the original kStyle blog.

Friday, April 13, 2007

1. Do you feel better?

It would seem that feeling better is the number one top priority of weight loss. Every conversation involving weight loss seems to conclude with someone saying confidently, "You'll feel better," or its variations, "I feel better," "You must feel better," and "She feels better now".
Yesterday I was talking to a friend who has lost 30 pounds doing Weight Watchers, and she said, "I feel better". I'm happy for her--she's committed and worked hard and appears very happy and proud. Her accomplishment is, pardon the word, huge.

But I confess that I am a little perplexed. If the goal of losing weight is to feel better, does that mean that overweight people are supposed to feel bad? Because I'm about 30 pounds overweight, but...I feel great. My energy is good; I sleep like a dream; my bp, cholesterol, glucose levels, and thyroid are humming along at healthy levels. I don't think I'm an unattractive slob, either, though maybe I'm supposed to. Maybe it's because I really do eat a healthy diet with too many cookies thrown in, or because I exercise a lot, but I can't imagine feeling much "better". Which leaves me with little-to-no motivation to deprive myself of said cookies.

When I do feel bad, it's because of eczema flare-ups on my right foot and my tendency to catch viruses too easily. I don't see this as having much to do with my BMI. But, to remedy my Virus Magnet-ness, I'm going to try the Body Ecology Diet*. The B.E.D. combines the best of several eating plans--drawing heavily upon Asian medicine, which I love--to make your guts a happy environment for good gut flora and a poor environment for invasive, mean germs. I'm certain that my virus last week was so awful because I'd taken antibiotics for a gum infection the week before. The antibiotics destroyed my beneficial bacteria, which left my system an abandoned hotel waiting for vagrants, whorish germs and their crack.

Although the B.E.D. draws upon a couple of ideas I consider quacky (namely, the idea of chronic candidiasis and the Eat Right 4 Your Type nonsense), I know enough to discard those theories and work with the rest of the theory--which is solid--and the actual eating plan itself. Soon my guts will be populated with happy germs who will not permit the nasty outsiders to sneak in. And I might lose weight in the process, as this is a cookie-free diet. I'll feel better, no doubt, but because of cultures, not loss of fat.

2. Speaking of cultures...

I've noticed something extra-special toxic in pop culture lately: Fat celebrity women "coming out" as fat women who are sufficiently ashamed of their wayward binging and ready to lose weight. The toxic icing on the cake, so to speak, is the lying, the abject lying that goes along with this trend. Most recently, I saw the adorable Valerie Bertinelli on the cover of People. Valerie is ready to lose weight! She ballooned to a Size 14! yelled the cover. But Ms Bertinelli's photo showed a woman who was about a size 20. This is a problem. This is a problem because, first of all, it indicates that a size 20 is completely unacceptable, even for the supposed Fattest Celebrity Woman Alive. And secondly, if you have an insecure woman who is a fit 14, who knows what she will think upon viewing this cover in the checkout line. I have a thin friend who is mortified that she recently reached a size 12, and she thinks she is the fattest woman alive. She clearly has no idea how she actually looks, or what the difference is between a 20 and a 14. And I fear her seeing this cover, because it's not what she--or anyone else--needs to be fed.

*the book is quite good and level-headed, even though the web site makes specious claims.


Anonymous Ann said...

I suspect that although some people do feel better physically when they lose weight (which is probably because they're stronger and more flexible, not because they've lost weight per se), many feel better mentally: "I don't feel as horribly ugly as I used to!" So maybe that's what they mean.

It's too bad that shame is linked so firmly to weight. It's unjustifiable.

I saw that People cover. Bertinelli was outfitted in what looked like a tent. I have nothing against comfortable clothes, but they were clearly trying to make her look as anti-magazine-cover-ideal as possible.

3:00 PM  
Blogger kStyle said...

It's as if F (for Fat) is the new scarlet letter; no one cares about adultery anymore. ;)

I think you're right, Ann, that people might mean mentally, and it is a shame that women (and yes, men) feel so ashamed about weight and size.

Yeah, it looks like she's wearing a tent. It's just this side of muumuu.

3:08 PM  
Blogger Larry Jones said...

1.) It looks like we have to figure out a way to make you feel like an unattractive slob. Once you have a low self-image and cut back on the cookies, more cookies for me.

2.) Have you noticed that sizes are changing? Check out my song I Like the Big Girls, released in 1986. In the bridge I sing "...nothing less than a size thirteen..." I know there's no such thing, but today I guess I'd have to say "size 20" in order to make my point. Then the rhyming would be more difficult.

I think that clothing makers, to make customers happy, are simply saying something is a size 10, when it was a 12 five years ago. In this way, we can wear the same size all our lives. American ingenuity!

4:42 PM  
Blogger kStyle said...


1. NO you cannot have my cookies, sorry, but nice try. I'm far too cute to put up with such abuse.

2. I'm too young, perhaps, to notice that the sizes are a-changing, but I'm eager to check out your song. Be back...

5:18 PM  
Blogger kStyle said...

the song is fabulous!! thanks, Larry! G. started dancing through the living room--he couldn't help it, and he does not dance.

5:21 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

Probably feeling better about your appearance is part of it, but I would guess a larger part of this magic weight loss feeling better thing is more related to increased physical activity and/or long term effects of better food choices. Rarely does a diet plan not include exercise, and I think that even regular light walking tends to make people "feel better." Similarly, while in the very short term that cheeseburger might be pretty tasty, within an hour many people might find a light grilled chicken salad would have left them feeling better.

I guess what I'm thinking is that feeling better might be more of a side effect of the changes people make when they are trying to lose weight.

5:59 PM  
Blogger kStyle said...

Hi, Ben! Long time no see! Welcome!

I know what you mean, but it just strikes me as odd because, as a quite overweight person, I have better energy and smoother digestion than many thin people I know. I think there's this assumption that overweight people are couch potatoes who eat burgers and fries every meal. In my experience, many overweight people exercise regularly and some eat quite well, just too large portions or (like me) too many sweets. I know other people who are not overweight, but shovel down jelly beans, coffee, and fast food, and smoke on top of it. So I guess it's not so much the question to me of, What do we mean by "feeling better"?, so much as, maybe we shouldn't assume that overweight people feel badly, or that skinny people feel good.

My sister is a good weight. She has terrible health.

10:48 PM  

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