A Letter from the Dark Side: Weighing Nearly 450 lbs.

Many of you know I’m a rabid fan of My 600lb Life on TLC but you may not know why. Yes, it’s a great ongoing reinforcement for me, but in order to be on the show, patients have to weigh a minimum of 500 lbs. In June 2014, I weighed in at 438. I think that’s the highest I ever weighed, but since I never weighed at home and avoided doctors as much as possible, I’m making an educated guess. I never looked at the scale when I got weighed at the doctor; I had to look up that number in my records. But judging by the way I felt physically, I’m pretty sure that was my highest weight.

When you watch the show, you listen to the patients talking about the pain of standing, walking, moving around; how difficult even the easiest everyday activities are; how hopeless and overwhelming everything feels. My mom (a retired RN) watches the show also and I usually get a text from her during the show saying something to the effect of “just wire her mouth shut!!” usually while the patient is talking about her physical difficulties. My mom has no empathy for these patients and I don’t think she understands why I’ll repeatedly watch the reruns. It’s because they were me and I was them. I was the chubby kid, the pudgy teen, the obese adult. My weight was a slow steady relentless gain throughout my life. I spent most of my twenties in the two hundreds, most of my thirties in the three hundreds and by my forties I was fighting to stay out of the four hundreds: a fight I lost in my late forties. When I was 48, I was the highest weight I had ever been. Most of my adult life I was between 370-385. (If any of you have seen My Big Fat Fabulous Life with Whitney Way Thore, I was her size.) I didn’t like being that big, but it had become “comfortable” and by that I mean, there weren’t a lot of things I wanted to do that I couldn’t do but I had gotten pretty good at judging my limits. I could get around pretty good, but I knew when to stop and how to take shortcuts to “maximize my mobility.” I took several trips to Disneyland (one of my favorite places) and my strategy was to hit the rides I could fit on (that was my reality) and when my friends went on rides I couldn’t get on, I’d wait someplace with all our stuff while they rode the rides. I was a convenient meeting place. They didn’t push me to do more because crossing the park was hard on my knees, back and feet. It was a big effort for me to walk any extended distance: I was carrying 375 lbs.

When Dr. Now’s patients talk about the pain of standing and walking, I know that pain. My weight ruined my knees: I have moderate to severe arthritis in both of them (my right is worse than my left). My large lower abdomen (my panniculus) put quite a strain on my back so just standing hurt my knees, my back and my feet. Maneuvering around the house or office or anywhere was usually a challenge since I was twice the size of a normal sized person. Fitting in chairs with arms or cars was always hit or miss since they’re not made for someone the size of two people. I was often afraid of breaking chairs (toilet seats included) and there were a lot of times I wasn’t able to wear the seatbelt in a friend’s car (they were nice enough to not comment).  In college, I was too big for some desks and I had to use the “disabled” desk made for students in wheelchairs.  In auditorium classrooms, I had to sit next to an empty seat, since the little foldover desktop would not lay flat enough across my stomach for me to write on it: I had to use the one next to me.  Getting up from any chair or seated position was always a strain on my knees, back, and hips, (lifting the equivalent of at least two adults) but staying seated for a long period of time was another source of pain on my low back.  My weight even affected my sleep: I had apnea because my weight was essentially beginning to smother me.

Clothing and shoes were another challenge.  It’s extremely dispiriting to realize that the blouse that fits you is big enough to double as a king size pillow case or that when your slacks are folded in half, they are the same size at those for normal sized people.  It’s even more embarrassing when you’re shopping and people think your slacks (folded on the store hanger) are a skirt. When you lay out your clothes for the day and your shirt is the size of a small throw, it’s pretty demoralizing. I know my nightgowns/ nightshirts were that size. I’m guessing a skirt would be that size but I never wore skirts or dresses because getting the slips, nylons and camisoles were next to impossible in my size. Let’s not even discuss lingerie! Shoes are a lot of fun because while there are some stores that normally carry double-wide shoes, when you need triple E, you almost always have to order them.  Getting shoes a size larger doesn’t help much because your foot just gets wider, not longer.

