Posted by Pattie on 10/06/2007 08:55:00 AM
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Inches Count

I had my blood drawn the other day by a fellow fat woman. For some reason that I don't remember, she starts talking about dieting and losing weight. I tell her I do not diet anymore and that I had stayed within a 20 pound range for the past 7 years and am very happy to finally have my weight stable after years of dieting and yo-yo weight gains and losses.

She doesn't hear me. She tells me "Yes, my doctor said how many inches you lose are more important than how much weight you lose. You should not weigh yourself, but take your measurements each week to see how you are doing."

I give up on the conversation and just smile as she pokes me and takes three vials of my blood.

But the conversation has stuck with me all week.

Isn't this the ultimate in fat hatred? Inches? Just look smaller and everything will be okay. Wow, the more I think about it the more I have to mark it. It's something I've heard before. If you build up muscle, you will burn fat and weigh the same, but be healthier because the fat is gone.

First, building up muscle can add inches. Ask any body-builder. (In fact, doesn't the term "building up" suggest addition bulk?)

Second, the fat to muscle ratio is a myth. It is possible to build up considerable muscle and be very strong and have just as much fat as someone who has not built up their muscles. In fact, most fat people are stronger than most thin people because they carry weight. I've been told by several experts in exercise and physiology that this is so.

Finally, is there really any proof of this? I am guessing that if anyone has studied loss of inches as an indicator of health, they would have a hard time teasing out the spurious effects of exercise. My own experience is that while exercise might change my dimensions a little bit, whether or not I lose anything, I gain strength, stamina and flexibility when I exercise. Those things do improve my health.

So the only reason I can think of for a doctor to tell a patient to concentrate on losing inches is fat hatred, whether or not it is the doctor's intention to hate the fat. You see, weight loss is an impossible goal for most people. Doctors know this and have known it for years. They are like computers trapped in an impossible logic problem, programmed to say "lose weight" while observing that most of their patients gain it back. So, instead of rejecting their programming, they continue to convolute the advice. They tell the patient they aren't trying hard enough. They tell the patient not to worry about weight and worry instead about inches (knowing that such advice inevitably is about losing weight). When it comes to weight (and probably another of other things), doctors rarely think about what they are saying.

So here's what I say. Life is short. Life is complex. Bodies change no matter what your age. Disease is real, but not the be all and end all of life. Inevitably, I live in my own skin. Not the doctor. Not the pharmaceutical company. Not diet industry. I plan to use my time left here on this planet doing other things besides measuring my food or my body. Yeah, I'll do things like test my blood and go to the clinic and take my medicine. But I do them for me. AND I do them because I know they make me feel better.

I've learned from hard experience that measuring my body (by any means) and measuring my food have not enhanced my life one bit. Enjoying my body and enjoying my senses (like taste) have given me the best experiences ever. I plan to have a lot more of those sensations before I kick. My hope is that you do too.