Climbing Out From Under a Rock?

In Weight-Loss Maintenance on August 24, 2011 at 8:06 pm

Actually, I’ve just been in contemplation mode, mainly.  When I was a child, that would have meant sitting on top of a rock, down by a neighborhood creek (thoughtlessly trespassing on someone’s property, but it didn’t matter in those days), feet in the cold, rushing water.  As an adult, I prefer to perch on a softer landing spot.  I often have a book too.

First of all, I’d like to thank everyone in my last post for being so encouraging about my writing, my perspective, my voice on this topic.   You have given me pause.  I had pretty much given up on writing about weight-loss maintenance, at least in any compensated fashion.   It is nice to think that others find my thoughts worthy. 

While I haven’t entirely given up on writing on this topic, I am going to postpone and turn my attentions elsewhere.  Mid-September, I enter training in the Clinical Pastoral Education program for St. Luke’s Hospital in my hometown of Kansas City. 

Back in January, a close friend died, one who had been encouraging me to plumb spiritual depths, ponder imponderables and (as she had done) go to seminary.  Her career path led her to edit a national religious publication for a time and serve as a congregational pastor for a time.   I was shaped most, however, by being present for nearly all of the penultimate chapter of her life, in which she was technically mostly retired (but spent her days advancing peace in creative ways), and parts of her final chapter (as I could travel, and as time allowed).  It occurred to me that being present, God’s emissary, during people’s most important and challenging chapters would make for meaningful work, especially once my nest goes empty in five years (a chapter I’d like to plan for).  

Muriel and I met shortly after she had had a radical mastectomy following breast cancer.  At the time, she decided not to follow up with chemotherapy.  She preferred to fortify her body’s defenses against the internal enemy, through nutrition and other means, rather than try to poison it and herself.  Her children were grown, her obligations on this earthly plain mostly met, so she claimed the luxury of declining an ugly fight, knowing her decision might result in a shorter, if more comfortable, life.  Actually, however, her strategy kept her alive for nine lovely years.  Years that would change me.

My friend’s death reminded me that when my mother had had a stroke in 1999, four years before she died, I learned that there was nothing more rewarding than being useful for her, comforting to her or just present.  This was not an effortless revelation.  On my two-hour drives to see her, I would squeeze the steering wheel, afraid I wouldn’t find words, afraid of awkward silences ahead.  I prayed, “just let me be useful, God.  Help me figure out what to do.  Help me find words.  Help me.”  I had a toddler at the time, who I could count on to provide some entertainment for one visit in a weekend, but toddlers are multi-faceted, and I could also count on him to test the limitations of the residential center where she lived.  It wasn’t childproof and, in fact, was designed to make electrical outlets, toxic cleaners, mini-blind cords and other dangers more accessible, not less.  So, I knew I would leave him with his other grandma for most visits, and I would go alone and try to communicate with someone I loved, who could not communicate back much.  And that was scary.  At first.

But God answered my prayers.  Cynical me.  My prayers.  I always figured out how to be useful.  How to be present.  One week her slipper had fallen off, for example, and I could see that the monthly visits by the podiatrist weren’t enough to maintain her feet.  I started giving her regular pedicures – gentle and without polish.  Just washing her feet, moisturizing the skin, clipping and smoothing the nails.  I also curled her hair with a curling iron some weekends.  We did girly things.   She helped me wrap Christmas presents.  Simple stuff.  And meaningful.  I am grateful I found the inner resources to visit despite my fears and reservations.  I know that many people need help finding those resources, and I’d like to be helpful toward that end.

My spare thoughts, therefore, have been straying from weight and health to matters spiritual.  My reading list has changed a lot.  I’m pretty ecumenical to begin with, but I must admit I wouldn’t know how to pray with a Rastafarian, Sikh, Zoroastrian, or any number of believers/nonbelievers/counter-believers and their families who might show up in the hospital and need to call on their spiritual resources to get through challenging times or pass into new chapters.  And while I hope I would simply and humbly let them lead me, I’d like to know what might be in store and how I might be supportive and avoid being insulting.  So I am bouncing about in books on various world religions.  I have a book on science and religion too (seems apropos for the medical/spiritual vortex I hope to enter).  And I have been doing a lot of soul searching and navel gazing.  I have not, however, been reading up on the science or cultural mythology of weight control. 