My mom doesn’t mean to be callous when she makes comments about wiring the patient’s jaws shut (I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt here), because she doesn’t understand how insidious the weight gain is. It’s like quicksand: you know you need to get out, but you don’t know how to extricate yourself. Fighting it just seems to make it worse and cause you to sink faster but doing nothing doesn’t get you out either; you just keep slowly sinking. You try making small improvements, but while they may seem to help, it feels like you’re bailing out the Titanic with a teaspoon: it’s working but the improvements are infinitesimal compared to the sheer magnitude of the problem.

I tried diets but dieting seemed to make the problem worse since it was the “fighting the quicksand” scenario: limiting my calories slowed my metabolism so when I gave up the diet (infinitesimal progress), I gained back more weight pretty rapidly. (In all honesty, I didn’t try a lot of diets because I knew they didn’t work, but at the same time, I was desperate to try something! Unfortunately with most of the diets, the more I limited the food, the slower my metabolism became, so I’d have to limit my food even more, á la The Biggest Loser ‘winners.’  I did try some of the “food subscription diets” where you buy the pre-packaged diet foods and eat according to their plans.  Generally those plans & foods worked for me, but even while I was losing weight on them, I kept asking myself “so what happens when I stop eating their food?” That was an easy call: I gained weight again because their “meal plans” hadn’t taught me anything.  The idea behind most of them seemed to be to eat their food until I reached my goal weight and then they’re going to teach me how to stay there.  I never got there because- again- it limited my calories and slowed my metabolism.  I simply had too much weight to lose.

One of the first questions Dr. Now asks his patients is “how did you get to this weight?”  For most of my adult life, the answer is simple: I ate as much as I wanted of whatever I wanted whenever I wanted.  Sometimes I will tease others (and my pets) with the phrase “I want! I want! I want!”  I know how that feels: gimme what I want NOW!! It’s easy to ignore the consequences, and frankly that’s what I did for most of those years when I weighed 370+.  But it wasn’t like I woke up one morning and “wow! how did I get so big?! yesterday I was only 150!” It’s that insidious weight gain I mentioned earlier.  Part of it I can blame on the explosion of cheap processed foods: they are easily metabolized, full of calories and actually designed to make you keep eating more.  The fact that most of my generation and those that followed have problems with obesity and type 2 diabetes backs this up.  But most of us who grew up eating these cheap processed foods do not get to weigh 400+ lbs, though sadly there are a lot more of us than before. A lot of the blame has to be placed at my door.  I didn’t want to be active (I was never good at running or sports) and I spent a lot of my time with sedentary pursuits (reading, writing, watching tv, etc).  It was an amazingly awful combination: the more I ate, the bigger I got, the less I wanted to move so the more I sat and hey, how about another bag of cheese puffs? I tend to give myself credit for not hitting the 400s until I was over forty years old, but I was definitely on track to hit the 500s in my fifties (I noticed the numbers were paralleling each other and it was a frightening realization!) It’s along the same lines as giving yourself credit for breaking the chair but not falling through the floor: “well, the disaster could have been a whole lot worse!” Either way there is nothing good about weighing what I weighed.

