Moooooooo. Not.

June 16, 2004

It’s always a good idea to start a project on a highly controversial note, which is why this site is called Losing the Cow.

“ARE YOU CALLING YOURSELF A COW?”

Well, no.

“I AM TRYING TO LOSE WEIGHT! I HAVE ENOUGH SELF-ESTEEM ISSUES AS IT IS! ARE YOU CALLING ME A COW?”

Of course not.

About the title

The story is that at some point, I stumbled across a quote from Harvey MacKay, who is, unfortunately, a business motivational speaker. He said this:

It doesn’t matter how much milk you spill, as long as you don’t lose the cow.

And because I was in the middle of this mondo weight thing, that made me laugh. Because . . . get it? Don’t lose the cow? But, like, lose the cow? Well, I thought it was funny.

Because Harvey, even though he probably endorses thinking outside the box and numerous other concepts I despise, has hit it right on the head. The only thing — the only thing — that will sink your ass is quitting. I have news for you about people who have lost big-time amounts of weight and not gained it back: They don’t go balls-out all the time. To a person, everyone I know who has had success in this particular arena knows how to say, “And then I had a gigantic piece of Extended Screaming Orgasm Chocolate-Peanut-Whipped-Cream Pie, which was really, really, really good. And then it was the next day, and for breakfast, I had Cheerios.”

It’s easy to get really austere about the whole thing. You can always tell when people are offended by food. They look at donuts with . . . suspicion, sort of. It used to be the fat-gram people. “That has 80 grams of fat.” “Thank you. It’s a bacon burger and fries, so . . . right.” Now, as you know, it is the carb people.

No offense, carb people

I don’t mean to slag the carb people, because . . . damn, I don’t fault anybody who’s doing something. It’s the same thing with the gastric bypass thing. If you do surgery, then . . . that’s a rough road, and I wish you nothing but luck.

And actually, as I said once before, I have a lot of ambivalence about even getting into this, for precisely this reason. Hell, I don’t have answers. I still eat Cheez-Its for dinner on occasion. But this past Saturday, when I was leaving my Weight Watchers meeting (more on this at some point), I was getting into my car when this lady stopped me and said this:

You’re my inspiration, you know.

Holy crap. I mean, those things are said tongue-in-cheek, to some degree — the people at that meeting know I just passed a hundred pounds lost, and they know it took me for-freaking-ever, so in some ways, I am sort of the iconic turtle in the grand Tortoise-Hare Race To Get Smaller. (Hmm, I could have called this place “The Iconic Turtle,” also.) And they know I’m still working my ass off (heh, mm-hmm) because there’s still a ways to go.

But tongue-in-cheek or not, it’s hard for me to even explain what it means to have someone tell you that you inspire them to succeed at something when, for the first twenty-five years of your life, you pretty much constructed your entire identity around failing at it. It’s nothing more or less than that. I wish I were kidding about the “whole identity” thing. But I’m not. And that’s what she and I got talking about.

We were doing the thing, as you do, where you pick people’s brains about what works for them and how they think about things, and I got to trying to explain about how I sat at the same point for probably two years after getting really close to that hundred mark, and how I eventually figured out that I was kind of . . . blocked. And that was when I figured out the thing I said up there about constructing your identity around failing at something and then appearing to be successful at it, and the fact that depending on how complicated and goofy your mind is, you’re going to fight yourself about it.

Shaking your booty

To really understand this chapter of my particular tale, you should hear an earlier chapter, which is that when I was a senior in high school, I did that shake-taking regimen that Oprah did. Remember? How she lost 90 pounds or whatever, and came out in her Calvins and everybody cheered with yellow pompoms, and she brought out the little red wagon full of fat? I did that same thing. Nothing but shakes, three or four times a day (four, I think), for twelve weeks. God, those things were gross. I could stomach the orange ones dissolved in Diet Sprite — I’m pretty sure that’s what I had most often. The chocolate ones I found kind of horrifying. The vanilla ones were acceptable with cinnamon. But overall, they were really disgusting. Pasty, chalky, nasty little fuckers. Twelve weeks, and I never broke. Didn’t have a bite, didn’t have a taste, didn’t lick a spoon. And the particular twelve weeks that I chose included Halloween, my birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. Not one bite. It was the year I turned eighteen.

And, like Oprah, I lost all this weight, and then, like Oprah, I gained it all back. And then, just for fun, a bunch more stacked on top of it. The best comparison I can really offer you, as melodramatic as it sounds, is Flowers for Algernon. You get this reprieve, and it’s like visiting the Promised Land, and it’s really exciting. Girls who used to snort at you in third grade come up and say, “Oh, I just admire you soooooooo much!” You want to tell them to go fuck themselves, but you don’t. Because you used to be a loser, and now you are a winner, and you’re much too busy hungrily sucking up the affirmation to notice that you kind of haven’t learned anything, in that you’re still obsessing over and fetishizing what you eat and how you look. And then, much faster than even seems possible, it just gets away from you. You’ve run your metabolism down to a pitiful limp, you’ve taught yourself to be scared of eating (scared! of eating!), and you still don’t really know anything about yourself except where you are with this one thing. And I could try to tell you how heartbreaking it was when it didn’t take, for me and (I’m sure) all the people who loved me, but anything I said would fall painfully short.

