Am I being unreasonable?

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Postby xrodolfox » Fri Aug 21, 2009 9:55 pm

thestoatyone wrote:Agree with this in general, and "Fat..." looks to be a pretty good read from the third or so of it I've read.

Got to take issue with this though -

The bigger picture is that it's NOT calories in vs out. Two different people can eat the same 2000 calorie day and be equally active, while one thrives on it and the other does not. Studies have shown this to be true.


In the immortal words of scotty "A' can'y change th' laws o' Physics!"

Calories into a system will always equal calories out. People may have genetic predispositions to higher appetite, to finding physical activity more gruelling etc. but the overall thermodynamic balance will be maintained.


I take issue with that as well. Thermodynamics are same for everyone.

However, what CALICO might've meant is that some folks have different resting basal metobolic rates? Thus, a person like me can consume the same amount of calories as a friend, but I'll burn calories just sitting. Thus, we we workout for the same amount of time, I'll end up loosing weight while the other person could gain weight. Thus, it would look like we had the same intake vs. usage of calories, but it all depends on metabolic rates, efficiency of digestion and more.

So while the thermodynamics might be the same, there is a difference between actual calorie absorption, as well as metabolic rates, in individuals that'll make a simple food-in vs. exercise-out equation quite meaningless amongst individuals.

But I might be clutching at straws to explain someone else's posts. CALICO, thoughts?
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Postby thestoatyone » Fri Aug 21, 2009 10:00 pm

True, but one can't maintain a higher BMR without regular exercise/activity.

It is a sensitive subject, and in truth I'm more about the carrot than the stick, but to hear people say "oh I've tried everything to lose weight, I must have a slow metabolism..." whilst snacking on chips and coke makes my blood boil :evil:
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Postby Johnboy74 » Fri Aug 21, 2009 10:08 pm

Every individual is different, calories in and calories out stands for every person. Focusing on Calorific Numbers are not the issue, comparing what two people's bodies do with 2000 calories consumed for me is missing the point.

During my life I learn about my own body, I may learn that if I consume 2500 calories a day I will put on weight but if I eat around 2000 I will have a stable weight. This will change over my life, it maybe that when I'm 60 1500 calories is the magic number for weight stability.

The fact is I know what my body's processes are and if I consume chips and burgers and consume beer daily, eating 2500 calories a day I am eating too much. Comparing what I eat to anther human being and saying there bodies are capable of consuming more calories and lose weight, it's my genes, not my fault i'm fat is shifting the blame from the self.

The rule if you consume more than you burn is a valid statement.
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Postby EceGled » Fri Aug 21, 2009 10:11 pm

xrodolfox wrote:^ Wow. Thanks for sharing that story.
That was one of the most poignant, honest, and telling stories about "fat issues" I've ever read. Do mind if I quote it and cite you?

Not at all. : )

calico wrote:It really made me realize how much culture, not health, taught me my disgust of fat people.

This is very true. I even remember when I developed a recognition of whether or not people were "fat." I know that when I was in elementary school, I didn't notice people's level of fat... my dad was always a little obese in my lifetime, and I remember I started noticing this after hearing all the other kids at school ridicule people for being obese.... I distinctly remember being sad, even back then, that I had learned to notice it.

Culture not only teaches us disgust of "fat people," but also teaches us the lifestyles that will help us add fat to our bodies. Then there are cultures that sexualize fat and even force-feed women to get them fit for marriage.
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Postby Gelert » Fri Aug 21, 2009 11:52 pm

EceGled wrote:Culture not only teaches us disgust of "fat people," but also teaches us the lifestyles that will help us add fat to our bodies.


I'll agree with the first part certainly. The second part about teaching lifestyles I'm not so sure about. IMO it is more to do with how diets have changed over the last 60-100 years as a result of agricultural/industrial/economic change in general, and how we've gone for the high fat, high sugar foods that would have been a rarity previously as a norm or even convenience. Nutshell is I don't think it is culture - I think it is evolution. Times have been hard for Hom sap as a species for much of the time - still is for many - and grabbing the most calories when it can is an advantage. In the age of plenty it is anything but.

On an individual level, how can we go against that? Discipline - just like any one of a dozen undesirable behaviours wired in to our evolution.