It’s a hard situation to confront when you are that large and steadily gaining weight.  The solution seems simple: just go on a diet! But when those diets are based on calories in vs calories out, they don’t work.  All it does is wreck your metabolism and leave you constantly hungry, so you are not only miserably famished all the time, eventually your metabolism settles at your current calorie intake and you stop losing weight.  So while you may have lost some weight, you are right on track to gain it all right back, unless you drop your calories further.  I read in an article last September that one of The Biggest Loser ‘winners’ has to keep his calories under 800 per day in order not to gain the weight back.  To translate that into food, 800 calories is approximately 24 ounces of plain grilled chicken breast or 1.77 Starbucks Grande Mochas with 2% milk and whipped cream.  Sounds filling, doesn’t it?  So when you weigh over 350 lbs, are still gaining weight no matter what you seem to try, it feels pretty hopeless. Somehow, you walked right into this quicksand and now you can’t get out. You try making healthy changes: eating less and exercising more (again calories in vs calories out) and for a while it works, and then when it seems to stop, you try something else, but again, bailing out the Titanic with a teaspoon. It’s easy to see why people like me, Whitney and Dr. Now’s patients just accept that “I’m the fat one in the family!” Defeat with dignity seems better than the constant failing and disappointment. A phrase from The Simpsons would often pop into my head: “Can’t win- don’t try!” I was just destined to be fat so I might as well accept it.

Except it was killing me in so many painful ways. There was the physical pain that comes with lugging around two full sized adults on a body built for one.  There was the constant ‘helpful’ comments from family and the stares and ridicule of strangers always wearing on your spirit.  You feel embarrassed, helpless, inadequate and stupid almost every day, always asking yourself “how the hell did this happen to me?!” You are angry at yourself, at everyone in your family who tries to ‘help’ (because although they mean well, all they are really doing is reminding you of what a screw up you are), and you’re angry at all the jerks in the world who make rude comments about ‘fat chicks’ and other overweight people. It’s physically and emotionally draining to fight the weight and it’s physically and emotionally draining just living with it and all the limitations that it carries. I know in my case, the only way I found to fight it is to keep living my life as best I could.  It seemed as close to defeat with dignity as I could get. I had resolved to do as much as I could as long as I could, much the way I believe Whitney Thore has come to terms with her weight: try not to let it get in the way.

It’s a hard life, and I wish I could give everyone the keys to the secret passage out of it, but there are no easy solutions. For some, bariatric surgery is the best solution.  My mom used to try bribing me to get it done but I have never had any interest in getting my insides remodeled, although if I had reached 500, I think I would have seriously reconsidered. For others, radically changing their eating habits works, or weight loss medications or other devices (they have a permanent stomach pump now). Most- if not all- of these solutions sound a little desperate, but when you weigh in that neighborhood, desperate is exactly what you are! For me, the solution was radically changing my eating habits: I went from a diet that was 80% simple carbs to a diet that is 35% protein, 35% fat and 30% complex carbs. I now eat as few simple carbs as possible (fruit is as simple as it gets most days). It’s not as drastic a change as getting your gastrointestinal tract rearranged, but it sure wasn’t an easy transition to make.  I’m just happy and relieved that it worked and that it allows to me to live a lifestyle that is still normal and satisfying, both mentally, physically and spiritually. I have finally found my way to a happy place after a very long and desperate sojourn on the dark side.

 

Excuse Abuse: It’s Not My Fault!

We’ve all heard them; we’ve all said them: “it’s not my fault because…….”  We probably believed them when we said them, but really, who was to blame?  Those of you who have read some of my previous posts know I am a huge fan (eye roll) of My 600 lb Life and My Big Fat Fabulous Life, and those are pretty much regular excuse-o-ramas!  It’s always someone else’s fault if the patient gains weight or if Whitney eats badly or misses her training appointments.  There was always something beyond their control or it was someone else’s fault xyz happened.

I’ve heard it a thousand times: the patient had to move to Houston and they “had” to get fast food because that’s the only thing available on the road.  They have to feed their husband and kids and they like “insert junk food here.”  Whitney’s back has been hurting so her nutrition hasn’t been good.  She works out of town and has so many other activities going on so she’s missed her training appointments.  Her eating habits are so bad because “everything spills over onto everything else and then it’s the middle of the day and [she’s] starving.”

