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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

She Attacks The Diet Industry Because She's In a Mood

Sometimes when I get feeling depressed; I have this urge to be very,very cynical and sarcastic and critical. But I don't like to take that out on actual people, since I really love people and hate knowing that I made someone else's life shittier than it has to be. So, this morning when I came across a popular weight loss propoganda, that spark of cynical irritation came flaring to life within me. Please join me in a virtual bashing as I dissect a portion of this interview process. Raise your glass of full fat mochacino to these poor, hungry women and in your other hand, wave a placard begging for a new definition of "success".

(Popular weight loss group, interviewing woman for their online "success story") :
"So, Susan; What combination of elements do you believe most contributed to your success?"

Joyce's cynical brain: By success, we can assume that you mean you managed to transform yourself from a fat leeching drain on society into a vibrant, thin, smart, happy, bright, addiction-free, recession-proof, happily married, perfect mother, crafting birthday party throwing pinata making aerobic genius? Because we all know that no one could possibly expect acceptance, love, flowers, or balloons if one is four to four hundred pounds overweight, right? And one could easily assume that it would be impossible to be happy or content unless one has found success via the golden calf of weight loss? But, hey. I could be wrong. So, let's give Susan a chance to answer the question, shall we?

Susan: I had lots of good support at home. My husband would come home from work early and baby-sit so I could go to Meetings.

Whoa! Susan!! Did you just say that your husband is a baby-sitter?! Whose children are they? The Schwanns man? Maybe your better chance at "success" is reminding your husband that a parent never baby-sits his or her own children. It's called parenting, and there is nothing particulary heroic about it.

I also decided "It's about me now."

Why does it make me consistently and completely crazy whenever these words are spoken? Even when my counsellor would suggest that I should "Put myself back in the equasion", I wanted to spit. Maybe it's just semantics, but it sounds so bloody selfish. Don't we live in a culture where it's always "about me"? Don't we need to hear something way more revolutionary like "It's about loving your neighbour. It's about finding yourself through losing yourself. It's about finding wealth by giving it all away. It's about letting it all go."

I had done a lot for everyone else, so now it was time to focus on me.

That sounds sort of good. That sounds almost charitable. But it sounds so mutually exclusive. Weird, how that just feels like a punch in the gut. Kind of reminds me of when men leave their marriage of 25 or 28 years, finally seeing the light of "looking after themselves" and figuring out that they're really "just not that into you" any more. Maybe I'm reading a lot into this, but isn't that just crazy selfish? Wrong? Don't we sort of innately focus on our selves, navel gazing, sweating, stressing, thinking it's all about us?

I wanted to be as young as I could for as long as I could, and I knew I had to be slimmer to do that.

Because EVERYONE knows that its impossible to be fit and healthy unless you are also slim. No one believes those statistics about how unhealthy it is for women to be underweight, how they cease to menstruate, how they grow hair like fur to keep their arms warm, and how the hair on their heads starts to fall out in clumps. How they have to take supplemental pills because they are malnourished, how they are more prone to osteoperosis, anemia, brittle nails, dry skin... Just to mention a few.

I also wanted to wear cute clothes and I couldn't find any in my size!

hmmm... Okay. You've got a point there. And that is a way to measure success, for sure. It's hard to find fashionable mu mus, and it's frustrating to not fit your favourite clothes because you've had one wheel of Brie too many. But what if ultimately, success doesn't lie in the shape of our bodies? What if his constant barrage of weight-loss pressure is akin to a subtle conspiracy to make us ineffective in our worlds? What if we believe that we are successful, regardless of the weight we do or do not carry? The breasts that we love or hate? The stomachs flat or paunchy? What if we got so consumed and so heart broken about the huge, real needs in our peripheries, that the bodies we live in would be mere vehicles to take us where our hearts want to go?

How then would we measure success?

I don't know, Susan. Maybe you did experience some sort of personal revolution that also included the shape of your physical body. But I don't think I would represent just myself when I say that I would love to receive an inundation on the renewing of the mind. How I'd like to become a success story that would reflect a transformation by that type of renewal. How something began on the inside, around the area of my heart, and then radiated outward with continual concentric circles, spanning so very far away from "ME" that advice about "making it about me now" would seem obselete and ridiculous.