I’ve visited some blogs.  Left a comment here and there.  But I have not been the Data-hound Debra that I imagine myself to be for this blog.  And I’m cool with that.  I hope you all are too.

I am guessing that I will retire this blog soon.  I hope to do a wrap-up entry or two, and then, at the risk of seeming vain, pay for the domain for another year and leave it up, because I think our discussions would be helpful to people entering into weight-loss and weight-loss maintenance, or considering avoiding another round of yo-yo weight cycling.  Many people find this blog through search engine terms.  I think that’s a good thing, and they should be allowed to come and read.

I know when I started this blog I was just out-and-out angry.  There were days I felt like I was going to burst from my skin in rage because I had been served up a stinking pile of lies . . . by doctors, by scientists, by women’s magazines, TV morning news programs, and other purveyors of cultural mythology.  I had known about and been seething about these lies for years, so my first entries were fire-breathing.

But over the year my discussions with you, the readers here, have dissipated my ire, and I am now, most days, more stoic than angry.  I’m living with all the big lies in peace instead of rage.  You affirmed that I wasn’t imagining the lies.  You challenged my over-reactions to the lies.  You cheered my indignation at the lies.  You explored and analyzed the lies with me, and offered some brilliant insights.  And, some days, you just affirmed me personally.  I owe you people a lot for helping me get to a more peaceful place.  If I have any chance at being a competent hospital chaplain, it is because I went through some necessary preparation here.   Who would ‘a thunk it?

I think there are lots of angry people (or soon-to-be-angry people) who have just discovered or are about to discover the big lies regarding weight control – that it’s just portion control, that it’s just tips and tricks, that it’s a lifestyle, that it’s ridiculously easy once you’ve figured it out.  Yeesh.  What baloney!   I think our discussions will help them process the challenging journey ahead.  After a year, the science we’ve discussed in these pages will be old, possibly updated or reversed, and some links will go defunct.  In any event, after a year the blog can go where ever old blogs go.  Then you and I, my on-line friends, may be content that we have done a little something to make the world more honest and realistic about weight control, and maybe a little kinder and accepting of people of all sizes.

  1. Wow, Debra. I should probably take a little time to think before I respond. But I think this is so wonderful. As you know, I think, your comments to me have been treasures. I imagine having someone like you IN PERSON to help process an impossible time in their lives will be a treasure to many people. I know I will NEVER forget Marie, the hospice nurse who was only there for less than 24 hours for us. She was a gift from God.

    And your blog, with its ring of truth, has also been most helpful to me. You know I sometimes wish it weren’t the truth, that weight loss maintenance was la-la-la easy peasy. But the truth is the only hope I have of being able to maintain this weight loss. So thank you again.

  2. Do leave your blog up. Just as a printed book is useful for years after it’s written and published, so are the “virtual” books we leave on the Web. My blog is pretty much defunct, but I add every now and again, and I know that others find my pages, and I hope they get something useful from them. The Web is kinda like a big library shelf.

    You know that I respectfully disagree with you on some of your points – it’s not a Big Lie, but it’s also not the Big Easy. Like most all aspects of life, it takes day to day effort, and it can become a grind. It can be frustrating. But it can also be rewarding. Speaking of which, I think you are headed into a most rewarding chapter of your life. I can tell, just from the entries that you have written, that you have much empathy, and feel deeply. This will serve you well. I hope you will continue with a blog of a different sort, about this new journey.

    • Actually, Debby, I gotta thank you too. You always are in great humor, but you don’t sugar coat either. I adore your blog and the deep heart it reveals.

