Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Must-read Weight Loss Article

So, I'm waiting for Jon to come pick me up for our run and in checking out the blog Certifiably Fit, I saw her post about this article on MSNBC.

I just wanted to pass it along since I think it talks about a really interesting aspect of weight loss.

Although I think the article has a lot of really valid points, I must say that as a person who was uncomfortable with my appearance for as long as I can remember, losing the weight I have lost has made me a happier person. Though it hasn't solved all of my problems, I do credit the extra confidence boost created by feeling good in my own skin to my success with C25K (old me would have talked myself out of my ability to do it as a "fat girl") and to meeting Jon (old me would have never started up a conversation with a random group of guys at a bar).

Actually, just found something not about the article that really articulates my feelings about weight loss in general:
I’m not sure. All I know is I’m a much happier person now then I was then. Does it have to with my weight and size, sure, but it’s goes much deeper then that. Ten years ago I was unconscious, eating my way through life. Food was a source of happiness, it was an event, it was a therapy. Now I’m much more aware of what I want and how to get it. I now find pleasure in things besides food. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good cookie now and then (or three :~) and boy I couldn’t live without pizza but now I look to activity, relationships, and experiences to fill my life, not food.
(From Roni's Weigh)
Like Erica mentioned in her blog, I agree that it would be really interesting to see the same study done with a group of people who lost weight without surgery. I know for me losing weight has completely changed my life, but that wasn't because of the number of pounds, but more due to the positive changes I've made in my own lifestyle.

Anyway, I'd be really interested to know what you all think about it--What are your own opinions of the article? Do you think there is a definite link between weight loss and happiness?

*Borrowed from

Okay, off for my run! I think I should have the problem with my Garmin and its mapping solved (Thanks, Dave!) so I hope to have better info up later for this run. :)


Kate said...

I think this has a lot to do with fantasies about what you might be if only this or only that, which for us Fat Girls, is usually if only I were thin.

I also wonder what came first, chicken or egg here: did you start running and talk to boys because you lost weight? or did you lose weight because you had a more proactive attitude, which bled over to C25K and personal relationships? I obviously don't know the answer to that, but I can tell you--I am sometimes at my MOST self-conscious when my weight is lowest. I'm not exactly sure why that is, probably because I only get to a lower weight when I'm obsessing about it, and when I'm obsessing about my weight, I tend to assume others are too.

Certifiably Fit said...

Thanks for the blog mention! Interested in seeing what your readers have to say.

fittingbackin said...

I saw that article earlier today - crazy! I certainly don't think it solves all of your problems, but for me, it made me happier to lose weight and more confident and it put a lot of my "problems" in perspective and it gave me more energy to solve them. Don't know if that makes sense!!

Dave said...

Happiness is a complicated thing, but I don't think it's correlated with weight loss. I think both of these things are effects and the cause is something else. Something as vague as "living right" or "living better". There were plenty of times that I was happy as a clam at 250. (After all, I'm a guy and I'm married - I don't have to look good!) I'm still in the 190s (instead of the 160s where I belong). But I feel good anyway. I've become a jogger, I get massages, ... basically I feel like Jim Carrey in Yes Man. Whatever the cause, you should be feeling good. Again, that photo of you on the football field rocks - you are happy and confident. If that doesn't equate to attractive, nothing does.

Meredith said...

The tie between weight loss and happiness is tricky, I think. I spent most of junior high figuring that once I was thinner, I'd suddenly land the guy I wanted, and be more successful and respected. (All right, I had big dreams in 7th grade!)

And at first, the weight loss DID come with attention and compliments. Was I more confident? Sure. You said that now you feel more self-assured. And you should! You've been working so hard, meeting your goals and being honest with yourself. That's an incredible achievement!

But, um, for me, despite weight loss, that guy still didn't like me. My friends and I were still drifting apart. School was still largely unrewarding.

So, it can be easy, then, to base ALL your self-worth on your appearance. You might think: Well, I lost ten pounds, but I'm still unhappy. Guess I should lose 10 more, then things will be better. It's the "lottery effect" the article described.

I'm not saying you are doing this at all. I just know that I did. And that's how eating disorders develop. When you're in this constant state of hyper-awareness about your body and losing and gaining and scales and points and calories: it's your LIFE. As your first commenter said, it can become obsessive. You can lose sight of the things about you that were always great, regardless of what the scale read.

The thing is that internal development doesn't naturally come along with external. Your body is rapidly changing, but your psyche isn't, necessarily. Maybe many of your habits aren't, or some of your insecurities. The article really stressed this point.

I guess the key to being happy with weight loss is developing skills along the way and enacting true inner change. It's about learning to appreciate what your body can do, not just how it fits into jeans. It's about enjoying and savoring what you do eat, not just imagining what a piece of cake will do to your thighs. It's about recognizing what is amazing about you (and the people who always love you), no matter what you weigh.

And maybe this is sacrilege to say on a fitness blog, but I figure the only way to be happy with one's body is eliminating obsession with weight. Maybe even getting rid of a scale, one day. It's certainly one thing to feel good about yourself and to cite your new, fit body as something you're proud of.

BUT, happiness will never arrive if weight becomes the basket you place all your satisfaction eggs in.

It's tough. This is the hardest lesson I have ever had to learn, and I still struggle with it. But I really think that long-term health and sanity are dependent on it.

Nicky said...

Aw yay, Mer! You commented. That may or may not have made my day. But yeah, I know what you mean. I think if I think about it, it's more the new capabilities I have because my mindset changed as I lost weight. I mean, I've been plateaued essentially for this entire school year and I think that a majority of those positive changes "due" to weight loss have actually happened since then (i.e. started running and looking up fun recipes, etc). I think you're right about the "inner change" and after a year of new habits, I think that's mostly what's made me happier.

In reply to Kate's comment, I started running and talking to guys (well, I suppose really it just ended up being guy since even then I wasn't really *looking* for a relationship... it found me, I was just more open to it) as a result of my weight loss, not the other way around. When I started on my journey, I never would have considered running, but as I began to feel more comfortable with my body and my abilities, I finally thought that running was something I could do. I'd always put a "you're too fat to run" label on myself.

I actually started losing weight as something to do with my mom over last summer. We both had a few pounds to lose and it was going to be my last summer at home, so we started WW and looking at foods and new activities as something to do together for ourselves.