I'm sorry, but I really do not see anything fundamentally wrong in what xJimx has been saying.

I've been getting a lot of criticism for daring to suggest that some people are overweight because they eat too much & exercise too little


Equally, I genuinely do not see the connection of fat as a feminist issue as anything other than utter nonsense. Are there fat women? Yes. Are there fat men? Yes. Are there in fact more obese men than obese women? Yes. (in the US at least - 68.8% of men are obese vs. 61.6% of women - Wang & Bedyoun, 2007 Epid. Rev. 29:1) Naturally there are specific and sensitive issues with regard to the complex interactions between gender and obesity, but if xJimx is making a broad statment such as the above and is being attacked for reinforcing patriarchal stereotypes, someone is talking bollocks.

You can talk about "slow metabolisms" as much as you like. One of the key things in an otherwise healthy person which will slow your metabolism (apart from starvation) is particularly lack of exercise and overconsumption. Chicken. No-Egg.

People find all kinds of reasons why they can't mend their ways with regard to food and exercise, going into all kinds of esoteric realms of slow metabolisms or big bones or self-diagnosed dicky thyroid or something hormonal. It's over complicating the matter and ducking the issue. Once you simplify it down to making a change from

Calories in > calories out

to

Calories in <= calories out

Things can change very rapidly indeed. Simples. If only because that equation is the easiest thing to change of all the possible explanations, and being honest about it is step one!

Contrary to (very) popular assumption, I am not one of the ubermensch that grace the front of Men's Health. I speak as a reformed fat bastard. I used to weigh about 19-20 stones. Not sure how it came about, but dodging PT and using food as fuel for workaholism would be two good guesses. I'd make excuses about slow metabolism, and I genuinely do nurse an injury that gets in the way of phys quite badly at times. I'd go on the bathroom scales and feel worthless and eat something sweet to make myself feel better.

But the bottom line was about four or five years ago I decided the excuses stopped. More exercise, less cake. In months I lost about five or six stones and started living something resembling life.

It takes effort, it takes willpower, it takes the support of friends, family and even strangers on the street and it takes discipline. No small amount of good luck and mental positivity too.

If any one of those factors lapses, then (as in my case in the last six months) it becomes an uphill struggle. I find it immensely disheartening that we send the somewhat schizophrenic message that EceGled mentions because it is immensely counterproductive. Without the basic respect for fat people as worthy people in their own right, very few of those wishing to change will be able to.

When I lost weight, people suddenly seemed to say, hey, you're OK, you're looking well, fit, whatever. They had time for me. I was acceptable. It was only then I realised the default of mild contempt those people had probably viewed me with previously. Same me. Different waist size. Completely different attitude. I've pleaded this before to Gym Queens in general - it's a statement of the department of the bleedin' obvious. Every time you write off someone as a fat knacker, they get written off as a fat knacker. So don't.

Meanwhile, in an alternate universe to the Marjorie Dawes mentality, fat is becoming the norm. In school I was one of four fat boys out of three hundred. Today, just over a decade later, I'd probably have ranked as average to thin in comparison. What has happened there? What has changed in such a short timescale? It worries me immensely for the sake of those children.
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Postby xrodolfox » Sat Aug 22, 2009 12:08 am

I think that this issue of fatness has very little to do with calories, and EVERYTHING to do with how society places blame and allocates individual responsibility.

That's what this is all about in the public sphere. If it was about about health, it would make a little more sense. But it isn't it's about how fat people aren't responsible and how loose their will power and morals are. That's the dominant narrative.

thestoatyone wrote:True, but one can't maintain a higher BMR without regular exercise/activity.

It is a sensitive subject, and in truth I'm more about the carrot than the stick, but to hear people say "oh I've tried everything to lose weight, I must have a slow metabolism..." whilst snacking on chips and coke makes my blood boil :evil:


I guess I never hear this from the mouths of actual fat people, so I've yet to be annoyed by it. Instead, I hear this a lot from people that aren't fat, but look to marginalize fat folk, as attributed to their fat friend/neighbor/co-worker. I'm not saying that this is you. That's just what I've seen the trend, as the fat folk I know don't blame their genes, or society, or anything at all. They are just involved in trying to get thinner at all costs, often in deliterious ways.

