Thursday, August 16, 2007

Oops . . The Response

Since some have expressed concern about my health (related to my recent weight gain), I figured I'd shoot you a quick update from my hospital bed.

Sorry, I'm feeling feisty. ; )

My health is fine--thanks for your concern. I'll directly address some of the comments to "Oops" in this post.

BUT....12 pounds is not a small amount of weight to gain in six months. The reasons ARE important. Because if you continue to do the same thing you're doing to gain that weight, then eventually, one should be concerned about what health effects it would have. If, on the other hand, the reasons you might have gained that weight are temporary in nature, then you are right to not be concerned at all.

At what point do you begin to worry? What about a woman who is over 180 pounds (at 5'4'')gaining that kind of weight in six months? Would you also tell her to go on about her day like no big deal? Isn't it much healthier to take a realistic attitude and admit that some healthy changes need to be made, while not freaking about it?

The reasons are important, as you suggest, but they were not important to my telling of this story.

In my mind, you begin to worry about the health consequences of gaining weight when there are health consequences of gaining weight. This does not include a doctor telling you you should lose weight for your health. As some others have noted, there are plenty of skinny, unhealthy people, and plenty of fat, healthy people.

In case anyone's curious (since it seems some of you are), my blood pressure is typically about 90/60. It's low. It's low enough that I have a history of passing out (especially when dehydrated). Romantic swooning aside, a 12-pound weight gain is only going to help me out when it comes to blood pressure concerns.

So when i read ur comment, please forgive me but i felt like here is another person missing the point.
I feel like we all act like extra weight automatically means a health problem. And may i venture a guess that most people (maybe not u but most) would not show ANY concern over a 12 pound weight LOSS, they wouldnt worry if the very fact that weight was fluctuating is a sign something is wrong, but when the weight goes up they do.

That's exactly right. I encourage you all to read "The Diet Myth" and "Rethinking Thin" (scroll down the side bar for info). There's a lot of propaganda out there on the relationship between health and weight. Research shows that being underweight is associated with more health consequences than being overweight.

And, how come no one assumed I'm a recovering anorexic who should be congratulated on gaining 12 pounds?

I am just wondering, and wish maybe Dr. Stacy would chime in. How much "fluctuation" in weight is too much? And by "too much" I mean either a health risk (say for an "average 5'5" woman), or a "slippery slope" that if not nipped in the bud, WILL lead to an unhealthy gain. How many of us would really not care about a 12 lb. gain? I'd not only be very disappointed but by that time would be having knee pain, back pain, difficulty participating in my usual physical activities, and tight pants. Are those worth worrying about?

I have absolutely no idea, first because I'm not a medical doctor, and second, because even if I were, I'd have to assume that this issue could only be addressed on a case by case basis.

But it CAN amount to something- stress on your joints, increased blood pressure... 12 lbs is not "nothing". 3 lbs is nothing.

Well, I'm not sure we'll ever be able to define "nothing," except on an individual basis. In my case, 12 pounds is physically "nothing." I'm 5'6", so perhaps that helps, but I can still exercise, engage in daily activities, etc. to the same extent before I gained the weight. My body, like many others, tends to cycle with weight related to a host of reasons (which are important to me, but not necessarily for this discussion).

So, my BP is fine, but about my joints? I think they're ok, too. I run quite a bit, and I'd venture to guess that the damage I've done by pounding the pavement (long-distance running) is far more deleterious than that created by these extra 12 pounds. I haven't notice any variation in orthopaedic symptoms related to my weight.

12 pounds, though, in my case, and in many others, COULD be tremendously damaging psychologically, and that was the point of this post.

NONE of you actually asked "Dr. stacy, how is your blood pressure? And how do your joints feel?"
You assume based on her weight gain.
Furthermore, I doubt you'd ask this of yourself or anyone else as long as they are skinny.

Forgive me if I sound snappish, I don't mean to disrespect your opinions and if you have info to back that up that you want to share by all means do.
I just am sick of everyone crying out "health" to excuse our obsession with being thin.
If you care about someone's health, ASK THEM HOW THEY FEEL, don't analyze their weight or YOUR perception of their lifestyle, dietary and excercise choices.

Thank you for asking. The "health" argument will persist as long as we need something to justify our intense hatred of fat in others and ourselves.

As an athlete, gaining 12 lbs. would severely hinder my ability to train pain-free. If I saw I gained 12 lbs. in six months I wouldn't freak out - but I would certainly begin to restructure my food intake and activity levels.

I mean, if you gained 12lbs. in the past 6 months, that means you could potentially gain 24 in one year...48 in two years...100 in four years...

