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I spent hours and hours last night and this morning (since I haven't slept yet) going back and checking out my old journal entries and changing almost all of them to public, so that anyone can read them. I've been meaning to do this for a few weeks now, since I haven't really been concerned about James/"Tony" anymore.

But reading my old journal entries, I noticed something. I'm really closed-minded about one particular topic: dieting. It's perhaps the issue on which I am most opinionated. But, you know, this is my journal, and so I write what I think, even if it isn't prettied up to make it optimally palatable for the general public. And the fact is that I am extremely opinionated about the issue of dieting.

I know that many people who read this journal do not agree with me on this issue. And while I completely respect other folks' right to their own opinions, if we were to actually discuss the issue together, I would most likely find myself firmly believing that those other folks are wrong. There's a level on which I freely acknowledge that just because I think someone is wrong doesn't mean they are wrong. But there's also a level on which no amount of discussion or argument or debate is going to convince me that dieting (for anything other than serious health reasons) is ever a good thing. On this one topic more than any other, I find myself unable to appreciate the diversity of opinions.

I'm not saying this is a good thing. I'm just saying it's a thing. It's there. It's part of who I am.

I think most people probably have issues like this, on which their opinions are so strong that they aren't affected by debate or disagreement. I don't know. But I know that I'm stubborn and closed-minded about this. I recognize that about myself. I'm not necessarily proud of it, but I acknowledge it.

"Diet", as a noun, is not a problem for me. I have a diet. Everyone has a diet. It consists of everything we eat. It does not imply judgment or a goal. It is simply a fact. My diet may be healthy or unhealthy, but it is. It's a fact.

It's "diet" as a verb that gives me trouble. Some people make changes in their diet for health reasons. For example, one of my friends has made major changes to her diet since being diagnosed as diabetic. I have nothing but respect for that. But I don't consider this to be "dieting", as a verb.

I define "dieting", as a verb, as making diet decisions with the goal of managing one's weight for aesthetic reasons (even if those aesthetic reasons wear the cloak of health reasons). I consider it to be similar to what the Brits call "slimming". I consider "dieting" to refer to either (a) efforts to lose weight or (b) efforts to maintain a lower-than-natural weight. I define dieting as the process which leads one to think, "Wow. That such-and-such looks really good. But it would make me fat ... so I won't eat it (or won't eat as much of it as I would like)." I define dieting as the process which leads one to identify the feeling of hunger as a state to be sought and maintained, rather than satisfied. I define dieting as the process which leads one to make drastic changes to one's diet -- nearly eliminating entire classes of food, for example -- in an effort to be "more attractive" by current societal definitions.

Research has shown over and over again that dieting (as a verb) is far more dangerous to one's health than any weight problem short of morbid obesity. The only "research" I am aware of that disputes this conclusion has been performed by people trying to sell diet books, diet pills, diet club memberships, etc. Not exactly unbiased sources of information.

I've spent most of my life having an intimate relationship with Diet-As-A-Verb. We've lived together every day since I was probably 9 or 10 years old. Even before that, Diet-As-A-Verb was in my life as a constant companion to the adult women who surrounded me, including my mother, who spoke frequently about her efforts to lose weight.

As far as I'm concerned, Diet-As-A-Verb is like an abusive boyfriend most women seem unable to kick out of the house. Because he's so charming. He makes you believe that you deserve what he dishes out. And he's always insisting that this time will be different! It'll work this time, really! He won't let you down again!

Diet-As-A-Verb is like an abusive boyfriend who I refuse to allow free run of my house anymore. And I find it damaging to my own sense of self-worth to associate too much with women (and men) who still love and trust and believe in him.

I know a lot of people -- in fact, most of the people in our culture -- probably vehemently disagree with me. But this is an issue on which I can't be dissuaded (except by trustworthy, unbiased, scientific research results reported by a reputable source with no profit-related agenda). It's an issue on which I do not have an open mind.