Just to re-iterate:
xrodolfox wrote:NOTE: I'm not saying that society creates an individual fat person. Individual folks need to take responsibility for their own health, and their own fitness. Blaming society for an individual case makes no sense. However, taking societal blame for the structural cause of EPIDEMIC OBESITY need to take public policy to court. Literally.

I want to differentiate between the individual and the epidemic. One needs to start at personal responsibility acknowledging that that society (and biology) has the cards staked against them, while the other starts at public policy and public blame for individual companies and politicians and policies.


Johnboy74 wrote:The rule if you consume more than you burn is a valid statement.

^ I am not disputing that fact at all. This is true.

Gelert wrote:In school I was one of four fat boys out of three hundred. Today, just over a decade later, I'd probably have ranked as average to thin in comparison. What has happened there? What has changed in such a short timescale? It worries me immensely for the sake of those children.


I am worried about public health, and the health of future generations. Isn't it true that the current generation of children has a lower life expectancy than their parents? First time ever in US history, I believe. I don't know if that's the case in Europe or elsewhere.

Either way, this is fueled by obesity.

The social analysis of whether fat is a feminist issue, or an over-consumption / capitalist issue, or a myopic clown issue can be debated forever. What is most important is the fact that being fat has always been about allocating blame. Society blames the individual who got fat as a victim to the deadly sins of sloth and gluttony. Not a good precedent since being fat implies going to hell. So societal blame is rampant in judeo-christian countries.

I know that in Chile, it is routine to ridicule fat people in public, and there is no social taboo against fat discrimination. In the US, it is more subtle, but still there.

However, it is clear with this epidemic that being fat isn't all about personal choice either. It's not so simple. Case in point: Detroit.

This is all about allocation of blame, and the problem with PeTA, is that they participate in blaming the individual at the expense of a balanced view that also holds public policy makers and society responsible as well.

So sure. I cannot dispute the willpower part of getting thin. I've never had to do battle with weight, to apparently I already have strong will, or good genes, or I just know how to do it. Or something. Magic? j/k But that's not the whole picture.
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Postby thestoatyone » Sat Aug 22, 2009 12:28 am

I guess I never hear this from the mouths of actual fat people, so I've yet to be annoyed by it. Instead, I hear this a lot from people that aren't fat, but look to marginalize fat folk, as attributed to their fat friend/neighbor/co-worker. I'm not saying that this is you. That's just what I've seen the trend, as the fat folk I know don't blame their genes, or society, or anything at all. They are just involved in trying to get thinner at all costs, often in deliterious ways.


Yeah good point, this a bit of a caricature and it does marginalise those who are putting blood sweat and tears into getting to a healthier weight. The issues some of these people have and the flak they get is cruel in the extreme.

In my defence though, I do actually know a couple of otherwise smart individuals who fit this caricature so much I wince when they come out with some of the more ridiculous lines :?

Maybe we need to have 2 debates; one on maintaining a healthy weight and one on the social pressure to conform to a body ideal. In the states, with the healthcare reform the civilised world is really hoping you guys get I think that there will be some pressure on people to maintain a healthy weight and this will exhibit an upward pressure on organisations to provide for a healthier lifestyle. I know our healthcare ain't perfect, but here in the UK the health service has a number of outreach projects into deprived areas educating people about healthy eating/cooking simply because it saves them money down the line. I hope something similar happens to the communities you refer to Rodolfo, as they sound like a tough place to look after yourself in. :(

As for the social pressure to conform to a body ideal, it really seems to have reached fever pitch here in the last 5 years. I'm sure some of the magazine editors have taken a couple of courses in brainwashing... "Too fat" "Too skinny" "Lumpy bits" "Bony bits" It's got to be driving even the more strong willed people that expose themselves to that mad. Read anything that didactic and you're gunna doubt your own judgement, doubt your own judgement and your easier to sell stuff to. It's grotesque really.

I stopped buying Mens Health after I realised this was happening to me, just didn't like it...