True, I guess it's possible that I'll gain 100 pounds in four years, but I'm going with history on this one. I've gained weight and lost weight (just about this amount) several times. There's the allure in trying to lose it again (as many of you might feel), but I'm not actively encouraging either weight gains or losses at this point in my life--the more we cycle, the worse it is for our HEALTH.

And, let's say I did want to lose the weight. Should I diet? We all know that 95-98% (depending on which research you read) of all diets fail. Dieters lose weight, gain it back, and then some. If I'm to being to restrict my food (I already exercise enough), I might lose some weight, but I won't be eating intuitively and the likelihood is that that'll backfire, and I actually could see that 100 pounds you mentioned.

I had no idea those were the lyrics in that song. Good lord, what crap. I'm embarrassed that I ever bobbed my head to such nonsense.

I actually made those up, but now that I know that my writing is virtually indistinguishable from Britney Spears's (or at least enough that I could fool one of my good friends), I'm more encouraged about the eventual publication of this book. ; )


KateHarding said...

How many of us would really not care about a 12 lb. gain? I'd not only be very disappointed but by that time would be having knee pain, back pain, difficulty participating in my usual physical activities, and tight pants. Are those worth worrying about?

Wow, people actually believe all that? Except for tight pants, exactly none of those things would result from a 12-lb. weight gain in an adult of average stature.

I'm really astonished by these responses.

April said...

Actually, I kinda figured you probably were a recovering anorexic who needed to gain 12 pounds. You seem to be prominent in the ED community.

I also figured it was none of my business. If you wanted to discuss the reasons why you gained weight, you would.

I also thought it possible that with as much as it sounds like you work out, you could be carrying more muscle than you were six months ago, and also more water. Let's say you weren't working out six months ago, but now you are. I tend to carry two to four pounds extra water weight on any day after the day I've worked out, plus an extra five pounds of muscle now that I'm in good shape vs. when I was just thin but not muscular. Add that to the easy two to five pound water weight fluctuation based on time of month, and you've got a twelve pound weight gain. That's just me, but that's why I don't freak out about numbers on the scale.

What you weigh, and why, is your business. If you choose to share, great. It's not really our business to pass judgement, is it? I don't know you, though I suspect I'd like you if I did!

And I'd make you a decent cup of coffee. That Dunkin Donuts stuff really isn't worth it. I'd rather save money, buy good coffee, and brew it at home. You can even make iced coffee that way with a little forethought.


CGgirl said...

Well kudos to you dr stacy for sharing a personal story like that, it's brave of you and u set a good example by not getting stressed about the weight or about some responses that are the opposite of your outlook.
Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one who sees this crazy health=thinness mentality as a sham, so it's good to see I'm not alone.

Hooray :) Must sleep now.

Anonymous said...

"Wow, people actually believe all that? Except for tight pants, exactly none of those things would result from a 12-lb. weight gain in an adult of average stature."

Sorry to disagree but they DO happen, they have happened to me. If you run 25-35 miles per week and occasionally race, there is substantial pressure on your knees. A 160-pound runner puts more than 1,700 pounds-per-square-inch of pressure on the legs with EACH STRIDE.

ps22 said...

Great post. In cyberspace, its hard to know who the writers are, and I admire that you respond in such a way to your readers.

As for the lyrics, yes - I totally fell for it. My lack of common sense may not be the best gauge, but i am confident this book will be published!

Anonymous said...

Okay, since my comment generated so many responses, I have to say that many of you are missing my point.
Dr. Stacey - I am not concerned about your health. Like I said, 12 pounds for you may be nothing. You said the reasons don't matter, and that you will do nothing. Great for you.

All I was saying is that not everyone should take that advice. It is not an attitude to celebrate for everyone, in any circumstance.

Anyone who didn't need to gain weight, should think about why they have gained 12 pounds in six months to assess whether or not bad habits, or lack of good habits, contributed.

I don't agree that you should examine weight gain only after health consequences occur. That's ludricous to say the least. One should focus on avoiding health consequences, not treating them after they happen.

My point was that if a person who gains that kind of weight continues to what their doing, at some point things could get out of control, and LEAD to health consequences. And discomfort.

Anything I said had absolutely nothing to do with looks, eating disorders, or the like.

And it is possible to like being lean, and happy, and healthy, all at the same time without freaking out over fat.

And yes, KateH, depending on the person, 12 pounds could have an effect on your joints, your gait, movement, and athletic performance. People should believe that, even if it doesn't apply to them personally.