And so I will write about it here in my journal, and I won't try to couch my opinions in polite terms. I've already proven this repeatedly in the past here. And while I acknowledge that my vehemence on this topic may make many people uncomfortable, I'm not going to apologize, and I'm not going to refrain from writing about it.

Just FYI.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go eat whatever I damned well feel like eating.


( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 7th, 2003 06:40 am (UTC)
Yay you!

You're completely correct. The right thing to do is to have a diet that is good for you. Not to attempt to take temporary measures to achieve a goal - because that doesn't work, your body resists. You need to have a diet - a way of life - that you are comfortable with and can be kept stable indefinitely. Anything else just kicks in your bodies starvation instinct and causes bing-eating and other nastiness.
Apr. 7th, 2003 06:51 am (UTC)
I think that balance is, as in so many other things, the key to a healthy diet (the noun).

I think that cutting out foods and depriving yourself is not finding balance. I think that binging on chocolate and eating 20 boxes in a row is not finding balance.

I think that a lot of people use overeating as a way of trying to satisfy other feelings of emptiness in their lives, and that is not finding balance. Food is not the solution to lonliness or boredom.

I think that a lot of people make unhealthy eating choices because they are faster or they just don't know better. And instead of making more healthy choices, they react by trying to diet (the verb).

I think that if you eat in moderation, you will be healthy and attractive, have more energy, and feel good. Eating in moderation is not a starvation diet, and it doesn't mean not eating what you enjoy.

Disclaimer one: These are only my thoughts, you can think they are crap if you want, no problem ;) I part agree and part disagree with what you are saying.
Disclaimer two: When I use the word 'you' above (except in disclaimer one, heh), I didn't mean anyone in particular, but just a 'you' in general. They're just thoughts, and not directed at you (Kimberly) or you (anyone else reading this).
Apr. 7th, 2003 06:58 am (UTC)
Oh, and I just wanted to say, too, that I think you're right that everyone has things that they are not open-minded towards. I think that there is a lot of pressure today to accept everything or be branded 'close minded', and I don't think that it's possible to do.

I often think this is a result of society growing so large....
Apr. 7th, 2003 07:31 am (UTC)
I know we've rangled about this before, and I won't try to change any minds, just try to state what I know is true for me.

I tend toward the 'large size'. Always have, and probably always will. Even when I was thinner, people tended to under guess my weight by at least 10%, and I've had doctors tell me I have thick bones (well, it was a thick skull, but I assume it translates).

I've also, on and off over the last 3 years, kept track of my weight and have graphs and such. They show, that without at least some concern as to what I'm eating and working on getting some exercise in my day, I tend to increase in weight year on year in a way I don't like.

I've also found, with trying to observe myself eating, that I have no mental notion of portion control. If I make up a plate of food for myself, I tend to put too much on the plate and then feel like I need to finish it. If someone else makes up my dinner plate (which has been the case for the last two weeks), I eat less. I don't feel hungrey-er, I just eat less.

So, not a study by any means, and probably doesn't apply to others (I mean, other people know how to say no to food. :). Just my take on it.
Apr. 7th, 2003 07:54 am (UTC)
Oh, I'm tempted. I'm so tempted. But I won't. Let's not fight, eh?
Apr. 7th, 2003 09:45 am (UTC)
If you want to express another opinion, feel free. But there is probably only about a 0.01% chance that you will convince me of anything significantly different from the opinions I've already stated in this journal entry. That was sort of the whole point of the journal entry, after all.

Doesn't mean you can't write what you think, though. I probably wouldn't respond, just to avoid having this degenerate into an argument, but you're still welcome to write whatever you like. Seriously. :)
Apr. 7th, 2003 02:20 pm (UTC)
Wolflady said a lot of good stuff.

I don't believe in being under-weight. I abhor anorexia, having watched a close friend suffer from it. I don't believe in avoiding certain types of food. I don't believe in conforming to 'others' idea of where your weight should be (to a degree - more later). I certainly don't like the image projected by Hollywood, super-models et al. I don't believe in starving yourself to the point where you have no energy.

