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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Should Big Losers Wait Before Writing The Diet Memoir or How To Lose Book?

Read an interesting article just now about people who lose weight and are looked at as role models or inspirations, then have a hard time keeping it off. And I'm not just talking about The Biggest Loser contestants. The article includes folks who lost weight and wrote books, WW meeting leaders, etc, who regained after "doing it!"

I can understand how this would be a shame-inducing and stressful thing. Way back when, there was a lady named Neva Coyle who wrote a Christian-message diet book: Free to Be Thin. It was very popular in religious circles. She wrote other books that had to do with this topic, and she started Overeaters Victorious (at least I think that was the name of the diet group she founded). I had three of her books, including FTBT and its workbook, and another that came out years later that she co-authored with a dietitian.

Turns out, Neva regained the weight. Had bariatric surgery, but kept it secret. Had health issues and had to reverse the surgery. Regained. Came clean. And her career as a religious diet leader was kaput. (Heck, even I felt like it was major cheating to have surgery and not own up to it.) I think she went on to write inspirational and fiction type books. I have no idea what she's up to these days. You just don't hear about her.

Regaining is a spotlight problem. We've seen it with Carnie Wilson, Kirstie Alley, Randy Jackson, Oprah, Janet Jackson, even Al Roker is not looking as sleek as his peak loss post-baratric surgery days. Richard Simmons is plumper than his peak slender days. (And this week, Jessica Simpson's being blasted for gaining, what, ten pounds, fifteen, after having gotten Daisy Duke superskinny? Puhlease, people. She's not fat. She's just not a size 2.)

We know about Matt and Suzy regaining chunks of fat post TBL. And the first winner, Ryan, regaining it ALL. The article features one TBL contestant who lost 100 lbs after leaving the show, but wouldn't accept an invitation to the reunion show, cause she was back up to 200 lbs.

Happens. Has to hurt. Has to hurt more if you're a role model.

And this came to mind to me today after reading a blog by a gal named Rosy in Canada who lost an amazing amount of weight in 12 months and totally remade her physique with exercise and dieting. She looks fabulous, and her slideshow of month-to-month changes is astounding. And she now is promoting her book (self-published) about her transformation from a flabby 275 to a muscular 125, called Breakin' Free.

I wish Rosy the best. I really do. But note on her blog that there is an entry when you scroll down where she related gaining back some weight. (She may have lost it since, but I didn't see any mention of it on the blog.)The book may be obsolete in a year or more, unless she can maintain her fabulous achievement. When you sell your weight loss story, it becomes uninspiring if you get fat again, right?

Maintenance is all after you've written the inspiring tale: And that's a whole other journey--that doesn't end.

And we've all seen bloggers who struggle, regain, struggle more, maybe lose, maybe don't. I've lost some, then got stuck, then regained, then lost a bit, gained, got stuck. I'm no inspiration to anyone, I can tell you. I'm just trying to keep my head above water until I can unstick again. I just don't want to go back to the big 300.

It just goes to show that while losing weight is supertough, what happens after reaching goal weight: It's not easy either. It stays crazy hard. It may be harder, cause you don't see the number go down as a sort of ongoing encouragement. You're working to keep it THE SAME. Less of a carrot, more of a "stick"--as in stick that scale on a numeral.

So, what about those books?

Well, I can understand wanting to take advantage of The Moment--the achievement, the offers, the opportunity to share and make some moolah. Who wouldn't want a nice cash advance? And the diet industry is always coming out with the new book and new hook. Yesterday's memoir or how-to is forgotten (unless the authors manage to make a real company out of it that stokes the phenomenon of it with products, like the South Beach or Zone or Suzanne Somers or Atkins or workshops and cruises and spa weekends, etc). A following that keeps the diet machine going makes for very wealthy diet creators and spokespersons. Can we blame them for wanting to keep it going?

But, generally, a lot of those less-than-ginormous diet books become remainders and end up being out-of-printers sold for a buck on ebay or amazon.com.

Remember Neva Coyle? Bet you don't. Yeah. All those diet books of hers are out of print and irrelevant to the ongoing diet book industry. She could not maintain the weight loss mojo. She could not...maintain.

I do wonder who among the current crop of fatfighting bloggers will get the weight off and will keep it off, maybe even become the Diet Divas of the future. Interesting to consider. Frankly, I'd love it to be ME. :) Not the diva part. Just the lose it all and keep it all off part. Honestly, we could have a breakthrough star in the making, destined to be seen on TV and have their imprimatur on diet products and exercise gear, with a huge site on the internet a la TBL or Dr. Oz. (Let's hope not a neo-Kimkins.)

I hope we all manage to lose and get healthy. Even if we never make it to Divahood or the ideal weight. If we can keep 50 lbs off, or 30, or 70, even if not ALL the weight, we'll do ourselves a favor and be winners.

As the article says, it's a greater achievement to lose 30 and keep it off for ten years, than lose 80 and only keep it off for seven month.

But it's still so exciting to see a transformation like Rosy's. See those pounds go and muscles come in month-to-month installments.