I started my initial response by saying " good attitude. For you." "YOU" people, for Dr. Stacy, not everyone!

This paragraph I wrote sums it up, and many seem to have missed its point.

"There is a happy medium you know between not worrying at all, and worrying to a healthy degree and doing something constructive and sane".

Meowser said...

Dr. Stacy, I commend you on your courage in writing about your experiences. Obviously they are triggering for many of your readers, for whom a 12-pound weight gain "means" a life completely ruined in every conceivable way. (None of these people had better grow old if they expect never to gain an ounce, that's all I can say.)

And if your concerntroll is really all worried that you're going to gain 100 pounds in 4 years, she needs a good long lecture about set points and natural weight ranges. It's exceedingly rare for that sort of weight gain to take place, especially in such a short period of time, unless a) you're on some sort of medication that makes it happen, b) you have a metabolic disorder, or c) you're a sumo wrestler who went to extraordinary measures to gain the weight on purpose.

drstaceyny said...

kh--me, too.

april--I may, in fact, be carrying more muscle. That's a good point. I suspect I'd like you, too, especially if you made me a good cup of coffe. ; )

cg--you're welcome.

anon9:14--that may certainly be true in your case.


anon12:05--most of my readers have struggled significantly with the psychological aspects of weight gain. You're right--no attitude should be celebrated in every circumstance. I hope that my readers are bright enough to understand that. I'm a big fan of preventative health, and I'm afraid you misunderstood what I wrote. I think we should always be looking for ways to avoid disease, injury, etc. However, most research indicates that it's not the weight that is responsible for these consequences, but rather unhealthy eating, lack of exercise, etc. These should be the target behaviors, instead of focusing on what we weigh. I think we should worry about the health consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle--but that can occur with weight gain or loss, whether fat or thin. I think it's important that we separate these variables out.

meowser--good points. Set points, family history, etc. are all really important factors here.

I am, in fact, a suno wrestler (in my free time).

*A note to all--can anon posters start writing their names? Am I the only blogger annoyed by the anon thing?

Anonymous said...

I do not mean this to come off as snarky as it may sound but, with respect, Dr. Stacy, how can you be astonished at the responses? women who are focused on weight, or who are trying NOT to be focused on weight, are reading your blog.
Why did you post the column if not to provoke some kind of response? Isn't this all useful for your book?

Mary Anne

littlem said...

Dr. S., you may enjoy this:

P.S. Perhaps it's 12 lbs. of muscle. By osmosis. You were advising the triathletes, after all, were you not? ;-)

Anonymous said...

I am pretty astonished about the responces from the past two "Oops" posts.

When I checked out the poster's blogs I noticed most are about weightloss and/or are suffering from full-blown eating disorders. Some of these people who are upset that anyone would actually try to NOT gain 12lbs. have years worth of blogging records in which the blogger writes of wanting to throw up, or complains about not being able to lose weight... one is even supporting a contest where people win money if they lose the most weight!!!

I just feel like many people here are being very hypocritical. The people who are saying "who cares about gaining 12 lbs?" are, in some cases here, struggling to lose weight - and therefor would hate to gain 12lbs. I stated that I enjoy being lean, and was questioned.

Ah well, I think I'll go for a run...

- Jojo

Sarah said...

I'd like to think that someday I wouldn't freak out about 12 pounds.

I'm glad you're there, and I'm glad you're healthy and happy! That's the most important thing, for sure.

Anonymous said...

"Obviously they are triggering for many of your readers, for whom a 12-pound weight gain "means" a life completely ruined in every conceivable way. (None of these people had better grow old if they expect never to gain an ounce, that's all I can say.)"

I don't think ANYONE posted anything of the kind.

KateHarding said...

Dr. Stacey, you can disable anonymous comments in your dashboard if you like.

Sarah said...

Good point, anon 443. Assumptions.. . As great as Dr Stacey's posts always are, I think this time I've learned more from the comments.

drstaceyny said...

Mary Anne--I'm really not astonished, and am actually glad for the dialogue. I posted originally on this b/c I thought it would serve as a good example for those who are working on improving their body image.

lm--thanks for the link. I'm sure it's muscle-by-osmosis. What else could it be? Yay, lm's here!

Jojo--my guess is that some of these commenters have struggled with body image, but want to find a way to make something like this work. Just a guess. . . Hope you had a good run.

sarah--it IS possible. Thanks. Glad the comments have been helpful to you.

KH--I know, I've thought about it and may end up doing that. I had originially wanted everyone to feel welcome posting (even if it meant doing so anonymously), but it's difficult to address anonymous comments, and it's hard to know which anon is which.