There are several problems with making excuses and abdicating responsibility.  The first is that it keeps you powerless.  Every time “something happens,” it keeps you from taking charge.  You are left being reactive instead of proactive.  Maybe this sounds like a lot of psychobabble, but it’s true.  Things are going to happen that are beyond your control, but you are still left with options.  Let’s look at some of the above scenarios and the excuses.

Scenario #1: you are on a road trip and will be eating on the road.  Yeah, fast food is the easiest option, especially if you are traveling with a lot of people or kids..  However, most fast food places these days have “healthier” options.  They may not be the best option, but they are available and even if you don’t opt for the pathetic fast food salad (there are some places that really do have great salads, but my experience with one of the larger chains has left me really disappointed!), you can still get a bunless burger, a grilled chicken breast sandwich (most have those too!) and you certainly don’t need the fries and sugary soda!  You can make the best of a bad situation.  You can also take a cooler (depending on how long you will on the road) and bring something healthier for you, or when you stop for gas, most of the gas station food marts have something with more choices, like cheese sticks, fruit, nuts or lunch meat.  Some of them even have veggie snack packs. (Maybe that’s just California because we are a little weird!)  Either way, there are some options!  This one I have to confess bugs me more than a little because I eat on the road all the time: breakfast for me is always eaten in the car, weekdays at least and I bring something healthy these days instead of getting fast food.  It’s an obvious excuse to eat the junk food they want to eat and choosing to remain powerless in that situation gives them the out they want to eat the crappy junk.

Scenario #2: They have to feed their husband and kids and they like “insert junk food here.”  This is one that I saw not too long ago on a 600 lb Life rerun.  The patient ordered 3 pizzas and a family size brownie for herself, her husband, her disabled 12 year old (I think he got fed through a feeding tube, incidentally), and her one year old baby.  She not only fed the baby the pizza, she fed it to her dog.  Most of you know that I make a habit of feeding my pets pretty much anything I eat as long as it’s safe for them. My pets are my “kids” and they are my responsibility, but they are still pets and not real children.  How much more important is it to feed your children nutritious food and teach them healthy eating habits?  The patient’s sister who was there and very disapproving of the pizzas made that very point, to which the patient responded with “this is what they like.”  Her husband would have eaten anything she wanted for dinner (he deferred to her regularly) and as for the baby- HE’S A BABY!! If you ask any kid what he wants for dinner, he’s pretty much going to say things like pizza and ice cream or fast food or things that taste good rather than things that are nutritious.  When was the last time an 8 year old said she wants broccoli for dinner? Or baked tilapia? Or a sweet potato?  Children learn their eating habits from their parents and other adults in their lives and as a parent, it’s your job to make sure that: #1) they are getting good nutrition; and #2) they are learning to make the right choices for themselves.  If your family’s eating habits aren’t good, then making positive changes for everyone is a good thing.  If the adults in your family insist on making “junk food” choices for themselves, then let them, because they are adults, but as the parent, it’s your job to make sure your children eat healthy nutritious food and learn to make good choices.  Ironically, my pets eat healthier than that woman’s family and they make their own choices in what to eat. (The last time I gave them cake, it sat there and got stale!)

Scenario #3: Whitney’s back has been hurting so her nutrition hasn’t been good.  Her trainer Will called it:  her back has nothing to do with what she is eating! It’s like saying “I had to eat junk food today because my shirt is yellow.”  One has nothing to do with the other!  Her back is hurting so does that mean she can’t cook?  Her back is hurting so does that mean she has to eat junk food? Or over eat? What does that have to do with anything?  If cooking is an issue, get something you don’t need to cook, like a salad kit or a rotisserie chicken.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had that very same dinner sitting in my recliner with my tv tray.  It’s easy and takes almost no time.  You can mix up the salad sitting down and eat the chicken cold or heat it in the microwave, so if your back is hurting, no excuses!  It takes no more time to walk into the store and get those than it does to get drive thru.

