Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Curing obesity? Thoughts on long-term weight loss

remission (reh-MIH-shun). A decrease in or disappearance of signs and symptoms of a disease. In partial remission, some, but not all, signs and symptoms have disappeared. In complete remission, all signs and symptoms of disease have disappeared, although it still may be in the body.

I've been thinking about this idea of remission lately - what it means to be rid of a disease, what it means to be cured. I've been thinking about when the condition not only ceases to exist but stops defining you.

It was by great luck and hospitality that I happened to find myself out with four lovely ladies on Saturday night in Napa. We were seated at the bar of Oxbow Cheese & Wine Merchant in Oxbow Public Market, enjoying the most amazing burrata as we laughed, sipped wine and chatted. The topic of the race - which all of us had run - and how we decided to run it came up, leading into a conversation about my blog.

"What do you write about?" Anne asked.

Fitness, running, life, weight loss, I told her. Well, how I keep the weight off, I clarified.

And so began the story - the telling of my story. It's one I'm used to sharing, so much so that I've almost become detached from it.

It's also one I feel almost silly telling for a number of reasons. A) It took me a long time to lose weight. Like 5 years, and it wasn't a straight 5 years. B) I don't have magic tricks to lose weight. And, C) it's been a long time since I've been that girl. I don't remember much about what it was like, physically, to carry that weight. I don't remember how I spent my time when I wasn't logging six hours of workouts a week.

The girl in my before pictures is not me and she hasn't been in 5 years. Five years - the same amount of time it takes for a person to stop being in remission and be cured of a disease.

While this definition/classification in most circumstances applies to cancer, obesity is a disease,* according to the American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology and The Obesity Society. As such, it should be treated, the agencies say, with doctors becoming proactive about weight loss, prescribing medically supervised weight loss programs and possibly suggesting surgery.

With the definition of obesity as a disease, comes the possibility of it being cured. The cure - permanent, maintainable weight loss. But when does that happen? The American Heart Association article suggests people participate in a weight loss maintenance program for a year. A year, though - the weight can easily come back. Would a "cure" designation be more appropriate at 5 years ... 10 years ... never?

I wonder, should such a thing exist, does there come a point, too, where you stop being the fat girl or stop being the weight loss success. Do you stop telling the story?

*Editor's note: I am, in no way, implying that being obese is like having cancer. The correlation was only drawn because of the timeline. Please do not take offense.


  1. This is a very thought provoking post!! I love it. It is interesting to think of obesity as a disease, but since it can lead to death it is obvious why it is claimed as such. It can be cured and has been in so many cases, but it can also come back at any given time, but so can any disease. I think the "cure" happens when you no longer have the "disease", and I don't think it matters how many years it has been.

  2. There are no words for this post. You are amazing, inspiring and your perspective is deeply important. I love your words and your thoughts. Thanks for always being so honest and open in sharing. xo

  3. I love how you think. While you are, of course, more than your story, I think it will always be relevant. But that doesn't mean you always have to share it either.

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