But, as I was telling this woman on Saturday, I remain extremely glad that I did it. I think it was absolutely critically important that I did that. Because here’s what I took away from that experience: Weakness is apparently not the issue. And it started to kind of bug me, in the way that my brain is analytical and ponderous. Because when you first got poked in the belly by a disapproving doctor at the age of eight, for fuck’s sake, by the time you’re fifteen or sixteen, you have a very well-developed theory of yourself, and it goes like this: I suck. I’m weak. No (and here’s my least favorite phrase ever) will power.

You know all those jokes? You know what the greatest exercise is? Pushing yourself away from the table. Oh, har har. When I was growing up, it was just kind of an accepted thing everywhere you went that the issue was merely lack of will. Oh, toughen up. Oh, quit being so self-indulgent. Oh, quit being so weak.

And then I went twelve weeks without eating, so that theory was pretty well demolished. Iron will? Yeah, I got that.

How I was ahead of Dr. Phil

So I’m sitting around thinking, “What the hell am I doing? Why am I not changing this stupid thing about myself if I obviously can and I obviously want to?” I got this inspiration, and it went like this: You’re using it for something. It was the only explanation. Now, understand, this was before Dr. Phil started telling everybody the whole “you do it because it works” thing, which is the same theory. But those were the words in my head: You’re using it for something.

Now, all of the details of my thought process are probably a little too personal and a little more than you need to know, but it boils down to this: Why would you expect that it would be easy to give up something about yourself that’s defined you all your life in your own mind? It was absurdly obvious, once I started to think about it. At some point, I realized that I had literally no idea what I would be like if I were abruptly transported into, like, an athlete’s frame. I couldn’t imagine it. Could not imagine. And it’s dumb, because everybody has a personality, and everybody has things about them, and I was not in fact defined by what I looked like, but that’s how much it had started to crowd out everything else in my head.

Of course I was using it for something. I was using it to stay myself.

Ahhhhhh. *Ding!* It’s not like that has ended the struggling, but it gave me an entirely, totally different perspective on it. People will tell you it’s because you don’t “want it enough.” Oh, I wanted it enough. The problem is that it took a while to figure out that there was an equal and opposite sense in which I didn’t want it.

The inevitable extended and tortured metaphor

As I explained it in this conversation on Saturday, it’s like trying to win a tug-of-war, and you pull as goddamn hard as you can, and you don’t make any progress at all. And it seems like you should be able to do it, but you just don’t. And when you seek advice, you get the same piece most of the time: “Pull harder. You’re not pulling hard enough.”

Gee, thanks.

Or “Pull like this. You’re holding the rope wrong.” “No, no, pull like this. Stand with your feet like this.” “Put this stuff on your hands.” “For six easy payments of $19.95, we can teach you how to pull even harder.” “Pull harder, goddammit, what are ya, a sissy?”

Yeah. Here’s the advice you don’t get, that you should get:

1. Tie the rope to something secure.
2. Walk along the rope until you find the other end.
3. There will be a guy standing there. Kick the shit out of him.

I’m serious. It’s not just about pulling harder. Well — that’s not quite right. It’s about pulling hard. I pull hard every day. There’s iron will involved, most definitely. Without a measure of that, you’re going nowhere. But when you’re pulling really hard and you don’t know what the hell is wrong, find what’s at the other end of the rope. That’s what I mean about fighting yourself about the loss of your identity — that’s what it was in my particular case; yours might be different.

I think part of the problem is that historically, the other end of the rope has been understood to be something like “how much you like cookies,” which is bullshit. Like it’s how valiant of a person you are versus your urge for mashed potatoes. Ridiculous.

Now, like I said, it’s not that those things aren’t in play. I’ve given up stuff I like, or at least given up having it frequently. I’ve dragged my ass out for walks or aerobic what-have-you when I have not felt like it. That plain old bad-ass brute-force engine I used to skip Thanksgiving and Christmas, I still use every day. The difficulty is that iron will and fiendish determination are necessary but not sufficient conditions for losing a substantial amount of weight.

It’s also not that there aren’t people for whom tightening up their habits and pulling a little harder are pretty much all it takes. When I see people who are like, “Oh, I gained twenty pounds after I had a baby and started being stuck in the house all day,” that’s a different phenomenon. I’m really talking about the lifelong-struggle people.

And I do think that for those people, a lot of the time, there’s something else at the other end of the rope. It’s about protecting yourself, or knowing that your boyfriend loves you for your mind, or sharing something with your mother or your best friend or whoever . . . something, you know? When I say there isn’t enough advice about looking for root causes, I’m not saying you don’t get counseling-types who tell you that you have to learn that food isn’t love — that shit is so condescending and ridiculous. I’m not a dimwit; I never believed that a cookie replaced boys. That’s . . . not really worth dignifying, and it’s a really insulting pile of crap to lay on people.

