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Jan 17 2011

How This Weight-Loss Skeptic Lost 60 Pounds and Kept it Off

Scale 1 AlterNet has just published a revised, updated version of my “here’s how I’m doing it” piece on weight management, “The Fat-Positive Feminist Skeptical Diet,” which they’ve re-titled How This Weight-Loss Skeptic Lost 60 Pounds and Kept it Off. Here’s how it begins:

How, exactly, do you lose weight while maintaining progressive ideals about body image?

In the last year and a half, I’ve lost 60 pounds. I’ve done a fair amount of writing about it, here on AlterNet and on my own blog: about the politics and cultural issues of weight loss, the psychological and sexual and weird emotional stuff connected with it, my changing and conflicted thoughts about the fat- acceptance movement and its ideals of accepting our bodies the way they are.

But I know that when people talk about weight loss, all that political and cultural crap is, for most people, only of moderate interest. When you’ve lost weight, what most people want to know is, “How did you do it?”

So here, for anyone who’s interested in losing weight or maintaining weight loss, are the nuts-and-bolts details: the specific “how-to” of my so-far successful effort to lose weight and maintain weight loss in an evidence- based manner, while retaining my feminist ideals and my resistance to body fascism. (And for anyone who’s not interested in losing weight — that’s totally cool. I’m not evangelizing for weight loss for everyone. The cost/ benefit analysis of weight loss is different for everyone, and I completely support fat people who are genuinely happy with their bodies and aren’t interested in losing weight. I just also happen to support fat people who do want to lose weight, and who want to do it in a healthy and sustainable way. Our bodies, our right to decide.)

I’ll tell you right now: This isn’t a diet in any traditional sense. I’m not going to tell you that I eat twelve meals a day every two hours, or that I limit myself to six servings of pork a week, or that I only eat plankton and spelt and a vodka martini on the full moon. What I’m going to talk about is practical strategies that have helped me lose weight… and emotional/ psychological strategies that have helped me stay on track with the practical strategies.

I should spell out very clearly before I begin: I’m not an expert. I’m not a physiologist or a nutritionist or a researcher on weight loss. I’m a lay person who’s staying on top of the research as best I can, and who’s found some things that are working for me. Some of it may work for you. Take what you need; leave the rest; pay attention to the current research; talk with other people about what works for them.

To read the revised and updated details of my weight loss and weight management plan, read the rest of the piece. Enjoy!

9 comments

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  1. 1
    DSimon

    Oi, they messed up your nice title pretty badly there. :-\

  2. 2
    Snarkyxanf

    I have a suggestion for weighing yourself: use a spreadsheet to calculate a rolling average, and treat that as your real weight.
    The day-to-day variations get smoothed out, but you still get feedback, and the benefits of a daily habit. It also highlights trends well, since bounces get hidden, but slow creeping moves keep showing up.

  3. 3
    MMarcus

    Greta:
    Your article rocked! I loved all of it, and can’t wait to tell friends that I read the best weight loss article I’ve ever read. I guess I joined alternet at the right time.
    Keep up the lightness,
    -MM

  4. 4
    Azkyroth

    One suggestion from a recent health class that didn’t show up in your article: drink an 8oz glass of water before and after each meal. (Now if I can get my stomach to accept water…)

  5. 5
    Eclectic

    Snarkyxanf: I was going to make the same suggestion. “The Hacker’s Diet” recommends a 10-day moving average: new = old + (today − old)/10.
    If you’re losing weight, your daily weighing will usually be lower than the moving average, which lags by about a week. If you’re above that average a couple of day in a row, then worry.
    This smooths out the lumps and bumps, but still tells you within a few days if you’re veering off course.

  6. 6
    Valhar2000

    I used to weigh myself often, maybe once a day, and I stored the numbers in the iPhone application I was using to count calories. It would show a graph of the weight measurements I had taken, and being able to see all the wiggles reassured me that I did not need to pay attention to them. In addition to this, I could look at the graph and see if there was a general downward trend.

  7. 7
    vel

    Great article as usual. too bad that there have to be people who just can’t be happy someone made a good choice for themselves over on alternet. I recently got a rower and now actually get some physical activity even when it’s nasty out! I do find that the “water before meals” does help, but it really is the calories. I just can’t let my self get hungry, and sometimes with my little snacks it feels like my *job* is eating constantly :)

  8. 8
    mvanstav

    A lot of this is very similar to strategies I use to eat less sugar. I’m hypoglycemic, and as I cut back on eating sugar to manage it I got very depressed. No more cake, ever. No more doughnuts, ever. No more candy, ever. Except that’s not true. Usually what I do now is have tiny portions: a bite of my boyfriend’s slice of cake instead of getting my one, a bite of a chocolate bar instead of the whole thing. What little sugar I do it, I eat slowly to enjoy every bite, and I’ve found that it’s amazingly satisfying. I can’t imagine eating a whole slice of cake anymore – it’s just too much, and I’ve gotten so used to the tiny amount. Interesting to see that a lot of the strategies are similar. Anyway glad to hear you’ve found something that works for you.

  9. 9
    Kjrsten

    I just discovered your blog through the article on AlterNet, and I’m enjoying skipping around your posts. (I did read your “If you’re going to read 3 things…”).
    I have a feeling I’ll be commenting more in the future but I just wanted to offer encouragement, and perhaps contradiction of conventional wisdom — Maintenance can be easy! (Well, not *easy*, but not as tough as losing 60 pounds).
    I lost around 50 pounds over the course of 2 years (1999 to 2001) and I’ve been maintaining that loss doing all the things you are doing: food tracking, weighing often, making sure I get my exercise. I’m a member of the National Weight Control Registry and it’s a geeky thrill every time they send me another follow-up questionnaire.
    I was particularly interested in your writing about “when am I *done* losing weight?” — I still struggle with that. A few times since my initial big loss, I’ve managed to lose about 10 more pounds… but haven’t maintained that for very long. I’m trying again to lose the 10, because I have an “ideal” that I’m trying to reach. (Although the last time I was there, it didn’t seem ideal enough : / ).
    But I can tell you this — maintenance has been *easy* compared to losing it in the first place, and a heck of a lot easier than losing more weight seems to be now.

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