    • Yes, Deborah, we respectfully disagree. It’s funny, when I see the word “lie” coming from your keyboard it looks so much harsher than when it comes from my finger tips. But I stand by my words. I think the cultural mythology surrounding weight-loss maintenance is a Big Lie and it’s hurting us deeply. So many people flippantly jump from diet to diet, thinking they’ll find just the right one for them, only to yo-yo weight cycle, which has so many consequences to health and psyche. So many other people stand in judgment of fat people because of the Big Lie. “Why doesn’t she just push away from the table?” It’s horrible. And, yes, I still say it’s a lie. That’s not to say that the people who promote it are all liars, however. That poor woman I roasted in my last post, for example, who’s writing the book that reveals the big secret that makes it all “ridiculously easy.” She’s not lying. I don’t doubt her sincerity. She really does think she’s telling the truth. But she’s not. She’s repeating a cultural myth that feels so good and touches her so deeply that she thinks she’s inventing it. She is gripped by a hormonal rush from her weight loss (and her presumed discovery at how easy it is) that is akin to limerence, I think. And most of us who are now day-by-day maintainers felt that at one point. But, like any limerent episode, it’s gonna fade gently, or crumble painfully, or crash and burn like a Mac Truck carrying a load of diesel. I pray for her she lands more gently on the truth than I did. I hope too that she rethinks publishing that book, lest it mock her when she does.

      At any rate, even though we disagree on the cultural/political stuff, or maybe just the semantics of it, I have appreciated (though not always gracefully and acceptingly) your challenges to me, personally, to just buck up and live the maintainer life. You have been a rock of stoicism and sanity, and I owe you.

      • Oh, dear . . . I never meant to leave you with an impression of “just buck up and live the maintainer life.” I know that all of our journeys are different. I agree with you about the cultural myth – I think I just label it differenty. I believe my viewpoint is more like: it is what it is, anger won’t help, and in fact, it will get in the way. (Been there, other contexts.) And that the truth, actually, is somewhere in the middle. Everything is overdetermined . . . there’s no one cause for anything.

        I tend to be a social skeptic, in the first place. I am aware of the subtle and not-so-subtle attempts to make us buy this or that, do this or that, or be this or that. I accept that this is a component of modern life, and it won’t go away. My response (defense?) is to be aware, think critically, and question, and to generally push myself to do my own thing and be true to who I am. I am a keen observer (at least in this late stage of my life) of myself, my body, and its responses. I know what works and what does not. Fad diets do not work. The only thing that works is being mindful, controlling intake (not always perfectly) and moving more. This will involve different things for different folks; one size does not fit all. And like any “prescription,” there will be those who can adhere more closely than others. If they can’t, that’s not a strike against them, nor a value judgement. We all have different monkeys on our shoulders. Some of us have steeper hills to climb. And sometimes the hill slope changes as we move through life.

        Finally, I am very skeptical of the scientific studies that purport to show why we overeat, get fat, get thin, whatever. We don’t know a fraction of what there is to know about this subject. It’s like we’re doing a picture puzzle . . . we have a few pieces put together, we see some blue sky, a couple of flowers, and a few windows and some stonework – and we conclude that we’re putting together a picture of the Taj Mahal. Imagine our surprise when we finish the puzzle and the picture is actually of a dog standing beside a stone house. We just. don’t. know. yet. Maybe we never will really know – at least within our lifetimes. At worst, I think these studies promote despair. I know that I was depressed for an entire weekend after I read Gina Kolata’s book “Rethinking Thin.” And that was after I’d lost weight and had been maintaining a few years! What a terrible message to give to someone who might actually be able to succeed – to tell them that their bodies and their biology is against them. While that could be true for some, that’s one heck of a sweeping generalization. Who is Gina, or anyone, to say that’s so for any one individual? As one of my friends says, “and just who died and made you Queen?” 🙂

        The studies that have been published merely reveal a few small mechanisms by which our bodies operate. They do not show what drives those mechanisms. The mind-body connection is very real, and our minds can influence what genes are expressed, what sort of hormones we secrete, whether we are able to pull ourselves out of a mild depression, and so on. (Cognitive therapy taps into this, of course.) My understanding, through observation and experience – is that the greatest aid (or roadblock) to successful weight control is the mind. It’s more than willpower and determination, and it has nothing to do with deciding when to eat what. It’s a mindset, one that we also employ when we do anything in this life – get an advanced degree, raise a child, take care of a parent, or just live day to day.

