Friday, January 06, 2012

 

Salon Dot Com and Weight Loss

Happy New Year.

I've written a piece for Salon.com on weight loss and diet which you can read here. One line:

I wondered about the split in my head: the idea that fun girls are willing to eat and can comfort us with a cozy, permissive warmth and that thin girls are the paragons of a beauty that only a very few can emulate. Who really wants to be so thin if it just makes you bitchy? Or does it?

Food and diet and exercise are rather engrossing topics. I've received more email from this one essay than I have for anything else I've ever written. In a way, I wonder if weight--and all the other subjects that weight touches--isn't one of the most personal things we can ever really talk about.

One thing I will write here--just very quickly. A number of people have written to tell me that their weight gain coincided with some kind of depression or illness. Obviously, I sympathize as this was true of me too (depression). The terrible thing about depression related weight gain is that exercise is often prescribed as a way to help alter your mood--and yet if you are depressed, it's nearly impossible to find the energy to do anything more than what is necessary to get through the day. I get this too, and have absolutely been there. But I do want to say that I have finally found a way to work out at home, and that this really more than anything now is what helps me with my moods, my sleep and my general health.

At any rate--it's my birthday tomorrow! And according to my handy iPhone app, the sun will set at 4:44 tomorrow--which is about 17 minutes more sunshine than December 7th. For me, more sunlight is always a reason for optimism. We have yet again made it through the dark time of the year. I hope you are feeling it--certainly I am here.

With all my best wishes for the new year--the year of the Dragon.

Comments:
You worked "bailiwick" into an essay? Impressive, but I kept hoping to see "usurp" pop up. Two words I found myself using too much long ago.

I keep hearing about the rise of American food habits and correlating obesity in Japan. If true it seems that this would have shaped your more recent discussions amongst family and friends in Japan, but perhaps it's not so widespread. Have you noticed any dieting fads or advertisements cropping up?
 
I will endeavor to use "usurp" another time. The other day I actually wrote "apotropaic" in a draft. That was rather exciting. A friend and I have a running gag about the word "conveyence." So, I will have to see if I can manage that.

No, seriously . . . I had, in earlier drafts, some info about the Japanese and their fear of the rise of obesity. They are very concerned about their diet and they do count calories. But you don't hear this same anxiety of calorie counting in Japan that you do here. I mean, here--as in the New York Times article--these is a resistance to having to count calories, as though it's a lesser existence. That's why I wrote that people want to be "freed" from the "yoke" of calorie counting and experience weight loss as a form of transcendence, rather than just focus and hard work.

I just don't hear the same neurosis in Japan. It's sort of accepted that if you want to lose weight, then you have to do A, B and C. There doesn't seem to be the same *meaning* attached to it. And that's where the whole thing about our Judeo Christian thinking really seems striking, at least to me. You can be a Judeo Christian and not even mean to be, if that makes any sense.

And there are lots and lots and lots of ads for dieting in Japan. But that's a completely different article. And honestly, when you look at obesity stats internationally, Japan has much less to worry about than we do. Then again, maybe the Japanese aren't interested in measuring how they are doing against how we are doing. I wouldn't blame them if they took that attitude, since we aren't doing too well.

But in the end, this was a personal essay. I do think we could stand to learn something about our attitudes toward food and eating from the Japanese.
 
On word: konyaku.

: )
 
Oh how I loved reading your article on different way of looking at the food and how to loose weight. Especially how to feed your baby. With my first child I tried to follow books, recommendations, internet, etc.... And my child is the most pickiest of all. With my second one I've decided to go back to my roots and do what my mother did and now she wants to eat it all and everything. She will be one year next month and even now she doesn't allow me to spoon feed her and she wants to only eat solids - everything that we eat. ... And wouldn't have it any other way. Remembering my childhood, there wasn't anything that I wouldn't eat or it would never cross my mind to say "I don't like green, yellow, orange, etc." .... Keep up the good work!
 
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