But in the end, the thing is, it’s still on you. The only one who’s going to get up, follow the rope, and do the ass-kicking is you. Just because it’s not “pull harder” doesn’t mean it’s not you. And it’s weird, and hard, and disorienting, and you might have to rip out a lot of your internal architecture to get there, because the entire reason you’re pulling so hard and not getting anywhere is that the guy at the other end of the rope is no cupcake.

The good part of it being all on you, though, is that it’s one of the most satisfying accomplishments you can own, I think. It’s not like I don’t love my friends and my family, and it’s not like I don’t appreciate them for being really supportive, and it’s not like I don’t appreciate the Weight Watchers people and whatnot, because I do. But you know, there’s really ultimately nothing anybody except you can do on this particular issue. Your behavior is the sum total of your decisions, and when you’re pleased with them? That’s good, and it’s yours, and it means something.

So ANYWAY

Yeah, so I told her a lot of this, about the rope and things, and she was really insistent that I remember it and talk about it at one of the meetings some morning. So I got to thinking . . . Well, I write, and I have space, and I know how to throw a weblog up in about ten minutes, so since my brain has already spent ten years figuring this all out, I might as well make some notes, in case someone finds them useful.

So that’s what I’m doing. Making some notes.

Now here’s what I’m not here to do: Give you constant progress updates. If you’re looking for one of those “Down 1.8 this week!!!!” journals, this is not one. I am also not here to argue about Atkins or surgery, at least not right now. Maybe later. But this has been a major project in my life, and I’ve learned some interesting stuff, both profound (see tortured metaphor, above) and less profound (the fine line between good and evil is well-represented by the fine line between reduced-fat cheese and nonfat cheese), and I’m going to write some of it down.

Plus, it’s possible that I will give you my margarita recipe, which I am proud to tell you has 10 points, and therefore is saved for Friday nights at the end of successful weeks, since my FlexPoints reset on Saturday. (Some of you completely understand this paragraph; the rest of you, we’ll talk about it later.)

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86 Responses to “Moooooooo. Not.”

  1. Kim Says:

    Wow. Yesterday – I started a “secret” blog (I have a more publice one elsewhere) where I am monitoring my eating habits b/c although my weight has been a struggle all my life – I have had good times (like you) and I want to find a way to get those back without using the word diet. Anyway – so reading your article today was very timely. Well written. And I can relate a little too well. Now – all of that said? I am no where near where you are right now. I can relate, but mentally? I’m still where you were at 18 and having just put the weight back on. So – thanks for letting me read how you got to where you are. And maybe, I’ll have that notch in my belt – not the weight loss – but the realization – to show off too. Sorry for babbling.

  2. Rebecca Says:

    I’m one of those shy people that worships your wit and wisdom silently from afar. In fact, I saw you at the TAR party last year and was too intimidated to even come up and say hello. I felt I had to come out from “cover of darkness” after reading this to let you know that your essay LITERALLY made my eyes well up. I think it takes a grown up “little fat girl” to truly understand your point of view.
    Congratulations on your OUTSTANDING achievement. I have no doubt you will keep it off forever.

  3. Merideth Says:

    This? Is Awesome. It’s kind of scary how much of this resonates with me. I admire you for not just focusing on the loss, but for the reasons for the gain.

    Keep writing here. I appreciate it.

  4. ZenViking Says:

    I’ve got personal stuff I can talk about sometime it’s appropriate, but I don’t want to blather. I’m just here to say you rule. Good work.

  5. Kimmy Says:

    Oh wow. Much like the Kim who commented earlier, I just started a weight loss blog. Mine’s not secret, because the only way I ever get anywhere is with the support of those around me. But I admire you more than I can say. I’ve only been battling weight for five or six years, and I’ve often wondered what happened between my early teenage years and young adulthood that so totally screwed me up. Thank you for reminding me that there is more to it than losing the fight against the chewy chocolate chip cookies in the cabinet.

  6. shell Says:

    Am I allowed to say that this was inspiring? Seriously. And we all have guys at the other end of the rope, a rope of *something*, whether it’s weight loss or something else. It was really, really great to read this. I know you don’t know me, and the only thing we have in common, really, is that we both went to Oberlin, but your writing continues to impress, amuse, entertain, and, yes, inspire me. So thanks.

  7. rayvyn2k Says:

    I’ve been looking for that guy on the other end of the rope ever since Dr. Phil’s book came out and I haven’t found him yet. Are you sure it’s not just the cookies?

  8. Teresa Says:

    I echo the sentiments above. Your writing has continually impressed me, but this touched me more than anything. Everything else you write makes me laugh; this one made me cry. Love the rope metaphor. I’ve found the guy at the other end, and am working on kicking his ass, but you nailed it when you said it’s a struggle. Because it’s really my own ass. Shakes? Did that in law school (and during summer clerkships) for 16 weeks. Same results. I even recall some crazy burger/orange/hard-boiled egg diet my mother and I did together when I was in junior high. How nuts is that? I’ll watch this space with interest, not for progress reports, but for more of your insight. It is much appreciated.