        Again, I am sorry if you think me nonsympathetic – I am not! And I am certainly not a stoic, good heavens! 🙂 I just have a different, er, mindset. 🙂 I think you have done, and are doing admirably, and I am very happy that you are happy about your next adventure. Be well. 🙂

      • Whoa, Deborah. I’m the sorry one. My translation of your words are helpful to me. I don’t think stoicism is that bad a place, at least with regard to this aspect of my life. My emotional energy and enthusiasm are for other places now. Back when I could be the joyful jogger, it was different. But I’ve been injured, compromised and otherwise changed, and I’ve had to adapt. I also read studies differently from you, and that’s okay too. But I don’t think you’re unkind. You’re just fine. Be well yourself!

  3. On the one hand, I’m sad that you’re planning to stop adding to this very engaging and important blog.

    On the other hand, what a plan! Knowing you for so many years online, your compassion, levelheadedness and integrity, it’s easy to see that you would make a great minister. What an exciting new path.

    • Coming from the Pope of BFB, that is SOOOOO meaningful. Thank you DeeLeigh.

    • Wow. That’s a scary turn of phrase. Honestly, I wish someone better than me would take over at BFB, but I just can’t stand to let it die.

      • No one “better” is out there. Maybe those of us who follow you, appreciate your perspective and are all too happy to let you do the heavy lifting could help you out from time to time. Maybe after I “retire” here I’ll periodically say something in the forums that will be suitable for public exposure.

  4. Congrats! My aunt, a Sister of St. Joseph, was director of pastoral care at a large hospital until she undertook the caretaking of the older nuns in her order. So I’m very familiar with this work (experienced it first hand when my mom had her heart attack) and certainly appreciate the value … and can understand the calling. Best wishes for your future; it’s been a pleasure being part of your blog family!

    • Thanks, Beth. One of the reasons I feel comfortable moving along is that I know your site will carry the torch: It’s NOT so stinking simple, and here’s the science to prove it!!!! And you are more even tempered than I am, so the scientists might even LISTEN to you. I’ve always gotten the sense that the NWCR thinks I’m their biggest nut job.

  5. Well, I would like to add my thanks to you. I have been maintaining for about a year now, and your blog and the resources that I have been able to link to from your blog have been a significant support for me. Your realistic but kind viewpoint has really helped me to accept where I am and be satisfied with myself and to care for and respect my body without hate and shame.
    I also think you would be a great spiritual partner for the folks you will come in contact with in your new endeavor. I wish you the best and I will pray for you!

  6. What I have loved most about your blog is: you don’t try to tell somebody else’s truth, you tell your truth as you have experienced it personally–then sought and offered empirical research to provide additional layers. At the same time you’ve welcomed insight, allowed purging and venting for newcomers to the terrain (me), and encouraged (& moderated) dialog about a multifaceted topic (and complex process) that brings with it highly charged emotions and VERY strong opinions. What an accomplishment! I often think that subjective perspectives on size (weight) and eating issues represent entire belief systems (often implicit and not closely examined) about the way our world now understands diverging webs of interralated (yet confusing and contradictory) meanings about: social justice (and social criticism), science, philosophy, culture, psychology, anthropology…wow, I mean, WOW. So many people want these ideas to be SIMPLE, it seems, or at least simplified, but that’s partly how we got into so much trouble with these ideas, from a cultural/social justice standpoint. Thanks for not taking the simple road. Thanks for respecting diversity. 🙂 I tend to be skeptical and unsure about many things, but my intuition says you have been called toward pastoral work for a long time, and your caring actions with/for people who are going through vulnerable times will bring greater peace and love to many lives. Your choice is indeed a celebration and affirmation of LIFE. 🙂

    • Thanks, Hopeful. Yes, the big weight loss conundrum is THE metaphor of this epoch, I think. If we pry it open and figure it out, do you think we’ll figure out the rest? Perhaps compassion will FINALLY win the day?