I also don't believe in being over-weight. I abhor obesity (with certain medical exceptions, obviously). I don't believe in eating only certain types of food. I don't believe that people should be allowed to be whatever weight they want (to a degree - more later). I don't believe in eating so much you can't move. ('Cept as a one-off at an all-you-can-eat at Disney's Yacht Club - that's my get-out clause!)

I believe in taking care of your body. I believe in being physically fit - not gym trainer fit, but able to walk a mile or so without dying. I believe in a balanced diet, that is good for your body. I mean, I love ice cream, and pizza, and chocloate, and beer, and all sorts of fatty foods. And I eat them - just not every day. They're not supposed to be eaten *every* day. I have balance. There's loads of yummy foods that are good for you. And the thing is - in one year studies show that (for example) potatoes are bad for you, the next year studies say they're good for you. Fact is - they don't really know. Every single nutritionist says the same thing though - everything in moderation. Balance.

I don't think people should have the right to be whatever weight they want. People who are too thin, or too fat, inevitably put a strain on the people around them, and more importantly on the health system. It comes down to "no man is an island" - we don't have the right to do whatever we want in life, if we want to co-habit with others. People who are too fat to leave their armchair, who live on benefits and have people wait on them hand and foot - I'm sorry, I don't think that's right.

Balance. The key, like most things in life, is balance.
Apr. 7th, 2003 03:00 pm (UTC)
Wow. I'm glad I don't live in a country run by you.
Apr. 8th, 2003 04:39 am (UTC)
Read it again - do I really sound that bad?
Apr. 8th, 2003 10:47 am (UTC)
To be honest, yeah. It sounds pretty bad, to my ears. It's the "I don't believe that people should be allowed to..." and the "I don't think people should have the right to..." and those sort of sentiments. Like seidl, below, I too fall into the official weight categorization of "obese". I can, however, quite comfortably walk 4 miles to a movie theatre, watch a movie, and then walk 4 miles home. In fact, I have many friends who fit into the official weight categorization of "obese" who live very productive, active lives. You wanna come into their homes and tell them they can't eat dessert every day because you consider them fat?

Also, you start getting into the question of how would you enforce this sort of oppression. Must every single person in the country come in for weekly (or monthly or annual) weighings? Do you take away their food if they're over a certain weight? Tie them down and shove food down their throats if they fall within your definition of "underweight" ... even if that size is normal for them? And how do you guarantee that people live up to your definiton of "fit"? Do you legally require a certain amount of exercise each week? What do you do if someone doesn't exercise as much as you deem sufficient? Put them in jail? Or just cut off their healthcare?

I'm sure I'm fat by your definitions. But even if I weren't, even if I were perfectly slim and gorgeous and buff, I wouldn't want to live in a place where someone told me what I was "permitted" to eat.

And ... hey! Whatta ya know! I'm living on benefits! I have been for the past 2 years! So I'm not only fat, I'm also putting a strain on the people around me and also on the healthcare system. Guess I should just be eliminated from society, eh?
Apr. 8th, 2003 11:54 am (UTC)
I've already replied to Seidl. I don't agree with 'official' definitions of obese. I never even mentioned those.

I deliberately HAVEN'T categorised what is obese. I can't. To me, it's not the issue. It's people who don't look after themselves, and don't try to keep healthy. Being unhealthily over-weight. Being so over-weight that it severely limits your movements, and your lifestyle. There's over-weight, and then there's over-weight.

I wouldn't try to enforce 'it'. I don't understand why anyone would want to be so unhealthy they can't climb a set of stairs. I would expect people to enforce it on themselves. You don't fall into that category, so cleary it's not you I'm commenting on. I'm sure you're not fat by my definitions.

I think this is an occasion where you're already pigeon-holing me as being more extreme than I am, and I'm not going to win.