It is handy, and easily measured to just boil it down to the size and shape of the body though, I'll give you that. But personally, I think it's all a trick. It seems attainable, that type of success. whereas renewing a MIND? Whew! I guess that would be pretty hard to market, eh?

'Cuz what kind of tape measures and weigh scales could we possibly find to measure our success then, eh? Maybe you're onto something Susah. Congratulations on your ultimate success. Now go hire your husband to baby-sit your children and go for a run or something. That whole success thingie is pretty tenuous, you know...


Karen said...

Great post! And I confess I vaccilate between cynicism and being sucked in to the messaging that our packaging is where we ought to invest...

joyce said...

oh.... So do I, Karen. which is why I get so angry and cynical. They get me in the sucker a lot of the time and I have to constantly try to re-teach myself that I DO NOT BELIEVE THESE THINGS. But they are awfully convincing.

jb said...

wow joyce. i absolutely love this!!! and i've always wondered if it was just me that the saying "it's about me now," or, "i'm going to put myself first," is completely selfish. glad to know i'm not out to lunch. :)

Roo said...

well said.

coffeeloves said...

love your brilliance to bits.

Linda said...

You are so right. Amen!

Anonymous said...

i love your honesty. our society is so shallow. so weight obsessed. the package you come in is never good enough. too fat. too skinny.


Jennifer P said...

I have to admit, I am a member of said organization and my husband is an enthusiastic cheerleader. A lot of the propaganda drives me nuts but I've learned a lot about eating better and have lost weight. That said, it's only a tool and anyone that thinks weight loss is the magic bullet to success and riches and happiness is a fibber fox.

EPrairiegrrl said...

Got this in my email from a friend. It won't help with the packaging battle but if it turns out, I could be happy with successful cake in 5 mins...and a latte ;-)


4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
a small splash of vanilla extract
1 large coffee mug

Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Pour in the milk and oil and mix well. Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla extract, and mix again.
Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts. The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed! Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.
EAT! (this can serve 2 if you want to feel slightly more virtuous). And why is this the most dangerous cake recipe in the world?
Because now we are all only 5 minutes away from chocolate cake at any time of the day or night!

joyce said...

WW is actually a sensible program. They are not as "This is a diet" directed as many others, and i think for people who want to learn about balanced eating and don't get all obsessive and unbalanced about it, (ahem, me.) it is a good thing. So, your husband is a cheerleader, but not so much a "baby-sitter"?! ha ha. Funny things make me crazy.

Cake lady: that recipe totally works- just ask my husband who makes it while baby-sitting our son.(ba, hah, she flogs the dead horse) It's surprisingly delicious and we made it for his birthday party.

I can one up you though. did you know that keeping ice cream in your freezer is even more wonderful? Without wasting time with the microwave, you can experience nirvana any time; day or night!

Jenn said...

Loved the post Joyce!
I would love to add more, but I am off to my weightwatchers meeting.
I wonder how many "points" that coffee cup cake thing is... sounds delightful:)

Anonymous said...

Even better - Ice cream on the Chocolate Cake!

Jennifer P said...

Nah, my man is all dad through and through. None of that babysitting bunk.
And now that my boys are off to swimming lessons and I have the house to myself I'm going to make me a mug cake.

EPrairiegrrl said...

I think sometimes doing the healthy thing makes us feel good and sometimes food makes us feel good. Balance is figuring out which one you need when...and knowing that if you get it wrong tomorrow is another day.

And maybe tomorrow you eat less and exercise more or maybe you exercise more and eat more or maybe you eat more and do's all ok. And maybe sometimes you call a friend over and have cake and ice cream that's nirvana!

Love reading your blogs, Joyce ;-)

I have one of your "boler bags" out here in Alberta. But I am short on ice cream lol.

it's a gong show... said...

I really love what EPrairiegrrl said. It's so true. Balance is the key!

P.S. Great post Joyce :)

Melodie said...

Joyce, you are so right about this
especially the "its about me" crap, and the babysitting. But I need to know: do you get Schwanns in Niverville? Growing up in portage, we had a schwanns delivery truck of goodness come by once in a while, we'd get chocolate pushups (so unlike workout pushups) and apple pies and glorious ice cream sandwiches. Do they still exist?
I also loved the part about "an extra wheel of brie"

Jennie C. said...

Just catching up on your blog. And this one is definitely an AMEN SISTER. I tell myself (no one else will listen) this stuff all the time. Because I'm worth it? Ppsshaw.