  9. Dawn Says:

    Beautiful piece. Completely inspirational. I’m in a been-there, still-there kinda space, so your words are very much appreciated. Thank you.

  10. Janice Says:

    Thank you so much for sharing. I had to skip my WW meeting today in order to rush back to work, but your words were so, so much better.

    I have been following my rope for three years. There were times when I don’t think I was even taking baby steps. I found the end this year, and have been kicking hard for a few months.

    I can’t wait to read more. Contratulations to you, and thank you again.

  11. Abbie Says:

    I found this through Pamie and I have to say that it is so nice to read a piece so well-written with something to say. I am so impressed.
    You are inspirational, but for more than just weight loss.

  12. Heather E. Says:

    Yeeep, 10 points? I don’t reset until Monday. Look forward to reading your blog.

  13. Courtney Says:

    I also found this through Pamie and I’m so glad I did. I too and a life long struggler and a weight watchers member. The rope analogy is dead on, and wished someone had told me it in high school. My group will be very interested in that 10 point margarita. You rock.

  14. Lora Says:

    I also found your site from Pamie’s site (which i found from TWoP) and please allow me to join to list to say wow. i am 21 and having been battling with my weight my entire life. I tried WW in high school and lost 13 lbs. but have gained it all back plus. Thank you for your insights and openess and i look forward to hearing what else you have to say.

  15. Laura Says:

    Awesome. Really, truly great. I love stuff that makes sense.

  16. JenE Says:

    Inspiring writing. I, too, found this site through Pamie. I look forward to future postings.

  17. Joelle Says:

    Preach on, sistah souljah!

    I certainly hope you submitted to ejshea’s book thing.

    Anyway, yes, I know how it feels to be told you’re someone’s inspiration. It’s stunning, no? After starting the Donunt, I get emails like that and I still get all weepy and surprised.

    I’m so glad you started this site. 🙂

  18. Shana Says:

    I know a bajillion people have already made comments to this effect, but I just wanted to tell you your analogy is spot-on and you write beautifully. My best friend is doing her thesis for her Psychology Masters on the experience of being overweight, and she and I have struggled with our weight since 6th grade, so we’ve been expressing these sentiments since we were 12 years old. Especially lately, what with her doing interviews for her thesis, we’ve been coming to the realization that being heavy serves us in some way. This entry gives me hope that eventually I’ll reach the end of my rope (in a good way =)

  19. Leora Says:

    Thanks.

  20. si Says:

    You need to find the guy at the end of the rope and kick his ass. Oh, man. That’s mind-blowing. (I usually don’t use the phrase “mind-blowing” but, for lack of a better word…)

    I definitely need to do some ass-kicking. But how do I find the guy? I thought “the guy” is “I use food for comfort,” but is that the same BS as “I love french fries too much”?

    Maybe in a future post you can elaborate on how you found “the guy” at the end of your rope. Thanks for the insight.

  21. kdeweb Says:

    I love your philosophy about the diet thing. I have the same one. I found your site through Put Down the Donut, and I instantly blogrolled it because you have such a great style.

    It is starting to freak me out too when people tell me that I am an inspiration to them. I still have a long way to go, but I’ve already lost 67 pounds. I still can’t believe I’ve done that. It is quite impossible that I am only 33 pounds away from my first 100 pound loss. But I’m not thinking about that, because all I can do anything about is today. That is all I have control over.

    I look forward to seeing what you have to say in the future. Congrats on being chosen as the site of the week at PDTD! I’m thinking they made a great choice from what I’ve seen so far.

  22. Lara Says:

    I’m SO thoroughly impressed with you! I love your attitude, your wit, and most of all your frank outlook on this whole weight loss thing we’re all going through.

    I can’t wait to see more! *bookmarked*

  23. LM Says:

    That was extremely well written. Thank you for sharing. And I mean that.

  24. Liza Says:

    Perfect. I’ve been craving a well-written blog about dieting. And, because I’m selfish, I will encourage you to keep it up.

  25. Dana Gergely Says:

    That gave me chills- amazing.

  26. Tarn Says:

    You have so hit the nail on the head (wipes away tears). I think this is the best, most honest piece I’ve ever read about dealing with lifelong weight struggle. I can never remember a time in my life when I wasn’t considered chubby, chunky, or just plain ‘ol fat. I even remember my mom hugging my friend and then me before we left for a sleepover when I was 6, and she commented “Wow, Kristy (my friend) just feels so skinny! I’m used to hugging Tarn (me), who’s so much more meaty.” 21 years later, I’m still the meaty friend. So it’s who I am and who I’ve always been, and by the way, thanks a lot for that comment, Usually Awesome Mom.

    It’s probably why I always add that one extra scoop that I don’t need, or even want, to my bowl of ice cream. Why I don’t give up fast food, even though it doesn’t always taste that good and my wallet would be much fatter if I would just pack my own lunch.

    Anyway, I’ve begun “pulling harder” lately with exercise and healthier food, and now I’m inspired to start gunning for that jerk at the other end of the rope. Thanks a million!