      Nope. Probably not.

      On a personal level, your contributions here, and your writings on your own nascent blog — which have messed with my heart and mind like no other literary source that I have dived into — have helped me grow up. You have allowed me to stumble and roar and be prideful and then hurt and then hurtful and all kinds of things in a trusting, if not entirely safe, space. I know that on-line friendships are not like real life friendships. We do create constructs of the other that are false. But you need to know my false construct of you is . . . heroic . . . in an awkward, funky way.

      • Debra, you have taught me life lessons–in the best sense of that expression–which will stay with me (I hope fervently!) for all my days. I am a slow learner. I try to accept that about myself with compassion, not an easy task when the shame of being human beckons from an ugly place in my soul, and the need to escape feels so powerful, then the false god of arrogance shines it light of pure Self(ishness), and beckons with a reassuring tone that, with Self Centeredness, all will be alright. You shone a different light. You reminded me of other ways to see the darkness. I am speaking here of your responses on my blog, mostly, and we had some pretty hair raising exchanges along the way between that blog and this. I would hardly call them conversations when, at least for a considerable time, I had my head so far up my own a** there was not the slightest chance I would hear what you were shouting, in desperating and concern, for me to consider. I am sorry I put you through the hellish moments when you didn’t know what to do to help me find my way through the darkness. As I’ve tried to explain recently on my blog, while I was experimenting with letting go of control, I let go of considering the potential harm or disturbing consequences that could conceiveable arise for actual human beings who had the misfortunte to not merely read my blog, but read it after having come to care about me as an actual human being. That is a remarkable thing you did. I think I will be in awe of you and your strength of compassion for a long long time. I am resisting the temptation to self flaggelate excessively. I know you will understand that part. I know you will continue to do good in this world, whether we are bound for hell as a species, or whether we are salvageable. That doesn’t seem to be your focus any way (the final outcome which no single person can determine or control); you simply know that being kind and showing compassion are the only actions that make sense no matter how this wonderful/interesting/scary scenario–existence–may turn out. I hope I haven’t put words in your mouth, here, or misinterpreted the core of YOU who I can finally see with greater clarity. I hope you forgive my characteristic self-centeredness, even here, on your blog’s closing days. I hope you know that I see you, Debra. You, not a persona or a voice of rhetoric. You, a loving caring human being. Thank you for being my friend. Thank you for being you.

      • Hopeful, I was away for Labor Day weekend, and I read your comment via my phone. It made me tear up. I would have responded, but when I type on my phone, it doesn’t just let me make mistakes, it “corrects” me and makes me say weird stuff.

        At any rate, you are a dear, dear person. You give me hope for this planet and species, as you deal with obstacles — painful physical challenges from surgery, financial challenges, etc. — while challenging major life paradigms and unfair social constructs. And you do this, in part, because of and, in part, despite a childhood that could have turned you into the opposite of who you are. It could have shut down your emotional processors, turning you numb or mean. And you probably would have found rewards if you’d adopted either of those coping strategies, at least for a while. You are smart enough that you could have done quite well, in the traditional sense, as either a robot person or as an ambitious workaholic who ignores and blasts past pain (her own and that of others). Those personas would have served you, buttressed your financial resources . . . but then your most recent physical challenges might have broken your spirit entirely. You are able to bend because of who you are. Thank God. You are a poet, and you examine, question, press, maul, question again. You feel others’ pain instead of merely observing. You adopt outrage for them, if that seems warranted. You embrace your own outrage. You bare yourself in your writing, and, yes, that’s scary for your readers who care about you, because you have been in the darkest of places and don’t necessarily avoid them or protect yourself when they present themselves now. You wrap words around what others would think of as unsayable, if not unthinkable. Scary, indeed. But words are what conquer demons. I have taken strength from you to find words to conquer some demons of my own.