Apologies for length y'all :wink:
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Postby EceGled » Sat Aug 22, 2009 3:02 am

Gelert, I still think that what you call "evolution" becomes a part of culture. Fast food restaurants, for example, create a cultural space. My friends don't hang out with me unless I "want to get dinner or lunch." And so on.
Equally, I genuinely do not see the connection of fat as a feminist issue as anything other than utter nonsense. Are there fat women? Yes. Are there fat men? Yes. Are there in fact more obese men than obese women? Yes. (in the US at least - 68.8% of men are obese vs. 61.6% of women - Wang & Bedyoun, 2007 Epid. Rev. 29:1) Naturally there are specific and sensitive issues with regard to the complex interactions between gender and obesity, but ...

More men may be obese than women, but way more women than men have eating disorders. There is also a higher rate of eating disorders among gay men than straight men, which also highlights the fact that it is a gendered issue. Maybe more men are obese than women because of the higher pressure on women to conform to a certain standard of appearance. I don't know. I can say that culture again has to do with it... take gay culture. Or as I mentioned about my female friends when we were kids who made a huge deal out of how "skinny" they thought I was... when I was a kid friendships were often segregated by gender to a certain extent, and all the girls would get together and talk about how fat we thought ourselves to be and how we were going on a diet. When they thought I was going to become anorexic, all my friends were really concerned, but other than that it was just, "You're skinny," or "You've gained weight" or "She's so fat." (Like we can only be genuinely concerned for each other if the issue is undereating, not overeating, but either way, no one was actually addressing the psychological issue.) However, I think all the boys in my friend group were free of eating problems altogether, so I can't compare. All I know is I never did hear guys talk about "dieting" at school except in healthy ways.

Oh, and thanks for sharing your story. Very interesting.

I have been reading about self-discipline...
Most people will do what’s easiest and avoid hard work — and that’s precisely why you should do the opposite. The superficial opportunities of life will be attacked by hordes of people seeking what’s easy.


Just as it's easier to try to lose a lot of weight quickly than to develop healthy eating patterns, it's easy to criticize something as superficial as fat, but harder to actually help people do something about it.
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Re: Am I being unreasonable?

Postby Fallen_Horse » Sat Aug 22, 2009 8:40 am

calico wrote:The bigger picture is that it's NOT calories in vs out. Two different people can eat the same 2000 calorie day and be equally active, while one thrives on it and the other does not. Studies have shown this to be true. It can be a glandular problem, such as thyroid. It can be some other metabolic issue. And now they're beginning to isolate genes which allow some people to stay within a certain weight no matter how much they eat (and those with the other allele gain the weight). Some people don't respond to their body's hormones sich as leptin, CCK, or PYY. Others are missing some piece of enzyme pathways between the signaling of food coming in vs suppressing hunger in the hypothalamus. Is it really their fault? That's like blaming someone with the gene for sickle-cell anemia for their lethargy and simply telling them to 'breathe more because it's oxygen in / co2 out'. No!

Every disorder/syndrome you mentioned applies to < 1% of overweight people. I hate to tell you, but it IS calories in vs. calories out. People may differ in their genes, but it just doesn't account for THAT much of a discrepancy....
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Postby erske » Sat Aug 22, 2009 8:54 am

I think no one disputes that there are an abundance of reasons behind beeing overweight or obese, from genetics, culture, social constructs etc. And I think it's great that this body of knollege is growing to give some comfort for those who never seems to be able to loose weight that it's not all theire fault. But it's a delicate balance, it's good to know there is some underlying reason, but it can never be an excuse since the only way (not talking about treatable medical conditions) for the individual to lose weight is still the old calories in vs calories out. It will most likley be A LOT harder to do than it is for, say, me to maintaining my weight but it's still about calories, but I think most people make the wrong asumtion by comparing people, it has to be viewed individually (and paralell on a epidemic plan like xrudolfox said).
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Postby emm7 » Sat Aug 22, 2009 11:20 am

Some interesting weight loss myths here
http://eatingdisorders.about.com/od/ris ... htloss.htm

It is possible to reduce your calories yet put on weight, as this happened to me at one point when I was anorexic and seriously underweight because my metabolism slowed to a crawl. If you eat less than your basic metabolic rate you go into starvation mode. In other words your body shuts the furnace down a lot. Starvation mode also screws up your brain functioning and your mood, by the way.

Myth: Weight Loss Requires Drastic Reduction of Calories

Yes, weight loss requires burning more calories than you consume. But if you cut back drastically on your caloric intake, you may be working more toward weight gain than weight loss, because your body's metabolism will slow to a crawl. This will make your diet more discouraging, and you'll be more likely to binge eat in frustration.


