for the review, Meowser. You know, I loved The Artist’s Way and I still use its methods daily. I’m spiritual without attaching to any major religious framework, so the Godtalk ™ didn’t offend or bother me – I just passed all that stuff though a pink and fuzzy generic Spirit/Goddess/Love filter. Anyway, there’s a lot of good there. I still do morning pages to keep my creative wheels greased, and I recommend that book (with some caveats) to people who want to become more creative. That, and Natalie Goldberg’s Wild Mind.

    In fact, it was through morning pages that I overcame the self-loathing that had kept me locked in a bad cycle of weight loss / weight gain for years, a triumph that eventually led me to the fat acceptance movement. How’s that for Splenda-flavoured irony?

  12. Twistie Says:

    Meowser, I want to marry this article and have its babies.

  13. Alexandra Lynch Says:

    Flatly excellent.

    I know how I write, and have a lovely sprawling novel I’m working on that may be three books when it’s done. And I am also Grotesquely Fat in a size 24/26. And the only thing that has ever stopped me from attracting the attention and interest of sexy, intelligent, witty men and women has been the private conviction that I was ugly.

    Screw that.

    I’ve had, for reasons of my gut throwing tantrums, to get rid of most processed foods in my life. I can’t imagine living my life eating that crap.

  14. meowser Says:

    Gee, you guys, thanks. And FJ, you very well might get your wish. *puts query letters on New Year’s Resolution list*

    Integgy: Sure! I’ve been wanting to meet ya! And yeah, “snowed in” pretty much describes it. I pretty much want to get a helicopter and squirt cherry syrup all over everything.

  15. meowser Says:

    And now that I’ve been through the spam trap:

    Jupiter Pluvius: She actually does talk about eating whole foods and avoiding processed carbs in this book. But the amount of artificial sweetener involved just doesn’t sound particularly “clean” to me, not to mention that having to avoid all your favorite foods like the plague sounds like a binge just waiting to happen. (And artificial sweetener makes me fucking hungry, so I’m not sure what the benefit is there for me, anyway.)

    As for the mental illness thing, yeah, well…me too. It’s just too bad she didn’t reach the same conclusion I did when I gained weight on meds, which is that there are much more painful things in this world than being fat.

  16. Fatadelic Says:

    Why ruin strawberries with Splenda? Eesh.

  17. DaisyDeadhead Says:

    Love your writing, Meowser. You keep me sane. I work in the supplement/herbal industry, which as you know, is likewise guilty as hell. I must get asked 50 times a day about which “natural” product is best to lose weight…I have to say something or get fired, so I point people to healthy things like Omega-3s and CoQ-10 (that I believe everyone would benefit from).

    And this 12-step-fiend days, when I feverishly went to meetings for pretty much every program I “qualified” for (which was almost all of them, other than the ones for alcohol, drugs, gambling, and sex addiction)

    Too bad you didn’t, because in standard AA groups they sharply criticize OA as not analogous to alcoholism, since you can swear off drinking, drugs gambling, sex, but you certainly CAN NOT swear off eating. In fact, old timers used to just snort derisively at the very idea.

    I’m grateful they did, too. 🙂

  18. Meowser Says:

    Thanks, Daisy!

    One thing I did notice during my program phase, though, is that an awful lot of recovering alcoholics did wind up in OA because their sugar bingeing in the wake of recovery was just out of control and they gained a bunch of weight from it. (And I used to live with a newly recovered AA who used to go through a package of Oreos so fast I thought I’d spaced out and forgotten to buy them. But he remained pencil-thin, so I’m going to guess he didn’t go to OA. Note that thin non-bulimics almost never wind up there no matter HOW much they eat, wonder why.)

    However, I have to wonder if the sugar bingeing (which of course a lot of AA’s don’t ever experience) is a temporary side effect of alcohol recovery and that it would wear off regardless of taking on another “program.” And I’d agree, it’s really not analogous at all, for the reasons you said, although it did seem to me that the bulimics (and people who had organic binge-eating disorder unrelated to dieting) who went to that program actually derived a lot more benefit than the fat people who went there because they couldn’t stick to their diets (oh, excuse me, food plans). Bulimia and BED are not unlike alcoholism; just plain old not sticking to a diet, not so much.

  19. Meowser Says:

    I should say, “naturally thin non-bulimics almost never wind up there.” Because that is what I meant, of course.

  20. nightman1 Says:

    I read with great interest your beginning remarks on your antidepressant history. I recognized the syndrome. Three different seratonin-increasing antidepressants that I had foisted on me during the period 1994-2003 made me fatter, and 2 of them made me feel slightly sick all the time to boot.

    Be aware that not all antidepressants must increase seratonin. There was a whole generation of them before prozac that were less seratonin-specific. One that worked very well for me increased norepinephrine. It is still available, very cheaply. It’s called desipramine.

    And today there is Welbutrin! This antidepressant does not increase seratonin (Yay! I get to feel better and not gain any more weight.) It also does its job of banishing depression very well indeed.

    Doctors fell in love with the seratonin-specific antidepressants because they had less side effects than most of the earlier generation of antidepressants. Also, said doctors were probably relentlessly pressed to use those new, expensive compounds by the drug company detail men. I wish I had been more stubborn (as I usually am) and resisted that first prescription of prozac!