        There were times in our exchanges when I wasn’t winning any sensitivity awards. I’m glad you heard my caring through the awkwardness. Thank you, too, for being you.

  7. Oh Debra, I have a big lump in my throat. I am a strong agnostic. No one will ever succeed in proving the existence or non-existence of God to me. This being said, when I was in hospital eight years ago, writhing in pain due to a fracture that occurred during what was supposed to have been a routine hip replacement, I actually left a message to speak to the hospital’s rabbi. I needed the kind words that only a chaplain can give. Although he was unable to respond to my needs, I have huge respect for chaplaincy and I think you are going to make a truly amazing chaplain.

    [I hope you’ll excuse me for taking a little detour for a minute, but your announcement really struck a chord with me. Canada has just lost one of its most amazing, forward-looking, progressive politicians, Jack Layton, who died this week of cancer only three months after making an incredible electoral breakthrough. You really should read his open letter to Canadians, which he wrote two days before his death. I think it will inspire you in your own path.

    I too have a friend who is living with cancer. After a long remission, it is back and metastasizing. She will be going to New York soon to meet with an MD who has had some success with dietary treatments. I don’t know whether she’ll go for any more heavy duty western-style medical interventions. She’s also seeing a bioenergy healer who practices the Domancic method of energy healing. We both feel that there is “more on heaven and health that has been dreamt of”.]

    Your blog has become a mainstay for me: intelligent, well-researched, yet heart-felt and human. However, blogging about weight strikes me as a finite activity. For just how long can one blog about (depending on your point of view): the stupidity of the BMI/the need for portion control/additives in our foods/a new exercise routine/fat acceptance/”healthy” weight/calorie counting/the tyranny of the scale/intuitive eating etc. etc.? You have gathered a wonderful little cyber-community around the flickering fire of this blog. It has become my go-to place for sanity in the mostly insane weight-o-sphere. But there is so much more to life than just weight (unless, of course, you’re Dr. Sharma, who will no doubt have a lotof interesting things to say for many years to come). So, though I’ll miss your blog terribly, I can fully understand and indeed applaud your choice.

    I will sorely miss reading what you have to say. Would you perhaps consider a new blog that focuses on your new direction in life? I, for one, would love to hear what you have to say….Debra’s Just Musing…?

    • Oh, my. NewMe. So many kind thoughts. First, thank you for the link to the letter. It gives me hope and inspiration. Maybe sanity will trickle down south here to the states too.

      With regard to how long I can talk on the topic of weight control. Well, rest assured that as long as you bring it up on your blog, from time to time, I can be counted on to muster a comment or two, as long as I’m paying attention. Blow a horn at me or rattle my cage if I’m dozing. You have my email.

      With regard to your hospital ordeal, I am so sad the Rabbi was unavailable. I have been told by the wise old timers to keep my vision broad as I enter this field — to think outside the hospital box for potential jobs. Apparently, in economically difficult times, the first hospital positions cut are in the chaplains’ office. Everyone’s stretched too thin. And it makes me sad that the Rabbi couldn’t make it to your bedside. Perhaps he was offering spiritual support to a family who had suffered a death or some such.

      Your friendship, too, has been very meaningful to me, and I plan for it to continue as long as your blog is up. Whether I’ll open a new blog of my own, who knows? It took me seven years of maintenance (eight if you count the weight-loss period) before I opened a weight control blog. And, I grant you, I probably waited too long, since I was so hopping mad by the time I did. I imagine I’ll wait a while, in any event, before I open a chaplainish blog. I should probably know something about it before I write something. Seems logical. But I doubt that I’ll wait eight years.

  8. What a wonderful plan! And yet, how I hate to see this blog end. I have read every word and found it encouraging to a someday maintainer with its honesty and candid telling of the hard parts!!