  27. Brandy Brooks Says:

    Like so many of the other posters here, I truly appreciated this essay – I’ve always struggled with my body image and perception of my “right” weight, even when (as I now realize) I wasn’t particularly overweight. Some of the things you said, particularly around “using it to stay yourself,” really resonated with me, and I appreciate this new perspective on how I deal with my weight right now. I’m going to pass this along to my mom and some friends, and although you won’t be updating every day, I look forward to the next installment.

  28. April N Says:

    Thank you so much. I’ve been reading your (fabulous) work since the beginning of TAR on TWOP, but I had no idea how personally meaningful it would be for me when I clicked on the PDTD link earlier today. I literally can’t wait for your next post.

  29. bookcat Says:

    Holy shit, man.
    Two nights ago, I spent about four hours coming up with my own tortured weight-loss metaphor for my mother, but yours is so much better. You’ve started this at just the perfect time in _my_ life for you to do so (yes, it’s all about me). I am a huge fan of you, and this is awesome.

  30. emily Says:

    Wow, this is terrific. Give Pamie a hug & a kiss for all your traffic, by the way. I just joined WW two days ago and am anxious to hear more from you… if you don’t mind indulging reader questions, please tell me the truth: does nonfat cheese taste like ass?

  31. Molly Says:

    I love the tug of war metaphor. I think that can be applied to so many situations in life. What a wonderfully memorable way to put it, though. Love your writing. You’re a big part of the reason I’m always impatiently waiting for a new season of TAR. I’ll be bookmarking this and checking often for more updates.

  32. anne Says:

    To Emily in the above post: Just my opinion, but… Nonfat cheese does taste like ass. Really, what’s the point of nonfat cheese? Cheese needs fat to be cheese. Period. When it’s nonfat, what is it really? More like orange-colored chemicals.

    To Alison-Jane, you rock. I can’t wait to read more. Thanks for the great writing.

  33. gg Says:

    What an amazing post. Thank you.

  34. Monty Says:

    This is great stuff. What I love about it is that the tug-of-war analogy is applicable to all sorts of attempts to change, not just weight loss. If you will, I’m using your weight loss as a metaphor for things in my own life.

  35. Amy Says:

    Holy shit – that’s so awesome. I look forward to more. Good work. As I am learning – a mention on the donut means its good stuff…

  36. Megs Says:

    Thank you for starting this. Thank you times a thousand.

  37. Brie Says:

    Thank you. This is brilliant. It seems that every other person I know dealing with a weight problem only became overweight as an adult. And that’s not to say that their struggle isn’t real as well. But they don’t know what it’s like to be that 8 year old in the doctor’s office.

  38. Karen Says:

    I just want to add an Amen to all of the above. I found you through PDTD too, and will be bookmarking this anon.

  39. dainec Says:

    I think I love you. 😀

    Seriously… I just have to repeat what everyone else has been saying.

    Your writing is Awe. Some.
    You are inspiring with a capital I.
    The tug-of-war analogy is brilliant.

    By the way, like many others, I found you through PDTD. I’ve subscribed through Bloglines and I’m anxiously awaiting what you have to say next!

  40. BJ Says:

    Seems I followed the crowd over from the Donut…

    I’m still struggling with just what is at the other end of my rope? I’m only now, at 32, realizing the importance of figuring out what is at the other end of the rope and dealing with it rather than avoiding it. Thank you for your candor…it’s great to read people who are so “real” about weight loss and life.

  41. rac-girl Says:

    My mother & I were talking the other day – we have both been fighting weight for years – when you go shopping w. your sister/daughter (it as my mom) and the size 2 coat is to big on her and the size 16 is to tight on you, you either cry or kill your sister, we chose cry – anyway -my mom had gone to a dietician- who for 85$ a week should understand things – my mom tried to explain that she doesn’t eat breakfast until late in the day – not because she ate too much at dinner(?) but because once she starts eating, she doesn’t stop eating – not big meals, just the noshing that doesn’t stop – I am the same way, I need to leave my living room and go to my bedroom so I don’t keep going into the kitchen

    I just wanted to say thank you for putting this into words, way more eloquently then I did above – hopefully it made sense – I linked through Pamie as well (she so rocks) I am adding this as a favorite on my site.

  42. lesliele Says:

    Wow. I think I love you.

    I just read your whole post, and I have to say, everything you have said makes complete and total sense… and you know, it’s very, very similar to how I’ve been feeling lately… You put it into words, though.

    Thank you… I’ll be reading you!

  43. ladymisstree Says:

    Another PDTD refugee basking in the warmth of your words. The rope metaphor was spot on and made something go ‘twang!’ in my brain. I’ve been flailing around trying to figure out why the hell I was hanging onto a rope in the first place. Now I know there is a guy (or guys) who need a good kicking.

    How many exercise points do you get for kicking the shit out him? ;>

  44. holly Says:

    nice to meet you. can’t wait to read more. and, ditto to all the people who signed before me.

  45. Nneka Says:

    This is absolutely fantastic! I saw the 44 comments so I’m sure that everything that I want to say is in there. Thank you so much for saying everything you did.