For the record, I already knew you were living on benefits - you've mentioned it before. This wasn't aimed at you.
Apr. 8th, 2003 12:04 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't try to enforce 'it'. I don't understand why anyone would want to be so unhealthy they can't climb a set of stairs. I would expect people to enforce it on themselves.

But then why did you say that people should not be "permitted" or "allowed" to eat what they want and/or weigh what they want? Who is doing the permitting or allowing?

By introducing the concept of permission to the conversation, you moved things to a completely different level, in my book. And that's what I object to so strenuously. Nobody's gonna tell me what I can eat or what I can weigh, even if their levels of allowance are generous.

I think this is an occasion where you're already pigeon-holing me as being more extreme than I am, and I'm not going to win.

Er ... I had already mentioned in my original post that I was not moveable on this issue. That was sort of my central point: that I'm closed-minded about this and I know it. So ... no ... you aren't going to win. You won't convince me that dieting is a good idea. It's nigh unto impossible.

I have no interest in pigeon-holing you as being anything in particular. But the idea that people should not be permitted to eat what they want sounds frighteningly extreme to me. Perhaps I misunderstood you.
Apr. 8th, 2003 07:58 am (UTC)
I think this sounds pretty bad, unless you start defining your terms. By every web site I've looked at, I'm labeled as 'obese'. Of course, I was doing about 4 hours of hard cardio a week, an hour of weight lifting. I've gone on all day hikes up mountains till I hit my altitude limit. I've spent the day moving like 20 cubic yards of dirt (well, with help).

I'd hope that some 'weight police' wouldn't descend on my house and take away my animal cookies.
Apr. 8th, 2003 11:45 am (UTC)
Yeah - it's difficult to say everything necessary in the room LJ gives for a comment.

I should state that I categorically disagree with doctors weight charts. I'm serious when I say I haven't met a single person who isn't over-weight according to those charts - including myself. They are a load of rubbish.

It's like anything else - it's common sense, isn't it? I didn't define 'obese'. I was trying to say that people who find themselves too big to move around comfortably, or too unfit to climb a set of stairs, that's definitely heading in the wrong direction. The people who are so unfit and unhealthy that they can't walk around a Disney park, and have to hire those motorised wheelchairs to get around.

I play football every week with guys who call themselves 'big'. They're certainly bigger than me. They can still carry themselves, and get up and down a football park for an hour. Despite their size, they still maintain a level of health and fitness.

I just think people have a responsibilty to themselves to look after themselves. And, being honest, I think people that eat shed-loads of stuff and then don't exercise at all are just lazy. That's just my opinion. You're only given one body - I think you should treat it as best as you can.
Apr. 8th, 2003 11:50 am (UTC)
I wasn't labeled as overweight by the standard charts until I started lifting weights and thus put on muscle mass.

That's about how much those charts are worth.
Apr. 8th, 2003 11:46 am (UTC)
By the same logic, people who engage in contact sports put a strain on the health system because they're more prone to injury. Do you thus ban Football and Rugby?

By the same logic, people who engage in extreme sports put a strain on the health system because they're more prone to injury. Do you thus ban Skydiving and Alpining?

By the same logic, people who travel put a strain on the health system because they're more likely to pick up foreign viruses and bring them home where people don't have an immunity to them. Do you thus make travel illegal?

By the same logic, people with "bad" genes who have children put a strain on the health system because they're creating new lives who are more likely to require assistance. Do you thus require genetic checks before conception and refuse permission to anyone who doesn't meet your definition of genetic purity?

By the same logic, people who touch other people put a strain on the health system because they're more likely to pick up communicable diseases which could result in hospitalization and death. Do you thus ban human contact?

You're walking a very dangerous, slippery slope when you start telling people what they can and can't do in their personal lives for the good of the uber-State.
Apr. 8th, 2003 12:14 pm (UTC)
Agreed - and I realise that in this journal, I'm probably not going to get any support.