    I love the depth with which you write and would love to see a blog chronicling your new journey. Should you do that and don’t mind me reading, be sure and give us the link.

    If not, thank you so much for your wisdom and hard work in finding credible material for this blog.

    • And thank YOU, Sharon. EVERY word? Okay. You get a LOT of points for that. I don’t where you can redeem them, but you get points.

      I WILL let you know when I open a new blog. Like I said to NewMe, it probably will be a while, but not too long.

  9. Your site has been really helpful and grounding for me as I try to reconfigure my approach to food and fitness. Thanks for the reality check, and I’ll be sad to see you go. I have several relatives and friends who are ordained out of seminary and have worked in hospitals– it’s incredibly, incredibly intense work that will take every last bit of your soul and your energy to do, but it’s commensurately rewarding. Be careful, be wise, take good care of yourself.

    • Wise words, kbhackett. I understand my holidays will rarely be my own any more too.

      I think I have my eyes open, but then again, I thought I had my eyes open when I lost weight this last time, with no specific plan for maintenance beyond what women’s magazines had told me. If I was naive then, I imagine I’m naive now too. Maybe the metaphor that is weight-loss and maintenance will help me in this journey. We shall see.

  10. I second the emotion for a new blog. I would love to peer over your shoulder as you start this exciting and intense new venture.

  11. Best of luck. Another Canadian agnostic mourning Jack Layton here — how strange.

    I’d encourage you to also read literature from the agnostic or atheist perspective, because it’s quite likely that you’ll come across some of these people as well.

    I’ll miss this blog.

    • Oh, you agnostics! You are the most spiritual people of all. Study after study reveals that you know more about the Bible and other spiritual resources than anyone else. (And atheists are mostly just agnostics with an attitude.) Moreover, I spent 11 years as a Unitarian Universalist. (I credit that period for my ecumenicalism.) I know that when I’m with an agnostic, that person will lead me. I’ll just need to support the creative/reflective process. Maybe remind them of stuff they already know, like it’s okay to feel whatever it is they’re feeling. Maybe bring in other resources.

      The people I worry about most are the people who come from religions that are more restrictive/proscriptive. Those people may feel their religion is failing them, and that is tragic. Especially if they feel deserving of a miracle, or some such, and abandoned by God because they aren’t receiving one. Before I could make this decision, to pursue a life as a chaplain, one of the most important things that happened to me was developing a close friendship with an evangelical Christian. Martha, a Southern Baptist, accepts me as an ecumenical (urban Mennonite), and doesn’t think I’m going to roast in Hell, because she knows how serious and committed I am, despite not using her tradition’s blueprint. She and I have had some of the most interesting and heart-opening conversations. For her, the Southern Baptist fundamentals — repenting her sins, accepting Jesus as her personal Lord and Savior — was a beginning. Not a goal. Not merely the purchasing of “eternal fire insurance” (as someone we know refers to it), though she understands that is her reward. It was, more than anything, the breaking open of a generous faith and meaningful life. Moreover, she now suffers from two chronic illnesses — Lyme disease and Multiple Chemical Sensitivities. She has modeled for me how one can draw strength from an evangelical Christian faith in the face of continual suffering. She has also helped me understand how to challenge the evangelical penchant for instant healing without attacking the fundamentals that they treasure. It’s not easy. She’s one of the most mature, Godly people I know, and helping any other evangelical people to reach that place may prove challenging beyond my abilities. We shall see. We shall see. God bless Martha.

  12. Whatever you do, Debra, your gifts to the world will be of tremendous value. I will miss the discussions here, but I’ll also know that you are leading a different group of people through a different, and valuable journey elsewhere.

    Your decision makes me hopeful about my own journey, too. I try to balance the work I do in the “real world” with coming to peace with the lies and mistreatment around fatness. And to see that you are at peace gives me hope that perhaps peace is possible for me, too.

  13. Debra, I just found you and now you are leaving! Well, even in the very short time that I’ve been reading this blog, it has helped me immensely. How wonderful to find that there ARE people who understand what life after weight loss is like. Thank you. And best wishes for your new journey.

