Getting skinny will solve all our problems, right? We will be unconditionally loved by all, be able to run marathons in under three hours and, of course, be able to wear bikinis and heels to any occasion, including black tie events. As one does. At least that’s what all the diet ads say. But a new study says that not only does losing weight not make people happier, it can actually increase their risk of depression two fold.
Well this is uncomfortable. Confession: Even though I no longer diet or exercise with weight loss as a goal and I eat intuitively and exercise gently and I love and accept my body way more than I ever have in my entire life — even with all that, I still believe with all my heart that if I weighed 15 pounds less I’d be happier. I hate that thought still lives in my brain. I don’t act on it but it’s still definitely there.
Dear Kirstie Alley,
I got your press release about how you’re going back to your first diet love, Jenny Craig. (I really appreciated the personal touch of including the pictures of all your diet products. Apparently JC will now be carrying your line of diet drinks in their stores so, um, way to play it from both sides?) I wish I could say that I’m happy for you but watching you publicly yo-yo your weight up and down for years is starting to make me deeply uncomfortable. Not because your weight is fluctuating – that’s a totally normal part of the human experience – but because of how uncomfortable it seems to make you.
Take this statement you made in a recent interview in People where you explained the reason for your returning to Jenny Craig, after a 7-year hiatus: “I was good for awhile and then I wasn’t good, and the weight crept up. Like I say in the ad, I’m not circus fat. I didn’t hugely screw up. I didn’t gain 75. I gained 30.”
Early this morning whilst my children were whizzing all over the floor in the area of the toilet and I was still snuggled under the covers checking the weather (-7! It’s like Minnesota misses me and followed me all the way here! Aw!), the internets were all atwitter with shock surrounding The Biggest Loser’s latest winner, Rachel Frederickson – or rather, what’s left of her. Frederickson made Biggest Loser history and international headlines for losing a record-breaking 60% of her body weight, dropping 155 pounds in a mere five months on the show. I saw a couple of headlines but then I was into the morning rush of trying to get all my kids clothed (success), fed (success) and to school on time (utter failure) and didn’t have time to catch up with the story until this afternoon. And then… whoa.
Bob and Jillian’s expressions (and silent “oh my god”) pretty much summed up the general reaction:
And yes, you can own this shower curtain! They sell everything on Etsy!
Indoor plumbing may be the single best advancement in the history of mankind. In the past, unless you were lucky enough to live in a bathwater climate like Hawaii, bathing, washing or drinking often meant hacking a hole in the ice first. (Writes the girl who lives in Minnesota where the majority of our ten thousand- ish lakes are still frozen, despite the fact it’s APRIL. Get it together already Mother Nature!) So why would anyone in their right mind want to return to dumping a bucket of cold water over his or her head?
In spite of how insane it sounds “cold therapy” is making a comeback. First it was your ultra-marathon friend doing post-run soaks in an ice bath, said to reduce inflammation and speed recovery. Then it was a shot of cold at the end of your shower to “seal your pores”, make your hair shiny and – duh – wake you up. And now it’s come to this: A journalist (who, for once, I don’t envy them their job) crouched in the fetal position at the bottom of a 60-degree pool, breathing through a tube and trying not to rattle his fillings loose as he shivers for 20 minutes. In his article for Wired magazine, entitled “Tapping the Power of Cold to Fight Fat,” Steven Leckart plays lab rat in a way I never could in order to help former NASA scientist Ray Cronise learn about how cold effects the human metabolism and specifically in the role that brown fat plays in weight loss.
Eating, sitting and pooping are generally considered life skills and yet I spent a portion of today – Easter Sunday, one of the High Food Holidays, no less – unable to do any of the above. The problem started, as it often does with me, with a mystery package dropped on my doorstep by the invisible fairy-men from the land of Fed-Ex. (Seriously I never see those guys/girls – they ring my doorbell and run so fast it’s like my packages appear by magic. Maybe they heard of the day I had to chase two of my kids all the way down the block wearing nothing but a towel? Yeah, I’d run too. Anyhow.) Sweet reader G (love you, girl!) is a costumer in California and came across an old time-y girdle in the discard pile. Rather than see it go to the great vintage shop in the sky she packaged that baby up and sent it my way!
Hey kids! Do you like number crunching? Manipulating other people like marionettes? Watching people do intimate things when they think they’re alone and recording them? And then telling the whole world about it? If so, then human research is the job for you! But seriously, this new crop of health research is all about what people do in the dark and if you’ve ever wanted to try out being a professional creeper then you’re going to love this. Although, just FYI, the “intimate things” I’m referring to are eating, sleeping and excreting.
(Is this a good time to tell you that there is already video of me using the bathroom floating around out there? In college my best friends worked at a gas station who was managed by a guy who thought it would be awesome to hide a camera in the ladies’ restroom and film us all doing our duty, er, doody. The only reason we ever found out was ’cause he started showing it to people and got arrested. If that’s not reason enough to bring back aprons as a fashion statement, I don’t know what is!)
College is a gauntlet of growing up in so many ways – the day I discovered the horror of the overdraft fee stands out in vivid memory – but for many it’s also a time of growing, er, out. As in the Freshman 15. Over the holidays I had a chance to chat with a girl I used to teach in church who was home from college for Christmas and her first question for me was “I know you’re a fitness writer! Tell me how to lose the XX pounds I’ve gained so far this year!” I could feel the desperation. And I sympathized – I remember that angst rather too well. So I gave her a few generic tips like “cut out the junk food” and “find an exercise you love.” I know, I kinda want to smack me too; while those things are good and true they also weren’t necessarily what she was looking for. Not only did she want/need more detail but she needed to know she wasn’t alone and that there was a way out of her struggle. She replied, “What if you wrote a book about helping college girls lose weight? And I could be your subject??”
Fact: 70-75% of how you experience flavor is due to your sense of smell.
Anecdote: A friend told me about a friend (isn’t this how all good anecdotes start?) who had lost his sense of smell in an accident and consequently lost 20 pounds easy-peasey because, in my friend’s words, “Everything pretty much tasted the same. Brownies tasted like whole wheat bread so why not just eat the bread then?”
At the time my eating disorder – one of several, is there such a thing as multiple personality disorder for EDs? – was in full swing and I fantasized about losing my sense of smell. Wouldn’t that be awesome?! I’d never have to struggle with my weight again! Of course I’d never be able to luxuriate in the smell of my baby’s hair fresh out of a bath or inhale a lilac so hard the petals shoot up my nose. And what’s Christmas without my homemade orange-cinnamon potpourri? Then I realized that while I really wouldn’t miss brownies much – they’re just kind of meh for me – I’d definitely miss being able to appreciate a fragrant curry or an almond sugar cookie.