Scenario #4: She works out of town and has so many other activities going on so she’s missed her training appointments.  Will called it again: she needs to budget her time, and so do we!  It’s great to have a lot of activities, but keep in mind, the more things you have in your schedule, the less time you have to focus on them.  I also work out of town and my commute is about 2 hours, so that’s four hours out of each weekday that is spent in the car.  Obviously my time there is severely limited, so I usually devote that time to listening to podcasts or calling my friends (on my hands-free of course).  I wish I had more time to read but again, it’s something that I need to fit into my schedule.  I do water aerobics twice a week and I’ve signed up for a resistance training class one night a week.  They offer it twice a week, but I’m not sure I can fit that in.  I would also like to take a dance class, but that’s also twice a week and I would have dance twice a week, water aerobics twice a week, resistance once a week, (all during the work week I might add!) and all of those on top of my job, my commute and other regular activities (like this blog, laundry, grocery shopping, errands, etc.) and I’d need to do it all and still get to bed at a reasonable hour!  Yeah, having a lot to do is not always a bad thing, but over-scheduling is just irresponsible.  The more you have on your plate, the less time you can devote to each of them!  Showing up exhausted and burnt out to water aerobics so I can just “phone it in” isn’t benefiting me.  Phoning it in at my job isn’t at all acceptable.  Sometimes people do this so they can feel accomplished, or because it gives them an excuse to phone it in.  As Whitney says in this episode, she’s missing her training appointments but she’s being “active” so it’s all good.  As Will tells her: no, it’s not good.  Just being “active” isn’t the same as not showing up for the training because he’s there to keep her focused and move her towards her goals.  She was also making a dance DVD and rehearsing for a dance competition.  The DVD is a one-time temporary thing and so is the dance competition, but she was having to cram in the rehearsals because she didn’t have a lot of time before the competition: maybe she should have not signed up for the competition? I’d really like to take the dance class, but really, how much can I cram into my schedule and still do it well? There’s also a yoga class I really want but again, how about rescheduling something?  How about being realistic?  Again, it’s called being an adult versus being a child: kids want everything but adults use discretion.  Be an adult, people!

Scenario #5: Her eating habits are so bad because “everything spills over onto everything else and then it’s the middle of the day and [she’s] starving.” This happens a lot to most of us. We think we have everything planned out and then, real life happens!  The best laid plans, blah blah blah- smack right in the middle of your day!  It happened to me twice last week and once the week before: I brought my healthy breakfast and lunch and then the day went sideways and my time for lunch went out the window!  By 2:00 p.m. I was starving and this would have been a perfect opportunity for me to say “I can stop for a giant mocha on the way home and get Jack in the Box for dinner!  After all, I missed lunch!” I could have completely rationalized the junk food, but that doesn’t move me forward to my goals: it’s an excuse for me to stuff my face with junk.  So when I couldn’t warm up my lunch (and I didn’t want to eat it cold), I had some of the nuts that I keep in my desk for situations like this!  That’s why they’re there!  They won’t spoil and they are a whole lot healthier than junk food.  They are not the best option (which would have been the turkey and veggies sitting in the office fridge) but they were enough to hold me over until I got home and had the chicken and salad which was waiting for me.  I learned the hard way that not planning for situations like these (and they happen to all of us!) is setting yourself up for disaster.  In Whitney’s case, I think her lack of planning is the problem.  Will had given her some healthy bars for those occasions, but she ate them all and didn’t replace them.  Again, I think this goes back to choosing to remain powerless so you can always use “real life” as the out to eat badly.

 “The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars but in ourselves.”

