Leftist commentary from a mouthy bitch
originally posted this in her LJ, and I asked her to rework it a bit for posting here.
I’ve been doing Weight Watchers Online since November. Overall I’ve had good results. However, since the get-go I’ve had misgivings about having anything to do with the weight loss industry. Though I continue to do well on the program, how I feel about it is an ongoing process of assessment and reassessment.
There are a few reasons I’m ‘meh’ about Weight Watchers, even though the online version isn’t that expensive and I’m getting results. It’s putting money into the Weight Loss Industry(WLI), and I have problems with what that industry is doing to people. I’m considering shifting to another community that doesn’t charge and isn’t affiliated with the WLI. I’m still in the thinking-about-it phase. We’ll see what happens.
My major problem has to do with how the program only kind of pays lip service to healthy eating. Yeah, you’re supposed to eat X many vegetables a day and drink Z glasses of water, and there’s an activity tracker to stress the importance of exercise. There are guidelines, but they don’t touch upon what I think is really important.
Part of my success so far has been learning when to stop eating. I’m a comfort eater, and if I’m not thinking about it, I will gorge myself until I’m sick, when I deign to eat at all. The constant binge/starve has done a number on my body. To put it bluntly, I suck at intuitive eating. Keeping track of when and what I eat has helped me figure out if I’m actually hungry or if I’m bored/distressed/whatever. An important element that isn’t supported by WW is dealing with the boredom/distress/whatever. I’m in therapy. Part of what I address in therapy is the stuff that makes me bored/distressed/whatever, and I’m developing tools to deal with those. Without that support, I’m not sure how I’d do that.
I also want to talk about eating, because another thing the program doesn’t really address is the way the food in our culture has stopped being food. Do you know how I get enough to eat? I cut processed garbage almost completely out of my diet. I say almost, because it’s impossible to cut it out completely. Fresh food, real food, has been the key. WW doesn’t push real food over processed. It just counts the points. I figured out on my own that real food came out to fewer points and more nutrition.
The program is working for me, but it’s working for me because of a whole lot of work I’ve done on my own to make it work. The tracking system is handy, but it’s pretty much the only thing WW is giving me. That and a little widget that lets me figure out how many points something has by entering the calories, fat, and fiber content. I’ve got no interest in the community aspect. I poked my nose in the forums and hurriedly backed right the hell back out again. So I’m wondering if there’s a way I could do this without giving money to the WLI.
I guess what really bugs me about the WLI is the idea that my waistline is a disease that needs cured. There is a whole lot wrong with me that needs cured, but it’s not my waistline. My waistline will settle into whatever it’s going to settle into, and as long as I’m addressing the mental issues, I’m on the path to healing. As long as I address the physical issues (not my waistline, but things like pain management and activity), then I’m on the path to healing. Yes, of course I want to be thinner. Have you seen the society we live in? But I’m learning how to be happy in me, and I think that once I get in better shape (again, not talking about the waistline here) I’ll be one rocking chubby girl.
But I think it’s important to mention that success lies with eating real food and learning to love the you that you are. Neither of those things are stressed in the WLI, and usually it’s quite the opposite. Drink our diet shake and stew in your own shame and self-loathing. Hey, if nothing else, it guarantees repeat customers.
It also doesn’t address the privilege of being able to get fresh food and having the time to prepare it. I live in a place where produce is readily available year round. While it’s often too much of a walk for me, my partner can trot down to the grocery store, and public transport is such that bringing home groceries is imminently doable. We’re privileged to not live in a neighborhood where there are precious few stores and the ones that do have fresh produce charge an arm and a leg for it. We’re not trying to raise kids while holding down several jobs. It’s easy to extol the virtues of real food, but one must realize that having access to it is privilege. Having access to mental health care is privilege, even if the illness that necessitates it isn’t.
I’m not really sure what to do about it, but being aware of it does help put things in perspective. When talking about the so called obesity epidemic and the health of our nation, it’s an important thing to address, because so far all our big clever plans, like fat taxes on junk food, result in screwing people who are already poor and have too few choices. The people who are choosing crappy food when they have other options aren’t going to be hurt by this tax. The single mom working two jobs and living in a neighborhood with no grocery stores but three McDonald’s, on the other hand…
So that’s the problematic side to all this successful weight loss, and why even though I’m very happy with the way things are going, it’s not without the awareness that it takes more than willpower. It takes access to mental health resources. It takes access to nutritious and affordable food. It takes having a weight issue that can be addressed by a change in diet. It takes a mental makeup where tracking food does more good than harm, and that’s as much of a biological crapshoot as the genes that make me chunky while my partner eats thrice what I do and never gains an ounce. It takes a whole lot of stuff the WLI is happy to pretend you don’t need if only you buy their product, and I guess I’m still wrestling with how I feel about that.
Thank you, ! If any of you would like to be a guest poster here, drop me an email at sirriamnis at gmail dot com, or leave a comment on one of the posts. Thanks for reading!