April said...

Hey Dr. Stacy,

For one thing, your decent cup of coffee is waiting for you in Philadelphia. I hope you're not allergic to cats. I have a super friendly cat.

Second, I get nutso judgemental comments on my blog all the time! We really, as women, need to get over the idea that there is some ideal by which we all should be judged. Even when I disagree with you, I support your aim to teach women to look within themselves for their ideal, not to subscribe to societal norms.

You go girl!

In fact, I'll even make you a healthy dinner if you're in the area! Write me off blog if your travels take you to Philly!


Anonymous said...

Dear Dr Stacy,

your blog is wonderful and the fact that you have chosen to post something about yourself, especially about weight gain, makes it even more vailuable to me. Especially the grace with which you answer all the comments.

To me the responces are a mirror of real life, and tell more about the poster's attitude to weight gain than about you.

Your reaction was wonderful, that is exactly what I plan to do, next time the scale shows a larger number than I'm used to.

Alyssa said...

I, too, have gained 12 pounds in less than a year. It was the impetus that eventually led me to IE. I freaked out, started dieting again, got sick of it, and found my IE book, then the Yahoo groups, and here I am, THANKFULLY!!!!! I am 5'9", and no one I know even noticed the weight gain. But I also started doing Pilates and riding my bike, so I think that may have something to do with them not noticing. We recently returned from vacation, and I've lost 2 pounds. I'm trying not to get too caught up in that, because I don't want to be attached to the numbers. Plus, it was an active vacation. We have two young kids, so we spent a lot of time swimming, walking, kayaking, and other really fun stuff. But, anyway, my whole life I've had food issues. I've been 30 pounds lighter and 20 pounds heavier; I've had anorexia, bulimia, exercise bulimia, binge eating, you name it. Right now I'm trying to get underneath the food issues to see what's there, and to celebrate my strong, capable body, regardless of what I weigh. But, boy-howdy, it ain't always easy,lol!

Zmama75 said...

This blog is so refreshing. I appreciate your candor here.

LavaLady said...

I think I've gained 12 pounds since June, I'm not sure because I stopped weighing myself in June because my attempt to diet (again.) sent me into the bad place really quickly.

My mental health is way more important than my weight.

Anyhow, my knee has been bothering me and I was thinking "is it because I've gained weight?" and then I realized that NO, it's because I've been taking long walks after months of sedentary behavior. My body is being reacquainted with moving around.

If I thought my pain was from my fat, I might think I had to resort to not eating or heavy restrictions in order to 'fix' the problem. Instead, I see that I need to wear my good walking shoes because my flat feet put strain on the knee and ankle joints.

It's crazy that people believe that weight gain is an instant prescription for bad health and pain, but that same craziness is indicative of how pervasive the obesity myth is. At least we are talking about it. I have to believe our dialog can make a difference.

The idea that one could gain 100 pounds a year is nuts, of course. There is a possibility that a person *could* gain that much, but like me, most of us have a set point that keeps it from happening. I won't get much heavier than I am now - I've hit my upper weight and will hold steady or lose a bit.

I finally read the Gina Kolata book this past week and the thing that struck me over and over was that FAT PEOPLE ARE NOT ALL ALIKE. The mechanisms and reasons for my fat will not be identical to the fat of my neighbor or my boyfriend. Until the individuality of each person is acknowledged by the scientific community (and the fat obsessed media), this kind of "everyone's knees react to 12 pounds the same" mentality will be the norm.

Wow, I have a lot to say this morning! Okay, one more thing. If carrying 12 extra pounds around is so difficult, how come lifting 12 pounds in the gym (say in increments of a few extra pounds a month) doesn't hurt anyone?


amakely said...

I loved reading your post. I just discovered your blog and am delighted to find a kindred spirit. I'm so disgusted by our culture's constant "war on obesity" when in reality, the dieting is far more harmful than the overweight. I, too, work with women who are consumed by our national obsession. Hooray for women who have the courage to believe that they are more than their weight!


Anonymous said...

"I stated that I enjoy being lean, and was questioned."

It's quite possible you posted a comment like that in order to get a negative response. Nobody cares if you enjoy being lean. What does that type of comment bring to the discussion anyway?

As for the anon comments, some people have nothing better to do with their time then bring others down - but at the same time, they don't have the balls to identify themselves.

I've had to deal with fluctuating weight all my life, in the hopes of becoming "thin" one day. Turns out, it has done nothing but make me even fatter. So, I've learned to deal with my weight.

Sarah said...


By the way, my name is Sarah and I'm an evil fattie.