When Do You Admit Weight Denial?

All of us who deal with a significant weight problem spend time in a place I’ve identified as between points of support and resistance. These are terms I’ve borrowed from the trading world. When the market keeps returning to a particular point without breaking out past it, that’s called support to the downside and resistance to the upside. Is there some amount of weight you’ve lost over and over without ever breaking out to a loss that would make you feel you’d made real progress? That’s a point of support. To the upside, is there a number you’d be devastated to see on the scale? If you get close, you might be driven to starve yourself to stay away from it. That’s a point of resistance.

Did you ever find yourself realizing that you think about your weight and trying to lose weight all the time but you never get anywhere? I always knew when I was failing. It dragged me down. It brought great frustration and anxiety into my life. Not losing weight was in some ways more stressful than being overweight. Looking back, I’m grateful for that. Repeated failure took a toll on me and drove me to finally address the realities of my weight.

This week I came upon two stories of incredible denial. I’m at a loss to explain them but I admit a fascination with seeing what might happen.

Earlier this week I wrote a post about Ruby Gettinger. She was featured on “20/20” last night. I finally got to see a timeline of her weight. From a high of 716lbs, she lost down to the 300s during that first season of her show. And there she’d stay. For the next three seasons, Ruby went up and down in the same 50lb range. The show turned to focus on Ruby’s eccentricities and playing up drama and trauma from her past. The 20/20 report claimed that the show was cancelled when Ruby failed to make any real progress with her weight. (Watch the 20/20 episode here. Ruby’s segment begins around the 27-minute mark.) The report concluded with Ruby’s latest “challenge” but fails to mention that it is sponsored. This is not the first 90-day program she’s publicized. I’ll be keeping an eye on how this one turns out. The story overall is pretty unique. Do you think just maybe a reality show is not the best approach when you’re over 700lbs?

Today’s second story of denial has to do with a woman who has created her own reality show and made herself the star. I’ve written before about the woman I’ve called the most extreme “Lady in Weighting” I’ve ever found. Starting her blog in 2007, she’s still blogging about wanting to lose the 25lbs required by her insurance company to qualify for weight loss surgery. She posted her year’s blog stats this week: Nearly 90,000 site visits in 2012; almost 300 posts and 800 photos of herself. With numbers like that, she’s basking in the spotlight.

What sets her apart is her unshakable belief in her own success. She’s called it “perseverance.” Every few months she announces some new program for losing 25lbs with its own diet, its own exercise routine, and, of course, a name. Often, the exercise routines get their own name. After completing a 12-week “Countdown to Christmas,” she’s announced a new program, complete with its own tab for quick reference. She reports that she’s “just 21 pounds to goal” so she thinks it’s realistic she’ll make it by March.

She had the guts to post a review of her 2012 goals. She describes the year as when she experienced her “first true success in a long time.” Did you do the math on that success?

In previous years, she’s described her “beliefs.” She described farmers markets as her “candy stores” because she loves vegetables so much. She believes eating should be a “celebration” and “food nourishes the soul.” She believes she’s “become one of those people who loves to work out.” She believes that she can “accomplish anything” she sets her mind to. She believes she “WILL lose weight,” in caps.

Her goals for 2013 include becoming a life coach and having weight loss surgery after she loses that 25 lbs. I will be keeping an eye on her progress. I don’t hold out much hope. She’s going on six years of publicly-detailed failure, persistent in her perception of such success that she thinks she should be a life coach. Like Ruby, the Lady in Weighting saddens me. I don’t think she’s going to break out of this. The explanations, excuses, and justifications she presents in her blog are complex, creative, and predictably convoluted. I don’t believe that she should be cleared for weight loss surgery until she’s able to comprehend the extent of her failure.

Back in September when she started the Christmas countdown, she made this post:

“Today begins a new attempt at achieving my goal. I’m feeling secure and resolute about my decision. For the first time in months, I’m not wondering IF I’ll get there. I’m confident that will I get there and it’s only a matter of time WHEN.”

When? See you in March.