  46. sara Says:

    Okay. I just have to say that I was so ready to quit WW this week because I’ve lost something like 75 pounds (about 20 or 30 to go) and I’m so sick of counting points and going to the gym and worrying about everything. I absolutely splurge once a week or so, but it still doesn’t seem like enough. But I know I don’t want to go back to where I was. So I was having this crisis and I read your entry (which I found through pamie’s site this morning even though I check your site pretty regularly, too) and now I feel resolved. I know I can keep doing this. And if I don’t get there for another year, I still made it and that’s what’s important.

    So, I guess what I really want to say is, thank you.

  47. melissa Says:

    I NEED MORE!!!

    WILL YOU BE INCLUDING A “NOTIFY ME” WITH THIS SITE OR SHALL I KEEP VISITING INCESSANTLY TO SEE IF YOU POSTED A NEW ENTRY?

    ALL I CAN SAY IS: NAIL. HEAD.

  48. KEW Says:

    Has being large worked for you?

    Obviously! That anger of eight-year-old-you has given you the depth and sensitivity of an artist.

    Your gift is so much more important than your weight. But I wish you much success with both!

  49. Susan Says:

    Wonderful- just fabulous. I think you’ve successfully expressed the fears, triumphs, struggles and emotions of thousands of women (myself included).

  50. mediaman Says:

    It’s weird to read something you swear you could of written…just not so well. Can’t wait for more!

  51. Kimberly Says:

    Which sites is everyone referring to? (Pamie, PDTD, etc)? If the writing refers to things as good as this essay, I want part of it.
    Thanks!

  52. Kirsten Says:

    This site is going on my Favourites on the strength of this first entry.

    Also could cry at Rac-girl’s comment about going shopping with your sister. Been there, done that, gritted teeth with frustration, even though my sister is only a couple of sizes smaller. One of my longterm goals is being able to borrow HER clothes, since she constantly makes off with mine. Which then look rather a lot better on her…

  53. tszuj Says:

    synchronicity! the night before reading your post, i discussed this very issue in therapy. how has my fat served and protected me? how can i convince myself that i no longer need that protection?
    i love your rope-pull analogy. thanks.


  54. I’m off to put the smackdown on the guy at the end of the rope. Thanks.

  55. Coleen Says:

    Miss Alli, I’m back on my wagon after seven or eight months of coasting and gaining all the weight back. So I wish us both luck in our endeavors. I look forward to reading more!

  56. Mary Says:

    Wow, just read your page. It made me stop and think. I even wrote down the quote, “Of course I was using it for something. I was using it to stay myself.” I am 55 years old and have weighed less than 200 pounds for a whole year for the first time in my adult life. I am still learning a lot about this road called weight loss. I need now to get to the other end of the rope and see what is keeping me from reaching goal.

  57. Aravis Says:

    Your struggle resonates. I struggle too. I struggle in a fairly public forum as an employee of WW. I think that your ideas are so right on. It isn’t about perfection. It is about doing the best you can every day.

    Thank you for saying so eloquently so much of what rolls around in my heas.

  58. Kaffy Says:

    It’s nice to know that I’m not alone in this struggle. You and it seems about 50 other people completely understand.

    Thanks you so much and I will be eagerly awaiting more entries and your margarita recipe. I still have 28 flexies and I reset on Tuesday!!


  59. This is a true metaphor with great impact. I have had the vague notion in the past couple of years that my weight serves a purpose (or several), but did not go as far as considering why my weight struggles were clearly connected to this purpose. Kudos on putting your finger on a very tender spot!

  60. KP Says:

    I think I love you! Great words, wonderful wisdom…wow.

  61. J.W. Says:

    It seems really weird to tell someone you don’t know that you think they are amazing or that they “rock”. I’d tell you those things, because based on reading this I think they are probably accurate statements… but after reading something so brutally honest, so witty and amazingly well written (which, as a writter, is the highest compliment I can bestow), it feels superficial, and maybe even phoney to react with a “you rock”. Somehow, that cute little catch phrase just isn’t enough here.

    So I will tell you this instead. I have tears in my eyes (and yeah, ok, so I cry at Hallmark commercials sometimes) because I was just so struck by your thoughts, and the eloquence with which you expressed them. I’ve often thought of being on this journey as walking a tightrope… it’s very hard to get your balance, and harder still to keep it. There’s this shimmery platform at the other end, and at times it taunts you with all you “could be” if only you’d just stop falling into that saftey net. I’ve fallen down many, many times… especially in the past three years. People – including fellow WWers, who you’d think might be a little more compassionate – have all but told me I’m a failure and a joke, and there’ve been times when I’ve wondered myself.

    But I’ve never walked the rope without my net… and I’ve never let the bumps and bruises sustained in my falls keep me from climbing back up that ladder and trying again. Anyway, my tightrope metaphor can go on and on… it has many angles, but the point is exactly what one of yours was, about not giving up.

    I read your thoughts, and think, “wow, what does it take to get an invite to share a pitcher of those margaritas?” ‘Cause you seem so “real”, and that’s rare out here in cyberspace. That and I just really love margaritas.