  21. spacedcowgirl Says:

    “ladycrap”!! Like others, I LOVE this.

    Everyone has some kind of definition of “clean eating” (I believe JupiterPluvius that it is a specific thing in bodybuilding, but these days it seems to mean “whatever way of eating causes you the most deprivation and guilt”–raw foods, no carbs ever, no processed foods ever, very-low-calorie diet, what have you). I’m sure the author’s sounds totally logical and perfect since she’s currently in a “thin” phase, but we’ll see whether it’s still the be-all and end-all once she gains the weight back (and it will be totally through her own lack of discipline and badness as a person, no reflection on diets generally or her specific diet, I’m sure).

    Personally, I have had many occasions to be thankful that I was “grotesquely fat.” I’ve seen women online and at Weight Watchers who are absolutely destroyed and hate themselves utterly over 10 or 20 pounds, often 10 or 20 pounds that the BMI chart doesn’t necessarily even “require” them to lose, and I realize that even though I’ve been way fatter in my life, I don’t have it as bad as they do. On the other hand, the force of their self-hatred (or its manifestation as a larger social phenomenon of pressure on women to believe they are monstrous and grotesque unless they’re a size 2) makes me selfishly mad because it causes problems for me out in society. My natural mental state is that I’ve never felt that bad about my body in a vacuum–actually I tend to feel worse about it when I’m thinner–but it’s really hard not to go through life thinking there is something terribly wrong with you if you don’t want to commit suicide because you’re a size 16 (or 14, or 12, or 10).

  22. meowser Says:

    but these days it seems to mean “whatever way of eating causes you the most deprivation and guilt”

    Yeah, no freakin’ poopie, SCG. Cameron also quotes one of her Writing Dieters saying that “Clean Eating is addictive.” Yeah, I’m sure it is. Anything that gives you a good dose of abstemious self-righteousness tends to be. I’m so much BETTER than all those carb-snarfing plebes!

    Me, I ate dim sum on Christmas, and liked it. Very much. (Urp.)

    And no kidding about actually feeling worse about it when you’re thinner-but-not-quite-thin than if you’re Officially Fat, too. I know that when I was a size 12, it was easy for me to berate myself up for being lazy and self-indulgent, since that, it seemed, was all that stood between me and a size 6; now, as a size 20, I frigging well KNOW there’s a lot more than that keeping me from single-digit Valhalla.

  23. meowser Says:

    Nightman1: I’m on Wellbutrin, too, along with the Remeron. Years ago, I was on it as monotherapy, and sure enough, the Zoloft weight started to go down…and I also wound up with a 5150, thanks to which I will probably NEVER be able to buy private health insurance even if I improbably lose 100 pounds. If it does work for you as monotherapy, that’s great, but there’s definitely a danger for many of us in holding out for Wellbutrin solely because of weight neutrality.

  24. Angela Says:

    It’s great to see that there is somewhere plus size women can feel accepted not only for who they are but for what they look like. I have tried many diets including Weight watchers, bellin hospital’s liquid diets and they all work too well at first but 2 months down the line once real food is integrated into your regimin the weight slowly but surely creeps back onto your hips thighs and butt! I’m at a loss, I have accepted that I’m this size for a reason, I have tried for years 20 to be factual, I’m 32 now, and I’m still the same size give or take a few pounds over the years np matter what I have tried. I’m thankful that my family and husband and kids accept me for me and everything that comes with me big thighs and all!

  25. buttercup Says:

    frankenglop-sweetened ladycrap? I’m late as usual but that was hysterical. Cameron sounds like a woo-woo new agey if it makes me money type that I can mostly do without these days. Back in my younger days, though, I’d have been all over this type of stuff.

    And get up early? WTF? I already get up at 515 to go to work. Writing before prodigious amounts of caffeine? No effing way. And I don’t even eat breakfast until I get to work at 730 most days. I’m not a breakfast person.

  26. randomquorum Says:

    I’m also late and a first time commenter here but this post is fantastic!

    And ditto not being a breakfast person. Never was. I’m trying to get the whole intuitive eating thing going but at the moment I sometimes can’t tell if I’m hungry enough to actually eat or not, especially at breakfast time! But then I have the whole “oh you can’t skip breakfast” thing going on… very confusing!

    Sorry if I went a bit OT!

  27. Harriet Says:

    Late to the party, as usual, Meowser, but I love this. Boggling labia, ladycrap (reminds me of that Ina May Gaskin book, Spiritual Midwifery), and all. 🙂

  28. One-Stop Shopping for HAES Info « fat fu Says:

    […] Comments Harriet on How Many Calories Can You Burn…randomquorum on Blogbreak and Factoidrandomquorum on How Many Calories Can You […]

  29. Liz Says:

    LOL I love this bit
    “not being able to stick to a 1400-calorie diet forever = emotional eating = Bad Relationship With God”

    That really sums it up!

    Thanks for keeping such a great blog!

  30. No Food for Me, Please — I’ve Just Been in a Car Wreck « fat fu Says:

    […] if I ever met up with any of them again, if they’d note that I was fatter than ever and thus continuing to flick my chin at God by consuming carbs. How do I know I wouldn’t get and stay thin by cutting out all white flour and white sugar […]


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