I have been reading a lot of interesting work by David Smail who believes that psychological distress (including eating disorders such as anorexia) actually stems from environmental factors and the power structures in society which act on people in ways beyond their control. He believes there is no such thing as internal willpower only powers and resources available to people in their environment. Some people have access to powers and resources whereas others don't.
This is why I actually feel myself more inclined to prefer the arguments of Gelert and Rodolfo.
When looking at someone who has eating distress, it's vital to consider the environmental social and cultural factors.
The cost of various types of food, the cost of exercise options, social isolation, relationships with friends partners and family members, whether the person is in work and does their work involve a lot of eating away from home or limited access to fresh food (am thinking here of long distance lorry drivers), etc.
Anorexia is an example of using the body to send messages of distress as a last ditch resort when feeling utterly disempowered and worthless and backed into a corner. I can certainly point to plenty of external factors in my environment that triggered it for me. I did not wake up one day and decide to be anorexic. I slid into it as a result of being under immense pressure and seeing no way out.
I would suggest that Compulsive Eating of the form that leads to obesity (Comfort Eating/ Compulsive Emotional Eating / Binge Eating Disorder) may also be similarly environmentally produced.
See
http://www.davidsmail.info/introfra.htm

To sum it up Smail believes it's not your attitude that needs changing but your ENVIRONMENT / circumstances. Even your friendship group, if there are people who are a bad influence on you, drop them!
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Postby thestoatyone » Sat Aug 22, 2009 11:44 am

I would suggest that Compulsive Eating of the form that leads to obesity (Comfort Eating/ Compulsive Emotional Eating / Binge Eating Disorder) may also be similarly environmentally produced.


This is what I took from what little I read of fat is a feminist issue. The theory being (as far as I can make out) that many women feel as if they are being pulled all sorts of different directions, being mother, wife, friend, worker etc that they need plenty of reserves to cope. There was also some thinking that a layer of fat is a 'protective barrier' against the rapacious advances of menfolk in the area. As I said earlier, I find myself eating junk when I'm uncertain of the future, so I can empathise with this up to a point.

It's one of the reasons I love seeing the ladies lifting heavy - the kind of empowerment one gets from feeling the extent of ones physical strength seems to me to be the perfect means of allaying the fears of inadequacy that lead to such a destructive approach to food.

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Postby emm7 » Sat Aug 22, 2009 12:22 pm

yep Stoaty you make some good points here, it really isn't about food per se.

Many people (men and women) who may have been on the receiving end of sexual mistreatment / sexual aggression will either starve or stuff themselves in an unconscious attempt to reduce their sexual attractiveness as subconsciously they believe this will prevent similar mistreatment happening again. I re-iterate that this is not confined to females.

Was listening to an interview with Stephen Fry recently where he talks about being raped at age 14 and also his disgust with his body and his body image / weight issues, I am sure there is no coincidence why he developed a layer of protective weight!

The media and society in general send out a lot of conflicting messages to both men and women and places them in a lot of double-binds (Catch-22 Situations) and the response of many people to this is to resort to addictive behaviours as a form of escapism, this could involve food.

Gelert mentioned workaholism, the combination of workaholism with either stuffing or starving is a common one. I used to combine workaholism, compulsive exercise and anorexia in order to numb my pain away. Have also combined workaholism with compulsive emotional overeating too.
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Re: Am I being unreasonable?

Postby xJimx » Sat Aug 22, 2009 2:10 pm

calico wrote:
The bigger picture is that it's NOT calories in vs out.


Sorry but in many cases, mine included, it really is that simple. There is of course the wider debate about why people consume excess calories, such as poor access to healthy food and poor education, but that doesn't change the scientific fact that consuming more calories than you expend is going to make you put on weight.
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Postby moggy » Sat Aug 22, 2009 2:15 pm

There may be many causes why people eat more than needed to maintain a healthy weight, but whatever the reason, it still comes down to eating too much and not exercising enough for the majority of cases.

Vets have a similar problem trying to get owners to realise that there is no escape from the fact that too much food, and not enough exercise, causes their animals to be fat.
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