    J.W.

  62. Ben Says:

    I never post comments, but I wanted you to know that your post didn’t just resonate with women, but also hit the nail on the head with my own weight-loss struggle. Even when my therapist once said to me “you wear your extra weight like it’s armour, it protects you from opening up to people”, I sat there and thought “what do you know, look how fit you are”. I guess I mean that it comes through clearer from someone who has been there.

    p.s. your TAR and Survivor recaps rock, even if I do kinda like Rupert (I’m sorry).

  63. katie d Says:

    I know Pamie *and* read her, but I found you thru Mr. Ointy. 🙂 I hate points, btw. How the hell am I ever supposed to eat enough to fill me up, let alone freaking *snack*, on 20 measly points a day?? Seriously; I burn my flex points by day 2. ::sigh:: You’re a great writer. Thanks for the rope metaphor. I’m gonna go find that guy and kick the living shit out of him. Have a good one. kd

  64. Shannon Says:

    When I usually come away from reading stuff about weight loss, I end up hating myself more. “Stuff” being magazine articles, “motivational” books, etc. I came away from reading your words the very opposite of hating myself. I came away with peace and hope. Thank you for that. God, or whatever it is, sure works in mysterious ways; yours are words/thoughts/idea I needed to hear today. A million thank yous!

  65. A Says:

    Wow.

    This entry gave me a new perspective on things. I can’t wait to read more!

  66. Hudson Says:

    Writing like yours is why blogs have become such a phenomenon. Really great stuff…I don’t even know what else to say.

  67. Zeb Says:

    So happy to have found you.Your putting out there what a lot of us think but are afraid to voice!You have a real talent and style for writing!
    Thank you for sharing.

    My dark secret…I stay fat because I am afraid that if I get thin again I will become attractive to men again and be tempted to be less than loyal to my adoring husband.
    And that is what happend when I “got real with myself” and “let go of what was keeping me there”.

  68. J9 Says:

    Thanks so much for starting this blog (LOVE the title). I recognize many of your thoughts and feelings as being very similar to my own. For the first time in my life, I’ve been losing weight intentionally and sensibly — I’ve got a long way to go, and I’m just starting to be ready to try to deal with the guy at the end of the rope. I’m looking forward to reading more from you!

  69. Kimberly Says:

    Everyone’s already said pretty much all there is to say, but I wanted to add my “me too!” because of how comforting it has been for me to read your post and all the comments. You’ve described it exactly. What’s really amazing to me is that it’s 2004 and this stuff is revolutionary. Thank you for giving this a voice.

  70. Sandra Says:

    Amazing, Thank you! How long until we see the hardcover version?

  71. Elsie Says:

    Seriously don’t know how I managed to happen upon this site, but I’m very glad I did. Brilliant post.

    It didn’t stop me from eating my Santa Fe Trail Mix throughout my reading, mind you, but at least now I can blame the a-hole on the other end of the rope. Or not.

  72. Jennifer Says:

    I found this through a link that someone posted on TWoP and I just have to say *wow*.

    Forget size 2 Carrie Bradshaw… THIS is the voice of the women that *I* know.

  73. Colleen Says:

    I needed these words today. Thanks for putting it all down on “paper”. Everyone’s experience is unique but still the same. I am off to figure out the end of my “rope”.

    I was brought here by somebody on the WW community. Thanks to that person too!

  74. Kym Says:

    Great blog. I’m adding you to my blog list.

    I had a weightloss surgery no one knows about and lost 160 lbs. I eat sugar. I eat crap everyday and it works inspite of my bad habits. It’s not for everyone, but if you ever want to hear more about it, email me. I was COMPLETELY and UTTERLY (udderly? blog pun intended Ha!) against WeightLossSurgery… but this surgery is like finding a pill that allows you to eat whatever you want and still lose weight. Cept its not a pill you have to screw with each day. I eat over 3000 calories a day and maintain my weight now. It’s Nirvana.

    Anyway… looking forward to reading more about your journey!


  75. Thanks. I’m struggling right now with being overweight and pregnant. The overweight has been for about 25 years, the pregnant for five months. I’m eating healthily and have gained 10 pounds so far–about average. It’s still hard, though, to see the scale creep up. I made a promise today–to my husband, but more importantly to myself–that starting in January, I’m going to start Weight Watchers. I’m having a daughter and I don’t want her to grow up with weight problems and poor body issues. Now I have the image that will keep me going–that guy at the end of the rope. But you’ve already given me the answer to who it is–my fear of who I am without being fat. I hope that my new image of myself as a supportive and loving mother will take the place of the hip fat chick I’ve been for more than two decades. Look forward to reading more.

  76. Claudia Says:

    Thank you…this came at the perfect time. I’m so sick and tired of being sick and tired…and reading your entry today gave me the inspiration to get back on track. I’m looking forward to your future posts.

  77. Claud Says:

    This blog is awesome, we all know that but I need to comment on what Colleen posted.