As much as I dislike Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, this is one of my favorite quotes, and in this instance, it is exactly on point.  It’s easier and more convenient to blame fate, the universe, God, “real life,” or whatever for why you didn’t reach your goals, whatever they might be. Sometimes, things really do happen to you that you cannot control, but you still have options.  In the season finale, Whitney said something that really struck me; she said “I will probably be fat for the rest of my life.”   She had accepted that as fact and it struck me because at one time in my life I had come to the same conclusion.  “This is it; I’m just going to be fat all my life” and almost immediately as the thought was sinking into my brain, I felt a palpable sense of relief, and I realized I had just given myself permission to give up on ever being thinner, being healthier, trying to lose weight and improve my health and I had given myself license to eat whatever I want as much as I want and forget about ever exercising or trying to improve my health. Every health related goal I had went out the window with that thought.  “I’m giving up.”  That’s what I really should have told myself. I know that Whitney probably tells herself that she is still working on being healthier, but she always has her fallback excuse for not trying her hardest, for not giving it her all, for why she’s not making progress: she’s just destined to be fat.  That’s so disappointing, and I hope she rethinks her position and doesn’t give up on herself.

I know in my case, telling me that I can’t is pretty much guaranteed to make me try to prove you wrong.  I may not get there, but it won’t be for lack of trying.  I may never reach my goal weight but I’m going to spend the rest of my life trying to get there.  Granted, I’m not going to do crazy things to try getting there (sadly, I had an aunt who killed herself to be thin and she died skinny.) I want to be healthy and fit and enjoy getting there.  Choosing to let someone or something else decide your day, let alone your fate, is pretty much a guarantee that you aren’t going to get to your goals.  That’s not to say you have to regulate and schedule every minute of the foreseeable future, but there’s nothing wrong with planning for a few detours along the way.  It’s the difference between an adventure and a catastrophe.  I’d rather have the adventure and get where I want to go eventually, even if it means eating nuts for lunch.

Be Gracious in Victory, Not Vindictive

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while may be familiar with a post I did (The Speck in Your Sister’s Eye) regarding comedian Kerryn Feehan and Whitney Thore of My Big Fat Fabulous Life (MBFFL).  Kerryn appeared on the show and she and Whitney disagreed- loudly- over Whitney’s approach to her weight and lifestyle and fat shaming in general.

Recently on part two of MBFFL’s season finale, Kerryn made another appearance.  The season finale (entitled “The Skinny”) was a round table type wrap up where they had the cast and host Shaun Robinson review certain moments from the season and offer their thoughts looking back at the various incidents.  Personally, I think Kerryn is to be applauded for walking into what was so obviously a lion’s den of disapproval straight from the get-go.  It was soon apparent that no one wanted to listen to her point of view on Whitney’s attitude and/ or approach to her weight and, although she frankly has a tendency to express herself crudely and hurtfully (maybe it’s the ‘comedic’ approach?), it was also very apparent that she genuinely felt she had come to have a frank and open discussion about the state of Whitney’s health.

When Kerryn brought up the fact that Whitney is “struggling” with her health and weight, she was attacked.  When she defended herself by bringing up the funeral intervention thrown by her friends and family members, she was attacked again.  Whitney took offense to a response Kerryn made to her parents, saying it was disrespectful (I don’t think it was, but it’s purely subjective) and walked off the set.  (Kerryn also left.) Later, after everyone returned, Kerryn apologized to Whitney, telling her she believed she was clearly a beautiful, intelligent and charismatic person.  Whitney responded by saying since Kerryn did not include respect in her list of attributes, Kerryn obviously did not respect her and made a derogatory remark about Kerryn, who was then abruptly asked to leave by the host.

I have to say I was not impressed by Whitney’s behavior (or her friend Buddy’s for that matter).  Upon her return to the set after the blow up, Kerryn flat out stated that she believed she had been brought there to have a frank discussion about Whitney’s weight and that clearly was not going to happen. I think Kerryn began badly by saying that she believes Whitney’s friends are enabling her when it is quite obvious she is struggling with her weight (the words Kerryn used were she “waddles” when she walks).  I think this is part of Kerryn’s “bullying for positive change” philosophy which I don’t agree with but I don’t deny that Whitney does tend to waddle when she walks.  (I used to waddle myself when I weighed that much! It’s because moving 370+ lbs can be a bit of an effort!)