However, this is how I feel. So I'm not going to hide it from you guys, even though I run the risk of pissing you off.

I think perhaps I was wrong to bring up the health system thing. I guess I was using it to back up my personal feelings on the subject. Now I've read your point above, to a degree I'm willing to back down on what I said.

The main brunt of my argument, which I'm maybe not making as clear as I could, is that I think people have a responsibilty to themselves to look after themselves. This all started 'cos Kimberly said dieting is bad. I think eating yourself into immobility is bad. And in my initial response, all I was really trying to say that like most things, a balanced diet is necessary.
Apr. 8th, 2003 12:28 pm (UTC)
I'm willing to agree that everyone has a responsibility to themselves. But deciding when they have been so irresponsible that the state has to take over, thats the hard question to answer.

I mean, parents have a duty to raise their kids. But some parents do such a crappy job the state steps in and takes the kids away. People have a responsibility to not allow health hazards on their property, be they wild dogs, weeds, or firearms lying loose in the front yard. The State enforces these rules with fines and other penalties.

But these are all things that directly effect other people. When it comes to self abuse, life is more complex. Does the state have a right to force feed someone on a hunger strike? What about someone who lifts a lot of weights for a movie career?

I'd also be careful about attacking people who use motorized assists at places like Disney world. I'm sure some of those people may have so little regard for themselves they've done themselves harm (but it was their choice to do so), but others may have other ailments. Maybe someone had knee surgery and can't walk or stand that long. Maybe a broken foot, maybe a heart condition that makes it hard to do cardio exercise?

But I would expect most people to try and take at least general care of themselves. But thats my expectation. :) Not something I'd enforce except by opinion. I suspect thats the main objection being voiced here. That someone other than the person themselves gets to set whats acceptable and whats not.
Apr. 8th, 2003 12:48 pm (UTC)
I never mentioned "state enforcement". Other people did. It not where my thinking lay.

In my first post, I did mention that there are medical exceptions. That would, naturally, include all the people you mentioned above.

I just think it's a more complex argument than 'free will', and I admit, I like debates, so I've no problem with standing on the other side of the fence. The best outcome of this is that people reading this will question their values. Not necessarily change their minds, but question things. And that goes for me to. Already, yourself, Kimberly and Shannon have raised points that have made me think, and I enjoy that. I have no problems with people challenging my POV on things. It's how we grow.

I think you raise an excellent point, about when people have been so irresponsible that someone else has to step in (note: I said someone else, not necessarily the state). We're all agreed that rape, child abuse and murder fall into that category, right? And say, picking your nose doesn't. Trouble is, a lot of things aren't cut and dry, one way or the other. They fall in between.

Another point you made is "But these are all things that directly effect other people. When it comes to self abuse, life is more complex." Very true. It is more complex. I would argue that it's a very rare case that self-abuse doesn't effect other people though. If I abuse myself, I hurt my family. And they've given me so much, and love me so much, that I couldn't do that to them. To me, that's selfish. I love and respect my family too much to inflict anything upon myself that would hurt them.

Kimberly started this by saying, as f
Apr. 9th, 2003 12:46 am (UTC)
. If I abuse myself, I hurt my family.

And this is the main reason that I've avoided having any more commitments than I had to, and will never have kids.
Apr. 8th, 2003 12:50 pm (UTC)

Kimberly started this by saying, as far as I could see, that people have the right to eat whatever they want whenever they want, regardless. I think life is more complex than that. I keep coming back to it, but "no man is an island". Our actions affect others. And I don't think we have the right to hurt other people, whether deliberately or not, just to suit ourselves. And again, I'm not saying that EVERYONE who eats lots does this. Give me a break, guys. What I'm saying is, it can't be as simple as 'people have the right to do what they want, regardless'. Can it? What I'm saying is, isn't there another side to the argument?
Apr. 8th, 2003 01:03 pm (UTC)
Sure there's another side. People should be responsible and not be pigs.