    I too had weight loss surgery 3 years ago. Lost 120 lbs and did not change my eating habits because, get real I only ate (in the beginning) a few tablespoons at a time, why bother. My mentality at the time was “I eat so little let me eat what I enjoy” and the weight continued for fall off.

    Well, here I am 3 years later, never having gotten to goal (20 lbs away) and with a wonderful regain of 27 pounds. And that is why I am here, there, and back in the struggle. How much does it suck to gain weight after WLS? Yeah, and there are a lot of us out there, look at Carnie Wilson. My ass she has only gained 10 lbs. More like 25 to 30. I am rooting for her to get her shit together and kick that guy at the end of the rope ass.

    So for those who think the WLS is a magic cure, it is, for some. All I know is that the ones I see four and five years down the line that have kept their weight loss off do not eat sugar, do not eat crap, and do exercise. *Sigh* I back to the struggle. I think the struggle is my guy at the end of the rope. Thanks for the insight. I love this blog.

    Now I gotta get back to that stupid guy.

  78. Angie Says:

    I’ve sat here laughing and crying through your entries. Honestly, I think this blog should be published someday. I’d pay to hear you talk about this stuff.

    It’s been a life-long struggle for me, too. And I’ve heard all the bullshit advice, and tried the fad diets. I started WW almost three weeks ago (my FPs reset on Saturdays, too) and the thing I’m most proud of is the first day. That part of your third entry really got me — that my Rocky Balboa moment was the day that I asked my boyfriend to help me pay for the first three months of WW Online, and I told him what I actually weighed, and I owned it and said, “Okay — now it begins.” Like, it didn’t begin at 12 when the ballet teacher said, “You’d be really good if you lost some weight” after I’d been dancing my ass off for five years. And it didn’t begin at 15 when I dropped a ton of weight and everyone was so proud but I just did it because I was depressed and eating made me sick. And it didn’t begin the 50 other times in the 12 years following when I started this diet, or that diet … When I almost called 911 from heart palpitations after taking Dexatrim (turns out I was sensitive to the DECONGESTANT that was the active ingredient back then). No, it started less than three weeks ago, when I decided that I didn’t care how long it took, and all I wanted was to follow the plan week by week and know that at the end of each week I did it for me. I can’t believe it’s been 15 years of dieting — but this time I feel more positive and happy and motivated than I ever have. And it’s such a blessed release and such an empowering thing. Wow… I’m babbling. I just want to tell you that this touched me and thank you for putting yourself out there like this. You’re awesome and I can’t wait to read more.

  79. miri Says:

    I did the Oprah shake thing too – for 7 months. I lost 90 pounds and, of course, gained it all back. I know you said that for you it proved you weren’t weak, but for me, the shake thing was easy. I had 7 months where I had no decisions about food. I didn’t have to think about it at all. Snacking while bored? Not an option. I had no food…food didn’t exist. Hell, if it wasn’t for the fact that the shake thing totally munged up my digestive system (it still hasn’t recovered 11 years later), I would have stayed on it much longer.

    Again, it just goes to show how individual this whole thing is. Each person has to find their own solution. Who the heck knows when I’ll find mine.

  80. Linda Says:

    Oh, sure, I get that. But I’d argue that it would have taught you the same lesson, had you needed it, which it appears you didn’t — if anybody, including you, had thought that you were hopelessly unable to stop yourself from eating, that would have been proved false. If you never swallowed (heh) that particular myth, then I totally agree, the effect would be different.

  81. JudyZ Says:

    That was great and it really touched me. The problem that I’m having is that the people at the other end of the rope won’t go away, even though I’ve lost 30 pounds since Christmas by going to WW. One of these days, I’m going to have to deal with them, but they’re all tied up with body image issues that have nothing to do with weight.

    My biggest help has been living with a supportive person who also wanted to lose weight, although he did note tonight that what’s at the other end of his rope is his everlasting love for President’s Choice olive oil and black peppper potato chips.

  82. SorchaRei Says:

    Well, thanks. I printed this piece out and called up the therapist who helped me through a nasty breakup awhile ago, and sat down on her couch and handed it to her, and said, “Now. Let’s go find that guy.”

    So we are. It’s slow, it’s agonizing, and being in the middle of that process had made all the difference.

    Thank you. Your TAR recaps make my week. This piece? Changed my life.

  83. Ayanna Says:

    How can I not love and respect a writer who so aptly describes the horror that is non-fat cheese? I’ve been in a WW slump lately, and you’ve totally inspired me to actually use the online WW tools that I’m paying money for. Good lord, woman, your poignant and witty words make me alternately weep and laugh and thank the deities that I’ve found so many people who have experienced what I have. Your blog resonates with me. Thank you for your gift.

  84. Stephanie K Says:

    I don’t have anything especially creative or witty to add, because so many have said it first and better, but … your post helped me to do what I’ve been trying to for years: find the guy pulling on the rope. Now that I’ve found him, I’m really enjoying kicking the shit out of him. Because he’s really been pissing me off.

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  85. Debra Ashley Says:

    I just bought this book last weekend and began the program 2 days ago. I live in an area with lots and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and this book has fantastic recipes for those of us who love to cook like a


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