Kerryn’s abrasive personality aside, it was painfully clear that she was hurt by the multiple attacks on the set and it was also quite clear that although Whitney had the opportunity to handle the situation with grace and aplomb, she chose not to do so.  Instead, she threw Kerryn’s words back in her face and childishly decided to have a tantrum by leaving the set rather than using her alleged charisma and articulate manner to discuss the matter with Kerryn.  Loathe though I am to side with Kerryn, I do not think she was wrong when she said that Whitney’s friends and family are not helping her.  While I don’t think they coddle her (as Kerryn stated in the first episode), I think they do enable her.  Kerryn brought up the funeral intervention thrown by her friends and family after Whitney passed out at the dance-a-thon she put on.  She ended up at a cardiologist, who of course told her to lose weight, although he also told her she was physically fine.  Her friends and family were quite obviously scared for her and did the intervention hoping it would bring about positive change.  Whitney’s response was to walk out after the funeral without speaking to them and on the season finale, her comment to them was “Y’all are lucky I don’t hold a grudge!”  Frankly, it’s clear that she does hold grudges (don’t get me started about Caitie and the whole Big Girl Dance class debacle!) and again she missed the opportunity to express her gratitude that they cared so much to do that, even if she felt it was not the appropriate way to show their concern (I think she was much ruder to her dad in this instance than Kerryn ever was!)

For someone who is supposed to be charming and articulate, Whitney can be rudely defensive about her weight, and it is to be expected.  As she pointed out, she gets attacked  daily about her weight, mainly because she is putting herself out in the media. She read aloud some of the Twitter feed about her and it was beyond disgusting, although there were some positive comments.  She is to be congratulated for standing up for what she believes in despite the ugly remarks (I think they scared her mom and brought a few of them to tears they were so bad!) It’s easier (though not at all easy) to ignore comments from ignorant meatheads who don’t know you, but when your friends and family and your own body are telling you that you need to make some positive changes, those need to be acknowledged.  When asked about how she intended to handle her fainting spell, Whitney defensively replied that she intended to sleep better, exercise better and get better nutrition rather than lose weight.  I think she was trying to save face.  I’ve been down that road myself.  It’s easier to say things like that rather than admit you don’t know how to lose weight and keep it off.  Another of Whitney’s defensive remarks was that she’d lost 100 lbs before and of course gained back more, and she said she was not going to put herself through it again.  She shouldn’t because yo-yo dieting can wreck havoc on your metabolism, but making sustained long term changes to your lifestyle can help you lose weight, get better nutrition feel better and sleep better. But it means having to change how you are living, and sometimes that is a bigger impediment than most people want to admit.

I’m not going to sit here and tell Whitney how she should live her life.  She’s an intelligent adult who is more than capable of making her own decisions.  I like her and I think she would be someone I could have as a friend, but my point here is that she had the opportunity to show the world how really lovely and intelligent and gracious she can be and she opted not to do it.  One of my favorite people, Elizabeth Benton (Primal Potential), shared a book on a podcast not long ago entitled The Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday.  EB is a big fan of Stoic philosophy and, while I am not, one of the quotes she shared from the book stayed with me: be gracious in your victories and humble in your defeats.  It was so clear that Kerryn was humble in her flat-out annihilation on that episode and so clear that Whitney was anything but gracious.  I am so disappointed, not only that she came off as petty and vindictive, but that she missed the opportunity for real discussion of her no body shame message. She had the opportunity to discuss why one’s weight is not always a good indicator of health and how being confident in yourself does not depend on what you weigh or how many miles you can run.  Health and beauty and fitness are not about body size.  She would have been much better served if she had chosen to focus more on her physical and personal achievements and less on being defensive over her eating and her weight.  I’m looking forward to seeing more of her next season and hopefully she will learn from this unfortunate incident.  Again, kudos to Kerryn for putting herself in that minefield and showing what true grace looks like!