  14. I will miss you. Imagine – someone equally respectful to weight loss maintainers and fat acceptance types who gives a platform to both,. I haven’t seen that before. Where will I find another unicorn?
    In all selfishness, I was hoping you’d have some sort of wrap-up post to answer that deep question of how you got to be so respectful and understanding of both sides, in spite of a fanatical devotion to keeping the weight off. Or maybe you have answered this somewhere and I haven’t paid sufficient attention or understood it. In which case, someone will give me a sharp cyberpoke in the ribs and point me in the proper direction.
    What’s better than answers are the questions you ask in your posts. Answers may bring closure, but it’s the right questions that open doors and expand our horizons. Wherever your heart and your circumstances lead you, know that we are all cheering you on.

    • Thank you for your kind thoughts, Mulberry. A unicorn?! Is there a nicer compliment?

      I will have a wrap-up post, Mulberry. Maybe even two. It’s funny you ask now. A commenter named “E” just jumped into the fray in answer to a post I made back in February, with pretty much the same question. She was looking for the “BIG FACTOR” that made my duality (schizophrenia?) possible. She didn’t find it either.

      You are right that the questions are more important, and they will continue, long after I have closed this blog.

  15. I just found your blog, and I’m surprised at our similarities. I’m sad to see that you are considering closing up shop. I understand, but I’m sad. Good luck with your next phase.

  16. Yes, indeed, Laina, we’re both at the eight-year mark. I’m going to give you a hat-tip. Maintaining 200 pounds of loss beats 55-60. Your row is harder to hoe than mine. And I see you have a link to the NWCR, which I assume means you’re a fellow regestrant. I’d be interested to know if you have the same mixed feelings that I do about that group.

    I’ve read your freshly-minted blog. I wish you well and hope it serves you and your readers. On my way out the door, here’s my observation about blogs: being truthful (while remaining compassionate) is more important (for your own health and your readers’) than being inspirational. In our kind of blogging there can be an opposing pull from those two aspirations, and there are shades of gray that make that pull difficult to discern. Be conscious of it, and when in doubt, always err to the truthful, even if it torques some people off (and it will). Becoming an inspiration, I think, can be a trap — one that our culture encourages us all to enter. Truth-telling is not a trap. And it’s rare, especially with regard to weight management.

  17. Debra I’ve come to your blog almost 2 years after you wrote this post. I’m so pleased you’ve left your blog up. It is helpful to people like me. Maintaining a weight loss and wondering why it is so difficult when it’s so easy for everyone else. It is tough. You are honest about what’s its like. You show me that it’s tough but possible.

    I hope your chaplaincy work is going well. If you post again, I’d like to hear about it

    Thanks for putting yourself out there, for standing up to be counted, for being ‘real’. That too is tough

    • Welcome, Stephanie. You were wondering why it is so easy for everyone else? Glad to confirm for you that it’s not, of course. For 97% of people who lose radical weight, maintenance of that loss doesn’t continue, and for anyone in the 3% who claims that it’s easy, well, they’ve probably been brainwashed to say that. I don’t think they’re liars, but our culture really only wants to hear inspirational stories. It has no patience with truthful accounts that don’t have a predictable happy ending, so we people fall in line and put a happy spin on our challenges. We don’t want to be a burden. Ultimately, that realization is going to help me when I am a chaplain (and thanks for asking). In my training unit in the hospital I did a lot of sitting with people who were dealing with difficult paths stretching out before them, and some felt a lot of pressure from their families or our culture to be some model patient, to be “inspirational.” (The pink-ribbon culture of cancer lays on the “inspirational” pressure as much as our weight-loss culture does.) People were relieved to lie in their hospital beds with someone beside them who didn’t expect irrational optimism. I am now in seminary coursework — have completed 18 hours on a 75-hour MDiv program. Am enjoying being a mom, too, but I’m also looking forward to a chaplaincy residency and actual chaplaincy work in 2016ish.

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