But you can also take the 'no man is an island' thing to far. I of course can't actually eat everything I want, or I'd have good steak and truffles more nights than I do now. Or other pricey dishes. Or catered dinners with a 5 star chef. I am also responsible to the people around me. I wouldn't do something that would materially hurt myself, both for myself and the people that depend on me (and the pets, etc).

But on the other side, I don't donate all the money I make over the national average salary to charity. I do enjoy some hobbies that take money away from starving kids or inner city schools. I mean, instead of buying a new DVD set I could feed a half dozen third world kids. SHould I be ashamed for not helping them?

If I believe my standard of life has dropped too far to be worth living (terminal disease, lost all my libs, whatever), should I be prevented from being 'selfish' and forced to keep living? Heck, I live pretty far from my parents, should this be prevented as it causes harm to them, in that they can't see me very often?

Yes, we are not islands, and need to have some notion of how our actions effect the people around us, but as well we have to do what we can to protect the 'I' part. Doing things for ourselves to keep us happy and productive.

As for the 'state' I introduced, I'm not sure who else could prevent me from eating what I wanted (and could afford and find). If by 'prevent' you mean the people in my life I might listen to nagging me incesseatly, well, ... thats not really prevent. At least to me. At some point, I have to make my own decisions and take the consequences.
Apr. 8th, 2003 03:55 pm (UTC)
Bingo! That's exactly how I feel when people talk about limiting what people can do or charging more for certain people to take part in a health insurance program.
Apr. 7th, 2003 08:39 am (UTC)
I rarely emit a public opinion on this subject, but right now I have to say this...

I agree with you entirely.

I don't believe in dieting. I never did. I cherish the fact that I never ever fell for that sort of stuff, and always wonder how I managed to do so, really. I've had so many friends wrestle with the concept of dieting (the verb) and seen them go though so much heartache and dissapointments... :/

I believe in watching one's diet (the noun), to eat healthily, yes. Absolutely.

But making yourself mentally and physically unhappy to diet (the verb)?

:: shakes head ::

Nope. Not my cup of tea.

And I'll eat what I want to. I like food. A lot. Food rocks. And good food deserves to be enjoyed au maximum.

My two cents. :)
Apr. 7th, 2003 08:58 am (UTC)
Heh, I think you said what I was trying to say, in a much better way :)
Apr. 7th, 2003 09:16 am (UTC)
Amen! I agree completely.

Some of those diets really worry me - how can it be good for you in any way to for example completely cut particular food groups? Surely this leads to all sorts of problems?

Haven't thought about dieting for a long time but since your post brought back some of the rather unpleasant memories I have regarding that subject I thought I'd give my twopence... :)

Now, I know that a lot of people claim that constantly watching what they eat makes them feel better but in my personal experience (through own past diets and those of friends and family) dieting seems to make people unhappy and dissatisfied with themselves. Most of the time it seems to produce a feeling of failure and frustration that can be quite difficult to overcome. I remember dieting years ago when my mother was dying and I put on quite a bit of weight due to worry and sadness. Nothing extreme, just the typical I-will-only-eat-healthy-stuff approach but I found I got rather obsessive - lying in bed at night, thinking about chocolate, day-dreaming about cream cake, fantasizing about eating as much as I wanted to... Generally, I just added to my own unhappiness. Obviously the results weren't fantastic either.

I realise I sound like one of those weird "I have finally found the light" guys but I haven't been on a diet for years and I don't intend to ever go there again. My weight fluctuates - sometimes I eat more, sometimes less, but always as much and what I feel like - but overall I'm probably thinner then I ever was during my attempts to loose weight. Oddly, I've found that when I stopped denying myself 'unhealthy' food I didn't feel like stuffing myself anymore.

Crap! Just read through this again and have decided that I sound like I'm preaching, so I'll just shut up now!

( 26 comments — Leave a comment )

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