A life has a lot of months (well, if we're fortunate). If you lose 2 pounds this month, and you keep it off, you've won something a lot of folks don't. So, if you get discouraged about only losing 1 or 2 or 4 pounds in a month, concentrate on them not coming back (and Lordy, is that hard). Cause that's the sort of training that you'll need for life. Not losing 10 in a month to get it back in six months. No, just keep those 4 pounds off and you're making huge progress.

It's what I have to learn. I keep my eye on that "by and by" number I long for, and then I lose ground by regaining the five or six or more pounds I worked so hard to lose. That's how we end up failing, all 98% of us regainers. We just think about the far off ideal, and forget that today, it's all about NOT gaining at minimum and losing at maximum. That holding still is a type of victory, and it takes work, doesn't it? Yes, it's not nothing, it's something, even if it doesn't look or feel like it.

Dang, I'm rambling. Sorry.

But do read the article.



Canadian woman hoping to inspire others said...

Hey there. this is Rosy the one you were speaking about on this blog (www.rosyweightloss.blogspot.com)

Well I feel flattered that you are actually talking about me..smiles

But I wanted to mention to everyone that yes I did gain some weight back, but I HAD TO. My lowest weight that I got down to was 134lbs..but as far as body fat, I had NONE left. It got pretty bad. You see, for myself I just didnt diet, I actually incorporated weights, and alot of weights, therefore 134lbs was just not right for me. My goal was 125lbs, but, I actually aimed too low. In person I probably looked like 110, and was in size 7 jeans. I had bones sticking out of every which way..and it just wasnt looking so good. Even though I felt the healthiest ever, my face really didnt show it, because of the hard core workouts and diet.

So once the challenge was over, it wasnt about numbers anymore, but was more about a healthy look. SO this is why I gained. So i dont feel bad at all.

As far as the book, please keep in mind, that this isnt really a how to do it book. Yes there are some diets and exercises, given by my trainer who just happens to be 14 years in the business and has won multiple awards and achievements in body building(he just knows his stuff) but, the book really is about my story...and what I had to face for one year doing this all naturally. Only with hard work and right foods. It was alot of ups and downs, being a mom of 3 young kids I opened my life up for everyone to see it as it was..and in the end I won back a freedom that I never could have imagined living like i do today. Your right, perhaps i may gain back it later..but rather than bring the whole thing down, isnt it nice to see victory and to give other people hope that perhaps we can come together and give obesity the boot it needs..I will be back soon..and you will see that I am lookin fine..but for now feel free to buy my book if you want to experience the best stories throughout my transformation :)
thanks for mentioning me again i feel so flattered..smiles
Rosy...Canadian woman hoping to inspire...whoops...oh ya I DID :))

Scale Junkie said...

I look at this this way...i'm overweight and I blog about losing weigh and dieting every day. I don't have all of the answers but I'm a work in progress.

For some of those people, they need to write the book while in their 15 minutes of fame, 10 years from now no one will remember them

Canadian woman hoping to inspire others said...

Well this is how I see it, for those who I do inspire to take charge and change from my own story or book...THEY will be the ones who will remember me, and who I was and what I really represented to all of them. Not many people can say they blogged this sort of journey and finished what they set out to do..but I did.

Heather said...

very interesting article, thanks for sharing! its interesting because you would think that being in the public eye would help keep you motivated to keep your weight off, but it seems to have the opposite effect. I think thats one big reason to lose weight for yourself above all else. that contestant from the BL, sure she was losing it for herself, but I bet she put herself through hell to look that good at the finale, and it wasnt realistic and it wasnt for her, it was so she could live up to what was expected of her on the show.

Ria said...

Interesting article - thanks for posting it.

I unfortunately know first-hand how easy it is to regain weight. The only good thing I can say about it is that it doesn't feel like it was inevitable or due to some mysterious metabolic defect - I simply returned to my old eating and (non) exercise habits.

Jay said...

As someone who lost weight and gained it all back (and then some) I feel for people who are about to reach the maintenance stage of weight loss because I know they often feel invincible, that the fat will never come back, they don't realize how quickly it can be regained without some long term plans.

I came off losing 125 pounds recently and reached the maintenance stage though I still gained 10-15 pounds back. However, this doesn't bother me too much because part of a weight loss journey is learning how to be in control of your weight and get to the point that you can lose it at will if needed. No more feeling helpless as you watch the numbers on the scale climb. You now know exactly what you need to do to lose those pounds in a healthy way.

Frankly, after doing a training regime as tough as mine or Rosy's it's only natural to want to take a break from it and get a little lazy for a while. Weight might be regained but thanks to the journey to get there we are now armed with the knowledge and experience to take those extra pounds off. After all, what's 20 pounds to lose when you just shed over a 100?

Anonymous said...

I lost 55 and gained about 45 back before I put the breaks on. I'm on my way back down, 20 more to go. I'm being semi-lazy about the whole thing, which makes it relatively stress free. I already exercise an hour or two daily, and do my best (not perfect, but good) with the eating. If/when I get down to goal weight, I won't have anything to relax, this is how I must live from now on not to regain it again. Good luck, all, I'm off to read Rosy's article now.